Lincoln County Unite for Youth

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Lincoln County Unite for Youth

Answers for Parents

Lincoln County Unite for Youth

Do you suspect your child has a drug abuse problem? Have you dealt with a teen drug abuse problem in the past? Maybe you would just like to be more informed and take preventative measures. Below is a list of frequently asked questions parents ask about teen drug abuse. If you do not find the answers you are looking for, we encourage you to visit the many resource links on this website and contact the proper organization for help.

What Are Some Factors That May Place My Child at Risk for Developing Drug Problems?

  • Insufficient parental supervision and monitoring.
  • Lack of communication and interaction between parents and kids.
  • Poorly defined and poorly communicated rules and expectations against drug use.
  • Inconsistent and excessively severe discipline
  • Family conflict.
  • Favorable parental attitudes toward adolescent alcohol and drug use, and parental alcoholism or drug use.

If A Parent Believes His or Her Child May Be Drinking or Using Drugs, What Are Some Things to Watch For?

  • Physical evidence of drugs and drug paraphernalia.
  • Behavior problems and poor grades in school.
  • Emotional distancing, isolation, depression, or fatigue.
  • Change in friendships or extreme influence by peers.
  • Hostility, irritability, or change in level of cooperation around the house.
  • Lying or increased evasiveness about after school or weekend whereabouts.
  • Decrease in interest in personal appearance.
  • Physical changes such as bloodshot eyes, runny nose, frequent sore throats, rapid weight loss.
  • Changes in mood, eating, or sleeping patterns.
  • Dizziness and memory problems.

What Are the Signs of Addiction?

The following questions can help you know whether you are addicted to drugs. Do you:

  • Take the drug more often or in larger amounts than intended?
  • Try unsuccessfully to quit or have a constant desire or craving for the drug?
  • Spend excessive time seeking the drug?
  • Give up other things for the drug?
  • Continue to use the drug, despite knowing you’re harming yourself and others?
  • Experience tolerance, or a need to take more and more of the drug to satisfy you?
  • Experience withdrawal symptoms (which may be different for different drugs)?
  • Take the drug to relieve or avoid withdrawal?

If you answer yes to several of the above, then chances are, you are addicted. We don't really know or understand who becomes addicted and why, or how much drug exposure it takes. Each person is different. But the longer someone takes drugs, the more likely it is that he/she will become addicted and suffer long-term, harmful brain changes.

How Do Drug Tests Work?

Drug tests can find out what drugs are in your body at the time of the test by looking at what’s in your blood or urine. After the drug is metabolized (broken down by your body), so is the evidence of its use. Drug tests can detect longer-term drug use by looking at hair samples, because these chemicals are incorporated into hair. The usefulness of hair testing is limited by the time the person last took the drug.

What Factors Affect a Child's Likelihood of Becoming Addicted to Drugs?

Although we know what happens to the brain when someone becomes addicted, we can’t predict how many times a person must use a drug before that happens. A person’s unique genetic makeup and his or her environment both play a role. What we do know is that a person who uses drugs (including alcohol) risks becoming addicted, craving the drug despite its terrible consequences. In the end, if addiction occurs, it is extremely painful and difficult to quit regardless of what drug you take—but it can be done.

Can My Child's Body Build a Tolerance to Drugs?

Many drugs lose their effectiveness if you keep taking them. A person is becoming tolerant to a drug when they have to take more of it or take the same dose more frequently, to get the same effect as they got at first. For example, if you take a decongestant for a cold over several days, the effective time becomes shorter and shorter. Similarly, if you take opiate medications to control pain, you may need to take more to achieve the same level of pain control. In such a case, developing tolerance does not mean that you are addicted to the drug.

What Is “Overdosing” and What Should I Do if I Think Someone Is Overdosing?

An overdose is when someone takes too much of a drug or medication, causing serious, harmful symptoms or even death. If someone takes too much of something on purpose to commit suicide, for example, it is called an intentional or deliberate overdose. If the overdose happens by mistake, it is called an accidental overdose. For example, a teenager might try to get high by taking a parent’s prescription opioid painkiller and end up in the emergency room—or worse. More overdose deaths are caused by people abusing prescription opioids than by any other drug, including heroin or cocaine.

*If you think you or someone else has overdosed on a drug, you should always call 911 immediately.

*If it is not an emergency but you would like information, you can call the National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. It is a free and confidential service. You should call if you have any questions about an overdose, poisoning, or poison prevention. You can call for any reason, 24/7.

How Do You Know When to Seek Help?

The earlier one seeks help for their teen's behavioral or drug problems, the better. Above all a parent must be a good and careful observer, particularly of the little details that make up a teen's life. Overall signs of dramatic change in appearance, friends, or physical health may be signs of trouble.


How Can I Help My Child Avoid Substance Abuse?

Parents and guardians need to be aware of the power they have to influence the development of their kids throughout the teenage years. Adolescence brings a new and dramatic stage to family life. The changes that are required are not just the teen's to make; parents need to change their relationship with their teenager. It is best if parents are proactive about the challenges of this life cycle stage, particularly those that pertain to the possibility of experimenting with and using alcohol and drugs.

Parents cannot be afraid to talk directly to their kids about drug use, even if they have had problems with drugs or alcohol themselves. Parents are encouraged to give clear, no-use messages about smoking, drugs, and alcohol. It is important for kids and teens to understand that the rules and expectations set by parents are based on parental love and concern for their well being. Parents should also be actively involved and demonstrate interest in their teen's friends and social activities. Spending quality time with teens and setting good examples are essential. Even if problems such as substance abuse already exist in the teen's life, parents and families can still have a positive influence on their teen's behavior.

Is Prescription Drug Abuse an Issue Among Youth?

Yes - Many teens begin taking prescription drugs because they feel it’s a safer choice than using illicit drugs. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health findings in 2009 and 2010, of the people over the age of 12 who admitted to using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes in recent months, 50 percent reported receiving prescription drugs from friends or family members free of charge.

Many teens cite easy access to prescription medication as one of the reasons they prefer them over illicit drugs today. But one of the biggest considerations among teens may be the fact that the social stigma associated with prescription drug abuse is much lower than with illicit drugs.

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