Parents looking for possible sources of drug abuse by their children should look no further than their own medicine cabinet, say those who deal with substance abuse problems daily.
“We are our own kids’ drug dealers,” said Janet Martini, executive director of Keystone Substance Abuse Services at Thursday’s No. 1 Question seminar in Rock Hill, focusing on prescription drug abuse by children.
Children will take prescriptions for their parents or themselves and over-medicate or share the pills with others. Studies show that children don’t know it is illegal to share prescription drugs and don’t know the drugs can be addictive, while their parents are unaware of how to safely dispose of unused prescriptions, said Sgt. Allen Cantey, commander of the Rock Hill Police drug enforcement unit.
Martini, Cantey and Ouida Dest, a deputy solicitor for the 16th Circuit specializing in juvenile prosecution, discussed prescription drug abuse with more than 75 educators and business leaders at the annual No. 1 Question seminar which is sponsored by the Rock Hill’s Commission of Children and Youth.
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According to national statistics, almost 20 percent of adults ages 18 through 25 abuse prescription drugs. In York County, 60 percent of high school juniors surveyed said they saw no or only a slight risk from using marijuana and 40 percent said they saw no or only a slight risk from alcohol.
To combat drug abuse, speakers said the first line of defense is parents. They have the most influence over their child and should not be afraid to talk to their child as early as third or fourth grade about the issue. Martini noted the youngest patient for alcohol abuse at Keystone was 10 years old.
Signs of possible drug abuse, speakers said, are any change in behavior such as falling grades, a change in mood or in the way one dresses, Martini said.
Parents also need to be good parents, Cantey said, asking their children where they are going and who their friends are, getting first and last names.