Parents, Teens, and Drugs
Frequently Asked Questions
of Drugs •
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every parent needs to know
are under siege. They are being subjected to a constant stream of negative
messages about drugs. Their world is teaching them that drug use is not only
normal, but risk-free. They are being taught that they can put illegal drugs
into their bodies and suffer no apparent consequences.
Recent studies have shown that
media's influence on children in regards to drug use phenomenal. This studies
MUSIC- 63% of all Rap songs
refer to illicit drugs in some manner.
TELEVISION- TV shows and
music videos constantly bombard our children with the idea that drugs are
cool, drugs are fun, and drugs are harmless.
ROLE MODELS- Rock Stars,
Movie Actors, Models, and Professional Athletes are constantly being
arrested for drug use, and because of their immense wealth, they suffer very
little consequences for their actions.
All of these factors send the
wrong message to our children about drug use, but they are not the greatest
threat. The greatest threat is Peer Pressure. Children want to fit in, and
they want acceptance from their classmates. When they buy or use drugs for the
first time, it is likely that they will get them from their friends.
The children were asked how
difficult it would be to obtain drugs if they wanted some.
More than 1 in 5 kids that
have not used any drugs in the past year said heroin was easy or fairly easy
Of the children that admitted
that they had used drugs in the last year, that number jumps to 1 in 4.
These children are not
getting drugs from strangers standing on street corners. They are getting
them from their friends at school.
And they don't have to ask for
drugs, because their friends are asking them.
The percentages of children that
said someone had approached them in the last 30 days and offered to sell them
Anywhere from 1 out of every
8, to 1 out of every 5 children has been approached by somebody selling
It doesn't really seem to
matter whether they are male or female, where they live, or what ethnic
group they belong to. The people that sell drugs are everywhere.
So - if our kids are watching
movies and TV shows that are telling them that drugs are OK, and their music is
constantly referring to drugs, and their friends at school are offering them
drugs, what effect is that having on them?
It is sad to say, but the result
of all of this is that kids are using drugs earlier than ever before. The next
statistic paints the darkest picture of all. It shows the average age that kids
start using particular drugs.
The average starting age for
hard, addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin is only 14. And that is the
AVERAGE. Many kids are starting at only 12 years old.
We know that these are some very
scary statistics, but there is hope out there.
[These figures came from
the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
If your children decide to
experiment with illegal drugs, they will eventually find someone to supply them
- regardless of where you live. That is a hard but all too often true fact that
raises questions like:
We all hope that is doesn't happen to my child
Why would my child
experiment with drugs?
How can I tell if my child
is taking drugs?
At what age are children
exposed to drugs?
How can I keep my child safe
Where can I go to get help?
We hope to provide you with
information to answer these questions and more.
Preventing the Problem
Start talking to your children at
an early age about drugs and related issues. Give them a chance to participate
in the discussions and find out what they already know about drugs (you may be
surprised). Good communications patterns with your children will makes it much
easier to deal with drug problems that may arise later.
Family Drug and
One plan many parents establish
is to make a family drug and alcohol policy with their children.
The policy should include:
A statement of expectations
A listing of specific
restrictions if the policy is not followed
Most of all, the potential
for drug testing.
The threat of drug testing is a
risk that most children understand. It gives your child an acceptable "excuse"
to say no and may take some peer pressure off of them to experiment.
Addressing the Problem
If teens and preteens do use
drugs, they often deny it to their parents. This can lead to a multitude of
conflicts within the family unit. Drug testing can help bring the issues into
the open so they can be addressed. This is the first step towards finding a
solution to the problems caused by the use of drugs by our children. With
today's technology, home drug testing is simple, inexpensive and very accurate.
Instant Home Drug Test Kit
can test for amphetamines, methamphetamine (crystal), cocaine, opiates and
Looking For Help
A major problem with the war on
drug abuse is the stigma that society has placed on the problem. As such, many
people are too embarrassed to discuss drug related issues with their doctors,
ministers, family counselors and other people you traditionally turn to for
Open discussion of family drug
problems, accomplishes two things:
First, it provides a
psychological uplift to find out that you are not alone in your battle.
Second, it provides an
opportunity to exchange ideas to help you figure out how you are going to
help your children.
Parents working together will
become more informed on drug issues and will be better prepared to fight the
forces that are out there providing drugs to our children. There are hundreds of
associations and neighborhood groups that have formed to fight the problem of
teen drug abuse.
Public School Counselor
Al-Anon (sponsored by
"Just Say No" (sponsored by
your local police department)
are just a few of the many
places you can turn too.
Signs That Your Child MAY Be On Drugs
When children start using drugs,
they often exhibit signs which parents need to watch for. Unfortunately, many
parents often write-off these signs as normal adolescent behavior and as a
result do not realize that their child is into drugs.
So how can you, as a parent know
for sure whether or not your child is in danger? There is no simple answer to
that question - but the best way is to know your child and understand that all
children will be exposed to drugs at some time in their life. The parent who
says "not my kid" is the same parent who will miss the signs that their child
has started experimenting with drugs. So what should you as parents be looking
for as signs that your child is experimenting with drugs or alcohol.
Dramatic changes in style of clothes, hair, music
Has your child started
listening to radically different music?
Is your kid coloring their
hair some weird color just to fit in?
Is your child dressing down
to fit in with friends at school?
All of these are signs that your
child is succumbing to peer pressure. Your child could be in danger of falling
into the same kind of peer pressure when it comes to drugs. Everyone has a need
to "fit in" - especially children. To succumbing to peer pressure in itself is
not a bad thing. The problem is that children don't have a wealth of experience
to draw upon when making decisions and as a result it is easy for them to
succumb to peer pressure can lead to trouble.
Hanging out with a
Your child might
tell you that his/her friends are cool kids - and they may be. But you need to
take a close look at the kinds of kids your child is hanging out with. Chances
are that the way their friends behave is the way your child behaves when you're
not around. Do some of your child's friends smoke cigarettes? If so, odds are
your child is smoking too. Your child's friends are like a mirror for your son
or daughter. Look at that mirror and try to see your child. One of the best
ways to get a good idea of what your child is like is to look at their closest
You need to stay
in touch with your child's school. Never assume that their school will contact
you if there is a problem. If your child is getting into drugs, odds are he/she
will start ditching classes or school all together. Kids tend to take off
during the middle of the school day and get stoned somewhere near the school's
grounds. Don't assume that their school will let you know about this kind of
behavior. You need to realize that kids are great at coming up with good
excuses. Every kid knows how to forge their parent's signature - no joke. Call
your child's school from time to time and ask about your child's attendance
record. Please don't assume anything - find out for yourself.
Lack of motivation
Does you child seem not to
care about how he/she does in school?
Does your child seem to put
very little effort into homework assignments?
Does your child come home
from school to do his/her homework or is he/she just hanging out somewhere?
Your child should show a healthy
interest in school. If your child doesn't, then something is wrong and drugs
are just one possibility. One of the first things that goes when your child is
experimenting with drugs will be their interest in school. Now keep in mind
that no one likes school every day of every week, when you were a child did
you? Studying is hard work and everyone needs a break once in a while. But
breaks need to be earned by putting in hard work first.
Isolating from family
Does your child act
When you ask your child what
he/she has been up to, does your child give you a vague reply?
Does you child want to eat
in their room all the time instead of with the family?
Children are smart - they know
that the easiest lie to tell is the one they can avoid having to tell. If you
child doesn't tell you what he/she has been up to, there's a good chance your
child is hiding something.
Dramatic changes in attitude and personality
Does it seem like your child
is suddenly a different person with a new personality?
Has your child suddenly
developed a tough guy/girl attitude?
If your child is experimenting
with drugs, there's a good chance you'll be seeing these kinds of attitude
changes. Often parents just see this as normal teenage behavior - which it may
be. But on the other hand don't make the mistake of simply ignoring your
child's personality change, otherwise you might overlook one of the most obvious
signs of your child's drug problem
Changes in sleep
This change should be fairly
Does your child stay up late
(or even all night) and refuse to get up in the morning at a decent time?
Does your child sleep way too
much or way too little? If your child isn't sleeping much, there is a
chance he/she is using some sort of stimulant.
If your child is sleeping too
much, there is a chance that he/she is using some sort of depressant. Everyone
likes to sleep in once in a while, but be on the look out for excessive sleep
Excessive use of foul or obscene language
Has your child suddenly
developed a filthy mouth?
This might indicate that your
child is giving into peer pressure from their friends and should be a warning
sign to you.
If your child is trying to fit in
with their friends by cursing, your child may look for other ways to gain
acceptance into his/her peer group. One of these ways could be drugs.
too much or way too little
Here's an obvious sign of drug
experimentation that can be overlooked as normal teenage behavior:
Does your child come home in
the afternoon after hanging out with their friends and devour every sweet in
Smoking pot gives a person the
munchies and your refrigerator is a ready source of snacks to satisfy your
Does your child skip quite a
few consecutive meals?
Use of stimulants will suppress a
person's appetite - that's why they are the main ingredient in diet pills. An
unusual loss of appetite, especially by young girls who want to look thin, may
be a sign that your child is using stimulants.
Paranoia - everyone is out to get me
Does your son or daughter
treat everybody as if they were the enemy?
Do they tend to express the
idea that everybody is out to get them?
Do they seem overly paranoid
This is not normal teenage
behavior and is one of the most common signs of drug abuse.
eyes - red eyes - glazed eyes
Has your child developed a
Is he or she prone to
sudden, uncontrollable fits of anger?
This doesn't have to mean
physical violence but can also be a teen who is always yelling or
Any of these behavior patterns
should be a warning sign to you that your child could be experimenting with
If your child is
experimenting with drugs, he/she will be telling lots of lies to cover up their
actions. If you suspect that your child is not telling you the truth on an
on-going basis, there is a good chance that your instincts are accurate. Be
persistent and learn what it is that they are trying to cover up. Drugs are
always a possibility.
Dramatic mood swings
Does your child seem real
happy one day then terribly depressed the next day?
Do your child's emotions go
up and down constantly?
This is often identified as
normal teenage behavior - and it may be, but it can also be a sign of drug
Excessive money requirements or money disappearing
Drugs cost money -
lots of money. If your child keeps coming to you needing money, or if money
keeps disappearing from your purse or wallet, you need to have a serious talk
with your child. Do they always seem to need round amounts such as $5,
$10,$20 or more - that is often the price that drugs sell for.
Talking too slow or
If your child is smoking
marijuana, he/she will probably speak very slowly or will express ideas that
are completely out of context.
Pot tends to put a person in a
stupor and affects a person's thought process.
If your child is using
stimulants, they will speak very fast and act very hyper.
Look for dramatic changes in your
child's pattern of speech. If one day he/she speaks normally and the next
afternoon he/she is running a million miles a minute, drugs are a real
What you have just
read are possible signs that your child may be experimenting with
drugs or alcohol. Or they may be signs that your child has other problems. Or
they may be signs that your child is completely normal. There is no one right
answer all the time. Be on the look out for drastic changes in your child's
behavior. You are the person best equipped to spot the warning signs of your
child's problems - drug related or otherwise - because you are the person who
knows your child the best.
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