Making Strides to Prevent Drugs from Taking Young Lives

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

The Progressive Agriculture Foundation has and will always be striving to find new, innovative ways to educate youth on various safety and health topics aiming to stop preventable incidents from occurring. Substance abuse is no different. Progressive Agriculture Safety Days has tackled methamphetamine, tobacco, and alcohol awareness. This year, we partnered with the Truth Initiative to shed light on the dangers surrounding vaping.

Sadly, thousands of people die each year from a drug overdose. These individuals come from all walks of life. According to the Mayo Clinic, people of any age, race, gender, or economic status can become addicted to a drug. Certain factors can affect the likelihood and speed of developing an addiction: family history of addiction, mental health disorder, peer pressure, early use, lack of family involvement, and taking highly addictive drugs, like stimulants. When initially hearing of substance abuse, some often think primarily of illegal drugs; however, alcohol and prescription drugs are just as addicting and dangerous.

International Overdose Awareness Day, which takes places each year on August 31, and spreads the message that overdose death is preventable. This global event aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have died or had a permanent injury due to a drug overdose.

Would you be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of overdose? These may include problems at work or school, physical health issues (lack of energy and motivation, weight loss or gain, or red eyes), neglected appearance, money-related issues, continuously being caught in lies or fabrications, and changes in behavior or relationships.

16-164_AlcoholDrug_591Staying off drugs is a much easier solution than having to try and get off them. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, preventing substance abuse starts with parents. Do not assume your child will learn from someone else. Instead, hope that programs offered by school, sports, and other groups can support the groundwork you have started. Talk to your children early and often about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and be sure to listen. Children may try communicating in different ways. Make them feel comfortable and recognize you as safe and welcoming. Parents should also role model a drug-free life. Provide guidance and clear rules about not using drugs, share how to make healthy choices and develop positive friendships. Since giving into peer pressure can be a major reason why adolescents try drugs, teach your child different, creative ways to say “No!”

Since 1995, Progressive Agriculture Safety Days has made it their mission to provide the education, training and resources to make farm, ranch and rural life safer and healthier for children and their communities. Learn more by visiting www.progressiveag.org or call 888-257-3529. Looking to make a safe investment? Help send another child to a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day by texting the word “SAFETYDAY” to 44321 or visit progressiveag.org/Donate.

Photo 1:  At a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day in North Dakota, a presenter shares how substance abuse can be detrimental to your health, including damage to your teeth.