Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse-Overdose Assistance

Please keep in mind your purpose for trying to find out if someone is doing alcohol and/or drugs- To Identify and Help rather than Catch and Punish.

General: General and specific guides to detection of alcohol and drug use, and definition of addiction.

Contents:I. General Guide to Detection

II. Definition of Addiction

III. Pupil Dilation

IV. Signs and Symptoms

V. Paraphernalia a) S/S Chart Version

VI. Drug Facts

VII. Articles and Other Resources

VIII. Drug Pictures/Resources

IX. Topics

X. Additional Articles (Alcoholism, Drugs, Teenage Addiction, Interventions)

XI. Overdose and Emergency Intervention Techniques

I. Specific: General Guide to Detection

Abrupt changes in work or school attendance, quality of work, work output, grades, discipline.

Unusual flare-ups or outbreaks of temper. Withdrawal from responsibility. General changes in overall attitude. Deterioration of physical appearance and grooming.

Wearing of sunglasses at inappropriate times. Continual wearing of long-sleeved garments particularly in hot weather or reluctance to wear short sleeved attire when appropriate. Association with known substance abusers. Unusual borrowing of money from friends, co-workers or parents. Stealing small items from employer, home or school. Secretive behavior regarding actions and possessions; poorly concealed attempts to avoid attention and suspicion such as frequent trips to storage rooms, restroom, basement, etc.

II. Specific: DSM-IV Definition of Addiction

A maladaptive pattern of substance use, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by three (or more) of the following, occurring at any time in the same 12-month period:

(1) Tolerance, as defined by either of the following:

a. A need for markedly increased amounts of the substance to achieve intoxication or desired effect.

b. Markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance.

(2) Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following:

a. The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for the substance

b. The same (or a closely related) substance is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms. (

3) The substance is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended (loss of control).

(4) There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control substance use (loss of control). (

5) A great deal of time is spent on activities necessary to obtain the substance, use the substance, or recover from its effects (preoccupation).

(6) Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of substance use (continuation despite adverse consequences).

(7) The substance use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance (adverse consequences).

III. Specific: Pupil Dilation

Before you do anything, consider this. There are two trains of thought prior to detection and intervention. One thought is to catch and punish, and the other is to identify and help- remember why you are doing this, and the intervention will turn out much better.

Note: A 6mm, 7mm, or 8mm pupil size could indicate that a person is under the influence of cocaine, crack, and meth, hallucinogens, crystal, ecstasy, or other stimulant. A 1mm or 2mm pupil size could indicate a person under the influence of heroin, opiates, or other depressant. A pupil close to pinpoint could indicate use. A pupil completely dilated could indicate use. Blown out wide pupils are indicative of crack, methamphetamine, cocaine, and stimulant use. Pinpoint pupils are indicative of heroin, opiate, depressant use.

Other causes of pupil dilation

IV. Specific: Signs and Symptoms

Alcohol: Odor on the breath. Intoxication. Difficulty focusing: glazed appearance of the eyes. Uncharacteristically passive behavior; or combative and argumentative behavior. Gradual (or sudden in adolescents) deterioration in personal appearance and hygiene. Gradual development of dysfunction, especially in job performance or schoolwork. Absenteeism (particularly on Monday). Unexplained bruises and accidents. Irritability. Flushed skin. Loss of memory (blackouts). Availability and consumption of alcohol becomes the focus of social or professional activities. Changes in peer-group associations and friendships. Impaired interpersonal relationships (troubled marriage, unexplainable termination of deep relationships, alienation from close family members).

Marijuana/Pot: Rapid, loud talking and bursts of laughter linearly stages of intoxication. Sleepy or stupor in the later stages. Forgetfulness in conversation. Inflammation in whites of eyes; pupils unlikely to be dilated. Odor similar to burnt rope on clothing or breath. Tendency to drive slowly – below speed limit. Distorted sense of time passage – tendency to overestimate time intervals. Use or possession of paraphernalia including roach clip, packs of rolling papers, pipes or bongs. Marijuana users are difficult to recognize unless they are under the influence of the drug at the time of observation. Casual users may show none of the general symptoms. Marijuana does have a distinct odor and may be the same color or a bit greener than tobacco.

Cocaine/Crack/Methamphetamines/Stimulants: Extremely dilated pupils. Dry mouth and nose, bad breath, frequent lip licking. Excessive activity, difficulty sitting still, lack of interest in food or sleep. Irritable, argumentative, nervous. Talkative, but conversation often lacks continuity; changes subjects rapidly. Runny nose, cold or chronic sinus/nasal problems, nose bleeds. Use or possession of paraphernalia including small spoons, razor blades, mirror, little bottles of white powder and plastic, glass or metal straws.

Depressants: Symptoms of alcohol intoxication with no alcohol odor on breath (remember that depressants are frequently used with alcohol). Lack of facial expression or animation. Flat affect. Flaccid appearance. Slurred speech. Note: There are few readily apparent symptoms. Abuse may be indicated by activities such as frequent visits to different physicians for prescriptions to treat” nervousness”, “anxiety”,” stress”, etc.

Narcotics/Prescription Drugs/Opium/Heroin/Codeine/Oxycontin: Lethargy, drowsiness. Constricted pupils fail to respond to light. Redness and raw nostrils from inhaling heroin in power form. Scars (tracks) on inner arms or other parts of body, from needle injections. Use or possession of paraphernalia, including syringes, bent spoons, bottle caps, eyedroppers, rubber tubing, cotton and needles. Slurred speech. While there may be no readily apparent symptoms of analgesic abuse, it may be indicated by frequent visits to different physicians or dentists for prescriptions to treat pain of non-specific origin. In cases where patient has chronic pain and abuse of medication is suspected, it may be indicated by amounts and frequency taken.

Inhalants: Substance odor on breath and clothes. Runny nose. Watering eyes. Drowsiness or unconsciousness. Poor muscle control. Prefers group activity to being alone. Presence of bags or rags containing dry plastic cement or other solvent at home, in locker at school or at work. Discarded whipped cream, spray paint or similar chargers (users of nitrous oxide). Small bottles labeled” incense” (users of butyl nitrite).

Solvents, Aerosols, Glue, Petrol: Nitrous Oxide – laughing gas, whippits, nitrous. Amyl Nitrate – snappers, poppers, pearlers, rushamie, .Butyl Nitrate – locker room, bolt, bullet, rush, climax, red gold. Slurred speech, impaired coordination, nausea, vomiting, slowed breathing. Brain damage, pains in the chest, muscles, joints, heart trouble, severe depression, fatigue, loss of appetite, bronchial spasm, sores on nose or mouth, nosebleeds, diarrhea, bizarre or reckless behavior, sudden death, suffocation.

LSD/Hallucinogens: Extremely dilated pupils, (see note below). Warm skin, excessive perspiration and body odor. Distorted sense of sight, hearing, touches; distorted image of self and time perception. Mood and behavior changes, the extent depending on emotional state of the user and environmental conditions Unpredictable flashback episodes even long after withdrawal (although these are rare). Hallucinogenic drugs, which occur both naturally and in synthetic form, distort or disturb sensory input, sometimes to a great degree. Hallucinogens occur naturally in primarily two forms, (peyote) cactus and psilocybin mushrooms.

Several chemical varieties have been synthesized, most notably, MDA , STP, and PCP. Hallucinogen usage reached a peaking the United States in the late 1960’s, but declined shortly thereafter due to a broader awareness of the detrimental effects of usage. However, a disturbing trend indicating resurgence in hallucinogen usage by high school and college age persons nationwide has been acknowledged by law enforcement. With the exception of PCP, all hallucinogens seem to share common effects of use. Any portion of sensory perceptions may be altered to varying degrees. Synesthesia, or the “seeing” of sounds, and the “hearing” of colors, is a common side effect of hallucinogen use. Depersonalization, acute anxiety, and acute depression resulting in suicide have also been noted as a result of hallucinogen use. Note: there are some forms of hallucinogens that are considered downers and constrict pupil diameters.

PCP: Unpredictable behavior; mood may swing from passiveness to violence for no apparent reason. Symptoms of intoxication. Disorientation; agitation and violence if exposed to excessive sensory stimulation. Fear, terror. Rigid muscles. Strange gait. Deadened sensory perception (may experience severe injuries while appearing not to notice). Pupils may appear dilated. Mask like facial appearance. Floating pupils, appear to follow a moving object. Comatose (unresponsive) if large amount consumed. Eyes may be open or closed.

Ecstasy: Confusion, depression, headaches, dizziness (from hangover/after effects), muscle tension, panic attacks, paranoia, possession of pacifiers (used to stop jaw clenching), lollipops, candy necklaces, mentholated vapor rub, severe anxiety, sore jaw (from clenching teeth after effects), vomiting or nausea (from hangover/after effects)

Signs that your teen could be high on Ecstasy: Blurred vision, rapid eye movement, pupil dilation, chills or sweating, high body temperature, sweating profusely, dehydrated, confusion, faintness, paranoia or severe anxiety, trance-like state, transfixed on sites and sounds, unconscious clenching of the jaw, grinding teeth, very affectionate.

V. DRUG SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

Stimulants (Cocaine, Ecstasy, Meth., Crystal)

Depressants (Heroin, Marijuana, Downers)

Hallucinogens (LSD)

Narcotics (Rx. Medications)

Inhalants (Paint, Gasoline, White Out)

PCP

Alcohol

Note: Paraphernalia- Keep in mind, that you may not find drugs, if you are searching for them, but you can usually find the paraphernalia associated with use.

VI. Specific: Drug Facts

Includes identifiers, definitions, language of users and dealers. Drug Terms Slang and Street Terms

VII. Specific: Articles and Other Resources

This the additional information for brain chemistry and the drug user)

VIII. Specific: Drug Pictures/Resources from the DEA

CHEMICAL CONTROL

INTRODUCTION TO DRUG CLASSES

NARCOTICS Narcotics of Natural Origin

Opium, Morphine, Codeine, Thebaine

Semi-Synthetic Narcotics

Heroin Hydromorphone Oxycodone Hydrododone

Synthetic Narcotics

Meperidine

Narcotics Treatment Drugs

Methadone Dextroproxyphene Fentanyl Pentazocine Butorphanol

DEPRESSANTS Barbiturates

Controlled Substances Uses and Effects (Chart) Benzodiazepines Gamma

Hydroxybutric AcidParaldehyde, Chloral HydrateGlutethimide 7

MethaqualoneMeprobamate

Newly Marketed Drugs

STIMULANTS Cocaine Amphetamines

Methcathinone, Methylphenidate

ANORECTIC DRUGS hat

CANNABIS Marijuana Hashish Hashish Oil

HALLUCINOGENS LSD Psilocybin & Psiocyn and Other Tryptamines Peyote & Mescaline MDMA (Ecstasy) & Other Phenethylamines Phencyclidine (PCP) & Related Drugs Ketamine

STEROIDS

INHALANTS

IX. Specific: NICD Topics

Do you have questions relating to addiction /addictions / substance abuse? Contact us…Health Info and Videos Medical issues updated weekly. Family Resources for the family, intervention information, support, and counseling. Medical information, doctor and specialists directory, terminology and dictionary of terms. Treatment.

The Villa at Scottsdale- Providing a full continuum of care for the treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction.

Alcohol and Drug Addiction Survival Kit

General: A series, for the individual, family, friends, employers, educators, professionals, etc. on prevention, intervention, treatment, recovery, relapse prevention, support, and other issues relating to alcoholism and drug addiction.

1. Prevention- Includes tips on how to talk to your kids about alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.

2. Detection of Signs and Symptoms- A guide to detection of alcohol and various drug usage.

3. Definition of Addiction- A DSM-IV definition of exactly what constitutes alcoholism and drug addiction.

4. Intervention- Interventions can and do work. We will show you how to do it effectively.

5. Treatment & Housing- A treatment center and halfway house locator.

6. Support- Some guides to how to support someone while they are in treatment.

7. After Care- What to do prior to and after release from treatment.

8. Recovery / Relapse Prevention- Addiction can surface again, in the form of relapse.

9. Other Issues- Issues to think about regarding those affected by substance abuse, as well as those around them.

10. References- A list of those who contributed to this series of articles.

Articles Medical Today Dr. William Gallagher takes us through his use of DNFT with his patients. Psychotherapy Today Psychologist Jim Maclaine keeps us up to date with his articles of insight, therapy, and healing. Counseling Today Therapist Thom Rutledge gives a creative approach to dealing with life on life’s terms via his unique counseling sessions. Big Book Bytes Author Shelly Marshall shares via the Big Book on issues of concern to those in recovery. All pages are set-up to copy, for use by counselors, professionals, sponsors, and others.

Recovery Today Interviews of people in recovery, about alcoholism, drug abuse, addictions, recovery, sobriety, spirituality, wisdom, experience, strength, and hope. Tune in monthly for new articles!

A.A. History Author Dick B. will take you back to a time when the recovery rates were as high as 93%.

Journaling Today A series of informative articles by Author Doreene Clementon how, why, and what to write about.

Spirituality Today Author Carol Tuttle takes us to new heights on our spiritual journey.

Articles of God and Faith Features 100’s of topics relating to God, faith, spirituality, and more.

Life Today Everyday life experiences from people all over the world. Life, Addictions, Recovery, Hope, Inspiration, Wisdom, Advice, and so much more. Tune in on a regular basis to see what others have and are going through. Find hope from the experiences of others.

Steps Today Recovery Peer and Advisory Board Member Dean G. gives creative approach to dealing with life on life’s terms via his unique recovery sessions.

Step Work / Relapse Prevention This service is designed to assist with step work, with quotes and pages from the Big Book, with forms ready to copy and utilize. There is a section devoted to relapse prevention as well.

X. Specific: Additional Articles

Health and Medical News, videos, text from the world of medicine, health, and medical.

Ecstasy information.

How Do I Talk With My Kids About Alcohol?

How Do I talk to my kids about drugs?

How Do I talk with my teenager about drugs and alcohol?

What does a crack pipe look like?

Family assistance for substance abuse.

Addiction treatment for my teenager.

Overdose or OD Information

XI. Specific: Overdose & Emergency Intervention Techniques

Drug Overdose- Drug overdoses can be accidental or on purpose. The amount of a drug needed to cause an overdose varies with the type of drug and the person taking it. Overdoses from prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, “street” drugs, and/or alcohol can be life threatening. Know, too, that mixing certain medications or “street” drugs with alcohol can also kill.

Physical symptoms of a drug overdose vary with the type of drug(s) taken. They include: Abnormal breathing Slurred speech Lack of coordination Slow or rapid pulse Low or elevated body temperature Enlarged or small eye pupils Reddish face Heavy sweating Drowsiness Violent outbursts Delusions and/or hallucinations Unconsciousness which may lead to coma (Note: A diabetic who takes insulin may show some of the above symptoms if he or she is having an insulin reaction.)

Parents need to watch for signs of illegal drug and alcohol use in their children. Morning hangovers, the odor of alcohol, and red streaks in the whites of the eyes are obvious signs of alcohol use. Items such as pipes, rolling papers, eye droppers and butane lighters may be the first telling clues that someone is abusing drugs. Another clue is behavior changes such as: Lack of appetite Insomnia Hostility Mental confusion Depression Mood swings Secretive behavior Social isolation Deep sleep Hallucinations.

Prevention- Accidental prescription and over-the-counter medication overdoses may be prevented by asking your doctor or pharmacist: What is the medication and why is it being prescribed? How and when should the medication be taken and for how long? (Follow the instructions exactly as given.) Can the medication be taken with other medicines or alcohol or not? Are there any foods to avoid while taking this medication? What are the possible side effects? What are the symptoms of an overdose and what should be done if it occurs? Should any activities be avoided such as sitting in the sun, operating heavy machinery, driving? Should the medicine still be taken if there is a pre-existing medical condition?

To avoid medication overdoses: Never take a medicine prescribed for someone else. Never give or take medication in the dark. Before each dose, always read the label on the bottle to be certain it is the correct medication. Always tell the doctor of any previous side effects or adverse reactions to medication as well as new and unusual symptoms that occur after taking the medicine. Always store medications in bottles with childproof lids and place those bottles on high shelves, out of a child’s reach, or in locked cabinets. Take the prescribed dose, not more. Keep medications in their original containers to discourage illicit drug use among children: Set a good example for your children by not using drugs yourself. Teach your child to say “NO” to drugs and alcohol. Explain the dangers of drug use, including the risk of AIDS. Get to know your children’s friends and their parents. Know where your children are and whom they are with. Listen to your children and help them to express their feelings and fears. Encourage your children to engage in healthy activities such as sports, scouting, community-based youth programs and volunteer work. Learn to recognize the signs of drug and alcohol abuse.

Questions to Ask:

Is the person not breathing and has no pulse? FIRST AID Perform Cyprinids the person not breathing, but has a pulse? FIRST AID Perform Rescue Breathing AND is the person unconscious? FIRST AID lay the victim down on his or her left side and check airway, breathing and pulse often before emergency care. Do CPR or Rescue Breathing as needed. ANDdoes the person have any of these signs? Hallucinations Confusion Convulsions Breathing slow and shallow and/or slurring their words

Do you suspect the person has taken an overdose of drugs? FIRST AID Call Poison Control Center. Follow the Poison Control Center’s instructions. Approach the victim calmly and carefully. Walk the person around to keep him or her awake and to help the syrup of ipecac work faster, if you were told to give this to the victim. Also, see “Poisoning”. AND is the person’s personality suddenly hostile, violent and aggressive? FIRST AID Use caution. Protect yourself. Do not turn your back to the victim or move suddenly in front of him or her. If you can, see that the victim does not harm you, himself or herself. Remember, the victim is under the influence of a drug. Call the police to assist you if you cannot handle the situation. Leave and find a safe place to stay until the police arrive. AND Have you or someone else accidentally taken more than the prescribed dose of a prescription or over-the-counter medication? DO NOT perform any technique unless it is a matter of life and death! If you are unsure of what you are doing, please follow the instructions given by a 911 operator.

Note: If doctor is not available, call Poison Control Center. Follow instructions given.

Early Signs Of Alcohol Abuse

It is far easier to prevent drug and alcohol addiction than it is to recover from it. Parents who wish to prevent drug abuse in their children can watch for a number of telltale signs, particularly in the case of alcohol, which can be a gateway drug. It could be the difference between a life of success, or a lifetime battle with drug addiction.

The Signs

A number of studies show that alcoholics often have four personality traits in common before turning to abuse. These are:

• Anxiety, which can lead to drug use as the user tries to numb his feelings when he doesn’t know what to do about the problem. This can include stresses at home, social nervousness, anxiety about exams, and academic difficulties. A number of studies show that students who have trouble in school are far more likely to turn to drug abuse. With children all over America swimming in confusion and googling topics like “School makes me depressed” or “School makes me suicidal”, it’s no wonder that drug abuse among teens is at an all-time high.

• Impulsivity, meaning swayed or compelled by emotional or involuntary impulses. A number of studies show the relationship between impulsivity and drug addiction, as users often lack the discipline or logical thinking required to quit. Teens who are more emotion-driven may turn to drugs more easily than those who don’t.

• Negative thinking can be a factor in drug abuse and addiction, as drugs seem to present an easy way out. Drugs and alcohol provide temporary escape from depression, suicidal thoughts, and other emotional troubles.

• Sensation seeking, which can lead teens and young adults to reach for the rush of a drug or alcohol high, and to experiment with other substances like synthetic drugs or hallucinogens.

Anti-Drug Marketing

Researchers are hoping to incorporate their findings into anti-drug marketing. A number of addicts claim that the prevalent school campaigns like “Say No to Drugs” often came across as a joke. No one tried to get to the root of the problem, to find out what made kids turn to drugs in the first place.

Education And Prevention Efforts

Many drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs offer educational materials and seminars to arm teens against peer pressure and the influence of drugs and alcohol in their environment. Statistics show that kids who are fully educated in the effects of drugs and alcohol on their bodies and their lives are far less likely to experiment with them, even in spite of the above factors.

Parents can do a lot for their children by making time for them, allowing open communication and encouraging discussions about drugs. Parents who make a point of sitting down to dinner with their children, are home at night, and teach their children about drugs and alcohol are far less likely to end up with their kids on drugs. It can even be as simple as asking how school is going and helping with any of the above problems that can predispose children to drug and alcohol abuse.

Drug and Alcohol Prevention Programs

The best time to introduce strategies for drug and alcohol prevention is during the teenage and high school years. During adolescence, most teens begin to look for acceptance and peer pressure plays an important role in their life as they explore ways for validation and to help them through the difficult periods of their life. Teens that turn to drugs and alcohol in this period are likely to take more risks in their adult years, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Teens can benefit from being introduced to strategies to prevent drug and alcohol abuse.

Elements of Teen Substance Abuse

Teens that experience difficult transitions including the divorce of parents, moving to a different state, country or even changing schools often times find that even the smallest of change can be quite traumatic. As a result of the trauma, the teen may turn to substance abuse to cope with the difficulty. As teens mature, they face certain physical, social and psychological changes. Teens that resort to drug and alcohol abuse put their developmental futures at risk.

DARE

The Drug Abuse Resistance Education or DARE program was created as a strategy to prevent drug abuse for students. DARE was designed by police officers and has been taught in schools across the United States since 1983. A component of the program is that participating students pledge not to use drugs or become involved in gangs. DARE has been met with mixed reviews, but advocates of the program claim that DARE has made a positive impact on youth; while others have argues that teens who knew nothing about drugs have since experimented with drugs.

Science Plays a Role in Prevention

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that students who are involved in science supported substance abuse prevention programs are less likely to resort to drug and alcohol abuse. Programs such as Universal Science programs address protection and risk at school, but also in the community. Certain selective science programs that center on adolescents who are at a greater risk for drug and alcohol abuse indicate that these types of programs are effective in substance abuse prevention.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

In some cases, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) programs are effective in providing strategies for drug and alcohol prevention. CBT works to build self-esteem and self-confidence, while at the same time teaching skills that will help the individual cope with problems such as peer pressure; dealing with and addressing difficulties at home; selecting friends; how free time is spent; as well as work and academic goals. CBT offers insight to cope, rather than turning to drugs and alcohol for solutions.

Family Support is the Best Prevention

Of course the best strategy for drug and alcohol prevention is family support. Families who are engaged and attentive to the needs of each other offer the best chance at preventing substance abuse, but also give the support needed to overcoming abuse or addiction.

Parents – If You Love Your Kids Choose Not To Drink Alcohol

CHOOSE NOT TO DRINK ALCOHOL FOR THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF YOUR KIDS!

AN INTELLIGENT CHOICE! A WISE DECISION!

Why would a parent, who may enjoy drinking alcohol, choose not to drink?

They know tragic consequences may be in their children’s future, if they drink alcohol and their children follow their example.

Good parents refuse to encourage, enable or model alcohol that could potentially kill their child. They know a double standard does not work! Telling your child not to drink alcohol, when you are drinking, doesn’t work! Responsible parents are aware that drunk driving, alcoholism, future drug use, are a small part of what can happen after a child takes it’s first drink. Parents who really love their children are willing to give up something they may enjoy themselves for the health and safety of their children.

I believe mothers have the greatest responsibility to their children in this area, because they set the tone of the home! For responsible parents, it is not a big sacrifice to make the choice not to drink alcohol.

A study was done on the brains of young people and the finding was that young brains do not fully develop until they are age twenty-five. Young people need the adults in their life to be good examples. They need parents to direct them and help them make good decisions. The sad fact is that many parents are bad examples and by the time a young person figures life out, they are following the same path as their parents.

If you are questioning this idea of parents abstaining, think of this! How would you feel if your child died in an alcoholic stupor because they just wanted to be like you? If you don’t want them to drink alcohol, you must not drink yourself!!!!!!!

There is a movement gaining great popularity today, similar to the anti smoking campaign, which had great success. This movement is called “Reducing Underage Drinking”. It is the result of Congress requesting the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine to review the evidence on various programs aimed at underage drinking and to recommend a strategy to reduce and prevent it.

The conclusion of the study is simply: Alcohol use by young people is dangerous, not only because of the risks associated with acute impairment, but also because of the threat to their long-term development and well-being.

I recently attended a national conference for this movement and was impressed with all the enthusiasm and excitement generated in teaching our young people not to drink alcohol, until they are twenty-one years old. Organizations from all over the United States gathered to share what they know and their successes. Great strides are being made and young people are really being educated in the dangers of drinking alcohol.

I am very thankful for all that is being done and commend all involved for their dedication and desire to save our young people.

Unfortunately, my only complaint is the lack of an abstinence message in their campaign. They are not making it loud and clear, to young people, that they have the choice not to drink alcohol at all, whatever their age. They are not being taught, “Abstinence is the better choice!” They are only teaching young people not to drink alcohol until they are twenty-one years old. They must believe something magical happens when they attain the age of twenty-one. If they only choose to drink then, there will be no consequences.

Why do I believe abstinence a better choice?

Once again from the study: 1/3 of youth traffic fatalities involve alcohol. Underage alcohol use is also associated with violence, suicide, educational failure, and other problem behaviors. All of these problems are magnified by early onset of teen drinking: the younger the drinker, the worse the problem. Moreover, frequent heavy drinking by young adolescents can lead to mild brain damage. A young person who begins drinking as a young teen is four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than some one who waits until adulthood to use alcohol. Almost 14 million Americans abuse alcohol or have developed alcoholism.

My argument for encouraging parents to choose not to drink alcohol is personal, but is backed up by the study. It says that the patterns and consequences of youthful drinking are closely related to the overall extent and patterns of drinking in the society, and they are affected by the same factors that affect the patterns of adult consumption. From this standpoint, it is possible that the most effective way to reduce the extent and adverse consequences of youthful drinking would be to reduce the extent and consequences of adult drinking. It is clear, however that Congress intended for the committee to focus on youth drinking, rather than developing a strategy targeting adult drinking. This is what the committee has done.
The study can be read at http://www.national-academies.org (Reducing Underage Drinking)

The study recognizes that the best way to help our young people to choose not to drink alcohol is to teach adults not to drink alcohol! It worked with tobacco and I believe it can work with alcohol too! Unfortunately that is not yet their focus.

Why do I think parents should choose not to drink alcohol?

1. Modeling or example is the best teacher.

2. A double standard doesn’t work.

3. Telling a child they should not drink until they are twenty-one is a temporary and potentially devastating solution which teaches them that drinking alcohol is ok. What happens, when they become twenty-one, and they choose to drink and end up destroying their life anyway? The first drink can be the beginning of alcoholism. Fifty percent of those who have alcoholics in their family can become alcoholic. It can also lead to a DUI, at any age, as well as all of the other violent crimes committed while people are drunk.

4. Why teaching our kids to only drink in moderation is a bad choice! Because moderation teaches, “It’s OK to drink alcohol.” There is no safety in teaching moderation. The only safety is in teaching abstinence. Besides, if you are trying to save your kids from the damage alcohol can do and you drink in moderation you are supporting the alcohol industry by giving them money for their products. Aren’t you enabling the alcohol industry to continue their mission to make money, so they can continue to destroy our kids, and families?

There is also another common argument. It is thought; if children are taught to drink at home they will be more responsible. This may be true in some cases but in European countries where this is done, the study reports that these countries are no better off than the United States in terms of the harmful consequences of youth’s drinking. Besides underage drinking is a crime and if you encourage your child to drink alcohol you are breaking the law!

Many churches have taught moderation and are now paying a price. They have alcohol problems in their congregations. Some of them have an anti drinking campaign, themselves.

5. As parents, we need to teach our children to naturally and fully use the abilities, gifts and talents they have been blessed with and encourage them to reach their life’s purpose and potential. How can they do that if they use a temporary substance to handle their life or avoid growth? If they think they need a drink of alcohol to have fun, handle a problem or escape from a situation, they will never discover their own capabilities. They will never develop the skills needed to enjoy life to the fullest. Kids need to see adults who do fully live their lives without the crutch of alcohol. They need to understand that life is fulfilling, enjoyable and successful without alcohol.

We love our children and we want to provide for them a healthy life style, which they can enjoy, their whole life. We want to do everything we can, as parents; to be sure they have the opportunity to fully live their lives. We want to keep them safe and in good health. ****Good parents set good examples for their kids****

6. Mothers, who drink alcohol, during pregnancy, may give birth to babies with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) or fetal alcohol effects (FAE). Children with FAS may have mental retardation, facial and limb irregularities, heart defects, behavioral problems, shorter height, and lower birth weight.

In conclusion, choosing not to drink alcohol is a choice parents can make for the success and happiness of their kids and for themselves. If our kids mess up their lives because they choose to drink alcohol, you can be sure your life will be messed up too!

Why do I say this? None of us are immune from the ravages of alcohol abuse. Alcohol has affected my family too. My grandfather and father were alcoholic and each died at the age of 57 after devastating our lives when they got drunk. When I was a teenager I began to drink alcohol but thankfully chose to quit when I had kids. My husband has also stopped. We were not alcoholic but realized abstinence was a better choice for the sake of our kids and the results have been wonderful. In our personal family we do not have tragic alcohol stories about our children.

Unfortunately my extended family has not been as fortunate. Some family member parents chose not to quit drinking alcohol and others chose to quite too late. Some of our younger generation live the consequences of being in jail, are alcoholic and or are addicted to drugs.

None of us have a guarantee that our children will follow our good example. Each child is given the gift of choice, but we can rest assured, if they choose to go down a negative path, we did not contribute to it and by our good example we offer them a better path to return to. In the Bible it says: Teach a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.

From my personal experience, I can testify that choosing not to drink alcohol has brought good consequences to my family. “It is in the home that we form our attitudes.” I encourage all parents to choose abstinence. It is one of the greatest gifts you will give to your kids.