PREVENTING SUBSTANCE USE IN OUR CHILDREN

Raising children is a difficult task. One of the most frequent nightmares that parents face is the prospect of their child becoming a substance user. Typically, this pathway to adolescent substance abuse begins with smoking tobacco- alone or in combination with other drugs.  Indeed, studies show that most high school students experiment with some type of substance, such as tobacco, alcohol or cannabis during their high school years.

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Figure 1. Evidenced based psychoeducational therapies can arrest the development of smoking and its associated behaviors.  But the key to the effective use of these interventions is prompt detection.  Smoke Signature can detect smoking even at the earliest stages.  This allows parents, educators and clinicians to work together to prevent the escalation of risky behaviors.

But this experimentation does not have to lead to substance dependency. If detected early, the factors driving the destructive escalation of substance use can be identified and modified. Best yet, the therapeutic approach for doing this doesn’t involve medications. Instead, it uses psychoeducational techniques that help parents and children identify stressful circumstances coupled with evidence-based coping strategies to diminish the likelihood of substance use. Using monies from the National Institutes of Health, groups including those at the University of Georgia and Iowa State University, are using culturally sensitive, scientifically proven techniques to increase the resiliency of our youth and families to resist the scourge of substance use and the behaviors associated with substance use.

 

The key to creating this greater resiliency is to be able to identify this substance use in its earliest stages and quantify the response of the child to the therapeutic process. Together with the National Institutes of Health, BDI is creating a set of diagnostic tools, based on the Smoke Signature assay, for concerned parents, pediatricians, family practitioners and allied health practitioners to detect and monitor progress on the healing pathway. We will have this tool available for researchers in late 2016 and to clinicians soon afterward.

For additional information on prevention programming for adolescents please visit the University of Georgia or Iowa State University websites.