"It won't happen to my child."
Parents often say this because they don't want to believe their children could get caught up in the drama of substance abuse. "Those" kinds of things happen only to other children in other families. But anti-drug marches in southern Columbiana County over the past couple of weeks are telling a different story. Too many youth in our own backyard are succumbing to overdoses from heroin abuse.
There may come a time when you overhear a conversation you were not meant to hear. Or you might stumble over something unusual in your child's dirty laundry that no washing machine is going to clean for you: rolling papers, a strange pipe. Or perhaps bottles or cans in the car that your child drives. It is evidence that indicates something might be going on that needs attention and care, the earlier the better.
You don't want to invade your child's privacy, but you as the parent, are responsible for the safety and well-being of your child. You need to know what's going on in the lives of your children.
The American Academy of Pediatrics said, "Everyday, approximately 4,700 American youth under age 18 try marijuana for the first timeabout equal to the enrollment of six average-sized high schools." But, "one thing remains true: Parents are the most important influence in a teen's decisions about drug use."
So, when you suspect substance abuse, don't wait to take action. The longer you wait, the worse the problem will become. Jackie Barker of East Liverpool organized last Saturday's "Taking Back Our Streets" rally in her city.
"I am a snitch," she said. She monitors activities in her neighborhood to keep it safe for her children. Her children are a little older now, so she has to let them go a little further, so she is all about making her town safer for her children. "I'm looking for community accountability," she said. "The OD (overdose) rate here is 700 times the national average. It's out of control. Something has to happen."
"Last year there were 16 overdose deaths for the entire year," said Brandi Phillips of the Columbiana County Coroner's Office stated at the recent meeting of the Be Smart, Be Safe Coalition of Family Recovery Center. Most of them, Phillips said, were in their 20s and 30s. This year, already there are 16 overdose deaths and the year is only half over." The problem is all over Columbiana County, in every economic group, including a 15-year-old in Columbiana in August 1012. Most overdose deaths are ruled "accidental." Heroin is being seen a lot. Wherever it's coming from, it is too pure.
Too pure means it hasn't been cut enough with another substance. There is no way for the user to know what the strength of the drug is or what was used to cut it which increases the risk of overdose. Too much can stop breathing or cause the user to suffocate in their own vomit, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center.
It's true that everyone who tries drugs does not become addicted. But it is risky business because nobody knows for sure how substances are going to affect them. Is it worth the risk?
Why do kids use drugs?
- Feel need to take risks
- Believe they will fit in better
- Believe they will feel better
- Looking for relief from stress or depression
Kids hide things from their parents. Parents want their children to be safe, happy and well. But privacy, in the face of the realities of certain dangers, is restricted. If parents are very involved with their kids they will be able to detect changes in their children. It's good to trust your kids, but it's just as important to verify what they are saying. If you suspect drug use, don't hesitate to get involved. Don't be afraid to violate your child's privacy if you suspect drug or other substance abuse. They may not like you going through their things or reading their email. They will adjust.
Communication between parents and their teens is important. The kids want respect, too. Listen to what they think and feel and address your discussions as respectfully and lovingly as you can. But stick to your guns. Stand firm. Teach your children about the consequences that come with their actions. Become actively involved in the move to make Columbiana County a safer place for children to grow up.
Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related mental health issues. For more information, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or email, firstname.lastname@example.org.