With school and summer camp closings due to COVID-19, parents have more time with their children close by.  Most parents probably aren’t thinking about discussing alcohol and drug use during a pandemic, but Judy Brownell, Director of Prevention at Center Point, says it’s a unique opportunity.

“The current health crisis means our youth are thinking about health more than usual,” she explains. “Parents are already telling their children that there are things we can’t see that might make us sick if we aren’t careful. So it’s an easy segue for parents to move to discussions about avoiding and postponing risky behaviors related to smoking, drinking and drug use.  It just takes a little planning.”

Any discussion about drug use must be age-appropriate she says, because all of us tune out when we don’t understand.  Discussions can be casual and brief or formal and last for a set amount of time with a specific agenda. The best approach, she says, depends on your child’s age and current behavior, family history as it relates to substance misuse and how you think the child will respond.

“At Center Point, we have some very good conversation-starter resources to help parents tackle what can be tough conversations,” Brownell says. “These Conversation Starters were developed by experts because parents expressed a need for them. We offer these tools at no charge. They have been used by parents for years and are updated regularly based on feedback from parents and school counselors, so they are relevant and proven.”

Center Point is the lead agency for the Partnership for a Drug Free Hall and works with schools, law enforcement, health care and other local leaders to help Hall County prevent and address alcohol and drug misuse.

“Center Point’s connection to local and State agencies helps enrich what we can offer parents,” she says. “In addition to the Conversation Starters, we have information on the legal consequences of underage drinking or getting caught with Marijuana. Our goal is to equip families with important facts so that they can make the best decisions for preventing experimentation and underage drinking in their families.”

To learn more about resources for starting a conversation about alcohol and drug use with your children, visit Center Point’s web site at CenterPointGa.org.