Saturday, October 1, 2011

Is Your Child OK?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services conducted a national survey that indicated “that some children are already abusing drugs at age 12 or 13, which likely means that some begin even earlier.  Early abuse often includes such substances as tobacco, alcohol, inhalants, marijuana, and prescription drugs such as sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medicines. If drug abuse persists into later adolescence, abusers typically become more heavily involved with marijuana and then advance to other drugs, while continuing their abuse of tobacco and alcohol. Studies have also shown that abuse of drugs in late childhood and early adolescence is associated with greater drug involvement. It is important to note that most youth, however, do not progress to abusing other drugs.” 1

What Should You Look For? 2

REMINDER: Your child could exhibit some of the signs or symptoms outlined in this posting.  This does not mean your child is experimenting with drugs. What it means – is that something in your child’s day-to-day activities is affecting their behavior or physical appearance.  This something may need your intervention when you notice some of the signs and symptoms below.

·     Negative changes in school work; missing school or declining grades.
·     Increase secrecy about possessions or activities.
·     Use of incense, room deodorant or perfume to hide smoke or chemical odors.
·     Subtle changes in conversations with friends, e.g., more secretive, using “coded” language.
·     Change in clothing choices – new fascination with cloths that highlight drug use
·     Increase in borrowing money.
·     Evidence of drug paraphernalia, such as pipes, rolling papers.
·     Evidence of inhaling products and accessories, such as hairspray, nail polish, correction fluid, paper bags and rags, common household products.
·     Bottles of eye drops, which may be used to mask bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils.
·     New use of mouthwash or breath mints to cover smell of alcohol.
·     Missing prescription drugs – especially narcotics and mood stabilizers.

What Can You Do? 2

The first step is not to panic or start accusing your child of using cigarettes, alcohol, or illicit drugs. The following steps below will help you understand your concerns, how to address those concerns with your child and how to get appropriate treatment, if warranted, for your child.

·    Do your homework.

o    The National Clearing House for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI) has free pamphlets that can walk you through how to approach your child.  The number is 1-800-788-2800. Also, visit PARENTS. The Anti-Drug ( web site or similar sites on the Internet.  Those sites offer support and advice on how to address drug abuse among children adolescence.
o     If you feel that you cannot handle the problem, then get help from school counselors, employee assistance programs, family doctors, nurses, faith leaders, community health centers, prevention and treatment specialist, or local community anti-drug coalitions.

·    Talk to your child. Tell your child that:

o    You LOVE him/her, and you are worried that he/she might be using drugs or alcohol.
o    You KNOW that drugs may seem like the thing to do, but doing drugs can have serious consequences.
o    It makes you FEEL worried and concerned about him/her when he/she does drugs.
o    You are there to LISTEN to him/her.
o    You WANT him/her to be a part of the solution.
o    You tell him/her what you WILL do to help him/her.
o    Know that you will have this discussion many, many times. Talking to your kid about drugs and alcohol is not a one-time event.

·    Get professional help when you need it most.

o    Call Toll Free: 1-800-662-HELP.
o    Visit for local treatment centers.
o    Talk to your local doctor.
o    Contact your local base ADAPT or Drug Prevention Office.

Parents are the Most Important Influence in a Child's Life

“Research shows that parents are central to preventing teen drug use. In fact, kids themselves say that losing their parents’ trust and respect are the most important reasons not to use drugs.  As a parent, your actions matter. When you suspect, or know, that your child has been drinking or using drugs, take action to stop it as soon as you can.  It may be the most important step you ever take.” 3

1 Preventing Drug Use among Children and Adolescents, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute on Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse, October 2003, Pg. 10.

2 Suspect Your Teen Is Using Drugs or Drinking (brochure), White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Sponsored by National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign,

3 Suspect Your Teen Is Using Drugs or Drinking (brochure), column 14, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Sponsored by National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign,