Friday, December 19, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts - Sue Scheff - Criminal Activity and Your Teen

Today is the last day of school for many kids around the country. It is important to keep your kids busy in constructive and positive ways. Bored teens can sometimes lead to trouble. Teen Shoplifting, vandelism and more may haunt your homes - be an educated parent, take the time to create activities for the entire family.

Criminal Activity and Your Teen

For many kids, adolescence is a trying phase of life. Body changes, school pressures, and personality changes can be very overwhelming to your teen when occurring all at once. Because of these pressures, adolescents can be more susceptible to things like peer pressure. Whether it’s out of a desire to fit in or stand out, your normally levelheaded teen can be easily pressured into committing dangerous and illegal acts they might never otherwise consider.

Sometimes, these activities are relatively harmless, and can include things like dying their hair a bold color, or cutting a class or two. But often, many teens find the desire to fit in so strong they are willing to compromise their own morals to be part of the ‘in’ crowd. They may be more likely to experiment with drugs or alcohol, or commit other criminal activities, all for the sake of ‘fitting in’.

Though there are many dangers your teen may encounter, this site deals specifically with teenagers and criminal activity, like shoplifting, vandalism, and violent crime. Teens can partake in these activities for many reasons- peer pressure being just one of a long list of possibilities.
My name is Sue Scheff™, and I am not only a parent, but the founder of the Parents Universal Resource Experts (P.U.R.E.)™. P.U.R.E™ came about after I found myself feeling alone and scared when my then-teenage daughter began experiencing troubles of her own. Those of us at P.U.R.E.™ know what many parents go through. We are here for you and want to provide you with resources, advice and the support you’ll need to get through trying times.

Click here for my website on Teen Mischief.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sue Scheff on Difficult Teens

It stems back to “children need to have their self-esteem built up to make good decisions.” Today most families are either single parent or both parents are working full time. This is not the fault of the teen, nor is it the fault of the parents. It is today’s world and we must try to find the middle. Troubled teens, rebellious teens, angry teens, problem teens, difficult teens, peer pressure, depressed teens; unfortunately are part of the society of adolescents today.Communication is always the first to go when people get busy. We have seen this over and over again. We have also experienced it and feel that our children shut us out; this can lead to difficult teens and teens with problems. Although we are tired and exhausted, along with the stress of today’s life, we need to stop and take a moment for our kids.

Talk and LISTEN to them. Ask lots of questions, get to know their friends and their friend’s parents, take part in their interests, be supportive if they are having a hard time, even if you can’t understand it; be there for them.This all sounds so easy and so simple, but take it from parents that have walked this path, it is not easy. When a parent works a full day, has stress from the job along with household chores, not to mention the bills, it is hard to find that moment. We are all guilty of neglect at one time or another after all, we are only human and can only do so much. We feel the exhaustion mounting watching our teens grow more out of control, yet we are too tired to address it.

Out of control teens can completely disrupt a family and cause marriages to break up as well as emotional breakdowns.We know many feel it is just a stage, and with some, it may be. However most times it does escalate to where we are today. Researching for help; Parents’ Universal Resource Experts is here for you, as we have been where you are today.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sue Scheff: Teen Court

Source: Connect with Kids

“[I]t feels like at times you have more … power in the school system and more of a chance to make a decision for others and help make decisions.”

– Anthony Mayson, 14 years old

“Can you all please stand and raise your right hand,” the bailiff says as he administers the oath to the eight jurors about to hear a case.

Meanwhile, in another room, the “attorneys” prepare their cases for the prosecution and the defense while the judge prepares to enter the courtroom.

There’s only one unusual thing about everyone involved in this court proceeding: All of the participants are high school students. However, the cases they handle are real.

Eight years ago, about 80 youth court programs existed across the country. Today, that number has increased to more than a thousand.

Fourteen-year-old Anthony Mayson says participating in the teen court gives him – and the other students involved – a real feeling of empowerment.

“It feels good. And it feels like at times you have more … power in the school system and more of a chance to make a decision for others and help make decisions,” Anthony says. “[It gives you a chance to] not only be a younger person but be able to be at the same level as an adult.”

Most teen courts handle minor discipline problems ranging from insubordination to first-offense truancy. Teen courts do have power. The sentences are limited to written apologies or hours of community service, but the indictment, the defense, the prosecution and the verdict are handled entirely by the students.

John De Caro, a teen court coordinator, says the youth court helps demystify the legal process for teens and makes them feel like they’re part of the system.

“[It helps break] down the barrier between the “us” and “them” that usually exists,” De Caro says. “And this way, it’s sort of in their own hands and they feel as though they have an actual stake in the system.”

Experts say that parents should encourage their children to participate in a teen court in their community or in their school. If the community doesn’t have a youth court, families should help start one in order to provide their children with the opportunity to learn about responsibility and the consequences of risky behavior.

“It’s no longer something that they just view on television or hear about on the news; it’s actually [something] that they can get a feel for themselves,” says faculty adviser Charlotte Brown.

Tips for Parents

Teen courts are real elements of the judicial system that are run by and for young people. In a teen court, all or most of the major players in the courtroom are teens: the lawyers, bailiffs, defendants, jurors, prosecutor, defense attorney and even the judge. A teen court either sets the sentence for teens who have pleaded guilty or tries the case of teens who – with parental approval – have agreed to its jurisdiction.

How many teen courts are there in the United States? What began as just a handful of programs in the 1960s has risen to over 1,000 teen courts in operation, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) says that teen courts are generally used for younger juveniles (ages 10 to 15), those with no prior arrest records and those charged with less serious violations, including the following:

Illegal alcohol possession
Criminal or malicious mischief
Disorderly conduct
Traffic violations
The OJJDP says that teen courts impose the following types of sentences:

Paying restitution (monetary or in kind)
Attending educational classes
Writing apology letters
Writing essays
Serving jury duty on subsequent cases
According to the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), while these courts may vary in composition, responsibilities and operation from town to town, their goal remains the same: to provide teens with an opportunity to take an active role in addressing the problem of juvenile crime within their communities.

Teen courts take advantage of two of the most powerful forces in the life of an adolescent – the desire for peer approval and the reaction to peer pressure. Teens sometimes respond better to their peers than to adult authority figures. Youth courts can be a potentially effective alternative to traditional juvenile courts staffed with paid professionals, such as lawyers, judges and probation officers.

The U.S. Justice Department says that teen courts offer at least four potential benefits:

Accountability: Teen courts may help to ensure that young offenders are held accountable for their illegal behavior, even when their offenses are relatively minor and would not likely result in sanctions from the traditional juvenile justice system.

Timeliness: An effective teen court can move young offenders from arrest to sanctions within a matter of days instead of months that may pass with traditional juvenile courts.

Cost savings: Teen courts usually depend heavily on youth and adult volunteers, with relatively little cost to the community. The average annual cost for operating a teen court is $32,822, according to the National Youth Court Center.

Community cohesion: A well-structured and expansive teen court program can affect the entire community by increasing public appreciation of the legal system, enhancing community-court relationships, encouraging greater respect for the law among teens and promoting volunteerism among both adults and teens.

National Crime Prevention Council
U.S. Department of Justice

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sue Scheff: Riding in Trunks a Risky Trend Among Teens

Source: Connect with Kids

“As a parent, I think the consequences [for trunking] should be very severe. If that child is already driving, revoking driving privileges for a period of time would certainly be appropriate.”

– Bob Wilson, Chapter Director, National Safety Council

A startling new trend has emerged among teenagers. Just to get around the new graduated license laws - that ban new drivers from having other kids in the car - some teens are now riding in the trunk.

Every state is a little different, but the rules for teen driving across the country are getting stricter.

16-year-old Karla Greene explains: “Once you get your license you can only have family members in the car.”

“And then,” says 18-year-old Matt Simon, “you can’t drive past midnight until you turn 18.”

But, says Bob Wilson of the National Safety Council, “we’re trying to keep our teens safe - and it’s proven that by restricting other teenage passengers it reduces risk to them.”

But many teens, inconvenienced by the new rules, have found a way to get around them.

It’s called “trunking.”

“I’ve ridden in the trunk a few times,” says 20-year-old David Mack, “We had too many people in the car and I was the smallest one, so it all came down to me.”

But many kids fail to realize that trunking is not only illegal- it’s incredibly dangerous.

Best friends Chris Snyder and Scott Atchison were riding in the trunk of a car when they hit a tree. “The trunk lid popped open in the crash, ejected them onto the highway and they were run over,” says Wilson.

Sadly, both teens died.

Experts say parents need to make the driving laws explicit.

“It’s the parents responsibility for getting their teenager through the teenage years safely,” explains Wilson. “Certainly the trunking issue comes into play- cell phone use, alcohol, drug use, seatbelt use- all of those are parent responsibilities to make sure their teen is compliant.”

Karla Greene is getting her license in just a few days. She plans on abiding by the laws and advises other teens to do the same. “Just deal with the time, just wait, learn to drive, you know, make sure you know what you’re doing before you start having other people in the car. And just follow the laws.”

Tips for Parents

If you find that your child has been “trunking,” make the consequences severe. Suspend all driving privileges for a period of time. (Bob Wilson, National Safety Council)

Maintain a zero-tolerance policy with your teen regarding alcohol - on and off the road. (National Safety Council)

If your state does not have teen driving restrictions, set your own. Make sure your teen is able to drive safely before they drive at night or with friends in the car. (Allstate Insurance)
Any unbelted passenger is at extreme risk in an accident- whether they are in the cabin or in the trunk. Insist that your child always wears a seatbelt. (Bob Wilson, National Safety Council)

American Automobile Association
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
National Transportation Safety Board

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sue Scheff: Mistreated Depression

Source: Connect with Kids

“Basically, psychiatrists are pretty busy. They don’t want to spend a lot of time with people. They want to get people in and out, maybe two or three an hour. … It pays better to do that than spending an hour doing psychotherapy.”

– David Gore, Ph.D., clinical psychologist

Fifteen-year-old Sarah McMenamin suffers from depression. It started a year ago with the death of her father.

“I was just like, ‘I just want to die,’” she says, describing her feeling before seeing a therapist. “I would never kill myself, but I just wish I was dead, I just wish I was never going to wake up.”

For depressed teens, experts at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry say what can help is medicine – combined with talk therapy.

“I think the therapist helped me,” explains Sarah, “’cause it was talking, you know, I got it out. I didn’t bottle everything up.”

“The advantage to getting some therapy along with medication is that you get to the root of the problem,” explains Dr. David Gore, clinical psychologist. “You get to see why you’re feeling that way. And if you start understanding why you’re feeling that way, chances are pretty good you’ll stop feeling that way.”

But according to a new study from Thomson-Reuters, more teens than ever are getting medication without psychotherapy. Why? Gore has an answer.

“Basically, psychiatrists are pretty busy,” Dr. Gore says. “They don’t want to spend a lot of time with people. They want to get people in and out, maybe two or three an hour. … It pays better to do that than spending an hour doing psychotherapy.”

Three months ago, Sarah started seeing a new doctor.

“Right away he put me on Zoloft,” she says. “He didn’t even know me for an hour and he put me on it.”

But psychologists say medicine alone just won’t work as well.

“You take your pill, you’ll get some immediate relief,” explains Dr. Gore, “but the problem’s going to crop up again in two months or four months or six months. You’ve got to get to the root of the problem.”

Sarah will resume talk therapy again in a few months. She says she is looking forward to it.

“You get it out on the table and you know your feelings’” she says, “and you go in thinking it’s one thing and you come out finding out it’s like 10 different things and you’re like, ‘Wow.’”

Tips for Parents

All teens experience ups and downs. Every day poses a new test of their emotional stability – fighting with a friend, feeling peer pressure to “fit in” with a particular crowd or experiencing anxiety over a failed quiz – all of which can lead to normal feelings of sadness or grief. These feelings are usually brief and subside with time, unlike depression, which is more than feeling blue, sad or down in the dumps once in a while.

According to the Nemours Foundation, depression is a strong mood involving sadness, discouragement, despair or hopelessness that lasts for weeks, months or even longer. It also interferes with a person’s ability to participate in normal activities. Often, depression in teens is overlooked because parents and teachers feel that unhappiness or “moodiness” is typical in young people. They blame hormones or other factors for teens’ feelings of sadness or grief, which leaves many teens undiagnosed and untreated for their illness.

The Mayo Clinic reports that sometimes a stressful life event triggers depression. Other times, it seems to occur spontaneously, with no identifiable specific cause. However, certain risk factors may be associated with developing the disorder. Johns Hopkins University cites the following risk factors for becoming depressed:

Children under stress who have experienced loss or who suffer attention, learning or conduct disorders are more susceptible to depression.
Girls are more likely than boys to develop depression.
Youth, particularly younger children, who develop depression are likely to have a family history of the disorder.
If you suspect that your teen is clinically depressed, it is important to evaluate his or her symptoms and signs as soon as possible. The National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association cites the following warning signs indicating that your teen may suffer from depression:

Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns
Irritability, anger, worry, agitation or anxiety
Pessimism or indifference
Loss of energy or persistent lethargy
Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
Inability to concentrate and indecisiveness
Inability to take pleasure in former interests or social withdrawal
Unexplained aches and pains
Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

It is important to acknowledge that teens may experiment with drugs or alcohol or become sexually promiscuous to avoid feelings of depression. According to the National Mental Health Association, teens may also express their depression through other hostile, aggressive, risk-taking behaviors. These behaviors will only lead to new problems, deeper levels of depression and destroyed relationships with friends and family, as well as difficulties with law enforcement or school officials.

The development of newer antidepressant medications and mood-stabilizing drugs in the last 20 years has revolutionized the treatment of depression. According to the Mayo Clinic, medication can relieve the symptoms of depression, and it has become the first line of treatment for most types of the disorder. Psychotherapy may also help teens cope with ongoing problems that trigger or contribute to their depression. A combination of medications and a brief course of psychotherapy are usually effective if a teen suffers from mild to moderate depression. For severely depressed teens, initial treatment usually includes medications. Once they improve, psychotherapy can be more effective.

Immediate treatment of your teen’s depression is crucial. Adolescents and children suffering from depression may turn to suicide if they do not receive proper treatment. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for Americans aged 10-24. The National Association of School Psychologists suggests looking for the following warning signs that may indicate your depressed teen if contemplating suicide:

Suicide notes: Notes or journal entries are a very real sign of danger and should be taken seriously.

Threats: Threats may be direct statements (“I want to die.” “I am going to kill myself”) or, unfortunately, indirect comments (“The world would be better without me.” “Nobody will miss me anyway”). Among teens, indirect clues could be offered through joking or through comments in school assignments, particularly creative writing or artwork.

Previous attempts: If your child or teen has attempted suicide in the past, a greater likelihood that he or she will try again exists. Be very observant of any friends who have tried suicide before.

Depression (helplessness/hopelessness): When symptoms of depression include strong thoughts of helplessness and hopelessness, your teen is possibly at greater risk for suicide. Watch out for behaviors or comments that indicate your teen is feeling overwhelmed by sadness or pessimistic views of his or her future.

“Masked” depression: Sometimes risk-taking behaviors can include acts of aggression, gunplay and alcohol or substance abuse. While your teen does not act “depressed,” his or her behavior suggests that he or she is not concerned about his or her own safety.

Final arrangements: This behavior may take many forms. In adolescents, it might be giving away prized possessions, such as jewelry, clothing, journals or pictures.

Efforts to hurt himself or herself: Self-injury behaviors are warning signs for young children as well as teens. Common self-destructive behaviors include running into traffic, jumping from heights and scratching, cutting or marking his or her body.

Changes in physical habits and appearance: Changes include inability to sleep or sleeping all the time, sudden weight gain or loss and disinterest in appearance or hygiene.

Sudden changes in personality, friends or behaviors: Changes can include withdrawing from friends and family, skipping school or classes, loss of involvement in activities that were once important and avoiding friends.

Plan/method/access: A suicidal child or adolescent may show an increased interest in guns and other weapons, may seem to have increased access to guns, pills, etc., and/or may talk about or hint at a suicide plan. The greater the planning, the greater the potential for suicide.

Death and suicidal themes: These themes might appear in classroom drawings, work samples, journals or homework.

If you suspect suicide, it is important to contact a medical professional immediately. A counselor or psychologist can also help offer additional support.

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
American Foundation for Suicidal Prevention
Johns Hopkins University
Mayo Clinic
National Association of School Psychologists
National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association
National Institute of Mental Health
National Mental Health Association
Nemours Foundation

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sue Scheff: Inhalant Abuse and Boys

"A project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has reviewed literature on the risks and assets that affect boys aged 10 to 18.”

In 2005, more than two out of five high school boys had used inhalants, such as glue, aerosols, nail polish remover, and other household substances

Among high school students, lifetime inhalant use decreased from 20% in 1995 to 12% in 2003 and then remained steady at 12% from 2003 to 2005

While older boys tend to smoke, drink, and use drugs more than younger boys do, eighth graders are more likely than older boys to use inhalants.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sue Scheff - Teen Suicide

Suicide is the third most common cause of death amongst adolescents between 15-24 years of age, and the sixth most common cause of death amongst 5-14 year olds. It is estimated that over half of all teens suffering from depression will attempt suicide at least once, and of those teens, roughly seven percent will succeed on the first try. Teenagers are especially vulnerable to the threat of suicide, because in addition to increased stress from school, work and peers, teens are also dealing with hormonal fluctuations that can complicate even the most normal situations.
Because of these social and personal changes, teens are also at higher risk for depression, which can also increase feelings of despair and the desire to commit suicide.

In fact, according to a study by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) almost all people who commit suicide suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder or substance abuse disorder. Often, teens feel as though they have no other way out of their problems, and may not realize that suicidal thoughts and feelings can be treated. Unfortunately, due to the often volatile relationship between teens and their parents, teens may not be as forthcoming about suicidal feelings as parents would hope. The good news is there are many signs parents can watch for in their teen without necessarily needing their teen to open up to them.

At some point in most teens’ lives, they will experience periods of sadness, worry and/or despair. While it is completely normal for a healthy person to have these types of responses to pain resulting from loss, dismissal, or disillusionment, those with serious (often undiagnosed) mental illnesses often experience much more drastic reactions. Many times these severe reactions will leave the teen in despair, and they may feel that there is no end in sight to their suffering. It is at this point that the teen may lose hope, and with the absence of hope comes more depression and the feeling that suicide is the only solution. It isn’t.

Teen girls are statistically twice as likely as their male counterparts to attempt suicide. They tend to turn to drugs (overdosing) or to cut themselves, while boys are traditionally more successful in their suicide attempts because they utilize more lethal methods such as guns and hanging. This method preference makes boys almost four times more successful in committing suicide.

Studies have borne out that suicide rates rise considerably when teens can access firearms in their home. In fact, nearly 60% of suicides committed in the United States that result in immediate death are accomplished with a gun. This is one crucial reason that any gun kept in a home with teens, even if that teen does not display any outward signs of depression, be stored in a locked compartment away from any ammunition. In fact, the ammunition should be stored in a locked compartment as well, and the keys to both the gun and ammunition compartments should be kept in a different area from where normal, everyday keys are kept. Remember to always keep firearms, ammunition, and the keys to the locks containing them, away from kids.Unfortunately, teen suicide is not a rare event.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that suicide is the third leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 24. This disturbing trend is affecting younger children as well, with suicide rates experiencing dramatic increases in the under-15 age group from 1980 to 1996. Suicide attempts are even more prevalent, though it is difficult to track the exact rates.

Learn more.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sue Scheff: Addictions and Inhalants

Daniel Jordan raises some interesting questions in his summary of an addictions presentation byDr. Carlton Erickson, Ph.D., Professor of Pharmacology, and director of the Addiction Science & Research Center in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Texas at Austin.

What are your perspectives or thoughts on his following two points?

1. Inhalants and Addiction:“Dr. Erickson calls the likelihood that a person will become dependent on a drug its “dependence liability.” Some drugs have a dependence liability while others do not.

The criteria for dependence liability is how it acts on the mesolimbic dopamine system. Caffeine, antidepressants, and newer anti-seizure medications do not have dependence liability. However, some drugs do and the following chart shows that a certain percentage of people (depending on the drug) will become dependent *:

Drug / Percentage of People Who Become DependentNicotine - 32%, Heroin - 23%, Cocaine - 17%, Alcohol - 15%, Stimulants - 11%, Cannabis - 9%, Sedatives - 9%, Psychedelics - 5%, Inhalants - 4%.

Source: Anthony, J.C., Warner, L.A., & Kessler, R.C., (1994). Comparative epidemiology of dependence on tobacco, alcohol, controlled substances, and inhalants: Basic findings from the national comorbidity survey. Experimental & Clinical Psychopharmacology, 2, 244-268.”

2. Use the term “Abuse” in Inhalant Abuse:“I was particularly fascinated by Dr. Erickson’s claim that many of the words, or terminology, that the general public and the treatment field use to describe drinking and drugging are leading to continued prejudice and discrimination in North American culture. This stigmatizing, Dr. Erickson argues, is a big part of why governments are not providing adequate funding for addiction research, prevention, and education

“Abuse” is a Perjorative Term and Should be Retired. In his book, The Science of Addiction, Dr. Erickson calls the term “abuse” the number 1 myth that prevails in the treatment field or in the minds of the public. The word abuse * is an inappropriate term for several reasons, such as:

the term being used, for centuries, as a morally sinful act such as child abuse, sexual abuse, spousal abuse
the implication that alcohol, an object, is being abused by someone just like a child is being abused by someone (a preferred term in Europe is misuse)

the use of the term substance abuse does not distinguish between voluntary use (”misuse”) and uncontrolled use (”dependence”) similar to the generalized use of the term “addiction”

“By continuing to refer to people as drug, alcohol, or substance abusers, according to Bill White *, “misstates the nature of their condition and calls for their social rejection, sequestration, and punishment.”

Visit for more information.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sue Scheff: Teen Anger and Rage

“I don’t care what you say I am doing what I want to do! I hate you and you just don’t want me to have fun!” “All my friends are allowed to stay out late; you are mean and want to ruin my life!” “You have no idea how I feel and you are only making it worse!”

When a difficult teen is out of control, they only can hear themselves and what they want. It is usually their way or no way!

There are so many factors that can contribute to these feelings. The feelings are very real and should be addressed as soon as you see that your child is starting to run the household.

Teen Anger may lead to Teen Rage and Teen Violence which can soon destroy a family.

Again, local therapist* can help your family diagnosis what is causing the negative behavior patterns. Conduct Disorder is one of the many causes to harmful behavior. Many times you will find a need for a positive and safe program to help the teen realize where these hurtful outbursts are stemming from. Parents tell us constantly, they are looking for a "Boot Camp" to achieve their mission to make their child "pay" for the pain they are putting the family through. In some cases this can create a Violent Teen.

We feel that when you place a negative child into a negative atmosphere, most children only gain resentment and more anger. There are some cases that it has been effective; however we do not refer to any Boot Camps. We believe in a Positive Peer Culture for teen help to build your child back up from the helplessness they feel.

Visit and

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sue Scheff: Defiant Teens, Disrespectful Teens - Frustrated Parents

As the founder of Parents’ Universal Resource Experts (P.U.R.E.) I have found that children that have ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) are very confrontational and need to have life their own way. A child does not have to be diagnosed ODD to be defiant. It is a trait that some teens experience through their puberty years. Defiant teens, disrespectful teens, angry teens and rebellious teens can affect the entire family.

An effective way to work with defiant teens is through anger and stress management classes. If you have a local therapist*, ask them if they offer these classes. Most will have them along with support groups and other beneficial classes. In today’s teens we are seeing that defiant teens have taken it to a new level. Especially if your child is also ADD/ADHD, the ODD combination can literally pull a family apart.

You will find yourself wondering what you ever did to deserve the way your child is treating you. It is very sad, yet very real. Please know that many families are experiencing this feeling of destruction within their home. Many wonder “why” and unfortunately each child is different with a variety of issues they are dealing with. Once a child is placed into proper treatment, the healing process can begin.

For more information and help - visit or

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

National Suicide Prevention Week

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in older children and teens. And statistics show that suicide rates in teenagers are on the rise.

That makes it even more important for everyone to raise awareness of suicide prevention, especially now during National Suicide Prevention Week.

In addition to learning to recognize the risk factors and warning signs of suicide, spread the word about the availability of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Dr. Gary Nelson, Author of “A Relentless Hope” Surviving Teen Depression recently talked about this serious subject of teen suicide -

Learn more about Teen Suicide.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sue Scheff: Teen Gangs and Cults

As with many adult cults, most Gangs prey on the weak and the child that yearns the need to fit in. With most Gangs as with Teen Cults, they will convince your child that joining "their Gang" will make them a "cool and popular" teen.

In reality, it is a downward spiral that can result in much damage both emotionally and psychically. We have found Teen Gangs and Teen Cults have cleaned up their act, ever so slightly, to disguise themselves to impress the most intelligent of parents. We have witnessed Gang members who will present themselves as the "good kid from the good family."

If you suspect your child is involved in any Gang Activities, please seek local therapy* and encourage your child to communicate. This is when the lines of communication need to be wide open. Sometimes this is so hard, and that is when an objective person is always beneficial. Teen Gangs and Teen Cults are to be taken very seriously.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Teen Substance Abuse - by Sue Scheff

With today's society, kids have access to many different substances that can be addictive and damaging. If you suspect your child is using drugs or drinking alcohol, please seek help for them as soon as possible. Drug testing is helpful, but not always accurate. Teen Drug use and Teen Drinking may escalate to addiction.

We get calls constantly, that a child is only smoking pot. Unfortunately in most cases, marijuana can lead to more severe drugs, and marijuana is considered an illegal drug. Smoking marijuana is damaging to the child's body, brain and behavior. Even though marijuana is not considered a narcotic, most teens are very hooked on it. Many teens that are on prescribed medications such as Ritalin, Adderall, Strattera, Concerta, Zoloft, Prozac etc. are more at risk when mixing these medications with street drugs. It is critical you speak with your child about this and learn all the side effects. Educating your child on the potential harm may help them to understand the dangers involved in mixing prescription drugs with street drugs. Awareness is the first step to understanding.

Alcohol is not any different with today's teens. Like adults, some teens use the substances to escape their problems; however they don't realize that it is not an escape but rather a deep dark hole. Some teens use substances to "fit in" with the rest of their peers – teen peer pressure. This is when a child really needs to know that they don't need to "fit in" if it means hurting themselves. Using drug and alcohol is harming them. Especially if a teen is taking prescribed medication (refer to the above paragraph) teen drinking can be harmful. The combination can bring out the worse in a person. Communicating with your teen, as difficult as it can be, is one of the best tools we have. Even if you think they are not listening, we hope eventually they will hear you.

If your teen is experimenting with this, please step in and get proper help through local resources. If it has extended into an addiction, it is probably time for a Residential Placement. If you feel your child is only experimenting, it is wise to start precautions early. An informed parent is an educated parent. This can be your life jacket when and if you need the proper intervention. Always be prepared, it can save you from rash decisions later.

A teen that is just starting to experiment with substance use or starting to become difficult; a solid short term self growth program may be very beneficial for them. However keep in mind, if this behavior has been escalating over a length of time, the short term program may only serve as a temporary band-aid.

Drugs and Alcoholic usage is definitely a sign that your child needs help. Teen Drug Addiction and Teen Drinking is a serious problem in today’s society; if you suspect your child is using substances, especially if they are on prescribed medications, start seeking local help. If the local resources become exhausted, and you are still experiencing difficulties, it may be time for the next step; Therapeutic Boarding School or Residential Treatment Center.
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Monday, August 18, 2008

Teens Say School Pressure Is Main Reason For Drug Use

Source:, Triad, NC

New York — A new study reveals a troubling new insight into the reasons why teens use drugs.The study conducted by the Partnership for a Drug-free America shows that of 6,511 teens, 73% report that school stress and pressure is the main reason for drug use.

Ironically, only 7% of parents believe that teens use drugs to cope with stress.

Second on the list was to “feel cool” (73%), which was previously ranked in the first position. Another popular reason teens said they use drugs was to “feel better about themselves”(65%).Over the past decade, studies have indicated a steady changing trend in what teens perceive as the motivations for using drugs. The “to have fun” rationales are declining, while motivations to use drugs to solve problems are increasing.

On the positive side, the study confirms that overall abuse remains in a steady decline among teens. Marijuana, ecstasy, inhalants, methamphetamine alcohol and cigarette usage continue to decrease.

Additional findings show:

- 1 in 5 teens has abused a prescription medication- Nearly 1 in 5 teens has already abused a prescription painkiller- 41% of teens think it’s safer to abuse a precription drug than it is to use illegal drugs.

Teens continue to take their lives into their own hands when they intentionally abuse prescribed medications, said Pasierb. “Whether it’s to get high or deal with stress, or if they mistakenly believe it will help them perform better in school or sports, teens don’t realize that when used without a prescription, these medicines can be every bit as harmful as illegal street drugs.”

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Troubled Teens and Military Schools by Sue Scheff

Some parents may have a teen they feel is in need of special attention needs. Often times parents look at the public school system and realize that it is not fully equipped to handle troubled teenagers. This leads many parents to turn to military schools as an option to discipline and educate their troubled teenagers. Unfortunately, it is a common misconception among many parents that military school can “cure” or somehow transform an unruly child into a model of propriety. Military schools, which seemed headed for extinction in the late 1960s and early '70s, have seen enrollments increase steadily in recent years. Many military schools are jammed to capacity and sport long waiting lists, as anxious parents scramble for slots.

While parents may seek a military school with the hopes that it can provide exactly the discipline they believe their teenager needs, most military schools are seeking motivated candidates that want to be a part of a proud and distinguished institutional history. Many students do not realize they would enjoy military school until they actually visit the campus and understand the honor it is to attend. Typically, traditional military schools will not accept a student who does not want to be there; as such, it is very difficult to find a military school that will accept a teen that has a history of behavioral problems. Parents should realize that attending military school is a privilege and honor for the right candidate, and they are encouraged to emphasize this to their children as well.

The very common misperception of military schools as reforming institutions is a direct result of some states' policies of having chosen to house their child (juvenile) criminal populations in higher-security boarding schools that are run in a manner similar to military boarding schools. These are also called reform schools, and are functionally a combination of school and prison. They attempt to emulate the high standards of established military boarding schools in the hope that a strict structured environment can reform these delinquent children that have often times run afoul of the law. The results of these institutions vary, and successful reform may or may not be the case, depending on the institution and it's “students.” Popular culture sometimes shows parents sending or threatening to send unruly children off to military school, and this reinforces the incorrect, negative stereotype.

However, military programs for troubled teens do exist; these specialized military schools can provide the most effective ways to teach your teenager how to be a respectable, hard-working, and responsible human being. Keep in mind, however, that these military schools, like their counterparts, are not for punishment; they are a time for growth. Many are privately run institutions, though some are public and are run by either a public school system (such as the Chicago Public Schools), or by a state. Regardless, this should not reflect on the long and distinguished history of military schools; their associations are traditionally those of high academic achievement, with solid college preparatory curricula, schooling in the military arts, and considerably esteemed graduates.

Many ADD/ADHD students do very well in a military school or military academy-type setting, due to the structure and positive discipline. Many parents whose children have been diagnosed ADD/ADHD have considered this type of environment, and found it to be beneficial to their child's development. In these instances many times parents will start by enrolling their child in a summer program to determine if their child is a viable candidate for that particular military school. Provided the child responds in a positive manner, they can extend the enrollment to subsequent terms.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What is Inhalant Abuse?

Inhalant abuse refers to the deliberate inhalation or sniffing of common products found in homes and communities with the purpose of "getting high." Inhalants are easily accessible, legal, everyday products. When used as intended, these products have a useful purpose in our lives and enhance the quality of life, but when intentionally misused, they can be deadly. Inhalant Abuse is a lesser recognized form of substance abuse, but it is no less dangerous. Inhalants are addictive and are considered to be "gateway" drugs because children often progress from inhalants to illegal drug and alcohol abuse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that one in five American teens have used Inhalants to get high.

Inhalation is referred to as huffing, sniffing, dusting or bagging and generally occurs through the nose or mouth. Huffing is when a chemically soaked rag is held to the face or stuffed in the mouth and the substance is inhaled. Sniffing can be done directly from containers, plastic bags, clothing or rags saturated with a substance or from the product directly. With Bagging, substances are sprayed or deposited into a plastic or paper bag and the vapors are inhaled. This method can result in suffocation because a bag is placed over the individual's head, cutting off the supply of oxygen.

Other methods used include placing inhalants on sleeves, collars, or other items of clothing that are sniffed over a period of time. Fumes are discharged into soda cans and inhaled from the can or balloons are filled with nitrous oxide and the vapors are inhaled. Heating volatile substances and inhaling the vapors emitted is another form of inhalation. All of these methods are potentially harmful or deadly. Experts estimate that there are several hundred deaths each year from Inhalant Abuse, although under-reporting is still a problem.

What Products Can be Abused?

There are more than a 1,400 products which are potentially dangerous when inhaled, such as typewriter correction fluid, air conditioning coolant, gasoline, propane, felt tip markers, spray paint, air freshener, butane, cooking spray, paint, and glue. Most are common products that can be found in the home, garage, office, school or as close as the local convenience store. The best advice for consumers is to read the labels before using a product to ensure the proper method is observed. It is also recommended that parents discuss the product labels with their children at age-appropriate times. The following list represents categories of products that are commonly abused.

Click here for a list of abusable products.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Teen Drug Use

Drugs: What You Should Know

These days, drugs can be found everywhere, and it may seem like everyone's doing them. Many teens are tempted by the excitement or escape that drugs seem to offer.

But learning the facts about drugs can help you see the risks of chasing this excitement or escape. Here's what you need to know.

The Deal on Substances

Thanks to medical and drug research, there are thousands of drugs that help people. Antibiotics and vaccines have revolutionized the treatment of infections. Medicines can lower blood pressure, treat diabetes, and reduce the body's rejection of new organs. Medicines can cure, slow, or prevent disease, helping us to lead healthier and happier lives. But there are also lots of illegal, harmful drugs that people take to help them feel good or have a good time.

How do drugs work? Drugs are chemicals or substances that change the way our bodies work. When you put them into your body (often by swallowing, inhaling, or injecting them), drugs find their way into your bloodstream and are transported to parts of your body, such as your brain. In the brain, drugs may either intensify or dull your senses, alter your sense of alertness, and sometimes decrease physical pain.

A drug may be helpful or harmful. The effects of drugs can vary depending upon the kind of drug taken, how much is taken, how often it is used, how quickly it gets to the brain, and what other drugs, food, or substances are taken at the same time. Effects can also vary based on the differences in body size, shape, and chemistry.

Although substances can feel good at first, they can ultimately do a lot of harm to the body and brain. Drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, taking illegal drugs, and sniffing glue can all cause serious damage to the human body. Some drugs severely impair a person's ability to make healthy choices and decisions. Teens who drink, for example, are more likely to get involved in dangerous situations, such as driving under the influence or having unprotected sex.

And just as there are many kinds of drugs available, there are as many reasons for trying them or starting to use them regularly. People take drugs just for the pleasure they believe they can bring. Often it's because someone tried to convince them that drugs would make them feel good or that they'd have a better time if they took them.

Some teens believe drugs will help them think better, be more popular, stay more active, or become better athletes. Others are simply curious and figure one try won't hurt. Others want to fit in. A few use drugs to gain attention from their parents.

Many teens use drugs because they're depressed or think drugs will help them escape their problems. The truth is, drugs don't solve problems — they simply hide feelings and problems. When a drug wears off, the feelings and problems remain, or become worse. Drugs can ruin every aspect of a person's life.

Here are the facts on some of the more common drugs:

Cocaine and Crack
Cough and Cold Medicines (DXM)
The oldest and most widely used drug in the world, alcohol is a depressant that alters perceptions, emotions, and senses.

How It's Used: Alcohol is a liquid that is drunk.

Effects & Dangers:

Alcohol first acts as a stimulant, and then it makes people feel relaxed and a bit sleepy.
High doses of alcohol seriously affect judgment and coordination. Drinkers may have slurred speech, confusion, depression, short-term memory loss, and slow reaction times.
Large volumes of alcohol drunk in a short period of time may cause alcohol poisoning.
Addictiveness: Teens who use alcohol can become psychologically dependent upon it to feel good, deal with life, or handle stress. In addition, their bodies may demand more and more to achieve the same kind of high experienced in the beginning. Some teens are also at risk of becoming physically addicted to alcohol. Withdrawal from alcohol can be painful and even life threatening. Symptoms range from shaking, sweating, nausea, anxiety, and depression to hallucinations, fever, and convulsions.
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Amphetamines are stimulants that accelerate functions in the brain and body. They come in pills or tablets. Prescription diet pills also fall into this category of drugs.

Street Names: speed, uppers, dexies, bennies

How They're Used: Amphetamines are swallowed, inhaled, or injected.

Effects & Dangers:

Swallowed or snorted, these drugs hit users with a fast high, making them feel powerful, alert, and energized.
Uppers pump up heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure, and they can also cause sweating, shaking, headaches, sleeplessness, and blurred vision.
Prolonged use may cause hallucinations and intense paranoia.

Addictiveness: Amphetamines are psychologically addictive. Users who stop report that they experience various mood problems such as aggression, anxiety, and intense cravings for the drugs.
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Cocaine and Crack
Cocaine is a white crystalline powder made from the dried leaves of the coca plant. Crack, named for its crackle when heated, is made from cocaine. It looks like white or tan pellets.

Street Names for Cocaine: coke, snow, blow, nose candy, white, big C

Street Names for Crack: freebase, rock

How They're Used: Cocaine is inhaled through the nose or injected. Crack is smoked.

Effects & Dangers:

Cocaine is a stimulant that rocks the central nervous system, giving users a quick, intense feeling of power and energy. Snorting highs last between 15 and 30 minutes; smoking highs last between 5 and 10 minutes.
Cocaine also elevates heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, and body temperature.
Injecting cocaine can give you hepatitis or AIDS if you share needles with other users. Snorting can also put a hole inside the lining of your nose.
First-time users — even teens — of both cocaine and crack can stop breathing or have fatal heart attacks. Using either of these drugs even one time can kill you.
Addictiveness: These drugs are highly addictive, and as a result, the drug, not the user, calls the shots. Even after one use, cocaine and crack can create both physical and psychological cravings that make it very, very difficult for users to stop.
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Cough and Cold Medicines (DXM)
Several over-the-counter cough and cold medicines contain the ingredient dextromethorphan (also called DXM). If taken in large quantities, these over-the-counter medicines can cause hallucinations, loss of motor control, and "out-of-body" (or disassociative) sensations.

Street Names: triple C, candy, C-C-C, dex, DM, drex, red devils, robo, rojo, skittles, tussin, velvet, vitamin D

How They're Used: Cough and cold medicines, which come in tablets, capsules, gel caps, and lozenges as well as syrups, are swallowed. DXM is often extracted from cough and cold medicines, put into powder form, and snorted.

Effects & Dangers:

Small doses help suppress coughing, but larger doses can cause fever, confusion, impaired judgment, blurred vision, dizziness, paranoia, excessive sweating, slurred speech, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, headache, lethargy, numbness of fingers and toes, redness of face, dry and itchy skin, loss of consciousness, seizures, brain damage, and even death.
Sometimes users mistakenly take cough syrups that contain other medications in addition to dextromethorphan. High doses of these other medications can cause serious injury or death.
Addictiveness: People who use cough and cold medicines and DXM regularly to get high can become psychologically dependent upon them (meaning they like the feeling so much they can't stop, even though they aren't physically addicted).
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Depressants, such as tranquilizers and barbiturates, calm nerves and relax muscles. Many are legally available by prescription (such as Valium and Xanax) and are bright-colored capsules or tablets.

Street Names: downers, goof balls, barbs, ludes

How They're Used: Depressants are swallowed.

Effects & Dangers:

When used as prescribed by a doctor and taken at the correct dosage, depressants can help people feel calm and reduce angry feelings.
Larger doses can cause confusion, slurred speech, lack of coordination, and tremors.
Very large doses can cause a person to stop breathing and result in death.
Depressants and alcohol should never be mixed — this combination greatly increases the risk of overdose and death.
Addictiveness: Depressants can cause both psychological and physical dependence.
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Ecstasy (MDMA)
This is a designer drug created by underground chemists. It comes in powder, tablet, or capsule form. Ecstasy is a popular club drug among teens because it is widely available at raves, dance clubs, and concerts.

Street Names: XTC, X, Adam, E, Roll

How It's Used: Ecstasy is swallowed or sometimes snorted.

Effects & Dangers:

This drug combines a hallucinogenic with a stimulant effect, making all emotions, both negative and positive, much more intense.
Users feel a tingly skin sensation and an increased heart rate.
Ecstasy can also cause dry mouth, cramps, blurred vision, chills, sweating, and nausea.
Sometimes users clench their jaws while using. They may chew on something (like a pacifier) to relieve this symptom.
Many users also experience depression, paranoia, anxiety, and confusion. There is some concern that these effects on the brain and emotion can become permanent with chronic use of ecstasy.
Ecstasy also raises the temperature of the body. This increase can sometimes cause organ damage or even death.
Addictiveness: Although the physical addictiveness of Ecstasy is unknown, teens who use it can become psychologically dependent upon it to feel good, deal with life, or handle stress.
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GHB, which stands for gamma hydroxybutyrate, is often made in home basement labs, usually in the form of a liquid with no odor or color. It has gained popularity at dance clubs and raves and is a popular alternative to Ecstasy for some teens and young adults. The number of people brought to emergency departments because of GHB side effects is quickly rising in the United States. And according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), since 1995 GHB has killed more users than Ecstasy.

Street Names: Liquid Ecstasy, G, Georgia Home Boy

How It's Used: When in liquid or powder form (mixed in water), GHB is drunk; in tablet form it is swallowed.

Effects & Dangers:

GHB is a depressant drug that can cause both euphoric (high) and hallucinogenic effects.
The drug has several dangerous side effects, including severe nausea, breathing problems, decreased heart rate, and seizures.
GHB has been used for date rape because it is colorless and odorless and easy to slip into drinks.
At high doses, users can lose consciousness within minutes. It's also easy to overdose: There is only a small difference between the dose used to get high and the amount that can cause an overdose.
Overdosing GHB requires emergency care in a hospital right away. Within an hour GHB overdose can cause coma and stop someone's breathing, resulting in death.
GHB (even at lower doses) mixed with alcohol is very dangerous — using it even once can kill you.
Addictiveness: When users come off GHB they may have withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia and anxiety. Teens may also become dependent upon it to feel good, deal with life, or handle stress.
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Heroin comes from the dried milk of the opium poppy, which is also used to create the class of painkillers called narcotics — medicines like codeine and morphine. Heroin can range from a white to dark brown powder to a sticky, tar-like substance.

Street Names: horse, smack, Big H, junk

How It's Used: Heroin is injected, smoked, or inhaled (if it is pure).

Effects & Dangers:

Heroin gives you a burst of euphoric (high) feelings, especially if it's injected. This high is often followed by drowsiness, nausea, stomach cramps, and vomiting.
Users feel the need to take more heroin as soon as possible just to feel good again.
With long-term use, heroin ravages the body. It is associated with chronic constipation, dry skin, scarred veins, and breathing problems.
Users who inject heroin often have collapsed veins and put themselves at risk of getting deadly infections such as HIV, hepatitis B or C, and bacterial endocarditis (inflammation of the lining of the heart) if they share needles with other users.
Addictiveness: Heroin is extremely addictive and easy to overdose on (which can cause death). Withdrawal is intense and symptoms include insomnia, vomiting, and muscle pain.
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Inhalants are substances that are sniffed or "huffed" to give the user an immediate rush or high. They include household products like glues, paint thinners, dry cleaning fluids, gasoline, felt-tip marker fluid, correction fluid, hair spray, aerosol deodorants, and spray paint.

How It's Used: Inhalants are breathed in directly from the original container (sniffing or snorting), from a plastic bag (bagging), or by holding an inhalant-soaked rag in the mouth (huffing).

Effects & Dangers:

Inhalants make you feel giddy and confused, as if you were drunk. Long-time users get headaches, nosebleeds, and may suffer loss of hearing and sense of smell.
Inhalants are the most likely of abused substances to cause severe toxic reaction and death. Using inhalants, even one time, can kill you.
Addictiveness: Inhalants can be very addictive. Teens who use inhalants can become psychologically dependent upon them to feel good, deal with life, or handle stress.
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Ketamine hydrochloride is a quick-acting anesthetic that is legally used in both humans (as a sedative for minor surgery) and animals (as a tranquilizer). At high doses, it causes intoxication and hallucinations similar to LSD.

Street Names: K, Special K, vitamin K, bump, cat Valium

How It's Used: Ketamine usually comes in powder that users snort. Users often do it along with other drugs such as Ecstasy (called kitty flipping) or cocaine or sprinkle it on marijuana blunts.

Effects & Dangers:

Users may become delirious, hallucinate, and lose their sense of time and reality. The trip — also called K-hole — that results from ketamine use lasts up to 2 hours.
Users may become nauseated or vomit, become delirious, and have problems with thinking or memory.
At higher doses, ketamine causes movement problems, body numbness, and slowed breathing.
Overdosing on ketamine can stop you from breathing — and kill you.
Addictiveness: Teens who use it can become psychologically dependent upon it to feel good, deal with life, or handle stress.
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LSD (which stands for lysergic acid diethylamide) is a lab-brewed hallucinogen and mood-changing chemical. LSD is odorless, colorless, and tasteless.

Street Names: acid, blotter, doses, microdots

How It's Used: LSD is licked or sucked off small squares of blotting paper. Capsules and liquid forms are swallowed. Paper squares containing acid may be decorated with cute cartoon characters or colorful designs.

Effects & Dangers:

Hallucinations occur within 30 to 90 minutes of dropping acid. People say their senses are intensified and distorted — they see colors or hear sounds with other delusions such as melting walls and a loss of any sense of time. But effects are unpredictable, depending on how much LSD is taken and the user.
Once you go on an acid trip, you can't get off until the drug is finished with you — at times up to about 12 hours or even longer!
Bad trips may cause panic attacks, confusion, depression, and frightening delusions.
Physical risks include sleeplessness, mangled speech, convulsions, increased heart rate, and coma.
Users often have flashbacks in which they feel some of the effects of LSD at a later time without having used the drug again.
Addictiveness: Teens who use it can become psychologically dependent upon it to feel good, deal with life, or handle stress.
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The most widely used illegal drug in the United States, marijuana resembles green, brown, or gray dried parsley with stems or seeds. A stronger form of marijuana called hashish (hash) looks like brown or black cakes or balls. Marijuana is often called a gateway drug because frequent use can lead to the use of stronger drugs.

Street Names: pot, weed, blunts, chronic, grass, reefer, herb, ganja

How It's Used: Marijuana is usually smoked — rolled in papers like a cigarette (joints), or in hollowed-out cigars (blunts), pipes (bowls), or water pipes (bongs). Some people mix it into foods or brew it as a tea.

Effects & Dangers:

Marijuana can affect mood and coordination. Users may experience mood swings that range from stimulated or happy to drowsy or depressed.
Marijuana also elevates heart rate and blood pressure. Some people get red eyes and feel very sleepy or hungry. The drug can also make some people paranoid or cause them to hallucinate.
Marijuana is as tough on the lungs as cigarettes — steady smokers suffer coughs, wheezing, and frequent colds.
Addictiveness: Teens who use marijuana can become psychologically dependent upon it to feel good, deal with life, or handle stress. In addition, their bodies may demand more and more marijuana to achieve the same kind of high experienced in the beginning.
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Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant.

Street Names: crank, meth, speed, crystal, chalk, fire, glass, crypto, ice

How It's Used: It can be swallowed, snorted, injected, or smoked.

Effects & Dangers:

Users feel a euphoric rush from methamphetamine, particularly if it is smoked or shot up. But they can develop tolerance quickly — and will use more meth for longer periods of time, resulting in sleeplessness, paranoia, and hallucinations.
Users sometimes have intense delusions such as believing that there are insects crawling under their skin.
Prolonged use may result in violent, aggressive behavior, psychosis, and brain damage.
The chemicals used to make methamphetamine can also be dangerous to both people and the environment.
Addictiveness: Methamphetamine is highly addictive.
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Nicotine is a highly addictive stimulant found in tobacco. This drug is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream when smoked.

How It's Used: Nicotine is typically smoked in cigarettes or cigars. Some people put a pinch of tobacco (called chewing or smokeless tobacco) into their mouths and absorb nicotine through the lining of their mouths.

Effects & Dangers:

Physical effects include rapid heartbeat, increased blood pressure, shortness of breath, and a greater likelihood of colds and flu.
Nicotine users have an increased risk for lung and heart disease and stroke. Smokers also have bad breath and yellowed teeth. Chewing tobacco users may suffer from cancers of the mouth and neck.
Withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, anger, restlessness, and insomnia.
Addictiveness: Nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine, which makes it extremely difficult to quit. Those who start smoking before the age of 21 have the hardest time breaking the habit.
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Rohypnol (pronounced: ro-hip-nol) is a low-cost, increasingly popular drug. Because it often comes in presealed bubble packs, many teens think that the drug is safe.

Street Names: roofies, roach, forget-me pill, date rape drug

How It's Used: This drug is swallowed, sometimes with alcohol or other drugs.

Effects & Dangers:

Rohypnol is a prescription antianxiety medication that is 10 times more powerful than Valium.
It can cause the blood pressure to drop, as well as cause memory loss, drowsiness, dizziness, and an upset stomach.
Though it's part of the depressant family of drugs, it causes some people to be overly excited or aggressive.
Rohypnol has received a lot of attention because of its association with date rape. Many teen girls and women report having been raped after having rohypnol slipped into their drinks. The drug also causes "anterograde amnesia." This means it's hard to remember what happened while on the drug, like a blackout. Because of this it can be hard to give important details if a young woman wants to report the rape.
Addictiveness: Users can become physically addicted to rohypnol, so it can cause extreme withdrawal symptoms when users stop.
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Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: July 2008
Originally reviewed by: Michele Van Vranken, MD

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pros and Cons of Teen Partying by Vanessa Van Petten

Parties are a regular occurrence during the course of a teenager’s high school career. They typically involve bad DJing, a lot of red plastic cups, and plenty of people. They can be a lot of fun, but they can also have unfavorable endings if you don’t act responsibly.

It’s a great way to meet new people

There is usually a good mix of classmates, familiar and unknown, and students from other school. Attending a party can provide you with the opportunity to encounter a new group of characters outside your usual circle of friends. It’s always fun to make new acquaintances and create new ties.

Fun way to de-stress after the school week

Who doesn’t want to kick back and unwind after a long week of tests and homework? Parties are entertaining, adult-free social gatherings where we can just relax and be ourselves. There’s no pressure from parents to be serious and mature. Instead, we can be silly and giggly, far away from the demands of the scholastic atmosphere.

The “high school experience”

Fun, carefree, and sometimes secret house parties have a short lifespan. Once you’re out of high school and onto college, your schedule becomes increasingly busy. Your mind is no longer solely occupied with the latest drama in the locker room and what you plan on doing over the weekend. Suddenly you have a nightly paper to write and career choices to make. Once responsibility has taken over, you’ll become less available for late-night-partying and more focused on what you want to do with your life when school’s over. So enjoy your worry-free time and make the most of it.



I’ve found that the negative side of partying tends to be centered around the underage drinking part. Even though it is illegal to purchase alcohol until you are at the ripe old age of 21, teens don’t usually have a problem getting their hands on it. Besides the easy access at home, there are a lot of places that either don’t card or don’t pay much attention to fake IDs.

Unpleasant Side Effects

It doesn’t take very much alcohol for teenagers to get “the buzz”, and the consumption generally doesn’t stop at that point. In addition using alcohol as party refreshments, drinking games like Quarters and Beerpong are both common and popular. The ingestion of large amounts of alcohol at a time can lead to all kinds of undesirable side effects. They include: dizziness, memory loss, slurred speech, nausea, intense headaches, sensitivity to noise, poor judgment, impaired coordination and dexterity, and vomiting.


When you’ve opted not to drink, and EVERYONE else is drinking, a party can become very dull, very fast. “Drunkards” or drunken teens usually find anything and everything around them to be hilarious and amusing. Their speech is slurred and their thought process has been altered, making it difficult to hold a conversation with them. When you are sober, this scene may not seem quite so comical. Instead, all you’ll see is a bunch of teenagers, falling all over themselves laughing and doing things that are totally out of character. And you’re the one who ends up sitting on the couch for the rest of the night, watching all your drunken friends enjoy themselves.

My advice: Have a good time but be cautious. It’s fine to get together and hang out with friends but it’s always good to be aware of your surroundings and be mindful of the consequences of your actions.
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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Pot in the Summer by Connect with Kids

“During the summer, I went out more. And during the school year, I was focused on my homework and stuff, and the summer was mostly just a time for me to relax and just chill out and go party.”

– Angelique, 18

For most teens, the summer brings sun, swimming and maybe some extra time spent on the skateboard. But for others, the season marks the time when they first try pot.

“Beginning of summer, first day of summer, in fact,” says Sarah, who’s 19.

“It was during the summer because then we could stay out later and a lot of other kids were out of school, too,” 18-year-old Angelique adds.

In fact, studies show 40 percent of teens who smoke marijuana first tried the drug during the summer.

“They have a lot of free time. A lot of kids are bored during the summer. They’ve got nothing to do. So the fact that a lot of kids are starting to get into things they shouldn’t and experiment isn’t surprising at all,” says addiction counselor Dr. Robert Margolis, who serves as executive director of Solutions Counseling in Atlanta.

Experts say for that reason, parents should keep their children busy during the summer break.

“I think they ought to ask themselves do they have any plan going into the summer for their kids. What are their kids going to do? Are they going to get a job? Are they going to maybe go study someplace … are they going to have something that’s structured to do?” Dr. Margolis says.

He says that regardless of their own personal experiences when they were young, parents should explain the dangers of marijuana, especially at the beginning of the summer.

“What parents need to understand is that this is a very harmful, addictive drug that ruins people’s lives. And they better be prepared with facts to discuss this with their kids,” Dr. Margolis says.

Talks with her parents, and her doctor, finally convinced Angelique to stop smoking marijuana.

“Like they’re more dangerous than cigarettes and all that stuff. I didn’t know that,” she says.

Tips for Parents

The summer months often bring more freedom to teens. But many of them abuse this freedom, as evidenced by data released by the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse that shows 40% of teens first try marijuana during the summer. In fact, about 5,800 teens try marijuana for the first time each day in June and July.

According to the C-D-Cs annual Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance report more than 38% of teens report having use marijuana in their life. Nearly 20% admitted to smoking pot within the past 30 days. 8% of kids tried marijuana prior to turning 13 years of age.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the prevalence of drug use can, in part, be attributed to the overall perceptions and attitudes that drug use – particularly that of marijuana – is not harmful and is insignificant. Yet, those who choose to use this substance do risk developing serious health problems. The NIDA says that marijuana is responsible for the following physical effects in a user:

THC – the main chemical in marijuana – changes the way in which sensory information gets into and is acted on by particular systems in the brain. The system most affected is the limbic system, which is crucial for learning, memory and the integration of sensory experiences with emotions and motivations. Investigations have shown that THC suppresses neurons in the information-processing system of the brain.

A person who smokes marijuana regularly may have many of the same respiratory problems that tobacco smokers develop. The individual may have daily cough and phlegm, symptoms of chronic bronchitis and more frequent chest colds. Continuing to smoke marijuana can lead to abnormal functioning of lung tissue injured or destroyed by marijuana smoke.

Regardless of the THC content, the amount of tar inhaled by marijuana smokers and the level of carbon monoxide absorbed are three to five times greater than among tobacco smokers. This may be due to marijuana users inhaling more deeply and holding the smoke in the lungs.

In order for parents to help curb the growing problem of marijuana use among teens, they must first understand the dangers involved in using the drug. The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign cautions parents to be aware of the following points about marijuana use:

Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug among youth today.
More teens enter treatment for marijuana abuse each year than for all other illicit drugs combined.
Marijuana is addictive.
Marijuana use can lead to a host of significant health, social, learning and behavioral problems at a crucial time in a young person’s development.

Adolescent marijuana users show lower academic achievement compared to non-users.

Even short-term marijuana use has been linked to memory loss and difficulty with problem-solving.

Time and again, kids say that their parents are the single most important influence when it comes to using drugs.

As a parent, how can you determine if your teen is using marijuana? According to the NIDA, you should look for the following symptoms associated with marijuana use:

Appears dizzy and has trouble walking
Seems silly and giggly for no reason
Has very red or blood shot eyes
Has trouble remembering events that have just occurred

Although these symptoms will fade within a few hours of use, other significant behavioral changes – including withdrawl, depression, fatigue, carelessness with grooming, hostility and deteriorating relationships with family members and friends – may signal that your teen is in trouble. If your teen is using drugs, he or she may also experience changes in academic performance, have increased absenteeism, lose interest in sports or other favorite activities and develop different eating or sleeping habits.

Whether or not you suspect your child is using marijuana, it is crucial that you discuss the issue at an early age. The experts at DrugHelp suggest following these steps when discussing tough issues, like drug abuse, with your child:

Create a climate in which your child feels comfortable approaching you and expressing his or her feelings.

Don't shut off communication by responding judgmentally, saying, "You're wrong" or "That's bad."

Give your child an opportunity to talk.
Show your interest by asking appropriate questions.
Listen to what your child has to say before formulating a response.
Focus on what your child has to say, not on language or grammar.
Use probing questions to encourage a shy child to talk.
Identify areas of common experience and agreement.
Leave the door open for future conversations

National Institute on Drug Abuse
National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Teen Suicide - An Introduction

Suicide is the third most common cause of death amongst adolescents between 15-24 years of age, and the sixth most common cause of death amongst 5-14 year olds. It is estimated that over half of all teens suffering from depression will attempt suicide at least once, and of those teens, roughly seven percent will succeed on the first try. Teenagers are especially vulnerable to the threat of suicide, because in addition to increased stress from school, work and peers, teens are also dealing with hormonal fluctuations that can complicate even the most normal situations.

Because of these social and personal changes, teens are also at higher risk for depression, which can also increase feelings of despair and the desire to commit suicide. In fact, according to a study by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) almost all people who commit suicide suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder or substance abuse disorder. Often, teens feel as though they have no other way out of their problems, and may not realize that suicidal thoughts and feelings can be treated. Unfortunately, due to the often volatile relationship between teens and their parents, teens may not be as forthcoming about suicidal feelings as parents would hope. The good news is there are many signs parents can watch for in their teen without necessarily needing their teen to open up to them.

At some point in most teens’ lives, they will experience periods of sadness, worry and/or despair. While it is completely normal for a healthy person to have these types of responses to pain resulting from loss, dismissal, or disillusionment, those with serious (often undiagnosed) mental illnesses often experience much more drastic reactions. Many times these severe reactions will leave the teen in despair, and they may feel that there is no end in sight to their suffering. It is at this point that the teen may lose hope, and with the absence of hope comes more depression and the feeling that suicide is the only solution. It isn’t.

Teen girls are statistically twice as likely as their male counterparts to attempt suicide. They tend to turn to drugs (overdosing) or to cut themselves, while boys are traditionally more successful in their suicide attempts because they utilize more lethal methods such as guns and hanging. This method preference makes boys almost four times more successful in committing suicide.

Studies have borne out that suicide rates rise considerably when teens can access firearms in their home. In fact, nearly 60% of suicides committed in the United States that result in immediate death are accomplished with a gun. This is one crucial reason that any gun kept in a home with teens, even if that teen does not display any outward signs of depression, be stored in a locked compartment away from any ammunition. In fact, the ammunition should be stored in a locked compartment as well, and the keys to both the gun and ammunition compartments should be kept in a different area from where normal, everyday keys are kept. Remember to always keep firearms, ammunition, and the keys to the locks containing them, away from kids.

Unfortunately, teen suicide is not a rare event. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that suicide is the third leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 24. This disturbing trend is affecting younger children as well, with suicide rates experiencing dramatic increases in the under-15 age group from 1980 to 1996. Suicide attempts are even more prevalent, though it is difficult to track the exact rates.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Teens - National Crime Prevention Council

Growing up in the 21st century provides young people with amazing opportunities. We have access to incredible technology that allows us to communicate instantaneously through email and cell phones. We are the healthiest, best-educated generation in history. We volunteer at an even higher rate than adults do. The level of crime that we face is lower than it has been in 30 years. However, crime rates are still too high. The good news is that there are real things we can do about the problems that plague our communities.

Community Works offers us a way to do something about crime and violence. When we participate in the Community Works curriculum, we can work with our friends, other young people, and adult leaders to learn the facts about crime and violence, how we can help prevent crimes, and how we can become involved in service-learning projects that benefit our community.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Grade School Bullying

“A new phrase has entered our vocabulary: “Barbie Brats.” The name applies to an overlooked group of kids- young children, only 6 or 8 or 10 years old, who bully other kids in real life or on the Internet.”

– Louise Myslik, LCSW

Sherrod is only seven, but already, he says, he’s the victim of bullies. Sometimes it’s verbal, at other times, physical.

“They tell me to do stuff and then they push me into a wall.”

“They don’t like him,” says Sherrod’s mother, Sherry Thornton. “They won’t share with him. They do things and just blame it on him.”

Bullying among younger kids is happening more often. In fact, studies show three-quarters of children aged 8 to 11 say they’ve been bullied.

Experts say as kids learn to socialize, sometimes they’re nice and sometimes mean. It’s the mean behavior parents should focus on.

“We can’t assume that kids will be kids [and] at some point, they will grow out of this,” says Louise Myslik, a licensed clinical social worker. “We need to really pay attention to it and help them understand what it means to be mean, what it looks like, how it feels and why it’s not appropriate.”

Experts say parents should first talk to their children about bullying. Also, ask detailed questions.

For instance, says Myslik, “’Do you think your school has bullies? Do you have bullies in your class? What do they do? What do they say? Whom do they hurt? Have you ever been hurt?’”

She says if your child is a bully, don’t ignore the behavior. If your child is the victim, like Sherrod, teach them to speak up – tell an adult, stand up to the bully.

Sherrod’s mother offers him these words, “’Stop. Don’t do that to me. I don’t like that. You’re hurting me or you hurt my feelings,’ she says, “To me, communication is key.”

Tips for Parents

It may seem like innocent child’s play, but physical and verbal taunting can weigh heavily on kids. According to a report, teasing and bullying top the list of children’s school troubles. In a survey called “Talking with Kids About Tough Issues,” authors polled 823 kids ranging in age from 8 to 15. The majority reported teasing and bullying are “big problems” that rank higher than racism, smoking, drinking, drugs or sex.

Australian researchers also found that teenagers who are the targets of repeated taunts, threats and/or physical violence are more likely to develop symptoms of anxiety and depression. Girls appear to be particularly vulnerable.

“Bullying, teasing and harassment are psychological and psychiatric traumas,” says Dr. William S. Pollack, a clinical psychologist at Harvard Medical School. Those traumas can lead to “anxiety, depression, dysfunction, nightmares, and later, incapacity to function actively and healthfully as an adult.”

Experts say it is extremely important to open the lines of communication with your kids.
Consider the following tips:

Start early
Initiate conversations
Create an open environment
Communicate your values
Listen to your child
Try to be honest
Be patient
Share your experiences
Also, watch for behavioral changes. Children who are suffering from teasing and bullying may try to hide the hurt. They become withdrawn from family and friends, lose interest in hobbies, and may turn to destructive habits like alcohol, drugs, and acts of violence.

It is the ultimate responsibility of your child’s school to make the school safe for him/her. Share the following tips with your child, and tell him/her to only do the things recommended below if he/she is comfortable doing them. If your child is not comfortable, encourage him/her to get help from a teacher or counselor. And even when he/she takes the actions below, it is always a good idea for him/her to let parents and teachers know.

Be assertive
Write the harasser a letter
Document incidents
Check with other students
File a formal complaint
Kaiser Family Foundation
Children Now
British Medical Journal
U.S. Department of Education
LaMarsh Research Centre

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Inhalant Abuse

In 2004, the Alliance for Consumer Education launched ITS Inhalant Abuse Prevention Kit at a national press conference at the National Press Club in Washington DC. The kit was successfully tested in 6 pilot states across the country. Currently, ACE’s Inhalant Abuse Prevention Kit is in all 50 states. Furthermore, the Kit is in its third printing due to high demands.

The Kit is intended for presentations to adult audiences. Specifically parents of elementary and middle school children, so they can talk to their children about the dangers and risks associated with Inhalants. We base the program on data from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Statistics show that parents talking to their kids about drugs decrease the risk of the kids trying a drug.

The Inhalant Abuse Prevention Kit contains 4 components: the Facilitator’s Guide, a FAQ sheet, an interactive PowerPoint presentation, and a “What Every Parent Needs to Know about Inhalant Abuse” brochure. Additionally, there are 4 printable posters for classroom use, presentations, etc.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Sue Scheff: Home Alone

By Connect with Kids

“99 Percent of the time we would follow the rules but you know, every time every now and then you want to just stray from the circle and do what you want instead of the rules.”

– Jamal, 16 years old

We know them as latch key kids. Most afternoons they come home alone and unlock the door to a world free from adult supervision.

Once inside, they often encounter boredom … and temptation.

Because both of his parents work, sixteen-year-old Jamal Inegbedion spends many afternoons home alone with his sister. He says it’s hard to be good all the time, “99 Percent of the time we would follow the rules but you know, every time every now and then you want to just stray from the circle and do what you want instead of the rules.”

Whether young or old, kids alone are prime targets for trouble.

“When there’s no parent around or anyone involved in supervising them they have idle time,” explains Judge Greg Adams, “and what is the old adage idle time is the devil’s workshop. And as a result of that, they get with other young people and they are experimenting with drugs. That’s when a lot of it takes place right after school before the parents get home.”

So, how do parents decide when to leave kids alone? How to keep them safe? And how to keep them out of trouble?

Experts say leaving kids alone before age twelve is a big risk.

After that, “Try very short periods of time and see how the child reacts and how fearful they are,” advises David Hellwig from Child Protective Services. “A parent really knows their child best about their maturity level. [And] Certainly, having emergency phone numbers being immediately available; whether there’s a supportive neighbor relative close by.”

Give them specific instructions, chores to keep them busy, rules to follow and make sure kids know there are consequences for bad behavior.

Jamal’s mom says her kids know the rules … and what will happen if they don’t follow them. “I would let them know that if they didn’t follow instruction I would punish them but most of all worse things could happen to them.”

Tips for Parents

Every day in America, nearly 8 million children go home to an empty house. Experts say, the after school hours are the peak time for juvenile crime and risky behaviors. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention reports that teens are at the highest risk of being a victim of violence between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. and the peak hour for juvenile crime is from 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., just after school is dismissed. Studies also show that students who don’t take part in after-school activities, such as sports or after-school programs are 49 percent more likely to have used drugs and 37 percent more likely to become teen parents.

The National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center defines after-school programs as safe, structured activities that convene regularly in the hours after school and offer activities to help children learn new skills and develop into responsible adults. Activities may cover such topics as technology, reading, math, science and the arts. And the programs may also offer new experiences for children, such as community service, internships or tutoring and mentoring opportunities.

As a parent, why should you consider an after-school program for your child? Without structured, supervised activities in the after-school hours, youth are at greater risk of being victims of crime or participating in antisocial behaviors.

If you are interested in enrolling your child in an after-school program, you have several different types from which to choose. The Educational Resources Information Center says that a good after-school program should offer children the chance to have fun and feel comforted, as well as motivate them to learn. The best programs offer a comprehensive set of activities that do the following for your child:

Foster his or her self-worth and develop his or her self-care skills
Develop his or her personal and interpersonal social skills and promote respect for cultural diversity.
Provide help with homework, tutoring and other learning activities
Provide time and space for quiet study
Provide new, developmentally appropriate enrichment activities to add to his or her learning at school, help him or her develop thinking and problem-solving skills and spark curiosity and love of learning
Provide recreational and physical activities to develop physical skills and constructively channel his or her energy pent up after a day sitting in a classroom
Encourage participation in individual sports activities to help develop self-esteem by striving for a personal best, and participation in group sports to provide lessons about cooperation and conflict resolution
Provide age-appropriate job readiness training
Provide information about career and career-training options, preferably through firsthand experiences with community business leaders and tours of local businesses
Some programs may be excellent while others may be lacking in resources and staff, and therefore, less attractive to parents. It is important when choosing an after-school program to ask questions, visit the facility and get to know the staff.

21st Century Community Learning Centers
Boys & Girls Clubs of America
Educational Resources Information Center
National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention