Community Conversation on the Consequences of Teen Alcohol and Drug Us

Did you miss our Community Conversation on January 27, 2016?

We were pleased to host a Community Conversation on the Consequences of Teen Drug and Alcohol Use. Unfortunately, the weather and traffic that night may have deterred some attendees. For that reason, we recorded the panelists comments for you to view at your convenience.



Q&A Session

There were quite a few questions that the panelists were not able to address during the event, however, here are some answers provided by Kate McCauley:

How do you put across effective messages to youth that counter experimentation and celebrity of it.

Kids who don’t drink or use tell us that one main reason is that they don’t want to disappoint their parents. This requires that you maintain a close and loving relationship with your child in all things. Then your wisdom can carry the message a lot further. Good messages talk about why you want them to resist the temptation.

  • The risks for long term impact on the developing brain.
  • The fact that we don’t know where addiction will hit.  Some kids do experiment, and don’t become addicted. But it’s hard to imagine that any pothead or alcoholic started out experimenting with the goal of being dependent or addicted.
  • That you will always love them. No matter what. And that loving them means that there are going to be consequences for unwise choices. You will try to help them in any risky situation if they find themselves in one.  You will treat them with love and respect.
  • Set up a code word for texting so that they can, in fact, use you as a way to get out situations that have gotten out of hand. Promise that you’ll be the heavy and that they can blame it all on you. This helps them understand that you know life is complicated and that you mean it when you say you want to protect them.
  • Use the law to talk about what a mess it will be if they are arrested. “It’s against the law” or “It’s illegal” does not mean the same thing to kids that it means to adults. They often see underaged drinking or marijuana use as minor infractions like breaking the speed limit. Walk them through the consequences of having to call you, hiring a lawyer, who pays for the lawyer. Middle and High school students hear about lots of kids who drink or use with no consequences.
  • Explain your belief that your responsibility is to guide them through to adulthood, and you take that responsibility seriously. You have cared for them with seat belts and bike helmets. You have worked hard for them to have the best opportunities in school and in life. You are not going to stop now.

I’m interested in the relationship between depression and substance use.

There is a circular relationship. Some youth use substances to self-medicate depression and/or anxiety. Others experiment out of curiosity. Alcohol is categorized as a depressant, and regular use can lead to depression. Regular marijuana use masks emotional responses and generates apathy in all things.

What are we doing to educate kids in depth about the impact of decisions they make?

The READY Coalition offers programs at events like the All In conference in March. The Teen Network Board talks about substance use and abuse. The school curriculum is somewhat limited with all the things that they must cover. Some teachers will discuss this but it is very dependent on their knowledge and comfort levels how much they really discuss this. It is why it it is so important for parents to remain actively involved in their teenagers’ lives.

What role do SROs play?

Every SRO develops their own relationship within the school. They respond to the needs of both the administration and the students. Their own personalities play a role in how they interact as well.

How do you lose IQ points? Why not after 25? How do you get points back?

Here is the study mentioned at the presentation

Here is an article in Forbes magazine that speaks about the research related to this.

How  does role playing conflict resolution help?

Role playing conflict resolution absolutely can help. I find the challenge is getting teens to role play. Some facilitators are quite good at it, and some kids love to do it. I would say this is one tool to consider among many.

Does the corpus callosum get damaged by drugs/alcohol?

This NIH article suggests that there is some impact related to alcohol use.

How do you frame the conversation about marijuana when it is being made legal and/or decriminalized in many states?

While the READY Coalition website is being updated, here are a couple of links that might help you with the conversation.

Does the age of first use impact addiction levels?

Age of regular use seems to impact addiction levels more than age of first use (first sip/experimentation).