Many parents find it difficult to discuss substance abuse with their children. Yet this is one case in which “TMI” (“too much information”) does not apply.
Parents play a crucial role in the prevention of drug abuse in their children, far more than drug education classes. This article will discuss the various things that you can do as a parent to help your child grow up drug-free.
Understanding The Drug Epidemic
Substance abuse can surface in many ways. Alcohol and marijuana are the most popular drugs among American youth, but abuse doesn’t stop there. From the prescription drug epidemic to synthetic drugs, there is a wide array of dangerous substances out there. Knowing what they are and how they manifest may someday save your child’s life.
• Street drugs like heroin and cocaine are extremely dangerous as purities typically vary depending on the dealer or importer. An amount that a user is accustomed to taking may prove fatal with a batch that comes in a higher concentration.
• Synthetic drugs include substances like bath salts, synthetic marijuana (also known as K2 or Spice), and Smiles. Until recently, there was no legislation against these chemicals, so they were sold legally in convenience stores across the country. It is for this reason that many teens believe that they are harmless. Yet these drugs produce powerful, mind-altering effects, often creating psychotic episodes and making even the most benign users suicidal or homicidal. They are sold in bright, colorful packaging that makes it look like candy.
• Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem, with teens selling it at school and sharing it at parties. Some teens will drive for miles out of town to find doctors and pharmacists willing to shell out prescriptions and get paid under the table. Others simply clean out their parents’ or friends’ medicine cabinets, even relying on large amounts of codeine in cough syrup to get high.
• Chemicals around the home are also often used by teens to get high. This includes nitrous oxide from aerosol cans (also known as “whippets”), glue, nail polish and freon from air conditioning units. Experimenting with these toxic substances can cause sudden death even after the first use.
Studies from Technician Online show that a vast percentage of children who turn to drugs spend a lot of time home alone at night and are not involved in extra-curricular activities. Very often their parents suffer from drug addiction themselves.
On the other hand, a number of student surveys show that when parents are involved in school events, extra-curricular activities, and make an effort to create quality family time, their children are less inclined to experiment with drugs or alcohol. Even something as simple as having a sit-down dinner in which the family can interact with each other can truly make the world of difference.
Conversations about drugs do not have to be somber dissertations about chemical formulas and overdose statistics. Drug education can be as simple as pointing out how alcohol affected a friend or family member’s life, or sharing personal experiences with the ravages of substance abuse. The key is keeping communication open on the subject, letting your children know that it is safe to discuss and ask questions, and simply making it known that you are there for them.
Parental involvement in treating and preventing drug abuse is often one of the most important ways of handling the problem. If you have a child make sure they do not fall victim to addiction and are educated enough to ‘say no.’ As a parent make sure you know the signs and do something if you think your son or daughter is using drugs.