The beginning of the school year will expose your childto many opportunities, some good and some not so good.Let’s start with the good. The new school year new brings a fresh start. It’s a time to set and write goals, become involved in sports, join new clubs or volunteer activities, develop friendships and study new subjects. From a parent’s perspective this sounds exciting, but for some kids, change can add stress. Kids face many pressures at this time. Some of these pressures include the transition to a new school, fitting in, relationships, gossip and drama, availability of drugs and alcohol, family pressures and problems, learning disabilities and peer pressure.

One important reality we must not ignore is that your child will be exposed to the negative influences of tobacco, drugs and alcohol.Dealing with school problems is the number one reason kids give for using tobacco, drugs and alcohol. Early first use (age 12 -13) puts your child at high risk for addiction. Studies also show parents are the number one influence in a teen’s decision to not use alcohol or drugs.

Quick Tips as Parents:
  • Spend time with your child to set and write goals.
  • Be clear with your children that you disapprove of underage drinking and any drug use.
  • Encourage them to become involved in sports, clubs or volunteer activities.
  • If you do drink, model responsible drinking behavior.
  • Think about what your kids see or hear. Sometimes we unintentionally send kids hidden the messages that we need substances to cope with problems or have a good time.
  • Limit access to alcohol and lock your prescription drugs using a lock box such as RxArmory. Check it out at:
  • Be a parent. Monitoring and supervision in high school can reduce drinking in high school and college. Students whose parents allowed them to drink late in high school are more likely to have problems with alcohol in college.

Schedule some time to discuss this information with your son or daughter. Kids who learn a lot about the risks of drugs and underage drinking at home are up to half as likely not to use.We at the WOW Coalition wish you and your children a new school year filled with growth, learning and great prevention conversations!

Author Larry Tracey, is Executive Director of and a member of the Way out West Coalition, which is focused on creating a safe and unified, drug-free community in the greater Buckeye Valley. For more information visit:

About the Way Out West (WOW) Coalition:

The Way Out West Coalition (WOW) was created in Buckeye by and Youth Evaluation and Treatment Centers (YETC) as part of the Community Alliance Program. WOW’s strength comes from the diversity of its members from all sectors of our community; business, healthcare, law enforcement, educators, parents, community members and community leaders.

This project is funded by Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care through an agreement with the Arizona Department of Health Services, Division of Behavioral Health Services.

The WOW Coalition meets at noon the second Tuesday of every month at the Buckeye Valley Chamber of Commerce. For more information visit:

About – The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, Arizona Affiliate is a 501(c) (3) non-profit statewide organization with a volunteer board of directors. Our mission is to prevent and reduce youth drug and alcohol use through community education and awareness by providing parents, caregivers, healthcare providers, educators and others with educational tools, information and resources.For more information visit: