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…]

Teaching the power of saying “no”

family at homeThe ever-present element of peer pressure is something that most teenagers have to deal with, and those moments can be among the most stressful that they face. Parents who want to keep their children away from drugs and alcohol can have open conversations with them about these confusing times. They can also go a step beyond that and advise them on how to respond, with specific examples that can be practiced and rehearsed, and how having like-minded friends can be advantageous as well.

Here’s a look at some ways parents can help their teens to say no, and to make the right choices. [Read more…]

The power of gratitude

shutterstock_520034698It’s Thanksgiving week, and once the school and work tasks slow down, it’s a day typically filled with family, friends and warm vibes all around. It can mean much more than just a fun day of turkey, parades and football on TV, however. For teenagers who have struggled with drugs or alcohol use, Thanksgiving can be a reminder of the power of gratitude, as in being thankful for the people around us who care, and staying positive about being on the right path.

Here’s a look at some of the benefits of gratitude. [Read more…]