It was late at night when Rajan crept into the house. "Where have you been?" shouted his mother Reena. One look at Rajan and Reena realised that something was amiss. Her son had been suffering from sleepless nights lately and he hardly had any appetite for weeks. He seemed to be growing more aloof and moody as days went by.
Having talked to some of her friends, Reena learnt that some of Rajan's friends had been caught selling drugs at the college campus recently. Later that night, she noticed Rajan had a disoriented or 'spaced out' look on his face. The next day, Reena crept into Rajan's room while he was away at college and rummaged around for any proof that might justify her suspicions that her son was a victim of drug addiction. Her heart sank when, rummaging through his cupboard, she came across some hypodermic syringes. With her suspicions confirmed, Reena felt pained. She wondered where she had failed as a parent for her only son to have fallen prey to this vicious habit.
The Issue of Drugs
The issue of drugs and children is a very complex one. Parents need to be able to understand the reasons why their children take drugs and at the same time take suitable steps to convince their children about the destructive nature of drugs. This is a complex juggling act and has to be done in a manner that does not alienate the child or make him draw away from his parents.
Some of the common drugs that children may fall victim to are amphetamines (speed), methamphetamines, ecstasy (apples), cocaine (snow), LSD (micros), and Cannabis (marijuana). Drugs like amphetamines commonly known as Speed and methamphetamines are used as stimulants, while LSD is a hallucinogen. Children are found to experiment with marijuana as early as when they are fourteen.
The colloquial names of these drugs make them sound exotic and may add to the temptation to experiment. For example Cocaine is called Coke, Charlie, Snow or White and Crack. Colloquial names are an easy way to disguise talk about drugs amongst teen. After all why should a parent be concerned if they hear their children talking about dots? Dots, Blotters, Micros, Stars and other names based on designs on papers are all colloquial references to LSD!
Some of the more common reasons that children have given for taking drugs are boredom, to feel good, and to help them forget their troubles and relax. Drugs are seen by some as a way to have fun. Others resort to drugs due to peer pressure or merely to satisfy their curiosity or to enjoy the exhilaration of taking risks.
- Peer Pressure
Peer pressure may be one of the prominent factors that influence children in developing a drug habit. Children want to feel grown up in the presence of their peers and turn to drugs merely to feel cool. They may use experimenting with drugs as an excuse to actively seek out the companionship of like minded peer groups that are indulging in drugs. Drugs are seen as a form of entertainment by these children—something to do when friends get together. Children are likely to experiment with drugs at rave parties where the communal experience of getting high and being 'in' with the crowd is one of the main motivations to experiment. Peer pressure at such parties can peak, especially when children may already be inebriated by alcohol and can easily be convinced by their friends to try something new.
- Self Esteem
Children with lower self-esteem are often found to be more susceptible when it comes to taking drugs. According to researchers at Florida State University, some parents who have boys with low self-esteem at age 11 could face the risk of turn drug dependent by age 20. The chances increase if they have friends who approve of drug and alcohol use. They hope to gain acceptance and esteem in the eyes of their peers by agreeing to experiment with drugs. Drugs also help them overcome their inhibitions and consequent shyness or clumsiness associated with low self-esteem.
Children may use drugs for relieving their stress. They may see it as a possible solution to reduce mental stress such as examination stress; stress caused by major upcoming events or even personal relationships. Drug abuse starts as a quick fix for agitated nerves. They are seen as a way to calm down, to forget your worries and try to analyze complex problems that are impossible to solve on jittery nerves.
Children may succumb to drugs also as a means to relieve physical stress. This is true in the case of analgesics where children may be left with a craving for the chemical even after the physical pain vanishes.
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- The Indiaparenting Team