with your kids about drugs
For parents struggling with a childs drug or alcohol use. Get Free, One-on-One Help
Table of Drug Addiction
with your kids about alcohol & drugsl
We need to help our kids to distinguish fact from fiction. And it's not too soon to begin. National studies show that the average age when a child first tries alcohol is 11; for marijuana, it's 12. And many kids start becoming curious about these substances even sooner. So let's get started!
Student surveys reveal that when parents listen to their children's feelings and concerns, their kids feel comfortable talking with them and are more likely to stay drug-free.
Role play how to say "no"
Role play ways in which your child can refuse to go along with his friends without becoming a social outcast. Try something like this, "Let's play a game. Suppose you and your friends are at Andy's house after school and they find some beer in the refrigerator and ask you to join them in drinking it. The rule in our family is that children are not allowed to drink alcohol. So what could you say?"
If your child comes up with a good response, praise him. If he doesn't, offer a few suggestions like, "No, thanks. Let's play with Sony PlayStation instead," or "No thanks. I don't drink beer. I need to keep in shape for basketball."
Allow your child plenty of opportunity to become a confident decision-maker. An 8-year-old is capable of deciding if she wants to invite lots of friends to her birthday party or just a close pal or two. A 12-year-old can choose whether she wants to go out for chorus or join the school band. As your child becomes more skilled at making all kinds of good choices, both you and she will feel more secure in her ability to make the right decision concerning alcohol and drugs if and when the time arrives.
Provide age-appropriate information
Make sure the information that you offer fits the child's age and stage. When your 6 or 7-year-old is brushing his teeth, you can say, "There are lots of things we do to keep our bodies healthy, like brushing our teeth. But there are also things we shouldn't do because they hurt our bodies, like smoking or taking medicines when we are not sick."
If you are watching TV with your 8 year-old and marijuana is mentioned on a program, you can say, "Do you know what marijuana is? It's a bad drug that can hurt your body." If your child has more questions, answer them. If not, let it go. Short, simple comments said and repeated often enough will get the message across.
You can offer your older child the same message, but add more drug-specific information. For example, you might explain to your 12-year-old what marijuana and crack look like, their street names and how they can affect his body.
Establish a clear family position on drugs
It's okay to say, "We don't allow any drug use and children in this family are not allowed to drink alcohol. The only time that you can take any drugs is when the doctor or Mom or Dad gives you medicine when you're sick. We made this rule because we love you very much and we know that drugs can hurt your body and make you very sick; some may even kill you. Do you have any questions?"
Be a good example
Children will do what you do much more readily than what you say. So try not to reach for a beer the minute you come home after a tough day; it sends the message that drinking is the best way to unwind. Offer dinner guests nonalcoholic drinks in addition to wine and spirits. And take care not to pop pills, even over-the-counter remedies, indiscriminately. Your behavior needs to reflect your beliefs.
Discuss what makes a good friend
Since peer pressure is so important when it comes to kids' involvement with drugs and alcohol, it makes good sense to talk with your children about what makes a good friend. To an 8-year-old you might say, "A good friend is someone who enjoys the same games and activities that you do and who is fun to be around." 11 to 12-year-olds can understand that a friend is someone who shares their values and experiences, respects their decisions and listens to their feelings. Once you've gotten these concepts across, your children will understand that "friends" who pressure them to drink or smoke pot aren't friends at all. Additionally, encouraging skills like sharing and cooperation -- and strong involvement in fun, healthful activities (such as team sports or scouting) -- will help your children make and maintain good friendships as they mature and increase the chance that they'll remain drug-free.
Kids who feel good about themselves are much less likely than other kids to turn to illegal substances to get high. As parents, we can do many things to enhance our children's self-image. Here are some pointers:
If your child becomes withdrawn, loses weight, starts doing poorly in school, turns extremely moody, has glassy eyes -- or if the drugs in your medicine cabinet seem to be disappearing too quickly -- talk with your child and reach out to any one of the organizations listed here. You'll be helping your youngster to a healthier, happier future.
Offer lots of praise for any job well done.
If you need to criticize your child, talk about the action, not the person. If your son gets a math problem wrong, it's better to say, "I think you added wrong. Let's try again."
Assign do-able chores. A 6-year-old can bring her plate over to the sink after dinner; a 12-year-old can feed and walk the dog after school. Performing such duties and being praised for them helps your child feel good about himself.
Spend one-on-one time with your youngster. Setting aside at least 15 uninterrupted minutes per child per day to talk, play a game, or take a walk together, lets her know you care.
Say, "I love you." Nothing will make your child feel better.
Repeat the message
Information and lessons about drugs are important enough to repeat frequently. So be sure to answer your children's questions as often as they ask them to initiate conversation whenever the opportunity arises.
If you suspect a problem, seek help
While kids under age
12 rarely develop a substance problem, it can -- and does --
happen. If your child becomes withdrawn, loses weight,
starts doing poorly in school, turns extremely moody, has
glassy eyes -- or if the drugs in your medicine cabinet seem
to be disappearing too quickly -- talk with your child and
reach out to any one of the organizations listed here.
You'll be helping your youngster to a healthier, happier
with your kids about drugs
Talking about issues such as drugs may be difficult. This card is designed to help you discuss drugs more easily. By maintaining open communication and giving them the truth, you can help your child live a drug-free life.
What do you say?
Tell them that you love them and you want them to live a healthy and happy life.
Say you do not find alcohol and other illegal drug use acceptable. Many parents never state this simple principle.
Explain how this use hurts people.
Discuss the legal issues. A conviction for a drug offense can lead to time in prison or cost someone a job, driver's license, or college loan.
Talk about positive, drug-free alternatives and how you can explore them together. Some ideas include sports, reading, movies, bike rides, hikes, camping, cooking, games and concerts. Involve your kids' friends.
How do you say it?
Calmly and openly - don't exaggerate. The facts speak for themselves.
Face to face - exchange information and try to understand each other's point of view. Be an active listener and let your child talk about fears and concerns. Don't interrupt and don't preach.
Through "teachable moments", in contrast to a formal lecture, use a variety of situations: television news, TV drama, books, newspapers.
Establish an ongoing conversation rather than giving a one-time speech.
Remember that you set the example. Avoid contradictions between your words and your actions. And don't use illegal drugs, period! Even if marijuana is legal.
Learn to read between the lines.
Be creative! You and your child might act out various situations in which one person tries to pressure the other to take a drug. Figure out two or three ways to handle each situation and talk about which works best.
Exchange ideas with other parents.
respect, and genuine curiosity, and the dividends will pour
in when its time to talk about other serious issues.
And guess what, theyll probably listen to you more
often and even come to you for advice when the going gets
tough. How can you go wrong?
Struggling with a Childs Addiction: 3 Things I Want
You to Know
One of those less happy ways this can happen is when we discover our children are using substances. Will people think its my fault? Is it my fault? What if Im labeled a bad mother? But so much is to be gained from reaching out and asking for help. Heres what Ive learned:
1. Theres power in sharing stories.
Many parents feel ashamed, guilty or embarrassed when their child has a substance problem. They buy into the stubbornly prevalent myth that addiction is somehow a character flaw that cant be cured even though the science is clear that addiction is a treatable disease and families can and do recover. Its easy to see why parents might be tempted to shut down and close themselves off from the world.
But when I was recently a Master of Ceremonies for a fundraising event for the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, I was deeply moved by the powerful stories shared by parents during their testimonies of heartbreak or recovery. I was one of these parents. My own story began on March 4, 2012. That was the day I got the kind of phone call every parent dreads: Mommy, I cant breathe. It was my oldest daughter Christina, then in her senior year at Yale, two months away from graduating.
Looking back on that March day as I frantically drove from New York to the emergency room in New Haven, and later when we left the emergency room with my sedated daughter crying in my arms, and later still over the hard weeks that followed, I focused on all that I was grateful for: that my daughter was alive, that she wanted to get well, that she had a loving family that rallied around her, and that we were lucky enough to find inspiration and support from other families that had been through similar experiences.
And just over a year later, my daughter taught me a lesson about the importance of sharing stories when she decided to go public and share her own:
Writing this blog a year ago would have been impossible, because of the shame and the deep guilt I felt about being an addict. I have never been abused or neglected. I didnt grow up in an alcoholic home. I have been blessed with an unconditionally loving family and I have been given every opportunity to thrive. Why then? Why cause the people who love me so much pain? Why be seemingly intent on throwing it all away?
The honest answer is: I dont know. What I do know and I have grappled with this over the past 13 months is that addiction is a disease. It is progressive, it can be fatal and it can touch anyone.
My life as it is today was unthinkable thirteen months ago. Yes, I mean the particulars I have a steady job and healthy, loving relationships but more than that Ive learned to be vulnerable. Ive learned how to apologize and how to forgive. Ive learned how much strength it takes to let go. If writing this can help one person feel a little less alone, if it encourages one person to ask for help, if it allows one person to know that no matter how hopeless it feels right now, it can get better, then that is enough.
What she taught me is that its important not just for the people suffering from addiction to share their stories, but for their families as well. And I witnessed the power of these family stories the night of the recent Partnership event. Its inspiring and empowering when you know that others have been through what youve been through.
Im glad to say that Christina recently celebrated her fifth year in recovery. And Im also glad that so many parents are telling their own stories to help and support others.
2. We can all do our part to erase the stigma and create change.
As a journalist, I know the power of words and stories. They are some of our most important tools not just in helping eradicate the stigma of addiction, but in creating life-saving change. Families are showing up by the thousands on Capitol Hill, speaking out and advocating for legislation to help curb our countrys opioid epidemic. And what theyre also doing is writing the most personal, most heartbreaking obituaries in their local media, not hiding the fact that their son or daughter died of an overdose, so that another family can seek help and never have to suffer the same tragic loss.
Words matter, and they deepen our compassion, empathy, caring, understanding and love. Addiction is one of the most misunderstood diseases in modern society. With addiction often viewed as a choice or a moral failing, families struggling with this disease just do not get the same support that families coping with other illnesses do.
3. Its important to take care of you.
Finally and this is true for all parents its also important to remember that to take care of anyone else, including your own child, you have to take care of yourself. Its like what they say on airplanes: put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others. Its not selfish. Making sure youre recharged, renewed and resilient is the best way to help your child and your family.
This impulse to discount our own well-being is understandable. But if we are stressed and burned out, we are less able to help our child by remaining strong, calm and optimistic. And when we prioritize our well-being, were not just replenishing resources our children need, were also modeling behavior that will be as good for them as it is for us.
Some of the parents I met at the Partnerships fundraiser had never met one another before, but I could see new friendships and relationships already forming. Their shared experiences, their willingness to speak out to stand up for their families, and to demand changes that will support other families was powerful. Its true of the community theyve found at drugfree.org, as well.
As Christina wrote, it takes a lot of
strength to be vulnerable. But when we can do that, we help
not just ourselves but the world around us. The more we take
that to heart, the easier it becomes to move from struggle
What drugs are
the most commonly abused?
Did You Know?
In the past four years, there has been a 19% decline in the number of young people who reported using illicit drugs. However, the reported abuse of presciption drugs and inhalants has increased.* Preventing drug abuse is a daunting job, but studies have shown that the greatest positive difference is made when individuals and community groups get involved in the lives of young people in their cities and towns. It's proven that kids who are involved in extracurricular or afterschool activities are less likely to use drugs.
The campaign launched in August 2000 and it is designed to increase the public's awareness of, and participation in, community coalitions that provide activities and support for the youth in their neighborhoods. The ads seek to motivate adults to volunteer, coach or mentor to keep kids active, off the streets and away from drugs. The message is that everyone has something to offer in order to be a positive influence on the kids in their community.
to involve their social, business, and community groups in
community coalitions and urge viewers to call a toll-free
number at 877-KIDS-313 or www.helpyourcommunity.org
to find out how to become involved with a coalition in your
area or to find local opportunities to get involved. The
website connects visitors to anti-drug coalitions and other
national youth-oriented organizations that have local
Deaths in Oregon - 2007
Ecstasy use can cause short- and long-term memory loss, and some users experience memory problems after taking just a single dose of the drug, according to British researchers.
Reuters reported June 28 that 75 percent of Ecstasy users have memory impairments, and that the damage does not seem to be limited to long-term users.
"It's almost as if there is a one-hit problem," said lead researcher Keith Laws of Hertfordshire University. "Essentially it's the same if you take only a few, or an extremely large amount of tablets."
Laws and colleagues reviewed 26 Ecstasy studies that included 600 users. "Often when you ask people who take ecstasy if they have memory problems, they say no, but when you test them, they realize that they have serious problems," he said.
The study is slated to
be published in the journal Human
Psychopharmacology: Clinical and
Drugs, Your Freshman
Today I am a drug-treatment counselor. As I talk to young people getting ready to go off to campus, I'm often tempted to grab them by the shoulders to make sure they understand that it's not only their academic choices that will have an impact on their future. Their social decisions will matter greatly, too.
More than that though, I want to sit down with parents and make sure they know that their advice, opinions and insights are still going to be important to their college student. Through education and support, they can still affect the choices their young adults make when it comes to drug and alcohol consumption, even if they are hundreds of miles away.
The most common discussion I have with parents who have had a child in drug treatment is that they wished that they'd listened to their gut feelings and asked more questions. So many say, "If only I knew then what I know now."
Don't let distance discourage you from trying to learn about your child's daily life. Talk with your child on a regular basis, especially in these weeks as he or she prepares for college.
Once they're on campus, try to keep a good read on how life away from home is going. Be involved but nonjudgmental. Maintain communication, and ask specific questions that give you an indication of how he or she is handling the daily pressures, both academic and social.
If you ever suspect that your child may have a problem, address it immediately. The longer you brush a problem aside, the worse it becomes.
Even though parents may have experimented with drugs during college, it's essential that they feel comfortable discussing the dangers of being a user. It is the healthy behaviors that parents exhibit now that matter, not what occurred 25 years ago. Try to avoid giving mixed messages by telling tales of your own "glory" days that can glamorize drug and alcohol use. Point out that it's possible to have fun at college without consuming alcohol; there are many groups and events on campus that don't involve alcohol and drugs.
Of course, you can offer support and guidance, but ultimately they will make their own decisions and grow into their own unique people while at school. But by showing interest in their social life, as well as all areas of their college experience - not just academics - they're more likely to talk openly and turn to you for advice.
One other point parents should be aware of is the growing trend of students abusing their own prescription drugs, or their friends'. Many college students are using them as study aids or to get "high." If your teen has a legitimate prescription, make sure he handles it properly and stress the importance of not sharing with others.
The college years can
be a hectic, stressful time. But with continued support and
guidance from parents, they can also be the best years of a
Troubled Teens -
The teen drug problem
Statistics for 2002 reflect a slight drop in teenage drug usage to 8.3 percent for overall consumption of all illicit drugs. Still heading the list as most commonly used drug for troubled teens was marijuana (75% of all teen users) followed by cocaine (0.9%) and marijuana combined with one or more other drugs (20%). Cigarettes were found to be a strong precursor for troubled teens to who used illicit drugs, representing about eight times the number to those teens who smoked (48.1%) and those teens who did not (6.2%). Gender differences play a role as well amongst teenagers, with a greater majority of male teens using illegal drugs (12.3%) than their female teenage counterparts (10.9%) (SAMHSA, 2002).
Alcohol, a legal drug restricted to teens only by age, proves both plentiful, available and popular among teens aged twelve through seventeen, with both casual and binge drinking reflecting a higher percentage of usage in college-age teens (GDCADA, 2004).
there are a number of social and environmental factors that
are related to the teen drug problem in America, with a
significant number of teenagers engaging in some form of
drug and/or alcohol testing period at some time during their
adolescence without falling into the unending cycle of teen
drug abuse and substance abuse. When teens are brought
together under a foundation of negative influences
broken home, developmental problems, emotional issues,
familial problems, etc. the underlying risk factors
inherent to structural functionalism can in many instances
act as the agitator for substance abuse.
about your child and drugs?
The Curry County, OR Sheriff's Department has put together a Parent Aid kit to help parents with their children through confidential, reliable drug testing.
Aid for Parents
There is an answer
You now have a way to receive information that can help guide you in making decisions regarding what steps to take.
The first step in solving the problem is recognizing that you (parents/guardians) can take responsible action. The second step is to use a test kit for detection of drugs. Results are given only to you, without legal consequence.
We want to help parents help themselves in dealing with drug problems at the earliest stage of abuse. Parents using correct information and the support of community service agencies can.
The Curry County Sheriff's Office (Oregon) will maintain strict confidentiality. ONLY YOU WILL BE TOLD THE TESTING RESULTS. Our goal is to provide you with the information which will assist you in making decisions and taking action to help your son or daughter. The results of the test cannot be used for any litigation purposes.
If the results indicate that drugs are present, you as a parent have community resources available for additional information, support and counseling. Physicians, nurses, school counseling staff, counselors, and health educators are some of the resources. Also, there are local organizations such as Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous. These resources maintain confidentiality.
When a person consumes a drug, it is processed by the body and unused portions are excreted in the urine. The testing laboratory has highly trained personnel who use stare-of-the-art instrumentation to detect these drugs. Solid dosage items can also be tested, i.e., white powder, green leafy material, etc. Analysis results can not be used for any enforcement or litigation purposes! The specimen is discarded after analysis.
How do I use the kit?
Instructions are provided that will guide you, step by step, to complete the process.
How will I be notified
of the results?
Curry County Parent Aid is a community partnership between Curry County Sheriff's Office, Brookings Police Department, Gold Beach Police Department, Port Orford Police Department, and human services agencies in Curry County. The following have generously contributed to the Parent Aid Program: Gold Beach Rotary, Port Orford Rotary, City of Gold Beach, City of Brookinsg, City of Port Orford, Commission on Children and Families and parents like you!
Contact Sheriff Mark Metcalf, Colvin & Moore,
PO Box 681, Gold Beach, OR 97444, 541.247.3242
Home drug testing kits have become popular in recent years for parents trying to determine if their children are using drugs or to prevent them from abusing substances. But are home tests really effective? And are they helpful? Can they do more harm than good?
Is your child using drugs or alcohol? Are you sure? Answering these 20 questions can help you recognize some of the tell-tell signs.
Why Test Your Kids for Drugs?
There are several reasons that you might consider using home drug tests.
You may have considered it because the suspect your child is drinking or using drugs. The child's appearance, behavior or attitude has changed, and you suspect it may be due to substance abuse.
Or you may want to use the tests as a preventive measure. You don't believe your children have started using drugs yet, but you know drugs are out there and they are available. You believe if your children know they are going to be tested, it will prevent them from drinking or using.
Perhaps you already know your child has used drugs, because they got caught - at home, at school or by the police. You have placed your child on restrictions and have demanded that the drinking or drugging stop. You want to use the test to determine if your child is complying with your demands.
What Kind of Tests Are Available?
There are dozens of companies that offer home testing kits for sale. Home testing kits that produce instant results include breath tests, saliva tests and urine tests.
There are also kits that will test hair and blood samples, but those require a laboratory for screening results.
There are kits that will test for one drug at a time, and there are more expensive kits that will test for several drugs at the same time. Most of the drug testing kits test the child's urine.
The alcohol tests are usually breath or saliva tests.
How Do the Tests Work?
Most home drug testing kits detect the presence of alcohol or drug metabolites in urine, saliva or breath within minutes. Typically, the metabolites react with reagents and antigens on the test strips to cause them to change colors indicating either a positive or negative result.
Does Testing Prevent Drug Use?
The people who claim that home drug testing kits are effective in preventing substance abuse among children are mostly the people who are selling the drug kits. There is apparently little or no scientific evidence that using random drug testing -- either at home or at school -- is effective in preventing kids from initiating alcohol or drug use.
Those who sell the drug testing kits online claim that home testing prevents drug abuse by reducing peer pressure, but there is a void of scientific studies that substantiate those claims.
Are Drug Tests Accurate?
There is research that shows that drug testing is very accurate in verifying self-reports of drug use among children and adults.
In other words, if the person said they have used drugs in the past month, testing can verify that claim most of the time. Likewise, if someone says they have not used drugs, testing can confirm that also.
But the researchers found accurate results were achieved only when the people conducting the drug testing were "knowledgeable concerning the performance characteristics of analytical procedures used for the drug tests," including knowing "the capabilities of the test methods and validation of procedures used by the testing laboratory." In other words, someone who is trained to conduct drug tests.
Are Home Drug Tests Accurate?
The home drug testing kits are "not consistent with the guidelines of professional medical organizations," according to other researchers. If you read the fine print on many home drug testing kits, it says that the kits only provide a "screening" for drugs for preliminary testing only. The sample must be sent to a laboratory for confirmation.
Even for medical professionals, drug testing is technically challenging. One study showed that certified laboratories could have false negatives between 6% and 40% of the time. Testing performed at home by untrained parents would naturally have higher rates of error than tests conducted by healthcare professionals, researchers say.
What Are the Other Drawbacks to Home Tests?
The danger in using home drug testing lies with getting incorrect results. If you get a false negative with a drug test, you may be reassured that your child is not using drugs when in fact they are. On the other hand, if the test produces a false positive, you will mistakenly accuse your child of using drugs when they are not.
There are several other reasons home drug tests can be counterproductive:
Should You Home Test Your Child?
Ultimately, only you can make the decision whether or not to test your children for alcohol or drug use, but the experts say the negatives typically outweigh the positives on using home drug tests. You could get a false result and wrongly accuse your child, causing serious damage to your relationship.
After a 2004 study at Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital, the Committee on Substance Abuse of the American Association of Pediatrics amended its policy to include a statement discouraging home drug testing by parents.
They suggest if you suspect that your child is using drugs, seek a professional assessment rather than conduct a drug test at home.
Levy, Sharon. "A Review of Internet-Based Home Drug-Testing Products for Parents ." Pediatrics. April 2004.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. "Comparing Drug Testing and Self Report of Drug Use Among Youths and Young Adults in the General Population." 19 June 2008.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "Study Leads Pediatricians to Discourage Home Drug Testing by Parents" 31 July 2008
Myths vs. Reality
is not harmful because it is "all natural" and comes from a
Myth: It's okay
to use marijuana as long as you're not a chronic user or
sniffing powdered heroin doesn't require needles, it isn't
very risky (40% of high school seniors polled do not believe
there is a great risk in trying heroin).
Myth: Drugs are
not that dangerous and I can handle it.
is doing it.
It's pure caffeine powder.
A single teaspoon of pure caffeine powder is equal to around 28 cups of coffee, and "very small amounts may cause accidental overdose," according to the Food and Drug Administration. Overdose symptoms "can include rapid or dangerously erratic heartbeat, seizures and death."
The powder is sold in bulk bags over the internet, and it's nearly impossible to measure out safe doses using everyday kitchen tools. "Volume measures, such as teaspoons, are not precise enough to calculate how many milligrams of caffeine are in the serving size," according to the FDA.
Senators want to ban it: In a letter sent to the FDA on Tuesday, Democratic senators campaigned for a federal ban on the sale of pure caffeine powder, the Hill reported. The senators reportedly said the FDA has been a "bitter disappointment" in dealing with the dangerous product.
The lawmakers' concern stems from two overdose deaths from pure caffeine powder in 2014.
The first was Logan Stiner, a high school senior who died after using caffeine powder to boost his energy -- but misjudged the dosage, according to the New York Times. The second was James Wade Sweatt, a 24-year-old recent college graduate who reportedly died after consuming a blended drink containing caffeine powder.
What the FDA has done so far: In a statement following Stiner and Sweatt's deaths, the FDA recommended that people avoid pure caffeine powder. And in 2015, the agency sent "warning letters" to five distributors of the powder, "because these products are dangerous and present a significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury to consumers," according to a statement.
But it hasn't been enough, the senators argued.
"It is disturbing that despite two unintended and untimely deaths associated with powdered caffeine, the FDA has done little to regulate these products or adequately enforce the standards in place to protect Americans," their letter read, according to the Hill.
"These products do not provide a way to measure a safe dosage per FDA recommendations, and are sold in quantities that could easily kill hundreds of individuals if ingested incorrectly," the letter also stated.
Caffeine kills in other ways, too: We're talking about energy drinks, like Rockstar and Red Bull. A November study found that consuming just one energy drink causes a significant spike in blood pressure -- a risk factor for stroke and heart attacks, Mic reported at the time.
The FDA has also investigated a number of deaths in recent years linked to Monster and 5-Hour Energy shots.
"I bet a lot of people don't realize
how much caffeine they're getting," Dr. Nieca Goldberg, a
cardiologist and director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for
Women's Health at NYU Langone Medical Center, said at the
Addiction Treatment, and What to Do About It: What I
Tell Parents Looking to Get Their Child into Treatment
Parents and families find themselves in fear and crisis, often uneducated and not knowing where to turn to find the help vitally needed for their children and young adults.
Unfortunately, the opioid crisis has become the breeding ground for numerous unethical people to prey upon the fears of families. Addiction treatment has become big business and a family in crisis or an individual suffering from addiction are now commodities.
Marketing companies call centers and even many treatment centers have engaged in immoral and sometimes even illegal behaviors in order to lure potential patients through their doors, offer sub-standard care for the purpose of making money off their insurance. Addiction treatment is often the Wild West in terms of the healthcare services industry often unregulated and with many states having poor oversight due to understaffed government organizations.
While years ago addiction treatment was a small industry run by a dedicated few often people in recovery themselves or clinicians with a heart to help those suffering from addiction over the last decade the industry has caught the eye of Wall Street. Large organizations and venture capitalist companies have entered the picture, putting bottom-line profits ahead of patient care.
The corrupt and often illegal behaviors within the addiction treatment industry can take many forms.
One well-known corrupt behavior is patient brokering, where treatment centers pay brokers a fee in order to gain patients. Each patient has a price tag and brokers are paid for sending kids to specific treatment centers. The brokers, typically people with no training or clinical expertise, sell patients to treatment centers regardless of how clinically appropriate that rehab may be to meet the needs of the patient.
Illegal enticements by patient brokers or even directly from treatment centers are another example, sometimes offering free plane tickets to fly patients to treatment or offering free rent at recovery or sober homes if a person is enrolled in a specific outpatient program.
Many treatment centers utilize online marketing tactics including posturing online as inpatient or residential treatment while they are actually an outpatient treatment facility with sober living which is a much less intense and restrictive level of care.
Online marketing tactics also include treatment centers setting up generic looking websites and call centers and Help Lines, posturing as objective but with the purpose of steering families and patients toward a specific facility that owns them or selling those patient leads to the highest bidding treatment center.
There has also been a recent trend of treatment centers hacking into the online listings of other facilities and changing the contact information, so when a family or individual attempts to call a specific rehab for help they instead reach someone else who redirects them to their facility.
I see this every day.
All of these predatory practices within the addiction treatment industry are something that I see and hear about on a daily basis. Not a day goes by that I or someone on our admissions team doesnt receive a call from a parent or family member regarding a horror story theyve experienced with their loved one dealing with an addiction treatment center or industry-related individual. This is both heartbreaking and infuriating.
Parents complain that the experience they were expecting for their child was nothing like what actually occurred. They report that there was little to no interaction with the treatment center when their loved one was there and they received no explanation for how or why certain situations were handled. They complain about receiving enormous bills after the treatment episode, for toxicology tests, treatment services and other ancillary services. And they have every right to complain and be outraged.
The truth is that within the addiction treatment field there are many good quality treatment providers that go above and beyond for those in need and their families and continually put patient care first.
If your child was diagnosed with a potentially fatal illness like cancer or heart disease, you wouldnt jump at the first option, would you? You wouldnt send them across the country to a place youve never seen simply because they had a sleek website and sounded nice on the phone, would you? No. You would make sure the facility was vetted thoroughly. You would ask other professionals for their recommendations of that hospital. You might ask family and friends if they had any experience with that specialist or facility. You would go with your child to meet the hospital and staff and make sure everything meets your standards.
Unfortunately, this isnt so with addiction.
Because the crisis occurs and the stigma exists, the natural inclination of parents and loved ones is to not talk about it with their friends and rather to simply find the first place that seems nice and that will immediately get their child in the door so that mom and dad can finally sleep at night, knowing their child is safe. This is understandable, but it has created an environment where the unethical, unscrupulous and dishonest prey upon the scared and helpless.
So What Can Parents Do?
The best way that parents and families can protect themselves and make sure they are sending their loved one to an ethical, quality treatment providers that best fits their childs needs is to become an informed and educated consumer. This can guard you against being taken advantage of during these anxious times.
1. Be wary of information you find via an online search. All you will find is an overload of information on treatment centers, all with great websites claiming to do everything for everybody. Instead, ask questions. Reach out to local professionals, therapists or other addiction specialists in your area. They will be able to give you a better understanding of the issues your child is suffering from and thus what types of clinical services will best meet their needs. Is this simply addiction or are there other mental health issues at play? Is there trauma? Grief and loss? Are they dealing with gender issues? Behavioral issues? Every case is different, which it is why it is imperative to understand what the issues are in order to find the best clinical fit for your child.
2. Vet the treatment center youre considering. Use your consumer education skills that you would use in any serious health care decision. Trust your judgment and your feelings about the answers you get from the people you talk to. Here are some things to consider:
3. Finally and perhaps most importantly, ask about their family program.Addiction is a family disease and treatment centers need to do more to treat the entire family unit through this process. For too long treatment programs have been neglecting the family and allowing children to be dropped off at their door. The family parents, sibling and other significant household members such as step-parents need help learning how to trust again, build healthy relationships with their child or sibling and learn how to function as a family with a child in recovery.
Ask what their family program looks like. For some residential programs, they will offer family education weekends or programs. This is important, but not enough. The family should be involved throughout the entire process of treatment, meaning regular phone calls (sometimes daily), therapy sessions (either in person or via phone or Skype) and support and coaching from the facility. Additionally, the treatment center should make referrals to the family for any needs they may have in terms of therapy, psychiatry or community support services. If the family already see professionals, the treatment center should work in collaboration with them.
The good news for families is that there are amazing, ethical treatment centers across the country that offer high-quality, comprehensive services and hold themselves to the highest of standards. However, with the landscape as it is, parents and families need to be armed with the facts, learn what steps they can take to navigate this process and make sure that their child is finding the best help available to meet their needs.
Addiction is treatable and recovery is possible so the most important part is finding the best place for your child for them to start their journey of healing.