Teens underestimate the dangers of meth

Filed under: Teens, Alcohol & Drugs

When I first moved from New York to my current home in Idaho, I expected to find a cleaner, safer, more wholesome place to raise a child. And I did. But I also quickly learned about a drug that I had heretofore been ignorant of - meth. I suppose I had heard of it, but had no idea the damage this highly addictive stimulate can do. An ad campaign changed all that, showing disturbing photos of people before and after they began using meth.

I am not the only person needing a bit of education regarding the dangers of meth. The Meth Project, the same people responsible for that horrifying ad campaign, has just released a study revealing that many teenagers are unaware of just how dangerous this drug is. Nearly a quarter of the teens surveyed said they felt the drug would be "very easy" or "somewhat easy" to get. A third of teens think there is only a "slight risk" or even "no risk" in using the drug once or twice. And about one in four think there are actual benefits to using the drug, including losing weight and dealing with boredom.

"For kids, meth is death,'' said Dr. Julie Gerberding, head of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "And if we really want to do something about improving the survival of our adolescents and help them become healthy adults, we've got to tackle this problem head on.'"

That's what they did in Montana and it seems to be working. A two-year ad campaign is being credited with reducing meth use in that state by 45 percent since 2005 - using those same graphic images. Nationally, meth use didn't change over that same period of time.

Gerberding says that talking to your kids about the dangers of meth at an early age is key to keeping them away from it. That survey showed that of those who have tried meth, 77 percent did so by the age of 15.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.