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.

Empowering Teens to Be Successful: Finding the Right Balance Between Encouragement and Pressure

Teenstress5As a parent, the desire to see your children succeed is a natural one. There is a difference, however, between encouraging your kids to do their best and placing them under so much pressure that they resort to desperate measures in order to achieve success.

Striking that balance can be challenging, but it’s important to help your kids reach their full potential without browbeating them into submission.

Praise Effort Over Accomplishments

When your children are praised for their efforts towards meeting a goal, they learn that the most important aspect of their accomplishments is the effort they expend to reach them. When your teen realizes his work is the key to success and the praise of his parents, he’s more likely to focus on that aspect than the end result.

Make sure your child knows that what you’re looking for in terms of success is honest, concerted effort to do his very best. Rather than demanding that he be the valedictorian, the quarterback of the football team and first chair in the student orchestra, help him understand that the foundation of success is hard work and strong effort.

Emphasize Integrity, Not Winning at All Costs

When teenagers feel like they’re under an intense amount of pressure to succeed academically or athletically at all costs, they’re more likely to view cheating as a tool of survival, rather than a morally and ethically bankrupt choice. Talking about the importance of honest effort and making sure that your teenager knows you value that honesty over an achievement reached through questionable practices can help to put these dilemma into perspective for your teenager.

Avoid Over-Scheduling

Extracurricular activities can be fulfilling and exciting experiences for your teen that help him learn new skills while exploring his interests and talents. When he’s bogged down by a schedule that’s cram-packed with them, however, desperation can begin to set in. Work with your teen to determine what activities he’d like to maintain and how they can be scheduled so that he doesn’t feel like he’s being spread too thin by a demanding schedule and placed under too much pressure by coaches, teachers and other authority figures. Remember, you’re not the only person that can place your teenager under pressure to succeed.

Focus On Your Teenagers’ Needs, Not Your Own

If you’re completely dedicated to your teenage son’s football career or your daughter’s cheer-leading prowess, it’s wise to ask yourself why these things are so important to you. If the answer is simply that you want to support your child in an activity she excels in and has a talent for, that’s one thing. Should a bit of deeper examination reveal that you’re inadvertently living vicariously through your teenager’s success, however, you may want to reevaluate things. In these cases, it’s all too common for a teen to continue something he’d much rather abandon because he feels so much pressure from a parent to be the very best. If you’re reliving your own glory days through your teen, he’s probably under far more pressure than you realize.

Provide Affirmation and Support

When a demanding schedule is something that your teen has chosen for himself and he’s committed to doing everything he can in terms of reaching his goals, the best thing you can do for him is to offer plenty of support and affirmation. Let your teen know that you’re proud of his efforts, but that his value to you doesn’t lie in how much he accomplishes and your love isn’t contingent upon his success.

Allow Teens to Explore Their Interests

You may have dreams of your son being a professional athlete, but his interests may run more towards the arts or academia. To truly support your kids and help them reach their full potential without stressing them out under the burden of your demands for perfection, allow them to explore the things that interest them and make an effort to show your support. A teenager who knows he’s loved unconditionally and that the support of those he looks up to most isn’t contingent upon him toeing the proverbial line is generally more secure and less anxious than his over-burdened peers.

It’s not easy to set aside the hopes and dreams you have for your child in favor of allowing him to find his own path, but it’s an important part of growing up and asserting his independence.

By supporting his efforts and applauding the hard work he does, you’re effectively helping him reach his potential without adding an unmanageable amount of stress to his plate.

Source: Babysitting Jobs

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Teen Depression and What Parents Need to Know

Feeling good has a lot to do with the choices your teen makes regarding their health.

The life of a teen is filled with choices, and most teens do not base decisions on their health, future, or long-term risks. Keeping up teens’ health ultimately falls on the parents’ shoulders, even though most teens are already making many of their own choices.

If you struggle finding a balance when it comes to your teen’s health or want to be sure that you’re doing as much as you can with the time you do have, here are a few simple ways to make a big impact on the health of your teen:

1. Require consistent exercise. There is no need to be a drill sergeant or make exercise feel like a chore, but there is something to be said for requiring exercise from your children. Whether they take up a sport, enroll in a dance program, or just join the gym with you, teens need to start now with a consistent exercise program for optimum health in the future.
2. Buy daily vitamins in gummy form. Daily vitamins are no fun. And, it’s difficult as a parent to, a) remember to dole them out, and, b) make sure your kids actually take them. But, vitamins should no longer be a dreaded routine. The vitamin gummies offered today are delicious and taste like candy. Teens will want to take more than their daily share.
3. Fill plates with more greens and fruits and less grains and protein. The FDA has recently re-vamped the old standard of food charts and opted for something simpler: a plate divided into four sections. Half the plate is filled with vegetables and fruits. The remainder contains a fourth grains and a fourth protein. This is a simple and easy way to see that your teens are getting the proper servings of the food they need.
4. Restrict TV to certain hours. Monitoring TV hours is a challenge, especially when teens have become accustomed to turning them on whenever they want. But, in order to maintain optimum health, the TV has to go once in a while. Teens need time and space to go outside, call friends, read, create, and do other things that help maintain a balanced life. This can be as simple as turning them off during regular chunks of time when you know you’ll be around.
5. Make doctors’ appointments a part of the norm. Many of us restrict doctor’s appointments to emergency visits when we come down with the flu and need a quick prescription. But, it’s very important to get your teen started with regular physicals and preventative doctor’s visits. This will get them in the habit of seeking out the advice of a physician and setting dates for those much-needed physicals.
6. Talk about sensitive health topics early-on. Instead of waiting until the last minute, it’s important to discuss any health topics that your teen needs to know as early as possible. This applies to the menstrual cycle, the birds and the bees, and your preference on the best forms of contraceptives or abstinence. Waiting until your teen finds out about these hugely important issues from friends, television shows, or the school counselor means that you have missed the chance to help form extremely important choices your teens will make and prepare them for life events that will come up soon.
7. Drink more water, and get rid of soda. This is simple, but definitely worth it. The health benefits of drinking enough water cannot be overstated, and the harmful effects of soda have been well-documented. Most soda contains such a huge amount of sugar that the body has difficulty digesting it properly. Once and a while, it’s fine, but make sure your teens are reaching for something else on a daily basis.

Contributor: Leslie Johnson is a freelance writer for www.mastersinhealthcare.com.

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Teen Anxiety: Coping Skills to Help

For most kids, going back to school is an exciting and fun time, but for some, it is nothing but dreadful. Even if a child isn’t experiencing bullying or academic trouble, the social factor of public education can be downright daunting for students who have social anxiety. This is especially true for high school students.

Teens with social anxiety are usually very reluctant to go to school in the morning and are always looking for ways to avoid both small and large group social situations. Common physical symptoms of anxiety include a fast heart rate, excessive sweating, hyperventilation, dizziness, stomach pain and crying. Most kids with social anxiety also suffer from low self-esteem and have an irrational fear of being watched and judged by others.

If you believe your child is experiencing back-to-school anxiety, you should ask them to open up about their feelings and fears. Anxiety comes in many forms and shouldn’t be ignored. Some children may just need a quick pep talk before school while others may need to seek professional counseling for their fears.

Although social anxiety is a phobia that takes time to conquer, parents can help their children cope with their fears by using the following four tips.

  1. Teach relaxation techniques: Techniques include deep breathing, positive visualization and meditation. In addition to these proximate techniques that can be used at the onset of anxious feelings, encourage your child to also do some form of exercise every day. Exercise is great for your overall health, but it is especially good for reducing anxiety and stress.
  2. Help them hone a talent: To help with self-esteem, encourage your teenager to focus on their strengths. Whether it is a subject in school, an artistic or athletic ability or something else, children understand their individual value better when they realize and perfect their unique talents.
  3. Be their support, not their crutch: Kids with social anxiety often turn to their parents for comfort and reassurance. Many children with social phobia spend most of their time at home after school, because being at home with mom and dad provides a blanket of comfort for them. While this may seem like easy parenting (a child at home is a child protected from trouble), it is not healthy behavior, especially for a teenager. Encourage your teenager to tackle their phobias by spending more time with their friends or participating in an after school activity. If they showcase any concerns, tell them that you know they will enjoy doing something different.
  4. Encourage part-time work: If your teenager is old enough to work, encourage them to go get an after school, part-time job. A job will teach them how to meet new people and how to work in a team. They will also learn about responsibility, business and customer service and become exposed to real-world situations that may help them realize the irrationality of their fears.

As stated before, social anxiety is not a phobia that can be fixed overnight. For some people, it can take years to overcome their fears. However, parents can guide their teens down the path to an anxiety-free life by recognizing the problem and implementing techniques that dissolve their phobias.

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4 Tips for Ensuring the Safety of your Teen Athlete

Special guest post:

Both my partner and I have had several decades-long careers in construction, and while it’s a rewarding profession, it’s also a dangerous one. Working with risky equipment is only the half of it. The conditions of working outdoors for long periods of time can, in some cases, be fatal. Based on my experiences, I know that many teen athletes often unknowingly expose themselves to the same conditions without having the training and knowledge to deal with such conditions safely. In fact, sometimes even coaches and staff can be oblivious, as noted in this recent Atlanta Journal Constitution article. Nearly all cases cited in the article could have been prevented had both kids and coaches taken more precautions. Here are a few tips for safe practice and play in high school sports:

1.     Make sure your teen stays fully hydrated throughout practice and play.

Of all the commandments of physical activity, this one is by far the most important. So many accidents, emergencies, and fatalities can be avoided by simply staying hydrated throughout strenuous activity. This means taking frequent water breaks, consuming sports drinks or other fluids with electrolytes (like pickle juice), and not consuming too much water in any one sitting.

2.     Talk to coaches and staff about safety guidelines and procedures.

More and more coaches are starting to become cognizant about the dangers associated with too many high-intensity practices. Speak with your teen’s coach about what measures they are taking to ensure your child’s safety. Ask the coach whether CPR-certified staff are in attendance during practices, staff who are also familiar with basic first aid.

3.     If your teen is practicing or working out alone, make sure she stretches adequately beforehand.

Stretching adequately before engaging in any sort of physical activity can be just as important as staying hydrated. Young children, in their enthusiasm for their respective sport or activity, may think this step is unnecessary. However, many injuries, like pulled hamstrings, which have the potential to end your child’s “career” in any sport, can be prevented with adequate stretching. For more information about stretching exercises, check out this webpage.

4.     Instill in your children the idea that excellence is a concept rooted in concentration and balance, not obsession.

Especially in the realm of varsity sports, there’s a culture of obsession that surrounds the kids. They are taught to push themselves as hard as they can. Of course, there’s a lot that’s good about this culture. At the same time, however, there’s a huge difference between practicing hard and practicing smart. Practicing hard can be very inefficient. The culture of obsession should be replaced with a culture of excellence, in which concentrated, focused practice is more important than extreme practice. After all, it yields better results with less effort.

All of this isn’t to say, of course, that high school sports are typically dangerous. I’m certainly not suggesting that you should be frightened. However, as the stories described in the AJC article cited above demonstrate, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Good luck!

A freelance writer with a specialization in all things construction, Kristie Lewis writes about everything from working in the field to choosing the best construction management schools. For more information, contact her at Kristie.lewis81@gmail.com.

Parenting At Risk Teens: From Home to Homeroom

Parenting teens is a challenge today.

Schools and parents today need to work together to help prevent teen drug use.

Fast Facts: Preventing Teen OTC Cough Medicine Abuse – From Home to Homeroom

A Wake Up Call for Parents

  • Thirty-three percent of American high school teens know someone who has abused cough medicine, a wake up call for those parents who think that their teen is not affected or being exposed to the issue.
  • Six percent of high school teens admit to abusing cough medicine containing dextromethorphan, or DXM, to get high in the past year.

Cough Medicine Abuse Does Not Happen By Accident

  • While safe and effective when taken as directed, teens looking to get high from cough medicine take excessive amounts, sometimes 25 to 50 times the recommended dosage. This translates to multiple bottles or packages of medicine at one time.
  • Teens often abuse cough medicines with other prescription drugs, illicit drugs, or alcohol.
  • Even the best kid in the world doesn’t have the same ability as adults to assess risk because the part of their brain that processes risk, the frontal cortex, doesn’t finish developing until their mid 20s.

Parents Have the Power to Keep Teens Drug-free

  • Research shows that kids who learn a lot from their parents about the risk of drug abuse are up to half as likely to use.
  • Parents are not alone in their fight to prevent medicine abuse; reaching out to the school nurse can help parents learn more about the issue and access local resources.
  • Parents can learn more about the Home to Homeroom campaign by logging onto www.StopMedicineAbuse.org

Parents can interact and help raise awareness by joining online communities including:

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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.

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