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Advice to Parents | Drugs & College 101

Transcript

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Dr. Nora Volkow is speaking: The age of college, 18-24 years of age, is the age of which we have probably the highest rate of drug use...24-26 (depends on the type of drug). We do see kids that have never been exposed as teenagers to drugs, whether it was actually regular use of alcohol, or it was smoking marijuana, or even very, very hard drugs like cocaine or heroin, they do it as they transition from adolescence to young adulthood. So, that is the period of risk. It is a period of risk for many reasons, one of them is of course you are at the stage in your life where you are transitioning from being an adolescent being dependent on your parents into adulthood. In search of your own personality, at the stage where your brain is not fully developed and one of the areas that not fully developed is the frontal cortex, which allows you to self-regulate. It is that self-regulation that tells us all when we are in a situation where it looks extremely interesting but we say, "maybe it’s dangerous?" to hold up and don't do it. But if that in component of self-regulation, oversight and analysis is not properly connected to the limbic emotional areas of the brain, it cannot properly regulate it.

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Dr. Nora Volkow is speaking: It is very important that parents can speak with their kids before they go to college and make them aware of why they are going to be in a different environment where they may be tempted to take drugs that they would have otherwise never taken them. And that may be the fact that they are all by themselves, and they feel lonely, and isolated, that they have other kids taking drugs and they want to blend in, that the other kids themselves may be putting pressure so that they want to see the other doing the same thing that they do.

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Dr. Nora Volkow is speaking: A factor that contributes to drug taking among teenagers and young adults that are going to college is for example, insipient mental illness, depression, anxiety, inability to concentrate at school. All of those factors can increase the risk of someone taking drugs. And so, when you receive, a change in a behavior you have to ask the question, "what's happening? What is going on that is driving this behavior?". Don't ignore it, don't take it as, "it's normal part of growing up, it will pass by." Do not ignore it.

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Dr. Nora Volkow is speaking: The regular use of marijuana is associated with a decrease in motivation and drive. So, if you are a college kid you cannot afford to lose the motivation to study and perform well. So, we give that for granted but know, there is limited amount...so if the drug seeps the motivation what you will have is a kid who is no longer interested in going to classes, no longer actually even bothered by flunking the exams and that can result, of course, in dropping out of college.

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Dr. Nora Volkow is speaking: What should alert the parent that something may be wrong is changes in the behavior of their kids. What going to be some of the changes: a kid that was very social, all of sudden withdrawals. Changes in friends, a kid that was basically very interested in a certain activity, no longer does so. A kids that was good at school all of a sudden starts to get very poor grades. A kid that was very meticulous in the way that they look, all of sudden looks sloppy, they stop showing, they stop grooming themselves. A kid that was very calm, all of a sudden becomes irritable. A kid that basically spends long periods of time sleeping, changes in their behavior should alert the parent that something is going on. Whether it is in terms of the personality, the way they look, their friends, their everyday routine - do not ignore it because it means that something is going on.

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Dr. Nora Volkow is speaking: The message to parents is don't ever be too self-confident and say, "well I've spoken to my kids all along about drugs...they reject them. Don’t like them," that they are going to be immune.  Leave that open as they go to college and say you can always call me and once of the recommended issues for parents is to be in close communication with them.

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Dr. Nora Volkow is speaking: I would recommend for parents that want to have more detailed information to come to our website, drugabuse.gov.  It has information specifically targeted for parents but all for young people and teenagers, where they can learn what is that we have evidence in terms of what drugs are, why do they effect the brain and what are the potential negative consequences.

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This page was last updated May 2019