7 Critical Facts to Consider When Raising Children in Today’s World

#1 Today’s Teens: Drinking and Drugs

By the time most teens reach late adolescence, most of them drank alcohol and abused illicit substances.

  • 78% of U.S. teens had drank alcohol
  • 81% of teens had the opportunity to use illicit substances 42% actually tried them
  • Median age for alcohol abuse & drug abuse is 14
  • The average age of first marijuana use is 14 while alcohol can be as early as 12.
  • Out of the estimated 20 million alcoholics in America, more than half began drinking as teens.

#2 Today’s Marijuana: is NOT the marijuana of yesterday

Marijuana is marijuana whether it is grown by the state government or local drug dealer. Use of marijuana by youth with developing brains can have a variety of negative consequences:

  • It lowers IQ rates
  • Contributes to increased rates of depression, suicidal ideation, suicidal attempts
  • Increases the chance of developing schizophrenia and makes it much more likely to have a psychotic disorder later in life
  • It can reduce motivation and school performance
  • As THC levels have quadrupled, the use of marijuana CAN lead to greater rates of drug addiction
  • Driving under the influence of marijuana is as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol.

In a 2013 study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, three points are shown (1993, 2003, 2013) for marijuana use and the perception of risk among 12th graders

  1. 1993: using was 26% while perception of risk to smoke marijuana occasionally was 75%
  2. 2003: using was 34.9% while perception of risk to smoke marijuana occasionally was 54.9%
  3. 2013: using was 36.4% while perception of risk to smoke marijuana occasionally was 39.5%

In addition:

  • 60% of high school seniors do not view regular marijuana use as harmful, which is nearly double from 20 years age.  The potency of marijuana, as measured by the THC content has steadily increased over the last few years, which means that daily use of today’s marijuana may have greater health consequences than use of marijuana from 10 to 20 years ago.
  • Prescription/over the counter vs Illicit drugs: the study indicates that after marijuana, prescription and over the counter medications account for most of the top drugs abused by 12th graders in the past year.

#3 Prescription Drug Abuse: The Pathway to Heroin

District Attorney Narcotics Enforcement Team DANET: report from February 2014

District Attorney Investigators, through investigations, surveillance and de-briefing of informants and suspected drug traffickers, have recognized significant trends in the trafficking of controlled substances in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Heroin is increasingly becoming more prevalent at parties of students from both city and suburban high schools, as well as an increasing use by students from middle schools.

Heroin is no longer stereotypically purchased in the dark dimly-lit alleyways of our inner city neighborhoods. Traffickers are selling heroin in the suburbs, making it more readily available to purchasers outside city limits.

50% of the heroin abusers interviewed stated that they became addicted to heroin after they had started with pain medications:

A majority of those addicts stated that their initial “dealer” was their parents’ medicine cabinets or their friends’ parents’ medicine cabinets.

Avg. street prices:

Heroin stamp bag-$10.00 for 18 milligrams (.018 grams)

Cocaine baggie corner-$80-$100 for 1/16 gram

Marijuana*-$10.00 for a dime bag (1-2 grams)

Vicodin pill-$10.00

Oxycontin: $1/mg  80mg tab would cost $80 and is equivalent to taking 16 percocets

*THC content around 25%, which is more than 10 times what it was 30 years ago.

#4 Today’s Technology  A Parents Responsibility to Supervise!!!!!

Social Media and Texting: who places calls anymore and are children really where they say they are?

Instant messaging equals instant bullying: who are your children communicating with and what messages are they sending and receiving?

Hidden encrypted conversations: find out what it means.  “Molly” (pure ectasy)

Children’s social media friends should also include parents.  And, at the very least, be sure to monitor the phone and computer on a regular basis.  Don’t hesitate to ask questions if something seems suspicious or concerns you.

#5 Know Potential Signs and Symptoms of Drug Use


  • Bloated or puffy look, unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Lethargic, slowed or staggering gait, dizziness, slurred speech
  • Extreme hyperactivity, rapid speech
  • Red, watery eyes, runny nose, drooping eyelids, persistent and hacking cough
  • Tremors or shakes of hands, feet, or head, extreme nervousness or agitation
  • Nausea, vomiting, excessive sweating unexplained by presence of another illness
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping at inappropriate times
  • Noticeable change in personal grooming habits, sloppy, dirty, unkempt appearance
  • Drug related symbols and drawings on personal papers, notebooks]


  • Personality changes, unexplained, violent or bizarre behavior
  • A gradual shift in friendship group
  • Change in activities, hobbies, loss of interest in previously important activities
  • Secretiveness, sudden withdrawal from family and friends
  • Unexplained periods of moodiness, irritability, depression, anxiety, frequent temper tantrums and continuing resentful behavior (emotions are highs and lows)
  • Sudden over sensitivity (everything is a “hassle” or reason to “get off my back”
  • Change or drop in performance at school, grades dropping off, change in habits (manipulation and bargaining with teachers/parents)
  • Noticeable drop in attention span, nodding off in class
  • General lack of motivation to do anything, boredom, “I don’t care” attitude
  • Totally obsesses with self to the point of being inconsiderate of others
  • Defiance of rules and regulations

#6 Safe Guarding Your Teen’s: babies require “safety latches” and so do teens!

  • Lock up all prescriptions, know what the pills should look like and count them!  Discard old and unused pills.
  • Have your teen call you from a landline when attending a party or function.  Truly know where they are calling from!
  • Bedrooms are NOT off limits!
  • Gift cards should always be store specific.
  • Rethink “sleepovers”.
  • Teens holding part time jobs: monitor where their money goes.

#7 Always Trust Your Gut:

No one knows your teen better than you so If something seems wrong it very possibly is

  • Send the message that drug use is not an acceptable behavior.
  • Say what you mean and mean what you say!  First offense requires immediate action!
  • Become an alliance member to receive updates on what we are seeing across our communities
  • View the Alliance’s educational video series and use the talking points to continue discussion with your teens.
  • Get help sooner than later!

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