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Talking to students about dangers of drugs and alcohol

Next week is Red Ribbon Week, the time each year set aside for raising awareness on alcohol, tobacco and other drug issues nationwide.

There are many local groups that work every day to keep drugs and alcohol abuse out of our community, such as the Troup County Prevention Coalition. However, this is the week schools, organizations and communities schedule events to talk to students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

According to the Red Ribbon Week website, children who regularly discuss drug use with their parents are 42 percent less likely to use drugs than those who don’t.

However, only a quarter of teenagers said their parents talk to them about the dangers of drugs.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence recommends talking to children regularly about substance abuse. However, the NCADD writes on its website that it’s not all about the “big talk,” rather mentioning the dangers when smoking or drugs come up on TV, radio or advertising.

The NCADD also recommends that it’s never too early to start having those small discussions, pointing out the dangers of certain habits.

According to the Monitoring the Future report, an annual survey of drug and alcohol use among eighth, tenth and twelfth graders in America, marijuana use is on the rise, up to 24 percent of all students surveyed.

The report, which has been studying drug and alcohol use since 1975, also showed in 2017 that 40 percent of all twelfth-grade students surveyed used some type of illicit drug in the past year and more than 50 percent had participated in under-age drinking. 

Above anything else, the survey results show that teenagers typically can find ways to get their hands on drugs and alcohol, if they choose to.

The key is to talk to children early about the dangers of misusing drugs or drinking alcohol, so that when they do encounter them they’ll make the right decision.