DRUG ABUSE SOLUTIONS
Prevention: parents can prevent drug abuse! Parents are the best protection youngsters can have against drug abuse. Prevention is the process, which builds into children a resistance to abusing drugs, so that drug use never begins. Prevention is a simple concept but it requires constant work to be successful. Prevention is a positive process. It is a process, which cannot be started too soon. Research indicates that children and teenagers diagnosed with ADHD are at greater risk to alcohol and drug abuse than children and teenagers in the normal population. The following are important elements in helping kids resist becoming involved with drugs and alcohol:
1. Love and affectionate as the child grows.
2. Consistent and fair discipline.
3. Open channels of communication for thoughts and feelings.
4. Opportunities for successful experiences at home and in school.
5. A stable family atmosphere (family time together, family rituals).
6. Tolerance of the child's mistakes (no put-downs).
7. Models of strong, thoughtful and feeling adults.
8. Accurate information about the problems of growing up today (sexuality, drugs, crime, etc.)
There is NOTHING more important in preventing drug abuse than spending time with your children. Take time to do what they enjoy, to share some skills, to build family rituals and rapport.
What else can be done? Educate yourself, have enough facts to clarify your point of view, and talk to your children. Unfortunately, many parents wait until after their children are involved with drugs or alcohol to sit down with them and talk. Don't make this discussion a onetime thing; children and teenagers need to be constantly reminded of where their parents stand. They also need parents who will listen without being critical and without over reacting.
Finally, your attitude and use of drugs (including alcohol and tobacco) will influence your children. Children learn more by watching what their parents do than they learn by what their parents say. Children need models of strong, responsible adults who are aware of their own chemical use. One reason we're seeing younger and younger children use alcohol and drugs is that they are "second generation" users, simply modeling their parents behavior.
Zero tolerance for drug/alcohol use in our children and teenagers is the most reasonable stance for their long-term well being. Part of prevention is taking reasonable action at the earliest possible time. This means a parent should be vigilant to the subtle signs and symptoms as discussed in the preceding article and take immediate action when use is suspected.
Common drugs of abuse By far, the three most common drugs of abuse for teens are cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana. If that isn't bad enough, use of all three substances nearly triples from junior high to high school. Even worse, adolescents with ADHD have an approximately 35 percent greater likelihood of becoming involved with illicit substances. As parents of children with ADHD the more knowledge you have the more you can help your child in both a preventative and treatment manner.
According to statistics, about one in four adolescents report being a current smoker. Boys and girls reported similar frequency of use. Regular alcohol use is reported less frequently than regular cigarette use. Slightly less than one in five adolescents say they drink alcohol (including beer and wine) more than one time per month. Almost 10 percent admitted to drinking at least once per week. The highest levels of alcohol use are found among youth living in the suburbs. Approximately 25 percent of all adolescents report having smoked marijuana at least once in their lives and about 19 percent report using one or more times in the previous month. Approximately one in five teenagers report regular use of marijuana.
Figures indicate alcohol use is sometimes tolerated by parents, especially those of older teens. If that's the case, parents should think again! In small doses, like all depressants, alcohol has a calming effect but long-term heavy use affects the liver, muscles, bonus, digestive tract, heart and brain. For some, alcohol can provide an easy escape from dealing with boredom, fears, depression, symptoms of ADHD, and frustration. The major problem with alcohol, however, is that teenagers and alcohol don't mix. Impulsive and easily influenced by their peers, teenagers often underestimate the seriousness of driving while intoxicated. They are inexperienced as to how alcohol affects perception, coordination and judgment.
One quarter of all young people have reported smoking marijuana at least once. Long-term studies indicate marijuana can cause serious physical and mental problems. Of particular concern are the effects of marijuana on young people who smoke while their bodies and minds are still rapidly developing. Marijuana, like alcohol, can affect a person's memory, driving ability and school performance. It is particularly dangerous for an impulsive teenager to be using marijuana. Would you care if you found out that the driver of car you were riding in was high on marijuana? What about your son or daughter?
Steps to solving a drug problem:
1. Identify the problem in your home. If you are unsure, but suspect of a problem, consult a trusted professional. It is often difficult to tell if a teenager is abusing substances. We have seen families where the parents were medical professionals, yet a substantial alcohol/drug problem was completely missed.
2. Talk with your teenager about your concerns. Listen to what he or she has to say. Your teenager may become very angry, defensive, noncommunicative, hostile or disgusted. Don't be intimidated. Most teenagers when confronted will deny or grossly minimize a problem. If your teenager refuses to talk about a drug problem and you are still concerned you must act because a teenager with a drug problem won't take the first step. Take your teenager to a trusted professional (physician, psychologist, etc.) for an assessment. Your actions must convince your child that you mean business.
3. Put your plans into action! Firm rules must be set. As a parent, you need to recognize you can't stop your adolescent from using drugs if they really want to. However, you can control drug usage in some environments (like your home) and you can be a major reason for their deciding to stop using drugs. Research clearly shows parent/family connectedness and parental presence (before school, after school, dinner and bedtime) are definite protective factors in the use of alcohol and drugs.
Finally, because drug usage is often a complex problem, many parents find outside professional support is essential. Trained and experienced family physicians or psychologists in the treatment of teenage substance use are the best sources of help. Though the road to success and drug-free living is sometimes painfully long and difficult, we have personally witnessed many successes.