Our kids are at risk. A young brain starts with the basic instinct to seek pleasure and avoid pain. That’s it. If the process of developing executive functions to think through consequences and plan long term is interfered with early on, it is far less likely it is for those executive functions to develop properly.
Let’s start with some basic data. Kids are dying of drug overdoses at an ever increasing rate. Good kids, from good families. 90% of adults who are addicted to drugs had a first use before age 21. A 14 year old who starts smoking marijuana or drinking at age 14 has a 13-14% chance of becoming addicted to a substance. That is compared to a 2% chance for someone who starts as an adult. The stakes become really high if you also suffer from a condition such as ADHD, anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder among others. Approximately 75% of young adults admitted for treatment also have a mental health condition. Depression and Anxiety may lead to drug use to “self medicate” and those who use drugs may have more anxiety and depression.
What can you do?
- Seek help for concerns about school problems, learning problems, anxiety or depression. (South Lake Pediatrics can help.)
- Notice changes in behavior and ask questions.
- Talk to your kids about this topic. Look at some data together (SAMHSA is a good source)
- Get rid of any extra medications in the home. 4/10 teens abusing prescription drugs get it from their own homes. (Check your county website for disposal)
- There is no safe use. Be very clear about this. For teens, there is no safe use.