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.

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 RecoverGateway.org/Marijuana)

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.

A PARENT CHECKLIST FOR TALKING TO TEENS ABOUT DRUGS AND ALCOHOL

  • ENCOURAGE OPEN DIALOGUE

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.

  • SET ASIDE ONE-ON-ONE BONDING TIME

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.

  • JUST LISTEN

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.

  • DISCUSS DRUGS AND ALCOHOL IN A WAY THAT REFLECTS THE IMPORTANCE OF THE TOPIC

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.

  • SET CLEAR EXPECTATIONS

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 www.RecoverGateway.org/Teens.

Marijuana: 1 out of 5 Teens Get into Cars with Stoned Drivers

marijuana-driving, gateway treatment centersA recent study found more high school seniors and college students that drove impaired or with an impaired driver were under the influence of marijuana, not alcohol. But it’s not just dents to your car or points on your license—for some people, drugged driving is how they die.

When you consider that 1 in 3 fatally injury drivers tested positive for drugs in 2009, this means teens who drive stoned put the safety of passengers and other drivers on the road at great risk—just like a driving drunk. The study also found that drugged drivers are more likely to have car accidents and traffic tickets or warnings.

Among high school seniors:

  • 9% drove after drinking alcohol and 12% drove after using marijuana.
  • 15% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol and 20% rode with a driver who used marijuana.

For information on the effects of marijuana or marijuana abuse, visit RecoverGateway.org/Marijuana.

Reminder: National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is Tomorrow

prescription drug abuseGateway Treatment Center in Carbondale was paid a visit earlier this week from reporter Kathryn DiGisi of NBC affiliate WPSD-TV Channel 6 in Paducah, KY, for a news story about the upswing in prescription drug abuse across the region. Ms. DiGisi interviewed Gateway Substance Abuse Counselor Jennifer Casteel, who reminds parents that teens who abuse prescription drugs often start in their own home or their friends’ and family members’ homes.

NBC6 encourages local residents to do their part and responsibly dispose of leftover medications with the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, April 26, 2004.

The 8th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day
Saturday, April 26, 2014
10 am – 2:00 pm

To find a Take Back location,click here. For more information about prescription drug abuse including helpful tips for parents about talking to children about substance abuse, click here.

Understanding the Effects of Marijuana on Teens

effects of marijuana on teensBefore the 1960s, many Americans had never heard of marijuana, but today it is the most often used illegal drug in the United States.

Marijuana is a mind-altering (psychoactive) drug; it contains THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the main active chemical in marijuana. It may also contain more than 400 other harmful chemicals. Marijuana’s effect on the user depends on the strength or potency of the THC it contains. THC potency has increased since the 1970s and continues to increase still.

What are the long-term effects of marijuana use?

Findings show that regular use of marijuana or THC may play a role in some kinds of cancer and in problems with the respiratory, immune and reproductive systems.

  • Cancer
    Marijuana smoke contains some of the same cancer-causing compounds as tobacco, sometimes in higher concentrations.
  • Lungs and Airways
    People who smoke marijuana often tend to develop the same kinds of breathing problems as cigarette smokers. Teens need to know that smoking marijuana can make them suffer frequent coughing, phlegm production and wheezing and they will tend to get more chest colds.
  • Immune System
    Animal studies have found that THC can damage the cells and tissues that help protect people from disease.
  • Reproductive System
    Heavy use of marijuana can affect both male and female hormones. Young men could have delayed puberty because of THC effects. Young women may find the drug disturbs their monthly cycle (ovulation and menstrual periods).

When the early effects of using marijuana fade, the user can become very sleepy. Parents should be aware of changes in their child’s behavior, although this may be difficult with teens. In addition, parents should be aware of:

  • Drug paraphernalia, including pipes and rolling papers
  • Use of incense and other deodorizers
  • Use of eye drops

Are there treatments to help marijuana users?

Yes, Gateway offers substance abuse treatment programs to help adults and adolescents that may be abusing marijuana. Gateway programs include After-School Treatment Programs for teens and adolescents so they can stay in school and, therefore, treatment won’t interrupt school progress. Residential programs are also available, if needed, that provide educational services which work in collaboration with an adolescent’s own school district to support uninterrupted academic progress.

If you have questions or are concerned about a teen or adolescent you know, contact Gateway and let us provide you with the answers you need.

Gateway offers a free, in-depth, confidential screening to determine the nature and extent of your adolescent or teenager’s alcohol or drug problem. Contact us today at 877-505-HOPE (877-505-4673).

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