Life's fast pace could drive teen drug abuse
Marijuana, alcohol are top 2
drugs of youth, but prescription drugs making
James Keyes, a certified addiction
counselor, provides intense individual
counseling for youth and adults. --
FISHERS -- The pace is faster
for today's youth and the need to succeed is
greater, says Fishers therapist James Keyes.
While many local adolescents rise to the
challenge, others turn to drugs to numb
themselves against the constant barrage.
"The challenges they face
socially and economically . . . there's more
concern, there's more pressure, there's more
fear," said Keyes, who's been counseling
adolescents with substance abuse for more than
The biggest difference between
today's youth and kids 20 years ago is that they
don't understand the value gained from delayed
gratification or that sometimes it's OK to
suffer or feel bad, he said.
"We live in a society which is
all about instant," he said. "Kids use (drugs)
over their feelings. They go through life
medicated; there's a buffer between yourself and
Alcohol and marijuana continue
to be the top two drugs of choice of youth, but
other substances are starting to become more
prevalent, he said.
In areas where more low-income
residents live, inhalants from common household
cleaning supplies are popular.
In affluent communities with
good health-care programs, Keyes explained, more
prescriptions for controlled substances are
written and kids find a way to obtain them.
"A lot of prescription drugs
that are around for consumption . . . are
stolen," he said. "A kid comes over to visit,
immediately asks to go to the restroom, rifles
through the medicine cabinet, steals whatever's
Bob Bragg, assistant director of
the Hamilton County Probation Department, said
in 2005 his office received 232 referrals for
juvenile alcohol offenses, 147 for marijuana
offenses and 22 for controlled substance
offenses. Juvenile drug and alcohol charges make
up one-third of the total referrals.
The alcohol offenses decreased
by about 25 percent during the past three years,
while marijuana offenses remained fairly
consistent. A significantly fewer number of
teens are charged with controlled substance
offenses, he said, but that doesn't necessarily
mean that fewer teens are using those drugs.
"Kids probably are doing it many
times before they get caught," Bragg said. "I
suspect that it's going on a lot more than what
we see here in the Probation Department."
Bragg's office deals with
1,000-1,200 kids each year, and the ones
arrested on drug and alcohol charges are, on
average, 15-17 years old.
One of the most popular
controlled substances is Vicodin, a popular
painkiller, Keyes said.
"I treated a 19-year-old girl
who was taking over 50 Vicodin a day, and I know
several people who take 20 or 30 a day," he
Drug addiction is a disease that
is genetically transmitted, Keyes said, adding
that it is not a moral issue or an issue of bad
parenting or bad peers.
Most parents, when confronted
with a child who's abusing drugs, want to blame
or control the child's external environment, he
"Johnny met up with Billy and
Billy is a bad influence," he said. "If Johnny
wants to meet with Billy and you forbid him from
doing that, he'll tell you he's going out with
Fred and he'll lie and hang out with Billy."
The place to start if your child
has a substance abuse problem is with your
child, he said.
"Don't start with the community,
don't start with the school system, don't start
with the courts or the police or anybody else,
start with your kid. And stay focused on that.
"Hold your child accountable
because that's where you have the most power,"