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Teen Drug Use

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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Teen Depression and Sadness: What Parents Need to Know

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 01, 2019  /   Posted in 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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What Parents Need To Know About Juuling

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 07, 2019  /   Posted in Featured Article, Teen Drug Use

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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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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The Icon: Teen Medicine Abuse

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 10, 2018  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

This Icon is Trying to Warn You About Teen Cough Medicine Abuse

By Stop Medicine Abuse

For more than a decade, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) has leveraged the Stop Medicine Abuse initiative to address reports of teens abusing over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine containing the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM) to get high. The campaign works to educate parents on this behavior and provide them with the information they need to help prevent such abuse.

DXM is a safe and effective ingredient when used according to the dosage instructions on the Drug Facts label. However, some teens believe that because DXM is available over-the-counter, it is less risky to abuse than illicit or prescription drugs. In reality, abusing DXM can result in dangerous side effects such as blurred vision, vomiting, slurred speech, decreased coordination, and more.

One of the most meaningful actions in the fight to stop this issue was taken by the manufacturers themselves. Ten years ago, many of the manufacturers who produce DXM-containing cough medicine voluntarily added the icon below to their packaging. The goal was to inform parents that the medicine contains DXM and has the potential to be abused by teens. By directing the parents to learn more at www.StopMedicineAbuse.org, the icon helps parents detect and prevent abuse in their families and communities.

Have you seen this icon?

National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month (NMAAM) is an annual campaign observed during the month of October. The goal of NMAAM is to raise public awareness of the dangers of prescription and OTC medicine abuse. CHPA’s partner, the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), takes this month to reach parents, prevention specialists, community leaders, and coalition members across the country, encouraging them to take part in NMAAM by spreading awareness and taking the Dose of Prevention Challenge.

During NMAAM and beyond, we encourage you to read up on the substances teens are abusing and how you can prevent such abuse from happening. We then encourage you to share what you’ve learned with other parents, teachers, and community members. The more people who are aware of this issue, the more power we can have in stopping it and keeping our teens safe.

You can learn more about detecting and preventing OTC medicine abuse here. Stay updated on new studies and trends in teen behavior, advice for keeping teens away from risky behaviors, general parenting tips, and more by keeping up with Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook, Twitter, and our blog.

 

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Troubled Teens: Are you at your wit’s end?

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 04, 2018  /   Posted in Mental Health, Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Troubled Teens: Getting Help

Defiance, underachieving, disrespectful, entitlement issues, internet addiction, changing peer groups….

Or difficulties with:

Reactive attachment disorder (RAD), ADD-ADHD, depression – are they a good teen making bad choices?

Have you exhausted all your local resources, therapy not working?

Are you considering residential treatment but confused by all the choices?

-Is my teen a candidate?

-What’s the best for my family?

-Will my insurance pay?

-Will my teen hate me?

-Will short term programs work?

-What are transport services?

-Are there financial options?

-How do we know if a program is successful?

-And more.

Let Parents Universal Resource Experts answer your questions.

We educate families as they are faced with the challenges of choosing residential therapy.

Contact us today.

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The Truth About Teen Vaping

Posted by Sue Scheff on March 13, 2018  /   Posted in Featured Article, Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Teen Depression, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help

More and more parents are contacting us about their teenager vaping.

Is Vaporizing Safer Than Smoking?  Why Vaping Isn’t Healthy for Teens?

Vaping is less harmful than smoking, but it’s still bad for teens according to Sandra Gordon in her article for YourTeenMag.

First, the good news: Teen smoking isn’t as cool as it once was. Over the past 40 years, smoking rates among teens have fallen nearly 23 percent.

The not-so-great news? More than two million middle and high school students use e-cigarettes (vape). E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid (“juice”), turning it into an aerosol that the user inhales. E-cigarettes don’t produce the same mix of tar and carcinogens as conventional cigarettes, but they’re far from harmless, says Steven Schroeder, M.D., director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center in San Francisco.

The juice in e-cigarettes is available in enticing flavors like mint, mango, tobacco, or crème brûlée. Most of the time, it also contains nicotine, but research shows that only a quarter of high schoolers know this. Juice may also contain other chemicals known to be toxic to humans, such as ethylene glycol, a chemical used in antifreeze; formaldehyde; volatile organic compounds; and heavy metals, like lead and diacetyl.

First, the good news: Teen smoking isn’t as cool as it once was. Over the past 40 years, smoking rates among teens have fallen nearly 23 percent.

The not-so-great news? More than two million middle and high school students use e-cigarettes (vape). E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid (“juice”), turning it into an aerosol that the user inhales. E-cigarettes don’t produce the same mix of tar and carcinogens as conventional cigarettes, but they’re far from harmless, says Steven Schroeder, M.D., director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center in San Francisco.

The juice in e-cigarettes is available in enticing flavors like mint, mango, tobacco, or crème brûlée. Most of the time, it also contains nicotine, but research shows that only a quarter of high schoolers know this. Juice may also contain other chemicals known to be toxic to humans, such as ethylene glycol, a chemical used in antifreeze; formaldehyde; volatile organic compounds; and heavy metals, like lead and diacetyl.

Is Vaporizing Safer Than Smoking?

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, six out of 10 teens believe that using e-cigarettes causes only “a little” or “some” harm, as long as they don’t vape daily. But that’s not true, and the risks range from the physical to the psychological. Nicotine in any form isn’t healthy for a teen’s lungs or brain, which is still growing until around age 25. According to a recent study in the Journal of Physiology, nicotine exposure in adolescence can make the brain sensitive to other drugs and prime it for future substance abuse.

Just as with regular cigarette smoking, the nicotine from vaping gets into the lungs and bloodstream, and keeps the smoker coming back for more. “You can get addicted to an e-cigarette,” says Bill Blatt, director of Tobacco Programs for the American Lung Association. In teens, nicotine is more addictive and can mess with the brain’s hardwiring, leading to mood disorders and permanent impulse control. Plus, e-cigarette smokers are four times more likely to become traditional cigarette smokers. On top of these concerns, e-cigarettes can also be used as a delivery system for marijuana and other drugs.

The FDA has banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, but teens still find ways to get them. Even if you don’t think they are vaping, it’s worth discussing—e-cigarettes are easy to hide. Because the smoke isn’t as noticeable as it is with regular cigarettes, a teen can take a draw from a vaping pen and put it in their pocket without an adult seeing it. “They can even smoke in class,” Blatt says.

How to Convey to Your Teen That Vaping Isn’t Healthy

Initiate an ongoing conversation instead of a lecture.

Start casual conversations about the dangers of e-cigarettes, such as when you see an ad on TV or come across an e-cigarette shop while driving together. (E-cigarette stores are fairly common now, and usually have some form of the word “vape” or “vapor” in their names.) Or, to get your teen talking, ask them what they think about e-cigarettes. As the conversation gets going, mention that vaping can be as addictive as smoking regular cigarettes and that it’s bad for your brain, making it harder to concentrate and control your impulses. Texting is another great way to communicate your message. Your teen can read the info at the timing of their choice without feeling lectured.

Read the full article on YourTeenMag.

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