Teens, drugs and resiliency

By David Joel Miller.

Some new developments in the area of teens, drugs, and resiliency

Energy drinks:

These drinks have been involved in a large increase in hospital emergency room visits. Many young people and some adults think that energy drinks since they are sold in food and convenience stores are safe. Maybe they are in and of themselves but the way many people are using them is not safe. In a five-year period, hospital emergency room visits involving energy drinks have increased more than 1,000 % fom just over 1100 to 13,000. The majority of these incidents, more than half, involved using energy drinks with drugs and alcohol. Males were more likely to mix energy drinks with illegal drugs and alcohol while females mixed them with prescription drugs.

A single can of the stronger energy drinks contains up to ten times as much caffeine and other stimulants than a caffeinated soda. People who consume energy drinks with alcohol are more likely to be involved in accidents as they do not feel impaired and over-estimate their abilities to drive or engage in other dangerous activities. The full report is available from SAMHSA, in the DAWN report (Drug Abuse Warning Network.)

New synthetic drugs

In the race to create new drugs and the efforts to control or ban them, we are not sure who is winning. These products often sold as “bath salts” or incense but commonly abuse by younger consumers by smoking continue to be a problem. Despite analog and similar laws which say that even if you paint the duck red it is still a duck, manufacturers are finding ways to make and market new synthetic drugs that are different enough to escape the net of banned substances.

Join Together, (join together at the partnership at drugfree.org.)  a great source of information on the latest drug trends, reports that 43 states have laws regulating synthetic drugs. Some laws list specific chemicals as illegal. The manufacturers of synthetic drugs keep changing to new chemicals, not on the list. Other localities have listed categories of chemicals as illegal. Under these laws, prosecution is more difficult as the chemical may have legitimate uses that are not related to drug abuse.

Occasionally one of these new synthetic drugs results in a rash of hospitalizations or even deaths. Often these incidents are confined to a small area or a particular supplier of the product. The risks here are real but the problem keeps changing.

Volunteering reduces teen drug use and increases resilience.

In a previous blog, I wrote about the role of sleep in reducing teen problem behaviors and increasing resilience. There is more.

Another simple low-cost prevention measure for reducing teen drug use and improving resilience has been found. Surprising how simple some of these ideas are. The report, again by Join Together staff, reported that kids who regularly volunteer to help others are less likely to use drugs and get into trouble. This sounds a little twelve stepish.

The study they reported about was conducted with rural teens. Rates of drug use among rural teens are rising rapidly. No folks you can’t protect your kids from drugs by moving to the country, and the country folk isn’t just drinking whiskey anymore.

The economy and governmental budget cuts have reduced or eliminated many after school programs and activities for kids. There are almost always opportunities to volunteer to help others. Not only did volunteering to help others reduce rates of teen drug use, the results continued into their young adult years, possibly beyond.

Food is also a treatment for teen drug use and promotes resilience.

While I am on the subject, I recall a study that reported that teens that sat down around one of those old fashion dining room table things, no T. V. mind you, that is kids who regularly eat dinner with their parents, they have fewer drug problems, better grades, more resilience and so on.

The conclusion

The risks and dangers for kids continue to grow. We can’t always protect them, probably parents have always been less able to protect kids than the adults would have liked. What we are seeing are research studies that show what a lot of folks always knew. Plenty of sleep, regular family meals, being taught right from wrong and volunteering to help others, all these things result in a teen who is less likely to take excessive risks and more likely to develop resilience and bounce back from adversity.

Till next time, I will keep working on that elusive book and writing this blog. Your comments are welcome. What do all of you think about adolescent drug use, risk, and resilience?

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog, there is also a Facebook authors page, in its infancy, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. Thanks to all who read this blog.

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