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Posted May 23, 2007 by Admin

Not My Kid!

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By Dan Stinson - Coalition Coordinator

Alcohol and drug use, primarily misuse of prescription drugs, does exist on Grand Island and the common resounding response of parents of kids caught red handed is "Not my kid!" Many of us think, even if we don't say it out loud, "surely not on Grand Island". Well parents and beloved residents of Grand Island, I can't say it anymore delicately than, "Wake up and get your head out of the sand!" There are drugs on the island and if it's not your kid, than whose?

Think for a moment of ten 8th graders in your neighborhood (including your own children), or friends of your children. Of those, statistics have shown that about four of them have used beer in the last year and two of them got "very bombed". One of them used liquor and three of them used wine coolers. One to two out of ten used marijuana, one used inhalants and one to two will abuse prescription drugs. We are talking here about 13 year olds, and when you consider that most full blown alcoholic and drug addicts started using substances at the average age of 13, we have a serious problem here. The statistics only go up with age. Given these numbers, what do you think the odds are that your child is not one of the ones using alcohol or drugs?  

Now maybe some of you parents might be saying, "What's the big deal, I have the odd beer or smoke the odd joint and it doesn't affect me in any way". Granted, many teens will use alcohol or drugs and that's to be expected. Take a teenager at a party for instance. They're feeling a little awkward or insecure. Maybe they think they look funny or don't fit in. Their friend comes over and says, "Come on, have a beer or smoke a joint and you'll feel better". They do and it does. Maybe they do so two or three times over the next year, which may still be relatively normal, as far as experimentation goes. But some of them will start to develop an emotional/ mental shortcut. Every time they feel a feeling they don't like, or have a problem they don't know how to deal with, they say, "I know how to make this go away". Over time they start to develop large gaps in their mental and emotional development. As a result, problems and consequences compound and grow, and substance assisted coping increases. Eventually over time, the problem snowballs into a full blown addiction.

Telling kids "Don't do drugs. Drugs are bad", doesn't help. Giving kids information about drugs doesn't really help either, (although it can't hurt). What we need to do is address the motivation behind why they are using them, or any other high risk behavior for that matter (such as violence or sexual activity). If we can discover their appeal, we can uncover the deficit in our young people's lives that warrants their use. After all, isn't that the real issue here? Shouldn't all of us want to build a strong sense of identity and worth into their young lives? Don't we want to leave them a legacy of destiny and purpose that will help them to be integral contributors to their world? Why wouldn't we want to teach them the skills of problem solving, conflict resolution or healthy relationships, just to name a few? Maybe you as a parent don't feel equipped to do so, but there are people in our small town that can help and are more then willing to do so. I am one of them and I meet with others on a regular basis. They are community members who truly want to make a difference in our kids' lives. If you knew these folks like I do, you would want them to be role models to your children, especially over the Paris Hilton's or Lindsay Lohan's of our day.       

Parents, save yourself the embarrassment of saying, "Not my child!", because the response you might get back is, "Then why were they seen buying drugs on school property last week?" Realities like these and the bottle of Crown Royal in the vice principals office are testaments to the trend we are now facing as a community. What will your part as a parent be in turning the tide of this trend?

It is somebody's kid!!