Santa Ana ​Elks

Drug  Awareness   Program

D.A.P. with   Elk Elroy

Chairman:   Joe Rodriquez

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 Grandparents can be key to preventing teen drug use

By FRANK SCARPINO, Special Contributor

Grandparents adore their grandchildren – without judgment – and their grandchildren adore them. This means that grandparents can play a role that parents can’t. Grandparents can have open and honest conversations with kids about drugs and alcohol without judgment, yelling, criticism or punishment.

The conversation on drugs and alcohol won’t just happen by itself. Grandparents should begin by establishing a bond, so this important conversation becomes a natural part of that close relationship. Grandparents can use their time together to show an interest in their grandchild’s life – listening, asking questions, offering love and encouragement. This is not an opportunity to give advice or opinions – that is the role of parents.

A good relationship between grandparents and children means they can offer opinions about illegal substance use without seeming like a nag. They don’t need to be afraid to express their opinion against underage drinking or dangerous substance use. Research shows that kids are influenced by the opinions of important adults in their lives. Children don’t want to disappoint their grandparents, so they will be less likely to indulge when they hear clear disapproval. Once the topic is on the table, grandparents should be open to listening to their grandchild’s stories. They may hear about a friend who got “wasted” or someone who was “grounded for a month,” and listen without expressing disapproval. The child may then want to discuss his/her own struggle to fit in and seem “normal,” but yet not indulge. Grandparents can be prepared with practical advice such as “hold a cup and pretend to drink,” or “offer to be the designated driver.”

They may listen further and hear stories from their grandchild that worries them – talking about their own overindulgence in alcohol, illegal drugs or even prescription pills. They should resist the urge to yell, criticize or lecture their grandchild. This is the tricky part – they must also resist the urge to keep their grandchild’s secret. Above all else, the grandchild’s health and safety are of paramount importance. But, grandparents shouldn’t go behind the child’s back to his/her parent. Instead, they should explain that they need to talk to mom or dad, then offer their support throughout the process, and discuss the best ways to talk to the parent.

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Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks may spell disaster 

By FRANK SCARPINO, Special Contributor

Energy drinks are reaching their peak in popularity but manufacturers continue to sell mass quantities to their youthful target audience. The most popular of the new energy drinks is Red Bull, which promises to give its drinkers “wings. There are now numerous brands of energy drinks that seem to be sold everywhere. They claim to stimulate the mind and body but can have adverse effects when mixed with alcohol. Combined, they make a person want to drink more and mask the signs of drunkenness.

Energy drink manufacturers are no longer allowed to make high-caffeine drinks with alcohol, but young people mix their own. High levels of caffeine can boost heart rate and blood pressure, causing palpitations, according to National Institute of Health. Alcohol makes people dehydrated, and the caffeine in the energy drinks is a diuretic which also causes people to lose water, worsening the effects of dehydration.

Lately college students and teens have been mixing these energy drinks with alcohol to get a high without getting sleepy. Fatigue is the body’s way of saying it’s had enough to drink and it’s dangerous to continue to try to fool your body that you’re not as drunk as you really are.

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 ‘Grandfamilies’ on the rise due to opioid epidemic

By Frank Scarpino Special Contributor

The growing opioid crisis has been declared a public health emergency and has sparked a parallel crisis: The impact on children neglected by addicted parents.

After years of decline, the number of children entering foster care is rising dramatically. Grandparents are being called on more and more, and usually quite suddenly, to step in and take care of children whose parents are either in jail, in treatment programs, or dead. They are dealing with many emotions and their instinct is to protect, to love, and to care for the children. They will go to incredible extremes to do so, often without any support.

Various sources report that as of 2015, more than two million American children lived with grandparents, primarily because of their parents’ addiction to opioids and other drugs: heroin, crack, meth, and alcohol.

The numbers continue to rise. Grandparents are putting off retirement and plowing through savings to rescue their grandchildren from danger.

While these grandfamilies are often formed in critical situations, they can also be built and strengthened over time. A grandfamily is a family unit in which a grandparent (or sometimes two grandparents) is the head of household and is actively parenting one or more grandchildren. It’s a form of kinship care, in which a relative of a child takes over the parenting responsibilities. (Specifically, the term “kinship care” is often used in the foster care system when a state or county agency places a child to live with relatives). Sometimes aunts, uncles, cousins, or other relatives assume this role, but by and large grandparents are the individuals most likely to parent children born to someone else in the family. Another name for this kind of household is a “skip-generation family.”

One main reason for the rise in grandfamilies is substance abuse, as addiction and alcoholism have created the need for grandparents to raise their grandchildren. Over the past decade, the number of young adults unfit for parenthood continues to soar as opioid use and addiction take precedence over other obligations. Addiction to opioids may even be fatal, meaning that children, sometimes known as “opioid orphans,” are often left in their grandparents’ care.

It’s not just opioid use. Addiction to other drugs, as well as alcohol, claims lives and turns families upside down as children are neglected or abused by their addicted parents.

Grandparents face the daunting task of caring for young, vulnerable children while navigating courtrooms and complex child welfare systems, often with little financial or social support — all while coping with their adult offspring’s addiction. When a grandchild is placed in the care of a grandparent, the decision-making role can vary greatly depending on the individual situation. However, one role that is fairly consistent is that the grandparent will be called on to help determine whether their addicted son or daughter is capable of visiting, caring for, or parenting his or her child.

Earlier this year, CBS ran a 12-minute segment on 60 Minutes about this topic. To view the segment online, search for: “Opioid epidemic leaving grandparents to raise grandchildren.”