Onslow County officials talk awareness during 'Drug and Alcohol Facts Week'

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ONSLOW COUNTY, NC (WITN) Raising awareness about the warning signs to look for if a child is using illegal substances is one of the goals of Drug and Alcohol Facts Week.

Law enforcement and substance counselors in Onslow County say tackling addiction can start inside the home and the classroom.

According to the National Institutes of Health -- forty percent of people who begin drinking before age 15 eventually become alcoholics.

But experts say -- knowledge of the outcomes of drug abuse -- is the best way to prevent addiction from ever happening.

According to a NIH study -- more than 5 percent of high school seniors misuse prescription drugs -- more than 20 percent smoke marijuana -- and 35 percent use alcohol.

Substance abuse counselor Benita Thornhill says -- parents should look for specific warning signs.

She says, "Look for changes in behavior, in weight, look to see if they are isolating themselves, look to see if they are getting into trouble at school or work. If they change the people they associate with."

The Jacksonville Police Department -- says they also try to combat the chance to abuse drugs or alcohol -- by offering DARE education -- which stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education.

JPD DARE Officer John Clukey says, "We educate kids on drug and alcohol abuse and the life long affects it can have on their bodies."

And he says -- through that education -- that kids are better equipped to make the right decisions when it comes to drugs and alcohol.

Clukey says, "The idea that they are responsible for themselves and making good decisions will influence them their whole life."

Thornhill also says that one way to decrease the chances that your child will ever get their hands on drugs or alcohol -- is to keep them busy in both school and extracurricular activities.