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National Safety Month a Good Time to Talk to Kids about Alcohol and Drugs

CHICAGO, June 23, 2015

June is National Safety Month, which also coincides with the end of the school year. It's a time of year when many young people have extra time on their hands and for some, temptation can be right around the corner.

In keeping with National Safety Month, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers would like to remind parents to talk with their kids about drinking alcohol and drug use.

Start the Conversation

The power of conversation should not be underestimated – adolescents really do listen to what their parents say about smoking, drinking alcohol and drug use. It can be a challenge to find the time to have a sit-down, face-to-face conversation with your children, but it's well worth the effort. Once a conversation has been initiated, it should become an ongoing dialogue that you will revisit and reinforce over the years.

Communicating Effectively

Parents may be unsure how to begin talking to their children about alcohol and drugs. The following tips can help:

  • Listen to your child and respect what he or she has to say. A child who feels judged is less likely to share their concerns with you.
  • Be clear about your expectations of no drinking alcohol or drug use and let your child know these expectations will be enforced.
  • Talk about the dangers of drinking alcohol and drug use, including laws, potential repercussions and health-related outcomes.

Know the Dangers

The brain of an adolescent is not yet fully developed. Drinking alcohol damages the development of the executive function of the brain, which is how we make decisions, defer gratification, and plan now for a reward that's down the road.

Marijuana also affects the development of the adolescent brain, causing changes that may result in learning issues, memory problems and IQ loss.

"If parents want their children to grow up to realize their full potential, they should not condone drinking alcohol or smoking pot," explained Dr. John Larson, Gateway's Corporate Medical Director.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), following marijuana and alcohol, prescription and over-the-counter drugs have become the most commonly abused substances by Americans 14 and older. Once a person becomes dependent on opioids such as Vicodin and Oxycontin they may eventually switch to heroin because it is easier to access and much less expensive.

Many parents like to believe their child is not vulnerable to alcohol or drug abuse, but sadly, this isn't so. There is a wide variety of alcohol and drugs available to young people, who are often just looking to have some fun. Establishing open communication is one of the most powerful tools parents have to positively influence their kids' decisions, during National Safety Month, and throughout the year.

For a Parent's Checklist for Talking to Teens about Drugs & Alcohol visit RecoverGateway.org/ParentChecklist

About Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment

Since 1968 our goal has been straightforward: to help clients get their life back on track and achieve a life of sobriety, free from drug use and symptoms of mental illness, that is productive, socially responsible, and healthy. As the largest, non-profit treatment provider in the country, we currently operate drug and alcohol treatment programs for men, women, adolescents, and clients diagnosed with co-occurring mental health disorders.

Gateway's Community Division has treatment centers located throughout Illinois, including Carbondale, Chicago, Lake County, Fox Valley, Springfield, and the St. Louis Metro East area. These centers offer residential and outpatient treatment services for adults, teens, and adolescents accessed through insurance, state funding, and self-pay.

Gateway's professional clinicians help thousands of individuals successfully complete treatment by developing a personalized plan that treats the underlying causes of substance abuse—not just addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Learn more about insurance coverage, treatment options, or Gateway's confidential consultation at RecoverGateway.org or call 877-505-HOPE (4673).

Reporters and Editors, for more information, please call Leslie Colman, Marketing Director, at 630-776-5725.