Dr. Joel Hochman, the Executive Director of the National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain wrote this helpful set of letters. One letter is for teens, and one letter is for parents.
You can hear Dr. Hochman read it himself on an episode of Century of Lies, a DrugTruth Network production, which aired on 2009-06-14: Read Transcript, Listen to mp3 of the show. Update! Reverend Dean Becker has kindly informed me there is a video of Dr. Hochman reading his lists.
Dr. Joel Hochman's Advice for Teens and Parents:
…I put together this guidance for overdose victims and for their parents.
I felt it was really important that instead of being hysterical, ‘Let’s get rid of drugs and fine the manufacturers and not let doctors prescribe and send doctors to prison who prescribe the medication that my kid stole out of my medicine cabinet and then killed them-self,’ I thought it’d be important to give some kind of rational guidance to both the potential drug-overdosers and their parents and I put that together.
The idea came to me from talking to Dr. Throckmorton who said he, ‘Certainly understood it was not rational to make public policy on the basis of the behavior of drug abusers, but on the other hand he had a thirteen year old and he’s concerned about his own child. I said, ’O.K. Douglas, let me see what I can come up with for you,’ and this is what I came up with. I sent it to him.
Advice for Would-Be Overdose Victims
If you are considering using a drug:
- To change your mood
- To get high
- Because your friends are doing it
- In combination with other mind altering substances, particularly alcohol
- To cope with stress
- To escape
- In a party situation
- Alone, with potential help unavailable
- For the first time and you are unfamiliar with it
- At a dose higher than you are used to (or you don’t know how strong it is)
- When you have health issues that might affect your breathing or your ability to metabolize the drug
- And you don’t know about Naloxone (for opiates) and it’s not available anyway
The possibility that you may kill yourself is VERY high.
Proceed at your own risk and do not blame the drug (you took it, it didn’t take you).
Relax – if you kill yourself, your parents will blame the drug, not you. And they will think about you every day for the rest of their lives.
Advice for Parents
For the parents my advice, rational advice I think, is as follows:
- Do not pretend your child will never be involved in drugs
- Assume drugs are everywhere and will always be available (“supply-side” strategies have never succeeded and will NEVER succeed)
- Make sure your kids are factually educated about every drug
- If you misinform them, or give them propaganda, your credibility and authority with them is over
- Share your personal experience and knowledge with them. Do not be a know-it-all (because you don’t)
- Accept the fact they may be smarter and more knowledgeable about drugs than you
- If you are going to keep medications in your home, keep them absolutely locked up – NO EXCEPTIONS!
- Expect they will try to defeat the security
- Be informed about the symptoms and signs of intoxication and/or overdose
- Have an overdose plan. Know what to do, who to call and what to say
- Do not blame the drugs. Your kid took them; they didn’t take your kid
- Expect your kids will experiment. You probably did.
- Make sure they know what to expect, and what to do, if they get in trouble with a drug.
- Tell them you really love them, will miss them the rest of your life if they kill themselves and you would really appreciate it if they don’t
- Don’t do ANYTHING to convince them it’s too risky to tell you the truth
- Give every child in your home a copy of my advice to them, and discuss it with them.
You can find these sets of advice over at the National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain's web site:
- Advice to Would-Be Overdose Victims and Their Parents
- Advice to the Parents of Would-Be Overdose Victims
You can also see the video of these lists being read: Dr. Hochman's Guides On Drug Use Video.