3 Things Parents Need to Know About Drugs
Earlier this week, I was sent a video (on social media) of a distraught mother on the West Coast pleading with parents to speak with their children about substance use. This parent emotionally recounted her daughter’s experience with edibles and a drug known as Triple C’s (we’ll talk about what those are in a moment) both of which were given to her by a peer in school. The child, at only 12 years old, was experiencing severe psychotic episodes and brain damage that affected her short-term memory.
Watching the video, I realized that there is a serious misconception about what ‘drugs’ are and how we should address the topic with teens. As a result, I’ve compiled this short list of 3 things we need to start having regular discussions with our children about.
- All drugs are not sold secretly on shady street corners. The anti-drug campaigns of the 80’s and 90’s cast drug users and drug dealers as these shady people who lurk on dark street corners in an effort to scare kids away from trying them. The reality, though, is that your children are more likely to get drugs from home (yes, home!) or a peer than they are from a stranger. Keep your prescriptions in a locked medicine cabinet. If you have unused medications, contact your local pharmacy for instructions on how to SAFELY dispose of them (DO NOT FLUSH THEM DOWN THE TOILET!!!).
- All drugs don’t look like drugs. The young lady in the video I saw took edible gummies. These are gummy bears that are laced with high concentrations of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana). In most cases, the concentrations are so high that it only takes 1 gummy bear to bring on an altered state. This young lady had at least 6! “Edibles” come in many different forms including brownies, cookies, rice crispy treats, lollipops, and even gum. Children should be STRONGLY advised against accepting anything from peers that is not presented in the original packaging so that you can be sure that it is indeed what you believe it to be.
- All drugs aren’t ‘illegal’. In this story, the young lady also ingested 8 “Triple C’s”. The term is one of many slang terms used to refer to Coricidin HBP – a cough and cold medicine formulated for individuals with cardiac issues. This is an over the counter cough medicine available at any drug store! When used inappropriately, this drug can cause severe issues including seizures, brain damage, and even death. The prevailing myth among many teens is that because it’s “legal”, it can’t possibly be bad for them. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Of course, there is more than can be discussed like choosing appropriate peers, being aware of surroundings, choosing positive coping skills to deal with negative emotions, etc. But these three things are the things that I believe are the most overlooked for this generation of teens.
One resource that I strongly recommend is the drug identification guide from www.streetdrugs.org. Every year this organization publishes a full color guide that has actual pictures of major substances of abuse that are trending across the country. For less than $10, you get a clear visual of substances as well as a description of methods of use and side effects. I do not receive any compensation from this organization! I have used this guide to educate my own children (ages 12 and 14) as well as to help facilitate workshop sessions. I recommend it because I find it to be a valuable resource.
While our thoughts and prayers are with that young lady and her family, we are grateful that her mother had the courage to share their story with the rest of the world so that (hopefully) other families can be spared this horrific experience.