CHESTERTOWN — While the use of heroin dominates the news, alcohol remains the most commonly used and abused substance among youth, states a news release from the Kent County Behavioral Health Prevention Office.

According to a youth survey, about 69 percent of high school students in Kent County have had at least one drink. About 10 percent of them have driven after drinking, the release states.

According to the release, parents are a powerful source of positive and reliable information. Research has shown that teenagers who have conversations with their parents and learn a lot about the dangers of alcohol and drug use are 50 percent less likely to use these substances than those who do not have such conversations.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, here are some guidelines that can help parents talk about alcohol and drug use:

• Listen before you talk: For teenagers, knowing that someone is really listening is most important. Ask open-ended questions. Be involved. Be honest and open.

• Be positive: Talking about these issues can build bridges rather than walls. And remember, addiction is a chronic, progressive disease that can be linked to family history and genetics. So, if there is a family history of problems, be matter of fact about it, as one would be with any other chronic disease, such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer.

The longer children can delay drinking and drug use, the less likely they are to develop problems, according to the release. Parents can make a difference — that’s why it is so important to help teenagers connect the dots and make smart decisions, the release states.

The Kent County Behavioral Health Prevention Office helps community groups, agencies and individuals in providing programs and activities to prevent alcohol and other drug abuse and to build a healthier community.

To learn more about how to prevent alcohol and other drug use or abuse in children, contact Annette Duckery, alcohol and other drugs prevention coordinator, at 410-778-7918.

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