Drug Abuse Prevention
North Carolina’s Dare County Department of Public Health recently held a meeting in the Kill Devil Hills Town Hall to talk about the department’s substance abuse initiative, and demonstrate household items that can be used by kids to hide drugs or alcohol.
Kelly Nettnin, public health education coordinator with Dare County DPH, offered a handful of tips on how parents can prevent kids from using alcohol and drugs. Like other health experts, she agrees that substance abuse can strike to any family, and the temptation of drugs can present itself even to the well-raised kids.
“You can do absolutely everything right as a parent and still have a child develop those problems,” the Sentinel quoted Nettnin as saying.
But Nettnin stressed the importance of communication in helping kids make sound choices, as well as spotting signs of substance abuse. She explained that parental involvement, such as making connection with your kids’ friends and their parents, can go a long way in determining the kind of crowd your kids hang out with.
Additionally, parents are encouraged to “monitor their children’s use of the internet, which is often used to purchase illicit substances.”
“If your kid is on Facebook,” Nettnin emphasized, “I highly recommend that you are on Facebook and that you stalk them.”
To foster effective communication within the family, parents should learn to speak on the child’s level, and maintain an ongoing conversation about substance abuse and the dangers associated with it.
Other tips for effective communication include:
- asking open ended questions
- evaluating your dialogue
- remembering that teens are capable of making mature, responsible decisions with the support of parental guidance
- eating dinner around the table together with no TV or cell phones at least five times a week
“When your child does come to you with a problem,” Nettnin added, “do not overreact. Try to keep your cool. They’ll be more likely to come to you later.”
Other strategies parents can do to prevent kids from getting into drugs are:
- encouraging the child to get involved in extracurricular activities
- being an active part of their life
- setting clear and consistent standards and rules
- enforcing positive attitude toward school
- fostering a healthy sense of self
- encouraging positive attitude toward school
- maintaining a safe and health-promoting environment
Nettnin noted that parents should be absolutely clear on their position on drug and alcohol use by communicating their attitudes and values, and confronting the child with facts, not judgment.
“If your child asks if you used alcohol or drugs, remember that the issue isn’t your past, but your child’s future,” Nettnin shares. “Your job as a parent is not to make sure your child likes you – it’s to make sure he makes it to 18 years of age alive and healthy and well.”
It’s sad to hear that despite warnings about the dangers of inhalants, teens continue to experiment with them only because they want to get high.
In Los Angeles, a 14-year-old girl reportedly died this week after inhaling a computer keyboard cleaner. Drug experts believe inhaling toxic substances, or huffing, is a growing trend in kids these days, and many parents are unaware that many household products can be the culprit.
“It was really scary to read that and really sad, because i know with inhalants, with that and really sad, because i know with inhalants, wit that young lady and it may be the first time she’s ever done…it totally changes your body’s ability to asphyxiate yourself and you could die the very first time,” Mike Gemar, Canyon Ridge High School Vice-Principal, told KMVT.
Gemar knows a lot about inhalants because he attended training on it, and one of the important things he learned is how inhalants can affect the brain and the central nervous system. Unfortunately, at least 1 in 5 kids inhale some type of chemical or toxic substance before reaching 8th grade.
Given this information, Canyon Ridge High School is stepping up its fight against substance abuse by educating students as young as 8th graders about inhalants. There are also available resources on campus to help students make informed decisions about drug use and abuse.
Brady Dickinson, the principal at Canyon Ridge, said their students study the dangers of drug use as part of the health curriculum. Similarly, the effects of substance abuse, both short- and long-term, are shared to the students to raise awareness.
Inhalants are considered drugs under the school district’s policy. Dickinson adds that the policy is aimed at preventing kids from using drugs and educating them about their health.
Children who are living with an addicted parent, sibling or relative are at greater risk of experiencing a range of problems, including emotional disturbances, behavioral issues, poor educational performance, and susceptibility to substance abuse later in their life.
The Intervention Organization noted that there are more than 8 million children in the United States who live with at least one parent struggling with alcohol or drug dependency. One in four children below the age of 18 is living in a home where alcohol abuse is a fact of daily life.
As much as an addicted parent needs treatment, children of addictions also need professional help in order to cope with the trauma of growing up in families affected by alcohol or drug abuse.
Health professionals, school teachers and guidance counselors, community-based program personnel, and social workers are just some of the adults that can provide children of addictions the help and encouragement they need.
If you want to help children who live in alcohol or drug-dependent families, check out the organizations listed below for more guided assistance.
The National Association for Children of Alcoholics
This non-profit organization have affiliate groups throughout the U.S., as well as in Great Britain, Germany, and Canada. They work to raise public awareness by creating videos, booklets, posters and other educational materials for intervention and children support. One of its affiliates in the United States is the Betty Ford Center Children’s Program, which offers education, support, and hope to 7-12-year-olds impacted by a loved one’s addiction to alcohol and/or other drugs. For more information about the work they do, you can visit www.nacoa.org
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.
Since 1944, this non-profit organization has raised public awareness about addiction throughout the United States and increasingly across the global community. In the U.S. alone, it currently has over 100 affiliates that serving individuals, families, workplaces, schools, health providers, and psychological therapeutic community, among others. In addition to delivering media campaigns, NCADD is also committed to provide intervention services, drinking driver programs, recovery support, and school and community-based prevention. For additional details about NCADD, visit www.ncadd.org
Drug testing may not be commonplace in middle school for the simple reason that drug abuse is not as rampant among middle school students than it is among high schoolers. But a new study suggests that random drug testing middle school students make them less likely to use drug in the future.
The study, conducted by The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ) and Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind, surveyed more than 3,500 students at New Jersey middle and high schools over a 7-year period. Participating students came from schools with and without random drug testing program.
According to the researchers, only about 1 percent of 8th graders reported ever using illicit drugs, and only about 14 percent reported drinking alcohol. That figure of 14 percent dropped to 6 percent among students who were tested for drugs and alcohol at some point.
“People expect students to say, ‘I’m not going to do drugs now because I might be tested tomorrow,’ but that’s just not how kids and teenagers think,” Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson and principal investigator for the study, said in a news release. “What seems to be happening is that students who’ve been tested start to realize what a big deal it is, and stay away from drugs in the future.”
Nowadays, a growing number of high schools are implementing random drug testing for students involved in sports and other extra-curricular activities in the hope of fighting substance abuse in the campus. Although research on the effectiveness of such policy has been mixed, many school officials believe it would be effective in keeping children drug-free.
Angelo M. Valente, Executive Director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, explained that the results of the latest survey “show that student drug testing changes the environment of the school community and show they serve as an effective prevention strategy for the abuse of drugs and alcohol in their future.”
In the first part of this article, we have enumerated some of the most common inhalant products that are abused by people and the symptoms that come with using them. One of the important things you should know about inhalant abuse is that it could victimize both sexes and all socioeconomic groups. And as mentioned earlier, it is not unusual to see elementary or high school students to abuse inhalant because the products are inexpensive, quick-acting, easily available, and legal.
But it doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to prevent your child from engaging in inhalant abuse. Here are some inhalant abuse prevention strategies to keep in mind:
- Talk to your kids about the health risks of inhalant abuse. Discuss with them why it’s not a good idea to experiment with drugs of any kind.
- Show your kids safe use of medicines and household products. Remind them to be careful as some of these products may have poisons that can harm them if used the wrong way.
- Always include inhalant abuse when educating your kids about substance abuse in general. Make them well-informed about the drug-like effects of inhalants and the dangers associated with using them.
- Keep track of inhalants in your home just like how you keep track of the prescription pills in your medicine cabinet.
Meanwhile, if you see someone huffing:
- Remain calm.
- Do not confront the user or leave the user alone.
- Do not scare, shock or upset the user.
- If the victim is unconscious, immediately contact 911.
- Move the victim only if s/he is in danger remaining in the current setting. Contact the poison center at 1-800-222-1222 for instructions.
Given the increased efforts against prescription drugs, more teens are now turning their attention to over-the-counter medicines. Just because OTC drugs are sold directly to consumers without a doctor’s prescription, many teens think they are safer than narcotic painkillers — but the opposite is actually true.
Some of the symptoms of OTC drug abuse include dizziness, anxiety, confusion, nausea, inability to think clear, poor memory, poor coordination, hallucinations, and sleep disturbances.
But while you can’t police pharmacies who sell OTC medicines, doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to keep your teen/s from abusing these drugs. After all, prescription drug abuse prevention still starts at home. That includes proper storage of prescription pills and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines in your household, and disposing those that are no longer being used or already expired.
Here are 10 OTC drugs that are commonly abused by kids today. The more you know about them, the better you can keep them out of the hands of your children.
- Pain relievers (like acetaminophen and ibuprofen)
- Caffeine medicines and energy drinks (OTC caffeine pills like NoDoz or energy drinks like 5 Hour Energy)
- Diet pills
- Laxatives and herbal diuretics
- Motion sickness pills
- Sexual performance medicines
- Herbal ecstasy
- Other herbals