Resources for faith communities

Substance Abuse Prevention Messages for the Faith Community


Plan ahead — It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.

Good planning is good prevention, especially when it comes to teen alcohol and other drug use.  Establishing a strong foundation for young people can help prevent problems later in life.  Here are some research-based strategies for increasing the likelihood of raising alcohol and drug free teens:

  • Establish a loving, trusting relationship with your child
  • Learn about and practice effective communication
  • Present a healthy role model
  • Clarify your values regarding alcohol and other drug use
  • Set appropriate limits and realistic goals
  • Talk with your teen about alcohol and other drugs
  • Teach your child how to resist peer pressure and other social skills
  • Know the signs and symptoms of alcohol use
  • Intervene at the first signs of use


One out of every five young people is growing up in a home where a parent drinks too much or uses drugs.

Think about that number.  That means that right here, in our congregation, some young people are in this situation.  If a young person in your life tells you they are concerned about their parent, remember that you can make all the difference in the world for that child.  Tell them that they are not alone.  You can also share the “Seven C’s”.

  1. You did not Cause your parents alcohol/drug use.
  2. You can not Control you parents alcohol/drug use
  3. You can not Cure your parents alcohol/drug use
  4. You can take Care of yourself by
  5. Communicating your feelings
  6. Making healthy Choices
  7. Celebrate being yourself

(Adapted from the National Association for Children of Alcoholics Foundation)


What we say – What they hear

A teacher was speaking to a group of young people about alcohol and drugs and to make her point clear, she decided to do a demonstration.  She filled three clear plastic containers and put cigarette smoke in one, beer in another, and good clean soil in the third.  Then she put a worm in each and proceeded with her presentation about alcohol and drugs.

At the end of her talk she removed each of the worms.  The worms in the containers with the smoke and the beer had both died.  But the worm in the good clean soil was alive and well.

The Pastor asked the young people what the demonstration had taught them.  A boy in the back of the room raised his hand and when called upon commented, “Yeah, if you drink and smoke you won’t get worms.”

Young people don’t always learn what we intend to teach them.  When it comes to alcohol and other drugs, we must communicate often and clearly, and check out what they have heard.


April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Millions of adults, children and families are impacted by alcohol abuse and alcoholism.  Here are some indicators that someone’s alcohol use has become a problem:

  1. Constantly thinking about alcohol and the next time they can drink
  2. Needing more alcohol to feel the same effect
  3. Drinking quickly
  4. Drinking alone
  5. Using alcohol to sleep or to “medicate” uncomfortable feelings
  6. Blackout – being unable to remember what happened when drinking
  7. Hiding bottles of alcohol
  8. Drinking more than originally planned

If you see these symptoms in yourself or someone you know, there is hope and help is available.  You can get help at the New York State Helpline: 877-8HOPENY (877-846-7369).  Every day, people successfully recover from alcohol addiction.


Be a Parent, Not a Friend

Underage drinking can threaten all those things you want most for your child: health, happiness, safety, and success.  Sometimes the coolest thing you can do for your teen is….

Be a Parent, Not a Friend

(New Rochelle FOCUS coalition, a program of Student Assistance Services, Corp)


Spring has sprung – bringing with it warm weather, free time, and parties.  If you decide to host a party for your teen, here are some good guidelines to follow:

  1. Know the law.  It is illegal to give or sell any alcoholic beverage to a person under age 21, unless you are that person’s parent or guardian.
  2. An adult, or parent, who serves alcohol to persons under age 21, or allows alcohol to be consumed on their property, can face a number of legal consequences.
  3. A teen, 16 years of age or older, can be criminally charged with a variety of crimes for providing alcohol or other drugs to another teen, even if no money is exchanged.
  4. the ground rules before the party:
    • Agree on the guest list and send out invitations
    • Only those invited will be allowed to attend
    • All guests enter from one entrance
    • Notify neighbors
    • Coats and bags will be “checked in”
    • The party will be alcohol and drug free. (Do not assume your child knows this).  Any guest who tries to bring alcohol or other drugs, arrives under the influence, or drinks alcohol or uses other drugs at the party will be asked to leave and their parents will be called so they can get home safely.
  5. Remove all prescription and over-the-counter medications from any bathroom that will be used by guests.
  6. To ensure safety of all guests a parent must be visible and present to supervise.  Invite parents of your child’s friends to help chaperone.
  7. Periodically patrol in and outside your house, monitor the garage, windowsills and bedrooms.


A Prescription for Disaster?

Recent studies show that more teens are abusing prescription drugs than Ecstasy, Cocaine, Crack, or LSD.  In contrast, 71% of parents don’t take any special precautions to protect prescription drugs in their home.  Parents should secure any prescription medications in their home and speak with their children about the importance of using only prescription medications as prescribed and directed by a physician.

(Monitoring the Future; National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse)


Back to School Supplies

As you gather the notebooks, pens, and clothes that your children need to start the new school year, don’t forget to supply them with the information they need to refuse alcohol and other drugs.  “Brainstorm or role-play different ways to say “no” depending on the situation:

  • Refuse – “Don’t feel like it.”  “No way.”
  • Make an excuse – “I’ll barf.” “I have to get up in the morning.”
  • Recruit an ally to help change the dynamics.
  • Blame their parents – “My Mom can smell this stuff a mile away and I’ll get grounded for months.”
  • Come up with a better idea – “Nah, that doesn’t sound like much fun. Let’s go play video games at my house instead.” 
  • Leave – either quietly while no one notices or by making an excuse or joke out of it. “You guys are too crazy for me …see you later.”

Some kids have such a strong sense of themselves, they have no problem just saying, “no” and getting respect for it.  Others will find that recruiting an ally, someone who thinks like they do, will help.  Most can use some coaching in how to say “no” in a way that lets them off the hook with their peer group, without being ostracized.”



Family DayA Day to Eat Dinner with Your ChildrenTM is a national movement to inform parents that the parental engagement fostered during frequent family dinners is an effective tool to help keep America’s kids substance free. Celebrated the fourth Monday of September, Family Day reminds parents that Dinner Makes A Difference!  Whether you’re cooking a gourmet meal, ordering food from your favorite take-out place or eating on the go, rest assured that what your kids really want during dinnertime is YOU! Family meals are the perfect time to talk to your kids and to listen to what’s on their mind.  The more often kids eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs. If your busy schedule makes family dinners impossible, think about sharing breakfasts or a late night healthy snack.  The important message here is to schedule in fun, relaxed family interactions.

Become a Family Day STAR!

Make the commitment to:

SSpend time with my kids by having dinner together

TTalk to them about their friends, interests and the dangers of drugs and alcohol

AAnswer their questions and listen to what they say

RRecognize that I have the power to help keep my kids substance free!

(The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University –


Media Madness

Children and teens are regularly exposed to all sorts of pro-alcohol and drug use messages in the popular media.  What can a parent do?

  1. Teach your children to be critical consumers of the media around them.
  2. From an early age, question the messages that you hear on TV and the radio.
  3. Watch and listen to their music and shows with them and comment about the messages they are receiving.

We may not be able to protect our children from all unhealthy media messages, but we can teach them the skills they need to filter these messages.


Drinking and Breathing: A dangerous combination?

This time of year we always hear a lot about the dangers of drinking and driving.  Alcohol and drug related car crashes are a real problem all year and especially during the holiday season.  But few people know that each year hundreds of young people also die from drinking too much alcohol too quickly, which can cause alcohol poisoning.

Alcohol poisoning depresses all your vital functions, including breathing.  Know the signs of alcohol poisoning: breathing slowly; passing out; nausea; vomiting; vomiting while sleeping; cold, clammy, bluish or pale skin; not being able to keep one’s head up.  If you think someone may have alcohol poisoning, CALL 911.  Stay with the person until help arrives.


Faith is Prevention

Research shows that young people who have a meaningful connection to a faith community are more likely to remain alcohol and drug free.

(Hawkins and Catalanlo)