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Troubled Teens

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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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 Relationship Between Bullying and Drug Abuse

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

Teen Bullying, Drinking and Drug Use

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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Animals Helping Teens in Crisis: Depression, Drugs, Bullying

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 16, 2017  /   Posted in Mental Health, Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Helping Teens In Crisis With Animal Assisted Therapy

Who doesn’t feel happier, a little less stressed and much better overall after cuddling with a furry feline purring on our lap? What about the adrenaline rush we experience after playing with a playful, little dog and that feeling of joy while we’re interacting with them?

We’ve seen many examples in hospitals and senior care facilities when these animals provide friendship, love and comfort to those who are aging and ill. This interaction brightens their spirit and aids in an overall healing process. But do these pets offer the same type of benefits to a much younger crowd, especially teenagers who may be struggling with depression, drug addiction or other difficulties that often comes along with the struggles of dealing with adolescence? Does this type of interaction actually work?

How Does This Type Of Animal Connection Actually Work?

Providers of these programs looked into a hypothesis that suggests our continued connection, interest and interaction with animals stems from ancient history. It’s believed that during this distant past, we received and witnessed certain signals from wild animals warning of us of possible impending doom.

During these ancient times, it’s suggested we eventually began to pay more attention to wildlife that were showing us predictions of unforeseen weather patterns, the rising and falling of tides and other indications that we were oblivious to without much knowledge of these events. As we continued to watch and interpret their behaviors, this led us to a unique trust and eventual bond  associated with them.

Repeatedly recognizing and interpreting these signs, we began to become more dependent upon them. We intensely watching them for these types of reactions that exhibited a “fight or flight” type of mentality. Other times, we witnessed them being safe and secure, depending upon the circumstance, and our dependence, interaction and love for them continued to grow and flourish. Eventually, we came to domesticate them, invite them into our lives and connect with them further.

Using This Type Of Knowledge Today

The ultimate goal of today’s animal-assistance programs use interaction with these loving and intuitive creatures to help strengthen a teenager’s ability to communicate, bond and interact with pets rather than people. With an animal’s unique gift of unconditional love, in return these pets don’t judge kids or otherwise put them into an uncomfortable position where they may feel threatened or isolated. Instead, it gives them a sense of a safer environment that builds their trust and develops a bond they may not feel otherwise.

Contributor:  Amy Williams, a journalist and former social worker passionate about parenting and education.

 

 

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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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3 Tips to Prevent Your Teenager from Commiting Theft

Posted by Sue Scheff on January 17, 2017  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

This is probably hard to admit, but yesterday you caught your teenager red-handed taking money out of your purse. To add insult to injury, you are pretty sure this was not the first time they helped themselves to some of your hard-earned cash.

While it’s hard to believe your own flesh and blood is stealing from you, it’s not something that should be taken lightly. To nip this problem in the bud, and prevent it from blossoming into a full-blown issue that involves late-night calls from the police, check out these surefire tips:

Different Ages, Different Tactics

Young children can sometimes have difficulty understanding what does and what does not constitute stealing. Teenagers should know from right or wrong, but maybe you have younger children and have noticed them taking things that do not belong to them.

As Parents.com notes, young children can be taught to never take something from another person without asking first, and that it’s not OK to help themselves to money from a purse or wallet — even if they are used to being handed money now and then.

Teaching them not to steal must be done with a combination of patience and age-appropriate punishments. A 4-year-old who takes a dollar out of your wallet, for example, shouldn’t be able to watch their favorite show on TV that night. On the other hand, tweens and teens usually have the ability to understand that stealing is wrong, so they should face greater consequences.

Determine Why They’re Stealing

Kids and teens steal from family members for a wide variety of reasons. As Kids Health notes, school-age kids who take their siblings’ iPod or gift cards might not have the self-control needed to stop themselves. Tweens and teens may steal because it gives them a rush, or because they have seen their friends do it and they want to try it, too.

Meanwhile, some teens steal because they are rebelling against you and other adults, or because they are angry about something and want attention. In other cases, older kids steal because they cannot afford what they either need or want; sadly, in some cases, this may be alcohol or drugs. Stealing has also been linked to stress, and it can also be a cry for help.

What to Do Next

First, try to determine how often your kid has stolen something. A one-time money grab from your purse is definitely not OK, but it’s not the same as on-going and frequent stealing that has added up to hundreds of dollars, if not more. But no matter how often your tween or teen has taken something that’s not theirs, remind them that stealing is still a crime and that they must be held accountable.

As Empowering Parents notes, while you might be tempted to try to excuse your teenager’s actions based on their rebellious nature or sullen attitude, stealing is much more about breaking the law than someone’s personal feelings or problems. If you catch your child taking money from your wallet, they must pay it back, either by doing extra chores or missing out on allowance.

Teens who steal more than once may need professional help. This can come either from a family counselor or therapist, a religious leader like a minister or rabbi, or a school counselor. To set your mind at ease and help you rebuild trust with your teenager, consider installing a security camera inside your home.

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The Nature Effect: How Getting Outside Benefits You and Your Troubled Teen

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 15, 2016  /   Posted in Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

teennatureIf there was a simple way to better the relationship you have with your teen, you would want in on it, right? Well, the simple solution is all around you — nature.

Your brain on nature

Does your family make time to get outside and spend time in nature? If not, you may want to consider it. Spending time outdoors for an extended period of time is essentially like hitting the reset button on your brain. Oftentimes, people just like you and your teen, cite feeling more clear headed, less stressed, more creative and even more alive after spending time outside. It’s true. Spending time in nature is restorative to mental health, and its effect can be described as a psychological process called attention restoration therapy. Spending time outdoors can even change the wiring in the brain, but we will get to that later.

Disorders, illness and their relationship to nature

There are a myriad of health problems that face our children and teens today, from ADD/ADHD, cognition disorders and depression to obesity, stress, Type II Diabetes and even something called nature deficit disorder. And while there is no single remedy to treat many of these ailments, there is something that can help. Now more than ever, kids and teens are widely disconnected from their natural outdoor environment and spending copious amounts of time indoors. A disconnection from nature leads to difficulties concerning concentration, a sadly diminished use of the senses and even higher rates of mental illness. Even creativity levels, attention spans and desire to explore suffer because of our kids’ limited exposure to the outdoors. But as a parent, you can help to prevent these outcomes by simply getting them outside in a natural environment more often. In recent years, “wilderness therapy” has emerged as a way to help troubled teens and adolescents with disciplinary or psychological problems get back on track. Some of these programs last up to eight weeks, completely emerging your teen into the wilderness. However, these programs are not for everyone and should only be considered after taking other measures first. They are also only recommended for teens dealing with serious drug, alcohol and other serious issues.

Nature combats stress in teens and parents

One of the major draws of spending time in nature is its ability to reduce stress. While you may be thinking “What stress does my teen have?” right now, you should know that your kids are likely under a lot of pressure. From their peers, teachers, coaches and even you. Dating, sex, status, drugs and alcohol, school and other factors are big contributors to stress for teens. However, recent research has shown that our environments directly impact stress levels and our bodies. The University of Minnesota reports that nature soothes and restores, improving moods from stressed, depressed and anxious to more balanced and calm. Other studies that were also cited by the University of Minnesota claim that nature is all-around associated with a positive mood, meaningfulness, vitality and psychological well-being.

Using nature to connect with your troubled teen

Research out of the Human-Environment Research Lab has shown that time spent outdoors in nature connects people to each other and the larger world around them. If your teen is standoffish and distant, they may just need a little more nature in their routine. Use this time to put your screens away — yes, all devices, phones and tablets — and really connect with your outside environment and kid. You have to be genuinely invested in this activity and that means that you will have to power down. Whether you opt to take a weekend camping trip or just decide to go for an afternoon hike, being outdoors can help to foster a healthier relationship between you and your teen. When you’re ready to experience the great outdoors, make sure you’re equipped with the right outdoor gear. That way you can ensure you’re prepared for whatever adventure you have planned.

Walking outdoors has big benefits for adolescents and adults

Would you believe that a simple walk in the woods could actually change the wiring in the brain? You better believe it. Sure, people have cited that they feel better after talking a walk in nature, but recently both The New York Times and NPR reported that walking outside is truly beneficial for the brain. Researchers used brain scans and found that people who walked outdoors, even for a short period of time, actually had changes in their neurological functioning — for good. Something as simple as a walk in nature could change everything.

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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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Addiction and Teens: How Suicide Comes Into the Picture

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 06, 2016  /   Posted in Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

PixabayTeenThe teen years are difficult for many, although some young people are better equipped to handle stressful situations and therefore seem to have an easier time. For the most part, teens don’t have the emotional maturity to cope with some of the issues they face today, which can lead to substance abuse as they attempt to find a way through the situation.

Many parents fear that drug and alcohol abuse will lead to death by overdose, but there is also a risk for death by suicide when substances come into the picture, especially if there was already a mood or mental disorder present that is exacerbated by drugs or alcohol. With emotions already running high for young people, adding a substance into the mix can only makes things worse and, frighteningly, causes impulsive behavior that may make self-harm easier. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 15-34.

For this reason, the risk for suicide is heightened when a teen has access to a weapon, which is why all families who own guns are strongly urged to keep them locked up or secured in a hidden place, preferably with a lock on the trigger and the bullets in a separate area.

Teens–especially those who suffer from an undiagnosed condition such as bipolar disorder–may begin to feel as if there is no way out when they experience a difficult life event. These feelings are dangerous, especially if there has been substance abuse present that could make the individual impulsive. Drugs and alcohol can lead to depression, isolation, a decline in physical health, and can affect sleeping habits, which could lead back around to substance abuse as the individual tries to get rest.

The reasons a teen may turn to drugs or alcohol are myriad. It can stem from an unhappy home life, a recent big life change such as divorce or a death in the family, chronic illness, or it could be something unseen by friends and family, such as a struggle with sexuality or cyber-bullying.

In order for parents to help, it’s always a good idea to know who their child is spending time with and what they do in their free time. This can be useful when it comes time for the teen to open up about any issues they may be having.

Some of the warning signs of addiction in teens include:

  • Loss of interest in things that once brought joy
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Too much or too little sleep
  • Decline in physical health or appearance
  • Slurred or impaired speech
  • Detached emotions or being overly emotional
  • Being secretive
  • Lashing out
  • Getting into legal trouble

If you have a loved one who is exhibiting these behaviors, it’s important to open up a conversation with them and let them know you’re listening. Don’t be judgmental or introduce guilt; chances are, they already feel guilty about something, or perhaps they are suffering from low self-esteem. Let them know you’re there for them and encourage them to seek help in the form of counseling, or to make an appointment with a doctor. It’s a good idea to talk one-on-one, as too many people in a room can make the individual feel like they are being ganged up on.

If you feel that self-harm is imminent, don’t leave the individual alone. Remove any items that could be used for harm from the area and call for help. Remember that you won’t have all the answers, and you may not be able to reach your loved one the way they need to be reached. There are professionals waiting to help when this is the case.

National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK

Contributor:  Michelle Peterson has been in recovery for several years. She started RecoveryPride.org to help eliminate the stigma placed on those who struggle with addiction. The site emphasizes that the journey to sobriety should not be one of shame but of pride and offers stories, victories, and other information to give hope and help to those in recovery.

 

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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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    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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