Posts tagged with ‘teens’

Teens are very susceptible to addiction as substance abuse for a number of reasons, including peer pressure. But exposure to alcohol and drugs can be very dangerous to teens, as their brains have not yet fully developed.

The Risk of Mental Health Problems Is Often Ignored by Alcohol Abusers

In an effort to curtail the increasing number of youths suffering from alcohol abuse, the Salvation Army has released findings of a study to help raise awareness about the link between alcohol abuse and mental health problems. Full Story

Correlation Between Teenagers and Networking Sites Shows Increase in Drug Use

A recent survey done on America’s teenagers shows that those who use social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are also more likely to drink, use drugs and smoke. Full Story

Minimal Intervention Could Reduce Teen Marijuana Use

Many teens use marijuana regularly and believe that it is a harmless drug with few addictive properties. Recently, however, research has been increasingly showing an association between marijuana and psychosis, and some research shows a connection between marijuana use and other risky behaviors.

A new study published in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors shows that even a short, minimal intervention could significantly reduce a teen’s use of the drug. Because most high school students report that they have access to marijuana, and nearly a third report smoking it, the technique may be a powerful tool in reducing marijuana use in the United States.

Denise Walker, co-director of the University of Washington’s Innovative Programs Research Group, and colleagues examined the impact of motivational conversations with teenagers to help them reduce marijuana use. While many teens use marijuana without experiencing problems, explains Walker, there are others who use it regularly and are looking for a way to stop.

Walker and co-authors conducted two sessions of Teen Marijuana Check-Up at schools, in which they described myths and facts about marijuana, along with common reasons why teens use marijuana and the risks associated with the behavior.

As part of the presentation, Walker told the students about the study, and students could volunteer privately to become a participant. Walker says that many teens have concerns about marijuana use, even if they are not discussing these concerns with family or peers. The opportunity offered by the study gave the teens a convenient way to think through the pros and cons of drug use in a way that did not shame them for their use.

The presentation was originally given to approximately 7,100 students, of which 619 volunteered for the study and 310 met the criteria for participation. The participants, all high school students in Seattle public schools, attended two one-on-one sessions with health educators.

The students were given one of two types of approaches. One approach was motivational interviewing, which provided the student a session with a health educator. The discussion centered on the student’s marijuana use and how it might be affecting the student’s life. The health educator also shared with the student about social norms of how much others use marijuana.

The second approach featured a PowerPoint presentation which described current marijuana research, and the health and psychological effects of marijuana use.

The students who were given motivational interviewing decreased marijuana use by 20 percent, from using marijuana 40 out of the previous 60 days to using it only 32 out of 60 days. Those who observed the PowerPoint presentation had slower progress, reporting an 8 percent decrease in marijuana use.

The results of the study support the benefit of even short, minimal education and intervention plans to help reduce marijuana use among teens.

Teens Stop Blaming Your Parents for Your Alcohol Problems

If you are a teen who has been using alcohol as a form of recreational activity and getting into trouble because of it, it’s time to face the music and look at what may be driving such behavior. And, no, it isn’t fair to blame your parents for your actions – although many American teens that drink do. There’s more going on here that you need to be aware of. Beyond awareness, there are some things that you can do to overcome your difficulties with alcohol. But first, let’s look at why you should stop blaming your parents for your alcohol problems.

Genes Are Only One Factor

If you fall into the category of believing that you can’t help drinking too much because one or both of your parents are an alcoholic, that’s a rationalization right off the bat. You’re basically looking for an excuse to keep on drinking at your current rate. Yes, there is research that’s ongoing that shows that certain people may have a genetic predisposition or vulnerability to alcohol, but just as having a genetic marker for another type of disease, such as breast cancer, doesn’t automatically mean a person will develop that disease, neither does the presence or absence of a gene identified with alcohol vulnerability mean you will or will not become an alcoholic or have problems with alcohol at some point in your life.

Such research focuses on chromosome 15 linked to alcoholism, specifically a gene identified as GABRG3. But just because scientists have found the gene doesn’t mean they understand the genetic basis of alcoholism. In addition, scientists do not know how changes in the GABRG3 gene increase a person’s risk for alcoholism.

So, forget about blaming genetics as a reason for your problems with alcohol. Even if you do have a genetic marker that somehow increases your vulnerability, there are other factors that contribute to alcoholism besides genetics.

Environment Is Only Part of the Equation

Do your parents constantly drink, have fights, embarrass you, and neglect your well-being while they are drunk? No doubt this affects you greatly, but you cannot use that as another reason to justify your own continued drinking – or your problems as a result of your behavior. While it is true that your attitudes toward drinking may be shaped by what type of behavior you witness in the home – as well as the behavior you see outside the home, on TV, in advertising, among your peers – the environment in which you live is yet only another factor in what may or may not contribute to alcohol dependence or alcoholism.

Anyone can absolve themselves of their drinking problems by blaming others. Your parents are a convenient scapegoat. Counselors, judges, lawyers and law enforcement officials hear this complaint (or something like it) all the time: "I couldn’t help it. All my parents do is drink. I had to drink just to survive in the family."

Don’t believe it – and don’t use your parents as a way of excusing your own bad behavior. It isn’t fair to them or to you. Beyond that, if all you do is continue to blame others, you’ll never address the real problem – why you’re drinking – or begin to work to overcome the problem through counseling.

You Know Right From Wrong

Let’s be clear about something. You know that it’s not right to be drunk all the time or to drive while intoxicated, cause harm to others as a result of drinking, or neglect your own well-being because of your dependence on alcohol. In other words, you know the difference between right and wrong. You don’t really need your parents to tell you that your behavior isn’t acceptable – although parental rules and enforcement of a code of family behavior regarding alcohol – as in zero tolerance for underage drinking – is a big reason that teens choose not to drink. You’ve seen the consequences of drinking too much in others, and probably yourself as well. Instinctively you know that getting drunk day after day is just not the way to live.

And yet many teens – perhaps you are among them – insist they didn’t know they were doing anything wrong. No way will that fly in today’s interconnected society. Not only is there a blood alcohol content (BAC) level in every state to measure intoxication of drivers, but the news media reports of drunk driving accidents, celebrity convictions for manslaughter as a result of drunk driving, and high-profile celebrity stints in rehab for alcoholism are played out every day.

Problems you have due to your continued drinking are not the fault of your parents. Their attitudes and the home environment may play a part in how you formed your own opinions and attitudes about alcohol, but you are the one who is responsible for your own behavior in the end. If there’s a consequence that occurs because of your drinking, it’s you that will bear the responsibility. You will be the one who will have to accept the consequences.

Availability of Alcohol Doesn’t Make it Okay to Drink

Suppose your parents keep the liquor cabinet fully stocked at all times, not only to satisfy their own daily drinking patterns but also to be ready for celebration at any given time. Just because you feel you have ready access to liquor anytime you want it doesn’t mean it is okay for you to drink. Remember that drinking is against the law for minors – and that means you. Whether or not you care to recognize that fact, it’s still true. Sure, your parents should lock up the booze so you’re not tempted, but give it a break. Stealing alcohol from home so you can go out and get drunk and party with your friends is just not acceptable. Blaming your parents for alcohol being in the house is just another way of trying to skirt your own responsibility for your actions.

Saying Your Parents Don’t Care if You Drink is Nonsense

Do you truly believe that your parents don’t give a hoot if you drink or not? Are they that far gone (drunk all the time) that they don’t even know what you do on a daily basis? If that’s the case, you have issues of serious parental neglect that call for intervention by the authorities. You need and deserve a stable environment where you are nurtured and cared for by your parents. But most parents do care about the welfare of their children, and this includes being concerned if their child has or develops a problem with alcohol.

Why would you say that your parents don’t care if you drink, anyway? Why do you think this will absolve you of your problems as a result of alcohol? When your grades start to fall or you get in trouble at school because you’re always getting into fights, or if you get pulled over and arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), will saying that your parents don’t care if you drink make it any less your fault? You already know the answer to that. No one – certainly not your parents – forced you to drink. You alone bear the responsibility for putting alcohol into your mouth.

Getting Back at Parents by Drinking

Maybe you feel like your parents are the worst people on earth. They’ve kept you from going to parties or staying out as late as you like with your friends. Their rules and punishments are far too restrictive for your liking and you seek to defy them by going out and drinking to excess. Are you just trying to get back at them with your drinking? Do you feel like you’re shoving your behavior in their face, taunting them with your actions – even though you know that what you’re doing is wrong?

First of all, it is the responsibility of your parents to try to give you appropriate limits, to set family policy, and to enforce the rules. This includes letting you know in clear language exactly what the consequences are for drinking when you have been informed that there is zero tolerance for underage drinking. Suppose there’s been no such discussion in your family, but you’re not allowed to stay out past 10 on school nights, you can’t see certain friends because your parents don’t like them, or some other restriction that you don’t like. Does this give you the excuse to go out and drink so you can somehow get back at your parents? That’s just another indication of not living up to your own responsibilities. As long as you remain at home under the roof of your parents and you are underage, you are bound to abide by their rules. When you reach the age of 21 and are out on your own, then you make your own rules. But for now, blaming your parents for your problems with drinking after you’ve tried to get back at them by drinking is just plain foolishness.

Acting Out Hatred of Parents Doesn’t Absolve You

There’s no question that some teenagers have parents that could use some better parenting skills. There’s also no question that growing up is hard to do. There are so many things pulling at you at once: pressure to do well at school, peer pressure to conform, self-imposed pressure to try to be liked by others, societal pressures, tension in the home as a result of other siblings getting attention, and a whole lot more. Maybe you are one of those teens that feel hatred toward your parents for any of a number of real or imagined ills. Some misguided teens take out their frustrations over what is or is not going on at home by drinking too much. Although they are definitely in the minority – meaning, most American teens don’t act this way – it is a problem when it does occur.

But what does acting out such hatred by drinking really get you, anyway? Only more trouble than you can readily deal with. It’s not worth all the aggravation and potentially life-threatening consequences (someone could be killed or severely injured as a result of your drinking and driving). When you blame your behavior on your parents, whether it’s drinking too much or anything else, it’s just another copout you’re using to absolve yourself of your responsibilities. It never works. You’re still the one responsible.

Trying to Take the Pain Away Your Parents Cause You

On the other hand, let’s look at another reason why some teens drink. Maybe they feel that their parents have caused them a great deal of pain. This could be because the teens feel their parents don’t love them enough, don’t spend enough time with them, hurt them in physical or emotional ways, or some other real or imagined hurt. Drinking may start as a way to conveniently escape the pain, to make it all go away, even if it’s only for a little while. The problem with this line of thinking is that the alcohol only temporarily relieves the pain. As soon as you’re sober again, the pain will still be there. By being drunk all the time, you’re only cloaking what’s bothering you and never get to the point where you do anything about it.

There’s only one way out of this type of no-win situation and that’s to seek help to overcome your problem with drinking. Then you can begin to address – with the help of a professional counselor – what’s going on in your life and how you can take steps to behave in healthier ways. In other words, you need to recognize that you need help, seek the help, and go through with the counseling. Don’t just blame your parents for the pain they have caused you while you stew and get drunk to obliterate your feelings. That’s a downhill slide that’s certain to cause you even more pain.

Where to Get Help

Sure, it’s tough to admit that you have a problem with alcohol. It takes courage and a willingness to admit that you need help. But even if others in your crowd are not ready or refuse to quit their bad drinking behavior, continuing to blame their parents and everyone else for their own actions, you can end this vicious cycle. How? Start by talking to an adult that you trust. Maybe this is one of your parents or another close relative. Perhaps it is the school counselor or a favorite teacher. Maybe it’s a parent of one of your close friends or another adult whom you know and trust. It could be your doctor or pastor at your church. As long as you trust the adult, confide your situation to him or her and ask for help in overcoming your problems with alcohol.

You can also contact Al-Anon/Alateen by going to their website or calling their toll-free number at 1-888-4AL-ANON. Al-Anon (and Alateen for younger members) is an organization that has been helping friends and family members of problem drinkers for more than 55 years. You might be in despair, feeling hopeless, afraid that things are never going to change. You want your life to be different. Going to Alateen meetings may help you learn a better way of life. Check it out online and start going to a few meetings.

If your drinking has progressed to the point where you have serious problems with alcohol (blackouts, DUIs, waking up in strange places, unwanted sexual activity, HIV/AIDS, getting kicked out of school, arrests, etc.), you may benefit from professional treatment. You will need to contact an adult that can help you find treatment.

Above all, if you want to change your life and ensure that you are able to live up to the potential and reach your dreams, you should stop blaming your parents for your problems with alcohol and get started doing something positive to change your behavior.

Yes, you can do it. There’s nothing holding you back except perhaps your own unwillingness to let this crutch go. Life will still go on around you, but you won’t be able to embrace it enthusiastically and wholeheartedly if you continue to exist in an alcohol-induced fog. Remember that once you start down the path of excessive drinking, the only way to stop is to get professional help. Alcohol can rewire your brain to the point where all you think about is drinking, all you do is drink, and your life becomes a shambles. Don’t let this happen to you. Stop blaming your parents and reach out for help. Now is the best time to do so. If you need to talk with someone about treatment right now, call the toll-free and confidential Treatment Referral Helpline operated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 1-800-662-HELP.

Role of Parents in Teenage Alcoholism

Turns out being the cool parent may not be the best strategy when it comes to helping your child learn lessons about controlled substances, like alcohol. Many parents have the misconception that all kids are going to drink and get drunk, so they might as well do it in the supervised presence of someone who cares for them. A new study, however, reveals that overseeing and condoning underage drinking may actually lead these youths to develop alcohol-related health issues in the future. Full Story

Want to Reduce Teens’ Use of Drugs? Study Says Sit Down to Dinner

One powerful antidote to teen drug addiction could be found in a simple family dinner at home, according to new research. A 2009 report from Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) says teenagers who sit down to dinner at home, with the family, less than three times a week have a risk for trying smoking or marijuana that is two times higher than teens who sit down to a family dinner five times each week.

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Early Alcohol and Tobacco Use May Delay Puberty in Girls

Both alcohol and tobacco use are known to produce several adverse effects, including psychological, physiological, emotional, and physical health hazards. These side effects have been extensively investigated among teenagers and adults, and are acutely apparent in older age, after long-term use, or following binge episodes. Yet alcohol and tobacco’s adverse reactions upon younger adolescents, especially on their physical development, are not fully known. Alcohol use has already been found to impede puberty growth rats, but the same evidence has not been established among humans, particularly young girls.

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Intervention Reduces Teen Risk of Substance Use and Abuse

The education our children receive within the walls of local schools is more involved than the math and English subjects they are required to take. Children are also at risk of learning more about drugs and alcohol than parents may realize and with increased pressures during the adolescent years, alcohol may be an attractive fix.

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FDA Attempts to Restrict Cold- and Cough-Medications to Reduce Abuse among Adolescents

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee will meet on September 14, 2010 to discuss the increased prevalence of dextromethorphan abuse among the American public. After receiving a request from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the rising incidence of dextromethorphan abuse nationwide, especially among adolescents, has raised enough concern over the availability of cold- and cough-remedies containing this powerful drug that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is now considering restricting the public’s access to these medications.

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Parents Play Critical Role in Monitoring Prescription Drugs

Some teens know where they can easily find cocaine or marijuana. They may have a friend who knows someone, or they may know other teens who can supply them at school. However, they may feel like contacting a drug dealer for a supply of drugs to get high is a big risk. They may get caught, and they may be afraid of developing an addiction.

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