by Clara Firpo-Cappiello –
The iASK (Irvington About Safe Kids) organization formed by the Irvington Community Advisory Board (CAB) presented an informational meeting on November 20 that detailed what every parent should know about teenage drug and alcohol abuse. The event focused on the basics of keeping teenagers safe. Not only did the meeting provide parents with information about the dangers of alcohol, vaping, marijuana and nicotine usage; it also included an interactive activity through which parents could learn to better understand the warning signs of addiction, along with information about current trends in these dangerous activities.
Parents who didn’t attend the event might wonder: What is there to learn?
Most parents of teenagers have probably had a conversation with their child at least once about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, but some may not fully understand the current situation.
Vaping, for instance, is a very recent drug use trend. Not a lot of research has been done on what vaping can do to your body — particularly the teen body. What we do know about vaping is that it is dangerous; as mentioned during the event, vaping can be associated with respiratory distress, seizures, gum disease and decay, and other serious health issues. Typically, vaping is a way of taking in vaporized nicotine — often in the form of a juul, or in the case of marijuana usage, dab “pens.”
The use of alcohol and marijuana, as well as other substances, is especially dangerous for teenagers. By partaking in substance use, particularly substance abuse, teens are at risk of lowering their grades or productivity and endangering their lives in general. Driving under the influence is a well-known danger, but the physical side effects of drug and alcohol use can be just as life-threatening. A decline in mental health can take place when anyone begins to abuse alcohol and/or drugs, as decision-making becomes impaired, leading to further possible physical or emotional problems.
What can a parent do to make sure their child isn’t participating in these illicit activities that threaten their health?
Education is the first step.
iASK-CAB presented parents with ways to open the conversation of the dangers of substance abuse with their children. Raising awareness to the issues that ensue after a teenager begins to use drugs or alcohol is an important step in helping a minor understand how serious substance abuse is. Having the conversation in a calm and nurturing manner, rather than in an accusatory way, is crucial to having a productive heart-to-heart with your teenager. Providing children with information about the severity of drug and alcohol use at a young age can prevent them from endangering themselves in the future.
Apart from educating parents about how to help their children understand substance abuse, iASK-CAB provided parents with information on how to recognize signs that their child is abusing alcohol or drugs. Knowing the warning signs that a child is in danger of addiction or substance abuse is something all parents should be taught. Noticing when a child comes home later than their curfew and/or is acting out-of-focus or unusual in general may be signs that children are participating in substance use.
Understanding the warning signs and taking action are crucial steps to helping a child grasp the severity of substance abuse.
iASK-CAB holds many events, such as this recent presentation, to help parents and students address and navigate issues that affect everyone in the community. Open communication is key to acknowledging these issues and striving to keep children and families safe.