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