Gives Parents Advice on Dealing with Adolescent Substance Abuse
TR Robertson — A Thursday Zoom presentation sponsored by the North Coastal Prevention Coalition, the Vista Community Clinic and the Vista Unified School District featured a wealth of information to guide parents in preventing substance abuse in their children as well as helping give them advice on dealing with the stress and anxiety they may have in today’s world.
The presentation was facilitated by Aaron Byzak from Tri-City Medical Center and President of the North Coastal Prevention Coalition. A short video on steps to prevent substance abuse from the Addiction Policy Forum outlined ten steps all parents should follow. 90% adults with substance use disorders began smoking, drinking and other drugs before the age of 18. The steps parents should follow include:
- Talk early and often about the risks of illegal substances
- Support Healthy activities and alternatives
- Set clear expectations their children should follow
- Establish consequences if the children do slip up
- Do not be cool – you are the parent
- Do not provide alcohol or drugs in any situation
- Pay attention to their activities even as they become independent.
- Make time for your child and establish healthy relationships
- Prioritize sleep, most teens do not get enough sleep
- Make decisions early to help when help is needed
Next for the Zoom meeting was a presentation by Greta Meyerhof, LMFT. Greta pointed out that stress comes in many stages and can be both good and bad. Stress can lead to heart palpitations, headaches, muscle aches, fatigue, and loss of sleep. She then discussed the chronic exaggerated worry that many teens have today. She said this can lead to social anxiety with irrational thoughts or behavior. Many people today have suffered from panic disorders which can result in shortness of breath and feeling as though you are having a heart attack. Some even develop phobias due to all the situations occurring today. Her suggestions to help combat this included taking care of yourself, try to surround yourself with friends as much as possible, make sure communication and conversation is part of your day, have family meetings often, reach out for help early and do not let stress build. Make sure you know the warning signs and offer support as much as you can and remind teens or anyone it is not just happening to them. According to a report shown on KUSI T.V., teen suicide is on the rise and any help teens can receive in this stressful world is help that is needed to assist them in dealing with an unstable situation.
Following Ms. Meyerhof was Dr. Brad McCammack, a local pediatrician. Dr. McCammack discussed adolescent mental health. He said parents need to remember the adolescent brain changes every day. He also stresses the need teens have for more sleep. He said that teens that develop substance abuse will generally go on as adults to continue this abuse. Therefore, it is so critical to stop this abuse early. He said teens are susceptible to risky behavior which can lead to poor decision making and physical injury. The teen years are challenging not only for them but also for all parents. Dr. McCammack said most teens seek substance abuse to relieve some sort of anxiety, stress, or trauma. He said the primary problem is not the substance abuse but what led them to try it in the first place. They need to understand that substance abuse is not a long-term treatment to solve any problem. Parents need to help their teen come up with a response to refuse these substances which will give them an out when they need one. Parents need to talk early to children and talk often. He said even at age 7 is not too early to begin speaking with their child. Above all, do not be afraid to discuss these issues with your kids.
Next was a short presentation by Linda Lee Garbay from the San Diego County Friday Night Live Program. This free after school program offers leadership skills in a safe environment and assists in building character, reducing stress and anxiety and education. The main center is at 6401 Linda Vista Road. Phone numbers for anyone interested include 619-777-6365 and 760-631-5000 or go to www.sdfnl.net or firstname.lastname@example.org .
A short presentation by Jessica Garcia from Project Reach at Rancho Buena Vista High School pointed out that they offer academic tutoring in a safe space Monday thru Friday from 2:45-6 pm. COVID restrictions are in place for this program. Vista High School also offers a similar program through the Stay Woke Club. Anyone interested in finding out more can email email@example.com.
Another contact for parents who want to learn more on helping their children out as well as educating themselves on how to deal with substance abuse can go to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions they may have.