Sue Scheff: Teen Drug Use and Testing

drugtestMany parents contact us asking about home drug tests when they suspect their teens are using substances.  As we have discussed over and over, having an open line of communication with our kids is the first step towards finding out what they are feeling, what peer pressure they are facing and if they are experimenting with drugs.  Talk to your teen – and don’t stop talking.

Source: US News & World Report

These tricks are out there on the Web, so parents need to be informed

Google “beat drug test,” and the search engine spits out page upon page of ploys and products that can make incriminating urine seem drug free. All it takes is a computer-savvy teen to access them. The ease of cheating, in fact, is one of at least seven reasons parents shouldn’t try to test their kids for drug use. Instead, experts say, they should seek out a professional assessment.

“Cheating remains the Achilles’ heal of drug urine testing in all settings,” says Robert DuPont, president of the Institute for Behavior and Health Inc. and former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. With increasing opportunities for testing—by prospective employers, schools, and parents—experts worry that teens may have more impetus than ever to try. Last week, at the American Association for Clinical Chemistry’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., toxicologist Amitava Dasgupta of University of Texas-Houston medical school demonstrated various ways that employees try to beat workplace drug tests—and how experts foil these schemes in the laboratory. There’s nothing to stop kids from using the same tricks, and there’s no guarantee that parents will be able to catch them at home.

Here are five ways—some of them downright dangerous—that teens may try to cheat drug tests. They’re all described elsewhere on the Internet, so parents should be aware of them.

1. Tampering. A sprinkle of salt or a splash of bleach, vinegar, detergent, or drain cleaner is all that’s needed to muck up a urine specimen. These and other household substances are all too often smuggled into the bathroom and used to alter the composition of urine, making the presence of some illegal substances undetectable, says Dasgupta. Same goes for chemical concoctions sold all over the Internet. Sometimes these additives or “adulterants” will cloud or discolor urine, easily casting suspicion on the specimen, but others leave the sample looking normal. Laboratory toxicologists employ simple tests to catch these cheats. For example, a few drops of hydrogen peroxide will turn urine brown if it’s been mixed with pyridinium chlorochromate, an otherwise-imperceptible chemical designed to foil drug tests.

2. Water-loading. Gulping fluids before providing urine, a long-standing tactic, is still the most common way that teens try to beat tests, says Sharon Levy, a pediatrician and director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Children’s Hospital Boston. Whether cheats use salty solutions to induce thirst, flushing agents that increase urine output, or just plain old H20, their aim is to water down drugs so they can’t be detected. Some testing facilities may check urine for dilution and deem overly watery samples “unfit for testing.” But consuming too much fluid too quickly can occasionally have dire consequences. “Water intoxication” reportedly killed a woman following participation in a radio show’s water drinking contest, says Alan Wu, a professor of laboratory medicine at the University of California-San Francisco.

3. Switching drugs. Perhaps most alarming, says Levy, is that teens bent on defeating drug tests will sometimes switch their drug of choice to an undetectable (or harder to detect) substance that’s considerably more hazardous. Inhalants, for example, include numerous types of chemical vapors that typically produce brief, intoxicating effects. “You don’t excrete [inhalants] in your urine,” says Levy, but “inhaling is acutely more dangerous than marijuana.” Indeed, inhalants can trigger the lethal heart problem known as “sudden sniffing death” in otherwise healthy adolescents, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The tragic case of young David Manlove is an example.

4. Popping vitamins. Perhaps it’s because niacin (aka vitamin B3) is known to aid metabolism, or perhaps it’s because Scientologists are said to take it in excess to flush their bodies of toxins. Whatever the reasons, some teens got the idea that extreme doses of this vitamin would erase any trace of their illicit drug use. Instead, it almost cost them their lives. In two separate incidents, emergency physician Manoj Mittal of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has found adolescents who downed at least 150 times the daily recommended dose of niacin (15 mg) to cheat drug tests. (He described the cases last year in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.) Both kids were vomiting, had low blood sugar, and had “significant” liver toxicity when they arrived at the ER. And the niacin didn’t even do what they’d intended; both tested positive for illicit drugs. “People might think that since [niacin] is a vitamin it’s harmless,” says Mittal. “But these cases suggest that our bodies have limits.”



5. Swapping urine samples. Whether they use a friend’s clean urine, synthetic pee, or even freeze-dried urine purchased online, some teens try to pass off foreign samples as their own, says Levy. The biggest tip-off is temperature. “Anything significantly lower than body temperature is suspicious,” says Dasgupta, which is why some have tried to shuttle samples in armpits or taped to thighs to keep them warm. Possibly the oddest trick of all is a device marketed to those trying to beat witnessed drug collections, says Wu: a sort of prosthetic penis called the “Whizzinator” that claims to come equipped with clean urine “guaranteed” to remain at body temperature for hours, with the help of special heat pads. “Believe it or not, [the prosthesis] comes in different colors,” says Wu.


Parents Universal Resource Experts – Sue Scheff: Parenting Teens and Physical Education

In today’s generation of technology many kids are found behind their computer screens, cell phones, IPods, etc rather than participating in physical activities.  It is important for parents to encourage their children and teens alike to become more active. It can not only stimulate your brain but offers stress relief when the pressures of being a teen can become overwhelming.  PE4Life offers some educational and important information for parents – read more and take the time to exercise your mind!

pe4lifelogoSource: PE4Life


Parents are busy with a full workday, helping their children with homework, engaging their children in after school activities, and so on. This doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for physical activity in your own lives. Do you realize that schools have devalued and cut physical education to the point that the majority of children get one day of PE per week? Children today have a shorter life expectancy than their parents for the first time in one hundred years because of the epidemic of obesity, according to Dr. William Klish, Professor of Pediatrics and Head of Pediatric Gastroenterology at Baylor College of Medicine. Lack of PE at school is a disservice to your child’s health. Speak up. Demand that your school offers daily quality physical education. Use PE4life as a resource partner to enhance your school’s PE program. A recent study revealed that 81% of teachers and 85% of parents favor requiring students to take physical education every day at every grade level. As parents, you can rally people in your community to get involved by ordering a PE4life Community Action kit video and show it to the PTA, the school board and other community groups. The next step is to invite PE4life to make a presentation to your school leaders, bring a team of people to train at a PE4life Academy, or invite PE4life to do an in-service for your school staff. As your resource partner, PE4life can provide these and many other services to your school as you work to get children more active and healthy.

The PE4life Approach to Physical Education:


  • Be offered to every child every day
  • Be available for all students, not just the athletically inclined
  • Provide a wide variety of sports and fitness activities to promote an active and healthy lifestyle  
  • Assess students on their personal progress toward fitness and physical activity goals
  • Incorporate technology on a regular basis
  • Extend beyond the walls of the gymnasium to form community and business partnerships 



Today’s “New P.E.,” as exemplified by PE4life, is a health-and-wellness-based approach to physical education that caters to all students, not just the athletically inclined.  Students are encouraged to pursue a variety of sports and physical activities (team and individual) – for a lifetime. 

  • Get InvolvedBecome a Friend of PE4life, get your community involved, sign up up for the PE4life newsletter and communicate to government leaders.
  • News & InfoGet the latest information on physical education, childhood obesity,  exercise and the brain, youth fitness and legislative news.  Also link to other great websites.
  • ResultsReview research findings and measurable outcomes of PE programs.
  • Grant InfoFind creative sources of funding for the physical education program at your child’s school and a forum where you can ask questions or share your thoughts and successes.
  • PE4life Program ServicesFind information about our Program Service Packages, how to order our services, training dates, academy locations, and testimonials.
  • EventsFind dates for Academy Training, National PE4life Day, PE4life Workshops, and PE Conferences.

Sue Scheff: Parent Teen Drug Talk

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

Parents Universal Resource Experts- Sue Scheff – Stop Crimes Online

loc_logoSource: Love Our Children USA

Violence against children is completely preventable!Keeping kids safe from harm and violence is up to everyone of us!

Be Informed … Be Involved …Make a Difference in a Child’s Life

Violence against children only ends when a child comes forward or a concerned person recognizes the warning signs and reports the abuse.

Sometimes, people may fear getting personally involved or they may be in denial of a child they know who is being hurt. Child violence is a problem on the national and local levels that requires action in the form of caring individuals in each community.

And now the Internet has become a real danger to kids of all ages.

A person’s actions, or lack of action, not only affects the abused child, but everyone in our country.

Click Here To Report Non-Online Violence Against Children

Reporting Internet Crime

The Cybertipline handles leads on a variety of Internet criminal activity and is forwarded to law enforcement. Learn what you can do if you suspect illegal or dangerous activity online.

You can file reports at  or call your local police force or law enforcement agency, i f you know a child who is in danger or at risk of an online crime.

Definition of Online Crimes

Possession, Manufacture, and Distribution of Child Pornography
Child pornography has been defined under federal statute as a visual depiction of a minor (child younger than 18) engaged in sexually explicit conduct

Online Enticement of Children for Sexual Acts
Use of the Internet to entice, invite, or persuade a child to meet for sexual acts, or to help arrange such a meeting, is a serious offense

Prostitution of Children

Prostitution is generally defined as performing, offering, or agreeing to perform a sexual act for any money, property, token, object, article, or anything of value

Sex Tourism Involving Children

It is against the law for any United States citizen to travel abroad to engage in sexual activity with any child under the age of 18. Individuals who partake in this illegal activity are subject to prosecution in the United States even if they committed the crime on foreign soil.

Child Sexual Molestation (not in the family)
Child sexual exploitation (not in the family), also known as extra-familial child sexual abuse, includes all sexual exploitation of a child by someone other than a family member.

Unsolicited Obscene Material Sent to a Child

It is an unfortunate reality of the Internet that children will encounter obscene aterial online. Many times this material is attached as an image(s) or hyperlink(s) sent to a child in an unsolicited E-mail or “spam.”

To combat this problem NCMEC takes reports of unsolicited obscene material sent to a child. It is a violation of criminal law for any person to knowingly or attempt to send or transfer obscene material to another individual who has not attained the age of 16 years

Please report any incidents where a child may have received visual depictions of persons engaging in sexually explicit conduct that is obscene.

If you are an adult who is concerned about adult obscenity not involving children on the Internet, please make a report to

Misleading Domain Name

It is a federal offense to use a misleading domain name on the Internet with the intent to deceive a minor into viewing material that is harmful to minors, regardless of whether the material meets the legal definition of obscenity. Please report the use of a misleading domain name that has directed a child to a web site containing harmful materials to children.

Adults who are concerned about obscenity that has not been accessed by a child on the Internet may file a report at

Facts You Should Know About Violence Against Children

Forms of Violence and Neglect Against Children

What Makes People Harm and Neglect Children

What You Can Do To Help

Resources To Help You

Purchase A Blue Ribbon

DONATE Love Our Children USA depends on donations from individuals like you. Your generosity and support will help us fulfill our mission of breaking the cycle of violence against children and, help to increase programs to protect children and strengthen families in every community.

It’s Time To Break The Cycle of Violence Against Children … Before It Starts!

Get Angry And SAVE A Child.

Reporting Online Crime Against Children

Parents Universal Resource Experts – Sue Scheff – Parenting Digital Kids!

comppeople2Vanessa Van Petten is always keeping parents up to date through her valuable website called OnTeensToday.  I love getting her latest articles, they always educate us as to what our kids may be going through in today’s generation of life as they live it.

Here is this week’s blast of news for you – and the topic is one that every parent needs to take the time to learn about. Digital Kids!

5 Code Cracking Perspectives on Digital Kids

I post a lot about kids online and Growing Up Online Series.  Recently, after going on my media tour with Symantec on their new Parental Control Software, my mind was opened to a bunch of new issues and their solutions…please read on:

1) Curiosity vs. Obsession

Many parents have found their kids on a porn website and pro-anorexia site and has freaked out.  Before breaking out the handcuffs and throwing the computer out the window, I think there needs to be a distinction between what is simple adolescent curiosity and what is a real problem.  I am just going to say it, I do not think a teenager checking out a porn site once or twice is that big of a deal.  We have all wondered…there becomes an issue when it becomes a habit.  No matter if it is once or 100 times, either way parents should talk to their kids about what they have seen.  Your kid might be more disturbed by what they saw than you know, and you need to be there for them.

Top 10 Tips For Helping Your Kids Avoid Online Porn

2) Intention

One of the members of the Norton Online Family Advisory Council made a wonderful point about the intention of what your kids are searching for or how they got to a bad site.  Often times children and kids will often mistype or click accidentally on a website that happens to take them to somewhere inappropriate.  Then, if the parent checks the web history or has a spyware product (Review of Parental Control Software), they freak out and punish the child.  I ask that you try to find out what your child’s intention was going to that site or carrying out their behavior online.  This holds true for Cyberbullying, posting on social networks and cursing on IM chats…why, this can greatly affect the punishment, consequence or outcome.

3) Forensic Parents

Marian Merritt, of Symantec, told a great story about when she saw that her daughter had accidentally visited a voyeur porn site.  Like a detective, she used her the Norton parental control software to work backwards to figure out what had happened before freaking out.  Her daughter, 14, had searched “Bride Wars” into Google.  This had taken her to Youtube.  There she watched a number of videos and trailers for the movie.  Then, in one of the comments, someone had posted a link that said “if you like these clips, check out this one!”  This link took her to a porn site.  After this, Marian went to talk to her and her daughter was relieved (but never would have come to her on her own) and was upset about what she saw.  She actually asked Marian to turn on the blockers for those sites in the future.  Often times, kids do not want to go on those forbidden sites as much as you do not want them to.

4) Facebook is the new Playground

I am often asked by freaked out parents if they could just ‘unplug’ the internet and not allow their kids online to avoid all the dangers.  This is not realistic.  20 years ago, parents could prevent their children from going on the playground to avoid a bully, but this would have taught their kids resilience, or how to handle it if and when they were bullied.  Teaching kids to measure that uncomfortable feeling in the pit of their stomach, ask for help when they need it and where to ask needs to be learned by letting them live a little online.  Resilience is key.

5) Protect Them and Tell Them

I had a teen client go to college recently and get a new computer.  Within a few weeks it was totally unusable because of a virus that had been downloaded.  When we asked the teen why they had clicked on some of these unreliable downloads, he said that in the past he had done it and nothing had happened.  This is because his parents, being awesome parents, had always either blocked dangerous popups with parental control software and/or had really great virus protection on their computer, but they never told him! It has always been done for him and so when he was on his own, he learned the hard way.  If you are protecting your kids or your computer, let them know hat you are doing and how you are doing it so they do not take it for granted!

The majority of kids do not want to do bad things online.  They want to play games, share pictures and watch silly Youtube videos.  Know the intention if something goes wrong, try to work backwards and always work on teaching resilience and self-reliance in the online world.  Parenting and going online are no longer separate, they are one in the same.

Parents Universal Resource Experts – Sue Scheff: Stop Medicine Abuse and Teens

stopmedicineabusemainAs 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.