For children in the network, texting and social media create “virtual communities” wherein the norms for what is legal and safe can be completely replaced by beliefs that are not true. Some examples are: it is okay to binge drink as long as you don’t drive; marijuana was the drug of choice for my parents, so it is good for me; and prescription pills are safe and legal because doctors prescribe them.
This truth was explored today in a conference, at Davis High School, on “How to help your child say no to drugs.”
Organized by Davis Parent University, this event featured presentations by Jon Daily, Clinical Director of Recovery Happens in Carmichael, and Dr. Dean Blumberg, MFT Ph.D, CADC at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco. They were joined by panelists Trease Petersen, Youth Intervention Specialist, Davis Police Department, and Jennifer McNeil, Prevention and Crisis Manager with the Davis Joint Unified School District.
According to these experts kids are abusing alcohol, marijuana, and prescription pills.
The presentations provided comprehensive explanations about the chemical components produced by the brain (to feel okay or normal) and how drugs adversely impact the natural neuro-functionality which can then lead to an actual chemical dependency. According to Daily and Blumberg this is especially important for adolescents because the brain has not finished developing; so the earlier the kids start abusing drugs and alcohol, the greater the risk of addiction.
While McNeil estimates a very small percent of children in the school district come to her attention for abuse of drugs and alcohol, Daily advises parents that the average age kids start using is 12 years.
“What parents need to understand is that it is not about the drug,” Daily said. “Addiction is about developing a pathological relationship with intoxication and it doesn’t really matter which drug.”
So while we cannot operate our children by remote control, with iPhones or tracking apps, we can influence their hearts and minds. “Listen to what the kids have to say and limit what you have to say,” Blumberg said. “Listening to children helps them hook up natural neuroconnections and strengthen them.”
Dr. Blumberg’s “teen face time” tips for parents:
- Addiction hates love, and loves anger. Listening to your child is love language.
- Smiling has a positive impact on the teenage brain, so smile.
- Apologize when you make a mistake.
- Let your child get the last word, and then see if they comply with the limit or request.
- Limit access to drugs and alcohol in your home. Lock up your prescription medications.
“When kids are feeling ‘felt’, as if to say ‘you get me’, that is a powerful way to get a natural dopamine fix,” Daily said. It is in this moment, of being "felt", that kids will better receive your message that their lives are too important to risk by abusing drugs and alcohol.
- Banana Moments: Help for Parenting in the Network
- The Authority In Me - a book about parent/child authority boundaries for peace of mind in a cyber powered world
- Davis Parent University
- Recovery Happens
- Coalition for Placer Youth
- Therapeutic Solutions 360
- CyberParenting Topics on The Fish 103.9FM Tuesdays
- Follow Joanna @CyberParenting
- Like Banana Moments
- Like Three Moms and a Mike
- Prescription Drug Take Back Event April 27