By the time we reach 50, we’ve had a plethora of life experiences.
For some, it’s been a “normal” path. Birth, school, college (or trade school) then straight into the work force. Perhaps you got married, had kids, went through a divorce or got a new job. In between it all, you had friends and experiences, both good and bad that helped influence who you are.
Perhaps one of the most influential aspects of our modern culture is music. Over the years studies have shown how music can uplift the soul and at the same time open the doorway to sadness and despair.
Music affects moods, shopping habits and energizes sport teams. But what about the correlation between popular music and substance abuse?
According to Addiction Magazine,“teens use music as part of their identity formation…. teens use music to resolve or better understand their own inner conflicts and emotional turmoil, and as an outlet for angst.” Other researchers point to the combination of lyrics and music as a “powerful motivator because it connects mental and emotional spheres.”
If music is the “motivator,” shouldn’t we pay attention to what our kids are listening to? What if the lyrics are laced with the glorification of alcohol or the euphoria of drug addiction?
A little common sense goes a long way in preventing substance abuse. Take the time to discern the values, philosophies and world views of the artist and their music. Ask yourself if these are the type of values and world views you want your kids to emulate.
Maybe you’d rather discard them and teach your kids to be critical thinkers instead. Like the old computer analogy so adequately puts it, “Garbage in = Garbage Out.”
It’s called “Sizzurp,” “Lean,” or “Purple Drank.” Have you heard of it?
It may sound innocuous, but it could send your teen to the emergency room.
Sizzurp is a sugary sweet blend of soda (usually Sprite), Jolly Ranchers candy and Promethazine Codeine cough syrup. This is the “pure” version. However, some people add alcohol, crushed pills or other drugs to give it more of a “kick.”
So what’s the draw for young people? According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, 1 in 10 teens has tried cold medicine or cough syrup to get high. Aside from the “cool” factor, Sizzurp gives users a euphoric high from the Codeine (an opiate mediation). Promethazine (a “downer”) affects their alertness, energy level and motor skills.
When these two ingredients are combined, it can make a person lean over when they stand or walk, thus the nickname “Lean.”
Because Sizzurp is so sweet, drinkers can down it like juice. Before you know it, a person has consumed an entire bottle of cough syrup. That can be up to 25 times the recommended dosage. Too much codeine and promethazine can cause nausea, dizziness, impaired vision, memory loss, hallucinations and seizures.
In overdose situations, Sizzurp can shut down the central nervous and respiratory systems, stopping the heart and suppressing breathing. DJ Screw and rapper Pimp C both died after taking Sizzurp in the early- to mid-2000s.
Parents should be aware that Sizzurp is made from items kids can get right at home. It may seem excessive, but checking your medicine cabinet for missing cough syrup bottles might not be a bad idea. Your teen taking a liking to Jolly Ranchers or Sprite when they didn’t before should also set off alarm bells.
Valentine’s Day is this week, which means couples will be out celebrating all things red, pink and heart-shaped. Even if you’re not in a romantic relationship, you can still celebrate love in all its forms.
Love comes in many different shapes and sizes. Family and friends are certainly special to us, but we rarely give them a passing thought on the one day of the year dedicated to showing our affections! I say we change that mentality.
Start with your children. Studies show kids that spend quality time with their parents on a frequent basis are much less likely to take risks using drugs, drinking alcohol, having promiscuous sex and or getting involved in other dangerous activities.
Your time and love is the most effective form of prevention there is. If you haven’t made plans with your family for Valentine’s, there’s still plenty of time. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
While you’re at it, why not exchange valentines? I always get cards for my loved ones, whether I’m single or attached. It’s just important to let those in your life know that you care.
Valentine’s Day definitely shines a spotlight on love, but don’t forget to let those special people know you care everyday during the year. Watch how your relationships change for the better when you make a conscious effort to give a hug, kiss or kind word.
Have other suggestions for family-friendly activities? Drop me an email with your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you.
At age 46, Philip Seymour Hoffman had so much going for him. He was an actor, director, father, brother and friend. He was nearly finished filming the final Hunger Games movie and had just premiered A Most Wanted Man at the Sundance Film Festival.
Until his relapse last year, Hoffman had been sober for 23 years. He sought treatment for pill and heroin addiction in May 2013 with support from family and friends.
Now that he’s gone, everyone is talking about the legacy he leaves. Will he be remembered as someone who “fell off the wagon” or just couldn’t “kick the habit”? Will his willpower be called into question? Or does his death reveal a more important truth about addition?
Hoffman was a world-class talent suffering from a very serious disease. If this tragedy shows us anything, it’s that addiction does not discriminate. It is a progressive, lifelong and often fatal illness millions suffer with everyday.
Relapse is common, even after years of sobriety. It’s part of the process. In fact, 40%-60% people in recovery will eventually relapse, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
If we approached relapse from addiction more like we approach relapse from other chronic diseases like cancer or MS, we could prevent many more deaths. Instead of demonizing and blaming the addict, we should seek to understand why they relapsed and how to prevent it in the future.
Hoffman’s relapse had little to do with “willpower” and more to do with how his brain is wired. Drugs permanently change the brain. It takes vigilant self-monitoring to avoid setbacks.
It’s hard to say what triggered Hoffman’s relapse, but personal stressors and legally prescribed painkillers likely played a role. Opiate medications mimic the high you get from heroin, which can send a recovering person into relapse.
Remember, addiction doesn’t have to be a death sentence. Many people undergo treatment and go on to live healthy, happy, productive lives. The earlier you get help, the better your outcome and the sooner you can get your life back on track.
If you or a loved one is experiencing substance abuse or addiction, visit our Get Help page to find treatment resources in the area or call (865) 588-5550 and ask for Stan Grubb.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is holding the third annual National Drug Facts celebration this week. Taking part in National Drug Facts Week means you have the opportunity to help shatter the myths about drug use for teens.
Every day, teens are bombarded with conflicting messages that may leave them feeling confused and unsure of who to ask for information about drug use. With about 16 percent of Knoxville teens reporting past abuse of prescription drugs and another 18 percent admitting to binge drinking in the past month, it’s crucial to reach teens with the facts.
Wondering how you can take part? There are plenty of ways to get involved in National Drug Facts Week. You can:
I’ll never forget my experience of having my first child.
During my stay in the hospital, doctors and nurses visited my room ‘round the clock making sure all my needs were met. They gave all sorts of information on breastfeeding, sleep routines and tummy time. It was great!
Once it was time to be discharged, that information came to a screeching halt. I didn’t have a “how to raise a child” manual and was ill-prepared for what was to come. I spent the next 5 years (and counting) trying to figure it out.
As parents we don’t have all the answers. When our children are young it’s nearly impossible to fathom they will ever make destructive decisions such as binge drinking or drug abuse.
The fact of the matter is that our babies grow up and we are not their only influence. However, we can be their most important influence.
Teen substance abuse has become a far too common and it’s important that parents become informed about substance abuse and what they can do to prevent this in their home.
Here are 8 mistakes to avoid that could lead to substance abuse:
Failing to set clear expectations
Before your child is a teen, let them know you will not tolerate drug and alcohol use. Teens that know their parents disapprove of drug use are 50 percent less likely to use.
Ignoring mental health issues
Listen to your child and be aware of their emotional, mental and physical needs. It’s easy to disregard your child’s complaints and deem them as typical teenage phases. 75 percent of teens cite academic stress as a leading factor to substance abuse.
Believing that experimentation is a rite of passage for teens
Remember that drugs you “experimented” with when you were teen are not what kids are abusing today. Commonly abused drugs by teens today are prescription meds, cocaine, and heroin.
Setting the wrong example
Actions speaks louder than words. If they see you irresponsibly abusing alcohol or drugs, they are more likely to mimic your behavior. As an adult drinking is not illegal but it should be done responsibly.
Lacking knowledge on the subject
Your teens are going to have questions about drugs and alcohol. If you don’t know how to respond, you will lose credibility with them. Stay informed on teen substance abuse trends and help your kids stay above the influence of drugs and alcohol
Ignoring the signs of drug use
Drug abuse in teens can often be confused with normal teen behavior. Three signs of abuse are the sudden change in friends, being secretive and a complete personality change. If you experience these signs then it’s time to intervene
Not engaging in and allowing for open, honest communication
Whoever said teenage years was the best days of your life were wrong. These are tough times for them and they face a lot of social pressure. They need to have that support from their parents. When talking to your children about substance abuse allow for open exchange and try not to be too “preachy”.
Waiting to get help
If your teen has a substance abuse problem get them help right away. Their lives may depend on it.
How often do you go out with friends or family and see them constantly checking their phones? You think: “Maybe if I stapled their phone to my head I could actually get them to pay attention.”
Or maybe it’s you that’s sucked into the endless barrage of emails, text messages, social media alerts and calendar reminders.
There’s no getting around it. We live in an always-connected, tech-obsessed world. I’ve even seen elementary students with iPhones. Elementary kids!
Don’t you sometimes wish you could go back to the days without the internet? Well, folks, here’s a piece of advice for you, and something I plan to put into practice myself:
TURN OFF YOUR PHONES!
And while you’re at it, why not turn off the TV, iPad, computer or whatever hot new gadget you’re addicted to and really engage with your loved ones?
Imagine having a true conversation with real, actual words. What a novel concept.
Your family knows when you aren’t engaged. You might think you’re hiding it well or a stealth multitasker, but kids have a sixth sense about these things. If you’re paying more attention to your phone than you are to your loved ones, you’re sending a clear message (whether you mean to or not).
“I care more about technology than I do about listening to you.”
Family connectedness is a known deterrent against risky behaviors, including drug and alcohol use. Why not make it a New Year’s goal to spend more (distraction-free) time with your family? Instead of wasting a gorgeous day with your nose in a screen, go on a winter hike or check out a Knoxville Ice Bears game.
Years from now, what are you going to remember most? The smile on their faces or Kim Kardashian’s latest Instagram pic? You miss so much of life’s natural beauty when you’re staring at your little rectangle box.
If unplugging for a whole day is too much for you, that’s okay. It’s better to know your limits than to set an unachievable goal that will do nothing but frustrate you. Start small. First go for 15 minutes, then 30 then an hour. The more you practice unplugging, the easier it will be.
Looking back to your childhood, you might remember an adult who helped keep you in line and out of trouble. In celebration of National Mentoring Month, why not help another child reap the benefits of mentorship?
I know the impact of a positive adult influence in a child’s life. Since 2010, I’ve mentored a young girl who has grown up in very difficult circumstances. We get together a couple of times a month to spend quality time. In those years, I’ve watched her grades improve and her horizons expand. I know our relationship, at least in small part, has something to do with that.
There are so many challenges kids face in today’s modern world, from bullying to academics to sexual pressures to substance abuse. It would be difficult to navigate for anyone. Because teens lack life experience, they often make decisions that leave adults shaking their heads in exasperation.
There’s a reason why teen behavior is so baffling, and it has to do with their brain composition. The last part of the brain to mature is the prefrontal cortex, otherwise known as the “command center” of the brain. It controls a ton of important functions, including mood, behavior and sleep.
It also helps a person determine right from wrong and think about the consequences of their actions. A young person’s prefrontal cortex is not fully developed until their early to mid 20s. Explains a lot, huh?
As a mentor, you can help youth make better decisions just by giving a few hours of your time each month. Go out for a run, play basketball, cook a healthy meal or work on homework together. It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy. What’s important is that you’re together.
When you’re talking, remember this saying: “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” As adults, our natural inclination is to tell kids exactly what to do and how to do it. We want to help them avoid the mistakes we made. Your intentions may be good, but more often than not, it backfires.
Sometimes, you have to keep your mouth shut, as hard as it may be. Your role is to influence, not dictate. Kids have to reach their own decisions, even if that means they will experience a negative outcome.
Mistakes are a natural part of life and help us learn. When kids make bad choices (as they inevitably will), it’s your job to hold them accountable without shame or judgment.
Many kids in our community lack a stable adult influence. This month, take the time to impact the life of a child. You’ll be so glad you did. You don’t need special skills or a dazzling resume. Just a heart for helping kids.
New Year’s Eve is here! With the champagne toasts only hours away, you can be sure alcohol will be flowing. This can mean trouble for partygoers if they indulge a little too much.
If you chose to have alcohol, drink moderately. More than four drinks a day for men and three drinks a day for women is considered high risk drinking. This can put you in danger of alcohol poisoning, injuries, car crashes or sexual assault.
Make a responsible drinking plan before you head out for the evening. These tips can help get you started:
Set Limits- Decide how many drinks you’ll have ahead of time, and stick to it.
Count Your Drinks- Large drinks or “doubles” can be the equivalent of two or more standard drinks. A Long Island Iced Tea, for example, has on average 5 shots of liquor, the equivalent of 5 standard drinks.
Pace Yourself- Don’t drink more than one standard drink per hour. That’s one 12 oz. beer OR one 1 oz. shot OR a 5 oz. glass of wine.
Sip Water- Drink a big glass of water in between every alcoholic drink. It will slow you down and keep you hydrated.
Nibble, Nibble- Food prevents alcohol from entering your bloodstream too quickly.
Don’t Get Behind The Wheel- Buzzed driving is still drunk driving. Err on the side of caution and hop in the backseat, even if you’ve just had a few.
Law enforcement is stepping up enforcement to stop drunk drivers. Don’t put your life and the lives of others at risk. Have a sober driver or a cab take you home. If a friend has had too much, help arrange a safe way home.
We hope everyone has a great time tonight! For more party tips, visit the Safe Party Planning page.