Source: Connect by Kids
“Studies show that children that are involved in activities and have less time on their hands tend to stay away from drugs easier than kids than kids that have nothing to do after school.”
– David Karol Gore, Phd., Psychologist
17-year old Mururi began using drugs at an early age.
“I mean it started off only on weekends when I was twelve but by thirteen, I was like, ‘I need to get high man. This is boring.’”
Boredom. Researchers at Davidson College studied the affects of cocaine and exercise on rats. They found that when rats get more exercise, they want less cocaine than those who don’t exercise at all.
Experts say, in humans, exercise has the same effect on the reward systems of the brain as do drugs.
Still, as family psychologist, David Karol Gore explains, the way exercise prevents some kids from using drugs may be as simple as this: “Studies show that children that are involved in activities and have less time on their hands tend to stay away from drugs easier than kids than kids that have nothing to do after school.”
“Look real carefully at what their teenagers are doing. They need to see how involved they are in activities and if they are not what are they doing with their time.”
Tips for Parents
A study from Columbia University shows that youth who are bored and who have access to extra cash are more likely to abuse drugs. For their study, researchers with the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse surveyed 1,987 children aged 12 to 17 and 504 parents, 403 of whom were parents of the surveyed children. They found that kids who are frequently bored are 50% more likely to smoke, drink and use illegal drugs. And those who had $25 or more a week in spending money were nearly twice as likely to succumb to substance abuse. Consider these additional statistics about teens and drug abuse cited by the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
- In 2007, the percentage of 8th graders reporting lifetime use of any illicit drug declined was 19%.
- In 2007, 15.4% of 12th graders reported using a prescription drug non-medically within the past year. Vicodin continues to be abused at unacceptably high levels.
- Between 2005 and 2007, past year abuse of MDMA (ecstasy) increased among 12th graders from 3.0% to 4.5%; and between 2004 and 2007, past year abuse of MDMA increased among 10th graders from 2.4% to 3.5%.
It is important that family members feel as though they can talk to each other about tough issues, such as drug use. Part of this early, open communication includes being a good listener. As a parent, consider adopting these listening techniques provided by the American Council for Drug Education (ACDE):
- Give your child an opportunity to talk. Stop talking and give your child sufficient time to complete his or her thoughts and process what has been said.
- Demonstrate interest by asking appropriate questions. Questions can help you clarify your child’s thoughts and suggestions. Be sure that you are interpreting what has been said correctly.
- Listen to the complete message. Listen to the total message before forming a response.
- Encourage your child to talk. Use door-opening statements (”You seem distracted today” or “Tell me what is going on”) that invite a response.
- Focus on content, not delivery. Avoid being distracted by your child’s poor grammar or manners. It is what is being said that is important.
- Listen for main ideas. Try to pick out the central theme of the conversation.
- Deal effectively with emotionally charged language. Be aware of words or phrases that produce anxiety and trigger emotions.
- Identify areas of common experience and agreement. Note similar experiences of your own or offer a shared point of view to communicate acceptance and understanding.
- Deal effectively with whatever blocks you from listening. Be aware of personal blocks that may prevent you from hearing what your child is saying.
Substance abuse can be an overwhelming issue with which to deal, but it doesn’t have to be. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America offers the following strategies to put into practice so that your child can reap the rewards of a healthy, drug-free life:
- Be your child’s greatest fan. Compliment him or her on all of his or her efforts, strength of character and individuality.
- Involve your child in adult-supervised after-school activities. Ask him or her what types of activities he or she is interested in and contact the school principal or guidance counselor to find out what activities are available. Sometimes it takes a bit of experimenting to find out which activities your child is best suited for, but it’s worth the effort – feeling competent makes children much less likely to use drugs.
- Help your child develop tools he can use to get out of alcohol- or drug-related situations. Let him or her know he or she can use you as an excuse: “My mom would kill me if I smoked marijuana!”
- Get to know your child’s friends and their parents. Set appointments for yourself to call them and check-in to make sure they share your views on alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Steer your child away from any friends who use drugs.
- Call teens’ parents if their home is to be used for a party. Make sure that the party will be alcohol-free and supervised by adults.
- Set curfews and enforce them. Let your child know the consequences of breaking curfew.
- Set a no-use rule for alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
- Sit down for dinner with your child at least once a week. Use the time to talk – don’t eat in front of the television.
- Get – and stay – involved in your child’s life.
- American Council for Drug Education
- Davidson College
- National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse
- National Institute on Drug Abuse
- Partnership for a Drug-Free America