Addiction and Teens: Reality Check for Parents

AddictionParenting teens can be challenging. No matter how many times we talk about just saying no to drugs, there will be a teenager that will cave to peer pressure. Parents need to stop being in denial and start educating their kids about the dangers of addiction which can follow drug abuse. Stop saying, “not my kid!” Yes, it could be your kid! Parent denial only delays treatment.

3 Reality Checks for Parents:

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

 

Advertisements

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.

Teen Alcoholism: What is the Mentality Behind It?

Teendrinking6It the the time of the year when our teens are off to prom and graduation parties.  They may be faced with the decision to have a drink.

The Pre-Game
Teens often indulge in a “pre-game” drinking binge before parties or sports events. Large quantities are consumed quickly in order to sustain a sense of inebriation over many hours. The point of a pre-game binge is to achieve inebriation before an event where access to alcohol and drugs will be restricted.

Pre-gaming is especially dangerous in that it often occurs in a vehicle. Although drinking can occur during the drive to the event, teens may also drink in the parking lot of the event venue. Alcohol can also be smuggled into venues, disguised in water bottles or hidden inside large purses or jackets.

The Parent Game Plan: Before parties and big events, be involved as your teen prepares. When possible, drive your teen and his friends to the venue. As always, be honest with your teen about the dangers of drinking and your stance on the issue.

Working for the Weekend
Some kids work hard all week on academics and sports, but see the weekend as a time to partake in illicit activities and party behavior. This mindset is especially prevalent at competitive high schools. This attitude toward drugs and alcohol equates recreation as something that is rebellious against responsibility and is seen as a reward for good behavior. After working hard, they feel as though they deserve to play hard. This type of attitude can lead to a dependence on drugs or alcohol as a means to relax.

The Parent Game Plan: Explain to your teen that responsible behavior throughout the week does not warrant complete independence. It is also important to teach your teen positive ways to relax. Positive recreational activities and hobbies not only occupy a teen’s time, but they also offer a sense of accomplishment and self-worth that alcohol and drugs can never provide.

Social Lubricant
Let’s face it. Being a teenager is difficult, and social interaction can be awkward. Many teens drink to feel less inhibited and more secure in social settings. Unfortunately, some teens will drink in response to anxiety about a crush, which heightens the risk of poor sexual decisions. Forming these habits during formative years can have a drastic effect on a teen, potentially making it difficult for her to socialize without alcohol or other substances.

The Parent Game Plan: Teens needs to learn how to face the fears and risks of social interaction in a substance-free environment. Host co-ed movie nights or game nights for your teen’s friends and serve as a chaperone. Sometimes teenagers turn to illicit activities because the peer group doesn’t accept wholesome activities as fun. It is your job to provide your teenager with a healthy example of “adult” fun.

Another option is to introduce your teen to an older mentor. Encouraging your teen to spend time with mentors with similar interests can help him adapt to a more mature standard of behavior. This will also give your teen the opportunity to talk about embarrassing or difficult situations he may not be able to come to you about.

For the Win
During unsupervised parties, many kids participate in drinking games popularized by college students. While these games can seem as harmless as table tennis to teenagers, the truth is those who participate in drinking games are at a higher risk for developing alcoholism. Once teens accept the rules of these games, the height of tolerance levels is tantamount to strength. These teens think they are winning at a game, but they are actually exposing their brains to toxic levels of alcohol.
Essentially drinking games are a way for teenagers to bond while participating in binge drinking behavior. Unlike pre-gaming, there is no time limit in drinking games. This means that many teens will drink until their physical limits are reached. Alcohol poisoning and black-outs are two immediate effects of binge drinking.

The Parent Game Plan: Teenagers who binge drink will be unable to hide the effects from their parents, which means they will most likely “crash” where the party was thrown or they will stay with a friend who has lenient or oblivious parents. Parents can discourage binge drinking by confirming plans with other parents and enforcing curfews. Let your teenager know that you expect him not only to behave responsibly, but to look out for his friends who may be affected by this social behavior.

How to Stop Teen Alcohol Abuse

Be involved.

Parents who are involved in their teenagers lives – offering support, encouraging questions and providing wholesome outlets for socializing – are following the #1 rule to keeping their children safe from alcohol abuse.

Contributor: Lauren Bailey can be reached for comments at Lauren at blauren 99 @gmail.com.

Struggling Teens: Where to Get them Help Over the Summer

TeenHelp5What is your at-risk teen doing this summer?

Summer is almost here and the calls are coming in from parents that are struggling with what to do with their at-risk teens.

Some issues we are hearing:

  • Failing some classes, when they are more than capable of getting passing grades, if not straight A’s.
  • Dropping out of their favorite sport or activity.
  • Smoking pot — occasionally – though parents may blame it on the friends, please keep in mind, it is your child making the decision to inhale that joint or pop that pill.
  • Drinking – again, it may be the friends you want to blame, but are they holding the bottle to your teen’s mouth?
  • Sneaking out of the house.
  • Defiance, lying, stealing……
  • Maybe they have changed their peer group this year?

Let’s face it, with a combination of any of these above, you could be traveling down a negative path.  Chances are very good a short-term summer program will not address a long term solution.

It can irritate me when I see parents get sucked into these very expensive Wilderness programs that give tell you they can turn your child around in 4-9 weeks.  Really?

I think if you interview most of the families that have dug deep  into their wallets and spent that $15K-20K on a Wilderness program (which is likely to have zero academics to get your child caught up), you will find that at about the 4 week point, the program is already prepping the family for the “next step” of a Therapeutic Boarding School or Residential Treatment Center (another $50K step).

Or if the family truly cannot afford, which I have spoken to many of them too, since they have spent their  last dime on this summer last ditch hope, they soon find that within 3-6 weeks after Wilderness, their  child is back to their old ways.

What is the answer?  It depends on the child, but in most situations it is finding the right placement the first time around.  Not starting at one place – and “breaking him down” (aren’t they already broken?) and breaking your wallet too, and then going to yet another to break your wallet again.

Most quality and qualified programs are designed to treat teens that come in with the anger and defiance.  There are excellent 6-8-10 month programs that can offer a complete package of academic’s, emotional growth (clinical) and enrichment programs (which are so important to help stimulate your teen in a positive direction).

It is my opinion, and after almost thirteen years of watching parents and families in this big business of “teen help” get screwed (sorry for the slang) but until you walk my shoes and have taken the time to learn about what goes on behind the scenes – the word just about seems appropriate.

I firmly believe in getting our kids help, as a matter of fact, it is our responsibility as a parent to do that.  We also have to do our due diligent.

Google is not God — the Internet has some very disturbing sites – and disgruntled kids, parents, employers. Yes, I was one of them, but I also have a lot of substantial legal facts behind my case.  I don’t sit and rant.  As a matter of fact, I don’t want to discuss it – I want to continue to educate parents about how they can find the best program for their child’s needs.

I offer many great tips, questions to ask schools and programs and resources.  Visit www.helpyourteens.com.

Teen Drug Use: Warning Signs If Your Teen is Using

TeenDrugUse5This is a difficult question that many parents have to face on a daily basis. Parents who spend a great deal of time with their teenagers are often tuned into what is normal behavior and what is not.

However, even parents who are actively involved in the daily activities of their teenagers may overlook – or subconsciously deny – the earliest signs of a substance abuse problem.

Some of the clues that your teenager may exhibit when using drugs or alcohol are fairly subtle, but others are rather obvious:

• Many hours spent alone, especially in their room; persistent isolation from the rest of the family. This is particular suspicious in a youngster who had not been a loner until now.

• Resistance to taking with or confiding in parents, secretiveness, especially in a teenager who had previously been open. Be sure that your teenager is not being secretive because every time he tries to confide in you, you jump on him or break his confidence.

• There is marked change for the worse in performance and attendance at school and/or job or other responsibilities as well as in dress, hygiene, grooming, frequent memory lapses, lack of concentration, and unusual sleepiness.

• A change of friends; from acceptable to unacceptable.

• Pronounced mood swings with irritability, hostile outbursts, and rebelliousness. Your teenager may seem untrustworthy, insincere or even paranoid.

• Lying , usually in order to cover up drinking or drug using behavior as well as sources of money and possessions; stealing, shoplifting, or encounters with the police.

• Abandonment of wholesome activities such as sports, social service and other groups, religious services, teen programs, hobbies, and even involvement in family life.

• Unusual physical symptoms such as dilated or pinpoint pupils, bloodshot eyes, frequent nosebleeds, changes in appetite, digestive problems, excessive yawning, and the shakes.

These are just a few of the warning signs that can be recognized.

• Be careful not to jump to the conclusion that your teenager may be using when you see such behavior.
• Evaluate the situation.
• Talk to your teenager.
• Try to spend time with her so that she feels that she can trust you.
• By creating a home that is nurturing, she will understand that despite of unhealthy choices that she will always get the love and moral support that she deserves.
• Building a strong relationship with your teenager now will mean that in time of crises your love, support, wisdom, and experience won’t be shut out of your teenager’s decision making.
• If you have a suspicion that your teenager is involved in the use of drugs or alcohol, don’t hesitate to bring the subject up.

The sooner the problem is identified and treated, the better the chances that your teenager’s future will be safeguarded. Raising the subject will be easier if you already have good communication in the family. Discuss the ways in which you can seek help together. An evaluation by a substance abuse professional may be the key to understanding what is really going on with your teenager.

Contributor: Shawnda Burns, LCSW

Visit http://www.helpyourteens.com if you feel you are at your wit’s end and have exhausted all your local resources.

Teen Help: Deciding if Residential Therapy is Right for Your Teenager

Helping your teenager at any age is a priority.

Helping your teenager at any age is a priority.

We are rounding up second semester and looking at spring break.  Parents are worried as their high school student (teenager) is still failing, refusing to complete assignments and still believes that education is a farce.

On the other hand we know our child is more than capable of getting A’s and B’s yet they are barely bringing home D’s.  College?  We are praying they finish high school.

What is wrong with society? Why are kid of the notion that they can just drop out of high school and get a GED?  Years ago GED’s were frowned upon–only for those that were either adjudicated or maybe medically necessary.  Now it is too easy for these kids to just drop out.

Then we have teens that want to smoke pot on a daily basis.  You know it is legal in some states. You know their parents do it.  Really, is it that bad?  Well, as a matter of fact – it is.

Marijuana, especially when sold on the streets to our kids, is more likely to be laces with other ingredients – possibly even  heroin.   What happens then?  Do you have an addict on your hands now?  Anyway you cut this – teens shouldn’t be smoking pot.  Cigarettes?  Let’s face it – it is bad for your health, but it doesn’t alter your personalty – and there are times when a parent has to pick and choose issues.

I don’t condone cigarettes – I don’t smoke them, but I wouldn’t look for residential therapy for them either.

Back to drug use and failing academics.  If your teen is nearing 17 years old and you are watching them throw their life away, it may be time to consider residential therapy – an emotional growth program.  Once that offers academics, therapy and enrichment programs.

I don’t believe in anything punitive, primitive or harsh – this is about building a child back up again to make better choices.  Giving them that inspiration to reach into adulthood with a  passion.  Yes, there are great programs that can instill this into teens.

For more information contact www.helpyourteens.com.

Teen Help for Young Adults: Dealing with an 18 Year old Child

Helping your teenager at any age is a priority.

Helping your teenager at any age is a priority.

At this time of year, it seems we are contacted by more and more parents that have an 18 year old or a 17 year old that is almost 18. If you have been struggling with your younger teen and like many of us, keep hoping and praying it will change, take a moment to think about if it doesn’t. Don’t miss opportunities to give your child a second chance for a bright future. Whether it is local therapy, a motivational program or a Boarding School, as parents we do what is best for our kids.

“My 18 year old is out of control and I am at my wit’s end! What can I do?” Anonymous Parent.

18 – 19 year old teens can be the most difficult to address simply because they are considered adults and cannot be forced to get help. As parents, we have limited to no control. Practicing “Tough Love” is easier said than done, many parents cannot let their child reach rock bottom. As parents, we see our child suffering whether it is needing groceries or a roof over their head and it is hard to shut the door on them.

I think this is one of the most important reasons that if you are a parent of a 16-17 year old that is out-of-control, struggling, defiant, using drugs and alcohol, or other negative behavior I believe it is time to look for intervention NOW. I am not saying it needs to be a residential treatment center or a program out of the home, but at least start with local resources such as therapists that specialize with adolescents and preferable offer support groups.

It is unfortunate that in most cases the local therapy is very limited how it can help your teen. The one hour once a week or even twice, is usually not enough to make permanent changes. Furthermore getting your defiant teen to attend sessions can sometimes cause more friction and frustrations than is already happening in the home.

This is the time to consider outside help such as a Therapeutic Boarding School or a Residential Treatment Center. However these parents with the 18-19 year old teenagers may have usually missed their opportunity. They were hoping and praying that at 16 or 17 things would change, but unfortunately, if not addressed, the negative behavior usually escalates.

In the past 12+ years I have heard from thousands of parents and most are hoping to get their child through high school and will be satisfied with a GED. It is truly a sad society of today’s teens when many believe they can simply drop out of school. Starting as early as 14 years old, many teens are thinking this way and we need to be sure they know the consequences of not getting an education.

Education in today’s world should be our children’s priority however with today’s peer pressure and entitlement issues, it seems to have drifted from education to defiance being happy just having fun and not being responsible.

I think there are many parents that debate whether they should take that desperate measure of sending a child to a program and having them escorted there but in the long run you need to look at these parents that have 18-19 year olds that don’t have that opportunity.

While you have this option, and it is a major decision that needs to be handled with the utmost reality of what will happen if things don’t change. The closer they are to 18 the more serious issues can become legally. If a 17+ year old gets in trouble with the law, in many states they will be tried as an adult.

This can be scary since most of these kids are good kids making very bad choices and don’t deserve to get caught up the system. As a parent I believe it is our responsible not to be selfish and be open to sending the outside of the home. It is important not to view this as a failure as a parent, but as a responsible parent that is willing to sacrifice your personal feelings to get your child the help they need.

At 18, it is unfortunate, these kids are considered adults – and as parents we basically lose control to get them the help they need. In most cases, if they know they have no other alternatives and this is the only option the parents will support, they will attend young adult programs that can offer them life skills, emotional growth, education and more to give them a second opportunity for a bright, successful future.

Do you need help finding young adult life skills programs?  Contact us at www.helpyourteens.com.

Parent’s Universal Resource Experts www.helpyourteens.com
Sue Scheff www.suescheff.com
Wit’s End Book  www.witsendbook.com