The War On Drugs is sort of going as planned and NSDH data supports it. More kids 12 to 17 sincerely believe that smoking pot once a week is more harmful than binge drinking once or twice a week. Pat yourselves on the back there Reagans. Well, sort of.
Amongst the youngest group, the vulnerable 12 year olds, pot is actually not the big, bad gateway drug that folks think. Only 1.4% of kids this young have ever tried it. LSD and other hallucinogens, less than one percent. Kids this wee don't even think of doing cocaine, with only one in one thousand ever having used the drug in their lifetimes. Good news on the battlefront, sure, but sixth-graders are still getting high, and they are getting high on shit that lurks around your house.
The smallest ones surveyed are getting high on inhalants and your prescription drugs. Your twelve-year-old is 5 times as likely to huff glue and almost 4 times as likely to have played with pills as to have smoked a joint. And this is not new information. I was an isolated rural kid and built model jets. Nobody had to tell me that the glue was getting me a mental break from my parental issues- I figured it out myself. There was no internet to explain why most of the kids in my gym class used spray deodorant and REALLY seemed to like Reddi-Whip from the can and there were always a few weird kids who liked to sniff markers or Liquid Paper in class.
The second drug I tried was my abusive stepdad's painkillers after some curiosity and a neck injury that I managed to conceal until adulthood. They wrecked me so much that I didn't play with them again, but loads of kids like the high or OD the first time they use opiate pills. I count my luck even today.
The interesting thing to point out here is that even though I was exposed to a WORLD of illegal substance abuse as a child by my parents, the first mind-altering substances I used were the very same ones that kids use now. Even though my mum and stepdad used to hot-box us in the car, I found glue before grass. I'd seen my dad and his friends overdose on booze and powdery things, but found my first high in a hardware store and my second in a medicine cabinet. And this is not distinct from a ton of other kids.
Well-behaved kids are getting high and screwing themselves up on things that they probably don't know are dangerous. It is not a new problem, but as the number of consumer products that contain volatile compounds increases, so does the danger that your kid is going to find ways to use them for a buzz. To start with, don't even think of buying "canned air" dusters if you have kids. The way that the gases expand and cool can kill a child on first use quite easily. And be wise in general- if you take medications, either lock them up or stop taking so many pills. Not every problem needs a pill. If you are into woodworking or the like, lock chemicals in a cabinet. And check labels as most furniture strippers and other solvents are dangerous as hell.Use your brain- figure out whether or not you REALLY need to bring toxic chemicals into your home in the first place.
Last, but not least- pay attention to your kids. If they seem all goofy after hanging out in the shed or have a sudden onset of seriously bad breath, they're probably up to something. If you notice that the aerosol air fresheners keep vanishing, don't automatically assume sonny boy has decided that he is trying to conceal a bad attack of the farts. Also actually TALK to them and carefully explain that certain things in the house can kill them. And wake the fuck up- you might not like the idea of a kid trying a joint at 15, but it truly is infinitely less harmful than your furniture polish.
The real war on drugs must start in the home because the most lethal substances that young people use are found there.