Teen Substance Abuse is Everybody’s Problem

Ninety percent of all addicted adults began using as teens, a substance abuse expert told an audience of 70 at the Ionia County Intermediate School District building.

Parents and professionals from schools, hospitals, law enforcement, courts and treatment facilities across the county and the state attended a workshop on “Emerging Drug Trends in 2012” Monday. The speaker was Scott Kelly, executive director of BASES Teen Center in Charlevoix and a substance abuse counselor for 26 years. The event was hosted by the Ionia County Health Department and the Ionia County Substance Abuse Initiative.

“There’s no easy answer. (Substance abuse) is big, complex and messy,” Kelly said.

Parents have a huge role in preventing their children from becoming substance abusers. When parents allow any alcohol use by their children, teens are three times more likely to abuse it, studies show.

“When parents open the door to some use, by saying it’s okay on special occasions or it’s okay at home; then kids think it’s okay in Johnny’s basement, it’s okay in the car,” Kelly said. “It’s important that parents say no.”

He noted that alcohol is still the most widely used drug. Marijuana use is on the rise, particularly in states that allow medical marijuana, and more teens report using marijuana than cigarettes. Use of prescription pills is going up, as well. Opiate use is “zooming,” Kelly said.

According to reports from Hazelton Addiction Treatment Center in Center City, Minn., over the past 25 years, heroin has become the drug of choice for adolescents with financial means.