I was one of those parents who, in retrospect, was not concerned enough about the possibility that one of my children might be using drugs. Though I probably would have been concerned had discovered any form of abuse of prescription drugs, I had no earthly idea how dangerous drug use of any kind really is. Be it pot, heroin, or prescription medications the danger and the damage and the threat is serious, the risk high, and the impact life lasting. Besides my personal, painful experience with addiction, the prompt for this post is an article I recently read about the increase in drug use and parents’ ambivalence to the issue:
Published at Drugfree.org, the Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) found that 25 percent of teens have misused or abused a prescription drug at least once, a one-third increase since 2008. The study also found a troubling rise in the abuse of prescription stimulants. About 13 percent of teens report that they have taken Ritalin or Adderall when it was not prescribed for them.
Researchers also looked into parents attitudes toward prescription drug abuse and found evidence of permissive attitudes that could explain the uptick in teen abuse and misuse.
“These data make it very clear: the problem is real, the threat immediate and the situation is not poised to get better,” said Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org. “Parents fear drugs like cocaine or heroin and want to protect their kids. But the truth is that when misused and abused, medicines – especially stimulants and opioids – can be every bit as dangerous and harmful as illicit street drugs.”
Parents, it is time to be diligent. Be concerned. Be aware. Be prepared. Be paranoid. Simply believing, hoping, or praying that your kid will not be the one who becomes an addict is nothing more that hopeful, naive, willful ignorance. I know lots of parents who have committed every ounce of love, time, energy, support, guidance, and structure to a child who somehow still manage to discover a drug they cannot give up. Parents, you are responsible for becoming more educated, to paying closer attention, to better recognize the warning signs and threats, and embrace the reality that even my child is at risk.
My recommendation is that you read the book, “Beyond the Yellow Brick Road” by Bob Meehan. Take every word to heart. Pay close attention to the message and the advice. Get engaged in your child’s life. They are at risk and they are in danger. You need to pay attention and to learn how to manage the threat appropriately.