Back to School: Your Daughter, Drugs, and Girly Thoughts

September 8th, 2015 | Posted by Patricia O'Gorman, PhD in Adolescents | Adolescents' Issues | Girly Thoughts | Parenting | Women's Issues












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Yes, it is back-to-school time. You and your daughter have worked to get her ready. She has pushed you to buy her the latest fashions so she will fit in; you’ve bought her school supplies and paid for her haircut. Maybe you treated her to getting her nails done . . . but there is a more concerning part of her fitting in that you need to also take care of.

Last week I received emergency requests from two different acquaintances for the same reason—the issue: their daughters’ drug use.

The first parent was “freaked out” about drug paraphernalia found in her high school daughter’s room. “But she’s a straight-A student, an athlete!” she told me, and she is confused about her daughter’s choice.

The second parent shared that her twenty-something daughter had moved on from the “safety” of marijuana to using heroin, having legal problems, and is now desperately in need of help.

These parents are devoted to their daughters and are now very worried about them.


Many Reasons for Drug Abuse


According to many recent reports, there are many reasons for the increase in drug abuse among girls and women:

  • the perception that their friends are using and they should as well;
  • a need to sooth their developing, toxic girly thoughts—the way they learn to criticize themselves for not achieving societal standards of beauty and behavior;
  • glamorization in media of drug use as a way to increase sexual desirability;
  • widespread availability;
  • difficulty in getting help with not enough treatment options;
  • the lack of understanding by most insurance companies that kids are dying of overdoses and that outpatient services just don’t help many kids.


Drug Use in Real Time


In 2013, 16 percent of girls age twelve and older reported binge drinking in the past month, according to NIDA.

Yes, girls age twelve and older. This is not just an adult problem. And it is just one of numerous and disturbing statistics about the increasing numbers of substance-abuse issues among young women.

The parents who called me have every reason to be concerned. Below is a graphic (courtesy of Clarity Way) showing the rates of first-time substance use for alcohol and illicit and prescription drugs on an average day.


What To Do?


If you are worried about a loved one, call for help like my acquaintances did. Several suggestions include:

  • Al-Anon
  • Local alcohol and drug treatment agencies
  • Trained mental health professional
  • Family physician or pastor
  • A friend in recovery

Help and support are there for you. Don’t think you’re alone because you are not.




Remember, you’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my latest book, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power

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Patricia A. O'Gorman, Ph.D., is a psychologist in private practice. She is noted for her work on women, trauma, and substance abuse and for her warm, inspiring, and amusing presentations that make complex issues accessible and even fun. She has served as a consultant to organizations across the country in preventative and clinical strategic planning. Dr. O'Gorman is a cofounder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, and she has held positions ranging from director of a rape crisis center to clinical director of a child welfare agency, and director of the division of prevention for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). She is a veteran of numerous television appearances, including Good Morning America, Today, and AM Sunday and is the author of eight books including: The Girly Thoughts 10 Day Detox Plan (2014), The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (2013), and Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting (2012) 12 Steps to Self-Parenting.

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