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Prevent Gateway Drug and Cocaine Use

From Gateway Drugs to Cocaine Use

Cocaine users often start using cocaine because they were already using “gateway drugs”. Gateway drugs are typically tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana. Statistics show that people who use these are more likely to try further drug use and experiment with harder drugs when the opportunity presents itself.

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse states the following regarding the “gateway drug theory”:

  • Adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 (that do not display other behavior disorders) who drank or smoked cigarettes within the past month are 30 times more likely to use marijuana than the teens that didn’t drink alcohol or smoke tobacco. Girls are more likely than boys but not by much.
  • Adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 (that do not display other behavior disorders) who smoked tobacco, drank alcohol and did marijuana within the past month are 17 time s more likely to use harder drugs such as crack cocaine, LSD, and heroin. Boys are more at risk here (likelihood is 29 times more) and girls are 11 times more likely to use further drugs.

This is a key indicator that prevention is the key. Drug awareness is a big factor in kids making wise choices and parents need to be more involved in what their kids are doing. Discussions about drug abuse must be had. A great way to do that is through things such as parent contracts where you talk about what is expected, what your family rules are, and what the consequences will be for breaking the rules. This allows you to talk to your children about drugs, alcohol and smoking and what they can do to their bodies as well as what your expectation as a parent is along with what the consequences are if your child choose to use or abuse any of these substances.

Parental Involvement Can Help Prevent Cocaine Abuse

The National Institute of Drug Abuse has proven that parental involvement can be a key factor in a teen avoiding cocaine abuse or other substance abuse. Parents cannot underestimate their role in helping their teen avoid the peer pressure and temptation to participate in drug use.

The NIDA has stated that:

  • Teens between the ages of 12 and 17 are much more likely to use cocaine if they use gateway drugs (marijuana, tobacco, alcohol).
  • Adults who use cocaine are more than likely to have used gateway drugs.
  • 90% of people who used cocaine claim they had used all three gateway drugs before using cocaine.

drug abuse prevention

With statistics such as these it is more important than ever for parents to help their teens avoid drug use. So how can parents help their children stand on high ground and avoid the use of cocaine as well as all three gateway drugs? Here a just a few things that parents can do:

  1. Take time to create strong emotional bonds with your children. No matter that ages of your children it is never to late to get close. Take part in activities that you can do together that foster time together and communication. Spend one on one time with your teen so that they can open up to you and have your undivided attention. When you are disciplining your teen remember to tell them that you are unhappy with their choice or their behavior but that you love them no matter what they do. And always let your teen know that you are the person they should turn to if they need to talk about anything.
  2. Get involved. No matter what you teen has going on make sure that you are involved in what they do. If they are in sports, be at their games. Offer to volunteer in their school and after school activities. Always ask your teen where they will be and who they will be with when they leave the house.
  3. Be consistent in the house rules, family values and consequences. Parent contracts can help with being clear about family rules and expectations and the consequences. Teens need clear guidelines and to know what to expect should they do or not do what is expected. Know their friends and friend’s parents by name.
  4. Talk to your kids explicitly about drug use. Make sure they understand that drug use is not acceptable. Help them to understand the short and long-term consequences of drug use.
  5. Be a role model. If your kids see you smoking, drinking, or using drugs they are more likely to believe it is an acceptable behavior and are likely to make the same choices in their life.

Teen cocaine use is a scary thing because of the addictive nature of the drug. While there is no sure way to prevent cocaine abuse or any other substance abuse, it is a sure bet that teens benefit when their parents try to be part of the prevention. If you suspect that your teen or someone you love has a drug abuse problem seek help from a drug rehabilitation center as soon as possible.

Parents can do a lot to help avoid drug use in their teens. Communication is key!


National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse [Online]

National Institute of Drug Abuse [Online]

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