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Teen Drug Use

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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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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Dealing with Teen Rebellion

Posted by Sue Scheff on April 27, 2020  /   Posted in Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Teen Depression, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Teen Rebellion: Oppositional Defiance Disorder or Spoiled Brat?

“It would be like saying your husband is ‘rebelling’ when he disagrees with you,” says Laurence Steinberg,Ph.D., a Temple University psychologist and author of more than a dozen books on adolescence, most recently the Age of Opportunity. “Parents become accustomed to little kids not questioning them, so when their kids get to an age where it’s natural for them to question, they see it as defiance.”

None of this is to say that dealing with a teenager who is constantly being contrarian is easy. Having someone in your house who rolls his eyes at your every utterance, slams her bedroom door when you tell her to clean her room, or stomps off when you set bedtimes or curfews can be extremely stressful.

But the distinction between actual rebellion and what most adolescents do—which is to push back in a normal, healthy way—is crucial.

3 Ways Parents can Make the Teen Years a Little Smoother:

1. Compromise where it makes sense.

It is important to understand that the major battles between teens and their parents are usually about control.

A typical example is when your kid has a messy bedroom. Mom and dad can’t get past the dust and dirt, piles of clothing, and grimy dishes. All they want is for things to be cleaned up—and now. Meanwhile, the kid says, “It’s my room. If you don’t like it, I’ll close the door.”

The key to solving this kind of argument is not to give your teen an ultimatum. “Clean your room or you can’t go out this weekend.” Instead, Steinberg suggests that parents find a way to reach a reasonable compromise. Acknowledge your teen’s point of view while asserting your parental right to have a clean home.

“Brainstorm with your kid to figure out a way you can both be happy,” Steinberg says.

In my own house, we’ve reached just such a compromise. My 17-year-old is required to pick up the mess in his room once a week so it can be cleaned. The rest of the week, I let him have his space. (I just try not to look.)

One way to find a middle ground is to test things on a pilot basis. Says Darling: “If there is an area where they want more freedom and you are uncomfortable, you can say, ‘Let’s try it—if it works out, great. If not, we’ll step back.’”

2. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

On big issues—abiding by curfew, attending school, never drinking and driving—parents have an obligation to be firm. And research shows that most teens are more than comfortable with that.

“In our studies we find that kids actually complain that parents don’t set rules—not that they do,” Darling says. “They may not like the rules, they may not agree with you, but they believe in your right to set them and they want those boundaries. It lets them know that you care, and it gives them something to rub up against.”

At the same time, parents shouldn’t be rigid on things that don’t matter as much, if at all.

“These are areas where you could make a case that the kid should have a say,” Darling explains. “Like what music they listen to, who their friends are, who they date, what they wear, and what they do in their free time.”

Steinberg agrees. “On most of the big issues, teens and parents usually see eye to eye,” he says. “It’s the little things that they get hung up on.”

3. Communicate early and often.

One way to lower the temperature in your house is to keep the lines of communication open. This is important no matter what age your child is. And if you are not in the habit of talking with your kids, it’s never too late to start.

That said, the earlier the better.

“Don’t wait until they are 13 or in trouble,” says Amy Bobrow Gross, Ph.D., a New York psychologist whose private practice focuses on children and teens. “You want them to feel comfortable talking to you well before they become teenagers.”

This isn’t always easy—especially if you have a tendency to argue. That’s why it’s best to walk away in the heat of the moment, Gross says. Then come back when everyone is calmer so you can have a more productive dialogue.

How To Talk To A Rebellious Teenager

If you want to talk to your teen about a particularly touchy topic, Gross advises, try sitting down with him and watching a TV show or a video that hits on the subject. That way, the conversation will feel less personal; the lens will remain on the larger issue, not on your child per se.

Another tip: sometimes the best time to chat is in the car, on a hike, or before bed when the lights are out—all occasions when you’re not looking your kid right in the eye. “Avoiding eye contact can take some of the pressure off,” Gross notes.

Finally, don’t lose sight of the fact that communicating with your teen is a two-way street. Keep your ears—and your mind—open. “A healthy argument is a good time for you to really listen and consider what your kid is saying,” Darling counsels. “It may be a good time to reconsider some of your rules.”

Of course, there are still situations in which teenagers act out in ways that are not normal or healthy. As a parent, you must be alert to the red flags.

Experts agree, for instance, that if your child is arguing with you about absolutely everything—“You can’t force me to go to school,” “You have no right to tell me not to drink”—it’s a cause for concern.

“In families where teenagers are being oppositional just for the sake of being oppositional, there is usually something wrong,” Steinberg says. “There are usually deeper problems in the family’s relationships.”

The same is true if your adolescent is lying to you, abusing drugs, or withdrawing completely. “If they are having unsafe sex, if they are drinking too much, if they are in trouble, you need to step in and get them to stop,” Darling says. “That is your job as a parent.”

But remember, this kind of behavior is more often the exception. In most families, a certain amount of pushback from your teenager is to be expected—even embraced. “They are just becoming more independent and autonomous,” Darling says. “They are doing what they are supposed to do.”

Just don’t call it rebellion.

Article by Randye Hoder, courtesy of Your Teen Magazine.

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If you’re struggling with your teenager and have exhausted your local resources, contact us today to learn more about how residential therapy can help your family.

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Signs of Teenage Drug and Alcohol Use

Posted by Sue Scheff on April 12, 2020  /   Posted in Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Signs of Alcohol Abuse and Drug Use in Teens

By Meredith Bonacci, PhD

Your teen has been acting differently lately; you are worried but can’t figure out what’s going on. There are several warning signs of drug use in teens to look for if you truly are worried that your child might be using drugs or alcohol.

Remember that one sign does not absolutely confirm use, but it’s important to remain on the lookout for teenage drug and alcohol use.

Warning Signs of Drug Use In Teens

1. Changes in appearance and behavior

There may be subtle or stark changes in your teen’s appearance and behavior as a result of using drugs and alcohol. It may be easier to notice when they are under the influence. There would be several changes in appearance and behavior, such as:

  • bloodshot eyes (may use eye drops to try and mask this)
  • larger or smaller pupils
  • slurred speech
  • impaired coordination
  • smell of drugs or alcohol on breath or clothing (may use air freshener or incense to cover odors).

However, it is sometimes harder to notice the other signs your teen is on drugs or alcohol, which persist even when they are not under the influence. These include:

  • changes in appetite
  • changes in sleep patterns
  • sudden weight loss or gain
  • tremors
  • smell of drugs or alcohol on clothing or other belongings
  • finding drug or alcohol related items is another red flag (rolling papers, pipes, small plastic baggies or vials, short straws, bottle caps, or remnants of drugs)

2. Changes in relationships and responsibilities

Any drastic change in relationships or responsibilities may be a sign of teenage drug or alcohol use. Some examples of “drastic changes” would be:

  • spending time with an entirely new peer group
  • getting into trouble
  • disregarding rules (either at school, in the neighborhood, or any legal issues)
  • failing or skipping classes
  • secretive or suspicious behavior; for example, suddenly demanding more privacy or locks on bedroom door,
  • lying about their whereabouts
  • unexplained need for money
  • sneaking out of home or school.
  • a “code” for drugs and alcohol terminology, so that it can not be detected by parents during phone or text conversations.
  • disregard curfew, while many teens rebel against curfews, teenagers who are using drugs or alcohol may disregard curfew and create hard to believe or weak cover stories
  • choosing to stay home from family outings, holidays, or weekend trips to spend unsupervised time with friends
  • missing items from the house like money, expensive items, or prescriptions

3. Changes in mood and motivation

The psychological changes that result from drug or alcohol use may be less apparent than the above changes, but are still very important to watch for. Drug and alcohol use could result in otherwise unexplained changes in personality or outlook. For example, your teenager may have been relatively even tempered, but suddenly begins having angry outbursts, mood swings, or engaging in violent behavior. At the other end of the continuum, drug and alcohol use could result in sudden loss of interest in activities and hobbies and drastic decline in energy and motivation. For example, your teenager was an active athlete and thriving student, who suddenly becomes lethargic and looses motivation in both school and sports.

How You Can Help

1. Have a conversation.

Don’t wait until it has become a problem to have a conversation with your son or daughter about substance use. Ask about the level of drugs and alcohol that is being used at parties, free periods, before/after school. And if the answer is “yes, some kids I know do that stuff” or something along those lines, don’t freak out! Have a discussion (not a lecture) about drugs, alcohol, and the potential dangers. Try to make this discussion collaborative. Ask how they have handled it in the past and how they can continue to make responsible choices.

2. Monitor your teen’s activity.

This means every day (not just on the weekends). It is important to know where they are and who they are with. Some parents also choose to search the home for drugs and alcohol, other parents choose to lock up prescription pills and liquor that is in the home.

3. Establish appropriate rules and consequences for drugs and alcohol use.

Consult with your spouse or partner about what appropriate rules and consequences would be. Make sure that you both feel comfortable enforcing them. When you set a limit, it is crucially important that you send a consistent message from both parents. Follow through so that your teenager knows you mean business.

4. Get professional help if needed.

If your teenager continues to use drugs and alcohol, call a psychologist or social worker. It is important to reach out to a mental health clinician who specializes in substance use treatment.

5. Encourage your teenager!

Sports, reading, volunteer work, after school job, or other constructive hobbies will occupy their time outside of school. When teens are busy with fun and rewarding activities, they are less likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol.

Article contributed by Your Teen Magazine for Parents. Sign-up for your newsletter today.

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If you believe your teen is using or abusing drugs or alcohol, you have exhausted your local resources, please contact us for more information on residential therapy.

 

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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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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

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

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

Juling: What Parents Need to Know

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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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

Teens Smoking Pot: Communicating the Risks

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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Is Your Teen Using Drugs?

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 27, 2018  /   Posted in Featured Article, Mental Health, Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Warning Signs Your Teen May Be Using Drugs

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

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

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

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

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

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

• A change of friends; from acceptable to unacceptable.

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

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

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

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

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

• Be careful not to jump to the conclusion that your teenager may be using when you see such behavior.

• Evaluate the situation.

• Talk to your teenager.

• Try to spend time with her so that she feels that she can trust you.

• By creating a home that is nurturing, she will understand that despite of unhealthy choices that she will always get the love and moral support that she deserves.

• Building a strong relationship with your teenager now will mean that in time of crises your love, support, wisdom, and experience won’t be shut out of your teenager’s decision making.

• If you have a suspicion that your teenager is involved in the use of drugs or alcohol, don’t hesitate to bring the subject up.

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

Contributor: Shawnda Burns, LCSW

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

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

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