By Leslyn Barrow, Department of Housing and Human Services
National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week highlights the importance of children being educated on the danger of all drugs, including legal ones. When misused, drugs can cause physical, mental, emotional, and legal programs. Any child from any background is at risk of drug use, but children who have a strong bond with their families are less likely to get involved with drugs and alcohol.
Here are a few steps to assist your child to avoid alcohol and other drugs:
- Educate yourself about drugs. Children can misuse drugs they get from friends, convenience stores, internet, and at home. Types of drugs include household chemicals, street drugs (e.g. marijuana and cocaine), over the counter (OTC) drugs, prescriptions drugs, steroids, tobacco and nicotine products, synthetic drugs, and alcohol.
- Talk about drugs with your child. Warn your child about all drugs, both illegal and legal, and talk about the immediate dangers of drugs and their effect.
Practice ways to say no, and discuss legal repercussions, such as possible jail time, and costs, including court and lawyer fees.
- Create a safe welcoming environment for your child at home.
Be active in your child’s life to build trust and strengthen communication.
- Monitor your child’s media usage. Alcohol, tobacco, and other drug companies spend billions of dollars on ads each year.
- Set rules with your child. He or she will feel important and trustworthy when you create rules together. Make sure you follow through.
- Be the example. Your attitude about drugs is influential. Show your child how to be responsible about drugs.
Know the signs of drug use. Here are some signs to watch for:
- Appearance –red eyes or cheeks, burn marks, chronic nosebleeds, track marks or puncture wounds on arms, or wearing long sleeves in hot weather.
- Smell – smoky/chemical smell on breath or clothes or in bedroom or car, or increased use of perfumes or colognes and mouthwash.
- Behavior – declining grades, missing school or activities, dropping friends, secrecy, lying, stealing, rapid mood swings, paranoia, lasting depression or suicidal thoughts.
For additional information, visit Fairfax County's drug prevention page: Take Charge - Be Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug Free.
If you or someone you love needs help to overcome drug dependence, please contact the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board (CSB) at 703-383-8500, TTY 711.
If you are having a non-life-threating emergency, please call either CSB Emergency services at 703-573-5679, TTY 711 or the Fairfax Detoxification Center at 703-502-7000, TTY 711. Both numbers are answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
In a life-threatening emergency, call 911.