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Author: Justin Mckibben
Part of being a parent is wondering what trouble your kids might get into. This is especially true as children become more independent as teens and young adults. Parents worry about how their kids are doing in school, if they are surrounding themselves with good influences and of course, if they’re doing drugs. It seems like there has never been a more appropriate time to be concerned about teenage substance abuse. Parents today are witness to the devastation and despair caused by the opioid epidemic. While teen drug use has always been an issue, it is more frightening than previous years with overdose deaths at such an alarming rate. What are the signs? How serious is teen drug abuse? Is your adolescent addicted to drugs?
Is My Teenager Addicted to Drugs: Teen Drug Abuse Stats
It is not that shocking that teen drug abuse is such a concern for parents. Substance use disorder currently affects more than 20 million people in the United States.
In 2015, more than 33,000 people in the United States died from accidental overdose. According to the 2015 Monitoring the Future College Students and Adults survey, young adults from 18-25 are the biggest abusers of:
The survey also shows young adults use prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons more than any other age group. One report showed that nearly 44% of high school students admit to knowing a classmate who sells drugs. When ask what kind of drugs, students stated:
- 91%- Marijuana
- 24%- Prescription drugs
- 9%- Cocaine
- 7%- Ecstasy
Experts from National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) state that while illicit substance abuse has shown some decline, prescription drug abuse has done more than enough to fill the void.
Is My Teenager Addicted to Drugs: Those at Risk
If there is one thing we have learned without question from the opioid epidemic, it is that the old archaic mentality that substance use disorders were only experienced by people living troubled lives is anything but true.
Anyone and everyone are at risk. No race, nationality, social or economic background can exempt someone from the potential for addiction, even teenagers. It doesn’t matter if you grow up in a small town, a suburb or a bad part of town. It doesn’t matter if you are homeless or if you inherit a fortune, you still are eligible for addiction.
In a way, that reality makes the prospect of your teenager getting mixed up in drugs more frightening, because the old mentality of “don’t hang out with the wrong crowd” doesn’t really apply anymore. Any crowd and every crowd can get mixed up in this.
Truthfully, teens are exposed to substances in so many ways, but there are also a lot of ways to spot use and try to address it as early as possible.
Is My Teenager Addicted to Drugs: Warning Signs
Knowing the warning signs of addiction can save lives, and ensuring it is addressed through every possible channel is key—even at a yearly doctor’s appointment. Many doctors are being trained to identify the signs of early drug abuse and ask questions about substance use disorders. When you are still wondering- is my teenager addicted to drugs- then you can try to look at signs such as:
- Mood swings
- Changes in grades
- Lack of interest in activities
- Trouble at school or work
- Changes in friends
- Suffering withdrawal symptoms, including shaking, seizures, personality changes
- Hiding drug use
- Using substances in private
According to mental health experts, some of these symptoms can also be signs of a mental health disorder. The best course of action when a parent begins to detect some of these signs would be to have a conversation with their teenager. Having a dialog can create opportunities for education, prevention and intervention.
Is My Teenager Addicted to Drugs: Helping VS Hurting
If your teenager is struggling with a substance use disorder there are a number of things you can do to help. There are also some things that parents institutionally do that can ultimately be harmful. Family members are always used to playing different roles, and often times parents want to be as supportive as possible. The important distinction family members all need to learn is the difference between helping and hurting.
As parents people typically lean toward one side or the other. They either want to be protective and enabling, or they chose to use ‘tough love’ to try and force their family members to get clean.
To learn more about how to handle the difficult emotions and situations parents and family members face with an addicted loved one, download our FREE e-book
“What is the Difference Between Helping and Hurting”
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It is important to be compassionate and supportive. It is also important to set boundaries with your addicted teenager. Understanding the self-destructive behaviors of individuals who struggle with addiction will help you to avoid enabling those risk patterns. This knowledge also helps parents and families members to be more constructive and caring when it really matters.
Addiction doesn’t just affect the person who is drinking or drugging, it affects all those that are close to that person. Emotionally, physically, financially, the toll can be significant. The Family Program at Palm Partners is designed to help parents, significant others and family members of addicts. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now!
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Probably one of the most disturbing articles I have written about my home state of Ohio is one I can’t ignore. Since the photo of the two parents overdose in a car with a child in the back seat first broke it has been covered by pretty much every national news entity. The images have flooded Facebook feeds and internet forums all day. The story has been emailed to me, messaged to me, even texted to me over and over again since the news was first published. Honestly, this image says a lot about what is really going on.
I’ve heard some people insisting the media is on some mission to shock us with these photos and the headlines it’s attached to, but this is the reality! People need to wake up! This is happening in every town, not just the City of East Liverpool, Ohio. This very same situation is reoccurring in rural counties and downtown areas across the nation. Something needs to change, and like I keep saying- we need to change it.
The difference here is that police officers decided to make a statement with the severity of this graphic picture; to tell the story that is happening to families everywhere with one heartbreaking and gut-wrenching hit to the soft spot of our society.
This is what we are doing to our children.
Not a Pretty Picture
The City of East Liverpool, Ohio took to Facebook to share two graphic photos taken by a police officer at the scene of a stop. The post on social media does note that making the photos public was a combined decision by the city administration, law director, and the police department.
In the image we can clearly see a couple that authorities described as overdosing on drugs in the front seat of a car. The mother’s body is hunched and folded over the center console in the front seat of the vehicle. Her face seems shrunken in and dead. The husband is buckled into the front seat, and has nodded out.
The photo is almost abstract. Like two images that obviously don’t belong have been pasted together. The parents in the front seat look as if any sign of color has been drained out of them- it is all so depressing it feels faded and lifeless… then right behind them, in a blue and green t-shirt with cartoon dinosaurs, sitting in what appears to be a car seat, is a 4 year old child. It is an unreal reality… a tragic and despairing truth.
The post that accompanied the pictures powerfully states:
“We feel it necessary to show the other side of this horrible drug. We feel we need to be a voice for the children caught up in this horrible mess. This child can’t speak for himself but we are hopeful his story can convince another user to think twice about injecting this poison while having a child in their custody.”
So far this post is being both praised and criticized. At one point it had been shared on Facebook more than 12,000 times, and that was a few hours ago. By now that number has undoubtedly skyrocketed.
The Police Report
The police report detailing this story is also posted on Facebook. In the report East Liverpool police officer Kevin Thompson reviewed that on September 7 he was responding to a report of a Ford Explorer with a West Virginia license plate “driving very erratic weaving back and forth” before an abrupt stop in the middle of the road behind a school bus in the process of letting children off. Inside the vehicle the officer found two adults:
The driver, identified as James Acord, was speaking unintelligibly. Acord’s head was bobbing up and down, and eventually became unconscious during the stop. But before passing out Acord told the officer he was taking his front seat passenger to the hospital. The officer had to remove the keys from the vehicle as Acord made a last attempt to drive away.
The passenger, identified as Rhonda Pasek, was completely unconscious and “turning blue” according to Thompson.
Inside the car, police found a “yellow folded up piece of paper” between Pasek’s legs. Inside the paper officers discovered a “small amount of a pink powdery substance.”
Then there is the piece of this picture that has the country in an uproar- the little boy in the backseat. The child is now identified as Pasek’s son.
Thompson called for an ambulance and the emergency personnel. Once emergency services arrived they were able to administer the opiate overdose antidote, Narcan to both adults. After regaining consciousness Acord and Pasek were transported to East Liverpool Hospital.
Acord was eventually charged with
He plead no contest and was sentenced to 180 days in jail for two of those charges, but the stopping in a roadway charge was dropped. He will also have a 3 year suspension on his license and a $475 fine.
Pasek was charged with:
- Endangering children
- Public intoxication
- Not wearing a seatbelt
She plead not guilty and is held on $150,000 bond until her next court date, which is next Thursday.
At this time the 4 year old child is with Columbiana County Children’s Services.
This picture is not pretty to look at. It brings an ache to my chest and a sting to my eyes. I could cry for this child, and for his family. For the millions of people out there today with family who are doing the same thing to themselves and their children. The driver could have killed them all in a freak accident. Now… imagine the horror if he would have nodded out at the wheel and struck that school bus as it let kids off! How many more children could have been hurt?
What We Need to See
Some are outraged at the lack of privacy for the family. Many have insisted it is wrong to punish the two adults AND the child with a life haunted by this photo. I get it, and I’m an advocate for compassion instead of stigma and exploitation. It is truly troubling to know how harshly people will be judged by the images of them found online. Yet, I think things like this are what we need to see sometimes. It is a fine line to walk, but in the end there is a reality to the image that only something so intimate could convey- this is what we need to see.
What we need to see is how this epidemic is destroying the thing that most of us hold sacred- our families. While many people are upset about the images, I understand the local officials motives. The Facebook post confronts this controversy head-on:
“We are well aware that some may be offended by these images and for that we are truly sorry, but it is time that the non drug using public sees what we are now dealing with on a daily basis. The poison known as heroin has taken a strong grip on many communities not just ours, the difference is we are willing to fight this problem until it’s gone and if that means we offend a few people along the way we are prepared to deal with that,”
We the addicts need to see this the dark and brutal truth. The sad and comatose body of an addicted mother dying only a few inches away from her child who is barely old enough to walk and talk on his own! We all need to see the truth of this disease. It is killing us, and it is putting everyone around us at risk- especially the ones we love most. We need to see the children and the communities we are hurting. This is the face of addiction as we often refuse to acknowledge it.
Addiction is killing our families every day. But there is help. Real recovery begins with a real foundation for a better future. We would like to offer you the FREE GIFT of a checklist to help decipher if you are helping or hurting a loved one who is struggling with addiction.
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If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now. You are not alone.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Mom can’t stop drinking, or Dad can’t stop using. With people who suffer from substance abuse or addiction one of the hardest parts is the pain caused to the family and friends of those they love most. Addiction is a disease that touches not just the addict, but their parents, siblings, friends, and especially their children. However as difficult as it may be, having the conversation with the child of an addict about the parent’s addiction, behavior, and if at all possible their absence for treatment is so important.
Even if the child of an addict has known that the problem existed for a long time, it is still never an easy conversation to have with a child. More than 28 million Americans are the children of alcoholics, but addiction is not being discussed at the home level. Most of the children of addicts grow up facing a lifetime of issues that other kids don’t have to face every day. They’re more prone to have emotional, behavioral and academic problems than other kids, and are four times more likely to develop an addiction themselves. They are also at greater risk of abuse and neglect, witnessing domestic violence, and marrying an addict later in life.
Be Honest about Problem
Depending on the age of the child you may have to use different terminology, you should always be honest about their parent’s problem. Explain to the child that addiction is a disease, and that their mother or father is sick and must get help in order to get better. Be sure to have some knowledge of the disease of addiction, and anything specific to this parent’s addiction that may be useful in case the child has any questions.
Keep It Age-Appropriate
Use language and describe the situation depending on the age and maturity of the child. Be honest and simplify as much as possible to try and help the child understand.
Ask about the Childs Feelings
Instead of trying to belittle the impact on the child, try and figure out how exactly they feel regarding the situation, and identify with them how legitimate their pain and worry is.
Get Rid of Guilt
One of the most important things for child of addict to understand is that their parents addiction is not their fault! Children have a tendency, especially at a young age, to consider themselves responsible for their parent’s problems. It is essential that you let them know that addiction effects the mind and body differently, so even if their parents have put blame on them while intoxicated, it is not at all their fault. Children may also feel alienated or idolize other families as ‘better families’. Make sure they know they are not alone, and there are millions of families with the same struggles.
The 7 C’s
The National Association for Children of Alcoholics has developed a list of the key factors of communication when discussing these problems with the child of an addict. These are referred to as “Seven Cs of Addiction”:
- I didn’t Cause it.
- I can’t Cure it.
- I can’t Control it.
- I can Care for myself
- By Communicating my feelings,
- Making healthy Choices, and
- By Celebrating myself.
These are some of the standard stepping stones for helping a child to not only see where they are not at fault for their parent’s addiction, but also to start working toward positive coping and further constructive communication. Kids are not always able to understand how these things can lead to emotional and behavioral issues in the future, so once the steps are being made to do something about the addiction in the house-hold make sure to keep honest and open support available to them. Not all children need to go down the same path, and they can be placed in a situation that will allow them to avoid that path and let them understand how loved they really are.
Many parents do not seek treatment because they worry for their children, unaware that the addiction harms the child more than any period of absence ever could, and the best thing they could do for that child is seek help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135