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Questions and Answers

Q: Are there services to prevent alcohol and drug abuse?

A: There are many programs to prevent alcohol and drug abuse in Santa Cruz County. To get more information, contact the County Alcohol and Drug Program at (831) 454-HELP or the Friday Night Live/Club Live prevention program at (831) 454-LIVE.

Keep an eye out for early signs of risk that may predict later drug or alcohol abuse. Some signs of risk can be seen as early as infancy or early childhood, such as aggressive behavior, lack of self-control, or difficult temperament. As children get older, troubled interactions within the family, at school, and within the community affect their risk for later drug abuse.

Families can provide protection from later alcohol and drug abuse when there is:

  • a strong bond between children and parents;
  • parental involvement in the child's life; and
  • clear limits and consistent enforcement of discipline.

Interactions outside the family involve risks for both children and adolescents, such as:

  • poor classroom behavior or social skills;
  • academic failure; and
  • association with alcohol or drug-abusing peers.

The most immediate drug abuse risk for adolescents is association with drinking and/or drug-abusing friends. Other factors—such as drug availability, trafficking patterns, and beliefs that drug abuse is generally tolerated—are risks that can influence young people to start abusing alcohol or drugs.

Research has shown that the key risk periods for drug abuse are during major transitions in children's lives. The first big transition for children is when they leave the security of the family and enter school. Later, when they advance from elementary school to middle school, they often experience new academic and social situations, such as learning to get along with a wider group of peers. It is at this stage—early adolescence—that children are likely to encounter drugs for the first time. When they enter high school, adolescents face additional social, emotional, and educational challenges. At the same time, they may be exposed to greater availability of drugs, drug abusers, and social activities involving drugs.

These challenges increase the risk that they will abuse alcohol, tobacco, and other substances. Some of the community services committed to the reduction of risk through education, role modeling and the development of healthy alternatives along with resources supporting prevention can be found under the following categories: Prevention Services, Youth Services, Family Self-Help Support and Education Resources.

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