It’s Thanksgiving! A time we associate with family get-togethers and celebrations of blessings. Here at the Advocate we are thankful for you our readers!
So, I also wanted to tell you about last Thursday evening. I went to a meeting at Knox Middle School. What I heard there was absolutely shocking. Now the average age when someone becomes a drug addict in the Knox County area, according to Operation Unite statistics, is just 11 years old!
I thought I had misunderstood. Eleven-year-olds are just starting into Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. They are still in elementary school. Heck, when my family held Thanksgiving celebrations, as an 11 year old, I was still sitting at the “children’s “ table. Now 11 year olds are drug addicts? Can this be right?
“Clients are getting younger and younger,” confirmed JoAnn Sizemore, who works to help addicts get into rehab. City attorney Chris Mills also agreed. He called illegal drug use locally an “absolute epidemic.” Mills says of the 75 -100 weekly cases in district court, probably 9 out of 10 are drug related in some way. Also, officials from the Knox Health Department confirmed that in their most recent community health survey, the number one public health issue identified is illegal drug use. City Police Chief Tye stated that “Even kids from ‘good’ homes,” whose parents make a decent living and have money, are doing drugs – and encouraging their classmates to do likewise.
Only a few parents attended the meeting. That’s sad, because in many cases the parents’ prescription pill bottles are the supply source of our juvenile’s habits. In too many cases parents are on drugs themselves!
Thankfully, Unite is working to find practical ways to help save our kids, families and entire community from addiction. They are working to provide free drug test kits for parents. Updating a free list of resources for treatment, counseling and rehabilitation sites is also underway. But how do we keep kids off drugs in the first place? All the experts agree: Parents and role models by far have the most impact on keeping children drug free!
So this Thanksgiving, lock up any prescription drugs you have in the house. Don’t be an unintentional “drug dealer to your own family.
And as you and your family are together celebrating the holiday, please find time to remind your children or grandchildren how much you love them. Tell them how important they are to you. And even if they are still in elementary school, ask them not to use drugs.
If your efforts keep a loved one off drugs, or cause them to admit they need help, then I think we all have much to be thankful for.