One only needs to turn on the evening news or pick up the newspaper and read of young children and teens either getting into trouble with the law or clinging to life in the hospital from taking drugs, huffing paint or drinking alcohol.
While these methods of getting high have been around for years, the drug scene has changed quite a lot over the past 20 years and so has the ages of those experimenting with those drugs.
The why behind the high
For most children, getting high is a rite of passage, it’s what their friends are doing and whether we’d like to admit it or not, it includes any problems happening on the home front.
It’s no surprise problems in the home are often cited as the #1 cause of alcohol and drug use in children. Increase of divorce among parents, lack of money for the basics and lack of parental involvement with their children; while these are plausible, sometimes its school related such as bad grades, being unpopular or not fitting in or just being bored with nothing better to do after school until the parents or caregivers return home from work are some of the reasons a child might drink or use drugs.
Education and supervision seem to be the key when it comes to preventing drug and alcohol use in our children and we do this by starting this as early as possible, by becoming educated ourselves in the signs and in dealing with those signs early by getting our child into treatment.
It used to be accepted as part of growing up to experiment with alcohol and marijuana within the first couple of years of leaving home, but, this stereotype has changed dramatically over the years and now include school age children as young as 8 participating in alcohol and drug use.
Alcohol and smoking marijuana seem old school compared to the newer generation of drug use; even so, it is the starting point to further drug use later on.
One example now sweeping the teen set is alcohol infused gummy bears, whipped cream and candy. A quick search turned up quite a score of various candies and whipped cream recipes strewn among the articles about this new trend. Any computer savvy child or teen can quickly get what they need with little effort.
Our social websites bring together people from all over the globe and with the good there lurks the new type of drug pusher who now does business through social media, group and forum boards. This new drug pusher is almost always someone they’ve never met before except through chatting or e-mail. Meeting this pusher often opens a world of abduction, molestation and other equally dangerous activities.
The pushers out there are people selling toxic and dangerous drugs to our children along with the notion that the pusher’s lifestyle is glamorous with all its money, popularity and material possessions often purchased with drug money. The music of today glamorizes drugs and alcohol as if it’s the only way to live. What children do not understand is that the pusher’s lifestyle isn’t without its own dangers.
Where the drugs come from
The majority of pills sold on the street today are legal prescription medications the child easily took from their parents’ medicine cabinets or the child was able to avoid swallowing during their dose given at school or home before school by their parent or care provider.
With both parents having to work to make ends meet, school aged children, teens and young adults are left alone and unsupervised after their school day has ended with little to do. It’s very tempting to cave into peer pressure to fit in with the end result being to get high or to obtain quick cash to spend on things or other drugs by selling handy prescription drugs they can get from home.
Parents who take medications that are street worthy like pain killers, anti-psychotics, stimulants and in some states, marijuana need to lock up their medications and keep a record of how many they have and used. It’s important to limit their child’s ability to get and sell medications on the street or to take themselves to get high.
The same relocation and accountability for anything that can be huffed or contains alcohol must be done to make it difficult for your child to get to it.
While few deterrents are 100% fail proof, investing in a safe or a strong box heavy enough so that it cannot be taken or broken into and storing your medications in it then keeping the box’s keys with you will make getting to your medications nearly impossible.
Setting boundaries and consequences are equally important, follow through is most important. Failing to follow through with a consequence will only send the message that nothing will happen if they continue to use.
Steps have been taken to regulate the sale of common everyday items our children use to get high in many hardware stores and pharmacies where these items are sold. Laws require Identification to buy alcohol, aerosol paint and some over the counter cold medications containing ingredients often extracted for meth production.
How can I tell if my son/daughter is on drugs?
There isn’t one list that will be complete namely because everyone is different and also because drugs change, but, there are websites you can visit to get a list of commonly seen changes of drug and alcohol use in our children.
Some typical changes in behavior are well known among parents and caregivers; they are definitely known by those using drugs/alcohol. Efforts to mask behavior, smells, appearance and overall changes are carefully and cleverly hidden so that they go unnoticed.
Children using drugs and alcohol are thoroughly educated by their peers that they can deceive their parents and caregivers these days because we’re not home to supervise or appear to be preoccupied with daily stresses of work and life to notice.
Children using alcohol/drugs are counting on us to be too busy to notice missing pills, jewelry later sold for quick cash, their failing grades, missed curfew or the hangover we mistook for the flu. If they are clever enough, the changes will be subtle and those items missing small enough to be ignored or forgotten.
Over the course of treating children abusing drugs and alcohol, professional psychologists and therapists have developed lists and resources for us to use so that we can become educated and help our child deal with their addiction and get treated for it. Here are a few sites to get you started:
http://www.drugfree.org/ (DrugFree.org) is a list of commonly seen behavior and other changes in children and teens using alcohol and drugs. This site also has tabbed sections that discuss different drugs out there and resources.
http://www.samhsa.gov/ (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) this site is quite large and has a number of topics, resources and publications on Drugs and Alcohol abuse available. You can read about the various funding efforts, read about grants, treatment and other information. You can even gather more resources.
There is help out there for parents and their child who is using drugs and alcohol. You can also contact your local Social Services department in your city for local numbers and resources to programs designed to treat drug and alcohol abuse in our children.