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article imageOp-Ed: Parents not talking to kids about drugs, may be using drugs

By Yukio Strachan     May 20, 2012 in Health
Until we find ways to reach out to parents, who themselves abuse drugs, all the 'Just say no' campaigns in the world will do little to stop kids from using drugs.
Richard Pound, the current chair of the Partnership for a Drug Free Canada, is fed up.
In a recent op-ed published in the Globe and Mail, Pound, the former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency wants to know with all the talk about losing the war on drugs, why is legalization the answer?
"I am disappointed that the discussion centres on liberalizing legislation," he writes. "Nowhere do we hear anything about prevention education."
“The drug trade is a business of supply and demand,” Pound adds. “If we cannot control or throttle the supply, shouldn’t we look at trying to reduce the demand? If North America were less in need of using drugs, would the demand not dwindle?”
And how do we accomplish this? Pound says we need to "attack the problem at the beginning and rewire our youth to better understand the risks and consequences associated with consuming illicit drugs and abusing legal medications."
And the best education, according to a study he cites, comes from parents themselves.
It makes sense. According to the Globe and Mail, one in five teens said they had taken a prescription drug to get high. That alarming figure comes from a 2009 study on Ontario students by the Centre For Addiction and Mental Health. Three-quarters of those teens say they got the drugs from home.
"That’s why our current drug prevention campaigns, which target parents, put so much emphasis on the need to talk to their kids," he writes.
But there's a problem: a survey found that 97% of parents agreed with the statement, “It is important for parents to talk to their kids about drugs.” Yet almost half (49%) wished they knew better what to say to their kids about drugs.
The PDFC, chaired by Dick Pound, the outspoken former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, hopes to target parents with the ads, getting them to be responsible for the prescriptions in their homes and learn how to talk to their children.
While this is important, I believe there is a deeper issue involved with why parents don't know what to say to their kids about drugs, they may abuse drugs themselves.
The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, sponsored by MetLife Foundation, in a report released May 2, certainly points in that direction.
The report found that more than one in ten parents (15 percent) say they’ve used an Rx medication not prescribed for them at least once in the past year, a 25 percent increase from 2010 to 2011.
In other words, the survey concludes, “an increased number of parents report misusing or abusing prescription medications themselves."
Do as I say, not as I do
A couple months ago I reported on a story for Digital Journal on Madonna's reaction to seeing photos of her 15-year-old daughter Lourdes puffing on a cigarette.
"She didn’t get that from me,” Madonna said in an interview. “I don’t smoke.”
Madonna smoking on the Tonight Show with David Letterman -- 1994.
Madonna smoking on the Tonight Show with David Letterman -- 1994.
Screengrab/ via YouTube Uploaded by klikkbott
After being challenged with past videos that showed the Material girl smoking she said she knows it might look hypocritical, but it’s not quite a case of “do as I say, not as I do.”
But of course it is.
On Pound's website in a section called: "Getting Past Denial of Drug or Alcohol Use by Your Teen" he writes:
"It can be difficult to get past a flat-out denial of drug or alcohol use from your teen. Some kids can't bear to take responsibility for their behavior and want to look good at all costs."
With Madonna's denial in mind, can't this apply to parents, too.
This is also why money needs to get poured into helping parents with their addictions so that the next generation can grow up not passing on the same behavior.
This is by no means easy to do. We live in a shame filled society when it comes to someone admitting that they have a problem with drug abuse. But we live in a society where change can happen.
In the end, until we find ways to reach out to parents, who themselves abuse drugs, all the 'Just say no' campaigns in the world will do little to stop kids from using drugs.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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