Childhood Drug Abuse—Combating the Top Health Concen
Childhood Drug Abuse is now the nation’s top health concern. According to the University of Michigan National Poll on Children’s Health, “Adults rate (childhood) drug abuse and childhood obesity as the top health concerns for kids in their communities.” ( www.uofmhealth.org/news/top-ten-national-poll-0815 )
This is the first time that childhood drug abuse has ever topped the charts. And, it is for good cause. Key findings from the most recent Monitoring the Future study shows that childhood drug abuse is on the rise. ( www.monitoringthefuture.org )
Additionally, the recent Whitney Houston tragedy spotlights the insidious nature of all drug abuse, especially childhood drug abuse. ( http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7398448n )
Childhood has Changed
So what has changed about childhood that has contributed to this health epidemic? Studies reveal that more has changed than Americans would like to admit.
Gone—is the average American family composed of 2.2 children living with both biological parents. The new model finds that most children in the US are being raised in broken homes.
Why is that a problem? Children raised with only one biological parent in the home account for 75 percent of all adolescent patients receiving treatment for childhood drug abuse. ( http://www.photius.com/feminocracy/factsonfatherlesskids.html )
In fact, broken-home children are 10 times more likely to suffer from childhood drug abuse than children being raised with both biological parents. ( http://www.deltabravo.net/custody/stats.php )
Divorce and Childhood Drug Abuse
Why? What does divorce feel like to a child? In the new book, Under the Influence: The Town That Listened to its Kids, Katie, a child of divorce said: “It totally turned my world upside down . . . My brother and I blamed ourselves. We asked, ‘What did we do?’ We were angry.”
Oddly, Katie was 28 years old—a grown adult with a fully developed set of coping skills when her parents divorced. And yet, she experienced the same pain and self-blame typical of childhood divorce. ( http://www.nncc.org/parent/childview.html )
So what can be done to remedy the rise in childhood drug abuse? While it is not likely that most families will reunite—children can be helped to develop healthy relationships with both parents.
Experts View of Childhood Drug Abuse
Addressing this challenge, Bert Wood, president and CEO of Drug Free NC stated, “Adolescents can develop a habit of drug abuse when they have unresolved problems.” He went on to add that most of those problems boil down to one problem—a relationship problem with one or both of the child’s parents.
In fact, the number one reason kids give for not using drugs is that they don’t want to disappoint their parents. They don’t want to harm the relationship with the caring adults in their lives. ( http://www.ncpc.org/topics/drug-abuse/alcohol-tobacco-and-other-drugs )
So herein lies a key factor in reducing childhood drug abuse. Work to strengthen children’s relationships with each of their parents.
With this new awareness—divorced couples would understand the grave danger of using children as weapons or verbally bashing the child’s other parent. Instead, they would speak about the positive aspects of the displaced parent and do all that was possible to foster connectedness through regular visitation.
Help for Parents Concerned About Childhood Drug Abuse
In addition to parental connectedness, the book, Under the Influence: The Town That Listened to its Kids identifies two other concepts that help to determine a child’s risk for childhood drug abuse.
A child’s relationship to control—whether he views control or authority figures as helpful or harmful—plays a key role in his choice to use or abstain from illicit drugs. And, a child’s coping skill—how well or how poorly these are developed—can predict a child’s ability to combat childhood drug abuse.
Best of all, these “3 c’s”—control, coping skills, and connectedness—are all areas that parents can address from the time their child is a toddler. So, instead of feeling powerless to combat childhood drug abuse, even single-parents can become proactive and successful.
For more information about the author and investigative reporter, Patty Jo Sawvel, visit www.ClassicWritingPR.com . For more information about the book visit Amazon.com at http://tinyurl.com/7zouaoh