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Signs of Teen Alcohol or Drug Abuse

by James Heller 12. January 2010 16:08
Most parents take the “Not my kid” approach to teen alcohol and drug abuse.  Statistics show, though, that many of them are not facing reality.  Most of the adolescents who engage in alcohol abuse or drug abuse can fool their parents, unless the parents know what signs to look for.

It is difficult for parents to accept that teen alcohol abuse or drug abuse are the reasons why their children’s’ grades are slipping or friends are changing.  They see it as a reflection on themselves.  So teens are rarely confronted with the subject until parents find drugs, or after an automobile accident or arrest.

There are many reasons, other than the obvious, that parents should try to stop youth alcohol or drug abuse as soon as it begins.  Besides being injured, causing injury or death to others, and having arrest records, teens do permanent damage to their minds and bodies by using alcohol and drugs.  At the very least, brain development suffers and the likelihood of future problems with alcoholism is increased.

Some clear signs are the smell of alcohol or drugs, missing money from around the house, and finding drugs or paraphernalia in hidden places.  These signs usually mean that teens have used alcohol or drugs for some time, and became complacent.  Adolescents are very careful about getting caught in early stages of use.

By the time the above signs appear other things should be evident, and parents can address the problem early.  Mood changes and defensiveness is difficult to measure with teens.  So when an abrupt change in friendships occurs, parents should insist on meeting the new acquaintances.  A sudden change in grades, loss of interest in favorite hobbies, and unusual outbursts are also very telling.

A very strong sign of teen substance abuse is when appearance and hygiene become messy, but perfumes and colognes are regularly used.  They don’t seem to care about how they look, yet they must mask the smell of drugs and alcohol.  

When parents see changes like those listed above, they should talk about them with their teens.  There are too many consequences to ignore them due to what is most-likely pride.  Adolescents need to hear the negatives of substance abuse from their parents to counter what they hear from their friends.  Otherwise, they may end up in alcohol or drug detox and treatment.

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides youth alcohol and drug treatment as part of our commitment to integrated behavioral healthcare in alcohol and drug treatment.  If you or a loved one needs help with alcohol dependence or drug addiction, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us here.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.

SAMHSA Teen Alcohol and Drug Abuse Reports by State

by James Heller 18. November 2009 15:26
Teen alcohol abuse and drug abuse can lead to future problems with alcohol dependence and drug addiction.  The upward trend of alcohol and drug use among adolescents is well covered, but until now there has not been a comprehensive, state-by-state report.  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has provided these reports.

These reports should be of interest to parents and professionals alike.  Since the reports are based on nationwide polls that include data from each state and the District of Columbia, they provide good local and comparative national information.  

Parents, for example, can learn whether alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs or methamphetamine are the concern in their respective states.  This, along with stats on youth perceptions of risk, can help parents to prioritize discussions within the family.  They can also learn about substance abuse and mental health treatment resources that are available locally.  

Professionals can use the reports for hints on where their continuing education should be focused.  If the youth drug abuse problem in a particular state is with prescription drugs, it is important for counselors, mental health and medical professionals to learn as much about them as possible.  

The Treatment Needs section of the reports may also be some good reading for government officials.  California, for example, is below the national average in meeting treatment needs.  But overall drug use trends are at or better than the national average over the past few years.  This can likely be attributed to the success of Prop 36 and offering treatment instead of incarceration.  This has reduced the amount of non-violent drug offenders from returning to a life of drugs and crime.

However it is that alcohol abuse or drug abuse is a part of your life, these reports provide some very helpful information.  The excerpt from SAMHSAs introduction to the reports below shows some of the general topics covered.  It is followed by links to the map of state reports and the national report.

-- Begin external content --

Entitled Adolescent Behavioral Health: States in Brief, the reports provide the following information for each individual state, the District of Columbia and the country as a whole through a variety of charts, graphs and accompanying text:
 
  • Adolescents' risk perceptions associated with substance use
  • Prevalence of illicit substance and alcohol use
  • Number and type of substance abuse treatment facilities
  • Numbers and trends on those seeking treatment for substance abuse
  • Levels of those needing, but not receiving substance abuse treatment
  • Levels of underage smoking
  • Mental health indicators
 
 
The data included in these States in Brief reports are drawn from three large national surveys sponsored by SAMHSA - the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the Treatment Episode Data Set and the National Survey on Substance Abuse Treatment Services.

-- Source: http://www.samhsa.gov/newsroom/advisories/0911121635.aspx --
-- State Reports Map: http://samhsa.gov/statesinbrief/ --
-- National Report: http://samhsa.gov/StatesInBrief/2009/teens/OASTeenReportUS.pdf --

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides youth alcohol and drug treatment as part of our commitment to integrated behavioral healthcare in alcohol and drug treatment.  If you or a loved one needs help with alcoholism or drug addiction, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us here.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.

Gambling a Sign of Teen Alcohol or Drug Abuse?

by James Heller 10. November 2009 16:01
Teen behaviors are clues to parents that they are engaging in alcohol abuse or drug abuse.  They just need to know what to look for.  Gambling, for example, is a possible sign that a youth has a future with alcohol and drug use.  We can use this example to explain a common factor among those with alcohol dependence and drug addiction.

Humans have a natural defense that keeps them from engaging in behaviors that will cause loss, pain, or destruction to themselves.  With gambling, individuals will typically quit when they win or lose a little.  But a small percentage will experience a thrill from gambling that will keep them playing whether they are winning or “losing the farm”.

The thrill associated with gambling is closely associated with the desire to escape feelings with drugs or alcohol.  It isn’t just a distraction from feelings.  Brain chemicals are released that mimic the effect of alcohol and drugs for an addict.  So adolescents who have the fever for gambling are basically no different from those abusing alcohol or drugs.  They just use behavior rather than a substance.

Gambling, internet use, video games, shopping, and sex are only a few of the behaviors that alcoholics and addicts in recovery use in a cross-addictive manner.  So if parents know that teens are gambling, it is a good idea to discuss adolescent alcohol abuse or drug abuse with them.  With teen prescription drug abuse on a fast rising trend, it is better to be safe than to dismiss the behavior as a “phase”.

The excerpt below from Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly offers a brief view of how teen gambling could be a sign of other problems.  A link to the journal’s website follows.  Parents need to be aware of all signs of teen alcohol or drug abuse if we want to reverse trends.

-- Begin external content --

Risky or problem gambling among young adolescent boys is associated with general deviance at this age, according to a study published in the October issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health. According to John Welte, Ph.D., and colleagues, youth without symptoms of conduct disorder have a five percent rate of risky or problem gambling, compared with a rate of 23 percent among youth with conduct disorders.

However, while this association is very strong among 14- to-15 year-olds, it does not exist among 20-to-21 year-olds. The authors conclude that risky gambling that emerges in young adulthood has different origins.

-- Source: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/110575473/home --

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides youth alcohol and drug treatment as part of our commitment to integrated behavioral healthcare in alcohol and drug treatment.  If you or a loved one needs help with alcohol dependence or drug addiction, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us here.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.

Don’t feed alcohol to teens

by James Heller 16. October 2009 12:09
Parents need to be vigilant when it comes to adolescent alcohol abuse.  Teens can obtain alcohol in many ways, and most parents do their best to prevent this from happening.  But the disturbing fact is that youths get alcohol either at parties or from adults about half the time.

Parents should understand that teens abuse alcohol usually in response to peer pressure.  If alcohol is available at a party, even the most “straight-arrow” adolescent may drink a little.  While this may seem tame to many individuals these days, just a little drink could be the start of a downward spiral.  That little drink will most likely go undetected, promoting future use due to the lack of consequences.

So how does alcohol get to the parties? Studies indicate that the use of fake identification and less-than-honest liquor store employees are not the only problem.  Adult relatives and friends are actually buying alcohol for adolescent parties where they know abuse will take place.  Considering all we know about alcohol’s effect on the body and adolescent brain development, it begs the question, “Why?”

One answer is the same as why teens drink; Peer pressure.  These adults want to be friends with adolescents, and some even prey on them sexually.  Many of these adults are friends of the family or extended family who are trusted by parents.  And, worst of all, some of them are the parents.

Yes, it is scary and disturbing.  But parents may need this type of shock to understand the magnitude of the youth alcohol abuse problem.  Since 1996 the data on how teens obtain alcohol has not changed.  The problem will not just go away.  Hopefully, information like this and our other articles on adolescent alcohol abuse will have an effect.

Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Weekly briefly reported on this subject, as shown below.  This publication can help parents and others to understand the problems of alcohol dependence and drug addiction.

-- Begin external content --

California teens obtain alcohol through house parties, adults

Although the state has made progress in curtailing the purchase of alcohol by minors, adolescents continue to obtain liquor at house parties or with the help of adults, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported October 11. Since 1996, the Target Responsibility For Alcohol Connected Emergencies (TRACE) unit of the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has investigated 23 serious incidents involving intoxicated teens in the county of San Diego.

Roughly half have involved alcohol consumed at house parties. This month a Rancho Santa Fe teen was killed in a car accident after he and his friends drank at a local party.

-- Source: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/110575473/home --

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides teen alcohol and drug treatment with education as part of our commitment to integrated behavioral healthcare.  If you or a loved one needs help with adolescent alcohol or drug abuse, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us here.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.