Talking to your kids about drug and alcohol use - KCTV5 News

Talking to your kids about drug and alcohol use

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Prosecutors said they have no plans to press any charges in Quentin Underhill's death, but police are urging parents to use his death to talk to their children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

Alcohol and drug use remains an issue for children between 12 and 17. A local survey recently found that seven percent of metro high school students reported "misusing mostly prescription drugs."

"Kids don't think it's dangerous because it's medication and, in fact, if you're using it in a way, that's not properly diagnosed or prescribed, it can be every bit as dangerous and lethal as any other illicit drug," said Vickie Ward with the Tri-County Mental Health Center.

Ward said teens who take drugs are gambling with their lives.

"Many times kids don't even know what they're using. They're pills. They don't know if it's a stimulant, a narcotic, or if it's a depressant. They may be taking a combination. They may be taking it with alcohol, of which any combination thereof could be lethal," she said.

Different drugs present different symptoms, so it's not always clear what a child may be taking. Ward's best advice is to be a good role model and don't share medication or keep it around for future use. She tells parents to keep their expectations for their child clear and always know where they are and who they're with.

If a parent suspects their child could be abusing drugs, Wards said tot look for the following signs.

"By and large, any time that your child, or a child that you know, is acting differently, then that's a red flag. If they're hanging around a different group of kids, if there's a grade change, a behavior change, sleeping more or sleeping less, those are signs that there might be some kind of drug abuse," she said.

Ward's no. 1 tip is communication, There's no such thing as one conversation about drugs and alcohol – it should be an ongoing dialogue. She said that goes a long way in letting a child do what he or she wants most of all.

"Kids just want to get together and hang out. It's up to us to make sure they have a safe environment to do that," she said.

Ward said there are a lot of useful tools online. Click here for more information in talking to your teen about drugs.

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