Intervene

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




Renowned Psychiatrist Dr. John Sharp on Addiction, the Teen Brain and Early Intervention
Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

We’re thrilled to share the following video featuring Dr. John Sharp, a renowned psychiatrist, bestselling author and faculty member at both the Harvard Medical School and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

In this video, shot by Clio award-winning director Lori Hoeft, Sharp discusses the genetics of addiction, the developing teen brain and the importance of early intervention.

Sharp encourages parents to take action early. “Your role is critical,” he says. “You can influence the behavior of your loved one. You want to continuously let him or her know how much you care and what your support can mean.”

Learn more about the teen brain and the steps you can take if you think or know your child is drinking or using drugs. For guidance, call our Toll-Free Parent Helpline at 1-855-DRUGFREE (1-855-378-4373) or visit Time To Get Help.

Want to hear more from Dr. John Sharp? Keep an eye out for his feature article on Join Together, coming out this summer.

Posted by Intervene Staff  /  Filed under Addiction, Confronting Teens, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Drugs, Family members, parenting, Uncategorized  /  Comments: 0



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



Finding Addiction Treatment for Your Child: A Q&A with Maia Szalavitz, Part II
Tuesday, April 9th, 2013


Recognizing that your child needs substance abuse treatment can be emotional and overwhelming; and you may feel that your child’s addiction has taken over your family’s life. Here, we present Part 2 of a 4-part series of my Q & A with award-winning journalist, Maia Szalvitz. Today, Ms. Szalavitz shares some advice on how parents can find the right addiction treatment for their teens and young adults — and what they should avoid.

JERRY OTERO: What do parents need to know about the differences between girls and boys when dealing with substance abuse issues?

MAIA SZALAVITZ: Mainly that everyone has individual needs and some of them relate to gender, like the fact that girls may be more likely to be depressed or that they may feel uncomfortable discussing issues of sexuality in mixed gender groups.  Mostly, it’s critical for everyone to be thoroughly evaluated before treatment is sought so that an independent assessment of these needs can be done by someone who doesn’t have a particular treatment in mind.  Note:  independent assessment should be done by a psychiatrist or psychologist, not an educational consultant who refers people to residential care.

JERRY OTERO: What should parents be cautious of when looking for the right treatment for their child? What about programs that “whip kids into shape?” And, is there a difference between boot camps and wilderness programs?

MAIA SZALAVITZ: Any treatment that wants to cut off or control communication between parent and child (outside of obvious abusive parents) for longer than a week or two should be viewed with extreme skepticism.  There is no therapeutic reason for this: love and support from family help treatment, they do not hinder it.

Any program that tells parents to expect bizarre complaints or reports of abuse and ignore them should be avoided.  A program that goes on about children being manipulative liars is not safe because health complaints will be ignored and this can and has been deadly.

Programs that require 12-step work for teens— admissions of addiction and powerlessness— are not the best; programs which suggest and support them are fine.

Programs that use physical punishment or restraint or isolation should be avoided; you can’t whip someone with heart disease into a cure, nor can you do this with addiction.

Wilderness programs are different from boot camps in that the harsh treatment takes place in the woods or wilds rather than in a more military style but both have had serious abuses and there is no evidence supporting the idea that they are better than safer alternatives.  If a child likes the woods, a voluntary Outward Bound program may be healing, but forcing someone into camping and hiking isn’t addiction treatment.  If a child goes to a wilderness camp for normal teens, he also will be believed when he has a health complaint — but in “troubled teen” programs the complaints are dismissed so callously that it has lead to dozens of deaths.  They’re also either unregulated or not well regulated.

JERRY OTERO: Thank you so much, for your insights, Maia.

Readers, for more information about adolescent and young-adult alcohol and other drug abuse treatment and how to find the most appropriate care for your child and family, download The Partnership at Drugfree.org’s Treatment e-book. This e-book will provide helpful and realistic information and advice to aid you in steering your child — and your family — toward recovery. Here, you will learn what alcohol and drug abuse treatment is, how to find the right type of treatment for your child, how to pay for treatment and the importance of taking care of yourself and your family.

Stay tuned next week for Part III of our Q&A“Changes in the Field, including Medication-Assisted Treatement”

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 12-Step, Addiction, Assessment, Finding Treatment, getting help, Treatment, Uncategorized  /  Comments: more



The Language of Drug Addiction is Often Negative
Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Tough LoveThe language of drug addiction is laced with many terms that seem to be designed to scare everyone. Many words and descriptors of addiction make me cringe “Hitting rock bottom,” is a term I have written about before. Another term that I have recently been exploring and considering is “Tough Love.”

Tough Love is harsh. For a parent to do what is necessary isn’t “tough love” it is REAL LOVE. Real love is letting your child sit in jail (protective custody) when for only a few dollars you could get him out and spare him from the confines of jail. (Only to find them using again within two hours.) Real love is telling your child he cannot live in your home as he continue to use drugs. Real love is when you see your addict hungry, dirty and homeless, and you buy him a meal, give him information of people who can help and encourage him to seek help and not offering to “fix it” for him. Real love is selfishly taking the time to work on yourself so that when your addict has a “profound experience” you ARE able to help in the right way instead of just falling back on old habits of enabling.

Addiction is a disease. When we see a parent sitting bedside of a child with cancer taking chemotherapy, holding his hand, wiping his head, combing his hair as is falls out, holding the pan as he gets sick, we admire that parent and comment how much they must love their child to be by his side. That parent doesn’t love their child any more than you or I. That parent is only doing what they can and must to help their child get better; just like we are doing when we practice tough love real love.

Real Love is why you are here reading these essays written by parents and professionals who have walked this path before you.

Tough love is easy, throw them out and leave them to the world.

What words in the world of addiction make you angry? Share with us below.

Related Links
Moving Away From Enabling
How a Child’s Own Reasons for Change Lead to the Most Success
Losing Your Mind Doesn’t Help Anyone

Posted by Ron Grover  /  Filed under Addiction, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Enabling, parenting, Taking Care of Yourself, Uncategorized  /  Comments: more



My Son’s Drug Addiction: What I Learned About Myself
Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Father and SonWhen I learned my son was addicted to drugs, my focus was on him and his addiction. Like many parents, I felt that his addiction was every bit my problem as it was his. I tirelessly tried to fix his addiction.  After a few years of repeated behaviors and strong reactions, no one got better.

I didn’t know what I was doing wrong.

It wasn’t until I realized that I had so much to learn about myself and how I was reacting to this disease did I begin to feel better. I realized that my son’s sobriety was not within my ability to control. The extent of my authority over this disease ended at the tip of my nose.

“What have I learned?” I think this is the most important question a parent of a teen with an addiction can ask him- or herself. This self-reflective question emphasizes you, the parent, and not the child with the drug problem.

In the midst of crisis and drama, it is difficult to figure out what to do to support a loved one with an addiction. A parent cannot deal successfully with the chaos this disease brings if he or she is feeling fear and anger within.

True education occurs when we can sit quietly and reflect upon the events and look critically at our own role as a loving and supportive parent.

Without quiet contemplation and analysis of my own actions, a parent can fall into the same traps and reactions. After a long period of doing the same thing over and over again, you many begin questioning, ‘who is the crazy one in this picture?’

Working through the layers of actions and experiences to figure out what one has learned may or may not be a solitary exercise. Counselors, therapists, fellow loved ones of addicts can be brought in to help with this deliberation.

However, in the end, the decisions lie with you and how you choose to internalize the learning. Following that, you begin to realize the truism of the saying, “Nothing changes, if nothing changes.”

“What have I learned?” is a recurring theme throughout parenting a loved one with an addiction.

What have I learned through the years? A better question would be what have I learned, unlearned and re-learned? This disease is not one that lends itself to a standardized treatment regimen that guarantees recovery. In fact, recovery is actually a misnomer in that there is a new normal.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Ron Grover  /  Filed under Addiction, Hope, parenting, Recovery, Self-reflection, Taking Care of Yourself  /  Comments: more



Teens Only Listen to One Person…Themselves: How a Child’s Own Reasons for Change Lead to the Most Success
Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Beautiful Teen Girl In Hospital Gown Crying

This guest post is by Dr. Michael Pantalon, author of “Instant Influence: How to Get Anyone to Do Anything–Fast” (Little, Brown and Company).

Imagine you are in the Emergency Department (ED) with your 16-year-old daughter who was brought in for her second episode of alcohol poisoning in six months.  The doctor is about to discharge her because, medically, she’s fine, but you know she’s going to go right back to heavy drinking, if you don’t do something.  You and your husband feel you’ve tried everything to help your daughter, but you also believe that there has to be some way to take advantage of this dire emergency to motivate her to get into treatment and to stop drinking.

I’ve seen hundreds of families in this very situation and their dilemma is always the same: they all want to influence their child to get on a better path, but they don’t know that there is a quick, easy and scientifically-proven way of getting the job done.  The approach I’m referring to is called “Instant Influence.”  It’s based on Motivational Interviewing, which in its briefest form, has been shown to reduce substance use among adolescents and young adults seen in the ED, as well as, my 20 years of experience motivating some of the most resistant to change substance abusing children and adults in a wide variety of settings.

People tend to only listen to one person — themselves.  And, as a result, they’re only influenced by one person …again — themselves.  So, as frustrating as this may be for a parent who would like to sternly say, “You have to stop!” and to have that be enough, the real trick to motivating someone is to get them to convince themselves to make a change for their own good reasons.

But how do you do this?  How might the mom in the example above motivate her daughter to finally accept treatment for her drinking problem?

The two most important things to do are:

1)    STOP trying to motivate your child by telling her about your feelings, thoughts or reasons for change, such as, “You’re worrying me to death!” “I think you HAVE to go to rehab right from the hospital” or “The best reason for you to stop drinking is for your health.”

2)    START asking your child questions that are specially-designed to evoke her own good reasons for change.

To help you remember what things you should vs. should NOT say, I’ve devised two simple lists for parents to follow:

DON’T…

Express your anger. Of course, as a parent, you are feeling angry, but expressing it doesn’t motivate your daughter.  Your anger is very likely legitimate, but if we stick to the idea that kids change when they hear themselves argue in favor of the change, yelling will NOT evoke such reasons – it may even make it harder for her to come up with good reasons to change.

Blame. It’s not a time to figure out who’s responsible for allowing the situation to get so bad, but instead, to garner some motivation to move forward with a better plan.

Confront her with admonitions to stop. Of course she knows you want her to stop drinking!  She doesn’t need to hear that, nor will it be motivating.  I know it feels almost irresponsible NOT to say that she HAS to stop drinking, but because of “reverse psychology,” it could be demotivating.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Michael Pantalon, PhD  /  Filed under Addiction, Alcohol, getting help, Motivational Interviewing, tough love, Treatment  /  Comments: more



6 Things My Husband and I Did to Save Our Marriage
Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Save your marriageMiraculously, my husband Matt and I have been married for 26 years.  We are raising the last of our 4 kids together and our marriage has survived some significant hits through the years.

In our early years, there was a physical injury that resulted in the loss of Matt’s career and financial calamity, we lost a baby due to a second trimester miscarriage, we have both lost our fathers in their old age and we have faced the disease of addiction as it insidiously wound its way through our family unit.

Dealing with our daughter’s addiction was by far the most difficult and the most painful thing we have had to navigate together as a couple. In our early years, we were both sort of shell shocked and in my mind I can see the two of us just standing there with our mouths open, asking each other, “What just happened?”  It was not good. Neither one of us could believe that one of our kids, to whom we had devoted our adult lives, would have, or could have, headed off in this direction.  We lived in denial for a long time.

There was a lot of frantic hand wringing and tears, as we tried to figure out what to do.  What was normal experimentation and what was really a problem? Our biggest obstacle was that we were not in agreement on how to handle anything. I was devastated and showed it through my endless crying and obsessing. Matt was trying to calm me down so I wasn’t a hindrance to the process of trying to figure out how big of a problem this really was and how we should proceed.

Eventually, after several years and many Al-anon meetings, we were able to build a cohesive team who can now face, at least on most days, the challenges that life brings to us in a healthier and more constructive fashion.

Here are some of the things we learned:

1.) Accept Each Other. We have to learn how to accept each other as we are. This means understanding that we are doing the very best we know how to do, and most of all, that our goals are the same and we have different ways of coping — to keep our daughter alive long enough to find a healthy recovery. It set us both free to process our thoughts with each other without the fear of criticism or verbal attack. After we accepted each other, we began to acknowledge that we are a team and no one on earth has our child’s best interest at heart the way the two of us do.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Annette  /  Filed under Acceptance, Addiction, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Denial, Family members, getting help, Marriage, Shame  /  Comments: more



7 Tips on How to Discuss a Child’s Drug Addiction with Your Other Children
Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Blogger Carole Bennett, MA is author of the book “Reclaim Your Life – You and the Alcohol/Addict” (www.reclaimyourlifebook.com) and the founder of Family Recovery Solutions, a counseling center for family and friends of loved ones with a drug or alcohol problem.

Discussing Drug Addiction in the FamilySubstance abuse within a family is a devastating, gut-wrenching problem.  It can tear at the very fiber of even the strongest family 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

How do responsible parents communicate with their other healthy, children about the disease that has infected their other sibling?  Confusion, uncertainty and insecurity abounds for children who don’t understand why their brother or sister is sleeping all day, acting crazy, looking funny and no longer participate with the family.

I believe that being honest and open to your child/children about their sibling’s substance abuse issues is respectful and fair.  Don’t forget that children are very intuitive and if they see their parents speaking in hushed tones when it comes to their sibling or witness an emotional and/or physical change they will realize something is up.

Here are seven tips for parents on how to begin a conversation about substance abuse in the family:

1.) Pick an easy, comfortable time to chat with your kids.  Maybe a picnic in the park or a meal at their favorite restaurant is a good backdrop.

2.) Though it is a big deal, don’t make it so in the conversation.   Parents should be able to tell the truth in a way that children are able to understand and prepare themselves for the changes that will happen in the family. For many kids, routine helps them feel safe. So if life becomes unpredictable, they will need help adjusting to the changes.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Carole Bennett  /  Filed under Addiction, Confronting Teens, Family members  /  Comments: 1



5 Things I Wish I’d Known About Mental Illness and Teens
Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

1. teen mental illnessIt May Not Look Like Mental Illness I was a teenager who wore black, slept a lot and cried often. I ate too much or too little, couldn’t concentrate on my homework and wasn’t interested in a social life. I had no idea that these symptoms, if they last more than a couple of weeks, can signal serious depression.  I  simply thought this was what being a teenager was like. It wasn’t until I was 26 that I had my first “nervous breakdown” and was diagnosed with chronic depression. I was lucky. If I’d turned to drugs or alcohol as a way to solve my problems, I might have been another teenage drug addict or alcoholic, and never have gotten the help I needed. Even so, I didn’t recognize the symptoms in my son until it was too late. He was already doing drugs every day. He wasn’t diagnosed until he was 33.

2. Look for Mental Illness in the Family
Was there an aunt in your family who had a “nervous breakdown” when you were growing up? A grandparent who never spoke to anyone?  A relative who ‘burned out’ at work? A cousin who had to leave college because the stress was too much? A brother who was in trouble because of drinking or partying? These may pointer to underlying mental health issues. Many mental illnesses run in families. If there’s mental illness in yours, then your child’s drug activities may be an attempt to self-medicate the family disease.

3. Get Informed
When I was dealing with my own depression and then my son’s there wasn’t the vast amount of information around that there is today. I had to look for books in the self-help section of the library or bookstore. I felt ashamed that I needed the books, and sure other people were judging me. These days, there is almost too much information around — so pick your sources carefully. The best information on drug addiction and mental health comes from reputable sites like The Partnership at Drugfree.org and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Parents’ blogs can be helpful too, mainly because they tell you about other parents’ experiences, and may help you realize that you’re not alone in dealing with this.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Gabi Coatsworth  /  Filed under Addiction, Alcohol, Co-Occurring Disorders, mental illness, Stigma, Taking Care of Yourself  /  Comments: more



Songs About Addiction: Introducing Singer/Songwriter Ryan Sy
Friday, January 28th, 2011

We recently came across singer/songwriter Ryan Sy on YouTube.   Inspired by life experiences, Ryan’s songs – a mix of folk and pop, soul and country — carry themes of love, loss, drug addiction and the enduring nature of the human spirit.  Before moving to Atlanta, GA for college, Ryan – a Philippines-native — went to school in Edinburg, Scotland where he first started performing in cafés and open-mic nights.  The positive feedback he received motivated him to take a career in music seriously.  Ryan is currently in Los Angeles recording music.  

We think Ryan is a talented artist and writer, and wish him all the best in his music career.  Here are two of Ryan’s  hit YouTube songs “Fly” and “Symbiote”:

“Fly”

Ryan Sy on his song “Fly”: “It’s easy when you’re young and impressionable to become susceptible to drug use.  In high-school and college, I was constantly exposed to marijuana and cocaine, as I’m sure many students these days are.  By the time I was a sophomore in college, I was no longer fazed by the concept of ‘having a drug problem.’  Everyone I knew seemed to be using drugs (especially cocaine).   I guess it’s easy to ignore the obvious when drug use becomes the norm.  But the truth is that many people lose friends and loved ones to drugs.  It shouldn’t take a tragic loss to realize this – nobody needs that sort of reality check.”

“Symbiote”

 

Ryan Sy on his song “Symbiote”: I promise I’m not a geek, but I did sort of get the title for this song from Spiderman.  Basically, the two most famous “Symbiotes” in the comic book were Venom and Carnage.  Although they were human, they came into contact with “alien substances” that gave them superhuman powers.  However, these substances also made them lose themselves; eventually eating away at any humanity they had left.  The thing is that they allowed this to happen because, as a Symbiote, they could overcome the feeling of helplessness they had when they were human.  It’s a bit of a stretch, but drug addiction works the same way.  Drug addicts know that they’re hurting themselves, but for most of them, it really doesn’t matter.  This is a reality that many addicts face – they’d rather lose themselves completely than deal with the problems in their lives.

To learn more about Ryan Sy, visit his website: http://www.ryansymusic.com

Editor’s Note: Music has the power to mend broken hearts.  It also has a way of expressing what we feel when we can’t always say it.  Do you have a favorite song about hope and new beginnings?  Share with us below!

Posted by Community Manager Olivia  /  Filed under Addiction, Alcohol, Cocaine, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Recovery & Relapse, Taking Care of Yourself  /  Comments: more






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