Sunday, December 2, 2012

Former Teen Addict Now Helps Those In Trouble

(Editor's Note: Thanks to reader Steve Stahovich  for contributing this story).
Like many other communities in south Orange County, Laguna Niguel has a problem; Kids are hooked on heroin and prescription drugs.
These aren’t bad kids. They are good kids who make bad decisions. Despite the anti-drug education in schools, kids are still experimenting with high-powered prescription drugs. Prolonged abuse of opiates can lead to heroin. The detox process from these drugs is excruciating.  
Each year we lose teens and young adults to these drugs. Government studies show that 4,000 kids try drugs for the first time every day. Around 2,500 of those kids experiment with prescription drugs. Our community has lost several lives to prescription abuse.  We shouldn’t have to lose another teen with a bright future. 
More than 20 years ago, I was a teen addict. I struggled with peer pressure. I found sobriety and dedicated my life to treating users. As I evaluated and treated teens, parents would ask me what they could have done to prevent this. Mom and dad are distraught that their child has been using, because they never could have imagined it.   
How do we combat it? Parents need to have continual discussions with their kids about drugs. It’s imperative that they reinforce the message that alcohol and drugs are bad. I also believe that home drug testing is the answer. I helped create the Teensavers Home Drug Test Kit to provide parents with a helper in the home. We have every kind of wrench, screwdriver, and thingamajig in our toolboxes and garages to fix the problems with our homes and cars. But we don’t keep a tool on hand that can help bring a solution to our family problems.
For me, a home drug test kit is as critical tool in your medicine cabinet as a thermometer. After all, many teens these days are fueling their drug habit at the family medicine cabinet. Some parents are unknowingly their child’s drug dealer. 
Drug addiction can decimate a family. It can tear apart relationships, violate trusts, and lead to financial strain or ruin. I nearly destroyed my family with my problem, because I was one of those teenagers who thought I knew everything when I was 16 years old. Now a father of two, I am determined to keep my family drug-free. 
I know there are parents who are skeptical.  Home drug testing doesn’t have to strain relationships between parent and child, and can actually help build trust.  It should not be accusatory. It can be introduced to teens by saying, “there is a growing problem in our schools and community, and I want to protect you from it.”
Parents may never decide to utilize such a kit, but they should be educated on what the popular drugs of choice are for kids. They also should know some of the street terms for these drugs. It’s quite possible that your teen is using a nickname for a narcotic right in front of you.  
I encourage parents to check out our parental guide online here or email me if you have any questions.  

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