While discussing the new school year with your child, please don't forget to discuss a most important issue -- drug and alcohol abuse.

A recent survey published by the Partnership for a Drug Free America showed that only 54 percent of parents reported having a thorough discussion with their children about drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Less than 33 percent of parents discussed prescription drug abuse.

Another important study was recently released by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which revealed that levels of THC -- the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana -- have reached the highest-ever levels since scientific analysis of the drug began in the late 1970s. According to the latest data on marijuana samples analyzed to date, the average amount of THC in seized samples has reached 8.5 percent.

This compares to an average of just fewer than 4 percent reported in 1983 and represents more than a doubling in the potency of the drug since that time.

Please take this opportunity as a new school year is on the horizon to discuss this important issue with your child. One of the main reasons that teens do not become involved in drugs is to avoid parental disapproval.

Parents play an integral role in their child's development and to be most effective, a no-use message needs to be consistent and continuous.

For a free alcohol booklet focused on elementary children, titled "Make a Difference: Talk to your Child About Alcohol" or for multiple copies to share, please call Diana Gibbs, Community Substance Abuse Prevention Program coordinator, at (603) 259-3700, ext. 222, or email at dgibbs@nchcnh.org.

Want to talk to your teens and tweens in their language? Text them!

According to a Samsung Mobile survey conducted by Kelton Research, texting is an opportunity to talk to your teens on their terms. Surveys show that more than half of teens who text message think it has improved their relationships with their parents, and 51 percent of parents who text their teens agree that they communicate more often (2008).

For many teens, text messaging is a primary form of communication. It's a quick, easy and private way for them to make plans, gossip and stay in touch. While nothing takes the place of a face-to-face conversation, text messaging can help parents open new lines of communication, and it's a non-confrontational way to start conversations about sensitive topics like stress in school or concern about curfews. Texting is another way to show your support and stay connected to teens and tweens. Not sure how to text? The Partnership for a Drug-Free America website, www.timetotalk.org, has a guide to help parents learn how to text.

This message has been brought to you by the North Country Community Substance Abuse Prevention Program, an initiative of the North Country Health Consortium, a vertical network of health care providers and community organizations working together to ensure access to quality health care for North Country residents.

The North Country Health Consortium's mission is "To lead innovative collaboration to improve the health status of the region." The programs of the North Country Health Consortium include the Northern New Hampshire Area Health Education Center, the Molar Express, the North Country Public Health Network, as well as the Community Substance Abuse Prevention Program. For more information regarding these programs or for upcoming event information, visit www.nchcnh.org.

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