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PROTECTING KIDS FROM DRUG ABUSE - What is a parent to do?

Julieta Santagostino | 05.02.2009 03:24 | Health | World

Lack of knowledge about drugs is dangerous, risky and can be deadly. You owe it to yourself and your children to be informed about drugs and provide them facts they can be confident in and can share with their friends.

The widespread availability of drugs (including prescription drugs) has today added a whole new realm of death and danger to growing up, a challenge unlike any faced by previous generations. Many parents worry about it and some hope their child will somehow escape getting involved with drugs. Still others rationalize that drug experimentation is some sort of natural initiation into adulthood, an idea negated by history, as drugs have never been so prevalent.

If you’ve wondered just how much your child is exposed to drugs, the 2007 Monitoring the Future survey tells us that 53% of junior and high school students say it would be easy to get marijuana if they wanted some. In addition, the latest statistics from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report that 22 million Americans have a current substance abuse problem.

While this is a bleak picture, there is good news too, which could help unravel the mess. A recent survey of New Jersey college students found that when considering drug use, 83% say the opinion of their parents is important to them. But if that’s the case, how do we get to the point where nearly half of American youth have abused drugs before they graduate from high school? It’s doubtful that parents tacitly or otherwise consent to their children doing drugs, and there is a strong possibility that the real problem lies in a mutual problem: parents are as misinformed about drugs as their kids and don’t know what to say.

To prove the point, here’s a simple quiz: What drug specifically impairs memory, lessens a person’s ability to solve problems and can increase the risk of heart attack fivefold within the first hour after use? You might be surprised to know it is marijuana. But don’t be embarrassed if you missed on the answer. You’re not alone. When the quiz was conducted randomly with adults over 25 years of age, 90% got it wrong.

And if the above isn’t enough to convince you that adults are lacking facts about drugs, consider the mortality study conducted by University of California San Diego Sociologist David Phillips, which found that deaths from the misuse of prescription and over-the-counter medications have risen by nearly 3,200 percent over the past two decades. The largest age group affected was persons 40-49 years of age, followed by persons 50-59 years of age.

Children learn many important and highly practical things from their parents. Things like how to safely cross a busy street, tell time, fry an egg, ride a bike, take care of a skinned knee and drive a car. Drug education could be the same.

So what’s wrong with smoking a joint or popping a pill? If you don’t know, when a friend or hip new acquaintance offers a hit, you’re unlikely to have any kind of intelligent response no matter what your age is.

The Foundation for a Drug-Free World, distributes numerous fact-based booklets and public service films about commonly abused drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, crack cocaine, alcohol, prescription drug abuse, heroin, LSD, ecstasy, inhalants and methamphetamine. Free copies are available online from the Foundation at

Lack of knowledge about drugs is dangerous, risky and can be deadly. You owe it to yourself and your children to be informed about drugs and provide them facts they can be confident in and can share with their friends. Too many have paid a heavy price for the lack of it and the knowledge is there for the asking.

Julieta Santagostino is the Director of the Florida Chapter of the Foundation for a Drug-Free World

Julieta Santagostino
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Display the following 4 comments

  1. Remove this scientology associated bollocks! — Aunty Christ
  2. Hide this rubbish — Norville B
  3. Thought this was Scientology... — Jon
  4. Hear attack? — DW