I have met parents who were dismayed when they realized how they were inadvertently encouraging and even advocating substance abuse – all evidence of the necessity to educate the family and friends of any at-risk individual. With the wide availability of addictive prescription drugs, the term “at risk” has become applicable to vast sectors of society. No one is immune – whether it’s you or a family member, friend or associate. Knowing how one can unintentionally promote substance abuse becomes even more vital. Here are some important points to understand:
The FDA just approved a drug called Zohydro which is extended-release hydrocodone. A Zohydro pill contains up to TEN times the amount of hydrocodone as Vicodin. Zohydro is NOT tamper-proof meaning a user can crush it in order to bypass the time release. It can then apparently be snorted, smoked or injected and has rightfully been the cause of some recent alarm. Any use of pain medication should be closely monitored.
Alcohol is a drug. It’s everywhere. Some people have a propensity for addictive behavior and can’t have only one or two drinks. When you drink socially, to loosen up and have a good time, it may be harmless but for a large percentage of people it is anything but. A lot of people drink socially just because their friends do when in fact it makes them dizzy, sick, exhausted, etc. People really need to watch whose company they are in when drinking. If they have a friend who is struggling, perhaps they should rally around that person and abstain from alcohol as a sign of solidarity. That is the type of thing a real friend would do.
“Weed is OK”
Just like alcohol, marijuana is a drug. Even if it’s ostensibly legalized, it is a psychoactive substance. Most of the addicts I have known started with pills, booze or cannabis (or some combination of the three). Don’t be fooled by the PR campaigns seeking to legitimize smoking a joint for medical reasons. Early ads for tobacco cigarettes had medical doctors extolling their virtues. The best approach is to educate kids (and adults) on the nature of specific drugs and what they do to the body and mind. Is someone going to become a crazed meth fiend from smoking marijuana? No. But the meth heads in jails and graveyards across America usually started with pills, booze and/or pot, same with heroin addicts.
Lack of Communication
You may be surprised how a lack of real communication can trigger such things as drug use. People build up walls around themselves. Certain subjects are off limits. “I can never bring up that subject,” etc. Real communication would be where the parties respect each other and listen to what the other has to say. With these communication barriers erected, an individual may do things like abuse drugs and alcohol to compensate for the lack of rational communication. They are seeking to “deal with” the situation. Incidentally, other types of addictive behaviors can fall into this category.
While in rehab, one of the things a person will do is TALK ABOUT IT. Simply talking it over with someone who is honest, but who does not judge is a major cornerstone of effective treatment. By shutting people out and reacting when certain subjects come up – instead of being analytical about it – friends and family can unwittingly contribute to drug abuse and addiction. While it can be difficult, people should at least work on it and use a mediator if necessary. An intervention is really just a format for rational, reasonable, analytical and real communication.
Many youth are drifting and get into drug abuse for lack of something else to do, and the parents can unintentionally encourage this if they do not positively guide their children. Young people look around for an example and see their friends drinking and using and think this is a “normal” thing to do. You cannot force someone in a certain direction, but you can find out what interests them and help facilitate constructive and creative action. Kids who are “bored” are really asking you to point the way with positivity, adults too.
Additionally, when people do not work but are given a free ride, they will tend to react in strange ways. They will in fact remain rather miserable. So just giving our youth (or anyone) some chores or routine work helps them realize their value to the family and society. It’s like that old saying about “idle hands” being the devil’s workshop. Rings true.
Absence of Knowledge
The drug pusher loves the ignorant person. Those who make money off drugs – legal and illegal – are like vampires who feed not on blood, but human ignorance. And an addictive drug is great business because you get repeat customers who keep coming back – again and again and again. The truth about drugs is easily accessible in publications and online, but many people simply don’t understand the basic terminology and recoil from the subject. Therefore, drug education materials and sites that communicate in SIMPLE and UNDERSTANDABLE terms are vital for drug education purposes. The ones that use PICTURES and VIDEOS are especially useful.
“Just Say No!” is a great message but it is too simple; it does not state WHY! Not only that, when you tell kids to “Just Say No!” what do you think they are apt to do? They will say “Yes” because you told them to say “No!” So we educate in the TRUTH and our youth are far more likely to make the wise decision. The weapon against ignorance is of course TRUTH. The truth about drugs is not particularly pretty, but it must be learned for the sake of our friends, our families and our children.
Everyone has triggers. But for some, certain circumstances trigger an impulse to abuse drugs or alcohol. People can trigger these in others without realizing it. It is therefore, wise to be observant for these triggers and take measures to avoid them. People also create their own situations accidentally or knowing full well what they are getting into. When you see these situations, you can point it out to the person and hopefully provide some enlightenment. Triggers can include marital or relationship problems, difficulties at school or work, loss or trauma, and in fact anything in the human experience.
Drugs and Alcohol to “Solve” Problems
When the mother or father drowns their problems in drink or clouds their mind with dope, the son or daughter may follow suit. Children do tend to emulate the behavior of their parents, older siblings, etc. They also see their friends in school use drugs and alcohol as a means to “deal with” life. A far better approach is to solve problems for real and set a positive example. It has been said that we must be the change we wish to see, and I’d say that is a true statement.
Would you know if your child was abusing drugs? You may just be surprised. Read this blog post to learn the signs and symptoms of substance abuse.