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.
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