How to talk to your child about substance abuse

Jan. 22 to 26 is National Drug and Alcohol Fact Week. It's a week of events to raise awareness about the dangers of substance abuse among teens.

TODAY'S TMJ4 spoke to a clinical psychologist in the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division's Children's Mobile Crisis Team, formerly known as the Mobile Urgent Treatment Team, or M.U.T.T.

Dr. Steven Dykstra said their job is to go where the crisis is, "We respond and help whatever seems the best way at the time."

Dykstra says a crisis can vary from family to family and it can include problems that stem from substance abuse. He knows the warning signs parents should watch for.

"They might not be taking care of themselves in the same way they did previously," he said. "They're sleeping more or less or different hours. They're more irritable."

Dykstra tells parents to talk to their child but not in an accusatory way.

"I'm worried about you. I've noticed you're not doing as well in school lately. You seem different to me. You don't seem as happy as you used to be."

Parents should also remember they are not alone in this.

"We can't, as parents, figure everything out on our own," Dykstra said. "We can't do everything our children need, but we can often get them to people who can help."

TODAY'S TMJ4 is holding a National Drug & Alcohol Fact Week phone bank, in partnership with the Light and Unite Red committee. The committee is made up of the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division and nearly 50 local organizations aimed at preventing substance abuse among teens.

The phone bank will be from 4-7pm live on TODAY'S TMJ4 on Tuesday, January 23rd.

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