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Convincing Kids to Avoid the Temptation of Street Drugs

 

Even in this day and age of increased awareness, the addictive nature of street drugs, referring to illegally distributed substances often hastily prepared with no uniform manufacturing guidelines, still tempts teens into experimenting. According to a study conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, 1 in 4 Americans who start using drugs during their teen years will become addicted. While such statistics can be discouraging to parents, there are effective ways to convince kids to avoid the temptation of street drugs.

The Street Drug Epidemic

Unlike prescription medications, illegal substances available on the streets are not regulated, meaning that kids can get different strengths and ingredient combinations. For this reason, there’s no way of knowing how powerful substances concocted in a basement or makeshift lab are going to affect teenagers who are at critical stages of brain development when they are highly susceptible to becoming addicted. Pushers only care about making money, often encouraging dependence by giving free “samples” to generate repeat business. The epidemic may also be fueled, in part, by social media and other immediate forms of interactive communication allowing teenagers to discretely seek out sources of illicit substances. The most common street drugs available today include:

  • Marijuana (used by 36 percent of 12th graders, according to National Institutes of Health estimates)
  • Hallucinogens (phencyclidine, or PCP, is the most readily available street hallucinogen)
  • Ecstasy (and similar substances often popular at parties)
  • Street amphetamines (uppers, bennies, black beauties, speed)
  • Meth amphetamines (meth, ice, crank, crystal)

What Parents Can Do

Parents can take an active part in combating this epidemic by establishing healthy communication with their children. Even though parents may not realize it, studies suggest that teenagers are influenced by what their parents think, so it’s important for moms and dads to make their stance on drugs clear. Additional steps parents can take include:

  • Looking for unexplainable actions and attitudes or uncharacteristic behaviors
  • Initiating periodic conversations rather than waiting for tension to build
  • Talking to other adults who interact with their child on a regular basis (teachers, coaches) to determine if they’ve observed anything out of the ordinary

Emphasize Street Drug Side Effects

Since kids aren’t prone to considering the long-term effects of anything, let alone drugs, parents can help their teens avoid temptation by emphasizing the more immediate side effects of drug use. Highly addictive substances like heroin, cocaine and amphetamine compounds, for instance, take away a sense of control that can result in a lack of concentration and withdrawal from previously enjoyable activities like playing video games and spending time with friends. Additional side effects may include:

  • Confusion and anxiety
  • Impaired motor skills (can affect driving and the ability to play sports)
  • Permanent brain, heart, liver or kidney damage

Addiction in teenagers can also be linked to depression, low self-esteem, feelings of social rejection and a need to escape from problems that seem overwhelming. If parents suspect an issue, confrontation may result in denials and accusations of invading privacy. Due to the complex nature of addiction, it’s often necessary to seek assistance from professionals who know how to break through barriers and help start the recovery process.

Are you or someone you love suffering from drug or alcohol addiction? Call our addiction advisors for the guidance you’re looking for: 1-800-259-1361

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