Concerts and Drugs: Avoid the Risks

shutterstock_151512185It’s summertime, and that means it is summer concert season. Massive music gatherings happen all over the country during the summer months, often attracting large numbers of teenagers.

Unfortunately, this can also mean experimentation with drugs. There have been numerous cases of young people dying in recent years from ecstasy or other substances at music festivals. A few examples:

It’s easy to point out that drugs and concerts have been connected since the Woodstock era. But the potent nature of modern drugs can translate to major concern for parents of teenagers looking to attend these festivals. Here’s a look at the dangerous ties between concerts and drugs. [Read more…]

The Dangers of Opioids: What you Need to Know

shutterstock_133102730The abuse of opioids in the United States isn’t just a problem. As the Department of Health and Human Services states on its website, it’s an epidemic. And a new and highly lethal combination of opioids called “gray death” is the latest danger to emerge.

Opioids have been heavily scrutinized in the past several years. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, presented eye-opening statistics for the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control in May 2014. A few of the notable points from her testimony:

  • “It is estimated that between 26.4 million and 36 million people abuse opioids worldwide, with an estimated 2.1 million people in the United States suffering from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers in 2012, and an estimated 467,000 addicted to heroin. The consequences of this abuse have been devastating and are on the rise.”
  • “The number of prescriptions for opioids (like hydrocodone and oxycodone products) have escalated from around 76 million in 1991 to nearly 207 million in 2013, with the United States their biggest consumer globally, accounting for almost 100 percent of the world total for hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin) and 81 percent for oxycodone (e.g., Percocet).”
  • “… The estimated number of emergency department visits involving nonmedical use of opioid analgesics increased from 144,600 in 2004 to 305,900 in 2008. … Overdose deaths due to prescription opioid pain relievers have more than tripled in the past 20 years, escalating to 16,651 deaths in the United States in 2010.”

[Read more…]

Alcohol Awareness Month: What You Need to Know

shutterstock_585761444April marks Alcohol Awareness Month, which was founded by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence in 1987. According to the council’s website, the aim is “to help reduce the stigma so often associated with alcoholism by encouraging communities to reach out to the American public each April with information about alcohol, alcoholism and recovery.” This includes awareness campaigns and events in communities throughout the country.

For parents of teenagers, it can be a reminder of how challenging these years are and the destructive role that alcohol can play in teens’ lives. Here are several things for parents to remember when navigating these difficult times. [Read more…]

Lies and Drugs: Tips on How to Approach Your Teen

shutterstock_232628977When parents realize that a child is blatantly lying about something, it can be a disheartening moment. When that lie has to do with drug abuse, it can be a devastating one.

A study in the journal Pediatrics showed how common these kinds of lies can be. As reported by Val Willingham for CNN, Wayne State University researchers surveyed “high-risk urban teens” and their parents about drug use. Then they took hair samples and tested them for opiates and cocaine. A key result: “The data found that young people were 52 percent more likely to test positive for cocaine in their hair samples than they were to actually report using cocaine on their questionnaires.”

“They are giving socially acceptable responses,” said Dr. Virginia Delaney-Black, the study’s author, in the CNN story. “People are not willing to admit to drug use so freely as they are other things. … We’ve known from other studies that adults downplay their drug use. This is the first time we’ve documented it in teens.”

What can parents do when they realize their children are using drugs and lying about it? Here are a few tips. [Read more…]

Marijuana and Teens: Know the Facts

shutterstock_198368684There is good news for parents concerned about drug use. The latest Monitoring the Future survey by the University of Michigan and the National Institute on Drug Abuse polled 45,473 students (eighth, 10th and 12th graders) from 372 schools on a variety of substance-use areas.

The report shows an overall decline in alcohol use, and the same goes for cigarettes, heroin, methamphetamines and prescription opioids. That’s encouraging.

One area that shows continued steady usage is marijuana. Of 12th graders, 35.6 percent report using it in the past year, and 22.5 percent in the past month. Also of note are teenagers’ attitudes toward the drug: 68.9 percent of 12th graders said that they don’t consider marijuana to be harmful. Though the same number of teens say they don’t approve of smoking it regularly, the numbers suggest a relatively relaxed mindset about the drug.  [Read more…]