Substance Abuse

Monday, November 2, 2009

Although there has been a decrease in the prevalence of substance abuse in our society, it still continues to be a very serious issue, and one which plays a pivotal role in the area of child maltreatment. For several years now, substance use has been one of the primary contributing factors in terms of child maltreatment deaths. When a parent or caregiver becomes impaired, their ability to drive, supervise appropriately, discipline appropriately, etc. all become a challenge…or worse…deadly. Drownings, car accidents, and positional asphyxiation are all consequences that some children have endured due to their caregivers’ impairments from substance use. Ideally, no one would be in a position where they are abusing drugs or alcohol. However, we know that we have a long road ahead before that is no longer an issue. We implore caregivers then, to please not use substances while caring for children. It impairs judgment, awareness, and the ability to control impulses. It is especially imperative to not drive while using drugs or alcohol, and to not co-sleep with infants due to the high probability of rolling over and suffocating the baby.

Substance abuse prevention must start early…before children even start to school. Not only does there need to be a dialogue about the dangers of using drugs and alcohol, but parents and caregivers must also always be providing loving and nurturing environments and environments where the lines of communication are always kept open. Parents need to become involved in their children’s lives…know who their friends are; know who they’re on-line with; know where they are. Children do not need their parents to be their friends; they need them to be their protectors and the people who provide appropriate guidance.

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