Monday, April 29, 2013

Teen Prescription Drug Use is Up: What are Parents Doing?



What does this say to parents of teenagers?  

Are the parents too trusting of the teens or are the teens too smart for the parents?

Are you still digesting that?  

Let's understand this.
One in four teens (24 percent) reports having misused or abused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime (up from 18 percent in 2008 to 24 percent in 2012), which translates to about 5 million teens. That is a 33 percent increase over a five-year period.  -According to Drugfree.org
That is a lot teens using illegal prescription drugs to get high or alter their moods. 

Where are they getting these drugs from? 
Parents, grandparents, a friend's home or simply buying them off the street.   This isn't  blame game it is time to get a grasp on it and communicate to your kids about the risks of prescription medicine when it is not taken for the reasons it is prescribed for by a doctor.  Sometimes it takes a near death of a friend to make your child wake-up, let's just hope it is not the end of someone's life.  The attitude that it can't happen to me is common, and it is followed by a parent's denial that their child would use drugs.

Communication and education.
This is a nationwide problem.  Go to www.drugfree.org/medicineabuseproject and educate yourself and your family. Take the Pledge with your family to end medicine abuse, before it’s too late.  Then go to www.stopmedicineabuse.org and educate yourself and your kids about the dangers of over-the-counter medicine (OTC) abuse.  OTC are potentially deadly can be extremely harmful to your teens also. 

Have a conversation with your teen, don't wait for a confrontation.  As the report also stated, parents seems to lack concern about prescription drug use in comparison to getting caught or using such drugs as crack or cocaine or other illegal drugs, as follows:

Almost one in four teens (23 percent) say their parents don’t care as much if they are caught using Rx drugs without a doctor’s prescription, compared to getting caught with illegal drugs. - According to Drugfree.org

What is drug use?

Drug use (substance abuse) is a serious cry for help, and making your teen feel ashamed or embarrassed can make the problem worse. Some common behavior changes you may notice if your teenager is abusing drugs and alcohol are:
  • Violent outbursts, rage, disrespectful behavior
  • Poor or dropping grades
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Skin abrasions, track marks
  • Missing curfew, running away, truancy
  • Bloodshot eyes, distinct "skunky" odor on clothing and skin
  • Missing jewelry, money
  • New friends
  • Depression, apathy, withdrawal, disengaged from the family
  • Reckless behavior
Tips to help prevent substance abuse:
1.     Communication is the key to prevention.  Whenever an opportunity arises about the risks of drinking and driving or the dangers of using drugs,  take it to start a conversation.  Remember parents, it is important to be a parent first - friendship will come in time.
2.     Have a conversation not a confrontation.  If you suspect your teen is using drugs, talk to them.  Don't judge them, talk to them about the facts of the dangers of substance abuse.  If your teen isn't opening up to you, be sure you find an adolescent therapist that can help. 
3.     Addict in the family?  Do you have an addict in your family?  Sadly many families have been effected by someone that has allowed drugs to take over their lives.  With this, it is a reminder to your teen that you want them to have bright future filled with happiness.  The last thing you want for them is to end up like ____.
4.     Don't be a parent in denial.  There is no teenager that is immune to drug abuse.  No matter how smart your teen is, or athletic they are, they are at risk if they start using.  I firmly believe that keeping  your teen constructively busy, whether it is with sports, music or other hobbies they have, you will be less at risk for them to want to experiment.  However don't be in the dark thinking that your teen is pulling a 4.0 GPA and on the varsity football that they couldn't be dragged down by peer pressure.  Go back to number one - talk, talk, talk - remind your teen how proud you are of them, and let them know that you are always available if they feel they are being pressured to do or try something they don't want to.
5.     Do you know what your teen is saying?  Listen or watch on texts or emails for code words for certain drug lingo. Skittling, Tussing, Skittles, Robo-tripping, Red Devils, Velvet, Triple C, C-C-C-, Robotard are some of the names kids use for cough and cold medication abuse.  Weed, Pot, Ganja, Mary Jane, Grass, Chronic, Buds, Blunt, Hootch, Jive stick, Ace, Spliff, Skunk, Smoke, Dubie, Flower, Zig Zag are all slang for marijuana.
6.     Leftovers.  Are there empty medicine wrappers or bottles, burn marks on their clothes or rug, ashes, stench, etc in their room or if they own a car, in their car? Teens (and tweens) either take several pills or smash them so all of it is released at once.  Be sure to check all pockets, garbage cans, cars, closets, under beds, etc. for empty wrappers and other evidence of drug use.  Where are your prescription drugs?  Have you counted them lately?
7.     Body language. Tune into changes in your teen’s behavior. Changing peer groups, altering their physical appearance and/or lack of hygiene, eating or sleeping patterns changing, hostile and uncooperative attitude (defiance), missing money or other valuables from the home, sneaking out of the house, etc.
8.     Access to alcohol.  Look around your home, is there liquor that is easily accessible?  Teens admit getting alcohol is easy-and the easiest place to get it is in their home.  Know what you have in the house and if you suspect your teen is drinking, lock it up!  Talk to them about the risks of drinking, especially if they are driving. 
9.     Seal the deal.  Have your teen sign a contract to never drink and drive. Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) www.saddonline.com provides a free online contract to download. It may help them pause just the second they need to not get behind that wheel.
10.  Set the example, be the example.  What many parents don't realize is that you are the leading role model for your teen.  If your teen sees you smoking or drinking frequently, what is the message you are sending?  Many parents will have a glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage, however the teen needs to understand you are the adult, and there is a reason that the legal drinking age is 21.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.
 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Teen Drinking: Prom and Graduation Parties

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

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Summer Programs for Troubled Teens

Summer is almost here and the calls are coming in from parents that are struggling with what to do with their at-risk teens.

Some issues we are hearing:
  • Failing some classes, when they are more than capable of getting passing grades, if not straight A's.
  • Dropping out of their favorite sport or activity.
  • Smoking pot -- occasionally - though parents may blame it on the friends, please keep in mind, it is your child making the decision to inhale that joint or pop that pill.  
  • Drinking - again, it may be the friends you want to blame, but are they holding the bottle to your teen's mouth?
  • Sneaking out of the house.
  • Defiance, lying, stealing......
  • Maybe they have changed their peer group this year?
Let's face it, with a combination of any of these above, you could be traveling down a negative path.  Chances are very good a short-term summer program will not address a long term solution.

It can irritate me when I see parents get sucked into these very expensive Wilderness programs that give tell you they can turn your child around in 4-9 weeks.  Really? 

I think if you interview most of the families that have dug deep  into their wallets and spent that $15K-20K on a Wilderness program (which is likely to have zero academics to get your child caught up), you will find that at about the 4 week point, the program is already prepping the family for the "next step" of a Therapeutic Boarding School or Residential Treatment Center (another $50K step).

Or if the family truly cannot afford, which I have spoken to many of them too, since they have spent their  last dime on this summer last ditch hope, they soon find that within 3-6 weeks after Wilderness, their  child is back to their old ways.  

What is the answer?  It depends on the child, but in most situations it is finding the right placement the first time around.  Not starting at one place - and "breaking him down" (aren't they already broken?) and breaking your wallet too, and then going to yet another to break your wallet again.

Most quality and qualified programs are designed to treat teens that come in with the anger and defiance.  There are excellent 6-8-10 month programs that can offer a complete package of academic's, emotional growth (clinical) and enrichment programs (which are so important to help stimulate your teen in a positive direction). 

It is my opinion, and after almost thirteen years of watching parents and families in this big business of "teen help" get screwed (sorry for the slang) but until you walk my shoes and have taken the time to learn about what goes on behind the scenes - the word just about seems appropriate. 

I firmly believe in getting our kids help, as a matter of fact, it is our responsibility as a parent to do that.  We also have to do our due diligent.

Google is not God -- the Internet has some very disturbing sites - and disgruntled kids, parents, employers. Yes, I was one of them, but I also have a lot of substantial legal facts behind my case.  I don't sit and rant.  As a matter of fact, I don't want to discuss it - I want to continue to educate parents about how they can find the best program for their child's needs.

I offer many great tips, questions to ask schools and programs and resources.  Visit www.helpyourteens.com.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse: Become AWARE

Did you know that more than 50% of prescription drug abusers 12 and older obtain those prescription drugs from family and friends? In fact, some people looking to misuse prescription drugs find an easy source in their friend or family’s medicine cabinet. The good news is that proper disposal of unused drugs is one of the most effective ways to protect your loved ones from misuse.

To provide a convenient means of safe drug disposal and help curb abuse, in conjunction with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy Foundation (NABP) and their AWARxE Consumer Protection Program, the DEA is hosting a Take-Back Day on April 27, 2013. Consumers can safely and legally dispose of any unneeded medications, anonymously and for free. Held from 10 AM to 2 PM on April 27, 2013, the event is one of the few days of the year where residents can drop off expired or unused prescription medications without having to wonder whether they will be accepted—even controlled substances, such as ADHD drugs and certain prescription pain medications, are collected.

To help spread the word about the DEA Take-Back Day and drug disposal awareness, I had the opportunity to interview the Executive Director of NABP, Dr. Carmen Catizone.

1)     Even if parents properly store and dispose of their medications, how can they ensure their children aren’t getting prescription drugs elsewhere (i.e. neighbors or grandparents)?
 

Dr. Catizone:
To help prevent children’s misuse or abuse of prescription drugs, an important step is to talk with them about the serious dangers of prescription drug abuse. This step is important as many teens do not realize that abusing prescription drugs is just as dangerous as using illicit drugs. For example, a recent survey revealed that less than 36% of 8th grade students see occasional nonmedical use of Vicodin or OxyContin as a great risk. However, most 8th grade students perceive regular marijuana use and occasional heroin use as a great risk.

There are many resources on AWARErx.org that can help initiate conversations with your children. For teens, a video recommended by AWARXE, called The Road to Nowhere, tells the story of a teen who experimented with prescription drugs at a party and became addicted to the drugs. A link to the video is available on the AWARXE Get Local Oklahoma page. Also, the AWARXE Student page includes resources for elementary school students, as well as for middle school and high school students.

2)     What is the best way to help prevent children from getting medications from their friends?
 

Dr. Catizone:
As noted above, educating your children on the dangers of misusing prescription drugs is critical. If you are concerned that your child may be misusing medications obtained from friends, you may also want to watch out for warning signs of abuse. Some side effects associated with abusing prescription drugs include dizziness, loss of appetite, unconsciousness, impaired memory, mood swings, loss of motor coordination, trouble breathing and rapid or irregular heartbeat.
In addition to watching for side effects, you may want to keep a close eye on medications stored in your home. Keep an inventory of the number of pills so that you can determine if any are missing.
3)     Many people carry their prescriptions around with them on a daily basis. What is the best way to secure medications in purses and other bags?
 

Dr. Catizone:
Good question! As with storage of medications kept in the home, you can also remind babysitters, houseguests, and visitors to keep purses, bags, or coats that have medicines in them out of sight and out of reach of children when they are in your home. Also, locking medicine bags small enough to fit in a purse are available from some companies and may be a good option for frequent visitors to your home.

Medicines store in the home should be locked up when possible. For example, you may want to lock your medications in a cupboard or a medicine safe, especially to avoid unintentional use by your child or misuse by family or visitors to your home. You may want to offer a secure, locked storage place for visitors’ bags, purses, or medications while they are staying in your home.

4)     I imagine some teachers carry their medications on them. Have students ever stolen their meds in the classroom?

Dr. Catizone:
We are not aware of studies showing that teens are stealing medications from teachers. Studies indicate that most teens abusing prescription drugs obtain them from friends and family. For example, the most recent Monitoring the Future Survey, which surveys over 45,000 high school students, showed that in 2012, family and friends were the predominant source of prescription drugs for teens who abuse them.

5)     What is the best way to talk to your child if you think they are abusing prescription medications?
 

Dr. Catizone:
If teens are in need of help, a school’s guidance counselor can also be an excellent resource for local information.

Seeking advice and assistance from your family health care provider, such as your doctor is also recommended. Your doctor can provide information and/or referrals to local programs that help identify abuse and treat addiction.


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides an online substance abuse treatment locator and links to resources about addiction and treatment on its Web site.

Links for cited Web pages:
For more information, please visit: www.AWARERX.ORG, check out this Public Service Announcement and don’t forget to follow AWARxE on Facebook.