Time to Act: Helping parents deal with teens and drugs

Parents are always looking for help on how to parent when it comes to teens and drugs. Well, the new tool from drugfree.org, called Time To Act, may provide just the help parents want.

The tool has separate sections for parents who fear their kids may be trying drugs or for those who know for sure.

Check it out, it’s a great tool that can help a lot in terms of educating, guiding, and informing parents who are having trouble with teens, drugs, and parenting. NIDA also has a new tool called Family Checkup, developed by the Child and Family Center at the University of Oregon, that is aimed at helping parents communicate effectively with their kids when it comes to drugs.

More than anything, research has shown us that communication around the topic of teens and drugs and even more generally communication between parents and their kids about taboo topics, can be effective for reducing problems and for finding help sooner (see here for smoking related research).

Teens and drugs: Drug use statistics and treatment that works

Here are some drug use statistics:

  • Over 80% of teens engage in some form of deviant behavior (1).
  • Over 50% of high-school seniors admit to having used drugs (2).
  • Only 10%-15% of the population develop drug addiction problems related to their drug use (1).

The question is:

If the majority of teens experiment with drug use, and so few eventually develop drug addiction problems, should we be focusing on something other than stopping kids from trying drugs? Continue reading “Teens and drugs: Drug use statistics and treatment that works”

Early drug use problems: Kids, inhalants, and huffing.

Parents can save lives by educating their kids about the dangers of inhalants22.9 million Americans report trying inhalants at least once in their lives.

When it comes to drug use problems, inhalants are often the first drugs that kids decide to experiment with. The habit is often called huffing. While use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, and other drugs peaks around the 12th grade, inhalant use peaks in the 8th grade. A study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that 17.3% of 8th graders have abused inhalants before.

Why does kids’ drug-use start with inhalants so early in life?

Many kids start inhalant drug use by accident; they like the smell of glue, whiteout, or gasoline, take a long inhale, get high, and keep going. For others, inhalant use is introduced through friends.

Also, attaining drugs can be somewhat of a challenge when you are 13 years old. Inhalants solve this problem. Inhalants are found in a variety of household products including: spray paint, nail polish remover, whiteout, marker, gasoline, glue, keyboard cleaner, shoe polish, and aerosol sprays. These products are easy to buy and relatively inexpensive, even for young kids. They can often be found readily in the house, which also makes them easy to hide.

Inhalants, the brain, and organ damage

Inhalants can be breathed in directly or concentrated in a container such as a plastic bag or cloth and then inhaled. Most inhalants work by depressing the central nervous system. The chemicals are absorbed through the lungs and proceed into the bloodstream, where they quickly reach the brain and other organs. Inhalant intoxication looks very similar to being drunk: Slurred speech, bad coordination, euphoria, dizziness, and drowsiness are all common during inhalant drug use.

The inhalant high only lasts a few minutes, so people often use inhalants repeatedly for several hours. This can have some devastating long-term effects. Brain damage, nerve damage, and organ damage are all possible. Inhalant use can impair vision, hearing, and movement. Inhalant drug-use is also linked with a variety of mental disorders, including antisocial personality disorder and depression. In pregnant animals, inhalant use has been linked to low birth weight, skeletal abnormalities, and delayed development.

Most tragically, even a single session of inhalant use can cause heart failure and consequently, death. The National Inhalant Prevention Coalition reports 100 to 125 inhalant-related deaths per year. This is particularly sad considering the fact that many of these individuals are kids and haven’t even left middle school yet.

Dr. Jaffe talking about huffing and inhalant abuse on Fox News

Citations:

1. Seigial, J.T., Alvaro, E.M., Patel, N., Crano, W.D. (2009) “…you would probably want to do it. Cause that’s what made them popular.” Exploring Perceptions of Inhalant Utility Among Young Adolescent Nonusers and Occasional Users. Substance Use & Misuse. 44(597-615)
2. NIDA. Inhalant Abuse. 2005

Maybe its not all about friends: Parents, race, alcohol, and drug abuse

contributing author: Gacia Tachejian

Have you ever asked yourself where it is that kids learn about drug use? Parents have long been known to protect their young ones from “bad” influences from outside, but a recent study at Yale shows that a major source influence still exists within the home.

Interestingly, the researchers, headed by Dr. William R. Corbin, found that family drinking patterns affected kids of different ethnicities differently. The researchers collected web questionnaires from over 2000 young adults to assess the influence of family drinking, social-group drinking, and thoughts about drinking on the actual behavior of entering freshmen.

Friend Vs family – Racial differences

Keg PartyAs usual, peer influence was found to be the strongest predictor of the participants’ actual drinking (in terms of average drinks per day, and frequency of drinking), accounting for almost half of the overall drinking behavior. However, the peer influence was much stronger for White participants than for Latino ones. On the other hand, family drinking habits were twice as important in affecting Latino kids’ drinking as White kids’ behavior.

The difference in the source of the influence helps explain the gender gap in drinking that exists among Latinos. While White men and women seem to drink about equally, among Latinos, drinking is much more common in men than in women. Young Latina women probably learn early on that drinking is much more acceptable among men and that they are expected to drink less. This is not to undermine the importance of social-group drinking among the Latino participants here, which still accounted for the lion’s share of the alcohol consumption, even in this group.

How does this help us?

The important issue here is in determining which interventions might be most effective in reducing drinking. Obviously, family-based interventions would be less likely to help among the White kids in this sample, though they most likely would reduce drinking among Latino kids.

Overall, the results seem to suggest that one of the major sources of influence on drinking behavior, and most likely drug-using behavior, is still found within the home. This is especially true when considering the larger picture, given that even a child’s peers are influenced by their own parents…

Kids perceive regular marijuana use less risky – Some tips.

The pendulum swings again. After years of decreases in use and in perceptions about use, a recent report indicates that high-school kids are once again beginning to use , and consider less risky the use of, marijuana.

The movement is no doubt part of a semi-regular cycle. After lack of awareness about prescription drugs and a significant increase in their abuse among children, this most recent trend shouldn’t be so surprising as the focus on marijuana has waned.

I think we need quite a bit of research to see if such increases do correlate with significant increases in individuals seeking help for marijuana-use-related problems. Yes marijuana advocates, those people exist whether you like it or not. For some proof, check out this link for a site put together by a recovering marijuana addict.

My quick, short, tips:

  1. If you use weed, use a vaporizer to avoid the toxic fumes that can cause cancer in much the same way cigarette smoke does.
  2. If your use becomes regular, whether daily or multiple times a week, consider talking to someone to help you figure out if you might be developing a problem use pattern. Those are much easier to stop early in their development.
  3. Pay close attention to the interference between your marijuana use and other life-commitments. This is a tale-tale sign of problems.