Intervene

A blog for parents concerned about their teens alcohol and drug use




Help Stop Urban Outfitters From Selling Products That Promote Medicine Abuse
Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Earlier this month, The Partnership at Drugfree.org was alerted that Urban Outfitters, the national retail store popular with teens, is selling pint glasses, flasks and shot glasses made to look like prescription pill bottles. These products make light of prescription drug misuse and abuse, a dangerous behavior that is responsible for more deaths in the United States each year than heroin and cocaine combined.

In fact, medicine abuse has increased 33 percent over the past five years with one in four teens having misused or abused a prescription drug in their lifetime. Combined with alcohol, the misuse and abuse of prescription medications can be especially risky, making the Urban Outfitter merchandise even more disturbing.

Prescription drug abuse is no joke- it affects real people like Aaron, Mark, Chelsea, and their family and friends. Please join our fight in having Urban Outfitters remove these products from their shelves and website immediately.

Over the course of this past month, we have been working tirelessly to bring attention to this effort and have received an overwhelming amount of support from families, friends, government officials, strategic partners and the media. In fact,  we have collected nearly 4,000 signatures on our petition to stop Urban Outfitters from selling these items, surpassing our original goal of 500.

Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy; Congressman Hal Rogers (KY); Attorney General Jack Conway (KY); David Sheff, New York Times bestselling author; and Melissa Gilbert, The Partnership at Drugfree.org Celebrity Champion and actress, have joined our effort and sent letters or social media posts to the Urban Outfitters CEO to demand the items be removed. Hundreds of tweets have been sent to @UrbanOutfitters with similar demands. The culmination of these actions has generated significant media coverage from news outlets including ABC News, Associated Press, The Huffington Post, UPI and more. Together, we are making a real difference.

Despite all these actions, however, we still haven’t received a response from Urban Outfitters.

Tongue-in-cheek products that normalize and promote prescription drug abuse only serve to reinforce the misperception about the dangers associated with abusing medicine and put more teens at risk.

Please ask Urban Outfitters to remove these tasteless products from their stores now. Feel free to use the information above to help make your point.

Sign this Facebook Causes petition:
http://www.causes.com/drugfreeurbanoutfitters

You can also send an e-mail to:
Richard A. Hayne; CEO & Chairman
richard.hayne@urbanout.com

Write a letter:
Urban Outfitters, Inc.
5000 South Broad St
Philadelphia, PA 19112-1495

Join me and take action today!

What do you think about Urban Outfitter’s sale of these items? I’d love to hear from you, the Intervene community.

Posted by Candice  /  Filed under Addiction, Alcohol, Drugs, Medicine Abuse, Substance Abuse  /  Comments: 0



Teaching My Daughters to Think and Feel for Themselves
Monday, May 13th, 2013

The other day a friend said to me, “It seems as if all the people I knew in high school who used drugs were the ones who had trouble coping with their feelings.”

As a person in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, I agree with her observation.

I had a great amount of anxiety as a child and as a teenager. My parents were often angry at each other. We frequently ate dinner in silence and, although we didn’t acknowledge it, the tension was high. I didn’t understand how to sort out my anxiety and my feelings became too much to bear. Just thinking about it 25 years later (14 in recovery) brings knots to my stomach.

I didn’t want to be at home with my family. As a result I started going out every night at an early age, even on weeknights, just to get away.

At 14 years old, when I had my first drink, the anxiety went away — albeit temporarily — and I thought I had finally found the answer to my problem. After that, all I wanted to do was drink again.

Now, with children of my own and being in recovery and knowing what I know about drugs and alcohol, I think a lot about the concept of coping.

I often see parents using distraction as a method to calm down their children. But what are we really telling our kids if each time they are upset about something we say, “Oh, let’s go over here, and let’s look at this really fun book!” Or “Here let’s see what’s in the fridge?” This method prevents children from learning how to experience emotions appropriately. We’re setting them up for a lifetime of bottled-up emotions; we’re teaching them to cover up their feelings, rather than to express themselves. My mother’s idea of comforting herself was through shopping and sweets. Naturally, my brother and I picked up similar habits. And believe me, I thoroughly enjoyed the shopping, chocolate and Coca-Cola.

I didn’t have a safe place to express myself and never learned how to process feelings. When I felt bad and anxious it was so painful and so overwhelming.

In early recovery when I no longer had drugs and alcohol to cover my feelings,  it was very difficult to deal with my feelings of sadness and despair. I became very depressed; I would cry endlessly. I didn’t have the ability to get passed my pain and release my emotions.

With the help of the 12 steps, therapy and meditation I have learned how to cope better. Today, when I get sad about something, my reaction is appropriate to the situation at hand.

Nevertheless, parents today never want to see their children sad. We fear that they won’t be able to handle adversity. I fall into that trap even though I consider myself to be a pretty conscious mother. Recently, my 4 year old had a playdate with a young girl who subsequently made her cry twice in the little time she was at our house. My instinct was to ban the girl from our home, and I hoped that my daughter would never want to play with her again at school. I was adamant about it. I didn’t want anyone to hurt my little girl.

But then I thought, “Wait a minute, is this the right way to go?”

I recently watched a video called the Opiate Effect. It is a short film about the Oxycodone problem in Vermont. In the film, Dr. Bob Bick (Director of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services at the Howard Center) says, “If we encourage young people to think, to THINK and FEEL from the earliest age as opposed to believing that we can think for them or feel for them, we will be in a much better position…for young people to make decisions which ultimately will affect the rest of their lives.”

Thinking and feeling for myself was something I did not know how to do until several years into my recovery. Thinking, but foremost FEELING for themselves is something I deeply would like my children to learn. And if I just step out of the way, not necessarily interfering but instead simply giving them gentle guidance along the way, I’m hoping it will be achieved.

So, I’m taking a different approach. If my daughter is angry or sad, I ask her what is going on and try to get her to talk about it. Sometimes I’ll just hold her without saying anything and let her cry until she is done. I never try to distract her with TV, food or shopping like I see so many others do, and like my own parents did.

To me it is clear that teenagers who have learned to cover up their feelings with video games or shopping or food will more easily say yes when someone offers them a joint at a party. And if they are predisposed, and have a lot of unresolved or pent-up emotions and the joint offers them relief, then they will likely want to do it again. And then who knows what will happen.

As they say, I am trying to just take it one step at a time and one day at a time encourage my two little girls to figure out life, thinking and feeling on their own, and hopefully it will make a difference.   Of course, I am just a parent in recovery. I am not an expert nor a PhD, and these are just my observations.

I would really like to hear from parents who have had or currently have children who are suffering from drug and alcohol abuse issues and hear what they have to say on this topic. Does any of this matter? Please comment below and let me know what you did or didn’t do.

 

 

Posted by Pernilla Burke  /  Filed under Addiction, Coping, Enabling, Family History, parenting, Recovery, Self-reflection, Substance Abuse, Writing About Addiction  /  Comments: more



Addiction Treatment: How Can We Make Things Better? A Q&A with Maia Szalavitz, Part IV
Thursday, April 25th, 2013

When it comes to addiction treatment, too often there is a disconnect between what people with an addiction need and what they get. Combine that with the stigma, desperation and fear that accompany the disease of addiction, time and again, present seemingly insurmountable odds for the addicted person to overcome. In this, the final installment in a four-part series of my Q&A with award-winning journalist Maia Szalavitz, Ms. Szalavitz weighs in on “Addiction Treatment: How Can We Make Things Better?”

JERRY OTERO: Most of the media stories about addiction are often tied to something sensational, like a celebrity death. What will motivate journalists to pay more attention to this issue and, in turn, create more awareness and education among their readers/viewers? What kinds of stories would you like to see?

MAIA SZALAVITZ: Hard to say how to get more attention to this (if I knew how, I’d do it!), but I would like to see reporters who cover this area question their own ingrained beliefs and not just assume that traditional treatment is the only way to recovery, that police are any kind of experts on the effects of drugs, that treatment providers are impartial experts (use academic sources who know the data; you wouldn’t go to a pharmaceutical company for unbiased perspective on its own products) or that current policies are the most effective way to deal with problem.

JERRY OTERO: What’s your biggest wish for change in the addictions field?

MAIA SZALAVITZ: That addiction be seen as a health problem and truly treated that way, with evidence-based treatment in which the traditional harsh approach would be as unacceptable as it would be for doctors to treat cancer patients as immoral malingerers.

JERRY OTERO: Anything parents can do to bring about this change?

MAIA SZALAVITZ: Advocate for evidence-based treatment and policy change that recognizes that addiction problems cannot be solved by the criminal justice system and treat people with addiction with compassion.

This concludes our Q&A with Maia Szalavitz. I want to thank Ms. Szalavitz for sharing her insights with our readers, and for weighing in on topics that are important for parents and other caregivers.

Are you a parent or caregiver of a teen or young adult struggling with a substance abuse problem? Please visit the online community at The Partnership at Drugfree.org’s Time To Get Help.

Maia Szalavitz is a health writer at TIME.com and writes about addiction-related issues for The Fix.com . Find her on Twitter at @maiasz. She is co-author of Born for Love: Why Empathy is Essential — and Endangered, (Morrow, 2010), The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog and Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook: What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love and Healing (Basic, 2007), and Recovery Options: The Complete Guide: How You and Your Loved Ones Can Understand and Treat Alcohol and Other Drug Problems (John S. Wiley, 2000) and the author of Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids (Riverhead, 2006).

Posted by Jerry  /  Filed under Addiction, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Drugs, Finding Treatment, Substance Abuse, Treatment, Writing About Addiction  /  Comments: 1



From Party Girl to Plugged In: My Journey Through Addiction to Recovery
Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

As a little girl, Mom and Dad promised I could be anything I wanted — police officer, teacher, journalist — and that no matter what, my life would be a good one if I followed my heart. Hard work, dedication, honest effort and the Golden Rule were required but, according to my folks, a small price to pay for happiness.

Their words, spoken in earnest to their oldest child, fell across my ears and under my radar as the years passed. Conceptually, I referenced the ideas from time to time, but my world was much too complex to be reduced to old-world, Horatio Alger charm.

I did work hard. I did get the coveted college degree from the prestigious undergrad program. I did land the first job in my field two weeks before the commencement ceremony. I did return to my hometown in triumphant victory as the first of my mother’s kin to brandish the sheepskin of higher education.

Beth Wilson, 22 years old

I landed back in my suburban city, however, anything but free. I was a 23-year-old, full-blown alcoholic with a lot to show for my school career but little recollection of how I got it.

Mom and Dad never warned me about following the family lineage into alcoholism. Maybe they didn’t know that because addiction coursed through both sides of my family, my reckless party-girl college life might lead me across a line into alcoholism.

After all, they didn’t know about the college “accidents” that sent me to the hospital emergency room with severe ankle sprains (from falling while drunk) or the night that friends thought I was having a heart attack after a bad combination of alcohol and over-the-counter Sudafed (I was trying to stay awake to study).

They certainly didn’t know about the countless occasions of school parties with booze and sex, times I can’t remember, times I’m lucky to have survived with no pregnancies or STDs.

Now a college grad, I was a “responsible” adult with a job and rent due each month. But my drinking was escalating to the point where nearly every morning I swore to any and all gods that I would not drink “like that” again. I would try harder not to drink so much and I would make sure I ate something that would coat my stomach, something besides beer nuts and pretzels, so I wouldn’t be so sick and hungover the next day.

If I could only control my drinking! I convinced myself that if I concentrated more on things like being more aware of my surroundings and paying more attention to the descriptions of the cars I got into and watched where we drove, then I wouldn’t find myself in the unhealthy situations that seemed to happen with increasing regularity.

If I were more responsible, I would stop waking up in strange places with strange people, or so I told myself.

However, I was a young alcoholic woman with a career and a bucket full of insecurities. I was desperately trying to fit in while setting myself apart from the crowd. I thought myself intellectually superior to the people with whom I interacted, yet I seldom felt worthy of anyone’s attention. In my mind, I was a big shot traveling the country on an expense account, yet on the inside I felt like I deserved none of it. I worked hard at not letting people really see who I was because I was deathly afraid that if they did, they would wouldn’t like me, and I really needed for them to like me. I desperately needed their approval. Years later, I would realize that my insecurities were covering a thick layer of fear, most likely a fear of rejection that stemmed way back into my childhood.

So I continued to cover my intense loneliness with a party-girl persona. I felt a vague sense of irritation, sort of like when you’re walking on the beach and a small pebble gets lodged in your shoe. You try to continue walking but ultimately end up with a big blister and a hurting foot.

I kept drinking, but a growing restlessness gnawed at me. Instinctively, I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what until a God-moment on a spring day in 1991. I was driving to a conference for work, through a small town where an old friend lived.

She had been like a surrogate mother to me when I was growing up, but after she and her family moved away from my hometown, we dropped contact for many years. Something made me stop my car on that day and call her.

She was delighted to hear from me, and we had lunch. As we caught up, I listened to her describe her son’s battle with an addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Her son had just been released from a treatment center. I knew him well and wasn’t at all surprised to hear that he was messed up with drugs and alcohol. Because I had partied with him, I figured he would eventually end up with a problem. I had seen him in really bad shape.

My friend — my surrogate mom — planted two seeds in me that day. When she spoke about her son’s behavior and the resulting consequences, I realized with a sudden force that every time I got into trouble, alcohol was involved. That was the mustard seed she planted.

The bigger seed, one more like that inside a peach, was what she said about his spiritual awakening, about how he came to understand that he was powerless over his addiction and that by admitting powerlessness, he was able to embrace a new way of life that included the awareness that God was guiding him to become a better person.

My friend’s son admitted he couldn’t control his life, and with that admission, he gained a new way of living.

I’ll be forever grateful that my old partying buddy connected with a higher power, because his connection led me to mine.

My spiritual connection — what I call being “plugged in” — is my lifeline in this day-to-day crazy world.

Grace led me to sobriety; I haven’t had a drink of alcohol since May 20, 1991.

I’m learning at a turtle’s pace that while I am powerless over my addiction, I can control the thoughts, feelings and attitudes that lead to the decisions I make. And so long as I don’t drink alcohol, I have a much better chance of recognizing the difference between what I can control and what I can’t. Remember all the things I mentioned that my parents failed to warn me about? Turns out I had quite a build-up of resentment toward them. Thankfully, long-term sobriety and an ongoing spiritual connection healed that resentment.

I believe that staying plugged-in to a God current that flows freely and readily whenever I express the willingness to connect has made all the difference to me; it allowed me to heal strained relations with my parents before my mom died in 2010.

Until that time, I think the little girl in me still blamed them for not fully preparing me for adult life. Now I know they did the best they could; family talks about alcoholism and addiction were taboo in the 1970s.

Today’s family culture offers so much more hope for teenagers. While parents still urge their kids to shoot for their dreams, they also season their conversations with realism about the future.

One thing hasn’t changed: Parents still want the best for their children, and kids still want their parents’ approval. Add a good amount of honest conversation about drugs and alcohol, and you have a solid basis for a successful, drug-free future.

To read more stories of recovery or to share your own, please visit the The Hope Share.

Posted by Beth Wilson  /  Filed under Acceptance, Addiction, Alcohol, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Family History, Family members, Forgiveness, parenting, Recovery, Self-reflection, Taking Care of Yourself, Uncategorized, Warning Signs  /  Comments: more



5 Tips for Keeping Your Teen Safe This Holiday Season and into the New Year
Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

The festive lights that started twinkling along 5th Ave – despite it seeming as if we had only just gotten to this side of Halloween – weren’t enough of a sign for me. It wasn’t until after my family’s own Thanksgiving dinner, when I loosened my belt a notch, that it hit me. The holiday season is upon us, in full swing – with all of its candles and lights, connecting with family and friends, eating and drinking, gift-giving, celebrating, and of course partying.

It is also a time when your teenagers will be out of school and facing much less structure and supervision. School breaks typically mean lots of freedom and time spent socializing with friends, not to mention the increased access to alcohol that comes with the parties. Many work hard to find positive activities for their teens during the holiday break from school. But even so, a lot of teens are left seeking something to do with the idle time in between. And because boredom is a major reason teens give for substance abuse, even the most trustworthy can be at risk.

Additionally, The Brookline Parents Education Network reports that New Year’s Eve, in particular, can be a difficult night for parents to set guidelines for their teens. More than any other event, this night is associated with drinking. Many kids have internalized a dangerous and false message: “Unless you are at a large gathering of friends drinking, you are a loser.” They put pressure on their parents to let them attend unsupervised parties and sleepovers.  Parents may be out with their own friends and less vigilant about supervision. And children may be less forthcoming about where they will be, and with whom.

Teens drinking alcohol at a New Year's party

Here are 5 tips parents can use to keep their teenagers safe during the holiday season and into the New Year:

•    Be sure your teen understands that drinking under the age of 21 is illegal and unacceptable.

•    Know where your teen is going, and ask lots of questions. Who will be there? Will alcohol or other drugs be present? Will adults be home? Do those adults tolerate drinking in their home?

•    Discuss with your teen situations in which he or she might be offered drugs or alcohol, and plan ways for how they can respond. Be sure your teen knows to call 911 immediately if a partygoer needs medical attention. For tips on how to talk to your teen and for strategies he or she can use to decline drugs or alcohol, see our Parent Talk Kit.

•    Make a plan with your teen for how he or she will get home. Remind him or her never to get in a car with a driver who has been using drugs or drinking. Provide money for a taxi or public transportation if it is available and safe in your area. Make an agreement with your teen that if he or she calls to ask for a ride, you will come immediately (no matter where or what time), with no questions asked until later. Here is a contract you and your teen can use to establish a clear understanding of acceptable actions.

•    Be a role model, and know that your behavior is a major influence on your child. Drink responsibly, and don’t abuse alcohol or drugs. Never drive under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicating substance. Never get in a car with a driver who is under the influence. Safeguard your prescription medicine and only use it as directed by a doctor.

What challenges or concerns are you facing this holiday season? Please use the comments section below to share any ideas or questions you have about keeping your teens safe through the New Year.

On behalf of the Partnership at Drugfree.org, I wish you and your family a safe holiday season and a happy, healthy New Year.

Posted by Jerry  /  Filed under Alcohol, Confronting Teens, Family members, parenting, Substance Abuse, Taking Care of Yourself  /  Comments: more



Wonder and Worry: Can I Save My Daughters From Drug Addiction?
Thursday, November 15th, 2012

As a parent in recovery, I look at my children’s faces every day and I wonder and worry.

I wonder, with everything I know and everything I’ve learned, will I be able to save them from the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse? I wonder about the “gene” and the fact that I know there are many in both my family and my husbands’ that have it.

I worry about my children’s environment: the drug pushers, the “cool” friends and doctor’s writing careless prescriptions—all out there potentially giving my beautiful, innocent daughters something that could threaten their lives.

I worry about the things I say, the things that happen on the playground at school. I worry about the things that could happen to them emotionally that could somehow predispose them to being receptive to actually trying a prescription drug to get high, and that that one time could be all it takes.

I guess I could wonder and worry about so many other things happening to them, but because I am in recovery myself, this is the one thing that is closest to my mind.

If I tried all of it, why wouldn’t they?

All I can do is hope and pray that if they do try it and they do get hooked, they get help. Maybe it would be the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) just like I did.

AA has changed my life so profoundly and on so many levels. It has put the tools for living and happiness right into the core of my being.Because of it, the black hole exists no longer, and my need to fill it with substances is gone. I have been given the ability to walk through life with faith and hope and trust.

I just hope that I can transmit some of these values and the inner peace I feel to my children and that I do whatever I can to prevent them from using drugs and alcohol. But if they go down the path of addiction, I hope they too will find sobriety and serenity just as I did.

I hope that by teaching them to allow themselves to feel their feelings and to always speak up when something is going on and to try not to hold the emotions in, they will be aided in keeping away from drugs. Maybe teaching them that negative emotions are not bad and should not be discarded or ignored or seen as something to distract ourselves from will be useful. I hope that by saying to them that negative feelings are as important as positive feelings and that in our life’s journey we have to learn to deal with both sides of the coin.

I wonder if any of this will help.

And I wonder, are there other parents in recovery out there that are thinking about the same things? If so, please share.

Posted by Pernilla Burke  /  Filed under Family History, Family members, parenting, Recovery  /  Comments: more



The Mindful Addict: Tom Catton’s Spiritual Road to Long-Term Drug Recovery
Friday, March 9th, 2012

The Partnership is excited to introduce our new blogger, Tom Catton. Tom has been in long-term recovery since October 20, 1971 is the author of The Mindful Addict: A Memoir of the Awakening of a Spirit, which highlights Tom’s relationship with meditation in combating his addictions. Tom is on the advisory board at the Buddhist Recovery Network and is trained in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.

The following excerpt from my book “The Mindful Addict” gives a hint of the adventures that occurred during forty years of placing recovery above all else and learning to follow my heart through the practice of meditation each morning. If “The Mindful Addict” were summed up in a few words, I would say it is a miraculous adventure story about what can occur when meditation is coupled with service to others.

I used alcohol and drugs from 1959 until October 20,1971. I always say that I’m a blessed addict because I did all my using in the 60’s.

Growing up in Southern California and traveling to Hawaii as a teenager in 1962 to further my surfing endeavors seemed like that natural movement of the times. I lived the lifestyle that invited the use of drugs and alcohol. We were summoned by Tim Leary to turn on, tune in and drop out.

I went from drinking alcohol to sniffing glue, experimenting with LSD and other mind expanding drugs. Soon I was using needles to inject any substance for a quicker response. If a drug could be dissolved in a spoon, I used it.  

I went to my first 12- Step recovery programs meeting on the North Shore of Oahu in 1968.   I proceeded to bounce in and out of recovery for three years until I was sick of being “sick and tired.” The gift of recovery often waits for this opportune time to enter our lives when we see our own best thinking brought us to a veritable skid row in our mind, body and soul.

Excerpt from The Mindful Addict:
3:45 a.m., February 10, 1968, Kaneohe, Hawaii. A tall, thin woman looking much older than her fifty-two years sits up in bed meditating. A cup of coffee rests on her nightstand, and a cigarette glows in the dark. She listens, in silence, to the small voice within, her shadow standing guard as she sits in the stillness, becoming one with the calm. Flobird meditates for several hours every morning, a habit she picked up in 1960 while getting into recovery in twelve-step programs.

She lives each day by the spiritual guidance she receives during meditation and diligently records the messages in her journal. Writing becomes automatic, a prayer in ink, and the spirit guiding her pen to identify her next assignment. At times her dialogue with God is intense, and at times she questions the assignment; but, she always steps into the unknown and does exactly as spirit guides her.

On this particular early morning, Flobird’s meditation leads her to the North Shore of Oahu, about 40 miles from Kaneohe. She hops into “Redbird,” her Fiat, and drives to the Sunset Beach area, just as she has been directed in meditation. Here, she finds a four-bedroom, completely furnished; wood-framed home nestled under the trees right on the oceanfront. Guided by an inner direction, she reaches above the doorjamb, locates the key, unlocks the door, and enters. Coincidentally, I lived next door to this house.

During the winter months, the waves on the North Shore are huge. This is the only time they break with gigantic force and must be at least twenty feet high before they are considered surfable by the locals. The energy from just one such a large wave, as it comes crashing down, is breathtaking, and the salt spray can be seen in the air for miles.

At night, the roaring waves sound like thunder, or an enormous gong echoing across the oceans from some unknown temple. Often they become so enormous they wash over the highway. Sometimes these monster waves can even level houses in their wake.
The North Shore community is relatively small, and everyone knows one another. Back in the 1960s, Haleiwa, the main village, had only two grocery stores and a bank. Today, it is a bustling town sought out by tourists from all over the world to watch or surf the killer waves.

This time and place was magical for those of us fortunate enough to live there. The community was dominated by surfers from around the world who competed in riding the giant waves at the world’s most famous surf spots dotting this five-mile stretch of coastline. There were also many so-called hippies searching for enlightenment through the use of drugs, including LSD and hashish, which were believed to lead to spiritual illumination. Some of these drug-using hippies were in both categories: they surfed, took a lot of drugs, but were ultimately looking for something greater. That was me.

In the early morning hours of this day, I was startled awake by the sound of a car on our street. With a new clarity entirely unfamiliar to me in the breaking dawn, I gazed out the window and saw a tiny red Fiat pull up to the vacant house next door. I watched curiously as a strange woman got out and walked calmly up to the house as if she indisputably belonged, as if placed there by mystical entitlement. I had no idea that this event would change my life forever.

Posted by Tom Catton  /  Filed under Acceptance, Addiction, Alcohol, Books about addiction, getting help, Recovery, Self-reflection, Substance Abuse, Uncategorized, Writing About Addiction  /  Comments: more



Part I: Dealing With Your Teen’s Relapse from Drug and Alcohol Addiction
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

=Wrong CrowdThis is a two-part blog post by Michael V. Pantalon, PhD, Yale Psychologist, Addiction & Motivation Expert, Speaker, Coach and author of INSTANT INFLUENCE: How to Get Anyone to Do Anything—Fast! (Little, Brown & Co., May, 2011)

A “Relapse” Scenario

Imagine your 17-year-old son has been doing really well — staying away from alcohol and pot for the past 6 months following a 28-day stay in rehab.  He’s back at school, his grades are good and he’s playing soccer again.  On top of that, his new friends seem supportive of his recovery.  As his parent, you feel you can finally breathe a small sigh of relief.

However, when your son comes home early from school one day without his backpack, you’re worried.  You confront him and his explanation makes sense: his last class was cancelled because a teacher became sick and there was no one available to sub; he did his homework earlier in the day and during part of the last period, so he didn’t need his backpack; and you already knew there was no soccer practice that day.  The next day everything seems back to normal.

Several days later, however, he comes to you and says that he would like to leave school early on Friday to go to a concert in the city.  When asked about how sensible that might be given that it might be a trigger for using and about the group of kids that he’s going to the show with, he becomes defensive and irritable.  A few minutes later he confesses that the day he came home early, he had slipped out of school right after first period to hang out with some old friends.  He ran into these old friends (the very crowd he used to use and drink with) on the way to school that day and instead of staying in school, he spent the day with them, playing Call of Duty (a popular shooter video game), and smoking and drinking, and that now he’s struggling with strong urges to continue using.

While he’s saying he doesn’t want to go back to the way he was, he also says, “I’m almost 17! Why can’t I have a drink now and then?!  I want to have fun.  Being sober is not fun.  I’m supposed to be having fun at this point in my life!”  Later, he confesses that he’d made plans to go to the concert with the old friends, but he’s still defending his ability to go with them and not use, stating that his new friends are “nice, but no fun at all.”

How do you feel?

What do you do?

How do you keep this relapse from blowing up in your and your son’s face?  Meaning, is there a way to help without making it worse?

You’re probably feeling a lot of different and conflicting feelings.  You’re angry, surprised and hurt, but you’re also worried, understanding and sympathetic.  We might all have the strong urge to immediately vent this barrage of emotions toward our child and, in the moment, we would feel justified in doing so.

However, many of us might instinctively know that to do so would not be helpful.  It might make your son more defensive and irritable.  He might then storm out of the house and go to the concert and resume drinking and pot use NOT simply because of the situation and the people he is with, but also because he now feels justified in doing so because he’s angry at his parents (whether or not it is actually justifiable in this manner).

The other thing is that your son IS actually feeling stressed and distressed about his recovery and the conflict he just had with his parents.  And since he’s learned in the past that alcohol and drugs immediately take this feeling away, we’ve just helped him create a new trigger for drug and alcohol use.

Not that you are to blame, but there are certain ways to handle relapses so that this does not happen.  While we as parents are not to blame when the sort of situation described above occurs, I strongly believe that we have a responsibility to learn ways to prevent it and even to use relapse as an opportunity to further strengthen our child’s recovery.

In my next blog post “An Overview of Relapse,” I describe a few ways to do just that.

Related Links:

Teens Only Listen to One Person…

Adjusting to Recovery: When Your Addicted Child Begins to Get Well

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

Posted by Michael Pantalon, PhD  /  Filed under Addiction, Alcohol, Confronting Teens, Marijuana, parenting, Recovery, Recovery & Relapse  /  Comments: more



How to Prepare for a Drug Intervention with Your Teenager
Thursday, October 27th, 2011

=InterventionIf you’re concerned about your teen’s drug or alcohol use, then it is time to take action. You can never be too safe or intervene too early — even if you believe your teen is just “experimenting.”

Here are 8 step-by-step ways on how to prepare for a drug intervention with your teenager:

1.    Make observations. Note changes in your teen’s usual behavior, appearance, personal habits, health, and school work. The teenage years are a physical and emotional roller coaster, so no one change is a definite indication of drug or alcohol use. But if your child has ditched her friends for a new crowd, let her good grades slip, or stopped caring about her looks, these are warning signs that may be cause for concern.

2.    Keep track. Note (in your head or in a journal) when and how often your teen breaks the rules or does something suspicious. For example, if your teen comes home way past curfew, jot down the date so you can reference it later. You may also want to keep track of the alcohol and legal drugs in your home. If you know you have exactly 20 prescription pills in your medicine cabinet, it will be easy to tell if some have gone missing. If you suspect your child is taking Rx drugs from your home, lock your medicine cabinet, dispose of pills you are no longer taking.

3.    Search for drugs and drug paraphernalia. Some parents are against snooping, while others believe they have the right to look through their children’s things. There is no correct answer, but if you want to collect concrete evidence of your child’s drug use before your intervention, here are some good places to look: dresser drawers, desk drawers, backpacks, the glove compartment of the car, the back of closets, corners of bed sheets, under the mattress or bed, small boxes, books/bookcases, makeup cases, over-the-counter medicine bottles and empty candy wrappers.

Remember: If you do find drugs in your child’s room or car, you will be accused of invading your teen’s privacy. Be prepared to defend your actions.

4.    Talk with your spouse/partner. If your teen’s other parent or caregiver does not share the same beliefs and values that you do when it comes to drugs, you will certainly hear about it from your kid. So get on the same page as your spouse or partner before you intervene with your child. “Getting on the same page” doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing – it means committing to present a united front, even if the two of you disagree on the issue.

Remember: This is a stressful situation for both you and your spouse, and you will need one another’s support. Do not blame your partner for your teen’s drug or alcohol use, or allow him/her to blame you. Your teen’s problem is no one’s fault, but you and partner do need to work together to deal with it.

5.    Recognize the significance of addiction in your family. For some, trying drugs or alcohol once or twice may just be part of the teen experience. But if there is a history of addiction in your family, your child is much more likely than other kids to become addicted.

6.    Understand this serious risk and think about how you are going to explain this to your child in a way that will make him listen.

7.    Set a desired outcome for your intervention. The “drug talk” is actually not one talk – it’s a series of conversations. Chances are, your first intervention will not resolve all problems – and that’s okay. But if you set a goal (even a small one) before you start talking, you will know where you want your conversation to ultimately lead. Would you like your teen to see a therapist? Stop binge drinking at parties? Obey curfew? Come up with a specific purpose for your intervention, and then work toward achieving it.

Remember: Don’t set your expectations too high. Your teen may not even admit to drug use the first time you intervene, let alone pledge to stop using or get help. Set reasonable goals, and realize that just expressing to your teen that you don’t want him using drugs or drinking is a small triumph.

8.    Prepare yourself for your teen’s reaction. Your teen will not be happy that you’re approaching him about his drug or alcohol use. That’s to be expected. What you might not expect is to be called a liar, hypocrite or snoop. Think about how you will handle these accusations if they come up.

You don’t need hard evidence to begin the conversation – your intuition telling you something is wrong is enough. But having past incidents or observations to reference in your conversation will help you encourage your teen to tell the truth about her drug or alcohol use.

This is an excerpt from our Intervention eBook.  For information on what to do if your child is drinking or using drugs download our Intervention eBook or read articles on Time To Act.

Do you have tips for how to prepare for a drug intervention?  Please share them in the comments section below!

Related Links:
Time To Get Help
You Are Not Alone

Posted by Community Manager Olivia  /  Filed under Confronting Teens, Dealing with an Addicted Child, parenting, snooping  /  Comments: more



Taking Action Against My Son’s Drug Problem
Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Father and teenage sonHow could a recovering alcoholic and addict possibly fail to recognize the symptoms of drug abuse in his own teenager?   Stupidity?  Blindness?  I’d have to say both, combined with a powerful, potentially deadly dose of trust.

In 8th grade, my son was part of the Gifted Students Program.  One year later, he nearly failed his freshman year.  But there were what my wife, Paula, and I mistakenly considered, mitigating circumstances.

The summer prior to attending high school, he suffered a bout of mononucleosis, and the doctor warned us that the illness could reoccur.  He seemed to have fully rebounded in time to attend classes, and even to compete on the high-school wrestling team. But in a matter of months he started coming home exhausted, going directly to his bedroom, and “sleeping,” or more accurately “passing out.”  He looked pale, with dark circles under his eyes, and he lost his appetite and grew skinny.

All signs and symptoms of drug abuse.  But did we see it?  No.  He also quit wrestling.  A teen withdrawing from sports and activities they used to love is also another big red flag.  And we completely missed it.

Instead we brought him back to the doctor, thinking the mononucleosis had returned.  His tests came back negative, including another for the closely related Epstein-Barr virus.

Now let me cut to the chase.

In the first week of his sophomore year, he was caught ditching class, four days out of eight in World History, and it’s then that my wife and I finally put it together.  We confronted him as soon as he came home that day.

“Are you using drugs?”

“No.”

“Look me in the eye,” I said, “and tell me you’re not getting high.”

Fortunately he’s not much of a liar, and he could only glance up at me, then he lowered his eyes.  But the lie came anyway.

“No,” he said.  “I don’t use drugs.  I’ve just been sick.”

Our biggest mistake was in trusting him.  But we trusted him because we love him and because he had never lied to us before.  Little lies?  Sure.  What kid hasn’t?  A big lie, like drug use?  No.  Not to our knowledge.  We were in denial and wanted to believe him. That wanting to trust, that need, that desire can be lethal.

Given my own dark past, I put the word out on him among the recovering addicts I know.

A simple question:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by James Brown  /  Filed under Addiction, Confronting Teens, Ecstasy, Family History, Family members, getting help, Treatment, Warning Signs  /  Comments: more






Search





About this blog
Welcome to Intervene. We are a community of experts, parents and caring adults concerned about our teens’ alcohol and drug use and have come together to share our insights, inspiration, guidance and help.









A free service to help you determine if alcohol may be harming your health or putting you at risk.


Previous Posts


Categories


Archives


Tags




Donate Today


Drugfree.orgTime To Act!© 2014 The Partnership at Drugfree.orgThe Partnership at Drugfree.org does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. More.