Talking to Teens about “Back to School” Alcohol and Drug Use

As students return to school, it is important for parents to be mindful of their teens’ habits. Alcohol and drug abuse can easily become a problem in your child’s life, especially with the added stressors of a new school year. The top five reasons kids use drugs and alcohol are:

Students Looking Out Of School Bus Window

  1. To combat loneliness, low self-esteem, anxiety, or depression
  2. To mentally “check-out” of family issues or school trouble
  3. To ease discomfort in an unfamiliar situation
  4. To look cool or change their image/reputation
  5. To fit in with a desired group of friends

All these causes can be intensified at the beginning of the school year, as teens adjust to new classes, new classmates, and possibly a new school. This can lead to experimentation with drugs and/or alcohol.

According the 2015 Monitoring the Future study conducted by the University of Michigan, 58% of 12th graders used alcohol within the last year, 35% used marijuana, and 8% used amphetamines. While there has been a trend downward in these numbers, the percentage can still seem staggeringly high. Moreover, in the same study, it was found that only 32% of 12th graders think that regular use of marijuana puts the user at a great risk. This highlights the fact that not all teens are aware of the effects of drug use. In reality, marijuana can have a variety of harmful effects; among other issues, use can cause changes in adolescent brain development, increase the risk of psychosis, and cause lung complications. (Learn more about the effects of marijuana abuse at

To make sure your teen stays safe this school year, it is important to have a discussion about the risks associated with drug and alcohol use. You have more influence on your child’s values and decisions about using substances before he or she begins to use alcohol or drugs. But, starting the conversation isn’t always easy. For information about the dangers of teen drug use and for tips on how to have open conversations with your teen, download the Roadmap to Understanding Substance Abuse provided by Gateway Drug & Alcohol Treatment Centers.



July is Purposeful Parenting Month


teens-drugs-alcoholPurposeful parenting is being an active, engaged parent who strives to give their child the best life possible. Purposeful parenting is also about building strong, positive, functional families and recognizing the importance of meaningful relationships between parents and children.

This July, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers, aims to highlight some tips you can use to talk to your child about drug and alcohol use. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, starting the conversation isn’t always easy, but research suggests that the majority of teens – around 80% – feel parents should have a say in whether they drink alcohol.



If you’ve been talking to your child openly throughout the years then you’ve formed a solid foundation for an open dialogue. However, as your child matures even the most communicative child can close up. It’s up to you to keep the lines of communication open and non-judgmental.


Sometimes your child needs to be reminded despite the preoccupations of everyday life for the both of you – work, school, after-school functions, siblings and family obligations – he or she still matters and is being listened to. Try to get some one-on-one time with each of your children.


When you talk with your child about drinking and drug use, listen and respect what they have to say. These are conversations you’ll want to have many times over the years and if they shut down initially, it may be more difficult to get them to open up later.


A quick chat in between texts or on the drive to soccer practice may not be sufficient to signal the gravity and importance of drug abuse. We know it’s hard to find the right time to have a conversation with your children, but this is an important message to share.


Make clear your expectations to your child – that drinking and using drugs is unacceptable. Let them know your expectations will be enforced.

For more information, download our Free Guide to Understanding Drug and Alcohol Abuse at

Gateway Foundation Springfield Presents Family-Friendly Book Fair at Barnes & Noble on Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013

Get a head start on holiday shopping and keep the kids entertained as well at Barnes & Noble (3111 South Veterans Pkwy in Springfield) on Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013. That’s when Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment in Springfield will be presenting a full line-up of family-friendly activities in addition to answering questions about drug and alcohol abuse.

Throughout the day, activities will be taking place that spark creativity and entertain. In addition, Gateway Foundation counselors will be on hand to answer questions about alcohol and drug abuse and treatment options available.

Book fair activities include:

Story Time: Each hour from 2 p.m.-5 p.m., Gateway Foundation representatives will read stories.

Arts & Crafts: At 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., kids can explore creativity with arts and crafts pursuits.

Door Prizes:  Each hour from 1 p.m.-5 p.m., drawing for door prizes will take place.  No purchase necessary.

Walk the Line: Visitors may experience the effect of being under the influence and realize just how dangerous it can be.

LEGO Table: Children will create from their imagination with LEGO bricks.

“We are excited that Barnes & Noble is providing an opportunity to introduce Gateway Foundation to residents at such a popular destination,” says Gateway Foundation Executive Director Kerry Henry.

Located at 2200 Lake Victoria Drive in Springfield, the Gateway Foundation Treatment Center offers expertise and a supportive environment for people who need substance abuse treatment. Substance abuse programs accommodate both adults and teens. For more information, please visit

Enlightening Communities about Substance Abuse

substance abuse educationAt Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment, we believe knowledge is power—that is why we offer educational resources and workshops to help communities learn about substance abuse. As the largest provider of substance abuse treatment in Illinois, Gateway Foundation is your community resource when it comes to substance abuse prevention efforts.

Gateway Foundation offers a variety of educational materials to help members of your community or organization better understand the effects of drug and alcohol abuse and the options for treatment. Gateway Foundation will travel to your location and make available expert speakers and revealing presentations on important topics that affect many in your community, such as:

  • Signs and symptoms of substance abuse
  • How to talk to someone who may need drug or alcohol treatment
  • How to cope with someone who has a substance abuse problem
  • Effects of substance abuse on the brain
  • Emerging drug trends

If you want to make a difference in your community or organization, please contact an Outreach Coordinator at any Gateway location or email to obtain educational materials or arrange a substance abuse awareness event.

Savor A Healthier Lifestyle One Bite at a Time

A fresh new year is here. Now is the time to start anew and recommit your efforts to be the best version of you. As you know, the essence of recovery is changing negative behaviors into positive ones to reach a sense of overall well-being. Good nutrition, relaxation and exercise all play an important role in effective change to support lasting recovery.

Few things will impact how you feel as much as your diet. While the reasons to eat a nutritious diet are many, it is especially important for people in recovery. That’s because eating the right foods can actually ease cravings for alcohol and drugs as well as repair tissue and organ damage caused by substance abuse.

But, what are the right foods?

The Recovery Diet

For optimal health, Dietitian Charlyn Fargo-Ware at the Springfield Treatment Center, recommends a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, complex carbohydrates and lean protein.

Fruits and vegetables: leafy green vegetables, carrots, broccoli, green beans, beets, potatoes, tomatoes, oranges, bananas, strawberries and apples. Eat five to six servings of fruits and vegetables a day; however depending on your size, you may need up to nine to ten servings.

Whole grains that are complex carbohydrates: whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, oatmeal, fortified cereal, brown rice, flax seeds and low fat granola.

Lean protein: chicken, fish, beef tenderloin, pork tenderloin, eggs and low fat yogurt.

“Here’s an easy way to think about including the right proportions of healthy food into your diet. Picture a round plate and fill half of it with fruits and/or vegetables, a fourth with whole grains and a fourth with protein,” explains Ms. Fargo-Ware. “Also consider how the food is prepared. Resist fried foods and cream sauces or soups. Instead, opt for grilled or broiled chicken, red sauce on whole wheat pasta and broth-based soups.”

And, don’t forget to hydrate. Proper hydration is necessary for the body to function well and flush out toxins. At a minimum, drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids each day.

Mindful Moderation

For optimal health, you should limit your intake of foods high in sugar and fat as well as unhealthy snacks. Also, too much caffeine can hurt your recovery. That’s because excessive caffeine consumption inhibits the absorption of nutrients. It also speeds up everything, which isn’t conducive to achieving a state of emotional well-being.

“You don’t want to fall into the trap of substituting sweets or junk food for alcohol or drugs. When it is time to indulge, practice mindful eating. Fully engage all of your senses, eat slowly and savor the flavor,” says Ms. Fargo-Ware.

New Year, New You!

The good news is you should start to notice a difference in how you feel—such as more energy,  improved focus, better sleep—when you consistently eat a healthy diet for 6-8 weeks. And by this time, you will have developed positive eating habits that enhance your health. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, complex carbohydrates and good quality protein can take your recovery to the next level!

%d bloggers like this: