Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sue Scheff: Defining "Gateway Drugs" - Preventing Teen Drug Addiction


Defining "Gateway Drugs"
Kids today have much more societal pressure put upon them than their parents generation did, and the widespread availability of drugs like methamphetamines and the "huffing" trend (which uses common household chemicals as drugs) can turn recreational use of a relatively harmless gateway drug into a severe or fatal addiction without warning.

The danger of gateway drugs increases in combination with many prescription medications taken by teens today. These dangerous side effects may not be addressed by your child's pediatrician if your child is legally too young to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol. Drugs like Ritalin, Prozac, Adderrall, Strattera, Zoloft and Concerta can be very dangerous when mixed with recreational drugs and alcohol.
Combining some prescription medications with other drugs can often negate the prescription drug's effectiveness, or severely increase the side effects of the drug being abused. For example, a 2004 study by Stanford University found that the active chemical in marijuana, THC, frequently acted as a mental depressant as well as a physical depressant. If your child is currently on an anti-depressant medication like Prozac or Zoloft, marijuana use can counterbalance their antidepressant effects.

Other prescription anti depressants and anti psychotics can also become severely dangerous when mixed with alcohol. This is why is imperative that you as a parent must familiarize yourself with any prescription medications your child is taking and educate your child of the dangers of mixing their prescription drugs with other harmful drugs- even if you don't believe your child abuses drugs or alcohol.

Marijuana - Why It is More Dangerous Than You Think

Parents who smoked marijuana as teenagers may see their child's drug use as a harmless rite of passage, but with so many new and dangerous designer drugs making their way into communities across the country, the potential for marijuana to become a gateway to more dangerous drugs for your child should not be taken lightly.

Marijuana is the most commonly abused drug by both teens and adults.

The drug is more commonly smoked, but can also be added to baked goods like cookies or brownies. Marijuana which is ingested orally can be far more potent than marijuana that is smoked, but like smoking tobacco, smoking marijuana can cause lung cancer, emphysema, asthma and other chronic conditions of the lungs. Just because it is "all natural" does not make it any safer for your lungs.

Marijuana is also a depressant. This means the drug slows down the body's functions and the messages the body sends to the brain. This is why many people who are under the influence of marijuana (or "stoned") they are often sluggish or unmotivated.

Marijuana can also have psychological side effects, both temporary and permanent. Some common psychological side effects of marijuana are paranoia, confusion, restlessness, hallucinations, panic, anxiety, detachment from reality, and nausea. While these symptoms alone do not sound all that harmful, put in the wrong situation, a teen experiencing any of these feelings may act irrationally or dangerously and can potentially harm themselves or others. In more severe cases, patients who abuse marijuana can develop severe long-term mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.

Tobacco - Just Because It Is Legal Doesn't Mean It Is Safe

While cigarettes and tobacco are considered "legal", they are not legal for teens to posses or smoke until they are 18. Still, no matter the age of your child, smoking is a habit you should encourage them to avoid, whether they can smoke legally or not.

One of the main problems with cigarettes is their addictive properties. Chemicals like nicotine are added to tobacco to keep the smoker's body craving more, thus insuring customer loyalty. This is extremely dangerous to the smoker, however, as smoking has repeatedly proven to cause a host of ailments, including lung cancer, emphysema, chronic bronchitis or bronchial infection, asthma and mouth cancer- just to name a few.

In addition to nicotine, cigarettes contain over 4000 other chemicals, including formaldehyde (a poisonous compound used in some nail polishes and to preserve corpses), acetone (used in nail polish remover to dissolve paint) carbon monoxide (responsible for between 5000 to 6000 deaths annually in its "pure" form), arsenic (found in rat poison), tar (found on paved highways and roads), and hydrogen cyanide (used to kill prisoners sentenced to death in "gas chambers").

Cigarettes can also prematurely age you, causing wrinkles and dull skin, and can severely decay and stain teeth.

A new trend in cigarette smoke among young people are "bidi's", Indian cigarettes that are flavored to taste like chocolate, strawberry, mango and other sweets. Bidi's are extremely popular with teens as young as 12 and 13. Their sweet flavors and packaging may lead parents to believe that they aren't "real" cigarettes or as dangerous as brand-name cigarettes, but in many cases bidi's can be worse than brand name cigarettes, because teens become so enamored with the flavor they ingest more smoke than they might with a name brand cigarette.

Another tobacco trend is "hookah's" or hookah bars.

A hookah is an ornate silver or glass water pipe with a fabric hoses or hoses used to ingest smoke. Hookahs are popular because many smokers can share one hookah at the same time. However, despite this indirect method of ingesting tobacco smoke through a hose, hookah smoking is just as dangerous as cigarette smoke.

The Sobering Effects of Alcohol on Your Teen

Alcohol is another substance many parents don't think they need to worry about. Many believe that because they don't have alcohol at home or kept their alcohol locked up, their teens have no access to it, and stores or bars will not sell to minors. Unfortunately, this is not true. A recent study showed that approximately two-thirds of all teens who admitted to drinking alcohol said they were able to purchase alcohol themselves. Teens can also get alcohol from friends with parents who do not keep alcohol locked up or who may even provide alcohol to their children.

Alcohol is a substance that many parents also may feel conflicted about.
Because purchasing and consuming alcohol is legal for most parents, some parents may not deem it harmful. Some parents believe that allowing their teen to drink while supervised by an adult is a safer alternative than "forcing" their teen to obtain alcohol illegally and drinking it unsupervised. In theory, this does sound logical, but even under adult supervision alcohol consumption is extremely dangerous for growing teens. Dr. John Nelson of the American Medical Association recently testified that even light alcohol consumption in late childhood and adolescence can cause permanent brain damage in teens. Alcohol use in teens is also linked with increased depression, ADD, reduced memory and poor academic performance.

In combination with some common anti-psychotics and anti-depressants, the effects of just one 4 oz glass of wine can be akin to that of multiple glasses, causing the user to become intoxicated much faster than someone not on anti depressants. Furthermore, because of the depressant nature of alcohol, alcohol consumption by patients treated with anti-depressants can actually counteract the anti-depressant effect and cause the patient sudden overwhelming depression while the alcohol is in their bloodstream. This low can continue to plague the patient long after the alcohol has left their system.

Because there are so many different types of alcoholic beverage with varying alcohol concentration, it is often difficult for even of-age drinkers to gauge how much is "too much". For an inexperienced teen, the consequences can be deadly. Binge drinking has made headlines recently due to cases of alcohol poisoning leading to the death of several college students across the nation. But binge drinking isn't restricted to college students. Recent studies have shown teens as young as 13 have begun binge drinking, which can cause both irreparable brain and liver damage.

It is a fact that most teenage deaths are associated with alcohol, and approximately 6000 teens die each year in alcohol related automobile accidents. Indirectly, alcohol consumption can severely alter teens' judgment, leaving them vulnerable to try riskier behaviors like reckless stunts, drugs, or violent behavior. Alcohol and other drugs also slow response time, leaving teenage girls especially in danger of sexual assault. The temporary feeling of being uninhibited can also have damaging future consequences.

With the popularity of internet sites like MySpace and Facebook, teens around the country are finding embarrassing and indecent photos of themselves surfacing online. Many of these pictures were taken while the subjects were just joking around, but some were taken while the subjects were drunk or under the influence of drugs. These photos are often incredibly difficult to remove, and can have life altering consequences. Many employers and colleges are now checking networking sites for any reference to potential employees and students, and using them as a basis to accept or decline applicants!

©2007 Sue Scheff
Locking the Gateway - Click here for more information.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sue Scheff: Agressive Children by Dr. Lawrence Kutner

There are times when even the most docile children appear to have the aggressive tendencies of a professional wrestler. While a certain amount of pushing and shoving is to be expected from all children, especially when they are very young, there are a few for whom aggression becomes a way of coping with almost any situation.

These overly aggressive children are not bullies; they often get into fights with people who are stronger than they are. They face problems not because they are aggressive, but because they become aggressive at times that are inappropriate and in ways that are self-defeating. They routinely argue with teachers and wind up in far more than their share of schoolyard scraps.

In some cases, this pattern of easily triggered aggression appears to be rooted in the children’s developing nervous systems. They appear to be physiologically unable to control their impulses as much as other children their age. For others, it is often a matter of needing to learn and practice social skills.

Aggression is one of the first responses to frustration that a baby learns. Grabbing, biting, hitting, and pushing are especially common before children develop the verbal skills that allow them to talk in a sophisticated way about what they want and how they feel.

Children are often rewarded for their aggressive behavior. The child who acts out in class generally gets the most attention from the teacher. The child who breaks into the line to go down the slide at the playground sometimes gets to use the slide the most. One of the toughest problems parents and teachers face in stopping aggressive behavior is that in the short term it gets the child exactly what he wants. It’s only after a few years that inappropriately aggressive children must cope with a lack of friends, bad reputations, and the other consequences of their behavior.

For some children, this tendency toward physical aggression and other difficult behaviors appears to be inborn. There’s some evidence that a proportion of these children may be identified as restless fetuses that kick significantly more than other fetuses. Many very aggressive children are noted to be restless infants even before they begin to crawl and walk.

These overly aggressive children appear to have less mature nervous systems than other children their age. This shows up in a variety of problems with self-control. They cannot sit still for more than a few minutes. They are easily distracted. Once they begin to get excited or angry, they have difficulty stopping themselves. They are impulsive and have trouble concentrating on a task for more than a few minutes or even seconds.

It’s difficult for adults not to attribute malicious motives to children who consistently appear to be trying to drive their parents and teachers to distraction. Often it’s equally difficult for parents not to assume that children are behaving this way because of something the parents have done wrong or have forgotten to do right. Such casting of blame, however, is not only inaccurate but usually useless as well.

The first step in helping an overly aggressive child is to look for patterns in what triggers the assaults, especially if the child is a toddler or preschooler. The aggression may happen only at home or only in public places. It may occur mostly in the afternoon or when the child is frustrated. Also, most of these children go through a predictable sequence of behaviors before they lose control. It’s a bit like watching a car going through a normal acceleration and then suddenly kicking into overdrive.

Once you can determine the most common triggers and can spot the escalating behavior, the simplest thing is to remove the child from that environment before he loses control. Take him away from the sandbox or the playgroup for a minute or two until he regains his composure. As the child develops, he will become less frustrated and, therefore, less aggressive because he has a wider variety of ways to respond to a challenging situation.

It’s also very useful to provide these aggressive and distractible children with a lot of structure and routine in their daily lives since predictability helps children remain calm and in control. Tempting as it may be at the time, spanking these children for being aggressive often does more harm than good. It is simply modeling the very thing you don’t want children to do. It teaches them that big people hit when they’re angry or upset, and that is precisely the aggressive child’s problem.

For older children and adolescents, teaching new and more appropriate ways of getting what they want can be very helpful. These children often have not learned the skills that their classmates picked up years earlier. As with bullies, formal assertiveness training can be particularly helpful to overly aggressive children since they have difficulty distinguishing between assertiveness and aggression.

It’s also useful to help these children look at life from a slightly different perspective. Psychologists have found that both aggressive children and their parents tend to focus on what’s wrong with a situation rather than what’s right with it. That makes their respective problems all the more frustrating for each of them, since neither pays any attention to the children’s improvement when it occurs.

Dr. Lawrence Kutner is a nationally known clinical psychologist who teaches at Harvard Medical School, where he’s co-founder and co-director of the Harvard Medical School Center for Mental Health and Media. He’s the author of five books: Parent & Child: Getting Through to Each Other; Pregnancy and Your Baby’s First Year; Toddlers and Preschoolers; Your School-Age Child; and Making Sense of Your Teenager.


Do you have a struggling teen? At risk teens? Defiant Teen? Teen Depression? Problem Teen? Difficult Teen? Teen Rage? Teen Anger? Teen Drug Use? Teen Gangs? Teen Runaways? Bipolar? ADD/ADHD? Disrespectful Teen? Out of Control Teen? Peer Pressure?


Find about more about Boarding Schools, Military Schools, Christian Boarding Schools, Residential Treatment Centers, and Therapeutic Boarding Schools.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Sue Scheff articles on parenting teens


I have created a Blog of articles that I am reading from a variety of newspapers regarding parenting teenagers. Click here for more information on teen anger, teen depression, teen suicide, bullying, teen eating disorders and more.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sue Scheff on Youth Gang Statistics


Youth gang activity is a significant problem in the United States. The following are statistics related to youth violence and gang activities:

14 percent of teens are gang members (according to a survey in Denver)

89 percent of serious violent crimes committed by teens were committed by gang members
Gang members are 60 percent more likely to be killed

The average age of a gang member is 17 to 18 years old

25 percent of gang members are between the age of 15 and 17

Police reports indicate that 6 percent of gang members are female and that 39 percent of gangs have female members

Of female gang members:

78 percent have been in a gang fight
65 percent carry a weapon for protection
39 percent have attacked someone with a weapon

Youth gang activity by area type:

72 percent of large cities
33 percent of small cities
56 percent of suburban counties
24 percent of rural counties
51 percent overall

Youth gang activity by region:

74 percent in the West
52 percent in the Midwest
49 percent in the South
31 percent in the Northeast

51 percent overall

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sue Scheff on Youth Gangs

Gang activity in the United States is not always the way that the media portrays it. Gang violence is not restricted to inner city settings, nor is it simply the activity of minority groups.

There are gangs in cities, suburbs, and even small town America and the violence that many of these gangs encourage and participate in is costing far too many lives. Most gangs are a loosely organized group of individuals who control a territory.

A significant portion of gang violence stems from fighting over territory, which may be used to distribute drugs. Additionally, gangs tend to denote members through a sign or color. Two of the most well known gangs in the United States are the Bloods and the Crips which use the colors red and blue respectively.

Gangs often prey on the teenagers who wish to fit in. Being part of a gang can provide teenagers sought after friends and popularity. By joining a gang, teens have a social network already established for them with friends who are literally ready to die for them.

This infrastructure can fill a void in a young person's life quickly and easily; however, it is in a negative way.

The teenage years are a formative and difficult time for many people and joining a gang is a simple way to feel liked and popular. This is especially appealing for individuals with low self confidence or who feel as if they do not fit in.

In dangerous neighborhoods, joining a gang can actually provide protection from other gangs, which is attractive for many people.


Since the 1970's, gang activity has spiraled out of control. Prior to the 70's, fewer than half of the states were plagued by gang activity, but now there is not a single state that does not have to deal with youth gang activity.

Violence and gang activity peaked in 1996, but has decreased overall since then. However, activity continues to increase in less urban settings and violence is continuing to become more lethal.

Many people believe this is due to gangs' involvement in the increasingly lucrative drug trafficking market. This is not the case.

The increase in violence seems to be stem from the availability and easy access of lethal weapons. Additionally, cars have become a more common accessory in attacks on rival gangs.

Click here for more information.


Do you have a struggling teen? At risk teens? Defiant Teen? Teen Depression? Problem Teen? Difficult Teen? Teen Rage? Teen Anger? Teen Drug Use? Teen Gangs? Teen Runaways? Bipolar? ADD/ADHD? Disrespectful Teen? Out of Control Teen? Peer Pressure?



Find about more about Boarding Schools, Military Schools, Christian Boarding Schools, Residential Treatment Centers, and Therapeutic Boarding Schools.