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Awareness is part of the battle

January 30, 2011
By CATHY BROWNFIELD, Family Recovery Center

If teens want to experiment with substances, they will look for affordable sources. That can mean the home medicine cabinet, the kitchen cupboard, the laundry room, bathroom or garage. Parents want to believe the best about their children, but incidents happen and create crises. Awareness of potential dangers can help you protect your family.

Parents don't see a problem with their teens drinking alcohol. It's not as bad as other drugs like heroin or crack, we tend to think. But alcohol, mostly through accidents, kills five times more teens than other drugs combined. According to some 2003 statistics, illicit drug use among teens looks like this: 8th grade-33.3 percent; 10th grade-44.9 percent; 12th grade-52.8 percent

As much as parents trust it's someone else's child with the substance abuse problem, sometimes, to someone else, your child may be the someone else's child. They've made a mistake, a poor choice, and they need Mom and Dad, indeed, the family support system in place to get the right treatment, the right care, to get the teen back on track with their life.

Amphetamines can be swallowed, inhaled or injected and give a feeling of power, to feel alert and energized. Known as "uppers" they raise the blood pressure and heart rate and affect breathing. Effects include sweating, shaking, headaches, sleeplessness and blurred vision.

Cocaine is inhaled or injected and stimulates the nervous system and also elevates blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature. Fatal heart attacks can occur. And breathing can ceasepermanently.

Over-the-counter medications are abused when they are not used properly. The list of possible effects from abuse is too lengthy to post here, but include loss of consciousness, seizures, brain damage and even death. Before using a combination of medications make sure what the content includes. It's possible to accidently overdose when you use more than one cold medication with the same content.

Marijuana affects mood and coordination. It is addictive, requiring more and more to feel the desired effects. It is as harmful to the lungs as smoking cigarettes. And there is no way for you to know what else might be blended in that mix.

Inhalants are breathed directly from the container through the nose or huffed through the mouth. Butane, cooking sprays, glues, gasoline, felt tip markers, spray paint, hairspray, aerosols. Can you imagine holding an inhalant-soaked rag in your mouth? (That is huffing.) Of all abused substances, it is reported that inhalants are most likely to cause a serious toxic reaction or death, according to and the U.S. Department of Justice.

At this time teens are experimenting with something that has been labeled 'fake cocaine.'

"Alarming numbers of adolescents and others are ending up in emergency rooms and mental hospitals after using 'fake cocaine,' a powder legally sold as bath salts," reported The Sacramento Bee. This is a specialty bath salt "specially made powders that are sold in convenience stores and specialty shops in half-gram bottles for about $25 to $30. Users snort them, smoke them, or inject them like cocaine to experience euphoria," reports Join Together online. They cause paranoia, chest pain and irregular heartbeats.

The U.S. Department of Justice advises this is sold all over the country. The Drug Enforcement Agency considers these substances to be a 'drug of concern.' People are ending up in psychiatric institutions. They may dive into a pool from a third-story window. It was banned in Britain last spring when people died after ingesting it. It is a matter of grave concern.

As if this isn't enough food for thought, consider these facts:

- 40 percent of those who started drinking at age 13 developed alcohol dependence later in life.

- 10 percent of teens report they have attended a rave and ecstasy and other drugs were available at two/thirds of these raves.

- Teens that drink are 50 times more likely to use cocaine than teens who don't.

- More than 60 percent of teens report drugs are sold, used or kept at their school.

- Teens whose parents talk to them regularly about the dangers of drug use are less likely to use drugs.

Public awareness is credited with leading the current decrease in the use of illicit drugs. Substance use/abuse is related to how dangerous teens believe the substance isor isn't, according to For more information, contact Family Recovery Center at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or email at FRC promotes the well-being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs and is funded, in part, by the United Way of Northern Columbiana County.



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