Parenting teens is not for the faint of heart. Between school and personal schedules, the normal ups and downs of teenage emotions, and the ever-present culture of peer pressure, especially when it involves teenage drug and alcohol use, parents of teens may be tempted to hide under a rock for the bulk of those teenage years. From one parent of teen to another, I don’t recommend this course of action.
If you are confused about the dangers of various drugs and their short or long-term effects, you can get a very quick, factual breakdown of the most common types of drugs at NIDA’s Drug Facts webpage. This page has a very thorough and exhaustive list of common drugs, what happens when you use them, and the dangers of each drug. There is probably no better resource on the internet for getting a quick, succinct understanding of each drug.
To help spread the word and educate people about the facts and myths of drugs, National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week® (NDAFW) will be held January 22-28, 2018. This is a week-long observance 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.
Whether you’re a parent of teens or will be someday, you should definitely check a couple of their most important resources: Drugs: Shatter the Myths booklet, What to do if your teen has a problem with drugs,and Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know. These will get you going in the right direction and prompt an in-depth discussion.
Opioids – The Newest Drug Overdose Epidemic
If you watch the news, you have no doubt heard something about the “Opioid Crisis” that is growing in the United States. Opioid use has grown substantially in the last few years.
The question becomes why is opioid use growing so fast?
A few things to know about opioids that may be helpful in understanding this recent opioid crisis include:
1. Prescription opioids are medications that are chemically similar to endorphins.
2. Endorphins are opioids that our body makes naturally to relieve pain.
3. Prescription opioids are similar to the illegal drug heroin.
Opioids are some of the best drugs available for dealing with severe pain, often after surgery. Opioids are also used following sports injuries.
Oxycodone (found in OxyContin, Percodan and Percocet), hydrocodone (found in Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet) and fentanyl (found in Duragesic) are some of the most widely known opioids. The ease of access to some opioids has contributed greatly to their wide use and abuse.
The NIH identifies 4 common ways that opioids are abused:
- Taking someone else’s prescription, even if it is for a legitimate medical purpose like relieving pain.
- Taking an opioid medication in a way other than prescribed—for instance, taking more than your prescribed dose or taking it more often, or crushing pills into powder to snort or inject the drug.
- Taking the opioid prescription to get high.
- Mixing them with alcohol or certain other drugs.
Ready to see how much you know? You may be surprised (I know I was) when I took the National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge. It’s a 12-question quiz about current drugs and their impact on society. You’ll be amazed at how much you learn; I found that the quiz itself was a great way to spur a good conversation with teens. See how you did. This year, I didn’t do so well, but I learned a lot.
NIDA’s focus is to give you the best information to help you teach and support your teens. With all of the glamorization and misinformation about drugs, this is a welcome source of clear and reliable information on drug and alcohol facts. It’s organized in a way that you can even comb through it with your teen and come away very knowledgeable about any drug you want to learn about.
How To Handle Changes in Your Teen
As your kids’ behavior changes, some changes are normal. Other changes may be an indication of deeper problems. If you’re unsure about the changes you see in your kids, you should use the “Family Checkup” resource found on the NIDA website. This page provides parents with research-based skills to help keep their children drug-free. Most importantly, they have a 5-question checkup to help you evaluate yourself and what areas to focus on to keep your teens away from drugs.
What Can You Do If Your Teen Has Problems With Drugs
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