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Martha Lucia Guevara

Kids and drugs:
Something to
talk about.

The teenage years can be difficult for youngsters and their parents. Puberty is the time that the body changes, making boys into men and girls into women. It is also a time when teens are tempted by drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Parents and teachers must warn adolescents about the health dangers they face if they use drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

If a child or teenager is already trying drugs, you can help him or her before the problem gets worse. You need to be aware of the drugs that are available. You should also know how to identify drug use by recognizing tell-tale signs in a person’s behaviour. Then you can talk openly with them about it.

Marijuana is still the most commonly used illegal drug among students. In 1995, more than one-third of U.S. high school seniors said they were smoking marijuana. Many teens get high with things that are available in the home and most stores, such as glue. Studies show that the use of alcohol remains strong and that young people are smoking more.

Use of illegal drugs may cause a student to have problems in school, increase the possibility of injuries and lead to more harmful drug use. Early intervention means dealing with a teenager’s drug problem as soon as possible, before it gets worse. This can prevent some of the serious effects of drug abuse, including legal and medical problems.

Research by organizations like the Partnership for a Drug-Free America shows that kids use drugs less when they have adults who talk to them about drug use. This information should come from parents, school teachers, counsellors, community groups and public service announcements. ”Parents are the ones who have the dominant voice and they’ve got to talk to their kids about drug use,” says Gen. Barry McCaffrey, director of the National Drug Control Policy Office.

A counsellor in a high school said after years of working with teenagers: ”Nothing good comes out of experimenting with drugs. If we could just show kids what they will look and feel like after poisoning their bodies, if we could just show kids what will happen to their grades, their health, their prospects of making money, their self-image and self-confidence, they would never start. If there was ever a job for ”virtual reality,” this is it. If parents carefully watch the school performance of their children, they will be able to spot drug use very early.”

Is someone you know using drugs?
These are some signs to watch out for:


Red, bloodshot eyes;


Constant runny nose or sniffles;


Changes in friends, especially if new friends use drugs;


Objects used with drugs, such as pipes and rolling papers;


Odour on clothes and in the bedroom;


Use of incense and other deodorizers;


Clothing, posters, jewellery, etc., promoting drug use;


Changes in mood;


Loss of coordination, attention or balance;


Stealing or borrowing money from family members or friends.

What you can do.


Encourage the person to talk openly;


Don’t judge the person. Try to remain calm, factual and honest when speaking about his or her behaviour and its day-to-day effects;


Let the person know what you have learned about drug abuse;


Find help. Ask about treatments and support groups, health agencies and community mental health centres. Discuss your questions or problems with someone you trust, like a doctor, a counsellor, a social worker or a member of your religious community.

Source: New English Digest