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018. Is Substance Abuse Robbing Us of Our Children

Our conversation today is with Asisat Ashagbe. She is a dual certified Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. She has over 14 years experience in nursing. Since December 2016 she has worked in mental health and substance abuse in underserved populations. Her ultimate goal is to improve knowledge and facilitate better outcomes around mental health issues within minorities groups especially African/Black communities.
 
We discuss the issue of substance abuse among our children. You really need to listen to this jaw dropping episode.😮
 
Episode Highlights with Asisat Ashagbe, NP:
  • Statistics of substance use among our youth
  • Common substances that kids like to abuse
  • How to prevent your child from abusing substances
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Show Transcript

Introduction: [00:00:00] Welcome to the  Wellness Surge Podcast with Dr. Adeola Oke. Each week we discuss our wellness journey with real people like you and me. We have conversations about food, fitness, mental health, financial wellness, and much more. So you can get back to the real you. To make sure that you’re up to date with this and other wellness topics. Visit wellnesssurge.com. Information presented here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease. Please do not apply any of the information presented here without first speaking with your primary care provider. Now let’s head on to the show.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:00:35] Hello, everybody. Welcome to the Wellness Surge Podcast. Today I have with me, Asisat Ashagbe.  And Asisat Ashagbe is a dual certified family nurse practitioner and a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. She has over 14 years experience in the nursing field, going from like hospital to longterm care, hospice and all that. But since 2016, she has worked in the mental health and substance abuse field in under-served populations. Right? So that’s a big deal, right? The ultimate goal is to improve knowledge and facilitate better outcomes. Around mental health issues within minority groups, especially the African black communities. Asisat say hello to everybody. We are so glad to have you here. Thank you for coming. Thank you for your time. Since you’ve been doing this for like, you’ve got a couple of years under your belt right now. So what would you say the statistics of substance abuse among the youth is currently.

Asisat Ashagbe: [00:01:37] Well, currently the rate seems to be going up within substance use within adolescents and young adults. I’ve worked in different facilities surrounding, problems with,  mental health and substance use. You see that the numbers are increasing the statistics by the CDC saying about two thirds of high school students, by the time they finished high school, they would have used at least alcohol. Alcohol for two thirds of 12 grade there. And for about half of high school students, by the time they graduate, have tried marijuana. So that’s pretty a big deal.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:02:18] What? Half high school students?

Asisat Ashagbe: [00:02:21] Yeah approximately half, are guesstimated to have used at least marijuana by the time they graduate the 12th grade.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:02:29] Oh my God. I’m just leaving my mouth open..ahh. Those statistics are astonishing

Asisat Ashagbe: [00:02:37] This is by the CDC. So it’s something that’s a big problem. And I’m sure it’s going to continue to rise as you see, like kids not having good coping mechanisms and just, you know, parenting poor. Just a lot of factors are affecting this and more accessibility to this things with teenagers. And then.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:02:59] Yeah, sorry. I was going to say, I think that’s a big deal right now, especially in the COVID-19 era where kids don’t have too much to do. Right. They don’t have schools. Some someday they don’t even have like sporting activities that give them the high that gives them the use of their energy. So they’re just going to be relaxing and doing stuff. Right. That’s what I’m thinking. Right.

Asisat Ashagbe: [00:03:21] Absolutely. And another thing that you have to factor in is the use of social media and how it promotes this kind of things. Um, kids see it, they think it’s cool. I mean, back in our time and I’m in, I don’t want to sound old, but back in the days when I was in high school, it was more like you, you know, just with your friends and just, you know, people talking about it. So if you didn’t have access, you didn’t know it. I didn’t know about a lot of this things, but now with social media, Instagram, Facebook, there’s accessibility more than ever, and it’s just making it more of a problem. And it’s not something that we can avoid not to talk about anymore.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:03:56] Wow. Wow. Okay. Alrighty. So what are they really using? Right. What are the common things? Right. So like in the United States, like around us, what are people using? So what should parents start putting there eyes out there, trying to figure out what they are doing

Asisat Ashagbe: [00:04:13] So overall, the biggest problem is it starts as something small as cigarette smoking about four in 10 high schoolers are smokers. They buy cigarettes and from then it usually progresses on to other things, but mainly the bigger things are marijuana, alcohol, and now there’s a big influence of Heroine and stuff. Methamphetamine. All those things are easier to access than you think. yeah. And pills, prescription pills, opiods. Those are the big problems now. So the top three that I, well, actually, I will tell you the top four that I I’ve started seeing is definitely marijuana being one of the bigger things. Usually they co-use marijuana with other things. So marijuana, alcohol, methamphetamine, and opioids, things that are easily available. They’re easy. There are conspicuous. So parents may not, you know, they may not notice.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:05:11] Like I think that there are some e-cigarettes that do have stuff like that or am I wrong? Because I think, you know, those e-cigarettes, I feel like people think they look so cool. Like when it’s just like, when smoking came out, like, Ooh, looking cool right now, it’s e-cigarettes, and my kids tell me. Well, a lot of high schoolers they use Juuls. They think it’s not a big deal. So to me, it’s a big deal. So, will they use any of thos substances in the e-juuls.

Asisat Ashagbe: [00:05:42] Yeah, they can use it. The kids are very creative. They obscure, you know, the smells and, you know, stuff with a lot of stuff. Now that’s why e-cigs is actually banned in most States because they have, they come under this disguise of just being flavored and, you know, so, but there’s the content of nicotine was actually so large that it was causing more problems and the way of inhalation, it was causing lung problems. So a lot of the CEOs and stuff stepped down because they couldn’t, vouch for the product and realize that it was actually causing more problems than helping what they thought it would.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:06:20] Okay. I’m thankful that in parts of the United States, it is banned, but you know, well, the whole world, right.

People will see that people doing things over here and then they’re like,’ Oh, let’s try it.’ And actually I’ve seen people that are close to me and I’m like, come on, man. This is it. It’s not as, it’s not, it has more harm than benefits. These people don’t smoke, but they do the juuls because they feel it looks cool. So it was really sad.

That’s what I think anyway. Okay, so we know what we know what the statistics is, right. We know what they’re possibly doing. Um, well, how do we know, like how, what are the signs and symptoms for parents to look at it, to know if their kids are using this stuff?

So again, it’s very like, kids are really, really good.

Asisat Ashagbe: [00:07:04] They’re creative. There’s a lot of ways things can be hidden, but, um, I’ve worked in a lot of behavioral centers with little kids ranging from anywhere from, I had a kid as young as five years old using this things, you know? So one of the biggest things is personality changes as parents. If you know your kids, you’re paying attention to them. You can start to see that their personalities change and maybe a kid that’s usually outgoing is now spending more time in his room. Different, you know, there’s changing crowds out there, hanging out with . You know, just, and then parent intuition that something’s not right. Something’s wrong here. So just “q” into the child.

The behavior of the child is one of the most important things because they’re not really going to show a lot of symptoms until like it’s starting to become a problem. And that takes a while for that to be noticeable if you’re not really paying attention. So a lot of kids actually end up getting into trouble before their parents discovered they had this problem with drugs and alcohol or anything.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:08:04] Okay.

Yeah. So what I just heard is like just behavior and just subtle behavioral changes is what you should look out for. Right.

Asisat Ashagbe: [00:08:11] Yes, they’re irritable. They’re getting angry, a little things there. You know, maybe lastly..

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:08:18] Come on now, you’re talking about teenagers…

Asisat Ashagbe: [00:08:20] That’s why it’s easy to be masked because we just say they are teens. But it goes a long way just to say, Hey, are you okay? Like what’s going on? And just really taking time to talk to the, because eventually when it gets too much, they will talk. Out from the problems that I hear talking to them is that they don’t have anybody really checking in on them. They don’t feel like people care. So a lot of that, or they’re trying to impress their friends, it’s stuff like that, that we really, really need to pay attention to in.

Because, like you said, teenagers are irritable. They don’t want to talk to you. But like again, one of my youngest, one’s five, six. I’ve seen them start as early. They get, you know, usually also their parents are people they’re around….guatdians, they’re using it. So they have access that way, and they may be sneaking around seeing that you’re doing it.

I mean, if you pay enough attention, you will know.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:09:15] Okay. Good. Thank you. So what are the, are there any actionable steps that guardians to take? If you suspect that your child is abusing? Yeah, I’m sure you don’t want to go on like “Ahhhhhh, ur screaming! How dare you!! Blah Blah Blah!!”  You don’t want to go crazy. Right. So what is the call? What is the way to do it?

Asisat Ashagbe: [00:09:34] A lot of parents actually struggle with this, and I remember a story of a girl who we saw. Um, and she, you know, she started using, um, she had had some problems with her friends. And you know, was started, you know, the drugs and stuff and started using, and her mom found her diary and was like crying and came in.

And, you know, so the, when we asked the daughter, “Like, is there anything like your mom could have done right?” Basically, she was saying that she would have loved if her mom like paid a ton more attention to her. Talk to her. She said her mom would buy her all the I-phones and you know, things, materialistic things, but she really just would appreciate it.

Her mom listening, more asking her questions, being more involved. So for parents, I know it’s not easy, but being involved and taking time out to say, “Hey “, checking in on your kids. “Are you okay? How’s your mental health? How are your friends? Tell me what’s new.”, You know, asking kids questions really go a long way.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:10:34] My kids think I’m a mother hen, like don’t I have anything else better to do. I’m bugging them or tell them that you can’t do this. The other parents let their kids do that. Why can’t you let me do it? So I feel good. Thank you for that. All right. So basically like actionable steps is.

If you see your kid doing this, it’s just go talk to them. Is that what you’re saying?

Asisat Ashagbe: [00:10:58] Biggest thing is talking to the kid. Figuring out what, if there’s a problem, what they feel about the problem. We often try to just start, you know, implementing actions, you know, and saying,”Oh, we gotta fix this” and everybody’s screaming being frantic.

But the number one thing just it’s like, you know, I know we’re both in the nursing field is assessing. Doing assessment. Asking questions. Figuring out when did this start? How did it start? What can we do? And then, then started trying to figure out how you can help them. There’s a lot of outlines. There’s a lot of resources available for the community there’s counseling center.

There’s family therapy. There’s a lot of steps that you can do, but the biggest things to figure out where the problem’s coming from. So you can see how to address. The problem. Some kids are just in the starting phases of it, where they’re just introduced. They think it’s cool. They haven’t really done much.

They don’t know whether they’re coming or going and some kids are far. So you have to determine first where your kid is at. So you can know where to help them. I work in, um, treatment centers and day programs and, uh, alternative schools for this kids. There’s all these things are available, but again, you have to know specifically what your kid needs before you can take the next step.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:12:09] Okay. Very good. Thank you. So I’m just, I like to repeat, to make sure I got it and I’m sure you guys in mental health. You guys do that a lot, right? So it’s just basically talk. Talk calmly, figure out what is going on. Try to understand where they’re coming from and what led to it. And so possibly you can get into solution, right?

Asisat Ashagbe: [00:12:28] Yes.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:12:29] Okay. I got it. Okay. Yeah. I think you kind of talked about it because I was thinking, Hmm. Peer pressure must have a lot to play in this, because you’re talking social media, right? Friends, the people you hang out with, right.

Asisat Ashagbe: [00:12:43] So, usually that’s how it starts. Honestly, a lot of this kid start because your friends are, you know, Hey, I got this thing. It makes us cool, but you want to be cool like us, let’s try it. You know, some kids actually start because their parents do it.

I remember , I used to work with pregnant teenagers and I was uncomfortable with it because of my biases initially. But I would never forget one of the stories of a girl who told me that she actually started using because her dad started her using it.

Um, so my whole thing just changed and needing to understand and putting my judgments aside of her and realizing that there’s different genesis’ of these, thing’s becoming a problem. So yes, again, just peer pressure is real and understand like why? The why’s, who and why.

Yeah. So there was… I think I watched this video about some somali American kids and the parents, like in the community, they don’t like to talk about it. Like, like it’s a lot of immigrant communities. We don’t like to face the problem that yes, our kids could be using this thing. Right. And so I’m just thinking in some cultures… my mom told me, like, in some Arab cultures, they just put this things on- they offer it like, it’s not a big deal. And like hashish and I don’t know what that is in there, but what do you think about that? What do you have to see about that end? Is it more common  than what we think, right?

Yes. Very common. It’s even common within the Nigerian communities for parents to be oblivious.

The Somali community actually Rochester, Minnesota, where I am based is full of Somali communities. And I’ve actually had the privilege of working with Somali teenagers, where with drug and alcohol. Substance use, you know, and they have a big Muslim thing within them too. So they take for granted that their kids are not using, but one of the Somali kids toldme that they- cocaine is a big deal with them now. They use a lot of cocaine with the teenagers and that he said ” We could be using and my mum will come anyway. She would just wipe the table thinking it was powder and not thinking anything of it.”

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:14:50] What?!!

Asisat Ashagbe: [00:14:51] So it was like, wow, it is that bad. So there’s definitely implication that needed for the parents. We say, God, God, God.

But realize that this kids have issues and this is what they’re doing now. It’s- this is 2020

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:15:04] Wow. So how are they using it? Is it injection or snuffing?

Asisat Ashagbe: [00:15:08] A lot of them are snuffing, they’re eating. Um, so, uh, marijuana, you can either eat. The biggest thing is a lot of them try to do it where it’s constantly clueless.

They put it in drinks, they drink cough medicine, you know, they snort it. Anyway, you think that, you know, the smoking…

So most of the substances actually like, uh, oderliness. So you’re not going to be able to tell, um, initially, I mean, so it’s, so it’s a lot of methods. Like I’ve heard stuff I’m not going to even repeat here about how this kids are doing it.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:15:43] Well, well, I’m just like, like I’m flaber- I’m just so…

I can’t…. Like the mom would wipe off the table thinking it was his powder?

Asisat Ashagbe: [00:15:53] Yeah.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:15:53] So like, we just- we always think, “Oh no, not my kid”, but we just need to start thinking “maybe my kid and what are we going to do about it?” Um, yeah.

Asisat Ashagbe: [00:16:05] The boys and the girls. The girls are even getting almost worse than the boys now.

So it’s not like, Oh, she’s a girl. She’s not going to do that. No, that’s a false, that’s false. Um, you know, it’s anybody, that’s human. That’s able to, you know, get to try to solve their problems using numbing methods. And we just need to be fully aware that they are having issues.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:16:30] That’s the big one, solve problems,  through numbing and , peer pressure.

Okay. Um just going with the flow. That’s the scary thing about teenagers. Cause most of them go with the flow.

Asisat Ashagbe: [00:16:43] Yes. And media is a big  thing that we, we joke some of the songs I listened to as a teenager, and I hear a noun. And I’m like, wow, that was a drug referense.

Oh, okay. That is a drug reference and nowadays is even more like that. Now that I work in this substance field and learning. There’s a lot of references to drugs and clothes like their media. And, you know, like a lot of songs. Even in Nigeria and songs like science, students,  best song to everybody’s sings and whatever it’s about drugs it’s, you know. So we have to be careful because this kids are getting messages from all over that it’s acceptable when it’s not.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:17:22] Okay. Alrighty. I wish I can keep going… I can keep talking and talking and talking like, Oh my gosh. Open my eyes to all this. So scary. Oh my gosh. Alrighty. So is there a way where we can prevent this? Like how can I, how can we prevent, how can I prevent my child? You know, it’s about me now, how can we prevent our children from abusing substances?

Asisat Ashagbe: [00:17:44] The biggest thing, like I said, primary prevention is education.  You can’t stress that enough. You have to educate them about… you can’t act like, because we are not talking about this problems. It’s not existing. It’s not going on. We have to, you know, talk to them. We like, “Hey, We know this is a possibility, just wanted you to know that we know so that if you have any problems, you’re running into issues before somebody offers you anything, you can come to me and talk to me about it first.”

So again, you know, the educations at school. I remember when I was in school, there was a dare program. This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. And then they smash it egg to show you the kind of problems that can happen with drug use. And I think we’ve gone away from that because I think it’s too cliche, but it did work.

Um, and it does work. Education works. Matter of fact, Hey, if you use drugs, this is what’s going to happen. Your quality of life is going to become lower. It’s going to effect jobs, education”…. It’s all over. One of my most memorable person that I saw was this Ghanian kid who came here. He was good, but started having problems with, you know, trying to cross over between culture and American culture.

And he was introduced to heroin and he changed the course of his life and he started shooting up the drugs. And he’s all confused, treatment center, jail. And you know, his parents were threatened to send him back. But it’s like, I just was trying to solve my problems and now I’m in too deep. So again, education, I can’t stress that enough. Not acting like these kids don’t know.

Children know. Children talk amongst each other. So if you would be surprised how much your kids know. So maybe , when you talk to your kid and your kid says, I have a problem whose friend is spent to be like, well, my mom did say, you know, this, these are the options. And it goes a long way.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:19:36] Okay. Well, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Uh, so we’ve, we’ve kind of talked a lot a lot today about a lot of things. Thank you for opening my eyes because… Oooh yes! And I’m sure a lot of parents will be thanking you too. So I appreciate that. What is one thing that you want to make sure that we all take away from today’s disussion? Even if we don’t, even if we kind of skim the rest, right? What is the one thing you want to make sure we take away today?

Asisat Ashagbe: [00:20:03] This is a, so you said in the beginning that this is a very important topic. It’s something that we shouldn’t take lightly. That’s it’s a problem that’s growing and it’s a problem that will continue to grow.

So one thing if I could impact is the fact that -Knowledge is key and substance abuse is a problem that’s here to stay. So we should definitely do what we can do to educate ourselves about the signs and symptoms and what to do to prevent. You know, cause it’s better to prevent than to try to cure the problem.

So yeah, I think that’s, that’s the big,

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:20:38] Absolutely that’s like my thing. I’d rather prevent it than cure it. And that’s the, most of the things I do prevention rather than curing. Yeah. So thank you so much. Is there a way people can get ahold of you after the show? If we had any questions. Concerned a lot of concerns.

Asisat Ashagbe: [00:20:55] Yes.

I mean, my, um, my email address is my first name: A S I S A T 1 4 1 4 @Gmail.com. Also, you can find me on Instagram, which is a platform for mental health, um, in the African community. It’s mined spelled with a mynd -M Y N D underscore culture. Um, we started it, with a  friend of mine, who’s also African to bring awareness to the mental issues that we face as Africans. We’ve been busy because of school and stuff and finishing up.

So we haven’t really been up to date as we should, but we’re going to get back to bringing you guys more information in all areas of mental health, including …

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:21:38] Let me make sure I got that. Um, um, that is the @ then. M Y N D culture, right?

Asisat Ashagbe: [00:21:46] Mind M Y N D underscore culture.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:21:50] Okay. Got it. Got it. Got it. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

So like, do you like, do things like counseling and things of that nature? Like on the side for like kids anywhere in the country, in the world kind of thing?

Asisat Ashagbe: [00:22:02] I have started my platform, but I’m eventually  look into incorporate, you know, stuff like that. Just being available, mentorship programs for kids. To be available and talk to them.

One of the biggest needs kids have when they’re facing problems and contributing to the huge substance abuse problems now in youth is the fact that they really don’t have people. They feel like they can go to. Kids have problems, they’re lonely. They go to their friend who also hasn’t figured it out, you know?

So like just, it’s really just about being the person you needed. When you were growing up and this is going to solve a lot of problems. One of the things is that also mental health of this kids is the biggest thing that plays a role in substance use disorders, family, genetics, a lot of factors. They’re struggling and to understand they’re struggling is to understand the problem. 95% of the people, the population that I serve with substance use actually have occurring mental health disorder, uh, depression, anxiety, and stuff like that. So maybe we can figure out if that’s what’s causing the problem and contributing to the problem, rather than just saying, Hey, you have substance use problem.

And just going from there. It’s multifaceted multilayered and it’s important for us to, you know, try to understand it, all the facets of the problem and take care of it.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:23:26] Okay, thank you so much. That was really, really helpful. Yeah. Cause I’m, I’m having like lots of things going through my mind right now. Like, wow, thank you. Thank you so much. We appreciate you Asisat. Hope you have a wonderful day guys. I learned a lot today. My eyes totally open. I hope you also learn a lot and you could take one or two pointers from here. Don’t be that parent who sees powder on the table and think it’s just dusting powder or baby powder or something. So please don’t be ignorant. We hope our kids are not doing it, but we have to be realistic. And just, if they are, then let’s deal with it. Let’s get to the root of this problem. So thank you so much Asisat it was a pleasure having you here. Have a wonderful day. All right?

Asisat Ashagbe: [00:24:09] You too. It was pleasure.

Ending: [00:24:13] Join our Wellness Surge Facebook community so that you can implement what we learned together. I am because you are. Thank you for listening and sharing your precious time with us. If you enjoy the show, then follow us and subscribe on iTunes, YouTube, or any app that carries podcasts. Have an awesome week. Best wishes to see you thrive.