SUBSTANCE abuse is any substance that is used to cause a high.

I like to say, that I am abusing coffee, but maybe I am? How much coffee is considered within reason? Two cups, four? Whatever the case, I want to focus in on our young kids on island and substances that are fairly easy to get.

Since I have been studying substance abuse, I have learned that the vast majority of people who become addicted to tobacco, alcohol and drugs take their first puff, chew, sip, snort or injection when they are young — often, very young. Like the scourges of old, this epidemic spreads without regard to economic, racial, geographic, educational, religious or family boundaries. No child is immune from tobacco, alcohol and the drug epidemic.

First, you must understand what draws kids toward the alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. It may be the way it smells, or looks, or just the fact that uncle, brother, dad, or mom is abusing it. It may be the way the smoke floats away or the way it makes one cough. It may be the way it makes uncle act out.

Did you know, that you are not allowed to ask your son or daughter below 21 to touch alcohol? Did you know, if you are not 18, you are not allowed to buy Tobacco products on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. Well, then there is “ice.” Ice has no place in paradise, I like to say. More and more, this seems to be the drug of choice on Saipan and Tinian.

Want to keep your kids safe from substance abuse? Try these three things.

(1) To keep your kids safe, you need to develop a place that is safe for them to play and be. This place should be away from any drug use and substances like tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. It should have fun things like board games, twister, and maybe even portable tablets for internet fun. This place should be at your home and where there is always constant supervision.

(2) To add to this, you should have your kids in sporting programs like soccer, baseball, and even karate. These extra-curricular activities should take some time off your kid’s hands. These activities are all available on Saipan.

(3) Finally, introduce your kids to people who are productive or positive. Let them know who these people are and what they do for themselves and their island. These people will provide a security for your kids to look up to and somehow emulate hopefully.

I hope this helps you out in some way. If you are dealing with tobacco, alcohol or drugs, then you may want to seek out help by checking into a program for drugs like at the Marianas Plaza where Marianas Behavioral Health International is. If your kid has substance abuse problems, please seek help at the Systems of Care or at the Community Guidance Center.

For more, please call NMPASI at 235-7273/4 or 235-7275 for Fax or TTY and online at www.nmpasi.org. Thank you very much for your time today.

TOM THORNBURGH
NMPASI