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.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Parents Universal Resource Experts - Sue Scheff: Sleeping Pills and Teens

“Part of it I think now is there is so much more pressure in the academic settings. There are kids who are working tremendous numbers of hours each evening to get their schoolwork done. I get a sense that many of them worry about how they are doing academically, and that tends to spill over into difficulties with sleep.”

– Richard Winer, M.D., Psychiatrist

Whether it’s an over-the-counter medication like Nyquil, or a prescription drug like Ambien or Sonata, more and more teens say they often take something to get to sleep.

“It’s mainly just stress… you want to study and then you realize you need to sleep because you have a test the next day and then you just take something,” says Chelsea, 19.

“An Ambien to knock me out,” adds 19-year-old Jessica.

“I’ll take Nyquil or something like that, just to help me get to sleep easier,” explains Allison, 19.

Why do kids today need help getting to sleep? Experts say there are several answers: greater academic pressure, more stimulation late at night, with cell phones, TV, computer games, instant messaging, more kids with ADHD taking stimulants like Ritalin, and an explosion in the use of caffeine drinks.

The result: at bedtime, many kids are looking for help in a pill.

“Our culture is certainly turned more toward a living better through chemistry approach,” say Psychiatrist Richard Winer, M.D.

He says the problem is the obvious: Sleeping aids can be habit forming. “My bias is toward keeping kids away from medication for sleep if at all possible. Because you don’t want to create some habits that’ll be even harder to break as time goes on in adulthood.”

He says for many kids, the solution is routine: Relax for a while, and then go to bed at the same time every night.

But, for some, the problem is more serious.

“There are a number of kids out there that have honest to goodness insomnia difficulties,” says Dr. Winer, “They have sleep disorders that do require treatment.”

Tips for Parents

A study performed by researchers at Stanford University found that teenagers require approximately one to two hours more sleep than 9- and 10-year-olds, who only require about eight hours of sleep. This goes against the school of thought that allows older kids to stay up later. Parents may want to be on the lookout for the following things, which could be caused from sleep deprivation:

Difficulty waking in the morning
Irritability in the afternoon
Falling asleep during the day
Oversleeping on the weekend
Having difficulty remembering or concentrating
Waking up often and having trouble going back to sleep
Sleep deprivation also can lead to extreme moodiness, poor performance in school and depression. Teens who aren’t getting enough sleep also have a higher risk of having car accidents because of falling asleep behind the wheel.

As the lives of children seem to be getting busier, their sleeping habits may be one of the first things impacted. Sleep, though being something that often gets sacrificed, is actually one of the most important things in a child’s life. Experts say taking sleep medications unauthorized by the FDA for teenage consumption is not the answer, however. Here are some suggestions about sleep:

Sleep is as important as food and air. Quantity and quality are very important. Most people need between seven-and-a-half to eight-and-a-half hours of uninterrupted sleep. If you want to press the snooze alarm in the morning you are not getting the sleep you need. This could be due to not enough time in bed, external disturbances or a sleep disorder.

Keep regular hours. Try to go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time every day. Getting up at the same time is most important. Getting bright light, like the sun, when you get up will also help. Try to go to bed only when you are sleepy. Bright light in the morning at a regular time should help you feel sleepy at the same time every night.

Stay away from stimulants like caffeine. This will help you get deep sleep, which is most refreshing. If you take any caffeine, take it in the morning. Avoid all stimulants in the evening, including chocolate, caffeinated sodas and caffeinated teas. They will delay sleep and increase awakenings during the night.

Use the bed just for sleeping. Avoid watching television, using laptop computers or reading in bed. Bright light from these activities and subject matter may inhibit sleep. If it helps to read before sleeping, make sure you use a very small wattage bulb to read. A 15-watt bulb should be enough.
Avoid bright light around the house before bed. Using dimmer switches in living rooms and bathrooms before bed can be helpful. Dimmer switches can be set to maximum brightness for morning routines.

Don't stress if you feel you are not getting enough sleep. It will just make matters worse. Know you will sleep eventually.

Avoid exercise near bedtime. No exercise at least three hours before bed.

Don't go to bed hungry. Have a light snack, but avoid a heavy meal before bed.

Bedtime routines are helpful for good sleep.

Avoid looking at the clock if you wake up in the middle of the night. It can cause anxiety.

If you can't get to sleep for over 30 minutes, get out of bed and do something boring in dim light till you are sleepy.

Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature.

If you have problems with noise in your environment, you can use a white noise generator. A fan will work.

American Sleep Apnea Association
National Sleep Foundation
Thomson Reuters

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sue Scheff: Help Prevent Drug Abuse

A generation ago, with the idea to prevent drug addition for future generations, former first lady Nancy Reagan launched her famous anti-drug campaign with the slogan, “just say no to drugs.” Sadly, addiction and drugs still plague our children despite the best efforts of educators and parents. The benefits of drug prevention are real but our approach to prevention has not been successful.

Now, drug and alcohol prevention research is available from Dr. John Fleming in the book Preventing Addiction. In this first-of-its-kind book, Dr. Fleming introduces real ideas to prevent drug use and alcohol consumption in our children based on medical science and on Dr. Fleming’s personal experience as a parent of four grown children. He helps to fully explain the phenomenon of addiction and shows parents the best new ways to raise and train children to avoid drug and alcohol addiction.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sue Scheff: Rise in Prescription Drug Abuse

“I was a bum, I had slept outside, I mean all the stuff that you hear … and I always pictured a drug addict to be somebody that sleeps under a bridge … and it happened before I even knew it.”

– Andrew Theriot, 21 years old

Andrew Theriot first tried the prescription painkiller OxyContin when he was 17. Within a month, he turned into someone nobody liked. Andrew says, “My friends, nobody trusted me. My family pretty much told me to get out after a long period of time … I would steal things.”

Experts say OxyContin gives an instant feeling of euphoria. Sue Rusche, President of the anti-drug group National Families in Action, says, “I think we have to be honest about drugs. I think we have to tell kids that the reason people use drugs is that drugs make you feel great … at first. And you gotta have that ‘at first’ part.”

Next comes addiction. Andrew spent every minute looking for drugs. He says, “I would wake up every day and I would just be miserable. And the only thing I would look forward to that day would be getting high.”

Addiction brought misery, and so did withdrawal when Andrew was in rehab. He says, “You get sick, you get the cold sweats, throwing up, stomach problems, you can’t eat. I mean I was down to 125 pounds.”

Andrew is now in college. He’s been drug free for two years, and has some advice to parents. “I mean, don’t be enablers. Don’t bail them out of jail. Don’t pay their fines. Don’t give them money. You know, if they want money, get a job. Don’t be the cause of them killing themselves.”

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.

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
American Academy of Family Physicians
Partnership for a Drug-Free America
National Institute on Drug Abuse
U.S. Food & Drug Administration

Friday, February 6, 2009

Parents Universal Resource Experts - Sue Scheff - Talking to your teens about Inhalant Abuse


• 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.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Parents Universal Resource Experts - Sue Scheff - Dangers of Teenage Drinking

Are you concerned about your teen or tween drinking? Do you smell alcohol on their breathe? Maybe they experimented for the first time - maybe they will get really sick and promise never again. Or maybe they really enjoyed it! Parents need to step up and educate their pre-teens and teens of the dangers of alcoholism, especially if there is a family member that suffers from this. Many believe this is a genetic disease, but I encourage all parents to whether this runs in the family or not, to be aware of this peer pressure. Much of this substance abuse can be started by peer pressure - a desire to fit in. To be cool. Well, be a cool parent and learn about this and talk to your kids about it before it becomes a problem.

Teens Don’t Just Drink. They Drink to Excess.

More than 10 percent of eighth graders, 22 percent of sophomores, and 26 percent of seniors report recent binge drinking (5+ drinks on the same occasion).

Statistics show that the majority of current teen drinkers got drunk in the previous month. That includes 54 percent of the high school sophomores who drink and 65 percent of the high school seniors who drink.

Reducing underage drinking can reduce drinking-related harm.

Brain Development and Alcohol Abuse

Research indicates that the human brain continues to develop into a person’s early 20’s, and that exposure of the developing brain to alcohol may have long-lasting effects on intellectual capabilities and may increase the likelihood of alcohol addiction.

The age when drinking starts affects future drinking problems. For each year that the start of drinking is delayed, the risk of later alcohol dependence is reduced by 14 percent.

Drinking and Driving

Car crashes are the leading cause of death among people ages 15 to 20. About 1,900 people under 21 die every year from car crashes involving underage drinking.

Young people are more susceptible to alcohol-induced impairment of their driving skills. Drinking drivers aged 16 to 20 are twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash as drinking drivers who are 21 or older.


Alcohol use interacts with conditions like depression and stress, and contributes to an estimated 300 teen suicides a year.

High school students who drink are twice as likely to have seriously considered attempting suicide, as compared to nondrinkers. High school students who binge drink are four times as likely to have attempted suicide, as compared to nondrinkers.

Sexual Behavior

Current teen drinkers are more than twice as likely to have had sexual intercourse within the past three months than teens who don’t drink.

Higher drinking levels increase the likelihood of sexual activity.

Adolescents who drink are more likely to engage in risky sexual activities, like having sex with someone they don’t know or failing to use birth control.

Other Risks

Teens who drink alcohol are more likely than nondrinkers to smoke marijuana, use inhalants, or carry a weapon.

Binge drinking substantially increases the likelihood of these activities.
Academic Performance

A government study published in 2007 shows a relationship between binge drinking and grades. Approximately two-thirds of students with “mostly A’s” are non-drinkers, while nearly half of the students with “mostly D’s and F’s” report binge drinking. It is not clear, however, whether academic failure leads to drinking, or vice versa.

For further information on the risks of adolescent alcohol use, visit the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Don’t serve alcohol to teens.

It’s unsafe. It’s illegal. It’s irresponsible.