parentFebruary has been designated as National Parent Leadership Month, an event sponsored for several years by the group Parents Anonymous. The organization, which works to prevent child abuse and neglect in the United States and worldwide, launched the event as a way to “recognize, honor, and celebrate parents for their leadership roles in their homes and communities.” One of the most important leadership roles that a parent can play in today’s society is in the duty to keep his or her children off drugs. There are now so many opportunities for young people to use drugs — from traditional street drugs like marijuana becoming increasingly accepted throughout the United States, to the widespread availability of prescription painkillers, stimulants and other types of pharmaceutical drugs, to the increasing variety of synthetic drugs can evade drug tests and in some cases may even be sold in gas stations and convenience stores — that parents have to be vigilant in working to protect their children from the risk of substance abuse and addiction.

In observance of National Parent Leadership Month, Narconon is sharing advice for parents who are concerned about keeping their children safe from drugs and who want to know more about the actions they can take in this direction:

Talk About It, Now

The most important thing that you can do to help your kids make the right choices about drugs is to talk with them about the subject. Don’t worry too much about getting it just right; you don’t have to give the perfect lecture or tread too lightly in the talk, just make sure that you do have the talk. The important thing is that you open up a line of communication between you and your children on this subject, make sure that they know they can talk to you about it, and let them know that you’re aware of all the various types of drugs that are out there.

Get the Facts

There is abundant information available online about what drugs might be offered to your children, and it is in your best interest to educate yourself about these. Learn what drugs are most popular now, what names are used to refer to them, what effects they have on the user and anything else you can find out. One place to look is at the Foundation for a Drug Free World’s Truth About Drugs website, which features extensive information on the subject, and which presents it in a way that you can share with your children to help them easily understand the subject as well.

Set a Good Example

Don’t underestimate the influence you have on your children’s behavior, attitudes and opinions. Even if they don’t seem to pay much attention to you anymore as teenagers, they still do follow your example, consciously or otherwise. The good and bad things that you say and do towards them and around them will leave an impact on them and help to determine how they act in their own lives. Set an example of how it is possible to live a happy and rewarding life while sober, and avoid doing or saying anything that would tend to make them think that drugs are okay.

Don’t Hesitate to Take Action

If it seems like something is wrong with your children, you might be right. It’s too easy to follow the tendency to rationalize the signs, make up excuses and look for other, less worrisome reasons why they might be acting that way, but you should trust your instinct. If your children seem to be acting differently, if they’re suddenly struggling in school or socially, if they don’t seem to be as open to you as they were before, or anything else that gives you the idea that something is not right, take action now to investigate the situation. Look for evidence of drug use in your child’s room, vehicle or elsewhere. Ask questions and be direct about it. If you find that you’re right and your child is using drugs, do whatever you can to help them quit, because it could be a matter of life or death. This includes getting your child into a rehab treatment program to handle the causes and effects of addiction so that he or she can make a clean break and move on in life free from the chains of drug use. It is not easy, but it is your duty as a leader in your child’s life to help him or her stay safe, healthy and happy.

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