by Nicole Youcupicio, Prevention Specialist, Casa Grande Alliance
When it comes to raising children there are several big hurdles faced by parents and caregivers to help their children grow into positive, productive adults. Some of these include teaching children healthy values, learning to listen to them, validating their ideas, thoughts and feelings, and finding meaningful ways to support school success.
Talking with and educating our children about drugs and alcohol is of critical importance. This important and continuing conversation can seem daunting and overwhelming, but we are here to help walk you through it.
The Arizona Youth Survey tells us the average age of first-time drug use in Casa Grande is 13 years old.1 Some report first use as young as 9 years old. Due to this, we recommend beginning the conversation by at least age 8. This will be an ongoing conversation that will change based on the age of your children.
By beginning this conversation young, we open the lines of communication so they feel safe and comfortable to come to seek our advice in the future. Reminder: consistency and repetition are key.
When conversations between youth and parents include factual information about the dangers of substance misuse and addiction, it increases the odds our child will not use alcohol or drugs. Teens whose parents talk to them regularly about these dangers are 50% less likely to use, but 48% of Casa Grande youth report they do not have these conversations with their parents.3,1
Simple ways to bring the topic up in conversation include using a news story, movie, TV show or song as an opportunity to invite our children to share what they know and think. Youth are far more likely to engage in ongoing conversations than pay close attention to a lecture from a parent, even the most well-meaning. The best times to have these kinds of conversations are at dinner, in the car, while working in the yard, or at any other time when we are spending quality time with our children.
To effectively talk with children about drugs and alcohol, parents/caregivers need a basic understanding about current trends. The three most commonly misused substances by Casa Grande youth currently include alcohol, e-cigarettes and marijuana.
These are the drugs our youth are hearing about the most and might be misled by their friends to try.
- 1 in 8 middle school students in Casa Grande and 1 in 4 high school students regularly drink alcohol.1
- 1 in 7 youth in Casa Grande use e-cigarettes.1
- 1 in 9 middle school students in Casa Grande and almost 1 in 6 high school students use marijuana.1
But there is hope. Seventy-four percent of Casa Grande youth choose not to use alcohol or drugs because they do not want to disappoint their parents. This is huge! The majority of Casa Grande youth not using drugs and alcohol have parents and caring adults who have helped to strengthen their resiliency and have helped our youth to resist peer pressure.
There are many great resources and websites for parents and caregivers to use for factual and up-to-date information about youth drug trends, some of these include: NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), and our website: www.casagrandealliance.org.
You are invited to stop by our office to pick up available resources to learn more about the services provided to youth and families, Alliance partner agencies, and to learn more about substance misuse and addiction.
Additionally, if you are struggling with talking with your children, we can help! Please call 520-836-5022 or stop by our office at 280 W. McMurray Blvd. in Casa Grande.
1. Arizona Criminal Justice Commission, Arizona Youth Survey. (2018).
2. https://www.centeronaddiction.org/addiction-prevention/teenage-addiction. Accessed electronically March 27, 2020.
3. Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, Parents: What You Say – and What You Do – Matters to Your Kids. (March 2011).