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Author: Justin Mckibben
Part of being a parent is wondering what trouble your kids might get into. This is especially true as children become more independent as teens and young adults. Parents worry about how their kids are doing in school, if they are surrounding themselves with good influences and of course, if they’re doing drugs. It seems like there has never been a more appropriate time to be concerned about teenage substance abuse. Parents today are witness to the devastation and despair caused by the opioid epidemic. While teen drug use has always been an issue, it is more frightening than previous years with overdose deaths at such an alarming rate. What are the signs? How serious is teen drug abuse? Is your adolescent addicted to drugs?
Is My Teenager Addicted to Drugs: Teen Drug Abuse Stats
It is not that shocking that teen drug abuse is such a concern for parents. Substance use disorder currently affects more than 20 million people in the United States.
In 2015, more than 33,000 people in the United States died from accidental overdose. According to the 2015 Monitoring the Future College Students and Adults survey, young adults from 18-25 are the biggest abusers of:
The survey also shows young adults use prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons more than any other age group. One report showed that nearly 44% of high school students admit to knowing a classmate who sells drugs. When ask what kind of drugs, students stated:
- 91%- Marijuana
- 24%- Prescription drugs
- 9%- Cocaine
- 7%- Ecstasy
Experts from National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) state that while illicit substance abuse has shown some decline, prescription drug abuse has done more than enough to fill the void.
Is My Teenager Addicted to Drugs: Those at Risk
If there is one thing we have learned without question from the opioid epidemic, it is that the old archaic mentality that substance use disorders were only experienced by people living troubled lives is anything but true.
Anyone and everyone are at risk. No race, nationality, social or economic background can exempt someone from the potential for addiction, even teenagers. It doesn’t matter if you grow up in a small town, a suburb or a bad part of town. It doesn’t matter if you are homeless or if you inherit a fortune, you still are eligible for addiction.
In a way, that reality makes the prospect of your teenager getting mixed up in drugs more frightening, because the old mentality of “don’t hang out with the wrong crowd” doesn’t really apply anymore. Any crowd and every crowd can get mixed up in this.
Truthfully, teens are exposed to substances in so many ways, but there are also a lot of ways to spot use and try to address it as early as possible.
Is My Teenager Addicted to Drugs: Warning Signs
Knowing the warning signs of addiction can save lives, and ensuring it is addressed through every possible channel is key—even at a yearly doctor’s appointment. Many doctors are being trained to identify the signs of early drug abuse and ask questions about substance use disorders. When you are still wondering- is my teenager addicted to drugs- then you can try to look at signs such as:
- Mood swings
- Changes in grades
- Lack of interest in activities
- Trouble at school or work
- Changes in friends
- Suffering withdrawal symptoms, including shaking, seizures, personality changes
- Hiding drug use
- Using substances in private
According to mental health experts, some of these symptoms can also be signs of a mental health disorder. The best course of action when a parent begins to detect some of these signs would be to have a conversation with their teenager. Having a dialog can create opportunities for education, prevention and intervention.
Is My Teenager Addicted to Drugs: Helping VS Hurting
If your teenager is struggling with a substance use disorder there are a number of things you can do to help. There are also some things that parents institutionally do that can ultimately be harmful. Family members are always used to playing different roles, and often times parents want to be as supportive as possible. The important distinction family members all need to learn is the difference between helping and hurting.
As parents people typically lean toward one side or the other. They either want to be protective and enabling, or they chose to use ‘tough love’ to try and force their family members to get clean.
To learn more about how to handle the difficult emotions and situations parents and family members face with an addicted loved one, download our FREE e-book
“What is the Difference Between Helping and Hurting”
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It is important to be compassionate and supportive. It is also important to set boundaries with your addicted teenager. Understanding the self-destructive behaviors of individuals who struggle with addiction will help you to avoid enabling those risk patterns. This knowledge also helps parents and families members to be more constructive and caring when it really matters.
Addiction doesn’t just affect the person who is drinking or drugging, it affects all those that are close to that person. Emotionally, physically, financially, the toll can be significant. The Family Program at Palm Partners is designed to help parents, significant others and family members of addicts. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now!
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
On a few separate occasions we have touch on the ridiculous story of Ethan Couch, the 19-year-old teen who drove drunk back in June of 2013 and caused an accident that killed 4 people, and his infamous Affluenza Defense presented by his attorneys. Couch’s drunk-driving case sparked national outrage after his affluenza defense was actually successful in his initial court case, and the spectacle made some serious headlines.
Wednesday the country was in a new uproar as Ethan “Affluenza Defense” Couch was ordered by a judge to spend the next two years in a county jail for violating the terms of his probation.
4 Terms of Imprisonment
Early news reports explained that State District Judge Wayne Salvant imposed four consecutive 180-day jail terms on Couch for his probation violations; one term for each of the four people who lost their lives when Couch recklessly drove drunk years ago and “almost” got away with it.
Although, even though he was a minor (16 years old at the time of the accident) a lot of people felt like he had pretty much got away with killing four people after he was originally only sentenced to 10 years’ probation. He was also sent to an isolated home near Newport Beach, CA for intensive therapy, which people felt even more upset about because his punishment seemed more like a vacation.
Breanna Mitchell, Brian Jennings, and Holly and Shelby Boyles were all run down by the teen that was discovered to have Valium and a high level of alcohol in his blood. The prosecutors trying to charge the teen with the deaths wanted the boy to be sentenced to 20 years in prison, but he received 10 years of probation with the affluenza defense.
What is the “Affluenza Defense?”
The term “affluenza” was made popular in the late 1990s by Jessie O’Neill who wrote the book “The Golden Ghetto: The Psychology of Affluence.”
Since giving life to the word, it has been used to describe a condition in which children (typically from richer families) grow up with a sense of privilege that makes them experience other hindrances such as:
- Being irresponsible
- Making justifications for poor behavior
- Experiment in drugs and alcohol
Just reading this makes me outraged! It is absolutely astonishing and downright offensive that the affluenza defense even exists!
Basically, to my understanding, this is saying that Ethan Couch should be let off the hook because he has been so predisposed to getting his way and being over-privileged that he just didn’t know any better and has a tough time understanding why the rules apply to him…
Awwwwe, the poor little guy!
I want to see a case where a kid from a place like where I grew up is acquitted of murdering four people with a vehicle because of the “Section 8 Defense”- because he is so poor and ill-equipped to live. We make excuses and let the rich kid get away with multiple homicides because he was too rich NOT to try drugs, but the kids who grow up in drug-dealing neighborhoods should be held to higher standards?
Don’t get me wrong- he was only 13 and should not spend the rest of his life in prison for something he can’t comprehend, but if we are going to start argue in his defense it should not be on the grounds that he’s just too spoiled and we have to let it slide.
Couch squandered his opportunity to avoid jail time and his probation was violated after a video of him playing an underage game of beer-pong surfaced online last December. Judge Salvant gave Couch’s diabolical defense team two weeks to gather evidence for a possible reconsideration of his sentence, and he told Couch outright,
“You’re not getting out of jail today.”
This recent appearance marked the first time Ethan Couch was in an adult court since his case was transferred out of the juvenile system after he turned 19 earlier this week.
While the affluenza defense may be a pretty good indication Ethan Couch could use some treatment and therapy, most people still feel like some real-life repercussions for his completely unconscionable and ultimately lethal actions should be imposed. Some are just content to see him serving any time for what he has done. Two years may not do justice to the deaths of four innocent people, but it’s a start and maybe it will teach Couch something.
Sometimes it takes something terrible to happen before people will make the choice that changes everything, but it doesn’t have to be like that. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.
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Author: Shernide Delva
In the past few years, Instagram has soared in popularity. Now researchers are finding ways to utilize the popular app to monitor the drinking habits of teenagers. Using photos and text from Instagram, researchers are able to expose patterns of underage drinking more cheaply and faster than conventional surveys. They also are able to gain information on new patterns of drinking such as what alcohol brands are favored among different demographic groups.
Researchers believe exposing these patterns can help promote effective underage drinking intervention. As we know, Instagram is extremely popular among teens. Large amount of information is readily available about this target population on Instagram. As Jiebo Luo, professor of computer science at the University of Rochester, and his colleagues describe in a new paper, underage drinkers “are willing to share their alcohol consumption experience” in social media.
Compared to standard surveys, researchers believe Instagram will be a more accurate method to monitor alcohol consumption. Often, teenagers are not honest when they respond to an administered survey about alcohol use. One example is the “Monitoring the Future” survey by the federal government. The accuracy of results is skewed because of the small size of the representative sample. Also, the answers may not be answered honestly by teens who are worried about divulging the truth.
How Instagram is Being Used
Although Instagram does not offer a way of searching users by age, the research team was able to target users that fit their profile by applying computer vision techniques. Luo and his team have been pioneering techniques that teach computers how to extract information from the internet. They are able to use computers to analyze the profile faces of Instagram users and get sufficiently accurate guesses for their age, gender and race.
After the computer gathered a group of underage users to study, the researchers monitored drinking related activities via their Instagram photos by analyzing social media tags and monitoring the alcohol brands the users follow.
The study revealed that underage alcohol consumption, like with adults, happens on weekends and holidays and at the end of the day. The drinking is not limited to one specific gender. Both female and male teenagers were engaging in drinking at similar ratios.
However, when it came to alcohol brands, the results varied. Different genders followed different brands. Also, teenagers tend to drink certain brands of alcohol more commonly than adults. Researchers found that certain brands attracted younger audiences in social media. This information could be useful for people working to prevent underage drinking.
“There are several ways we can go about doing that,” said Luo. “We can keep government agencies or schools better informed and help them design interventions. We could also use social media to incorporate targeted intervention and to measure the effect of any intervention. And perhaps other things we haven’t thought about.”
The researchers hope that information like this is used in a positive way to address the problem of underage drinking. They are worried though that the information could be used by brands to target these underage drinkers. The next important step is to collaborate with people who are working to reduce underage drinking and collaborate with professions who are working on addressing other youth problems such as tobacco use, drugs, teen pregnancy, stress or depression.
Elizabeth Handley, clinical psychologist and research associate at the University’s Mount Hope Family Center had this to say about the study,
“This new method could be a useful complement to more traditional methods of measuring youth drinking. It could provide important new insights into the contexts of youth drinking and be a valuable tool for evaluating the effectiveness of school or community-based preventive interventions.”
Utilizing social media to prevent and tackle underage drinking could be an effective intervention tactic. How do you feel about it being used?
Underage drinking has been known to cause a variety of health implications in the long run. Let someone know if you are having a problem with abusing substances. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-561-221-1125
Author: Justin Mckibben
Substance abuse and drug addiction have made an impact on our country and the culture of our cities in an immense way. The overdose epidemic has laid the casualties of the War on Drugs at the nations feet, along with the aftermath of pill-mill empires, online drug-dealing sites, and continued plagues of synthetic drugs. The threat of drugs is still very alive, and some suggest a whole new strategy is needed to change the tide.
Well along with a seemingly nationwide shift in popular opinion on drug policy toward the means of harm reduction and decriminalization of specific substances, it seems that some states are trying to continue implementing new innovative forms of education and recovery. Soon recovering drug addicts in Massachusetts may have the means to attend new recovery high schools.
Take notes, this will be on the final.
Sobriety Class in Session
Recovery High schools are specifically designed campuses with a curriculum for students recovering from a substance abuse disorder. The concept of these schools was originally introduced back in 1987, and as recovery schools generate awareness, and more states and foundations consider funding such schools, some push for more research to be done to evaluate the most effective methods of this alternative branch of education.
Democratic State Senator Karen Spilka from Ashland, Massachusetts recently announced that $1 million in funding will go towards opening not one, but 2 new recovery high schools in the state, one of which is expected to be in Worcester.
Now this isn’t an entirely new strategy for the state of Massachusetts, which already has recovery high schools in a few areas including:
Now it appears that the local policymakers are re-concentrating their efforts towards effectively helping young people in light of the latest spikes in opiate overdoses in the area. If the bill passes, Massachusetts will provide a total of $3.1 million for the 2 recovery high schools. Senator Spilka stated:
“Substance abuse we all know is a crisis across the state, impacting all our families,”
The concepts of treatment and recovery have been evolving, and until recently much less focus was placed on adolescent treatment than on prevention of adolescent substance abuse. However as these issues become more prominent, there has been information released to better represent those in need. Teen drug abuse is a reality, and more people are taking notice and taking action to address the problem before it gets any worse.
The Senate also aims to provide other resources in the field of drug treatment such as:
- $5 million towards 150 new post-detox treatment beds
- $1 million for a pilot program to purchase Narcan (opiate overdose antidote) in bulk
- $10 million towards a substance abuse trust fund
All this effort is being put in place to contest with the growing issue of teen drug abuse. Many anticipate this new budget proposal could provide support to adolescent drug addicts looking to get clean and stay clean in the face of rampant opioid abuse.
Similar programs have been proposed and put into effect all over. Drug Free Clubs of America are in place to provide incentives and support for avoiding drug use, and in Illinois there has even been legislation proposed to put Narcan in the hands of school nurses.
When you consider that getting kicked out of school in light of drug abuse only keeps a teen uneducated, which in turn will most likely keep them from a stable and healthy career, the results only depress and oppress them further, which often leads to more drug and alcohol abuse.
Therapy for students got a little attention earlier this week as some exclaimed the mental health improvements possible when teens are given an opportunity to receive some level of therapy in school, and others have pushed for drug testing in schools. It is apparent the safety and well-being of young people is paramount, as they are the future. So why not provide a second chance that keeps teens out of the vicious cycle of uneducated marginalization that feeds the patterns of addiction?
Bring and open mind and your number 2 pencils.
While addiction treatment grows and advances with the times and the progression of our understanding, new options and techniques come to light, and maybe the answer to the addiction problem is multiple choice. For those looking for treatment, there are always a special kind of teachers willing to help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
How early can you get involved in a 12 Step program? Is it ever really too soon to start learning about the realities of drug addiction and alcoholism? With programs out there specifically created to help teens learn about the dangers associated with substance abuse and underage drinking, is it overkill to allow teens to get involved in a 12 step program, or is it a useful option to be utilized for keep young men and women from making choices that lead to unhealthy and destructive progression?
A 12 step group like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is not the typical group that you would normally expect teenagers to hang out with. Sitting in a meeting drinking coffee and listening to speakers just doesn’t seem like it would be the ideal Friday night for someone in high school. Yet according to researchers, teenagers with substance abuse issues may benefit from 12-step groups.
The Step Study
12 Step groups to be brief are kind of like support groups for those trying to recovery from issues involving addictions, and there are numerous programs from AA for alcoholism to GA for gamblers. There is a program of action laid out and meetings to introduce newcomers to the steps and share experiences on how recovery has been possible for millions upon millions of people. Due to the ‘Anonymous’ nature of these programs I won’t make it my business to go into detail at this point, but I personally work a 12 step program and it has changed my life in amazing and inspiring ways.
The new study on 12 step groups was recently published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. In the research there were 127 teens (95 males, 32 females, aged 14 to 19) who had been placed into an outpatient treatment program for substance abuse. Throughout the study the teenagers were assessed at various intervals of the treatment program. They were first assessed after treatment at 3 months, then again after six months, and then 12 months. The data from over a year was collected on the 127 teens, and the results turned out to be exciting.
John F. Kelly, associate director of the Center for Addiction Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital was involved in the study on the impact of 12 step groups on young teens, and he stated:
“We found that about 1/4 to 1/3 of the youth attended AA/NA throughout the year-long study period following treatment, and that more meeting attendance was associated with significantly better substance use outcomes—particularly attending meetings at least once per week or more.”
Over the years since the original 12 step fellowship was founded back in the late 30’s, there have been many 12-step programs to grow from that original frame work, and these recovery communities are easily available.
Another important distinction that Kelly made was that the teens who benefitted the most were those who not only showed up to meetings to listen and learn, but those who really got involved. Kelly said,
“Importantly, youth who also were in contact with an AA or NA sponsor or who participated verbally during AA/NA meetings had an even better outcome over and above the positive effects from merely attending.”
So even statistically it shows that young people who go to 12 step meetings of any kind have more successfully experiences when they get a sponsor and take some action.
Before this study researchers had never very closely examined how successful these programs are for teens in particular. According to Kelly, many individuals involved in the treatment of drug addiction in teens such as counselors, doctors, and health professionals will often encourage teenagers to be present at and participate in AA/NA early in their substance abuse treatment to maximize the benefits. Kelly went on to state:
“Starting an on-site NA or AA young persons’ meeting is another good idea. Not all youth will be motivated to attend, but the more severely substance-involved ones will be more likely to give meetings a try and these are the ones most likely to benefit.”
There are also programs like ALATEEN that have been created to be support groups for teens who have been trying to cope with a parent, sibling, family member or friend who is struggling with a serious drug addiction or alcohol dependence.
12 step programs and other family groups are unbelievably helpful because they can provide incredible shared experiences and support that make the idea of recovery from these issues more personal, and relating to those who have struggled as you have also makes the concept of true recovery seem more realistic. Teens have an opportunity to meet other teens and young adults who go through what they do, and in a healthy and conducive environment.
Alcoholism and drug addiction touch the lives of many teens in some way or another, and not all of them are fortunate enough to survive this deadly and insidious disease. Sometimes those who do only repeat their mistakes. Anyone who is battling a dependence on drugs or alcohol deserves the right kind of treatment and care that could save their life, and give them one they never imagined was possible. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135