A recent study shows drug use by adolescents is down. Government officials say their anti-drug campaign should get the credit, but some experts say parents have played a part too.
Seventeen-year old Mike Beardslee began experimenting with pot behind the dugout after little league. He kept it secret from his mom, but what he didn’t know is that she had a secret too. “I didn’t want to tell the truth about my experimentation with drugs, because I was frightened. I thought he would look at me and say, ‘mom survived and she’s o.k. I can do it’,” says Resa Beardslee.
Many moms and dads who may have done drugs in the 60’s and 70’s have long struggled with what to say on the issue. It’s a common problem for parents who grew up in a time when smoking a joint or experimenting with harder drugs was more the rule than the exception.
Studies show a majority of parents bounce around the issue, but experts say kids will often relate to and listen to a parent who knows from experience that experimenting with drugs is no game. “They were like, I’ve done drugs…and they’re bad,” says seventeen-year old Tristan about her parents confession. After the all the truth is usually better than a transparent lie.
“I didn’t want to tell the truth about my experimentation with drugs, because I was frightened.”
–Resa Beardslee, mother
A Gateway Drug?
Long-term studies of high school students and their patterns of drug use show that few use other illegal drugs without first trying marijuana. Using marijuana puts children and teens in contact with people who are users and sellers of other drugs, so there is a chance for them to be exposed to and urged to try more drugs. Most casual or experimental users, though, do not go on to use other illegal drugs.
(Source: Partnership for a Drug-Free America)
Look and Listen
For those who don’t know what the common symptoms of marijuana use are, here’s a brief overview of some things to look out for…
Becoming engrossed with ordinary sights, sounds, or tastes, and finding trivial events extremely interesting or funny. An increased appetite. This effect is called “having the munchies.” Some people also experience an increased thirst. Red blood vessels in the eyes And a some slang terms to listen for… Mary Jane, Blunts, Weed, Herb, Ganja, Chronic, Gangster, Boom, Kif, Reefer, B-40s, Skunk, Hash, Reefer, Grass, Joints, Pot. What Parents Should Know
When talking to adolescents about topics such as drug use, the way that messages are delivered is critical. It’s easy to take the theoretical approach and say that drugs are bad, or rely on health educators to provide the detailed information. But, drug use is a very personal activity and requires a complete and open discussion between a parent and child.
By not having serious conversations about drugs and their affects a child may discount the serious impact that drugs can have. If parents don’t express their thoughts and opinions on drug use, then children will rely on assumptions or information from outside sources.
This is especially important for parents who have experimented with drugs in the past. Children model many of their parents’ actions and if they are not aware of your current opinions, they may think that doing what “you” did is no big deal.
Not only should the issues be discussed, but specific directives given. 1 A report by the Hazelden Foundation found that 98% of parents would be distressed if their teens tried pot, but only 40% advised them.
1) Partnership for a Drug-Free America www.drugfreeamerica.org
2) Marijuana: Facts for Teens; www.nida.nih.gov (National Institute on Drug Abuse )
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