The Times West Virginian

November 8, 2013

Involvement of parents is critical step in addressing substance abuse

Times West Virginian

— Substance abuse is being addressed on multiple fronts in West Virginia.

All efforts to cut into the problems associated with the abuse of drugs certainly demand attention.

A point of emphasis we hope gets special attention when dealing with young people is parental involvement.

Debbie Mann, substance abuse prevention coalition coordinator of the Family Resource Network (FRN), talked with the Times West Virginian this week about a new drug called molly that has made its way into tMarion County.

“The kids talk about it, and it’s advertised as a pure form of ecstacy,” Mann said. “It’s basically the main ingredient in ecstacy.”

She said there is a perception among young people that it’s a “safe” drug. That’s far from the truth. One reason the drug is so dangerous is because it raises a person’s body temperature and can lead to death from hyperthermia.

Mann knows just how important it is for parents to be involved in the fight against drugs.

As a part of her work with FRN, Mann travels to middle and high schools in the county, sits down with students during their lunch and talks with them about substance abuse, a program called Lunch and Learn.

Mann said she’s asked students how many of them have parents who talk to them about drugs and alcohol. She said it amazes her that only about 30 percent of students said their parents talk to them about the issue.

That’s obviously way, way too low a number, and it seems to come through a misperception on the part of the adults.

“I think some parents don’t want to put it in their kid’s mind, but their kids know already know about it. It’s in their music, movies and on the Internet,” Mann said. “It can happen to any family; there’s no demographic specific to drugs or alcohol.”

Mann said the best thing parents can do to prevent their child from doing drugs is to simply talk to them. She said research shows this is the number one thing that keeps kids from trying drugs, helps them say no to drugs and enables them to stand up to peer pressure.

“Parents need to open the discussion, bring it out and ask them if they have heard of molly or other drugs,” she said. “Talk to them about the risks.”

Meanwhile, a state task force says West Virginia should require prescriptions for cold medications that contain an ingredient — pseudoephedrine — used illegally to make methamphetamine.

Rite Aid’s West Virginia stores recently stopped selling cold medications that have pseudoephedrine as their only active ingredient.

The Governor’s Advisory Council on Substance Abuse also recommended that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin oppose any legislation that would legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use, according to The Charleston Gazette.

Those issues are likely to come up for debate during the upcoming legislative session. Honest, open discussion is the way to set solid policy for the state.

It’s also called for in each and every family. If it’s not happening in about 70 percent of homes where young people are living, that’s just not acceptable.

Understand that help is available. For more information on how to talk to kids about drugs and alcohol, contact the Family Resource Network in Fairmont at 304-366-4445 or other sources of trust for your family.