Strained Relations

Strained Relations: Help for Struggling Parents of Troubled Teens

Teens, Drugs and Consequences

Posted by Marcia on February 8, 2011

Our guest blogger is Asher Levine, and his website is www.cleanbreakinterventions.com.

Asher Levine has experience in interventions, wilderness therapy and assessing teens for substance abuse issues. He supports families who are committed to seeking treatment for their teen. Asher created the “Clean Break” program to support high school and college students during Spring Break by hosting destination sober spring breaks.

In this article, we are referring to the teen as “he” as a matter of convenience: the teen in trouble could well be female.

Just as “love” and “money” are terms we understand, “consequences” is one of the universal languages that can be communicated with most if not all teens. We have all been faced with consequences both natural and logical at one time or another whether it’s being late for something because of procrastination or wearing two different color socks! When I go to schools and speak on substance abuse and addiction, the first thing I ask is: “Who has ever had a consequence”? Most of the hands go up but everyone acknowledges in some form of communication that they know what I’m talking about.

The point of discussing consequences with teens and parents is that experimental drug users and addicts need consequences or else why would they stop using? I ask the students if you came into school late everyday and no one said anything to you and you got a “A” for tardiness on your report card, would you keep coming to school late? The answer 99% of the time is “Yes”.

It’s the role of parents, siblings, friends, caregivers, etc. to create and force those consequences. If a teen has been caught using any drug and his parents ground him and a week or two later he is caught again and the only consequence is a short period of being grounded — the teen can live with that penalty. The teen’s perspective is “I will take my chances.” The scary thing is wondering what other decisions the teen is comfortable making, knowing that his parents are aware of the drug use.

Intervention strategies

As a parent myself, I recognize that it is my responsibility to provide an emotional, physical, spiritual, safe environment for my child at all cost. Just because my children know what I do for a living, it does not mean they are vaccinated from using drugs or becoming addicts.

When we’re in a car and come to a sudden stop, we instinctively reach our right arm over to stop our kids from going forward as if it will keep them from going through the windshield. We have innate instinct to physically and metaphorically reach across and protect our kids.

When putting out a fire we have to take away the oxygen and handling addiction is similar. If the lunch money or allowance you’re giving to your child becomes the fuel for their addiction then the parent needs to take away the money. This includes lunch money. You can provide food for them at home and let them make it. Using lunch money for drugs is the most popular option for teens to get drugs. They come home after school to eat and therefore have traded lunch for access to a bag of marijuana or a handful of pills. By Thursday or Friday of that week they can sell or flip drugs like flipping a house. Once this process happens they are in business.

How many lunches do they sell to get some drugs?

Most Loritabs or “tabs” as they are referred to, cost $3 and a 10 mg would cost $6-$10 = 2-3 lunches.
Marijuana “blunts” cigar with the tobacco removed and replaced by marijuana can be purchased for $3 = 1 lunch.
Xanax or “benzo” can be purchased for $3 and a 2 mg bar can be bought for $6 = 1-2 lunches.
Oxycontin “oxy” is usually a much higher price approx. $1 per mg and they typically come in 40 mg and 80 mg. = 10-20 lunches.

Signs of Use

If your teen is taking Loritab, Darvacet, Percoset, Heroin, or Oxycontin (Opiates), you will notice withdrawal symptoms very similar to the flu. A teen will complain of aches, leg and stomach cramps, sweating, nausea, goose bumps, pin pointed pupils, constipation leading to long periods of time in the bathroom, will be hunched over and usually talk as if he is sick. These symptoms can be mistaken for the flu or stomach bug, however if your child is displaying these symptoms frequently and is missing school or is frequently in the nurse’s office, you should follow up. A user’s diet will include lots of snacks, chocolates, energy drinks to replace the electrolytes from withdrawal, and will not eat full meals. You will notice weight loss and abnormal sleep patterns.

Marijuana users will usually hide out and stay away from family so their cover is not blown by smell/odor of the drug. Some kids will use lots of cologne and eye drops to mask their use. A teen might change clothes frequently or use layered clothes such as a hooded sweatshirt. They might also ask for $3 or $5 here and there.

Some teens will leave for school early and smoke before school in a designated spot close to the school. 4:20PM is the universal pot smoking time and April 20th (4/20) is the universal pot smoking day so be aware of these times so you can confront or give a urine screen.

Parents also need to be proactive in not participating in a “text” only relationship. You can tell so much from a phone conversation i.e. the tone in their voice, background noises to detail location and who they are with. You can hear truth or a lie, also inquire about concerns. Teens are more likely to say things in a text that they will not say verbally. Also listen to your kids’ vocabulary. If they’re using they will be preoccupied with drugs and the lifestyle.

I don’t believe all teens that use drugs are addicted, however I do believe it requires immediate intervention and each day your teen goes without treatment is a day his addiction will progress.

www.tellmeaboutyourself.info

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