Examining Addiction on A&E's 'Intervention'

Thursday, January 31, 2008

'My name is Dylan, D.Y.L.A.N.'

What started out as a simple name spelling to the videographer has become an almost ominous part of the compelling reality show Intervention. Now in it’s forth season, the A&E hit has captivated audiences, and revealed what happens when people suffer from some of the most severe forms of addiction. From meth use to bulimia, the show demonstrates a desperate cry from family and friends who are trying to save their loved ones, and in the process depicts the individuals struggle to overcome their own personal demons.

Developed by executive producers Dan Partland and Sam Mettler, the show sets out to follow participants who are suffering from addiction and allows them to tell their own stories in their own words. Without a lot of editorializing or preaching about the harms of addiction, the show simply asks for those suffering from various diseases to be filmed for a documentary about their problems.

Intervention relies on actual footage of drug use, body abuse, or other destructive behavior to tell the story, and the participants are unaware that their family and loved ones are also part of the process. While the cameras are filming the behavior, the supporters are gathering for a surprise intervention where they hope to help those who are addicted to want to seek help for themselves.

Without all of the FOX television hoopla, sponsorship and endorsement deals clouding the screen, the show tries to keep the documentary feel in it’s most pure form, and the participants seem willing to want to share their powerful stories of triumph and tragedy with the audience.

Although the show has received critical acclaim, it has also brought out some cynics who say that it is nothing more than a chance to exploit those who are featured for their illnesses.

Mathew Gilbert, a columnist from the Boston Globe explained, “A&E's Intervention is the latest faux reality philanthropy, and it ranks as one of the rankest. On the surface, it's a benevolent effort to reveal the power and beauty of interventions, which find loved ones confronting an addict about his problem and instantly removing him to rehab. But underneath the charitable veneer, the show is about watching broken addicts destroy themselves.

"No amount of inspirational reality TV can justify that kind of trick."

Other critics say that the addicts are coerced to participate in the show and are most likely not in the proper mind frame to consent to filming. Still, almost all participants say that the show has had a positive and profound effect on their lives in the end.

The shows interventionists are considered some of the leading addiction experts in the field. With over 25 years of experience, Jeff VanVonderen may not have the most eloquent approach to dealing with those who are seeking help, but his direct and uncompromising style seems to produce results. He has authored several best selling books about dealing with addiction and has become a mainstay on the show.

After 20 years of recovery for her own substance abuse, Candy Finnigan has been trained how to deal with relapse prevention and family counseling. Finnigan not only provides support for those who need help, but she is also able to share her own story as a means of inspiration and hope.

On her website, she explains, "I was inspired to go into this work because I saw that as a recovering woman, I might be able to connect with suffering people in a way that others couldn't. It's not just my work, it's my life."

Interventionist Ken Seeley has also dealt with substance abuse first hand and has been clean and sober since 1989. He helped found Intervention911, which offers online and toll free phone assistance to those battling diseases and wanting to end the cycle.

"By effectively empowering addicts and their families with the necessary tools, Intervention 911 is able to not only help each individual involved get the help they need, but also provide them with a blueprint for lifelong sobriety, success and health", Seeley explains.

The interventionist works along side the family and friends of those who are suffering from addiction and helps them to get the assistance that they often need in order to stop the destructive behavior. The interventionist, however, can only counsel and offer the opportunity; It is up to the friends and family to commit to changing their lives and stop enabling the participants in their addiction cycle.

A recent episode demonstrated a severe case where the family’s disapproval and lack of support was considered an underlying cause of the addiction. The episode focused on one of the nation's most promising athletes - Tressa Thompson, who had been disqualified from the 2000 Olympic team after testing positive for cocaine use. Although Tressa had a promising future in athletics, she began to spiral into the dark world of drugs (particularly meth amphetamine) after her suspension from the sport.

The show not only focused on Tressa’s disturbing intravenous drug use, it also highlighted the struggle for acceptance as an openly gay person in a small town. Although she was in a three-year relationship with another woman, her closest family members refused to accept her as a homosexual and made several references on the show that Tressa’s "lifestyle" was against the Bible and would send her to hell.

Tressa behavior showed that she needed the love and support of her friends and family in order to battle her problems. Interventionist Candy Finnigan explained to the family that the process was not about Tressa as a homosexual, it was about her drug abuse, and they would have to look past their disapproval of her lifestyle and focus on saving her life.

Like most of the participants, Tressa agreed to rehabilitation treatment and their follow up videos can be seen on the A&E website offering hope to others that treatment is possible and can be the catalyst to saving lives.

The show eschews the glamour of a Celebrity Rehab and offers audiences the chance to watch what happens when self-destructive behavior takes over a person’s life.

Must see TV? Yes! All the more essential if that someone in need of an intervention is you or a loved one.

source: http://www.gaywired.com


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Self-control may be defined as the exercise of internal control over one's own actions. This exercise may take the form of mental regulation, emotional management, goal setting, self-monitoring and making responsible choices.

In spite of this simple definition, we need to appreciate the complexity of self-control. The following represents the different facets and distinct functions of self-control.

* To the extent that self-control can be acquired through socialization and education, it can be considered a skill.
* Self-control becomes self-discipline, as long as it requires intentional effort to exercise self-control.
* However, when it is practiced habitually for some time, it becomes a personality or character trait.
* When one resists temptation in order to achieve a desired goal, self-control becomes a virtue.
* Self-control becomes a thought process, because of the cognitive processes and mental regulations needed to implement self-control.
* When it is the by-product of spiritual transformation, then, it may be considered as a spiritual gift.
* When self-control is tested by unrelenting pressure or prolonged deprivation, then its continuation depends on internal resources such as character, courage, faith, purpose, endurance. In this case, self-control may be considered a resource, an important part of a cluster of inner resources.
* Finally, self-control requires motivation. Even when one possesses all of the above, in certain situations, such as a special celebration or an artificial psychology experiment, one may decide to briefly give up self-control for the occasion.

Unlike physiological mechanisms, most self-control mechanisms need to be acquired through conditioning, learning and socialization. As adults, we are held responsible for our thoughts, emotions and behaviors to the extent that these are subject to self-control.

An important part of self-control has to do with regulating one's own emotions so that one's behavior is situation-appropriate and socially acceptable. Even though feelings are generally considered uncontrollable, their intensity and expressions can be regulated.

The importance of self-control

We admire the spontaneity and transparency of little children. They have no guile and no disguise. They can be engulfed with the sheer joy of the moment, unencumbered by the past or the future

A coupe of months ago, I went to my sister's family dinner. A boy shouted across the table as soon as I walked in: "Uncle Paul, you are ugly. Why are you so ugly? " Is his remark cute or rude for an eight-year-old grade-two child? Is it proper for adults to grant children the license to ridicule other people's physical appearance? Is it advisable to create a permissive environment so that children can freely express themselves and do whatever that strikes their fancy? Is it possible that children can naturally become the "noble savages" as theorized by Jean-Jacques Rousseau?

Regardless of how we answer the above questions, no one can deny that children need to learn self-control. Self-control encompasses the skills to gain control over their own behaviors, such as following instructions and rules, focusing on the task at hand, and taking responsibility for their actions. Without self-control skills, behavior problems will multiply and serious learning cannot take place; without a sense of responsibility, they are not ready to join society. That's why parents and educators are very concerned about teaching children self-control skills.

It is important to remember that children are not miniature adults. They cannot handle the same kind of freedom as adults. They need to learn the importance of boundaries and following rules. However, too much control by adults can be just as counterproductive as too much freedom with respect to the development of self-control skills.

Even adults will experience all sorts of problems, if they have not learned adequate self-control skills in today's complex and fast changing society. Just consider the following scenarios:

* A careless word or a caring touch can ruin one's career in the minefield of political correctness and litigation craze.
* In a global village with competing worldviews and civilizations, one has to be sensitive to other people's values and traditions. Such awareness requires a certain amount of self-control and humility in order not to fall into the easy trap of ethnocentric arrogance.
* To stay competitive in a knowledge economy, one needs many years of higher education and professional training. Prolonged education means delay of gratification.
* Given the breakdown of traditional values and conventional morality, coupled with the daily onslaught of temptations from TV and the Internet, individuals must follow their own moral compass in order to avoid "shipwreck".
* Life is full of frustration and injustice. But this does not justify outbursts of rage and violence. When anger is not properly managed, it can destroy one's life.
* Addictions, eating disorders, and all sorts of adjustment problems are related to self-control issues.

Self-control is necessary not only for personal success but also for spiritual progress. All major religions emphasize the virtue of self-control.

Source: http://www.meaning.ca

Restrictions don’t solve alcohol issue

Monday, January 28, 2008

by Ryan Greenfield

When I turned 21, it felt downright bizarre to drink in public. So long had the stigma of doing something forbidden been attached to drinking, the idea that one random day in my life it should suddenly become A-OK still seems weird. Whether it was through older friends, peers with fake IDs, house parties or lax liquor store carding standards, finding a way to get drunk was never really a challenge.

I know you’ve heard this all in D.A.R.E., but binge drinking does have many unfortunate side effects. What you may not know is binge drinking is by definition only having more than four drinks in two hours for men, and more than three in two hours for women. I’d be surprised if the majority of those in the bars of Madison on a Saturday night haven’t surpassed this.

Understandably, the Madison authorities want to find ways to reduce college alcohol abuse. A new report from a community organization called Capitol Neighborhoods, Inc. recommends many financial incentives and enforcement measures to reduce underage drinking. As The Badger Herald reported Friday, these measures include raising taxes on alcohol sold in the downtown area of Madison by about 20 percent, having bars install electric scanners to check IDs and doubling the number of citations issued to underage drinkers.

But whenever new policies are being considered, it’s useful to foresee possible unintended consequences. For instance, if less people are in the bars and on the streets, it may encourage those who want to commit crimes since there is less chance they will be seen.

The likely effect of a slight increase in the alcohol tax probably won’t deter those who really want to drink. Additionally, the owner of Hawk’s Bar and Grill was quoted Friday in the Wisconsin State Journal as saying he considered that proposal “elitist” because it would prevent less-well-off students from drinking while the affluent would continue doing so.

Bars and liquor stores downtown would probably lose revenue as the students migrate to establishments away from downtown that aren’t subject to the tax. More students (especially those underage) would probably throw more house parties, which would offer unlimited booze and provide ideal locations for alcohol abuse. Thus, this policy mostly amounts to passing the buck.

Instead of trying to end underage drinking completely, we should encourage moderation. Part of the reason students go overboard is that alcohol is so forbidden and stigmatized. If you have never drank before, and you’re in a situation where everyone else is getting wasted, there is going to be pressure to match your friends shot for shot. How can you be expected to suddenly know where your limits are if alcohol was completely forbidden through high school?

Paradoxically, the best possible solution to underage drinking may be to lower the drinking age. Anyone who has ever been to Europe knows that binge drinking there is far less prevalent, and it’s because teens regularly have alcohol with their families during meals. Alcohol must be something that’s recognized as a part of life that must be enjoyed responsibly. It should not be something that needs to be stamped out. As with anything that is forbidden, it just makes you want it more.

Until the drinking age drops, our culture needs to evolve toward an understanding that underage drinking isn’t going to end. Parents and authorities should teach responsible drinking to those who are going to do it. Penalties should be focused on those who drink irresponsibly, not 20-year-olds who just want to hang out with their friends at bars. Like the war on drugs and the war on teenage sex, the war on underage drinking is one that is bound to fail unless we realize that the goal must be moderation rather than elimination.

source: The Badger Herald

Peer Influence and Peer Relationships

Friday, January 25, 2008

Everyone needs to belong — to feel connected with others and be with others who share attitudes, interests, and circumstances that resemble their own. People choose friends who accept and like them and see them in a favorable light.

Teens want to be with people their own age — their peers. During the teen years, teens spend more time with their peers and without parental supervision. With peers, teens can be both connected and independent, as they break away from their parents' images of them and develop identities of their own.

While many families help teens in feeling proud and confident of their unique traits, backgrounds, and abilities, peers are often more accepting of the feelings, thoughts, and actions associated with the teen's search for self-identity.

The influence of peers — whether positive or negative — is of critical importance in your teen's life. Whether you like it or not, the opinions of your child's peers often carry more weight than yours.

Positive Peer Pressure

The ability to develop healthy friendships and peer relationships depends on a teen's self-identity, self-esteem, and self-reliance.

At its best, peer pressure can mobilize your teen's energy, motivate for success, and encourage your teen to conform to healthy behavior. Peers can and do act as positive role models. Peers can and do demonstrate appropriate social behaviors. Peers often listen to, accept, and understand the frustrations, challenges, and concerns associated with being a teenager.

Negative Peer Pressure

The need for acceptance, approval, and belonging is vital during the teen years. Teens who feel isolated or rejected by their peers — or in their family — are more likely to engage in risky behaviors in order to fit in with a group. In such situations, peer pressure can impair good judgment and fuel risk-taking behavior, drawing a teen away from the family and positive influences and luring into dangerous activities.

For example, teens with ADHD, learning differences, or disabilities are often rejected due to their age-inappropriate behavior, and thus are more likely to associate with other rejected and/or delinquent peers. Some experts believe that teenage girls frequently enter into sexual relationships when what they are seeking is acceptance, approval, and love.

A powerful negative peer influence can motivate a teen to make choices and engage in behavior that his or her values might otherwise reject. Some teens will risk being grounded, losing their parents' trust, or even facing jail time, just to try and fit in or feel like they have a group of friends they can identify with and who accept them. Sometimes, teens will change the way they dress, their friends, give up their values or create new ones, depending on the people they hang around with.

Some teens harbor secret lives governed by the influence of their peers. Some — including those who appear to be well-behaved, high-achieving teens when they are with adults — engage in negative, even dangerous behavior when with their peers.

Once influenced, teens may continue the slide into problems with the law, substance abuse, school problems, authority defiance, gang involvement, etc.

If your teen associates with people who are using drugs or displaying self-destructive behaviors, then your child is doing the same.

Encourage Healthy and Positive Relationships

It is important to encourage friendships among teens. We all want our children to be with persons who will have a positive influence, and stay away from persons who will encourage or engage in harmful, destructive, immoral, or illegal activities.

Parents can support positive peer relationships by giving their teenagers their love, time, boundaries, and encouragement to think for themselves.

Specifically, parents can show support by:

*Having a positive relationship with your teen. When parent-teen interactions are characterized by warmth, kindness, consistency, respect, and love, the relationship will flourish, as will the teen's self-esteem, mental health, spirituality, and social skills.

*Being genuinely interested in your teen's activities. This allows parents to know their teen's friends and to monitor behavior, which is crucial in keeping teens out of trouble. When misbehavior does occur, parents who have involved their children in setting family rules and consequences can expect less flack from their children as they calmly enforce the rules. Parents who, together with their children, set firm boundaries and high expectations may find that their children's abilities to live up to those expectations grow.

*Encouraging independent thought and expression. In this way, teens can develop a healthy sense of self and an enhanced ability to resist peer pressure.

When Parents Don't Approve

You may not be comfortable about your son or daughter's choice of friends or peer group. This may be because of their image, negative attitudes, or serious behaviors (such as alcohol use, drug use, truancy, violence, sexual behaviors).

Here are some suggestions:

*Get to know the friends of your teen. Learn their names, invite them into your home so you can talk and listen to them, and introduce yourself to their parents.

*Do not attack your child's friends. Remember that criticizing your teen's choice of friends is like a personal attack.

*Help your teen understand the difference between image (expressions of youth culture) and identity (who he or she is).

*Keep the lines of communication open and find out why these friends are important to your teenager.

*Check whether your concerns about their friends are real and important.

*If you believe your concerns are serious, talk to your teenager about behavior and choices -- not the friends.

*Encourage your teen's independence by supporting decision-making based on principles and not other people.

*Let your teen know of your concerns and feelings.

*Encourage reflective thinking by helping your teen think about his or her actions in advance and discussing immediate and long-term consequences of risky behavior.

*Remember that we all learn valuable lessons from mistakes.

No matter what kind of peer influence your teen faces, he or she must learn how to balance the value of going along with the crowd (connection) against the importance of making principle-based decisions (independence).

And you must ensure that your teen knows that he or she is loved and valued as an individual at home.

Source: http://www.focusas.com/PeerInfluence.html

The Habit of Identity

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

by Dr. Sam Vaknin

In a famous experiment, students were asked to take a lemon home and to get used to it. Three days later, they were able to single out “their” lemon from a pile of rather similar ones. They seemed to have bonded.

Is this the true meaning of love, bonding, coupling?

Do we simply get used to other human beings, pets, or objects?

Habit-forming in humans is reflexive. We change ourselves and our environment in order to attain maximum comfort and well being. It is the effort that goes into these adaptive processes that forms a habit. The habit is intended to prevent us from constant experimenting and risk taking. The greater our well being, the better we function and the longer we survive.

Actually, when we get used to something or to someone – we get used to ourselves. In the object of the habit we see a part of our history, all the time and effort that we put into it. It is an encapsulated version of our acts, intentions, emotions and reactions. It is a mirror reflecting back at us that part in us, which formed the habit. Hence, the feeling of comfort: we really feel comfortable with our own selves through the agency of the object of our habit.

Because of this, we tend to confuse habits with identity. If asked WHO they are, most people will resort to describing their habits. They will relate to their work, their loved ones, their pets, their hobbies, or their material possessions. Yet, all of these cannot constitute part of an identity because their removal does not change the identity that we are seeking to establish when we enquire WHO someone is. They are habits and they make the respondent comfortable and relaxed. But they are not part of his identity in the truest, deepest sense.

Still, it is this simple mechanism of deception that binds people together. A mother feels that her offspring are part of her identity because she is so used to them that her well being depends on their existence and availability. Thus, any threat to her children is interpreted to mean a threat on her Self. Her reaction is, therefore, strong and enduring and can be recurrently elicited.

The truth, of course, is that her children are a part of her identity in a superficial manner. Removing them will make her a different person, but only in the shallow, phenomenological sense of the word. Her deep-set, true identity will not change as a result. Children do die at times and their mother does go on living, essentially unchanged.

But what is this kernel of identity that I am referring to?

This immutable entity which is the definition of who we are

and what we are and which, ostensibly, is not influenced

by the death of our loved ones?

What is so strong as to resist the breaking of habits that die hard?

It is our personality. This elusive, loosely interconnected, interacting, pattern of reactions to our changing environment. Like the Brain, it is difficult to define or to capture. Like the Soul, many believe that it does not exist, that it is a fictitious convention. Yet, we know that we do have a personality. We feel it, we experience it. It sometimes encourages us to do things – at other times, as much as prevents us from doing them. It can be supple or rigid, benign or malignant, open or closed. Its power lies in its looseness. It is able to combine, recombine and permute in hundreds of unforeseeable ways. It metamorphizes and the constancy of its rate and kind of change is what gives us a sense of identity.

Actually, when the personality is rigid to the point of being unable to change in reaction to changing circumstances, we say that it is disordered. A personality disorder is the ultimate misidentification. The individual mistakes his habits for his identity. He identifies himself with his environment, taking behavioral, emotional, and cognitive cues exclusively from it. His inner world is, so to speak, vacated, inhabited, as it were, by the apparition of his True Self.

Such a person is incapable of loving and of living. He is incapable of loving because to love (at least according to our model) is to equate and collate two distinct entities: one's Self and one's habits. The personality disordered sees no distinction. He is his habits and, therefore, by definition, can only rarely and with an incredible amount of exertion, change them. And, in the long term, he is incapable of living because life is a struggle towards, a striving, a drive at something.

In other words: Life is Change.

The person who cannot change, cannot live.

Staying Clean

Monday, January 21, 2008

Staying Clean

Recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction doesn't end with a 6-week treatment program. It's a lifelong process. Many people find that joining a support group can help them stay clean. There are support groups specifically for teens and younger people. You'll meet people who have gone through the same experiences you have, and you'll be able to participate in real-life discussions about drugs that you won't hear in your school's health class.

Many people find that helping others is also the best way to help themselves. Your understanding of how difficult the recovery process can be will help you to support others — both teens and adults — who are battling an addiction.

If you do have a relapse, recognizing the problem as soon as possible is critical. Get help right away so that you don't undo all the hard work you put into your initial recovery. And, if you do have a relapse, don't ever be afraid to ask for help!

Need help with addiction now? Contact us at Sober Teens Online

Alcoholism in the family

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The effects of alcoholism in a spouse can be devastating not only for the marriage but for the children as well. Because the alcoholic spends an inordinate amount of time thinking about and consuming alcohol, it robs the other family members of his attention and love.

How can you tell if your spouse is an alcoholic? There are several signs to look for:

* A history of alcoholism in the family. People inherit a hereditary predisposition for alcoholism. All of us can become addicted to alcohol if we drink enough of it, but those with a history of alcoholism in their families become addicted more easily than those without this history.
* A history of heavy drinking. The earlier a person began to drink, the more years he has been drinking, the more frequently he drinks and the more he consumes, the more likely it is that he has become addicted to alcohol. Any amount beyond two drinks each time alcohol is consumed suggests the potential for a problem.
* Denial about one's drinking. Alcohol has become the alcoholic's best friend because it always provides her with a high or temporary relief from stress. As a result, she will do anything to protect her use of it. Even when it is obvious to everyone else, the alcoholic will vigorously deny she has a problem. One person with a twenty year history of heavy drinking and five alcohol-related arrests told me with a straight face he didn't have a drinking problem. End of discussion. Another who admitted he had been drinking a six pack of beer every day for twenty-five years denied he was addicted to alcohol. Alcoholics show us how great is the human capacity for denial and self-delusion!
* Problems caused by drinking. DUI arrests, bad fights at home, absenteeism at work, complaints of friends, spouses and children, medical conditions caused by drinking--all are indications that alcohol has become a serious problem.
* Blackouts. Blackouts are a loss of memory, but not a loss of consciousness, which occur when a person is intoxicated. Others remember, perhaps all to painfully, what she did last night, but the alcoholic can't recall a thing.
* Preoccupation with drinking. Making sure there is an adequate supply of alcohol at a party or in the house. Also, drinking before a party.
* Gulping alcohol. Drinking quickly to get the high as soon as possible.
* Sneaking drinks. Hiding bottles in the house.
* Loss of control of drinking. If a person plans to stop at the local bar for two beers and often stays much longer until he's intoxicated, chances are he has a drinking problem. The bottom line question about alcohol is, "Do you control it or does it control you?"
* Failure to stop drinking. Let's assume a person has become concerned about her drinking and so vows to stop or control it. The fact that she can't is another sign that drinking has become a serious problem for her.

For an alcoholic to seek help, he has to decide himself he has a drinking problem. If you think your spouse is an alcoholic, I'll discuss in my next article what you can do to help him make that decision.

Source: http://www.enhancedhealing.com/

Child Abuse

Friday, January 11, 2008

Child abuse is widespread and can occur in any cultural, ethnic, and income group. Child abuse can be physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual. It can also result from neglect. Abuse can result in serious injury to the child and even possible death.

Studies show that one in four girls and one in eight boys are sexually abused before the age of 18, and that approximately one in 20 children are physically abused each year. Physical abuse involves harming a child by, for example, burning, beating, or breaking their bones. Sexual abuse occurs when there is inappropriate touching of a child's breasts or genitalia, or by someone exposing their genitalia to a child. Neglect can include physical neglect, such as withholding food, clothing, shelter, or other necessities. Emotional neglect includes withholding love or comfort or affection. Medical neglect occurs when medical care is withheld.


Children who are abused are often afraid to complain; they are fearful that they will be blamed or that no one will believe them. Parents are often unable to recognize symptoms of abuse because they may not want to face the truth. A child who has been abused needs access to special support and treatment as soon as possible. The longer the abuse continues, the less likely the child will make full recovery.

Watch out for unexplained changes in your child's body or behavior. Conduct a formal examination only if you have reason to suspect your child has been abused. Otherwise, the child may become fearful. Be alert to any of the following changes:

Signs of Physical Abuse: Any injury (bruise, burn, fracture, abdominal or head injury) that cannot be explained

Signs of Sexual Abuse: Fearful behavior (nightmares, depression, unusual fears, attempts to run away) Abdominal pain, bedwetting, urinary tract infection, genital pain or bleeding, sexually transmitted disease Extreme sexual behavior that seems inappropriate for the child's age

Signs of Emotional Abuse: Sudden change in self-confidence Headaches or stomachaches with no medical cause Abnormal fears, increased nightmares Attempts to run away

Signs of Emotional Neglect: Failure to gain weight (especially in infants) Desperately affectionate behavior Voracious appetite and stealing food


Abuse can happen in a variety of family settings. However, abuse is more likely to occur in families that are isolated and have no friends, relatives, church, or other support. Parents who suffered childhood abuse are more likely to abuse their own children. Alcohol and drug abuse also increases the likelihood that child abuse will occur. Parents who are overly critical, who are very rigid in their disciplining methods, who show too much or too little concern for their child, and who are under extreme stress are more likely to abuse their child.

Abusive parents often do not intend to hurt their children. Usually they are lashing out in anger, but a single episode increases the likelihood that other instances will occur. Such parents need professional help to develop coping strategies.


If you suspect a child has been abused, contact a pediatrician or a local child protective agency for help. Physicians are legally obligated to report all suspected cases of abuse or neglect to state authorities. They can also recommend a therapist and provide the necessary information for investigators. Doctors may also testify in court to obtain legal protection for the child and to criminally prosecute an individual suspected of engaging in sexual abuse.

Whatever the nature of the abuse, steps should be taken immediately to report the abuse and obtain help. Delaying a report decreases the child's chances for full recovery. Oftentimes, a child who has been abused or maltreated will become depressed and develop suicidal, withdrawn, or violent behavior. As the child grows older, they may turn to drugs or alcohol, attempt to run away, or they may refuse discipline and abuse others. Childhood abuse may also result in sexual difficulties, depression or suicidal behavior in adulthood.

If your child has been abused, you may be the only person who can help him. Do not delay reporting your suspicions of abuse. Denying the problem will only worsen the situation; allowing the abuse to continue decreases the child's chance for full recovery. In most cases, children who are abused or neglected suffer greater emotional than physical damage. A child who is severely mistreated may become depressed or develop suicidal, withdrawn, or violent behavior. The younger the child and the closer the child's relationship is to the abuser, the more serious the emotional damage will be. As adults, they may develop marital and sexual difficulties, depression or suicidal behavior.

If you suspect child abuse of any kind, you should:

* Take the child to a quiet, private area
* Gently encourage the child to give you enough information to evaluate whether abuse may have occurred
* Remain calm; do not upset the child
* If the child reveals the abuse, reassure her that you believe her, that she is right to tell you, and that she is not bad
* Tell the child you are going to talk to persons who can help
* Record all information
* Immediately report the suspected abuse to the proper local authorities


* American Psychiatric Association
* National Library of Medicine

The emotional trauma of early teen sex

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The pressure to have sex is one of the major issues that have plagued teenagers for decades. With hormones raging and peer pressure the urge for sexual exploration will increase. Some will give into the urge but they should consider both the physical risk and emotional turmoil.

Often, parents dread the very thought, let alone the knowledge, that their little girl or boy is having sex. However, it is important that parents put aside their fears and deal with the reality and give them 'the birds-and-bees talk' at an ideal age.

Marcus Williams, a father of two boys and two girls, said he had the talk with his girls when they were 14 years old. "My opening statement was, 'I don't grow grandchildren, they visit me'."

He said he does not talk to them about protection. Rather he believes in abstinence. He told them that education opens many doors and that should be their focus.

"I told them not to give in to peer pressure and they must not be afraid to come to me or their mother for advice."

He notes that he made sure that the types of friends they keep have positive values and are well mannered. Plus, when it comes to sleepovers, he ensures that their friends' parents are people who he is comfortable with.

He told Flair that as it relates to the boys he gives them the talk at 16 years old. He uses the same opening statement. However, he said he does not focus on abstinence, but on protection. "I let them know it is not just about protecting themselves from becoming a father but also protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)."


He notes that he does not come down on the boys too hard if they are sexually active before the talk because they might go the other way and his major concern is that they not become homosexuals.

Fathers more protective

Sex therapist, Dr. Sidney McGill, advises that fathers tend to be more protective than mothers, especially of the girls, and often advocate abstinence.

He said that one has to look at the reasons other than teens libido why they want to have sex so early. Is it because of peer pressure? If not, is it depression? Or are there relationship problems with parents?

"If a teen is sexually active, then the implication of sex, even safe sex, may not prevent STIs," said Dr. McGill. In a sexual relationship, one has to make an emotional investment and adolescents are not good at coping with the complexities of such a relationship. He said that kind of relationship would open a world that exposes them to the potential of getting hurt.

He further stated that teens usually have to cope with academics and extra-curricular activities and entering in a sexual relationship can add more stress. Instead of parents telling their children whether or not to have sex, Dr. McGill said, "They should supervise the kind of friends they keep. Plus, cultivate an open-door policy with them so they feel free to discuss anything with you. The fact is that children need the emotional experience of their parents.

Silent Epidemic

Monday, January 7, 2008

According to the most recent study by the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, nearly seventeen million Americans have tried huffing or inhaling the intoxicating fumes from common household products. Despite a small decline in huffing since 1995, experts say that millions of American kids will try huffing at least once, and some of those will develop a habit. This is the “silent epidemic” and it needs to be more recognized.

Easy access to chemicals makes huffing a popular alternative for teens. Inhalants effect the biological and neurobiological involvement by abusing brain receptors in the neurotransmitter system. These areas of the brain change by an action of the different chemicals, which are facilitated by inhaling or breathing in enough molecular levels to change the biological influences, which leads to intoxication.

More adolescents are using inhalants than those who use illicit drugs. Teenagers who might never try illegal drugs may try inhalants because they are legal, and easy to access. Inhalants are inexpensive and relatively easy to steal. Inhalants come in many shapes and forms. Kids find it in spray paint, glue, shoe polish, and Toluene. Studies show that white Caucasians and Hispanics among the ages of twelve to seventeen are more likely to use inhalants. In junior high schools, teens find easy access to chemicals located in the wood shop, auto shop, and the janitor closet that will get them high. Parents need to be educated, as well as teachers, coaches, counselors, and young children to the warning signs of intoxication from inhalants, and that every day chemicals can be used for this purpose.

There are one thousand common household products that can be used for intoxicating proposes. These volatile chemicals such as Toluene and other fumes, can be inhaled and offer a rush that lasts for forty five minutes or more. These products are legal, inexpensive, and easy to get. Studies have shown that it is easy to walk into any hardware store and walk out with a can of paint thinner, or any other chemical that can be used to get high by huffing.

Stephen Dewey, an inhalant researcher at the U.S. Department of Energy in Brookhaven New York, says that many parents and school teachers don’t even realize how easy and dangerous these products are, and that they are being used by our youth to get high. Addiction is just one of the many pitfalls that kids who huff go through. Many kids turn to inhalants as a cheap and easy way to get high; yet huffing can easily turn into a fatal mistake. Inhalants can trigger a dangerously irregular heartbeat, even in the first time user. These kids may start out laughing or giddy, and several minutes later they are dead.

We have no accurate statistics on how many kids have died from huffing, due to the fact that many of these deaths are mistakenly documented as suicides or accidents. Their friends don’t want to get caught so they say that they were depressed and that it probably was a suicide. The parents hope that if they deny there is a problem it might go away; they don’t want their child’s name dragged through the mud by the stigma of addiction. This way the huffer never gets found out. Denial is a subtle foe and with it comes unresolved issues regarding the danger and abuse of inhalants.

The following are some known substances that are categorized as being abused by inhalation:
• Hydrocarbons
• Nitrites
• Anesthetics
• Alcohol
• Halogen compounds
• Airplane glue
• Scotch-guard
• Pam cooking sprays
• Carbon tetrachloride - used in swimming pools
• Gasoline
• Paint thinner
• Butane
• White out or correction fluid
• Colored markers

There are other items too numerous to list, because there are over fourteen hundred known substances that are categorized as a capable substance that can be abused by huffing.

Often children are abusing inhalants right in front of us, and without our knowledge. The youth of today abuse potentially toxic substances because they like how it makes them feel. It may produce a feeling of euphoria, which is associated with inhalants. As parents, teachers, counselors, and any other professional, we should fear that inhalant abuse could become the “in thing” to do in our neighborhoods schools and that peer pressure will prompt others to experiment with toxic inhalant products.

There are physical and mental complications associated with inhalant abuse. These include:
• Cardiac arrhythmias
• Suffocation
• Asphyxia
• Unintended trauma
• Damage to the optic nerve
• Diminishing of cognitive abilities
• Kidney damage
• Liver damage
• Heart diseases
• Bone disease
• Breathing disruptions

Worst yet, according to medical professionals it is a fact that few young people care or feel that the above things will ever happen to them. Statistically it does happen and most children that suffer from any of these ailments eventually die at a young age. Inhalers that abuse chemicals have permanent brain damage and an increase of problems with their organs, such as the lungs, heart, and liver.

There is hope to this bleak epidemic if the public can recognize the dangers that inhalants pose, and that through our resources we will become more aware of what is going on with our youth. There are many studies and information available to help in resolving the silent and deadly abuse of inhalants.

Source: http://www.teendrugabuse.us/inhalants.html

What You Should Know About Mixing Alcohol and OTC Meds

Sunday, January 6, 2008

There are endless reasons to stay away from alcohol when taking over-the-counter medications. Alcohol can cause confusion, enhanced side effects, and even death with certain over the counter products. Here are a few things to consider before you mix alcohol with OTC meds:

Alcohol & Meds Together Can Overload Your Liver

When you drink alcohol, your liver is responsible for eliminating it from your system. This is why people with alcoholism get liver failure, because they're livers are overworked for years and years. Your liver also cleanses out toxic byproducts of OTC medications.

Unfortunately, this vital cleansing quality of liver is literally overloaded when you mix certain medications with alcohol. Your liver can't handle all the toxins you've put into your body, and then you're basically poisoned. Consequences can range from an elevated heart rate to death. To avoid potential poisoning, be sure to read all OTC labels and ask your doctor or pharmacist how much alcohol you can safely drink with your OTC meds.

Alcohol Can Worsen Side Effects

If alcohol doesn't directly damage your body, it still has the potential to exacerbate side effects associated with the OTC medications you're taking. Drowsiness and fogginess are common, and these worsened side effects can be dangerous when driving or operating heavy machinery.

It's Easy to Get Confused about Your Meds When Drunk

Yet another reason why mixing meds and alcohol is this: when you're drunk or even just have a buzz, you're less likely to take your medications correctly. You might forget to read the label, you might take the wrong dosage, or you might even take the wrong medicine all together. Even when dealing with over-the-counter drugs, it is essential to be lucid and intelligible when you taking any kind of measured medication.

Don't Be Afraid to Ask Your Local Pharmacist...

If you want to be positive that your OTC medications mixed with a night of partying won't produce undesirable side effects, don't hesitate to ask your local pharmacist any questions you can think of. This is the best way to definitively be informed about drug-alcohol interactions you could experience, aside from leaving warning labels on the OTC meds themselves. Trusted medical websites such as WebMD.com are also great places to go for drug information and answers you're looking for.

Mixing alcohol with over the counter medications is rarely a good idea, and you can avoid horrible side effects simply by being informed with labels and information. I hope this article has assisted you. Good luck!

author: Lisa Belle

Updating drug, alcohol, sex education in school

Friday, January 4, 2008

Although the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, better known as DARE, is common in school districts and is very popular among elementary-age students, the lessons are outdated and need to be revamped.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer is advocating a new program, called Enhanced HealthSmart, in place of DARE.

Enhanced HealthSmart will include what DARE covers but will include other topics such as Internet safety, nutrition, bullying, injury, unintended pregnancy and other sex education.

It also will be tailored to the needs and specifics of individual school districts, providing more flexibility than the DARE program.

Throughout elementary school I thought that the DARE program was extremely informational, and I believed it was going to make my school a better place. I now realize that I was so naive. Now that I am five years older and much more aware of what is actually going on in my community, I realize that the program has done next to nothing to help the drug, alcohol or violence issues that exist.

Although many students, including myself, choose to remain drug-free, there are many who do not. The students who resist the use of drugs or alcohol simply have willpower; they do not necessarily retain the information from DARE.

Although a major highlight of DARE was the interaction between the police officers and the students, police officers can be frightening to children who have only heard negative comments about them.

DARE has always tried to be a family-oriented program, but it tends to pit kids against their parents. In a number of communities around the country, students have been enlisted by DARE officers as informants against their parents.

As much as I feel that it is unacceptable to allow drugs or the overuse of alcohol in a house with young children - or in any situation, for that matter - I also believe children should not be pitted against their parents.

Another downside to the original program is that it teaches misleading information. According to the DARE program, Marlboro Light cigarettes, Bacardi rum and a drag from a joint are all equally dangerous. That information has been proven untrue.

The decision to end the DARE program was a good one. Enhanced HealthSmart is a much more beneficial program.

author: Alexa Bennett-Rosman |
Alexa Bennett- Rosman is a senior at Rocky Point High School.

source: newsday.com

Book tries to crack facade

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Jose Rosado walks next to the tree in Bethlehem where his mentor and Bethlehem Area School District educator Iris Cintron challenged him to turn his life around by enrolling in college. He is now an assistant principal at East Hills Middle School in the district.

Jose Rosado has told his story to individuals and small groups, always with the hope that it will inspire someone to change his life.

It begins in poverty, in a brown paper bag of booze and a haze of marijuana smoke. It ends with Rosado as a successful educator in the Bethlehem Area School District, a respected community activist and occasional political candidate.

''I'm not worried about skeletons in the closet,'' said Rosado, 44, an assistant principal at East Hills Middle School. ''I let them out a long time ago.''

Now Rosado is hoping to reach a bigger audience. He's shelled out $9,000 to self-publish an autobiography about growing up poor in Bethlehem public housing, becoming a father as a pot-smoking, boozing 19-year-old college student and giving up alcohol cold turkey 17 years ago.

''Being Good At Being Bad: Troubled Teenagers, Factors and Solutions'' intersperses Rosado's experiences and beliefs with national statistics to outline what he believes leads to happy children becoming angry teenagers on the brink of failure: broken homes, failed legislation and poor role models. The book, through infinitypublishing.com, sells for $13.95.

''Just by the feedback I've received from people, they are happy I've addressed many of these issues of troubled teens head-on,'' Rosado said. ''I'm willing to put myself out there with my thoughts on these controversial issues.''

While making money on the book would be nice, Rosado said, he is not holding out hope his book will become a best-seller. He is not embarrassed that he went the self-publishing route after a few traditional publishing houses turned him down. He's not worried about what people may think of him or his beliefs. He's just happy he had the guts to write what he has been preaching for more than two decades.

Rosado retold his story late last year while sitting on a shopping cart abandoned under a tree near Lebanon Street and Eastwood Road in Bethlehem's Marvine-Pembroke development. Rosado grew up there after his first home was razed in the South Terrace development in south Bethlehem.

Rosado knew what the shopping cart symbolized: poverty and despair. It was probably left there by a public housing resident who couldn't afford a car, he said, so it was used to get groceries home and abandoned, much like the resident's own dreams of a better life.

Rosado recalled that it was under the same tree 25 years earlier when he decided to retrieve his dreams, with a not-so-gentle nudging from longtime Bethlehem Area School District educator Iris Cintron.

''I was working at Hardy's on Airport Road; they've been closed forever,'' Rosado said. ''I came home, showered, shaved and did my normal routine. I grabbed a quart of beer and relaxed under the tree. Iris happened to be driving by, stopped, got out of the car and said, 'What are you planning to do?'''

With Cintron's guidance, Rosado put down the spatula that earned him minimum wage, got two college degrees and became a school guidance counselor and administrator who has used his personal experience of growing up and getting out of the projects to help individual students.

Cintron said Rosado's personal story connects with students.

''The kinds of barriers Jose has faced and the kinds of mountains he's had to climb are the same mountains many of our kids face on a daily basis,'' said Cintron, now the district's supervisor of Minority Affairs/Governmental Programs and Grants.

As far as his book is concerned, Cintron said, the ideas are Rosado's, not her's or the school district's. But she said his book makes you think.

Bethlehem Police Commissioner Randy Miller got to know Rosado when Miller was a rookie patrolman in the Marvine-Pembroke development, which in the 1970s and 1980s was so rife with violence and drugs that when two police cars responded to a call, a third was brought in to guard the cars. While he has not read Rosado's book, Miller said, he has always respected him for getting out of the developments.

''I always respected him for trying to better himself versus becoming another statistic,'' Miller said. ''He's a respected citizen.''

The new author does not pull punches in describing what he thinks leads to those grim statistics on dropouts, gangs, prisoners and substance abusers.

''What is 'Being Good At Being Bad?''' Rosado asked. ''Being good at being bad is a lifestyle, it's about status and recognition, it's about masking pain and failure with a tough facade.''

source: http://www.mcall.com