A recent talk given by Bob Stutman, the former DEA special agent turned consultant who has been called an “S. O. B. on the side of the angels" by Boston Herald Magazine, and “One of our nations heroes" by Dan Rather, has spurred Lakeland, Florida residents into action to find a solution to the area's drug problem. Much of the plan will center around education, but we're not just talking about parents telling kids drugs are bad for them: we're talking about educating parents, teachers, law enforcement and business and community leaders so they really understand the drug scene and stop thinking it's not going to happen to their kids, their employees, or their friends. Florida drug rehab program and drug detox centers are going to be very busy in the near future as Lakeland residents become more aware of the problem and insist on doing something about it.
Here are some rather startling facts:
The average age of first drug use is 12 1/2 years old.
If you also consider alcohol, the age drops below 12 years.
65% of graduating high school seniors said their schools are drug infested.
50% of college students binge drink - 10 drinks or more at the same time, according to Stutman's definition.
25% of college students will be diagnosed as alcoholics or drug addicts - these are the kids who are unlikely to be able to stop drinking or taking drugs without an alcohol or drug rehab program.
72% of high school seniors said that drugs are a major issue in their life - involving themselves, their friends or family members.
Despite these statistics, only 22% of parents say their kids have any involvement with drugs. And therein lies the problem.
Why are parents out of touch with the drug scene? In part, it's because “involvement in drugs" has been redefined in recent years: while parents may consider their kid to have a problem only if they use heroin, marijuana, cocaine or other street drugs, the real problem today is with prescription drug addiction and abuse - drugs that come straight from America's medicine cabinets.
The fact that people feel it's generally safer to take prescription drugs than street drugs - after all, the pills came from a doctor, even if they weren't prescribed for the person taking them - further exacerbates the problem. In truth, Ritalin is very similar to cocaine and OxyContin is an opioid - like heroin. Not only are prescription drugs just as dangerous as their illegal counterparts, drug rehab and drug detox programs all over the U. S. are seeing an influx of clients who are hooked on them - and some of those clients would never even consider taking illegal drugs.
The morale of the story? Unless you want your kids to turn into drug addicts who need a drug rehab program, get familiar with today's drugs and drug scene so you can talk to your kids about it. If they already have a problem, get them into drug rehab. Florida has plenty of them, as do other states. And, whatever you do, don't ever assume it can't happen to your kids.
Gloria MacTaggart is a freelance writer that contributes articles on health.
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