- “Children of parents who talk to their teens regularly about drugs are 42% less likely to use drugs than those who don’t; yet only a quarter of teens report having these conversations.” – redribbonweek.org
You may think this is a hard or awkward conversation to have with your child or teen, but it doesn’t have to be! Especially when statistics show that those conversations really do work in preventing teen substance use. The Internet is full of resources, and Bacon Street is always here to help as well.
Some quick things to remember when preparing to have a conversation are:
Lay down some rules and consequences so your teen known where you stand, but also explain why you are making these rules and why you feel the way you do about substance use.
Give your teen an opportunity to ask questions. There is a lot of false information floating around out there. And if you don’t know the answer, that is OK. Remember, there are plenty of resources out there on the Internet and the information is at your fingertips.
Speak to your teen like you would want to be spoken to. Treat them like adults when having this conversation. They will respect and listen to you more than if they feel like you are coming down on them as an authoritative figure. Make sure the conversation is two-sided.
You may feel hypocritical telling them not to do something you may have done in the past. It is OK to share your experiences, or keep them private. Just let them know you are trying to keep them from making the same mistakes you did.
Make sure you let your teen know this conversation is always open for discussion. They can ask questions whenever they want and you can always sit down and talk about it.
Conditional amnesty is also a great idea. As a parent, the end goal is always safety. If your child gets into a situation, say they are drunk at a party, and can either drive home or call you; you want them to feel like they can do that. You can allow them to come home, go to bed, and then address the situation in the morning without yelling at them or grounding them that night.
2. Get familiar with Juul and e-cigarettes.
Teen e-cigarette use is up 75 percent this year, and the US Food and Drug Administration recently declared youth e-cigarette use an “epidemic.” It seems to be that we can than the Juul for that. Juul is a discrete vape pen that charged through a USB port. They gained popularity in 2017, and now account for 72 percent of the e-cigarette market. Sales of the Juul have risen more than 800 percent from the previous year! But what is making them use a hot topic?
They appeal to kids with all of the sweet flavor pods they offer, enticing kids to use the Juul. But the liquid contained in these pods deliver higher levels of nicotine, making it even more addictive. The FDA is starting to crackdown on the manufacturers for selling and marketing to minors with warning letters and fines. Make sure you stay in the know about Juul and the e-cigarette!
- Naloxone Saves Lives!
Naloxone, also known as Narcan, counters the effects of an opioid overdose. There are a couple of ways to administer it: by injecting into a muscle, vein, or under the skin or sprayed into the nose. It is a temporary drug that wears off in 20-90 minutes. It works to counteract the depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system. This allows an overdose victim to breathe normally. Many people have been “brought back” with naloxone, or Narcan. It has saved countless lives!
- We offer REVIVE! Training – a FREE training program to teach community members how to administer naloxone, or Narcan.
On the fourth Tuesday of every month, we offer REVIVE! Training from ^:30 – 7:30pm at the Bacon Street office! You’ll get a certification card and the nasal spray version of naloxone. Again, this is all FREE! For more information, and to register, visit: http://baconstreet.org/programs-registration/
- Two-thirds (66 percent) of teens who report abuse of prescription pain relievers are getting them from friends, family, and acquaintances. – drugfree.org
Drugfree.org explains that the promotion of new medications in newspaper and magazines, and on television and the internet, has risen our understanding and awareness of different conditions they treat. As a result, kids and teens have grown-up associating medicine with solving problems.
Teens may abuse medication to party and get high. Others use it to manage stress or get extra energy. But the belief is that these medications are made and tested in a scientific environment, so they are safe, right? Wrong. Someone who takes a prescription not prescribed to them may experience side effects, such as dramatic increase in blood pressure and heart rate, organ damage, difficulty breathing, seizures, addiction, and possibly even death. Talk to your teen about these risks. Also, make sure you keep prescriptions out of reach. Which leads us to #6….
- Nearly half of young people who inject heroin start by misusing prescription pain medicine, also known as opioids. – drugfree.org
It doesn’t always start out as illegal use. Sometimes, people are taking them for legitimate reasons to treat an injury or medical procedure. But it can still turn into dependence. If you, someone you know, or your teen is prescribed an opioid, make sure you take it according to the doctor’s instructions. Once someone becomes addicted to a prescription opioid and that prescription is no longer available or becomes too expensive, they turn to the cheaper alternative: heroin.
- Dispose of old or unused medications properly so they aren’t sitting around the house.
The Drug Enforcement Agency hosts National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, but it isn’t limited to one day. You can visit https://apps.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/pubdispsearch/spring/main?execution=e1s1 to find a collection site near you.
- Marijuana can be harmful on the developing teen brain.
Some people think, well, marijuana has to be safer than opioids or heroin or other illicit drugs. It’s safe to use, right? Again, wrong. According to headsup.scholastic.com, long-term, regular use of marijuana – starting in the teen years, may impair brain development and lower IQ, meaning the brain may not reach its full potential. Decision making, memory, and concentration can suffer for days, after use, especially in regular users. Those are just effects on the brain. There is also a long list of other issues, such as addiction risk, mental disorders, etc.
- Drugs are hard to quit, and there is a science behind it.
Substances like drugs rewire the brain, and have a serious effect on the limbic system. This is also known as the reward system. Here is some info from that, taken from one of our previous blogs:
The limbic system controls the reward circuit of the brain. This is where dopamine comes into play. When you eat, sleep, exercise, meditate, listen to your favorite music, or do anything else that brings you joy and happiness, your brain releases dopamine. Dopamine makes you feel good. That feeling of goodness, or reward for that specific activity, is also transmitted to the amygdala and the hippocampus, which record a memory of that feeling associated to that activity. You learn to repeat those activities (conditioning) so you experience that dopamine release again.
So what does drug use do to this system? Here is where it starts to transform and reprogram your brain. When drugs or alcohol are used, they activate the same dopamine process in the survival center, or limbic system. But drugs cause the brain to release 2 – 10 times the amount of dopamine! It is an immediate release and it can even last longer than dopamine released by activities such as eating, traveling, etc. When use is repeated over and over again, the substance takes over that part of the brain, so that it thinks that the primary need for survival is the drug. The dopamine high experienced from using the drug becomes greater than the dopamine high experienced from eating, sleeping, exercising, having shelter, etc. (Remember, it is stronger and lasts longer.) Over time, more and more of the drug is needed to experience the dopamine high or the same level of reward, or feeling of pleasure (tolerance). Continued drug use only further damages this part of the brain.
Knowing this about the limbic system and dopamine process might help you understand how so many people on drugs can lose everything – their house, family, car, job, etc. – but still seek out drugs. It has reprogrammed this center of their brain to get more out of a dopamine high from doing drugs than from other activities. And it isn’t a process that is easily reversed. They can’t just quit, because they face withdrawal symptoms. Brain scans have shown that once in recovery, the limbic system and cortex can get better. But it takes a supportive team to see the addict through to recovery, and even long after. It is the reason why things like triggers are still an issue for those years into the recovery phase, because the brain has been conditioned from the drug use.
- So how else can you keep your kids safe from addiction?
- Talk early and often (see #1).
- Support healthy activities.
- Set clear expectations of no use.
- Establish clear consequences.
- It’s not your job to be cool.
- Do not provide alcohol or drugs to your teens.
- Pay attention.
- Make time for your child.
- Prioritize sleep.
- Intervene early.
– from addictionpolicy.org
Below are the links to most of the articles and videos we shared on Facebook this week. If you didn’t get a chance to read them or watch the videos, they are a great source of information!
How Juul Exploited Teen’s Brains to Hook Them on Nicotine: https://medium.com/s/youthnow/how-juul-exploited-teens-brains-to-hook-them-on-nicotine-79b86aabeec3
Naloxone and our Revive training: http://baconstreet.org/programs-registration/
Prescription Drug Abuse; Medicine Abuse: What’s Happening & Why: https://drugfree.org/article/medicine-abuse-whats-happening-why/
How Can Prescription Drugs Lead to Heroine Use?: https://drugfree.org/article/rx-to-heroin/
Prescription Drug Take Back Day: https://takebackday.dea.gov/
Scientific Facts about Marijuana: http://headsup.scholastic.com/students/marijuana-breaking-down-the-buzz
How Do You Really Keep Your Kids Safe from Addiction? https://www.addictionpolicy.org/preventiontips
Why Are Drugs So Hard to Quit? http://baconstreet.org/2018/07/drugs-and-the-brain/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zV6zKmt7S5E