Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Teen Drug Use: Huffing, Bagging Sniffing - Inhalant Abuse

Everyday household items - teens use to get high.
We hear about drug abuse, we hear about under-aged drinking, we hear about cough syrup abuse (not enough), but one dangerous issue that isn’t addressed enough is the use of inhalants!  Most  are common household items that teens and tweens are getting high from.

What is Inhalant Abuse?

Inhalant abuse refers to the deliberate inhalation or sniffing of common products found in homes and communities with the purpose of “getting high.” Inhalants are easily accessible, legal, everyday products. When used as intended, these products have a useful purpose in our lives and enhance the quality of life, but when intentionally misused, they can be deadly. Inhalant Abuse is a lesser recognized form of substance abuse, but it is no less dangerous. Inhalants are addictive and are considered to be “gateway” drugs because children often progress from inhalants to illegal drug and alcohol abuse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that one in five American teens have used Inhalants to get high.

Huffing, Sniffing, Dusting and Bagging

Inhalation is referred to as huffing, sniffing, dusting or bagging and generally occurs through the nose or mouth. Huffing is when a chemically soaked rag is held to the face or stuffed in the mouth and the substance is inhaled. Sniffing can be done directly from containers, plastic bags, clothing or rags saturated with a substance or from the product directly. With Bagging, substances are sprayed or deposited into a plastic or paper bag and the vapors are inhaled. This method can result in suffocation because a bag is placed over the individual’s head, cutting off the supply of oxygen. Other methods used include placing inhalants on sleeves, collars, or other items of clothing that are sniffed over a period of time. Fumes are discharged into soda cans and inhaled from the can or balloons are filled with nitrous oxide and the vapors are inhaled. Heating volatile substances and inhaling the vapors emitted is another form of inhalation. All of these methods are potentially harmful or deadly. Experts estimate that there are several hundred deaths each year from Inhalant Abuse, although under-reporting is still a problem.

There are more than a 1,400 products which are potentially dangerous when inhaled, such as typewriter correction fluid, air conditioning coolant, gasoline, propane, felt tip markers, spray paint, air freshener, butane, cooking spray, paint, and glue. Most are common products that can be found in the home, garage, office, school or as close as the local convenience store. The best advice for consumers is to read the labels before using a product to ensure the proper method is observed. It is also recommended that parents discuss the product labels with their children at age-appropriate times. The following list represents categories of products that are commonly abused.

List of Products used for Huffing and Sniffing

Source: visit and learn more.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Teens Starting College: Are they ready emotionally?

Everyone emotionally and mentally struggles at least once during college, but even individuals with no prior history of mental illness run the risk of losing control under pressure.

Mental illness continues to mystify the mainstream, and students already stressed and anxious about classes, relationships, jobs and activities end up suffering from the stigmas just as much as the conditions themselves. But they don’t have to nurture their pain in quiet. More and more individuals (students or not), their loved ones and organizations are speaking up in favor of psychological help in all its forms.

The following list represents some of the most common conditions occurring on campuses globally, though by no means should it be considered a comprehensive glimpse at an issue far more broad and complex.
  1. Clinical Depression: At least 44% of college students have reported suffering from some degree of clinical depression — and the number only escalates from there as years tick past. Thanks to prevailing social stigmas regarding psychiatric help, only 23% of victims reported that they’d be comfortable discussing their treatment. Considering the amount of stress, anxiety, sleeplessness and inter- and intrapersonal issues characterizing the college experience, it makes sense that an overwhelming number of students succumb to the symptoms. And, unfortunately, many of the common comorbid conditions and illnesses as well.
  2. Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Statistics from 2000 reveal that roughly 10% of college students received a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder, but in all likelihood the numbers have jumped over the past 11 years. Females suffer from such conditions at a rate of five times more than their male peers, though the numbers may be skewed due to unfair social perspectives regarding men and mental illness. Panic attacks inextricably tie into GAD and related disorders, and the afflicted — regardless of whether or not they attend college — can experience them either spontaneously or based on an external or internal cue. Do keep in mind that not all anxiety disorders manifest themselves via panic attacks, nor are all panic attacks inherently indicative of an anxiety disorder.
  3. Anorexia Nervosa: At least 91% of female college students have attempted to control their weight via extreme dieting, though not all of these cases can be considered anorexia, of course. Bulimia is actually more prevalent on campus, although anorexia kills more of its victims. Between 10% and 25% of total individuals with this tragic eating disorder die either from the disease itself or complications stemming directly from it. As with other diagnoses of its type, anorexia rarely ravages alone. Not only can it exist side-by-side with bulimia, EDNOS or binge eating disorder, it oftentimes settles in as a result of depression, compulsions or severe anxiety. Lifetime statistics show that between 0.5% and 3.6% of American women suffer from this condition at some point in their lives. With eating disorders on the whole, one of the major associated tragedies is the recovery rate. Only around 60% of victims make a full recovery, with 20% making some headway and the remaining 20% not really coming around.
  4. Bulimia Nervosa: Bulimia nervosa can either exist as comorbid with anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder or EDNOS or on its own, though almost always stems from a mood, anxiety or compulsive disorder rather than flying entirely solo. Roughly 19% of female college students suffer beneath the destructive diagnosis, although males do suffer from it as well. This compares with the 1.1% to 4.2% of women who struggle with bulimia at any point in their lifetime — not just the college years.
  5. Substance Abuse: College males admit to past-year drug abuse at a rate of 40%, compared to the 43% of their un-enrolled peers. Females represent an inverse, with 35% of students abusing drugs versus 33% for those outside of college. A total of 37.5% of full-time students and 38.5% of part-timers admitted to illicit substance abuse. Roughly half of the college demographic engages in destructive alcohol consumption, with 1,700 dying, 599,000 injured, 696,000 assaulted and 97,000 raped or sexually assaulted yearly as a direct result. The reasons for these behaviors are as many and varied as there are individuals to display them, although a desire to fit in, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues are frequently to blame.
  6. Suicidal Thoughts and Actions: 7.5 out of every 100,000 college students commit suicide, with males between the ages of 20 and 24 standing as the most at-risk demographic. Graduate students are also more vulnerable, claiming 32% of these tragedies. At least 10.1% of total college kids admitted to seriously contemplating suicide, and 1.4% said they attempted it within the past year. The myriad emotional, mental and physical challenges of college life leave so many overwhelmed by hopelessness, stress and despair. Suicide often — but, of course, not always — represents the extreme end of anxiety, depression, eating disorders, compulsive disorders and other mental health conditions. And the general stigma surrounding the seeking of professional help, particularly amongst men, certainly doesn’t quell the problem any.
  7. Self-Injury: A 2006 study by Princeton and Cornell researchers revealed that 14% of male and 20% of female students repeatedly engaged in some sort of compulsive self-injury. Cutting, burning, and other dangerous releases provide a similar temporary comfort as drug and alcohol abuse. And, understandably, tend to correlate directly with anxiety, mood disorders, eating disorders, and even suicidal thoughts and behaviors, although single or repeated instances of physical, mental, and emotional abuse as well as lowered self-esteem can factor in at any time as well. 41% of college-aged self-injurers began hurting themselves between the ages of 17 and 22, although the national average is between 14 and 15. Unfortunately, only around 7% of these individuals seek psychological assistance for their torment.
  8. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: OCD afflicts one out of every 40 adults, one out of every 100 children and 250 out of every 10,000 college students. Considering higher education already severely taxes kids without any preexisting mental health conditions, it might prove hellacious to those suffering from the compulsive disorder. If left untreated, sufferers run the risk of succumbing to depression and anxiety (both of which are oftentimes co-morbid with OCD), substance abuse, self-injury or even suicide.
  9. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: It’s difficult to really gauge just how many college students truly suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, as its symptoms almost always overlap with depressive and anxiety issues — not to mention the fact that both often grow from it. The condition settles in after any number of triggering incidents, but military service and sexual assault (up to and including rape) tend to garner the most attention. Both also impact college students and college-aged as well. An estimated 11% to 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are expected to return home with PTSD. At least 20% of college females reported being victimized by rape at some point in their life, and on a national level only 18% actually take it to the authorities. Women under the age of 30.8 (specifically, those in the 16 to 19 range) are the most vulnerable demographic to sexual assault and rape, comprising 80% of reported cases.
  10. Phobias: Whether mild and largely harmless or in need of professional intervention, specific phobias are incredibly common both on and off college campuses. Arachnophobia appears to be the most prevalent, afflicting a staggering 34% of the student populace. The only one with any real relevance or influence on college life was public speaking, which terrified 31%. Surprisingly enough, 18% of respondents said they thought they might greatly benefit from pursuing counseling or other form of psychological assistance.
Source:  Accredited Online Colleges

Be an educated parent, you will have healthier teens.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Eating Disorders and Your Kids

How am I supposed to bring this up with my kids? I don’t know where to start.

Initiating a conversation about someone else is a neutral, non-threatening way to broach the topic. If you hear that someone in your child’s school has an eating disorder, that is an appropriate time to bring it up. Your child already knows or will hear rumors soon, and may have questions that you can answer. If you don’t have any examples closer to home, there are frequently stories of celebrities in and out of treatment.

One that your child may already know is Demi Lovato, a teen actress and singer who has been in numerous Disney movies and TV shows. She entered the residential treatment center last fall, and in April 2011 she gave a few interviews where she discussed some pretty heavy topics.

She discussed being bullied as a child, and her subsequent depression, eating disorder, and self-mutilation, as well as her recent diagnosis with bipolar disorder, her recovery, and helping other girls in her new role with Seventeen Magazine. Here are a few sources for you that condense her story: an article that summarizes Demi’s disorders and treatment or this video where Demi discusses being bullied, her eating disorder, cutting, and her treatment.

Chances are, your children already know her story, and have heard about people at school doing things like skipping meals, purging, or cutting. Demi’s life may not have been that of a typical child, but we can use her story to check in and connect with our children.
Why should I be concerned if my kid is on a diet? I’m on a diet too.
You as an adult are more likely to have your diet in the proper perspective. Kids and teens, especially perfectionist, driven, rule-bound ones, can take things too far until it is a compulsion they cannot control. In her interview, Demi said that by fifteen years old, she was skipping most meals, and when she failed to lose weight, started throwing up. Take stock of your own eating habits – ditch the rules about food, weighing portions, or calorie counting, and instead focus on eating mostly nutritious food, only when you are hungry. Also, never cut yourself down for your weight or what you eat, or be critical about others’ weight or appearance. Before you say it, think how it would sound coming out of a child’s mouth.

My son has been losing weight, but it’s for sports, so that doesn’t count, right?

It’s true that girls and women are more likely to develop eating disorders, but out of eleven million suffering from ED today, one million of those are male. Check over the list of symptoms below, and pay attention to your instinct as a parent. If anything about the way your son is losing weight concerns you, talk to him and talk to a professional. Better safe than sorry!

What’s the difference between an eating disorder and a diet? Or, what are the symptoms of an eating disorder?

It’s possible to diet without developing an eating disorder, but most medical professionals agree that children should not be on any diets.

Where the two differ, however, is the ability or inability to think logically and rationally. So when a normal dieter looks in the mirror and sees progress, anorexics have a distorted view and cannot see themselves as anything but fat. Their irrational compulsion justifies extreme measures, like purging, skipping entire meals, and laxatives. A medical professional or therapist can help with an accurate assessment and diagnosis, but let your instinct as a parent serve as an early warning system. You are often the first to know when something is up with your child, even if you aren’t sure what it is.

Be watchful for these symptoms:
  • Different eating habits, diet plans, skipping meals, snacks, meat, or desserts, avoiding eating with others
  • Distorted, negative self-image
  • Eating alone, in secret, or at night
  • Avoiding social situations that involve food
  • Change in moods including depression, anxiety, withdrawal, irritability, obsessive behavior in other activities
  • Preoccupation with dieting, calories, food, cooking, diet books, what others are eating 
  • Visiting websites that promote unhealthy weight loss
  • Any weight loss, weight gain, or failure to make expected gain in height
  • Compulsive exercising
  • Taking laxatives, diet pills, or steroids
  • Making excuses to get out of eating
  • Going to the bathroom right after meals, running water to hide vomiting sounds
  • Wearing loose clothing to hide weight loss or body shape
  • Hoarding high-calorie food, or evidence of binge eating (food wrappers, quantities of food disappearing)
If I suspect they are hiding something, should I snoop in their things?
If you are truly concerned for their safety, you are justified in violating their privacy. This is a last resort, however, and there are ways to avoid it unnecessarily. Are you sure you can’t draw it out in a conversation? If you are just curious, or feeling out of touch, you should instead be working on building your relationship. If you are paying for your son or daughter’s cell phone, internet service, and car payments, you can establish upfront rules about their use that don’t leave them feeling violated. Be judicious with what you find.
If it’s serious, such as laxatives, weapons, drugs, evidence that they are being bullied or stalked by a predator, act on it immediately. They will of course be furious and hurt, but the danger to them is substantial. If you find something upsetting but not dangerous, such as communication complaining about you, first take a deep breath, try to remember what it was like to be a teenager, and let go of your anger. Then work on strengthening your connection.

I’ve seen signs, and now I’m worried. How do I ask my son or daughter if they have an eating disorder?

If you have reason to believe there is a problem, tell them you are concerned without using guilt or blame. Begin by saying, “We have noticed this. Let’s talk.” Skip the lecture, ask open questions, and do more listening than talking. Show compassion and patience. Don’t accuse, shame, or demand anything (except, of course, a visit to a doctor).

Find a therapist that has experience and training in eating disorders. Educate yourself with the resources available from reputable sources such as the National Institute of Mental Health site, the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Parent Toolkit, or call the NEDA Helpline at 800-931-2237. also has a good basic guide for family and friends.

Why is our son or daughter doing this? Is it my fault?

Finding who to blame should not be your first action. However, the question may nag you whether you as a parent have contributed to your child’s condition. Parents do not cause eating disorders. Studies have found that someone can inherit a predisposition, but there are many other factors involved. Like in Demi’s case, where she suffered from depression first, and was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder, ED is often combined with other mental conditions such as depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, or anxiety. Personality traits like perfectionism, eagerness to please, and being highly driven seem to correlate. ED patients come from every sort of family, every ethnicity, cultural background, and economic status. Parents can, however, be instrumental to recovery.

Special contributor: M. Quinlan

Be an educated parent, you will have healthier teens.

Continue reading on Talking to your teens about eating disorders - Jacksonville Parenting Teens |

Saturday, July 9, 2011

What Home Means to Teenagers

With today’s real estate collapse, people losing jobs, increase in families losing their homes, the stability of many is not only stressful, it is overwhelming.

During the summer months parents will make the move to be sure their kids, especially teens, are settled into a new school district when schools open again.  This can be a difficult time for many teens.  Whether it is leaving friends and familiar places, or moving away from family, it is a time to realize what is most important about having a home – not just a house or apartment.

  • Home is where the heart is, and that’s what differentiates it from all other places or states of mind a person may find themselves’ abiding. As you may well know, a home is beyond a physical structure, and has more to do with a place that provides the ultimate comfort and security for someone.Whether it be a plot near a lake, a village of birth, a cardboard box in an alley, or a memory of a moment and time; home is always the best place to be.
  • Permanence - Life transitions from one challenge to the next, while a home constitutes a sense of endurance against such challenges and is therefore considered permanent. Some may choose to relocate mind or body, but the reference of home will always accompany them wherever they go.
  • Acceptance - Nowhere else may one experience the true freedom of their personal spirit, without any apology, than in their own private space. A home intimately understands its residents and accepts, willfully, all strengths and deficiencies equally.
  • Safety - Whether achieved structurally or emotionally, a home portrays the ultimate fortress against foreign elements that would invade or corrupt the sanctity that lies within.
  • Security -A home is the purest embodiment of security. Within the confines or parameters of that which is considered ‘home’, an individual or family may thrive in the peace and harmony that they create in this atmosphere; and they are able to enjoy this freedom without fear or intimidation.
  • Nurture - Within each home there is a beauty that is unique in this life. The mere presence of a place that is considered ‘home’, becomes a self-generating energy for the inhabitants within its boundaries.
  • Prosperity -The true value of the home is often measured by goals and dreams achieved by those who respect ‘this’ as their home. The prosperity may only be realized by those who participate in this ideal; and that may be the most intrinsic beauty of all.
  • Communal - One of the most invigorating attributes of a home is that it is, quite frankly, meant to be shared. With this sharing, a visitor may experience the uniqueness of this foreign home while exchanging and sharing elements of that which they hold as their own home.
  • Strength - The best example of strength generation may clearly be found in the home. There, in safety and acceptance, a person is able to rejuvenate, heal, and energize when external forces have chipped away at that which is held sacred by the home.
  • Wellspring -The home has the distinctive function of quenching the thirst of those who seek  relief within the home. There and there alone teems a spring that will endure and satisfy as it replenishes and refreshes its residents.
  • Sanctuary - Only within a home may we come to know and experience a place or state of being that embraces and celebrates our most personal endeavors. Within such confines, we may explore the uninhibited realms of our faith, dreams and aspirations; and retain the confidence that is a provision of our home.
Home is a relative term.  What becomes most important is that each, and every one of us, has such a place—a place to call ‘home’.

Source:  Change of Address

Friday, July 1, 2011

Is Your Teen Ready for a Cell Phone?

Parents will tend to disagree on the issue of whether or not teens should have their own cellphones or not. When you look around yourself at a mall, it would appear that the parents who have said no to cellphones are in the minority. What are the reasons some parents are withholding this privilege from their teens?

10 Reasons to consider not giving your teen a cell phone:
  1. Cost of service – Cellphone service cost money. Unless a teen is paying for these costs themselves, this is just another expense that a parent has to pay for. Unless they have an unlimited plan, there can also be potential charges for overages on minutes or text messages.
  2. Lost phones – Teenagers are notorious for losing things. They lose their jackets, their ipods, their school books and any number of other things. They even lose their precious cellphones. Even if you have insurance, a replacement still can cost money. If you don’t have insurance, it will definitely cost you money to replace.
  3. Wasted time – Even when they aren’t actually texting or talking on their phone, it can still be a temptation for wasting time. Even the simplest cellphones seem to come with games to play and a camera.
  4. Down time – Kids are connected to electronic gadgetry for much of their leisure and school time. Adding a cellphone to the mix will just make it worse. Kids need some time away from their electronic world to remind them what the rest of life is all about.
  5. Distraction – Cellphones can be a distraction for kids, even if it is just waiting for a call or message. They can also be distracting to others around them while the teen themselves are totally oblivious to the annoyance they are causing.
  6. Responsibility – Many teens just aren’t responsible enough to take proper care of a cellphone and use it wisely. Cellphones have been sent through the laundry and used for prank phone calls, each of which demonstrates a lack of personal responsibility.
  7. Parental control – It can make it more difficult for a parent to monitor a child’s interaction with their peers, when they own their own cellphone. When they have to use the land line or their parents phone, it is more obvious to the parent to know how much time their kids are spending on the phone.
  8. Late nights – Unless the phone is taken away at night, teens have a tendency to stay up to all hours texting on their phone, even on school nights. Lack of sleep is a much bigger problem in schools than a lot of people realize.
  9. Unexpected charges – Teens often don’t realize the danger of giving out their cellphone number online. ‘Free’ ringtones are frequent lure to get people to give out their cellphone numbers and get signed up for a monthly ringtone fee without them realizing that they have done so.
  10. Driving – If the teen is also old enough to drive, a cellphone can be an added temptation to take their eyes off the road. It can be difficult for a teen to have the self-discipline to let their cellphone go unanswered while they’re driving.
Although there are reasons why a teen should not own a cellphone, the reality is that many of them do. When that is the case, it becomes the parents responsibility to teach them how to use it responsibly and to set the necessary limits.

Also read the counter-argument – Why teens should get cell phones.

Source:  Phone Service