Posts Tagged teen substance abuse
It’s tough being a parent. When your child does some crazy things, like experiment on drugs, the blame would usually fall on you first before the finger is pointed to friends and other influences. While several factors are often involved in substance abuse, there are quite a few parental practices that can push teens to abuse drugs and/or alcohol regardless of how many times you tell them to stay away from these substances.
Not Being Clear with Your Stance on Drugs
Adolescence is that time when kids face too much pressure from friends and it is when teens want to establish a solid sense of belongingness. It’s when they get more opportunities to socialize with different kinds of people because they no longer cling on you like they do when they were younger. Naturally, it’s also that time when they have higher chances of meeting people who would invite them to try drugs and indulge in alcohol. That said, you must be able to clearly communicate with them your position on drugs and alcohol. If you show them it’s acceptable to experiment with banned substances, the more likely they will use drugs and alcohol. So it’s best to set firm rules and expectations, but at the same time make them feel comfortable talking to you about substance abuse issues and that they can ask you questions without the fear of being outrightly suspected or judged.
Not Walking Your Talk
Fact is, parents have the tendency to preach. The problem begins when parents do not practice what they preach. Kids are always curious and if you’re smoking marijuana and you go through a list of the dangers of substance abuse, might as well prepare a good explanation on how come your actions are not in keeping with your words.
Studies show that children of parents who abuse drugs are at greater risk of going through the same problem later in life. Abide by your own rules and demonstrate to your kids how you value them by spending quality time with them. The more kids feel the attention of their parents, the less likely they are to seek such attention from other people, who for all you know, may lead your child to the path of addiction.
Assuming Changes as Part of Being a Teenager
As we all know, there are certain changes that can occur when people reach their adolescence. However, if you are involved in your child’s day-to-day life, you will know whether the behavorial or physical changes you observed were still part of the transition or something else. For example, sudden weight loss or gain, increased energy and strength, and neglect to personal hygiene may signal substance abuse problem. Still, you can’t be sure until you have a conversation with your child, right?
A Brigham Young University study showed that monitoring your child’s activities play an important role in preventing drug use. Worried that your child would accuse you of invading their privacy? Not so, because teens are still at the stage where they can make plenty of bad choices and your guidance will mean a lot for them.
During a workshop held at the Ionia County Intermediate School District, the issue of teen substance abuse was discussed. Experts said that 90% of adult drug addicts started their drug use in their teenage years.
There were about 70 attendees composed of parents and professionals from schools, hospitals, courts and treatment facilities, and law enforcement. The forum was entitled “Emerging Drug Trends in 2012” with executive director for BASES Teen Center in Charlevoix, Scott Kelly, as the resource person. The program was organized by the County Health Department and the Ionia County Substance Abuse Initiative.
Kelly said parents still hold the biggest influence when it comes to teen substance abuse. For instance, if parents allow their children to drink even at home, these kids will abuse alcohol up to three times more than kids whose parents restrict alcohol in any form inside or outside their homes.
“When parents open the door to some use, by saying it’s okay on special occasions or it’s okay at home; then kids think it’s okay in Johnny’s basement, it’s okay in the car. It’s important that parents say no,” Kelly said.
Parents were also informed about the greater risks that high school athletes may have when it comes to drugs and alcohol use. Athletes are often more pressured to excel in their field and expectations can be quite high that at times, they (athletes) turn to alcohol and drugs as their coping mechanisms.
It was made clear that teen substance abuse is a problem that should involve everybody’s efforts to solve. Probation officer for the Ionia County Juvenile Court Amy Buckingham also encouraged the whole community to join in the cause against substance abuse. “It isn’t just one drug or one age or one income group so that we can say, ‘It doesn’t affect me.’ This information is helping us to see that addictions affect all of us,” Buckingham said.
A new study suggests that teens that undergo a five-minute computer screening program pertaining to their alcohol and drug use may reduce their risks for drinking for up to a year.
It was found out by a group of researchers from the Boston Children’s Hospital that kids who talk to their pediatricians after the computer screening tool decreased their risks for drinking by almost 50% for the first three months after their doctor’s visit.
Dr. John Knight from the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research at the Boston Children’s Hospital confirmed that previous studies have proven that screening and immediate intervention create a big positive impact among college students on alcohol and drug issues, but this is the first time they are able to have the computer screening and intervention program on the adolescent population.
“It’s important to get pediatricians involved, because we know 70 percent of high school seniors have started to drink, and almost 60 percent have started to use drugs, but there are few specialists available to deal with early intervention with teens,” he said.
It has been noted that most teens are able to visit their pediatricians every year for their physical examination requirements. This gives them the opportunity to talk about their substance abuse problems knowing their secrets are safe with their doctors, thereby making them listen more to their doctors than to their parents. “Since substance abuse kills more teenagers than infectious disease, parents should view this screening as another important vaccination,” Dr. Knight added.
Yet there are also obstacles that pediatricians face when talking to teenagers and their issues. For one, they don’t have the luxury of time due to the fact that there are a lot of patients with numerous factors to screen for. Another one is that once they screen teens for substance abuse, some doctors don’t know how to deal with patients who test positive and admit to the dangerous habits.
A recent survey made at Wood County is showing the extent of substance abuse among kids, specifically from the fifth to the twelfth grades. Back in February, students from the Wood County public schools district participated in the study and what they revealed should be a wake-up call for all concerned authorities.
Results of the survey confirmed that there are about 15.2% of twelfth graders who smoked cigarettes in the last 30 days prior to the survey. What was surprising and alarming was the fact that more kids are smoking pot than cigarettes, with 19.9% of the participants admitting to marijuana use. Just last year, 15.6% of seniors from schools in the district said they had used weed more than ten times.
Project director for the Safe Schools Healthy Student Initiative and the Wood County Educational Service Center, Kyle Clark, said that marijuana use among teens is increasing in other parts of the country as well. Clark added that the legalization of marijuana has sent confusing messages to kids which might have triggered for statistics to rise.
As the debate on medical marijuana continues, students could get the wrong idea that the substance is safe. Clark calls for school authorities and anti-substance abuse groups to focus on the prevention methods to discourage kids from using marijuana.
Results also revealed that there is a continuing drop on the use of cigarettes among 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students. Even alcohol use dropped, giving Wood County its lowest rate ever since the annual survey started in 2004.
“Well over 60 percent of our kids have not taken a drink; have not smoked a cigarette ever. And those are good statistics to have.”
Also included in the report was the issue of bullying with almost 33% of Wood County students falling victims to these kinds of situations, which could increase their risks for substance abuse.
In 2010, the Illinois Youth Survey yielded alarming results that showed about 10% of 8th graders in Lake County have already encountered alcohol at the tender age of 10 or even younger. It was also uncovered that 6% of sophomores are lighting up pot at least twice in a month.
This is why the Stevenson High School community took the responsibility of holding the “Saving Our Children” symposium which tackled issues on the use of illicit drugs. Aside from their own parents and students, families from Libertyville and Vernon Hills High schools were also present during the event.
Elisabeth Nelson from the Lake County Health Department said that the data gathered in 2010 failed to include the use of OTC drugs among kids but promised to include the subject in this year’s survey. “We have seen a slight increase in prescription drug abuse in the past year’s data,” Nelson added. “Cough medicine is higher than pain killers.”
According to Nelson, it has been recorded that children who start with the abuse of pain killers, such as Oxycontin and Percocet, ultimately go up the ladder towards heroin addiction. She added that the best sources of these pain medications are the home medicine cabinets where parents and grandparents store their prescriptions without proper security.
While alcohol remains the top drug choice among kids in Lake County, other household substances like inhalants are easily misused especially by middle school students.
Thus, Stevenson High School student assistance program coordinator Stephanie Elsass makes it a point to solicit the support of nearby schools in hosting the symposium every year. For the past seven years, schools in their area have taken turns as panel of experts during the forum.
In a report from the Sun Times, Nelson reminded parents to monitor their children especially in the coming summer season and that the talk on drugs and alcohol should be done at the earliest time possible.
The Trackside Teen Center was packed with parents and students during the Wilton Youth Council’s Community Conversation held last April 25.
This is the third time that the council had the event where the latest survey and reviews with regards to teen substance abuse was tackled.
Board of Education member and director of the Partnership for Success Grant at Positive Directions Lory Rothstein presented the most recent results of the online survey participated in by 883 students from the 7th to 12th grades and 446 parents from the 6th to 12th grades.
So far, this is their largest sample ever handled with the number of students accounting for 45% of the total population in the respective levels.
The report put the spotlight on alcohol, drugs, and tobacco and marijuana use among students. It was noted that there was a decrease in the use of the said substances yet the average for alcohol use is still a little over than the national average; 12th graders who admit to alcohol intake within the past 30 days was below 50%.
The relationship between alcohol and marijuana use was also discussed. The Youth Council has long named alcohol as a “gateway drug” and statistics seem to agree with them. An alarming 27.9% of students confess to drinking and smoking marijuana with only 0.7% saying they never tried any of the two substances. From the teen drinking population, 35% also owned up to pot use.
Guest Speaker for the forum Chris Brown said that a teen’s brain is not at all the same as an adult’s brain. Brown, who is a school psychologist and licensed professional counselor, made it clear to everybody that a teen’s brain’s reward center is extra sensitive compared to adults’ which makes them more vulnerable to addiction.
Mr. Brown also added that teens are not fully prepared to make the right decisions and acknowledge the consequences of their actions all the time as their brains aren’t fully developed yet.