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Struggling Teen Help

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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Cyberbullying: Prevention and Surviving

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 29, 2019  /   Posted in Cyberbullying, Digital Parenting, Parenting Teens, Sexting, Struggling Teen Help

Cyberbullying – Shaming – Online Predators – Sextortion

Did you know that over 59 percent of teens have experienced some form of online harassment?

Listen to the podcast here

Did you know that 43 percent of teens consider cyberbullying (online shaming) a bigger problem than drug abuse? Many kids and teens don’t tell parents when they are being harassed online. Learn more. Order Shame Nation book today.

The podcast provides:

  • Tips on How to prevent online shaming. Sue provides guidelines to adhere to when posting online. Such as being mindful of what you post, learn patience, de-clutter your friends list!
  • Tips once online shaming or cyberbullying has occurred.
  • Steps to triumph in the area of online shaming.
  • How to build up and humanize your online persona.
  • How to check-in with yourself- am I representing myself in the way that is genuine and kind?

 

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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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The Depression Workbook for Teens: Tools to Improve Your Mood, Build Self-Esteem, and Stay Motivated

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

The Depression Workbook for Teens: Tools to Improve Your Mood, Build Self-Esteem, and Stay Motivated

By Katie Hurley, LCSW

Don’t face depression alone―advanced tools for teens.

You can feel better and The Depression Workbook for Teens is going to help you do it. Drawing on the most effective and up-to-date techniques―including cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness―this depression workbook is filled with helpful exercises designed specifically for teens that will help you conquer depression. Develop the skills you need to manage your emotional wellbeing and bring happiness back into your life.

Get information all about depression―its symptoms, causes, and risk factors―so you can identify the differences between normal stress and depression. There is a light at the end of the tunnel―The Depression Workbook for Teens will show you the way.

The Depression Workbook for Teens includes:

  • Just for teens―Tackle your depression head-on using a depression workbook filled with strategies written with your unique needs (and time constraints) in mind.
  • Useful tools―With quizzes, journaling prompts, conversation starters, and more, you’ll discover simple skill-building exercises to improve your mood and build your self-esteem.
  • Practical problem solving―Find ways to work through the challenges you’re facing―including fighting with your parents, getting up in the morning, struggling with homework, and more.

The Depression Workbook for Teens gives you the helping hand you need to get through this difficult time.

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About Katie Hurley: Katie is a child and adolescent psychotherapist, parenting expert, and writer. Hurley is the author of No More Mean Girls and The Happy Kid Handbook. Her work can be found in The Washington Post, PBS Parents, US News and World Report, and Psychology Today.

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Parenting The New Teen In The Age Of Anxiety

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 09, 2019  /   Posted in Bullying, Cyberbullying, Digital Parenting, Featured Book, Mental Health, Parenting Books, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help

Parenting the New Teen in the Age of Anxiety: A Complete Guide to Your Child’s Stressed, Depressed, Expanded, Amazing Adolescence

There are no retakes when it comes to digital communication, so it’s imperative that we consider how to tap into empathy and compassion from behind the screen.

By Dr. John Duffy

Parenting is more difficult and complicated than it has ever been. Our kids today are psychologically and emotionally burdened by social media, unreasonable academic and social stressors, and an unprecedented stream of information. They are exposed to the harshest elements of the world much too soon. The upside is that they have this thoughtful, compassionate worldview and sense of justice that we may have lacked. The downside is that our kids are in an undue degree of psychic pain. They suffer far more anxiety, depression, attention issues, and suicidal ideation than any generation preceding them.

More than ever, our kids need us to help them make sense of, and integrate, all they take in, starting at a very early age. To do that, we must know and truly understand their world.

This book is a complete guide to all of the issues that your child, teen and young adult will face.

So when your kid is overwhelmed (and your kid is going to feel overwhelmed), when you kid is exposed to too much (and your kid will be exposed to too much), she will know: I have mom and/or dad, and they are my constant, they are my solid. I can go to them and they are going to hear me out, without judgment. I know that. I know that I can talk to them and they are going to be there for me unequivocally. In their complicated world, with all of this stimuli, with all of this identity traffic, kids need some compass. They need you to be that compass.

Inside Parenting Inside the New Teen In the Age of Anxiety:

Learn about the “New Teen” and how to adjust your parenting approach. Kids are growing up with nearly unlimited access to social media and the internet, and unprecedented academic, social, and familial stressors. Starting as early as eight years old, children are exposed to information, thought, and emotion that they are developmentally unprepared to process. As a result, saving the typical “teen parenting” strategies for thirteen-year-olds is now years too late.

Urgent advice for parents of teens. Dr. John Duffy’s parenting book is a new and necessary guide that addresses this hidden phenomenon of the changing teenage brain. Dr. Duffy, a nationally recognized expert in parenting for nearly twenty-five years, offers this book as a guide for parents raising children who are growing up quickly and dealing with unresolved adolescent issues that can lead to anxiety and depression.

Unprecedented psychological suffering among our young and why it is occurring. A shift has taken place in how and when children develop. Because of the exposure they face, kids are emotionally overwhelmed at a young age, often continuing to search for a sense of self well into their twenties. Paradoxically, Dr. Duffy recognizes the good that comes with these challenges, such as the sense of justice instilled in teenagers starting at a young age.

Readers of this book will:

  • Sort through the overwhelming circumstances of today’s teens and better understand the changing landscape of adolescence
  • Come away with a revised, conscious parenting plan more suited to addressing the current needs of the New Teen
  • Discover the joy in parenting again by reclaiming the role of your teen’s ally, guide, and consultant

Order today on Amazon.

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2019’s States with the Most At-Risk Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 17, 2019  /   Posted in Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Are you struggling with your teenager?

You’re not alone!

Growing up can be hard. Without a stable home, positive role models and tools for success, many young Americans fall behind their peers and experience a rocky transition to adulthood. Today, about one in nine individuals between the ages of 16 and 24 are neither working nor attending school. Others suffer from poor health conditions that hinder their ability to develop physically or socially.

Such issues not only affect young people later in life, but they also prove harmful to society as a whole. For instance, more than 70 percent of young adults today are ineligible to join the U.S. military because they fail academic, moral or health qualifications. Research shows that when youth grow up in environments with economic problems and a lack of role models, they’re more at risk for poverty, early pregnancy and violence, especially in adulthood.

To determine the places where young Americans are not faring as well as others in the same age group, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 15 key indicators of youth risk. Our data set ranges from share of disconnected youth to labor force participation rate among youth to youth poverty rate.

States with the Most At-Risk Youth States with the Least At-Risk Youth
1 Louisiana 42 Rhode Island
2 District of Columbia 43 Connecticut
3 Mississippi 44 Virginia
4 Arkansas 45 Maryland
5 Nevada 46 Hawaii
6 West Virginia 47 New Hampshire
7 Oregon 48 Utah
8 Wyoming 49 Minnesota
9 Oklahoma 50 Massachusetts
10 New Mexico 51 New Jersey

Key Stats

  • New Mexico, West Virginia and Louisiana have the highest share of disconnected youth, 19.00 percent, which is 3.2 times higher than in North Dakota, the lowest at 6.00 percent.
  • Louisiana has the highest share of youth without a high school diploma, 17.80 percent, which is 2.4 times higher than in Hawaii, the lowest at 7.40 percent.
  • Oklahoma has the highest share of overweight or obese youth, 61.50 percent, which is 1.9 times higher than in Massachusetts, the lowest at 32.10 percent.
  • Vermont has the highest share of youth using drugs in the past month, 40.32 percent, which is 2.5 times higher than in North Dakota, the lowest at 16.18 percent.
  • Nevada has the highest share of homeless youth, 0.56 percent, which is 18.7 times higher than in Mississippi, the lowest at 0.03 percent.

Read the full report for the findings, insight into the future of America’s young population and a description of the methodology.

If you are at your wit’s end with your teenager and have exhausted your local resources, it might be time to consider residential therapy. Contact us for more information.

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The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 07, 2019  /   Posted in Featured Book, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens
Renowned neurologist Dr. Frances E. Jensen offers a revolutionary look at the brains of teenagers, dispelling myths and offering practical advice for teens, parents and teachers.

The Teenage Brain demystifies the teen brain by presenting new findings, dispelling widespread myths and providing practical advice for negotiating this difficult and dynamic life stage for both adults and teens.

Dr. Frances E. Jensen is chair of the department of neurology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. As a mother, teacher, researcher, clinician, and frequent lecturer to parents and teens, she is in a unique position to explain to readers the workings of the teen brain. In The Teenage Brain, Dr. Jensen brings to readers the astonishing findings that previously remained buried in academic journals.

The root myth scientists believed for years was that the adolescent brain was essentially an adult one, only with fewer miles on it. Over the last decade, however, the scientific community has learned that the teen years encompass vitally important stages of brain development.  Samples of some of the most recent findings include:

  • Teens are better learners than adults because their brain cells more readily “build” memories. But this heightened adaptability can be hijacked by addiction, and the adolescent brain can become addicted more strongly and for a longer duration than the adult brain.
  • Studies show that girls’ brains are a full two years more mature than boys’ brains in the mid-teens, possibly explaining differences seen in the classroom and in social behavior.
  • Adolescents may not be as resilient to the effects of drugs as we thought. Recent experimental and human studies show that the occasional use of marijuana, for instance, can cause lingering memory problems even days after smoking, and that long-term use of pot impacts later adulthood IQ.
  • Multi-tasking causes divided attention and has been shown to reduce learning ability in the teenage brain. Multi-tasking also has some addictive qualities, which may result in habitual short attention in teenagers.
  • Emotionally stressful situations may impact the adolescent more than it would affect the adult: stress can have permanent effects on mental health and can to lead to higher risk of developing neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression.

Dr. Jensen gathers what we’ve discovered about adolescent brain function, wiring, and capacity and explains the science in the contexts of everyday learning and multitasking, stress and memory, sleep, addiction, and decision-making.  In this groundbreaking yet accessible book, these findings also yield practical suggestions that will help adults and teenagers negotiate the mysterious world of adolescent development.

Read an except of The Teenage Brain here.

Order your copy on Amazon today.

Visit our P.U.R.E. Library for more parenting book suggestions.

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What Parents Need To Know About Juuling

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 07, 2019  /   Posted in Featured Article, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Keeping up with teens today, it’s not easy.

From vaping to juuling, we’re here to educate you.

Photo credit: YourTeenMag.

By Sandra Gorden, contributor for Your Teen Magazine

While searching for my iPhone earbuds in my 16-year-old daughter’s bedside table, I came across a coin purse with tiny cartridges that look like a computer thumb drive. When Jane got home from school, I asked her what they were. “They’re Penelope’s,” Jane said. “I’m holding them for her.”

That seemed plausible. Penelope is a friend whose mom is very strict. But I still didn’t know what they were, and I thought: This can’t be good.

“What do you do with them?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” Jane said.

Slowly, we got to the bottom of it. They were Juul pods, nicotine cartridges for the latest, trendy version of an e-cigarette.

“The whole school does it,” Jane said. “It’s not a big deal.”

In fact, more than 3 million middle school and high school students in the U.S. use e-cigarettes—also known as “vaping.” And the numbers continue to grow every year. Suddenly, I realized that Jane and her friends were among them.

What is Juuling?

E-cigarettes are typically battery-powered devices that heat a liquid (“juice”) that turns into an aerosol that teens inhale into their lungs. Until this point, I thought vaping involved using a vaping pen, a small round device with a mouth piece on the end. But Juuling, as it’s popularly known, is much easier to hide. Juul is a sleek, rectangular vaporizing device that delivers a concentrated form of nicotine. It looks like a USB flash drive, and can even be plugged into a laptop to charge.

According to the Juul website, each cartridge contains 0.7 mL with 5 percent nicotine by weight. One Juul pod is equivalent to smoking one pack of cigarettes or 200 puffs. But the biggest draw for teens is that the pods come in fun flavors, such as cucumber, mango, and mint, says Koorosh Rassekh, an addiction therapist and founder of Evo Health and Wellness, an outpatient addiction treatment program in Venice, California.

What are the Risks of Vapor Smoking?

While teens may believe that vaping is relatively safe, there are numerous health risks. “You can get addicted to e-cigarettes,” says Bill Blatt, director of Tobacco Programs for the American Lung Association. Like smoking a regular cigarette, the nicotine from Juul or other e-cigarettes gets into teens’ lungs and bloodstream and keeps them coming back for more.

And because the smoke isn’t as noticeable as regular cigarettes, teens can take a draw from their Juul and put it in their pocket without the teacher seeing it. Forget about running to the restroom: “They can smoke in class,” Blatt says.

The FDA has banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, so Juul pods and other vaping devices can’t legally be sold to them. But teens still find ways to get them, so parents need to address this trend.

How to Talk to Your Teens about Juuling:

To talk to your teen about Juuling, vaping, or any other substance use, Rassekh offers four helpful tips for having productive conversations.

1. Don’t lecture.

Just saying, Don’t Juul (or vape) because it’s bad for you, doesn’t help. (Guilty!) Lecturing about its harmfulness will only compel your teen to keep it a secret from you, Rassekh says.

2. Be open to the conversation.

Not every teen will be tempted to Juul or vape. But it’s worth having the conversation if you suspect they may be. In my daughter Jane’s case, she may truly be holding the cartridges for Penelope. But I suspect that she too is Juuling because her friends are—and like many teens, Jane lives for her friends. “The risk of being ostracized and the social benefit can motivate teens to Juul and try other substances,” Rassekh says.

3. Try to understand why your teen is Juuling.

Teens can be tempted to Juul for many reasons, including not wanting to be bullied, peer pressure, or getting a break from the rigors of the school day. “To get to the bottom of any substance use, ask yourself, What is impacting my teen’s self-esteem negatively?” Rassekh says.

Once you understand why your teen might be drawn to Juuling or vaping, then you can begin to address your teen’s vulnerabilities and build the resilience to counterbalance it.

4. Get outside help.

If your teen has developed a nicotine habit in any form, it may be time to have a pediatrician or therapist talk with them. You can also call the Center for Disease Control’s national tobacco quit line, 800-784-8669, for more guidance from their professional counselors.

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Sign-up for the parent workshop for more information on vaping.

If you suspect your teen is juuling or their behavior is escalating and you have exhausted your local resources, contact us to discuss if residential therapy might be an option.

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Mental Health Awareness Month: Teen Suicide Prevention, What Parents Need to Know

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 01, 2019  /   Posted in Featured Article, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Teen Suicide Prevention, Troubled Teens

Teen Suicide: Know the Warning Signs

By Mary Helen Berg, Your Teen Magazine

When Clark Flatt’s 16-year-old son killed himself with a .38 caliber pistol nearly two decades ago, no one in his community, school, or church was talking about suicide.

“We talked about drugs; we talked about bullying. No one ever mentioned teen suicide as a threat to my son,“ recalls Flatt, who today is president of the non-profit Jason Foundation, a suicide education and prevention organization. “If I had gone through and learned about the warning signs, I might not have thought ‘suicide,’ but I would have said, ‘I need to get some professional help for him.’”

Parents often think suicide can’t happen in their family and avoid talking about it. But teen suicide is now the second leading cause of death for adolescents, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Only accidents, including car crashes and overdoses, kill more people ages 10 to 24.

“Suicide doesn’t just happen to other people,” Flatt says. “It happens to the football captain, the head of the chess team, and the student body government leader.”

Preventing Teen Suicide

Talk about Suicide

It’s important to be direct when talking about teen suicide. If you have concerns, ask your teen outright if she ever thinks about hurting herself. Don’t worry that you’re “putting ideas in their heads,” advises Dr. David Miller, president of the Association of American Suicidology.

“If an adolescent is already suicidal, talking about it, your words, are not going to make them more suicidal than they already are,” Miller says. “If they are not currently suicidal, then talking about it won’t magically make them so.”

Risk Factors for Suicide

Although we sometimes think of teens as impulsive risk-takers, this trait doesn’t necessarily contribute to more teen suicide attempts, according to Miller.

“In the research I’ve seen, people who are suicidal have often thought about this a great deal,” he notes.

Risk factors for suicide include a family history of suicide and mental health disorders, substance abuse, illness, feelings of isolation, and easy access to guns, medications, or other lethal means, according to the CDC.

A “trigger event” such as bullying, a bad grade, or a breakup can also prompt a vulnerable teen to attempt suicide, explains Flatt, who formed the Jason Foundation in his son’s memory. The Tennessee-based organization now has 92 affiliates across the country, serving an estimated four million people.

Know the Teen Suicide Warning Signs

Most adolescents who attempt suicide—four out of five, according to the Jason Foundation—give some type of warning, including:

  • Suicidal ideation or preoccupation with suicide, ranging from fleeting thoughts to detailed plans
  • Statements such as, “I wish I were dead,” or, “No one would miss me if I were gone”
  • Persistent feelings of depression or hopelessness
  • Behavior that is out of character, such as dramatic changes in grades, hygiene, or mood
  • Giving away prized possessions

Have a Plan to Prevent Teen Suicide

Parents know they should take their kids to the emergency room if they have appendicitis, but they often don’t know what to do if their child is depressed. Here’s what experts recommend:

1. Research mental health resources. “Don’t wait until the critical point,” Flatt warns. “If you wait until there’s actually suicidal ideation, you’ve really reached a very dangerous edge.”

2. Maintain an open dialogue with your teen.

3. If your teen seems depressed, don’t ignore it or assume it’s typical teen moodiness.

4. Store guns, prescription medications, and alcohol in safe locations.

5. Encourage your teen to seek adult help if they notice a friend exhibiting suicidal behaviors. “This is not about being a snitch. This is about helping someone and potentially saving someone’s life,” stresses Miller.

Mary Helen Berg is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, Scary Mommy, and many other publications.

Reprinted with permission by Your Teen Magazine.

Are you struggling with a teen and have exhausted your local resources? Are you concerned that they may be at-risk and considering residential therapy? Contact us today. Since 2001 we’ve been educating parents on the teen help industry and visiting many schools and programs throughout our country.

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Teens and Marijuana: Communicating the Risks

Posted by Sue Scheff on April 09, 2019  /   Posted in Featured Article, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

The legalization of marijuana has made parenting teens more challenging.

On a weekly basis, parents contact our office concerned about their teenager that is now smoking marijuana (some regularly) with no intention of giving it up. They fail to see the risks or dangers of it — especially since it’s considered legal in many states.

This is causing stress and frustration among parents across the country. As an adult, we know that there is a difference between medical marijuana and how it can impact a young person’s brain.

How can we start talking to them about this?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has a vast amount of information for parents.

Why do young people use marijuana?

Young people start using marijuana for many reasons. Curiosity, peer pressure, and the desire to fit in with friends are common ones. Those who have already begun to smoke cigarettes or use alcohol, or who have untreated mental health conditions (such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD), or who have experienced trauma are at increased risk for marijuana use.

For some, drug use begins as a means of coping with anxiety, anger, depression, or boredom. But, in fact, being high can be a way of simply avoiding the problems and challenges of growing up. Parents, grandparents, and older siblings are models that children follow, and research suggests that family members’ use of alcohol and drugs plays a strong role in whether a young person starts using drugs. Indeed, all aspects of a teen’s environment—home, school, and community—can influence if he or she will try drugs.

How can I prevent my child from using marijuana?

There is no quick or simple solution for preventing teen drug use. But research shows parents have a big influence on their teens, even when it doesn’t seem that way. Talk openly with your children and stay actively engaged in their lives.

To help you get started, the next section provides some key points about marijuana research findings that you can share with your kids to help them sort out fact from myth and help them make the best decisions they can. These key points address the types of questions and comments that we receive from teens every day on our NIDA for Teens website and Drugs and Health blog. Following that brief section, the FAQs and additional resources will equip you with even more information.

Did you know?

Marijuana can be addictive.Despite common belief, repeated marijuana use can lead to addiction, which means that people can have trouble quitting, even if it is having a negative impact on their lives. Research suggests that about 30 percent of people who use marijuana have some level of marijuana use disorder even if they are not yet addicted.1People who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults.2 Among youth receiving substance use disorder treatment, marijuana accounts for the largest percentage of admissions—almost 50 percent among those 12 to 17 years old.3

Marijuana is unsafe if you’re behind the wheel. Marijuana impairs judgment and many other skills needed for safe driving: alertness, concentration, coordination, and reaction time. Marijuana use makes it difficult to judge distances and react to signals and sounds on the road. Marijuana is the most commonly identified illegal drug in deadly crashes, sometimes in combination with alcohol or other drugs. By itself, marijuana is thought to roughly double a driver’s chances of being in a crash, and the combination of marijuana and even small amounts of alcohol is even more dangerous4,5—more so than either substance alone.6

Marijuana is linked to school failure, lower income, and poorer quality of life. Marijuana has negative effects on attention, motivation, memory, and learning that can persist after the drug’s immediate effects wear off—especially in people who use regularly. Someone who uses marijuana daily may be functioning at a reduced intellectual level most or all of the time. Compared with their nonsmoking peers, students who use marijuana are more likely to drop out of high school.7 People who use marijuana regularly for a long time report decreased overall life satisfaction, including poorer mental and physical health, memory and relationship problems, lower salaries, and less career success.8

Marijuana is linked to some mental illnesses. Although scientists don’t yet fully understand how the use of marijuana might impact the development of mental illness, high doses can bring on a panic attack or even acute psychosis—thinking that is detached from reality, sometimes including hallucinations. In people who already have the severe mental illness schizophrenia (involving symptoms such as hallucinations, paranoia, and disorganized thinking), marijuana use can worsen its symptoms. Also, evidence suggests that early marijuana use may increase the risk of psychotic disorders among those at higher genetic risk for these disorders.

Want to know more? Visit NIDA.

Source: NIDA

Have you exhausted your local resources with your teenager? Is local therapy not working?

Have they changed friends, are their grades slipping, maybe they are dropping out of their favorite activities?

Contact us if you are at your wit’s end and considering residential therapy. This is a great opportunity to give your child a second chance at a bright future.

 

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