Students across our area are preparing to head back to school. A new study shows parents should also be preparing for potential risky behavior, particularly drug use. A study by the Partnership for a Drug Free North Carolina found teens are using drugs more often and at a younger age to handle the stress of school. Kary Green works as a drug prevention specialist at Coastal Horizons in Wilmington. She has been counseling teens for the past thirteen years and says every year the children she sees get younger. "Young as possible is the key of when you educate your child. Talk to them about it before someone offers it to them, not after," said Green. Green says certain factors may contribute to teens looking to drugs as a coping mechanism. She says many times peer pressure is an issue when students return to school. The study found students are either using drugs to feel cool or to feel better about themselves. "Sometimes kids don't make the right decisions when they are dealing with stress because they don't have the right coping skills to be able to handle stress," said Green. To deal with school stress, green recommends parents getting their children involved in positive activities like sports or clubs. It may sound simple, but she says the best way parents can prevent risky behavior is to know your child. "Just be involved in your child's lives and communicate with them, ask them how they are, when things are different ask them why. Be involved in their life and know who they are hanging out with, who they are associating with and things they are doing," said Green. Green says a talk with your kids could make a difference in keeping them out of harms way. The study also showed teens using drugs like marijuana, tobacco, inhalants, and methamphetamines are declining, but prescription drug use is not.
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