If You Suspect or Know Your Child Is Using Drugs or Alcohol, How Do You Know When It Is Time to Take Action?
What’s the big rush, you ask? It is a developmental given that some kids experiment with alcohol and drugs. However, the latest annual Partnership for a Drug-Free America/MetLife Foundation Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) of almost 3,300 teens and 800 parents shows that after a decade of declines in teen drug and alcohol use, rates are climbing for Ecstasy, marijuana and alcohol. We already know that prescription drug abuse by youth is a national problem and binge drinking on college campuses is a growing issue. Parents, this is no time to procrastinate.
The new PATS data indicate that 75 percent of teens say their friends usually get high at parties. Do the math. All of us can’t have kids who don’t get high at parties.
I am upset that cultural cues to use drug and alcohol are rampant, and that we’ve seen budget cuts in federal drug prevention and treatment programs. But what is most troubling to me is that the new PATS data indicate that parents are not acting early enough to intervene in kids’ drug use. Among parents who know their teens have used, nearly half either waited to take action or took no action. Yet we know that the earlier parents intervene, the better chance they have in preventing more serious problems.
Unfortunately, I did not have the online resources available today when my child first began smoking marijuana in middle school, taking OxyContin and nearly overdosing his first week in high school. He became addicted to heroin at age 16 and eventually crack and cocaine. How I would have loved a resource like Time to Act – a guidance tool that was created with input by scientists at the Treatment Research Institute who are on the cutting edge of addiction research, family therapists and other experts, parent volunteers who have walked your walk, as well as the dedicated Partnership staff.
There are two sections in Time to Act: one for parents who think their child is abusing substances; the other for parents who know that to be true. The information is organized, easy to understand and easy to use.
I particularly like the Need to Know section for parents in the first category, which addresses false beliefs we may have about teen drug and alcohol use. The Parent Checklist (found under "Get Focused") for parents who know their child is using gets right to the nitty gritty: how to respond to your teen’s anger and denial (including being called a hypocrite) and how to communicate and enforce your house rules.
My son is 22 now, clean and sober for today as a result of many actions on his part, my part, and the help of a community of tireless and caring people who take early substance abuse seriously because it can be lethal.
It’s hard to know what actions to take when you think or know your kids are using drugs. But it’s not hard to know when to do something about it – NOW. If you suspect or know your kids are using drugs, please take action.
The Partnership also has two new e-books to help parents learn how to intervene and how to get appropriate treatment for your child.
offers both adolescent intervention and treatment programs. Education, individual counseling, family therapy, group counseling and referral to other resources are all part of a comprehensive effort to prevent or intervene in youth alcohol and drug abuse. Call us at 254-690-4455!