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.