Prevention for Families

Keep Your Teen Drug-Free :: January '22 Issue

Self care in the New Year

We’ve happily kicked 2021 to the curb and welcomed in 2022 with open arms. Now it is time to figure out what we want to make of this fresh, new year. If we learned anything in 2021, it is the importance of self-care and connection for a healthy mind and body. We may still be wearing masks, social distancing, and dealing with other COVID-related regulations, however, the time to get motivated, set new goals, and create joy is now. Students of all ages can and should be encouraged to do the same. When it comes to New Year resolutions, experts say that 60% of people abandon them within the first six months, while another 25% do so after just one week. With that in mind, instead of getting stuck on repeat, let’s focus on meaningful, achievable goals that promote well-being for ourselves and others.

Studies show that the key to successful goal setting is to WRITE IT DOWN and refer back to it often. It has been found that people who put their goals on paper were 42% more likely to achieve them. So, let’s gather our students, with pens and papers in hand and get started.

Two essential points for a healthy mind and body, as we all know, is to move our bodies and watch what we put into it. But there are a variety of other self-care items that can also be included on their 2022 checklists.

• Talk to yourself with kindness. We tend to be our own worst critic. Let’s make a point to give ourselves the same break we give (or should give) others.

• Try guided meditation. It is shown to reduce stress and anxiety, while improving memory and attention span, along with a variety of other health benefits. There are endless apps and websites to get you started.

• Remove negativity from your life or distance yourself from people or things that bring you down. It may simply involve turning off the news, or not-so-simply involve a thorough examination of the company you’ve been keeping.

• Let go of a grudge and forgive. Just as it was freeing to let go of 2021, it is equally freeing to let go of a grudge. Forgiveness of others is a huge gift to yourself, mentally and physically.

• Make your bed as soon as you get out of it. This way you begin each day with an accomplishment already under your belt.

Once they’ve written down some ideas on taking care of themselves, it’s time to come up with some ways to reach out and help others. This is a win for the giver and the receiver. The benefit to the receiver is obvious. However, research shows that helping others provides the giver with a sense of purpose and increased self-confidence. Experiencing that sense of connectedness with others can also improve mood, decrease stress, and even boost the immune system.

What is Prevention?

Prevention for Families is a monthly newsletter designed to give parents tips and ideas for preventing youth substance use. But what is prevention and why is it important?

When we’re talking about substance use, prevention is all the effort we put into stopping (or delaying) someone’s decision to use substances before it happens. Prevention efforts can be a lot of different things–the best efforts are those that promote mental / physical wellness, positive relationships, and pro-social activities. Why put in the effort to stop it before it happens? It’s a lot easier (and less expensive) to prevent substance use than to help someone recover once they are using. Plus, we know kids are happier and healthier when they aren’t using substances.

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Serious Conversations

Talking to your child about heavy topics like alcohol, drugs, or sex can be intimidating. Parents can help protect kids against drug use by giving them the facts before they're in a risky situation. This can make them less likely to experiment with drugs or to rely on friends for answers. You are a role model for your kids, and your views on alcohol, tobacco, and drugs can strongly affect how they think about them. So, make talking about drugs a part of your general health and safety conversations.

These suggestions may help:

● Think of it as a continuing conversation rather than one big talk. Look for chances to bring topics up naturally (like when a TV character is caught drinking). Mention the subjects regularly as opportunities arise.

● Remember that it’s okay not to have all the answers. Ask for time to think something over, or say, “I don’t know. Let’s look it up.” If you tell your child you will get back to him/her with information, make a note to yourself so you’ll remember.

● Share your values firmly and clearly, but try not to lecture, or your middle grader may shut down. If he makes a comment you don’t agree with—say, he thinks kids should be allowed to get tattoos—you might ask, “Why do you think that?” Listen to his views and explain your own. Point out that while he has the right to his opinion, your rules stand.

Setting Expectations

Monitor in your home: Make it clear to your child that you don’t allow unchaperoned parties or gatherings in your home. If possible, however, encourage them to invite friends over when you are home. The more entertaining your child does in your home, the more you will know about your child’s friends and activities.

Connect with other parents: Getting to know other parents and guardians can help you keep closer tabs on your child. Friendly relations can make it easier to reach out to the parents of your child’s friend if you suspect there is underage drinking or substance use happening. You are likely to find out you are not the only parent who wants to prevent teen alcohol and drug use-many other parents share your concern.

Keep track of your child’s activities: Be aware of your child’s plans and whereabouts. Generally, your child will be more open to your supervision if they feel you are keeping tabs on them because you care, not because you distrust them.

Start early: Setting and enforcing clear expectations about not using alcohol as a teenager are key to delaying first use. That’s important, since the younger adolescents are when they first use alcohol or drugs, the more likely they are to deal with its negative consequences throughout their lifetime.

Keep communication open: Be interested in your teens life and be open to information they may share. Not only will this make it easier to talk about difficult issues regarding substances and other topics, but it will also give you information about where your teen may be facing pressure or temptation to use substances.

SMS Prevention Club

Shuksan Middle School has a student-led prevention club that aims to promote mental/physical wellness, healthy choices, and connection. When teens are well and feel connected to their school community, they make better decisions around substance use. Our Prevention Club will be reconvening in January and is open to all students at SMS. If your student is interested in getting involved, have them contact Mr. Giles through email. They will get an invitation to join and participate in prevention discussions and projects. Students will also have the opportunity to attend prevention conferences with clubs across WA state. Previous projects have included decorating bulletin boards around the school, organizing and participating in the Shuksan Family Community Night, and clean-up projects to keep our school clean and safe.
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Shuksan Middle School SAP Program

Worried that your teen may be struggling with substance-related issues? The Student Assistance Professional (SAP) Program exists to serve students who may be using substances themselves, are at a higher risk for using substances, or are struggling with family members who use substances. Students can work one-on-one with the Student Assistance Professional or participate in a group with other students with similar experiences. Services are tailored to individual student needs and often include learning coping skills, teaching refusal skills, and learning about the risks of substance use. All referrals and conversations are confidential, and students will not get in trouble for disclosing information to the Student Assistance Professional. (Limitations to confidentiality are suicide plans, reports of abuse, or information about the injury of another person). Referrals can be made by phone or email to Mr. Giles.

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What would you like to see in the next issue?

Contact Kelly Giles with any suggestions, comments, or questions.

Kelly Giles

Student Assistance Professional (SAP, SUDP) Shuksan Middle School

Northwest ESD 189

360-676--6454 ext 4857

Kelly Giles

Student Assistance Professional (SAP, SUDP)

Shuksan Middle School

Northwest ESD 189