Back-To-School Parent Tip

Times of Transition Increase Risk for Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Use

(Columbus, Ohio) – There are specific times in a child’s life that place him or her at increased risk for using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs…heading back to school is one of them. If your child is entering middle school, high school or moving to a new school, you will need to be especially vigilant. But even a change in grade level, teachers, coaches or friends may be cause enough for added stress that can also lead to experimentation with alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

While we know every child is at-risk for using substances, the danger triples for a young person entering high school. For youth entering middle school, the threat is also alarming, as this is an equally high time of transition. Most kids in younger grades tend to have strong anti-substance use attitudes. But the move to middle and high school brings with it a shift in attitudes, due in part, to increased exposure to other students who may be drinking, smoking and using other drugs. Many of these kids are older or are considered popular and may appeal to your child’s natural desire to be like them and be liked by them. The many changes that accompany a new school year call for parents to be especially aware.

Parents, here’s what you can do:

  • Be active and supportive in your child’s daily life.
  • Ask questions about substance use and reinforce no use messages.
  • Make clear your expectations and consequences for breaking rules.
  • Know where your child is and who he or she is with.
  • Do not allow your child to hang out with friends unsupervised.

Source: How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid: The Straight Dope for Parents. Joseph A. Califano, Jr., 2009.