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Preventing Substance Abuse

Prevention is the first step to warding off potential use of addictive substances and parents, grandparents or any other person who cares about a child’s future, can be key in making a big difference in what kids choose to do. It is hard to imagine that a child we love could end up using drugs, but chances are that each child you know will be faced with the decision by the time they are 10 years of age.

Forty percent of U.S. teens say they expect to use a drug in the future. One out of every five kids in eight grade have already tried marijuana. Teens who smoke cigarettes and drink are more likely to use marijuana, and those who use all three are more likely to use other illicit drugs.

One of the most effective ways to prevent drug abuse is by focusing on youth. Research has shown that a person who can reach age 21 without using drugs is more likely never to use. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse and other research, reports indicate that early abuse often includes substances such as tobacco, alcohol, inhalants, marijuana and prescription drugs such as sleeping and anti-anxiety pills. If drug abuse persists into later adolescence, abusers become more heavily involved with marijuana and may advance to harder drugs.

Nebraska statistics taken from the Nebraska Risk and Protective Factor Student Survey conducted by Nebraska Health and Human Services indicate that Nebraska’s youth are at significant risk for substance abuse.

  1. Nebraska ranks 9th for teenage binge drinking.
  2. Nebraska ranks 3rd in the nation in teenagers driving after drinking.
  3. Nebraska ranks 2nd in the nation for teenagers riding with a drinking driver.
  4. Over half of Nebraska teens reported that they currently use alcohol, with the average age being 14.5 years of age. This places Nebraska teens 6th in the Nation.

Teens are less at risk for drug and alcohol abuse when:

  1. There is no history of alcoholism in the family
  2. Family members openly disapprove of drugs.
  3. Family members do not drink heavily or use illegal drugs.
  4. Then teen has a good attitude and support at school.
  5. The teen’s friends do not use alcohol or other illegal drugs.
  6. The teen shares thoughts and feelings with at least one caring person.

The most important factor in reducing the risk of substance abuse is bonding. Bonding occurs when a youth has positive social and relationship skills, has opportunities for positive involvement, and receives affirmative recognition. According to research, the major transition periods in a child’s life are also key times when risk is higher. This could be when children move from elementary to middle school and from middle school to high school.

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