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Teen Drug Abuse

How to Take Action During National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 19, 2017  /   Posted in Mental Health, Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

By Anita Brikman

As National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month (NMAAM) approaches, I want to take some time to help inform other parents about over-the-counter (OTC) medicine abuse and the corresponding risks. It can be easy to overlook the potential dangers of misusing medicines that are legal and readily-available, but it’s important to recognize that these medicines can be harmful when abused… as some kids are doing.

Specifically, I want to highlight the abuse of OTC cough medicines containing the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM). While these medicines are safe and effective when used as directed, one in 30 teens have abused DXM to get high. Furthermore, one in 3 teens knows of someone who has abused DXM, which means there’s a pretty good chance that your teen knows another teen who has abused the substance. What’s even more alarming? Some teens abuse OTC cough medicine by taking up to 25x the recommended dose, which can lead to dangerous side effects such as disorientation, double or blurred vision and impaired physical coordination. It’s certainly uncomfortable to think about, but I’m comforted knowing that the Stop Medicine Abuse campaign is actively working to alert parents and community members of this issue.

As a parent, I know that we all want to keep our families safe. Here are four things you can do during NMAAM to prevent medicine abuse in your home and community:

  1. Educate yourself. Learn about the warning signs and side effects of abuse to ensure it doesn’t go unnoticed in your home. Keep an ear out for slang terms and an eye out for changes in your teen’s behavior, physical appearance or group of friends.
  2. Take inventory of the medicines in your home. If you regularly keep tabs on what you have, you’ll be able to more easily notice when something goes missing without explanation.

To identify medicines that contain DXM, check the active ingredients list on the Drug Facts label and look for the above icon on the packaging.

  1. Talk with your teen. It’s not an easy conversation to have, but teens who learn about the risks of substance abuse from their parents are 50% less likely to misuse. Once you have the talk, be sure to keep the door open for an ongoing dialogue.
  2. Inform others. Talk with parents, teachers and other members of your community. Share what you’ve learned to make sure they are aware of the dangers of substance abuse and what they can do to prevent it.

For more information on how to prevent medicine abuse, visit StopMedicineAbuse.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Anita Brikman joined the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) in 2016 and leads the association’s communications and public affairs functions. As a member of the senior management team, she is responsible for establishing and directing the organization’s communications strategies and goals. Anita is passionate about healthcare issues, with over two decades of experience as a news anchor and health reporter in major television markets – making medicine abuse awareness and prevention efforts important to her. She is also the mother of three teenagers.

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Preventing Teen Medicine Abuse

Posted by Sue Scheff on December 02, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help

stopmedabuse6By Anita Brikman

Awareness of a problem is the first step to solving it. Parents were recently spreading the word about teen over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine abuse for National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month. Although October has come and gone, we can still continue to spread awareness and help other parents of teenagers just like us become aware of this serious issue.

While the abuse of OTC medicines doesn’t often receive the same media attention as the abuse of alcohol, marijuana or prescription medications, it’s still a common practice among today’s teens. In fact, one in 25 teenagers reports getting “high” by consuming up to 25 times the suggested amount of cough medicine.

stopmedabuse65Why the abuse of cough medicine?

Many teens believe that abusing cough medicine is less harmful than using other drugs because it’s legal and easy to attain. Unfortunately, they’re misinformed. Most cough medicine contains the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM), which has dangerous effects when taken in excess, such as hallucinations, vomiting, sweating and memory loss. The risks only get worse when DXM is combined with other substances, such as drugs or alcohol.

Here’s another problem. Due to the fact that cough medicine can be obtained easily and inexpensively, it’s an attractive choice for teen users. It’s also much easier to hide from parents. What parent would suspect risky behavior when they see an empty bottle of cough medicine in the trash? Unfortunately, only 50% of parents are aware of DXM abuse at all.

The  Stop Medicine Abuse campaign released this short but significant video highlighting one way parents can become more informed and help prevent abuse at home:

The Stop Medicine Abuse icon is included on OTC products, which contain DXM. Even without any knowledge of DXM, this icon alerts parents to stay vigilant about the potential for abuse.

With the hashtag #CheckYourShelf, the video encourages parents to monitor the amount of cough medicine in their home, safeguard their medicine cabinets and safely dispose of old/unused medicines. It also urges parents to check themselves by asking the following questions:

  • Am I aware of my teen’s habits and tendencies?
  • Do I have the kind of relationship where I can ask my teen important questions around risky behavior?
  • How can I start these conversations with my teen?

Informing parents about DMX abuse is the first step in preventing it. As the temperature drops and colds become more frequent, let’s continue to spread awareness about this critical issue, so parents know how the cough medicine in their home is being used.

You can get more information at www.StopMedicineAbuse.com or join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.

Contributor: Anita Brikman joined the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) in 2016 and leads the association’s communications and public affairs functions. As a member of the senior management team, she is responsible for establishing and directing the organizations communications strategies and goals. Anita is passionate about healthcare issues, with over two decades of experience as a news anchor and health reporter in major television markets – making medicine abuse awareness and prevention efforts important to her. She is also the parent of three teenagers. Join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.

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Skittling: It May Not Be What You Think

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 25, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

By Blaise Brooks

Skittling2Skittling. If you’re like most parents, you probably don’t have the faintest idea of what this word could possibly signify. Maybe a poor attempt at verbalizing the act of eating Skittles? Don’t let your sweet tooth kick in quite yet! Among many other terms, “skittling” has come to signify the abuse of over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines containing the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM).

While these medicines are safe and effective when taken as directed, they can produce harmful side effects when taken excessively. Some teens intentionally take large amounts of DXM – sometimes more than 25 times the recommended dose. In fact, one out of three teens reports knowing someone who has abused medicine containing DXM to get high, while one out of 30 teens has abused it themselves. Unfortunately, this issue is more prevalent than most people realize. Next time you’re around your teen, be sure to keep an ear out for the following common slang terms that are used to describe DXM misuse and abuse:

  • Skittling, Robo-dosing, Dexing: Terms for abusing products with DXM
  • Syrup head, Robotard: Terms to describe someone who abuses DXM
  • Robo, Tussin, Velvet: Terms to reference cough syrups with DXM
  • Red devils, Red hots: Terms to reference capsules or tablets that contain DXM

You can find a full list of the many slang words used for DXM abuse here.

If you hear your teen using this slang, it’s important to have an open and honest conversation about the risks of abusing DXM, including the potential side effects. You can also visit WhatIsDXM.com with your teen to watch and discuss stories from real teens who have abused DXM. You have the power to ensure your teen is educated, so that he or she can confidently make smart and safe decisions.

Learn more about how to prevent teen OTC cough medicine abuse at StopMedicineAbuse.org.

Skittling
Contributor: Blaise is a mother of one, caregiver of two, accountant and community advocate. Blaise is also a contributor to The Five Moms blog on StopMedicineAbuse.org, working to spread the word about cough medicine abuse with other parents. Join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.

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Seven Signs Your Teen is Hiding Drug or Alcohol Abuse

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 11, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

7DrugsThere are over 7,800 new users of illicit drugs, daily. Over half of those new users are minors. Marijuana, over-the-counter, prescription, ecstasy, and cocaine are among the most popular drugs teens use – but how are parents getting in front of their teen’s drug use before it starts?

TeenSafe, one of the most popular parental monitoring services, wants to empower parents with the tools to monitor and manage a child’s online activity in order to help know when they need to open a dialogue and start a conversation, before their activities lead to serious problems.

Below is a roundup of signs your teen may be hiding drug or alcohol abuse.

7 Signs your teens is hiding or abusing drugs or alcohol:

1.       Suddenly messy or unkempt appearance – A teen abusing substances may suddenly become messy or unkempt, have poor hygiene, or have unexplained marks or burns

2.       Separate social groups – Teens are more likely to do drugs in social situations. The introduction of drugs or alcohol also often comes with new friends, separate social groups, or the loss of old friends

3.       Sudden drop in grades – If your teen’s abuse has led to addiction, it can also impact their academic performance, including increased truancy, sudden drops in grades, or loss of interest in extracurricular activities

4.       Unexplained income – Dealing with drugs can lead to dealing drugs. Be on the lookout for unexplained income, cash flow problems, increased requests for money, or signs of theft

5.       Dramatic weight loss or gain – Signs that substance abuse is impacting your teen’s health include dramatic weight loss or gain, erratic sleep schedule, slurred or unintelligible speech, and clumsiness or lack of balance

6.       Altered emotional state – Drugs and alcohol don’t just affect a child’s physical health. It also alters their mental and psychological well-being, causing rapid mood swings, loss of inhibitions, loss of focus, and hyperactivity

7.       Abrupt personality change – Perhaps the most worrisome sign is that substances can create changes in the core personality of your teen. If your teen has developed secretive behavior, the tendency to lie, or depression, it may be time to seek help

7SignsAlcoholAbuse

If you believe your teen is struggling with substance abuse, seek help through a local therapist.  If you have exhausted your local resources and it doesn’t seem to be helping, please contact us for options in residential therapy. There are programs that will accept PPO insurance and IEPs as a portion of their tuition.

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Helping Your Child with Addiction

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 05, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

By Matt Gonzalez

Teen Drug Abuse

Teens today grapple with a variety of problems. In response, many of them turn to drugs as their outlet.

Teen drug use has spiked in recent years. Per the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

  • In 2014, more than 27 percent of high school students used illicit drugs
  • More than 36 percent of 12th-graders reported using marijuana, nearly six percent of whom reported daily marijuana use
  • Nearly 44 percent of 12th-graders reported drinking alcohol in the past month
  • Nearly 5 percent of high school seniors reported using Vicodin, a prescription painkiller

Drug use can be especially problematic for young people. Substance abuse can stunt their brain development and lead to academic problems, drug dependence or serious health ailments.

A number of factors lead to teen drug abuse. They may have a family history of substance abuse, which increases the likelihood he or she picks up an addiction. They may have been socially rejected. They may be suffering from depression or low self-esteem.

ParentTeenChatWhatever the reason, teens who use drugs or alcohol need assistance. Much of this support comes from parents.

Ways to Help

Talking to your teen about drugs is an important step for any parent. When doing so, be sure to consider the following:

Find a Quiet Setting

The conversation should take place in a comfortable environment, with as few distractions as possible. This limits interruptions, which will helps your teen focus.

Listen to Your Child

Listen carefully to what your child has to say and encourage honesty. Watch their body language as they talk about certain subjects and avoid lecturing.

Ask Them About Media Messages

Media outlets glamorize and promote substance abuse. Talk to your child about these messages and find out if he or she is influenced by them. This could help you create a set of rules or guidelines for your home.

Discuss Peer Pressure and the Benefits of Saying No

If your teen is influenced by peer pressure, brainstorm with them ways to say “no.” There are a variety of reasons not to do drugs. Talk to your teen about these benefits without using scare tactics.

Other Strategies to Consider

Kids are human. They have their own personalities and likes and dislikes. Treat your child like an individual, but be clear that you are the parent and you are in charge.

Establish Rules

Lay down ground rules, such as a curfew or places to avoid. Your child may not like these new rules, but they may prevent him or her from engaging in substance abuse.

Keep an Eye on Your Child

Is your child acting differently? Are they irritable? Do they have trouble concentrating? Monitor whether they exhibit any signs of drug use and take action when needed.

Know Their Friends

If their friends use drugs, your teen may fall into the same bad habits. Monitor who they hang out with and their behaviors around these friends.

Provide Support

Offering praise or encouragement can help establish a strong relationship between you and your teen. This communication could boost their self-esteem and prevent them from substance abuse.

Set an Example

Children learn a lot from their parents’ actions. Set an example by avoiding drug use yourself. The less they are around drugs or alcohol, the less likely they are to use.

Treatment Options

Treatment is essential for teens with addictions. Luckily, there are a number of rehabilitation centers, some of which cater specifically to teens.

Parents constantly worry about their children. If drugs enter the equation, this anxiety increases. It is important to have an open dialogue with your child about drugs, especially if you suspect they are using illicit substances.

Open communication and support could prevent them from fighting a lifelong battle.

Bio: Matt Gonzales is a writer and researcher for DrugRehab.com. He boasts several years of experience writing for a daily publication, multiple weekly journals, a quarterly magazine and various online platforms. He has a bachelor’s degree in communication, with a Journalism concentration, from East Carolina University.

Sources:

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014, December). DrugFacts: High School and Youth Trends. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/high-school-youth-trends

Mayo Clinic. (2016, February 2). Teen drug abuse: Help your teen avoid drugs. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/tween-and-teen-health/in-depth/teen-drug-abuse/art-20045921

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If you have exhausted local resources for your troubled teen, please contact us for information about residential therapy.

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Synthetic Drugs: What Parents Need to Know

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 22, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help

One small dose. That’s all it was.  She was an honor roll student, not into drugs, never in troubled or into partying. Tara Fitzgerald, only 17 years old, however, was curious to try LSD and on one night made one bad decision she never woke up from.

“We all feel immune to drugs because our kids are better than that – they know better, they’re going to be smarter and it’s not going to happen to us. Well, it can happen to anybody,” – said Tara’s father in the following video.

What is synthetic drugs?

Synthetic drugs are created using man-made chemicals rather than natural ingredients.

A number of synthetic drugs on the market, including Ecstasy, LSD and methamphetamine, are described in other booklets in The Truth About Drugs series. This booklet gives the facts about “synthetic marijuana” (Spice or K2), “synthetic stimulants” (Bath Salts) and a drug known as “N-bomb.” These are among the synthetic drugs known as “designer drugs.”

Source: Drug-Free World

ParentsTalkingTeensWhat can parents do?

Communication is key.

If you watch the entire segment of Dateline, you will discover that although parents want to be able to trust their teenagers, it doesn’t mean you stop checking in on them — assuming they are a good kid, and nothing is going on.

Tara’s parents would give anything to go back to that night and check in on her – rather than assume she’s a good kid – all is just fine.

Even good kids make bad choices, don’t be that parent in denial. Don’t end up being a statistic. Worse – don’t end up being a headline.

If you’re struggling with your teen and have exhausted your local resources, sometimes residential therapy can be your next step. Contact us for quality resources.

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Risky Use of Stimulants and Teenagers

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 10, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

TeensADHDMedsBy Constance Scharff, PhD

Prescription ADHD medications like Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse are becoming increasingly popular for overworked and overscheduled college students. ADHD stimulants strengthen the brain’s inhibitory capacities, by increasing the amount of certain neurotransmitters, like dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Students like these drugs because they enhance their study efforts.

Prescription “study drugs” are commonly abused to increase concentration for last minute cramming or paper writing. The numbers vary significantly by school, with the greatest proportion of users at private and “elite” universities. Some researchers estimate about 30% of university students use stimulants non-medically.

Students believe that they take these stimulants for the “right reasons,” to be more productive in classes and to stay afloat in a flood of intense competition. In the competitive atmosphere at many schools, students seldom take the time to consider short or long-term risks of taking these drugs, nor understand how certain stimulants may interact with other drugs.

Sean McCabe, research associate professor at the University of Michigan Substance Abuse Research Center said:

“Our biggest concern is the increase we have observed in this behavior over the past decade. College students tend to underestimate the potential harms associated with the nonmedical use of prescription stimulants.”

While students’ knowledge of the health dangers are limited, even less consideration is given to the illegality of use. Obtaining stimulants from friends with prescriptions, as the vast majority of college students do, seems less dangerous and illegal than buying drugs off the street. Yet these drugs are illegal if used other than intended or by someone other than the person to whom they are prescribed. These drugs are Schedule II substances, on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list right next to cocaine and morphine.

Colleges and universities need to increase awareness about the abuse of these drugs and prompt broader discussion about misuse of medications like Ritalin or Adderall for study purposes. Prevention education for all students may help inform many that these drugs are highly addictive and can have serious side effects. A medical professional or counselor can provide help and support if a student you know is abusing these drugs, along with more information if needed.

BookEndingAddictionAbout the author: Constance Scharff has a Ph.D. in Transformative Studies, specializing in addiction recovery. She is the Senior Addiction Research Fellow and Director of Addiction Research at Cliffside Malibu Treatment Center, and co-author of Ending Addiction for Good with Richard Taite.

 

If your teen is struggling with drug use, please don’t hesitate to get help immediately. If you have exhausted your local resources please contact us for options on residential treatment.

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Teens and Drug Use: Beyond Addiction

Posted by Sue Scheff on January 27, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens, Uncategorized

Ranking the riskiest drugs in the United States, beyond addiction.

It’s time to rethink your ideas about the most dangerous drugs. Many are in our own homes.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that everyone is going to be abusing them, however when you have a teenager desperate to get high, you must consider all these options.

Don’t be a parent in denial — be an educated parent. You will have a safer and healthier family.

31 Most Harmful Drugs

 

All Psychology Schools

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Warning Signs Your Teen Could Be Using Drugs

Posted by Sue Scheff on November 23, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

TeendrugabuseThis is a difficult question that many parents have to face on a daily basis. Parents who spend a great deal of time with their teenagers are often tuned into what is normal behavior and what is not.

However, even parents who are actively involved in the daily activities of their teenagers may overlook – or subconsciously deny – the earliest signs of a substance abuse problem.

Some of the clues that your teenager may exhibit when using drugs or alcohol are fairly subtle, but others are rather obvious:

• Many hours spent alone, especially in their room; persistent isolation from the rest of the family. This is particular suspicious in a youngster who had not been a loner until now.

• Resistance to taking with or confiding in parents, secretiveness, especially in a teenager who had previously been open. Be sure that your teenager is not being secretive because every time he tries to confide in you, you jump on him or break his confidence.

• There is marked change for the worse in performance and attendance at school and/or job or other responsibilities as well as in dress, hygiene, grooming, frequent memory lapses, lack of concentration, and unusual sleepiness.

• A change of friends; from acceptable to unacceptable.

• Pronounced mood swings with irritability, hostile outbursts, and rebelliousness. Your teenager may seem untrustworthy, insincere or even paranoid.

• Lying , usually in order to cover up drinking or drug using behavior as well as sources of money and possessions; stealing, shoplifting, or encounters with the police.

• Abandonment of wholesome activities such as sports, social service and other groups, religious services, teen programs, hobbies, and even involvement in family life.

• Unusual physical symptoms such as dilated or pinpoint pupils, bloodshot eyes, frequent nosebleeds, changes in appetite, digestive problems, excessive yawning, and the shakes.

Parent_Teen_TroublesThese are just a few of the warning signs that can be recognized.

• Be careful not to jump to the conclusion that your teenager may be using when you see such behavior.
• Evaluate the situation.
• Talk to your teenager.
• Try to spend time with her so that she feels that she can trust you.
• By creating a home that is nurturing, she will understand that despite of unhealthy choices that she will always get the love and moral support that she deserves.
• Building a strong relationship with your teenager now will mean that in time of crises your love, support, wisdom, and experience won’t be shut out of your teenager’s decision making.
• If you have a suspicion that your teenager is involved in the use of drugs or alcohol, don’t hesitate to bring the subject up.

The sooner the problem is identified and treated, the better the chances that your teenager’s future will be safeguarded. Raising the subject will be easier if you already have good communication in the family. Discuss the ways in which you can seek help together. An evaluation by a substance abuse professional may be the key to understanding what is really going on with your teenager.

Contributor: Shawnda Burns, LCSW

Especially around the holiday season, keep your parent radar on high alert. Monitor your monitor medicine cabinets.

If your teen has been struggling with substance abuse, be sure to seek help. If they refuse to get help, it may be time to consider residential therapy. Contact us for more information on this step.

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How Good Teens Can Get Hooked On Heroin

Posted by Sue Scheff on November 02, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

HeronAbuse“Not my child.”

“He was only smoking weed.”

“It started with his wisdom teeth being removed and pain meds.”

“It was a sports injury and the pain meds helped.”

“It was only pot.”

“It’s not my teen.”

If you missed Heroin in the Heartland on 60 Minutes, take fifteen minutes to watch it.

These are not your typical stereotype junkies many parents imagine an addict to be, these could be your child. These are good kids making some very risky and deadly decisions.

I have been speaking to parents since 2001 and two of the biggest misconceptions that parents have is exactly what this segment shared:

  1. It’s not my teen/child.
  2. It’s only weed.
Hannah Morris/CBS News

Hannah Morris/CBS News

Hannah Morris on 60 Minutes said the following, while she was 15 years-old:

“It started with weed and it was fun, and I got to good weed . Went to– oh my gosh, I went to pills, and it was still fun. You know, Percocet, Xanax, Vicodin, all that kinda stuff. And then yeah, heroin. I started smoking it at first.”

Both of Hannah’s parents are professionals and live in an upper middle-class area.  Hannah has been clean for a year and now attending college.

Don’t be a parent in denial.

Okay, marijuana is legal now, but get educated on it. It still has risk for youth and their brain cells – and more importantly when teens are buying it from dealers, it could be potentially laced with heroin. ABC 20/20 shared a segment on this a few years back – The New Faces of Heroin Users.

It’s basic economic’s, the dealers are going where the money is. – 60 Minutes

Parents need to learn more about heroin. They need to stop believing that it won’t or can’t happen to them. Heroin is deadly. Start talking about it – and don’t think of it as a stigma, but rather being proactive.  Start chatting about the 60 Minute segment. How do you feel about all the pain meds or the fact some parents flippantly say – it’s only marijuana?  This is not your parent’s weed.  This is your teenager’s life.

Parents that learned firsthand that heroin is risky and deadly/CBS News

Parents that learned firsthand that heroin is risky and deadly/CBS News

 

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