Prevention programs are one cure to summer boredom and drug and alcohol temptations for middle-schoolers.

Summer for the average middle-schooler is a period of Nintendo, parks, skateboarding and many hours of unsupervised time. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. while many parents are away, children are more likely to use drugs and alcohol, said Nettie Ferguson, network services manager for the Alcohol Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County (ADAMH).

Availability, accessibility and community norms also factor into a child's decision to try drugs and alcohol. Gateway drugs like tobacco, alcohol and marijuana are most accessible to middle-school students. Additionally, seven out of 10 high school students who drink start between the ages of 11 and 15, according to a 2006 Primary Prevention Awareness and Attitude survey.

Prevention programs are one cure to summer boredom and drug and alcohol temptations for middle-schoolers. Several ADAMH funded agencies offer these programs every summer. Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Programs of Franklin County (UMADAOP) is one such agency offering a prevention program for middle-schoolers from July 6 to August 21. The program provides academic enrichment, recreation and field trips, said Executive Director Craig Comedy. UMADAOP also teaches the children life-skills like drug refusal through role-playing games. "That isn't happening anywhere else," Comedy said about the training. To learn more about UMADAOP's Summer Program, call (614) 227-9694 or check www.adamhfranklin.org/links/ for additional programs offered by ADAMH's agencies.

Programs are one vital way to prevent your child from using drugs/alcohol, but the most important thing that a parent can do is talk to your child. "Parents have more influence on their child than what they expect," Ferguson said. However, it is crucial that parents act sooner rather than later. By the age of 16, teens are more likely to model themselves off of peers instead of parents. This makes middle-school the ideal time to teach your pre-teen/teen about healthy drug/alcohol behaviors. These forms of prevention can stop a problem before it even begins.

ADAMH is Franklin County's authority for planning, funding and evaluating mental health, alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment services. ADAMH-funded services are provided by a local network of more than 40 not-for-profit providers and offered on a sliding-fee scale, making them affordable for any county resident, regardless of income. For more information, visit the ADAMH Web site at www.adamhfranklin.org.