Lurie Children’s Hospital Cautions Parents of the Dangers of Teen Binge Drinking at Lollapalooza

iStock_46778544_SMALL.jpgThis weekend kicks off the annual music festival in ChicagoLollapalooza. While popular for its music, it is also a popular event for teen drinking. Nearly 100 teenagers were treated for alcohol poisoning during this event last year.

At Lurie Children’s Hospital, doctors and nurses push a young woman on a stretcher down a hall as she demonstrates expected behavior from a typical teenage patient who is intoxicated: mumbling and crying, as well as vomiting and dehydration. It may be a common sight starting on July 28 when Lollapalooza comes to town.

“We have to staff the ER with higher numbers. We need a lot more acute care for these children,” says Dr. Nina Arfieri.

The patient, Gabi Sel, is actually a hospital intern who is helping with the drill so that staff can be better prepared for when real patients come. And they will come; according to a hospital study, in 2015 Lollapalooza weekend saw hospitals receiving more intoxicated patients than the next three busiest weekends of the year combined.

Nurses are going over the protocol for handling those patients. For her part, Gabi is glad this is only a drill.

“Being in this bed is very scary and it feels very real when you’re in it, even if it’s just a scene,” she says.

The study finds that the majority of patients are 16 to 18 years old, female and from the suburbs. But the authors of the study say they’re not trying to discourage people from going to Lollapalooza.

“I think it’s important for kids to go out and enjoy music, and get outside, but I think there’s a safe way to do it, and I think we can do this without having them risk their lives,” says Dr. Arfieri.

The news isn’t all bad though: the study found the number of teenagers going to the emergency room for intoxication dropped significantly in 2015 compared to 2014. Doctors are hoping that trend continues.

TALKING TO TEENS ABOUT DRINKING AND DRUG USE

In honor of “Purposeful Parenting Month” in July, and with Chicago’s Lollapalooza right around the corner, take a moment to talk to your teen about the dangers of drinking and drug use. At Gateway, we know starting this conversation isn’t always easy. Use the Parent Tools Below to help you start the conversation about binge drinking and teen drug use.

PARENT TOOLS FROM GATEWAY ALCOHOL AND DRUG TREATMENT CENTERS:

Still have questions? Gateway has answers. Learn more about teen substance abuse by downloading our free resource guide at Recovergateway.org/teens or call 877-505-HOPE (4673).

 

The Teen Brain and Addiction: Brainstorm by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel

addiction, gateway treatment centersA new book called Brainstorm by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel sets out to help adolescents and adults understand just how vulnerable the teenage brain is to addiction.

The book features new research evidencing teen drug use may alter the control of areas of the brain that regulate emotion or dopamine release. What this means is, early exposure to alcohol or drugs may in fact make a teen more vulnerable to substance abuse issues later in his or her life.

Dr. Siegel recommends mindfulness practices to help individuals support the development of their mind to better handle distressed emotions that can lead to substance abuse, such as anxiety and stress.

Mindfulness, as described by author Jon Kabat-Zinn, is: A gentle effort to be continuously present with experience…paying attention on purpose.

The key to appreciating mindfulness is twofold:

  1.  Be aware and accepting of urges, cravings, emotions, and all aspects of your experience, while not driven to act on them.
  2.  Base motivation and actions on what need to be done in order to move towards a life worth living.

Dr. Siegel believes the more people use mindfulness to generate internal education and inner life focus, the likelier they are to be able to effectively regulate their emotions and think clearly.

“It’s a broad skill you develop. You are learning literally the internal techniques of how to balance your emotions, and deal with upsetting memories, and deal with them well,” Dr. Siegel explains to TheFix.com.

At Gateway Treatment Centers, adults and adolescents can learn how to address their substance use disorder and help prevent relapse using mindfulness. To learn more, please visit RecoverGateway.org/Mindfulness.

Teen Substance Abuse Self-Test

teen drug abuseIt’s especially important for teenagers to get help for substance abuse before it gets out of control. Research shows the developing brain of teenagers is especially susceptible to irreversible damage from alcohol and drug use, including an increased risk of mental illnesses like schizophrenia and addiction issues.

If you are a teenager and have trouble controlling your drinking or drug use, here is a self-test to help you assess if you are at risk for dependency.

Please answer every question; if a question is not applicable, select ‘No.’

Yes No  
    Do you use alcohol or other drugs to build self-confidence?
    Do you ever drink or get high immediately after you have a problem at home or school?
    Have you ever missed school due to alcohol or other drugs?

Does it bother you if someone says that you use too much alcohol or other drugs?

    Have you started hanging out with a heavy drinking or drug using crowd?
    Are alcohol and other drugs affecting your reputation?
    Do you feel guilty or bummed out after using alcohol or other drugs?
    Do you feel more at ease on a date when drinking or using other drugs?
    Have you gotten into trouble at home for using alcohol and other drugs?
    Do you borrow money or “do without” other things to buy alcohol and other drugs?
    Do you feel a sense of power when you use alcohol or other drug?
    Have you lost friends since you started using alcohol or other drugs?
    Do you drink or use other drugs until your supply is all gone?
    Do you ever wake up and wonder what happened the night before?
    Have you ever been busted or hospitalized due to alcohol or use of illicit drugs?
    Do you “turn off” any studies or lectures about alcohol or illicit drug use?
    Do you think you have a problem with alcohol or other drugs?
    Has there ever been someone in your family with a drinking or other drug problem?

If you answered ‘Yes’ to three or more of these questions, you may have a problem with alcohol or drugs. For help visit recovergateway.org or to schedule a free and confidential consultation, please call 877-505-HOPE (4673).

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