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Spring Break: Teen Drinking Facts

TeenDrinking5Spring break is around the corner and unfortunately many teens look forward to getting away and have a few drinks–maybe a few too many!  Not to mention many are underage to be consuming alcohol.

You probably see and hear a lot about alcohol—from TV, movies, music, and your friends. But what are the real facts about underage alcohol use?

Myth Alcohol isn’t as harmful as other drugs.
FACT Alcohol increases your risk for many deadly diseases, such as cancer. Drinking too much alcohol too quickly can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can kill you.

Myth Drinking is a good way to loosen up at parties.
FACT Drinking is a dumb way to loosen up. It can make you act silly, say things you shouldn’t say, and do things you wouldn’t normally do (like get into fights).

Myth Drinking alcohol will make me cool.
FACT There’s nothing cool about stumbling around, passing out, or puking on yourself. Drinking alcohol also can cause bad breath and weight gain.

Myth All of the other kids drink alcohol. I need to drink to fit in.
FACT If you really want to fit in, stay sober. Most young people don’t drink alcohol. Research shows that more than 70 percent of youth age 12 to 20 haven’t had a drink in the past month.1
 
Myth I can sober up quickly by taking a cold shower or drinking coffee.
FACT On average, it takes 2 to 3 hours for a single drink to leave the body. Nothing can speed up the process, not even drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, or “walking it off.”

Myth Adults drink, so kids should be able to drink too.
FACT A young person’s brain and body are still growing. Drinking alcohol can cause learning problems or lead to adult alcoholism. People who begin drinking by age 15 are five times more likely to abuse or become dependent on alcohol than those who begin drinking after age 20.2
 
Myth Beer and wine are safer than liquor.
FACT Alcohol is alcohol. It can cause you problems no matter how you consume it. One 12-ounce bottle of beer or a 5-ounce glass of wine (about a half cup) has as much alcohol as a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor. Alcopops—sweet drinks laced with malt liquor—often contain more alcohol than beer!

Myth I can drink alcohol and not have any problems.
FACT If you’re under 21, drinking alcohol is a big problem: It’s illegal. If caught, you may have to pay a fine, perform community service, or take alcohol awareness classes. Kids who drink also are more likely to get poor grades in school and are at higher risk for being a crime victim.

Sources

Underage Drinking and Talking to your Teenager

Underage drinking is a growing concern and one that parents need to start early talking to their kids about.  From the time they are able to understand the consequences of their actions forward.
Here are some quick tips and insights about discussing alcohol with your kids.
1)  At what age would you suggest parents start talking to kids about alcohol? Should parents bring it up independently, or wait for their children to ask before broaching the topic?
Like with any sensitive and serious subject, as soon as a parent believes their child is mature enough to understand the topic (alcohol) is when they should start discussions.  It can start by asking them their thoughts on alcohol, listen to them carefully and remember, never criticize.  Start the discussion at their level and start learning from each other.
Education is the key to prevention and can help your child to better understand the risk and dangers of alcohol from an early age.
Waiting for a crisis to happen, such as living with an alcoholic or having an issue with a family member that has a drinking problem is not the time to start talking to the child.  With this type of situation, the subject should be approached as early as the child can possibly understand alcohol and substance use.
2)  If you’ve had bad experiences with alcohol in the past (ie you or a friend/family member has battled alcoholism or similar issues), should you be open about them with your kid? If so, when is the right age for kids to hear this information? How open should you be?
This is a very tricky question.  On one hand we value honesty, however when a teenager likes to throw it back at you when they decide to experiment and it goes too far is when you realize you may want to pick and choose what stories from your past you want to share.
If you have a family member that has battled with addiction, alcoholism or similar issues, there is nothing like firsthand experiences (especially those people that are related to them) to help them understand how harmful this disease can be and in some cases, deadly.    I think it is very important that your teenager know these stories and how it relates to them – especially as they go into middle school and high school and start feeling the peer pressure from to others to experiment with different substances.
3)  Are there any websites or books that you’d recommend having parents read or showing kids (at any age)? Are certain types of information better for each age group (ie maybe children respond better to broad themes and videos, tweens respond well to anecdotes and stories, and teens respond better to hard facts about drinking and health)?
Ask Listen Learn: Is a fantastic interactive and educational website created by The Century Council For Underage Drinking.  This site if full of facts, resources, videos downloads, games as well as more links that offer extended information.  This site is targeted for all ages from younger kids to teens.
The Cool Spot: This is another great website for tweens and teens.  This deals with information on alcohol and helping teens and young teens resist peer pressure.
Smashed:  Story of a Drunken Girlhood by Koren Zailckas – This is an excellent book for both parents and teens of a true story.  It was a NYT’s best seller.  Eye-opening and utterly gripping, Koren Zailckas’s story is that of thousands of girls like her who are not alcoholics—yet—but who routinely use booze as a shortcut to courage and a stand-in for good judgment.  This book is more for teenagers and parents.
4)  Do you think that schools and/or the media do a good job of warning kids about the dangers of alcohol consumption, or do they receive mixed messages about drinking? How might you incorporate your thoughts about this into a conversation with your child?
Schools and teachers do what they are paid to do, and in most cases, especially with dedicated teachers and employees, will go above their duty and do more.  However it is the parent’s responsibility to continue to talk to their child about the risks and dangers of alcohol, as well as the peer pressure they may face in school and in their community.
Though many parents are busy today, some working two jobs, many are single parents – there are few excuses not to take the time to talk to your kids about these subjects.  Whether it is Internet safety, substance abuse, safe sex, or simply homework – parenting is your priority.  I am not saying this is easy, I know for a fact, it isn’t.  I was a single parent with two teenagers, it was very hard.  I think today is even more challenging since there is more obstacles to contend with than there was even a decade ago.
The good news is the most recent study by The Century Council says that 83% of youth cite parents as the leading influence in their decisions not to drink alcohol.  Another words – our kids are listening and parents are doing their job parenting!
5)  How often should you talk to kids about alcohol, and does it vary by age? (i.e. less frequently for younger children, more frequently for tweens, and most frequently for teenagers?)
As frequently as you have an opportunity.  If there is a reason for it – if there is a conversation about it, expand on it – don’t run from it.  This is for both tweens and teens.  As far as little children are concerned, again it depends on their maturity and what your family dynamics consist of.
6)  If you drink yourself, is it ever a good idea to allow kids to drink with you (i.e. a glass of wine at dinner) to de-stigmatize alcohol and help them be responsible? Or is it instead better to forbid them from consuming alcohol altogether until they are 21?
Alcohol is illegal for underage drinkers.  However there are some that believe that a sip of alcohol isn’t be a big deal.  I believe this is a personal decision, but if you have alcoholism that runs in your family, it is something that I would caution you on.
The other side to this is some people believe it would eliminate them from trying it at a friend’s house where they could get into trouble such as drinking and driving.  I think this goes back to being a personal choice on for your family.  It goes back to talking to your teen – communication.  Keep the lines open!
7)  If you suspect your child’s friends are drinking or pressuring him/her to drink, should you stop allowing your child to hang out with them?
Communication.  Talk to your child about these friends.  Find out what is going on and help your child see that maybe the choices he/she is making are not in their best interest.  It is better if your teen comes to the conclusion not to hang out with these friends rather than their parent telling them not to.
8)  Should the discussion be different for a daughter versus a son? How might you talk to the different sexes differently about alcohol (i.e. maybe you’d warn girls more about not having people slip something in their drinks at parties, while you’d warn boys more about alcohol and hazing/pranks.)
I don’t want parents to get confused on gender and alcoholism.  It doesn’t discriminate.  A girl or a boy can be slipped a drug in their drink at a party – just like a girl or boy can be coerced into participating into a mean prank of hazing. 
With this, whether you have a son or daughter, you need to speak with them about the risks of leaving any drink alone and coming back for it.  Keep in mind, you don’t have to have an alcoholic beverage to put a powdery substance into it (another words even a soda can be spiked).
The important issue is they understand that these things can happen and they can happen to them.
9)  What should you do if you suspect your teenager is drinking against your advice?
Communication.  I know it is easier said than done (and I sound like a broken record), however it is the best tool we have and the most effective.  As hard as it can be, talking with a teenager is difficult, but we have to continue to break down those walls until they talk to us and tell us why they are turning to alcohol.
If you aren’t able to get through, please don’t be ashamed or embarrassed if you can’t, you are not alone.  Again, teen years are the most trying times.  Reach out to an adolescent therapist or counselor.  Hopefully your teen will agree to go. If not, may you have a family member or good friend your teen will confide in.  It so important to get your teen to talk about why he/she is drinking.  Don’t give up – whether it is a guidance counselor, sports coach, someone he/she is willing to open up to.
Parents can’t allow this to escalate and only believe it is a phase.  Maybe it is – but maybe it isn’t.  Be proactive.  Don’t wait for it to reach the addiction level. Don’t be a parent in denial.  There is help and you don’t have to be ashamed to ask for it.
There are many typical teens that end up being addicts – don’t let your teenager be one of them.
10)  Could you offer one specific tip for each age group (elementary school, tween/middle school, and high school) that I may have missed or that people might not think of?
For all ages, parents need to realize how important it is to be a role model.  As I mentioned earlier, 83% of children are listening and are influenced by their parents.  That is a large number.  So continue keeping those lines of communication open – starting early and going into their college years!

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Recovery Month March 2012: Join the Voices

Road to Recovery March 2012 is here!

We know that almost 1 in 10 Americans struggle with a substance abuse disorder and 1 in 5 Americans have a mental illness.  Treatment and recovery are a pathway forward.

The National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) campaign offers help and hope not only for individuals receiving recovery services and in recovery but also for families, loved ones, and friends. The benefits of treatment and recovery-oriented services and supports in behavioral health ripple out across entire communities throughout our Nation, proving there are effective treatments and that people do recover.

As the Road to Recovery series kicks off its 12th season, this episode will highlight the many accomplishments of the 2011 Recovery Month campaign and look forward to a successful September 2012 Recovery Month.

 

Please visit http://www.recoverymonth.gov for more information.  Watch video.
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Specialty Boarding Schools – Horizon Academy, Red River Academy – What are they?

Hold on, you will find the RIGHT help, just don't panic....

HELP – Who do I trust!!! What website is really telling me the truth?  Where are these toll free numbers really going to?  How do I know these people really care about my teenager?

Scary huh?  Yes, I was there over a decade ago – and unfortunately – today the same organization that harmed my daughter has moved on (though re-named themselves) are still practicing from what I have heard.  This is, of course, my experiences.

Troubled teens, teen help, struggling teens, at-risk teens, problem teens, difficult teens, boot camps, military schools, behavior modification, specialty schools, specialty programs, teen help programs, boarding schools, residential treatment centers, residential therapy, emotional growth programs, therapeutic boarding schools, wilderness programs, defiant teens, manipulative teens, disengaged from the family, family conflict, hopelessness, WIT’S END….

You have about reached your wit’s end when you are searching the web and typing in about every keyword you believe describes what you think you are looking for.  Glorified websites appear – maybe some not so beautiful, maybe you want a Christian setting, maybe you think a good boot camp or have that traditional thinking of an old fashioned military school…. however you will soon realize this isn’t 50 years ago.  There are legitimate residential therapeutic schools today and it is a parent job to do their research to be sure they find a safe and quality program that fits their individual needs.

After hours – days – even weeks (I have actually spoken to parents that have spent months) on the Internet, sometimes the confusion can deepen, which is why I did create Parents’ Universal Resource Experts.

With this – I am only sharing my own experiences…. and it has to do with the affiliated programs with the title of this Blog….

Are you confused yet? Looking for teen help and realizing this is a BIG BUSINESS?

So, your teen is driving your crazy.  You are at your wit’s end. You have finally decided you need outside help. You have exhausted all your local resources.  Local therapy doesn’t help, heck, you can’t even get your teen to attend.  Your teen is failing in school, he/she is very smart yet doesn’t want to attend school and believe they know it all.  Many say, “typical teen“, but as a parent, we know it is more than that.

Where did our good kid go?  Good kids making bad choices – and they don’t need to be placed in an environment that will make them worse in my opinion – learn from what happened to me!

As a victim of the WWASPS organization – I am often called or receive many emails about our (my daughter and I) experiences with them.  Obviously not pleasant.  Though I am happy to say the program she was at, Carolina Springs Academy, which attempted to go through a name change to Magnolia Christian Academy (or School) depending on the day you Googled it, is finally closed – it has been rumored some of the staff is now at their affiliate program – Red River Academy.

Let me be clear for legal purposes – these are rumors – but if I were placing my child in program, I personally wouldn’t take any chances – and furthermore, Red River Academy is clearly named in the current lawsuit which is extremely disturbing with allegations of fraud, abuse, neglect and much more – (click here) that is current.

Then we come to Horizon Academy.  Another alleged WWASPS facility.  Why say alleged?  Maybe they will deny they are affiliated – yet look at their staff, again, you will see they were once employed at other WWASPS programs.  Jade Robinson was at the program in Mexico (named in that lawsuit with alleged abuse and neglect) Casa By the Sea, then went on to Bell Academy, which didn’t last long, and I assume is trying to continue at Horizon Academy.

So when the “sales rep” tells you that “Sue Scheff” is a disgruntled parent – I say – YES, I was – you put my daughter in a box for 17 hours, she was mentally and emotionally abused – food and sleep deprived – I was complete defrauded – and she also missed out on 6 months of education.  None of which I had signed up for.  Grant it, this was 10 years ago – a lot has changed – but those original owners haven’t – so in my humble opinion – I wouldn’t trust any of their programs with my pets….. BTW: I am the only parent to have defeated WWASPS in a jury trial.  

Most of the other (many) lawsuits have settled out of court with silence agreements.  I don’t have one, which is why I can still share my story – which is why I get slimed online – which is why their sales reps have all sorts of stories about me – including “the jury made a mistake” – neglecting to tell you I won the appellate court too.  No one condones child abuse – period.

I have been called a crusader (and not in a flattering way) though I take it that way.  I have made it my mission to find the better programs and schools, since I do know what it is like to be at your wit’s end.  I know what parents need help. I am not against residential therapy, which brings us to many  of my stalkers that were formally abused in programs that believe all programs should be closed down.  That is being extreme – they are not a parent trying to save their child’s life and future.

I will share with you that there are more safe and quality programs than there are bad ones – it is just about doing your homework and research.  Today you are more fortunate than I was – you have more access to information and you can learn from my mistakes and  my knowledge.

Please – take 10 minutes to read my story and see the list of programs that are and were once affiliated with Carolina Springs Academy – and from there, you make your own choices for your child.

I had one parent that almost went to Red River Academy that actually said the sales rep said they could have their teen “extracted” within a few hours?  Extracted?  Really – is your child a tooth?  Please don’t get rushed into a quick decision – this is a major emotional and financial decision.

WWASPS can try to discredit me to parents, but I have been vindicated by many included legally and the media.

My organization is Parents’ Universal Resource Experts – and no matter what those “sales reps” or the Internet fiction – I don’t own, operate or manage any schools or programs!  We are about educating parents when they are looking for help for their at risk teen…. Don’t get scammed when you are at your wit’s end.

Oh – and when these “sales reps” send out these defamatory links about me – another FACT they neglect to tell you is I won the landmark case for Internet Defamation that awarded me $11.3M in damages for what was said about me online!  Lies and twisted facts!  Here is my recent appearance on Anderson Cooper.

This is strictly my opinion on my own experiences – you are free to make your choices…

Teen Drinking: Alcohol Screening and Intervention for Youth

If you manage the health and well-being of 9- to 18-year-olds, this Guide is for you.

“Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention for Youth: A Practitioner’s Guide” is designed to help health care professionals quickly identify youth at risk for alcohol-related problems. NIAAA developed the Guide and Pocket Guide in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics, a team of underage drinking researchers and clinical specialists, and practicing health care professionals.

Why use this tool?

  • It can detect risk early: In contrast to other screens that focus on established alcohol problems, this early detection tool aims to help you prevent alcohol-related problems in your patients before they start or address them at an early stage.
  • It’s empirically based: The screening questions and risk scale, developed through primary survey research, are powerful predictors of current and future negative consequences of alcohol use.
  • It’s fast and versatile: The screen consists of just two questions, which can be incorporated easily into patient interviews or pre-visit screening tools across the care spectrum, from annual exams to urgent care.
  • It’s the first tool to include friends’ drinking: The “friends” question will help you identify patients at earlier stages of alcohol involvement and target advice to include the important risk of friends’ drinking.


Download or order the Guide and pocket guide.

You may also be interested in related resources to support you, your patients, and their families

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Wilderness Programs: Are They for Your Teen?

What is a “Wilderness Program?”  If you are a parent that is struggling with a teenager that is out-of-control, you will surf the Internet and attempt to find help.  Many parents first think of boot camps as a resolution – a way to teach our teen a lesson.  Then you realize that maybe that is not the best avenue and you are somehow directed to wilderness programs.  Not always, but especially if you have hired an Educational Consultant, their first recommendation is commonly Wilderness programs.

There are many very good Wilderness Programs in our country, however the question remains, are they necessary or should you go directly to where most teens eventually end up:  Residential Therapy program.

Wilderness programs are mainly designed to break a teen down.  Although they are not punitive, in comparison to a boot camp, they are primitive, forcing your teen to appreciate the luxuries he had at home.

However, a residential therapy program can do the same thing, since many are not designed by Hilton (TM).  Have you also thought about this:  Your teen is already broken down, why do we need to continue to break him/her down?

Let’s look at the pro’s and cons. 

  • Wilderness programs can cost you up to $500.00 a day. Yes, a day.  Some start as little as $250.00 a day (Yes, as little as).  Now multiply that by 30 days or actually 6 weeks, since the average stay in Wilderness is 6-9 weeks.  At the low end: A month in the mountains will cost you $7500.00.  That is questionable to many, as well as out of the financial means of many more.
  • Wilderness program rarely have academics.  Fact is your teen is probably not focused on academics and could care less about them.  Working on their emotional stability is the goal here, however it shouldn’t be an excuse to delay education.  Although your child may not care about their education, you do.
  • Wilderness programs are short term.  Short term program, short term results and a lot of money.  In most cases they go on to residential programs which will run you about another $5000.00 a month and up for another 10-12 months.  Wouldn’t it make sense to start and finish at the same place with the same therapist and the consistency of recovery?
  • Wilderness programs are sadly where we hear of the most deaths or accidents in teen help programs.  It is true, accidents can happen in any program, however when listening to speakers in congress while attempting to pass a bill to stop abuse in residential programs, it seemed the parents that lost a child in a program were mainly in Wilderness programs.

Some positives:

  • If your teen has not escalated to a point of serious concern, and is just starting to make some poor choices, maybe a 6-9 week wake-up call is all that is needed.  As long as you can afford it, and remember, if they decide he/she needs more than the 6-9 weeks, you need to be prepared to go the next step.
  • The teen is removed from their home environment.  They are put in a place of isolation and maybe this is just what they need to reflect on their current negative behavior.
  • There are some excellent Wilderness programs with very good and caring staff in our country.  Many teens that had a wilderness experience really feel it was very good.  Many parents also believe that the Wilderness program helped their child get ready for the next step, residential therapy.
  • Wilderness programs offer a great opportunity for your teen to live outdoors and experience outdoor therapy.  With some teens this is very beneficial.

This is a personal decision, and although I am not an advocate of Wilderness programs I can appreciate and respect parents that believe they need this extra step and it has worked for them.  It is my philosohy that starting and finishing at the program is part of the consistency of healing.  Having to switch programs and therapists (especially) and starting over, can feel like you have fallen back to ground zero. However, each family is different with different needs, so this is an individual decision.

Is Wilderness right for your teen?  Only you can answer that.

Visit www.HelpYourTeens.com.