Parental Drug Abuse
In previous decades, the relationship between drug use, teenagers and their parents was clear-cut: teenagers did the drugs and parents just said no. But as the “baby-boomers,” who were teenagers in the 80s and 90s, are beginning to have teenagers of their own, this relationship has become blurred, perhaps even changed completely. Many of these parents share an undeniable past with drugs. And, for some, that link to the past remains. Although many teenagers see their parents’ drug abuse as acceptable, others feel anger and sadness toward the behavior.
Parents or other family members who abuse drugs or alcohol constitute a significant risk to a child’s chances of achieving success in life. While prenatal exposure to alcohol and other drugs has received much attention, many more children are harmfully exposed through the behavior of their parents and through the environment in which they grow up.
Sixty to seventy percent of the nearly two million inmates in American prisons test positive for substance abuse on arrest. These inmates are the parents of 2.3 million children, all of whom are likely to follow their parent to jail. In a recent survey administered by the Oregon Department of Corrections, 55% of incarcerated women and 31% of incarcerated men report that their children have observed substance abuse in their homes.
As a result, many teenagers are exposed to drug use in their homes. In 1996, an estimated three million American children lived with at least one parent who was dependent on illicit drugs, about 11 million children lived with at least one parent who reported past-year illicit drug use and more than eight million lived with at least one parent who reported past-month illicit drug use, according to a National Household Survey on Drug Abuse report.
Parental drug abuse fuels the foster care system; it feeds the juvenile justice system. It affects welfare caseloads, school performance and child health. And parental drug abuse is self-perpetuating: Up to 70 percent of the children of drug abusers become drug abusers themselves.
Drug Abuse help
If you or someone you care about has made the choice to use drugs or alcohol and need help it is important that you contact a professional counselor or a drug and alcohol intervention program. For parents with children who do not have a problems with drugs or alcohol, you need to do the best you can to prevent unwise choices about drugs and alcohol. You cannot follow them everywhere, monitoring his every move. You have better alternatives for keeping them safe and teaching them to make choices in his best interest.
Research tells us that kids who have good communication with their parents have a better chance of avoiding drug abuse. Families with good communication talk honestly and openly about their feelings and about such problems as peer pressure, teen pregnancy and drugs. Teens who do not use or abuse drugs usually feel that their parents love them and trust them. They have had a say in family rules and have been allowed to make choices appropriate to their ages and abilities.
If you constantly nag or make unfounded accusations, your child may feel that you neither love nor trust them. They need to hear you say that you worry because you love them, not because you don’t trust them. Expect their best, not their worst. You also should obtain clear, factual information about drugs and alcohol, this will help in preventing drug abuse.
The following are symptoms of drug abuse. Any one of the following conditions indicates a serious alcohol or substance abuse problem.
- has failed at work, school, or home
- has legal problems
- has problems with personal and family relationships.
- gets high when driving or operating machinery.
- experiences withdrawal symptoms when they stop using (like cravings, depression, anxiety, stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea).
- uses more than intended (one “hit” becomes ten).
- switches from liquor to beer, or from one drug to another, in an effort to cut down.
- is always either talking about getting high, obtaining the drugs, getting high, or recovering from a binge.
- isn’t interested in doing things that don’t involve drugs or alcohol, even things they used to enjoy.
- keeps getting high or drunk even though they know it will make them sick or depressed afterwards.
- drinks or uses more than usual, or increases usage over months or years.