The Drug Class Blog

Nov 02

Where Does It Start

Drug and Alcohol Problems generally start young, usually when kids are in grade 8 or nine.

The research clearly shows that most people who have substance problems started their alcohol or drug use before they were 17 and typically at 13 or 14.

I had a grade 9 class this week with about 35 kids and one of the thing we did was an AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorder) test and a CUDIT (Cannabis Use Disorder) test. I use these because typically kids don’t think they have a problem. One of the hardest things to do is self-assess a drug or alcohol issue (please remember that alcohol is a drug).

Using these tests help kids recognize that what they are doing may be way past the edge. 5 of the kids in the class scored relatively high on the test, I had time to chat with two of them (I’ll get to the others next week).

Both of these kids were healthy, normal looking grade nines, not marginalized in any way. Really no external indicators of problems, both doing OK with school and from the conversation had healthy relationships at home.

Both had similar stories, they started drinking a bit in grade 8, a bit more over the summer and a bit more once they hit high school (they were both 14).

The boy said he really had no idea that what he was doing was not OK, he just fit in with what his friends were doing and of course he liked it. His reaction to the test was perfect “I didn’t know, but know that I do I’m done with drinking. I don’t want this to interfere with my life.” I asked if I could check with him over the next few weeks to see how things were going and he said “please”

The girl’s story was a bit different. She said that actually she had quit drinking about a month before because she could see her friends changing and she didn’t want to be “another one of the grade 9 drunk b*****s’. (itself a telling comment)

Both of them said their parents didn’t really have an idea of what was going on, the biggest tool the kids had used to not get caught was sleep-overs. If something becomes important to a teen they will do what they can to protect it.

So, what can parents do??

1.Do not encourage or support substance use. It is really not OK. It is not being a “cool parent” or your “kid’s friend” to buy them alcohol or let them drink in your house. It is illegal to allow minors to drink on your property even if their parents say it is ok.

2.Make sure you know where and what your child is doing. Be cautious about the “sleepover” thing. Talk to the other parents, make sure the kids are actually there and make sure the other parent knows you are not ok with your son or daughter using alcohol or other drugs. I know there are parents who will say “its OK I won’t tell your mom” so be careful.

3.Talk to your kids about drug and alcohol use and more importantly learn to spend time to listen to them. If they feel respected enough to be able to at least voice their opinion then a dialogue can begin.

Here is a very interesting test you can do with your teen to help them understand their alcohol use

Also here are some internal links

What do you think?

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