Menstuff® has compiled the following information on the Teen Drug Problem
How To Prevent Teenage Drug Use and
These modern times, however, are filled with pressures and innovations unlike anything other generations have faced. The internet changed the game for how teens learn about and obtain drugs. And, lets face it, some of these drugs are much more potent and dangerous than anything you may have encountered as a teen.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the current teen drug use trends and how you can help your teen make positive choices as they go through their journey of maturity.
Drug effects on an adolescents developing brain
The adolescent brain goes through rapid changes and development. As it adapts to the world around them, it learns complex life skills like social skills, coping with negative emotions, and taking steps towards independence.
The brain structures go through several changes during the adolescent years. For example, the prefrontal cortex goes through extensive neuromaturation during this time. This structure of the brain assists with emotion regulation, planning, inhibition, and integration of novel stimuli. Drugs can stunt the growth of the prefrontal cortex, which can affect memory and may lead to psychiatric disorders. Substance abuse also decreases the brains white matter quality, which helps the neuronal transmissions among brain regions. These are just a couple of the many changes drugs can have on a teens brain.
In addition, the younger a person starts using drugs or alcohol, the more likely they are to have significant substance use disorders in adulthood. This can lead to many personal, health, legal, and social issues.
Why teens use drugs
Adolescence can undoubtedly be a hard time to navigate. Finding an identity, fitting in with peers, dealing with a changing body, and the pressures of school and family life present unique challenges.
A regular part of teen development is testing boundaries. The desire to act against established norms and try something risky or new is an alluring part of growing up. Unfortunately, this can include experimenting with drugs or alcohol.
Curiosity and trying to fit in with peers is a significant contributor to experimenting with drugs. After all, teens want to feel like they belong, even though belonging doesnt have to involve drug use. Getting your child involved in positive activities like sports or community activities can help fulfill the need to feel a part of something.
Teens may also use drugs to:
Each teen is different. While some use drugs merely for pleasure, others may be trying to self-medicate very complicated emotions that they cant seem to handle on their own. Taking the time to talk to your teen (discussed later in this article) may help shed some light on why they choose to use drugs or alcohol.
Popular drugs among teens
Just like every other popular trend, the drug scene has changed since you were growing up. Thanks to the internet, its easier than ever to discover, access, and acquire drugs. Also, information about using legally purchased substance(s) to get high is available with just a few keystrokes. Theres also a wealth of information easily accessible to a teen about covering up drug use and even passing drug tests.
According to the Centers for Disease Control marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco products remain popular drugs for teens to try and abuse. About half of high schoolers reported using marijuana at some point in their lives.
Other popular drugs include:
Where teens get drugs
The most accessible place for teens to get drugs and alcohol tends to be at home. If you must keep any alcohol or drugs at home, prescription or otherwise, always have the substances closely monitored. Lock them up if necessary. Even some cold medications or decongestants, when taken above the recommended dosage levels can produce a high.
Of course, your teen doesnt have to go to a shady street corner to find drugs. The internet connects us with virtually anything, including drugs. Social media, online pharmacies, and the dark web make it easy for teens to get just about any drug. Even if you try to monitor your teens web usage, you may still be fighting a losing battle. Chances are your teen knows at least one person who could easily access drugs via the internet.
Speaking of friends, most teens know at least a couple of people who sell drugs at their school. A trip to a grocery or drug store could also be an opportunity for a teen to get his or her hands on some mind-altering substances.
Given the fact that drugs are so easy to obtain, it is crucial that you become a role model and create a support network for your child. Your actions can help shape their attitudes towards drugs and alcohol.
Parents can be a positive or negative influence
Like it or not, your child is heavily influenced by your actions as a parent. After all, you are his or her first and most common example of being an adult. As a role model, you can help shape your childs attitude towards drug and alcohol use.
If your child sees you using drugs, alcohol, or tobacco, they may see it as a permissible behavior despite anything you say. After all, actions speak louder than words. Seeing you use may make them think it is a typical behavior for grown-ups.
Your guidance and behaviors can help shape your childs attitudes towards substance abuse. Here are some ways you can influence your child and decrease the risk of potential substance abuse:
Signs your teen is using drugs
Just about any teenager can experience bouts of moodiness, sleeping too much, and challenging their parents. Its a part of growing up. So how can you tell if their behaviors are abnormal or linked to drug or alcohol abuse? Its not always easy.
There are some signs you should know that could indicate your teen is using substances:
In addition, if you notice some changes in your home, it may point to a teen using substances. These include:
If you notice even some of these signs, it may be time to have a conversation with your teen. This, of course, is not always easy. After all, even just trying to find out how their day went can be a challenge. Discussing tough issues like drug or alcohol abuse can be difficult for both the teen and the parent. However, its a conversation that needs to be addressed for your childs mental, physical, and social well-being.
Having a conversation with your teen about drugs
If you suspect your teen is using drugs or alcohol, the chances are good that you feel a variety of strong emotions. Anger, disbelief, fear, frustration, and maybe even a little embarrassment. Its essential to keep your emotions in check. It may be difficult, but you dont want to turn the conversation into a shouting match.
Remember, your teens brain isnt fully developed. Most human brains arent developed until the age of 25. This is one of the main reasons you need to have a conversation with your teen about drugs. As mentioned earlier, drug and alcohol abuse can negatively affect the teenage brain leading to problems well into their future.
Another reason you need to remember your teens brain isnt developed is how they communicate. Since his or her brain is still going through changes, the chances are high that their responses are more impulsive and lack emotional control. If youre like most parents, some typical teenage behaviors can easily get under your skin. Once you feel your emotions becoming difficult to control or your heart starting to race, remember that you are talking with a teenager, not a grown adult. When cooler minds prevail, the conversation will be much more productive.
Starting the conversation
Try to start the conversation when it is not going to need to be rushed. Avoid doing it too early or too late in the day. Some parents have found going for a walk or taking a drive can be an excellent time to talk. Since eye contact is limited during these types of conversations, your teen may not feel so scrutinized.
Keep an open mind and try to see things from your childs perspective. If a teen feels understood or validated, he or she will be more likely to open up and share. Ask open-ended questions that require more than a yes or no answer. Of course, even some of the best open-ended questions may be met with silence or a quick answer. It may take time to build trust and openness for this sensitive subject.
You can build openness by using active listening and what are referred to as I statements. These are common practices for psychotherapists and other counselors that, when done effectively, can help take your teen out of his or her defensiveness. Most importantly, fully listen to what your teen has to say. Dont interrupt or try to get your point across. Simply listen.
Once your teen completed a thought, try to reflect back what you hear. This shows your teen that you are really listening to them. Its important to speak with a calm, even tone and not sound condescending. Starting your sentences with phrases like:
To make active listening more effective, when it is time to talk, always use I statements, especially if things get tense. You statements are often blaming or judgemental. Some of the examples above are great examples of I statements. Also, lets look at a couple of you statements that could easily be changed to indicate empathy and assertively (rather than aggressively) proving a point.
You Statement: You dont even care how we feel when you come home late all the time.
Better I statement: When it past your curfew, I start worrying if you are okay. I feel scared and upset when you dont send me a text to tell me where you are.
You Statement: How can you be so disrespectful talking to me that way?
Better I statement: When you yell and swear at me, I feel like youre having difficulty getting your point across. Can we find another way to discuss this?
Make sure your teen knows how drugs affect their body and brain
Like it or not, the teenage years are often filled with vanity. If you have any doubt, just go anywhere that teens usually hang out and see the number of selfies taken in five minutes. One way to really drive the point home about the effects of drugs is by discussing how these drugs eventually affect their appearance and ability to think and act.
For example, you could mention something like, Everyone says you have such a great smile, do you know smoking cigarettes can stain your teeth. Even worse, they cause bone loss in the mouth, which means you could lose your teeth.
Or maybe: You always talked about wanting to go to college. But marijuana can make it harder to stay motivated, remember things, and think clearly. Youre such a smart kid, and if you stay away from drugs, I know you can reach your goals.
Its important to open the conversation about drugs and alcohol early and often. You dont have to wait until youre checking off several of the warning signs of drug abuse to tackle the subject. Even simple statements, like the examples above, could plant seeds into your childs mind about how substances can affect their bodies.
Understand that asking for help may be necessary
As parents, we would like to think we have all the answers. Unfortunately, as hard as we try, sometimes we need a little extra help. This is especially true when a teen is abusing drugs or alcohol. Sadly, seemingly harmless experimentation can quickly turn severe and even deadly.
If you cant seem to get through to your teen, know there are several resources available for you and your child. Online resources and articles on this website can be helpful. There are also times when the assistance of a professional counselor or addiction specialist can help your child pull out of the downward spiral of substance abuse and once again take control of his or her life.
Early interventions can save a lot of pain and struggle down the
road. Dont wait until things get out of control. It may be one
of the most important decisions you make as a parent.
Pure caffeine powder is killing young
A deadly powdered drug is catching the attention of U.S. lawmakers, and it isn't heroin or cocaine.
It's pure caffeine powder.
A single teaspoon of pure caffeine powder is equal to around 28 cups of coffee, and "very small amounts may cause accidental overdose," according to the Food and Drug Administration. Overdose symptoms "can include rapid or dangerously erratic heartbeat, seizures and death."
The powder is sold in bulk bags over the internet, and it's nearly impossible to measure out safe doses using everyday kitchen tools. "Volume measures, such as teaspoons, are not precise enough to calculate how many milligrams of caffeine are in the serving size," according to the FDA.
Senators want to ban it: In a letter sent to the FDA on Tuesday, Democratic senators campaigned for a federal ban on the sale of pure caffeine powder, the Hill reported. The senators reportedly said the FDA has been a "bitter disappointment" in dealing with the dangerous product.
The lawmakers' concern stems from two overdose deaths from pure caffeine powder in 2014.
The first was Logan Stiner, a high school senior who died after using caffeine powder to boost his energy -- but misjudged the dosage, according to the New York Times. The second was James Wade Sweatt, a 24-year-old recent college graduate who reportedly died after consuming a blended drink containing caffeine powder.
What the FDA has done so far: In a statement following Stiner and Sweatt's deaths, the FDA recommended that people avoid pure caffeine powder. And in 2015, the agency sent "warning letters" to five distributors of the powder, "because these products are dangerous and present a significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury to consumers," according to a statement.
But it hasn't been enough, the senators argued.
"It is disturbing that despite two unintended and untimely deaths associated with powdered caffeine, the FDA has done little to regulate these products or adequately enforce the standards in place to protect Americans," their letter read, according to the Hill.
"These products do not provide a way to measure a safe dosage per FDA recommendations, and are sold in quantities that could easily kill hundreds of individuals if ingested incorrectly," the letter also stated.
Caffeine kills in other ways, too: We're talking about energy drinks, like Rockstar and Red Bull. A November study found that consuming just one energy drink causes a significant spike in blood pressure -- a risk factor for stroke and heart attacks, Mic reported at the time.
The FDA has also investigated a number of deaths in recent years linked to Monster and 5-Hour Energy shots.
"I bet a lot of people don't realize how much caffeine they're
getting," Dr. Nieca Goldberg, a cardiologist and director of the Joan
H. Tisch Center for Women's Health at NYU Langone Medical Center,
said at the time.
Troubled Teens - The teen drug
Statistics for 2002 reflect a slight drop in teenage drug usage to 8.3 percent for overall consumption of all illicit drugs. Still heading the list as most commonly used drug for troubled teens was marijuana (75% of all teen users) followed by cocaine (0.9%) and marijuana combined with one or more other drugs (20%). Cigarettes were found to be a strong precursor for troubled teens to who used illicit drugs, representing about eight times the number to those teens who smoked (48.1%) and those teens who did not (6.2%). Gender differences play a role as well amongst teenagers, with a greater majority of male teens using illegal drugs (12.3%) than their female teenage counterparts (10.9%) (SAMHSA, 2002).
Alcohol, a legal drug restricted to teens only by age, proves both plentiful, available and popular among teens aged twelve through seventeen, with both casual and binge drinking reflecting a higher percentage of usage in college-age teens (GDCADA, 2004).
Research indicates there are a number of social and environmental
factors that are related to the teen drug problem in America, with a
significant number of teenagers engaging in some form of drug and/or
alcohol testing period at some time during their adolescence without
falling into the unending cycle of teen drug abuse and substance
abuse. When teens are brought together under a foundation of negative
influences broken home, developmental problems, emotional
issues, familial problems, etc. the underlying risk factors
inherent to structural functionalism can in many instances act as the
agitator for substance abuse.
Drug Use -
From 1986 to 1996, the incarceration rate for youth ages 10-18 due to drug involvement increased 291%. 2
From 1992 to 2001, juvenile arrests for drug abuse violations increased 121%, while adult arrests for similar crimes grew by 33%. 3
Adolescents who were arrested were three times likelier to have used alcohol in the past month than teens in the general population, five and a half times likelier to have used marijuana and 18 times likelier to have used cocaine. 4
About 60% of teens arrested across multiple U.S. cities were under the influence of marijuana at the time of their arrest; 37% were under the influence of alcohol. 5
Adolescents in one study who received substance abuse treatment showed a 37% decrease in weekly marijuana use and a 14% decrease in alcohol use, one year later. 7
Treatment outcomes of adolescent substance users with criminal justice involvement indicate an overall reduction in drug-related crime one year post-treatment admission. 8
Youth participating in the national Adolescent Treatment Models initiative showed reduction in substance abuse three months following treatment, particularly among youth in residential treatment. 9
The Gap in Services
While 2.3 million teens in the U.S. need drug and alcohol treatment, just 8.6 percent receive any treatment. 10
Despite concerted efforts to get substance abuse treatment to the youth who need it, estimates suggest that fewer than 10% of youth who appear to need treatment ever get it. 11
Just 42 percent of all U.S. juvenile justice residential facilities report they provide on-site substance abuse treatment. 12
The cost of outpatient treatment for cocaine use is about $2,722 per year. The cost of residential treatment is $12,467 per year. The cost of incarceration is $39,600 per year, while the cost of untreated addiction is $43,200 per year. 13
In 1999, the estimated cost of one lost youth (evidenced by a juvenile crime career, adult crime career, drug abuse, costs imposed by high school dropout, and others) was between $1.7 million and $2.3 million. 14
1 United States Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies, Results from the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse: Volume III, Detailed Tables, Tables H.57, G.2 (Rockville, MD, 2002).
2 V. Schiraldi, P. Beatty, and B. Holman, Poor Prescription: The Costs of Imprisoning Drug Offenders in the United States (Washington, D.C: Justice Policy Institute, 2000), in Drug Strategies Juvenile Justice Project, Literature Review (Sept 2004), p. 2
3 Crime in the United States (2001). Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2002.
4 National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, 2000 Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring: Annual Report (Washington, D.C.: April 2003).
5 National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, 2000 Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring: Annual Report (Washington, D.C.: April 2003).
7 Drug Abuse Treatment Outcomes Studies of Adolescents (DATOS-A); Hser, Y.I; Grella, C.E.; Hubbard, R.L; Hsieh, S.C.; Fletcher B.W.; Brown B.S. & Anglin, M.D. 2001. An evaluation of drug treatment for adolescents in four U.S. Cities. Archives of General Psychiatry 58: 689-95.
8 Grella, C.E.; Hser, Y.I; Joshi, V. and Rounds-Bryant, J. 2001. Drug treatment outcomes for adolescents with comorbid mental and substance abuse disorders. Journal of Nervous and Mental Distress 189 (6): 384-92.
9 Dasinger, L, Shane P, Martinovich Z. Assessing the Effectiveness of Community-Based Substance Abuse Treatment for Adolescents. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. 36(1): 85-94, 2004.
10 US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, 2003 National Survey of Drug Use and Health.
11 Dennis, M.L.; Dawud-Noursi, S.; Muck, R.D. & McDermeit, M. 2002. The need for developing and evaluating adolescent treatment models. In: S.J. Stevens & A.A. Morral (Eds.) Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment in the United States: Exemplary Models from a National Evaluation Study. Binghamton, New York: Haworth Press.
12 Juvenile Residential Facility 2000 Census, US Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
13 Substance Abuse, The Nations Number One Health Problem.Schneider Institute for Health Policy, Brandeis University, February 2001, p.75.
14 National Center for Juvenile Justice, an
adaptation of Cohens the Monetary Value of Saving a
High-Risk Youth, Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 14 (1),
reprinted from Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 199 National Report
(Pittsburgh, PA: National Center for Juvenile Justice, 1999), p
How to Implement
a Model to Get Youth off Drugs and Out of Crime
The directors offer specific steps for planning and instigating the changes, provide real-life examples from diverse communities across the nation, and provide a road map for communities to adopt the six-step model all at once or one step at a time.
The report recommends screening each teen for drug and alcohol problems, assessing the severity of his/her drug and alcohol use, providing prompt access to a treatment plan coordinated by a service team; and connecting the teen with employers, mentors, and volunteer service projects.
The report describes how judges, probation officers, treatment specialists, families and community members can take steps right now to improve the future of these youth.
Upon completion of a brief survey, the full 28 page report is
available as a PDF to download at no cost. www.reclaimingfutures.org/?q=judicial_report_survey&reportname=ProjectDirectors
Parents Use Home Drug Tests?
Home drug testing kits have become popular in recent years for parents trying to determine if their children are using drugs or to prevent them from abusing substances. But are home tests really effective? And are they helpful? Can they do more harm than good?
Is your child using drugs or alcohol? Are you sure? Answering these 20 questions can help you recognize some of the tell-tell signs.
Why Test Your Kids for Drugs?
There are several reasons that you might consider using home drug tests.
You may have considered it because the suspect your child is drinking or using drugs. The child's appearance, behavior or attitude has changed, and you suspect it may be due to substance abuse.
Or you may want to use the tests as a preventive measure. You don't believe your children have started using drugs yet, but you know drugs are out there and they are available. You believe if your children know they are going to be tested, it will prevent them from drinking or using.
Perhaps you already know your child has used drugs, because they got caught - at home, at school or by the police. You have placed your child on restrictions and have demanded that the drinking or drugging stop. You want to use the test to determine if your child is complying with your demands.
What Kind of Tests Are Available?
There are dozens of companies that offer home testing kits for sale. Home testing kits that produce instant results include breath tests, saliva tests and urine tests.
There are also kits that will test hair and blood samples, but those require a laboratory for screening results.
There are kits that will test for one drug at a time, and there are more expensive kits that will test for several drugs at the same time. Most of the drug testing kits test the child's urine.
The alcohol tests are usually breath or saliva tests.
How Do the Tests Work?
Most home drug testing kits detect the presence of alcohol or drug metabolites in urine, saliva or breath within minutes. Typically, the metabolites react with reagents and antigens on the test strips to cause them to change colors indicating either a positive or negative result.
Does Testing Prevent Drug Use?
The people who claim that home drug testing kits are effective in preventing substance abuse among children are mostly the people who are selling the drug kits. There is apparently little or no scientific evidence that using random drug testing -- either at home or at school -- is effective in preventing kids from initiating alcohol or drug use.
Those who sell the drug testing kits online claim that home testing prevents drug abuse by reducing peer pressure, but there is a void of scientific studies that substantiate those claims.
Are Drug Tests Accurate?
There is research that shows that drug testing is very accurate in verifying self-reports of drug use among children and adults.
In other words, if the person said they have used drugs in the past month, testing can verify that claim most of the time. Likewise, if someone says they have not used drugs, testing can confirm that also.
But the researchers found accurate results were achieved only when the people conducting the drug testing were "knowledgeable concerning the performance characteristics of analytical procedures used for the drug tests," including knowing "the capabilities of the test methods and validation of procedures used by the testing laboratory." In other words, someone who is trained to conduct drug tests.
Are Home Drug Tests Accurate?
The home drug testing kits are "not consistent with the guidelines of professional medical organizations," according to other researchers. If you read the fine print on many home drug testing kits, it says that the kits only provide a "screening" for drugs for preliminary testing only. The sample must be sent to a laboratory for confirmation.
Even for medical professionals, drug testing is technically challenging. One study showed that certified laboratories could have false negatives between 6% and 40% of the time. Testing performed at home by untrained parents would naturally have higher rates of error than tests conducted by healthcare professionals, researchers say.
What Are the Other Drawbacks to Home Tests?
The danger in using home drug testing lies with getting incorrect results. If you get a false negative with a drug test, you may be reassured that your child is not using drugs when in fact they are. On the other hand, if the test produces a false positive, you will mistakenly accuse your child of using drugs when they are not.
There are several other reasons home drug tests can be counterproductive:
Should You Home Test Your Child?
Ultimately, only you can make the decision whether or not to test your children for alcohol or drug use, but the experts say the negatives typically outweigh the positives on using home drug tests. You could get a false result and wrongly accuse your child, causing serious damage to your relationship.
After a 2004 study at Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital, the Committee on Substance Abuse of the American Association of Pediatrics amended its policy to include a statement discouraging home drug testing by parents.
They suggest if you suspect that your child is using drugs, seek a professional assessment rather than conduct a drug test at home.
Levy, Sharon. "A Review of Internet-Based Home Drug-Testing Products for Parents. " Pediatrics. April 2004.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. "Comparing Drug Testing and Self Report of Drug Use Among Youths and Young Adults in the General Population ." 19 June 2008.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "Study Leads Pediatricians to Discourage Home Drug Testing by Parents " 31 July 2008
Innovative Ways to Help Teens Struggling with Drugs, Alcohol and Crime
The project directors oversee Reclaiming Futures initiatives funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Together, they have authored the report, "How to Implement a Model to Get Youth off Drugs and Out of Crime," based on six years of creating and testing new ways to help teens that enter the juvenile justice system and previously received little or no care for their drug or alcohol problems. The report describes how judges, probation officers, treatment specialists, families and community members can take steps right now to improve the future of these youth.
"When communities recognize this dire need and begin to work together to save these young people, real change can occur," said Laura Nissen, Ph.D., Reclaiming Futures national program director. "The authors of this report are the feet on the ground pioneering new approaches to help teens in trouble. It is our hope that the lessons they've learned will assist and motivate others to address this pressing need."
The Reclaiming Futures model recommends screening each teen for drug and alcohol problems, assessing the severity of his/her drug and alcohol use, providing prompt access to a treatment plan coordinated by a service team; and connecting the teen with employers, mentors, and volunteer service projects.
A recent independent evaluation by the Urban Institute and the University of Chicago's Chapin Hall Center for Children shows this model is working. The evaluation found that communities that piloted the Reclaiming Futures model reported significant improvements in juvenile justice and drug and alcohol treatment. It also indicated change in the way juvenile justice and substance abuse agencies communicate and cooperate to serve youth and families.
"We have learned that there are concrete steps that can be taken to bring communities together to change they way they help teens in the system with drug and alcohol issues," said Benjamin Chambers, project director for Reclaiming Futures Multnomah Embrace in Portland, Oregon who helped write the report. "For example, it's important to identify a lead organization and champion, develop a common vision and mission, include community partners and youth, communicate, and measure results to help the changes last."
More recommendations from the project directors can be read at www.reclaimingfutures.org where the report is posted in its entirety.
By 2009, the Reclaiming Futures model will be in up to 25 communities thanks to new investments by RWJF, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.
Reclaiming Futures National Program Office, Portland State
University, 527 SW Hall, Suite 400, Portland, OR 97201 or
503.725.8911 | Fax: (503) 725-8915 or www.reclaimingfutures.org
Myth: Drug Abuse Won't
Happen to My Teen
There are many myths and misunderstandings concerning the increase in recent years of teen prescription drug abuse, and not all of them are held by the teens. One of the biggest myths held by parents concerning drug abuse is: It will not happen to my teen.
Parents simply don't want to believe that their children will become involved in the use of drugs, prescription or illegal, but the truth is more than 43 percent of high school seniors report having used drugs at least once in their lifetime.
Here at the About.com Alcoholism / Substance Abuse site, we have several online self-assessment quizzes for those who are dealing with alcoholism and addiction as well as friends and family members who are or have been affected by the substance abuse of someone else.
One of those quizzes, "Is My Child Using Drugs or Alcohol?," allows parents to determine if some of the tell-tell signs of substance abuse are showing up in their home and their child's behavior. Of all the quizzes on the site, that one is the least utilized. Many parents think it's just not possible that their child is using drugs.
It Can Happen to Your Teen
If you have a teenager, he or she is vulnerable to becoming involved in substance abuse, even the highest achieving, most accomplished teens. You may think your children will always make sound decisions, but their brains are not yet fully developed, so their judgment and decision-making ability may not be what you think.
Even "good" teens who are from good homes and go to good schools can become involved in drug abuse, especially prescription drug abuse, according to the National Council on Patient Information and Education. Parents need to understand the reasons why teens decide to begin using drugs.
Why Teens Use Drugs
According to the Council, understanding why teens turn to drugs can help parents - as well as teachers, coaches and others - ask the right questions and intervene early if their is a problem.
Why Prescription Drugs?
In recent years, teen use of illegal drugs has leveled off or declined, but there has been an alarming increase in the use of prescription drugs. According to the Council's research, these are some of the reasons that teens have turned to prescription drugs:
Parents Can Make a Difference
The good news is parents can do something to prevent teen drug abuse. First, you can secure your medications in your home so that they cannot be easily obtained. Keep up with your pills and properly dispose of unused medications.
Secondly, talk to your children about the risks involved in abusing drugs. Research shows that teens who are educated at home about the risks of drug use are 50% less likely to use drugs than teens who are not taught about the dangers at home.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration "National Survey on Drug Use and Health Accessed 2010.
National Council on Patient Information and Education " A Troubling Trend: Why Teens Turn to Prescription Drugs (PDF)" November 2009.
Addiction Treatment, and What to Do About It: What I Tell
Parents Looking to Get Their Child into Treatment
It is a well-known fact that over the course of the last several years our country has found itself in the grips of the worst addiction epidemic in American history. Numerous factors such as pharmaceutical companies marketing tactics and doctors overprescribing of opioids (prescription pain medication), all taking place within our current instant-gratification society, have brought the country to the breaking point now faced by every community nationwide.
Parents and families find themselves in fear and crisis, often uneducated and not knowing where to turn to find the help vitally needed for their children and young adults.
Unfortunately, the opioid crisis has become the breeding ground for numerous unethical people to prey upon the fears of families. Addiction treatment has become big business and a family in crisis or an individual suffering from addiction are now commodities.
Marketing companies call centers and even many treatment centers have engaged in immoral and sometimes even illegal behaviors in order to lure potential patients through their doors, offer sub-standard care for the purpose of making money off their insurance. Addiction treatment is often the Wild West in terms of the healthcare services industry often unregulated and with many states having poor oversight due to understaffed government organizations.
While years ago addiction treatment was a small industry run by a dedicated few often people in recovery themselves or clinicians with a heart to help those suffering from addiction over the last decade the industry has caught the eye of Wall Street. Large organizations and venture capitalist companies have entered the picture, putting bottom-line profits ahead of patient care.
The corrupt and often illegal behaviors within the addiction treatment industry can take many forms.
One well-known corrupt behavior is patient brokering, where treatment centers pay brokers a fee in order to gain patients. Each patient has a price tag and brokers are paid for sending kids to specific treatment centers. The brokers, typically people with no training or clinical expertise, sell patients to treatment centers regardless of how clinically appropriate that rehab may be to meet the needs of the patient.
Illegal enticements by patient brokers or even directly from treatment centers are another example, sometimes offering free plane tickets to fly patients to treatment or offering free rent at recovery or sober homes if a person is enrolled in a specific outpatient program.
Many treatment centers utilize online marketing tactics including posturing online as inpatient or residential treatment while they are actually an outpatient treatment facility with sober living which is a much less intense and restrictive level of care.
Online marketing tactics also include treatment centers setting up generic looking websites and call centers and Help Lines, posturing as objective but with the purpose of steering families and patients toward a specific facility that owns them or selling those patient leads to the highest bidding treatment center.
There has also been a recent trend of treatment centers hacking into the online listings of other facilities and changing the contact information, so when a family or individual attempts to call a specific rehab for help they instead reach someone else who redirects them to their facility.
I see this every day.
All of these predatory practices within the addiction treatment industry are something that I see and hear about on a daily basis. Not a day goes by that I or someone on our admissions team doesnt receive a call from a parent or family member regarding a horror story theyve experienced with their loved one dealing with an addiction treatment center or industry-related individual. This is both heartbreaking and infuriating.
Parents complain that the experience they were expecting for their child was nothing like what actually occurred. They report that there was little to no interaction with the treatment center when their loved one was there and they received no explanation for how or why certain situations were handled. They complain about receiving enormous bills after the treatment episode, for toxicology tests, treatment services and other ancillary services. And they have every right to complain and be outraged.
The truth is that within the addiction treatment field there are many good quality treatment providers that go above and beyond for those in need and their families and continually put patient care first.
If your child was diagnosed with a potentially fatal illness like cancer or heart disease, you wouldnt jump at the first option, would you? You wouldnt send them across the country to a place youve never seen simply because they had a sleek website and sounded nice on the phone, would you? No. You would make sure the facility was vetted thoroughly. You would ask other professionals for their recommendations of that hospital. You might ask family and friends if they had any experience with that specialist or facility. You would go with your child to meet the hospital and staff and make sure everything meets your standards.
Unfortunately, this isnt so with addiction.
Because the crisis occurs and the stigma exists, the natural inclination of parents and loved ones is to not talk about it with their friends and rather to simply find the first place that seems nice and that will immediately get their child in the door so that mom and dad can finally sleep at night, knowing their child is safe. This is understandable, but it has created an environment where the unethical, unscrupulous and dishonest prey upon the scared and helpless.
So What Can Parents Do?
The best way that parents and families can protect themselves and make sure they are sending their loved one to an ethical, quality treatment providers that best fits their childs needs is to become an informed and educated consumer. This can guard you against being taken advantage of during these anxious times.
1. Be wary of information you find via an online search. All you will find is an overload of information on treatment centers, all with great websites claiming to do everything for everybody. Instead, ask questions. Reach out to local professionals, therapists or other addiction specialists in your area. They will be able to give you a better understanding of the issues your child is suffering from and thus what types of clinical services will best meet their needs. Is this simply addiction or are there other mental health issues at play? Is there trauma? Grief and loss? Are they dealing with gender issues? Behavioral issues? Every case is different, which it is why it is imperative to understand what the issues are in order to find the best clinical fit for your child.
2. Vet the treatment center youre considering. Use your consumer education skills that you would use in any serious health care decision. Trust your judgment and your feelings about the answers you get from the people you talk to. Here are some things to consider:
This list of questions can help guide your conversation with treatment program staff to help you decide which program is the best fit for your child and family. (35 page PDF)
3. Finally and perhaps most importantly, ask about their family program.Addiction is a family disease and treatment centers need to do more to treat the entire family unit through this process. For too long treatment programs have been neglecting the family and allowing children to be dropped off at their door. The family parents, sibling and other significant household members such as step-parents need help learning how to trust again, build healthy relationships with their child or sibling and learn how to function as a family with a child in recovery.
Ask what their family program looks like. For some residential programs, they will offer family education weekends or programs. This is important, but not enough. The family should be involved throughout the entire process of treatment, meaning regular phone calls (sometimes daily), therapy sessions (either in person or via phone or Skype) and support and coaching from the facility. Additionally, the treatment center should make referrals to the family for any needs they may have in terms of therapy, psychiatry or community support services. If the family already see professionals, the treatment center should work in collaboration with them.
The good news for families is that there are amazing, ethical treatment centers across the country that offer high-quality, comprehensive services and hold themselves to the highest of standards. However, with the landscape as it is, parents and families need to be armed with the facts, learn what steps they can take to navigate this process and make sure that their child is finding the best help available to meet their needs.
Addiction is treatable and recovery is possible so the most important part is finding the best place for your child for them to start their journey of healing.