Youth Drug and Alcohol Abuse and Parents' Role
An article that appeared September 16, 2013 on the Utah Standard Examiner website discussed a woman
named Curiea Thornton who started using cocaine when she was 11, how she got drug rehab that was part of Family
Drug Court, and how at 24-years-old, she is now "clean" and sober.
Curiea Thornton's drug addiction and recovery was part of a more extensive theme in the article, namely,
underage drinking, parental involvement in the lives of their children regarding drug and alcohol abuse, and the
fact that quality resources are available for alcohol and drug abuse and addiction prevention and treatment.
Alarming Underage Drinking Statistics
The following represents some rather disconcerting statistics about underage drinking in Utah.
- Many kids in Utah start drinking in elementary school.
- Binge drinking by Utah students is a common activity by the 10th grade.
- Most parents are unaware of their child's alcohol abuse because they think "not my kid."
- In one study, 31% of the kids who said they got drunk during the past year had parents who believed their
children were non-drinkers.
- Parents often believe that school policies or church teachings keep their kids from abusing alcohol.
Unfortunately, this is often not the case.
Room For Consternation
There were four disturbing aspects to this article. First, the fact that a girl at the age of 11 could be using
cocaine. Second, that many children in Utah start drinking in elementary school.
Third, that binge drinking is a common activity by Utah students by the time they reach the 10th grade. And
fourth, that most parents are unaware of the alcohol abuse of their children.
The Role of Parents
While there is no "silver bullet" when it comes to alcohol abuse prevention and education, there is, however,
one critically important consideration in all four of these disconcerting "statistics," namely, the role of parents
in the lives of their children regarding their drug and/or alcohol abuse.
For instance, how is it possible that Curiea Thornton's parents didn't know about her cocaine abuse when she was
11 years-old? Drug abuse doesn't happen in a vacuum. Indeed, it affects virtually every important facet of a
When seen in this light, Ms. Thornton's drug abuse must have been apparent either in her hygiene, health, school
performance, energy level, and in the way in which she interacted with family members and friends. How did her
parents "miss" these drug abuse signs?
A similar argument can be made regarding Utah children drinking in elementary school and that binge drinking is
frequently experienced by Utah students by their sophomore year in high school.
Indeed, how is it possible for parents to be unaware that their children are drinking alcohol while they are in
elementary school? Indeed, how can these parents be so blind to the daily dysfunction of their children?
In a related manner, how can sophomores in high school engage in binge drinking without emitting some rather
strong and obvious indications of their alcohol abuse? Why didn't their parents (or their teachers) "see" the
signals of their alcohol abuse?
No Magical Way to Reduce Drug and Alcohol Abuse in our Youth
While there is not one "magical" way to significantly reduce or eliminate the drug and alcohol abuse exhibited
by our teenagers and pre-teens, it is asserted that parents play a key role in observing when their children's
behavior is unhealthy and radically different from the way they used to act.
When these differences are observed, moreover, it's time for parents to sit down and have a long talk with their
children about their unacceptable and inappropriate behavior AND about healthy and doable ways to change this
behavior, such as getting drug and/or alcohol treatment.
To view the original source for this article, see parents need to
be able to see the signs of drug and alcohol abuse in their children.