Take a Step Back and Look Around

So, what’s really happened to our nation? The self-medication of the U.S. perhaps. Is there just so much more media coverage, or is there really a big problem here? I believe we have a bigger problem than we are willing to realize, and we need to address all angles in order to make a dent. And you know the old adage, the only way to fix a problem is to admit you have a problem?

Houston, we have a problem. It seems we are more depressed, fatter and more anxious than ever. We are nastier and more detached. Are we depressed that we are fatter? Are we anxious we’ll stay fat? Are we depressed that we are anxious? Hell, do we even have time to be anxious WHILE being depressed and/or fat? Or detached and/or angry? I don’t even know anymore. Thank heavens we have all this technology, I mean where would we be without it?

Humans used to connect. Despite the advantages of Technology, there are big downsides if we aren’t careful. Countless hours are spent pointing fingers, diatribes aimed at one another on social media and that doesn’t usually get you anywhere; it’s an intellectual stalemate, and an emotional stillbirth at best. We used to have verbal discourse and it IS powerful if we choose to engage in it.

Bottom line is, kids are having more issues today than ever; more anxiety and depression, higher suicide rates, more drug use, bullying. Aren’t we supposed to have more solutions though? We see more instances of youth with less empathy and often much less compassion, sometimes resulting in suicide and often, much worse online bullying and mass shootings. Adults do it too. I never dreamed it would be this way today. Ya’ know what I sort of did. That’s sad.

When I was doing my school psychology internship years ago, I said to my mother “You’re never gonna be out of work.” I didn’t know about substance abuse and mental health like I do now. And now that I do? Well… We need a full out approach for children from Prevention to Intervention. The game has changed. It changed with STD’s and we adjusted in order to deal with it. I do not feel we have adjusted here. The war with STDs hasn’t been won, per se, but at least there is some fighting.

The Opioid epidemic stands to kill more people than anything we have seen from a health standpoint. It’s already a disaster. Whether the Government steps in is not the only issue. What amount of money is going to fix this exactly? And again, treatment and services are not a cure, and with the surging power of opiates etc. and the earlier onset of children and teens using drugs, people need to educate themselves. That onset will cost you by the way. People are shocked to hear about teens using heroin. How do you think it started?

We are in a massive (perhaps the wrong choice of words) Obesity and Substance Abuse crisis, fueled by opiates/opioids among others. People are screaming for more options and funding. Mind you, drugs are now being laced. Laced, drugs are being laced with…Drugs. Fentanyl for example…kills many, most who have any contact with it.

Please remember, despite whatever you think, weed CAN BE a gateway drug. It has to be, because when people get to harder substances i.e. heroin, oxys etc. guess what their first drug usually is? Weed. That’s right. Weed, but it’s harmless, right? Nothing is harmless. Adults may endure less damage, sure, but none? None? Not possible. Especially in a developing brain, which is up to about 25 years of age.

Smoking is NEVER safe. Period. Medical fact. Especially for kids with developing brains, lungs and bodies. Saying NO is not the cure for the opioid crisis. However, it MIGHT lower the odds up front though. And we need all hands-on-deck. When kids know there is an expectation, they are more apt to follow it. Telling them about the dangers may backfire, do they really want to hear it? If they know you the parent don’t approve and you practice a healthy lifestyle they can see, they will be less inclined to even try drugs, much less they won’t have the intent to continue. Screaming and yelling are not the answer. Emotional consequences may be the best option. That takes some training.

And why would you want ANY kids using anything? It boggles my mind. We condone it though. Again, let’s be clear, addicts often started with something other than the last drug used. Usually you don’t wake up and start heroin with nothing preceding it. There is a continuum of sorts. You work your way up. When the first drug doesn’t have the same effect, what happens? You need something more. No different than if one drink isn’t enough, two is more likely to be consumed. Otherwise no one would ever leave the first drug. Why would you? At that rate, no one would stop using weed then. ’Cause if it always worked there’s no need to go for harder drugs. And I am NOT suggesting there aren’t issues with other drugs. There are. I am focusing on this connection for now. The initial reason teens use weed typically is that it relieves anxiety. Problem is this is a temporary effect.

And I am not going to entertain the debate over this notion that drinking is awful and way worse. That’s a statistical argument, and if you talk to the professionals? Many may not agree with you. Maybe someone should listen to them. It’s worth the time.

Last year a pediatrician, NOT an Addiction specialist, made his pitch in The NY Times about his thoughts as his daughter went off to college. And he made that argument fueled by stats. It’s myopic and one-sided at best. He is not a specialist with substances. And most doctors are not trained. Even Addiction Specialists say the Medical School barely teach anything. No drug is harmless.

Be clear about two things. First of all, many kids end up smoking weed constantly and eventually it backfires. It is addictive, it is farmed to be so, and it generates a lot of money. After a while what we are seeing in schools, is the user starts to then experiment with Adderall etc., to counteract weed’s effects. Before you know it, there are bi polar, manic episodes, and potentially psychosis, and its PERMANENT. Yes, PERMANENT. There is NO CURE, and weed DOES NOT cure Psychosis, Schizophrenia etc. Nothing does. Big risk to take.

The bulk of my clients who end up with opiate addiction, whether Heroin or pills, started with weed. There is a social norm of weed that alcohol doesn’t seem to hold the way it once did. The effects wore off over time and the client did NOT develop appropriate coping skills and WHAM!!! They tried something harder in this delusion they could handle it cause some schmuck told them they could. You don’t wanna be this parent. I assure you. People in that weed biz are there to make money and your kid is gonna buy this B.S. if you don’t prepare them to cope. Again I know how bad binge drinking is in college.

Start being mindful, aware. Listening more. Parents need to take a step back and look at their parenting. Have a discourse with children BEFORE someone else does. The culture behind this is that it is safe. It can’t be. Medical facts are facts. NO ONE needs the psychoactive effects of weed. Maybe the medical, CBD can be used, but that’s it basically, and that’s NOT where your kids are at. And weed is a huge business now. Maybe the biggest to come; ever.

Talk to professionals about how to really talk to your kids. What we ignore is the fact that children who do not start taking drugs can’t get addicted to them. It’s actually that simple. The less inclined a child is to take them the better off you are. And having good self-esteem is a critical factor. Just because a child is athletic or good looking etc., doesn’t mean they actually have self-esteem. Self-worth is internal, and it’s garnered by accomplishing and by failing at tasks and learning to stand back up.

Raising reasonable children takes all hands-on deck and a collaborative and informed approach. You have to ask yourself if you have that approach.

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