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The National Night of Conversation

The National Night of Conversation

The National Night of Conversation

In an effort to address the national problem of addiction, the three-time Daytime Emmy Award-winning The Dr. Oz Show is organizing a National Night Of Conversation November 19th to encourage every family in the country to sit down to dinner and talk with your teen about drugs, alcohol and addiction.

Teens may try a number of substances, including cigarettes, alcohol, household chemicals (inhalants), prescription and over-the-counter medicines, and illegal drugs. Teens use alcohol more than any other substance. Marijuana is the illegal drug that teens use most often.

Teens may use a substance for many reasons. They may do it because:

  • They want to fit in with friends or certain groups.
  • They like the way it makes them feel.
  • They believe it makes them more grown up.

Teen Drunk Driving: The Sobering Facts of Underage DUIs

Across the U.S. young people some as young as 15 — can obtain driver’s licenses under graduated license programs. Unfortunately these youthful drivers — though prohibited from buying alcohol until age 21 are generating some sobering DUI statistics.

Although drivers under the age of 21 represent 10 percent of licensed drivers they are responsible for 17 percent of fatal alcohol-related crashes.

Approximately 2,000 underage drinkers die each year behind the wheel and alcohol is a factor in a third of all teenage auto fatalities.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

The offense of driving under the influence, or DUI, typically relates to alcohol intoxication. But alcohol is just one of countless substances that can impair one’s ability to operate a motor vehicle. Driving under the influence of drugs — including prescription medications as well as illegal drugs — can also result in DUI charges.

Mixing drugs and driving, whether it’s medicinal marijuana or legally prescribed muscle relaxers, is just as illegal as driving drunk and can also constitute a DUI offense. Doctor’s orders are no defense to drugged driving charges.

A 2010 survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that roughly 10 million Americans drove under the influence of illegal drugs in the previous year.

More than 18 percent of fatally injured drivers in tested positive for at least one illegal or prescription drug in 2009, according to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Another NHTSA survey found that one in five motorists killed in car crashes in 2009 tested positive for drugs.

Different drugs affect drivers in different ways. But those that impair judgment, alertness, concentration or motor skills are considered just as (if not more) dangerous than alcohol.

Setting the Table for an Open Dialogue with your Teens

Talking to teenagers is difficult to begin with. Talking to them about drugs and alcohol is even harder. As a parent you are often met with resistance. The good news is that there are ways to engage your teen that promote open and positive communication.

The Partnership for Drug Free Kids suggests these effective tools to set the stage for a conversation about substances:

  • Keep an open mind. If you want to have a productive conversation with your teen, one thing to keep in mind is that when a child feels judged or condemned, she is less likely to be receptive to your message. We suggest that, in order to achieve the best outcome for you and your teen, try to preserve a position of objectivity and openness. We understand this is challenging and may take practice.
  • Put yourself in your teen’s shoes. For instance, consider the manner in which you yourself would prefer to be addressed when speaking about a difficult subject. It might be helpful to think about how you felt when you were a teen.
  • Be clear about your goals. It may help to write them down. Once you know what you would like to get from the conversation, you can look back at these afterward and review what went right, what went wrong, what goals were met, which ones are to be saved for a later date, and whether you were able to deliver them effectively.
  • Be positive. If you approach a situation with shame, anger, scare tactics, or disappointment, your efforts will be counterproductive. Instead, be attentive, curious, respectful, and understanding.

To read more, download their free guide at www.drugfree.org/MJTalkKit.

Talking with your teen about drugs doesn’t have to be awkward and uncomfortable. In this video, parenting expert Heather Senior, LCSW, explains how to set the stage to have a respectful, open conversation with your teen about pot, alcohol, or any drug.

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