Teen Medicine Abuse: A Growing Problem

EndMedAbuseWith the holidays around the corner, teens will have more time at home — and let’s remember, more time visiting relatives and friends.

Have you cleaned out your medicine cabinet lately?

Many parents are not aware of simple household items and over-the-counter medicines that could become deadly if not used as instructed.

Don’t be a parent in denial, be proactive.

“Out of Reach” is a special documentary created by a teen filmmaker who captures the issue of teen prescription drug abuse as it exists in his world. The issues contained in the film are a reflection of this issue across the country. It was created in collaboration with director Tucker Capps (of A&E’s “Intervention”) and The Partnership at Drugfree.org’s Medicine Abuse Project.

Teen Suicide: Crisis on Campus

Student suicides: Be an educated parent.

An infographic by the team at College Degree Search

Hard numbers:
6 % of undergraduates and 4 percent of graduate students in 4-year colleges have “seriously considered attempting suicide” in the past year—and nearly half of each group did not tell anyone.
3X: The suicide rate among young adults, ages 15-24, has tripled since the 1950s and Suicide is currently the 2nd most common cause of death among college students.
1,100: number of suicides that occur at colleges every year – that’s roughly 7.5 per 100,000 students. 1 in 12: number of college students who have actually made a suicide plan at some point 1.5: number of college students out of every 100 who have actually attempted it.
2X as many young men, ages 20-24, commit suicide, compared with young women.
In the past 50 years, the suicide rate for those age 15-24 increased by over 200%.
12 people aged 15-24 will commit suicide today – that is one about every two hours.

Demographics:

Caucasians account for over 90% of all completed suicides.
2X: though Caucasians are twice as likely to commit suicide as African Americans; the rate of suicide is growing faster among young African Americans than among Caucasians.
Suicide rates from 1980-1995 increased 93% for African American females (age 15-24) and 214% for African American males (age 15-24).
Native Americans have the highest suicide rate among all 15-24 year olds.
Asian American women have the highest suicide rates among women ages 15 to 24.
Men commit suicide more than four times as often as women, but women attempt suicide about three times as often as men.
Suicide by firearm is the most common method for both men and women.

FACT: The emotional health of college freshmen — who feel buffeted by the recession and stressed by the pressures of high school — has declined to the lowest level since an annual survey of incoming students started collecting data 25 years ago.
The percentage of students who said their emotional health was above average fell to 52 percent.
It was 64 percent in 1985.

Campus stress producers
• Cost: Financial pressure, tuition plus room and board, is a huge stress-inducer.
• Competitiveness: How academically rigorous is the school?
• Acceptance rate: More competitive schools generally produce a more competitive student body.
• Crime on campus: is it safe?
• It’s the economy, stupid: has added to the stress, not just because of financial pressures on their parents but also because the students are worried about their own college debt and job prospects when they graduate.

5 Most Stressful Universities
5. Northwestern University Undergraduate Enrollment: 9,660 Total Price per Year: $58,829 Percent of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 51 percent Average Amount of Financial Aid: $23,337 Average of Financial Aid as Percentage of Total Price: 49 percent Percent of Applicants Admitted: 23 percent Crime Rank (among top 25): 23
4. Harvard University Undergraduate Enrollment: 10,277 Total Price per Year: $56,000 Percent of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 47 percent Average Amount of Financial Aid: $33,276 Average of Financial Aid as Percentage of Total Price: 59 percent Percent of Applicants Admitted: 6 percent Crime Rank (among top 25): 13
3. Columbia University in the City of New York Undergraduate Enrollment: 8,184 Total Price per Year: $59,208 Percent of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 50 percent Average Amount of Financial Aid: $31,796 Average of Financial Aid as Percentage of Total Price: 54 percent Percent of Applicants Admitted: 10 percent Crime Rank (among top 25):
2. University of Pennsylvania Undergraduate Enrollment: 11,852 Total Price per Year: $57,360 Percent of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 50 percent Average Amount of Financial Aid: $25,952 Average of Financial Aid as Percentage of Total Price: 45 percent Percent of Applicants Admitted: 12 percent Crime Rank (among top 25): 9
1. Washington University in St Louis Undergraduate Enrollment: 7,303 Total Price per Year: $58,901 Percent of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 50 percent Average Amount of Financial Aid: $23,963 Average of Financial Aid as Percentage of Total Price: 41 percent Percent of Applicants Admitted: 17 percent Crime Rank (among top 25): 6

Sizing up the risk factors include:
Prior history of suicidal behavior
Family history of suicide or suicide attempts
Suicidal behavior of a friend or colleague
Mental health problems like depression or substance abuse
Family history of depression or substance abuse
Easy access to lethal methods (like firearms)
Interpersonal isolation
Impulsive, aggressive or antisocial behaviors
History of abuse or family violence
Some common warning signs are when student:
Talks about suicide, death or having no reason to live
Is preoccupied with death and dying
Has trouble eating or sleeping
Experiences drastic changes in behavior
Withdraws from friends or social activities
Loses interest in hobbies, work, school, etc
Prepares for death by making out a will and final arrangements
Gives away prized possessions
Takes unnecessary risks
Relationship difficulties including a recent loss or threat of significant loss
Loses interest in their personal appearance
Increases their use of alcohol or drugs
Expresses a sense of hopelessness
Is faced with a situation of humiliation or failure
Performance difficulties
Legal or financial trouble
Is unwilling to “connect” with potential helpers

In America, someone attempts suicide once every minute, and someone completes a suicide once every 17 minutes. Throughout the world, approximately 2,000 people kill themselves each day.

What can parents do?
Stay in touch with your college kid. Freshmen especially need to know that the family support they relied on through childhood is still there, even long distance
Chat by phone, IM or Skype
Send care packages
Visit occasionally
Be a calming voice when things get rough
Do not undervalue the importance of sleep, diet, exercise and de-stressing activities
Familiarize yourself with the student health and mental health services available on campus, so you can remind your child of the support available on campus
Be sensitive to the signs of stress
What is being done to combat college student suicide:
The Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act (GLSMA) is the first piece of legislation to provide federal funds specifically for youth, adolescent and college age suicide prevention. Included in the bill is $31 million for over five years to fund the matching-grant programs for colleges and universities to help raise awareness about youth suicide
The Campus Suicide Prevention Grants program supports colleges and universities in their efforts to prevent suicide among students and to enhance services for students with depression, substance abuse, and other behavioral health problems that put them at risk of suicide.
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention is taking action on a broader scale. With this public/private partnership, leaders from Government, business, the advocacy community, and other groups are working together to advance the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.
National Graduate Student Crisis Line, offers immediate help for grads in crisis 1-800-GRAD-HLP (1-800-472-3457)

Teens and Internet Gossip

TeenCyberbullyingSocial media sites such as Ask.fm have been in the news lately and the headlines are not ones that parents would one to hear about their teens.  Gossip, whether online or off, can be cruel and harmful to others, especially when a person is already struggling with self-esteem issues.

“Sure enough, I had a parent come to my door and say, ‘Your daughter has been saying some rather nasty things about my daughter on this website.’”

– Patti, Mother

High school students have always spread gossip in the halls, on the walls and on the phone.  Now, it’s on the Internet, too.  On various message boards specific to communities around the country, kids write about whom they hate, whom they think is pregnant or has an STD and record other often hurtful rumors that may or may not be true.

Sixteen-year-old Jessica remembers once when some kids at her school wrote cruel things about her on the Web.

“They were just making fun of me,” she says.  “You know, she’s really ugly, she’s this, she’s that, ba-ba-ba.”

Jessica’s 11-year-old sister, Emma, admits she’s used the Web to write nasty things about another girl, though she regrets it now.

“After a while, you’re like, how could I have been so mean?  Like, why did I do that?” she says.

The other girl’s father eventually became so frustrated with what Emma had said that he came to her door and demanded her mother make her stop.

Experts say gossip on the Internet can be more harmful than the old-fashioned kind.  It’s often anonymous because kids use fake screen names.  It has the power of the written word, so it lasts longer and is taken more seriously.  And, unlikely ugly words on the bathroom wall, there’s no way to scratch it out.

“Online gossip is to hearsay gossip probably what nukes are to dynamite,” says Dr. Ramah Commanday, a school psychologist.  “It can get EXTREMELY raunchy.”

If your kids are victims of online gossip, Dr. Commanday suggests putting the gossip into perspective.

“Point out to them how what’s being said on the screen differs from what everyone knows about you as a person,” Dr. Commanday says.

You can also try what worked for Emma:  Keep your kids off the offensive website!

“When she was using it all the time, her name was on there all the time.  People were writing things about her,” explains Patti Thrift, Emma’s mother.  “Since she has no longer had access to that, she’s no longer a topic of conversation.”

Experts say that any time your child is on the Internet, you should know what he or she is doing there.  Online gossip is just another reason why.

Tips for Parents

Most of us remember passing notes during class or swapping stories over lunch with our friends in middle and high school.  But with more teens accessing the Internet these days, it appears that gossip has gone high-tech.  Teens are using message boards, instant messaging and even email to air out their frustrations – often in hurtful language – about their teachers and peers.

According to an Internet Report from the UCLA Center for Communication Policy, 97% of kids aged 12 to 18 access the Internet on a regular basis.  What they’re doing on the Internet, however, may be surprising.  The U.S. Department of Justice reports that approximately one in every 17 kids is threatened or harassed while using the Internet.  In fact, most don’t tell their parents or other adults, and if they do, the adults often don’t know how to stop the online teasing.

Gossiping, whether it’s in the halls or on a message board, more often than not leads to hurt feelings.  According to the Nemours Foundation, if teens spend enough time gossiping and passing on stories they don’t know are true, eventually no one will believe anything they say, even when it is the truth.  Teens who gossip shouldn’t expect to be trusted ever again.  Once friends learn that a peer can’t resist spreading secrets around, they won’t tell him or her anything personal.  And if a teen gossips about personal or important issues, he or she could even end up in trouble at school and at home.  Teachers don’t appreciate students who make it tough for other students to learn, and parents won’t be happy to hear that their child is causing trouble in school.

If you’ve heard your teen taking teasing and gossiping to a hurtful level, it’s time to remedy the situation.  The experts at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota offer the following advice for curbing your teen’s gossiping and teasing:

  • Cultivate your teen’s compassion.  Talk to him or her about feelings – how emotional blows can hurt as much as physical ones.  “You wouldn’t throw a rock at that boy, would you?  So you shouldn’t call him a ‘zit-face’ either.”
  • Give your teen a simple test he or she can use to judge if his or her teasing is playful or hurtful:  “How would I feel if someone said this about me?”
  • Talk to your teen about the when and where of playful teasing.  He or she shouldn’t always resort to sarcasm or jokes at someone else’s expense in order to get a laugh.
  • Examine your own behavior and that of other family members.  Do you rib your children at length, even after they plead with you to stop?  Do you tease inappropriately, that is, about the way people look or the habits they have?  Are you confusing razzing with teaching and discipline – for instance, do you communicate your frustration about your teen’s messy room by calling him “Mr. Slob”?  Make sure that your own teasing (and that of everyone else in your household) is good-natured, not aggressive or manipulative.

As a parent, it is also important to regulate how your teen uses the Internet.  If you know what your teen is doing while online, you can better prevent him or her from visiting message boards where the temptation to gossip exists.  The Media Awareness Network suggests considering the following questions concerning how your teen surfs the Net:

  • Are you involved in your teen’s online activities?  Do you know what he or she is doing and whom your teen is talking to when he or she is on the Internet?
  • Does your family have a set of rules or an agreement for appropriate Internet use?
  • Do you make Internet use a family activity by guiding your teen to good sites and teaching him or her how to do safe, effective searches?
  • Have you taught your teen not to believe everything he or she reads online and to check online information with an adult or with another source?
  • If your teen has her or his own website, have you checked to make sure it doesn’t contain harmful or hurtful information?
  • Have you talked to your teen about responsible online behavior?  Does he or she understand that making threats or harassing others online can be considered illegal activities?

References

  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
  • Media Awareness Network
  • Nemours Foundation
  • UCLA Center for Communication Policy
  • U.S. Department of Justice

Addiction is a Disease: Teen Substance Abuse

It may start with a joint, but where will it end up?

It may start with a joint, but where will it end up?

The tragic loss of Corey Monteith has robbed us of of yet another young, talented, life cut down in its prime. At only 31 years-old, he had a bright future and an exceptional career most only dream of.

Corey Monteith never hid the fact he had struggled with substance abuse and addiction issues, on the contrary, he entered rehab many times for help.  Unfortunately it seems,  the demons of chasing the dragon (heroin) took over at the end.

What demons are we speaking about? No, not Satan, but substance abuse.

Many parents will overlook their teen only smoking pot, or just drinking a little, but in reality your denial is only harming your teenager.

Before becoming an addict, it start with just a joint – maybe just a shot of vodka, but where it ends up, no one knows.

What is addiction?

Addiction has long been understood to mean an uncontrollable habit of using alcohol or other drugs. Because of the physical effects of these substances on the body, and particularly the brain, people have often thought that “real” addictions only happen when people regularly use these substances in large amounts.

Addiction – there is a psychological/physical component; the person is unable to control the aspects of the addiction without help because of the mental or physical conditions involved. – Medical News Today

Let this tragedy be a time to open the door to communication with your teen. Talk about the dangers of drug use, drinking and other negative behaviors.

If your teen is using drugs and you are concerned about their health and safety, be proactive.  Corey started at 12 years old.  Don’t be a parent in denial – don’t assume it is just a phase.  Intervene as a parent now, you won’t regret it.

Visit www.helpyourteens.com for resources and options to get your at-risk teen help.

 

Teen Help: Good Kids Bad Choices

TeendefianceSummer is here and some parents will be considering summer camps while others are in the midst of hoping their teenager passed the school year, or had enough credits to graduate. If you are the parent of a teen who is struggling with school and acting out, it can drive you to your wit’s end.
Maybe your once fun-loving teenager who is good looking, intelligent, and has lots of good friends is now talking back to you, staying out late or sneaking out, defiant, and possibly sexually active? On the flip side, your once sweet child might be a teenage misfit who is acting out because of bullying, or is experimenting with sex, drugs, and/or alcohol in a desperate attempt to find acceptance.
What happens when you have a teenager that decides they don’t want to finish high school when they are more than capable? Perhaps they were consistently getting excellent grades and now they are just getting by or failing completely.  From an overachiever to an underachiever.  Or you have the teen that used to be a great athlete, was a popular kid in school–suddenly your child has become withdrawn and is hanging with a group of new peers that are less than desirable.
Is this typical teen behavior?
Possible, but how do you know when it is and when you need to intervene?
As the school year is coming to an end, it is a good time for parents to evaluate where their teen is at both emotionally and academically–especially if they are in High School. These are your final years to make a significant difference in their lives, and get them on a positive road towards their futures. When a child is crying out for help by using illegal substances,  running away, flunking in school, becoming secretive, possibly affiliating with a gang, or displaying other negative behavior it is a parent’s responsibility to get involved, as painful as that is, and seek treatment.
When adolescents reach the point of rebelliousness, many parents will try therapy, and this is a good place to start. But the success of local treatment will depend on the child and how far their behavior has escalated. Unfortunately many parents I have spoken to have reported that the one-hour session once a week–or even twice a week–rarely makes a difference in their teen’s behavior. For many parents there comes a time when residential therapy is taken under serious consideration–especially if drugs and/or alcohol are an issue. It is important to seek outside help, and removing a teen from their environment can be critical in getting them the help they need to heal. This is particularly true when a teen needs to be separated from undesirable peers that are instigating or perpetuating their negative behavior.
Though the majority of teens are unwilling to attend residential treatment, most of them are professionally transported by experts in the field. Parents spend a lot of time and stress about this part of the decision, but hiring a professional in this field can lessen the worries. They are trained to work with at-risk youth and will ask you all about your child before they arrive. In speaking with many parents and teens that have successfully used transports, the feedback is overwhelmingly positive.
At the end of the day, your teen truly wants to feel good about themselves again, too. They want to be that happy child that you remember. Remember, they were once that a good kid, and they can become that good person again.  Being a teenager isn’t easy, and parenting that child when you have reached your wit’s end is a challenge. Knowing you are not alone helps!
Take away tips for parents:
When seeking residential treatment, I always encourage parents to look for three key components that I call the ACE factor:
·        Accredited Academics (Ask to see their accreditation): Education is important, some programs actually don’t offer it.
·        Clinical (Credentialed therapists on staff): Please note–on staff.
·        Enrichment Programs (Animal assisted programs, culinary, fine arts, sports etc): Enrichment Programs are crucial to your child’s program. They will help build self-esteem and stimulate them in a positive direction. Find a program with something your teen is passionate about or used to be passionate prior their path in a negative direction.
I also encourage parents to avoid three red flags:
·        Marketing arms and sales reps (All those toll-free numbers, be careful of who you are really speaking to and what is in the best interest of your child.)
·        Short term programs (Wilderness programs or otherwise, rarely is there a quick fix. Short term program are usually short term results. They usually will then convince you to go into a longer term program after you are there a few weeks–why not just start with one? Consistency is key in recovery. An average program is 6-9-12 months, depending on your child’s needs and the program.)
·        Statistics that show their success rate (I have yet to see any program or school have a third party–objective survey–perform a true statistical report on a program’s success. Success is an individual’s opinion. You have to do your own due diligence and call parent references.)
For more information about researching residential therapy and helpful tips, visit http://www.helpyourteens.com and don’t forget to review the list of questions for schools and programs so you can make an educated decision.

Teen Shoplifting: Why Do Teens Steal

teenshopliftingAs we are in the summer months, more teens are hanging at the malls.  I get an increase in calls of teens being arrested for stealing and/or shoplifting.  Why are they doing this, especially if they have the money to pay for it?

Too Young To Start

There are almost as many reasons teens steal as there are things for teens to steal. One of the biggest reasons teens steal is peer pressure. Often, teens will steal items as a means of proving’ that they are “cool enough” to hang out with a certain group. This is especially dangerous because if your teen can be convinced to break the law for petty theft, there is a strong possibility he or she can be convinced to try other, more dangerous behaviors, like drinking or drugs. It is because of this that it is imperative you correct this behavior before it escalates to something beyond your control.

Another common reason teens steal is because they want an item their peers have but they cannot afford to purchase. Teens are very peer influenced, and may feel that if they don’t have the ‘it’ sneakers or mp3 player, they’ll be considered less cool than the kids who do. If your teen cannot afford these items, they may be so desperate to fit in that they simply steal the item. They may also steal money from you or a sibling to buy such an item. If you notice your teen has new electronics or accessories that you know you did not buy them, and your teen does not have a job or source of money, you may want to address whereabouts they came up with these items.

Teens may also steal simply for a thrill. Teens who steal for the ‘rush’ or the adrenaline boost are often simply bored and/ or testing the limits of authority. They may not even need or want the item they’re stealing! In cases like these, teens can act alone or as part of a group. Often, friends accompanying teens who shoplift will act as a ‘lookout’ for their friend who is committing the theft. Unfortunately, even if the lookout doesn’t actually steal anything, the can be prosecuted right along with the actual teen committing the crime, so its important that you make sure your teen is not aiding his or her friends who are shoplifting.

Yet another reason teens steal is for attention. If your teen feels neglected at home, or is jealous of the attention a sibling is getting, he or she may steal in the hopes that he or she is caught and the focus of your attention is diverted to them. If you suspect your teen is stealing or acting out to gain your attention, it is important that you address the problem before it garners more than just your attention, and becomes part of their criminal record. Though unconventional, this is your teen’s way of asking for your help- don’t let them down!

Need help?  Visit www.HelpYourTeens.com and join us on Facebook.

Teen Drinking is Underage Drinking: Prom and Graduation Parties are No Exceptions

MADDPower

April is Alcohol Awareness Month at the same time teens are getting ready for many celebrations including school being over.

It is that time of the year and teens are excited about their proms and graduation.

With this usually comes celebration, but remember, drinking age is usually 21 years-old.

Parents need to encourage their teens to make smart choices.  There is the POWER of PARENTS!

Steps you can take at home:

Help your son or daughter steer clear of the dangers of underage drinking with these five steps:

Step 1: Think of yourself as a coach

Your role in preventing underage drinking is similar to coaching. You can help your teen by

  • Sharing information
  • Discussing choices and monitoring behavior
  • Helping your teen anticipate and handle challenging situations
  • Cheering your teen on to make smart, safe choices

Step 2: Get busy communicating

Begin a series of conversations with your son or daughter—proactively, before he or she gets caught drinking—about how:

  • Alcohol is a drug with serious sedative effects
  • Drinking has health dangers and other risks for young people
  • It is illegal to drink before the age of 21
  • You want your teen to be safe and respect the law
  • Your teen can plan ways to resist peer pressure to drink

Step 3: Keep track of your teen
You need to know what your teen does after school, at night, and on weekends—and with whom.

  • Agree on rules, limits, and consequences
  • Monitor all in-person and online activities
  • Know your teen’s schedule
  • Make sure he or she has your permission for activities
  • Talk to parents of kids with whom your teen spends time
  • Enforce consequences consistently

Step 4: Show respect and caring
Your teen will respond better when you

  • Listen respectfully to his or her ideas and concerns
  • Explain that rules, limits, and consequences are meant to protect them
  • Help your teen think logically and make smart choices
  • Remind your teen how much you love and care about them

Step 5: Be a positive role model
Your teen will be most receptive to your guidance if you lead by example and act responsibly.

Source:  MADD Power of Parents