Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why Teens Use Drugs

Many high school seniors who take pain medications without a prescription do so for reasons besides relieving pain. This is not news. The reasons sited maybe new for parents and teachers. According to a newly released University of Michigan study the top reasons given are tension or stress relief, to get high, to experiment and for pain relief. Many adults feel kids have no reason to be stressed. This finding supports beliefs that teens are under an undue amount of stress and are resorting to quick fixes to cope. Students who said they used the drugs only for pain relief were less likely to report heavy drinking or other drug use than were those who took them for other reasons, according to this study. Additionally, more than seven in every 10 non medical users of prescription opioids motivated by pain relief reported a lifetime history of medical use of prescription opioids. The drugs in question here are such things as oxycodone, codiene, demerol, vicodin, the usual pain relievers. Most students surveyed reported using their own prescriptions they had initially received for pain management. They progressed to securing the drugs from other means such as "borrowing" from adults in their life. Based on this information, it is evident we as advocates for children need to pay closer attention to the amount of stress piled on our children at an early age. Additionally, we need to ask questions of our kids about how they handle stress, what stress feels like to them and offer them coping skills and the ability to practice those skills until they find something healthy that works for them. Check in with them periodically to be sure what they are using to relieve the stress is still effective. Left to their own devices, kids will always go for what works fastest and is easily accessible. That's why self harm is such a popular thing. There is a very old saying that children learn what they live. This is very true and can be seen by the increase in the use of drugs, self harm and sex as a way to deal with stress and tension. Many teens use drugs to get by, to make it through the day. If engaged early, we may be able to avert an addiction that will soon have a disastrous impact upon their lives and the lives of those they touch. Take time to talk to your kids about anxiety, stress, sleep patterns, eating, and the way they decompress after a particularly tough day. Help them by learning what works for them. Oh, and by the way, your ability to model effective and healthy ways to handle stress will say much more than anything you can tell them so take care of your own stress relief as well.

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