WAX – Warning to Teen Parents
A new drug, called WAX, is becoming increasingly popular amongst teens. The drug, which is a based with marijuana plant oils, looks and feels a lot like lip balm and is easy to hide. Teenagers are replacing the lip balm from containers, like Carmex, with the waxy drug and it is going undetected. The drug has dangerously high levels of THC and is harmful to the growing teenage brain and body. Parents should be aware of this drug and initiate conversations with their teenagers. For more information and pictures of the drugs, go here.
Talking with your teen about drugs, particularly marijuana is important to helping them chart a course away from drug abuse. When we are empowered with knowledge, and know the risks and dangers of something, we are less likely to engage in those behaviors. Drugabuse.gov recently published an article about discussing marijuana with your teen. The information therein will be cited and quoted throughout this post, as it is very informative on the subject.
For some teenagers, drug use begins as a means of coping. Kids use drugs to deal with anxiety, anger, depression, boredom, and other unpleasant feelings. However, sometimes getting high can be a way of simply avoiding the problems and challenges of growing up. Some kids also use drugs because their family members do. Parents, grandparents, and older brothers and sisters are models that younger kids look up to and follow their example.
Research shows that talking with kids about the key issues and getting information “out in the open” can help kids know what they are up against and understand long term consequences of their behavior. Drugabuse.gov answered the most frequently asked recent questions by teens through their website. The questions asked and the answers given are summarized below. Talking to your teen about these questions and answers can help to open the door to a great conversation between your teen and you regarding marijuana.
Can marijuana be addictive? Yes, marijuana can be addictive. In fact, “about 1 in 6 people who start smoking in their teens, and 25–50 percent of people who use it every day, become addicted to marijuana.” (drugabuse.gov)
Is it safe to drive while using marijuana? No, marijuana is unsafe behind the wheel. “Marijuana is the most commonly identified illegal drug in fatal accidents (showing up in the bloodstream of about 14 percent of drivers), sometimes in combination with alcohol or other drugs.” (drugabuse.gov)
How does marijuana affect school grades? “Marijuana is associated with school failure. Compared with their nonsmoking peers, students who smoke marijuana tend to get lower grades and are more likely to drop out of high school.” (drugabuse.gov)
How can marijuana affect me mentally? “High doses of marijuana can cause psychosis or panic during intoxication. Although scientists do not yet know whether the use of marijuana causes mental illness, high doses can induce an acute psychosis (disturbed perceptions and thoughts, including paranoia) or panic attacks.” (drugabuse.gov)
What is marijuana? “Marijuana is a green, brown, or gray mixture of dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa).” All marijuana is made of the same mind altering chemical. (drugabuse.gov)
How is marijuana used? “Most users roll loose marijuana into a cigarette (called a joint) or smoke it in a pipe or a water pipe, sometimes referred to as a bong. Some users mix marijuana into foods, or use it to brew a tea.” (drugabuse.gov)
How many people use marijuana? Today, marijuana “is the most often used illegal drug in the United States. According to a 2012 national survey, more than 111 million Americans over the age of 12 had tried marijuana at least once, and nearly 19 million had used the drug in the month before the survey.” (drugabuse.gov)
What are the quick effects of marijuana? These short term effects include: euphoria (high), memory impairment, adverse mental reactions (in some), and physical changes. Other effects include: “depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and personality disturbances. One of the effects most frequently reported is an “amotivational syndrome” characterized by a diminished or lost drive to engage in formerly rewarding activities.” (drugabuse.gov)
Can smoking marijuana cause lung cancer? There is no proven research on this, but “marijuana users can have many of the same respiratory problems tobacco smokers have, such as chronic cough and more frequent chest colds.” (drugabuse.gov)
Is Spice or synthetic marijuana as bad for you? Spice, synthetic marijuana, or K2 is just as harmful if not more harmful than regular marijuana.
Starting an open conversation with your teen and talking to your teen about marijuana is a positive start to steering them away from marijuana abuse. The above questions and answers can be useful in beginning this discussion. When teens are made aware of facts and have discussed dangers with their parents, they are more equipped to deal with the pressures and temptations that their teen years bring.
Talking to your child about drugs and alcohol (part 1)
No one: child, parent, grandparent, or family is immune to the effects of drugs and/or alcohol abuse. Good kids can end up in trouble, even when they have made an effort to avoid drugs and alcohol and have had great guidance from their parents.
The issue of drug and alcohol use can be very confusing to kids. For instance, they may think, “If drugs are dangerous, then why do we take so much medicine for headaches or coughs? And, if drugs are so bad, then why does the media make them look or sound so cool through TV, movies, or music?
Beginning the conversation with kids about drug use early is key. Open, honest talks can prevent drug and alcohol abuse and can help answer the many questions kids have. Kids need to know what is true and what is not. Childrennow.org reports that, “National studies show that the average age when a child first tries alcohol is 11; for marijuana, it’s 12. And many kids start becoming curious about these substances even sooner.” This shocking statistic shows how urgently we need to get started in talking to our kids about drugs and alcohol.
Listening and communicating are extremely important when it comes to talking to your child about drugs and alcohol. When parents listen to their children’s feelings and concerns, their kids feel comfortable talking with them and are more likely to stay drug-free.
Another strategy often discussed when talking to your kids about drug and alcohol use, is role-playing. Role playing can help your child be prepared with responses when difficult situations arise. By practicing these conversations, you enable your child to have the power to say “no” in a way that they are familiar and comfortable with.
Knowing your children’s friends and encouraging good friendships will go a long way with drug prevention. Certain groups of kids may be more likely to use drugs than others. It’s a fact that kids who have friends who use drugs are likely to try drugs themselves. Also, those who feel socially isolated-or like they have no friends- are also at risk for turning to drugs or alcohol. So, it’s important to know your child’s friends and their parents and their friend’s siblings. Be the “question-asker” in your child’s life. Know what’s going on, where they are, who they are with, what they are doing. Be involved. Recognize if your child has friends who are not making good choices or are not building your child up in a healthy way. Be aware if your child seems friendless or lonely.
Providing information to your children about the dangers of drugs can also empower them to make the right choices. While pointing out to younger children that we take care of our bodies so we can be healthy, we can also add that things like smoking harms our bodies and we shouldn’t do that. Older children need to know the dangers of drugs and the risks involved. You may want to specifically talk with them about how smoking can affect them in the long term. They may want to know what drugs look like or what their street names are. If your child has questions, answer them the best you can. If you don’t know all of the answers, do your homework and follow up with them. Quick conversations that happen often are much more effective than one long talk in your child’s developing years.
Next week’s post will include information on talking to your child specifically about the dangers of marijuana. There will be future posts about talking to your child about other specific drugs as well.
Geography and drug abuse
Certain areas of the country or even the state in which you live seem to have higher rates of reported drug abuse. Many wonder what these trends are and may even move or relocate accordingly. For instance, some cities may have a reputation for having a lot of heavy drinkers, while other cities may be known for meth labs. Often, people in rural communities report that there is drug abuse in their community since, “there is nothing else to do.”
Several government studies and reports from rehab centers suggest that and geography not only influences drug use, but also rehab initiation. Many additional factors can influence drug abuse but looking at the trends of geography in relation to addiction can be insightful in understanding drug abuse.
Alcoholanddrugsrehab.com reports that, “The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) conducted a national survey in 2011 and found that among people age 12 or older, 10.5% of the West Coast population, 9.2% of the Northeast, 8.5% of the Midwest, and 7.5% of the South reported using an illicit drug in the past month (SAMHSA). Actual rates may be somewhat higher as some survey-takers may have been reluctant to admit to using drugs. The SAMHSA survey also found that the rate of illicit drug use among people 12 or older is higher in more populated areas with 9.2% in large metropolitan areas, 8.7% in small metropolitan areas, and 7.2% across nonmetropolitan counties. These nonmetropolitan areas were further broken down to reveal some interesting trends in addiction and rehab: that illegal drug use rates are higher, 8.5% in urbanized counties, 6.3% in less urbanized counties, and 5.7% in completely rural counties.”
Further research indicates that while rural areas and smaller cities can appear to have lower rates of drug abuse, these same locations have higher rates of binge drinking, heavy alcohol use, tobacco use, inhalants, and illicit pharmaceuticals (prescription drugs) than larger cities. Also, studies show that while more residents of smaller cities and rural areas disapprove of illegal drug use, these same individuals are less likely to disapprove of the abuse of legal drugs such as alcohol. This information suggests that in rural areas, or smaller cities, individuals are more concerned about the type of drug that is being abused rather than the level of drug abuse.
These correlations between geography and drug abuse may not be the reason people become addicts, but they do show some interesting influential trends.
Drug abuse: Men vs. Women
There are so many differences between men and women that it seems natural to wonder if there are variations when it comes to gender and drug abuse. For instance, do men or women abuse drugs earlier? Longer? Certain types? Is it easier for men or women to break addictive cycles? Are there differing factors that initially set the addiction in motion? Although it may seem trivial, studies have shown significant differences between men and women when it comes to specific kinds of drugs and the likelihood of becoming addicted to them.
For instance, The National Institution on Drug Abuse (NIDA) indicate that there is, in fact, a difference between male and female exposure to drugs and likelihood of drug abuse/addiction and has provided research that shows that gender differences play a key role when it comes to drug abuse. Interestingly, they report that men are more likely than women to have opportunities to use drugs, but men and women given an opportunity to use drugs for the first time are equally likely to do so and to progress from initial use to addiction. However, women and men appear to differ in their vulnerability to some particular drugs.
Further, both men and women are equally likely to become addicted to or dependent on hallucinogens, tobacco, cocaine, heroin, and inhalants. Moreover, studies reveal that women tend to use cocaine to self-medicate when feeling depressed and unhappy. Men, on the other hand, generally use cocaine when they are feeling good, in order to feel even better. When it comes to tobacco, cigarette smoking also shows gender specific patterns. Men are more likely to smoke cigarettes to improve their attention and performance at work, ease feelings of aggression and relieve pain, while women tend to use smoking to regulate their mood and suppress their appetites. Also, women are more likely than men to become addicted to or dependent on drugs and sedatives that treat anxiety or sleeplessness, and women are less likely than men to abuse alcohol and marijuana.
The NIDA study also indicates that there are also differences between men and women who seek treatment for drug abuse. For instance, women in treatmentprograms for drug abuse are more likely than men to have other health problems, to have sought previous drug treatment, attempted suicide, and to have suffered sexual abuse or other physical abuse. Also women who struggle with drug abuse are less likely than men to have graduated from high school and to be employed.
Alcohol Ads and Kids
How many times, while viewing TV (especially sports related programs) do you see alcohol ads played one after another? Have you ever thought about the impact these ads have upon young kids or teenagers in the room? Studies show that you should be concerned about the effects upon those under age in the room. In fact, it has been shown that if children are exposed to ads that feature alcohol, they have a much higher chance of being at-risk for underage drinking. For some kids, this constant influence has been shown to get them drinking as early as seventh grade. Also, study results show that the more that kids are exposed to alcohol advertising, and the more they enjoy the ads, the higher the chance that they will try alcohol by the time they are in tenth grade.
So, while you may believe these ad to be harmless, consider the following facts: alcohol ads have been shown to be linked with various other alcohol-related problems in later life for those kids, including declining grades and academic performance, passing out from alcohol, booze-fueled fights, and going to school while drunk. Though you can’t always control what kids may be watching, it is critical to talk with them and explain the dangers of alcohol and what it can. Studies also show that if you do the talking, they’ll be at a lower risk for alcohol abuse.
Mediasmarts.ca, a Canadian website for digital and media literacy, recommends some strategies for talking and discussing alcohol related ads with kids at different stages of development:
“Early years: Current research suggests Grades 3 and 4 are critical years in the formation of expectancies about alcohol, so this is a good time for parents and teachers to start helping children think critically about what they see and to introduce them to the marketing strategies advertisers use to create positive associations with alcoholic beverages.
Middle years: This age group represents a critical period for decision-making about alcohol consumption. Today in Ontario, 66 per cent of students in Grades 7-12 drink, with 25 per cent drinking at least twice a month and 12 percent drinking at least once a week. Although young teens may lack the life experience to judge mass media messages, with guidance they can develop the critical skills they need to understand: explicit and implicit messaging in ads, the perspective and intentions of programmers and characters, and the impact of production techniques.
Older teens: Studies have shown that once teens start to drink, alcohol ads on TV do not affect their drinking habits. However, it has been found that wine and alcohol consumption by 18-year-old girls is directly related to television viewing between the ages of 13 and 15, and that young men who are good at remembering beer ads at 15 years of age, tend to be heavy drinkers when they are 18.” (Source: mediasmarts.ca)
This information goes to show that we need to be sensitive to watch kids who are viewing and discuss alcohol ads with them to ensure healthy thinking and awareness.
College and Alcohol Abuse
It’s that time of year again: fall leaves, football games, sweaters, and, for some, college. Many parents feel concerned about sending their kids to college and wonder if their kids will be wise when it comes to alcohol. Parents of college freshman (or college students younger than 21) wonder how and why alcohol seems to be available to their kids (since it’s been reported that as many as 80 percent of college students admit to drinking alcohol during their time in school).
Below are 4 main points to consider:
- Older students buy alcohol for younger students : Individuals of all ages interact during college
- Kids will be kids – even if they are college kids! Colleges have rules about underage drinking but whether or not students choose to obey those rules is up to them.
- Parties and events: ID is generally not required to obtain alcohol when attending a party or event during college.
- Stealing alcohol: College students have been known to do crazy things and theft is definitely one of them. Sometimes young college students steal alcohol to drink before they are 21.
Having open, honest, discussions with your child as they grow up and as they leave for college in relation to alcohol use will help facilitate responsible attitudes and behaviors for your college student.
Robin Williams’ addiction and depression
Many know that Robin Williams struggled with addiction to alcohol and cocaine during his lifetime. He admitted to being a cocaine addict in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when his fame grew tremendously. However, he quit cocaine cold turkey when comedian John Belushi overdosed to death in 1982 on a combination of cocaine and heroine. After this immediate stop, he was sober for 20 years.
Williams’ struggle with alcohol was public knowledge. He had struggled with alcoholism before Belushi’s death and iptimes.com reports that, “in 2006, he gradually became addicted to alcohol again. By his own account, it happened the moment he walked into a store and saw a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. He claimed that it was one of those times when he was having thoughts such as ‘Oh, come on, just a sip’ and then the next thing he knew, he had dove back into drinking. By his own account, he was purchasing bottle after bottle within just a week.”
Williams’ addiction will definitely not be forgotten. Addictions like these are often wake-up calls to the public to actively seek professional help for their own addictions or that of a family member if his or her life is in danger. There is such a strong link between alcoholism and depression that many wonder which comes first – which causes which? According to WebMD.com, “research is currently split on the issue as to whether clinical depression leads to alcohol abuse or if alcohol abuse causes depression or both. What is known for sure is that alcohol has a very calming effect within the brain and that is why people are likely to turn to it when stressed. According to a recent study conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, nearly one-third of those who struggle with depression of some kind have a tendency to abuse alcohol. It has also been shown that children with tendencies to clinical depression are more likely to develop alcoholism in their teens.”
Robin Williams’ tragic death should serve as lesson to all that both addictions and depression are not to be taken lightly.
Drug abuse trends in the U.S.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (drugabuse.gov), illegal drug use in America is increasing. They report that in 2012, “an estimated 23.9 million Americans aged 12 or older—or 9.2 percent of the population—had used an illicit drug or abused a psychotherapeutic medication (such as a pain reliever, stimulant, or tranquilizer) in the past month. This is up from 8.3 percent in 2002. The increase mostly reflects a recent rise in the use of marijuana, the most commonly used illicit drug.”
The institute further reports that marijuana use has increased since 2007 indicating that in 2012, there were 18.9 million current (past-month) users – about 7.3% of people aged 12 or older – compared to 14.4 million (5.8%) in 2007.
However, it is interesting to note that the use of other illegal drugs declined over the past decade or so. Again, referencing the info reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the use of psychotherapeutic prescription drugs non-medically (without a prescription or in a manner or for a purpose not prescribed), hallucinogens (a category that includes Ecstasy and LSD), cocaine, and methamphetamine has remained steady or even declined.
Perhaps marijuana use is on the rise the most due to the fact that more than half of new illicit drug users begin with marijuana. Also of interest is that drug use is highest among people in their late teens and twenties. In 2012, 23.9 percent of 18- to 20-year-olds reported using an illicit drug in the past month although drug use is increasing among people in their fifties. This trend is, at least in part, due to the aging of the baby boomers, whose rates of illicit drug use have historically been higher (drugabuse.gov).
Support in Recovery
Recovery from addiction takes time and a lot of personal effort. Having support from any source is helpful for individuals in recovery. Support can be found in group therapy settings, a sponsor, an addiction counselor, family or friends. Someone who is supporting another in recovery is simply someone who can help when an individual is struggling and the impulse to turn back to the addiction is strong. For many individuals, support in recovery begins with a drug rehab treatment program as a foundation.
Recovery is general a long and difficult process. Having support through the days, weeks, and months can be critical. Most individuals leave rehab with a support system intact and are encouraged to continue to reach out further for more support if necessary. Support following addiction recovery can provide the structure for staying clean day after day. Although having support wont guarantee full long term recovery, it can minimize many of the burdens that come from addiction and withdrawal. Many difficulties faced in recovery and in life in general can be eased with a helping hand and feeling understood and supported by others.