Drug Trends Among Teens

Drug trends among teens has taken on a new face in the form of rampant prescription drug abuse, the popularization, and legalization of marijuana, and other trends such as synthetic, “designer” drugs with legal or quasi-legal status.

Teenage Drug Abuse

If you have teenagers now, you (or your parents) may have experimented with drugs sometimes from the 1960’s Drug Trends Among Teensthrough the 1990’s. Each era seems to have its own fads and drugs of choice. In the 60’s it was psychedelics. The 70’s ushered in the rise of cocaine. The 80’s carried the scourge of crack cocaine abuse. The rave scene that started in the 90’s brought with it MDMA (aka ecstasy). Whichever era you emerged from, chances are you learned your lessons – or you were never led to drug use in the first place. Either way, you wish to convey a positive message for your children.

Prescription Drug Abuse: A National Emergency

The last decade or so has seen a convergence of several societal elements resulting in startling new drug trends among teens. For example, it is estimated that 17 million children worldwide have been prescribed psychotropic drugs. Of that number, 10 million are in the US alone. These drugs include stimulants like Ritalin, Adderall, and Concerta. Officially classed as Schedule II by the DEA, these chemicals are in the same category as morphine, cocaine, and raw opium. Also prescribed to children are antidepressants such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil – all of which come with the FDA’s most severe cautionary statement: the BLACK BOX WARNING regarding suicidal thoughts and actions by adolescents.

How Did This Happen?

The array of psychotropics – and there are A LOT of them – are pushed through direct to consumer marketing as well as aggressive (and very effective) sales and marketing techniques directed at medical doctors. Children are fed these drugs largely due to diagnosis of disorders like ADD or ADHD – conditions with no standard medical tests (blood test, urine test, etc.) to back them up. How does this relate to drug trends among teens? The facts are that rampant and irresponsible prescriptions have brought about what could cynically be termed a “Rx Generation.” The cycle goes like this:

  1. Children and teens are prescribed heavy psychotropic (psychiatric) drugs, as well as opioid painkillers (OxyContin, Vicodin, etc.)
  2. They become physically and/or psychologically addicted.
  3. They abuse them – crush, snort, smoke, and inject them.
  4. Children and teens, who were not prescribed the drugs at all, abuse the same drugs.
  5. “Rx Abuse (http://rxdrugaddict.com/)” leads to general drug abuse: alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, meth, ecstasy, heroin, etc.

Educate About Drug Trends Among Teens!

What do we do about it? The first answer is to get educated. This means that you as parent get educated and in turn, educate your children about drug trends among teens. Once they can understand, it is never too early to give them the truth. Some parents wish toDrug Trends Among Teens shelter their children from information about drugs because it is not pleasant. Factually, kids today can access virtually anything on the internet or elsewhere. A parent is wise to provide their children with the facts on drugs and drug abuse – no matter how unpalatable. Otherwise, they could find out the hard way. When kids know the truth, they are much more likely to make rational decisions.

The method of education is important. A dry sermon isn’t likely to have tremendous effect. Real life examples and a presentation that is ALIVE will create more positive impact. But not everyone is a dynamic speaker, so how is this solved? We live in an audio-video-digital age. Materials are available online that make drug education captivating and compelling – even for our hyper-connected youth.

Talk With Your Teenager

Having real conversations can go a long way towards addressing drug and alcohol abuse. Being a child’s friend is an excellent approach. When you were a kid, were you more apt to listen to an adult talking down to you or a friend talking at eye level? Chances are it was the latter. When you discuss the subject, it is best to use education (facts, truth) as the basis of discussion for drug trends among teens. You can tell a young person to “just say no” but do not assume they know WHY. You’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and get into a detailed conversation.

Why Drugs?

Why do kids get interested in drugs? Some of the reasons are:

  • Uneducated (or miseducated) on drugs and alcohol.
  • Peer pressure. Their friends urge them to do it.
  • It’s “cool” and they want to fit in with a certain crowd.
  • As a revolt against their parents.
  • They are insecure in social situations.
  • They have problems for which they have no solutions.
  • No real goals in life.
  • Boredom.
  • Emotional or physical pain.
  • Seek to numb traumatic experience.
  • To experiment and “see what it’s like.”
  • If they say “no” they are deemed uncool and ridiculed.
  • It’s a “legal” drug.

When you engage your son or daughter on the subject of drug trends among teens, you should discuss WHY they could be attracted to drugs in the first place. You may be surprised at the answer. Social media and cyber-bullying are factors today that were not experienced in decades past. Other influences are just as insidious, such as the rise in synthetic drugs.

Drug Trends

A parent should get educated on current drug trends. “Bath Salts” (a synthetic drug cooked up in labs) is a highly addictive and dangerous drug with hallucinogenic qualities and similarities to methamphetamine. Synthetic pot – known as “K2” or “Spice” – is another relatively new trend. These substances are often labeled “not for human consumption” and sold under harmless names like “plant fertilizer,” “herbal incense,” or “iPod cleaner.” Although the DEA has now banned specific chemicals used in synthetic drugs, drug labs respond by deliberately varying their chemical make-up in order to pass under DEA radar.

Goals

One reason kids (or anyone) get into drug use is that they have no real direction in life. While some people formulate their goals early and work ceaselessly towards them, many others are simply adrift and without focus. They can be Drug Trends Among Teenseasily led into drug use just to get a sensation or pass the time. As a parent, you should talk with your child about what they’d like to do with their lives. If you attempt to enforce something on them, they are not likely to respond well; will not be their independent decision. Doesn’t have to be a lifelong career. It could simply be what to focus their energies on immediately. As long as it’s something constructive, it’s better than nothing.

Take the example of a small child: You could give him a wooden hammer and blocks, plus some toy musical instruments and see where he takes it. In the case of a teenager: Take her around to different places, environments, and settings – you may hit upon something she is genuinely interested in. When they are focused on specific fields of endeavor – sports, career, school, the arts, etc. – young people are helped to lead productive lives unburdened by drug and alcohol abuse.

Supervision vs. Independence

How do you help a teenager be an independent soul – wise beyond their years? You educate them in the truth about drugs; help them solve their own problems; help them to set goals and make plans for their attainment. You want to give them positive guidance so they can fall back on their own sense of integrity. Easier said than done – but absolutely necessary in our chaotic world.

You must also be available 24/7. If they’re at a party and about to get into a car with a drunk teenage driver, you want them to call you first so you can pick them up no questions asked. You can always discuss it later. Being a friend and really listening to their teenage problems goes a long way. At the same time, you must help them cultivate their own individuality and independence – their ability to stand alone and “be their own person.” Can you accomplish all this overnight? Certainly not, but as a parent you can make a difference.

Sources:

  1. Fight For Kids
  2. Rx Addict (http://rxdrugaddict.com/)
  3. Drug-Free World
  4. Whitehouse.gov on Synthetic Drugs

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