Red Flags Parents Can Look For When College-Aged Children Come Home For Break

College kids are arriving back home for Thanksgiving, and it can be an eye-opener for families – especially if there is substance use involved. Today’s guest blogger, Rose Lockinger, alerts us to red flags. MWM

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As a parent one thing that I worry about is whether or not my children will do drugs in the future. I worry about whether they will follow the same path that I went down. I wonder if they will be tempted in High School or go off to college and fall into a bad scene, and I sometimes think about what I can, or will able, to do in order to prevent this.

Luckily, my kids are still pretty young so this concern may be a bit preemptive, but with Thanksgiving break just around the corner and college students all around the country returning home for a quick visit, it got me thinking about what parents can look out for to see if their kids are doing drugs.

For the most part your children will never come right out with it and tell you that they have been smoking pot in college or that they tried cocaine, and what’s more is if they suffer from some sort of substance abuse problem, and are not just recreationally experimenting, they will do anything in order to hide their addiction.

The thing that is perhaps most concerning for a parent is that adolescence is a time when they can be especially defenseless against substance abuse.

That being said there are some red flags that you can look out for in order to see if your child is using drugs in college and I have listed a few of them below.

 Red Flags That Your Child May Be Abusing Drugs In College

  •  Their grades begin to drop

This is not always indicative of a substance abuse problem, but often times where there’s smoke there’s fire. Usually during a student’s freshman year their grades will decline compared to what marks they received in High School and this has to do with getting acclimated to the new environment and the higher degree of difficulty that college work brings. But if you notice a decline in grades that appears to be unrelated to anything, or a continued decline in grades then it may mean that your child is having issues with substance abuse.

  •  They continuously ask for money

Many college students are broke and have to rely on their parents for money, but if you notice that the $200 you sent your child just last week is gone because they needed to [insert excuse here], and this is a reoccurring theme, then your children may be having problems with substance abuse. Often times money is the easiest way to find out if your college aged child has a problem with substance abuse, and this is because drugs and drinking excessively takes a great deal of money to do. So if you find that you are giving your child more money than normal, talk to them about what is going on.

  •  You sense a disconnect in them

Once again this is not always a sign that substance abuse is at hand, but as a parent it is fairly easy to tell when something is off with your child. There is a difference between the normal teen discontentment and substance abuse, so if your gut is telling you that they may be using drug, you are probably correct. As much as people who use drugs believe that they do not affect them in a negative way, abusing substances of any kind creates a shift in the personality and it is noticeable to those around the person using. If during Thanksgiving break you notice that your child is acting strangely, ask them about it, and don’t just brush it off.

  • They begin to associate with drug related pop culture

I am going to date myself a bit here, but in the past if someone listened to Phish, The Grateful Dead, Bob Marley, etc., there was a really good possibility that they were using drugs. Children believe that this shift in their cultural tastes goes unnoticed by their parents, but in reality it doesn’t, and while it is completely normal for a kid’s tastes to develop as they move into young adulthood, if you find that their penchant for drug music or drug related movies increases, they may have an issue with substance abuse.

  • You actually find drugs or drug paraphernalia on them

This isn’t really a red flag, but more of a smoking gun, because the reality is, if your child felt the need to bring drugs home with them during a short break from school, this means that they more than likely are using quite often. It could possibly be indicative of a substance abuse problem or it could just be a phase they are going through, but either way it is important to address this with them, so that if there is a problem, it can be dealt with.

I think the best bit of advice I can really give, and one that comes out of my own experience with substance abuse, is that if you think that something is wrong, it more than likely is.

Drug addiction and alcoholism operate in such a way that they attempt to produce confusion and doubt in those closely affected by it.

This means the person addicted and their loved ones have just enough deniability as to its existence that they can turn the other way comfortably. This however does nothing but allow the addiction to grow unimpeded and results in more damage down the road.

So if you think that there is something going on with your kid then address it with them. If you are wrong then great, but if you are right, you may have the possibility out getting out ahead of their addiction and help them to avoid years of pain and trouble.

About Today’s Guest Blogger

Rose 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.rose-lockinger-guest-blogger-2

You can find Rose Lockinger 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.

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Safe & Social

Alcohol is often present during holiday gatherings, so young adults get the sense that it’s part of the celebration. That’s not the message that parents intend to convey. Instead, we want our kids to be “Safe and Social.”

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate on a panel discussion with law enforcement and substance prevention specialists. It was organized by a local coalition, Partnership For Change, and taped by the local cable station. A key part of the discussion focused on the importance value of having a social host ordinance in your community, and I shared my “been there, done that” parenting perspective – what I call POP or Prevention-Oriented Parenting.

Working together, we can educate and help prevent underage drinking.

Rose McKinney aka Midwestern Mama

©2016 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Navigating Addiction during the Holidays

With Thanksgiving 2016 one week away, the holiday season kicks off. This can be a particularly challenging time for families whose loved ones are using drugs and alcohol. Today’s guest blogger is Sherry Gaugler-Stewart, Director of Family and Spiritual Recovery at The Retreat.  She share first-hand experience as well as professional guidance to help families, and was one of our panel speakers at our conference this past year. Thank you, Sherry, for your blog post!

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Oh, the holidays!  When we think of them, so many thoughts and images pop into our heads!  Snow!  Family!  Food!  Togetherness!  Traditions, old and new!  Excitement is in the air, and we start planning how and when our ideal holiday will come together.  Unfortunately, for those who have a loved one struggling with alcoholism or addiction, an additional level of stress typically accompanies the holidays: worry that our imagined holiday will turn into our worst-case scenario.

When Our Young Addicts asked me to write a blog post on how to navigate the holidays when addiction is present, my first thought was “Yes!  What a great topic!  This will be so helpful!”  As I thought about it more, the task became a little more overwhelming.

As someone who works with family members in the addiction recovery field, as well as being a family member myself, I know there is no right or wrong way to navigate the holidays when addiction is present.  But, there may be a way that’s right for you, which is what I hope to address.

My husband and I live in a different states than our families, and we make it a point to be with them over the holidays.  For a number of years, we would get caught off guard by the ups and downs of addiction.  Each year we would start out with our vision of the holiday and prepare for it.  We’d ask for Christmas lists, and go shopping for the perfect presents.  We’d be in contact with everyone in advance to make sure we could all get together.  We would plan festive menus, and listen to holiday music on our drive across the Midwest.  We wanted to experience what so many of us want to experience: family.  We wanted to be in the midst of the love and connection, and thought if we could just plan far enough in advance that we’d get exactly that.

Unfortunately, the addiction in our family wasn’t playing along.  Although there are a few in our family who have struggled with alcoholism and addiction, when I think about the holidays, I often think of my step-son, who is a meth addict.

We would embark into our greeting-card-worthy vision of the holiday, but addiction would stand in our way.  There would be times when we’d reach out to him, and not hear back.  There would be times when he would come, and show up despondent.  There were other times when he would show up and would be angry at the world.  There were times when he left on an evening saying that he’d be back tomorrow, and we didn’t see him again for the rest of the time that we were there (we once found out later that he ended up in jail for a while).  There were visits that ended in loud arguments.  And, then there were the times that he showed up as his incredibly witty, big-hearted, intelligent self – and the family would try to figure out how we had magically set the stage for this to happen so we could be sure to recreate it again, and again.  Of course, we were always confused when we tried to reenact the situation at another time, only to have a completely different, and often heart-breaking, outcome.

One of the things we needed to do as a family was to know what we were up against.  Sometimes the fact that someone is struggling with addiction becomes apparent during the holidays, especially since we usually see each other more at this time than other times throughout the year.

At times families fall into the trap of thinking that someone who is struggling with addiction is just behaving badly.  It’s helpful to know the signs of addiction and alcoholism.

Both the National Institute on Drug Abuse (www.drugabuse.gov) and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (www.ncadd.org) have helpful information.   Educating yourself allows you the opportunity to know what you’re dealing with, and will be helpful in understanding what to do next.

As a family member, I have found that getting support for myself has been imperative.

There is no way that you can watch someone become entangled with alcoholism and addiction without being affected.  Family members often feel that if they love someone enough, and say and do the right things, they’ll be able to fix their loved one so they no longer have the struggles that they have.  To be around others who have had a similar experience in their reactions, and who have found a way to cope with it, helps to break the shame and stigma we often carry where addiction is concerned.  The easiest and most accessible way to find support from others who have been there, too, is through Al-Anon (www.al-anon.org) or Nar-Anon (www.nar-anon.org).  So many family members keep the addiction in their family a secret.  Al-Anon and Nar-Anon provide safe places to talk about it.

Talking about the holidays was important for our family, as well.  We needed to decide what we wanted our holiday to look like, and be focused on what was realistic.  If your loved one is actively using, what is realistic may be different than at other times.

Some families decide that they need to set some clear boundaries: that their loved one is only invited if the can be clean and sober during the gathering.  They also need to have a plan in place on how they’ll honor that boundary if it’s not met.

Some find that they want their loved one included in everything regardless, so that they know that they are in a safe place.

Some families decide to change how they will celebrate so that they can all meet at a place where anyone can easily leave from if they feel uncomfortable.

As I stated before, there is no right or wrong in deciding this.  There is only what is best for you and for your family.  These decisions are more easily made with an understanding of addiction, and remembering that the person you love is still the person you love, even though their disease may bring unwanted attitudes or behavior.  These decisions are also more easily made when you have support.

Families have choices, and they get to make them – including during the holiday season.

Our family feels blessed that we have received the gift that so many of us hope and pray for, the gift of my step-son’s recovery.  He’s been clean with the help of Narcotics Anonymous for more than three years, and we love watching his life unfold.  That witty, big-hearted, intelligent guy shows up most of the time, and even when he shows up occasionally as someone who’s going through a difficult time for whatever situation is happening in his life, we trust that he will navigate in whatever way that he needs to with the support of his people in his recovery circle.  And, yet, we may have gotten a little too excited when our first holiday came around and we thought “Finally!  We get to have our ideal holiday!  There will be SO much togetherness!  We’ll be a Norman Rockwell painting!”

We found that going through the holiday in early recovery was going to take some navigation, as well.

My step-son did a great job of talking to us about what he needed, which wasn’t non-stop family time.  For many folks, the holidays can trigger or exacerbate addiction.  My step-son needed to find his own balance.  His primary focus was to continue to build the foundation of recovery, and we needed to honor that.  We listened, and we trusted that he would show up for what was important for him, and that he would do what he needed to support himself when he needed to do so.  And, we stayed focused on taking care of ourselves, and being grateful for the time we got to have with this wonderful, clean, clear-eyed young man.

Even if the gift of recovery hasn’t happened in your family, my hope for each of you is that you’ll find moments of peace and joy.  I believe that they are there and accessible to all of us, even if our loved one is actively struggling.  Remember to learn what you are up against, find support for yourself, talk about it – and listen.  Be gentle with yourself and your loved one.  I believe that we are all doing the best that we can with the tools that we have, and I’m hopeful that these new tools will be helpful to you as you embark on this holiday season.

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.

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.

Addiction Takes Many Forms, Including Gambling.

Young people are natural gamers and our Millennials and Gen Z kiddos are bombarded with opportunities that could lead to problem gambling. Last week, I participated in the Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance annual conference to present a session on building community connections. In addition to sharing my experience in creating Our Young Addicts, I had the opportunity to learn from a variety of professionals who kindly shared their presentations.

College Culture and Substance Use

College is supposed to be a transition from teenage years to adulthood, but often the culture creates challenges – and consequences – that result from alcohol and drugs. This week’s guest blogger provides a candid overview of what’s going on, including some valuable sources for more information. Thank you, Sonia! MWM

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College is a time of change and new experiences. College freshmen, being away from their families, tend to latch onto their newfound relationships for support and guidance. While peers are important during the transition from living at home to living on campus, this time in a person’s life leaves room for peer influence.

Peer pressure is a key factor in the development of risky behaviors. Peers may be negative influences, encouraging risky behaviors, supplying dangerous items or introducing their friends to questionable new activities. Many college students, being vulnerable and impressionable, begin modelling these behaviors and regard the abuse of substances as a positive and socially acceptable experience.

A 2014 Monitoring the Future survey, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, reported that college students smoked marijuana more often than they drank alcohol on a daily basis.

From 1994 to 2014, daily alcohol use among college students increased from 3.7 percent to 4.3 percent, while daily marijuana consumption increased from 1.8 percent to 5.9 percent. Although Adderall use is decreasing among college students, cocaine use increased from 2.7 percent in 2013 to 4.4 percent in 2014.

Alcohol use is higher among college students than among their non-college peers. An article published in the NYU Applied Psychology OPUS attributes this factor to the social identity theory, which states that an individual’s self-concept is based on the groups they associate with.

Because they want to be socially accepted, students think they must mingle with a certain group. If that group consists of substance-using individuals, it is likely that the college students end up using drugs or alcohol to fit in. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, college freshmen are the most vulnerable to substance abuse influences during the first six weeks of college.

The Three Dimensions of Peer Pressure

College students experience three dimensions of peer pressure:

  • Direct influence
  • Modeling other people’s habits
  • Perceived habits

Active offers of drugs and alcohol to college students make up direct influence. It can be in the form of a simple suggestion to continual encouragement to use substances in order to fit in the group. While the individual has no intention of consuming drugs or alcohol, they usually cave from the peer pressure.

Contrary to the first dimension of peer pressure, the second dimension is an indirect influence, which the NYU article defines as a temporary imitation of peers’ habits. The article mentioned that college students were more susceptible to consuming more alcohol if they were exposed to heavy-drinking models, as opposed to lighter or no models. College freshmen tend to be candidates for heavy alcohol consumption, but the article noted that this behavior decreases by the time they graduate.

Stemming from a misconception by the individual, perceived habits — the third dimension of peer pressure — is arguably the most dangerous. Perceived drinking norms influence college students through the observation and comparison of their peers’ drinking levels. Students typically end up overestimating the amount of alcohol their peers are drinking, thus engaging in hazardous drinking practices.

The NIAAA’s College Fact Sheet mentions that students attending schools with core Greek systems and prominent athletic programs are more likely to drink more than students who attend other schools. Similarly, alcohol consumption is higher among students living in Greek houses than among those living at home with their families.

However, research revealed that students whose parents previously discussed the dangers of drugs and alcohol with them had a lower incidence of frequent drinking. This reinforces that parental guidance has a great role to play in college students’ substance using behaviors.

Aside from parental support, colleges should implement awareness and prevention strategies that target at-risk students, including freshmen, student athletes and members of Greek life. These strategies should aim to prevent and reduce incidences of substance abuse by educating the students and changing their perceptions about drugs and alcohol.

Colleges should also look into implementing collegiate recovery communities to help current student struggling with substance use disorders through their recovery journey.

Sources:

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2015, September). College-Age & Young Adults. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/college-age-young-adults

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2015, December). College Fact Sheet. Retrieved from http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/CollegeFactSheet/CollegeFactSheet.pdf

Palmeri, J.M. (n.d.). Peer Pressure and Alcohol Use amongst College Students. Retrieved from http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/appsych/opus/issues/2011/fall/peer

By Sonia Tagliareni

sonia-imageSonia Tagliareni is a writer and researcher for DrugRehab.com. She is passionate about helping people. She started her professional writing career in 2012 and has since written for the finance, engineering, lifestyle and entertainment industry. Sonia holds a bachelor’s degree from the Florida Institute of Technology.

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.

What it Was Like Then, and What It’s Like Now

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Today’s guest blogger, Benny Emerling, got sober at 19. It’s valuable for parents and professionals to have this perspective in mind when working with young people. MWM

As a young kid I always felt like everyone around me was given a golden textbook on life. Mine must have gotten lost in the mail. I was different, but not an outcast, in fact. quite the opposite. I had many friends, a loving family and a decently smart head on my shoulders. However, my idea of fun was different from most of my peers. Misbehaving, stealing and bullying were some of my favorite activities. I was always a happy jokester and had a smile on my face the majority of the time.

Having three older sisters and a younger brother, it was easy to slip through the cracks and get away with murder. In middle school, my behavior got worse and worse. I grew up in a primarily Jewish area, so when I was in seventh grade every weekend we had a bar or bat mitzvah party to go to. Virtually, every weekend there was a different elaborate party to go to. After a couple, I noticed the adults at the parties drinking. Curiosity grew inside me, it looked awesome. It was not long before I tried drinking.

I was 13, one of my friends at the time made me a delicious alcoholic beverage. By delicious, I mean repulsive, it was a combination of anything he could grab off the adult tables. This included wine, beer, a shot and a mix drink. It was the most disgusting beverage I had ever drank but at the same time the best. I felt the buzz of alcohol for the first time in my life and I was instantly ready for more.

Drinking at these parties became the norm for me and a couple of friends. Weirdly enough, none of us ever got caught. Then the summer hit, growing up every year I went to sleep away camp in Northern Michigan. And this year at summer camp was monumental, one of my cabin mates brought weed to camp with him and I smoke it for the first time. Drinking was a blast, but weed was a different type of fun. I finally found the missing piece to my life, and it was drugs. After my first experience getting high, I never wanted to be sober.

I became a huge pothead by ninth grade. I had drug hookups because my sister was older, and I was friends with kids who sold pot, among other drugs. Smoking weed became an everyday habit before school, at lunch, sometimes between classes, and always after school. Weed took over my life. I quit all after school activities I once did because it got in the way of me smoking weed.

Smoking weed is an expensive habit, so how could I afford it? I stole, manipulated, worked little jobs and sold drugs.

My first job was at an elite men’s fashion store that sold thousand dollar suits and top of the line shoes. I couldn’t stop smoke weed and I dabbled a little with taking prescription pills. I didn’t want to get fired, especially because of speculation about me being high at work was on the rise. I came up with what I thought was a brilliant lie: I told my boss who knew my stepmom that I was allergic to wool and that was why my eyes were constantly bloodshot.

I didn’t last long at this job, to say the least. I picked up a caddying job that summer, but no money compared to selling pills. So after a couple of months I made my money exclusively selling prescription pills and little amounts of weed. My supplier? My family. Members of family were prescribed prescription pills for medical reasons. I looked at these pills as dollar signs. My family gained suspicion. They knew I didn’t have a job, but they also knew I had a lot of money. Oh yeah, and all of the pills in the house were missing.

It didn’t take long for my parents to catch me red-handed. I was forced to take my first drug test, which  I failed miserably.

It was then my parents started looking up local rehabilitation centers. When I was 16, I was put into my first outpatient treatment center. I was told I had to stay sober and there would be drug tests once a week. I tried to stay clean for about a month and decided it wasn’t for me.

My high school career could be summed up pretty easily, I got high and partied, then ended up in outpatient treatment. Maintained decent grades and did what I wanted, when I wanted—I thought it was  the greatest time of my life. However, I knew the best years were still to come…college.

I chose to go to the biggest party college I got accepted to. The first couple of weeks were exactly how I wanted them to be. Huge parties every day, drugs whenever I wanted, and unlimited freedom to do whatever I wanted, without any consequences.Or so I thought…

The fun lasted about two months then I hit what most people would consider a bottom. I didn’t sleep, eat, go to class, and barely left my dorm room for five consecutive days. I ended up going insane from all of the Adderall I took, and it wasn’t long before I overdosed and ended up in the psych-ward.

By this time I hadn’t talked to my families in over a month, and everyone assumed I was either dead or in jail. My close friends stopped calling me because I betrayed all of them in one way or another and I was basically alone, miserable and physically and mentally broken.

I remember the exact moment when I realized I needed help and that I needed to get sober.

I was sitting in the psych-ward, I hadn’t slept for two days straight, and then I looked in the mirror. I was 40 pounds underweight, my eyes were sunk into my face and my body was bruised up from trying escape the hospital. At that very moment, I made the decision to get sober.

What’s It Like Now?

This was over six years ago. I was 19 when I admitted myself into treatment. I thought my rehab stay was only going to be three months, but I ended up needing a nine month stay. Rehab was great because I learned how to be a human again. I learned how to maintain relationships, grocery shop and take care of myself. I was taken to AA meetings and I actually learned from them and received hope from them.

I finally started feeling good for the first time in over six years.

After my rehab stay I moved back home. My mom was very skeptical of me living in the house because my teenage years were a disaster. I assured her that no matter what, I will not use, steal or lie to her. She slowly began to trust me again, which I never thought  possible. I started paying back the people I owed money to,  and I kept up with AA meetings. It didn’t take long before I found a friend group,  all young, sober adults.

I realized the more meetings I went to, the more I hung out with my sober friends and the more time I spent helping others, the less I obsessed about myself or getting high. It was an incredible realization, for over five years, every waking moment I thought about my next fix and how I was going to achieve it. But after I came to terms with the fact that I will never be able to use like a normal person, my life was shot into what I call the fourth-dimension.

I got sober when I was 19, I am currently 25 years-old and couldn’t be in a better place.

The disease of addiction took me to the darkest world imaginable, but at the same time blessed me with an amazing one at the same time. Suffering from addiction has made me a better person. I wake up every day knowing that as long as I stay sober, I can accomplish anything.

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.

 

30 Days of Gratitude 2016

Thanksgiving is my all-time favorite holiday and each year during November I take time to capture 30 days of Gratitude. When you’re in the throes of a loved one’s addiction, it can be difficult to muster up gratitude – yet it’s there, every day, if you look for it.

During my son’s addiction days, I would say a prayer of gratitude for those things I was thankful for in spite of the challenges, crises and chaos we were experiencing. It made a positive difference.

Now in recovery, we have even more things to be grateful for and it gives us a chance to reflect on how far we’ve come. Please join us as part of #Gratitude2016, and if you want some ideas, check out posts from 2014 and 2015.

#Gratitude2014

https://ouryoungaddicts.com/2014/11/

#Gratitude2015

https://ouryoungaddicts.com/2015/11/

With gratitude,

Midwestern Mama

©2016 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.