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about,” says Pemberton. “I don’t want parents to say that medication is bad, but we need to spend the time to say medication is a tool and explain how that tool works.”


Communicate Early and Often Communication shouldn’t end with prescription drugs, nor should it begin when kids reach their teens. “You can never start too early,” Foster says. And you can’t talk too often,


Pemberton says. Instead of having a big talk about substance abuse once a year, take advantage of teachable moments every week. “When you’re watching TV and something happens [related to substance abuse], pause the TV and say, ‘What just happened?’ ” he says. “The consistent conversations stick with people more than the in- depth conversation.” Pemberton had one of those con-


sistent conversations recently when he had to show his ID to buy some superglue. “My Cub Scout was with me,” he recalls. “It was the perfect opportunity to say, ‘Do you know why they won’t sell that without ID? It’s because if you inhaled it, bad things could happen.’ ” Some might argue that


Pemberton planted an idea in his 8-year-old’s head, but he disagrees. “The idea that if we don’t talk about it, they’ll never hear it is ludicrous. They’ve probably already sniffed the dry-erase markers at school (for fun, not to get high),” he says.


Look for Warning Signs Despite your best efforts, your kids may still get in trouble. That means you should be on the lookout for physical and behavioral changes that could indicate a problem. Physical signs can include weight


change, a reduced energy level, or eyes that are red, bloodshot, dilated or glazed. Behavioral changes can include hanging out with a different crowd, having trouble in school or becoming


withdrawn. “Parents just have to be more attentive as the kids get older and start to do things with more people in social settings,” Foster says. You should also watch for signs


that your kids are hiding something. Energy drinks can counter the effects of illicit drugs. Dark glasses can hide bloodshot eyes. Spray cologne can cover up the smell of cigarettes. That doesn’t mean a kid who uses a lot of Axe body spray is smoking, but you might start to wonder if he wears it all the time.


Get Help When Needed Finally, get help soon if your child is drinking or using illicit drugs. “If parents catch it early enough, inter- vene and get the resources and help they need early on, the child can get back on the right track,” Foster says. And don’t be too quick to point


fingers. “Rather than saying, ‘You have a problem,’ say, ‘I’m scared that there’s a problem,’ ” Pemberton explains. “Then it becomes, ‘Let’s find a solu- tion together’ versus putting the child on the defensive.” ¿


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