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Quick-hit answers for kids’ drug questions

Q: I need two- and three-sentence reasons why specific drugs are dangerous. My kids ask questions, but they simply don’t listen to long explanations.

A: Kids expect the adults in their lives to have the answers, even though they may spend a lot of time and energy testing our authority. It’s important to be informed and personally confident in our own value judgments. Here’s what the American Council for Drug Education has to say. If you agree, it will take you 15 seconds to share the information with someone else.

• Alcohol is the most widely used and socially costly drug of abuse, responsible for much crime and violence. Alcohol-related accidents are the leading killer of Americans 15 to 24, and alcohol is a major cause of birth defects.

• Marijuana is far more potent today than the pot of the past, and its harmful effects are longer lasting. Moderate doses induce a sense of well-being and a state of relaxation that encourages fantasies, makes users highly suggestible and distorts perceptions. The chemicals in marijuana are stored in the fat cells in the brain and block the brain’s capacity to remember, which obviously causes major problems in learning and communication. At stronger doses, reactions as extreme as paranoia and hallucinations can occur.

• Tobacco is a powerfully addicting substance and is the leading cause of preventable premature death in the United States. Heart disease, cancer, strokes and respiratory disease are common results of tobacco use.

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• Inhalants produce a quick high, and the easiest to get are the most dangerous. Breathing fumes of chemical products can cause permanent brain damage or death the 60th time used or the first time used because the products that produce the "high" were never meant to be taken into the human body.

• Methamphetamine users often become agitated and feel "wired." Their behavior becomes unpredictable. They may be friendly and calm one moment, angry and terrified the next. Some users are compelled to repeat meaningless tasks.

• Nearly three out of four substance abusers hold jobs. They are five times more likely than other workers to injure themselves or co-workers and cause 40 percent of all industrial fatalities. They raise costs and reduce profits. They can cost you your job or your life.

To talk about the challenges of raising children, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Linea de Apoyo at 877-434-9528. For free emergency childcare, call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out

www.familiesandcommunities.org.

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