As the song goes, “Summertime and the livin’ is easy…” but the summer months also bring new challenges for parents to keep kids safe with more free time on their hands and invitations to attend beach outings, barbecues, and pool parties. All these social events create great memories but they also present opportunities for teens to face pressure to engage in unhealthy behaviors with alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. This makes the start of summer a critical time for parents to talk with their kids, set clear expectations about behavior, and keep in close contact, to help them make smart decisions, stay safe, and avoid risky situations.
According to statistics reported by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in their National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), teens and college students most often use substances for the first time during the months of June and July. Parents need to be vigilant to recognize signs that their child might be experimenting with substances. Clues may be hidden away deliberately or visible in plain sight. Parents need to know what to look for because, in today’s world, there are many items that can be purchased online to hide substance use including JUUL e-cigarettes that look like USB flash drives, flasks disguised as sunscreen or lotion containers, smart phone cases, or even CBD gummy candies.
The Good News is that there are resources available to help parents become more aware and set firm guidelines for their children regarding acceptable choices and behaviors to help navigate them through summer months when socializing peaks! Informed Families/The Florida Family Partnership is a nonprofit organization that offers awesome parenting tips for talking to kids about alcohol and drugs as well as healthy living messages and information about the latest drug trends on its website at www.informedfamilies.org. Their new campaign “Safe Homes Smart Parents” is part of a statewide initiative to ensure that drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes will not be permitted at parties that parents host at their home as well discouraged at parties held by others in the community. You can be held liable both civilly and criminally if any person under the age of 21 has been found drinking alcohol in your home or on your property. This is especially important if parents are planning to go out of town without their kids because homes where parents are absent can often become party sites.
InnerAct Alliance has an informative new resource to educate parents of teens in our community. Offered in partnership with the Polk Sheriff’s Charities, Inc., the “Own the Upside…Avoid the Downside” trailer is a mobile, interactive exhibit housing a replica of a teens’ bedroom. Parents can walk through to learn how to recognize clues signaling potential involvement in drugs and risky behaviors visible in plain sight or easily concealed in everyday items and seemingly ordinary belongings in the room. Civic groups and organizations may invite a representative to visit with the “Own the Upside…Avoid the Downside” trailer and share an informative presentation. Call (863) 802-0777 or visit to arrange a presentation.
Your kids will listen to you! Open family communication helps teens understand the dangers of alcohol and substance abuse and reassures them that they can still have fun while staying out of harm’s way. Stay safe and enjoy summertime!