Is The Party at Your House?

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This week’s guest blogger is Teresa Lunt, chairperson of Partnership For Change. I encourage parents and professionals to check out the good work of this coalition and see what might be possible to do within your own communities. Later this week, I am participating in a Town Hall Forum* put on by this organization. MWM
I’ve heard parents say, “It’s safer to have kids drinking in my home then be out driving around.” Or, “I just make sure I take the kids’ keys so they can’t leave drunk.”  And another, “I want to see how they handle alcohol before heading off to college.”
Although well intentioned, it is misguided to think hosting underage drinking in your home is a “safe” alternative.  Even though teen drinking usage rates are on the decline it is still the number one abused substance by youth and young adults.  There are other things to take into consideration.  Do you know if a child is on medication that may contraindicate with alcohol?  A child may have a history of alcoholism in their family; you never know if that first drink is going to be the one that turns to the path of alcoholism.
Youth who start drinking before age 15 years are six times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who begin drinking at or after age 21 years. Studies show the older the age of onset of that first drink the lower the chances of addiction.
Did you know you or a family member could be held criminally liable for underage drinking on your property?  It’s true!  A Social Host Ordinance makes it unlawful for an individual, despite age, to provide a location where underage drinking takes place, regardless of who provides the alcohol.  It is important to let legal siblings know the law, too.  The potential consequences could be 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Don’t put kids in an uncomfortable and conflicting position.  
My son attended an after prom party at a friend’s home.  We knew the family well.  I talked with the mom at the pre-prom photo session and she assured me there would be no drinking or drugs allowed.  When my son arrived at the party, he was approached by the father of his friend and was told he’d need to put his keys in a basket.  Several of the kids were spending the night; our son was to be home by a 2 am curfew.  He pleaded with the father that he would not be drinking and that he would be leaving in time to be home by curfew.  When he went to ask for his keys, the father made my son promise not to tell us (his parents) what happened.  This is completely unacceptable.  What a horrible position this man put my son in.
I implore parents to keep homecoming, prom, graduation and any other celebration safe, responsible and legal!
Please support safe and healthy settings for youth and help do your part to prevent underage drinking.  We can and must keep our kids safe and social.
For more information on how you can help prevent and reduce youth substance use, visit us at www.partnership4change.org.
Teresa Lunt
Partnership for Change Chairperson

Learn More – November 3, 2016

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Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.

©2016 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

Suicide Prevention – Instagram Rolls Out Prevention Message

Many times young people self medicate with drugs and alcohol. It’s important to recognize the underlying situation and whether they may be feeling suicidal. Instagram, a popular social media platform among high school and college-age kids, has rolled out a suicide-prevention message that allows people to reach out if they are concerned. Knowing someone cares and providing a resource can make a significant difference. Learn more:

http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/instagram-suicide-prevention-tools/646341?utm_source=sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=ABN_%20SocialTimes&utm_campaign=Adweek_Newsletter_2016001916

The Person Who Listened – Thank You!

Throughout our experience with our son’s addiction, there were many people (licensed professionals) who listened – initially – but stopped hearing what we were saying shortly thereafter. They were somewhat helpful, but not ultimately helpful. They offered us what they could, but not necessarily what we needed. Until our son met the person who put things in motion and the person who made it happen.

In no way do I think this was intentional, but unfortunately, it seems like it’s the norm more often than not. That’s because addiction and mental health are complex, and most professionals are either generalists or specialists. Until our son met the person who put things in motion and the person who made it happen.

Yet, we kept seeking, kept learning, kept trying. Until our son met the person who put things in motion and the person who made it happen.

We got better at sharing our situation, at asking for help, at discerning the options. We kept trying to find that person.

Still, it was frustrating. Every parent who is witnessing their kid’s addiction knows what I’m talking about. Throughout the process, we learn that our role is to become educated, to provide unconditional love, to provide emotional support, to set healthy boundaries, to insist on answers and to press for information, to hope and pray, to keep on keeping on. Until our son met the person who put things in motion and the person who made it happen.

At first, this was our exercise. We were the ones who knew there was a problem and wanted to get help for our son. He was in denial. He was not interested. He didn’t want to talk, didn’t want to listen. So, we did all the leg work.

Years later, it became his exercise. He was somewhat ready to get help, to stop using, to start addressing mental health needs. But everyone wanted to push him into traditional programs – programs that he wasn’t interested in. You might argue that these are good programs – and they are – but without his buy in, these simply wouldn’t work for him.

Aha! We were beginning to realize that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment, sobriety and recovery.

But, the majority of professionals weren’t on board with this. Again, the frustration mounted. Until our son met the person who put things in motion and the person who made it happen.

You’re starting to see the pattern here: “Until our son met the person who put things in motion and the person who made it happen.” Thank goodness, we kept trying to find this person and our son was, too.

Who was this person? The first person was a mental-health assessment professional who listened AND provided concrete feedback and steps our son could take. Interestingly, the pro said, “Get 30 to 60 days of sobriety through treatment and then come back; but, in the meantime, here’s how you go about getting the treatment program that you want.”

He offered up another assessment option called Rule 25 (a Minnesota program through the Department of Human Services). I will forever be grateful for this person who listened and put things in motion with clear, actionable steps that my son could embrace – because he’d been heard.

After some procrastination, my son made an appointment for a Rule 25 assessment, and without hesitation, the assessor identified three options that met my son’s preferences.

She was not trying to stick him in a program he didn’t want or an approach he couldn’t embrace. She was also able to put a name to what he was looking for – an approach called Health Realization. All these years and no one had ever given the approach he wanted a name; yet, here it was, an actual approach. I will forever be grateful for this person who listened and put things in motion with clear, actionable steps that my son could embrace – because he’d been heard.

Midwestern Mama

©2016 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved.

Study Drugs & Students

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The pressure that is put on students these days is pretty overwhelming. There is a drive to be perfect and competition is incredibly high. They have to get straight A’s, get college credit while in High School, get graduate credit while in undergrad, finish early, and be the best, and if they can’t manage this they are deemed failures. We push and push our children and in the process we create a culture that permits unhealthy habits in order to get a competitive edge.

This culture can be seen on just about every American college campus where students are taking study drugs, such as Ritalin or Adderall, in order to study longer and retain information better. Many of these students are not prescribed these drugs, but rather take them when they need to cram for a test or sit down and write a paper.  Prescription pills rank #5 as the world’s most dangerous drugs and Adderall and Ritalin are prescription drugs to further the concern consider the following information.  One recent study showed that usage of study drugs is so prevalent that 61.8% of college students surveyed had been offered these drugs over the past two years. Of those surveyed 31.0% had actually taken drugs, that they were not prescribed, to study, which means that almost 1 in 3 college students have used narcotics in order to study in the past two years.

The same can be seen in high schools all across the country although the numbers aren’t as high. A 2013 study found that 7.4% of 12th graders had used non-prescribed Adderall within the previous year. While 7.4% may not seem like it is very high, Adderall was the most widely abused prescription drug among this age group, and only marijuana and alcohol were abused at higher rates.

Many of these students are unaware of the addictive properties of these drugs or the effects that they can have on their body, and most feel in the moment that getting a good grade is more important than their general wellbeing.

Adderall and other such drugs are powerful central nervous stimulants. The psychoactive chemical in Adderall is dextroamphetamine, which is very similar to the chemical makeup of methamphetamine. While methamphetamine is widely known to have devastating effects on the body, the effects that Adderall and other study drugs have is not as well known. This is in part because these drugs are legal and widely prescribed, so people believe that they are safe to take, but Adderall and other study drugs can have extremely negative effects on a person. Some of which are:

A suppression of the appetite and unhealthy weight loss

Like their stimulant counterparts, many study drugs are known to suppress the appetite of the person taking them, which over an extended period of time can lead to an unhealthy drop in weight. This occurs because dextroamphetamine and amphetamine increase the amount of dopamine released in the brain, which tells the body that it is satisfied. By doing this the body then is unaware that it is hungry.

Trouble Sleeping

This side effect is partially why college students use Adderall and other such drugs to study. The stimulant effect allows them to stay awake for long periods of time without the need for sleep, but without sleep a person can experience all sorts of negative side effects, such as hallucinations, heightened emotionality, and a breakdown in decision making.

Potential for dangerous cardiac issues

Since study drugs are stimulants they are known to raise blood pressure, body temperature and in certain cases can even result in sudden cardiac arrest. This does not necessarily only come about from extended use but can occur after only one usage. If you are taking a study drug that is not prescribed to you then you may run a higher risk of experiencing one of these side effects since a doctor didn’t perform a check-up before giving you the medication. It is important to understand that these are powerful drugs and so their effects on the body can be dramatic.

A Decreased Ability to Concentrate

One of the side effects of taking study drugs for a prolonged period of time is actually a decrease in ability to focus. This is interesting because many of these drugs are taken so that the person can concentrate for longer, but studies have shown that prolonged usage of these drugs actually have the adverse effect.

Addiction

Like all stimulants study drugs have the potential to lead a person into addiction. No one starts out using drugs believing that they are going to be addicted, but in 2012 116,000 people entered into drug treatment for Adderall addiction. Many people who start using this drug to study are unaware if they are predisposed to drug addiction and even if they are not, they could find themselves physically addicted to the drug before they even know what is happening.

So while the pressures of modern living continue to increase, we have to be conscious of the message that we are sending our children. If that message is that you have to succeed at any and all costs, then the number of students who abuse study drugs will continue to increase. These are powerful drugs and many people are unaware of the effects that they can have on the body, and while there are legitimate medical reasons for their usage, educating the youth on what these drugs can do to them is important. Getting them to understand that staying up all night with the help of narcotics in order to study is not a rite of passage and as a society we shouldn’t be putting this type of pressure on our children.

About Rose Lockinger, guest blogger

Rose Lockinger - Guest Blogger - Parent.jpgRose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.

You can find her on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram

Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.

©2016 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

 

Teens Speak Their Truth in New Online Pilot of Drug and Alcohol Prevention Program

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What’s something you don’t usually tell people about yourself?

What’s more important, money or happiness?

What’s the most fun you’ve ever had, without using drugs or alcohol?

There’s more—the homework assignment:

Schedule a walk with your parents or guardians and tell them three things you like about them.

Perform one good deed, even if no one notices. What was your good deed?  How did it make you feel?

Welcome to the novel approach of Gobi. It’s a new online drug and alcohol prevention program that we were inspired to develop because so many parents found their children using and couldn’t find a useful resource. Teaming up with academic specialists in addiction, education experts at sober schools and teens; we created Gobi.

What Kids Are Saying

To test the online concept and willingness of teens to engage, our team conducted a pilot evaluation for several months in 2015-2016.

The teens in the pilot provided insights about the program that is both revealing and empowering.

  • 50% reported they are around drugs and alcohol 1 to 3 times a week and that their motivation to use is to relax or deal with stress, fewer than 10% self-report using 3-7 times a week.
  • Peer pressure affects only a small percentage of respondents’ using behavior, yet approximately 70% of respondents reported they did things for another’s approval they did not want to, including “a mean prank,” “sleep at a boy’s house,” “smoke weed,” “drink whiskey.”
  • The majority of teens—approximately 80%–trust their friends—but some cautiously so. “Only one person. I’ve tried trusting more, but then they backstab you.” “Yes. But I’m a very closed off person, so they don’t know EVERYTHING. Cause you never know what could happen.” And “yes, because they don’t use.”
  • About 80 percent of respondents said happiness is more important than money. Their reasons: “money is something that comes and goes and not being happy is a waste of life.” “Because it’s the only thing money can’t buy.” Those who chose money say, “Money brings stability and without stability you can’t be happy.” “Everything depends on money.”
  • Most reported meeting a weekly goal they set—such as keeping a room clean, doing homework, helping parents with housework—and described this accomplishment as, “felt good, and it helped my relationship with my family,” “felt stronger mentally and physically because I did not think I could do it,” and “happy when we didn’t fight as much.” Those who missed making their goals described the feeling as “Disappointed,” “I feel dumb that I missed it,” and “Unsatisfied. Disappointed.”

By the end of the program, most teens said that they were now thinking differently about their using and had either stopped or significantly cut back on their drinking, as one teen said “because it’s a matter of my life.”  Both parents and teens reported that the walks had been very helpful in getting communication going again. Post-program survey comments attest to this, noting feeling “less stressed, more connected with my mom”, “My relationship with my family wasn’t as good as it is now, because I have been given tools to help communicate with my parents better.”

We are encouraged by these early results. They show teens are not only willing to change—but looking to change. They want help in doing so, and they find the online/mobile phone platform convenient, familiar, easy to use, and helpful. They trust it.

Most impressive to us was the fact that a great deal of honesty came through in the responses—and that’s key. As we know so well, trust and honesty are the foundation for getting teens and parents connected, and for getting right with the world. And there’s no better feeling than that.

About the Author:

Judson (Kim) Bemis is a Minneapolis entrepreneur, recovery advocate, and gratefully sober husband and parent for 28 years.  More information on Gobi can be found at gobi.support.

Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.

©2016 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.