The use of drugs and alcohol among teens and sometimes even younger children is becoming increasing problem in this country, experts and advocates for recovery say.
Prevention programs for middle or junior high and high school students are available and early intervention is essential. These types of programs should increase academic and social competence and help a student develop skills such as improving study habits, communication, peer relationships, assertiveness, reinforcement of anti-drug attitudes and strengthening of personal commitments against drug abuse.
“I have heard something like 10% of kids in high school use drugs but realistically it is more like 75%,” said Franklin Marlin, a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Counselor (LADC). “We are even seeing heroin use in high schools now. Many of these kids are the children of the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation who were heavy into drugs also. Now these parents have kids using drugs and they don’t know what to do to help them stop.” Marlin also has a doctorate in ministry and pastored for more than 40 years. He is also a parent.
“Some of these kids say they can make $200 a week ‘being a mule’ (running or transporting drugs), so why should they work at McDonalds, or anyplace else for that matter, where the work is harder and the hours are longer?” Marlin explains that helping children build character and self-esteem would prevent the need to feel they have to turn to drugs and alcohol to feel accepted. Another proven alternative is to keep kids interested in activities such as sports and other events which promote character and self-esteem. “I was a parent of a kid that used; these parents need help. Alanon is great but these parents often need more.”
As an LADC, Marlin holds sessions, called “Passages,” for parents having difficulty with teens on drugs. “At $35 per couple, per session, Heaven knows I am not doing it for the money. These people need help; I needed help when I was in their shoes. I didn’t know what to do and my wife and I were divided on how to approach this problem. We didn’t want them [their children] to get hurt so we often found ourselves picking up the pieces for their mistakes and that is not always the best solution. The key is that parents need support of people who are or have been in the same position.”
Family bonding is the bedrock of the relationship between parents and children, experts like Marlin say. Open parent-child communication is essential to strengthen the bond and to promote honesty. Bonding can also be strengthened through skills training on parent supportiveness of children, and parental involvement in the child and their activities is a must. “This nation-wide] problem is just going to get worse if we don’t do something about it,” adds Marlin.
For more information about the parenting support group, “Passages,” please call (405) 651-6470. For other recovery support information, please see the hotline numbers listed on this page.