Today High, Tomorrow Low
With the holidays behind us and the hope of springtime ahead, it is difficult to see a down side to the change of the seasons. However with the good weather comes a return to country gravel roads, high school proms, graduation ceremonies and the parties that go with these events. With the emotional highs that come with these times also come the lows that correspond with the drug and alcohol use associated with these occasions.
Today drugs and alcohol seem to affect our youth in epidemic proportions. The Nebraska statistics show that in the last month, 16,000 teens from ages 12 to 17 have used marijuana. The Nebraska statistics further show that in the past month, 53,000 youth ages 18 to 25 have used marijuana. The alcohol statistics in the state indicate that in the past month 28,000 youth from age 12 to 17 have used alcohol as compared to 149,000 youth between the ages of 18 and 25. Statistics on the use of cigarettes state 17,000 of 12 to 17 year olds smoke as compared to 96,000 of individuals 18 to 25 years.
When we think of our motto, “Nebraska the Good Life”, we at times do not factor in that drug and alcohol use affect our youth as well as youth across the nation. What causes youth to use on the east and west coasts is what causes youth to use in our state. Youth name such reasons as relief from boredom, just to have fun, escape from emotional pain and to fit in with other youth as reasons to drink. Although all reasons signal substance use in teens, the idea of boredom takes on new meaning in this century. Today’s youth are connected to each other across the United States and even further via technology. They text and talk on cell phones, play video games with each other on-line, and chat on Face Book and My Space. At home they are busy playing video games solo or with others. They are not used to the state of ‘down time’ and to them, down time is synonymous with boredom. The state of constant excitement becomes a goal of today’s teen, no matter where in the United States they reside.
With the state statistics, it is easy to feel helpless against such odds. The good news is that parents and the youth’s environment remain the biggest influence in our children’s lives. Is it time to take some inventory of our own habits as well as the messages we are sending our youth? We may need to change the daily messages in the home. If youth see that alcohol or drugs are a daily part of life, then they may see frequent alcohol use as normal. If someone in the home is abusing prescription drugs to feel the effect, then youth will also see this as normal. We as adults also send messages to our youth about the benefits of alcohol or drugs. Such statements as, “I’ve had a rough day, I need a beer” send a clear message to the youth about needing alcohol to unwind. It may be time to start taking inventory of messages we are sending in our own home.
Besides exploring adult patterns and messages, it is still necessary to remind ourselves that 3.3 million children between ages 12 and 17 will begin drinking this year and early detection will allow for early intervention. As much as we love our children and want to believe that our own child will beat the odds, we need to be vigilant and learn the signs of drug and alcohol use and abuse.
In conclusion it is important to know that as a family member, you are not alone. There are many resources today to assist in educating oneself on abuse and addiction. In Hall and Hamilton Counties as well as many counties across Nebraska, there are prevention coalitions established to assist adults and youth to remain clean and sober. An excellent resource in Hall County in Grand Island is CNCAA, the Central Nebraska Council on Alcohol and Addiction. They can be reached at (308) 385-5520.Tags: CNCAA, drug and alcohol use, teen drug and alcohol usage
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Mental Health Practitioner
Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor
- Dorothy Molczyk, LMHP LADC, provides individual, family and group therapy at Wholeness Healing Center. She is experienced in serving children, adolescents and adults. Her areas of specialty include substance abuse/dependency, healing from traumatic events, recovering from loss, and behavior disorders in children and adolescents.
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