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Empower your middle schooler to decline drugs and alcohol

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Drug free message written on knuckles
In this article, you’ll find answers to questions like:

1. How to ease tension around drugs and alcohol?
2. How to be role models?

3. Who can help?

It's natural to worry about the influence drugs and alcohol could have on your child.

1. HOW TO EASE TENSION?

So how do you talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol? Start by maintaining a close relationship, says Jan Cairnes, former chief executive officer of the Hanley Foundation in West Palm Beach. And then model approach behavior.

“Have a glass of wine with dinner, not a bottle. Have a beer, not a six-pack,” Cairnes advises. 

Although peer pressure can play a role, most children in our area do not drink, Cairnes says. “In fact, 75 percent of Palm Beach County youth do not drink. Acknowledging that trends are always changing is a great first step to staying informed.” 

Partnership to End Addiction offers tips on talking to children about drug and alcohol use. 

2. HOW TO BE ROLE MODELS?

Building a supportive relationship is key to letting your teens know you love and trust them. Empowering them to make decisions, will help them resist peer pressure. Let them select their clothes. Let them decide what’s for dinner. Encourage your children to be independent thinkers. That helps them in challenging peer situations.

3. WHO CAN HELP?

Free alcohol or substance abuse self-screening online is available at Mental Health America of the Palm Beaches. If you have questions about the screening, you can call the national office at 800-969-6642.

Suspect your child may be using a controlled substance? Call the 211 HelpLine or visit 211palmbeach.org. This free service, available 24 hours, directs you to resources and programs.

If you think your child is using drugs or alcohol, the Palm Beach County Behavioral Health Coalition recommends you:

• Trust your instincts
• Educate yourself
• Don’t take it personally

• Get professional help

In case of an emergency, and if your child appears to be under the influence of a controlled substance, call 911 or go to the local hospital emergency room.

SOURCES:

• Jan Cairnes, board member, Southeast Florida Behavioral Health Network
• Alexa Lee, executive director, Palm Beach County Behavioral Health Coalition
 



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Related resources

    • Behavior
    • Health
    • Other

    Alcoholics Anonymous

    Palm Beach County North Intergroup — hotline, meetings and more based in West Palm Beach

    561-655-5700 Website
    • Behavior
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    National Alliance on Mental Illness Palm Beach County

    Family-to-Family — free 12-session course for caregivers of family members with severe mental illness

    561-588-3477 Website
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    Children's Behavioral Health Collaborative - Palm Beach County

    A collaboration of five local mental health agencies that assess and treat children's serious behavioral, emotional or mental health problems

    561-244-9499 Website
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    • Parenting
    • Safety

    211 Palm Beach Treasure Coast

    Teen hotline, including online chat from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Or, texting available 24 hours a day by texting your ZIP code to 898211.

    2-1-1 Website
    • Behavior
    • Education
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    Palm Beach County Behavioral Health Coalition

    Local information, events and support for parents and youth to live free of drugs, alcohol and tobacco

    561-374-7627 Website
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    Partnership to End Addiction

    National resource for families struggling with substance use, including their children

    Call 855-378-4373 or text a message to 55753 Website