Tuesday, January 26, 2016

How much do you think you know?

Parents, here is a blog post that offered excellent insights, advice and resources to better understand the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse. 

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of National Institute on Drug Abuse for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.
When my oldest son entered high school, I was invited to a meeting held for parents by the school’s guidance counselors and police liaison officer to talk to us about substance abuse in our community. Since this was both my first time parenting a teenager, added to the fact that it has been a few years since I was in school- I wanted to hear what they had to say. What would they tell me about kids using alcohol and marijuana these days? Has the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in some states coupled with the growing medical use of pot making a difference in how it is being perceived by teens? Well- what I learned at this meeting was pretty shocking. And it far surpassed just a discussion of cannabis.
First of all, they explained that today’s marijuana is much stronger than what was sold even in the 1990’s by more than triple the amount of THC. So in spite of the fact that we hear so much about legalization and might leap to the conclusion that it must be “safer” as a substance, it’s just not. (Keep in mind that alcohol is a legal substance for adults too). But what really got my attention was the discussion of teens gaining access to parents’ prescription pain medications (opioids). Think about it- maybe you had gum surgery two years ago and picked up a script for Vicodin on the way home. Your pain wasn’t too bad so you only used 1 or 2 of the dozen pills they gave you, and the bottle with the rest of the pills just sits collecting dust in the back of your medicine cabinet. Until a teen in your life (could be your child, your child’s friend, or even a babysitter) finds them and decides to try one. And likes the high.
But the pills are expensive and hard to come by. So they start to look for something cheaper to try that gives them the same effects. And that’s how heroin enters their life. (Screeeccchhh!) What? Heroin?
I swear that before I attended this meeting I didn’t even know that heroin was around anymore! According to NIDA’s website:
“Nearly half of young people who inject heroin surveyed in recent studies reported abusing prescription opioids before starting to use heroin.”
Clearly as a parent of teens, it is time for me to re-educate myself with drug and alcohol facts.
National Drug & Alcohol Facts WeekSM (NDAFW) is an annual, week-long observance that brings together teens and scientific experts to SHATTER THE MYTHS about substance use and addiction. Held January 25-31, 2016, it is sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), both part of the National Institutes of Health. The week-long observance was launched in 2010 to counteract the myths about drugs and alcohol that teens often hear from the Internet, TV, movies, music, or friends. Events are designed to link teens with scientists and other experts, creating a safe place for teens to ask questions about drug and alcohol use, without judgment or lectures. One of the key resources for National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week is the National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge – a 12-question multiple choice quiz that teens and adults can take to test their knowledge about drugs. Parents can take the IQ Challenge and use the results to start a conversation with their teen about drugs and alcohol.
I took it myself- and wasn’t surprised by how much I didn’t know (but now I am learning). The website also has a Family Checkup which provides parents with research-based skills to help keep their children drug-free and videos that you can watch to learn how to talk to teens about what is going on in their lives. (I found these to be helpful). So how much do you think you know about teen drug use?