By: Danielle Stewart
Original Source: rehabreviews.com
Don’t get me wrong; the recent post in the Statesboro Herald, listing seven things you should tell your children about drug addiction, is super important information and I am happy it’s out there and available for parents. However, I wish I could say that any of this seemed like new information; I think it’s more or less the same key points that were presented to me in my ninth grade DARE program (and that was quite some time ago). And since none of these facts seemed to have made much of a difference in my choices to abuse substances, it’s hard for me to have hope that communicating this information to kids will have the impact we’d like it to.
Showing up Is Half the Battle
Nevertheless, it’s vital that we do it anyway—that we sit down with our kids (or the young people in our lives that we care about) and talk with them about the dangers of experimenting with alcohol and drugs. Yes, they will hate it. They may appear annoyed, uncomfortable, fidgety, distracted, zoned out and like they would rather be doing anything else in the world than pretending to listen what you are telling them—that’s okay. It’s not up to us whether or not they retain this information; it’s only our job to make sure we do our best to make it available.
Not Safe to Assume It’s Common Knowledge
I will say, though, that writing about addiction and recovery (and being a recovering alcoholic myself) has given me a level of knowledge about substance abuse that I sometimes take for granted. I forget that most of the world is still in the dark about the nature of addiction—the different ways it can start and the ways it manifests in one’s life. I forget that DARE is seen by some as a federally funded disappointment and may not be as widely available as it once was. Moreover, there are certainly countries with staggering alcohol and drug abuse rates that don’t have access to an education about this stuff at all and never have. These are circumstances where access to the internet is vital and where lists like this—or the longer one posted on Everyday Health—become the only lifeline for parents, struggling addicts and their loved ones.
A Recap of the List
1) Teenage drug use leads to addiction
This is probably first on the list because it’s the toughest to swallow. As a teenager, you might be surrounded by peers who are using drugs and alcohol with little to no consequences. And alas, it doesn’t matter what teens hear in a classroom, from a parent or in a Lifetime original movie; what they are seeing is what they are believing, which is manageable (and fun) experimentation.
2) Drug use starts before high school
It’s important to understand that while you still feel like it was only yesterday your child was in a stroller, he or she is, in fact, 11 or 12 and may be exposed to alcohol and drug use. Also, cigarettes are a gateway substance; let your kids know this and be on the look out for signs of use.
3) Underage drug use could lower your IQ
While this might be true, it’s not going to matter to the majority of the demographic that is attracted to underage drinking and drug use. Mostly, kids who want to become a part of this culture are looking for acceptance and stability (ironically enough) and generally aren’t that concerned with their IQ scores. If they are like me, they may have had their IQ tested and been told they are borderline mentally disabled and riddled with learning problems that will prevent them from attending Harvard or even being more than a C student. Is the news that you could make this worse actually going to stop someone?
4) Prescription pills are the new gateway drug
This one is huge. It shocks me how many kids (and adults) think prescription drugs aren’t harmful because they were prescribed by a doctor. Of course, this gets tricky when kids are stealing potent opiates and benzodiazepines from the family medicine cabinet. If it’s safe for their parents it must be okay, right? Keeping prescription narcotics (even alcohol and pot, if you enjoy those kind of things) locked up is a great way to prevent yourself from becoming an unknowing accomplice to your children’s drug habits. This goes for extended family members who spent time with their teenaged (or even pre-teen) relatives.
5) Inhalants (huffing) cause permanent brain damage
See number three.
6) Using substances hurts you academically
This one is tricky because drug and alcohol use doesn’t affect everyone the same. If kids are using drugs but keeping their grades up, it might discredit this whole list. I think it makes more sense to let kids know that experimenting with substances is very risky and while it might not be producing many consequences now, eventually it could sabotage them in ways they can’t predict. Parents should also keep eyes out for a sudden slip in grades as an indicator that something might be going on.
7) Underage drinking puts you in dangerous situations
How about drinking and drugging at any age puts you in dangerous situations? While I definitely had my fair share of embarrassing and kind of scary moments while drinking in high school, the real scary stuff happened after I left the comfort of my hometown—my friend’s parents’ basement, the woods I had known my whole life, the back seat of the car belonging to a guy whose parents knew mine. Once I was pushed out of the nest and into the real world is when I really got into trouble.
Why Our Role Is so Important
My ultimate point is this: if you are like me and think that everyone knows why teen drug use is dangerous, think again. It doesn’t matter how many media campaigns there are about drug addiction or drunk driving—the choices teens make come down to what they see happening in their peer group. Even then, there is usually some element of “that won’t happen to me.” Though there may not be anything you can do to prevent an addict from going down the path, talking to your kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol while also being aware of the messages you’re sending is part of your job.
Continue Reading: rehabreviews.com