Let’s Talk guide helps parents talk to their children about drugs

Contact: Communications Dept., 212-595-5810, ext. 7854

For Immediate Release

New Guide Helps Parents Talk To Their Kids About Drugs

(New York, Nov. 19, 1998) — Recognizing the critical role of parents in drug prevention, the American Council for Drug Education (ACDE), an affiliate of Phoenix House, has produced a valuable new guide called, “Let’s Talk: Communicating With Your Child About Tobacco, Alcohol, And Other Drugs.”

Designed in an easy-to-follow format, “Let’s Talk” provides parents with detailed instructions on talking about the dangers of these harmful substances with their children, ages 3 to 15. It also features background information on the disturbing levels of adolescent drug use in America, and colorful charts on stages of child development and the effects of drug abuse.

“Parents are unquestionably their children’s first and most important teachers,” says Martha Gagne’, Director of ACDE. “The messages they deliver influence their children, not just for today, but throughout their lives. It is clear that caring adults have the best chance of helping children grow up to be drug free, and our new guide is designed to give them the tools they need to perform this very important function.”

Three Different Age Groups

Recognizing important distinctions, the guide presents drug prevention strategies and information for three different age groups — pre-schoolers (3-5), school age children (6-10), and young adolescents (11-15). For preschoolers, the emphasis is on developing self-help, problem solving and personal hygiene.

“We begin with pre-schoolers not because we fear children this age will become users,” Ms. Gagne’ explained. “But we are worried about them turning to tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs when they are 10, 11, or 12; the time to begin drug education is before the problem exists. The foundations for all healthy habits, from eating nutritiously to dressing appropriately for the weather, are laid down in the preschool years.

“It’s also important to realize that even young children hear about drugs. Unless adults take the time to help children sort through the messages they receive, the youngsters may begin to understand drugs in a way which could lead to trouble in the years ahead.”

School age children are influenced by peer groups, but appreciate having limits in place. Young adolescents encounter an array of challenges, including self-doubt, concern about personal appearance, and expanding social consciences. These circumstances create the need for different parental approaches to drug information and prevention, according to Ms. Gagne’. “Conversations with children at all age levels must be rooted in the realities of their lives,” she adds.

Conversations & Responses

The guide also portrays conversations between parents and children, suggesting responses that generate effective communication on a variety of topics. These include adolescents claiming that a parent who lived through the 1960s or 70s, and perhaps experimented with drugs, should acquiesce in use by the teenager. The guide recommends “speaking honestly about your own past use, explaining what experience has taught you.

“Bear in mind that you don’t have to project a perfect image or be a perfect parent to be an effective communicator. We are all human, and this is in itself an important message.”

Guide Available Through ACDE

The guide was written by ACDE’s Dr. Laura J. Colker and Dr. Charles H. Flatter, who have written and spoken extensively on the subject of Parents and drug prevention. It includes photographs, art work and a resource guide for additional help and information. Funding for the project was provided by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. To obtain a copy of Let’s Talk send a $3.60 check or money order payable to the “American Council for Drug Education” to: ACDE, 164 W. 74th Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10023, or call 1-800-488-DRUG.

Founded in 1977, the American Council for Drug Education (ACDE) produces and distributes a wide range of scientifically based drug education and prevention materials for schools, the workplace and the general public. ACDE reaches hundreds of thousands of people annually through print, broadcast media and film. The Council operates a 24-hour, toll-free, confidential drug help and referral service, 1-800-DRUG-HELP and website, www.drughelp.org.

Since 1995, ACDE has been an affiliate of Phoenix House, the nation’s leading non-profit substance abuse treatment and prevention organization. Phoenix House treats more than 3,000 adolescents and adults in outpatient and residential programs in New York, Texas and California. Founded in 1967, Phoenix House has treated more than 70,000 people — saving lives and strengthening families and communities. To learn more, visit www.phoenixhouse.org.

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