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  1. Teach your values.  Communicate them openly.  Talk about why values such as honesty, self-reliance, and responsibility are important, and how values help children make good decisions.  Teach your children how each decision builds on previous decisions as one’s character is formed, and how a good decision makes the next decision easier.
  2. Educate yourself on signs and symptoms of drug use and abuse.
  3. Clean out your medicine cabinet – any unused prescribed medicines should be safely removed from your home; not flushed or disposed of. 
  4. Before you request medication, especially for your child, discuss the need for the quantity and dosage.
  5. Know what you have, keep medication safely stored and monitored; no matter how well you know and trust your child or your child’s friends.
  6. Communication is the key.  Communication is open, it is honest, and it is a dialogue. It involves both talking and listening.   It is never too early to let your child know how important they are to you.  Ask your child what their experiences have been and how they respond to pressures from others around them.
  7. Teach them to say no, teach them to refuse dangerous substances, and to make healthy choices.  You taught them to look both ways crossing the street, and to avoid the hot stove; you must do the same when it comes to drugs.  Teaching implies modeling, as your child will learn more from what you do then from what you say. Recognize how your actions affect the development of your child’s values.
  8. Be a parent, not a friend; there will be plenty of time to develop a friendship when your child becomes an adult.
  9. Know your children’s friends, learn about their lives.  The more you know, the more you can understand, and the more you understand, the safer your child is.
  10. Be aware.  If you see something, say something.  Call the police if you observe any illegal activity.
  11. Understand the strength and potency of the drugs available to your children, not just those available on the streets but also the medication prescribed by your own doctor. One night of poor decisions can be fatal.  Communicate this to your children in a strong, yet loving way.
  12. Place time limits on activities that keep your child isolated.  Video gaming can disconnect your child from your family.  Monitor the computer and other influences; computers should be located in a central place within your home, not your child’s bedroom.  Keep your child connected to your family.
  13. Make family time.  Somehow, with all the hectic demands of the day find the time – your children need to be your priority.  You don’t get a second chance to get time back.
  14. If you suspect your child is drinking or drugging, get help immediately.  Reach out to family, friends, school, and/or COMTREA.
  15. Make sure your pediatrician is knowledgeable about signs and symptoms of drug use and abuse.  Ask him/her how they address the issue of substance use.  Conducting a urine screen in your physician’s office can alert you to a problem.
  16. Making excuses for behavior that doesn’t make sense or is illegal or illicit can be lethal.  The earlier you can get your child help the sooner your child can begin to recover.
  17. Look for opportunities to speak and teach your child about drugs and alcohol.
  18. Maintain your values, even when it is often hard to stand your ground - hold firmly onto what is important to you. Your children are counting on it.
  19. Make rules and enforce consequences. Don't be afraid to say, “NO". This simple word can save your child's life.
  20. Reinforce the healthy and positive choices. Find what your children do well, as we all have strengths, and nurture them every day. Every child needs to have limitations and understand expectations.
  21. Keep educating yourself - learn the signs and symptoms of drug use. Know the things that may put your child at risk for drug use:
    • A child who begins to smoke and drink in their pre-teen years is more likely to develop an addiction as they grow up.
    • A child who lives in a home where parents drink and do drugs are at greater risk than others.
    • The child, who feels lost, alone, isolated, bullied, or unsuccessful is at greater risk for turning to alcohol or drugs to make the pain go away. Drugs are a powerful anesthetic, especially if your child knows no other way to make him/herself feel better.
  22. More permissive attitudes about substance use also predict greater risks for addiction.
  23. Be aware. Maintain contact with the parents of your children’s friends. Know who they are. Your children will find friends who share their values and perceptions. If you have concerns about friends, do something. If you don’t know who your child’s friends are invite them into your home!
  24. Follow your instincts. If you think something is wrong, talk to your child. If your child won’t talk or you can’t get the conversation started, ask for help. There is help all around (school personnel, COMTREA, internet resources, houses of worship, etc.).
  25. If a child is uncomfortable talking about feelings or certain topics, it’s probably because we have given the impression that we are also uncomfortable.
  26. It can happen to anyone; don’t put your head in the sand. Pay attention, especially during stressful and/or transitional times in your family. It can be your child! Status, education, wealth, and other factors don’t protect your children.
  27. Stay connected. Speak with other parents; join in activities with your child. Find the commonalities that can bring you together. Have a dialog with the parents of your children’s friends about their expectations. Agree to share information with one another and use one another for support. A united front from parents and other adults in your child’s life that presents consistent expectations, consequences, etc., can save lives.
  28. Get them involved. that children who are more involved with outside clubs and organizations are less likely to become drug and alcohol involved. The more healthy resources they have, the safer they will be.
  29. Somehow, someway, find time, each day, to connect to your child. Every child needs to connect, to feel loved, and to feel special. Life is busy and stressful, but making the time for what is important is essential.
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