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Stop Medicine Abuse

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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Do You Know About This Icon That Can Help You Prevent Teen Medicine Abuse?

Posted by Sue Scheff on December 20, 2017  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

By Stop Medicine Campaign

Parents are very perceptive… They pick up on almost everything and are always on the lookout. Common warning signs such as “No Trespassing” or “Caution” are signs that parents all look for to keep their children safe. But only 21% of parents know about this small warning icon:

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1 in 30 teens has abused over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine containing the active ingredient dextromethorphan (also known as “DXM”) to get high. While recent survey results indicate a decline in this risky behavior, it is still happening so we must continue to fight it.

Teens may mistakenly believe that since OTC cough medicines are readily available and legal, they are a safer way to get high than abusing prescription or illicit drugs, which is incorrect. While DXM is a safe and effective ingredient when taken according to the labeling instructions, teens will sometimes consume excessive amounts—at times ingesting 25 times the recommended dosage—in order to feel the effects. This can lead to dangerous side effects such as blurred vision and decreased physical coordination. Not to mention additional side effects that can result from having too much of other active ingredients in the medicines, or from mixing DXM with alcohol or energy drinks.

While it’s difficult to think about our own children partaking in medicine abuse, we all need to be aware of this problem in order to prevent it. We should know:

The first step in preventing teen over-the-counter medicine abuse is becoming aware. That’s where the Stop Medicine Abuse icon comes in. Go to your medicine cabinet and check your shelf to see how many products you currently have in your home that include the icon. Take note of the quantity of each and be sure to check back often so you can more quickly notice if medicine goes missing without explanation. When shopping, if you see the icon on the packaging of cough medicine, you know that the product contains DXM and is one you should keep an eye on.

You can find more information on our website, including resources for spreading the word to others in your community. The more people who know about this problem, the more equipped we’ll be to help stop it.

Stop Medicine Abuse is a prevention campaign working to alert parents and members of the community about the problem of teen abuse of over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines containing dextromethorphan (DXM). You can learn more by visiting the Stop Medicine Abuse website or connecting with the campaign on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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How to Take Action During National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 19, 2017  /   Posted in Mental Health, Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

By Anita Brikman

As National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month (NMAAM) approaches, I want to take some time to help inform other parents about over-the-counter (OTC) medicine abuse and the corresponding risks. It can be easy to overlook the potential dangers of misusing medicines that are legal and readily-available, but it’s important to recognize that these medicines can be harmful when abused… as some kids are doing.

Specifically, I want to highlight the abuse of OTC cough medicines containing the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM). While these medicines are safe and effective when used as directed, one in 30 teens have abused DXM to get high. Furthermore, one in 3 teens knows of someone who has abused DXM, which means there’s a pretty good chance that your teen knows another teen who has abused the substance. What’s even more alarming? Some teens abuse OTC cough medicine by taking up to 25x the recommended dose, which can lead to dangerous side effects such as disorientation, double or blurred vision and impaired physical coordination. It’s certainly uncomfortable to think about, but I’m comforted knowing that the Stop Medicine Abuse campaign is actively working to alert parents and community members of this issue.

As a parent, I know that we all want to keep our families safe. Here are four things you can do during NMAAM to prevent medicine abuse in your home and community:

  1. Educate yourself. Learn about the warning signs and side effects of abuse to ensure it doesn’t go unnoticed in your home. Keep an ear out for slang terms and an eye out for changes in your teen’s behavior, physical appearance or group of friends.
  2. Take inventory of the medicines in your home. If you regularly keep tabs on what you have, you’ll be able to more easily notice when something goes missing without explanation.

To identify medicines that contain DXM, check the active ingredients list on the Drug Facts label and look for the above icon on the packaging.

  1. Talk with your teen. It’s not an easy conversation to have, but teens who learn about the risks of substance abuse from their parents are 50% less likely to misuse. Once you have the talk, be sure to keep the door open for an ongoing dialogue.
  2. Inform others. Talk with parents, teachers and other members of your community. Share what you’ve learned to make sure they are aware of the dangers of substance abuse and what they can do to prevent it.

For more information on how to prevent medicine abuse, visit StopMedicineAbuse.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Anita Brikman joined the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) in 2016 and leads the association’s communications and public affairs functions. As a member of the senior management team, she is responsible for establishing and directing the organization’s communications strategies and goals. Anita is passionate about healthcare issues, with over two decades of experience as a news anchor and health reporter in major television markets – making medicine abuse awareness and prevention efforts important to her. She is also the mother of three teenagers.

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Missing Medicine? It Could Be a Sign of Medicine Abuse

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 26, 2017  /   Posted in Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens

Does the scenario highlighted in the video below seem familiar?

I hope not, but the reality is that missing medicine could be a sign of over-the-counter (OTC) medicine abuse. It’s common to hear about teens abusing illegal drugs, alcohol and even prescription medication to get high, but many parents don’t realize that teens may also abuse OTC cough medicine.

If this is news to you, you may be wondering, why would teens abuse OTC cough medicine?

Teens often abuse OTC cough medicine because it’s affordable and easy to access. They may also mistakenly believe that it’s safer to abuse than illegal drugs.

The good news is that there are things you can do to help prevent your teen from abusing OTC cough medicine.

Educate yourself.

The first step is education. Learn about dextromethorphan (DXM), the active ingredient in most OTC cough medicines. Learn how to identify which products contain DXM by looking for the Stop Medicine Abuse icon. Become familiar with what DXM abuse looks like.

Monitor.

In addition to being on the lookout for missing medicine, it is also important to monitor your teen’s behavior for warning signs and side effects including:

  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Hostile and uncooperative attitude
  • Use of slang terms
  • Changes in friends
  • Declining grades
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion, slurred speech and disorientation

Communicate with your teen.

Have a conversation with your teen about the risks of medicine abuse. Ask your teen if he or she has ever been exposed to DXM abuse or whether it’s something that’s discussed amongst peers. The reality is that one out of three teenagers knows someone who has abused OTC cough medicine to get high. That’s scary to think about, but teens who learn about the risks of substance abuse from their parents are 50 percent less likely to use drugs.

Share what you’ve learned.

It’s also important to communicate with other parents, teachers and community members to spread awareness. These conversations can be had at sports games, school activities or parent events to help inspire other parents to become vigilant against cough medicine abuse.

Parents can’t protect their teenagers from all the dangers of the world, but with education, close monitoring and a supportive community… parents can prevent OTC medicine abuse.

You can get more information at StopMedicineAbuse.org or join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.

Contributor: Anita Brikman joined the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) in 2016 and leads the association’s communications and public affairs functions. As a member of the senior management team, she is responsible for establishing and directing the organization’s communications strategies and goals. Anita is passionate about healthcare issues, with over two decades of experience as a news anchor and health reporter in major television markets – making medicine abuse awareness and prevention efforts important to her. She is also the mother of three teenagers.

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The Connection Between Online Safety and Teen Medicine Abuse

Posted by Sue Scheff on January 19, 2017  /   Posted in Internet Safety, Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

By Anita Brikman

As parents of teenagers, we know that it’s not unusual for teens to spend time online chatting with friends, visiting social networking sites, following sports or celebrities and – hopefully – doing their homework. While this might not seem worrisome, the digital world is a space where anyone can say anything, and teenagers don’t always evaluate whether the information they are exposed to is true or false. There are many dangers lurking online, including websites that promote how to abuse over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine to achieve a “high.” In fact, there are online communities in which users share and glorify their medicine abuse experiences, which may influence teens to engage in this dangerous activity.

It’s impossible to be aware of all your teen’s online activities, but you can help reduce the risk of your teen being exposed to the promotion of OTC cough medicine abuse by taking the following actions:

Educate yourself on the issue:

It is important to first understand the dangers and warning signs of OTC cough medicine abuse. Look out for pro-drug sites that promote and provide instructions for the abuse of dextromethorphan (DXM), the active ingredient in many OTC cough medicines. These sites spread false information about DXM, leading teens to believe it is safer to abuse than illicit drugs. Stay alert for internet orders, the arrival of unexpected packages and unexplained payments.

Educate yourself on the space:

Teens are quick adopters of new platforms and technology, which can make it difficult to keep up with their online lives. You can better recognize dangerous online communities by knowing what platforms your teen is using as well as how these platforms are used. You can learn more about the number of websites and online communities that promote OTC medicine abuse here.

Talk to your teen about internet safety:

Once you have a firm grasp on the issue of medicine abuse, visit and discuss websites like WhatIsDXM.com, drugfree.org and StopMedicineAbuse.org with your teen. This way, your teen has the facts about substance abuse and knows where to access credible information. Teens who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are 50% less likely to use drugs. Having regular conversations with your teen can make a big difference.

Connect with your teen online:

Follow and connect with your teen on social media. They may not be open to this initially, but they might be more accepting to the idea if you assure them that you’ll respect their space. This will also open up an opportunity for you to model good online behavior to you teen.

Spread the word:

Share what you learned about OTC medicine abuse with other parents and members of your community. This will enable others to have these important conversations with their teens and, in turn, ensure that more teens are practicing safe behavior online.

Even though it might not seem like it, teenagers look to their parents for support and guidance. Setting up guidelines around what behavior is and is not acceptable online will help ensure your teen is being smart and safe no matter what new media comes along.

Contributor: Anita Brikman joined the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) in 2016 and leads the association’s communications and public affairs functions. As a member of the senior management team, she is responsible for establishing and directing the organization’s communications strategies and goals. Anita is passionate about healthcare issues, with over two decades of experience as a news anchor and health reporter in major television markets – making medicine abuse awareness and prevention efforts important to her. She is also the mother of three teenagers. Join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Preventing Teen Medicine Abuse

Posted by Sue Scheff on December 02, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help

stopmedabuse6By Anita Brikman

Awareness of a problem is the first step to solving it. Parents were recently spreading the word about teen over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine abuse for National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month. Although October has come and gone, we can still continue to spread awareness and help other parents of teenagers just like us become aware of this serious issue.

While the abuse of OTC medicines doesn’t often receive the same media attention as the abuse of alcohol, marijuana or prescription medications, it’s still a common practice among today’s teens. In fact, one in 25 teenagers reports getting “high” by consuming up to 25 times the suggested amount of cough medicine.

stopmedabuse65Why the abuse of cough medicine?

Many teens believe that abusing cough medicine is less harmful than using other drugs because it’s legal and easy to attain. Unfortunately, they’re misinformed. Most cough medicine contains the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM), which has dangerous effects when taken in excess, such as hallucinations, vomiting, sweating and memory loss. The risks only get worse when DXM is combined with other substances, such as drugs or alcohol.

Here’s another problem. Due to the fact that cough medicine can be obtained easily and inexpensively, it’s an attractive choice for teen users. It’s also much easier to hide from parents. What parent would suspect risky behavior when they see an empty bottle of cough medicine in the trash? Unfortunately, only 50% of parents are aware of DXM abuse at all.

The  Stop Medicine Abuse campaign released this short but significant video highlighting one way parents can become more informed and help prevent abuse at home:

The Stop Medicine Abuse icon is included on OTC products, which contain DXM. Even without any knowledge of DXM, this icon alerts parents to stay vigilant about the potential for abuse.

With the hashtag #CheckYourShelf, the video encourages parents to monitor the amount of cough medicine in their home, safeguard their medicine cabinets and safely dispose of old/unused medicines. It also urges parents to check themselves by asking the following questions:

  • Am I aware of my teen’s habits and tendencies?
  • Do I have the kind of relationship where I can ask my teen important questions around risky behavior?
  • How can I start these conversations with my teen?

Informing parents about DMX abuse is the first step in preventing it. As the temperature drops and colds become more frequent, let’s continue to spread awareness about this critical issue, so parents know how the cough medicine in their home is being used.

You can get more information at www.StopMedicineAbuse.com or join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.

Contributor: Anita Brikman joined the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) in 2016 and leads the association’s communications and public affairs functions. As a member of the senior management team, she is responsible for establishing and directing the organizations communications strategies and goals. Anita is passionate about healthcare issues, with over two decades of experience as a news anchor and health reporter in major television markets – making medicine abuse awareness and prevention efforts important to her. She is also the parent of three teenagers. Join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.

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Check Your Shelf To Help Prevent Medicine Abuse

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 08, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

With summer nearly over and an impending cold season on the horizon, millions of Americans will self-treat their symptoms with over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine that contains dextromethorphan (DXM). While DXM can do wonders for a cough when taken according to labeling instructions, it can also be abused to get “high” when consumed in large amounts.

Abusing DXM poses serious health implications and causes concerning side effects such as nausea, vomiting, confusion, rapid heartbeat and disorientation. Despite the risks, one out of every 30 teens reports abusing DXM and one out of three teens knows someone who has abused the substance.

Like all forms of substance abuse, there are measures that parents can put in place to help prevent it. However, when it comes to OTC cough medicine abuse, a study conducted by David Binder Research shows that less than half of parents take steps to prevent medicine abuse in their homes.

chpa-checkyourshelf2

Establishing a clear monitoring system is essential to preventing medicine abuse in your home. If you happen to fall in the 50 percent of parents who are not yet enacting protective measures, here are a few tips from Stop Medicine Abuse for checking your shelf:

Only together can we ensure the health and safety of our teens. So, after checking your shelf, make sure to share these tips and spread awareness about OTC cough medicine abuse with other parents in your community. For additional medicine abuse prevention resources and parenting tips, don’t forget to visit Stop Medicine Abuse.

Contributor: Blaise Brooks is a mother of one, caregiver of two, accountant and community advocate. Blaise is also a contributor to The Five Moms blog on StopMedicineAbuse.org, working to spread the word about cough medicine abuse with other parents. Join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Look Closer: Recognizing OTC Medicine Abuse

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 18, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

StopMedAbuse2By Tammy Walsh

Do you know who your teen is hanging out with? Have your teen’s hobbies changed dramatically? These are important aspects of teens’ lives that parents should be aware of – especially when it comes to detecting signs of potential substance abuse.

Substance abuse can take many forms. While abuse of alcohol, marijuana, prescription and illicit drugs generally takes the spotlight in mainstream media, the abuse of over-the-counter (OTC) medicine is one that parents should pay attention to as well. OTC cough medicines, which contain the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM), might be perceived to be “safer” to abuse as they are generally more affordable and easily accessible as compared to other substances. However, even though DXM is safe and effective when taken according to labeling instructions, over-consumption of DXM for the purpose of getting high can produce damaging side effects.

Being aware of your teen’s emotional, physical and mental state is essential to preventing any form of substance abuse. Teens who are at risk tend to display a specific array of warning signs. But how do we discern between a red flag and a fluke? This significant distinction can be tough for parents.

To get you started, take a look at the following infographic from Stop Medicine Abuse:

LookCloser

As parents, it’s up to us to create an atmosphere that is safe for our teens. Now that you know what to look for, which questions to ask and how to make a difference, will you do your part? If you’re ready to help stop medicine abuse among our teens, make sure to visit StopMedicineAbuse.org for more tips and resources.

About Tammy Walsh:
Five Moms’ Tammy Walsh is a mother of two and high school educator. After Tammy’s family was personally touched by over-the-counter cough medicine abuse, she founded the Northport Community Book Club and joined the Five Moms to help educate others about the dangers of OTC cough medicine abuse.

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The Stop Medicine Abuse Icon: An Easy Way to Identify Medicines that Contain DXM

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 15, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help

By Jessica Belitz

DXM. Ever heard of it? If not, you aren’t alone. However, while DXM may not be a part of your everyday vocabulary, it could very well be a part of your teen’s lexicon.

DXM, or dextromethorphan, is the active ingredient in most over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines, and is the most widely used cough suppressant ingredient in the United States. While millions of Americans rely on OTC cough medicines – and consequently DXM – to safely and effectively relieve their cough, these medicines can also be abused by adolescents. At times, teens take more than 25 times the recommended dose of OTC medicines containing DXM and, when taken is such high doses, DXM can produce dangerous side effects.

You may be thinking, how widespread is this issue? Studies have shown that one out of three teens knows someone who has abused OTC cough medicine to get “high” and approximately one out of 30 teens reports abusing it themselves.

So, how can you help prevent abuse? The first step is making yourself aware. DXM is found in more than 100 OTC medicines today. These medicines come in the form of liquids, capsules, gelcaps, lozenges, and tablets. You can find a list of products that contain DXM here, but the easiest and best ways to identify medicines that contain DXM are to:

  1. Look for the Stop Medicine Abuse icon on boxes and bottles of your medicines, and
  2. Read the Drug Facts label to see if dextromethorphan is included in the list of Active Ingredients

DXMIconOnce you know how to identify products that contain DXM, you can take additional steps to prevent medicine abuse. Want to learn more? Visit StopMedicineAbuse.org for additional resources and information.

JessicaBelitz

About Jessica Belitz:

Jessica is a community outreach coordinator for the Blount Memorial Foundation. As the manager of the Foundation’s Drug Free Communities (DFC) grant, Jessica’s passion for substance abuse prevention has grown. Now that she is the mother of her young daughter, Rory Bay, she is even more passionate about the issue, which is one of the reasons why she joined The Five Moms to support the Stop Medicine Abuse campaign. Join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.

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Skittling: It May Not Be What You Think

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 25, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

By Blaise Brooks

Skittling2Skittling. If you’re like most parents, you probably don’t have the faintest idea of what this word could possibly signify. Maybe a poor attempt at verbalizing the act of eating Skittles? Don’t let your sweet tooth kick in quite yet! Among many other terms, “skittling” has come to signify the abuse of over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines containing the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM).

While these medicines are safe and effective when taken as directed, they can produce harmful side effects when taken excessively. Some teens intentionally take large amounts of DXM – sometimes more than 25 times the recommended dose. In fact, one out of three teens reports knowing someone who has abused medicine containing DXM to get high, while one out of 30 teens has abused it themselves. Unfortunately, this issue is more prevalent than most people realize. Next time you’re around your teen, be sure to keep an ear out for the following common slang terms that are used to describe DXM misuse and abuse:

  • Skittling, Robo-dosing, Dexing: Terms for abusing products with DXM
  • Syrup head, Robotard: Terms to describe someone who abuses DXM
  • Robo, Tussin, Velvet: Terms to reference cough syrups with DXM
  • Red devils, Red hots: Terms to reference capsules or tablets that contain DXM

You can find a full list of the many slang words used for DXM abuse here.

If you hear your teen using this slang, it’s important to have an open and honest conversation about the risks of abusing DXM, including the potential side effects. You can also visit WhatIsDXM.com with your teen to watch and discuss stories from real teens who have abused DXM. You have the power to ensure your teen is educated, so that he or she can confidently make smart and safe decisions.

Learn more about how to prevent teen OTC cough medicine abuse at StopMedicineAbuse.org.

Skittling
Contributor: Blaise is a mother of one, caregiver of two, accountant and community advocate. Blaise is also a contributor to The Five Moms blog on StopMedicineAbuse.org, working to spread the word about cough medicine abuse with other parents. Join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.

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    Helpful Tips for Research Teen Help ProgramsMost of us never expect to land in a spot where we are searching for teen help outside our local area. It’s really hard to swallow that we have exhausted our resources, our teen is out-of-control, we’re constantly walking on eggshells or feeling like we’re hostage in our own home to their explosive and defiant behavior.

    Turning to the internet can be daunting and downright confusing! You start reading terminology you never thought about or heard of -- wilderness programs, therapeutic boarding schools, residential treatment centers and more. How do you know who is qualified and who isn’t? More importantly, how do you know what your individual child needs?

    Years ago this happened to me when I had a good teen that started making bad choices. The internet, which can be a wealth of information, can also be extremely deceptive. It’s one of the reasons why I created Parents Universal Resource Experts. To help educate parents about the big business of teen help programs.



    HELPFUL TIPS: FINDING THE RIGHT TEEN HELP PROGRAM

    When searching for a therapeutic boarding school (TBS) or residential treatment centers (RTC), keep these tips in mind:

    -Internet deception

    Be cautious of the internet: Today we turn to the internet for almost everything we do, but how do we know what is internet fact, fiction, or somewhere in between? This is why doing your due diligence, especially in this big business of teen help programs, is imperative.

    -Fear-mongering sites

    You will find some websites and forums that will criticize families for seeking outside help for their teens. They may lead you to believe that all programs and schools are bad or abusive. In reality, not all schools and programs are who they say they are– which is why are you here, doing your research.

    You are taking your time to investigate what will be best for your individual child’s needs and learning from the mistakes I made so you don’t have to. It’s exactly why I created P.U.R.E.

    If you find negative complaints about a school/program you are considering – take the time to ask us about it. We never diminish a person’s experience, however we have also realized that some people are there to make it harder for parents to get help. Again, we have walked your shoes and have taken time to dig deep into this industry.

    -Beware of the Placement Specialist

    Are you talking to a placement specialist? What exactly is this? Today these are people that are paid to place your troubled teen in a program. This is not in the best interest of your child. In some cases these are programs that have less than desirable reputations – however the placement specialist is making a commission. Typically what they are good at – is marketing. You may have just become bait and will become inundated with emails from different programs. They will be sending your name and email to many programs without qualifying your child as an appropriate fit for their school.

    If you’re a parent at your wit’s end, be sure you’re always speaking to an owner or director of a program. Someone that has a vested interest in your child’s recovery. These marketing arms aka placement specialists, can be deceptive. Read “A Parent’s True Story.”

    -Placing Abroad

    Be very cautious if sending your child out of the country. Laws are different and cannot protect your child out of the country. Many parents are misled by the lower tuition–don’t be one of them. We recommend keeping your child in the United States. If you are a resident outside of the United States, this may not affect you.

    -Behind the Screen

    Don’t allow fancy websites, emotional online videos determine your decision for your child. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. If a program is advertising a very high success rate, please ask them what third party organization did their statistical studies.

    In-house surveys are prejudiced and not always a good source of reliability. Keep in mind, this a major emotional and financial decision you will be making.

    Don’t judge a program by their website. You never know what is behind a screen. We have visited programs that have less than attractive websites with amazing facilities and staff. On the contrary – you will find polished websites with programs that wouldn’t leave your pets at.

    -Myths of Wilderness

    Your teen does not need to complete a wilderness program before they attend a residential treatment program (RTC or TBS). In many cases families today cannot afford that extra step of a wilderness program; however we hear over and over that parents are talked into breaking a child down before sending them to a therapeutic boarding program. Isn’t your teen already broken down? Isn’t that why you are reaching out for help?

    This is why you are looking for programs that will help stimulate your teen back on to a positive road– making good choices and creating a bright future that you had planned for them.

    -Finding the right program

    You are not choosing a program to “teach your child a lesson.” This is a common mistake many parents make. Many times, these are good children making bad choices. Harsh treatment and environment can enhance their anger as well as build resentment.

    -Accredited programs

    Don’t accept a program that is not accredited to educate your child, provides scant food and/or clothing, and has unsanitary living conditions. A visit to the program prior enrollment, if possible, is recommended.

    It is understandable that not every family has the finances or the time for the extra trip. With this, please be sure your research is thorough. Below – the importance of calling parent references can be helpful with this.

    As far as education, ask the program for a copy of their accreditation for their academics. With that you can contact your local school to be sure the transcripts will be transferable.

    -Basic human rights

    It is normal for parents to want their child to appreciate what they have at home; however deprivation of food, sanitation, and clothing should not be accepted. These are basic human rights.

    Many of these teens are suffering from low self-esteem, depression, peer pressure, etc. Taking away their basic needs may escalate these negative feelings.

    -Communication

    Asking the program about their communication with parents and visitation schedule is imperative. Another helpful tip – is to verify it through asking parent references when you call them.

    Don’t enroll any child in a program that refuses to allow parents to speak with their child within a reasonable amount of time, usually no longer than 30 days.

    Visitation in many programs begins at three months. This is your child, and family counseling is just as important as your child’s recovery.

    -Ask questions

    If you feel you have valid concerns and do not understand something, do not allow the program director to overlook your questions. Keep asking until you receive an appropriate response. This is your right as a parent. You are your child’s advocate.

    Ask for the staff’s education, training, and experience. Credentials of those working with your child are vital. Ask if they have background checks for all employees.

    -Age of consent

    Know what the age of majority (consent) is in the state of the program. Be sure children cannot sign themselves out of the program at their current age. You will see that many programs are located in the western part of the U.S. (especially Utah ) due to the age of majority of 18. This ensures your child cannot leave without your consent.

    -Choosing a program in the best interest of your teen

    Do not limit your decision on geographical location. The fact is this is the most important 6-9-12 months of your child’s life to date, it has to be the best placement/program/school that fits their emotional needs — not your travel plans.

    In reality, family visits are never more than every 4-6 weeks (depending on the program) after your teen has completely the initial ninety days.

    We remind parents – this is only a snapshot of their entire life – yet will have such an impact on their future. Let’s not limit it for geographical reasons.

    You won’t be making daily or weekend visits. This is about your teen’s healing, recovery and what is best for him/her. If it means you need to take an extra plane ride or few hours by car, remember — it’s only several months out of their entire life.

    Most programs are very similar in tuition fees, using credit cards as tuition can build frequent flyer miles. (If you are able to do this – with paying it off either with your funds or a loan you have received, can be a good option).

    There are many excellent programs in our country, find the one that is best fitted for your child, not your airport. The other important fact is – if you have a teen that is a flight risk, they are more likely (or tempted) to leave a program (runaway) and call one of their new less-than-desirable friends to pick them up.

    Choosing a program that is in an unfamiliar area is in the best interest of your teenager. Remember this is about your teen’s emotional wellness and recovery, not about geographically convenience.

    -Background check

    Check with the local sheriff department or the state office of the Attorney General or Department of Social Services (DSS) or Department of Children and Families – for reports of neglect or abuse as well as their current licensing.

    With this, understand that there are no perfect programs. Some may have had issues which have since been rectified or are not related to the students. However, others, with constant complaints, should be crossed off you list. Investigation is your best solution in finding a good program.

    When you contact the local sheriff department, ask them how many times a month they are called out to the program – how many runaways they have – and your final question should be, is if it were their child, would they send them there?

    With licensing, you want to be sure they are licensed as a residential treatment centers and not a daycare center or foster care home. You will be paying a significant amount of tuition, be an educated parent.

    -Consequences

    Find out what the program’s use of restraints is. If they have “isolation,” inquire about the length of time that is normally spent there and what this entails. Ask what the program does if your child runs away.

    -Fees

    Ask if the person who is marketing the information receives any kind of direct, or indirect referral fee or compensation (i.e. A month’s free tuition, gifts, certificates, dinners, etc.). P.U.R.E.™ discloses on our FAQ page that we do receive fees from some schools and programs.

    -Ask for and call parent references.

    If a school/program won’t give you parents references, it’s a red flag. It might be time to consider another program.

    Hopefully you have time to ask for at least 3-5 parent references. In some situation you can also speak with the teen that graduated the program too. This should be a call for information, guidance, and support. Did their child have the same issues as yours?

    If you are considering transport and apprehensive about it, ask the parent reference how they got their teen to the program. It’s a great way to gain more insights on residential therapy.

    Parent tip: Ask for families from your own geographical area, as well as parents that have the same gender and age as your child. You want to try to talk to parents as similar to your own situation as well as possibly near where you live. Maybe you could have an opportunity to meet with them in person. Keep in mind, first hand experiences are priceless.

    One question to ask the reference parent is if they could change one thing about the program, what would it be? Though it may not be a major concern, it may be another question you can ask the owner or director of the program.

    -Inside a program

    Look for programs that offer an ACE factor:

    A=Accredited Academics
    C=Clinical with credentialed therapists
    E=Enrichment Programs such as music, sports, animal assisted therapy, horticulture, art therapy, fine arts, drama, or whatever your teen may be passionate about. It is about stimulating your teen in a positive direction by encouraging them to build self-confidence and want to be their best.

    -Family decision

    Most Importantly, placement needs to be a family decision. Trust your gut and your heart.

    If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Keep searching. It is time to bring the family back together. If possible – do this research before you’re in crisis.

    Many parents call us with that gut feeling, than things go well for awhile and they don’t do anything. Suddenly they’re in crisis-mode and have 24-hours to select a program. Don’t be that parent.

    -Free consultation

    Parents’ Universal Resource Experts is about helping educate parents about residential therapeutic schools and programs. We offer free consultations.

    These tips are not to frighten anyone, it is to make parents aware of an industry that has little to no guidelines or regulations to follow.

    It is a fact, some of our kids need help. Let’s get them the right help with an educated and researched decision.

    Many parents contact us about the fear-mongering websites that are up. These sites are usually created by former students and they have listed just about every program in the country.

    Sadly, what they are doing is preventing families from getting the potential help they may need for their child. There is always good and bad in every field/industry — this is why it is imperative you do your due diligence when researching programs.

    We have personally visited, researched and spoken with many parents, students and former employees of programs since 2001. Feel free to contact us if you are considering a program and you find it on one of those fear-based websites.

    One of their issues is that they don’t believe in level systems. Keep in mind – in life, we all work our way up. Whether you start as a clerk and work your way to judge, or start in the mail room and work your way up to an executive. It’s part of the way life is. As long as it is not done in a degrading way.

    Are your considering Wilderness programs? Learn more about them.

    Understand there are some teen behavioral issues that require more intensive therapy. Read more.

    Be an educated parent, this is a major financial and emotional decision for your family.

    P.U.R.E.™ is part of bringing families back together…

    Click here for questions to ask schools and programs.
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