By Steve Rusckowski

September 5, 2017 Better Health

As a father and grandfather, I know parents worry about their children making healthy life decisions. In particular, we worry about our children using drugs and alcohol.

Unfortunately, that worry is well founded. The 2017 Quest Diagnostics Health Trends™ report Prescription Drug Misuse in America found that 70 percent of children 10-17 years of age showed signs of potential drug misuse. While this number has been improving over the years, it is still cause for concern.

I recently had the opportunity to learn about The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) and their mission to better the lives of all people impacted by substance use and addiction. I knew our company had to get involved in helping this important cause.

We are honored to be a partner with CASA supporting their annual Family Day initiative, a national movement which promotes simple acts of parental engagement as key ways to prevent risky substance abuse in children and teens.

National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) Family Day Parent Toolkit

National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) Family Day Parent Toolkit

Mark your calendars for September 25, this year’s Family Day. On this day, parents and guardians are encouraged to spend time and connect with their children, as they play a crucial role in identifying possible warning signs of substance abuse. CASA’s research has consistently found a relationship between children having frequent dinners with their parents and a decreased risk of their smoking, drinking or using other drugs.

Parental engagement fostered around the dinner table is one of the most potent tools to help parents raise healthy, drug-free children. When my children were younger, I made every effort to get home for dinner or help with homework. Now with a grandchild in our family, while our schedules are busier than ever, Deb and I try to spend as much time as possible with our kids. Being present matters. It’s important for kids to know that there’s someone who will listen and help them make good choices.

I invite you to make the time to have dinner together as a family, or do something fun that your family enjoys doing together, like taking a walk, riding bikes, reading, playing sports, or going out for a dessert.

Show us how you are celebrating your family. Snap a selfie of your family spending time together and share it online with the hashtag #myfamilyselfie.

According to CASA, children of hands-on parents are far less likely to smoke, drink or use other drugs. It’s clear that the teenage years are a critical time in children’s development; 1 in 4 Americans who began using any addictive substance before age 18 become addicted, compared to 1 in 25 who started at age 21 or older.

At Quest, we are committed to promoting healthier lives; this includes the well being of our patients, employees and their families. I am proud we are working with CASA to build a healthier community and work toward a substance-free future for our children.

Steve Rusckowski is Chairman, President and CEO of Quest Diagnostics.