Cocaine Abuse Prevention
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The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that cocaine use is on the rise again. Cocaine is a very addictive drug, and it changes the way the brain works as part of its effects. This is why it is so difficult to overcome cocaine substance abuse. Because of the difficulty of ending cocaine addiction once it is a feature of a person's life, it makes more sense to address some cocaine abuse prevention.
Gateway drugs and cocaine substance abuse
One of the key factors in preventing cocaine substance abuse includes the avoidance of "gateway drugs." These gateway drugs are drugs that are considered "softer," such as alcohol or marijuana, that eventually lead to the use of harder drugs, like Cocaine. The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia (CASA) points out the following about gateway drugs and cocaine substance abuse:
- Teens aged 12-17 who use gateway substances (alcohol, tobacco and marijuana) are up to 266 times more likely that those who do not use those substances to use cocaine.
- In adults, the number jumps to 323 times more likely to use cocaine if one is already using a different gateway substance.
- 90 percent of people who tried cocaine used all three gateway substances (alcohol, tobacco, marijuana) before moving on to cocaine.
- Adults who used marijuana as teenagers are 17 times more likely to use cocaine regularly than those who did not use marijuana in their teen years.
- Teenagers who smoke are 19 times more likely to use cocaine than non-smokers (3,000 young people start smoking regularly each day).
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It is obvious that preventing the use of gateway drugs is an important step in preventing cocaine substance abuse. Many of those who abuse the "softer" substances soon feel that they are not getting the kind of "high" that they want. Their bodies adjust and begin to tolerate the "less dangerous" drugs. This is when they take the step and move on to cocaine, which offers a more intense high, and usually much faster than other substances.
Recognizing high risk times in children's lives
One of the keys to preventing cocaine substance is abuse is recognizing times in children's (and even adults') lives that make them particularly vulnerable. Times of transition can present special risk. Recognize that the emotional upheaval associated with going to a new school, divorce, a new job (or job loss - especially for adults) or leaving home for the first time. All these can put stress on a person and can lead to ways to avoid some of the stress - including "escaping" with the use of cocaine and other drugs.
It is also important to realize that the teenage years present the risk of peer pressure. Be alert to the fact that your child may be exposed to cocaine at parties, friends' homes and even at school. The emotional stress associated with fitting in and other issues can be a real problem. Be aware of trying periods in your child's life so that you can be available for him or her.
Parental involvement can help prevent cocaine substance abuse
While there is no complete guaranty that your child will never start using cocaine or other drugs, you can play a large role in making it less likely. Parental involvement, reports NIDA, has been shown to greatly reduce the chance that a teenager will become involved in cocaine substance abuse. Here are some of the hallmarks of a parent-child relationship that can contribute to a child's avoiding cocaine and other drugs:
Emotional bond between parents and child. A strong bond with your children is important. Do your children feel comfortable talking to you about their problems? Do they come to you for advice and help? Part of building a strong emotional bond with your children is listening without judging. Listen to their problems and show that you care. Try not to be judgmental. Even if discipline is needed, make sure that you make it clear that the behavior causes the consequences, and that your child is still loved.
Be involved in your child's life. This doesn't mean that you have to be constantly interfering. But you should show an interest in your child's activities. Be supportive of their efforts in school, sports, art, performance or other hobbies. Take an interest in their TV shows and music. Also, make your home a welcoming place so that your children will be more likely to invite their friends over. This means that you can keep an eye on proceedings.
Enforce rules and show consistent discipline. Parents who enforce rules that are considered "fair" consistently usually have children that shun substance abuse. When children know what is expected of them, and that you have certain expectations for their behavior and decisions, they are more likely to behave in ways that you feel are appropriate.
With careful attention to your children, and when you realize the risk factors involved, you will be more likely to help prevent cocaine substance abuse.