In the United States, millions of people come together during Red Ribbon Week to raise awareness about substance use disorders (SUDs) and the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. From October 23rd to the 31st, children and adults wear red ribbons, participate in community events, and pledge to live sober lives. Red Ribbon Week is the nation’s oldest and most prominent substance-use prevention campaign. It’s also an excellent time for you to connect with your children and encourage them to live healthy lifestyles. And since October 29th is Drug Take Back Day, it’s the perfect day to assess the current prescription medications in your home and drop off any unneeded medicines at locations where professionals can dispose of them safely.
It’s never too early to educate your children about the dangers of substance misuse. The sooner you create an open line of communication and discuss these issues with your child, the better. During Red Ribbon Week, take action to prevent substance misuse and encourage healthy lifestyle choices for your entire family.
The Importance of Preventing Substance Misuse for Young Children
People who begin using substances in their teens are more likely to develop an SUD as adults, so it’s best to speak with your children about the dangers of substance misuse before they reach this pivotal stage in their development.
Young people must adjust to drastic changes in a short timeframe as they transition into adulthood. In a few short years, they experience a significant transformation due to puberty, along with the academic and social issues that occur as they try to develop a sense of self that is independent of their family. Some young people also experience trauma and unstable home lives, which increase their emotional turmoil.
Biological factors also contribute to the risk of substance use during childhood. To begin with, there is a part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex, which dictates a person’s ability to solve problems, control their impulses, and perceive the consequences of a particular action. However, the prefrontal cortex is not fully developed until a person is 25 years old. This means that young people are likely to struggle with certain aspects of decision-making and impulsive behavior, further increasing their likelihood of developing a SUD.
Genetics, too, can play a significant role in whether or not a person will develop a SUD. If substance misuse runs in your family, it significantly increases the likelihood that your child will also misuse substances. Family studies indicate that about 50% of a person’s risk of becoming addicted to nicotine, alcohol, and other drugs is dependent on their genetic makeup.
When parents raise awareness about the dangers of prescription medications and habit-forming substances at an early age, children can make better choices in the face of peer pressure and emotional turmoil. As a result, they’re less likely to turn to illicit substances as a coping mechanism or become dependent on them.
How Parents Can Prevent Substance Abuse in Children
Even if you’re hesitant to talk about substance abuse with your children, the right conversations at the right time could benefit them greatly in the long run. Studies show that young people are much less likely to develop a substance use disorder when their parents educate them about the risks and consequences, even when a doctor prescribes the substances in question. Here are a few ways that you can open these lines of communication and help prevent substance misuse at home.
Teach Your Child Healthy Habits
Substance use disorders do not develop overnight; developing healthy habits early on will ensure your child has a solid foundation. You can begin teaching your child the importance of eating nutritious foods, exercising, and healthy sleeping habits when they’re toddlers. Express the importance of washing hands, brushing teeth, and taking good care of the body. Setting these standards will make it easier for children to grasp the importance of other healthy habits later on. As a parent, you are your child’s first role model. So lead by example if you’re telling your children not to use nicotine, alcohol, and other substances.
Communicate Openly with Your Child
Sooner or later, your child will be exposed to habit-forming substances, and when this happens, they should feel comfortable speaking to you about their experiences. Let your child know that it is safe to communicate openly with you about anything happening in their lives, whether it’s peer pressure or a stressful situation. When your child knows that they can express themselves freely without fear of punishment, you have the opportunity to offer guidance and support, which decreases the likelihood that they will turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Keep Your Prescription Medications and Supplements Out of Reach
Securing your prescription medications and supplements is one of the most effective ways to reduce medicine theft and misuse, especially when involving children and teens. Recent studies state that one in four teens has misused or abused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime. However, many parents fail to realize teens often obtain this medication from their own homes.
When children and teenagers see parents take prescription medications, they may view these substances as safer or less addictive than illicit street drugs. And even if your child or teen is not taking a couple of pills from an unlocked bottle, there is always a chance that one of their friends will. Young people are very vulnerable to developing substance dependence at this stage in their lives, so consider keeping your prescription medications and supplements in a Safe Locking Pill Bottle, complete with a 4-digit code. This way, no one can obtain unauthorized access to your prescription medications, no matter where you store them.
Partner with Safe Rx for Red Ribbon Week
Red Ribbon Week is the perfect time to assess your everyday routines around storing and administering medications. Whether you’re a parent, teacher, or another caregiver, keeping medications safe, secure, and out-of-reach is the first step to keeping children safe from misuse.
At Safe Rx, we’re dedicated to supporting medication safety to prevent misuse and accidental overdoses. That’s why Safe Rx Locking Pill Bottles allow you to protect your prescription medications and other pills with a secure 4-digit code. Get 20% off during Red Ribbon Week!If you’re interested in learning more about how Safe Rx can assist in medication safety and childcare, contact us today.