ARCpoint Labs recently announced their partnership with National Family Partnership as a sponsor of the 2016 Red Ribbon Week Photo Contest. Red Ribbon Week promotes a drug-free lifestyle for families, and will be celebrated October 23-31, 2016. This year’s theme is: Be Drug Free! #YOLO (you only live once).
National Family Partnership has since featured a blog about ARCpoint’s participation in the event on the Red Ribbon Week website with 10 tips or “ARCpointers” for parents, guardians and educators in their local communities to use every day, promoting the drug-free message behind Red Ribbon Week. See below for all 10 Tips.
ARCpoint is also offering an extra $1,000 prize to a school entry with the most votes in one of over 100 ARCpoint Labs franchises across the US. Click here to read more.
Stop in to your local ARCpoint Labs locations to take the Red Ribbon Week pledge – and Be Drug Free!
10 TIPS TO PREVENT DRUG USE AMONG CHILDREN
- Trust The Senses: The easiest way to detect if a child has been using drugs is to rely on the senses. Some drugs will leave behind an odor. Teenagers will often times seek to mask the scent with breath mints, cologne/perfume, or sprays. Drug use can cause a change in speaking patterns too. Signs of drug use may include communicating less, speaking slower or faster, or noticeably slurring. Many drugs will cause dilation of pupils, red or watery eyes, and a change in posture. Finally, drastic changes in mood after being out with friends may be a sign that drug activity took place.
Tip: Be present and focused during interactions with children and teens. Know their preferred deodorant, cologne/perfume, type of gum, etc. Open up dialogue with something positive such as, “That’s a nice new scent – what is that?”
- If They Check Out, Check In: One of the prime signs of drug use is a decline in participation in activities and a departure from established behavior patterns. During the school year, this can mean skipping classes or even a decline in academic performance. During the summer, it may mean avoiding time with family or their usual groups of friends. Many teenagers naturally experience change in mood, personality, and need more “alone time” during these formative years, but if there is a drastic disconnect between family, friends, and formerly regular activities, then it may likely be time to open up dialogue.
Tip: Be respectful of the time that children need alone, but as a parent, make sure to allocate time for them. Find opportunities to spend time with them in an environment where they are comfortable (dinner, sporting event, fishing trip, visit to the mall) and let conversation develop naturally.
- Surf Their Social Media: Teens are very likely to get upset if a parent “monitors” them on social media, but it does offer increased access to indicators of potential drug or alcohol use. Look for statements that seem suspicious, changes in the type or tone of their posts, or posting of pictures, song lyrics, or video clips that appear to have connection to drug culture.
Tip: Establish requirements to connect on all social media platforms that they join from an early age. Get educated on the various social media platforms available and the “unwritten rules” that govern the way people engage. Take an interest in the opinions or patterns of expression and use them as a way to connect outside of social media. Be careful not to embarrass them by too much interaction on social media; they may shut down this and other important lines of communication, or even look for other more discreet means to communicate with friends.
- Be Wary of New Kids on The Block: The introduction of new friends or an interest in spending time with new or different peer groups could be a sign of drug use. It is of course natural for many teenagers to develop a variety of different friends. They certainly may change their interests from year to year – and the type of friends that they associate with as a result. But, it’s important to know whom they spend time with, and what home situations exist within the households of these friends. Additionally, teenage romantic relationships can often come with pressures to adopt certain interests, behaviors and opinions, including drug experimentation or use.
Tip: Ask questions about new friends and demonstrate a genuine interest in the types of people with whom they are spending time. Relate to them by sharing personal stories about friends from middle school, high school, and college. Take the time to learn who new friends are, and ask about their parents and home situation. Be engaged in activities, organizations, or events that give access to the parents of friends.
- Listen for Signs That They Want to Talk: When establishing a relationship of open dialogue and understanding, children might feel uncomfortable discussing situations or relationships where drugs have been introduced. Look for comments that may reveal a desire to have a deeper chat about the implications of drug experimentation or concerns about social or romantic impacts of responses to drug introduction.
Tip: Ask questions. Find times to just listen and offer opportunities to discuss issues related to drug use. Look for issues and situations in the news, pop culture events, TV shows, music, and movies that allow you to open up dialogue about issues related to drug use and abuse.
- Look for Teachable Moments: As you’re going about your day, seek out opportunities to point out real life situations that can be used to spark an educational conversation. For example, witnessing a group of teens drinking or using drugs can be a time when a parent can discuss why it is wrong and how to address similar situations in which they may find themselves in the future. Also, news headlines, movie and TV plotlines, and music are all examples of places you can find examples to open a dialogue.
Tip: If you notice something going on in your neighborhood while in the presence of your teen, take this time to discuss the negative effects that drugs and alcohol can have on your body and relationships. You can also use news stories as a way to provide a real life example of what can go wrong, as well as open up discussions based on things seen on TV or movies, or in the lyrics of songs.
- Find the Right Time to Talk and Come with a Plan: Make sure the conversation is focused between you and your teen. Know what you are going to say and establish what you want to accomplish from the conversation.
Tip: Choose times that are already designated for serious discussion or reflection. For example, after dinner or before bed are times when teens are starting to wind down and have fewer distractions.
- Keep the Conversation Positive: When talking to your children about drugs, make sure they are aware that it is coming from a place of love and not a scare tactic. By presenting it in a positive manner, they will know they can talk to you about the topic.
Tip: Focus on your concern for their health and well-being. Tell them you are trying to help them make good decisions by sharing information that they might not already know.
- Don’t Come with a Solution, Have Your Teen Think of One: When your teen comes to you with a question or brings up a real life incident, don’t immediately accuse or reprimand. Have your teen assess the situation and come up with a way the situation could have been handled differently.
Tip: As a way to maintain a comfortable environment, ask things like, “What do you think should have been done differently?” Also, be sure to show understanding and say, “That sounds like a difficult situation. How did you feel about it?” Ask them things that give them room to participate.
10. Practice Patience: If it comes to a point in the conversation where you can’t speak positively, leave the situation and come back to it the next day.
Tip: Listen with respect and show encouragement. Repeat and summarize what your teen said to give you time to process and come up with the best way to handle the situation. Respond to the conversation with something like, “So what you’re saying is…”