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This Mālama Ola Minute focuses on teen substance abuse prevention. Learn how to celebrate responsibly especially during graduation season and beyond. This column is brought to you by the Kamehameha Schools Health Services Department – Mālama Ola (To Care for Life).

Mālama Ola Minute:  Substance Abuse Prevention

May. 30, 2019

Graduation season is here! Over the next few weeks, thousands of teens across Hawaiʻi will be celebrating this joyous milestone surrounded by loved ones. It is also a time to think about safety and how to celebrate responsibly. How do we ensure that the promising lives of our youth are not abruptly cut short by an accident that could have been prevented?

The Center for Disease Control & Prevention (2016) found one of the leading causes of deaths among adolescents aged 15-24 years is accidents (unintentional injuries) resulting in over 10,000 lives lost. That is almost an 8 percent increase over the previous year.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that fatal motor vehicle injuries account for the largest proportion of fatal vehicle-related injuries among U.S. adolescents between the ages of 15 and 24.  Most adolescents killed as passengers are in vehicles driven by other adolescent drivers.

The National Vital Statistics Reports-CDC (2017) reported the death rate from drug-induced and/or alcohol-induced causes for age 15-24 is 69.5/100,000. 

According to the Vital Statistics of Hawai‘i from the 2016 State of Hawaiʻi Data Book, there are  over 80,000 15-24 year-olds in Hawai‘i nei.  With these high-risk probabilities, it is estimated that over 50 of our keiki in the adolescent age group will die in Hawaiʻi due to alcohol and drug use.

KS understands the need for supporting our haumāna to help them be successful both at school and in life. From the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s website there are many things you can do to help your children stay away from drugs and make good choices:

Talk with your children about alcohol and drugs. Explain why alcohol or drugs can hurt their health, their friends and family, and their future. Tell them you don't want them to drink alcohol or take drugs that they aren’t supposed to.

  • Text your teen. Send positive text messages to your teen or follow up a conversation with a text that reminds them of your talk. You don't have to worry about popular texting language. Just write the way you talk.
  • Be a part of their lives. Spend time together. Even when times are hard, kids can make it when they know that the adults in their life care about them. Give your child your full attention. Turn off your TV, cell phone, or computer, and really listen.
  • Know where your children are and what they're doing. Keeping track of your children helps you protect them. It gives them fewer chances to get into drugs.
  • Set clear rules and enforce them fairly. Kids need rules they can count on. That is how they learn for themselves what is safe and what can get them in trouble.
  • Be a good example for your children. You might not think so, but kids look up to their parents. Show them how you get along with people and deal with stress, so they can learn how to do it.
  • Teach your children how to refuse drugs and alcohol. Kids often do drugs just to fit in with the other kids. Help them practice how to say no if someone offers them drugs.
  • Make your home safe. Know the people you have in the house and avoid having people who abuse drugs and alcohol there. Keep track of medicines and cleaning products you have in the house.

Additional resources: 

Impaired Driving: Talk with Your Kids 

Preventing Teen Drug Use 

Talking with your Teen about Drug Use: 

Drug Facts 

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