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Protecting your Child from Drug Use and Abuse
Kids often receive mixed messages about drugs and alcohol from the media, their peers, and even their parents. It’s critical to speak to your children in an informed way about alcohol and substance abuse from an early age. Parents have the power to better equip their children with the tools needed to handle the pressures and influences to use drugs. Alcohol and other drugs are powerful substances with the potential to cause harm to the mind and body. Learn more about how you can protect your child from drug use and abuse, and the importance of teaching your child to just say “no” to drugs and alcohol.
Types of Drugs
Heroin is a highly addictive illicit drug derived from morphine. It is used as a depressant and directly affects the brain’s pleasure systems, interfering with the brain’s ability to properly perceive pain. After an injection of heroin, users often experience a surge of euphoria, followed by heavy extremities, dry mouth, and a warm flushing of the skin. Heroin can cause mental functioning to become cloudy, and impair speech and vision. Chronic users of heroin may develop absences, collapsed veins, liver disease, and infection of the heart valves and lining. Street heroin may also have additives that can clog blood vessels, resulting in cell death in vital organs.
Cocaine is one of the most powerful stimulates, an addictive pain blocker, and can be extremely dangerous when snorted, injected or smoked. Crack is the street name for a type of cocaine with hydrochloride removed, making it possible to smoke. Research has shown that recreational cocaine users have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke, and users are at a high risk for addiction. Cocaine causes physical changes in the brain, as the drug causes a widespread loss of grey matter directly linked to drug use.
Alcohol is a legal, sedative drug known for its mood-changing properties. While many people start to use alcohol as a way to relax and de-stress, too much of the substance can quickly lead to alcohol abuse. Alcohol acts as a depressant, slowing down your reflexes, impairing your judgment, and impacting your balance and coordination. It has a direct effect on almost all the body’s cells and symptoms, slowing down the central nervous system and inhibiting many vital brain functions.
Marijuana is a product of the hemp plant, cannabis sativa, and can have mind-altering effects on its users. All forms of marijuana contain THC, the main active chemical, as well as more than 400 other chemicals. Short-term, marijuana can cause an increase in appetite, loss of coordination, bloodshot eyes, dryness of the mouth and throat, and paranoia and anxiety. Long-term, users of the drug may experience an increased risk of respiratory diseases, decreased learning and memory abilities, and decreased motivation in areas such as work, study or concentration.
Methamphetamine, also known as meth, ice, crystal, or chalk, is an extremely addictive stimulate drug. Whether smoked, snorted, taken orally, or dissolved in water or alcohol and injected, meth can cause significant damage to the body and brain. Meth causes an increase in the amount of dopamine in the brain, which is used to produce the euphoric “rush” that many users experience. People that use meth long-term often experience insomnia, anxiety, confusion, and mood disturbances.
Aside from those already mentioned, other serious and dangerous drugs exist. LSD, or lysergic acid diethylamide, is a psychedelic drug that can have long-term physiological effects. The drug can produce visual hallucinations or delusions, making the users see and hear things that are not realistic, such as “hearing” colors and “seeing” sounds. Other commonly abused drugs include ecstasy, opium, psilocybin mushrooms, and PCP.
How Drugs Harm the Body and Affect Development
Drugs essentially are poisons, effecting both the body and mind negatively. As the brain and body continues to develop well into your 20’s, doing drugs during this time can have a significant and sometimes permanent impact on vital body systems. Using drugs at an early age also greatly increases the risk of developing a substance use disorder, which can further increase negative impacts on the mind and body. Adolescents are more vulnerable than any other age group to developing drug and alcohol addictions, as the regions in the brain that control impulse are not fully formed yet.
Saying No to Drugs
Drug use has become a more common problem today than in previous years, making it more important than ever to teach your kids to say “no” to drugs and alcohol. As children approach age 13, cigarettes, alcohol and drugs become more readily available. Maintaining a direct line of communication between yourself and your children can help children discuss their problems freely, allowing you as a parent to prevent bad habits before they even begin. Give your child the tools needed to resist peer pressure and be confident to make smart decisions.
Miscellaneous Drug Information
There is nothing more important to you as a parent than your child’s well-being. While it’s not always easy to talk to your children about drugs, it’s essential to ensure that your child is prepared to deal with these substances they will most likely face as pre-teens, teens and adults. Knowing the extreme effects that drugs and alcohol can have on the body and mind may be enough for some children to avoid these substances altogether. For others, having a parent that is involved in their life and maintains a healthy line of communication is key for preventing drug and alcohol abuse.