While kids are excitedly counting the days until they get to don their chosen costume and join their friends for a fun night of Halloween parties and trick-or-treating, parents must be aware of a very real and dangerous threat – illegal drug and alcohol use on Halloween night. While Halloween parties may not rate among the top holiday parties like those held on Christmas and New Year’s Eve, teenagers still enjoy hanging out with friends on Halloween night. And where there are social gatherings, there is often alcohol and drug use too.
Tips for a Drug-free Halloween
While keeping your children at home on the night of October 31st is an effective way to ensure they experience a drug-free Halloween this year, it is not a popular or entirely fair and reasonable choice. Instead, here are five tips a parent can use to effectively ensure their children enjoy a fun, safe, drug-free Halloween:
* Know where your child is going, and who with. Most parents can easily tell which friends are safe for their children to hang out with. These are the friends who also have caring, concerned parents, and who demonstrate responsibility in school and social activities. If some responsible friends are getting together to trick-or-treat around their neighborhood or have a small party at one of their homes, you can rest easy knowing that your child is with other responsible children at a clearly defined location.
* Ensure that parental supervision is occurring wherever your child will be. A small party at a friend’s house, where that friend’s parents are present, is likely to be a safe activity. It may be even more reassuring if you speak with the other parents prior to the party to find out what the overall plan is for the party. And while supervised trick-or-treating may be highly unappealing to teenagers, even supervision from a parked car is better than no supervision at all. There is always the chance that certain undesirable people may be taking advantage of the large crowds to try and deal dangerous drugs to kids.
* Practice demonstrating situations wherein your child may be offered or peer pressured into using drugs or alcohol, and how they will respond. Presenting real-life situations where drug or alcohol use may be encouraged, and coaching your child in how to respond to these situations not only bolsters their confidence, but it may keep you fresh in their mind, as a sort of extra consciousness, if they are offered drugs or alcohol while away from you.
* Find out who will be responsible for transportation if your child will be riding in a car at any time on Halloween night. It is very important that you make sure that whoever will be driving a car with your child in it is a licensed, sober driver. If you are not sure about the proposed driver, you can offer to drive your child and their friends yourself.
* Make sure your child knows that alcohol consumption by individuals under 21 is illegal, and any illicit drug use by anyone at any time is illegal, and that there are strict consequences for breaking the law – both in the society and your family. A trip to jail can be a sobering thought by itself, but knowledge of the additional consequences that may occur in the family home as a result of drug or alcohol use, like stripped privileges and activities with friends, may likewise be an effective deterrent in drug or alcohol use.
Importance of Drug Education in Keeping the Holidays Drug Free
In addition to the points mentioned above, the effective drug prevention education of children can help keep Halloween and other holidays safe, drug-free activities. Children who are fully educated in the physical, mental and emotional effects of drug-use are more able to make informed decisions regarding drugs, and are more likely to abstain from drug use. The Narconon Drug Education talks, as delivered by Narconon Drug Education Officers, are especially popular and effective, leading to post-talk survey responses from ninth graders like, “I learned that you don’t have to do Xtasy for a long time to OD.” And, “It can help me stay away from drugs now that I know all the consequences.” And, “My thoughts changed after watching the video. I never want to do X again or let any of my friends do it either.”
While this education can take time and patience to really drive home the dangers of drugs to children and teenagers, it is vitally necessary. “I made this career change to help others. Delivering drug prevention education talks to children on the truth about drugs is a great way to start and I’m excited about my new position,” says Honalee Johnson, a new staff member at the Narconon Freedom Center in Michigan and newly appointed drug education officer. Ms. Johnson is not alone in this task, so it is important that we all work hard to educate our children and ensure they have a safe, drug-free Halloween and holiday season.