by Stephanie Collier, Project Coordinator (ACPP I), Casa Grande Alliance
One of the biggest fears of parents is that their child will use drugs or alcohol and experience horrible consequences like dropping out of school, suffering brain damage, getting in trouble with the law, or even worse, they could die. There are many things parents and other caring adults can do to help prevent kids from using substances, including having conversations about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, monitoring of activities and friends and teaching resistance skills. Parents might also wonder, “Where are kids getting drugs and alcohol? Can we cut them off from their supply?”
When it comes to alcohol use and the misuse of prescription drugs, youth that use say they get it most often from their friends or at a party. While this may not be surprising, the fact that 16.2 percent of youth in Casa Grande say they got alcohol from home and 14.7 percent got prescription drugs from home might come as more of a shock.1 Considering how common it is to find these frequently abused substances in most homes, how can we keep our kids from getting their hands on them?
If you have alcohol or prescription medications at home, think about where they are kept. A beer fridge in the garage or wine bottles on display are easily accessible. Keeping prescriptions in the medicine cabinet or on the kitchen counter makes them easy to get into. The safest place to keep these commonly abused items is locked up! Keeping alcohol and prescription drugs in a locked cabinet or drawer can effectively deter misuse. Combination locks, which are sold online, for prescription, liquor and wine bottles can also prevent misuse. Another way to prevent prescription drug abuse is by disposing of unused or expired medications by taking them to a medication drop box. To find the nearest medication drop box location, visit azdhs.gov/gis/rx-drop-off-locations/index.php
Some other things that parents can do to prevent substance abuse at home are:
Be a good role model. If you use alcohol, set a good example to help teach your child healthy coping skills. Your actions inadvertently tell them what is and what is not acceptable. What are your actions telling them if every time you have a bad day you immediately come home and have a beer?
Monitor your child’s activities. Always know where your child is and who they are with, and limit the amount of time your child spends unsupervised, even at home. Two out of three teens ages 13-18 said it is easy to get alcohol from their own homes without their parents knowing.2 The City of Casa Grande has a Social Hosting & Unruly Party Ordinance (Ordinance No. 1397.09.05), which states that it is against the law to have underage drinking in your home, whether you knowingly supplied the alcohol or not. The entire ordinance can be seen at casagrandeaz.gov.
Do not allow your child to drink at home. Over half of high school teens who report their parents allow them to drink at home (even just once in a while) report that they also drink elsewhere with their friends.3 In 2016, 14.5 percent of Casa Grande youth report obtaining alcohol from a parent or guardian.1 Allowing your child to drink at home might be done with good intentions, but it will send the wrong message, and can cause more harm than good to both you and your child.
Set clear rules and consequences. Post the house rules in writing, and include a rule that there is to be no underage drinking or drug use in your home or outside of your home.
Talk early and often with your child(ren) about drugs and alcohol. Teens whose parents talk to them regularly about the dangers of drugs and alcohol are 50 percent less likely to use drugs, yet less than 43 percent of Casa Grande teens report having these conversations with their parents.4,1 These conversations need to happen sooner as well. The average age for Casa Grande youth who try alcohol for the first time is between 12 and 13 years old.1
If you would like more information on substances of abuse, substance abuse prevention, how to talk with your child about drugs and alcohol, or how to safely store or dispose of alcohol or prescription drugs, go to CasaGrandeAlliance.org or call 520-836-5022.
- Arizona Criminal Justice Commission, Arizona Youth Survey. (2016).
- American Medical Association Survey (2005)
- Students Against Destructive Decisions & Liberty Mutual Insurance, Teen’s Today Research.
- Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, Parents: What You Say — and What You Do — Matters to Your Kids. (March 2011).