You Make a Difference!
Parents and guardians are the first leaders in a young person's life. Our kids look to us for love, comfort, and guidance. As such, building strong, healthy relationships with our kids provides them with safe boundaries to explore their worlds and grow into empathetic, thoughtful, and resilient individuals. Children learn from what we teach them as well as observing our behaviors and mirroring them.
Research shows that children who have strong relationships with their parents are more likely to avoid substances or delay use. Delayed use is important to the developing brain. If our efforts can help a student and you, parents, prolong the age of first use, even by a few months, if not years, that can make a huge difference in the life of a person. The teenage brain is in a dynamic transition until the age of 22 to 27. Introducing any substance can shift the way brain connects and develops, which can have lifelong effects.
You really do hold a great deal of power to reduce the odds that your kids will begin to use drugs or alcohol. And let's be honest, not all kids will choose not to use drugs. In fact, our local data shows that in 2012, 38% of Gunnison County High School students chose to use alcohol at least once in the past month. So, in actuality, we know kids will choose to drink, use marijuana, tobacco, prescription drugs and other substances -- we just hope to educate them and you, parents, about the consequences and to promote people so each individual is empowered to make their own choice. Why do we do this? Because of one statistic in particular.
"9 out of 10 Adults who have drug problems began using drugs when they were teenagers." Kids who learn about drug risks from their parents are up to 50% less likely to use. You are a protective factor in your child's life. As a parent, you do have power. Here is a document showcasing six research supported parenting practices.
Brains develop from back to front. And the frontal cortex (our last piece to develop in our 20s) is responsible for our ability to think long-term, to think about consequences - both immediate and sequential-, and our ability to problem solve. When substances are introduced during our adolescent years (12 to 22 years old) we introduce many variables that could have unintended consequences. Some studies show how people can lose IQ points! When we realize that the brain is pruning and altering its connections drastically during this time period, as parents in hindsight, we can understand how risky drug and alcohol use can be for our young adults. Yet, how do we talk to our kids when they (at least our impression is) don't care?
Here is GCSAPP director Kari talking about what is going on in there during adolescents.
And would you like a few ways to keep that communication open?