When it comes to teen drug abuse, parents matter

Written by crchealthgroup   // January 17, 2012   // Comments Off


As seen in The Beacon-News by Denise Moran.

In the 1939 classic children’s movie “The Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy and her pals are traveling down the yellow brick road when the evil Witch of the West casts a spell to turn the landscape into a field of poppies. Dorothy, her dog Toto and the Cowardly Lion all fall into a deep sleep. The spell is broken when Glinda, the good Witch of the North, brings about a snowfall to wake them up.

Heroin is a highly addictive drug derived from morphine, which is obtained from the opium poppy. In real life as opposed to “reel” life, there is no good witch to cast spells in order to keep our kids and teens safe. Parents need to step up and be the ones who steer them away from using heroin, alcohol and other drugs.

According to The Partnership at Drugfree.org, 11 million Americans between the ages of 12 and 29 have a substance dependence or abuse problem, and 90 percent of them are not getting the help they need.

Last week, the Kane County sheriff’s office presented a program for parents and other adults who care for kids. Speakers included Sheriff Patrick Perez, Undersheriff David Wagner, and Lea Minalga, drug counselor and director of Hearts of Hope in Geneva.

“Parents are the key in terms of educating children and teens about drugs,” Wagner said. “Kids who learn about the danger of drugs at home are 50 percent less likely to use drugs.

“We encourage open and honest dialogue. Some kids will start smoking marijuana by age 11. Parents should start drug education around age 9.”

Heroin use on rise

A recent report by Roosevelt University and The Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy said the Chicago metropolitan area ranked among the worst nationally for heroin-related problems. The study showed that heroin has become the most commonly used drug after alcohol and the most common illegal substance for which individuals enter treatment. While there were 4,150 public treatment admissions for heroin use in Illinois in 1998, the number rose to 17,411 in 2008.A recovered heroin addict explained how she began experimenting with drugs at age 12.“I was a cheerleader and a straight-A student with low self-esteem,” said Carrie Brummel of Batavia. “I got caught up in the wrong crowd. I was introduced to cocaine at age 15 and dropped out of high school. I stole from my family to support my habit and was arrested at age 17 for forgery. “I left home at age 18 and moved in with a drug dealer in Chicago. He was arrested and sent to prison. I was too ashamed to go home, so I started prostituting myself to support my drug habit. I was arrested many times and beaten. I have scars from when I was thrown out of a third-story window. My mother found me in a Chicago hotel. The minute I could get up, I was gone again.”The turning point came when Brummel’s sister found her and announced that their father was near death.“I spent three weeks in jail while my dad was dying,” she said. “I visited him during the day and slept in jail at night. I promised my father that I would take care of my mother. I now live with my mother and my three children. I’ve been clean for 10 years. I still apologize to my mother. “I never want to go back to where I was. I’m hoping I can help parents and their kids avoid what I went through. Know your kids, and learn the warning signs.”

Prescription abuse

Wagner warned that prescription drug use among teens is growing.

“Kids use these drugs to get high and to regulate their lives,” Wagner said. “It’s estimated that 2,500 kids a day get high off a prescription drug for the first time. They are abusing stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall to give them energy. They use pain meds like Vicodin, OxyContin, Percoset and anti-anxiety benzos like Xanax, Klonipin and Ativan to cope with academic, social or emotional stress. They abuse prescription amphetamines to lose weight or steroids to bulk up.”

Things to watch for include: a change in friends; declining grades; use of incense or perfume to hide smoke or chemical odors; “coded” language with friends; evidence of drug paraphernalia such as pipes and rolling papers; evidence of use of inhalant products such as hairspray or nail polish; eye drops for bloodshot eyes; use of mouthwash or breath mints to cover the smell of alcohol; and missing prescription drugs, especially narcotics and mood stabilizers.

“Talk with your kids continuously,” Wagner said. “Express your disapproval of drug use. Monitor the prescription drugs in your home. … Know where your child is, what they are doing, and when they will be home. Know your teen’s friends and their parents. Establish and enforce rules.

“You do matter.”

by Kristen Hayes

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