Pubdate: Mon, 17 Oct 2005
Source: Pacific Daily News (US GU)
Copyright: 2005 Pacific Daily News
Author: David V. Crisostomo
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Youth)


Parents who wait too long to have the tough talk with kids about the
dangers of drug and alcohol abuse often will find that their children
will be susceptible to substance abuse, experts say.

Prevention experts stress to parents the importance of staying
informed about the changing drug landscape facing their children
today, according to the Guam Department of Mental Health and Substance

"Parents play a critical role in their children's lives," said Richard
Calamba, with Mental Health's prevention and training division.

Research from the latest Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, or PATS,
shows that many teens are more knowledgeable than their parents are
about drugs -- especially about the abuse of emerging drugs, such as
methamphetamine, and the abuse of both prescription and
over-the-counter medicines.

PATS data show that an alarming number of teenagers are intentionally
abusing a variety of prescription and over-the-counter medications to
get high. About one in five teens has already abused a prescription
painkiller to get high, and one in 11 has abused over-the-counter
products, like cough medicine.

These medications have become increasingly more accessible to teens,
in some cases directly from the Internet, and generally are more
prevalent in their lives than parents realize, according to the
awareness group, Partnership For A Drug-Free America,

Research from the Partnership also shows that kids who learn a lot
about the risks of drugs at home are half as likely as their peers to
try or use drugs.

"Parents dramatically underestimate the likelihood that their child or
their child's friends will use drugs," said Steve Pasierb, president
and CEO of the Partnership For A Drug-Free America. "It is crucial
that parents educate themselves about new and dangerous drugs that
their children may become acquainted with. We want to help parents
take that next step and make sure they communicate a lot about the
risks of drugs to their children. Parents can make a difference in
helping their children make the right choices."

It's never too early to start talking with your child about drugs and
alcohol, and there are many ways to get the conversation going.
Teachable moments can help start a dialogue, Calamba said.

Talking with your child about drugs isn't a formal, one-time-only
conversation, Calamba said. You can steer conversational topics to why
drugs are harmful or use everyday events to start a conversation about
them. Take advantage of blocks of time, such as before school, on the
way to practice or after dinner to have the tough talk.


The Top 2 reasons why kids use drugs or alcohol:

Recreation: Teens may experiment with or regularly use drugs or
alcohol just to get high. Restless, bored or risk-taking teens may
smoke a joint or have a few drinks simply to fill their time. These
actions also provide a way to instantly bond with a group of
like-minded kids. Soon drugs define their existence and they spend
increasing amounts of time seeking ways to get high.

Self-medication: Teenagers may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with
problems and pressures, or as an antidote to unhappy feelings or
uncomfortable situations. If a teen is using drugs or alcohol for
self-medication, it could also point to other, broader emotional or
psychological problems.

Stay Alert

AGES 10 to 14 Be especially alert during your child's transition from
elementary to middle school. This is the most critical time to engage
your kid in conversations about drugs and alcohol and set a clear
no-use rule. Children entering middle or junior high school seem
young, but their new surroundings can put them in some very adult
situations. They're going to meet new kids, seek acceptance, and start
to make more and bigger choices. Many kids this age are exposed to
older kids who use alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.

AGES 14 to 18 Many teens have interests that can be harmless: fashion,
reality television and video games, for instance. It's important to
allow yours to express his individuality and be independent, but it's
also necessary to set clear and consistent expectations and rules.
Know what he is doing after school, who he's hanging out with, and
when he's expected to be home. It's not always easy. He may complain
about it, but your interest shows him you care. By staying involved
with your child's daily schedule, you're taking an important step
toward keeping him healthy and drug-free.

What To Do

Answering the question: Did you ever do drugs?

For many parents, the answer is simply "no." However, this may be a
tough question to answer for other parents. The conversation doesn't
have to be awkward. You can use it to your advantage by turning it
into a teachable moment. Experts believe it's best to tell the truth.
However, it's not necessary to share details. Use the discussion as an
opportunity to speak openly about what attracted you to drugs, alcohol
or tobacco, why they are dangerous, and why you want your child to
avoid making the same mistake. Remember, the issue isn't about your
past. It's about your child's future. What's important now is that
your kid understands that you don't want him to use drugs, alcohol or

On The Net

Partnership For A Drug-Free America:
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