Up Close With Dr. E

Educate your children about drug facts


Today’s column was created for you — Mom, Dad, Grandparents and anyone who raises or cares for children. It is to be used as a tool to help families discuss the facts, myths and the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Why do families need this knowledge? Here’s why:

1. More children, adolescents and families are harmed by the direct or indirect consequences of drug abuse ­— school failure, legal trouble, job loss, violence, death — than by any other health care problem.

2. Myths are hard to correct. For example, look at these two false, yet widely accepted myths: “Pot is safe because it is a natural product,” and “Pot is much more dangerous than alcohol.”

3. Drugs and alcohol are embedded in our culture.

So, I hope you will add this knowledge to your ever-growing set of parenting skills. If you do, your power to save the lives of those you love will increase dramatically.

Let’s get started:

1. Here are nine groups of drugs.

Group A: Drugs that depress brain functioning. Alcohol, inhalants (breathable chemicals such as nail polish).

Group B: Drugs that reduce anxiety. Xanax, Klonopin, Valium.

Group C: Drugs for sleep. Ambien, Sonata, Lunesta.

Group D: Drugs that stimulate the brain, elevate mood, increase alertness. Cocaine and its smoked form, Crack. Amphetamines - crystal meth. Adderall and Ritalin (drugs for attention disorders).

Group E: Pain medications/opioid narcotics: opium, morphine, codeine, heroin. Also, synthetic opioids such as Oxycodone, Demerol, Percodan, OxyContin.

Group F: Psychedelic or hallucinogens. LSD, Mescaline, PCP, Ecstasy.

Group G: Tobacco, nicotine

Group H: Caffeine.

Group I: Pot or marijuana.

2. Your task is to rank order the drugs from 0-10, by safety or danger. 0 = no danger, 10 = extreme danger.

3. After ranking each drug, explain your reasoning. Disagreements are good.

4. What if you need more data on a specific drug? You and your children can look the drug up and research it. (That’s the whole purpose of this column — teach your children how to find good data on drugs).

5. Helpful hints: Drugs that are injected, smoked or inhaled, reach the brain the fastest, thus increasing their addiction power. Drugs which are inspected for contamination (alcohol, prescription pills) are purer than street drugs. Drugs which are easy to obtain (alcohol, tobacco, pills) tend to be used daily.

6. More helpful hints: Drugs with a high ability to cause dependency (drug use becomes necessary for physical or psychological wellbeing) are: Narcotics (all opioids), alcohol, tobacco, anxiety medications. Drug with a low ability to cause dependency is caffeine. Drugs which kill the most people: tobacco and alcohol.

Conclusion: You taught your children how to safely cross a street. You made them learn to swim and drive responsibly. Now, start discussing why drugs are dangerous. Please, lock up all drugs and alcohol in your home.

The content of this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for treatment by a professional.

References: “A Primer of Drug Action,” Julien, 2009. “Understanding Your Health,” Payne, 2009.


Dr. Richard Elghammer contributes his column each week to the Journal Review.


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