The Teenage Overdose Epidemic

Today is 4/20. It is a day to celebrate the greatness of God’s glory but many are celebrating something else. For people who smoke marijuana it is a day to celebrate their hobby. While these people seek to get stoned on 4/20 there is a much more dangerous drug epidemic facing the young people of our day. The Huffington Post is reporting that the death rate of teens overdosing on prescription medication has sky-rocketed. This is what they have to say:

From 2000 to 2009, the number of children aged 15 to 19 who died from poisoning increased by 91 percent, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) says.

This extreme increase has many concerned about the young people of this nation. I, as well, am concerned but my concern is not only for the symptom, the death of young kids, but the root of the problem. Some questions that need to get answered are:

#1 Where are the parents of these young people?

#2 How are these kids getting their hands on these drugs?

#3 How can we address the problem?

According to the CDC about 40 young people die every day from overdosing on prescription medication. With numbers like this the questions above need to be addressed with urgency. Let’s take a look at question #1.

Invisible Parents

I am not an expert on parenting. I have no children but in my time of ministry I have witnessed good parenting and bad parenting. The kids that receive attention from their parents tend to be well-adjusted. The kids with parents that were emotionally or physically absent from their lives tend to struggle more with a variety of issues. This is simply an observation but it makes sense. Many teens who abuse drugs are often trying to escape reality. Their reality is not worth living in so they try to run from it. Parents can combat this by being present with their children. Show your children that reality may be tough but it is worth living in. Give your children a shoulder to cry on. Discipline your children and teach your children the ways of the Lord. The Bible speaks about parenting often. Here are a couple of passages:

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. -Deuteronomy 6:6-9, ESV

Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death. – Proverbs 19:18

Parents of young people need to stand up and be visible. When we fail to teach our kids about greatness of God or give our children discipline we are partaking in the death of our children.

Where Are These Kids Getting the Drugs?

Many kids are getting prescription drugs from their homes. This is what the Drug Rehab Referral website says:

A major source is their parents’ medicine cabinets. They sneak into the bathroom, check out old or current prescriptions, grab a few pills, and take them. And share them with friends.

It should come as no surprise that this would come back to the parents. With a record high of people taking prescription medications for depression and other issues kids have a plethora of opportunities to get their hands on prescription drugs. Parents need to be aware of this and adjust to snuff out their child’s opportunity of taking their prescription drugs. But even if you, as a parent, are vigilant there is another place where your child can find prescription drugs. According to the Drug Rehab Referral site many teens get their drugs from other teens:

Sometimes they take them to ‘pharming’ parties. All the kids bring some of their parents’ prescription drugs from home, throw them into a bowl at the party, and everyone takes what they want.

They have no idea what they’re taking, what the side effects are, what drugs are safe to combine with others, or how strong the drug is. They just take them.

These ‘pharming’ parties are a deadly combination between peer pressure and mixing drugs together. These kids have no idea exactly what they are ingesting and that is why we see 40 young people dying every day from prescription drugs.

How do we stop these parties? Well, I am not sure that we can, but we can keep our kids away from them. It all goes back to the first question. When parents are visible and discipline their children the kids tend to stay away from these parties. When the parents are invisible their children will get validation elsewhere and often that comes in the form of their friends and sometimes from drug abuse.

How Can We Address the Problem?

First, we, as Christians, need to show others how to parent. Disciple other couples in their journey of parenting. Give them an example to follow. If they are not willing to parent then we can only lead by our indirect example.

Second, Christians are surrounded by young people who do not have parents that care about them. When we open our eyes to those around us we will see the hurt and pain of these teenagers. God calls us to love each other and calls the older generations to mentor the youth:

Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. -Titus 2:2

Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. -Titus 2:6

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. -Titus 2:3-5

The older men and woman have a responsibility before God to be involved with the young people of our churches. Men should teach the boys what it means to live like a man of God. Woman should teach the girls what it means to be a woman of God. That is the duty before us. If our churches do that then we will see a radical change among the youth in our churches and communities.

This prescription drug epidemic is heartbreaking but we are not without hope. We have a God who has blessed us greatly and has placed a responsibility before parents and adults to be examples to young people.

Parents it is time to be visible in your children’s life/lives.

Godly men and women it is time to be visible to the children with invisible parents.

Thanks for reading.


About Travis Berry

I am a blatantly honest person who loves to think, read, discuss, and write about God and theology. I have a bachelor's degree in Youth Ministry from Crown College. I work at a church in Houston, TX as a Youth Director and love every minute of it! I am married to a wonderful woman named Becky and we have one amazing child! I have a love for God's Word, and a fervor to live it out in the fullest, and I pray this blog reflects that. Thanks for checking out AnotherChristianBlog!.

Posted on April 20, 2012, in Christianity, Culture, Life and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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