Helping to Keep Young People Substance and Addiction Free

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Answer: I understand your reluctance to tattle, but you are not doing yourself or the kids using drugs in the bathroom a favor by staying silent. You could start by sending an anonymous letter to both the school principle and the officers of the school parent association.  If they do nothing, send the same letter to the local police.  Some adult will stand up and do something.

Answer: You could just be honest, let them know your parents’ rules, and call your parents to pick you up. Let your friends know that you will be in a ton of trouble if you stay and your parents find out.  Your friends may argue, but you can always pretend to be too worried to stay. But really, the best thing to do is to ask in advance if parents will be home before going to a friend’s house. This way you avoid the problem entirely.

Answer: This happens often as we begin to grow up, it is never easy, but you have several choices, Susan.  You can be honest with your friend.  This is the most difficult choice because it may make her angry and it may cause her to drop you as a friend.

You could see your friend at times she is not with her new friends. If she is very involved with her new friends, it may be hard to find times to get together. But you should be able to fit some time in.

And in between, focus on some of your other friends, get involved in activities that introduce you to new people, and know that eventually your friend will probably realize what she has left behind.

Answer: Entering middle school can be one of the most difficult times of growing up. We go from much smaller elementary schools where we got to know our classmates and teachers well to a much larger environment where everyone seems to be trying to prove something.  But it can also be an exciting and fun time, if we let it.

If you want to make friends, be nice. Smile. Have good things to say. That’s the first step.

Then look for people who enjoy the things you do and then sign up for sports and clubs where they will be present.  Soccer, drama, chess, mathletes, science club – the opportunities are so varied when we get to middle school.  Joining an activity you like and meeting other people with whom you have that activity in common with is a great step towards developing friendships in a new environment.

Answer: This is a tough one, Micah.  Do you tattle and potentially lose a friend – or even worse, get labeled for tattling. Do you simply talk to your friend about the damage he is doing to himself – and ask him why he is doing it?

I think the best people to handle this are the adults in this kids’ life.  If his parents aren’t noticing he is getting high, they might not be the best choice.  Talk with your parents about it, ask them what adult they might suggest talking to who might help your friend.  And then ask them to talk to the adult.  Remember, you are a kid, too.  While it is wonderful that you care about your friend, you are in no position to determine why he is trying drugs or to counsel him about them. That is an adult responsibility, so turn it over to the adults.

Let me begin by telling you that I admire you for speaking up about this, Jenna. While kids should always be respectful of their parents, there are times when they have to draw the line, especially where their safety is involved.

Try suggesting that your parents take turns when you all go out to dinner; that each time one of them acts as the designated driver.  If that does not work, gather some statistics and facts on driving under the influence, call a family meeting, and present them to them. If that still doesn’t work, enlist your grandparents, a trusted aunt or uncle, or your clergyman to speak with them. And if all else fails, refuse to get in the car to go out to dinner unless they promise that one of them will remain substance-free.

Answer: If you ever happen to find yourself in a situation where you’re offered or being pressured into doing drugs, the simplest answer is to say no. Saying no might not seem easy, but once you’re assertive with people and clearly express your feelings, you’d be surprised at how quickly people back down. You could say something as simple as “no thanks” or “I’m okay,” and people who care about you and your comfortability wouldn’t keep pressuring you. Another way to refuse drugs or alcohol in a social situation is to say “no thanks, I’m allergic” or something along those lines. It’s important to remember that kids like us with alcoholism in our genes are allergic to alcohol and drugs. And think about it, what kind of person would force you to eat or drink something you’re allergic to? It’s not like you make a friend who’s allergic to peanuts eat Reese’s cups! However, if you continue to feel trapped or backed into a corner, you can take yourself out of the situation. It’s much better to leave a party early than to do something you know is bad for you. Your safety and health should always be your #1 priority.

Answer: Sometimes the alcoholic needs a wake-up call. I would suggest giving the kids copies of the book and wristbands. Then after they read it they can show their parent what you gave them.

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