Raising Healthy Kids
A recent study published in the journal Addictive Behaviors revealed that teenagers who participate in sports are less likely to engage in the use of most illicit drugs.
While that finding is somewhat expected judging by the benefits that the youth get through sports, proponents of the study surprisingly discovered that this same demographic are more prone to alcohol abuse. Research team member John Cairney of McMaster University’s Offord Centre for Child Studies shared through Reuters the surprising results. “When we began our own review, we were shocked not only to find many new studies, but also ones that had been missed in previous reviews,” Cairney said.
The researchers from Canada reviewed previous studies published between 1982 and 2012, and dealt with monitoring people’s behaviors as a result of sports activities. It was through the comprehensive review that the benefit of sports activities in preventing drug abuse can be confirmed.
“We have enough data to show that sport participation could play an important role in substance use prevention. We need to understand what aspects of sport participation are most beneficial and design rigorous trials to see if sport interventions really can reduce or prevent drug use in youth,” Cairney added.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for marijuana and alcohol use, which young athletes were more susceptible to fall into. Also, the probability of prescription drug abuse — particularly in the use of painkillers and opiod medication — is higher for young people engaged in sports because these drugs are easier to get for them.
Children cannot wait to become grownups, and parents usually find this adorable. Now, a brand new survey suggests that moms and dads should be concerned about the rapid development of their kids into teenagers because this can lead to substance abuse.
According to a study by a team of researcher from Austin’s University of Texas links early puberty to a higher risk of deveoplng substance abuse. Team lead Jessica Cance, who works at the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, cites how puberty can result not only to physical body changes but also the teen’s social and psychological health. “Our research has shown that pubertal development is a combination of biological, psychological and social processes that all likely interact to influence risk-taking behavior like substance use,” Cance shared in a news item.
The survey involved 6,500 teenagers between the ages of 11 and 17, monitored their puberty development based on physical changes, and assessed their susceptibility to abuse of cocaine, alcohol and drugs. Results of the study showed that those who enter puberty at an earlier stage in their life are more prone to engage in drug abuse.
Cance relates this to the individual’s biological development and links it to his or her perceived social maturity. She said the first student in class to experience biological maturity “prompts or exacerbates existing psychological and social aspects… that can, in turn, lead to substance use and other risky behaviors early in life.”
Earlier studies showed that society and marketing agencies lure teens into drug and alcohol use because these are “cool”. This breakthrough revelation from Cance’s team shows that the perceived feeling of maturity in children makes them more likely to drug abuse.
A legislation aimed at fighting dextromethorphan abuse has recently won the support of New York lawmakers, and is now at Governor Andre Cuomo’s desk for final approval.
The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, directs any retail establishment to prohibit the sale of products containing dextromethorphan (DXM) to persons under 18 without a valid prescription.
“Too many of our teens are abusing this medicine to get high,” Jaffee said during a press conference at South Orangetown Middle School early this month.
Jaffee began working on the bill two years ago after hearing stories about the negative impact of DXM abuse. She did her research on the topic, review the dangers of peer pressure, and assess how poor discussion about the problem is destroying the lives of the country’s future generation.
Similar legislation is already in place several counties including Westchester, Suffolk and Nassau County. But Jaffee’s bill will enforce the age restriction on a state level. Once Gov. Cuomo signs the bill, a $250 fine will be imposed to those who will be caught violating the provisions of the new law.
“I think the bill is going to make a huge difference. It will deny access. And once you deny access, you raise awareness,” Jaffe noted. “It’s a very important step.”
Smoking is a bad and hard habit to break. But if you’re really serious to have a clean lifestyle the smartphone app SmokefreeTXT is a good starting point.
Statistics show there are more than 395,000 teen smokers in the U.S., and every day at least 6,000 children under the age of 18 start smoking. Even though this trend alone isn’t easy to dissolve it doesn’t mean there’s no hope for youth who want to say goodbye to smoking.
Smokefree TXT is an initiative launched by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Its goal is to provide 24/7 encouragement, advice, and tips to teenagers trying to stop lighting cigarettes. Once you sign up for the service you can personally choose your preferred quit date. You will receive free text messages up to six weeks from your quit date so you are constantly reminded about and supported in your personal cessation efforts.
“With 75 percent of youths between the ages of 12 and 17 owning a cell phone, there is immense potential for mobile technologies to affect health awareness and behavior change among teens,” Erik Augustson, Ph.D., a behavioral scientist in NCI’s Tobacco Control Research Branch, said in a news release.
NCI is hopeful that through the program more teen smokers will realize the dangers of tobacco use and finally decide quitting.
Cliché as it may sound but prevention still goes a long way when it comes to addressing public health issues, such as substance misuse.
According to researchers from the Penn State and Iowa State University, kids who are exposed to community-based prevention programs while they are still in middle school are 65 percent more likely to reduce their overall misuse of prescription drugs. Significant reduction rates were also observed for methamphetamine, marijuana, alcohol, cigarette and inhalant use.
The study is part of the Promoting School-Community-University Partnerships to Enhance Resilience (PROSPER) model which brings evidence-based prevention programs to schools and communities to strengthen families, build youth skills, and reduce substance abuse.
For the purpose of the research, PROSPER administered a combination of family-focused and school-based programs for nearly 30 communities evenly split between Iowa and Pennsylvania. The programs started while the students were still in sixth grade.
In addition to reducing substance abuse, the researchers found that prevention programs improve relationships between teens and their parents, as well as life skills and few problem behaviors. They emphasized that timing is equally important in ensuring the effectiveness of prevention programs.
“We think the programs work well because they reduce behaviors that place youth at higher risk for substance misuse and conduct problems,” Richard Spoth, director of the Partnerships in Prevention Science Institute at Iowa State, said in a news release. “We time the implementation of these interventions so they’re developmentally appropriate. That’s not too early, not too late; about the time when they’re beginning to try out these new risky behaviors that ultimately can get them in trouble.”
Peer pressure is one of the biggest issues that kids face when growing up. It is a natural experience that people go through in life, but more pronounced during pre-teen and teen years. While positive peer pressure is good and should be encouraged, negative peer pressure can lead to substance abuse, skipping of classes, and other risky behavior.
Realistically, you cannot keep your child free from peer pressure even if you put him/her in the best school or neighborhood. You cannot also expect your child to spend more time with you once they begin establishing friendship with other people. But that doesn’t mean your influence to your child will wane and become less important as they get to rely more on their friends.
Here are a few things you can do to help your child stay away from dangerous peer pressure:
1. Help your child develop confidence and self-esteem. Kids who feel good above themselves and value their capabilities are less likely to give in to negative peer pressure.
2. Teach your child to say “no” to inappropriate activities and situations. Discuss with your child the consequences of getting involved in “sticky” situations and let him/her know s/he can always choose to avoid them.
3. Let your child know they s/he can always come to you if there are things that bother her/him or if s/he is being pressured to do something against his/her will.
4. Take the time to get to know your child’s friends. Encourage your child and his/her friends to hangout at your home so you get to know the people who influence your child.
5. Encourage your child to be more assertive. Tell her/him that s/he can always refuse situations or things that make her/him uncomfortable. Let her/him know that you’ll always be available to come and get her/him if s/he feels worried or unsafe in certain situations.