Kids MD - Methamphetamines Part 1: Gateway

Emily Halevy | CWK Network

"We had no idea truly though, and I thought I was a pretty sharp mom, how many drugs and how much she was abusing."
- Carol Gorgonne, Meghan's mom -

"I never sweared, I never got in trouble, I never got grounded. I never ever remember being grounded. My mom will tell you that she doesn't remember me doing anything wrong, until…" until Meghan Gorgonne, 25, began smoking pot at the age of 12. Twelve years later she ended up broke, homeless, and a drug addict.

"If you do a survey," affirms Robert Margolis, clinical psychologist, "and you ask what was your first exposure to alcohol or drugs, it's right about that age."

A good neighborhood, a loving family, a happy childhood- these weren't enough to protect her against addiction. "The kind of kid who can wind up in treatment needing inpatient treatment," explains Armando Corpus, short-term clinical supervisor, "can be any kind of kid. Highest incomes, lowest incomes. Sterling academic performance, and miserable."

Pot was just the beginning for Meghan. By the time she was in high school "I was using cocaine, LSD, mushrooms, everything pretty much under the sun."

Her parents thought she was just experimenting. "We had no idea truly though, and I thought I was a pretty sharp mom, how many drugs and how much she was abusing," recalls Meghan's mom Carol. Dr. Margolis says that's common, "the parents very often if not completely in the dark, very naïve about what's going on."

"I started smoking pot, and that was my gateway to the rest of my drug using career," warns Meghan. Gateway, a theory that says marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco often lead to harder drugs, a theory that is debated, but "there is a line that you cross, at least psychologically, that this is something I do, at least, this is something I experiment with. And once you cross that line-doors open."

And that door led Meghan to one of the worst drugs of all-methamphetamines, "I lost my family, I lost my friends, my job, school, everything, and that did not bother me."

By Larry Eldridge
CWK Network, Inc.
Since the 1970s, methamphetamine has been the most widespread secretly produced drug in the United States. It wasn't until the '90s, however, that "methamphetamine" became a popular buzzword in the media. But now that we're in a new millennium, methamphetamines and other inhalants aren't really such a big problem, right? A recent study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests otherwise. Consider a few of their findings:

Smoked methamphetamine/amphetamine is also referred to as "ice" or "crystal meth." The rate of the primary methamphetamine/amphetamine treatment admissions who smoked methamphetamines or amphetamines was 50 percent in 2002, compared with 12 percent in 1992.
In 1992, 36 percent of smoked methamphetamine/amphetamine admissions were referred to treatment by the criminal justice system. By 2002, the criminal justice system was the source of referral in 55 percent of the smoked methamphetamine/amphetamine treatment admissions.
In 2002, only one state (Ohio) had a decrease in the proportion of methamphetamine/amphetamine admissions that smoked methamphetamines or amphetamines. Hawaii continued to have over 90 percent of its methamphetamine/amphetamine admissions that smoked the drug. In nine states, over 50 percent of the methamphetamine/amphetamine admissions smoked the drug in 2002 and for five of these states (Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, Utah and Washington) their rate of smoked methamphetamine/amphetamine was 10 percent or less in 1992.
More than 60 percent of emergency department visits involving amphetamines or methamphetamines also involved other drugs in 2002. Marijuana, alcohol and cocaine were the most frequent substances reported in combination with amphetamines or methamphetamines.

By Larry Eldridge
CWK Network, Inc.
Most children who abuse inhalants will try to keep it hidden from their parents, but there are still some telltale signs that may signify inhalant abuse. Consider the following list compiled by experts at At Health, Inc:

Unusual breath odor or chemical odor on clothing
Slurred or disoriented speech
Drunk, dazed or dizzy appearance
Signs of paint or other products where they wouldn't normally be, such as on the face or fingers
Red or runny eyes or nose
Spots and/or sores around the mouth
Nausea and/or loss of appetite
Anxiety, excitability, irritability or restlessness
Sitting with a pen or marker near nose
Constantly smelling clothing sleeves
Showing paint or stain marks on the face, fingers or clothing.
Hiding rags, clothes or empty containers of the potentially abused products in closets and other places.
Whether or not you believe your child is abusing methamphetamine or other dangerous drugs, it is pertinent that you talk with them about the dangers of drug abuse. Experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics give the following suggestions for how to address your child about substance abuse:

Talk with your child honestly. Don't wait to have "the drug talk" with your child. Make discussions about tobacco, alcohol and other drugs part of your daily conversation. Know the facts about how drugs can harm your child. Clear up any wrong information, such as "everybody drinks" or "marijuana won't hurt you."
Really listen to your child. Encourage your child to share questions and concerns about tobacco, alcohol, methamphetamine and other drugs. Do not do all the talking or give long lectures.
Help your child develop self-confidence. Look for all the good things in your child – and then tell your child how proud you are. If you need to correct your child, criticize the action, not your child. Praise your child's efforts as well as successes.
Help your child develop strong values. Talk about your family values. Teach your child how to make decisions based on these standards of right and wrong. Explain that these are the standards for your family, no matter what other families might decide.
Be a good example. Look at your own habits and thoughts about tobacco, alcohol and other drugs. Your actions speak louder than words.
Help your child deal with peer pressure and acceptance. Discuss the importance of being an individual and the meaning of real friendships. Help your child to understand that he does not have to do something wrong just to feel accepted. Remind your child that a real friend won't care if he does not use tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.
Make family rules that help your child say "no." Talk with your child about your expectation that he will say "no" to drugs. Spell out what will happen if he breaks these rules. Be prepared to follow through, if necessary.
Encourage healthy, creative activities. Look for ways to get your child involved in athletics, hobbies, school clubs and other activities that reduce boredom and excess free time. Encourage positive friendships and interests. Look for activities that you and your child can do together.
Team up with other parents. Work with other parents to build a drug-free environment for children. When parents join together against drug use, they are much more effective than when they act alone. One way is to form a parent group with the parents of your child's friends. The best way to stop a child from using drugs is to stop friends from using them too.
Know what to do if your child has a drug problem. Realize that no child is immune to drugs. Learn the signs of drug use. Take seriously any concerns you hear from friends, teachers or other kids about your child's possible drug use. Trust your instincts. If you truly feel that something is wrong with your child, it probably is. If there's a problem, seek professional help.

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