Teen First time Substance abuse Facts

Should parents share their past drug abuse with their children?Teen First time Substance abuse Facts

Some recent research has produced some interesting statistics about teen substance abuse facts.  Drug-rehab.org reports some interesting findings concerning teen’s first time abusing substances.  The results are reported below.

Drug-rehabs.org indicates that, “According to the 2006 NSDUH, 10.6 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 17 drank alcohol for the first time in the past year, and 5.8 percent used an illicit drug10 for the first time. The 2006 NSDUH also indicates that on an average day during the past year, adolescents’ aged 12 to 17 used the following substances for the first time:

  • 7,970 drank alcohol for the first time;
  • 4,348 used an illicit drug for the first time;
  • 4,082 smoked cigarettes for the first time;
  • 3,577 used marijuana for the first time;
  • 2,517 used pain relievers non-medically for the first time;
  • 1,603 used inhalants for the first time;
  • 1,281 used hallucinogens for the first time;
  • 909 used cocaine for the first time;
  • 860 used stimulants non-medically for the first time;
  • 236 used methamphetamine for the first time; and
  • 86 used heroin for the first time.”


These results concerning teen first time substance abuse are troubling.  More research and education needs to be implemented to help decrease these numbers of teen first time substance abuse.

Spotting the Signs of Addiction in Your Teen

Spotting the signs of addiction in your teen


Getting your teen to tell you about their day can be difficult enough, even when they aren’t trying to hide anything from you. However, when it comes to addiction development, it is imperative that as a parent you stay vigilant and be on the lookout for any warning signs.

In 2012, the NIDA (The National Institute of Drug Abuse) estimated that just over 14 percent of high school seniors in the United States abused prescription drugs. That figure doesn’t include the drugs which were not prescription drugs.  Although abuse of non-prescription drugs has declined in recent years, the abuse of those drugs (such as ecstasy or huffing) still proves to be a problem as well.  The abuse of any drug can have the potential to harm teens and compromise their bright and promising futures.

Some symptoms to watch for in suspected teens include: a disheveled appearance because of a decreased interest in the way they look, dilated pupils and red cheeks, burn marks on their fingers, (though possibly caused by cigarettes, could indicate that they are experimenting with a more dangerous substance like meth), excessive sweating, and frequent teeth clenching.  These characteristics may be cause to bring up the subject of drug abuse with your teen.

Although many parents are aware of the warning signs of drug abuse, many parents may not catch on to their child’s drug habit before it has developed into an all-consuming addiction. It is critical to be on the watch for any signs or symptoms and to always have an open line of communication with your teen about their behavior, activities and friends.

Rising use of Heroin

Deadly pack. Close-up of man putting a pack of narcotic into the pocketRising use of heroin

Recently, more attention has been focused on heroin abuse in the media than before.  It seems that while the use of abusing other drugs is decreasing, the abuse of heroin is on the rise in many parts of the country.

MSNBC reported recently that, “General Eric Holder, in a video message released by the Justice Department, spoke out on heroin addiction and its rising number of deaths (recently). In the video, Holder said the number of heroin overdose deaths rose by 45% between 2006 and 2010.”

Holder indicated that, “When confronting the problem of substance abuse, it makes sense to focus attention on the most dangerous types of drugs, and right now, few substances are more lethal than prescription opiates and heroin.” Holder further indicated that, “addiction to heroin and other opiates — including certain prescription painkillers—is impacting the lives of Americans in every state, in every region, and from every background and walk of life—and all too often, with deadly results.

Also, recent studies have shown that in suburbs and affluent areas, drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine and prescription medications are losing their popularity. While this might seem like something to celebrate, statistics from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) suggest that users of these other substances – most of which are prescription painkillers – are simply trading in their drug of choice for heroin.  In fact, according to a 2012 analysis by the administration, heroin abuse among first-time users has increased by 60 percent over the past 10 years.

Holder emphasized the government’s aggressive war on drugs and encouraged first responders to carry naloxone, a drug that can save the life of someone suffering from a heroin overdose.

Facts about Alcohol Abuse

AlcoholismFacts about Alcohol Abuse

Alcoholism continues to be a problem for many and recent statistics from www.cdc.gov (centers for disease control and prevention) from 2013 definitely concur.  They indicate that in 2013 the “percent of adults 18 years of age and over who were current regular drinkers (at least 12 drinks in the past year) was 51.3%.  And, the percent of adults 18 years of age and over who were current infrequent drinkers (1-11 drinks in the past year) was 12.9%.  They go on to say that, “while most people are safe and responsible drinkers, statistics show that the minority who consume excess quantities on a regular basis have an impact that “ripples outward to encompass their families, friends, and communities,” citing the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). That is to say, that while the above 2013 statistics may not be shocking, they do show that many individuals consume alcohol often and this consumption does filter down to other groups who abuse alcohol.

Some interesting facts listed in accordance with high rates and statistics concerning alcohol abuse (as reported by learn-about-alcoholism.com ) indicate the following:

  • More than 100,000 U.S. deaths are caused by excessive alcohol consumption each year. Direct and indirect causes of death include drunk driving, cirrhosis of the liver, falls, cancer, and stroke.
  • 48 percent of persons aged 12 and over in the U.S. are drinkers This translates to an estimated 109 million people.
  • Nearly 18 million Americans (8.5 percent of adults_ meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse or alcoholism. For diagnostic criteria from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DMV-IV), click here.
  • Alcohol abuse and dependence is more common among males than females and decrease with aging.
  • The progression of alcoholism appears to be faster in women than in men.
  • More than one-half of American adults have a close family member who has or has had alcoholism.
  • Approximately one in four children in the U.S. under 18 years old is exposed to alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence in the family.
  • Alcohol is the top drug of choice for children and adolescents.
  • Each day, 7000 children in the U.S. under the age of 16 take their first drink.
  • Children of alcoholics are significantly more likely to initiate drinking during adolescence and to develop alcohol use disorders.
  • Approximately 20 percent of persons aged 12 or older participated in binge drinking at least once in the 30 days prior. Binge” drinking means having five or more drinks on one occasion.
  • The highest prevalence of binge and heavy drinking was for young adults aged 18 to 25, with the peak rate occurring at age 21.
  • More than 35 percent of adults with an alcohol problem developed symptoms such as binge drinking by age 19.
  • Alcohol–related crashes (i.e., those in which a driver or pedestrian had a blood alcohol concentration greater than zero) account for 41 percent of all fatal car accidents.
  • Alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes kill someone every 31 minutes and non-fatally injure someone every two minutes.
  • The economic costs of alcohol abuse in the U.S. are estimated to be approximately $185 billion annually.

Each one of these points about alcohol is concerning, however, those facts dealing with children and adolescents are even more noteworthy as a new generation is brought into contact with this addiction and these abusive cycles.

PAWS Defined

Post-Acute Withdrawal and What to Do About It


For people with drinking or drug problems, quitting can be extremely difficult. Though this is sometimes due to a lack of desire or lack of will power, it is often because of powerful withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms are immediately eased by going back to alcohol or drugs, making it difficult for many people to stay on the proverbial wagon.


Some of these symptoms occur soon (or immediately) after a person stops using, while others begin after the acute phase has ended. The latter symptoms are often a result of Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS).


HeadacheIIPAWS Defined

Per the University of Wisconsin, PAWS can be defined as a group of symptoms that occur after the initial symptoms of alcohol or drug cessation. It is often considered the second stage of withdrawal (the first stage is the acute phase; it causes physical symptoms and typically lasts for a few weeks) and usually causes emotional and psychological symptoms.


The symptoms associated with PAWS happen as the brain chemistry is returning to normal and the organs are being repaired. This causes brain chemicals to fluctuate, leading to fluctuating emotions and moods. According to the Oklahoma State University Medical Center, the length of this phase can vary, but PAWS usually starts 7-14 days after quitting alcohol or drugs and peaks over the next 3-6 months. Ultimately, it can last for two years or more (though most people have periods of remission over this period) and tends to get better as time goes on.


Its length is often dependent on a variety of factors, including: how long a person was addicted (and what they were addicted to); the severity of their addiction; their age; their gender; and their overall state of health.


In general, the longer a person has been addicted to drugs or alcohol, the longer PAWS will last and the more pronounced the symptoms will be.


The Symptoms of PAWS

Depending on the person, the symptoms of PAWS may drastically vary. In fact, some people may experience very few symptoms, whereas others will experience many. For the average person, these symptoms include: mood swings; anxiety; lethargy; trouble sleeping; low energy; inability to concentrate; panic attacks; cravings; feelings of hostility or aggression; feelings of guilt; lack of motivation; depression; a tendency to overreact to little things; numbness; boredom; problems socializing; an increased sensitivity to pain; memory problems; and irritability.


Treatment for PAWS

Unfortunately, there is no magic pill that can cure PAWS. However, there are measures that sufferers can take to assuage their symptoms. Sometimes this involves avoiding certain items, such as drinks high in caffeine or foods lacking in nutrition; other times it involves the practice of mind over matter.


People with PAWS can often find relief by being patient, taking it one day at a time, accepting the symptoms as part of recovery (rather than trying to fight them), practicing good health habits, staying busing with a hobby or activity, exercising, spending time focusing on relaxation, and taking advantage of a support system. For people whose symptoms are severe, relief may be obtainable by psychiatrist-supervised cognitive behavioral therapy, or through certain medications prescribed by a doctor.

This article was written by Laura Green.  She knows that PAWS can lead to relapse if you don’t know what’s happening to you, and recommends getting clean with the help of a compassionate drug treatment center, or a 12 step support group. 


Addictions can be helped with exercise

people doing spinningAddictions can be helped with exercise

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines addiction as, “a compulsion that persists in spite of negative health and social consequences.” Many people use and abuse drugs, but only some – relatively few — become addicts. Many wonder why addictions form in some and not others.  In some individuals, exposure to things that are habit forming actually causes structural changes in the brain.  The exciting thing about exercise is that if individuals engage in exercise, they may prevent addictions from starting and certainly can weaken addictive behavior over time.  Exercise sparks dopamine production, rebuilds toxic damage to the brain, battles anxiety and depression, and enhances self-esteem.

Endurance exercise can be used to effectively treat drug addiction, according to researchers from the University of Arizona (interventionservices.org). In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, researchers measured the “neurobiological rewards” of treadmill running.  Their study showed that the human brain experiences a chemical reward after long periods of exercise, and showed there is evidence that this reward can be used as a way that incentivizes those battling addiction.

Further, exercise provides a “high” that can be important for addicts battling cravings. In addition to decreasing anxiety and stress, physical activity helps increase levels of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is associated with feelings of pleasure, is often diminished over time by substance abuse.

Also, interventionservices.org cites the results from an exercise and addiction study:, “Beyond recovery, exercise can help mitigate brain damage caused by drug dependency. In a 2012 study published in the neuroscience journal Synapse, rats were given high doses of methamphetamine until the drug burned out their dopamine and serotonin receptors. After the substance was taken away, half of the rats were left alone in their cages, while the others were made to run. The results showed that the running rats significantly reduced the meth-induced brain damage, and had begun to repair their dopamine and serotonin receptors. For the rats that stayed in their cages, the negative effects of the drug lingered.”

So, “exercise also boosts dopamine, exercise rebuilds the brain by increasing neurogenesis, exercise battles the anxiety and depression that can come with withdrawal, exercise increases elf-esteem, and exercise can be an antidote and inoculation against addiction,” according to Peter Provet, Director, Odyssey House, New York.  Therefore, if an individual is struggling with addiction, it would definitely be worth a try!


Parent’s Awareness of Drug Abuse

parentswithteenParent’s awareness of drug abuse

Everyone is talking to their pre-teen children and teenagers about the dangers of drug abuse….right??  Wrong.  According to a new report by drugfree.org, many parents have yet to have an honest conversation with their kids regarding substance abuse.  Drugfree.org is a nonprofit advocacy group committed to reducing young adult drug and alcohol addiction.

American parents need to be more proactive about their children’s involvement with drug and alcohol abuse, according to the report.  The report indicates that many teenagers remain unaware of the dangers behind drug abuse – despite public education and awareness, especially those issues that relate to prescription pill abuse.

The study indicates some interesting results.  They state that, “only 14 percent of adolescents have had a conversation with one or both of their parents about pill abuse.  Interestingly, over 80 percent of the same group had a similar chat about the problems associated with marijuana.”  This result shows that parents still believe that street drugs are more of a threat to their children and that parents discredit the dangers of prescription pills.

Steve Pasierb, president of the organization that runs Drugfree.org, said in a statement, “For parents, it really comes down to not using the power they have because they don’t think this is an immediate problem, meaning their own home, own neighborhood kind of thing.  They believe that this is probably a safer way, not as bad as illegal street drugs.”

Further, Pasierb also indicates that part of the problem is that many parents struggle with merging their desire to give their kids space while also setting a good example with healthy boundaries. However, this leniency can lead to further drug abuse posing life-long problems.

Marijuana Use Among Teens Rising

marijuanaMarijuana use among teens rising

Recently, a survey was conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that indicates that while teens are saying no to most drugs, their use of marijuana seems to be on the rise. Also, the survey found that the number of teens who think that marijuana is dangerous has continued to drop over the past decade. Further, the study also concluded that more teens are using marijuana than in the past several years. The study’s researchers say that relaxed attitudes about marijuana, combined with legalization in certain areas, have probably contributed to the increased use of marijuana.

“We should be extremely concerned that 12 percent of 13- to 14-year-olds are using marijuana,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “The children whose experimentation leads to regular (marijuana) use are setting themselves up for declines in IQ and diminished ability for success in life.”

The survey’s poll included responses from over 41,000 eighth-, 10th- and 12th-grade teens from 389 public and private schools. When they asked about their marijuana usage over the last month, 23 percent of the high school seniors surveyed said that they had smoked marijuana at least once along Eighteen percent of 10th-graders and 12 percent of even the eighth-graders also indicated that they has smoked marijuana within the last month. According to the researchers, drug use among the youngest teen age group (8th graders) surveyed should be a wake up call and a warning for parents and public health officials alike.

Celebrities and Drug Overdose – Philip Seymour Hoffman

Celebrities and Drug Overdose

The New York Times reports, “Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead of an apparent heroin overdose — with a hypodermic needle still stuck in his arm and 70 baggies of the drug inside his Greenwich Village pad Sunday, authorities said. He was 46…. Hoffman — a versatile and prolific actor famed for his vivid portrayals of troubled souls — had repeatedly struggled with substance abuse. He spent 10 days in rehab last year for abusing prescription pills and heroin after 23 years of sobriety.” (nypost.com)

This tragic news came as a shock to many who loved the Academy Award winning Capote and recent Hunger Games Hollywood star, just as many have been shocked about previous celebrity drug overdose related deaths.  The occurrence of celebrity drug overdose, which some feel is on the rise, begs the question, “Are celebrities more prone to addiction than non-celebrities?”

Perhaps they are.  Celebrities are certainly surrounded by the rich and famous, and Hollywood/pop culture often includes drug users.  Also, they often have a lot of money and cash is important and essential for an addict.  However, most would argue that celebrities are not more prone to drug abuse, but we definitely hear about it when they succumb to drug use.  Either way, drug overdose is always tragic, whether it involves a celebrity or not.


Sizzurp: A Dangerous Teen Drug

coughSyrupSizzurp: A Dangerous Teen Drug

Doctors are warning of a cough syrup concoction called sizzurp that young people are abusing to get high.  Teens are making the potentially deadly mix, using soda, candy and prescription cough syrup. To make matters worse, celebrities are glorifying the mix in music.

Known in some circles as “sizzurp,” “purple drank,” or “dirty sprite,” the mixture of prescription cough syrup with codeine, benzodiazepines and a soft drink has been used and sung about by rappers since the mid-1990s. Now, many law enforcement officials in states such as West Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina are finding that teens are abusing the substance and presumably being influenced by the music they listen to.

The sizzurp drink is highly addictive, and codeine and promethazine can be deadly when mixed with booze or consumed in high doses. Dextromethorphan, the active ingredient in most over-the-counter cough syrups, can cause increased heart rate, fever and liver damage when taken at sizzurp levels, which can reach 25 times the recommended dose.

Hollywood reporter recently indicated that, “Rapper Pimp C died in 2008 of a cough-syrup overdose, according to the L.A. County coroner’s office. In May 2013, Lil Wayne was hospitalized for seizures relating to his abuse of the drug, leading to multiple media reports that the rapper came close to dying during the medical incident.”

Dr. Deni Carise (an addiction psychologist) told the New York Daily News, “We’ve seen patients who take enough of the medication (sizzurp) to have side effects similar to LSD trips with extreme mood swings, hallucinations, paranoia and very risky behavior.  In extreme cases this has led to psychotic-like experiences that endanger the user and those around him or her.”

Sizzurp abuse among teens is becoming more prevalent.  A 2012 survey found that 5.5 percent of 12th graders said they’d gotten high off sizzurp.  So, although teens may think that there is no harm in taking medications because they are prescribed by doctors, they need to be educated that consuming any sort of drug in a way that it is not intended is always dangerous. Like any other opioid, sizzurp can cause death if taken in too high a quantity.