Teens Struggling with Substance Abuse

With summer about here and teens with more free time, parents need to be aware of what today’s latest statistics are with drug use.

Yes, teen substance abuse, according to the latest study, is up 33%. TeenSubstanceAbuse

What does this say to parents of teenagers?

Are the parents too trusting of the teens or are the teens too smart for the parents?

Are you still digesting that?

Let’s understand this.

One in four teens (24 percent) reports having misused or abused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime (up from 18 percent in 2008 to 24 percent in 2012), which translates to about 5 million teens. That is a 33 percent increase over a five-year period.  -According to Drugfree.org

That is a lot teens using illegal prescription drugs to get high or alter their moods.

Where are they getting these drugs from? 

Parents, grandparents, a friend’s home or simply buying them off the street.   This isn’t  blame game it is time to get a grasp on it and communicate to your kids about the risks of prescription medicine when it is not taken for the reasons it is prescribed for by a doctor.  Sometimes it takes a near death of a friend to make your child wake-up, let’s just hope it is not the end of someone’s life.  The attitude that it can’t happen to me is common, and it is followed by a parent’s denial that their child would use drugs.

Communication and education.

This is a nationwide problem.  Go to www.drugfree.org/medicineabuseproject and educate yourself and your family. Take the Pledge with your family to end medicine abuse, before it’s too late.  Then go to www.stopmedicineabuse.org and educate yourself and your kids about the dangers of over-the-counter medicine (OTC) abuse.  OTC are potentially deadly can be extremely harmful to your teens also.

Have a conversation with your teen, don’t wait for a confrontation.  As the report also stated, parents seems to lack concern about prescription drug use in comparison to getting caught or using such drugs as crack or cocaine or other illegal drugs, as follows:

Almost one in four teens (23 percent) say their parents don’t care as much if they are caught using Rx drugs without a doctor’s prescription, compared to getting caught with illegal drugs. – According to Drugfree.org


Drug use (substance abuse) is a serious cry for help, and making your teen feel ashamed or embarrassed can make the problem worse. Some common behavior changes you may notice if your teenager is abusing drugs and alcohol are:

  • Violent outbursts, rage, disrespectful behavior
  • Poor or dropping grades
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Skin abrasions, track marks
  • Missing curfew, running away, truancy
  • Bloodshot eyes, distinct “skunky” odor on clothing and skin
  • Missing jewelry, money
  • New friends
  • Depression, apathy, withdrawal, disengaged from the family
  • Reckless behavior

Tips to help prevent substance abuse:

  1. Communication is the key to prevention.  Whenever an opportunity arises about the risks of drinking and driving or the dangers of using drugs,  take it to start a conversation.  Remember parents, it is important to be a parent first – friendship will come in time.
  2. Have a conversation not a confrontation.  If you suspect your teen is using drugs, talk to them.  Don’t judge them, talk to them about the facts of the dangers of substance abuse.  If your teen isn’t opening up to you, be sure you find an adolescent therapist that can help.
  3. Addict in the family?  Do you have an addict in your family?  Sadly many families have been effected by someone that has allowed drugs to take over their lives.  With this, it is a reminder to your teen that you want them to have bright future filled with happiness.  The last thing you want for them is to end up like ____.
  4. Don’t be a parent in denial.  There is no teenager that is immune to drug abuse.  No matter how smart your teen is, or athletic they are, they are at risk if they start using.  I firmly believe that keeping  your teen constructively busy, whether it is with sports, music or other hobbies they have, you will be less at risk for them to want to experiment.  However don’t be in the dark thinking that your teen is pulling a 4.0 GPA and on the varsity football that they couldn’t be dragged down by peer pressure.  Go back to number one – talk, talk, talk – remind your teen how proud you are of them, and let them know that you are always available if they feel they are being pressured to do or try something they don’t want to.
  5. Do you know what your teen is saying?  Listen or watch on texts or emails for code words for certain drug lingo. Skittling, Tussing, Skittles, Robo-tripping, Red Devils, Velvet, Triple C, C-C-C-, Robotard are some of the names kids use for cough and cold medication abuse.  Weed, Pot, Ganja, Mary Jane, Grass, Chronic, Buds, Blunt, Hootch, Jive stick, Ace, Spliff, Skunk, Smoke, Dubie, Flower, Zig Zag are all slang for marijuana.
  6. 6.     Leftovers.  Are there empty medicine wrappers or bottles, burn marks on their clothes or rug, ashes, stench, etc in their room or if they own a car, in their car? Teens (and tweens) either take several pills or smash them so all of it is released at once.  Be sure to check all pockets, garbage cans, cars, closets, under beds, etc. for empty wrappers and other evidence of drug use.  Where are your prescription drugs?  Have you counted them lately?
  7. Body language. Tune into changes in your teen’s behavior. Changing peer groups, altering their physical appearance and/or lack of hygiene, eating or sleeping patterns changing, hostile and uncooperative attitude (defiance), missing money or other valuables from the home, sneaking out of the house, etc.
  8. 8.     Access to alcohol.  Look around your home, is there liquor that is easily accessible?  Teens admit getting alcohol is easy-and the easiest place to get it is in their home.  Know what you have in the house and if you suspect your teen is drinking, lock it up!  Talk to them about the risks of drinking, especially if they are driving. 
  9. Seal the deal.  Have your teen sign a contract to never drink and drive. Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) www.saddonline.com provides a free online contract to download. It may help them pause just the second they need to not get behind that wheel.
  10. Set the example, be the example.  What many parents don’t realize is that you are the leading role model for your teen.  If your teen sees you smoking or drinking frequently, what is the message you are sending?  Many parents will have a glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage, however the teen needs to understand you are the adult, and there is a reason that the legal drinking age is 21.

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

Underage Drinking: Ask Listen Learn

April is Alcohol Awareness Month!

Did you know that 83% of youth cite parents as the leading influence in their decisions not to drink alcohol?

Additionally, when compared to 2003, more kids today recall having the conversation with their parents about the risks and consequences of underage drinking.  This is encouraging news and emphasizes the importance of parents continuing these conversations at home.

The Century Council, a national not-for-profit dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking developed Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix in 2003 with a team of educators and professionals.  The program provides resources to start the conversation between parents and kids on the risks of underage drinking.

To kick-off Alcohol Awareness Month, the organization has teamed up with athletes and positive influencers, including Apolo Ohno, Bryan Clay, Mallory Weggemann, and Tyson Gay, to help reach youth and urge kids to take the pledge to say ‘YES’ to a healthy lifestyle and ‘NO’ to underage drinking.

What are you waiting for?  Talk to your kids today!  Never stop talking.  They are listening.  Just look at the statistics – they speak for themselves.

Join Ask Listen Learn on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

Join me on Facebook  and follow me on Twitter for more information and educational articles on parenting today’s teenagers.

Teens Get High at Home: Inhalants are Common Household Items

Know the dangers of huffing, sniffing and bagging.

We hear about drug abuse, we hear about under-aged drinking, we hear about cough syrup abuse (not enough), but one dangerous issue that isn’t addressed enough is the use of inhalants!  Most  are common household items that teens and tweens are getting high from.

What is Inhalant Abuse?

Inhalant abuse refers to the deliberate inhalation or sniffing of common products found in homes and communities with the purpose of “getting high.” Inhalants are easily accessible, legal, everyday products. When used as intended, these products have a useful purpose in our lives and enhance the quality of life, but when intentionally misused, they can be deadly. Inhalant Abuse is a lesser recognized form of substance abuse, but it is no less dangerous. Inhalants are addictive and are considered to be “gateway” drugs because children often progress from inhalants to illegal drug and alcohol abuse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that one in five American teens have used Inhalants to get high.

Huffing, Sniffing, Dusting and Bagging

Inhalation is referred to as huffing, sniffing, dusting or bagging and generally occurs through the nose or mouth. Huffing is when a chemically soaked rag is held to the face or stuffed in the mouth and the substance is inhaled. Sniffing can be done directly from containers, plastic bags, clothing or rags saturated with a substance or from the product directly. With Bagging, substances are sprayed or deposited into a plastic or paper bag and the vapors are inhaled. This method can result in suffocation because a bag is placed over the individual’s head, cutting off the supply of oxygen. Other methods used include placing inhalants on sleeves, collars, or other items of clothing that are sniffed over a period of time. Fumes are discharged into soda cans and inhaled from the can or balloons are filled with nitrous oxide and the vapors are inhaled. Heating volatile substances and inhaling the vapors emitted is another form of inhalation. All of these methods are potentially harmful or deadly. Experts estimate that there are several hundred deaths each year from Inhalant Abuse, although under-reporting is still a problem.

There are more than a 1,400 products which are potentially dangerous when inhaled, such as typewriter correction fluid, air conditioning coolant, gasoline, propane, felt tip markers, spray paint, air freshener, butane, cooking spray, paint, and glue. Most are common products that can be found in the home, garage, office, school or as close as the local convenience store. The best advice for consumers is to read the labels before using a product to ensure the proper method is observed. It is also recommended that parents discuss the product labels with their children at age-appropriate times. The following list represents categories of products that are commonly abused.

List of Products used for Huffing and Sniffing

Source: Inhalant.org visit and learn more.

Teen Drug Abuse – Teen Help

Drug Addiction Destroys Families

With today’s society, kids have access to many different substances that can be addictive and damaging. If you suspect your child is using drugs or drinking alcohol, please seek help for them as soon as possible. Drug testing is helpful, but not always accurate.  Teen Drug use and Teen Drinking may escalate to addiction.

We get calls constantly, that a child is only smoking pot. Unfortunately in most cases, marijuana can lead to more severe drugs, and marijuana is considered an illegal drug. Smoking marijuana is damaging to the child’s body, brain and behavior. Even though marijuana is not considered a narcotic, most teens are very hooked on it.

Many teens that are on prescribed medications such as Ritalin, Adderall, Strattera, Concerta, Zoloft, Prozac etc. are more at risk when mixing these medications with street drugs. It is critical you speak with your child about this and learn all the side effects.  Educating your child on the potential harm may help them to understand the dangers involved in mixing prescription drugs with street drugs. Awareness is the first step to understanding.

Alcohol is not any different with today’s teens. Like adults, some teens use the substances to escape their problems; however they don’t realize that it is not an escape but rather a deep dark hole. Some teens use substances to “fit in” with the rest of their peers – teen peer pressure. This is when a child really needs to know that they don’t need to “fit in” if it means hurting themselves. Using drug and alcohol is harming them. Especially if a teen is taking prescribed medication (refer to the above paragraph) teen drinking can be harmful. The combination can bring out the worse in a person. Communicating with your teen, as difficult as it can be, is one of the best tools we have.  Even if you think they are not listening, we hope eventually they will hear you.

If your teen is experimenting with this, please step in and get proper help through local resources. If it has extended into an addiction, it is probably time for a Residential Placement. If you feel your child is only experimenting, it is wise to start precautions early. An informed parent is an educated parent.  This can be your life jacket when and if you need the proper intervention.  Always be prepared, it can save you from rash decisions later.

A teen that is just starting to experiment with substance use or starting to become difficult; a solid short term self growth program may be very beneficial for them.  However keep in mind, if this behavior has been escalating over a length of time, the short term program may only serve as a temporary band-aid.

Drugs and Alcoholic usage is definitely a sign that your child needs help. Teen Drug Addiction and Teen Drinking is a serious problem in today’s society; if you suspect your child is using substances, especially if they are on prescribed medications, start seeking local help.  If the local resources become exhausted, and you are still experiencing difficulties, it may be time for the next step; Therapeutic Boarding School or Residential Treatment Center.

Visit www.helpyourteens.com for more valuable information.

Sue Scheff: Teen Drug Issues

As a parent advocate, I always welcome valuable information and websites that can help educate parents and others with today’s concerns with substance abuse and other issues surrounding our children.  TheAntiDrug.com website has a wide variety of educational information for parents and adult caregivers of teens – also check out the Q&A below with Karen Reed, the American Pharmacists Association’s national spokesperson for American Pharmacists.

antidrugTheAntiDrug.com – a Web site created by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to equip parents and adult caregivers with the tools they need to raise drug-free kids.  You might have seen ads on TV recently calling attention to the issue of teen prescription drug abuse.

Unfortunately, growing numbers of teens are abusing prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to get high or to cope with school and social pressures.  Many teens say these drugs are not only easy to get, but also that they think they are a safe way to get high.  According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration  (SAMHSA), everyday 2,000 kids age 12 to 17 abuse a painkiller for the very first time. SAMHSA also finds:

•       More teens abuse prescription drugs than any illicit drug except marijuana
•       Among 12- and 13-year-olds, prescription drugs are the drug of choice

To provide answers to common parent questions about teen prescription drug abuse, TheAntiDrug.com has teamed up with pharmacist Karen Reed, spokesperson for the American Pharmacists Association. 

The Rx drug information is currently highlighted on the homepage of http://www.theantidrug.com, including an interactive house tour (http://www.theantidrug.com/drug_info/prescription_dangerZones.asp) which highlights locations where teens can find prescription and OTC drugs, tips for parents on how to prevent abuse  and to talk to your teen about prescription drug abuse, along with much more.

Q&A with Karen Reed, spokesperson for the American Pharmacists Association

Q: I hear about kids taking various pills – uppers, downers, painkillers, etc., that have been prescribed for their parents. What can those drugs do to teens who have not been prescribed those medications?

A: It is always difficult to predict what type of reaction teens will have to medication not prescribed for them, especially when we don’t know the dose they will abuse — and if it will be taken with other drugs or alcohol. Uppers can cause hostility, paranoia, or seizures. These drugs can affect motor skills, impair judgment, and affect the heart. Downers and painkillers can decrease concentration, impair judgment, and slow motor skills. Taking downers and painkillers in excess can also cause sedation and seizures. Imagine a teen driver under the influence of these drugs driving a motor vehicle — this combination could prove deadly as well. (http://www.theantidrug.com/drug_info/prescription_dangers.asp)

Q: My son tells me his friends take pills that aren’t theirs and sometimes take them when they’re drinking alcohol. What is the resulting effect and what can I tell him to scare him away from experimenting?

A: No one, adults or teens, should take medication with alcohol. Teens who are taking medication that is not prescribed for them are probably also taking excessive doses. And mixing that medication with alcohol could prove deadly for teenagers. The effect of the medication could be intensified, causing the teen to stop breathing or have a seizure that could be fatal. If this practice is combined with driving, others could be injured as well. The combination of medication and alcohol could lead to poor judgment that could cause serious injuries or worse. Teenagers often feel invincible. The combination of drugs and alcohol may intensify this belief.

Q: We keep cold, cough, and other over-the-counter medications in the house. What is the best way to monitor those medications?

A: Over-the-counter medications are safe and effective for some people when used properly under a medical professional’s guidance. However, the ingredients, when abused, can be taken to get high. Therefore keep them in limited quantities and monitor their use as you would a prescription drug. Never use them to help your teen or yourself sleep. Children (regardless of their age) mimic adult behavior. Be a good role model and never abuse OTC products yourself. (http://www.theantidrug.com/drug_info/prescription_wcyd_good_example.asp)

Q: My child has prescribed medications she takes regularly. How do I ensure those pills are not abused?

A: Keep track of the number of pills that should be on hand. Keep track of refills, lost pills, and request for refills. Paying close attention to use will help prevent abuse.

Q: What are some of the signs I can look for if I suspect my teen has been abusing prescription drugs?

A: It is easy for parents to miss prescription drug abuse because mood changes, temper outbursts, changes in sleeping habits and interests are typical teenage behaviors. You can smell alcohol and tobacco and marijuana — you can’t smell pills. Watch for changes in grooming, habits, and interests. Watch for negative changes in school work, school attendance, and declining grades. Watch for increased secrecy, changes in friends, and increased needs for money. Monitor your own prescription drugs and encourage friends and family to do the same. (http://www.theantidrug.com/drug_info/prescription_abusing_signs_symptoms.asp)
Karen L. Reed, the American Pharmacists Association’s national spokesperson for American Pharmacists Month, is a graduate of West Virginia University School of Pharmacy and a staff pharmacist with Kmart in Beckley, West Virginia.  She is a consultant pharmacist for Beckley Surgery Center and is serving her second term as chair of West Virginia’s Medicaid Drug Utilization Review Board. Reed is a preceptor for WVU PharmD candidates and a GlaxoSmithKline community pharmacy advisory board member. She is an APhA Fellow, past APhA- Academy of Pharmacy Practice and Management officer, past President of the West Virginia Pharmacists Association, recipient of the National Community Pharmacists Association Leadership Award, Merck Pharmacist Recognition Award, and the Wyeth-Ayerst Bowl of Hygeia.  In 2002, Reed was named Kmart Pharmacist of the Year.

Sue Scheff: Teenage Substance Abuse

samhsaAlmost on a daily basis I receive emails from caring parents, educators, and others that work with today’s teens and children asking me to share their information.  At my organization, Parents’ Universal Resource Experts, it is about parents helping parents and with this, I will continue to share great websites, articles, parenting tips and more. 

Today, a representative from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (SAMSHA) contacted me to share some vital information on teen substance abuse.

I urge you to visit – http://ncadi.samhsa.gov/cfoy.aspx – which offers:

Tips for Teens

This series of brochures provides facts and dispels myths about substance use. Information is provided on long-term and short-term effects, physical and psychological risks, and legal implications.

Tips for Teens: The Truth About Inhalants (PHD631)

Download Now  (441K)   Order Now 

Tips for Teens: Hallucinogens (PHD642)

Download Now  (517K)   Order Now 

Tips for Teens: Methamphetamine (PHD861)

Download Now  (437K)   Order Now 

Tips for Teens: Club Drugs (PHD852)

Download Now  (451K)   Order Now 

Tips for Teens: Heroin (PHD860)

Download Now  (438K)   Order Now

Sue Scheff: Preventing Teen Drug Addiction

dareD.A.R.E. – Drug Abuse Resistance Education has been known for many years and has helped been part of many schools in helping children learn the dangers of drug abuse.  As a parent, take some time to review their newly updated information and website.  It is important that parents and educators work together to help prevent drug use.

Source: D.A.R.E. Official Website

This year millions of school children around the world will benefit from D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), the highly acclaimed program that gives kids the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs, and violence.

D.A.R.E. was founded in 1983 in Los Angeles and has proven so successful that it is now being implemented in 75 percent of our nation’s school districts and in more than 43 countries around the world.

D.A.R.E. is a police officer-led series of classroom lessons that teaches children from kindergarten through 12th grade how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence-free lives.