Straight talk about teen drug use

Published 10:17 pm Thursday, March 26, 2009

Anybody’s child can get into trouble with drugs and alcohol.

That’s the message a former special agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration delivered to parents Thursday at Pelham High School.

“Three words that kill more kids in this country: Not my kid,” Bob Stutman told the 165 in attendance.

Stutman spoke to parents and teachers Thursday after working with students this week at Riverchase Middle, Helena Middle and Pelham High schools.

Stutman stressed that Shelby County isn’t immune to teenage drug addiction.

“Please understand that it’s here,” Stutman said. “It isn’t there; it’s here.”

Stutman said most teens doing drugs are abusing prescription meds, like Adderall and Ritalin.

Students are also taking pills from their family medicine cabinets, especially painkillers like OxyContin.

“That is the drug that is killing our kids,” Stutman said. “You know who the drug dealers are. It is coming directly from your medicine chest.”

He said teens are getting better at hiding drug problems, but there are some warning signs about which students will develop an addiction.

-Age of first use.

“They younger a child is when they first use drugs, the bigger problem they have,” Stutman said.

He said kids that make it to 19 without an addiction probably will never have one.

-Tobacco use.

Teens who use tobacco are 12 times more likely to develop a drug or alcohol problem, Stutman said.

-Time spent with family

Children from families have dinner together seven nights a week are much less likely to ever start using drugs.

Students encouraged parents to have a more active role in their child’s life and to start drug awareness programs earlier, even in the first-grade. Throughout the week, students told Stutman that most of their parents have no clue what they’re doing, he said.

“Our kids are dying of drugs, and we are not paying attention to them,” Stutman said.