First, I want to thank Alice for sharing her story with our readers, it was very well accepted and she is to be commended for her accomplishments.
I want to introduce the writer of our next article, Emily Sears Vaughn. Emily contributed to “And He Restoreth My Soul” and her article is on Sex Abuse of Children (chapter 2). I met Emily at The Southern California Counseling Center where I participated in the TLC-Program which was a six month program offered to prevention agency personnel. Emily touched my spirit during her class on child abuse and I never forgot her. So, when the book idea was coming into being I knew I wanted her to be a part of the project.
Today Emily writes to us on “Parents Are Asking” a drug related article to assist parents.
Emily Sears Vaughn
Emily Sears Vaughn has been a School Counselor for private middle and high school students since 1991. She is also in private practice as a licensed Marriage, Family and Child Counselor working with individuals, couples and families on issues of resolving past trauma, forming strong and healthy relationships, and achieving personal goals that will lead toward a happier and more satisfying life.
Parents Are Asking….by Emily Sears Vaughn, MFCT
On the front page of the LA Times, Lisa Girion, had an article (http://www.latimes.com/health/la-me-drugs-epidemic-20110918,0,3886090.story.)
drawing attention to the epidemic rise in prescription drug abuse. As these drugs (particularly, pain, attention disorders, and anxiety medications) have become more readily available, they often become an easy first step on the road to teen experimentation/addiction.
Let’s face it, most teens are not going to readily admit to their own drug or alcohol use when you ask, “Was there any liquor or drugs at the party?” Since you are asking that question AFTER they have returned from the party safe and sound, it usually means to them that they are handling their usage just fine and there is no need for parental alarm. Of course, this is part of the problem.
Per Jon Daily of Recovery Happens
Drug use prevents users from experiencing the consequences of the use…This means they are disconnected from the consequences of drug use as seen in school, sports, family relationships, their finances, the legal system, and so forth. When drug-abusing teens and young adults are disconnected from guilt, anxiety, shame, embarrassment, and so forth, then they don’t receive valuable information (internal feedback) about their judgment, choices, and behavior. They don’t learn from their bad choices, either.
So how will a parent know? Consider the following and ask yourself , “Are these typical teenage characteristics or signs of trouble? “
- Your child’s mood seems to change from day to day, sometimes even hour to hour.
- S/he doesn’t want you to meet her new friends.
- Your child has dark circles under their eyes.
- You cannot figure out where your child’s money goes.
- Your teen goes ballistic when you have come into their room unasked.
Actually, these can all be normal adolescent behavior. It’s really a question of how long these behaviors have been going on and how intense they have become. Sometimes living with someone you see everyday-it becomes hard to realize there has been a big change in attitude or mood. Each time something comes up, it gets blamed on a “bad day” or “too much pressure”.
It is important to step back occasionally and ask yourself how was my teenager a few months ago? You are the best one to know whether there are dramatic changes in their life. And let’s remember, dramatic changes are sometimes for the better!
However, if she doesn’t see old friends anymore, he is withdrawing more and more from family, she isn’t interested in things she used to love to do, or if you can’t account for where he is at times these may be signs of substance abuse problems.
Alcohol and drug abuse/addiction is a medical issue that needs medical treatment and strong psychological support. Since physical safety may be at risk if your child is using alcohol or drugs, school attendance may be jeopardized until s/he can maintain a sober lifestyle.
Referrals for treatment can be offered and arrangements for short absences for treatment may be available by contacting the School Directors and/or the School Counselor. The following site may be helpful for information and referrals.