Monday, December 22, 2008

A Snapshot of Annual High-Risk College Drinking Consequences

Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Communication With Your Teen About Substances, more...
College Information Resources, Alcohol Use, Communicating With Teens

The consequences of excessive and underage drinking affect virtually all college campuses, college communities, and college students, whether they choose to drink or not.

Death: 1,400 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes (Hingson et al., 2002).

Injury: 500,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol (Hingson et al., 2002).

Assault: More than 600,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking (Hingson et al., 2002).

Sexual Abuse: More than 70,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape (Hingson et al., 2002).

Unsafe Sex: 400,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 had unprotected sex and more than 100,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report having been too intoxicated to know if they consented to having sex (Hingson et al., 2002).

Academic Problems: About 25 percent of college students report academic consequences of their drinking including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall (Engs et al., 1996; Presley et al., 1996a, 1996b; Wechsler et al., 2002).
Health Problems/Suicide Attempts: More than 150,000 students develop an alcohol-related health problem (Hingson et al., 2002) and between 1.2 and 1.5 percent of students indicate that they tried to commit suicide within the past year due to drinking or drug use (Presley et al., 1998).

Drunk Driving: 2.1 million students between the ages of 18 and 24 drove under the influence of alcohol last year (Hingson et al., 2002).

Vandalism: About 11 percent of college student drinkers report that they have damaged property while under the influence of alcohol (Wechsler et al., 2002).

Property Damage: More than 25 percent of administrators from schools with relatively low drinking levels and over 50 percent from schools with high drinking levels say their campuses have a "moderate"or "major" problem with alcohol-related property damage (Wechsler et al., 1995).

Police Involvement: About 5 percent of 4-year college students are involved with the police or campus security as a result of their drinking (Wechsler et al., 2002) and an estimated 110,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are arrested for an alcohol-related violation such as public drunkenness or driving under the influence (Hingson et al., 2002).

Alcohol Abuse and Dependence: 31 percent of college students met criteria for a diagnosis of alcohol abuse and 6 percent for a diagnosis of alcohol dependence in the past 12 months, according to questionnaire-based self-reports about their drinking (Knight et al., 2002).

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sue Scheff: Parenting a Teen and Being a Teen

After reading Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through his Son's Addiction by David Sheff (which is a must read - in my opinion, for all parents with at risk adolescents), I felt compelled to read Tweak, his son's story.
I just started it, and find it extremely difficult to read - not that I don't like it, it is so raw and painful. Since I personally have never tried these drugs (meth, heroin, etc) a lot of the lingo I am not understanding. But what is clear is the inner pain these people are suffering with. The irony of confusing it with happiness is the reason many parents should consider reading this book - after - reading Beautiful Boy.

Any parent that is even questioning their adolescents behavior, these are a must read - as painful as they may seem, it is ignorant to think it couldn't happen to you. Be an educated parent - an informed parent. Most importantly, don't be a parent in denial.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sue Scheff: 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.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. What Products Can be Abused?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.
Click here for a list of abusable products.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sue Scheff: Drug Free America

Parenting today has become more challenging than ever. Social Networking is expanding a new area of concern for parents - and today more than ever, parents need to be informed and keep updated about substance abuse, teen drug use, huffing, drinking, inhalant use and other harmful habits. Peer pressure, the need to fit in - combined with kids suffering with low self esteem can lead to negative behavior.

Stay informed - visit to keep yourself educated.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America is a nonprofit organization that unites parents, renowned scientists and communications professionals to help families raise healthy children. Best known for its research-based national public education programs, the Partnership motivates and equips parents to prevent their children from using drugs and alcohol, and to find help and treatment for family and friends in trouble. The centerpiece of this effort is an online resource center at, featuring interactive tools that translate the latest science and research on teen behavior, addiction and treatment into easy to understand tips and tools. Research conducted by AP and MTV recently showed that kids see their parents as heroes— at, parents can connect with each other, tap into expert advice for children of all ages, and find the support they want and need in their role as hero to their kids. The Partnership depends on donations from individuals, corporations, foundations and other contributors. The Partnership thanks SAG/AFTRA, the advertising industry and our media partners for their ongoing generosity.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sue Scheff: Gateway Drug Theory

Source: Connect with Kids

“The more we study marijuana, the more it begins to look just like every other drug of abuse.”

– Dr. Robert Margolis, a drug addiction specialist

Is marijuana a gateway drug?

“I don’t think so,” 18-year-old Katie Falkenberg says.

“I just have known kids who have done it and they don’t do anything else,” adds Randy Glance 17.

“I don’t think it’s gonna lead them into anything bigger,” 17-year-old Cody McGuire says.

But a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests these teens are wrong.

The study examined 311 sets of twins, with one twin in each set having smoke marijuana before age 17.

“And what they found is that the twin who began smoking marijuana at a much earlier age had a very high increase in the probability that that twin would go on to use other drugs other than marijuana,” says Dr. Robert Margolis, an addiction specialist.

“As for me, it led within about a month period to other drugs,” says Kelly Crockett, 18.

Kelly says smoking pot got her closer to people who used hard drugs.

“And it’s like, ‘Hey, you like the way this made you feel? Try this, you know?’ And I was up for it, you know, part of me was like OK, if I say no, you know they won’t think I’m cool anymore,” she says.

Experts say pot also releases dopamine in the brain, just like harder drugs do.

“So if marijuana triggers the release of dopamine and cocaine triggers the release of dopamine and heroin triggers the release of dopamine, it makes sense that smoking marijuana may be priming the brain, getting the brain ready for these other drugs,” Dr. Margolis says.

But experts say many kids – and their parents – think marijuana is virtually harmless.

“Don’t just say, ‘Oh, it’s only marijuana,’” Dr. Margolis says.

Instead, parents should arm themselves with information from credible sources and send a strong message to kids: Marijuana is illegal, unhealthy and could very well be a gateway to other drugs.

“I know that it is, and anyone that thinks that it isn’t, it’s kind of sad to say this, but wait and find out … you probably will, you know,” Kelly says.

Tips for Parents

Does the early use of marijuana lead to the future abuse of harsher drugs? Australian researchers say the findings from their study of twins is further evidence in support of the “gateway” theory – where the use of “soft” drugs like pot fuels a future desire to seek a more intense “high” by trying stronger drugs.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, tracked 311 sets of fraternal and identical twins, with each set having one twin who smoked marijuana prior to age 17. Researchers found that the twins who smoked marijuana were two to five times more likely than their siblings to abuse alcohol and harsher drugs, like heroin and cocaine, in their 20s and 30s. In fact, among the early marijuana users, 48% reported using cocaine and other stimulants as adults, 35% tried hallucinogens, 14% used heroin and other opiates, 46% later abused or became dependent on marijuana and 43% became alcohol dependent.

It is important to note, however, that the researchers caution that early marijuana use by no means guarantees abuse of other drugs later on in life. Rather, it is associated with a heightened risk of future abuse.

So how big of a problem is marijuana use during the teen years? According to a recent National Household Survey on Drug Use, 2.7 million Americans aged 12 and older used illicit drugs at least once in the month prior to being surveyed. Of those, the majority, 56.2 said their first drug was marijuana. Consider these additional statistics about marijuana use from the survey:

6 thousand Americans try marijuana for the first time everyday.
The age of first use on average is 17.6 years of age.
Most of the first time users on average were under the age of 18.
Marijuana, the most often used illegal drug in this country, is a green or gray mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the hemp plant. It is addictive and is known to have both short- and long-term negative effects on the body. The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention cites the following health problems associated with marijuana use:

Short term:

Problems with memory and learning
Distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, touch, etc.)
Trouble with thinking and problem-solving
Loss of coordination
Increased heart rate and anxiety
Long term:

Cancer: Smoking one joint is equivalent to smoking a whole pack of cigarettes.

Lungs and airways: Breathing problems include coughing, wheezing and a greater risk of lung infections.

Immune system: Continued use weakens the immune system, placing an individual at greater risk of sickness.

Reproductive system: Using marijuana increases testosterone levels in women and decreases testosterone levels in men, presents a risk of infertility in women and for men, it delays the onset of puberty and leads to decreased sperm production and quality.

How can you recognize if your teen is using marijuana? The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) suggests looking for the following physical signs in your teen:

Seems dizzy and has trouble walking
Seems silly and giggles for no reason
Has very red, bloodshot eyes
Has a hard time remembering things that just happened
Becomes very sleepy as the early effects of use begin to fade
The NIDA says that you should also be aware of the following changes in behavior that may indicate marijuana use in your teen:

Carelessness with grooming
Hostility and deteriorating relationships with family members and friends
Changes in academic performance
Increased absenteeism or truancy
Lost interest in sports or other favorite activities
Changes in eating or sleeping habits
Signs of drugs and drug paraphernalia, including pipes and rolling papers
Odor on clothes and in the bedroom
Use of incense and other deodorizers
Increased use of eye drops
Clothing, posters, jewelry, etc., promoting drug use

If you suspect that your teen has a drug problem, it is important that you seek immediate treatment. Consult a psychiatrist or mental health professional when making decisions about substance abuse treatment for your teen. Remember that recovery from an addiction is a long-term process and may require frequent and multiple episodes of treatment.

As a parent, you have the most influence over your teen’s choice to use drugs. Therefore, it is important that you address the topic of drug use early on and often. Don’t wait until your teen has a problem with drugs before you bring up the discussion. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America offers these additional strategies for preventing drug use in your teen:

Be involved in your teen’s life. Ask who, what, when and where: Know who your teen’s friends are, what your teen is doing, when he or she will be home and where he or she is going.
Spend quality time with your teen. Eat dinner together, listen to music, watch a ball game or share chores.

Set a firm rule of no drug use in your family.

Commit yourself to a drug-free lifestyle. You are your teen’s most important role model. He or she notices everything you do.

Share your values with your teen. Sometimes it’s as simple as letting your teen know that you don’t want him or her using marijuana.

Center for Substance Abuse Prevention
Journal of the American Medical Association
National Household Survey on Drug Use
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Partnership for a Drug-Free America

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sue Scheff: Counseling Cuts Down Youth Drinking

“If it comes from me, I’m the objective observer. I’m interested in the child, and I try to let them know that. I want what’s best for them, but yet it’s not Mom or Dad saying that.”

– Rhonda Jeffries, M.D., Pediatrician

It’s a troubling fact of life: some kids drink.

“Especially the older they get,” says Dr. Rhonda Jeffries, a pediatrician. “And by senior year, 50 percent or more of kids are drinking. And in fact, by 12th grade, usually 80 percent of the kids have tried alcohol.”

But can a doctor persuade kids not to drink? Kids seem to think so.

“I think coming from somebody besides, maybe, just the parents for some people it will help,” says 18-year-old Andrew Scott, a high school senior.

Lars Thrasher, 17, agrees. “I would think it would be more helpful from a doctor,” he says.

And Christine Terrell, calls doctors advice on drinking and other potentially touchy subjects “extremely beneficial.”

According to a study published in the Annals of Family Medicine, when a physician spends just a few minutes talking to kids about the dangers of alcohol, those kids are 50 percent less likely to drink.

Dr. Jeffries says: “If it comes from me, I’m the objective observer. I’m interested in the child, and I try to let them know that. I want what’s best for them, but yet it’s not Mom or Dad saying that.”

The study reports when kids talked with their doctor, they had 55 percent fewer traffic accidents, 42 percent less emergency room visits and fewer arrests for underage drinking. It seems that when doctors warn kids about alcohol, they listen.

Christine Terrell explains: “They’re not invested in you as their child. They’re invested in you for your health, for your interests, for your sake. And I would definitely listen to a doctor, and I have listened to doctors who have talked to me about subjects like that.”

The study suggests it’s a good idea to ask your doctor to talk with your children about alcohol. Of course, experts add, parents should bring up the subject as well. “They need to be open to discussion and to bringing these issues up with their kids,” says Dr. Jeffries. “And I think that parents who are in touch with their kids and connected to them are really helpful in getting their children though adolescence without negative effects.”

LaShauna Pellman, 17, sums it up best. “If my parents tell me something,” she says, “then I listen to them even more.”

Tips for Parents

Alcohol-related fatalities are a leading cause of death among young adults in the United States. In the United States, 70.8 percent of all deaths among persons aged 10 to 24 result from only four causes – motor-vehicle crashes, other unintentional injuries, homicide and suicide.

Should your family doctor take just a few moments to counsel your child about the risks of alcohol, there is great potential for positive outcome. Just a few minutes of a doctor's counseling helped young adults reduce their high-risk drinking and the number of traffic crashes, emergency room visits, and arrests for substance or liquor violations, says a study in the Annals of Family Medicine. Consider the following:

Underage drinking causes over $53 billion in criminal, social and health problems.
Alcohol is a leading factor in the three leading causes of death for 15- to 24-year-olds: automobile crashes, homicide and suicide.

Primary-care doctors should make it a priority to counsel young adults about high-risk drinking. Young adults, ages 18 to 30, who received counseling about reducing their use of alcohol:

Experienced a 40 to 50 percent decrease in alcohol use.
Reported 42 percent fewer visits to the emergency room.
Were involved in 55 percent fewer motor vehicle crashes.

The ways a parent can influence his or her teen’s drinking habits is complex. A universal method regarding what works best in preventing underage drinking may not exist. A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that a parent’s attitude toward drinking influences a child's behavior in various ways. One controversial finding was that teens who drank with their parents were less likely than others to have binged or used alcohol at all in recent weeks. Others, of course, argue passionately that parents who drink with their underage children are not only breaking the law but encouraging dangerous behavior that can lead to life-long consequences.

The Journal study also found that strict parenting can curb kids' drinking. Teens who said they feared they would have their privileges taken away if they got caught drinking were half as likely to drink as those who thought their parents would not punish them. In addition, consider the following:

The average girl takes her first sip of alcohol at age 13. The average boy takes his first sip of alcohol at age 11.

Teenagers who said their parents or their friends' parents had provided alcohol for a party during the past year were twice as likely as their peers to have used alcohol or binged during the previous month.

Nearly 75 percent of teens surveyed said they had never used alcohol.
About 25 percent of teens in the study said they'd been at party in the past year where parents supplied alcohol.

Fourteen percent of teens surveyed said they were with their parents the last time they drank.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Focus Adolescent Services
Health Day
National Youth Violence Prevention Center
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
University of California, Irvine

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sue Scheff: Teen Depression

A Relentless Hope - Surviving The Storm of Teen Depression - author, Gary E. Nelson, recently was interviewed on a New Mexico News Station.
Watch today - and learn more about teen depression.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sue Scheff: Disturbing New Links to Early Substance Abuse

Source: ACE - Alliance for Consumer Edcuation

Disturbing new links to early substance abuse from a study that was just published in the October issue of Psychological Science. It tracked “1,037 children from the age of three until 32.”

"Children who try drugs or alcohol before age 15 run a greater risk of being substance-dependent as adults, contracting sexually transmitted diseases, dropping out of school or being convicted of a crime."
"Girls who dabble in drugs and alcohol early on are more likely to become pregnant before they are 21."

"Children who tried alcohol or drugs early on “were two to three times more likely than non-early-exposed adolescents to be substance dependent, to have herpes infection, to have had an early pregnancy, and to have failed to obtain educational qualifications."

"Youngsters who were exposed to drugs and alcohol before 15 also had “significantly more criminal convictions” than those who were not."

"Half the children who dabbled with drink and drugs early on had no prior history of behavior issues, the study found."

“Findings from this study are consistent with the message that early substance use leads to significant problems in adolescents’ future lives, said the study’s lead author, Candice Odgers of the University of California, Irvine."

“Even adolescents with no prior history of behavioral problems or family history of substance abuse problems were at risk for poor health outcomes if they used substances prior to age 15,” she said."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sue Scheff: Connect with Kids - Parenting DVD's

At Connect with Kids, our single aim is to help parents and educators help children. Each week we gather the freshest information from experts at universities, research organizations, hospitals, child advocacy groups and parents and kids themselves. We present that information in video news and feature stories that are understandable, compelling and useful.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sue Scheff: Inhalant Abuse and Boys

"A project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has reviewed literature on the risks and assets that affect boys aged 10 to 18.”

In 2005, more than two out of five high school boys had used inhalants, such as glue, aerosols, nail polish remover, and other household substances

Among high school students, lifetime inhalant use decreased from 20% in 1995 to 12% in 2003 and then remained steady at 12% from 2003 to 2005

While older boys tend to smoke, drink, and use drugs more than younger boys do, eighth graders are more likely than older boys to use inhalants.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Teens, Sex and Depression

“It hurts, because I care so much about him.”

– Teagan, 15 years old

Fifteen-year-old Teagan says her new boyfriend is wonderful. “I never thought anyone like Preston could come along,” Teagan says. “He’s the greatest guy I’ve ever known.”

But is she as lucky as she thinks?

Studies show that romantic involvement brings adolescents down, rather than up. What’s more, researchers at the University of North Carolina find that teen girls who are sexually active are twice as likely to be depressed compared to girls not having sex.

But, even among abstinent teens who date, one of the problems is trust.

“Say your boyfriend went off to work and never called you that day,” Teagan says. “And you talked every single day on the phone. I mean you’d be kind of concerned and kind of wondering why. And then someone comes along and says ‘well maybe he’s cheating on you…’”

Combine adolescent insecurity with imagination and the result is a lot of questions: Where is he? Why doesn’t she call? Does he really like me? Why is she talking to that other boy?

That’s where most of the stress comes in,” Teagan says. “Getting thoughts in your head about what might be going on, when it probably isn’t going on at all.”

Experts say parents can help ease their child’s pain by listening and taking them seriously. It’s not puppy love to them, it’s real. “It hurts,” Teagan says, “because I care so much about him.”

Experts also advise teaching your child that early relationships may hurt, but they’re indispensable. “They will have many relationships before they finally settle on a life mate,” says Cheryl Benefield, a school counselor. “Let them know that when things happen, it’s maybe just preparing them for a better relationship in the future.”

Tips for Parents

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, boys and girls seem to be equally at risk for depressive disorders during childhood, but during adolescence, girls are twice as likely as boys to develop depression. Family history and stress are listed as factors, but another factor that often causes depression in girls is the break-up of a romantic relationship.

The authors of a study conducted at Cornell University titled “You Don’t Bring Me Anything but Down: Adolescent Romance and Depression,” found that females become “more depressed than males in adolescence partly as a consequence of their involvement in romantic relationships.” The reason? According to the study, “females’ greater vulnerability to romantic involvement explains a large part of the emerging sex difference in depression during adolescence.”

At any given time, five percent of children suffer from depression. Children under stress, who have experienced a loss, or who suffer from other disorders are at a higher risk for depression. Here are some signs of depression from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (if one or more of these signs of depression persist, parents should seek help):

Frequent sadness, tearfulness, crying
Decreased interest in activities, or inability to enjoy previously favorite activities
Persistent boredom; low energy
Social isolation, poor communication
Low self-esteem and guilt
Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
Increased irritability, anger or hostility
Difficulty with relationships
Frequent complaints of physical illnesses such as headaches and stomachaches
Frequent absences from school or poor performance in school
Poor concentration
A major change in eating and/or sleeping patterns
Talk of or efforts to run away from home
Thoughts or expressions of suicide or self destructive behavior
Getting an early diagnosis and medical treatment are critical for depressed children.

Depression is a serious condition, which, if left untreated, can even become life threatening. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, leading to nearly 4,000 deaths a year. The rate has tripled since 1960. Therapy can help teenagers understand why they are depressed and learn how to handle stressful situations. Treatment may consist of individual, group or family counseling. Medications prescribed by a psychiatrist may be needed to help teens feel better.

Ways of treating depression include:

Psychotherapy: to explore events and feelings that are painful and troubling. Psychotherapy also teaches coping skills.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy: to help teens change negative patterns of thinking and behaving.
Interpersonal therapy: to focus on ways of developing healthier relationships at home and school.
Medication: to relieve some symptoms of depression (often prescribed along with therapy).
Journal of Health and Social Behavior
National Institute of Mental Health
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
National Mental Health Association
University of North Carolina

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sue Scheff: Preventing Substance Abuse Addiction

Defining "Gateway Drugs"

Kids today have much more societal pressure put upon them than their parents generation did, and the widespread availability of drugs like methamphetamines and the "huffing" trend (which uses common household chemicals as drugs) can turn recreational use of a relatively harmless gateway drug into a severe or fatal addiction without warning.

The danger of gateway drugs increases in combination with many prescription medications taken by teens today. These dangerous side effects may not be addressed by your child's pediatrician if your child is legally too young to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol. Drugs like Ritalin, Prozac, Adderrall, Strattera, Zoloft and Concerta can be very dangerous when mixed with recreational drugs and alcohol. Combining some prescription medications with other drugs can often negate the prescription drug's effectiveness, or severely increase the side effects of the drug being abused. For example, a 2004 study by Stanford University found that the active chemical in marijuana, THC, frequently acted as a mental depressant as well as a physical depressant. If your child is currently on an anti-depressant medication like Prozac or Zoloft, marijuana use can counterbalance their antidepressant effects.

Other prescription anti depressants and anti psychotics can also become severely dangerous when mixed with alcohol. This is why is imperative that you as a parent must familiarize yourself with any prescription medications your child is taking and educate your child of the dangers of mixing their prescription drugs with other harmful drugs- even if you don't believe your child abuses drugs or alcohol.

Marijuana - Why It is More Dangerous Than You Think

Parents who smoked marijuana as teenagers may see their child's drug use as a harmless rite of passage, but with so many new and dangerous designer drugs making their way into communities across the country, the potential for marijuana to become a gateway to more dangerous drugs for your child should not be taken lightly.

Marijuana is the most commonly abused drug by both teens and adults. The drug is more commonly smoked, but can also be added to baked goods like cookies or brownies. Marijuana which is ingested orally can be far more potent than marijuana that is smoked, but like smoking tobacco, smoking marijuana can cause lung cancer, emphysema, asthma and other chronic conditions of the lungs. Just because it is "all natural" does not make it any safer for your lungs.

Marijuana is also a depressant. This means the drug slows down the body's functions and the messages the body sends to the brain. This is why many people who are under the influence of marijuana (or "stoned") they are often sluggish or unmotivated.

Marijuana can also have psychological side effects, both temporary and permanent. Some common psychological side effects of marijuana are paranoia, confusion, restlessness, hallucinations, panic, anxiety, detachment from reality, and nausea. While these symptoms alone do not sound all that harmful, put in the wrong situation, a teen experiencing any of these feelings may act irrationally or dangerously and can potentially harm themselves or others. In more severe cases, patients who abuse marijuana can develop severe long-term mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.

Tobacco - Just Because It Is Legal Doesn't Mean It Is Safe

While cigarettes and tobacco are considered "legal", they are not legal for teens to posses or smoke until they are 18. Still, no matter the age of your child, smoking is a habit you should encourage them to avoid, whether they can smoke legally or not.

One of the main problems with cigarettes is their addictive properties. Chemicals like nicotine are added to tobacco to keep the smoker's body craving more, thus insuring customer loyalty. This is extremely dangerous to the smoker, however, as smoking has repeatedly proven to cause a host of ailments, including lung cancer, emphysema, chronic bronchitis or bronchial infection, asthma and mouth cancer- just to name a few.
In addition to nicotine, cigarettes contain over 4000 other chemicals, including formaldehyde (a poisonous compound used in some nail polishes and to preserve corpses), acetone (used in nail polish remover to dissolve paint) carbon monoxide (responsible for between 5000 to 6000 deaths annually in its "pure" form), arsenic (found in rat poison), tar (found on paved highways and roads), and hydrogen cyanide (used to kill prisoners sentenced to death in "gas chambers").

Cigarettes can also prematurely age you, causing wrinkles and dull skin, and can severely decay and stain teeth.

A new trend in cigarette smoke among young people are "bidi's", Indian cigarettes that are flavored to taste like chocolate, strawberry, mango and other sweets. Bidi's are extremely popular with teens as young as 12 and 13. Their sweet flavors and packaging may lead parents to believe that they aren't "real" cigarettes or as dangerous as brand-name cigarettes, but in many cases bidi's can be worse than brand name cigarettes, because teens become so enamored with the flavor they ingest more smoke than they might with a name brand cigarette.

Another tobacco trend is "hookah's" or hookah bars. A hookah is an ornate silver or glass water pipe with a fabric hoses or hoses used to ingest smoke. Hookahs are popular because many smokers can share one hookah at the same time. However, despite this indirect method of ingesting tobacco smoke through a hose, hookah smoking is just as dangerous as cigarette smoke.

The Sobering Effects of Alcohol on Your Teen

Alcohol is another substance many parents don't think they need to worry about. Many believe that because they don't have alcohol at home or kept their alcohol locked up, their teens have no access to it, and stores or bars will not sell to minors. Unfortunately, this is not true. A recent study showed that approximately two-thirds of all teens who admitted to drinking alcohol said they were able to purchase alcohol themselves. Teens can also get alcohol from friends with parents who do not keep alcohol locked up or who may even provide alcohol to their children.

Alcohol is a substance that many parents also may feel conflicted about. Because purchasing and consuming alcohol is legal for most parents, some parents may not deem it harmful. Some parents believe that allowing their teen to drink while supervised by an adult is a safer alternative than "forcing" their teen to obtain alcohol illegally and drinking it unsupervised. In theory, this does sound logical, but even under adult supervision alcohol consumption is extremely dangerous for growing teens. Dr. John Nelson of the American Medical Association recently testified that even light alcohol consumption in late childhood and adolescence can cause permanent brain damage in teens. Alcohol use in teens is also linked with increased depression, ADD, reduced memory and poor academic performance.

In combination with some common anti-psychotics and anti-depressants, the effects of just one 4 oz glass of wine can be akin to that of multiple glasses, causing the user to become intoxicated much faster than someone not on anti depressants. Furthermore, because of the depressant nature of alcohol, alcohol consumption by patients treated with anti-depressants can actually counteract the anti-depressant effect and cause the patient sudden overwhelming depression while the alcohol is in their bloodstream. This low can continue to plague the patient long after the alcohol has left their system.

Because there are so many different types of alcoholic beverage with varying alcohol concentration, it is often difficult for even of-age drinkers to gauge how much is "too much". For an inexperienced teen, the consequences can be deadly. Binge drinking has made headlines recently due to cases of alcohol poisoning leading to the death of several college students across the nation. But binge drinking isn't restricted to college students. Recent studies have shown teens as young as 13 have begun binge drinking, which can cause both irreparable brain and liver damage.

It is a fact that most teenage deaths are associated with alcohol, and approximately 6000 teens die each year in alcohol related automobile accidents. Indirectly, alcohol consumption can severely alter teens' judgment, leaving them vulnerable to try riskier behaviors like reckless stunts, drugs, or violent behavior. Alcohol and other drugs also slow response time, leaving teenage girls especially in danger of sexual assault. The temporary feeling of being uninhibited can also have damaging future consequences. With the popularity of internet sites like MySpace and Facebook, teens around the country are finding embarrassing and indecent photos of themselves surfacing online. Many of these pictures were taken while the subjects were just joking around, but some were taken while the subjects were drunk or under the influence of drugs. These photos are often incredibly difficult to remove, and can have life altering consequences. Many employers and colleges are now checking networking sites for any reference to potential employees and students, and using them as a basis to accept or decline applicants!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts - Sue Scheff - Addictions and Inhalants

Daniel Jordan raises some interesting questions in his summary of an addictions presentation byDr. Carlton Erickson, Ph.D., Professor of Pharmacology, and director of the Addiction Science & Research Center in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Texas at Austin.

What are your perspectives or thoughts on his following two points?

1. Inhalants and Addiction:“Dr. Erickson calls the likelihood that a person will become dependent on a drug its “dependence liability.” Some drugs have a dependence liability while others do not.

The criteria for dependence liability is how it acts on the mesolimbic dopamine system. Caffeine, antidepressants, and newer anti-seizure medications do not have dependence liability. However, some drugs do and the following chart shows that a certain percentage of people (depending on the drug) will become dependent *:

Drug / Percentage of People Who Become DependentNicotine - 32%, Heroin - 23%, Cocaine - 17%, Alcohol - 15%, Stimulants - 11%, Cannabis - 9%, Sedatives - 9%, Psychedelics - 5%, Inhalants - 4%.

Source: Anthony, J.C., Warner, L.A., & Kessler, R.C., (1994). Comparative epidemiology of dependence on tobacco, alcohol, controlled substances, and inhalants: Basic findings from the national comorbidity survey. Experimental & Clinical Psychopharmacology, 2, 244-268.”

2. Use the term “Abuse” in Inhalant Abuse:“I was particularly fascinated by Dr. Erickson’s claim that many of the words, or terminology, that the general public and the treatment field use to describe drinking and drugging are leading to continued prejudice and discrimination in North American culture. This stigmatizing, Dr. Erickson argues, is a big part of why governments are not providing adequate funding for addiction research, prevention, and education

“Abuse” is a Perjorative Term and Should be Retired. In his book, The Science of Addiction, Dr. Erickson calls the term “abuse” the number 1 myth that prevails in the treatment field or in the minds of the public. The word abuse * is an inappropriate term for several reasons, such as:

the term being used, for centuries, as a morally sinful act such as child abuse, sexual abuse, spousal abuse
the implication that alcohol, an object, is being abused by someone just like a child is being abused by someone (a preferred term in Europe is misuse)

the use of the term substance abuse does not distinguish between voluntary use (”misuse”) and uncontrolled use (”dependence”) similar to the generalized use of the term “addiction”

“By continuing to refer to people as drug, alcohol, or substance abusers, according to Bill White *, “misstates the nature of their condition and calls for their social rejection, sequestration, and punishment.”

Visit for more information.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sue Scheff; Parenting Teens Today - May leave you at Wit's End!

With peer pressure and social influences at all-time highs, many good teens are making bad choices, placing intense emotional and financial strain on parents and families. Lack of motivation, substance abuse, negative peers and gang affiliation are just some of the common challenges facing kids today.

To help address these and other issues, parent advocate Sue Scheff has announced the release of her new book, “Wit’s End: Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-of-Control Teen.”

Scheff’s book chronicles her painful journey with a struggling teenage daughter and also offers advice, resources and help to mothers and fathers forced to make tough choices regarding their children.

“In the MySpace generation, kids are under more pressure than ever before,” says Scheff, author and founder of Parents’ Universal Resource Experts (P.U.R.E.), an organization that assists families with at-risk children.

“This book will be an invaluable resource and allow parents to learn from my past mistakes,” she adds.

As a single mother in the ‘90s, Scheff struggled to raise her teen daughter, who embraced disturbing friends, beliefs and behaviors. Ultimately, Scheff was forced to utilize a residential treatment facility as a way to instill discipline and structure.

What happened next was chilling -- stories of beatings, sexual abuse, forced starvation and neglect all surfaced from the very facility that was supposed to be protecting and rehabilitating Scheff’s daughter.

In the years following her ordeal, Scheff championed for safe alternatives for at-risk teens and began helping other parents who were facing similar challenges as she once did.

Published by Health Communications, Inc., “Wit’s End” is an extension of the assistance Scheff has been able to provide to families over the years.

“Parents need to know that they’re not alone,” says Scheff. “This book is a much-needed guide to avoid the pitfalls and will ultimately help expedite the healing process.”

For more information, visit

About the Author
Sue Scheff is the founder of Parents’ Universal Resource Experts ( and is a sought-after interviewee and speaker on topics such as Internet abuse, struggling teens, cyberbullying and defamation. She has been featured on 20/20, CNN Headline News, ABC News, Fox News, The Rachael Ray Show, Lifetime Television, NPR, BBC Talk Radio and has appeared in the USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Miami Herald and San Francisco Chronicle.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sue Scheff: Teens and Steroids

Don’t Be An Asterisk. Whether it is a potential college scholarship or just helping the team win, some teens feel pressure to do whatever it takes to get an “edge”, even if it means taking steroids or other illegal substances.Hopefully the striking video and information available on the official website (link below) will educate teens and their families about performance enhancing drugs.

Check out the 30 second PSA video here:

For more information on the campaign visit:

I just received this educational information for parents to be aware of - be sure to take a minute to visit this website and a minute to watch the video. Being an educated parents helps you to help your teen!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

SOS - Stressed Out Students' Guide to Handling Peer Pressure

With a rise in recent years in the number of students seeking mental health services, an increase in cheating behavior in school, and constant concern from parents, teachers, and especially students about academic achievement, the time is now for a book series to address academic stress.

The SOS: Stressed Out Students books address a growing and often-overlooked crisis: adolescents struggle with stress, compromising their mental and physical health, personal values, and commitment to learning as they try to cope with growing pressure to achieve. In a survey released last year, 460 parents in California’s Santa Clara and San Mateo counties cited school-related stress among their top concerns for their children. Based upon real-life stories and tips from teachers, students and parents, each book in the SOS series addresses a topic of utmost concern to American teenagers.

Type the title in the Amazon Book Box on the side and learn more!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Teen Suicide - National Suicide Prevention Week

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in older children and teens. And statistics show that suicide rates in teenagers are on the rise.

That makes it even more important for everyone to raise awareness of suicide prevention, especially now during National Suicide Prevention Week.
In addition to learning to recognize the risk factors and warning signs of suicide, spread the word about the availability of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Dr. Gary Nelson, Author of “A Relentless Hope” Surviving Teen Depression recently talked about this serious subject of teen suicide -

Learn more about Teen Suicide.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

'Pharm' Drugs and Teens

Street drugs, such as pot, crack, heroin, etc…. is being replaced with pharmacy drugs kids are finding at home. Parents need to take the time to see what their medicine cabinets are holding and what prescription drugs they have at home such as pain pills from ordinary root canals - as well as medications for ADD/ADHD. Here is a great article with helpful tips for parents.

Source: Connect with Kids

“Just take whatever we had you know, not really thinking about how high I was going to get or you know, how messed up.”

– ‘James’, age 21, explaining how he and friends shared drugs during his teenage years.

“We all had different prescriptions,” says 18-year-old Laura.

“You know, percocets, valium, zanex, oxycontin,” says James, 21.

“I wanted to get as loaded as I could. Didn’t care what I was taking, how much of it,” adds Laura.

James and Laura met in rehab. Both are drug addicts who used to get high at parties. Parties where everyone brought some kind of prescription drug and passed them around, often combining them with pot or alcohol.

“When I first started using and mixing drugs, I felt like a superhero, like nothing, you know, I was invincible,” says Laura.

Some kids call them ‘pharm’ parties… for ‘pharmaceutical’.

Experts say the allure is… the unknown. “What kind of new experience can I get? And very often it’s kids who are just bored of smoking pot day in and day out… cause they’ve reached a saturation point,” says Addiction Counselor Robert Margolis, Ph.D.

But experts say taking someone else’s prescription is dangerous… especially when combined with other drugs.

“There are combinations out there that if you start to mix together will create reaction in your body that by the time you know what’s happening, it’s too late,” Dr. Margolis.

“What I did notice is that I would black out a lot of nights,” says James.

Laura survived her years of drug years… but her addiction led to mood swings and depression that made her suicidal.

“Once I started getting heavily addicted, I tried overdosing several times, so I wanted to die, I didn’t want to live anymore,” she says.

“The risks are immense and the kids don’t realize that,” says Dr. Margolis, “And they’re everything from having a tremendous hangover to fatal.”

Tips for Parents

As a parent, it is important to understand that teens may be involved with legal and illegal drugs in various ways. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) reports that many teens begin using drugs to satisfy their curiosity, to make themselves feel good, to reduce stress, to feel grown up or to “fit in.” While it is difficult to know which teens will experiment and stop and which will develop serious problems, the National Institute of Drug Abuse says the following types of teens are at greatest risk of becoming addicted:

Those who have a family history of substance abuse
Those who are depressed
Those who have low self-esteem
Those who feel like they don’t “fit in” or are out of the mainstream
Because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration puts its seal of approval on prescription drugs, many teens mistakenly believe that using these drugs – even if they are not prescribed to them – is safe. However, this practice can, in fact, lead to addiction and severe side effects. The Center for Drug Evaluation and Research cites the following most commonly abused prescription drugs:

Opioids – Also known as narcotic analgesics, opioids are used to treat pain. Examples of this type of drug include morphine, codeine, OxyContin (oxycodone), Vicodin (hydrocodone) and Demerol (meperidine). In the short term, these drugs block pain messages and cause drowsiness. A large, single dose can cause severe respiratory depression and death. Long-term use leads to physical dependence and, in some cases, addiction.

Central nervous system (CNS) depressants – These drugs are commonly used to treat anxiety, panic attacks and sleep disorders. Examples include Nembutal (pentobarbital sodium), Valium (diazepam) and Xanax (alprazolam). CNS depressants slow down normal brain function and can cause a sleepy, uncoordinated feeling in the beginning of treatment. Long-term use can lead to physical dependence and addiction.

Stimulants – These drugs are commonly used to treat the sleeping disorder narcolepsy and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Examples include Ritalin (methylphenidate) and Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine). Stimulants, which can be addictive, enhance brain activity and increase alertness and energy. They elevate blood pressure, heart rate and respiration. Very high doses can lead to irregular heartbeat and high body temperature
How can you determine if your teen is abusing drugs? The AACAP suggests looking for the following warning signs and symptoms in your teen:

Physical – Fatigue, repeated health complaints, red and glazed eyes and a lasting cough
Emotional – Personality change, sudden mood changes, irritability, irresponsible behavior, low self-esteem, poor judgment, depression and a general lack of interest
Familial – Starting arguments, breaking rules or withdrawing from the family
School-related – Decreased interest, negative attitude, drop in grades, many absences, truancy and discipline problems

Social – having new friends who are less interested in standard home and school activities, problems with the law and changes to less conventional styles in dress and music
If you believe your teen has a problem with drug abuse, you can take several steps to get the help he or she needs. The American Academy of Family Physicians suggests contacting your health-care provider so that he or she can perform an adequate medical evaluation in order to match the right treatment or intervention program with your teen. You can also contact a support group in your community dedicated to helping families coping with addiction.

Substance abuse can be an overwhelming issue with which to deal, but it doesn’t have to be. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America offers the following strategies to put into practice so that your teen can reap the rewards of a healthy, drug-free life:

Be your teen’s greatest fan. Compliment him or her on all of his or her efforts, strength of character and individuality.

Encourage your teen to get involved in adult-supervised after-school activities. Ask him or her what types of activities he or she is interested in and contact the school principal or guidance counselor to find out what activities are available. Sometimes it takes a bit of experimenting to find out which activities your teen is best suited for, but it’s worth the effort – feeling competent makes children much less likely to use drugs.

Help your teen develop tools he can use to get out of drug-related situations. Let him or her know he or she can use you as an excuse: “My mom would kill me if I smoked marijuana!”
Get to know your teen’s friends and their parents. Set appointments for yourself to call them and check-in to make sure they share your views on alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Steer your teen away from any friends who use drugs.

Call teens’ parents if their home is to be used for a party. Make sure that the party will be drug-free and supervised by adults.

Set curfews and enforce them. Let your teen know the consequences of breaking curfew.
Set a no-use rule for alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

Sit down for dinner with your teen at least once a week. Use the time to talk – don’t eat in front of the television.

Get – and stay – involved in your teen’s life.

Substance Abuse & Mental Human Services Administration
Drug Abuse Warning Network
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
National Institute on Drug Abuse
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Center for Drug Evaluation and Research
American Academy of Family Physicians
Partnership for a Drug-Free America

Friday, September 5, 2008

New Inhalant Abuse Report from SAMHSA - (The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration)

I have been very vocal in bringing awareness to Inhalant Use among teens and tweens since a wonderful parent shared her story of losing her son to this. Parents need to understand this is a growing and major concern - like drug use, kids are turning to huffing as a form of getting high. Unlike many street drugs, inhalants can be found in many homes today. Learn more at

The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) just released a new National Survey on Drug Use & Health (NSDUH) Report.

The report is entitled,” Inhalant Abuse and Major Depressive Episode Among Youth Aged 12 to 17: 2004-2006. “The 2006 NSDUH Report surveys youth 12-17 years old to assess “co-occurrence of inhalant use and Major Depressive Episode (MDE) in the past year.”

Some of the findings include:

Inhalant Use:

Past year inhalant use was almost 4 times higher among persons aged 12 to 17 than among young adults aged 18 to 25 (1.3 vs. 0.4 percent).

In 2004 to 2006, 1.1 million youths aged 12 to 17 (4.5 percent) used inhalants in the past year
Females in this age range were more likely than males to use inhalants in the past year (4.8 vs. 4.2 percent)

Youth aged 14 or 15 (5.3 percent) were more likely than youths aged 12 or 13 (4.3 percent) & those aged 16 or 17 (3.9 percent) to have used inhalants in the past year.
Inhalant Abuse & Major Depressive Episode (MDE)

The rate of past year inhalant use was higher among youths aged 12 to 17 who had MDE in the past year than among those who did not (10.2 vs. 4.0 percent)

Males with past year MDE were about twice as likely as those without past year MDE to have used inhalants (9.6 vs. 4.0 percent)

Females with past year MDE were about 3 times as likely as those without past year MDE to have used inhalants (10.5 vs. 3.9 percent)

In each age group, youths with past year MDE were more likely than youths without past year MDE to have used an inhalant in the past year.

Which comes first: MDE or Inhalant Abuse:

An estimated 218,000 (.9 percent) youths aged 12 to 17 used inhalants and experienced MDE in the past year.

43.1 percent experienced their first episode of MDE before initiating inhalant use.
28.3 percent used inhalants before they experienced their first episode of MDE
28.5 percent started using inhalants and experienced their first episode of MDE at about the same time.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sue Scheff: Preventing Teen Drug Addiction and Substance Abuse

Why do they start? What Should I Look For?

A major factor in drug use is peer pressure. Even teens who think they're above the influence of peer pressure can often find it hard to refuse trying drugs when they believe their popularity is at stake. Teens may feel that taking drugs or alcohol to fit in is safer than becoming a perceived social exile, and may not realize that their friends will not abandon them simply for refusing a joint or bottle of beer.

A popular adage that is thrown around regarding peer pressure says if your friends would abandon you for not accepting an illegal substance, they're not "real" friends- but try telling this to a teenager. A more effective method is to acknowledge the pressure to fit in and work with your teen to find solutions to these problems before they arise. Suggest that your teen offer to be the designated driver at parties, and work with them to develop a strategy for other situations.

Even agreeing to back your teen up on a carefully crafted story can help enforce your bond with them- giving them the okay to tell their friends to blame you or that you give them random drug tests will go a long way. Knowing they have your support in such a sensitive subject can alleviate many of their fears, and knowing they can trust you helps instill the idea they can come to you with other problems. This is also an excellent time to remind them to never allow friends to drive under the influence and to never get into a car with someone under the influence. Reassure your teenager that if they should give in to peer pressure and become intoxicated or high, or if they have no sober ride home though they are sober themselves that it is always okay to call you for a ride home. Some parents may want to consider getting teens a cell phone for emergency use, or giving them an emergency credit card for cab fare.

Depression is another major factor in drug use. For more in depth information on teenage depression, please visit Sue Scheff™'s Teen Depression Resource. Despite the fact that many substances actually make depression worse, teenagers may be lured in by the initial high, which in theory is only replenished by more drugs. Thus begins the vicious cycle that becomes nearly impossible to break without costly rehabilitation. If you notice your teen is acting differently, it may be time to have a talk with them to address these changes. Remember- do not accuse your teen or criticize them. Drug use is a serious cry for help, and making them feel ashamed or embarrassed can make the problem worse. Some common behavior changes you may notice if your teen is abusing drugs and alcohol are:

Violent outbursts, 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
Reckless behavior

Friday, August 29, 2008

Mom's Advice May Curb Binge Drinking

“My mom is very level-headed, and she knows (I drink). She is very realistic.”

– Erik, college sophomore

College parties involving alcohol are common nationwide, and about one-quarter of all college students are binge drinkers. Twenty-year-old Erik says he is not a binge drinker, and one big reason is a conversation his mother had with him in the summer before his freshman year. “She told me, ‘I’m not na├»ve. I know you are going to drink. Just drink in moderation, don’t be stupid,’” Erik says.

That kind of warning, and particularly its timeliness, can be very effective, according to a study from Boise State University in Idaho. If mothers talk to their teens about alcohol during the period between high school and college, kids listen, the study found.

After one or more conversations with mom, the odds that a college student will binge drink fell from an estimated one-in-four, to as low as one-in-ten, according to the Idaho study.

A lot of what moms tell us as we grow up tends to stick with us for years, says Gary Santavicca, a family psychologist. “Whether we agree with or want to hear something that she has to say, typically since mother occupies such an important role in our lives, we are going to recall things that she communicates strongly and clearly to us,” Santavicca says.

The Idaho study also tested the effectiveness of specific warnings some mothers gave their kids. Most effective, moms should explain that drinking only makes problems worse, not better. Also, they should put into plain words how drinking could get teens in trouble with police, and how being caught drinking might lead to the publication of their arrest in the newspaper.

Erik says every time he drinks, he remembers what his mother told him about alcohol. “What bounces around in my head when I go to parties, use your head, and have a DD. All the time. Designated Driver all the time, that’s the most important thing,” Erik says.

Tips for Parents

Numerous studies conducted in recent years have noted the prevalence and dangers associated with binge drinking among college students. For example, some studies have revealed that the highest proportion of drinkers, heavy drinkers, and individuals with multiple substance dependencies have tended to be concentrated within the usual age range for college students.

According to research, some of the risks of binge drinking episodes include:

unplanned sexual activity
alcohol-related driving injuries and fatalities
sexual and physical assaults
date rape
physical injury
criminal mischief
property damage
trouble with campus and local police
Researchers have also found evidence for a relationship between parental characteristics and teen drinking tendencies. Some of the parental characteristics and beliefs associated with less teen drinking tendencies include:

parents' attitudes and beliefs about teens not drinking
limited parental alcohol consumption
parental disapproval approval of teen alcohol consumption
parental modeling of appropriate behavior
parental monitoring of the teenager
the quality of the parent—teen relationship
family management practices
parent—friend compatibility

A study, published in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, shows evidence that discussions of the risks of binge drinking between mothers and teens in the summer immediately preceding the adolescent’s first year of college can help to reduce or prevent binge drinking episodes for those teens. The researchers found that student beliefs about the positive or negative effects of drinking predicted binge-drinking activities. Specifically, if students believe that drinking improved their social behavior or lifestyle, they were more likely to use alcohol and have a tendency to binge drink. According to the authors of the study, however, if mothers talked with students about the negative effects of alcohol and the consequences of drinking, the teens were less likely to do so. In fact, additional preliminary studies indicate that one or more mother-teen discussions before attending college can reduce the statistical risk of those students participating in binge drinking activities from 20% to 10%.

The influence of parents on their teenage children’s use and abuse of alcohol can be very strong. The following suggestions, excerpted from a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism publication, provide ideas for ways that parents can positively influence their teens’ alcohol related behaviors.

Monitor alcohol use in the home

Connect with other parents to discuss potential alcohol problems among peer groups

Keep track of your teen’s activities, particularly after-school and on weekends.

Develop family rules about teen drinking. Incorporate family values and beliefs about appropriate behavior into the family rules for drinking.

Set a good example. Modeling appropriate behavior in the use of alcohol (i.e. don’t drink and drive) can be an important teaching tool to help your teen with drinking related decisions.

Don’t support teen drinking.

Help your child build healthy relationships.

Encourage healthy alternatives to alcohol.

Boise State University
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Teen Substance Abuse by Sue Scheff - Parents Universal Resource Experts

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.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Problem Parents Contribute to Teen Drug Use

Source: LA Times

A survey on substance abuse among teens was released this morning that really lowers the boom on parents. The annual survey from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University calls out parents for contributing to drug and alcohol use among kids ages 12 to 17. Some parents fail to monitor their children's activities, do not safeguard medications at home that can be used for abuse, and do not set good examples for their kids, the report said. Almost half of the teens surveyed -- a nationally representative sample of 1,002 teens and 312 of their parents -- said they leave the house to hang out with friends on school nights. Among those teens, half who come home after 10 p.m. said they had been drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana or doing other drugs. Just under 30% of those who come home between 8 and 10 p.m. said they had been drinking or using drugs. In contrast, only 14% of the parents said their teens leave the house to hang out with friends on school nights.

Who is telling the truth? The report suggests that parents are pretty clueless about their kids' schedules and how they spend their free time.

"Every mother and father should look in the mirror and ask themselves if they are doing the parenting essential to help their child negotiate the difficult teen years free of tobacco, alcohol and drugs," said Elizabeth Planet, CASA's director of special projects.

CASA president and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare Joseph A. Califano said this:

"Preventing substance abuse among teens is primarily a mom and pop operation. It is inexcusable that so many parents fail to appropriately monitor their children, fail to keep dangerous prescription drugs out of the reach of their children and tolerate drug infected schools. The parents who smoke marijuana with children should be considered child abusers. By identifying the characteristics of problem parents we seek to identify the actions that parents can take -- and avoid -- in order to become part of the solution and raise healthy, drug-free children."

No one said parenting was easy, and parents in the survey said overwhelmingly that it's harder today to keep kids safe and raise them with good moral character than it was in previous generations. Resources to help and support parents are available, such as those that can be found on the CASA website. Also, try the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Youth Anti-Drug media campaign for more resources.

It would probably be helpful for all of us who are parents to get our heads out of the sand. Times change, and the culture kids are growing up in today is different from back in our day. For example, the survey also found these hair-raising trends:

For the first time in the survey's 13-year history, more teens said prescription drugs were easier to buy than beer.

42% of the teens said they can buy marijuana in a day or less.

One-quarter of teens said they know a parent of a classmate or friend who uses marijuana and 10% of those teens said this parent smokes marijuana with teens.

Half of the teens ages 16 and 17 said that among their age group smoking marijuana is more common than smoking cigarettes.

Of the teens who drink, almost 30% said their drink of choice was hard liquor mixed with soda or something sweet compared with 16% who said they prefer beer.
-- Shari Roan

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cool Parenting Articles and Blogs on Today's Teens

Vanessa is an amazing young adult and author that creates a website of vast information to help parents with today's teens - visit - for more!

By Vanessa Van Petten

As some of you know, I have started a private social network for some of my favorite mom and dad bloggers and website owners from around the web called Parents Who Click. This is a truly awesome group of individuals who are working tirelessly to promote positive family values, put out helpful advice and make good connections for families and youth.

Once or twice a month I will be featuring and highlighting some of their websites along with some of their helpful articles for you to see (so you do not have to go RSS to a bajillion different websites). They also are constantly pointing out great sites and tips to me, which I will bring to you.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Teens Say School Pressure Is Main Reason For Drug Use

Source:, Triad, NC

New York — A new study reveals a troubling new insight into the reasons why teens use drugs.The study conducted by the Partnership for a Drug-free America shows that of 6,511 teens, 73% report that school stress and pressure is the main reason for drug use.

Ironically, only 7% of parents believe that teens use drugs to cope with stress.

Second on the list was to “feel cool” (73%), which was previously ranked in the first position. Another popular reason teens said they use drugs was to “feel better about themselves”(65%).Over the past decade, studies have indicated a steady changing trend in what teens perceive as the motivations for using drugs. The “to have fun” rationales are declining, while motivations to use drugs to solve problems are increasing.

On the positive side, the study confirms that overall abuse remains in a steady decline among teens. Marijuana, ecstasy, inhalants, methamphetamine alcohol and cigarette usage continue to decrease.

Additional findings show:

- 1 in 5 teens has abused a prescription medication- Nearly 1 in 5 teens has already abused a prescription painkiller- 41% of teens think it’s safer to abuse a precription drug than it is to use illegal drugs.

Teens continue to take their lives into their own hands when they intentionally abuse prescribed medications, said Pasierb. “Whether it’s to get high or deal with stress, or if they mistakenly believe it will help them perform better in school or sports, teens don’t realize that when used without a prescription, these medicines can be every bit as harmful as illegal street drugs.”

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Exercise Reduces Drug Use

By Connect with Kids

Studies show that children that are involved in activities and have less time on their hands tend to stay away from drugs easier than kids than kids that have nothing to do after school.”

– David Karol Gore, Phd., Psychologist

17-year old Mururi began using drugs at an early age.

“I mean it started off only on weekends when I was twelve but by thirteen, I was like, ‘I need to get high man. This is boring.’”

Boredom. Researchers at Davidson College studied the affects of cocaine and exercise on rats. They found that when rats get more exercise, they want less cocaine than those who don’t exercise at all.

Experts say, in humans, exercise has the same effect on the reward systems of the brain as do drugs.

Still, as family psychologist, David Karol Gore explains, the way exercise prevents some kids from using drugs may be as simple as this: “Studies show that children that are involved in activities and have less time on their hands tend to stay away from drugs easier than kids than kids that have nothing to do after school.”

His advice?

“Look real carefully at what their teenagers are doing. They need to see how involved they are in activities and if they are not what are they doing with their time.”

Tips for Parents

A study from Columbia University shows that youth who are bored and who have access to extra cash are more likely to abuse drugs. For their study, researchers with the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse surveyed 1,987 children aged 12 to 17 and 504 parents, 403 of whom were parents of the surveyed children. They found that kids who are frequently bored are 50% more likely to smoke, drink and use illegal drugs. And those who had $25 or more a week in spending money were nearly twice as likely to succumb to substance abuse. Consider these additional statistics about teens and drug abuse cited by the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

In 2007, the percentage of 8th graders reporting lifetime use of any illicit drug declined was 19%.

In 2007, 15.4% of 12th graders reported using a prescription drug non-medically within the past year. Vicodin continues to be abused at unacceptably high levels.

Between 2005 and 2007, past year abuse of MDMA (ecstasy) increased among 12th graders from 3.0% to 4.5%; and between 2004 and 2007, past year abuse of MDMA increased among 10th graders from 2.4% to 3.5%.

It is important that family members feel as though they can talk to each other about tough issues, such as drug use. Part of this early, open communication includes being a good listener. As a parent, consider adopting these listening techniques provided by the American Council for Drug Education (ACDE):

Give your child an opportunity to talk. Stop talking and give your child sufficient time to complete his or her thoughts and process what has been said.

Demonstrate interest by asking appropriate questions. Questions can help you clarify your child's thoughts and suggestions. Be sure that you are interpreting what has been said correctly.
Listen to the complete message. Listen to the total message before forming a response.

Encourage your child to talk. Use door-opening statements ("You seem distracted today" or "Tell me what is going on") that invite a response.

Focus on content, not delivery. Avoid being distracted by your child's poor grammar or manners. It is what is being said that is important.

Listen for main ideas. Try to pick out the central theme of the conversation.

Deal effectively with emotionally charged language. Be aware of words or phrases that produce anxiety and trigger emotions.

Identify areas of common experience and agreement. Note similar experiences of your own or offer a shared point of view to communicate acceptance and understanding.

Deal effectively with whatever blocks you from listening. Be aware of personal blocks that may prevent you from hearing what your child is saying.

Substance abuse can be an overwhelming issue with which to deal, but it doesn't have to be. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America offers the following strategies to put into practice so that your child can reap the rewards of a healthy, drug-free life:

Be your child's greatest fan. Compliment him or her on all of his or her efforts, strength of character and individuality.

Involve your child in adult-supervised after-school activities. Ask him or her what types of activities he or she is interested in and contact the school principal or guidance counselor to find out what activities are available. Sometimes it takes a bit of experimenting to find out which activities your child is best suited for, but it's worth the effort - feeling competent makes children much less likely to use drugs.

Help your child develop tools he can use to get out of alcohol- or drug-related situations. Let him or her know he or she can use you as an excuse: "My mom would kill me if I smoked marijuana!"
Get to know your child's friends and their parents. Set appointments for yourself to call them and check-in to make sure they share your views on alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Steer your child away from any friends who use drugs.

Call teens' parents if their home is to be used for a party. Make sure that the party will be alcohol-free and supervised by adults.

Set curfews and enforce them. Let your child know the consequences of breaking curfew.
Set a no-use rule for alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
Sit down for dinner with your child at least once a week. Use the time to talk - don't eat in front of the television.

Get – and stay – involved in your child's life.

American Council for Drug Education
Davidson College
National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Partnership for a Drug-Free America

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

5 Ways Teen Might Cheat on Drug Tests and How to Catch Them

5 Ways Teens Might Cheat on Drug Tests—and How to Catch Them
These tricks are out there on the Web, so parents need to be informed

By Lindsay Lyon
Posted August 6, 2008

Google "beat drug test," and the search engine spits out page upon page of ploys and products that can make incriminating urine seem drug free. All it takes is a computer-savvy teen to access them. The ease of cheating, in fact, is one of at least seven reasons parents shouldn't try to test their kids for drug use. Instead, experts say, they should seek out a professional assessment.

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"Cheating remains the Achilles' heal of drug urine testing in all settings," says Robert DuPont, president of the Institute for Behavior and Health Inc. and former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. With increasing opportunities for testing—by prospective employers, schools, and parents—experts worry that teens may have more impetus than ever to try. Last week, at the American Association for Clinical Chemistry's annual meeting in Washington, D.C., toxicologist Amitava Dasgupta of University of Texas-Houston medical school demonstrated various ways that employees try to beat workplace drug tests—and how experts foil these schemes in the laboratory. There's nothing to stop kids from using the same tricks, and there's no guarantee that parents will be able to catch them at home.

Here are five ways—some of them downright dangerous—that teens may try to cheat drug tests. They're all described elsewhere on the Internet, so parents should be aware of them.

1. Tampering. A sprinkle of salt or a splash of bleach, vinegar, detergent, or drain cleaner is all that's needed to muck up a urine specimen. These and other household substances are all too often smuggled into the bathroom and used to alter the composition of urine, making the presence of some illegal substances undetectable, says Dasgupta. Same goes for chemical concoctions sold all over the Internet. Sometimes these additives or "adulterants" will cloud or discolor urine, easily casting suspicion on the specimen, but others leave the sample looking normal. Laboratory toxicologists employ simple tests to catch these cheats. For example, a few drops of hydrogen peroxide will turn urine brown if it's been mixed with pyridinium chlorochromate, an otherwise-imperceptible chemical designed to foil drug tests.

2. Water-loading. Gulping fluids before providing urine, a long-standing tactic, is still the most common way that teens try to beat tests, says Sharon Levy, a pediatrician and director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Children's Hospital Boston. Whether cheats use salty solutions to induce thirst, flushing agents that increase urine output, or just plain old H20, their aim is to water down drugs so they can't be detected. Some testing facilities may check urine for dilution and deem overly watery samples "unfit for testing." But consuming too much fluid too quickly can occasionally have dire consequences. "Water intoxication" reportedly killed a woman following participation in a radio show's water drinking contest, says Alan Wu, a professor of laboratory medicine at the University of California-San Francisco.

3. Switching drugs. Perhaps most alarming, says Levy, is that teens bent on defeating drug tests will sometimes switch their drug of choice to an undetectable (or harder to detect) substance that's considerably more hazardous. Inhalants, for example, include numerous types of chemical vapors that typically produce brief, intoxicating effects. "You don't excrete [inhalants] in your urine," says Levy, but "inhaling is acutely more dangerous than marijuana." Indeed, inhalants can trigger the lethal heart problem known as "sudden sniffing death" in otherwise healthy adolescents, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The tragic case of young David Manlove is an example.

4. Popping vitamins. Perhaps it's because niacin (aka vitamin B3) is known to aid metabolism, or perhaps it's because Scientologists are said to take it in excess to flush their bodies of toxins. Whatever the reasons, some teens got the idea that extreme doses of this vitamin would erase any trace of their illicit drug use. Instead, it almost cost them their lives. In two separate incidents, emergency physician Manoj Mittal of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has found adolescents who downed at least 150 times the daily recommended dose of niacin (15 mg) to cheat drug tests. (He described the cases last year in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.) Both kids were vomiting, had low blood sugar, and had "significant" liver toxicity when they arrived at the ER. And the niacin didn't even do what they'd intended; both tested positive for illicit drugs. "People might think that since [niacin] is a vitamin it's harmless," says Mittal. "But these cases suggest that our bodies have limits."

5. Swapping urine samples. Whether they use a friend's clean urine, synthetic pee, or even freeze-dried urine purchased online, some teens try to pass off foreign samples as their own, says Levy. The biggest tip-off is temperature. "Anything significantly lower than body temperature is suspicious," says Dasgupta, which is why some have tried to shuttle samples in armpits or taped to thighs to keep them warm. Possibly the oddest trick of all is a device marketed to those trying to beat witnessed drug collections, says Wu: a sort of prosthetic penis called the "Whizzinator" that claims to come equipped with clean urine "guaranteed" to remain at body temperature for hours, with the help of special heat pads. "Believe it or not, [the prosthesis] comes in different colors," says Wu.