Holly Wixon
  1. Talking, and talking early

    There’s a strong likelihood that your child already has opinions about drugs and alcohol. There’s also a good chance that the information is not accurate or maybe even dangerous. Every year the average age of drug and alcohol use decreases, so it’s never too early to talk (not lecture) about drugs and alcohol and understand what their opinions are. Be honest, keep communication open, and stay non-judgmental - allow your child to feel that you are a safe person to come to with questions or struggles. The TalkSooner App is a great resource for having conversations with kids about substance abuse.

  2. Stay informed

    The drug and alcohol culture is constantly changing. There are new ways to hide drugs (like stash pockets sewn into clothing), equipment to make drugs is more accessible (available on Amazon), and the language of substance use can make parents feel like outsiders or be used to keep things completely hidden (a common example of texting language, PIR – “parent in room” or “9” – parent is near). These are all reasons why it is important for parents or loved ones to stay informed of current drug trends. You can do that by attending trainings, talking to your local addiction counselor, searching the web if something doesn’t feel right. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has a helpful Drug Guide.

  3. Know your child

    It is during the experimentation phase of drug use that usage begins to spread. When a person uses a substance and it feels good, they want to share it with their friends. It is important for parents to know who their child is spending time with and where they are spending time together. It’s also important to know what a person’s typical behavior is, which brings us to…

  4. Know when to get help, and know that that’s okay

    When someone loses interest in activities that they used to enjoy, stops spending time with positive friends or family members, or experiences significant mood changes, there may be more going on. Ask direct questions and emphasize that you want to help and that getting help is not a sign of weakness. If the person is resistant, be patient, and call a therapist if you need another resource. 
    Learn how Wedgwood can help

  5. Don’t be an “Accidental Dealer”

Just like you would keep weapons locked up in your house, prescription drugs deserve the same attention. Keep an inventory of drugs and alcohol that are in the house and check it often. “Pharm parties” or trading prescription drugs are common and can lead to mixing drugs/alcohol, a potentially lethal mistake. Additionally, if you have leftover prescription pills, check with your local pharmacy on proper disposal.   


Holly Wixon, MA, LMSW, CAADC, is the Clinical Supervisor of Wedgwood's Substance Use Disorder programs. To learn more about Wedgwood's continuum of care for Substance Use Disorder click here. If you or someone you know is in need of services please call our Bouma Counseling Center at (616) 942-7294 or click here for more information about services available in your county.



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