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

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