Friday, November 26, 2004

Is your kid into drugs?: a checklist

Is your kid into drugs?: a checklist

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Friday, November 26, 2004 12:15 AM

Part 2 of 3 parts

Parents who are courageous enough to want to know if their youngsters are using drugs need to stay alert during those critical teen years. This is when most drug use begins. Especially in third and fourth year high school, the number of students who start fooling around with drugs is especially great.

It is important for parents not to underestimate the power of the peer group. No matter how solid is your family, if your wonderful children get involved with a peer group that is into drugs, they are surely at risk. Don’t think that only children of dysfunctional families get into drugs. In fact, kids coming from the nicest families fall victim too. So it is most important that you keep a close eye on the youngsters that your kids hang out with.

Also be aware that young people may have two groups of friends, at least when they begin using drugs. The first is made up of users. They don’t want you to see or meet this group. The second is their old friends that you know. When beginning to use drugs, the young people will transition from the clean, non using group to the user group. Later, when they get deeper into drugs, they will pretty much abandon the nonusers in favor of the addicts.

The earlier you catch any problem, the easier it will be to deal with. The same is true of drug abuse. Get on your knees and thank God if you are able to discover your child’s drug taking in its early stages. If you move quickly to put a stop to it, you will spare yourself lots of unnecessary pain.

Still, most parents will not spring into action right way. Instead, they will wait and hope for the best. Often, the best turns out to be the worst. Their son goes deeper into drugs.

If you want to know the signs to look for, here are some of them. No one sign should be taken as an indicator of drug use. Instead a combination of the following can be signs of drug abuse, or, if not, signs of an emerging problem that needs your full attention.

Signs in the home:

• loss of interest in the family activities

• disrespect for family rules

• withdrawal from responsibilities

• verbally or physically abusive

• sudden increase or decrease in appetite

• disappearance of valuables or money

• not coming home on time

• not telling you where they are going

• constant excuses for behavior

• spending too much time in the room

• lies a lot

• finding the following are strong signs: cigarette rolling paper, pipes, roach clips, small glass vials, plastic baggies and plastic sachets, remnants of drugs (seeds, etc.)

Many parents don’t want to enter the room of their loved one to search it. Normally I would agree, but when there is strong suspicion that drugs might be present, then a room search is perfectly in order.

Tomorrow: signs at school; physical and emotional signs.


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