390 Lincoln Road
Sudbury, MA 01776
Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017
Contact: John Guilfoil
Sudbury Lincoln CRANE Newsletter Feb. 28
FEATURED TOPIC: Substance Abuse
Amidst a nationwide opioid epidemic and the recent legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts, it is more important than ever for parents and guardians to talk to their children about the dangers of substance abuse.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, alcohol is the substance abused most frequently by adolescents, followed by marijuana and tobacco.
Results from the 2014 MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey, administered to students in grades 6-12 every two years, revealed that the percentage of Lincoln Sudbury High School students who reported using alcohol in their lifetime had decreased from 68 percent in 2006 to 54 percent in 2014.
Furthermore, the percentage of students who reported using marijuana in their lifetime decreased from 33 percent in 2006 to 26 percent in 2014. At the Ephraim Curtis Middle School, 85 students surveyed reported that they had used alcohol in their lifetime and nine students reported they had used marijuana.
While these statistics may be encouraging for the Lincoln and Sudbury communities, it is still important that parents and guardians continue to talk to their children about substance abuse.
The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids suggests that parents use the following tips as guidelines when talking to children and teens about the dangers of drugs and alcohol:
- Use blocks of time such as after dinner, before bedtime, before school or on the drive to or from school and extracurricular activities to talk about drugs and why they are harmful.
- Take advantage of everyday “teachable moments.” Teachable moments refer to using every day events in your life to point out things you’d like your child to know about.
- Point out alcohol, tobacco, and drug-related situations going on in your own neighborhood. If you and your child are at the park and see a group of kids drinking or smoking, use the moment to talk about the negative effects of alcohol and tobacco.
- Use newspaper headlines or TV news stories as a conversation starter. The daily news is filled with stories that detail the consequences of alcohol and drug abuse. Talk to your child about the mother who used drugs and was arrested. Who will take care of her baby now? Did she make a good decision when she used drugs?
- Watch TV with your kids, and ask them what they think. Do the shows and advertising make drug use look acceptable and routine? Or do they show its downside? How did that program make your child feel about drugs? Write a letter with your child to companies or TV networks about the messages they put out about drugs. Also remember that anti-drug advertising is a great kickoff to discussion.
- When discussing outside events — something on TV or in pop culture — ask open-ended questions.
- Share stories of people in recovery and stories of those lost to drugs and alcohol. Ask your teen their thoughts and feelings after reading the stories.
- View the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids’ Drug Guide to learn more about the top drugs in your teen’s world. Then ask your teen about these drugs — have they heard of them? What do they know about them? Does anyone is their school use these drugs? Any of their friends? Have they ever been offered to drink or smoke week?
If you are worried or suspect that your child may be abusing alcohol or drugs, here are some warning signs from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence to look for:
Physical and health signs of drug abuse:
- Eyes that are bloodshot or pupils that are smaller or larger than normal.
- Frequent nosebleeds could be related to snorted drugs (meth or cocaine).
- Changes in appetite or sleep patterns. Sudden weight loss or weight gain.
- Seizures without a history of epilepsy.
- Deterioration in personal grooming or physical appearance.
- Impaired coordination, injuries/accidents/bruises that they won’t or can’t tell you about- they don’t know how they got hurt.
- Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing.
- Shakes, tremors, incoherent or slurred speech, impaired or unstable coordination.
Behavioral signs of alcohol or drug abuse:
- Skipping class, declining grades, getting in trouble at school.
- Drop in attendance and performance at work–loss of interest in extracurricular activities, hobbies, sports or exercise–decreased motivation.
- Complaints from co-workers, supervisors, teachers or classmates.
- Missing money, valuables, prescription or prescription drugs, borrowing and stealing money.
- Acting isolated, silent, withdrawn, engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors.
- Clashes with family values and beliefs.
- Preoccupation with alcohol and drug-related lifestyle in music, clothing and posters.
- Demanding more privacy, locking doors and avoiding eye contact.
- Sudden change in relationships, friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies.
- Frequently getting into trouble (arguments, fights, accidents, illegal activities).
- Using incense, perfume, air freshener to hide smell of smoke or drugs.
- Using eye drops to mask bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils.
Psychological warning signs of alcohol or drug abuse:
- Unexplained, confusing change in personality and/or attitude.
- Sudden mood changes, irritability, angry outbursts or laughing at nothing.
- Periods of unusual hyperactivity or agitation.
- Lack of motivation; inability to focus, appears lethargic or “spaced out.”
- Appears fearful, withdrawn, anxious, or paranoid, with no apparent reason.
For more information about talking to your kids about drugs and alochol, or about substance abuse in general, visit the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids website or the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence website.
Parent Training: Mental Health at the High School Age
Thursday, March 2 at 6 p.m. at Lincoln Sudbury Regional High School
Tuesday, March 14 at 7 p.m. at Congregation Beth Elohim Early Learning Center
William James College INTERFACE Referral Service is a mental health and wellness referral line available to families in the Sudbury and Lincoln Communities as well as Boston families with children in the Sudbury and Lincoln schools. This free and confidential service is available to residents of all ages in member towns.
Callers will be asked to describe their need and provide insurance, appointment time and location preferences. INTERFACE staff will then use their extensive database to find a licensed therapist or provider match with the appropriate specialization. They are able to make referrals in the Sudbury, Lincoln and Boston areas. INTERFACE is available Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 888-244-6843 (toll free).