Our teens are growing up in a new age of drug use: E-cigarettes with pure liquid nicotine - marijuana with THC levels 10 times higher than in the 70s – unassuming marijuana concentrates and edibles – growing popularity of “alco-pops” and hard liquor – and an age of media that supports and encourages intoxication and carelessness.  Now, more than ever, there’s a reason for parents and community members to get in the know when it comes to raising healthy teens!  
 
The good news is that parents have more influence over their child than friends, music, TV, the Internet and celebrities!  Hard to believe, right?  But it’s true.  According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, national surveys of teens ages 12 to 17 show that teens who believe their parents would strongly disapprove of their substance use were less likely to use substances than others.  That is why it is critical to start talking with your children about the dangers of drugs, before they start experimenting – and keep talking.  You can help the children in your life steer clear of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drugs by using an easy acronym—M.A.L.T!

M - MODEL GOOD BEHAVIOR

  • Never drive impaired
  • Drink responsibly
  • Offer non-alcoholic beverages at parties
  • If you are using prescription drugs, talk to your kids about why you are taking them and follow your doctor's prescription
  • If you use tobacco, explain that you are trying or want to quit
  • Never provide alcohol to minors, its illegal!  And, in many communities, so is hosting a party for underage drinkers

A - OFFER ALTERNATIVES
The 40 Developmental Assets model helps us see which positive influences a child needs in their life to grow up "healthy, caring and responsible.” A few include:

  • Positive Adult Role Models/Mentors
  • Service to Others (1 or more hours per week)
  • Youth Programs (3 or more hours per week)
  • Connection with Faith-Based Community

L - LOCK UP ALCOHOL AND DRUGS

  • Monitor or secure alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and prescription drugs in your home
  • Keep in a locked cabinet or,
  • Keep a count of bottles and amounts

T - TALK TO YOUR KIDS OFTEN

  • Start talking about the effects and consequences of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drugs early
  • Talk often; 4-5 times per year
  • Set clear expectations, rules and consequences related to alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drugs in your home