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Excerpt from “Bring Your Teen Back From The Brink” …

Introduction

My kid is on drugs, what do I do?  That’s the question this book will answer.

The treatment of substance abuse is becoming a reality for more families every year. According to a national study released in June 2011 by The National Center of Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) (Adolescent Substance Use: America’s #1 Public Health Problem), 9 out of 10 Americans who meet the medical criteria for addiction started smoking, drinking, or using other drugs before age 18.

Though several drugs show declining use among adolescents over the past five years (National Institute on Drug Abuse “Monitoring the Future” survey), the 2011 survey turned up a few “areas of concern”:

  • Daily Marijuana use increased again among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders from 2010 to 2011. Among 12th graders it was at its highest point since the early 1980s.
  • Though many claim that Marijuana is harmless and non-addicting, the daily use figures reported in the survey show a definite upward annual trend as teens continues to use. Prevalence levels of daily use in 2011 are 1.3% for eight graders, 3.6% for tenth grade teens, and 6.6% for seniors.
  • Marijuana use among teens rose in 2011 for the fourth straight year—a sharp contrast to the considerable decline that had occurred in the preceding decade. Daily marijuana use is now at a 30-year peak level among high school seniors.
  • Past-year use of Marijuana was reported by 14 percent of 8th graders, 28 percent of 10th-graders, and 35 percent of 12thgraders.
  • After marijuana, prescription and over-the-counter medications account for most of the top drugs abused by 12th graders in the past year.
  • While use of Ecstasy held steady during the past year, use in all three grades is above the recent low points by 33%, 85%, and 77%, respectively, suggesting that a rebound seen in recent years is primarily among older teens.
  • In what may be a switch to drugs, alcohol use—and occasions of heavy drinking (five or more drinks on the same occasion) — continued a long-term gradual decline among teens, reaching historically low levels in 2011. Over the past 20 years, from 1991 to 2011, the proportion of 8th graders reporting any use of alcohol in the prior 30 days has fallen by about half (from 25% to 13%), among 10th graders by more than one third (from 43% to 27%), and among 12th graders by about one fourth (from 54% to 40%).

In March 2010 the nation’s emergency physicians issued a warning to parents about the increasing use of prescription drugs among teens, which is now the second leading class of abused drugs, after marijuana.  The results of a recent survey by American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) showed that nearly three-quarters of a million people needed emergency care because of prescription drug abuse.

Though overall use is declining, alcohol still tops the list of intoxicating substances used by underage youth – who are also more likely to engage in dangerous binge drinking – than any other illicit drug or tobacco in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Other facts about alcohol use by young people from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health:

  • The rate of current alcohol use among youths aged 12 to 17 was 13.6%, but 40% of high school seniors reported the use of alcohol in the prior 30 days.
  • There were an estimated 10.0 million underage drinkers in 2010, including 6.5 million binge drinkers and 2.0 million heavy drinkers.
  • 55.3 percent of current drinkers aged 12 to 20 reported that their last use of alcohol in the past month occurred in someone else’s home, and 29.9 percent reported that it had occurred in their own home.
  • Among the 12 to 20 age group who did not pay for the alcohol they last drank, more than one in five (nearly 22%) got it from a parent, guardian, or other adult family member.
  • Adults aged 21 or older who had first used alcohol at age 14 or younger were more than 5 times as likely to be classified with alcohol dependence or abuse than adults who had their first drink at age 21 or older (15.1 vs. 2.7 percent).

Finally, new threats are constantly researched, manufactured, and promoted, not just by drug dealers, but by legitimate food and beverage companies.

One of the latest to appear was Caffeinated Alcoholic Beverages or CABs. The drinks experienced rapid growth in popularity, with two leading brands together forging a 67-fold increase in sales, from 337,500 gallons in 2002 (the first year of significant CAB production) to a reported 22 million gallons in 2008.

Fortunately the FDA banned the sale of CABs in December 2010, but the sweet drinks continue to be sold as alcoholic beverages. One popular brand features a 23.5 ounce can of with an alcohol content that is the equivalent of four to five beers. The makers pack the easy-to-drink beverages with 6 to 12% alcohol content, depending on what each state allows.

We’ll also tell you about the latest round of what is being pushed to your teens as “safe” alternatives to illegal drugs, with innocent sounding names, like spice and bath salts. The drive for the next high is constantly spawning new formulations.

Experience backs up the numbers

All those numbers are very important, and dangerous, statistics that mirror what I see daily as a professional drug counselor to teens. The pages ahead will explain why.

The reason for this book is to help answer some of the questions that we professionals hear on a regular basis. The commonalities that we see among families facing this situation have made treatment, at times, a series of standard mental checklists that counselors sort through and adapt to effect change in teen attitudes and drug abuse. We want to show you that you are not alone. Many, many parents just like you have been down this road before.

This book by design will help guide your family through your own war on drugs. As a counselor who has worked with teens for more than ten years, I do call it a war. It’s a dirty, painful, draining, stressful battle at times, and it must be looked at as such. Very often you’ll gain only small victories, and you will suffer setbacks as well, but every step will lead you to the ultimate goal; pulling your teen back from the brink of self-destruction.

Not our child

The number one question I have been asked again and again is, “How did we not see this happening in our home?” The answer is simple. Kids have made drug abuse a fine art, at times making it their focus to behave outrageously, yet all the while inducing you to think that you are crazy for suspecting something is wrong. The goal of teenagers is to push the limits you set and get away with it.

Parental denial of the problem is a very powerful tool that kids use to  their advantage. Denial is the number one focus of many of the groups that I facilitate. Denial in the form of “my kids are not like those kids”, and also that this is the type of problem that will just go away when you tell them to stop. As anyone who has had a teenager will tell you, it can be a daily challenge to deal with normal teenage behavior, but adding drugs into the mix makes a toxic combination that compounds the turmoil. Left unaddressed, it will leave your family in crisis for years to come.

More than just getting clean

With teens, drug abuse in itself is rarely the only problem. The ultimate problem is actually the behavior and the decisions that they make while under the influence. Anger, negative attitude towards the family, poor motivation to achieve or even set goals, falling academic performance, and depression are the hallmark signs that someone is abusing drugs.

As parents you may feel that these behaviors are a passing phase for your child. You remember similar things that the teenage-you or your friends may have been through. You’ll say, “I made it through, so what’s the big deal if my kid is experimenting too?” You may go so far as to try to parent as if you can reason with your teen, while hoping that if you relate to them, then they’ll be safe.

Hope on your part is a wonderful thing, but not without solid action. Your teen’s friends should be made at social settings or school, not at home. Your child is not your friend and treating them like a new buddy to do things with is just poor parenting.

But your child is the most precious gift that you have. Along with that gift comes tremendous responsibility. Step up to the plate and tackle that responsibility head on through discipline, reinforcement, role modeling, and love.

I have seen many families that could not handle me telling them what they needed to change in order for their child to change; some walk out of group in the middle of a session. They may say that they just want to have their child “cut down” on drinking alcohol or marijuana, and focus more on school. If that’s where you are, then I highly encourage you to read this book as fast as you can.

Educate yourself as your teens do

With the advancement of technology – the Internet, instant messaging, social networking, cell phones, hundreds of TV channels – kids have access to more information (most of it incorrect) about drugs and the short- and long-term effects. If your kids are educating each other, you must do the same.  But there hasn’t been an efficient way for parents to get that information quickly. Bring Your Teen Back From The Brink is designed to do that.

In this book, we will tell you what you can expect your teen to say and do. We’ll also teach you about popular street terms for each drug and how each is ingested. From simple household objects used to get high, through advanced paraphernalia bought through the Internet, kids are becoming more resourceful not only with what they take, but how to get it. And of course, we will bring you information on what you can do to save your child from this destructive behavior.
The changes that you will need to make might be hard and most likely will feel unnatural, but they are essential to changing your child’s behavior.

Tear it down to build it up

Have you seen a total house remodel? It starts with a demolition that is a dirty, dusty, chaotic mess. Only one wall or room might be left standing. When you first see that stripped structure, you probably can’t imagine the beautiful new home that will be built in its place. But with lots of patience and time – and of course a dollar investment too – you’ll get something that looks and feels like the vision you’ve had in your mind all along.

That could easily describe bringing your child back from drug and alcohol abuse as well.  I invite all parents to sit down and write out a description of the kind of person you want your child to become as they grow and mature: Healthy, responsible, honest, trustworthy, motivated, etc. Now look at the reality of what your child’s beliefs and actions are right now. Do they match up? If not, don’t feel like you have failed as a parent. You haven’t. But now is the time to educate yourself and take action. Leading your teen through this process and back to a healthy, productive life is possible. I have seen hundreds of families move from total dysfunction to becoming a supportive group of individuals who grow together and share strength to help achieve recovery. Through this book I hope I can play a part in that process.