Keep teens safe.
Lock it up. Talk. Connect.
Parents want the best for their kids and sometimes we worry about what our teenager is doing when we are not with them. Parents can’t be everywhere all the time, and we sometimes ask ourselves if we are doing everything we can to provide the best environment for teens to thrive . . . and be safe.
Oregon City teens routinely report* that one of the most common ways they get marijuana, alcohol, vape pens and prescription medication is from their home. Or from their friends’ and relatives’ homes. Securing these substances is one way all of us in the community can reduce opportunities for underage use.
At the same time, it is vital parents talk to their teens frequently about not using marijuana and alcohol. Age-appropriate conversations are beneficial beginning much earlier than the teen years. It’s not about having a one-time “drug talk,” but rather tackling the subject through frequent, organic conversations that evolve as our children get older.
According to the Oregon Student Health Survey, many Oregon City teens find risky substances easy to obtain.
- 67% of 11th graders and 32 % 8th graders say it is easy to get marijuana.
- 63% 11th graders and 49 % 8th graders say it is easy to get alcohol.
- 47 % of 11th graders and 19% of 8th graders say it is easy to get vape pens.
Lock it up. Secure, monitor and dispose of substances within your home so children and teens do not have easy access.
Teen brains are not like adult brains. Because they are still developing, adolescent brainsare more vulnerable than the brains of adults to damage from outside influences. This means substance use during the teen years creates much more risk for immediate and lasting harm.
Supplies can secured in varying ways. Buy a liquor cabinet with a lock. If you are handy, you can build a cabinet with a lock . Or buy an inexpensive cabinet lock from a retail outlet like Lowes and Home Depot. These require just a drill and a screwdriver to install. If you store beer and wine in the fridge in the garage, consider something like a marine lock to reduce the possibility of underage drinking. Locks for individual wine and liquor bottles are also an option. These combination locks snap on top of your bottles. Wine bottle locks can be found at outlets like Amazon and Walmart.
These fit easily into a lock box so they are not laying around for teens to use or give to their friends. However, it may be fairly easy for minors to obtain e-cigarettes from other sources. Check out where teens get e-cigarettes.
Prescriptions for opioid painkillers are some of the most abused and addicting medicines available, but that doesn’t mean they are the most dangerous. Any prescription drug – whether it’s meant for pain, high blood pressure or even arthritis – can be dangerous (and even deadly) if misused. Locking up prescription medications keeps them out of the hands of children and teens – reducing the risk of overdose or drug abuse. When you are done with the medication, dispose of it at Oregon City’s Robert Libke Public Safety Building or other convenient prescription drug take back sites.
Just because it’s over the counter (OTC) does not mean it cannot be mis-used by teens. For example, more than half of all OTC cough and cold medications contain dextromethorphan (DXM) which some teens use in large amounts to achieve a high. High doses of DXM can lead to death. Securing OTC medications in a lock box or locked cabinet reduces the risk of misuse and overdose in your home.
Talk. Parents are the #1 drug prevention program. It’s important to start talking to your children about the risks of alcohol, marijuana and other drugs before they are exposed to these substances. Conversations do not have to be lengthy but they should be frequent.
Short conversations at the right time can make big impressions. There are many resources to assist parents with these conversations.
Connect. School and community connections reduce the risk of teens using drugs. Let’s all be champions for teens’ well-being.
* Oregon Student Wellness and Oregon Student Health Survey, 2018 and 2020
NOTE: Oregon City Together does not endorse any specific product or retailer.