Why when there is so much information to say otherwise do young people still use drugs and/or alcohol? It’s also important to ask why some parents believe drinking and drug use is something “all kids do and is a right of passage.”
If you are faced with having to decide “is what my child doing normal or is there a problem?” start paying attention because decisions will need to be made. Educating yourself, asking questions, and seeking professional help is key to mitigating a serious issue or crisis. Do not let fear hold you from moving forward and seeking advice, help, and support.
The quickest way for substance use issues to grow stronger is to ignore them…move forward, lean into it, find the reasons the issue started and if needed “fake” being brave. Changing behaviors is a process and will take some time. You or your child didn’t jump into the deep end overnight. Go after the reasons why it started. If you feel scared – do it anyway. The more knowledge you acquire the stronger you’ll become.
“We all have a why for the reasons we experiment or start using drugs and/or alcohol. Maybe you know yours and are embarrassed by it, scared of it, maybe you think you are the only one or that you only partake once-in-a-while. If we can identify and talk about our whys we can support and recover from it.” Chris Herren
The idea behind the model is that behavior change does not happen in one step. Rather, people tend to progress through stages on their way to sustaining long-term behavioral changes.
A false social norm has been created, passed down through generations that “all kids do it” and “they’ll grow out of it,” but do we? 23 million of us would tell you otherwise. Young people do NOT have to be riddled with the chaos of substance use disorder. Educating yourself/family, engaging, and intervening is the key to preventing a crisis. The best chance to advert a substance use problem is educating youth to wait – wait for the brain to develop because the alternative so often comes and could be deadly.
When our “why” happens if communities and families can intervene early, behavioral health disorders might be prevented, or symptoms can be mitigated – SAMHSA
Let’s Get Educated – the fork in the road
How do our whys happen? Understanding the importance of our environments (what does a healthy environment look like), why is family history important, understanding mental health, physical health, science/research/evidence – many times our whys are influenced by our environments. Should you need resources they can be found in the CRISIS section of this website.
Our Environments, Influences, Physical/Emotional Health and some things to think about…
- Why do adolescents take drugs?
- Social Media, Understanding a Teen’s World
- Creating a Sense of Belonging
- Managing the use of media in your family is one of the big challenges of 21st-century parenting
- Healthy Risk Taking
- Teen Esteem, Online Safety
- Your Teen Magazine for parents. A resource for parenting teens.
Many times what youth are exposed to or hear from friends creates a social norm of substance use being “normal” among peers.
Understanding peer pressure, denial, our perceptions influencing the truth, experimenting vs use and real statistics/facts on youth substance use.
- Teen Drug Use: A Phase or Growing into an Addict
- Adolescent Substance Use and the Problem of Denial
- Understanding use and experimentation:
- Experimental use: trying a substance out of curiosity and deciding not to use it again.
- Recreational use: repeatedly socially using for pleasure, doing so in moderation and not at the expense of normal responsibility.
- Accidental excess: unknowingly using too much and suffering from the unexpected and unwanted consequences.
- Intentional excess: intentionally seeking dissipation for the mood and mind-altering freedom (getting drunk or wasted) that overindulgence can bring.
- Abusive use: regular and excessive consumption now lead to self-defeating, self-endangering, or socially harmful behavior, but the user does not care.
- Addictive use: craving for use now couples with the compulsion to rely on habitual self-destructive substance use to survive.
- Teen Drug Abuse: 14 mistakes parents make
- Teen Esteem, Facts
- Will my child grow out of it?
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH), research-based info on drinking and it’s impact
Do we believe the shame and stigma associated with substance use/mental health disorders and why do they significantly influence our decision making process?
- Shame and Stigma have created false Social Norms – it affects our “whys” and when we are at a crossroad it’s important to understand if shame and/or stigma are holding you back from true health and healing.
- The Stigma Of Addiction Is More Dangerous Than Drug Overdoses
- The Real Stigma of Substance Use Disorder, stigma is an attribute, behavior, or condition that is socially discredited.
- Teen Mental Health Stigma and how to fight it
- Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. There’s a lot of stigma and misunderstanding with substance use disorders, treatment, and recovery. But you should never let social judgment stand in the way of getting your child the help he or she needs and deserves. Here are nine facts to know so you can be better prepared to help your child.
- Will my child grow out of it?
- Stamp out Stigma, get educated
- Broken No More was formed with the hope that more enlightened drug policies will reduce the stigma and help to stem the tide of addiction.
What is considered a healthy environment for a teen?
How important is for example sleep, nutrition, exercise, community/school involvement/environment?
- 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents. Search Institute has identified the following building blocks of healthy development—known as Developmental Assets—that help young children grow up healthy, caring, and responsible.
- Teen Health for Parents, for kids, for teens. Info on mind, body, food, fitness, infections, school, jobs
- Office of Adolescence Health. Parents, family members, and adolescents all have a role to play in supporting healthy adolescent development. Families are encouraged to take action on one or more of the following roles to improve adolescent health and development.
- Science News for Students, For Teens, a good mood depends on sleep.
- Greater Good. Science-based insights into a meaningful life.
- Get Smart about drugs – What is happening in your child’s school?
- Center for Disease Control, Body and Mind
- Health Children-American of Pediatrics. Adolescence can be a rough time for parents. At times, your teen may be a source of frustration and exasperation, not to mention financial stress. But these ye.ars also bring many, many moments of joy, pride, laughter, and closeness. Have questions (teen dating, nutrition, substance use, fitness, and more)?
- ASCD is dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading so that every child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
- Safe Kids Worldwide, Safety for Teens
If your child has personal safety concerns (bullying, drug use, physical harm to themselves or another) that take place on school property it may help to know your rights and understand school rules and policies.
Understanding where to find resources, rules, what to do in your community school you might want to start with the Student Handbooks which are found on the individual school website.
- Teach kids how to identify Bullying and how to stand up to it safely.
- WLWV Board Policies
- Prohibited Use, Possession, Distribution or Sale of Tabacco Products and Inhalant Delivery Systems
- Drug, Alcohol and Tobacco Prevention, Health Education
- Substance/Drug Abuse
- Hazing, Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying, Cyberbullying, Teen Dating Violence and Domestic Violence – Student
- Threats of Violence
- Student Discipline
- Student Conduct
- Student Rights and Responsibilities
- Student Suspension
- District Community Relati
Understanding your family history and being genetically vulnerable to substance use disorder (addiction/alcoholism)/mental health concerns.
- National Institute of Drug Abuse, Genetics and Epigenetics of Addiction
- Psychiatric Times, Familial Influences on Adolescent Substance Use
- National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Family, and Friends
- Addiction/Recovery as a Family Tradition?
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: are you at risk?
- National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Family History, and Genetics
- Facing Addiction as a Family
What is considered normal teen behavior and understanding brain development - brain development is the real deal and should be taken seriously!
DELAY, DELAY, DELAY…it’s all about delaying use.
“When people start using at younger ages, the changes in brain structure and function are very, very pronounced if we could only get kids to postpone their first drink or their first use of drugs, we could greatly diminish the prevalence of addiction in the U.S.”
- When you’re becoming addicted to a substance, that normal hardwiring of helpful brain processes can begin to work against you. Drugs or alcohol can hijack the pleasure/reward circuits in your brain and hook you into wanting more and more.
- Family Resource Center. Adolescence is a developmental period of growth and great potential, but it is also a time of risk-taking and experimentation including the use of alcohol and other drugs. Research reveals that patterns of brain development during these formative years play a significant role in shaping your teen’s personality and actions. Get the facts. Learn what your kids are talking about if they use ‘slang’ terms, and find definitions for the types of drugs your child may be exposed to.
- Facing Addiction with NCADD. Alcoholism is not defined by what you drink when you drink it, or even how much you drink. Whether a person drinks every day or only on weekends, drinks shots of liquor or just drinks beer or wine, what matters most is what happens when they drink. If her drinking is causing problems at home, at work, physically, financially, emotionally or legally, it is time to get help.
- Child Mind Institute. Alcohol can rewire the teenage brain, binge drinking may harm a teen’s brain now and forever.
- Because their brain architecture is still not fully developed, adolescents’ brains are more susceptible to being radically changed by drug use — often specifically by impeding the development of the very circuits that enable adults to say “later” or “not at all” too dangerous or unhealthy options.
- Your Teen for Parents. How Alcohol and Drugs Damage the Adolescent Brain (and what you can do about it)
- Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Brain Development, Teen Behavior, and Preventing Drug Use. There’s a reason that teenagers act the way they do. Understanding the brain science behind teenage behavior can help parents better prepare their kids to avoid drugs and alcohol.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), The Best Strategy – drugs, brain, and behavior
If you find something that you think could be drug/alcohol related or just and uneasy feeling - finding out what it is and what to do, start here?
How do I talk with my child about substance use/abuse and what if there is a concern for them or me? Answering some hard questions.
- Mental Health First Aid Action Plan for Substance Use – ALGEE. Train yourself, encourage your schools, community, workplace to get educated:
- A ssess for risk of suicide or harm
- L isten nonjudgmentally
- G ive reassurance and information
- E ncourage appropriate professional help
- E ncourage self-help and other support strategies
- Alcohol Screening, Is the drinking harming our health? Answering these questions will take only a few minutes, and will give you personalized results based on your age, gender and drinking patterns.
- NIDA provides links to information for parents, teens, health professionals, teachers and others about various drug use problems.
- SAMHSA’s website has information about substance use disorders of all kinds. It includes information for the public, including families, health professionals, schools, and individuals. The website also includes a treatment finder to locate a substance use treatment provider in your area.
- The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism is the lead agency for U.S. research on alcohol use disorders and health.
- The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence website features information on local resources for getting help for a substance use concern, fact sheets and further information for friends, family members, parents and youth on having a conversation about substance use.
- Talking with Children
- Helping Family or Friend
- Child Mind Institute. As a parent, it can be difficult to know when to have “the talk” or how to step in if you’re afraid your child may have a problem.
- SAMHSA, Talk they Hear You. Some questions about alcohol can be hard to answer, so it’s important to be prepared. The following are common questions and answers about underage drinking.
- Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Answer your most pressing questions about confronting your child about his or her drinking or substance use. Find answers to the following questions – Download ebook
- What is a drug or alcohol Intervention?
- How do I know for sure if my teen is using?
- How should I prepare for a talk with my child?
- How do I make sure the talk is productive?
- What if my child needs outside help?
- I think my child may need help. If your son or daughter is using substances but isn’t ready to make a change in his or her life, there are still steps you can take to help.
- Stay in the Know, Resources
- Teen Esteem, helpful handouts.
- Drug-Free Kids. Between legalization, increased normalization in pop culture and new ways of using (edibles, vaporizers, concentrates), it’s becoming more and more complicated to know how to address marijuana use with your kids.
- PBS Newshour, how school
Science, Research, Evidence - do you believe the facts enough to act on them?
- National Institute of Drug Addiction: Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH): Many people don’t understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs. They may mistakenly think that those who use drugs lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop their drug use simply by choosing to. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting usually takes more than good intentions or a strong will. The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction: The Basics
- Shatterproof, The science is indisputable: addiction is a chronic disease that changes the brain.
- Addiction Policy Forum, what is an addiction, what are the signs and symptoms, understanding the science.
- Monitoring the Future is an ongoing study of the behaviors, attitudes, and values of American secondary school students, college students, and young adults.
Where can YOUTH find education, answers, and resources to questions and support on substance use/abuse concerns?
- Above the Influence, Live Above the Influence
- Real News about Drugs and your body.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens (NIDA) – facts, games, news.
- National Association for Children of Addiction – Voice for the Children
- Vaping, is it harmful?
- Tips and Info for Teens
- Office of Adolescence Health, If you’re a teen, there are a lot of great websites with tools and information to help you get healthy and stay healthy. Check out the links in these four important areas.
- Help for kids/Youth who are worried or are negatively affected by someone else’s drug/alcohol use
- Nickelodeon produced this great documentary about how kids cope with their parents who are addicted to alcohol.
- Go Ask Alice: the site is supported by a team of Columbia University health promotion specialists, health care providers, and other health professionals, along with a staff of information and research specialists and writers. Our team members have advanced degrees in public health, health education, medicine, counseling, and a number of other relevant fields.
- Dougy Center, help for teens – grief resources
Understanding Mental Health disorders/illnesses, what is co-occuring and trauma?
- Mental Health First Aid. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health or substance use problem, there are several resources available to find out more information or get connected with help.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse, Comorbidity: Addiction and Other Mental Disorders.
- Child Mind Institute, When your child is struggling, one of the first challenges for you as a parent is getting the information you need to make good decisions. The guides collected here cover a broad range of topics, from the basics of children’s mental health and learning disorders to advice for parents handling common challenges.
- SAMHSA, The coexistence of both a mental health and a substance use disorder is referred to as co-occurring disorders. People with mental health disorders are more likely than people without mental health disorders to experience an alcohol or substance use disorder.
- Get the facts on common mental disorders, such as those related to anxiety, attention deficit, conduct, depression, schizophrenia, and trauma.
- Trauma-Informed Oregon exists in part because of the efforts of family members who advocated for strengthened policies and improved practices to address the needs of children, youth, adults, and families affected by trauma. This page includes links to resources and information that may be directly useful to those with lived experience, including a number of centers in Oregon that provide support to trauma survivors as well as publications, tip sheets, websites, suggested reading and other materials.
- Avel Gordly Center for Healing (OHSU) A multicultural, mental health center responsive to the needs of the diverse communities of Oregon.
- Campaign to Change Direction is to change the culture of mental health in America so that all of those in need receive the care and support they deserve.
- Trillium Family Services, what is mental health?
- Teen Esteem, helpful handouts: Mental Health awareness and a lot more.
- Campaign to Change Direction, The goal of the Campaign to Change Direction is to change the culture of mental health in America so that all of those in need receive the care and support they deserve. The Campaign encourages all Americans to pay attention to their emotional well-being – and it reminds us that our emotional well-being is just as important as our physical well-being.