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.