Last Updated on February 9, 2017 by Morris Green
Many young people abuse drugs by the early age of 12. Unfortunately, this means that they start using at an even younger age. There are several reasons that may cause a pre-teen or teenager to become addicted, and even more importantly, how or why they started to use in the first place. Understanding what causes drug and alcohol problems at such a tender age is the first major way we can work to reduce substance incidents in our local communities. And it all starts with the all-important parent-child relationship.
#1: Talk about Prescription Drugs
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse the national drug overdose death statistics in the U.S. are as follows:
- Prescription Drugs – more than 25,000
- Prescription Opioid Pain Relievers – more than 18,000
- Benzodiazepines – 8,000
- Heroine – more than 10,000
- Cocaine – more than 5,000
Having a parent or another family member who takes prescription medications such as those for anxiety, insomnia, or pain, creates a strong possibility for addiction. Many times, kids will sneak the medications from the medicine cabinet or steal them from a family member’s purse. It’s important to educate children about the risks of taking medications that are prescribed to other people. In some cases, it might be important to keep the medications out of the reach of children, and you might want to consider putting a lock on the medicine cabinet.
Nurturing a strong relationship with open communication about substance curiosity can help decrease incidents of use among youth.
#2: Set the Example
Tobacco is addictive. The Truth Campaign has made major strides in educating everyone, young and old, about the facts of tobacco and nicotine. The nicotine in tobacco causes addiction, along with several forms of cancer. Parents are role models to children, and when they observe a cigarette in their parent’s mouth, it signal approval, that it’s okay to smoke.
Actions speak louder than words.
Inhalants are another form of addiction that can be started by sniffing common household products such as ordinary household cleaning solutions, paint, paint thinner, and glue, just to name a few. It’s important to educate our children about the dangers that these products can cause when used improperly. Never assume that the warning label on the container is education enough. Keep all dangerous products locked up and out of reach.
Marijuana is a common
gateway drug for young people that could lead to stronger and more powerful drug use. You may hear people say that marijuana does no damage, but that is far from the truth. If your children hear you say that, or even watch you smoke it, you are sending a signal that tells them it’s okay.
#3: Be Open about Alcohol
A big drug that becomes a major issue for thousands is alcohol. Alcohol is also classified as a drug, and it’s just as dangerous as all the others. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Addiction reports the number of alcohol related deaths as follows:
- Deaths from Alcohol-Related Causes – approximately 88,000
- Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities – 9,967
An estimated 679,000 youths ages 12 to 17 have an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). It has been estimated that 55,000 youth have undergone treatment for an alcohol problem in the past. The fact is alcohol is the fourth leading cause of death that can be prevented.
Always make wise choices in your own life so that you can set a good example for young people. Chances are the young people in your life are watching you when you don’t even realize it. It’s important to understand they are looking up to you, and you might be the one they admire most.
Creating an Educated Community
The education and effort to stop these needless deaths and addictions starts at home. As a parent or caregiver, it’s your responsibility to educate your children. Start by setting a positive example – it’s the strongest action you can take. Children learn from observation, and that old adage of “monkey see, monkey do” holds true.
Communication is the second best way to educate. Always be honest when they ask questions and be sure they understand the proper ways to take prescribed medications. Explain the consequences accompanied with abusing drugs and alcohol. Spotlight the definition of peer pressure, and teach them that it’s okay to just say no.
There are many other ways to communicate and educate through group efforts by joining together as a community and making organizations available to the public.
#4: Religious Involvement
Church has traditionally been known as a safe place for people to go when they have no place else to turn; therefore, by welcoming people into the church who have alcohol and drug addictions a start to getting them help is created. When a person feels accepted, they are more likely to work toward a more positive future. Religious affiliations aren’t for everyone, but they can be an avenue to assisting those in need of substance abuse treatment.
Incorporating the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse into the Christian education can help to spread awareness within the community. Annual conferences inviting local church pastors to strengthen their leadership skills and further their knowledge of the alcohol and drug problems in the community, as well as the local programs and facilities able to assist, can also help to increase the availability of substance abuse counseling.
#5: Law Enforcement Involvement
Local law enforcement officers can offer education to students and other local groups with the use of visual aids and printed materials making the public aware of the consequences associated with the drug and alcohol problems in the community. In some communities, officers and their drug dogs are ready to educate people of all ages and even offer exciting interaction with the younger crowd.
State Patrol are always willing to visit groups with their visuals, explaining the negative effects of drinking and driving. And their firsthand knowledge can make a major impact.
The more education that is made available at home, in schools, and throughout the community, the faster substances like drugs and alcohol will be removed from the streets, and less addictions and deaths will happen annually.