Saturday, February 9, 2008

How to try and raise a drug-free teen

As parents we need to explain to our children, and teens, as early as possible the difference between drugs and medicine. People use the words drug and medicine to mean the same thing. Yes drugs can be medicine, but when we are teaching our children and teens about drugs we have to show that there is a big difference. Teenagers have grown up in a world where a pill can make your pain go away, fix what ever your problems are. It is easy to understand why teenagers will look to drugs to fix things. They need to understand that medicine is some thing a Dr. prescribes to make specific medical and health problems better. Drugs are sold or given by people who want you to get high, become addicted, and then give them money to get more drugs. That is just the start.

I grew up in a home full of drugs and alcohol. I can tell you it made me a drug free teenager. I could see what drugs and alcohol did to people. Why would I ever let myself become one of them? People with no thought or ambition but to make sure they got their next fix or drink. There may not have been money for food or clothing for me, a child but by God there was money for drugs and booze. Usually a child raised in this type of environment is more susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse. I was the acceptation to the rule.

You don’t want your teen to do drugs, show them the real life of a drug addict before they become one. Show them the people living on the streets, selling themselves and even their children for drugs. Show them people who are dieing and still looking for the next hit. The open soars, burns and shrivelled bodies of people who care more about feeding their drug habit instead of their bodies. The hair and teeth falling out as bodies shut down.

Explain the brutal truth about what drugs do to people. Sure they may make you feel as if all your problems are gone, or far away but that only lasts for as long as the drug dose does. Show them people on drugs so they know how people act, there are films and TV shows out there you can use. Show them some one detoxing, all of it. The most effective thing though is to show them how doing drugs will affect how they look. Show them the gradual change from clean and pretty to dirty and ugly drug addict. Vanity can be a powerful thing, use it. Let them know what they have to look forward to if they do drugs; the irrational behaviour, no money, no longer having a social life or friends, selling any thing and every thing for the drug, stealing, and the deterioration of body, mind and soul. You need to show them the truth and then hope it sticks.

Do not sugar coat the reality of drug use. Once you have educated your teens on the reality of drug use they will never go near the stuff right, nope. Most teens don’t think that any of that bad stuff is going to happen to them. They will only use it once to try it. The truth is if they use drugs once they will use again, no matter what the excuses they give they will be back. Some drugs have been designed to take hold of you from the first hit. They change your body so that you need the drug. You will always need it, even once you become clean.

Doing random drug tests at home help your teen say “NO”. It makes it easer for them to give a reason for not doing the drugs, a way out from peer pressure. It is much easer for a teenager to say, “I can’t do that or be in the room when you do it because my parents drug test me when I get home” then to say “No I don’t want to do that”. For the most part unless a teen is looking for drugs to escape their lives they appreciate having a way out from taking them.

So you talk to your teens, trust them and show that trust but still test them for drugs. Tell them that you test them so that they can say, “Sorry, cannot do drugs. I get tested at home.” Explain over and over each time that the testing is so it is easer for them to say no. Don’t stop testing just because your teen has passed all the tests, move to random testing. Yes it is expensive, but not as expensive as loosing your teen to drugs.

The real problem here is that drug dealers are marketing and targeting preteens and teens. Our kids and teens don’t even know that they are taking a drug. It is hidden in some thing the kids and teens like, and then they get hooked on it and still don’t even know its drugs. All they know is they want more of that candy, or drink their friend gave them. Some drugs are mixed in or injected into popular food items and then repackages often with special wrappers or packaging. We are talking about soft gums and chocolate bars that are injected, drug coated candies. We just had a problem this year in my area with Sour keys (and other sour candy) being coated with drugs and given to kids. There are even special suckers where drugs are mixed in with the ingredients when they were being made. It looks like a sucker, why would any one think it was not one. The dealer is not selling drugs to the kids and teens, but a candy that is special. Kids and teenagers become addicted to a drug they may not even know they were taking. Teenagers have an idea that they are buying drugs but can justify it in their minds because they are buying candies, not drugs. Drug testing at home can catch this.

The idea is to get children hooked on drugs early as possible, by any means, and then start making money from them. These days’ drug dealers have a lot of competition so they need to create a market. Then there are designer drugs targeted to look safe to kids and teen. Like the one that is mixed with sugar and food colouring so that it looks likes harmless candy, even though everyone knows it is a drug. Then there are the ones that increase your sex drive, or someone else, or just increase the intensity. Of course a teen is going to be interested in this. Teens also see all the advertisings for sex enhancement drugs on TV, so if it is ok for adults to take things to improve their sex lives, it is ok for them to do the same.

The truth is that we actually cannot stop our kids and teens from taking drugs if they want to. We can try to prevent them from taking them, or wanting to take them. Then we use drug tests to show how serious we are when it comes to drugs, but they only test for exact drugs. We can talk to them, reduce access to drugs, be good examples by not doing drugs, and monitor them. If they do start drugs then we do what it takes to get them off it. The sad part is that often kids and teens are getting drugs from the medicine cabinet in their own home, or can buy over the counter. They can even get other drugs online, all they need is access to a computer, a credit card or a Paypal account. That is very hard to catch. So your teen has some cold medicine and a couple of different containers of painkillers for headaches, backaches, muscle pain. Does that mean they are taking drugs? Possibly. These days there are some very powerful drugs available over the counter, and when taken properly are fine. You don’t know if your teen is taking a handful of mixed pills with a chaser of cold medicine as soon as they are alone, and they are not going to tell you.

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