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Drug abuse among teens in the Valley on the rise, experts say

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Drug abuse among children is a growing problem in the Rio Grande Valley, and doctors say patients as young as 12 are left dealing with life-altering effects due to the disturbing trend taking shape across the region.

Dr. Tricia Alleyne, a pediatric doctor at South Texas Health System, says many kids between 12 and 17-years-old are intentionally taking excessive amounts of drugs, including Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Benadryl, cocaine, and synthetic marijuana.

Alleyne says what medical experts have seen over the past month is alarming.

“This year, within the past month, we’ve seen increased morbidity,” Alleyne said. “In the sense of two cases of persistence with patients ended up with persistent vegetative states.”

Dr. Joseph Garcia, the director of the clinical services at STHS Behavioral, said the drug abuse trend could be in response to the hardship bought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Pandemic-related restrictions require adjustments to life which for most least to decrease socialization, decrease physical contact and increased use of social media,” Garcia said. “Adolescents who, during this stage in their lives, are longing for independence, found these restrictions to be a major challenge for their development.”

If you think your child may be using drugs, Garcia says many warning signs you should look out for:

“Losing interest in activities they once found favorable or pleasurable,” Garcia said. “Like extracurricular actives, if they no longer find pleasure in them, that might be something to watch out for as parents.”

Both medical experts encourage parents to communicate with their children without scolding; families should understand that children find it increasingly difficult to express when they feel sad.

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