DENVER, Sept. 25, 2017 : As kids navigate the start of the school year, Speak Now! Colorado is making evidence-based resources available for parents and caregivers to help kids develop a plan to avoid stressful situations and manage peer pressure around the use of drugs and alcohol.
According to the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, youth who can ask a parent, guardian or other adult for help are one and a half times less likely to binge drink. Creating a plan is a helpful way to start discussing healthy choices with your kids, especially if a young person is increasingly curious about alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, or other drugs.

The Speak Now! Colorado website, available in English and Spanish, gives parents age-appropriate tools and resources so parents can initiate a positive and successful dialogue with their child about substance use and abuse. The Speak Now! Colorado statewide social marketing campaign is a project of the Office of Behavioral Health within the Colorado Department of Human Services.

Speak Now! recommends that parents and caregivers sit down with young people to create a Healthy Habits Plan using the following easy steps:
1.Come up with reasons to avoid alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs not prescribed for you, and other drugs.
2.Identify pressure points, or situations that can make it difficult to avoid alcohol and/or drugs.
3.Find alternatives. Come up with ways your kids can avoid difficult situations, or ways to relieve peer pressure.
4.Practice going over the newly created action plan so your child is prepared.

Speak Now! also has videos available for parents and caregivers, sample scenarios that precipitate conversations about drugs and alcohol, and information on how to identify high-risk behaviors.

"The key is helping kids come up with effective strategies in advance, before they find themselves in a difficult situation," says Leah Emerick, youth substance abuse prevention coordinator at Denver Public Health. "Starting these conversations can sometimes feel awkward, but having an ongoing discussion with your child is really important. Support from parents and caregivers is crucial for kids, who are often faced with negative peer pressure."

Emerick, who also leads the Denver Partnership for Youth Success, which is focused on empowering adults to have conversations with youth about substance use, recommends asking open-ended questions to encourage dialogue:
•What will you do if there's alcohol at the party?
•How would you handle it if a friend offered you marijuana?
•If your friend gave you his prescription, what would you say?

Emerick says parents and caregivers can empower children by helping them come up with ways to avoid being placed in an awkward situation in the first place, or having a "go-to" response if they find themselves faced with offers of drugs or alcohol.

(Posted on 25 September 2017, 1685693248 3O231O217O107)