How do you know if your teenage son or daughter is getting high? Probably the first admission a parent has to make is that no teenager is exempt from the temptations of making poor choices around illegal drug and alcohol use. More than three hundred people overdosed on heroin last year in Suffolk County. That is more than double the number from the previous year.
Just because your son or daughter is a good student, has nice friends and is active in school is no guarantee that he or she might not be dabbling in illegal drug and alcohol use. The drug and alcohol epidemic has no boundaries.
As a parent, be vigilant. Know your children's friends. Know what they do and where they go after school and on the weekends. Don't be intrusive and controlling, but rather be present and attentive. Keep the dialogue open, even if it's uncomfortable. Never adopt the attitude of "not my son or daughter." Don't be blinded by your teenage son or daughter's manipulation. If your son or daughter is doing something unacceptable, count on the fact that they will try to mask it or hide it from you.
Summertime is a great time for social experimentation. Unfortunately, many people become lax in enforcing appropriate rules, regulations and the supervision of teenage social behavior. Beer at the beach, broken curfews and wild parties are some of the red flags which should cause you to take notice.
Change in friends, change in diet and change in attitude can also indicate that some social behaviors are changing. For example, if your son or daughter was always very communicative about his or her life and has all of a sudden become very secretive, something might be going on. Don't let it go. Trust your parental instincts.
Be conscious of your children's spending habits. Be conscious of where and how they have access to money. Dealing prescription medication has become a very lucrative business among high school students. If you have medicine in your home, where do you keep it? Who dispenses it? Do you monitor how it is used? Painkillers and Oxycontin are very popular in our local community among junior and seniors in high school and college age students.
It's very easy to develop an addiction to painkillers and Oxycontin because they are readily available and one can make a dozen excuses for why one needs this medication.
If your son or daughter is losing weight and he or she is not on a diet, be concerned. Weight loss is a byproduct of cocaine use. Cocaine is highly addictive and potentially lethal.
What is very frightening is the increased use of heroin among high school and college age students. Heroin is imported from Mexico and South America and it's cheaper than ever before. More and more young people are being drawn to heroin use after raiding their parents' medicine cabinets. Prescription drugs are not enough of a high so they graduate to heroin.
Heroin is entering our country in a much purer form, so users can snort and smoke it rather than injecting it. That unfortunately leads many teens to assume that it's safer than the deadly drug they've read about and seen in the movies. Right now, it's much cheaper than it once was.
Be concerned if your teenage son or daughter starts selling off possessions or if money is missing from your home. Those are some signs that your teenage son or daughter might be involved in some serious drug use. However, in our community, money is usually not an issue. Even the kids that have no money can get heroin on consignment - that is the dealer will give them enough to make them crave it. The craving will assure payment, even if the teenager has to steal to pay his or her bill.
JR is a young person who grew up in our community. He was an athlete and a reasonable student. After high school, he went on to college. He played soccer for his college team, but unfortunately, his partying got out of control and he was asked to leave the team.
After leaving the team, JR decided to leave college. He came home and bounced around jobs, trying to find himself. Unfortunately, in the effort of trying to find himself, his partying took him down some frightening roads. His drinking was not enough. He began using pills. He started with painkillers, then tranquilizers and then Oxycontin.
He tried college again, but could not stay focused. His drug use consumed him. He was the life of the party. His friends did not know how serious his drug addiction had become. He was working in a state job and using most of his money to support his pill habit.
Finally, his cycle was broken when he was arrested for breaking into a medical clinic and stealing narcotics. In lieu of jail, he was told he needed to enter intensive outpatient treatment. Just to stay out of jail, he was minimally compliant, but never committed himself to the process.
As soon as he completed his probation, he continued to live his life on the edge. He continued to be reckless with pills and cocaine. He swore to his friends that he would never do anything more than that. His life continued to be unmanageable and out of control.
On a Friday night in the middle of winter, after an entire day of partying, JR was driving home, lost control of his car and was in a near fatal accident. He claimed that was his wake up call. He ended up in the hospital for ten days. Almost every bone in his body was bruised or fractured, but he was an athlete, and again, he walked away.
His friends convinced him that he needed to go into a residential rehab. For months, JR fought the idea. After a lot of pressure and two more car accidents, he finally agreed to a twenty-eight day program.
In the spring of his twenty-sixth year, JR went into a residential treatment program for addictions. When he was discharged, he talked about being a new person. He told his friends that he would no longer do prescription drugs, crack, cocaine or smoke weed. However, he still thought he could drink socially with his friends.
For the first few weeks after rehab, he was a model person in recovery. He played by all the rules, went to meetings occasionally and really made an effort not to get drawn into prescription medication and other hard core drugs.
On a long weekend, he went away with a new girl that he met. She was a college student. They went to visit some of her friends out of state. On the Friday night they arrived, they went to a local pub. Everybody was drinking, including JR. Around midnight, he went into the men's room. Unbeknownst to his friends, a group of guys were snorting heroin in the bathroom. They offered JR some of this pure stuff and told him to snort it. They told him it would be like no high he'd ever had before. They assured him it wouldn't hurt him because he was not injecting it. He was drunk. He tried it, passed out and never woke up. Three days later, his friends packed a local church in his hometown and buried him.
Heroin is lethal. It's all around us. Parents need to be vigilant and not take a blind eye to this epidemic. Your son or daughter could be at risk.
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