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‘Families rule’ new focus to prevent substance abuse

To further their efforts to prevent tragedies in the area, the Rainy River District Substance Abuse Prevention Team, and program co-ordinator Hugh Dennis, have a new project for the fall.

They will be focusing on distributing the pamphlet “Families Rule,” a family policy aimed to open dialogue between parents and children about drugs and alcohol.

“We need to get the message out there and emphasize positive change,” stressed Dennis, who discovered the pamphlet had been used in Renfrew County and could be applied locally.

“It fit what we were looking for,” he noted. “It includes both mom and dad, and even the younger children in the family, because we need to get them involved in the development of the policy early on.”

The family policy states every family has rules about alcohol, tobacco, and drug use. But when they are gathered together and written down, they become a family policy.

Dennis said by discussing the ideas in the pamphlet, a unique policy suited to any family can be generated.

The pamphlet stresses there is no right or wrong answer—the rules and consequences must be right for each particular family.

“The policy is one that is fair,” it adds. “The rules and consequences must apply equally to all family members, regardless of age or position.”

It also mentions that as the family grows and changes, the policy will have to be revised.

The pamphlet is broken into different categories, such as tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs, medications, safe travel, consequences, and prevention.

Some of points presented include:

•the use of all tobacco is discouraged;

•no one in the family will get drunk;

•we will not drive while impaired by alcohol or ride with an intoxicated driver;

•the trafficking of illegal drugs by family members or guests in our home or in our vehicle is forbidden;

•we will only use over-the-counter or prescribed medications for therapeutic purposes;

•if any family member is called to provide a safe ride, day or night, they will do so promptly with no questions asked until everyone is sober and ready for responsible discussion;

•if any of the rules of this policy are broken, consequences will be determined when the individual parent or child has sobered up and will be based on the severity of the circumstances involved in the incident (the consequences may include “grounding,” removal of privileges, additional chores, making apologies, or restitution; and

•our family will pursue a variety of healthy, fun, satisfying, and legal activities, including sports, hobbies, family outings, and talking to each other.

The Substance Abuse Prevention Team hopes to get the pamphlets out to all families in Rainy River District, first by starting within the schools.

Dennis will be attending several of the open houses at local schools and the pamphlets also will be distributed in students’ report cards.

In addition, some groups the Substance Abuse Prevention Team funds already have received the pamphlets.

“We’re hoping to touch as many families as we can,” Dennis said, adding if even 10 percent of families fill out the policy, it will be worth it.

If anyone else in the district would like a “Families Rule” pamphlet, they can contact Dennis at 274-9827.

Meanwhile, the People Against Illicit Narcotics group (PAIN) is collecting the petitions that were distributed across the district throughout the summer to garner support to act on the problem of illicit narcotic and prescription drug use by establishing youth addiction services and increased drug enforcement in the area.

The province recently gave community-based addiction agencies a shot in the arm with the announcement of an $8.7 million increase to improve access to substance abuse services.

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