Delaware County Medicine & Health Spring 2017 - 25

RESIDENT'S CORNER

Vulnerability of
Adolescents on Drugs
W

e, as a community, sometimes neglect the dangers that children face in everyday life. Scares of
alcohol and drug abuse run rancid amongst our
eighth-twelfth graders. The reasons behind the use and abuse
of these substances are pretty straight forward - the desire
to fit in with others, the appearance of being grown up and
unfortunately, the desire to feel tipsy or drunk. The result of
these deviations has proven to be short-term and long-term
self-created handicaps like poor or decimating education,
social turbulence, family drama and legal problems to name
a few. A 2006 survey of the Monitoring the Future Study
(MTFS) is a nationwide survey measuring smoking, drinking, and illicit drug use among nearly 50,000 eighth-, tenth-,
and twelfth graders in more than 400 secondary schools in
the United States. Did you know that approximately one
fifth (21%) of eighth graders, more than one third of tenth
graders, and nearly half of all twelfth graders reported using
an illicit drug at least once during their lifetimes (Pediatrics in
Review)? In addition, despite a minimum legal age requirement to purchase alcohol, 6% of eighth graders, 19% of the
tenth graders, and 30% of the twelfth graders self-reported
drunkenness during the month prior to being interviewed.
We must realize that the danger of adolescent drug and
alcohol use extends beyond the effects that these substances have on their bodies. It sometimes places them in very
dangerous social situations. As a community we need to step
in and intervene on behalf of our teens in order to prevent
the downward spiral of their lives and to protect them from
becoming victims of assault and/or rape. Victims of drug
assisted sexual assaults and victims of assaults after drug
use are less likely to come forward and seek help because of

the stigma that is associated with drug use and sometimes
because they simply cannot recall what happened to them.
We see parents, friends and family members blaming these
children for their assaults when in fact, they have no ability
to protect themselves after the drug is ingested. We have to
be careful that we do not create a society of self-shaming.
This prevents victims from seeking appropriate medical and
psychological intervention.
Some of the telltale signs of adolescent drug and alcohol
abuse are quite clear while others remain hard to detect. Keep
an eye out for red/watery eyes, prolonged exhaustion, cigarette or smoke smell, inconsistent sleeping patterns, paints/
stains or a smell of chemicals. Watch for a drop in academic
performance, mood swings, deceitful behavior and secretiveness. Is your child suddenly disappearing for long periods of
time, frequently breaking curfew or developing poor balance?
Are they suddenly refusing to participate in activities that they
once enjoyed? While this is just a small list of warning signs
of drug and alcohol use, it is a great starting point. Once
you recognize the symptoms you must have a discussion with
your child. Be ready to reach out to your doctor immediately
if your child discloses a history of using any substances of
abuse. Help is available for the entire family.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------By: Shweta Chawla, MD
Third Year Pediatric Resident
Crozer-Chester Medical Center

www.delcomedsoc.org

DELAWARE COUNTY MEDICINE & HEALTH

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http://www.delcomedsoc.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Delaware County Medicine & Health Spring 2017

Delaware County Medicine & Health Spring 2017 - 1
Delaware County Medicine & Health Spring 2017 - 2
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http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/delcomed/DelcoMedicalSocietySummer2019
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http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/delcomed/DelawareCountyMedicalSocietyWinter2019
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/delcomed/DelawareCountyMedicalSocietyFall2018
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http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/delcomed/DelcoMedicalSocietySpring2018
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/delcomed/DelcoMedicalSociety
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/delcomed/DelawareCountyMedicalSocietyWinter2017
http://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/delcomed/DelawareCountyMedicalSocietyFall2017
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