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Drug Addiction

The Relationship Between Bullying and Drug Abuse

Posted by Sue Scheff on April 12, 2017  /   Posted in Mental Health, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help

Bullying is a major problem for teens. It is estimated that at least 50% of teen suicides can be attributed to bullying, and suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among young people. Bullying also leads to depression, loss of motivation, personality change, self-harm, eating disorders, and substance abuse. It is already estimated that 1 in 3 teens experiment with drugs or alcohol by the time they finish the eighth grade. Bullying only increases the chances that your child will try drugs or alcohol. Spotting the signs of bullying before it becomes too severe can prevent teens from hurting themselves or developing an addiction.

Addiction can either begin rapidly or manifest over time. Bullying causes trauma, and trauma can follow a person for a lifetime. This trauma can cause a person to look for outlets and ways to feel better, or ways just to forget. Most addicts suffer from another underlying mental illness, and this often times was directly caused or triggered by emotional trauma. Drugs can often be a safe haven for someone suffering from trauma, anxiety, and/or depression. Drugs offer a false sense of confidence and happiness that bully victims lack; this is why it can be so hard for a bully victim to put down drugs.

Here are some ways to understand teens and addiction:

Skipping school

Bully victims often will skip school out of fear of harassment by their bully. This can lead to mischievous activities or risk taking. When a person begins skipping school or extracurricular activities they may begin to hang around people who are doing the same things. This can introduce your child to a “bad crowd” that may already be experimenting with drugs or alcohol. Teens who have friends or acquaintances who use drugs are far more likely to experiment. 

Low self esteem 

Bully victims often develop low self-esteem and self-worth. Drugs offer a false sense of confidence that seem to “fix” this problem. A person eventually finds that they need drugs or alcohol to feel normal or like they fit in.

Isolation

Bully victims lose motivation and interest in others. When they begin to abuse drugs this is exacerbated. A child may begin to stay out late, avoid friends and family, or stay in their room for long periods of time.

Personality changes

Bully victims and those suffering from addiction both begin to have significant personality changes. They lose interest in their favorite hobbies and activities. If they were once out-going they may become more introverted and lonely. Bully victims often become very depressed and find drugs or alcohol a way to “self-medicate”.

Bullies are at risk, too.

There is research that suggests that bullying perpetrators are also at risk.  Amanda Nickerson, PhD, Professor and Director of the Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention at University of Buffalo stated that “A fair amount of research has found higher rates of substance use among bullying perpetrators.”

Bullies often have turbulent lives at home or other underlying mental health issues which leads to their mischievous activities like violence, sexual promiscuity, and drug use.

Parents also play a vital role in protecting their children. It is common for parents or teachers to brush of bullying as “kids being kids” or that it is just “part of growing up”. Parents who can support their children and report bullying effectively have a high likelihood of preventing their children from trying drugs. This is crucial because teens who experiment with drugs are far more likely to develop and addiction later in life. Avoiding the perception of neglect plays a vital role in parenting and prevents childhood trauma.

Another study at the University of Buffalo examined 119 teens who said they had consumed alcohol in the past month. “They found teens who were severely bullied and who had strong support from their mothers and family cohesion—such as family members asking each other for help and spending free time together—were less likely to drink than bullied teens without strong maternal support and tight family bonds.”

Always talk to your child about bullying and take their concerns seriously. Addressing bullying quickly can mean the difference between development of an addiction or childhood trauma.

Contributor: Trevor McDonald

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3 Alternative Ways to Treat Mental Illness That Eliminate The Threat of Addiction

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 28, 2016  /   Posted in Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

PillsFor some people with mental illness, the idea of relying on pharmaceuticals and therapy sessions is not acceptable. Because of concerns about pharmaceutical companies and addictive, dangerous, and expensive medication, more and more people seek alternative treatments for their mental illnesses. The guidance of a trained counselor is important, and there are plenty of counselors willing to work with an alternative treatment plan. Be sure to do your research before starting an alternative treatment. Suggestions based on pseudoscience very easily can lead a well-adjusted individual to a path of increased symptoms and negative side effects. We present a few alternative methods for treating mental illness here, so that you can begin to educate yourself about alternative treatments.

Tried and True Herbal Supplements

If you step into any natural foods store, you are bound to run into a wall of various supplements, all claiming to be beneficial for this or that ailment or illness. While some herbal supplements can help alleviate your symptoms, it is important that you do the research, find valid studies, and make your decision wisely. Some well-tested supplements include St. John’s Wort for minor depression, Kava Kava for panic and anxiety, and tulsi (Holy Basil) for stress.

Be sure to avoid anything that uses homeopathy. The basis of homeopathy comes from the flawed, ancient concept that an ailment can be cured by a herb that would cause the ailment. The substance is then diluted hundreds of times, leaving, at most, a single molecule of the original substance. Though this water “solution” may not cause adverse effects, the cessation of treatment may cause symptoms to return.

Diet and Exercise

As always, improving your diet and scheduling regular exercise can help a number of issues people often experience. For those with mental illness, a good diet devoid of nutritional gaps can work to even out chemical imbalances. The exercise component keeps the body fit while generating endorphins, which boost your mood.

If you decide to take this treatment path, it is important that you work with a counselor. For some people, good diet and exercise simply are not enough to counteract the mental illness. A counselor will be able to monitor your wellbeing and decide whether or not the treatment is effective enough to stand alone.

Psychiatric Service Dogs

A psychiatric service dog differs from a companion animal. While companion animals can be an excellent form of treatment, they help only by providing love, affection, and a reason to get out of bed and get moving. Service dogs are specially trained to perform tasks such as providing pressure during panic attacks, retrieving medication, leading someone from a crowd during a PTSD flashback, and a number of other helpful tasks. Though a service dog alone is not a complete treatment, they can be extraordinarily beneficial for those struggling with mental illness.

Service and companion animals also can provide the added benefit of preventing addiction and suicide. For some people, mental illness is isolating, fostering depression and suicidal thoughts. An animal standing by to provide love while simultaneously offering a reason to live can make all the difference.

The world of alternative treatments can be difficult to navigate. Misinformation is published very easily and falsely backed by poorly conducted studies. The importance of research and professional guidance cannot be ignored. If you want to refuse pharmaceuticals in lieu of a more natural treatment for your mental illness, be sure you are acting responsibly. Get the help of a professional and investigate all claims thoroughly. With these two precautions, it will suddenly become easier to pinpoint a truly effective alternative treatment.

Contributor:

Adam Cook has a strong understanding of the devastation that can be caused by addiction. He recently lost a close friend to an addiction-related suicide. In an effort to better educate himself and to help others, he created AddictionHub.org, a site that provides addiction and mental health resources. When he isn’t working or adding to his website, he’s prepping for his first triathlon.

Image via Pixabay by PublicDomainPictures

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Helping Your Child with Addiction

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

By Matt Gonzalez

Teen Drug Abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ways to Help

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

Find a Quiet Setting

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

Listen to Your Child

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

Ask Them About Media Messages

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

Discuss Peer Pressure and the Benefits of Saying No

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

Other Strategies to Consider

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

Establish Rules

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

Keep an Eye on Your Child

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

Know Their Friends

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

Provide Support

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

Set an Example

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

Treatment Options

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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

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

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Teens and Addiction: Reality Check for Parents

Posted by Sue Scheff on November 06, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

SadTeenParenting teens can be challenging. No matter how many times we talk about just saying no to drugs, there will be a teenager that will cave to peer pressure.

Parents need to stop being in denial and start educating their kids about the dangers of addiction which can follow drug abuse. Stop saying, “not my kid!” Yes, it could be your kid!

If you haven’t taken the time to watch, Heroin in the Heartland, make the time. These are good kids that suddenly find themselves in the throws of addiction.

Parent denial only delays treatment.

3 Reality Checks for Parents:

  1. Myth: We try to keep our home teen-friendly because if our teen(s) hang out here – even if they’re drinking – we know they’re safe. Reality Check: There is nothing wrong with making your teen and his/her friends comfortable in your home. But teenage drinking is never safe even when they are being “supervised.” Not only is alcohol bad for their health and development but it also impairs their judgment. The media has reported on scenarios where teens in these situations have wandered off and died in a preventable accident, driven drunk and hurt themselves or others and committed a violent act against a peer.
  2. Myth: It’s better for my child if he/she considers me a best friend.  Reality Check: Part of your job as a parent is to set and enforce rules. Trying to be their best friend is only confusing and gives mixed messages.
  3. Myth: My husband and I have different parenting styles. What’s the big deal?  Reality Check: It’s critical for all caregivers to be on the same page whether they are married, divorced, nannies, grandparents, etc. Consistency is key to raising a healthy and responsible teen who understands and respects boundaries.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.

If you fear your child is heading down a dark path and have exhausted your local resources, please contact us for more information on quality residential therapy.

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