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Struggling Teen Help

Just Because Your Teen Needs Help Doesn’t Mean You’re a Bad Parent

Posted by Sue Scheff on April 03, 2018  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

What would you do if you found out your normally good teen was engaging in risky behavior? Maybe you’ve been ignoring signs of substance abuse. Making excuses for their erratic mood swings. Suddenly they are becoming withdrawn, failing in school and unrecognizable — but you figure, it’s a typical teenager, or is it?

In these times of uncertainty, are we caught questioning our parenting skills?

From the moment a child is born many of us are filled with unexpected overwhelming feelings. An unconditional love that we only heard about from friends and family, but never imagined until we held our own infant.

We’re prepared for those terrible two’s, which are not so horrible in the scheme of life. We’re possibly a bit tired running after a toddler, however the rewards of watching them go off to pre-school then kindergarten are so exhilarating.  Proud moments.

We start the sports, maybe dance and in my situation, gymnastics with my daughter (soccer with my son). Never a dull moment. Many parents soon find out what their mom and dad went through being a taxi-parent.

Yes, this is bliss — raising our children (capturing the memories like our parents did and quickly realizing it’s gone before we know it).

Then the tween and teenage years begin.

The child we used to know

We raise our children with a foundation to be good and hopefully, respectable people. Many families schedule meal times together at least a few times a week, some are dedicated to their religious beliefs and have somewhat of a stable home environment. It’s more common today to have a single parent household, like mine, but I don’t feel that’s a handicap. It’s a way of parenting that only requires adjustments compared a two-parent home.

It doesn’t matter the shape or size of your family, sadly it won’t prevent good teenagers from landing in hot water.

What to do you do when your angel that you raised from birth (or possibly adopted at birth) is suddenly someone you no longer recognize? The child you used to bounce on your knee or cheer on at baseball practice or clap for at dance recitals? The son or daughter that used to be part of the family — part of your life and most importantly used to be happy.

Good teens, bad choices

You’re suddenly  faced with a defiant, angry and rebellious youth. You suspect they are experimenting with drugs, something they swore they would never do — and you had so many discussions about this. They drop out of their favorite activities, they’ve always been a good student however now barely passing and you realize their peer group is changing.

What do you do when you feel like you’re being held hostage in your own home? Locking your own bedroom door – checking your medicine and liquor cabinets and walking on eggshells with how you communicate with your teen for fear they may explode with you?

For almost two decades I’ve helped parents of at-risk teens who are facing one of their biggest fears – they failed as a parent.

The majority of parents  that contact me have already exhausted all their local resources such as therapy, out-patient and sometimes even short-term in patient. In some cases they have even sent their teen to live with a relative in hopes that it would make the difference.  It doesn’t.

What do you do when you’ve reached your wit’s end?

Here are a few comments parents have made to me over the years. Does any of it sound familiar to you? The names have been changed for privacy:

 

My 17 year-old son who has a bad attitude about school, even though he is smart, is hanging out with the wrong friends, has been caught drinking and smoking pot with friends, doesn’t play sports anymore. – Debbie, Bradenton, FL

 

My daughter is 15. Defiant and starting using drugs. She will not listen, she sneaks out at night and has gotten two curfew tickets. – Kelly, Dallas TX

 

My 16 yr old son is very bright and articulate. He does drink, smoke pot and take mushrooms, has a violent reaction to being asked to help do anything around the house, has a superiority complex and feels he knows more than anyone. -David, Seattle WA

 

Chelsea was a good student until sophomore year.  She was bullied by a group of girls and beat up and then neglected from her group of friends and has steadily declined.  Quit sports/poor grades and now as freshman in college, I believe she is doing drugs and admitted to high alcohol consumption. -Terri, Peoria IL

 

Trevor 16. Since last summer, he’s been smoking pot but denies current usage.  He’s intellectually bright and musically gifted, but grades in HS are down the drain–3rd quarter: 2 F’s and 2 D’s in his academic subjects. -Andrew, Greenwich CT

 

Mark 15. We’re tired of being held hostage in our home–can’t leave him alone, afraid to say anything that might cause him to “snap” and go ballistic. – Linda, Richmond VA

 

Jeffrey was a victim of bullying for several months until he had enough and got into a fight at school and got suspended. He pretty much “beat the other kid up” for lack of a better phrase. Lisa, St. Louis MO

 

14 year old daughter. I feel like a hostage most of the time and forced to emerge through a mine field never knowing when I am going to be blown up with her mood swings.  I am frightened for her and for us. – Leann, Laguna Niguel CA

 

My daughter is 13 years old. She’s in such a rage. The heart that use to be in her chest is now just a black empty hole. She doesn’t care who she hurts both mentally and physically. Samantha, Westchester NY

 

16 yr old son. We need something that he can’t just walk out of. My Wife and I are extremely stressed and it is getting worse. We feel like hostages in our own home. That is not healthy. -Bruce, Denver CO

And then there was me

My kids grew up in Broward County, only minutes from Parkland in Weston, Florida where you would never imagine the unthinkable could occur — until it does.

Living in areas like Parkland or Weston may seem like living in a bubble. What many don’t realize is what goes on behind these gated communities and inside some of these big homes is the same as what is going on everywhere. Parents are looking for answers as to how to raise difficult teens.

Many remain silent because of judgment they receive from others. Maybe instead of pointing fingers or shaming each other we should start talking and helping our neighbor when we realize they have a teen in trouble.

It’s easy to sit back and say this could never happen to you, especially if you never had a child, or your child is still young — however teen-hood has a way of playing tricks on your predictable life. Although many have had the typical ride of a bumpy teenager – some of us had to take the hard-way around.

It’s okay, we paved the road for you to learn from.

I had a good teen – she was/is my everything. She made some really bad choices. I had to make the leap to outside help after exhausting all my local resources (and her short stay at grandma’s).

Making the decision to send your child to a residential therapy is not easy. You don’t give birth to your children with the expectation that you will be sending them away before their college years. You feel, as a parent, like a failure.

I made a lot of mistakes that I hope parents now are learning from. With the conversation rising on mental health, don’t be afraid to advocate for your teen if they need the extra step that mine did.

By Sue Scheff, Founder of Parents Universal Resource Experts and author of Wit’s End: A Mother and Daughter’s True Story (HCI, 2008) and Shame Nation: Choosing Kindness & Compassion In An Age of Cruelty and Trolling (Sourcebooks, Oct 2017).

 

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Talking To Teens About Tragedy

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 16, 2018  /   Posted in Featured Article, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Help

Many of us remember Columbine as if it was yesterday.

Today, shootings, especially school shootings, are not any easier to hear.

How do we talk to our teens about these tragedies?

It’s time to turn to the experts.

Dr. Michele Borba, a leading educational psychologist shares her 10 Tips to Talk to Kids About Tragedy including her T.A.L.K. model.

T – Talk about the event.

Ensure that your child has accurate information that come from you so as not to develop unfounded fears.

A – Assess how your child is coping.

Every child handles a tragedy differently. There is no predicting. Tune into your child’s feelings and behavior. Watch and listen how he deals with the event so you’ll know how to help him cope and build resilience.

L – Listen to your child’s concerns and questions.

Use the “Talk. Stop. Listen. Talk. Stop. Listen” model as your discuss a tragedy. Listen more than your talk. Follow your child’s lead.

K – Kindle hope that the world will go on despite the horror


Dr. Robyn Silverman is a child and teen development specialist wrote an informative blog post on helping direct parents in try to make sense of this senseless act.

  • Get children mental help when they need it.
  • Do social skills training with kids who are lacking in empathy.
  • Be a mentor or help find a mentor for children who can use some guidance.
  • See children for their strengths, not simply for what they lack.

Read Dr. Robyn’s full post here.


Melissa Fenton, a former librarian, who brought us the compelling essay about parent shaming, “Put Down Your Pitchforks,” nails it again, when she pens on the website Grown and Flown, “Trying to be ‘Perfect’ is Killing Our Teens and We’re to Blame.

Teenagers are suffering from depression and anxiety in record-setting numbers. Stumped researchers, social scientists,  and psychologists have only begun to investigate the causes, many of which they have linked to smart phone and social media use, but is that really it? Could be, seeing as how they’re growing up under a selfie spotlight – with images of perfection constantly loading in their devices – perpetuating the great lie that everyone else has it more together and better than they do.

And we got here when we opened every conversation with our high schoolers about futures, goals, and achievements with the words, “I just want you to succeed,” instead of the words, “I just want you to be happy.”

Take time to read this entire essay. It’s a must read and share it with every parent of a teenager.


Do you believe you’re teen needs outside help?  Have you exhausted your local resources?

Contact us for information about residential therapy. Don’t be a parent in denial.

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Knowing These Slang Terms Can Help You Detect Teen Medicine Abuse

Posted by Sue Scheff on December 05, 2017  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Teenagers seem to come up with new phrases on a daily basis, and it can be hard to keep up with the meanings of their jargon. However, it’s important to know certain terms that are slang for dangerous activities, such as medicine abuse.

1 in 30 teens has abused over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine containing the active ingredient dextromethorphan (also known as “DXM”) to get high. While DXM is a safe and effective ingredient when used as directed, some teens abuse it by taking up to 25 times the recommended dosage. This can cause dangerous side effects such as blurred vision and a rapid heartbeat, among others.

To hide this risky behavior from parents, teachers, and other adults, teens have come up with a myriad of slang terms to speak in code. Phrases such as “skittling,” “robo-tripping,” and “tussing” are among the list of slang terms you should keep your ears perked up for.

Being able to detect medicine abuse by recognizing slang terms and other warning signs is important, but even more important is what you can do to prevent medicine abuse before it happens:

  1. Talk to your teen. Studies have found that teens who have the “drug talk” with parents/guardians are 50% less likely to abuse.
  2. Monitor your medicine cabinet and your teen’s activities. Warning signs such as empty cough medicine bottles/packaging in the trash when no one is sick or drastic changes in a teen’s behavior could be indicators that you should look closer.
  3. Share this information with other parents, teachers, and members of your community. The more people who are able to detect and prevent medicine abuse in teens, the better. Find resources for taking action and spreading the word here.
  4. Look for the icon below and check the Drug Facts label on cough medicine packaging to identify which medicines contain dextromethorphan.

There are over 100 OTC cough medicine brands that contain DXM.

Look for this icon to easily identify which ones include the active ingredient.

Stop Medicine Abuse is a prevention campaign working to alert parents and members of the community about the problem of teen abuse of over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines containing dextromethorphan (DXM). You can learn more on by visiting the Stop Medicine Abuse website or connecting with the campaign on Facebook page and Twitter.

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The Relationship Between Bullying and Drug Abuse

Posted by Sue Scheff on April 12, 2017  /   Posted in Mental Health, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help

Bullying is a major problem for teens. It is estimated that at least 50% of teen suicides can be attributed to bullying, and suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among young people. Bullying also leads to depression, loss of motivation, personality change, self-harm, eating disorders, and substance abuse. It is already estimated that 1 in 3 teens experiment with drugs or alcohol by the time they finish the eighth grade. Bullying only increases the chances that your child will try drugs or alcohol. Spotting the signs of bullying before it becomes too severe can prevent teens from hurting themselves or developing an addiction.

Addiction can either begin rapidly or manifest over time. Bullying causes trauma, and trauma can follow a person for a lifetime. This trauma can cause a person to look for outlets and ways to feel better, or ways just to forget. Most addicts suffer from another underlying mental illness, and this often times was directly caused or triggered by emotional trauma. Drugs can often be a safe haven for someone suffering from trauma, anxiety, and/or depression. Drugs offer a false sense of confidence and happiness that bully victims lack; this is why it can be so hard for a bully victim to put down drugs.

Here are some ways to understand teens and addiction:

Skipping school

Bully victims often will skip school out of fear of harassment by their bully. This can lead to mischievous activities or risk taking. When a person begins skipping school or extracurricular activities they may begin to hang around people who are doing the same things. This can introduce your child to a “bad crowd” that may already be experimenting with drugs or alcohol. Teens who have friends or acquaintances who use drugs are far more likely to experiment. 

Low self esteem 

Bully victims often develop low self-esteem and self-worth. Drugs offer a false sense of confidence that seem to “fix” this problem. A person eventually finds that they need drugs or alcohol to feel normal or like they fit in.

Isolation

Bully victims lose motivation and interest in others. When they begin to abuse drugs this is exacerbated. A child may begin to stay out late, avoid friends and family, or stay in their room for long periods of time.

Personality changes

Bully victims and those suffering from addiction both begin to have significant personality changes. They lose interest in their favorite hobbies and activities. If they were once out-going they may become more introverted and lonely. Bully victims often become very depressed and find drugs or alcohol a way to “self-medicate”.

Bullies are at risk, too.

There is research that suggests that bullying perpetrators are also at risk.  Amanda Nickerson, PhD, Professor and Director of the Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention at University of Buffalo stated that “A fair amount of research has found higher rates of substance use among bullying perpetrators.”

Bullies often have turbulent lives at home or other underlying mental health issues which leads to their mischievous activities like violence, sexual promiscuity, and drug use.

Parents also play a vital role in protecting their children. It is common for parents or teachers to brush of bullying as “kids being kids” or that it is just “part of growing up”. Parents who can support their children and report bullying effectively have a high likelihood of preventing their children from trying drugs. This is crucial because teens who experiment with drugs are far more likely to develop and addiction later in life. Avoiding the perception of neglect plays a vital role in parenting and prevents childhood trauma.

Another study at the University of Buffalo examined 119 teens who said they had consumed alcohol in the past month. “They found teens who were severely bullied and who had strong support from their mothers and family cohesion—such as family members asking each other for help and spending free time together—were less likely to drink than bullied teens without strong maternal support and tight family bonds.”

Always talk to your child about bullying and take their concerns seriously. Addressing bullying quickly can mean the difference between development of an addiction or childhood trauma.

Contributor: Trevor McDonald

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Racism: How Is It Affecting the Views of Teenagers Today?

Posted by Sue Scheff on March 10, 2017  /   Posted in Mental Health, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help

We are living in an era where the color of your skin holds more significance than what is in your heart. People don’t care about what kind of person you are after finding out that you’re a Muslim.

Racism is spreading like cancer throughout the world. People often forget that they are all the same; no matter what family they belong to, what color their skin is or what God they worship. If one day we could rise above all the petty things like color, creed or language and start judging people on the basis of who they truly are, that will be the day we will be able to call ourselves civilized.

Unfortunately, that is far from reality. These days, young children get bullied because they’re black; adults have to deal with colleagues who criticize them only because they’re Muslims, people getting ragged in the subways and streets only because they’re disabled. Most of you are probably shocked by this; however, this is the reality. Racism has become a huge part of our lives – Such a big part that if we see a few children surrounding a black child, we don’t do anything about it. One thing we never realize is that Racism is the only thing that could kill a living person. They could be walking and talking normally, but from the inside, their self-respect is crushed and their conscious weighs down from all the hatred.

We’ve compiled a list of things that could happen when an individual faces more than a few racial comments every day…

Severe Stress and Depression

It’s more than obvious that a person who is teased every single day by colleagues, co-workers, class mates, etc. will be depressed. They will absolutely despise every single thing about the place they have to go to every day of the week. Honestly, any of these things are enough to ruin anyone’s day. If you’re one of the people that teased someone for being a Hindu, then you probably should stop, because you’re probably the reason they are distressed for the rest of the day.

Lowered Morale and Self-Esteemed

This is no hidden fact that a person who laughed at twenty times in the day would lose confidence in themselves. It can demoralize them and can reduce their capability to work. All of you are probably familiar with Martin Luther King. He is the reason black people have the rights that they do today. Martin Luther King realized the fact that if America keeps on usurping the rights of black people, they will end up with a half broken and battered nation. This would, ultimately, start a war – A war that will take place inside America. From this, you can easily realize the effects that racism has on someone’s consciousness.

Suicides

There have been hundreds of cases when a teen that was abused at school ends up committing suicide. Even though there are a very small amount of cases of adults committing suicide, their frustration is no less than teenagers. Insults over insults are enough to ruin someone’s day. However, when the insults are directed to someone’s color, creed or religion, this might push someone to the extent of committing suicide.

How is Racism Hurting the Minds of Teens?

So, what happens when teens witness racism all day long? Does a Christian kid become happy when someone mocks a Muslim? Does a white child feels amused when someone laughs at a black teen? The answer is Yes. Our society has become one where racism is no longer considered death to social life, however, people enjoy it. Think about it yourself, when was the last time you stood up for someone being teased? We are living in a world where racism makes people feel a false sense of superiority as compared to the minorities – and it is needless to say, this isn’t playing well for teens.

How Can Parents Keep Children Safe From Racism?

Whether your child is a racist, or if they are being mocked by someone else, as a parent, it is your duty to protect them from either one. The best way to protect your children would be to use Parental Monitoring Applications. They are able to monitor all of your child’s conversations on their Smartphone, and you can know if your child is cyberbullying someone. You could use their own device’s camera and microphone and see if they aren’t getting bullied by someone at school. Hence, making sure that you protect your children from the disease that is racism itself… 

Author Bio: 

Nicki is a working mum writing blogs to help fellow mums use technological apparatus to make parenting easier in today’s era. Her work on cell phone tracking software has received great appreciation from a reader. To know more about her follow on twitter @nickimarie222

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New Report on Teens and Marijuana

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 28, 2017  /   Posted in Mental Health, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

With the legalization of marijuana in many states, more parents are struggling with teen drug use.

Many states have recently made significant changes to their legislation making recreational and/or medical marijuana use by adults legal. Although these laws, for the most part, have not targeted the adolescent population, they have created an environment in which marijuana increasingly is seen as acceptable, safe, and therapeutic. – American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

AAP points to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health(PDF), which found a decrease in the percentage of 12- to 17-year-olds who said they believe there is a “great risk” in smoking marijuana once a month or one to two times per week.

Read the entire article here.

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3 Tips to Prevent Your Teenager from Commiting Theft

Posted by Sue Scheff on January 17, 2017  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

This is probably hard to admit, but yesterday you caught your teenager red-handed taking money out of your purse. To add insult to injury, you are pretty sure this was not the first time they helped themselves to some of your hard-earned cash.

While it’s hard to believe your own flesh and blood is stealing from you, it’s not something that should be taken lightly. To nip this problem in the bud, and prevent it from blossoming into a full-blown issue that involves late-night calls from the police, check out these surefire tips:

Different Ages, Different Tactics

Young children can sometimes have difficulty understanding what does and what does not constitute stealing. Teenagers should know from right or wrong, but maybe you have younger children and have noticed them taking things that do not belong to them.

As Parents.com notes, young children can be taught to never take something from another person without asking first, and that it’s not OK to help themselves to money from a purse or wallet — even if they are used to being handed money now and then.

Teaching them not to steal must be done with a combination of patience and age-appropriate punishments. A 4-year-old who takes a dollar out of your wallet, for example, shouldn’t be able to watch their favorite show on TV that night. On the other hand, tweens and teens usually have the ability to understand that stealing is wrong, so they should face greater consequences.

Determine Why They’re Stealing

Kids and teens steal from family members for a wide variety of reasons. As Kids Health notes, school-age kids who take their siblings’ iPod or gift cards might not have the self-control needed to stop themselves. Tweens and teens may steal because it gives them a rush, or because they have seen their friends do it and they want to try it, too.

Meanwhile, some teens steal because they are rebelling against you and other adults, or because they are angry about something and want attention. In other cases, older kids steal because they cannot afford what they either need or want; sadly, in some cases, this may be alcohol or drugs. Stealing has also been linked to stress, and it can also be a cry for help.

What to Do Next

First, try to determine how often your kid has stolen something. A one-time money grab from your purse is definitely not OK, but it’s not the same as on-going and frequent stealing that has added up to hundreds of dollars, if not more. But no matter how often your tween or teen has taken something that’s not theirs, remind them that stealing is still a crime and that they must be held accountable.

As Empowering Parents notes, while you might be tempted to try to excuse your teenager’s actions based on their rebellious nature or sullen attitude, stealing is much more about breaking the law than someone’s personal feelings or problems. If you catch your child taking money from your wallet, they must pay it back, either by doing extra chores or missing out on allowance.

Teens who steal more than once may need professional help. This can come either from a family counselor or therapist, a religious leader like a minister or rabbi, or a school counselor. To set your mind at ease and help you rebuild trust with your teenager, consider installing a security camera inside your home.

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The Nature Effect: How Getting Outside Benefits You and Your Troubled Teen

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 15, 2016  /   Posted in Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

teennatureIf there was a simple way to better the relationship you have with your teen, you would want in on it, right? Well, the simple solution is all around you — nature.

Your brain on nature

Does your family make time to get outside and spend time in nature? If not, you may want to consider it. Spending time outdoors for an extended period of time is essentially like hitting the reset button on your brain. Oftentimes, people just like you and your teen, cite feeling more clear headed, less stressed, more creative and even more alive after spending time outside. It’s true. Spending time in nature is restorative to mental health, and its effect can be described as a psychological process called attention restoration therapy. Spending time outdoors can even change the wiring in the brain, but we will get to that later.

Disorders, illness and their relationship to nature

There are a myriad of health problems that face our children and teens today, from ADD/ADHD, cognition disorders and depression to obesity, stress, Type II Diabetes and even something called nature deficit disorder. And while there is no single remedy to treat many of these ailments, there is something that can help. Now more than ever, kids and teens are widely disconnected from their natural outdoor environment and spending copious amounts of time indoors. A disconnection from nature leads to difficulties concerning concentration, a sadly diminished use of the senses and even higher rates of mental illness. Even creativity levels, attention spans and desire to explore suffer because of our kids’ limited exposure to the outdoors. But as a parent, you can help to prevent these outcomes by simply getting them outside in a natural environment more often. In recent years, “wilderness therapy” has emerged as a way to help troubled teens and adolescents with disciplinary or psychological problems get back on track. Some of these programs last up to eight weeks, completely emerging your teen into the wilderness. However, these programs are not for everyone and should only be considered after taking other measures first. They are also only recommended for teens dealing with serious drug, alcohol and other serious issues.

Nature combats stress in teens and parents

One of the major draws of spending time in nature is its ability to reduce stress. While you may be thinking “What stress does my teen have?” right now, you should know that your kids are likely under a lot of pressure. From their peers, teachers, coaches and even you. Dating, sex, status, drugs and alcohol, school and other factors are big contributors to stress for teens. However, recent research has shown that our environments directly impact stress levels and our bodies. The University of Minnesota reports that nature soothes and restores, improving moods from stressed, depressed and anxious to more balanced and calm. Other studies that were also cited by the University of Minnesota claim that nature is all-around associated with a positive mood, meaningfulness, vitality and psychological well-being.

Using nature to connect with your troubled teen

Research out of the Human-Environment Research Lab has shown that time spent outdoors in nature connects people to each other and the larger world around them. If your teen is standoffish and distant, they may just need a little more nature in their routine. Use this time to put your screens away — yes, all devices, phones and tablets — and really connect with your outside environment and kid. You have to be genuinely invested in this activity and that means that you will have to power down. Whether you opt to take a weekend camping trip or just decide to go for an afternoon hike, being outdoors can help to foster a healthier relationship between you and your teen. When you’re ready to experience the great outdoors, make sure you’re equipped with the right outdoor gear. That way you can ensure you’re prepared for whatever adventure you have planned.

Walking outdoors has big benefits for adolescents and adults

Would you believe that a simple walk in the woods could actually change the wiring in the brain? You better believe it. Sure, people have cited that they feel better after talking a walk in nature, but recently both The New York Times and NPR reported that walking outside is truly beneficial for the brain. Researchers used brain scans and found that people who walked outdoors, even for a short period of time, actually had changes in their neurological functioning — for good. Something as simple as a walk in nature could change everything.

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Look Closer: Recognizing OTC Medicine Abuse

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 18, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

StopMedAbuse2By Tammy Walsh

Do you know who your teen is hanging out with? Have your teen’s hobbies changed dramatically? These are important aspects of teens’ lives that parents should be aware of – especially when it comes to detecting signs of potential substance abuse.

Substance abuse can take many forms. While abuse of alcohol, marijuana, prescription and illicit drugs generally takes the spotlight in mainstream media, the abuse of over-the-counter (OTC) medicine is one that parents should pay attention to as well. OTC cough medicines, which contain the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM), might be perceived to be “safer” to abuse as they are generally more affordable and easily accessible as compared to other substances. However, even though DXM is safe and effective when taken according to labeling instructions, over-consumption of DXM for the purpose of getting high can produce damaging side effects.

Being aware of your teen’s emotional, physical and mental state is essential to preventing any form of substance abuse. Teens who are at risk tend to display a specific array of warning signs. But how do we discern between a red flag and a fluke? This significant distinction can be tough for parents.

To get you started, take a look at the following infographic from Stop Medicine Abuse:

LookCloser

As parents, it’s up to us to create an atmosphere that is safe for our teens. Now that you know what to look for, which questions to ask and how to make a difference, will you do your part? If you’re ready to help stop medicine abuse among our teens, make sure to visit StopMedicineAbuse.org for more tips and resources.

About Tammy Walsh:
Five Moms’ Tammy Walsh is a mother of two and high school educator. After Tammy’s family was personally touched by over-the-counter cough medicine abuse, she founded the Northport Community Book Club and joined the Five Moms to help educate others about the dangers of OTC cough medicine abuse.

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3 Alternative Ways to Treat Mental Illness That Eliminate The Threat of Addiction

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 28, 2016  /   Posted in Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

PillsFor some people with mental illness, the idea of relying on pharmaceuticals and therapy sessions is not acceptable. Because of concerns about pharmaceutical companies and addictive, dangerous, and expensive medication, more and more people seek alternative treatments for their mental illnesses. The guidance of a trained counselor is important, and there are plenty of counselors willing to work with an alternative treatment plan. Be sure to do your research before starting an alternative treatment. Suggestions based on pseudoscience very easily can lead a well-adjusted individual to a path of increased symptoms and negative side effects. We present a few alternative methods for treating mental illness here, so that you can begin to educate yourself about alternative treatments.

Tried and True Herbal Supplements

If you step into any natural foods store, you are bound to run into a wall of various supplements, all claiming to be beneficial for this or that ailment or illness. While some herbal supplements can help alleviate your symptoms, it is important that you do the research, find valid studies, and make your decision wisely. Some well-tested supplements include St. John’s Wort for minor depression, Kava Kava for panic and anxiety, and tulsi (Holy Basil) for stress.

Be sure to avoid anything that uses homeopathy. The basis of homeopathy comes from the flawed, ancient concept that an ailment can be cured by a herb that would cause the ailment. The substance is then diluted hundreds of times, leaving, at most, a single molecule of the original substance. Though this water “solution” may not cause adverse effects, the cessation of treatment may cause symptoms to return.

Diet and Exercise

As always, improving your diet and scheduling regular exercise can help a number of issues people often experience. For those with mental illness, a good diet devoid of nutritional gaps can work to even out chemical imbalances. The exercise component keeps the body fit while generating endorphins, which boost your mood.

If you decide to take this treatment path, it is important that you work with a counselor. For some people, good diet and exercise simply are not enough to counteract the mental illness. A counselor will be able to monitor your wellbeing and decide whether or not the treatment is effective enough to stand alone.

Psychiatric Service Dogs

A psychiatric service dog differs from a companion animal. While companion animals can be an excellent form of treatment, they help only by providing love, affection, and a reason to get out of bed and get moving. Service dogs are specially trained to perform tasks such as providing pressure during panic attacks, retrieving medication, leading someone from a crowd during a PTSD flashback, and a number of other helpful tasks. Though a service dog alone is not a complete treatment, they can be extraordinarily beneficial for those struggling with mental illness.

Service and companion animals also can provide the added benefit of preventing addiction and suicide. For some people, mental illness is isolating, fostering depression and suicidal thoughts. An animal standing by to provide love while simultaneously offering a reason to live can make all the difference.

The world of alternative treatments can be difficult to navigate. Misinformation is published very easily and falsely backed by poorly conducted studies. The importance of research and professional guidance cannot be ignored. If you want to refuse pharmaceuticals in lieu of a more natural treatment for your mental illness, be sure you are acting responsibly. Get the help of a professional and investigate all claims thoroughly. With these two precautions, it will suddenly become easier to pinpoint a truly effective alternative treatment.

Contributor:

Adam Cook has a strong understanding of the devastation that can be caused by addiction. He recently lost a close friend to an addiction-related suicide. In an effort to better educate himself and to help others, he created AddictionHub.org, a site that provides addiction and mental health resources. When he isn’t working or adding to his website, he’s prepping for his first triathlon.

Image via Pixabay by PublicDomainPictures

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