Parents in Iowa are being encouraged to talk to their children for at least five minutes today about the dangers of using drugs. Governor Culver has proclaimed today as Iowa’s annual "Take Five Day."
Peter Komendowski, president of the Partnership for a Drug-Free Iowa , says surveys indicate that most parents feel they do a good job of addressing the risks of drug use – but a majority of kids don’t feel the same. "Seventy-five to 80% of parents said that they felt they constructively discussed the risks and hazards of drugs and alcohol with their children," Komendowski said. "But when you ask the children of those parents, only 30% responded in kind and said ‘yeah, my parents talked to me about this.’"
Studies also suggest that teens who learn a lot at home about the risks of drugs are 50% less likely to ever try illegal drugs. Komendowski says alcohol use is still a big concern, but the fastest growing problem among young people in Iowa is the abuse of pain killers and cough medicines. He says, in the past, kids were too scared to experiment with prescription drugs. "A lot of that is now unfairly or improperly dispelled by the Internet, where they talk about all these different mixes and concoctions and give children an idea that somehow they can safely try these things to get some kind of a high," Komendowski said. The medicines can prove to be just as dangerous as illegal drugs.
Komendowski recommends that anyone with children in their home put their prescription medications under lock and key. "A gun is scary…leaving your keys in the car and letting a (child) get in (the car) is scary. The same thing is true with drugs and alcohol, when you leave them accessible, you’re leaving a loaded gun out there for children to play with," Komendowski said.
The Partnership for a Drug-Free Iowa’s Take Five tips for parents are available statewide in flyers sent home with fifth grade students, and through free pocket guides at Casey’s General Stores.