Stay Cool and Safe this Summer

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Today marks the first day of summer, finally bringing an end to a long and harsh Chicago winter and spring. While summer brings warm weather and longer days, it also brings some dangers.

Adolescents & Substance Use

For many adolescents, summer means an end to school. Long days are filled with free time without any classwork or after-school activities. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, first time use of most substances peaks during June and July. The exact cause is unknown; however, many point to the sudden swell of free time students have during the summer. If you have teenagers, be sure to talk to them about the harms of substance use, maintain a regular work or chore schedule and encourage them to participate in summer activities, like camps.

Accidents

Rates of car accidents are the highest during summer months, with June, July and August seeing the highest rates, particularly on weekends.

People  also partake in more outdoor and water activities with friends. Participants in outdoor water activities are at an increased risk of fatal injuries such as drowning, especially when alcohol is involved. According to a variety of studies, nearly a majority of people who drown while participating in outdoor water activities consumed alcohol. Studies also show the risk of death associated with recreational boating increases 10-fold compared to people who have not been drinking, with even minor amounts of alcohol increasing the risk of death or injury.

Health Risks

It’s patio and rooftop season and people will spend longer periods of time outside in the warmer weather. With this heat wave comes a tide of festivals and events. All of which tends to be accompanied by drinking. Like heat, alcohol draws water from your body, so be sure to stay extra hydrated and prepare for extended time in the sun.

Celebrating Young Men’s Health with Gateway Lake Villa’s Bridge Program



For National Men’s Health Month, we sat down with Executive Director of Lake County services Karen Wolownik Albert at Gateway’s Lake Villa campus to discuss the Young Men’s Bridge Program. This program helps young men develop the coping techniques to overcome the issues caused by their substance use disorders – and the life skills to succeed during this critical transition point in their lives.

Parents: How to Prepare for Prom

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It’s warming up (unless you’re in Chicago), finals are looming, bank statements are lowering, meaning one thing for high schoolers and their parents: prom.

For many, prom marks the end of high school and a transition into uncharted territory. Students may be leaving home for college, entering the workforce full-time, or struggling to figure out their next step, all of which may increase susceptibility to peer pressure and substance use. Studies show more than 75 percent of underage drinkers reported drinking in a group. And although adolescents and young adults drink less often than adults, they tend to binge drink, leading to consequences like visits to the emergency room or even death.

Gloom and doom aside, prom season can be fun; it can also an opportunity to start a conversation with your teens about substance use. Two of our Gateway experts, Aurora and Joliet’s Jim Scarpace and Lake County’s Karen Wolownik-Albert, share their tips for a safe prom:

Allow them to ask questions and be open to hearing their experiences with peers and even with drinking and using drugs. Help them understand the dangers and risks associated with using drugs and drinking, like the increased likelihood of unsafe sexual behaviors or victimization

  • Prepare them for what they may be exposed to on prom night.

Talk to your teen about the dangers of binge drinking and drunk driving or riding with an intoxicated driver. About a third of alcohol-related traffic deaths involving teens occur between April and June, the most popular months for prom. Try practicing their responses to different scenarios.

  • Establish a back-up plan.

Let your teen know they can call you immediately, regardless of the time or situation, and you will be willing to come get them. Develop a code word. Let them know they can text you instead of calling, if that is easier for them.

  • Figure out a structured and supervised post-prom event.

If this is not possible, be sure to meet or speak to the parents at any home where your teen may be hanging out after prom.

  • Do not provide alcohol to teenagers in your home.

Although it may seem safe, social hosting laws have established significant legal consequences for adults who allow alcohol or drug use in their home.

If your teen is struggling with substance use, be sure to express your support in overcoming the problem with them and reach out to professional resources and treatment.

If you’re a parent and have other questions about your children’s substance use or mental health, please contact us at Marketing@GatewayFoundation.org and we will work with our experts to answer them.

Drug & Alcohol Use in Adolescents

Nearly 70 percent of high school seniors have tried alcohol, 50 percent have taken an illegal drug, and more than 20 percent have used a prescription drug for a non-medical reason, studies show. Research has found the majority of people are most likely to misuse drugs and alcohol during this transformative time.

Why is this the trend?

  • Underdevelopment of the prefrontal cortex
    • The parts of the brain that process reward and pain first mature during childhood. However, the prefrontal cortex – responsible for controlling impulses, emotions, and decision-making – does not mature until people reach their mid-20s. Therefore, adolescents are motivated by the desire to feel pleasure and avoid pain, both of which are associated with drug and alcohol use.
  • Genetic factors
    • Certain genetic traits, for instance a low harm-avoidance personality trait, make individuals more susceptible to using drugs and alcohol.
    • Mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety also increase the likelihood an adolescent will turn to substances.
  • Social environment
    • Teens are more likely to try drugs and alcohol if their friends are also using.
  • Accessibility of drugs
    • Adolescents are at an increased risk of trying substances if they have easy access to them.
  • Family environment

Compared to adults, adolescents are much more likely to hide their substance use from loved ones. Adolescents are also less likely to show signs of a problem because they have a shorter history of use. However, there are still red flags.

What are the signs?

  • Loss of interest in school and hobbies
  • Sudden need for more money and unwillingness to explain spending habits
  • Withdrawal from family and friends, and an increased desire to be alone
  • Change in friends
  • Change in behavior or personality
  • Unresponsiveness to communication
  • Frequent rule-breaking, especially of curfew

While most adolescents who try drugs and alcohol do not have substance use disorders, the likelihood of developing a substance use disorder is greater for people who begin using in their early teens. According to a study, 15.2 percent of people who start drinking by age 14 develop substance use disorders, compared to 2.1 percent of those who wait until they are 21 or older.

What are the effects?

  • Difficulties with schoolwork
  • Relationship problems
  • Loss of interest in normal healthy activities
  • Impaired memory and thinking ability
  • Increased risk of contracting an infectious disease
  • Mental health problems—including substance use disorders
  • Increased possibility of partaking in unsafe sexual activities
  • Overdose
  • Death

The key in the battle against adolescent addiction is time: We need to involve adolescents in professional treatment programs as soon as possible. Adolescents are less likely to seek out help on their own, so it is crucial loved ones help them into treatment.

How to Support your Loved One’s Recovery at Holiday Parties

Holiday SeasonThe holidays are a stressful time for everyone, but maybe especially hard for someone in recovery from a substance use disorder. With triggers typically present at holiday parties – normalized over-indulgence, staying out late, and the other various and bold rituals of celebration – it can be a challenge for those fresh in recovery and even those in long-term recovery, to maintain their sobriety. If your loved one in recovery takes on the challenge to attend a holiday party this season, please consider the following:

Worry about your own cup. Do not pressure others to drink with you. If you notice that someone does not have a drink in-hand or has something clearly non-alcoholic, let them be. The questions “What are you drinking?” and “Where’s your drink?” etc. are anxiety points for people in recovery, so much that they may disguise their non-alcoholic beverage in a tumbler or wine glass to avoid those encounters.

Do not question someone arriving late and leaving early. Not giving in to temptation requires a certain motivation that can be emotionally taxing. Respect your loved one’s limits and do not “guilt-trip” for them coming late and leaving early. It is also helpful to welcome their sponsor or sober guest for support.

Have non-alcoholic options ready. If you are hosting a holiday party, accommodate those that wish to not consume alcohol by having soft drinks, teas, lemonades, etc. on hand. It is also special to prepare non-alcoholic specialty drinks, or “mocktails”, so all can enjoy a drink that is festive.  It is also a good rule of thumb to not set the dining table with wine glasses. Offer the wine separately so it does not appear as an obligation to guests.

Try not to be offended if your loved one chooses to skip the holiday party overall. As a family member or friend, you may think that adverse pressures only come from your notion of bad influences; however, they can originate from something as simple as a holiday social. Have patience this holiday season and stay thoughtful of those in recovery.

If you or your loved one needs help during the holidays, or any time of year, Gateway’s treatment programs are always here to help.

Beware of THC-Laced Candy

Gummies in bulk in glass containersAmong all of the gummy candies, gummy bears are among the most beloved. However, many parents are now opting for other favorites due to the rise of THC-laced gummies. The rise of THC gummies, or candies made with tetrahydrocannabinol (the psychedelic property found in marijuana), have become increasingly popular in the medical marijuana market, which may be why increasing numbers of young people are arriving at emergency rooms, ill from high dosages of the drug.

Many medical marijuana users prefer to ingest THC with edibles like gummies and baked goods rather than to smoke marijuana. According to Dan Anglin of the Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, drug-infused edibles comprise approximately half of Colorado’s legal cannabis market.

House Bill 1366, passed in 2014, required state regulators to devise laws on edible cannabis products so they are more identifiable when out of their packaging and less appealing to young people. However, kids who are not typically instructed to check for an identifying stamp or emblem on candies may accidentally ingest THC-laced candies. Children are also still at risk to be enticed by the unmarked THC gummies in circulation due to homemade production.

Unmarked gummies may have been at play when 12 Naperville North High School students ingested THC gummies and were sent to Edward Hospital for their accelerated heart rates, agitation, dizziness, and dry mouth. The two teens who distributed the weed gummies were charged with the delivery of marijuana. Another case of THC illness was reported when 11 Indiana teens ate less than one gummy bear each. “The strength is so strong that it caused an adverse reaction in 11 people – not one person, not three – it wasn’t just a small batch or a bad batch”, said Indiana Police Capt. Kellems.

The effect of THC is accelerated when eaten rather than smoked, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. Most edible marijuana is metabolized by the liver, which then produces a kind of THC that has a bigger psychedelic punch than the THC that reaches your blood plasma when you smoke it. The high will last much longer too, up to 12 hours.

The best thing you can do to keep your child safe this Halloween season is to carefully inspect your child’s candy. Here are a few rules you can follow to keep THC laced candies from your children this Halloween:

  • Discard candies printed with a marijuana leaf emblem on the packaging or on the candy itself.
  • All candy packaging should appear to be straight from a factory. Do not allow candies that have been hand-packaged.
  • Be wary of abnormally sized and shaped gummy bears. The gummy bear molds often used to make THC gummies are larger than the typical gummy bear size.
  • When it doubt, throw it out!

 

Blog Series for Parents: There’s No Place like CLOSE to Home

Beautiful latin family smiling at the camera outdoorsThere are many decisions to make as you decide on the best place to receive substance use disorder treatment for yourself or your child. When it comes to the decision of where, it’s all about you. While there are pros and cons to both in- state and out-of-state treatment, we will focus on the advantages of staying in state; close to home.

“One might ask; who wouldn’t jump at the chance to go to a warm state during the cold Chicago winter?” states Gina Howard, Program Director at Gateway Foundation. “When I speak to patients and families about the right place for treatment it’s really about the individual. There is no ‘One Size Fits All’ substance use disorder treatment. Florida may sound great if you’re in Wisconsin in January, but what you really need to consider is the quality of treatment you need.”

Having the support of family and friends during your treatment and recovery process is significant to success. Choosing a treatment facility near family and friends will keep them involved and keep you in the comfort of familiar surroundings.

“Some may find that staying in the same surroundings where they faced their substance use disorder challenges is difficult. For them, there may be too many distractions created by the familiarity of their surroundings. Others however, find that the comfort of a familiar setting, coupled with the participation of close friends and family, is a very effective support system. Those that choose out of state treatment should be reminded that when or if they return home, those home-based challenges will still need to be addressed,” states Gina Howard.

In many cases, your insurance provider can drastically reduce the out of pocket costs of treatment. However, there may be restrictions on the type of facility at which you can obtain services. There can also be restrictions on going out of state if your own state offers similar or better treatment services than what is offered elsewhere. Check with your insurance provider or treatment facility to get the best idea of what to expect with regard to cost.

When looking for treatment facilities evaluate your personal situation to determine the best facility for your needs. To learn about what Gateway offers, visit www.recovergateway.org.

Blog Series for Parents: Know the Signs

Teen ProblemsIn our last blog series post we discussed delayed adulthood and substance use disorder. This post raised a question: How do I know if my child has a substance use disorder?

There is statistical evidence that teens are getting involved in drug use as early as 6th to 8th grade (12–14 years old). “In many instances the parents become aware of the substance use long after it has begun and circumstances have grown more threatening” said Katie Stout, Executive Director at Gateway Carbondale.

Parents need to know the signs of substance use disorder and take immediate action before the problem grows worse.

 

The signs:

  • Frequently tired
  • Depressed
  • Hostile behavior
  • Withdrawn
  • Change in friends
  • Neglect with grooming or hygiene
  • Decline in academic performance
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Change in eatin
  • g habits
  • Change in sleeping habits
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Weight changes
  • Deteriorating relationship with family and friends

Many signs may be overlooked as parents may believe them to be a normal part of growing up. “I encourage parents to discuss their concerns with a physician, school guidance counselor or substance use disorder treatment provider. These professionals can help you determine if there is reason for concern,” said Katie Stout.

Parents seeking treatment for their child can reach out to Gateway Foundation at 877.505.HOPE (4673) or visit recovergateway.org. Be sure to look for our next blog in the series on the topic of choosing treatment close to home.

Blog Series for Parents: Delayed Adulthood and Substance Use Disorder

blogIt is not uncommon in today’s world to have twenty-somethings living at home, holding off on marriage and family, and exploring many career options. This “delayed adulthood” stirs mixed attitudes among parents. Parents often struggle and feel conflicted in supporting young adults but also encouraging independence and self-sufficiency.

While some parents may be more or less focused on a particular age a child should be “on their own”, most parents agree: The end goal is to raise a self-sufficient adult. Sometimes an adult child may be experiencing some behavioral health issue which may be keeping them home and unsure of their next step.

At Gateway Foundation Alcohol and Drug Treatment Centers, many parents reach out for help with a twenty-something who is living at home, unemployed or under employed. Parents worry that their child’s alcohol use or use of other substances is impacting their functioning, success, and happiness.  At this age, some young adults begin to show signs of a developing Substance Use Disorder because this time period in their life is usually filled with significant life changes, increased freedoms, and societal pressures. .

“Young adults we see in a treatment setting often desire independence, stable relationships, educational and career success, and fulfilment of goals and dreams.  When struggling with a Substance Use Disorder, it becomes difficult to see past the next day, and to take meaningful steps forward.  Time slows down, and people feel stuck or even hopeless that their dreams can become reality.” said Bennie Haywood, Program Director at Gateway Foundation.

According to “The Truth About Marijuana: International Statistics” of adults 26 or older who used marijuana before age 15:
62% went on to use cocaine at some point in their lives
9% went on to use heroin at least once
54% made some nonmedical use of mind-altering prescription drugs

“Addiction has an impact on every member of a household. I encourage parents to take an active role and educate themselves first about substance use disorder and then about the types of treatment available,” recommends Bennie Haywood.

You never stop loving and looking after your child, regardless of age.  Help in the launch to adulthood by staying informed. In our next Blog Series for Parents post, we will discuss the signs of addiction and what every parent should know.

Gateway is a recognized leader among behavioral health care providers in offering substance use disorder treatment, as well as treatment for individuals that are diagnosed with a co-occurring mental illness. To learn more about our treatment programs visit us at RecoverGateway.org.

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