Think your son or daughter couldn’t die from a drug overdose this holiday season? Are you stupid or just have your head buried in the sand? The National Institute on Drug Abuse statistics indicate that after marijuana, prescription and over-the-counter medications account for most commonly abused drugs among high school seniors.[i] Good kids – bright students fall victim to peer pressure and their inexperience. Nancy Mynard, owner of AMS Data, Inc., the court ordered drug testing organization, sees drug and substance abuse first-hand and knows how sneaky people can be when they want to cover their tracks. Leah Jackman-Wheitner, Ph.D. also offers comments for parents.
Augustine: What are common habits of parents when it comes to their kids and substance abuse?
Mynard: (1) Denial is a common habit. Failure to talk to their kids and to be honest is denial. Failure to talk about the dangers of mixing prescription medication and alcohol is denial. Failure to have a heart to heart about amphetamines, specifically ADHD medication and its side effects when mixed with alcohol is denial; (2) Apathy is a common habit. Saying, “Oh, they’re just kids…” is a common habit parents adopt, and in moderation this saying can be ok, but never when it comes to substance use and abuse; (3) Not imposing strict time rules is a common habit. Letting kids ride around in cars with their friends can lead to no good. Date rape and drugs are very real risks children face when they’re in peer groups. The dangers are not limited by time or location, and tragedy strikes on both sides of the tracks.
Augustine: Do parents with their own issues seem more likely to bury their heads in the sand?
Mynard: Many parents absolutely have their heads in the sand. The drugs on the streets today are not the same ones that were around when today’s parents were kids themselves. Today’s street drugs will kill our children. They are not pure and a kid using various drugs has no idea what could happen to them. These drugs are addictive, dangerous and we don’t know the source. Now, we do know the source of prescription drugs, but parents forget and mix them with alcohol too, and these parents need to be honest with themselves about the reality of the problems and risks to their kids, whether they like it or not.
Augustine: How can parents pull their heads out of the sand without passing out?
Mynard: Look at yourself in a mirror. Are you living or dying? Are your kids living or dying before your eyes? Ask yourself if you prefer your child to be safe or “cool.” Dare to be different and dare to be a good parent. Dare to tell your son or daughter that they don’t need to be “popular” when it involves drugs and alcohol.
I also asked Dr. Leah Jackman-Wheitner to respond to a compelling question: “What advice can you offer to scared parents who hate to dig around and find out if their kids are using harmful substances?”
Dr. Leah: (1) It’s so hard to be worried. But it’s better to know what you’re dealing with. If you don’t take the risk of figuring out what’s wrong, you can’t help things get better; (2) It’s easiest when you stay focused on the fact that what you most want in life is to help and support your child, regardless of what the issues are. The fears of what you may find or how bad things may be or what it’s going to take to help your child can be managed by focusing on the core objective, which is to help and support your child, no matter what.
Nick Augustine’s editorial comment: Drugs are not as easy to spot these days. There are new and different substances and paraphernalia parents would likely catch. Listen, I’m 37 and am pretty far from what high school kids are up to these days, much less the younger ones – ever watch daytime TV? It’s shocking! The recent story of a Chicago-area kid, a good kid with top grades, lost it on synthetic amphetamines “bath salts” (you can buy them legally) who died after driving his car at ridiculously high speeds – straight into a building – dead.
Nancy Mynard works with the courts and she and her agents can spot the tell tale signs that your son, daughter, or spouse is under the influence. Dr. Leah Jackman-Wheitner has been consulting and coaching professionals with their life goals and parenting is a key puzzle piece.
[i] Prescription Drug Abuse: Young People at Risk http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/prescription-drug-abuse-young-people-risk