Parents: What you need to know...Meth 101, The Basics
Many parents think their children would never try a drug as dangerous as Meth. But the 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) reveals that 5% of South Dakota high school students admit to having used Meth at least once in their lives. The percentage of twelfth-grade girls is a high 12% - many apparently use Meth in an effort to lose weight. Compared to a national survey, Monitoring the Future, South Dakota young people are more likely to use Meth - nationally, the rate has dropped to under 2%.
Meth is a strongly attractive drug for many teens, and it is extremely addictive. It is readily available across South Dakota, whether you live in a rural community or a city. And the impact of Meth use can last a lifetime.
Some of the common signs and symptoms of Meth use in teens include:
- Dilated pupils, dark circles or bags under their eyes
- Increased sensitivity to noise and light
- Increased level of self confidence and euphoria
- "Wired" - Restless, excitable and anxious
- Noticeable change in sleeping patterns
- Weight loss (rapid, extreme)
- Irritability or aggressiveness
- Drastic mood swings
- Dizziness or confusion, disconnected chatter
- Complaints of chest pain, rapid breathing
- Excessive sweating and body odor
- Bad breath, poor dental hygiene and tooth grinding
- Dry, itchy skin
- Hanging out with a different group of friends
- Subtle changes in conversations and behavior with friends (use coded language, more secretive about possessions or activities)
- Negative change in appearance, greasy hair, skin sores
- Change in attire, clothes that highlight drug use
- Noticeable change in values, lying, stealing, etc.
- Increase in borrowing money or trading of possessions
- Presence of paraphernalia
If you notice one or two of these signs, it does not necessarily mean your teen is using Meth. But these are red flags of a serious issue. And the more symptoms you notice, the more danger your teen is facing.
Please note, too, that if teens use marijuana before trying Meth, the changes you observe might (at first) seem positive. They may go from being negative and unmotivated to self-confident, energetic and positive. They may begin to complete schoolwork and chores without their previous habit of complaining.
Some parents and teachers have unwittingly supported a teen's Meth use by responding to the behavior changes by saying things like, "I like this change of attitude," or " I don't know what you are doing, but whatever it is, I like it." To guard against unconsciously encouraging Meth use, do not immediately praise sudden changes in behavior. Watch for possible signs of Meth use and talk to other adults concerned with your teen before reinforcing the changes.
Information for this section was drawn from The Anti-Drug; Parenting Teens and "Walking the Talk" from Central CAPT