With everyone scrambling to go back-to-school shopping, there's one thing that parents may be neglecting: Talking to their kids openly and honestly about peer pressure and addiction. You see, kids are highly impressionable, particularly in middle and high school. They want to fit in with the "cool" kids so badly, and they want to be accepted.
Unfortunately, the pressure to do so doesn't come without serious risks. Kids often turn to reckless behaviors like sex, drinking, and drug abuse all in the name of popularity. Of course they think it's all in good fun. The adolescent mind is not fully developed, and kids often don't have the mental capacity to connect potential consequences with their actions. They think things like: "Oh, everyone else is doing it. It couldn't possibly hurt me!" Sadly, this very assumption has cost many a life, leaving the families around them devastated and confused.
I admit, I was a pretty wild teen. I did a lot, and I do mean A LOT, of stupid things. I was lacking proper support and guidance, so I just did what I wanted to do. Thankfully, nothing horrible ever happened to me because of it. Then again, things have changed since I was a kid...Back in the 90's, the cool thing to do was sit around smoking marijuana. (Not that I advocate this!) Today, teens face a much darker, more deadly temptation. One that comes with a seemingly innocent appearance and can be found in millions of medicine cabinets around the world.
This danger is prescription drug abuse. Prescription drug abuse is a national epidemic, and kills more people per year than car accidents. Kids may wrongly assume that because a doctor prescribes these pills for various ailments, and they're so readily accessible, that they must be safe. The fact is, prescription drugs are just as deadly if not more so than more traditional drugs.
Did you know that drugs in the Opioid family like Morphine, Ocycontin, Hydrocodone, and Dilauded are extremely similar to Heroin? In fact, when Herion addicts shoot the drug, it reacts inside the body and turns into pure Morphine! So basically, people who abuse these drugs are basically the same as Heroin addicts. The sad part? These drugs are so commonly abused and they're incredibly addictive. Trying these drugs in "good fun" can lead to a lifetime of addiction, ruin families, and ultimately destroy lives.
The scariest part? These drugs are available to kids. As the parent of a preteen, this scares the Hell out of me. I have seen for myself what prescription drug abuse can do to a person. I have had to sit by and watch someone's life slowly degrade, changing who they are completely. I even know someone who has died because of an opiate addiction. Prescription drug addiction destroys lives and rips apart families. Users often don't see a problem, and families sweep it under the rug and deny there's a real problem until it's far too late.
Check out this video about prescription drug abuse, featuring Joe Schrank of The Fix:
WHAT CAN PARENTS DO?
Talk, talk, talk!
Talk to your kids. Be open and frank with them. It may be difficult to bring up topics like sex, alcohol, and drug abuse. But it's so important to do so. If parents don't, someone else will, and the results may not be pleasant.
Let kids know that they're wonderful the way they are. A good sense of self can be a powerful weapon against peer pressure. Encourage kids to pursue their interests and dreams, and praise them for their accomplishments.
Set A Good Example
Kids learn what they live. If they see their parents dealing with addiction, if this is "normal" to them, they are more likely to fall victim, themselves. Now I'm not saying it's a crime to have a few drinks now and then as many adults do, but be sure to remain in control of your own behavior and don't allow a problem to form. Should you already have a problem, seek help! You may not only be saving your own life, but that of your child as well!
Provide Help When Needed
Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone needs help sometimes. Teach your kids that this is not something to be ashamed of. Let them know that if they ever do need help, they can come to you without fear of judgement or alienation. Listen to your kids. Hold them tight. Let them know you love them. And should they ever need help coping with addiction, make sure they get it and stand beside them every step of the road to recovery.
So I really hope you'll have a heart-to-heart with your kids about the dangers of addiction before they head back to school this fall. With open communication and support, kids can find the strength to say no to temptation. Sure, it may feel a little bit awkward at first, but it's a lot easier than you think. I have had these talks with my son, and it's actually brought us closer together in the longrun.
Do You Or A Loved One Need Help Coping With Addiction?
Help is there! Please call The Fix's free helpline at 1-888-GET-FIXED
Their expert team helps people of all ages find the help they may need and customizes rehab center options if needed. They negotiate rates for those seeking treatment and have an insurance specialist on staff to help navigate benefits.
For more information about The Fix, please check out the following sites: