Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sue Scheff: "Supervised" Underage Drinking

“It's kind of like [parents] open the door as soon as you get to the party, and they have a bowl to the side where they take your keys before you even start drinking.”

– Cameron Herron, 19

New research from Penn State University reports that high school kids who aren’t allowed to drink alcohol are far less likely to drink heavily when they get to college. This contradicts the conventional wisdom that forbidding alcohol turns it into a kind of “forbidden fruit” that causes kids to go wild in college.

But still, every year there are parents who break the law: they host a party and serve teens alcohol.

How often does this happen? According to teens, all the time.

“It’s kind of like they open the door as soon as you get to the party,” says 19-year-old Cameron Herron, “and they have a bowl to the side where they take your keys before you even start drinking.”

Why do some parents allow underage drinking?

“Because they would rather it be at their house and for them to have the control,” answers 19-year-old Marlena Flesner, “and for them to know where their kids are.”

“I hear that a lot,” says Dr. Michael Fishman, an addiction specialist, “and the fallacy is ‘to keep the kids safe’.”

That’s the assumption, but is it true? Is it really safer when kids drink with adult supervision?

“I’ve been at parties where I’ve seen a mom say, ‘hey, this kid is a little too drunk - no more for him,’” says 19-year-old Anthony Machalette.

The problem, kids say, is that sometimes there is no supervision.

“And it was pretty much all of us downstairs partying,” recalls 19-year-old Ryan Soto. “The parents are upstairs doing - nothing. They just kind of minded their own business and let us have a party downstairs.”

“Usually they are not around,” agrees Marlena Flesner. “They just kind of host it and sometimes buy the alcohol - or they just allow it.

And often, the kids start drinking at home - but they don’t stay there.

“In fact, some people are going to leave that house intoxicated,” says Dr. Fishman.

“It was a lot of the wealthy parents who had a big house,” says 20-year-old Jessica Holt, about one party she attended. “A lot of people could come. They wouldn’t collect keys or anything.”

Finally, experts say, allowing kids to drink at home sends a message.

“You’re introducing a lifestyle to your 15, 16, 17 year old and that lifestyle is alcohol. And so by allowing them to drink in your home, you’re basically giving them permission to drink in the world at large and any time they’d like,” explains Stacey DeWitt, President of Connect with Kids.

She says it’s easier for kids to say no if you make a stand against underage drinking that is loud and clear.

“I know my mother would kick my behind if I was drinking underage,” says 20-year-old Erin Smith.

Tips for Parents
Research shows that adolescents may be more vulnerable to brain damage from excessive drinking than older drinkers. Alcohol impairs brain activity in the receptors responsible for memory and learning, and young people who binge drink could be facing serious brain damage today and increased memory loss in years to come. If one begins drinking at an early age, he/she is more likely to face alcohol addiction. Consider the following …

■Imaging studies have revealed a connection between heavy drinking and physical brain damage.
■Neither chronic liver disease nor alcohol-induced dementia, the most common symptoms of severe alcoholism, need be present for alcohol-induced, physical brain damage to occur.
■Alcohol-induced brain damage usually includes extensive shrinkage in the cortex of the frontal lobe, which is the site of higher intellectual functions.
■Shrinkage has also been observed in deeper brain regions, including the cerebellum, which helps regulate coordination and balance, and brain structures associated with memory.
■Alcohol abstinence has shown positive results. Even three to four weeks without alcohol can reverse effects on memory loss and problem-solving skills.
Adolescents have a better chance of recovery because they have greater powers of recuperation. If you suspect your child has alcohol-related brain damage, it is imperative to have him or her assessed by a medical doctor or psychologist. Treatment depends on the individual and the type of brain damage sustained. People with impaired brain function can be helped. Often it is necessary to reduce the demands placed on the patient. Also, a predictable routine covering all daily activities can help. Consider the following points when easing your child’s routine …

■Simplify information. Present one idea at a time.
■Tackle one problem at a time.
■Allow your child to progress at his or her own pace.
■Minimize distractions.
■Avoid stressful situations.
■Structure a schedule with frequent breaks and rest periods.
■Consider joining an alcoholism support group.
■Alcoholism Home Page
■Better Health Channel
■National Youth Violence Prevention Center
■Psychological Assessment Research and Treatment Services

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 author and Parenting Expert, Denise Witmer always provides excellent information on parenting, especially with teens. Yesterday she posted a great article that most parents will benefit from. As a Parent Advocate and author of “Wit’s End” (where some parents end up with their teenagers), I know that summer can be a time of experimentation with many kids – whether they are trying to “fit in” (peer pressure) or simply curious. Be an educated parent – don’t be a parent in denial.

While summer is in full swing the National Youth Anti-Drug Campaign wants to remind parents to keep their teens safe and off drugs. They feel, and I agree, that summer can be a risky time for teens. More teens try marijuana for the first time in the summer months than any other time of the year. Each day in June, July and August, approximately 6,100 young people try marijuana for the first time; that’s 38 percent more per day than during the rest of the year.

Here is a S-U-M-M-E-R drug-free checklist:

Set rules

Have you set clear rules and let your teen know that marijuana use is unacceptable? Two-thirds of kids say that upsetting their parents or losing the respect of family and friends is one of the main reasons they don’t smoke marijuana or use other drugs. Set limits with clear consequences for breaking them; praise and reward good behavior.

Understand and communicate

Have you talked to your teen recently about the harmful physical, mental, and social effects of marijuana and other illicit drugs on young users? Young people who learn about the risks of drugs at home are up to 50 percent less likely to try drugs than their peers who learn nothing from their parents. Look for teachable moments in everyday life to keep the conversation ongoing.

Monitor your teen’s activities and behaviors

Have you checked to see where your teen is, who he is with, and what he is doing? Teens who are not regularly monitored by their parents are four times more likely to use drugs. Check up on your teen to make sure they are where they say they are.

Make sure you stay involved in your teen’s life

Have you talked to your teen’s coach, employer, and friends lately? Stay in touch with the adult supervisors of your child (camp counselors, coaches, employers) and have them inform you of any changes in your teen.

Engage your teen in summer activities

Have you helped plan activities to keep your teen busy? Research shows that teens who are involved in constructive and adult-supervised activities are less likely to use drugs.
Reserve time for family

Have you planned a family activity with your teen in the coming weeks, such as going to the movies, taking a walk, or sharing a meal? Teens who spend time, talk and have a close relationship with their parents are much less likely to drink, take drugs or have sex.
Press Release from The site also offers a free brochure called, “Keeping your Kids Drug-Free: A How-To Guide for Parents and Caregivers.” The brochure can also be ordered by calling 1–800–788–2800.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sue Scheff: New Data Shows Fathers Missing Key Opportunity to be More Active in Preventing Drug Abuse

New Data Shows Fathers Missing Key Opportunity to Be More Active inPreventing Drug and Alcohol Use among their Kids New York, NY (June 16, 2009) –

New data from the 14th annual national survey of parents’ attitudes about teen drug and alcohol use by the nonprofit Partnership for a Drug-Free America and MetLife Foundation reveals dads take a much more passive role than moms when it comes to preventing substance abuse in their families.

As Father’s Day draws near, this new data underscores a unique opportunity for fathers to get more involved and engage further with their children on this critical health issue. New research from the Partnership/MetLife Foundation Parents Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) reveals dramatic differences between mothers and fathers:

· Fathers were nearly three times as likely to believe that drug education should take place in school (34 percent of fathers versus 10 percent of mothers)

. Additionally, fathers report having greater difficulty reconciling the desire to have their child see them as a friend with the need to set rules and monitor their teens. Fathers placed greater value on being their child’s friend (59 percent of fathers, 51 percent of mothers) although the majority of parents thought friendship with their child was important. Fathers were far more likely (18 percent) to report having difficulty enforcing rules about alcohol, cigarette or drug use than mothers (10 percent).

“Fathers have real power in influencing the decisions teens make for themselves, yet many dads find it difficult to talk with their kids about drugs and alcohol,” said Partnership President Steve Pasierb.

Visit the Partnership for Drug-Free America’s Parent Toolkit available for free download at for tips to help dads get the conversation going with their teens. For more information or to schedule an interview with an expert or to speak with a dad who can speak to the challenges of raising tweens and teens, please contact Candice Besson at or 212-973-3517.

About PATS: PATS is a nationally projectable survey of 1,004 parents of children in grades 4-12 and was conducted in-home by the Partnership with major funding beginning in 2008 from MetLife Foundation.


The Partnership for a Drug-Free AmericaWorking with parents to prevent and get help for teen drug and alcohol abuse.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sue Scheff: Stop Medicine Abuse

Five moms have continued their mission to Stop Medicine Abuse amongst teens and kids today.
First launched in May 2007, the Five Moms Campaign has reached over 24 million parents with these basic messages to parents about preventing teen cough medicine abuse.

When the campaign launched, teen cough medicine abuse was on the increase. Now, nationwide statistics point to a slight decrease. That’s great news, but more work has to be done to eliminate this type of substance abuse behavior among teens.

CHPA brought together five moms—a pediatric nurse practitioner, an accountant, a D.A.R.E. officer, an educator, and an author—from different backgrounds and from all over the country to encourage parents to get involved in stopping cough medicine abuse. And now Five Moms is part of the effort.

Protect Your Teens

Posted by Five Mom, Blaise Brooks

Teenagers’ lives are filled with tough decisions, handling outside pressures, and figuring out what type of person to become. While it is impossible to make all the right decisions for your teens and keep them clear of any hardships, as a parent you can help steer them in the right direction including where substance abuse is concerned, include over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine abuse. The most important thing is to embrace your responsibility as the educator and parent and to talk to your teen in an open way.

Don’t turn a blind eye.

No one wants to believe that their kids would ever abuse any drug, let alone OTC medicine. But the truth is teens are abusing medicine and every parent needs to be aware and keep his or her eyes open to the signs of abuse, both in the home and in the community. If you ever have a question, you can check this list of the signs of abuse from the Stop Medicine Abuse web site.

Talk to your teen.

A conversation about drug abuse is never an easy one, but it’s necessary. And it’s crucial to keep having the conversation and keep those lines of communication going. The fact of the matter is that teens who learn a lot about drugs in the home are half as likely to abuse. One way you can make it easier is by letting the issue speak for itself: Take a look at, where you and your teens can see the negative effects of cough medicine abuse on the lives of real teens through their own personal testimonials. You also can check out from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America for tips about how to talk with teens about substance abuse.

Take responsibility for your medicine cabinet

You need to trust your teen, but you still should take steps to safeguard your medicine cabinet. Know what medicines you have and how much medication is in each bottle or package, and be sure to tell your teens what you’re doing and why. This may even be the perfect opportunity for you discuss medicine abuse.

By taking action to protect your teens from OTC medicine abuse and sharing this information with other parents, you not only protect the health and safety of your own teens, but also are taking a step towards protecting other teens in your community. Don’t forget to join us on the Stop Medicine Abuse Fan page on Facebook to discuss how you and your community can protect teens from medicine abuse.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sue Scheff: Accessibility of RX Drugs and Teens

As kids will have more time at home with summer just about here, what prescription drugs are available in your home?

“There is a tremendous amount of medicines out there that are readily available in the bathrooms, in the cabinets at home as well as on the black market.”
– Steven Jaffe, M.D., adolescent psychiatrist

Many kids say they can get any prescription drug they might want. Joseph Caspar, 17, says he could get “vicodin, morphine, anything like that.” Patti Strickland says she could even get methadone.

According to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, 61 percent of teens say prescription drugs are easier to get than any other drug.

One reason … easy accessibility.

“This is the age of medication,” explains Dr. Steven Jaffe, adolescent psychiatrist. “I think there is a tremendous amount of all sorts of medicines out there that are readily available in the bathrooms, in the cabinets at home as well as on the black market.”

In fact, kids say the medicine cabinet is the first place they look. “That’s mostly how it starts,” says 16-year-old T.J. Crutain.

That’s why, experts say, prescription medicine needs to be locked up.

“We have gun cabinets that are locked up to keep guns away from our teenagers,” says Dr. Herb Kleber, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University. “We should also develop locked medicine cabinets in order to help secure these agents so that it isn’t easy for teenagers to get to them.”

Carol Thomas recently lost her son, Ross, when he overdosed on prescription drugs. Ross was 16-years-old.

“Ross didn’t get anything from [our] medicine cabinet, but I know parents have it and there’s nothing wrong with that,” says Thomas. “If you need medication, you need medication. But I think that we’re silly to walk around and dangle a carrot in front of a kid’s face.”

Tips for Parents

OxyContin is a controlled-release pain reliever that can drive away pain for up to 12 hours when used properly. When used improperly, however, OxyContin is a highly addictive opioid closely related to morphine. As individuals abuse the drug, the effects lessen over time, leading to higher dosage use.

Consider the following:

The supply of OxyContin is soaring. Sales of OxyContin, first marketed in 1996, hit $1.2 billion in 2003.

The FDA reports that OxyContin may have played a role in 464 deaths across the country in 2000 to 2001.

In 2000, 43 percent of those who ended up in hospital emergency rooms from drug overdoses – nearly 500,000 people – were there because of misusing or abusing prescription drugs.
In seven cities in 2000 (Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.) 626 people died from overdose of painkillers and tranquilizers. By 2001, such deaths had increased in Miami and Chicago by 20 percent.

From 1998 to 2000, the number of people entering an emergency room because of misusing or abusing oxycodone (OxyContin) rose 108 percent. The rates are intensifying … from mid-2000 to mid-2001, oxycodone went up in emergency room visits 44 percent.

OxyContin is typically abused in one of three ways …

By removing the outer coating and chewing the tablet.

By dissolving the tablet in water and injecting the fluid intravenously.

By crushing the tablet and snorting the powder.

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. How can you determine if your teen is abusing drugs?

The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 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.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sue Scheff: Stop Medicine Abuse

I was asked by caring parents and individuals to give people encouraging news. StopMedicineAbuse is making a difference in creating awareness in parents and helping open up the lines of communication with their teens and tweens today.

Although almost two-thirds parents have talked to their teens about cough medicine abuse, a large number still have not had this critical conversation. To help alert these parents, many OTC cough medicines will now feature the Stop Medicine Abuse educational icon on the packaging. The icon, which also can be viewed online (see above), is a key reminder for parents that teen medicine abuse is an issue that they need to be aware of.
Look for them on Facebook and join their Fan Club Group to stay updated.

How can you help?

Our efforts to educate parents about medicine abuse have reached thousands of families in the United States. With your help, more parents than ever are learning about this risky teen substance abuse behavior and are talking with their teens. According to the Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, released by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, 65 percent of parents have talked to their teens about the dangers of abusing OTC cold and cough medicine to get high-an 18 percent increase in the number of parents who talked to their teens in 2007.
My fellow Five Moms and I are excited to share this promising news with you, but there is still much work ahead. Although nearly two-thirds of parents have talked with their teens, 35 percent of parents said that they have not had this important conversation.

We know that when parents talk to their teens about the risks of substance abuse, their teens are up to fifty percent less likely to abuse substances. If you have not already talked with your teens about the dangers of cough medicine abuse, visit our talk page for some helpful ideas on how to have this discussion.

It is also critical that we share this information with our friends and communities as well. Too many parents are still unaware that some teens are abusing OTC cough medicine to get high, and it is important that we talk with them about this behavior. By talking with other parents, we can make sure that every family has the knowledge and tools to help keep teens safe and healthy.

Sharing information about cough medicine abuse is easy. It only takes a moment to start a conversation, and thanks to Stop Medicine Abuse, you can Tell-A-Friend through e-mail or post the Stop Medicine Abuse widget to your blog or web site. The more parents are aware of cough medicine abuse, the better we can prevent this behavior from happening in our communities.
Have you talked with other parents about cough medicine abuse?
Share your advice about having this conversation at the Stop Medicine Abuse Fan page

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sue Scheff: Learn More About Inhalant Abuse

As a parent advocate, this is such an important topic. Summer is almost here, and some teens will have idle time. Take the time to learn about Inhalant Use, since many of these substances are household items and are potentially very harmful to any age child.
Welcome to the Alliance for Consumer Education's (ACE) inhalant abuse prevention site! ACE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing community health and well-being.

Make sure to check out the ACE's online eBay Inhalant Awareness Auction going on right now! Click here to be directed to ACE's auction page. Please know as you place your bids, you are doing your part in helping ACE reach out to more communities and touch more lives. New items will be added to the auction continuously, so make sure to stay tuned!

Did you know 1 in 5 children will abuse inhalants by the 8th grade? Inhalant abuse refers to the deliberate inhalation or sniffing of fumes, vapors or gases from common household products for the purpose of "getting high".This site is designed to assist you in learning more about inhalant abuse prevention and giving you tools to help raise the awareness of others.
While here be sure to check out our free printable resources, and post any comments or questions on ACE’s community message board.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sue Scheff: Signs Your Teen May Be Using Drugs

Please note that even though some of these warning signs of drug abuse may be present in your teen, it does not mean that they are definitely abusing drugs. There are other causes for some of these behaviors. Even the lifestage of adolescence is a valid reason for many of them to exist.
On the flip side of that, do not ignore the warning signs of teenage drug abuse. If six of these signs, (not all in the same category), are present for a period of time, you should talk to your teen and seek some professional help.

Signs in the Home

loss of interest in family activities
disrespect for family rules
withdrawal from responsibilities
verbally or physically abusive
sudden increase or decrease in appetite
disappearance of valuable items or money
not coming home on time
not telling you where they are going
constant excuses for behavior
spending a lot of time in their rooms
lies about activities
finding the following: cigarette rolling papers, pipes, roach clips, small glass vials, plastic baggies, remnants of drugs (seeds, etc.)

Signs at School

sudden drop in grades
loss of interest in learning
sleeping in class
poor work performance
not doing homework
defiant of authority
poor attitude towards sports or other extracurricular activities
reduced memory and attention span
not informing you of teacher meetings, open houses, etc.
Physical and Emotional Signs

changes friends
smell of alcohol or marijuana on breath or body
unexplainable mood swings and behavior
negative, argumentative, paranoid or confused, destructive, anxious
over-reacts to criticism acts rebellious
sharing few if any of their personal problems
doesn't seem as happy as they used to be
overly tired or hyperactive
drastic weight loss or gain
unhappy and depressed
cheats, steals
always needs money, or has excessive amounts of money
sloppiness in appearance

Source: CDC.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teens and Substance Abuse

The Road to Recovery Update keeps you informed about activities leading up to National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month (Recovery Month) in September. Feel free to forward this information to friends and colleagues, include it in newsletters or listservs, or link to it from your Web site.

Last Call for Questions for May’s Ask the Expert: Thomas A. Kirk, Jr., Ph.D., Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services

Questions for the May Road to Recovery Webcast, Providing a Continuum of Care: Improving Collaboration Among Services, are due by Friday, May 22, 2009.

Submit your questions to Dr. Kirk by contacting us. Answers from Dr. Kirk will be posted on the Recovery Month Web site in early June. Contact information for questions will be kept confidential.

Mark Your Calendars for the June 3, 2009, Road to Recovery Webcast: Recovery and the Health Care/Insurance Systems: Improving Treatment and Increasing Access

On June 3, join host, Ivette Torres, Associate Director for Consumer Affairs, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services

Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), for the June 2009 Road to Recovery Webcast.

When the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Act of 2008 becomes effective in 2010, additional options will become available to those seeking addiction and mental health services. The Act will require group health plans to offer coverage for addiction and mental illness and provide benefits on par with those for all other medical and surgical conditions.

This program will examine what impact the Act will have on health care and insurance systems and what it means for individuals and families battling addiction. The show will also explore other issues related to health care’s role in recovery, such as proper screening and intervention, prescription drug abuse prevention, and treating co-occurring disorders.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teens and Substance Abuse

Every day in our schools and communities, children are teased, threatened, or tormented by bullies. To help care for our youth, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) developed webpages and resources (print and online) that serve can as useful tools to parents, educators, and everyone with today’s children, teens and tweens.

• About Bullying
• Systems of Care
• National Strategy for Suicide Prevention
• National Suicide Prevention Initiative

These sites offer parents, caregivers, educators, and other professionals a great opportunity to know the facts, recognize signs and symptoms, and access easy to read tips on how to talk to children about mental health. These resources can help caregivers build healthier, safer environments and support anti-bullying initiatives.
For additional information on this topic and more, or to order resources at no cost, please call the SAMHSA hotline at 1-877-SAMHSA-7 or visit

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teens and Drug Use

Washington, D.C. (May 4, 2009) — The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) applauds the latest nationwide survey results showing that more parents than ever are addressing over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine abuse with their teens. The Partnership/Metlife Parents Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) indicates that 65 percent of parents are talking to their teen about the dangers of using OTC cough and cold medicine to get high, up from 55 percent in 2007. PATS-Parents 2008 is a nationally projectable survey of 1,004 parents of children in grades 4-12 and was conducted by the Partnership with major funding from MetLife Foundation.

“We know that parents play a critical role in keeping their kids drug-free,” said Linda A. Suydam, president of CHPA. “It is great news that more and more parents are exercising that power and talking to their kids about cough medicine abuse just as they would about any substance abuse behavior.”
The latest PATS-Parents results show an 18 percent increase in parent-teen conversations about cough medicine abuse. This was the single highest increase in all categories examined in the survey.

“The data are encouraging, since we know that kids who learn a lot from their parents about the risks of drugs are up to 50 percent less likely to ever use drugs,” said Steve Pasierb, president of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Nationwide statistics from the National Institutes of Health’s Monitoring the Future study show a slight overall decline in teen cough medicine abuse. ”That is one of the reasons the Partnership is so committed to helping parents have these important conversations with their teens.”

CHPA works with the Partnership and other interested organizations on a number of initiatives targeting teen cough medicine abuse. All of the association’s efforts can be found on The site provides additional information on talking to teens about substance abuse issues, free pamphlets for parents in both English and Spanish, easy access to downloadable materials for community leaders, the initiative’s recently launched Facebook fan page, a new widget containing automatically updated information, the award-winning Five Moms Campaign, and much more.

“Our member companies are steadfast in their commitment to prevent teen cough medicine abuse. But we know that our work is far from over. With the help of such partners as the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, and D.A.R.E. America, we will continue our efforts to make sure all parents are aware of this substance abuse behavior and most importantly, talking with their children about it,“ remarked Suydam.

About PATS-Parents 2008The Partnership/MetLife PATS study is an in-home, anonymous survey conducted for the Partnership and MetLife by deKadt Marketing and Research with a margin of error of +/- 3 percent. For more information and the full PATS Parents report visit

Contacts: Mimi Pappas and Virginia Cox202.429.9260

CHPA is the 128-year-old-trade association representing U.S. manufacturers and distributors of over-the-counter medicines and nutritional supplements.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sue Scheff: Website

As a parent advocate, I always welcome valuable information and websites that can help educate parents and others with today’s concerns with substance abuse and other issues surrounding our children. website has a wide variety of educational information for parents and care givers of teens - also check out the Q&A below with Karen Reed, the American Pharmacists Association’s national spokesperson for American Pharmacists. – a Web site created by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to equip parents and adult caregivers with the tools they need to raise drug-free kids. You might have seen ads on TV recently calling attention to the issue of teen prescription drug abuse.

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

• More teens abuse prescription drugs than any illicit drug except marijuana

• Among 12- and 13-year-olds, prescription drugs are the drug of choice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A: It is easy for parents to miss prescription drug abuse because mood changes, temper outbursts, changes in sleeping habits and interests are typical teenage behaviors. You can smell alcohol and tobacco and marijuana — you can’t smell pills. Watch for changes in grooming, habits, and interests. Watch for negative changes in school work, school attendance, and declining grades. Watch for increased secrecy, changes in friends, and increased needs for money. Monitor your own prescription drugs and encourage friends and family to do the same.

Karen L. Reed, the American Pharmacists Association’s national spokesperson for American Pharmacists Month, is a graduate of West Virginia University School of Pharmacy and a staff pharmacist with Kmart in Beckley, West Virginia. She is a consultant pharmacist for Beckley Surgery Center and is serving her second term as chair of West Virginia’s Medicaid Drug Utilization Review Board. Reed is a preceptor for WVU PharmD candidates and a GlaxoSmithKline community pharmacy advisory board member. She is an APhA Fellow, past APhA- Academy of Pharmacy Practice and Management officer, past President of the West Virginia Pharmacists Association, recipient of the National Community Pharmacists Association Leadership Award, Merck Pharmacist Recognition Award, and the Wyeth-Ayerst Bowl of Hygeia. In 2002, Reed was named Kmart Pharmacist of the Year.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sue Scheff: Inhalant Abuse Prevention Kit


Download this valuable kit today and learn more about inhalant use. It is a serious concern today - since most inhalants are found in your household.

The Alliance for Consumer Education launched ITS Inhalant Abuse Prevention Kit at a national press conference at the National Press Club in Washington DC. The kit was successfully tested in 6 pilot states across the country. Currently, ACE’s Inhalant Abuse Prevention Kit is in all 50 states. Furthermore, the Kit is in its third printing due to high demands.

The Kit is intended for presentations to adult audiences. Specifically parents of elementary and middle school children, so they can talk to their children about the dangers and risks associated with Inhalants. We base the program on data from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Statistics show that parents talking to their kids about drugs decrease the risk of the kids trying a drug.

The Inhalant Abuse Prevention Kit contains 4 components: the Facilitator’s Guide, a FAQ sheet, an interactive PowerPoint presentation, and a “What Every Parent Needs to Know about Inhalant Abuse” brochure. Additionally, there are 4 printable posters for classroom use, presentations, etc.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Eating Disorders

Especially young girls today, the peer pressure can encourage your young teen/tween that being “thin” is in. Teen body image can lead to other concerns, whether your child is suffering with some depression, not being able to fit in at school, or just plain feeling fat and ugly - we need to talk to them and explain about Teens and Eating Disorders, including anorexic. Teen Obesity is another issue parents need to learn more about.

“I think that it definitely had something to do with my mom and my sister talking about different diets, and at that age …you don’t understand everything that they are discussing and the way that they’re discussing it, and in my head I blew it up as something bigger.”
– Shay Fuell, recovering anorexic

About 2.5 million Americans suffer from anorexia. Shay Fuell was only nine years old when the fixation began.

“(I) was starting to have body-image issues and looking in the mirror sideways and just pinching my skin seeing if there was fat there,” she says.

A few years later, she was 5-feet-2 and weighed 78 pounds.

“Literally, it becomes [a part of] every thought … in your head,” she says. “You can’t think about anything else. You can’t concentrate on anything. You can’t even hold a conversation with somebody because you are thinking about the last meal that you ate or what you should be doing to work out or how you’re going to be able to throw up without anybody knowing.”

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the number of girls under the age of 12 hospitalized for eating disorders has more than doubled since 1999.

“I don’t know if they’re actually developing them younger or if it’s that parents are having a greater awareness of what’s going on with their children,” says Brigette Bellott, Ph.D., a psychologist and eating disorder specialist.

What’s going on, typically, is depression, children obsessed with eating or overly anxious about their weight and their appearance.
“Things to watch,” says Bellott, “what do they believe about their own body? I mean I would ask that: “What do you think about your body, how do you feel about it?”

Experts say it’s crucial for parents to catch the first signs of an eating disorder because the fatality rate for anorexic women is 10 to 15 percent.

“Some of them [die] through malnourishment, some through suicide,” says Mary Weber-Young, L.P.C. “It is the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness.”

Shay wasn’t diagnosed until she was 14. It took five difficult years of treatment before she had fully recovered.
“It was an addiction,” she admits. “It was an obsession.”

Tips for Parents

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) describes an eating disorder as “an obsession with food and weight.” The two main eating disorders are anorexia nervosa (an obsession with being thin) and bulimia (eating a lot of food at once and then throwing up or using laxatives; also known as ‘binging and purging’). Who has eating disorders? According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders:
Eight million or more people in the US have an eating disorder.

Ninety percent are women
Victims may be rich or poor
Eating disorders usually start in the teens
Eighty-six percent of victims report onset by age 20
Eating disorders may begin as early as age 8
Seventy-seven percent report duration of one to 15 years
Six percent of serious cases end in death
It’s not always easy for parents to determine if their daughter or son is suffering from an eating disorder. But the AAFP does list the following warning signs for anorexia and bulimia:
Unnatural concern about body weight (even if the person is not overweight)
Obsession with calories, fat grams and food
Use of any medicines to keep from gaining weight (diet pills, laxatives, water pills)
The more serious warning signs can be more difficult to notice because people with eating disorders often try to hide the symptoms:

Throwing up after meals
Refusing to eat or lying about how much was eaten
Not having periods
Increased anxiety about weight
Calluses or scars on the knuckle (from forced throwing up)
Denying that there is anything wrong

If left untreated, people with eating disorders can suffer some health problems, including disorders of the stomach, heart and kidneys; irregular periods or no periods at all; fine hair all over the body, including the face; dry scaly skin; dental problems (from throwing up stomach acid); dehydration.

Eating disorders can be treated. The first step is getting back to a normal weight, or at least to the lower limits of the normal weight range, according to Dr. Rex Forehand, a psychologist at the Institute for behavioral Research at the University of Georgia. But more needs to be done, Dr. Forehand says. “Attitudes and beliefs about body weight and eating patterns must also be changed. A comprehensive intervention may be necessary.”

Treatment may require hospitalization. The physician may recommend a dietician. For both anorexics and bulimics, family and individual counseling may be helpful.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
American Academy of Family Physicians
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sue Scheff: Inhalant Abuse

About a year ago, a mother emailed me about her son’s tragic death - it wasn’t your typical drug overdose, it was normal household items that teens/kids are now using as a high. Inhalant Abuse is not discussed enough, and needs to be. These items are much easier for teens to find and a lot less expensive. A cheap high? It is awful to even have to think like this, but parents needs to be aware and take pre-cautions. As always, communication with our teens is number #1 - and I recommend you visit for more valuable information about this potentially deadly habit.

“They didn’t want to believe that I had a problem … their little girl, you know?”
– Kelli Crockett, 18 years old

Five years ago, 18-year-old Kelli Crockett was already drinking and smoking pot, but she wanted a different “high.”

“And I remember in middle school, actually a drug awareness program hearing about the inhalants, like the household products, you know, and I was like, ‘I know we’ve got something around the house,’ and I really wanted to get messed up,” Kelli says.

Air freshener, glue, paint thinner, furniture polish, hair spray: The government estimates over 17 percent of adolescents have tried inhalants at least once.

Certified Addiction Counselor Ashley Kilpatrick explains: “It’s accessible, I mean, that’s what the problem with inhalants is that they’re just so easy, they’re under the kitchen sink.”
Inhalants cut off oxygen to the brain, and that makes them extremely dangerous. Huffing just once can kill.

“It just feels toxic … you’re high for five minutes and then you feel sick,” Kilpatrick says.
Kelli adds, “I hated the way it made me feel, but … when I didn’t have anything else to use or drink or smoke, I did it cause it was around.”

Experts say a child who’s high on inhalants may seem drunk or disoriented. Parents should also look for signs around the house, like aerosol cans that are out of pressure or punctured on the bottom. There’s also a hangover effect.

“Headaches afterwards, dehydration, you know, bad moods, all that can last up to 24 hours after a use,” Kilpatrick says.

But experts say parents won’t see the signs if they’re in denial.
Kelli says it took an overdose that nearly killed her for her parents to notice. “They didn’t want to believe that I had a problem … their little girl, you know?” she says.

Tips for Parents
Nail polish remover, paint thinner, canned whipping cream, marking pens: Each of these common household items – and literally hundreds more – can be abused by inhaling. Inhalants are volatile substances that produce chemical vapors that induce a psychoactive, or mind-altering, effect when inhaled. Kids sniff, or “huff,” to get high.

According to the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug information (NCADI), sniffing can cause sickness and death. Victims may become nauseated, forgetful and unable to see things clearly. They may lose control of their bodies, including the use of arms and legs. The effects can last 15 to 45 minutes after inhaling. In addition, sniffing can severely damage the brain, heart, liver and kidneys. Even worse, victims can die suddenly – without any warning. It’s called “Sudden Sniffing Death,” which can occur during or right after sniffing. Even first-time abusers have been known to die from breathing inhalants.

More than 1,000 products are potential inhalants that can kill, including:

Cleaning agents
Computer agents
Correction fluid
Gases (whippets, butane, propane)
Hair spray
Lighter fluid
Paint products
How can you tell if your child may be abusing inhalants? The NCADI lists the following symptoms to look for in your child:
Unusual breath odor or chemical odor on clothing
Slurred or disoriented speech
Drunk, dazed or dizzy appearance
Signs of paint or other products where they wouldn’t normally be, such as on the face or fingers
Red or runny eyes or nose.
Spots and/or sores around the mouth
Nausea and/or loss of appetite
Appears anxious, excitable, irritable or restlessness (chronic inhalers)
Inhalant abusers also may show the following behaviors:
Sits with a pen or marker near nose
Constantly smells clothing sleeves
Shows paint or stain marks on the face, fingers or clothing
Hides rags, clothes or empty containers of the potentially abused products in closets and other places

If you suspect your child or someone you know is an inhalant abuser, you should consider seeking professional help. Contact a local drug rehabilitation center or other service available in your community.

National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information
National Institute on Drug Abuse

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sue Scheff: Driving While High

Source: Connect with Kids

“Pot is the sneakiest of drugs because it takes out your functioning. It decreases reaction time. It messes up judgment. It messes up driving,”
– Steven Jaffe, MD, psychiatrist

For a young driver, there are so many dangers: speed, ego, inexperience and another often ignored danger: drugs.

“I think it’s very irresponsible and it could lead to a lot of dangerous accidents. It’s just as bad as driving drunk – quite possible even worse,” says 17-year-old Allison Meisburg.

Researchers from the University of Montreal studied the habits of 83 male drivers. They found that nearly 20 percent have been high behind the wheel.

“…and I would estimate at least two or three times that number have been in the car in which the driver was stoned,” says Dr. Steven Jaffe, a psychiatrist, who specializes in substance abuse issues.

“[Driving while high] is not as bad as drinking and driving, but it is still bad of course, because you know your reflexes are delayed and all that jazz,” says 16-year old Justin.
Experts say teens simply don’t realize the dangers.

It’s hard to believe, but some kids believe pot helps them driver better.

“They really think they do,” says Dr. Jaffe. “But they don’t. They really don’t. They don’t realize they are impaired. Pot is the sneakiest of drugs because it takes out your functioning. It decreases reaction time. It messes up their judgment. It messes up driving.”

Dr. Jaffe says parents should adopt a zero-tolerance attitude. Remind your kids that pot is a mind-altering drug and not to ride with drivers who are high on any drug. Then, remind them of the consequences.

“The biggest consequence would be you run into another on-coming car during traffic and you kill them and yourself. That’d be the biggest consequence,” says Reggie, 17.
Dr. Jaffe concurs. “It only takes one time to kill yourself and kill somebody else.”

Tips for Parents

According to government studies, nearly 11 million Americans, including one in five 21-year-olds, have driven while under the influence of illegal drugs. Young adults don’t consider driving while high to be as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol, according to John Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Therefore, his office is starting a campaign warning teens about driving while smoking marijuana. Concentration, perception, coordination and reaction time can all be affected for up to 24 hours after smoking marijuana, Walters said.

So how can you determine if your teen has been using drugs, namely marijuana? The experts at the National Institute on Drug Abuse suggest looking for these trouble signs in your teen. He/she may:

Seem dizzy and have trouble walking
Seem silly and giggly for no reason
Have very red, bloodshot eyes
Have a hard time remembering things that just happened
Seem very sleepy or groggy (after the early effects fade, sleepiness may occur)
In addition to these signs, parents should also be alert to changes in any of the following:
Behavior, such as withdrawal, depression, fatigue, carelessness with grooming, hostility and deteriorating relationships with friends and family
Academic performance, including absenteeism and truancy
Loss of interest in sports or other favorite hobbies
Eating or sleeping patterns

Also be on the lookout for:
Signs of drugs and drug paraphernalia
Odor on clothes and in bedroom
Use of incense and other deodorizers
Use of eye drops
Clothing, posters, jewelry, etc., promoting drug use

National Institute on Drug Abuse
Parents. The Anti-Drug.
Office of National Drug Control Policy
University of Montreal

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teens and Substance Abuse

More from SAMSHA:

SAMSHA has created a site ( ) that provides quick links to information in packaged bundles, available for quick download or mail order. These resources provide tips for families and educators to talk to teens about drug use. This is a great opportunity to access legitimate research and gather additional facts on signs and symptoms of drug use, tips for addressing teen use of hallucinogens, club drugs, heroin, and methamphetamines, and family guides (also available in Spanish) designed to facilitate a healthy and open discussion about raising drug free teens.

Quick, easy to read information is available, such as these signs of possible drug use:

• Skipping classes or not doing well in school
• Unusual odors on their clothes or in their room
• Hostility or lack of cooperation
• Physical changes (red eyes, runny nose)
• Borrowing money often, or suddenly having extra cash
• Lack of interest in activities
• Significant mood changes
• Loss of interest in personal appearance
• Change in friends
• Heightened secrecy about actions or possessions

Our website ( ) will provide the information needed to arm yourself with the right tools to quickly and easily get the facts you need to talk to teens about drugs. If you like, you can download a free badge that you can add to your blog to show your support for education and communication around teen drug use. The badge will link directly to SAMSHA’s resources and provide a quick reference guide for your readers.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Sue Scheff: The Choking Game and Teens

The Choking Game - a teen thing? What is the Choking Game? It is definitely not a game any parent want to learn about the hard way. Learn more now about this horrific game through G.A.S.P. (Games Adolescents Shouldn’t Play).

I received an email from a mother that almost lost her son to this game. She is now part of an advocacy group to help inform and educate others about this choking game. She understands she almost lost her son, as a matter of fact, she thought she had. Miraculously, her son survived after several days in a coma following this incident. As a parent advocate, I always encourage others to share their stories, mistakes, experiences etc in an effort to help others. This is one of the many parents that is hoping you will learn from her firsthand experiences.

Source: G.A.S.P.

It’s not a game at all—just an act of suffocating on purpose.

Adolescents cut off the flow of blood to the brain, in exchange for a few seconds of feeling lightheaded. Some strangle themselves with a belt, a rope or their bare hands; others push on their chest or hyperventilate.

When they release the pressure, blood that was blocked up floods the brain all at once. This sets off a warm and fuzzy feeling, which is just the brain dying, thousands of cells at a time.

Personal Note from the Mother:

Holding my son, as he took his first breath of life, for the second time took my breath away. He got a second chance to make a better choice. What I witnessed defies logic and reason. I made a choice to quit trying to understand, and instead pour my passionate gratitude for his life into advocacy work - to be a ripple in the wave of some much needed change. Stopping this behavior only starts with awareness. Ed4Ed is a program of education for educators. I consider all who possess knowledge, all upon acquiring it who connect with youth, care for and/or guide them, are then in turn ambassadors of that truth – incumbent educators.

When I am personally presenting from the materials of the program, I conclude by passing that torch to those with whom I speak. This deadly activity, masquerading as a “game” is an international problem, with a simple solution, educate! Give our kids the facts and they’ll make a better choice. Once he became aware of what had happened, Levi just shook his head and said “I didn’t know, Mom. People pass out all the time. I didn’t know.” Not one boy in the 500 that attended his boarding school knew the facts. They studied physics, science, biology and anatomy. None thought of it as anything more than a parlor trick, something new to try, not drugs, not alcohol – just a game. When we know better, we do better. When they know better, they will too.
Learn More: * Version 9*Videos - are created in an MPEG-4 Movie FormatQuick Time - Is a compatible free downloadable software, - Current Version 7.6

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teens and Substance Abuse

Source: TeensHealth

These days, drugs can be found everywhere, and it may seem like everyone's doing them. Many teens are tempted by the excitement or escape that drugs seem to offer.

But learning the facts about drugs can help you see the risks of chasing this excitement or escape. Here's what you need to know.

Thanks to medical and drug research, there are thousands of drugs that help people. Antibiotics and vaccines have revolutionized the treatment of infections. Medicines can lower blood pressure, treat diabetes, and reduce the body's rejection of new organs. Medicines can cure, slow, or prevent disease, helping us to lead healthier and happier lives. But there are also lots of illegal, harmful drugs that people take to help them feel good or have a good time.

How do drugs work? Drugs are chemicals or substances that change the way our bodies work. When you put them into your body (often by swallowing, inhaling, or injecting them), drugs find their way into your bloodstream and are transported to parts of your body, such as your brain. In the brain, drugs may either intensify or dull your senses, alter your sense of alertness, and sometimes decrease physical pain.

A drug may be helpful or harmful. The effects of drugs can vary depending upon the kind of drug taken, how much is taken, how often it is used, how quickly it gets to the brain, and what other drugs, food, or substances are taken at the same time. Effects can also vary based on the differences in body size, shape, and chemistry.

Although substances can feel good at first, they can ultimately do a lot of harm to the body and brain. Drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, taking illegal drugs, and sniffing glue can all cause serious damage to the human body. Some drugs severely impair a person's ability to make healthy choices and decisions.

Teens who drink, for example, are more likely to get involved in dangerous situations, such as driving under the influence or having unprotected sex.
And just as there are many kinds of drugs available, there are as many reasons for trying them or starting to use them regularly. People take drugs just for the pleasure they believe they can bring. Often it's because someone tried to convince them that drugs would make them feel good or that they'd have a better time if they took them.

Some teens believe drugs will help them think better, be more popular, stay more active, or become better athletes. Others are simply curious and figure one try won't hurt. Others want to fit in. A few use drugs to gain attention from their parents.

Many teens use drugs because they're depressed or think drugs will help them escape their problems. The truth is, drugs don't solve problems — they simply hide feelings and problems. When a drug wears off, the feelings and problems remain, or become worse. Drugs can ruin every aspect of a person's life.

Here are the facts on some of the more common drugs:


The oldest and most widely used drug in the world, alcohol is a depressant that alters perceptions, emotions, and senses.How It's Used: Alcohol is a liquid that is drunk.

Effects & Dangers:

Alcohol first acts as a stimulant, and then it makes people feel relaxed and a bit sleepy.High doses of alcohol seriously affect judgment and coordination. Drinkers may have slurred speech, confusion, depression, short-term memory loss, and slow reaction times.Large volumes of alcohol drunk in a short period of time may cause alcohol poisoning.

Addictiveness: Teens who use alcohol can become psychologically dependent upon it to feel good, deal with life, or handle stress. In addition, their bodies may demand more and more to achieve the same kind of high experienced in the beginning. Some teens are also at risk of becoming physically addicted to alcohol. Withdrawal from alcohol can be painful and even life threatening. Symptoms range from shaking, sweating, nausea, anxiety, and depression to hallucinations, fever, and convulsions.


Amphetamines are stimulants that accelerate functions in the brain and body. They come in pills or tablets. Prescription diet pills also fall into this category of drugs.
Street Names: speed, uppers, dexies, bennies

How They're Used: Amphetamines are swallowed, inhaled, or injected.

Effects & Dangers:

Swallowed or snorted, these drugs hit users with a fast high, making them feel powerful, alert, and energized.

Uppers pump up heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure, and they can also cause sweating, shaking, headaches, sleeplessness, and blurred vision.

Prolonged use may cause hallucinations and intense paranoia.

Addictiveness: Amphetamines are psychologically addictive. Users who stop report that they experience various mood problems such as aggression, anxiety, and intense cravings for the drugs.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sue Scheff: Parent Teen Drug Use

Source: Connect With Kids

“I thought I was better off knowing what he was doing rather than have him be doing it behind my back, which he did anyway.”

Andrew’s mom Pam Wolpa experimented when she was young. She says, “Keep in mind when I was Andrew’s age, I was smoking pot, and wasn’t thinking a whole lot about it.”

So, when Andrew started on marijuana, she never told him no. Pam says, “I thought I was better off knowing what he was doing rather than have him be doing it behind my back, which he did anyway.”

If parents tried drugs in their youth…what should they say to their kids? Experts say one choice is to tell the truth. Dr. Michael Fishman, a director at Ridgeview Institute, a drug rehabilitation center in metro Atlanta says, “I think a child will really perk up and listen when they hear, ‘Oh, really? You experimented? What was that like? Was there peer pressure?’”

He says if parents do admit to using drugs, they should stress their regrets, and make it clear to their kids that drug use is simply unacceptable. Dr. Fishman says, “I think you can use that as an opportunity to say, ‘Yes, I made some mistakes. If I had it to do over, I wouldn’t do it, and it’s very clear that I’m not going to allow that today.”

He also says parents should explain drugs are far more potent today than they used to be. Dr. Fishman says, “When we were growing up the potency of marijuana for THC was maybe 6 to 8 percent. With the hydroponically grown marijuana, we’re seeing anywhere from forty, fifty, sixty or higher percent THC.”

Today, would Pam Wolpa overlook her son’s drug use? She says, “No. Looking back, I would never tell any parent to condone it. Give a clear message from the beginning—it’s not okay.”

Andrew Wolpa says, “The really bad thing is that I’m an 18-year-old in rehab and I still want to try more drugs.”

Tips for Parents
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) describes adolescence as a “time for trying new things.” Teens use alcohol and drugs for many reasons, including curiosity, because it feels good, to reduce stress, to feel grown up or to fit in. Teens at risk of developing serious drug and alcohol problems include those …

With a family history of substance abuse.
Who are depressed.
Who have low self-esteem.
Who feel like they don’t fit in or are out of the mainstream.
In addition, warning signs of teen drug abuse may include …

Fatigue, repeated health complaints, red and glazed eyes, and a lasting cough.
Personality change, sudden mood changes, irritability, irresponsible behavior, low self-esteem, poor judgment, depression and a general lack of interest.
Starting arguments, breaking rules or withdrawing from the family.
Decreased interest, negative attitudes, drop in grades, many absences, truancy and discipline problems.
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.
Peer pressure is one of the most difficult inducements faced by teens to use illegal substances. Experts at the Hazelden Foundation have created the following model that a teen might follow in dealing with pressure to use drugs or alcohol:

Ask questions – Size up the situation before "going along." For example, a classmate might say, "Hey, lets go hang out at the mall" – and have shoplifting in mind. To be responsible, ask, "What are we going to do? How long will we be there?" These questions will help you make informed decisions before getting into a problem situation.
Name the trouble – After you identify the situation, you need to state the possible problem: "That sounds like trouble to me."
State the consequences – Use the threat of punishment as an excuse not to drink. Say something such as, "My parents would ground me for months," or "I could get kicked off the soccer team."
Offer an alternative – If a friend invites you to drink or use drugs, suggest an alternative. "Lets go get pizza." If the friend pressures you more, walk away, but leave the door open. You could say, "Hey, that’s fine. Go do your thing. You’re welcome to join me later."
Get out of trouble – Should you find yourself in a problem situation, get out immediately and call a responsible adult for help.
Drugs are a threat to almost every child, and one of the best ways to help ensure your child will make the right decisions when faced with choices regarding substance abuse is to confront the issue with your child as early as possible. Experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics list the following as ways to address the subject of substance abuse with your child:

Talk with your child honestly. Don't wait to have "the drug talk" with your child. Make discussions about tobacco, alcohol and other drugs part of your daily conversation. Know the facts about how drugs can harm your child. Clear up any wrong information, such as "everybody drinks" or "marijuana won't hurt you."
Really listen to your child. Encourage your child to share questions and concerns about tobacco, alcohol and other drugs. Do not do all the talking or give long lectures.
Help your child develop self-confidence. Look for all the good things in your child – and then tell your child how proud you are. If you need to correct your child, criticize the action, not your child. Praise your child's efforts as well as successes.
Help your child develop strong values. Talk about your family values. Teach your child how to make decisions based on these standards of right and wrong. Explain that these are the standards for your family, no matter what other families might decide.
Be a good example. Look at your own habits and thoughts about tobacco, alcohol and other drugs. Your actions speak louder than words.
Help your child deal with peer pressure and acceptance. Discuss the importance of being an individual and the meaning of real friendships. Help your child understand that he/she does not have to do something wrong just to feel accepted. Remind your child that a real friend won't care if he/she does not use tobacco, alcohol or other drugs.
Make family rules that help your child say "no." Talk with your child about your expectation that he/she will say "no" to drugs. Spell out what will happen if he/she breaks these rules. Be prepared to follow through, if necessary.
Encourage healthy, creative activities. Look for ways to get your child involved in athletics, hobbies, school clubs and other activities that reduce boredom and excess free time. Encourage positive friendships and interests. Look for activities that you and your child can do together.
Team up with other parents. Work with other parents to build a drug-free environment for children. When parents join together against drug use, they are much more effective than when they act alone. One way is to form a parent group with the parents of your child's friends. The best way to stop a child from using drugs is to stop friends from using them.
Know what to do if your child has a drug problem. Realize that no child is immune to drugs. Learn the signs of drug use. Take seriously any concerns you hear from friends, teachers and/or other kids about your child's possible drug use. Trust your instincts. If you truly feel that something is wrong with your child, it probably is. If there's a problem, seek professional help.
According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA), parents are the key to keeping kids drug-free. CASA research shows that the extent to which parents take a “hands-on” approach in raising their kids, the more they establish appropriate rules and standards of behavior, and the more they monitor their teens, the lower the teen’s risk of substance abuse. “Hands-on,” according to CASA, includes parents who consistently take 10 or more of the following 12 actions:

Monitor what their teens watch on television
Monitor what they do on the Internet
Put restrictions on the music (CDs) they buy
Know where their teens are after school and on weekends
Expect to be and are told the truth by their teens about where they are going
Are “very aware” of their teen’s academic performance
Impose a curfew
Make clear they would be “extremely upset” if their teen used pot
Eat dinner with their teens six or seven times a week
Turn off the television during dinner
Assign their teens regular chores
Have an adult present when the teens return from school
American Academy of Pediatrics
The Hazelden Foundation
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse
Partnership for a Drug-Free America

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sue Scheff: Parents Learn About Teen Medicine Abuse

Welcome to the Five Moms: Stopping Cough Medicine Abuse Campaign

Learn about teen cough medicine abuse.Share information about abuse.

First launched in May 2007, the Five Moms Campaign has reached over 24 million parents with these basic messages to parents about preventing teen cough medicine abuse.

When the campaign launched, teen cough medicine abuse was on the increase. Now, nationwide statistics point to a slight decrease. That’s great news, but more work has to be done to eliminate this type of substance abuse behavior among teens.

CHPA brought together five moms—a pediatric nurse practitioner, an accountant, a D.A.R.E. officer, an educator, and an author—from different backgrounds and from all over the country to encourage parents to get involved in stopping cough medicine abuse. And now Five Moms is part of the effort.

Join the campaign. Membership is free and entitles you to the monthly e-newsletter and occasional e-mail updates. (Read our privacy policy.)

Tell your friends about teen cough medicine abuse. You can use the English or Spanish tell-a-friend feature.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sue Scheff: Tools to Stop Medicine Abuse

As a parent advocate, I continually receive information from a wide range of resources. Educating parents today about what our teens and pre-teens are facing is critical to raising our children. Today, as in many generations before, there are new concerns and challenges that parents face. Whether it is social networking, peer pressure, or substance abuse - parents need to stay in touch.

Communication should be a parent number 1 priority with today’s teens and pre-teens.
The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), founded in 1881, is a member-based association representing the leading manufacturers and distributors of nonprescription, over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and nutritional supplements. Many CHPA member products provide millions of Americans with safe, effective, and convenient therapies for the treatment and prevention of many common ailments and diseases.

Studies and common sense tell us that parents play a critical role in preventing substance abuse among teens by simply talking to them about it. CHPA’s Stop Medicine Abuse initiative empowers parents, as well as other community members, to get educated and take action in a variety of ways. Ultimately, the goal is to make sure parents talk to their kids before someone else does.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Parents Universal Resource Experts - Sue Scheff - Parenting Tips on Inhalant Abuse

Inhalant Abuse is more prevalent than parents think - probably because they are more accessible to kids. Read the following parenting tips on how to talk to your pre-teens and teens about the dangers of inhalant use. Visit for more information.

• Ask your pre-teen or teenager if he or she knows about Inhalant Abuse or
is aware of other kids abusing products.

• Reinforce peer resistance skills. Tell him or her that sniffing products to get
high is not the way to fit in. Inhalants are harmful: the “high” comes with
high cost.

• Encourage your child to come to you if he or she has any questions about

• Tell your child that the consequences of Inhalant Abuse are as dangerous as
those from abusing alcohol or using illegal drugs. Be absolutely clear
— emphasize that unsafe actions and risky behavior have serious consequences.

• Monitor your teen’s activities — set boundaries, ask questions. Be firm,
know his or her friends and his or her friends’ parents, know where they
meet to “hang out.”

• Educate your child about the dangers, but don’t mention specific
substances unless your child brings them up. While many youngsters know
kids are sniffing some substances, they may not know the full range of
products that can be abused; and you don’t want to give them suggestions.

• Tell your children that you love them and that their safety is your number
one priority. Tell them again…and again…and again.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sue Scheff: 20th Annual Teen Study Shows 25% Drop in Meth Use over 3 Years; Marijuana Use Down 30% Over 10 Years

Data Reveal First Major Increase in Number of Teens Reporting “Learning a Lot” About Risks of Drug Use From Parents

Teen Abuse of Prescription and Over-The-Counter Medicines Remains a Serious Concern

NEW YORK, NY – February 24, 2009 – The Partnership for a Drug-Free America today announced the findings from the 2008 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, (PATS) which revealed the first major increase in the number of teens who reported “learning a lot” about the risks of drugs from their parents. The study shows that 37 percent of teens reported learning a lot about the risks of drugs from their parents, a significant 16 percent increase from the previous year and the first major increase since the inception of the study. Research consistently shows that teens who learn a lot about the risks of drugs at home are up to 50 percent less likely to use, yet many parents have difficulty talking with their kids about drugs and alcohol. This progress coincides with data showing remarkable, sustained declines in several drugs of abuse – notably methamphetamine (meth) and marijuana – over the past several years.

“Parent-child communication about the risks of drugs and alcohol is critically important, and research has shown a lack of parental awareness of adolescent substance use,” said Dr. Amelia Arria, a senior scientist at the Treatment Research Institute and a nationally recognized researcher on the identification of risk factors for adolescent and young adult drug involvement. “This study may indicate that parents and teens are finding some common language and that these important messages are getting through. We hope to see this trend continue to increase, as there’s still much work to be done.”

According to the study, teen meth use has experienced a steep three-year drop, with past-month use down to 3 percent of teens – a significant 25 percent decline versus 2005. Teen attitudes about meth use corroborate this drop – 83 percent of teens see great risk in using meth regularly, about 85 percent see great risk in “getting hooked on meth” and more than half of teens, (54 percent) see trying meth once or twice as very risky.

While marijuana remains the most widely used illegal drug among teens, PATS indicates marijuana use has been declining for a decade, with past-year use down 24 percent since 1998, and past-month use down a full 30 percent (from 23 percent of teens down to 16 percent) over the same time period. Teen attitudes also reflect growing social disapproval of the drug, with 35 percent of teens agreeing strongly they “don’t want to hang around with anyone who uses marijuana,” up from 28 percent a decade ago.

The study also indicates a strong correlation between increased teen exposure to anti-drug messages on television and a decreased likelihood of trying drugs over the past ten years. Four out of ten teens (41 percent) agreed that anti-drug messages made them more aware of the risks of using drugs and less likely to try drugs (42 percent).

Red Flag: Parents Still Not Discussing Abuse of Prescription and Over-The-Counter Medicines Despite the increase in parent-teen discussions, only 24 percent of teens report that their parents talked with them about the dangers of prescription (Rx) drug abuse or use of medications outside of a doctor’s supervision; just 18 percent of teens say their parents discuss the risks of abusing over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine.

“The strong declines in illegal use combined with the news that teens are learning a lot about drugs and alcohol at home underscores the power and influence of parents,” said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Partnership. “Yet too many parents are missing opportunities to talk about the intentional abuse of prescription and OTC medications, which is the most pressing—and least understood— threat to our kids. This risky behavior is still not on parents’ radar, many of whom don’t realize that when abused or used without a prescription, these medications can be every bit as dangerous as illegal drugs.”

According to the survey, about 1 in 5 teens (19 percent) or 4.7 million reports abusing a prescription medication at least once in their lives, and 1 in 10 teens (10 percent) or 2.5 million teens reports having abused a prescription pain reliever in the past year. About 7 percent or 1.7 million teens have reported OTC cough medicine abuse in the past year.

The prevalence of and attitudes behind this behavior are cause for ongoing concern. PATS shows 41 percent of teens mistakenly believe that abuse of medicines is less dangerous than abuse of illegal street drugs and 61 percent of teens report prescription drugs are easier to get than illegal drugs, up significantly from 56 percent in 2005. One positive note is teen attitudes toward the abuse of OTC cough medicine have improved with the number of teens who agree that “taking cough medicine to get high is risky” significantly increased from 45 percent in 2007 to 48 percent last year.

Warning Signs: Teens See Slightly Less Risk in Steroid and Inhalant Use Steroid use remains low at 4 percent for lifetime use among teens. While there has been little overall change in the number of teens who see “great risk” in abusing steroids, fewer teens this year (65 percent) agreed strongly that teens who use steroids for athletic performance or physical appearance are putting their health at risk, down from 69 percent last year. Pre-teen and teen inhalant use remains steady at 11 percent for past year use, yet only 66 percent of teens report that “sniffing or huffing things to get high can kill you.” Both categories of abuse merit careful monitoring— as attitudes towards inhalant and steroid abuse weaken, use is more likely to increase. “We must be vigilant when attitudes show signs of weakening because this may portend future increases in substance use,” said Pasierb.

Insight: Today’s Teens More

Open About Discussing Substance Abuse, Seeking Help for Friends The 20th annual study offers new insights into the way the current generation of teens view substance abuse. PATS 2008 showed a statistically significant increase in the number of teens who reported trying to talk a friend out of using drugs at 41 percent and 40 percent of teens report being aware that they have a family member with a drug or alcohol problem. “With over 6,500 teens from across the nation in the study, these data indicate this generation has greater sensitivity to the health risks and downsides of substance abuse,” said Pasierb.

“Teens live in a world of social networking and connectedness – they’re more open, constantly sharing their thoughts and experiences. Teens recognize the impact of use, know others with a problem and seem to attach less stigma to getting help for themselves or a friend who is in trouble.” Given that kids who learn a lot about the dangers of drugs from their parents are up to 50 percent less likely to ever use, parents are encouraged to have frequent ongoing conversations with their children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and the abuse of Rx and OTC drugs.

Parent visitors to can learn to talk with their kids about drugs and alcohol and take charge of the conversation with their kids. The 20th annual national study of 6,518 teens in grades 7-12 is nationally projectable with a +/- 1.3 percent margin of error.

PATS Teens 2008 was conducted in private, public and parochial schools for the Partnership by the Roper Public Affairs Division of GfK Custom Research. For more information and the full PATS Teens Report visit

About the Partnership The Partnership for a Drug-Free America is a national non-government, 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 alcohol and drug abuse, intervene when drug and alcohol use is present and to find help and treatment for family and friends in trouble. Visit for more information.