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Parents Learn Tips on Substance Abuse Awareness

Oct 30, 2019 09:20AM ● By Pamela Johnson

Brian Crockett, Substance Abuse Counselor

A small group gathered at the Bellingham Library on a Thursday evening for a presentation about substance abuse awareness given by counselor Brian Crockett. Mr. Crockett has worked in addiction recovery for twelve years, his years of experience being in outpatient care and medically-assisted and residential care as well as in serving as a clinical supervisor. His goal was to educate parents on ten key points to help them to help their children with substance abuse issues. A big misconception Crockett wanted to dispel concerns the reason that children use drugs. Most parents think kids start using so they can look cool, feel better about themselves or deal with pressure and stress from school. According to surveys, kids say the reason they start to use is to help them deal with pressure and stress from school.

How can you tell if your child has been using substances? Often it’s not just physical symptoms, but also emotional, social, and psychological symptoms. Some physical symptoms are disheveled and unhygienic appearance, glassy eyes/pinned or dilated pupils/red eyes, unsteady gait, odd speech patterns, change in weight and signs of drug paraphernalia. The emotional symptoms may be a flat or blunted affect, hypersensitivity or defensiveness, overly aggressive behavior or over passiveness about things, lack of inhibition, increase in irritability or emotional unresponsiveness. Social symptoms are missing regular appointments or responsibilities, isolation or a change in the social circle, physical or emotional symptoms within the social circle, and concerns about cleansing, cranberry juice and fake urine. The psychological symptoms to be on the lookout for are changes in depression or anxiety, delusions or hallucinations, abnormal fixations, paranoia, manic or depressive crashes, high-risk behavior and changes in spending habits.

One of the most important things you can do is talk to your child. Typically when Mr. Crockett sees teens struggling with substance abuse he finds that the drug use tends to happen around 8th grade. He stressed that it’s essential to start talking with children well before then. It has been found that by the time a child is age 3 parents who have established a good connection with their child can lay a healthy foundation for them in confidence and attachment. Being a good listener, setting expectations about the consequences of drug use, helping your child deal with peer pressure, getting to know your children’s friends and their parents, monitoring your child’s whereabouts, supervising teen activities, and talking to your child often can help.

Peer pressure challenges that teens face are rejection, put downs, reasoning and exclusivity. Help your child to stand up to these by learning how to say no, practicing assertiveness, and getting to know themselves by pursuing things they enjoy that substances would interfere with enjoying. Other ways to prevent peer pressure issues is by making good friends and not  judging. Parents should be aware that they have more influence than they think, and even if they think they have lost the connection, they should keep talking because teens are listening.

Substance abuse issues tend to begin when someone has been using by age 18. Statistics were given about the deadliest drugs, but by far the deadliest is alcohol. Alcohol is the 3rd leading cause of preventable deaths; it kills approximately 88,000 per year. Over 50% of 12th graders reported drinking in the past year.
If you find your child has been using substances and they don’t want help or are in denial, there are still things that you can do to help. One is to take care of yourself and remind yourself that you did not cause the problem and you cannot stop it. Try to help your child with things, but only if necessary, and do not start getting into the habit of doing things for them. Continue to keep communication clear between everyone involved. Establish firm, healthful and consistent boundaries. Also consider going to a support group to seek help for yourself.

In addition to support for parents, there are community resources to help get the teens the help they need. Programs such as AA and NA are established in many communities. Other groups such as Celebrate Recovery,, Learn 2 Cope, and the Massachusetts Substance Abuse Hotline at 800-327-5050 are just some of the examples of what is available for assistance.

For more information on how to seek help for your teen, you may contact Brian Crockett Counseling at 978-536-1056, or [email protected]




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