By NATHAN MILLER
Center Director/Cumberland Mental Health-Lebanon, Mt. Juliet
Teens today face a complex and often complicated lifestyle.
Their choices are many times influenced by the persuasion of peers, by emotions that confuse what choices are available, and by what circumstances may result from the choices they make.
While there are a number of topics that consume decision making by teens perhaps there is none more important than the decision they will make when confronted with having to make the choice of being a user of alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs or tobacco products, all of which can lead to abuse and become addictive.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
more teens die from use of prescription drugs than heroin or cocaine combined;
more high school seniors regularly choose to use marijuana over cigarettes;
60% of seniors don't see regular use of marijuana as harmful;
60% of teens who get or take prescription drugs illegally get them from relatives or friends;
by the eighth grade 28% of all adolescents have consumed alcohol, 15% have smoked cigarettes, and 16.5% have used marijuana;
and about 50% of high school seniors don't think it is harmful to try crack or cocaine once or twice.
This information is concerning. While the statistics and data provided are based on a national study, the threat is still very real here in Wilson County.
As a parent, you should be attentive and be aware of certain signs that may be pointing to some form of substance abuse being practiced by your child. These indicators are not the final word that a youth may be using illegal substances but are certainly valid considerations.
You should watch for a change in behavioral patterns such as times of depression, emotional swings, being loud when it is not appropriate, being secretive or deceitful, having a new set of friends, locking doors, not returning home on time and staying away from home more frequently.
You should also be aware of the smell of smoke or alcohol on your teen's body or clothing, of missing prescription medications, of missing bottles of alcohol and the appearance of butane lighters, matches, rolling papers and other items that may indicate the use of tobacco or drug products.
If you believe your child may need help or you want to find out more about this topic please feel call or contact Volunteer Behavioral Health Care System at 1-877-567-6051 or at www.vbhcs.org.