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Teen Help For Troubled Teens During COVID19

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 30, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Article, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Are you searching for teen help during COVID19?

Is your teen driving you crazy?

You’re not alone.

No doubt, many parents are experiencing new challenges with their anxious teenagers during these uncertain times.

Quarantine life could be a time of relaxation for some, but for some parents of teens, it’s anything but relaxing.

Whether your teen is stressed out from not being able to mingle with their friends, or spending way too much time online (especially since they had to finish school virtually) — maybe your teen is feeling isolated or lonely, are they sinking into a depression? Are they self-medicating? Becoming defiant, angry, raging or even explosive? Are they stealing your credit card — ordering things offline without your permission?

You’ve exhausted your local therapy, in many cases, your teen has been able to manipulate their way around their therapist. Maybe you’ve tried out-patient — even a short stay in a local hospital.

Is residential therapy for you?

When a parent calls P.U.R.E. they are usually surfing the internet and confused by all the fancy websites, terminology they are now learning about (RTC, TBS, Wilderness, transport services and more) and wondering — is this really want my child needs?

The fact is, in many situations you have a good kid that is now making some bad choices and you never in a million years thought you would be facing this day.

None of us did. Yet here we are.

That’s the best part – you’re not alone.

There are many residential therapy schools and programs in our country, probably because there are many families in need of help today. Although there are many good programs and schools – there are also many that you need to be skeptical of – as well as many sales people you need to concerned about that may not have your child’s best interest at heart.

When will you know it’s time for residential therapy?

  1. Have you exhausted all your local resources? From using local therapy to extending into outpatient teens can be easily shut-down. Although we know that many times it’s difficult to get a teen to open up to therapist – or even attend a session, parents need to know they at least tried. When in residential therapy, the entire program evolves around their emotional wellness, 24/7. Being removed from their negativity – helps tremendously.
  2. Living with a relative. Some families have attempted to move the troubled teen to a relative. Again, sometimes this works – and others it can be a band-aid, however it can help you make that decision that you have exhausted your local resources before you decide to choose residential.
  3. Is your teen a danger to themselves or other people (you)? Has your child become violent towards you or themselves? This is when you know it’s time to start researching for residential therapy. It’s not working at home.
  4. Do you feel like you are hostage in your home by their behavior? Do you feel like you are walking on egg shells? Being careful about what you say or how you act for fear they may become explosive? Again, this is a red flag it may be time for residential therapy.

Keep in mind, there are different types of residential therapy. P.U.R.E. can help educate you on what may best fit your child’s individual needs without placing them out of their element.

During COVID19, most programs are taking precautions to keep your child safe. They will likely have your teen placed in a 2-week quarantine home prior entering a program.

Residential therapy is a major emotional and financial decision. Contact us today for more information.

 

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Conduct Disorder in Teens: Symptoms and Treatment

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 15, 2020  /   Posted in Entitlement Issue, Featured Article, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Conduct disorder is a serious behavioral and emotional disorder that can occur in children and teens.

A child with this disorder may display a pattern of disruptive and violent behavior and have problems following rules.

It is not uncommon for children and teens to have behavior-related problems at some time during their development. However, the behavior is considered to be a conduct disorder when it is long-lasting and when it violates the rights of others, goes against accepted norms of behavior and disrupts the child’s or family’s everyday life.

What Are the Symptoms of Conduct Disorder?

Symptoms of conduct disorder vary depending on the age of the child and whether the disorder is mild, moderate, or severe. In general, symptoms of conduct disorder fall into four general categories:

  • Aggressive behavior: These are behaviors that threaten or cause physical harm and may include fighting, bullying, being cruel to others or animals, using weapons, and forcing another into sexual activity.
  • Destructive behavior: This involves intentional destruction of property such as arson (deliberate fire-setting) and vandalism (harming another person’s property).
  • Deceitful behavior: This may include repeated lying, shoplifting, or breaking into homes or cars in order to steal.
  • Violation of rules: This involves going against accepted rules of society or engaging in behavior that is not appropriate for the person’s age. These behaviors may include running away, skipping school, playing pranks, or being sexually active at a very young age.

In addition, many children with conduct disorder are irritable, have low self-esteem, and tend to throw frequent temper tantrums. Some may abuse drugs and alcohol. Children with conduct disorder often are unable to appreciate how their behavior can hurt others and generally have little guilt or remorse about hurting others.

What Causes Conduct Disorder?

The exact cause of conduct disorder is not known, but it is believed that a combination of biological, genetic, environmental, psychological, and social factors play a role.

  • Biological: Some studies suggest that defects or injuries to certain areas of the brain can lead to behavior disorders. Conduct disorder has been linked to particular brain regions involved in regulating behavior, impulse control, and emotion. Conduct disorder symptoms may occur if nerve cell circuits along these brain regions do not work properly. Further, many children and teens with conduct disorder also have other mental illnesses, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disorders, depressionsubstance abuse, or an anxiety disorder, which may contribute to the symptoms of conduct disorder.
  • Genetics: Many children and teens with conduct disorder have close family members with mental illnesses, including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders and personality disorders. This suggests that a vulnerability to conduct disorder may be at least partially inherited.
  • Environmental: Factors such as a dysfunctional family life, childhood abuse, traumatic experiences, a family history of substance abuse, and inconsistent discipline by parents may contribute to the development of conduct disorder.
  • Psychological: Some experts believe that conduct disorders can reflect problems with moral awareness (notably, lack of guilt and remorse) and deficits in cognitive processing.
  • Social: Low socioeconomic status and not being accepted by their peers appear to be risk factors for the development of conduct disorder.

How Common Is Conduct Disorder?

It is estimated that 2%-16% of children in the U.S. have conduct disorder. It is more common in boys than in girls and most often occurs in late childhood or the early teen years.

How Is Conduct Disorder Diagnosed?

As with adults, mental illnesses in children are diagnosed based on signs and symptoms that suggest a particular problem. If symptoms of conduct disorder are present, the doctor may begin an evaluation by performing complete medical and psychiatric histories. A physical exam and laboratory tests (for example, neuroimaging studies, blood tests) may be appropriate if there is concern that a physical illness might be causing the symptoms. The doctor will also look for signs of other disorders that often occur along with conduct disorder, such as ADHD and depression.

If the doctor cannot find a physical cause for the symptoms, he or she will likely refer the child to a child and adolescent psychiatrist or psychologist, mental health professionals who are specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses in children and teens. Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate a child for a mental disorder.

The doctor bases his or her diagnosis on reports of the child’s symptoms and his or her observation of the child’s attitudes and behavior. The doctor will often rely on reports from the child’s parents, teachers, and other adults because children may withhold information or otherwise have trouble explaining their problems or understanding their symptoms.

How Is Conduct Disorder Treated?

Treatment for conduct disorder is based on many factors, including the child’s age, the severity of symptoms, as well as the child’s ability to participate in and tolerate specific therapies. Treatment usually consists of a combination of the following:

  • Psychotherapy : Psychotherapy (a type of counseling) is aimed at helping the child learn to express and control anger in more appropriate ways. A type of therapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy aims to reshape the child’s thinking (cognition) to improve problem solving skills, anger management, moral reasoning skills, and impulse control. Family therapy may be used to help improve family interactions and communication among family members. A specialized therapy technique called parent management training (PMT) teaches parents ways to positively alter their child’s behavior in the home.
  • Medication Although there is no medication formally approved to treat conduct disorder, various drugs may be used (off label) to treat some of its distressing symptoms (impulsivity, aggression), as well as any other mental illnesses that may be present, such as ADHD or major depression.

What Is the Outlook for Children With Conduct Disorder?

If your child is displaying symptoms of conduct disorder, it is very important that you seek help from a qualified doctor. A child or teen with conduct disorder is at risk for developing other mental disorders as an adult if left untreated. These include antisocial and other personality disorders, mood or anxiety disorders, and substance use disorders.

Children with conduct disorder are also at risk for school-related problems, such as failing or dropping out, substance abuse, legal problems, injuries to self or others due to violent behavior, sexually transmitted diseases, and suicide. Treatment outcomes can vary greatly, but early intervention may help to reduce the risk for incarcerations, mood disorders, and the development of other comorbidities such as substance abuse.

Can Conduct Disorder Be Prevented?

Although it may not be possible to prevent conduct disorder, recognizing and acting on symptoms when they appear can minimize distress to the child and family, and prevent many of the problems associated with the condition. In addition, providing a nurturing, supportive, and consistent home environment with a balance of love and discipline may help reduce symptoms and prevent episodes of disturbing behavior.

Courtesy of WebMD.

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Teen Help With Sleep Deprivation

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 06, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Article, Parenting Teens, Teen Depression, Teen Help

How to Help Your Sleep Deprived Teen Sleep Better

A healthy sleep cycle is essential for everyone, especially for teenagers because of their hectic routines and social life. Most sleep specialists generally recommend 9 to 9.5 hours of sleep for teenagers. But a lot of studies show that teenagers are not getting their required sleep hours. 

According to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll, 43% of parents complain that their children are sleep deprived. Many of these parents think it’s mainly due to electronics. Children nowadays are glued to their phones all day and night and are completely oblivious to the outside world. Such an attitude is causing major sleep deprivation.

Constant sleep deprivation is having a huge impact on the lives of teenagers in terms of health risk and academics. If you’re a parent with a sleep deprived teen, here are some tips you can follow to help your child sleep better: 

1. Make their bed comfortable

The best way to help your sleep deprived teen sleep better is by giving them the right bedding to sleep on. People sleep better when they have a cozy mattress to sleep on and a comfortable pillow underneath their head.

When people sleep on a comfortable bed, their quality of sleep instantly increases. Everyone has a different choice of pillows they could use. Some prefer flat pancake pillows, others might prefer super puffy clouds for a peaceful slumber. If you haven’t been able to find the right pillow for your teen yet, you can take this quiz by Pillow Insider which gives you suggestions based on your preferred sleeping position and firmness level.

Changing the bedding is a much easier way to help your teen sleep better instead of constantly bickering over their phone that they might never get rid of. 

2. Make sure their bedroom is a quiet place

As parents you would do every little thing that you can to make your teen get a healthy sleep. So another tip that we have for you is to ensure that your teen’s bedroom is a quiet place with no disruptions. 

Before you put your child to sleep you need to make sure that their computers, laptops or iPads are off and there are absolutely no gadgets in their hands. Listening to music before sleeping also doesn’t help at all so remember to take away their headphones before they sleep.

Your child’s bedroom should be the single most quiet and comfortable spot in the house. Teens can sleep better if there is no noise distracting them again and again and no light leaking from the window. 

3. Help your child become stress-free before going to bed

One of the leading causes behind sleep deprivation is the restlessness due to stress and anxiety. It’s not just about teenagers, nobody can sleep peacefully if they aren’t feeling light headed. 

Today’s teenagers go through a lot of stress, anxiety and depression and most of it is contributed by their high schools. Before your child goes to bed, talk to them and see if they’re okay. You can make all the effort by giving them a comfortable bedding and making their bedroom quiet and peaceful but they can’t sleep if their mind is distracted. 

You can ask your child to meditate, do yoga, or talk it out with you to release the stress. Going to bed with stress and anxiety will decrease their quality of sleep and as parents you need to make their worries go away so they can sleep peacefully. 

4. Give them snacks that would help in sleeping better

According to many nutritionists and dieticians, having high carb snacks before bedtime does the trick. Eating high carb snacks makes you feel warm and sleepy. If your child is having trouble sleeping, you can try these snacks and put them on their bedside.

Also while giving them such snacks make sure that your child doesn’t consume any caffeinated drink before bedtime. Caffeine gives instant energy that will deprive your child of sleepiness and keep him awake all night. Caffeine could be easily available in your child’s favourite bedtime snack or drink.

Make sure that your child monitors his/her caffeine intake. If they want a drink before bedtime, suggest them to drink herbal tea or chamomile tea. These drinks are healthy as well as beneficial for a peaceful sleep. 

5. Discourage daytime naps

Many teenagers have the habit of sleeping in the afternoon after they get back from school or college feeling exhausted. As much as it’s important for them to take a quick power nap, it could also disrupt their night’s sleep.

It is highly advised that if your child is having trouble sleeping at night, make sure they don’t take any afternoon naps because if they go to bed tired at night then chances are that they will fall asleep instantly. Give them some energy drink in the afternoon to keep them awake so they can sleep peacefully at night.

6. Make sure that your child doesn’t procrastinate on school tasks

Apart from getting glued to phones at night, another reason causing your teen’s sleep deprivation could be school tasks. When your child gets back from school, make sure that he/she completes their homework and projects that are due.

It’s only natural that they might want to catch up on some tv or play on their phones but it’s imperative that they complete their work on time so they don’t have to stay up all night. This will also prevent them from having an afternoon nap and they can easily fall asleep at night without any deadlines looming over their head. 

7. Consult a sleep specialist

Even if after trying everything your child is sleep deprived and is facing health problems due to it, it might be beneficial to consult a sleep specialist or a health provider. Your child might be going through something that he/she has trouble opening up about so a consultant could be the best option here.

You can follow these tips to help your child sleep peacefully. These are some of the most effective remedies that will work like a charm. And as concerned parents, you should do anything to help your sleep deprived teen sleep better. 

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Do you think your teen is struggling with depression, sadness? Have you exhausted your local resources? Contact Us to learn more about if residential therapy might be able to help you.

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How Do I Recognize If My Teenager Is Using Drugs Or Alcohol?

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 24, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Article, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

How Do I Recognize If My Teenager Is Using Drugs Or Alcohol?

This is a difficult question that many parents have to face on a daily basis.

By Shawnda P. Burns, LMHC, CAP

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.

These 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.

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If you have exhausted your local resources, such as therapists, out-patient and possible short-term in-patient, and still find that your teenager is struggling with behavior issues, it might be time to consider residential therapy. Contact us for more information.

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RESET: Summer Digital Detox Program for Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on March 28, 2020  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Featured Article, Mental Health, Summer Camps, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

RESET SUMMER CAMP

Serious Help for Technology Addiction

Looking for a summer digital detox program that is both affordable and effective?

Welcome to Reset.

Digital Addiction

Today we are facing a time when teen depression is on the rise. Young people are struggling with anxiety, stress and overwhelmed by peer pressure. They are isolating themselves – completely immersed in their screens without considering their emotional or physical health.

Symptoms:

-An obsession with being online
-Frustration, anxiety, and irritability when not able to get online
-Abandoning friends or hobbies in order to stay digitally connected
-Continuing to spend time online even after negative repercussions (such as failing grades, deteriorating relationships, and even health issues)

Getting Help

Reset Summer Camp offers a fully immersive, clinical program hosted on a university campus, providing a fun-filled summer camp atmosphere. Participants are able to detox from their screen addiction and learn how to self-regulate, as they participate in individual and group therapy.

Life Skills

The Life Skills program cultivates responsibility and builds self-confidence, so campers will be prepared to handle their real-world obligations. Everything from healthy meal-prep and laundry skills to basic vehicle upkeep and a healthy sleep schedule.

Therapeutic Setting

Their staff includes experienced youth-development professionals, clinical interns, registered nurses, and private-practice mental health PhDs who work daily with those suffering from problematic use of technology, including gaming addiction and other unhealthy screen-time habits.

With 4-weeks of intensive therapeutic intervention, a full Family Workshop weekend and 12-weeks of individual follow-up with every camper, Reset Summer Camp stands alone as the leader in summer digital detox programs.

Aftercare

Reset Summer Camp isn’t done when your teen goes home. What sets them apart from others is their therapeutic after-care. Counselors will be available to help you, your teen and your family find a healthy relationship at home with technology.

Dates and rates

Santa Barbara, CA: Teens (13-17) July 5-August 2nd
New Brunswick, Canada: Teens (13-17) July 19 – August 15th
Harpers Ferry, WV: Young adults (18-26) fall of 2020, call for more information
All 4-week programs are $7850.00.
Please contact RESET for financing options.

RESET also offers kid sessions (8-12 year-old) at their Santa Barbara location at $4250.00 for two weeks.

Contact RESET at 1-775-771-3171 to learn more or email at info@resetsummercamp.com and visit them on Facebook.

Apply now.

As featured on the Today Show:

P.U.R.E. is not compensated by RESET Summer Camp.

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Parenting Teens In A Hookup and Sex Culture: How to start a conversation

Posted by Sue Scheff on January 12, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Article, Mental Health, Parenting Teens, Sexting, Teen Help

How to Talk to Teenagers about Hookups and Sex

By Sari Cooper, LSCW

As a certified sex therapist, speaker and mom, I understand the anxieties around teen sexuality and the topic of hooking up. Most parents are worried. Does a teen have the maturity to walk through the emotional, psychological, and medical consequences of engaging in oral sex or intercourse?

The definition of “hooking up” is ambiguous and can change with each situation, from making out to having sexual intercourse. And whether it is bragging or shaming will also fluctuate.

Biology accounts for teen sexuality. Hormones during puberty are responsible for boys’ erections and the tingling feelings in girls’ genitals and breasts. The biological basis is set, but the peer community establishes the norms.

It is important to  talk to your teen about sex and hookups.

Tips for Talking about Sex and Hooking Up:

1. Define hookup.

Ask your teen what their friends mean when they use “hookup.” If your teen is willing to talk, ask them about what their peers have done sexually at which ages. It’s easier for teens to talk about other kids than to talk about themselves.

2. Describe normal.

Describe the actual physical feelings that are normal for this age. Clarify that it is normal to crave the pleasure associated with making out with someone you’re attracted to. Use the word masturbation when describing the natural way boys AND GIRLS can take care of those longings in private. Masturbation is the SAFEST SEX, yet most parents are too embarrassed to talk about it.

3. Understand STIs.

Educate yourself about the most common STIs (sexually transmitted infections): how they are transferred (some can be passed by rubbing without penetration or through oral sex) and the best ways to protect oneself from them. Oral Herpes can be passed through oral sex without a barrier, like a condom or dental dam.

4. Use correct terminology.

Girls should get to know their own genitalia. Use the term “clitoris” (not vagina, since the nerve endings and pleasure are primarily focused in the clitoris).

5. Acknowledge the DOUBLE STANDARD for girls.

This is not a bitter exclamation, rather an explanation of reality. A girl involved in oral sex or sexual intercourse may be labeled as easy, a slut or a whore.

6. Establish appropriate state of mind.

Use the words “conscious,” “responsible” and “authentic” to describe the state of mind that is necessary before making these decisions. “Sober” and “smart” also work. However, your teen might experiment without feeling emotionally crushed afterwards. This part may be hard for parents to accept.

7. Explain your family values.

Be very clear about your family values. Let your teen know what you feel is the healthiest situation to experiment with his or her feelings and with whom. Let them know that real life is different than movies. Real sexual hookups might not be physically or emotionally wonderful.

8. Set specific ages for sexual activity.

Most parents will say something vague like, “When you meet someone you love or when you get married, you will be glad you waited.” This is too vague for most teens. Like the age for a driver’s license, let your teen know when you think your teen would be emotionally prepared to have oral sex and intercourse. (Then add two more years. Adding two years anticipates their need to rebel and try it sooner.)

9. Stress trust.

Stress the importance of trusting their partner. Ask, “If you do choose to engage in some sexual behavior, will your partner keep the information private or spread it around online or at school?”

10. Articulate guidelines.

If you agree with certain behaviors at certain ages, let them know what they are, and ask them to do it with a person they trust and in a private place beyond the phones of others who can shoot a photo and upload it on social media sites without their permission.

11. Share information.

Sexual education books and videos can help teens understand their bodies and the many ways to feel pleasure and prevent STIs.

12. Buy condoms.

Show your teen how to put a condom on a cucumber. This ensures that they know how to use them safely to prevent the transfer of herpes or other STIs. Do the same with dental dams or saran wrap when oral sex is given to women.

Saying no is one type of empowerment, but having the tools to say yes safely is a more realistic type of empowerment. You wouldn’t let your teen drive the car without getting driving lessons first. Don’t let your teens out the door without a full sex education.

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Article republished with permission from  Your Teen for Parents. Visit them for more educational articles on parenting teens today.

Also read: Sex Hasn’t Changed It’s Our Culture Giving it a Bad Rap

Book recommendation, our featured book, Boys & Sex .

Also check-out Peggy Orenstein’s book, Girls & Sex.

 

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5 Things Parents Need to Know About Teen Vaping

Posted by Sue Scheff on December 09, 2019  /   Posted in Featured Article, Mental Health, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

5 Things Parents Need to Know About Marijuana E-Cigarettes

 

By Jane Parent, Your Teen Magazine

Susan was in her 16-year-old son’s room recently. She discovered a weird looking sort of pen on his dresser. She didn’t know what it was, but she did a little digging and discovered it was a vape pen. “I was shocked to learn that my son could be using this pen to smoke any number of substances, says Susan.” “There was no smell or smoke in his bedroom while I was in the next room. I had no idea.”

Electronic cigarettes in the form of vape pens and cartridges are more popular than ever, especially among high school students. E-cigarette use among teenagers has been rapidly increasing nationally, with more than 32% of 10th graders reporting vaping in the past year, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “The good news is that middle and high school kids understand the health risks of smoking cigarettes,” says Dr. Laura Offutt, founder of online teen health resource Real Talk with Dr. Offutt. “Unfortunately, they’ve also absorbed the marketing message that e-cigarettes are a safer, healthier alternative.”

Marijuana E-Cigarette: Vaping THC To Get High

And teens use vaping devices to do more than just vape nicotine. According to the Yale study, nearly one in five users has also used e-cigarettes for marijuana. Law enforcement officials warn parents that teens are also using these devices looking to experiment with drugs. Beware that e-cigs can be used to vaporize opiates, synthetic substances like flakka (an amphetamine-like drug similar to bath salts), and designer forms of “synthetic  weed” such as K2 and Spice.

How are teens using e-cigarettes for marijuana? E-cigarettes are powered by batteries that activate a heating element when inhaled. The heat vaporizes a liquid nicotine solution contained in a small tube. Hash oil can be substituted for the nicotine solution. Some vendors sell hash oil cartridges. More worrisome, kids are also learning to make their own. “Some kids are dissolving hash oil or THC in glycerin or vegetable oil. Or they steep the leaves in the liquid (like making tea with tea leaves), and then vaporizing that liquid” says Offutt. “Numerous social media outlets have extensive discussion about how to do this. The information is available and accessible online.”

5 Things to Know and Look Out For:

Here are 5 things parents should know about vape pens and signs of vaping weed.

1. Vape pens are a discreet way to use drugs.

“These devices like a ballpoint pen, a USB memory stick, or a stylus,” says Offutt. “And they’re easy to conceal. Some are specifically designed to disguise what they are. Kids can casually use them on the school bus or even in class. And you won’t know they’re getting high because they are smokeless and odorless.” Parents should familiarize themselves with vape pens.

2. Inhaling pot from a vape pen intensifies the user’s “high.”

THC is used in vape pens to get high. THC is the active compound in marijuana responsible for the sensation of being “high.” Studies have found these liquids can be thirty times more concentrated than dry marijuana leaves. “Today’s pot is also much stronger than the pot that parents may have smoked when they were young. And now marijuana plants are specifically bred for higher THC concentration,” says Offutt. “Vaping may deliver a far more potent form of whatever drug is being used. Your teen might not anticipate the intensified side effects and the increased risk of addiction.”

3. Vape pens are easy to acquire.

Federal regulations make it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to children under 18. But these regulations don’t prevent teens from buying the devices online. Regardless of age, kids can order a wide selection of vaping and legal weed paraphernalia. The illegal purchase will be conveniently delivered, no questions asked. “If your son is suddenly getting packages delivered at home and is very enthusiastic about getting the mail,” warns Offutt. “This should be a red flag to investigate what he’s buying.”

4. Marijuana is addictive and harmful for developing brains.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, marijuana use interferes with brain development. Usage can cause short-term memory loss, slow learning, decreased sperm count, and lung damage. “It continually amazes me to discover parents who give their blessing to their kid’s pot use. Like it’s no big deal,” says Offutt. “Marijuana is addictive. And today’s marijuana is far more potent and poses a higher risk of addiction, particularly for kids with a family history of addiction.”

5. Watch for physiological symptoms of drug use.

If your teen is using e-cigarettes for pot and has an abuse problem, you may observe side effects. Your teen can experience nosebleeds, dry mouth syndrome, red eyes, and increased appetite. There may also be behavior changes. Red flags include suddenly becoming withdrawn, seclusion beyond what is normal, a different friend group, or erratic behavior.

If parents observe any of the above signs, they may have good reason to suspect that their teen is vaping drugs. In that instance, connect your child with treatment resources for help—before it’s potentially too late.

**This article was republished with permission from Your Teen Magazine.

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If you believe your teen is struggling with substance use, and you have exhausted your local resources, contact us to find out if residential therapy is your next step.

Also check out the parent vaping workshop offered by Your Teen for Parents.

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Teen Depression and Sadness: What Parents Need to Know

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 01, 2019  /   Posted in Bullying, Cyberbullying, Featured Article, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

10 Common Causes of Teen Depression

We are living in a time where teen depression is on the rise. Sadly, we are seeing suicide as the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10-24.

With today’s digital lives there could be so many reasons.  Are they missing the routine of a real-life social life?  Are they being harassed online?  Or are they watching their friends on social media have a blast while they believe their life is boring or they are simply missing out?

What was true a generation ago is still true today, teens are unpredictable and still difficult to figure out. However depression is a very real emotion.

Adolescence can be a very turbulent and difficult time, even for the most well-adjusted child. Depression strikes teenagers and adults alike, and can have far-reaching implications when kids suffer from emotional difficulties that they aren’t sure how to manage.

After noticing the signs of depression in your teen and helping him to get the treatment he needs, understanding the root of his depression can help to make the situation more manageable for everyone involved.

TeenStress55While this is by no means a comprehensive list of all causes of teen depression, these ten situations can be very common contributing factors to depression.

  1. Academic Stress –(Especially if your teen is applying to colleges). Kids are under an enormous amount of pressure to succeed academically, especially as the costs of higher education rise and more families are reliant upon scholarships to help offset the expense. Stressing over classes, grades and tests can cause kids to become depressed, especially if they’re expected to excel at all costs or are beginning to struggle with their course load.
  2. Social Anxiety or Peer Pressure – During adolescence, teenagers are learning how to navigate the complex and unsettling world of social interaction in new and complicated ways. Popularity is important to most teens, and a lack of it can be very upsetting. The appearance of peer pressure to try illicit drugs, drinking or other experimental behavior can also be traumatic for kids that aren’t eager to give in, but are afraid of damaging their reputation through refusal.
  3. Romantic Problems – When kids become teenagers and enter adolescence, romantic entanglements become a much more prominent and influential part of their lives. From breakups to unrequited affection, there are a plethora of ways in which their budding love lives can cause teens to become depressed.
  4. Traumatic Events – The death of a loved one, instances of abuse or other traumatic events can have a very real impact on kids, causing them to become depressed or overly anxious. In the aftermath of a trauma, it’s wise to keep an eye out for any changes in behavior or signs of depression in your teen.
  5. Separating or Divorcing Parents – Divorced or separated parents might be more common for today’s teens than it was in generations past, but that doesn’t mean that the situation has no effect on their emotional well-being. The dissolution of the family unit or even the divorce of a parent and step-parent can be very upsetting for teens, often leading to depression.
  6. Heredity – Some kids are genetically predisposed to suffer from depression. If a parent or close relative has issues with depression, your child may simply be suffering from a cruel trick of heredity that makes him more susceptible.
  7. FamilyDiscussionFamily Financial Struggles – Your teenager may not be a breadwinner in your household or responsible for balancing the budget, but that doesn’t mean that she’s unaffected by a precarious financial situation within the family. Knowing that money is tight can be a very upsetting situation for teens, especially if they’re worried about the possibility of losing their home or the standard of living they’re accustomed to.
  8. Physical or Emotional Neglect – Though they may seem like fiercely independent beings that want or need nothing from their parents, teenagers still have emotional and physical needs for attention. The lack of parental attention on either level can lead to feelings of depression.
  9. Low Self-Esteem – Being a teenager isn’t easy on the self-esteem. From a changing body to the appearance of pimples, it can seem as if Mother Nature herself is conspiring against an adolescent to negatively affect her level of self-confidence. When the self-esteem level drops below a certain point, it’s not uncommon for teens to become depressed.
  10. Feelings of Helplessness – Knowing that he’s going to be affected on a personal level by things he has no control over can easily throw your teen into the downward spiral of depression. Feelings of helplessness and powerlessness often go hand in hand with the struggle with depression, and can make the existing condition even more severe.

It’s important that you speak to a medical professional or your teen’s doctor about any concerns you have regarding his emotional well-being, especially if you suspect that he’s suffering from depression.

Depression is a very real affliction that requires treatment, and is not something that should be addressed without the assistance of a doctor. You can also try the The Depression Workbook for Teens for insights and more information on mental wellness.

If your teen continues to struggle with depression, don’t hesitate to reach out to local help such as a counselor (therapist). If they refuse to get help or you find it isn’t benefiting them (your teen refuses to engage in the session), contact us to determine if residential therapy would be an option. Exhausting your local resources is always your first path.

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Teen Vaping Addiction: How to Help a Teen Stop Vaping

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 21, 2019  /   Posted in Featured Article, Parenting Teens, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Teen Vaping Addiction: Tips on How to Help Your Teen Stop Vaping

By Sandra Gordon, Your Teen Magazine

Using e-cigarettes (vaping) is now a teen epidemic. Between 2017 and 2018, e-cigarette use among middle schoolers increased by 48 percent and among high schoolers by 78 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. More than a quarter of all high school students are frequent e-cigarette users, with 28 percent vaping more than 20 times per month.

About a year ago, the trend hit home for Keri Williams, 42, a banking business systems consultant in Charlotte, North Carolina. That’s when the mom of five discovered that her children Amias, 16, and Kayla, 15, had been vaping on and off for about a year using a popular device called JUUL.

When Williams found out both of her teens were vaping, she made them keep their bedroom doors open unless they were changing clothes and took away their cellphones and media for one month. “I wanted to ‘go big’ so they understood just how serious this was,” Williams says.

She was right to be concerned. “Almost all e-cigarettes contain nicotine, even those that claim they don’t, because there’s no FDA oversight of the manufacturing,” says Jennifer Hobbs Folkenroth, national senior director, tobacco control at American Lung Association.

Nicotine is highly addictive; it’s what gets users hooked, Folkenroth says. Nicotine exposure during adolescence can harm a teen’s developing brain. The inhaled aerosol also contains other potentially harmful chemicals, such as acrolein and diacetyl, both of which have been linked to serious lung damage.

How to Get Teenagers to Stop Vaping

Many schools are implementing policies aimed at reducing vaping in school, such as employing bathroom monitors and imposing consequences like suspension or even expulsion. But these measures may not be enough, especially if your teenager is becoming a more frequent—and addicted—user. If you suspect your teen is vaping, there are some things that parents should do.

1. Get your teenager talking.

Vaping is easier to hide because it doesn’t leave a telltale odor of traditional cigarettes or visible secondhand emissions, says Steven Schroeder, M.D., director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of California San Francisco.

To figure out what’s up with your teen, create an environment where it’s easier for your teen to talk about it, Dr. Schroeder says. Rather than asking your teen directly (You’re JUULing, aren’t you?), ask nonjudgmental questions, maybe while you’re driving somewhere, such as: I keep hearing about JUULing. Are your friends doing that?; Is it popular at school?; What do you think about it?; and How safe do you think it is?

2. Weave in the facts.

If you get the sense from your conversations that your teen is vaping, even just occasionally, such as at parties, talk about the risks. Be prepared to hear that JUULing isn’t a big deal.

“Many teens know cigarettes are bad for you but think vaping is inconsequential,” Dr. Schroeder says. Many teens don’t realize, for example, that all JUUL pods contain nicotine—as much as a pack of cigarettes.

Also, appeal to your teen’s natural sense of rebellion. “Talk to teens about how the vaping industry is manipulating them,” Folkenroth says—for example, by making JUUL pods in flavors that appeal to young consumers, such as mango, crème, and fruit. (Under pressure from the Food and Drug Administration, JUUL recently agreed to eliminate some flavors from retail stores, but they are still available online.)

You might say, for example: “The company is trying to make JUULing cool so you’ll get hooked and buy more JUUL pods. But shouldn’t you be the master of your own body and health? You’re the one who makes the decision about what goes in.”

3. Help your teen get help.

About a month after she banned vaping, text messages on her teens’ phones clued Williams in to the fact that they were vaping again. Determined to stop them, she ordered nicotine urine tests on Amazon and tested each teen daily until they were clean. Since then, she’s been randomly testing them a few times a month.

Parents can feel lost and even a little desperate when it comes to stopping vaping, but the American Lung Association cautions against this kind of screening, instead favoring education, consistent parent-teen communication, positive support, and parents connecting teens with intervention or cessation programs.

This is Quitting is a smoking cessation program developed by Truth Initiative in collaboration with Mayo Clinic that offers a texting program to help quit e-cigarettes. Teens can enroll by texting “QUIT” to 706-222-QUIT. The program delivers tailored messages via text that give age-appropriate quitting advice.

The American Lung Association also offers several programs to help educate teens on e-cigarette use, including Not On Tobacco (a voluntary youth cessation program) and Intervention for Nicotine Dependence: Education, Prevention, Tobacco and Health. To learn more, call 1-800-LUNG-USA or visit lung.org.

You may even send your teen to the pediatrician. “We know for combustible cigarettes, if your physician tells you not to smoke, it doubles your chance of quitting,” Dr. Schroeder says. “Just the authority of a pediatrician talking to a teen about not vaping in the absence of his parents might be helpful.”

For more great information on this topic, enroll in the Your Teen Workshop on Vaping, featuring a panel of experts discussing the facts and answering real parents’ questions.

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If you feel your teen is at-risk and you have exhausted all your local resources, contact us for information on residential therapy. Be proactive before a crisis happens.

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Teens Use Burner Phones To Hide Online Behavior From Parents

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 12, 2019  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Featured Article, Internet Safety, Parenting Teens, Teen Help

How Your Teen Uses Burner Phones to Hide Online Behavior

Are you a parent that believes taking your teen’s device is a punishment?

Think again! This is one of the reasons burner phones are on the rise among young people.

As a tech-savvy parent, you’ve established rules with your teens about responsible cell phone usage and drawn up a detailed family contract. And by all accounts it seems to be working.

But teenagers can be ingenious about getting around the rules, and many of today’s teens turn to burner phones as a workaround to parental limitations. Here’s how to discover if your child has found this alternative, plus some tips on curbing the habit.

What Is a Burner Phone?

Burner phones are cheap, prepaid mobile phones you can discard once you’re done using them. They offer access to Wi-Fi and a phone number that can’t be traced to the individual using the device.

There are a few good reasons to use a burner phone. If you’re buying or selling something on Craigslist, for instance, having an untraceable number offers a degree of safety when communicating with strangers.

However, their anonymity and low cost make burner phones ideal for teenagers looking for a way to sneak around behind their parents’ backs. And that anonymity can get kids into problematic situations where they don’t have a parental lifeline to keep them safe.

Why Do Teens Turn to These Disposable Devices?

Teens consider cell phones a virtual lifeline, and many experience fear of missing out (FOMO) without them. A 2018 Pew Research Center survey found some eye-opening stats about teens and social media:

  • 81% say social media makes them feel more connected.
  • Approximately 2/3 of teens say online friends give them support in difficult times.

 Losing cell phone access as a punishment—and effectively losing access to their online networks—is one reason why teens may acquire a burner phone. But they might also buy second phones to maintain secret social media accounts. A finsta (fake Instagram), for example, is a private account where kids post content that only certain people have access to.

Teens may also turn to burners if they’re engaging in activities they think parents won’t approve of—getting involved in drugs or alcohol, or pursuing romantic relationships.

Some of these habits can be dangerous, putting kids in a place where they can be taken advantage of. Burner phones can also create a space for cyberbullying to go unnoticed, and thus unchecked. 

How Can You Know Your Child Is Using a Burner Phone?

If you’ve ever taken away your teen’s phone, you’re familiar with them pleading to get it back. If they suddenly stop doing so, that’s a hint they may be using a burner phone. Here are a few other ways to discover they’ve gotten a second phone:

  • Look for a dip in data use. Check your wireless carrier for overall data usage and details about specific applications. A decrease in visits to your teen’s favorite social media site may point to use of a burner phone.
  • Check your child’s other apps. Burner phones aren’t the only way to communicate anonymously; there are multiple apps that let you set up a temporary number. If your child has an app like Burner or Hushed, it’s possible they’re doing something that requires anonymity—which could be a red flag. 

What Can You Do to Manage the Behavior?

  1. Maintain consistent rules of use. If you’ve gone to the trouble of setting ground rules, then stick with them and make sure the consequences for breaking them are fair and applicable to everyone in the family. Consistency equals credibility. 
  1. Help your teen set boundaries. Encourage your child to understand and embrace core values that will drive healthy online interactions. If your child can feel okay about posting online because they always consider how it will reflect upon them first, they’ll have less interest in setting up secret accounts.
  1. Reward honesty. Let your kids know they can come to you when they’ve made a mistake online, such as going to an inappropriate website. Being able to do so without risking punishment will maintain the level of communication that pays dividends in all kinds of parent-child interactions—not just those related to cell phones.

At the end of the day, this burner phone trend is more about behaviors than devices. If you can set clear expectations and have open conversations about smart phone conduct, you’ll see a lot more progress than if you focus solely on managing your kids’ access to a phone.

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Contributor: Hilary Bird is a digital journalist who writes about the things that fascinate her the most: relationships, technology, and how they impact each other. As more and more people become more and more reliant on their tech devices, Hilary wants to help them stay safe and understand how these devices will reshape the way we communicate.

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