Saturday, January 30, 2010

Teen Drug Abuse - Part 3

(Continued from January 16 and 23, 2010) - ...... Many adolescents are still abusing prescription drugs and cough syrup, the report found. In fact, of the 10 drugs most often abused by 12th graders, seven were prescription or over-the-counter medications, according the report.

"We see a lot of problems with prescription painkiller abuse, and prescription stimulant abuse," Compton said.

For example, almost one in 10 high school seniors said they used the narcotic painkiller Vicodin in the past year, and one in 20 said they used another narcotic painkiller, OxyContin.

In addition, more than 5 percent of 10th and 12th graders who did not have ADHD said that they had used the stimulant Adderall to get high in the past year.

Teens said they got prescription drugs from doctors (19 percent) and from dealers (8 percent), but most (66 percent) said they got the drugs from friends or relatives. Among this latter group, 12 percent said they "took" them, 21 percent bought them and 33 percent said someone gave them the drugs.

In speaking with scores of students and parents, it has become clear that the medicine cabinet, used only for medicinal purposes years ago, is now one of the first stops for kids who are interested in experimenting with gateway drugs. From cold medication with codeine, to stimulants to keep people awake, as well as over-the-counter sleeping aids, our medicine cabinets have become the 2010 version of the candy store for kids. Quite simply, as I once heard Pastor Dr. Adrian Rogers say about medications in the home, “Get rid of that stuff or lock it up securely – and check on it often”.

In addition to the over-the-counter drug availability, kids have been known to take their parents’ medication for experimental purposes. On some occasions, although I was convinced that kids were high on illegal drugs, they later admitted that they had been high on their parents’ medication. The medication, if taken responsibly by an adult, would have helped the particular adult’s medical issues. However, that same medication taken by kids can produce disastrous effects. In addition, as their systems will later crave stronger and stronger drugs, the parents’ medication serves as a gateway drug to stronger and more dangerous drugs.

Clearly, medication in the home, for personal and family use, needs to be securely locked up and kept away from kids. Remember, we are trying to keep our kids from becoming addicted to drugs, a prevalent issue in our society. Your extra work to keep the medication locked up will help to deter any thoughts about entering the world of drug use and abuse.

Also, it is important to check on the medication often. Once it is securely locked up, we need to remember to ensure that it stays locked up and that nobody has attempted to tamper with the lock!

The report also examined adolescents' attitudes about alcohol use and found that it had softened. For example, fewer 10th graders said they considered weekend binge drinking as a problem, and more high school seniors said that having a drink or two a day was OK.

Our parents would have knocked us into yesterday if we had taken a sip of alcohol, yet more of today’s high school seniors believe that a drink or two a day is O.K.! WHAT?!?!? Yes, alcohol is more prevalent on television, radio, and magazine ads, but how did we get to the point where high school seniors believe that drinking is O.K.? While we can address that in a future post, for now it is of utmost important to keep alcohol out of the house or at least locked up securely – while checking often!

Similar with medicines, kids WILL experiment with drinking if alcohol is available. One of the major differences that I have seen is that one can always count pills to determine if one is missing, but how can you determine if a sip of alcohol is missing from a large bottle? Quite simply, we can’t monitor alcohol in a cabinet in a home. It needs to be locked up or not brought in at all, or many kids will experiment with the alcohol, especially as we remember that more high school seniors believe that a drink or two a day is O.K.

Yes, I know – we have to work harder than our parents did to protect our kids. We have to hide medicine, we have to hide alcohol, we have to keep checking on our kids to make sure that they are following the rules and expectations, and, yes, it can be quite tiring.

But, as we have the ultimate responsibility to protect our kids, I suppose that it’s time to get busy!!

As I have become fond of saying, nobody has said that parenting is easy. But, with a whole lot of work, attention, and love, we can be successful and the rewards at the end of the line are well worth it!

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Teen Drug Abuse - Part 2

(Continued from January 16, 2010) - ..... The findings in the report, 2009 Monitoring the Future, are based on data collected from 46,097 U.S. students in 8th, 10th and 12th grades at 389 public and private schools.

Just 1.2 percent of 12th graders said they had used methamphetamine in the past year -- the lowest percentage since 1999, according to the report. Also, fewer 10th graders said it was easy to obtain: 14 percent, down from 19.5 percent in 2004.

Smoking was reported at the lowest point in the survey's history among 8th, 10th and 12th graders. Among 8th graders, 2.7 percent said they smoked daily, down from 10.4 percent in 1996. In 1997, 24 percent of high school seniors said they smoked daily, whereas this year's report indicated an 11.2 percent smoking rate among 12th graders.

However, use of smokeless tobacco has risen to 6.5 percent of 10th graders, according to the report -- a rate that's higher than last year and the same as it was in 1999.
Compton said that another area of concern is the use of marijuana. Although there has been a trend toward less use since the mid-1990s, the decline has stopped and as many teens are using the drug today as five years ago.

The latest survey reported marijuana use at the same rates as last year: 32.8 percent of 12th graders, 26.7 percent of 10th graders and 11.8 percent of 8th graders.
Moreover, fewer teens indicated that they perceived marijuana use as harmful: 44.8 percent of 8th graders this year, compared with 48.1 percent last year and 57.9 percent in 1991, the survey found.

If you have a middle school child, please read that last paragraph again, as it states that only 44.8% of 8th graders believe that marijuana use is harmful. That means that 55.2% of the 8th graders do not believe that marijuana has any harmful effects! How could this be? How has it come to the point that over half of our 8th graders believe that marijuana use is O.K.?

Again, it goes back to peer pressure, kids feeling unloved, and drug use taking the place of good friends and actively involved parents. After all, no matter who lets the kids down, their old friend “marijuana” is always ready to comfort them. That, coupled with the fact that marijuana is readily accessible, provides a double-edged sword to drug use among teens!

Again, before it is too late, check out everything that your kids are doing, with whom they are doing it, and monitor their expected arrival times. It only takes one lapse in parental responsibility for a child to dive into the deep end of the drug use pool.

Are you scared or alarmed? Good, you need to be. Without question, after seeing literally hundreds of students and parents over the years in my office to discus this exact issue, drug use among our teens is at an all-time high, it’s getting worse, and our kids see no problem with it. Your time to be involved is now. Yes, they’ll think that you’re a pain in the neck, but at least they’ll be alive and healthy. Oh, and a good back rub can take care of that pain in the neck!

Hang in there! Just when we thought that parenting cold not get any tougher, well, it has. Stay involved and pay attention to everything that your child does. Together, we can defeat drug use among teens and especially with your child. It’s an uphill battle, but with the proper hours being logged, we can do it!

(Please come back next week for the 3rd and final part)

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Teen Drug Abuse - Part 1

As I have often written in this blog and explained to parents, drug use among teens is highly prevalent, from the lowest parts of the country to the upper echelons of society. Essentially, drug use knows no boundaries and it has infiltrated our kids at alarming rates. The combination of peer pressure, teens feeling unloved, stress, and availability of inexpensive drugs, has proved to be attractive to teens and, in some cases, lethal.

Over the next three Saturday posts, I will be highlighting the words that were recently released in a report from the “National Institute on Drug Abuse”, along with my comments interspersed throughout the article. The articles words will be in bold, while my words will be in regular type.

Our teenagers are using methamphetamine, but reductions in marijuana use have stalled and abuse of prescription drugs remains high, U.S. health officials report.

In addition, they said that newer drugs, such as the hallucinogenic salvia leaf and the prescription medication Adderall, which is intended for treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), appear to be gaining a foothold among teens.
The findings are in the annual report from the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, issued Dec. 14.

"Every time this study comes out, there is both good news and bad news," said Dr. Wilson Compton, director of the agency's division of epidemiology, services and prevention research.

"The long-term trends show some very positive changes in stimulants and methamphetamine, some improvements in cocaine that are very promising, but we don't see the ongoing improvement in marijuana or the overall measures of illicit drug use," he said.

"On the one hand, you could say it's stable, [and] that's not too bad," Compton said. "But when you are stable at very high rates, that tells us we need to redouble our efforts."

The big news in this year's report, he said, is that declines in marijuana use have stalled. "This has us concerned about a resurgence and also about what we can do to reduce the rates from where they are," he said.

On the plus side, smoking rates among teens are down, Compton noted. He added, however, "we are now seeing illicit drugs more commonly used than cigarettes."
That is the part that scares me, even though I have seen it steadily occur over the past ten years, or so. “We are now seeing illicit drugs more commonly used than cigarettes”. 

Can you remember when you were a teen? A few “losers” smoked cigarettes, while only one or two actual “burnouts” used drugs. Now, both have increased in usage and the use of drugs is now outpacing the use of cigarettes!

Are your kids using drugs, either regularly or recreationally? If you said “no”, how do you know? Are you with them at school? Is there a window of time in the afternoon during which they could have access to drugs before you get home? Do you really know who shows up at a friend’s house when your own child is also visiting? Unfortunately, there is no way to know the answer to all of those questions.

As such, it is of the utmost urgency that you constantly monitor your child’s activities. Yes, take off work at 2:00 p.m. one day and find your child. If he/she is home playing safe video games or eating a sandwich, terrific! If not, find him/her and find out what is going on.

In another scenario, when your child is visiting a friend, stop over the friend’s house about two hours into the visit and find out who is really at the house! Your kid will be mortified, but it’s not your job to keep him/her "un"-mortified, it’s your job to keep him/her alive and away from drugs and those who use them!

The times have changed rather drastically since the time that we were teens. We were scared to death to be home 5 minutes late after eating too much pizza and having to many soft drinks. In today’s society, with busy parents working, with teens feeling more unloved than ever, and with the added stress and peer pressure, having too many pizzas and soft drinks should be the least of your concerns.

Find out what your kids are doing, keep them away from all drugs, and do it now before it is too late!

Just one more sign that parenting is not easy, but, by staying involved, we can be triumphant!

(Please come back next week for Part 2)

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Music + Son + Dad=Victory(2)

(Continued from January 2, 2010) ...... He furiously practiced over the time that was available. Not only did he get the notes and rhythms, but he also played with an understanding of the emotions that I had attempted to convey with the piece. At nights and on the weekends, we played together, still trying to master every element of the piece and preparing for the upcoming performance.

Finally, the big day arrived. He flawlessly played the piece with the maturity of a seasoned pro, he nailed the credenza, and he received a perfect rating! In an instant, the mutual admiration society between my son and his favorite dad had grown even larger!

My admiration grew for him because of his perseverance, attention to detail, focused approach to the music and the instrument, and, of course, his brilliant preparation and performance. His admiration grew for me because I was willing to re-write one of my compositions just for him and accompany him on the piano. While I am sure that he appreciated the actual music, I think that he mostly appreciated the hours and hours that I logged on his behalf!

Yes, teaching your kids and watching them grow, while spending tons of time with them even when some might think that 16-year-olds don’t need dads as much in their lives (more on that terrible myth in a future blog!), and seeing their terrific work get rewarded with a perfect rating, while continuing to have his admiration grow for his dad at the same time, is a feeling that is almost too powerful to describe. Trust me, though; it’s a feeling that a parent would not trade for anything!

As always, continue to guide your kids (irrespective of their advanced age!), help them to grow, and spend lots and lots of time with them. The rewards are better than a perfect rating at a music festival!

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Music + Son + Dad=Victory(1)

There are many times in your life as a parent when your kids will absolutely make you as proud as one can be. Moments that send chills up and down your spine and moisture to your eyes, as you experience the joy of watching your offspring have success.

My son recently decided to perform a marimba solo for the annual Solo and Ensemble Festival. While I was proud of his desire to perform for a rating in front of a musical judge, I was drawing a blank when it came to choosing music.

We looked through scores (no pun intended!) of books, read through many pieces that I had played in the past, and browsed through the inventories of a few stores. Irrespective of the time that we had logged in the quest to select a perfect piece for his performance, nothing jumped out at us.

Then ..... it hit me! I thought about taking a piece that I had written while he was in his mother’s tummy back in 1993, re-writing it for marimba, and condensing the orchestral parts into a piano part with which I would accompany his solo. I tested the idea on my son and …. HE LOVED IT!

So, after firing up “Finale”, my computer based music-writing program, I re-wrote the solo music for marimba and transcribed all accompaniment parts into one piano part. I even created and inserted an unaccompanied cadenza into the piece, so that he would be more prominently featured during the performance. I then made a recording of the piece and piano part, so that my son could engage in serious and meaningful practicing even while I was not at home.

At first, the piece seemed a bit daunting, as it featured changing time signatures (including 7/8, 4/4, and 3/4), changing tempos from very slow and dramatic to lightening fast with many 16th notes, and substantial and sudden shifts in dynamics.However, my son attacked the piece with all of the gusto and fortitude of a proven pro!

(So, how did he do? Well, tune in next week for the exciting conclusion!!)

Paul W. Reeves