Starting the Conversation: Talking About Substance Use Prevention with Kids

As a parent, you play an important role in your child’s development. Whether you realize it or not, your kids are always watching and listening. They base a lot of their decisions on what they see, hear, and are taught by you. Making substance use prevention a regular part of conversation and modeling healthy behaviors is essential. It’s almost Red Ribbon Week, so get the discussion started.

Keep the Conversation Going

Talking about drugs and alcohol should not be a once-a-done conversation; it should be an ongoing discussion. Learning takes repetition. Use teachable moments to bring up substance use and let your children’s questions and answers guide the way. When you’re watching television or a movie, talk about the character’s choices and their consequences. Do they try to make drinking or smoking look cool? What makes it unhealthy and dangerous? The same goes for stories you hear on the news or things you see out in the community. Talk about them.

Set Expectations and Consequences

Let your children know that drug use and underage drinking are not acceptable. Establish clear consequences and be proactive in helping your children stay involved in activities that build their self-esteem and promote healthy decision making. Talk about how drugs and alcohol can lead to risky decisions and legal problems. How it can get them kicked off of sports teams or out of clubs, and they could lose their license. They’ll also face consequences at home.

Be a Positive Role Model

Pay attention to your own behaviors and conversations regarding drugs and alcohol. Show your children that you use these substances responsibly or not at all. Talk about the risks of addiction and how recovery is possible through addiction treatment. Break down stigmas about addiction and clear up any misconceptions your children may have.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, seek treatment. Above It All can help you make your well-being a priority and show your children that change is possible and there are healthier ways of dealing with challenging situations than drugs or alcohol. Start the conversation today.

[cta] Make recovery a part of your discussion by seeking treatment for substance use disorders at Above It All. [/cta]

Lessons Before Heading Back to School

College is an exciting time in young adults’ lives. For many, it’s the first time they’re on their own and forced to be more independent. With this new-found independence comes a lot of responsibility though. College parties and underage drinking are prevalent at some schools. It is essential that parents talk to their children ahead of time about the dangers of alcohol and drugs. This doesn’t just include the physical and mental health risks, but also the possible long-term consequences it could have on their career and future.

College Drinking by the Numbers

College students between the ages of 18 and 24 are at risk for many effects of alcohol whether they choose to drink or not. Even if the student isn’t drinking, they may still be involved in an accident or incident with someone who has. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA):

  • 599,000 students are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol, and 1,825 college students die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries.
  • Approximately 696,000 students are assaulted by another student who has been drinking, and 97,000 students are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
  • Around 3,360,000 college students drive under the influence of alcohol.
  • A 2014 study found that 59.8 percent of full-time students (ages 18-22) drank in the past month, 37.9 percent engaged in binge drinking, and 12.2 percent engaged in heavy drinking.

Students are often tempted to try alcohol because the opportunity is there, they want to fit in with peers, they feel pressured to drink, or they’re curious. Educating teens and young adults about the dangers of drinking – as well as how to make healthier choices and say no – may decrease their risk of engaging in drinking, especially underage.

Starting the Conversation

Having an open, honest relationship with children can support drinking prevention efforts. When your children feel comfortable coming to you about difficult topics or discussing their problems or concerns, it can be easier to steer them in the right direction.

Find out what your teen knows about drinking and addiction and what they may have questions about. If you don’t know the answer to something, don’t make one up – do the research together to find the answer. They should have a solid understanding about how alcohol affects their body and mind.

Use teachable moments to start the conversation. Pay attention to stories on the news, what’s happening in television shows and movies, and what you see in the community around you. This can be a simple way to segue into a discussion about drugs and alcohol, the dangers, and making healthier choices.

It can also be a good idea to look into the school’s substance use policies and ensure your child knows how this can impact them. If they play a sport, are on a scholarship, are part of a campus group, or are studying for a particular career, being caught drinking can have serious effects. They may lose funding, be suspended from or kicked off of a team, or asked to leave a group. Having underage drinking or other legal ramifications on their record could also impact their ability to get a job in the future.

Talk to your child about their goals and aspirations. Getting caught up with the wrong crowd or participating in drinking can throw them off track. Drinking can result in missing classes and doing poorly on tests due to lack of studying, poor concentration, or struggling to remember information. They may also not put as much time and effort into their studies because they’re too focused on drinking or are suffering from a hangover or other negative effects. Some majors (and scholarships or financial aid) require a certain grade point average (GPA), and a few bad test scores or grades can really bring this down.

Encourage your teen to get involved so that they have something to keep them occupied in a healthy way. Being part of a service organization or team sport can instill good habits and life skills and discourage drinking. Having an on-campus job can help as well. Try to get your child involved in things that will support their future and challenge them so they stay actively engaged. Too much downtime or taking courses that are too easy can make it tempting to spend more time socializing and drinking than hitting the books.

Get to know their friends, their roommate, and who they spend time with. Hopefully they are associating with people who are a good influence and encourage them to do the right thing. If they are hanging out with questionable people, be honest and share your concerns. Discuss different ways to make friends and find people who share common interests.

Talk about how to say no if they are offered drugs or alcohol. College is supposed to be a fun time in their life, and they can go to parties and meet new people, but it’s important that they’re staying safe as well.

  • Discuss ways to turn down a drink offer.
  • Make sure they know not to go to parties alone.
  • They should always have a reliable way home or know how to get home.
  • They should pour their own drink and not let it out of their sight.
  • Talk about responsible drinking and setting limits if they do choose to have a drink.

Getting Help for Alcoholism or Alcohol Abuse

You can educate your children and teach them about the dangers of drinking, but ultimately they will make their own decisions. In some cases, this may unfortunately lead to problems with alcohol. If you notice that your child has developed an alcohol problem, take steps to get them into treatment. A residential or outpatient program at Above It All can help them to overcome alcoholism and get back on track. They will learn strategies for maintaining their sobriety and establishing healthier routines to reduce risk of relapse. They will also be able to develop a strong support system to hold them accountable, help them deal with challenges they face, and encourage them to stick with recovery. Alcoholism does not have to put a damper on their future – help is available and recovery is possible.

[cta]If your college student is struggling with substance use, help them get on the path to recovery by calling Above It All today![/cta]

The Dangers of Mixing Street Drugs with Psychiatric Drugs

According to recent studies, more than seventy percent of adolescents who abuse psychoactive substances also have one or more psychiatric disorders. Many of them continue to use illicit substances while on a regimen of prescribed medication, and there is clear potential for dangerous interactions.

Although there is a prevailing theory that teen substance abuse is actually an attempt to self-medicate underlying psychiatric issues, a recent meta-analysis contradicts this, concluding, however, that use of street drugs can in fact exacerbate the issues being treated. Therefore, even in the absence of problematic interaction, adding street drugs to a prescribed regimen is a bad strategy.

A clinically significant interaction between two drugs is defined as an event in which the therapeutic and/or toxic effects of one drug are altered as a consequence of the ingestion of another. Unintended drug reactions are a significant cause of death, and drug interactions are a major contributor. One review of deaths in the US between 1983 and 2004 reported a marked increase in deaths due to medications mixed with street drugs and/or alcohol. As new drugs are developed, more adverse interactions are expected, as there is now way to test for dangerous combinations prior to FDA approval (testing would be dangerous, illegal, and unethical).

Among the potential adverse consequences of mixing medications with street drugs are:

  • Drugs of abuse can interfere with the mechanisms of prescribed medications, leaving the individual’s underlying condition under-treated while complicating the issue with the cumulative and separate effects of drug abuse
  • Street drugs can increase the risk of potential side effects of prescribed medications, which in turn can enhance the toxicity of the street drugs
  • Use of street drugs can distort the outcomes of professional attempts to manage depression, anxiety, etc., such that appropriate medication and dosage can be more difficult to determine.

In one instance, earlier this year in East Bridgewater, MA, a 15-year-old girl died as a result of a relatively obscure drug called 251–NBOMe, or “N-Bomb.” This psychedelic drug, sometimes substituted for LSD, affects serotonin levels in the brain—the same neurotransmitters affected by medication the teen had been taking for a diagnosed psychiatric condition. The drug isn’t controlled in Massachusetts and is difficult to detect. Although the death was not attributed to a drug interaction, the compounding of mechanisms affecting delicate serotonin balances is clearly problematic.

More commonly, interactions between tranquilizers—especially in the benzodiazepine class—and alcohol are potentially fatal. The combination impairs judgment, leading to automobile accidents and other mishaps, and it can depress the central nervous system to the point of respiratory arrest, including choking on one’s own vomit. There is a current trend among teens to mix alcohol and Xanax. Also, prescription medications like Adderall and Ritalin, when combined with alcohol, cannabis, or especially with other stimulants like cocaine, can lead to adverse effects, hospitalization, or even death.

Most addicts suffer from co-existing mental disorders, and the effort to manage dosages, mood swings, and the accumulating difficulties of everyday living becomes increasingly burdensome. Treatment for addiction should include a medical approach to co-morbid issues: at the very least, freedom from addiction can optimize the outcome of treatment for other mental health issues.

[cta]Continue the discussion on Facebook and learn more ways to strengthen the road to recovery.[/cta]

How To Confront Teenage Drug Use

How-To-Confront-Teenage-Drug-UseAdolescence can be a difficult period for many. In addition to studies and hormones, teens must combat peer pressure, social trends and an enhanced curiosity – a recipe for trouble. In order to thwart negative exterior influence, it is important for parents to educate teens as to the dangers and consequences of their actions. If you suspect drug or alcohol use in your teen, it is vital that action be taken to address the issue in an effective and loving manner. Here’s how:


Confronting Teen Drug Use

1 – Know your battle by researching statistics and information pertaining to teenage drug use. The more informed you are on the topic, the better able you will be to get your point across. You may even call your local police precinct for additional help, as many keep brochures handy. Scare tactics may work on a minimal level – Care tactics are preferred.

2 – Designate a time to sit down and communicate with your teen in a calm and sober setting. Suggest a walk, drive, or sit down meal where you can enjoy some one-on-one time.

3 – Be respectful! Nobody likes to be talked down to. A parent who allows their emotions to dictate the conversation will enjoy little, to no success. Take deep breaths, speak calmly, and be direct.

4 – Tell your teen about your suspicions. Explain the signs you have noticed and request an explanation. If your teen is unable to offer reasoning for their behaviors or comes up with wild excuses, you can likely affirm these suspicions.

5 – Provide statistics and evidence to stress your point – Drugs are dangerous and unhealthy. Offer insight into the long-term effects of drug and alcohol abuse, including addiction, financial struggle, health issues and memory loss. Placing the issue into a real-world context may provide them with enough reason to stop. Dive into your teen’s personal goals and show how they will be affected if the drug/alcohol use persists.

6 – Share your own experiences with drugs and alcohol. Whether it’s having watched a friend deteriorate or your own dealings, it’s important that your teen know that they are not alone. A personal story will work to illustrate your point while offering a unique perspective on the topic.

7 – Listen! Preaching will get you nowhere if you are unable to communicate on an equal level. Ask why they choose to dabble with drugs. Is it peer pressure? Relaxation? Escape? Create a dialogue that is both safe and open. If you want your teen to be honest with you, they must feel comfortable to do so!

8 – Explain that you cannot approve of your teen’s drug use and that it must stop immediately. Outline consequences if they choose to continue but definitely offer assistance to help them quit.

Looking for a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility? Contact Above it All drug & alcohol addiction treatment center today!

Read More About Teenage Drug Abuse and the Risks

Risks Factors For Teenage Drug Abuse

Unfortunately, teenage drug abuse is becoming more and more common throughout the United States. An array of factors play into the risks of teenage addiction – some of which can be controlled, and others which cannot. Major life changes, such as entering high school, moving to a new community or a graduation can all contribute to teenager’s tendency to experiment.

Home Environment and Family Lifestyle

Family dynamics can play a huge role on an adolescent’s behavior. Teens from households lacking proper boundaries and supervision are much more likely to dabble with drugs and alcohol than households with parental involvement. Adolescents left to their own devices for the majority of the day are afforded more time to partake in risky behaviors. A strong family bond is perhaps the best line of defense in teenage drug abuse prevention.

Personality Traits

Studies show that adolescents who are self-controlled and calm are less likely to dabble in drug and alcohol use than those with an aggressive personality. Teens who are afforded the ability to express their emotions and who feel that these emotions are heard are less likely to seek comfort through substance abuse. Adolescents showing a lack of interest in home and academics may also be at risk.

Environment and Community

Community plays a big role in drug abuse risk factors in teenagers. Kids who are raised in poor communities are more likely to dabble with alcohol and drug use. Research shows that close-knit communities actually work to decrease teenage substance abuse numbers – perhaps due to positive mentoring and bonding experiences throughout childhood. Mentors and role models offer support to teens facing stressful situations and transitions throughout adolescence.

Rules & School

School types are yet another risk factor in terms of teenage drug use. Educational facilities with a strict “no drug” policy see a decrease in student substance abuse numbers. Schools lacking proper regulation and supervision place teens at a much higher risk. These institutions are generally located in communities with fewer outreach programs and a lower socio-economic status.

Social & Peer Groups

Perhaps the highest risk factor for teenage substance abuse is the peer group that a teen associates with. Students who participate in school activities and sports are far less likely to engage in drug or alcohol use. Those who lack interest in school activities may belong to social groups that partake in drug use or other illicit behaviors. When an adolescent associates with a group that is known for trouble, the teen will likely begin exhibiting the same types of behaviors. Students with a focus on academics are also much less likely to experiment with substance abuse than those without.

Need Help?

Is your teen struggling with a substance abuse issue? Contact Above It All drug & alcohol addiction treatment center! With a team of seasoned addiction specialists available to address each patient’s individual needs, you can count on Above It All to have your teen on the fast track to recovery in no time. Call today for more information!