Happy Prevention Week! As De Paul’s, AmeriCorps Outreach and Prevention Specialist, I am often asked what drug and alcohol prevention work really is. Prevention work is what YOU make of it. Not only am I here to address the drug and alcohol epidemic among our youth, but I am here as a reminder of the importance of goal setting, strategies to achieve our goals and the harmful effects that drugs and alcohol can have on our futures.
Teen prevention is so important because early substance use can have critical long term effects on a person’s life. Substance use can impair cognitive development, the working memory and learning parts of the brain — diminishing a teen’s ability to pay attention in school and decreasing school engagement, reducing academic achievement, and disrupting academic progress. Ongoing substance misuse has a high correlation with school dropout rates (more than one million students per year).
As parents, I am sure you are wondering how you can help minimize your child’s drug and alcohol use. My advice to you is:
- Talk to your kids specifically about drug use and making good choices
- Stay involved and interested in your child’s daily activities
- Help build their self esteem
- Keep yourself updated on prevention education that is happening in the schools
- Make your presence known, make sure they know that you care and are supportive of them
National Prevention Week is a reminder that we as a community need to raise awareness around substance abuse and mental health issues. Learn more at http://www.samhsa.gov/prevention-week
Submitted by Ariel, Americorps Outreach and Prevention Specialist