In Boise, police officers have created a teen program that educates kids on what happens when they abuse drugs and alcohol. Addiction is an epidemic in the US and statistics have found it usually starts when adults are teens. In fact, 90% of addicts today will have started using drugs or alcohol during their teens. This is what has prompted Officer Jim Cromwell and others to educate kids from grade 8 to 11 about addiction.
The police officers are stepping into health classes all over the Boise School District in an effort to inform students about the hazards of substance abuse and addiction. The two day course may convince some teens to stay sober while others may be more conscious about the consequences of experimenting.
Officer Jim Cromwells’ recently said to a group of teens, “I want to give you guys as much information as I can, so when you make that decision, you’re going to make it with the best knowledge that you’ve got.”
Teaching Teens about Addiction
It’s not always easy for officials to engage with teens so the officers decided to make it fun. They created a Jeopardy-style game with categories like:
- Facts and Stats
- Types of Drugs
- What Drug Am I?
The biggest fear students had when it came to consequences was going to jail. They didn’t realize that even as a teen, they could get jail time. One of the students said he became more aware of what the drugs could do to him and how it could affect his future.
Cromwell had this to say about the program and how it will affect kids, “Some of them are going to learn from the consequences as far as legal system and other ones are going to learn from what happens to them in life,” Cromwell said. “So I want them to take away the worst case scenario, even though it’s not the most common–we want them to know that worst case scenario and what could happen, because it does happen to people.”
Reasons Teens Abuse Substances
The years of being a teenager are challenging. They are going through physical and psychological changes while coping with “fitting in” with their peers. On top of that, there is a pull to start experimenting with everything. This includes drugs and alcohol. This is probably one of the worst times to regularly abuse substances however.
It can slow down a teen’s growth and lead to health effects later on in life. It also puts the teen at risk of being a long time addict throughout their adult life. Trying to get teens to stay sober throughout high school might not be realistic but it’s important that they know the consequences.
Idaho Drug and Alcohol Abuse Statistics
Here are some of the recent stats on teen abuse of drugs and alcohol:
- 16% of high school students drank alcohol before the age of 13.
- 27% of high school students had a minimum of one drink at least one day within 30 days the survey took place.
- 15% of high school students had 4 or more drinks in one sitting (female) or 5 (male) at least one day prior to the survey.
Marijuana (Grade 9-12 students surveyed in 2017)
- 30% of students reported they had used marijuana at least once in their lifetime.
Inhalants (Grade 9-12 students surveyed in 2017)
- 8% of the students surveyed said they had sniffed glue, breathed in aerosol sprays, or inhaled paints/sprays for the high at least once.
Prescription Painkillers (Kids aged 12-17, a survey conducted from 2015-2016)
- 4% of adolescents abused painkillers within a 12 month period of the survey, taking them in a way that was not directed by their doctor.
There were 2% of adolescents aged 12-17 that needed addiction treatment for alcohol that did not get it. There were 3% that needed illicit drug addiction treatment that didn’t get the help they needed. The battle for teen sobriety is not easy. They want to make their own decisions but also need proper guidance to make those choices.
Teen drug abuse throughout the US is lower than in recent years but Idaho still shows to be a problem. Kids are abusing marijuana, meth, cocaine, and ecstasy.
Why Underaged Drinking is a Concern
For teens, alcohol is their number one choice when it comes to abusing a substance. Drinking alcohol at any age comes with risks. It can come with greater risks from kids. They don’t have the same tolerance level as adults. Teens also lack the ability to make adult decisions, being more excessive in their drinking. Teens under the influence contribute to:
- Damage to another’s property
- Accidents leading to injury
- Risky behaviors
The definition of underage drinking in the US is someone drinking before they’re 21. Many teens see drinking as their bridge to adulthood. While many teens are doing it, it’s not legal and is considered a public health hazard. When teens drink, they are put at risk. When teens excessively drink, it can threaten their development. Research has found that the teen brain is susceptible to damage over time.
Due to teenage drinking being linked to adult alcoholism, there is great risk of long-term alcohol abuse. This problem throughout the US is quite often hardly noticed. Teens abuse alcohol more than any other substance. When they drink, they will characteristically drink a lot in one sitting. While binge drinking has declined, the behavior to drink a lot in one night is still an occurrence. They are much less likely to be “responsible drinkers.”
Helping Your Teen Make the Right Choices
When it comes to abusing substances, teens will put themselves at great risk. Driving under the influence is just one of the main issues. In Idaho, 40% of drunk driving accidents that cause fatalities involved teenagers. More than 50% of teen deaths will be attributed to a car accident where alcohol was involved.
Abuse of drugs can cause risky sexual behaviors that could impact your teen for the rest of their life. Getting your child to practice sobriety through the teen years. Having open communication with your child will allow them to ask you questions. If your child starts to develop a problem with drugs or alcohol, you’ll want to be able to help them.
Teen Addiction Intervention
If you’ve noticed your teen has symptoms of addiction, you may feel like there’s no way to help them. You want the best for your child and sometimes intervention is the only way. Most addicts don’t want to see they have a problem. A teen may not believe it could happen to them. If your child is in denial that they are powerless to stop on their own, you may have to step in.
An intervention is about educating the addict about addiction. It is usually suggested that as many loved ones are there. The more people to speak up about their concern and love for the teen, the better. If you think you need help with this process, there are professional intervention services available.
- Oversee the process from beginning to end.
- They will meet with you to discuss your view on your child’s addiction.
- You want to communicate all the details such as symptoms, behaviors, and any events that stand out for you.
They will ask you essential questions such as:
- Your child’s relationship to the substance.
- If they have been diagnosed with a mental illness, which could indicate a dual diagnosis.
- If your teen has ever tried to commit suicide.
- If your teen has had a history of violence.
When an interventionist has the information they need, they will explain to you what your child is going through. This will allow you to see your child separate from the substance that’s taken over their life. When it’s time for the meeting, the intervention specialist will have devised a plan so it can go as smoothly as possible. They use techniques during the meeting to keep everyone calm, especially the addict.
Interventions are always going to be emotional. Pain and resentment will be brought up. Confrontations that start out peaceful and harmless can quickly turn. This is why an intervention professional should attend. They can guide the meeting to be productive, which gives the intervention greater chance of succeeding.
Consequences of Not Addressing Teen Addiction
It may seem cruel and unkind to exercise tough love on your teen. Know this though, addictions don’t go away by themselves. Over time, they get worse. If there isn’t some form of intervention, your child’s disease will get worse. They will never have a time where they can enjoy being sober and truly enjoy their life.
Maybe you’ve tried to talk to them and they’ve promised you they won’t do it anymore. They say they’ve learned their lesson. Some kids may refuse to talk to you about it or throw a tantrum because you brought it up. Your relationship with your child is a deep well of emotions, making it hard for you to see things objectively. There are specific signs to watch out for.
Signs of teen substance addiction:
- Stealing money.
- Aggressive behavior.
- Being extra secretive.
- Their physical appearance may change.
- They aren’t as physically active.
- Their mental state changes dramatically.
- Their grades start to decline.
- They have very little energy.
- They don’t seem to enjoy anything anymore.
Getting an interventionist to come to your home may be covered by your insurance company. Make sure to verify your insurance to see what you’re covered for.
Rehab for Addicted Teens
Taking your teen out of their normal social routine and putting them into an inpatient rehab is their best alternative. They will focus on sobriety without any of the temptations. Upon admission, there will be an assessment. This will give the facility the information they need to build a program for your child.
The program will usually last 28 days and they stay in a residential setting. It may begin with holistic or medical detox, depending on the nature of the addiction. Their program will include specialized treatments based on what their needs are. They will attend peer group meetings, one-on-one therapy, and take part in healthy activities.
Aftercare Plan for Long Term Sobriety
There is excellent community support in Boise once you or your loved one has finished rehab. It’s important to have a long-term sobriety plan and meetings like AA and NA are a great help for that. These 12-step groups in Boise get you the support you need and the opportunity to meet others going through the same battle.
There is family support too. If you have a teen addict, consider going to Al-Anon or Alateen meetings so you can better understand the disease. There is less chance of relapse for the addict if they maintain focus and don’t feel alone in their recovery.
Alcoholics Anonymous offers many meetings on most days of the week. It was the first 12-step program developed and has been helping alcoholics for decades.
For a teen that has an addiction to drugs, there is Narcotics Anonymous. It focuses more on the addiction to drugs but with the same step process as AA. Again there are meetings available frequently throughout the week.
Alateen for teens focuses on teens or young adults. If you have an older child that has an addiction, they can also attend these meetings. They can talk to other teens that are focusing on their sobriety. Having peers as a teen is essential to recovery. Here, they have a safe place to talk about their addiction and gain support from kids their age. Teens are also welcome to attend Al-Anon meetings in Boise.
At Northpoint Recovery, we care about the successful recovery of everyone who walks through the door. In the case of teen addiction, we know how important family therapy is. Family and the support community are what keeps addicts sober for the long haul. We have helped thousands of addicts in the Boise area successfully recover. Our compassionate, experienced staff use the most up to date methods available. We want you, or your family member to have the best treatment possible. If you need our intervention services, have questions, or are simply ready to begin a life of sobriety, contact us today.