Monthly Archives: September 2016

Recognizing Substance Abuse in Teens

One of the biggest concerns for parents with teens is the experimentation and abuse of addictive substances. During adolescence, teens face many social and emotional obstacles as they grow and learn how to face the challenges that walk hand in hand with growing up. As they face these challenges, it is normal for teens to become more emotional and independent, but for parents it can sometimes be hard to differentiate teenage moodiness from signs of substance abuse. If left unrecognized for too long, substance abuse can worsen and the results can be deadly. It is crucial that parents and guardians quickly identify and respond to the specific factors that could be the result of drug or alcohol misuse.

 General signs to look out for:

 Evidence of drug or alcohol paraphernalia, such as empty alcohol bottles, pipes, syringes, rolling papers, lighters, etc

  • Problems at school such as: skipping school, missing classes, severe drop in grades, violent or disruptive behavior
  • Extreme efforts to restrain family members from entering their rooms
  • Amplified efforts to hide their whereabouts, new friends, activities or where they go with their friends
  • Drastic changes in behavior: lack of energy, motivation, or concentration, avoidance and distancing, uncooperative
  • Excessive use of room deodorizers or incense to hide smoke or odors
  • Increase in borrowing money without reasonable explanations, missing money or other items, or stealing
  • The signs and symptoms of substance abuse vary depending on the type of substance; you may be able to determine if a teen is abusing a specific drug by identifying the physical and behavioral symptoms associated with the specific drug

Signs of Use

Marijuana

  • Red eyes
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Paranoia
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Increased appetite
  • Reduced coordination
  • Lack of concentration

Cocaine, Methamphetamine (Meth), Ritalin, and Other Amphetamines

  • Irritability
  • Euphoria
  • Paranoia
  • Rapid speech
  • Lack of sleep
  • Severe weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Damage to the mucous membrane of the nose

Opiates (pain pills, heroin)

  • Severe weight loss, loss of appetite
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Aggression and anger
  • “Nodding off” or falling asleep in the middle of a conversation
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Suppression of breathing, followed by death

Ecstasy (MDMA), Rohypnol (Roofies), GHB

  • Amplified feelings of happiness
  • Amphetamine-like symptoms
  • Poor judgment
  • Heightened senses
  • Rohypnol and GHB
    • Drowsiness
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Can result in seizures, coma and death

 Early acknowledgment and response are necessary for parents and guardians to save teens from engaging in substance abuse. Substance abuse can lead to more severe drugs, addiction, and even death if action is not taken.

A Place of Hope’s Center for Counseling and Health Resources provides help for those who seek addiction treatments for drug and alcohol dependency, depression, or issues relating to gambling, food, pornography and more. Dr. Gregory Jantz and his team of addiction medical professionals, psychologists, nutritionists and fitness trainers help  address the physical, psychological and spiritual problems that are behind the symptoms. Please visit online at A Place of Hope.

Sunday Inspiration for Parents of Addicts and Alcoholics

Do you bring your joy wherever you go?

Slowly unraveling versus slowly learning to grow and move forward

It seems that when you have traveled the journey of addiction with your loved one over a period of time, you begin to have a sixth sense when things are beginning to falter. I couldn’t always put my finger on it, but I could tell when something was off. Sometimes it was a lack of contact, sometimes it was a particular attitude while talking, and sometimes it was just a feeling. I remember being in one of those modes where I knew something was unraveling. It was as simple as a mention of some new friends – some in recovery, some not, some struggling in their addiction. While I wanted to coach, persuade, and convince her to hang tight to those in recovery, I knew she would follow her own path. I knew I was powerless over what she decided to do.

While I can speculate the chain of events that can lead to ‘unraveling’, it is futile. And it is always a lesson for me just as much as for her. What could I do to ward off impending doom? How could I convince her to stay focused? When should I actively intervene? The answers were simple: nothing, can’t and shouldn’t. I have one job – to ‘mind my own business.’ It doesn’t mean that if she asks for my advice that I shouldn’t give it – I pray for those opportunities for they give me the false notion that I can control something in her life! But they also give me comfort that she wants to engage in healthy discussions. But, Alas, she does not always ask for my advice, she lives her life on her terms. And I am constantly learning to be a bystander in order to help her to continue to learn and grow.

Which planet reigns — Mars or Venus — when you are parenting an addict?

Moms and Dads tend to deal with a child’s chemical dependency in different ways. Dads often want to fix the problem, dammit, to make the kid better, to clean up the mess he or she created along the way.  For fixers, all this hard work gives rise to some serious resentment and tests even the best anger management skills.  In contrast, Moms want to soothe the hurt, protect the baby, kiss the problem away, even if that requires them to bear their pain. For us enablers, speed dialing grief counselors or Jack Kevorkian can be the order of the day.

This disconnect in parenting styles didn’t arise with addiction or alcoholism.  It probably lay dormant all along, but a child’s substance use disorder throws kerosene on the flames of parental disconnect and discontent.  Mars to Venus, we’ve got a problem, illuminated by the flame-out of our struggling children.

In order for the family to get healthy, it is essential to “circle” the wagons, which requires all parties to agree to take the same approach towards chemical dependency.  It requires a common understanding of the disease of addiction and a shared commitment to not enabling, not fixing….simply getting out of the way of our children as they try to right their own ships. It requires us to talk with our spouses/partners when we would rather retreat or cast blame or yell or cry. Being the parent of an addict is not for sissies, but it gives us a chance to hone our resiliency, character, and commitment, which are silver linings in an otherwise dark cloud.

Sunday Inspiration for Parents of Addicts and Alcoholics

Is it time to lighten your load?

Seven Ways to Let Go of Shame

Cathy Taughinbaugh is a guest blogger and a Recovery Coach working with parents of addicted children.   She can be reached through her website CathyTaughinbaugh.com

“Shame is about my thoughts and feelings, my inner self. My shame says that who I am is not okay.” ~ Hope for Today

Have you ever felt shame?   Shame is an integral part of addiction.
The dependent person feels shame about his addiction. The family members, especially parents, feel it as well. You feel anxious when you realize that someone in your family cannot manage their life.
The dependent person may feel personally inadequate because of their childhood experiences or because of a specific event. When individuals are prone to shame when dealing with life’s problems, they may also turn to drugs or alcohol to help them cope.   Shame must be differentiated from guilt, although both often work together with each other.

Guilt is about action and behavior, while shame is about identity and self.
Guilt involves a violation of an external rule or standard that can be redressed by restitution or an apology. Shame, on the other hand, slices uninvited through the ego boundary to inflict a deep wound on the self that is experienced as an “inner torment” or a sickness of the soul. Shame patrols the boundary between our public and private lives.” ~ Garrett O’Connor, M.D.- Betty Ford Institute
Whereas the addiction is physical, shame is about our inner self. The addict reinforces their feelings of shame through their behavior.
Many cover up for the addict to spare others from finding out about the addiction. We enable in our desperate efforts to help, so hopefully the problem will be alleviated quickly. We try and hide the addiction from the outside world to protect ourselves from feeling the shame and embarrassment of the problem.
Children of alcoholics may grow up feeling less than or flawed, and struggle with negative feelings about themselves for years. When our child is the addict we may question our total worth as a parent or even as a person.
“When most people use the word shame, they usually mean to describe an experience that comes up because of outside influences – our parents’ disapproval or the opinion of society-at-large, for example. If I do poorly on a test or my business fails, I might not want anyone else to know because I’m afraid they’ll think less of me. Shame also arises when we violate our own internal values, but we’ve usually absorbed them from our families and the world around us.” ~ Joseph Burgo, Ph.D.
I remember when I realized addiction was in my life, and it felt difficult to tell my friends and family. The reactions were interesting. Offers to help, some advice, but mainly support and concern came my way.
The support and concern felt like a relief, but there was the underlying message of, “Watch who you tell this to.” Casual acquaintances were not people that I would share my family’s situation with. You realize quickly that even though you have support, you also have a stigma, a stigma of a disease that is often not talked about.
The reality is that addiction can affect a large range of families, from wealthy, to the poor. Happily married parents as well as divorced parents can have a child with an addiction issue. Some children with alcoholic parents are never affected with the disease and others become addicts or alcoholics themselves.
We regret decisions we made in the past, believing that if we had made a different choice, the outcome may have been different and our loved one would not have their struggles.
You can breathe a little easier when you educate yourself about addiction so that you can make good choices. You can be supportive and gently guide someone toward recovery, but ultimately another person’s life is out of your control.
It is important to let go of shame and here are some ways to that:
• Forgive yourself, as everyone make mistakes. You may feel like you have made mistakes that have harmed yourself or others. Forgive yourself. You can make amends for any harm you have done and you can make changes for the future.

• Open Up and Trust. Sharing your secrets of addiction may be a short term solution, but you cannot make progress toward healing when you are in isolation. Taking a risk and trusting others will bring you closer to finding the peace and serenity that you desire. Realize that you are not alone and that sharing is the key to healing shame.

• Think of Your Mistakes as a Lesson Learned. As I look back on when I felt shame, I can realize that even my most embarrassing moments have taught me a lesson in life and led me in a more positive direction. Learn from each past mistake and let it guide you in the future.

• Love yourself. Be bold and let go of your shame. Allow yourself to open up all the possibilities in life. Allow love of yourself and love of others to enter your being.

• Try a New Behavior and Attitude. Take small steps to get over the fear of enjoying your life. Know that you are perfect just the way you are, including all of your flaws. You are only human. Look forward to each day with curiosity, humor, joy and wonder.

• See the Situation in a Different Light When you feel shame, if you share it with someone else, they may see your situation differently and that will give you a new perspective. This new perspective will help you to heal. You may even find that positive shift in your thinking.

“The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Making the choice of how we want to ‘be’ in our lives

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” -John Lennon

I’ve always loved this story by John Lennon. How often do we hear ‘do what makes you happy?’ Yet we pass judgment on decisions that others make based on our own views and most likely our own definition of what makes us happy. This quote from Lennon is a good reminder that it isn’t what we do when we grow up but how we decided to ‘be’. In its purest form ‘be’ means to exist or live. The question is Making the choice of how we want to ‘be’ in our lives how do we want to exist or live?

We make choices every moment throughout the day on how we want to be. When we have a grumpy driver cut us off while on our way to work we can decided to get upset and let it ruin our day or we can let it go without letting it disrupt us at that moment. There are so many choices on how we will ‘be’ with every interaction that we encounter. When my children were young and I was a single working mother mornings were challenging as I was getting ready for work and getting them ready for school. On the mornings where I kept a calm, kind and flexible attitude it would be a pleasant morning and day. But when I became tense, rigid and short with my words it was would be a definite struggle to get out the door and everyone, not just me, would start off on the wrong foot. Being aware of how we choose to ‘be’ is a huge step to being what we strive to ‘be’.

When Your Child is Addicted to Steroids

Steroid addiction is one of the fastest growing epidemics. While steroid abuse is usually associated with professional athletes, the troubling reality is that steroid use is taking place among people as young as high school students. For parents of addicted teens, coping with steroid abuse is a challenge. Because steroids do not produce a “high” in the way that narcotics and stimulants do, steroid addicts often do not see the abuse as a problem. In fact, many steroid users regard the drug as simply another workout supplement instead of the dangerous drug it is.

Anabolic steroids mimic testosterone  in the body to increase production of proteins that act as the foundation for muscle cells, bone and other tissues. It is illegal in the United States to use anabolic steroids without a prescription, yet a simple Google search reveals that it is simple to order illegal steroids online or find legal workout supplements that contain steroids. The ease of access of steroids makes them an appealing solution to the problem of low self-esteem that many teenagers face.

Steroid addiction usually begins with Body Dysmorphia Disorder, which is characterized by preoccupation with an imagined or real defect in one’s appearance. Because young adults spend so much time with their peers at school and its activities, the pressure to conform to an idealized body type portrayed in the media and idolized by their peers is significant. It is easy to become obsessed with body image if the world around you is obsessed with it as well. Synthetic testosterone in anabolic steroids works almost immediately, and because steroid abusers often take 10 – 100 times the prescribed dose, unusually fast muscle growth is common. The body changes rapidly in response to muscle growth, which is the desired result. When a person’s strength and physical performance are improved dramatically, it leads to unrealistic expectations that the body should continue to gain muscle mass and see improvement. These expectations cause the user to become addicted, as performance and muscle mass often decrease after withdrawal from the drug. An addict cannot stop taking the drug because the fear of life without it is too great. Recognizing steroid abuse as a self-image issue is crucial for creating lasting recovery.

Signs of steroid use manifest in several ways. First, you may notice that your child has been acting differently than usual. They may have mood swings, increased aggression, and act secretive or paranoid, especially while using the internet. You may see the quality of their work decline and their energy levels drop. They may spend more time than usual working out and receive strange packages in the mail. Second, you may notice physical changes. In addition to extra muscle buildup over a short period of time, severe acne, halitosis and hair loss are common among steroid addicts. Educating yourself about the symptoms of steroid use is necessary for recognizing that your child has a problem.

After recognizing that your loved one is an addict and learning what motivates them to abuse steroids, the next step is getting them help. Find a therapist and a support group, such as ATLAS or ATHENA, who will treat your child with care. An addict does not want to be treated as their addiction, but rather as a whole person. If your teen has an addiction and wants to overcome it, they have already taken a big step. Treatment usually includes cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy and sometimes requires drug therapy to counteract the dangerous symptoms of steroid withdrawal.

If they are not willing to overcome their addiction, all you can do is keep trying to communicate with them. Just as you must never give up on an addicted child, you also cannot enable them. Understand that your relationship with your child could be potentially damaged in the process, but getting to the truth and trying to help them may be what saves their life. Seek counseling for yourself as well as your child so that you are not trying to do it alone. Addiction is a scary and difficult problem to deal with, especially as the parent of an addict, but it is a problem that can be overcome.

A Place of Hope’s Center for Counseling and Health Resources provides help for those who seek addiction treatments for alcohol addiction, illicit substance abuse addiction, prescription drug addiction or issues relating to gambling, sedatives, steroids and more. Dr. Gregory Jantz and his team of addiction medical professionals, psychologists, nutritionists and fitness trainers help to address the physical, psychological and spiritual problems that are behind the symptoms. Please visit  online at A Place Of Hope .

Sunday Inspiration for Parents of Addicts and Alcoholics

Do you take on a challenge to face your fears?

Tonight’s the night to light a cande of hope for addicts and alcoholics

Image of candles.The Addict’s Mom, an advocacy and support group for the mothers of chemically-dependent children, has launched a one-night campaign to bring addiction out of the shadows. On Saturday, September 10, candles will burn bright as Lights of Hope for the 23.5 million Americans addicted to drugs.  It is time for all of us step out of the shadows of shame and stigma, to raise our voices as one by lighting three candles for the end of National Recovery Month.  These candles will represent our hope that we can one day end this national epidemic of death and despair.

Join The Addict’s Mom and many other organizations as we light a red candle for those with a current addiction, a white candle for addicts in recovery and a black or silver candle as a memorial to the tragic loss of so many to this epidemic.  It is time to stop blaming the addicts and their families, it is time to stop all finger pointing, it is time to join our voices and look for real solutions.

The founder of “The Addict’s Mom,”  Barbara Theodosiou , has been honored as a White House Champion Of Change for “doing extraordinary things to make a difference in her community.”  Let’s join Barbara and shed light on this epidemic which is claiming so many lives.  Light a candle of honor, awareness or memory on Saturday, September 10.