Youth and Increased Substance Use
Substance use has increased during the pandemic. According to the CDC in August of 2020, 13.3% of adult respondents to a survey started or increased use of substances including drugs and alcohol.
Another survey from The Recovery Village in September of 2020 found 55% of respondents had an increase of alcohol consumption in the past month with 18% reporting a significant increase. They found increased use was a coping mechanism for stress, boredom, and mental health symptoms like anxiety or depression.
This might all seem concerning but unrelated to students. The reality is substance use has increased for all age groups, including youth. Frequency of alcohol and cannabis use increased among teens in the first three weeks of lockdown in their communities. Teens and adolescents are scared by the unknown, looking for escape, and wanting something to make them feel good because socialization is no longer a big part of their lives.
The earlier a child begins using substances, the higher likelihood they have of developing substance-related problems and addiction later in life. The rates of drug and alcohol use in preteens is alarmingly high. According to the CDC, 6.8% of students say they tried marijuana before they turned 13 years old. The percentage of 8th-grade students who say they drank alcohol in the past month is nearly 1 in 12 students. Prevention is crucial to students’ long-term health.
Parents have the biggest impact in preventing substance use in children. The increased time at home due to the pandemic gives you a great opportunity to have an open dialogue with your children about alcohol and drug use and the dangers.
Keep your conversations in the present tense because the future can seem a long way off to your child. Parents can begin talking to children about drugs as early as 3-5 years of age. Find tips on how to talk to your kids about substances, suicide, and their strengths at letstalk.care.
If you or your child would like to talk about the dangers of substance use, call the Hopeline at 1-800-567-4673. You can also go to the We Care Crisis Center in Lima at 797 South Main Street, Lima, OH 45804.
You can also register your child for the I Mind program if you have concerns about substance use like vaping. I Mind is a voluntary one-day weekend program that gives adolescents tools to avoid substance use. Learn more and register at wecarepeople.org/imindprogram.
Black History Month & Mental Health
Mental Health America (MHA) complied a non-exhaustive list of Black and African American mental health resources. Find all those resources and articles here:
"We are highlighting Black and African American contributions to the mental health movement because they are oftentimes overlooked. Without recognizing the lack of representation of Black and African American people in the mental health movement, we do a disservice and continue to inflict harm.
Learning about the history of systemic racism during Black History Month* - and all year - in the mental health system and movement and how it harms Black communities in the US and around the world is key for creating a mentally healthier world."
Some of the articles & resources available on MHA: