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(5) Drugs & Child`s

 What is considered a drug? Alcohol? Caffeine? Marijuana? Herbal supplements/vitamins?

The term “drug” can generally be applied to a substance that falls into any of the following categories: medications prescribed by physicians to treat medical conditions, over-the-counter vitamin supplements and herbal plants requiring no doctor prescriptions, toxins that can have adverse or life threatening effects, and substances with potential for abuse. For our purpose, we are interested in substances with a potential for abuse because of their positive reinforcing effects with repeated use: we experienced something we like, which makes us use these drugs again and again. Some would not consider caffeine as a drug, but it is the most commonly used stimulant and is ingested by many people to produce alertness. A lot of people drink a cup of coffee or tea as part of their morning routine.

With repeated use, you may experience headache, fatigue, drowsiness, or dysphoria if you skip your morning coffee, which are symptoms of withdrawal. Caffeine withdrawal is actually a diagnosable medical condition. Some individuals report that they have difficulty cutting down their use and inability to function without having that cup or series of cups during the course of the day. Caffeine dependence, however, is not yet considered a diagnosable condition.


Caffeine - is the most commonly used stimulant and is ingested by many people to produce alertness.

I do not see any problems at all. Is there any chance that maybe my son is telling the truth when he says he’s not using drugs?

It may be hard to ask kids if they are using. For the most part, even when you’re frequently asking, they willcontinue to deny usage. To start, you might not notice anything out of the ordinary, but your neighbors or your son’s school might have. As parents, you always want to give your son the benefit of the doubt. He might even accuse you of not trusting him. One helpful way to look at this is to support your concerns with evidence. Do not be lulled into complacency by a single drug test. Rather, random drug tests with negative results in addition to good performance in school, knowing who his friends are, good demeanor, and his continued involvement with his usual activities are more comforting than simply being verbally reassured by your son. It is not at all surprising that parents do not even know how to ask about their children’s drug use. They might have an idea and nothing more their son or daughter is using or had used. It is important that you know for sure and learn what information to get.

Is there any simple way to ask my daughter if she has a drug problem?

For parents, an easy way to ask a child about drug usage is by using an easy to remember acronym, the CRAFFT screening method, composed of the following:

1. Car-Have you ever ridden in a car driven by someone (including yourself) who was “high” or had been using alcohol or drugs?

2. Relax-Do you use alcohol or drugs to relax, feel better about yourself, or fit in?

3. Alone-Do you ever use alcohol or drugs while alone?

4. Forget-Do you ever forget things you did while using alcohol or drugs?

5. Friends or Family-Do your family members or friends ever tell you that you should cut down on your drinking or drug use?

6. Trouble-Have you ever gotten into trouble while you were using alcohol or drugs?

If your son or daughter answers yes to two or more of these questions, he or she probably as a substance abuse problem. Another way to assess your daughter’s drug dependence is to fall back on the trust you have developed with her peers. This is especially true for friends who have stopped hanging out with your daughter because of her alleged use-they can give some clues about changes in your daughter’s behavior.

Another screening questionnaire is the CAGE (cut down, annoyed, guilty, eye opener) questionnaire:

1. Cut down-Have you ever felt you needed to cut down on your drinking?

2. Annoyed-Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?

3. Guilty-Have you ever felt guilty about drinking?

4. Eye-opener-Have you ever felt you needed a drink first thing in the morning (eye-opener) to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?

Does drug use result from a defect in character?

We tend to separate inheritable (genetic) effects on one hand from environmental influences on the other. A more helpful and practical way is to determine howlarge quantities of alcohol and still be able to walk, and others become tipsy with just a drink or two. In the case of alcohol use disorders, genetic factors are thought to account for 60% of risk factors. A person’s level of response, which is unique only to alcohol, is genetically determined by multiple genes. It measures how sensitive one is to alcohol, and one would tend to drink less if he or she is a high responder. Studies found that a low level of response in adolescents correlates with the current level of drinking and is predictive of alcohol use disorders later in life. Level of response interacts with factors such as peer influence, one’s expectation of the effects of drinking, and stress. Especially with adolescents, peer influence is the most important factor outside of the home in determining continued use or maintenance of sobriety following treatment. Another study found that adolescents with low levels of response are more likely to have peers who drink more; these adolescents have poorer outcomes. much of these influences play a role. Some kids can drink


Level of response - A measure of one’s sensitivity to alcohol. Someone with a low level of response would tend to consume more. It is unique to alcohol.

Is it okay if I want to keep my child’s drug use a secret?

It is common for involved parents to want to keep their child’s drug use a secret, perhaps even from their spouses, but it is not a good idea. During evaluations, parents are filled with shame, and more likely, with helplessness. Secrecy puts the parents further away from their support system when they most need it and makes it more difficult to help the youngster attain sobriety. Some parents still hope that the situation is not as bad as they think it is; they may ignore their kids and simply not do anything, or they may consider it a “phase” that will end.

However, taking control and acknowledging some gaps in skills in dealing with drug use is taking the first step in healing. Parents possibly lack the necessary support to start with. I have met with single parents, often mothers or even grandparents as primary caregivers, who feel isolated or even want to solve the problems on their own. Encouraging them to develop a support system is key in achieving and supporting their child’s sobriety. A number of these supports can include the church, a close family member, a friend, and even a care provider. Parents have expressed concern about not wanting their child’s school to know that he or she is using for fear of being expelled from school. Enforcement of drug testing by schools is guided by policies with which parents should be familiar. With positive results, suspensions are coupled with mandatory awareness classes and probation, the length of which may be increased with subsequent reoffenses. Students are usually asked to receive counseling and complete treatment as a prerequisite to returning to school. Expulsion is reserved for after repeated recidivism.

One of the discussions I have with parents is to establish that only relevant information can be shared with specific school personnel, and even then only with their consent. Federal and state laws are stringent about confidentiality issues regarding mental health treatment and substance abuse treatment. However, the school can also be used as an ally. Some schools have even placed substance abuse counselors on staff to specifically address this need.



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