The Edmond Sun

May 22, 2009

Parent offers other parents sage advice

Mark Schlachtenhaufen

EDMOND — If parents need advice on how to talk about drugs with their children they can get it from someone who has been there.

Pat Nichols, founder of the Edmond chapter of Parents Helping Parents, said he learned a great deal from his experiences with his son’s issues with alcohol and drugs.

His son was receiving marijuana from a friend whose father grew it on a farm. It took about seven years before his son finally “snapped” and started getting help and counseling, Nichols said.

Parents might do the “sex talk,” but they need to have the same talk with their children about drugs and alcohol, Nichols said.

“We need to go ahead and show the facts about abuse to children and say, ‘I love you and I trust and I don’t want you to think for one minute that I don’t, but I’m concerned about these types of statistics,’” Nichols said.

Wynema Ra, executive director for the Norman Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center, is a licensed professional counselor and licensed alcohol and drug counselor for the state of Oklahoma.

Ra said parents need to educate themselves about substance abuse and addiction and should start talking to their children about related issues as soon as they are able to understand.

Through a variety of media children are exposed to advertising messages about alcohol and tobacco.

“We have to let them know that these are the consequences if you drink or smoke,” Ra said.

Nichols said parents need to express that they understand sometimes when youth get involved with their peers things can sometimes break down.

Parents need to set boundaries out of love and understanding, he said. By doing that, with people receiving the proper understanding and education, they can put the proper systems in place to help their child.

It’s a good idea to have a family “contract” in place, a baseline for the future, Nichols said. It should include the child saying, “I think this is what should happen if that happens to me.”

“Let them be a part of it,” Nichols said.

Then, if mistakes happen, if the problem continues, there’s an addiction issue, Nichols said.

Anytime you come in come in contact with a child whose behavior is that of abusing alcohol and other drugs get help now, Nichols said. If you don’t, your marriage could be over, you could end up financially broke, in debt and more than likely the child will end up either dead or in jail, he said.

“Don’t overlook it and get help,” Nichols said. “Seek out counseling from a counselor certified in alcohol or another drug.”

By the numbers — Antisocial behavior within past year:

• 5 percent of 12th graders, 7 percent of 10th graders have been suspended from school

• 21.8 percent of 12th graders, 14 percent of 10th graders have been drunk or high at school

• 7.7 percent of 12th graders, 8.7 percent of 10th graders have sold illegal drugs

• 1 percent of 12th graders, 2.4 percent of 10th graders have stolen a vehicle

• 5.5 percent of 12th graders, 6.6 percent of 10th graders have been arrested

• 8.6 percent of 12th graders, 11.2 percent of 10th graders have attacked to harm

• 3.2 percent of 12th graders, 3.4 percent of 10th graders have carried a handgun

• .4 percent of 12th graders, 1.1 percent of 10th graders have brought a handgun to school

Source: 2006 Oklahoma Prevention Needs Assessment Survey by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services