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Bridging disconnects between parents and cyber-powered teens: Drug Take Back Day

"In addiction to cleaning out medicine cabinets of unused or expired medications,we need to help our youth understand that life is about striking a balance.” - Ed Bonner, Placer County Sheriff

Tomorrow is National Drug Take Back Day, a federally sanctioned spring and fall event in communities across the country, that makes it possible for citizens to clean out medicine cabinets and dispose of unused or expired prescription medications. It is a secure, simple and anonymous process. The hours of operation are standard: 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

This national program to clean out medicine cabinets was born out of the past decade of prescription pill drug abuse trending among youth whose cyber-powered communities made it easy to believe it was normal and safe, and easy to traffic. They were harvesting the pain killers and other psychotropic drugs from the home and distributing with ease via texting communications.

Placer County Sheriff Ed Bonner wants parents to know that they model the very behavior that encourages drug-free living for youth and monitoring and properly disposing of prescription medication is one very important way to model responsible use of controlled substances. “We are working on a solution to offer a permanent place and process to dispose of prescription medication year round,” he said. “And by the same token we need to help our youth understand that life is about striking a balance.” Bonner is concerned that while we have successfully removed drugs from the homes preventing easy access to oxycontin and other prescription pain killers, heroin is now trending among youth because it is an easy alternative that is cheap and easy to access in very clandestine ways with mobile connectivity.

Alan Baker is the Co-Chair of the Coalition for Placer Youth, a grassroots organization devoted to youth substance abuse prevention strategies. He has spent the past decade examining survey and research data regarding student and parent behavior and perspectives about the use of drugs in our communities. “While there is no silver bullet to prevent a child from taking risks with drugs and alcohol,” he said, “We do know that removing the hazard, i.e., the drug, from the home environment is one thing that can help prevent tragedies of addiction and death resulting from easy access.”

Jon Daily is the Clinical Director at Recovery Happens in Carmichael, who recently spoke at a CPY event in Rocklin. He is intimately familiar with the adolescent brain and drug addiction. “Parents need to understand that addiction is not about the particular drug or substance. When one is removed or denied, another one will be found to take its place,” he said. According to Daily, the addiction is a pathological relationship to intoxication which can be overcome by a healthy relationship; it requires the parent and child to reconnect and bond. “The real work of the parent is to become connected to their own inner world so that they can relate to their child’s inner world.”

According to Baker, prevention is a multi-pronged effort of education, public policy and awareness, which must address two main ways kids begin using substances. “We know that kids are more stressed today, because the cyber-powered environments tend to intensify peer pressure and the anxieties of our time,” he said. “So some kids are using drugs to self-medicate. And the other group at risk involves kids who are simply trying to fit in.” Hence prevention efforts must also incorporate meeting the mental health needs of modern youth. “Our surveys show that there is a big gap between what parents believe they know about what is happening in their child’s life and what the teens are reporting,” he said. “Parent-teen communication is more critical than ever, and so helping parents and teens bridge that gap is a priority.”

In this regard, National Take Back Day is a great starting point for having a conversation with your teen about why it is necessary, and why you care. Get them talking to you about what they know about it. “Our children need to understand the value of setting personal boundaries, which must also be discussed and modeled by the parent.” Bonner said.


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