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Kids and Substance Abuse

It is a sad reality that the vast majority of people who become addicted to tobacco, alcohol and drugs take their first puff, chew, sip, snort or injection when they are young — often, very young. Worse, in recent decades substance abuse has become more widespread among preteen children.

Like the scourges of old, this epidemic spreads without regard to economic, racial, geographic, educational, religious or family boundaries. While containing it in our nation and our communities is an important priority, we can't rely solely on government, law enforcement, education, or even church programs to prevent it from moving across our own doorstep.

No child is immune from the drug epidemic. (Throughout this section, unless otherwise stated, the words drug or drugs will be used to indicate any potentially harmful substance — tobacco, alcohol, prescription medications or illegal drugs.) You must work diligently over the years to "drug-proof" your children. This project involves various tasks that cannot be tackled haphazardly.

First, you must understand what draws kids toward drugs. You also need basic information about the substances that are currently prevalent in your neighborhood. You should become familiar with the signs that a drug problem might be developing in your home. Finally and most importantly, you must be prepared to take long-term preventive measures and to respond appropriately if one or more of these toxins should breach your family's defenses.

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Adapted from the Complete Guide to Family Health, Nutrition & Fitness, a Focus on the Family book published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Copyright © 2006, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

Next in this Series: Why Kids Use Drugs