An Ounce of Prevention

Did you know that there is a drug-related death in New Hampshire every 27 hours?  Or that alcohol and drug misuse costs New Hampshire more than $1.84 billion annually in lost productivity, increased healthcare expenditures and public safety costs?  Or  that  NH youth aged 14-18 who reported using marijuana and alcohol were twice as likely to also report experiencing mental health issues including depression and suicide plans or attempts?

Mental and substance use disorders can profoundly impact the health of individuals, their families, and their communities and they often go hand in hand.  By 2020, it is estimated that mental health and substance misuse disorders will surpass all physical diseases as a major cause of disability worldwide.

The good news is that these disorders are both treatable and preventable.  Even better,  according to the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council, the cost-benefit ratios for early treatment and prevention programs for addictions and mental illness programs range from 1:2 to 1:10.   In other words, a $1 investment yields $2 to $10 savings in health costs, criminal and juvenile justice costs, educational costs, and lost productivity.

What can you do to protect your kids? While the issues can no doubt be complicated,  here are a few ounces of prevention that can be worth a pound of cure.

  1. Take care.  Make sure that you (and your friends and loved ones) get regular check ups and reach out for help if needed. An extensive list of resources can be found on our website.
  2. Be a positive role model.  Kids – whether they’re your children or those that live down the street – learn from those around them and likely notice far more than you may realize.
  3. Talk to Your Kids.  They are listening!  In fact, studies show that kids who learn about the risks of drugs and alcohol from their parents and caregivers are up to 50% less likely to use drugs and alcohol than those who do not. These studies also show that the fear of disappointing parents is the number one reason tweens and teens decide not to use.  Not sure how or at what age to start the conversation?  Our colleagues at DrugFreeNH.org offer helpful tips organized by age group that you can check out by clicking here.
  4. Be Involved In Your Kid’s Life.  Children are less likely to use drugs when they have relationships with caring adults.
  5. Establish Rules and Follow Through.  Parents’ leniency is a bigger factor in teenage drug use than peer pressure.   Roughly 15% of students surveyed aged 14-18 in Goffstown indicated that their parents don’t think its wrong for someone their age to smoke cigarettes or use alcohol regularly.
  6. Encourage Your Child to Work Hard in School.  Kids who perform well in school are less likely to become involved with alcohol and drugs.
  7. Support Your Child’s Involvement in Outside Activities.  Kids who pursue their interests and dreams are less likely to try alcohol and drugs.

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