School’s Out: 5 Tips for Keeping Teens Free from Drugs and Alcohol This Summer
“One mistake doesn’t define the student.”
This is what Azhane Williams wants all parents to know. As a prevention coordinator for SouthLight’s Alternative Counseling Education (ACE) Program, Azhane teaches a 9-hour program for Wake County Schools that reduces long-term suspension for students who bring/use drugs and alcohol at school.
Azhane explains that the program focuses on preventative measures, so they try to give students healthy alternatives and talk about things that they can do aside from using drugs or alcohol.
Now that school is out, Azhane shares tips for parents to keep their kids substance-free and on the right path this summer.
5 Substance Use Prevention Pointers for Parents
Technology is evolving on a daily basis. Newer, more powerful substances are being released for purchase regardless of legal age restrictions. Students are passing out and blacking out after consuming various devices that contain THC. THC is a psychoactive chemical found in marijuana. As a parent, you should be aware of what your child is putting into their bodies and how these devices can affect their growth and brain development.
Most people assume that communicating is expressing your feelings to one another but the reality is communicating requires two actions: speaking and active listening. Voice your concerns to your child, avoid speaking at them and using trigger words. After you voice your concern, allow time for a response without interruption. You may be able to better understand your child and it allows room for the child to be more open about what they may be experiencing.
If you smoke or drink, try to avoid doing so when your child is present. Most children believe an action is acceptable to follow if they see their parents engaging in the activity. Keep paraphernalia locked and stored away as well as out of children’s reach.
Most teens don’t like to talk about their feelings to their parents, simply because they’re the parents. Parents may believe the older their children get, the less they want to be around them but not all are the same. Some teens want to be in the presence of their parents but aren’t able to express that. Social media may influence children to believe that spending time with their parents is not “cool.” Communication is key, but there are other ways to get through to your child. Reminding them of your place in their life is one.
Pay attention to your teen’s favorite hobbies, and activities but don’t stop there; attempt to participate in those activities with your child. You can even come up with activities to engage in as a family, such as:
- Family Picnics
- Creating family artwork
- Watching sports
- Letting the children assist with dinner
- Remember, any quality time is good quality time.
Whether you have a child in middle school or high school, warn them of the dangers of peer pressure. It is a major issue in the school system and is part of the reason children suppress their true emotions. Don’t stop at warning your students, but also give them tools to assist with avoiding peer pressure.
5 Peer-Pressure Refusal Strategies
Say “No” – Say these words to get out of a peer-pressure situation and repeat yourself every time you are asked.
Walk Away – Use this strategy to leave a peer-pressure situation.
A Better Idea – Come up with an alternative to the unhealthy action.
Reverse the Pressure – Flip the switch by putting the pressure back on the person who is pressuring you.
State the Facts – Remind yourself of the consequences or what could happen.
Azhane Williams is a Prevention Coordinator and Instructor for SouthLight’s Alternative Counseling Education Program, known as ACE. The goal of the ACE program is to reduce long-term suspensions by providing drug education free of charge for first-time offenders of the school’s drug and alcohol policy.
“As an instructor, I use the resources available to give my students healthy alternatives to drug or alcohol use and misuse. Each day I teach, I learn something new from my students; that is what allows me to succeed in this position.”