I’ve Locked the Cabinet – Now What?

Thank you for signing the “I’ve Locked the Cabinet” pledge. By signing the pledge, you have sent a powerful message to your child and everyone in your social circle that prescription drug abuse will not be tolerated in your home. You are part of a movement that will save countless teens’ lives.

As part of educating the public on addiction, Elements will send a free copy of the book “The Addiction Primer” to the first 20 people who pledge to lock the cabinet. Just complete the form below.

Comments or questions are welcome.

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But as you know, the work of protecting our children from prescription drugs is never complete. The conversations must be ongoing, and the high level of personal involvement maintained throughout adolescence and into young adulthood.

Once you’ve signed the pledge, consider these next steps in the challenge:

Share Frequent Family Dinners

Parental engagement is the key to preventing teen substance abuse, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA). There’s no better way to find out about your teen’s day than to sit down together and share a meal. Aim for at least five nights a week, as research shows that teens who have two or fewer family dinners are:

  • 3.5 times more likely to abuse prescription drugs
  • 3 times more likely to use marijuana
  • 3.5 times more likely to use other illegal drugs

Even if your teen seems annoyed by your insistence on family time, studies show that 84 percent would rather have dinner as a family than eat alone. And the pay-off extends to how well they do in school. Teens who have dinner with their families at least five nights per week are more likely to receive mostly As and Bs in school than those who have less than three family dinners each week.

Monitor Internet Use

There’s no question drug dangers are lurking in your medicine cabinet, as well as in school and in your neighborhood. Even if you’ve talked to your teen and locked your medicine cabinet, you may have missed one other significant risk: the Internet.

According to CASA, adolescents are falling prey to the widespread advertising and illegal sale of prescription drugs online. In just a couple mouse-clicks, your teen can purchase OxyContin, Valium, Xanax, Vicodin and other medications without a prescription.

While federal agencies have been cracking down on Internet pharmacies, hundreds continue to operate and pose a threat to adolescents. You can help prevent teen prescription drug abuse by:

  • Putting the computer in a common area of the house, such as the kitchen or living room
  • Monitoring your child’s online activities
  • Utilizing parental controls and security settings
  • Talking about the dangers of online pharmacies

Encourage Healthy Sleep Patterns

What does sleep have to do with drug use? More than you’d think, according to researchers at the University of California, San Diego and Harvard University. They found that teenagers who sleep less than seven hours per night are more likely to use drugs. Protect your teen by doing the following:

  • Limit the use of computers, cell phones and television at night.
  • Do not allow your teen to have a computer in their bedroom.
  • Maintain a consistent bedtime and nighttime routine.
  • Keep your teen’s bedroom cool, quiet and dark at night.
  • Restrict consumption of caffeine near bedtime.
  • Avoid eating, drinking and exercising within a few hours of bedtime.

Continue to Show Your Love

Parents have no shortage of love for their children, but we don’t always show it. Even when they don’t seem to want it or your affection threatens to “embarrass” them, remember to do one or more of the following every day:

  • Tell them, “I love you.”
  • Offer a hug, pat on the back or other sign of affection.
  • Ask them, “How was your day?” If they don’t answer, ask more pointed questions.
  • Listen actively when they talk.
  • Offer praise and encouragement for a job well done.
  • Help them with their homework or offer to work through a problem with them.
  • Establish clear rules and expectations, and help them understand why those rules are in place.

By taking these steps, you will not only shield your teen from prescription drug abuse, but you will be creating a home that offers steadfast protection from all kinds of threats to your child’s future.