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“Many parents are already aware of the horrific problem young Americans have with binge drinking, but it’s time to spread the alarm.”
—Editorial, The New York Times
“Parents are so in need of this help. Physicians and other health care providers absolutely need this book!”
—JAMES W. WEST, M.D., Former Medical Director
Betty Ford Center
More praise for Teens Under the Influence
“Year after year the Gallup Polls show how devastating alcohol and other drug addictions are to individuals and our society as a whole. The new big threat is adolescent drug use and addiction, a problem that affects our society at all levels. Teens Under the Influence will be welcomed and applauded by parents, educators, judges, probation officers, and adolescents themselves. It will be a wonderful teaching tool, helping us to educate our children and ourselves about the facts, eliminating the many myths that cloud our thinking, and helping to eradicate the stigma of alcohol and other drug addictions.”
—GEORGE GALLUP, Chairman
The George H. Gallup International Institute
Princeton, New Jersey
“It is difficult to overestimate the importance and severity of adolescent alcohol and drug addiction, which is growing continually and also contributing to an increased rate of adolescent suicide. Strong parental leadership can make an enormous difference, but many parents do not know how to asserts that kind of positive influence. Teens Under the Influence will save lives.”
—ROBERT CANCRO, M.D.
Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Psychiatry and Department Chair, NYU School of Medicine
What will happen to Thomas? His future will follow one of two divergent pathways. If he continues to use drugs—alcohol, in his case—he will experience increasingly severe emotional, behavioral, and physical problems. If, on the other hand, he stops using alcohol and other drugs, receives appropriate and effective treatment for his drug problem and any co-occurring emotional or behavioral disorders that might exist, and is offered ongoing support and encouragement in recovery, he can improve his relationships with his parents and friends, rebuild his self-confidence, and gradually work through the problems in his life.
Let’s look at the first option, which is, unfortunately and often tragically, the more common pathway. As his parents, physician, mental health counselor, and teachers continue to search for ways to control Thomas’s self-destructive behavior, they will unwittingly deflect attention away from his alcohol problem. These diversions from the primary problem—drug (alcohol) dependence—to the symptoms that are caused or exacerbated by his drug use (angry outbursts, violent behaviors, irritability, mood changes, anxiety, paranoia, depression, suicidal thoughts) will serve as a smoke screen, preventing Thomas from receiving appropriate help.
As he continues to drink, his emotional and behavioral problems will increase. He will have trouble at school with his peers, teachers, and administrators. His grades will fall, and he may be kicked out of school or drop out on his own. He will become sullen and withdrawn. He will stop talking to his parents and refuse to follow their advice. Tormented by self-loathing, he will wonder if he is going crazy and fear that there is no way out of the hole he is in.
As time goes by and the disease progresses, he will begin to suffer mild and moderate withdrawal symptoms—shaking, sweating, nausea, insomnia, mood swings, moderate or intense craving for alcohol or other drugs.
He will have accidents—falls, car accidents, burns, broken bones. These mishaps may involve minor scrapes and bruises, or they may require trips to the emergency room. They may be life threatening.
His relationships with family members will slowly but surely deteriorate. His teachers, coaches, friends, and relatives will lose faith in him. He will be called, by people who do not understand the nature and extent of his drug problems, “a bad kid,” “a juvenile delinquent,” or even “a lost cause.”
His self-hatred will deepen, and his sense of hopelessness will increase. As his shame and guilt intensify, he will become increasingly depressed. He may try to take his own life.
For too many young people addicted to alcohol and/or other drugs, this is the common pathway. Everyone is unique, of course, and no adolescent’s experience is exactly like another’s, but the general descent into more serious problems—and the one-dimensional focus on emotional and behavioral problems that are, in many cases, caused or exacerbated by the primary disease of drug addiction—is typical. Only one in ten adolescents who need treatment for alcohol and/or other drug addictions are getting it.
But there is another way. If Thomas is fortunate enough to be evaluated by someone who understands the unique problems associated with adolescent drug use and addiction, he and his parents will receive help in the form of fact-based education, counseling, treatment, and continuing care. He will be screened for emotional and behavioral disorders and for past and/or current victimization or maltreatment. He will be referred for appropriate treatment—with careful attention paid to both chemical dependency and co-occurring emotional or behavioral problems—and he will take part in a structured, long-term continuing care program.
If Thomas drops out of treatment or suffers a relapse after treatment, it is critically important that his family members and helping professionals do not dismiss him as a treatment “failure.” Substance-use disorders are chronic in nature, and treatment specialists advise a “never give up” attitude and a firm commitment to continuing care.
Statistics show that treatment programs based on current scientific evidence work. Treatment may not work miracles right here, right now, but over time it saves lives—and even short episodes of treatment dramatically reduce the damage to individuals, families, and our society as a whole.
Every bit of factual information about the disease and every period of sobriety, no matter how brief, can serve to “inoculate” adolescents against future problems. When kids know the facts about drugs and their effect on the developing brain and body, they also know what they must do to protect themselves. They know that if they use alcohol or other drugs, they put their physical, emotional, and spiritual health at risk. They know how drugs affect behavior, mood, motivation, and personality. They know that help is available, and they know what they can do to help themselves.
Once you know the facts, it ruins the fun of using drugs. After my fifth stay in detention—I kept running away from home and getting MIP [minor-in-possession] and MIC [minor-in-consumption] charges—my probation officer gave me the choice of treatment or spending a year in an institution. At the time, I hated her for forcing me into treatment. I was so angry and felt so powerless. But treatment changed my life. I learned all this stuff about my brain and the power of addiction to take over your mind and spirit, and now I know what I should do—not just for this moment, day, week, or month, but for my entire life.
My life is on the line, it’s that simple, and knowing that one fact changes everything. Now I’m thinking about my life and the person I want to become. I’m also thinking about all the people who love me and who suffer when I use drugs. I’m not going to say it will be easy, but I do know this—if I can stay clean, I’ll live a lot longer, my life will be a lot happier, and I will be able to wake up in the morning and look in the mirror without wanting to cry.
Knowledge is the master key to helping adolescents in trouble with alcohol and other drugs. Adolescents—and, just as important, the adults who care for them and make decisions about their futures—must know the facts. For without the facts, we are hobbled by myths and misconceptions. We make decisions that will harm others, and ourselves, and we allow drugs to maintain their control over all our lives.
The primary purpose of this book is to present the facts as the scientific research has reported them, undistorted by myth and misconception. Separating myth from fact is not an easy or simple task, for misconceptions about addiction have persisted for hundreds, even thousands, of years. Myths are, in truth, reality for many people, and when we suggest that a different reality exists, we turn their world upside down. Few of us are comfortable when we discover that our beliefs and the decisions we have made based on those beliefs are rooted in error and misconception.
Yet only when we rely on the facts can we release our chil- dren, and ourselves, from the shame and disgrace that have surrounded drug use and addiction for thousands of years. Only with the facts can we help kids understand what drugs do to their bodies, minds, and spirits, and offer them the tools they need to protect themselves.
Only with the facts—and the willingness to use them to dismantle the prevailing myths and misconceptions—can we put an end to the death and destruction caused by drugs and the chronic, progressive disease of drug addiction . . . a disease that destroys the lives of tens of thousands of Americans, young and old alike, year after year after year.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Posted December 23, 2010
This is a must read book for all parents before there child is in 5th to 6th grade. The things I was and still blinded by and what I found out about my son I thought I was to late but I wasn't your never to late to help your child. I found out my son was using at age 14 yrs old, but thats not when he started he was 11 yrs old. I wished that in all the grieving books and counseling places I could have been warned that when a child loses a close family member like a father that they might turn to drugs but no I wasn't warned at all. So I just love this book All PARENTS MUST READ!!!!!!!!! I am also thank full for NOOK because I needed this book fast I couldn't wait a week for it to get delivered to me so I just downloaded NOOK to my PC and ordered the book it was so easy. Thank you to the Authors and the kids story's in this book, If it wasn't for you guys i don't know where me or my son would be plus my two other kids that had to watch this chaos. MindyWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 17, 2004
This book is invaluable. It answers so many questions that adults are in the dark about - from drugs their kids might be using to what they should do if they are using. I am so indebted to this author - not only for the information she provided, but for a book that was not only easy to read, but held my interest page after page.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 16, 2004
Any parent who has questions or concerns about drug/alcohol use concerning their child needs to read this book. It helps the parent know what to look for, understand the various drugs, find out where to go for help and most importantly, know that you aren't alone. Beautifully written and very thorough.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 9, 2003
I work at an alternative school with kids whose lives have been turned upside down because of drugs. This book helped me in so many ways - how to distinguish who's using (and what they're using), lots of advice to offer parents, and most importantly, how to help kids get out of the devastating nightmare of drug abuse.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 14, 2011
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