A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Friday, December 22, 2006

Where there's a will, there's a high

Now, this is nothing new, but it certainly doesn't hurt to remind people that work with kids that over-the-counter medications can be abused by teens:
Teens increasingly are getting high with legal drugs like painkillers and mood stimulants, and they're turning to cough syrup as well, says a government survey released Thursday.

The annual study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, conducted by the University of Michigan, showed mixed results in the nation's longtime campaign against teen drug abuse.

It found that while fewer teens overall drank alcohol or used illegal drugs in the last year, a small but growing number were popping prescription painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin and stimulants like Ritalin.

As many as one in every 14 high school seniors said they used cold medicine "fairly recently" to get high, the study found.

It was the first year that the government tracked the frequency of teens who reported getting high from over-the-counter medicine for coughs and colds.

"It's bad that kids are buying cough syrup and using it this way -- it's not good for them," said John P. Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The study found about one in 10 high school seniors have abused the painkiller Vicodin, and Walters said kids may be pilfering the pills from their parents' medicine cabinets.

This has been going on since I was in high school. Kids (and adults) who had a drinking problem would often chug cough syrup on Sundays, when all the liquor stores were closed in Oklahoma. Some people even drank hairspray or rubbing alcohol. Since then, it seems that the public's general familiarity with various drugs has become more prevalent, what with advertising on TV for everything from Viagra (which was originally a heart medication, ironically enough) to Paxil to Singulair. And let's not forget about the ease of huffing things like correction fluid or industrial deodorizers.

Many of you work with kids and teens every day, like I do, you know the basic warning signs. But here are some others to consider:
--frequent use of Visine or other things that could mask bloodshot eyes
--change in friends
--sudden, violent outbursts
--loss of interest in the future or consequences for behavior
--sleeplessness/excessive sleepiness
--lack of sensitivity to pain/ bleeding
--constant runny nose/ chemical breath (huffing)
--rashes around the nose or mouth (huffing)
--changes in appetite/ weight loss
--pupils dilated
--stained fingers or teeth
--illness for longer than two weeks combined with any of the above

We teachers can be the front line of defense. We just have to be aware.


At 12/23/06, 10:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's heartbreaking, especially when students don't see drug abuse as self-abuse. If only they had something more to love in life other than the feeling of getting high, something our pop culture all too much glorifies.

We recently had a kiddo who tried to commit suicide with Ritalin. Hopefully, that was his lowest point and the folks who care about him -- parents, friends, teachers, etc. -- can help turn things around for him.

At 12/23/06, 11:10 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Well, Ms. Cornelius, I just wanted to drop by and wish you a happy holiday. I hope it's a great one!

At 12/23/06, 5:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I appreciate the seriousness of this post, I do have to chime in with a little humorous sarcasm.

Have you noticed, now, that you have to take a slip of paper to the pharmacy to buy Sudafed? Then they take your slip and your driver's license, enter you into a database, and check your name and purchases against said database before they'll agree to sell the stuff to you? All this, because Sudafed can be used to make Meth.

My husband pointed out that, the way things are going, pretty soon it's going to be easier to score actual METH than it will be to buy a cough drop. I don't think he's wrong.

At 12/27/06, 8:18 PM, Blogger Mister Teacher said...

Whatever happened to the good ol' days of yellowjackets and crack cocaine??

At 1/20/10, 9:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Parent's should partly to be blamed if their Teens are into these kind of drugs, Parents are the first educator when it comes to these Drugs.

adolescent drug treatment


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