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Emojis Ignite a New Expressive Anti-Drug Language for Youth Today

No matter what you’re feeling right now, there’s probably an emoji to express it.

Instead of using words, younger generations are more frequently displaying emojis to convey thoughts or emotions in their text messages and online chats. Whether it’s a smiley face that shows happiness or a face with a teardrop to indicate sadness, these digital caricatures are now seen as a way to communicate quickly in a rapidly changing world.

Taking on Anti-Drug Language

However, a new keyboard of emojis is about to give young children and teenager a rapid way to convey drug abuse in their home. Developed by BRIS and released last spring, Abused Emojis features stylized image of alcohol abuse and self-harm, among others.

The goal is to help kids talk about difficult situations that they may not be able to adequately verbalize.

The keyboard can be downloaded for free in the iTunes App Store. According to BRIS, the Swedish nonprofit that created the emoji app, after less than one month, Abused Emojis is now the third-most downloaded free iOS app in Sweden and has been downloaded tens of thousands of times.

Targeting the Youth

“[Emojis] could be a way of starting to signal that you do need help, but you’re too afraid maybe to put your own words on it. Once you put words on it, it starts to get scary,” said Silvia Ernhagen, communications director at BRIS. “Sometimes it’s easier to express feelings with pictures or drawings.”

The National Association for Children of Alcoholics reports that more than 28 million Americans represent this population, 11 million of whom are under the age of 18.

Kids of addicted parents exhibit higher rates of depression, anxiety and behavioral issues than children of non-addicted families.

Talking Helps Break the Cycle

projectknow-shutter393546538-teen-gril-textingEnabling kids to talk about the drug abuse or alcoholism in their home can also be a crucial way to help break this cycle. Data from the group Children of Substance Abusers shows that 75 percent of kids from such homes don’t abuse drugs or alcohol themselves later in life.

The best way for kids to be open about their experiences having an addicted parent is to have supportive efforts from other adults. Group programs geared towards children in similar circumstances can help them reduce feelings of isolation and guilty, while also enabling them to gain valuable peer support.

If you’re an active participant in your own recovery, look for similar programs in your neighborhood. Having your children see the strength you’ve displayed to get sober and take control of your life can only inspire them to make positive choices as they mature into well-rounded adults.

Additional Reading:  NC School Program Tackles Addiction Head-On