How to Help Teenagers Say “No” to Drugs & Alcohol
IN A CULTURE OF SELF-GRATIFICATION
Station KYW/TV in Philadelphia recently aired a program called “How Honest Are Kids Today?” I served as one of several panel members who were asked to comment on issues such as why kids lie and whether that’s a bigger problem than it used to be. When the discussion turned to drugs, the host took phone calls from the viewing audience. The first caller was a girl, and the dialogue went like this:
Girl: I’m a teenager, and I do drugs.
Host: How old are you?
Host: Why do you do drugs?
Girl: I like them. I like the way I feel when I take them.
Host: What drugs do you take?
Girl: Cocaine. Pot. Speed.
Host: Uh…do your parents know you take these drugs?
Girl: No. If they ever knew, they’d say, “You’re outs here!” I wouldn’t want that.
Host: Where do you get the drugs? How do you pay for them?
Girl: I don’t. My friends give them to me. Sometimes I get them from my boyfriend.
Host: Wouldn’t you like to stop doing drugs?
Host: Don’t you consider yourself an addict?
Girl: I’m not addicted. I haven’t done cocaine in two weeks. Right now I’m just smoking pot and drinking.
I reported this dialogue to a class of my undergraduate education students, only two years out of high school themselves. “I’m not shocked by that,” one of my students said. “I knew a lot of kids in high school who did drugs all the time, and their parents didn’t have a clue.”
Others explained that it’s easy to hide marijuana and alcohol use with perfume and breath fresheners, and that a lot of kids just go to their rooms and don’t see their parents very much anyway. I asked what percentage of their friends in high school did drugs on a regular basis — at least once a week. About half, they said. How many were into drinking on a weekly basis? More than 75 percent. When did the drinking start? Eighth grade. How about the drugs? Ninth grade.
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