Substance abuse is a major public health concern in New York State. Preventing opioid abuse begins with preventing the abuse of any drug or alcohol at an early age. To help address the problem it's important to educate yourself on the basic facts and ways to prevent addiction.
As a parent it is important to set a good example of sobriety and clearly establish your expectations early on. At some point, it is very likely that your child will be surrounded by people drinking or using drugs and even offered these substances which is why it is critical for them to be prepared for these types of situation. Prevent the spread of substance abuse by following these key steps:
Open communication. Talk to your kids about the dangers of substance abuse and make it clear such behavior will not be tolerated. Disapproval of substance abuse is key in preventing drug and alcohol use. Keep the lines of communication open so your child feels comfortable coming to you in a time of need. Learn more about talking to your children about underage drinking on the Talk2Prevent website. The Combat Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse Kitchen Table Toolkit includes information for having age appropriate conversations.
Be involved and engaged. Parents who are involved and engaged in their children's lives are more likely to notice the warning signs of substance abuse and are able to prevent it before it happens.
Prevent the misuse of prescription medications. Store prescription medications safely and take inventory of the medications in your possession. Dispense as prescribed and dispose unused medications appropriately. Find medication drop box locations on the NYS Troopers website and medication drop boxes by county on the Department of Health website.
Learn about opioid overdose prevention. Opioid-related overdose has increased as a health-threat, which has led New York State to pass a life-saving law making it legal for non-medical persons to administer Naloxone to another individual in order to prevent an opioid or heroin overdose from becoming fatal by reversing the overdose.
Sign up for a free, open-to-the public training:
- Find a Naloxone Anti-Overdose Medication Training at a NYS OASAS-Certified Addiction Treatment Center
- Find a Registered Opioid Overdose Prevention Program in your area
Drugs and alcohol affect the mind and body in unpredictable ways. If you discover that your child is using drugs or alchol, you must let them know that this is not acceptable. Talking to a young person about substances can be difficult, but necessary in order to keep them safe.
Get the Conversation Started:
- Take advantage of community resources. Your family doctor, teachers, school personnel, local law enforcement, and your local prevention provider are resources that can help.
- Eliminate distractions. Have conversations when you are both attentive and away from distractions.
- Gain respect. Listen to what young people are saying and encourage a two-way conversation.
- Make your expectations clear. Explain that addiction is a progressive chronic disease and that you will not tolerate alcohol or drug use.
- Be a role model. Lead by example.
- Teach them how to say no. Role play effective ways to say no to drugs and alcohol.
- Talk openly. Be prepared to answer tough questions.
The "W's" of Talking About Substance Use:
- Who: Parents, adults, teachers and coaches should discuss heroin, drugs and alcohol with young people. Even if the individual does not presently use drugs or alcohol, take a stand before they are influenced by their peers.
- What: Talk to your children about the dangers of drug and alcohol use. Utilize available resources to assist you with initiating the conversation.
- Where: Talk in your home, during meals, in the car, at a game or wherever you are most comfortable and distraction-free.
- When: The sooner the conversation begins, the less likely your child will be to try illegal substances. The conversation should continue throughout their adolescence and beyond.
In September 2011, the 911 Good Samaritan Law went into effect in order to address fears about police responses to overdoses. The law provides significant legal protection against criminal charges and prosecution for possession of controlled substances, as well as possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. This protection applies to both the person seeking assistance in good faith, as well as to the person who has overdosed.
When in doubt, call 911. It may be a matter of life or death.