THE AVERAGE AGE OF FIRST USE OF ALCOHOL IS 13 AND MARIJUANA IS 14.
We like to think that our children, schools, and communities are immune to the dangers of drugs and alcohol, but in reality that is not the case. If you were to look at five of your children’s friends, the statistics show that at least two of them recently consumed alcohol and one in four has used marijuana in the last year. These are not national or state statistics, they are specific to Fort Bend County where we live, work and raise our families.
For years conventional wisdom stated that by occupying a student’s time with many extracurricular activities, they would be less likely to use drugs and alcohol. While that is a true statement, extracurricular activities alone cannot prevent substance use and an overly burdened student can face just as many problems. A recent study showed that the number one reason that teens gave for using drugs was, “to deal with the pressures and stress of school” with 73% of students agreeing. To illustrate the disconnect, the parents of those students were also surveyed. Only 7% of parents believed “dealing with the pressures and stress of school” was a primary reason for adolescent usage.
Nine percent of American children live with at least one parent that was dependent on or abused alcohol and/or drugs in the last year. Children of alcoholics are four times more likely to develop problems with alcohol. This can often lead families into an intergenerational cycle of addiction, and is the reason that FBRC believes that drug and alcohol treatment is the highest form of prevention. Breaking the cycle of addiction for a family changes the future of our community.
The number one reason that teens give for not using drugs and alcohol is, “I did not want to disappoint my parents.” Prevention has to begin with parents, yet parents often struggle to connect with their children on this very important topic. Setting expectations, frequent and ongoing conversations, and using real world examples can help as you work to inform teens about the dangers of using substances.
The problem with addiction is that it is not self contained. Addiction’s impact can hurt relationships, careers, personal finances and the future of families and communities. It is more evident now than ever before that substance abuse disorders are wide spread and indiscriminate in whom they affect. Rich and poor, young and old, blue collar and white collar, high-achieving schools and under-performing schools are all impacted in very similar ways by drug and alcohol addiction.