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Your Teen

“See it before you sign it”. Fire Safety for Off College Campus Living

1:45

Whether it’s in the spring, fall, winter or summer, many college kids will eventually move to off campus living quarters. Parents and students typically have time to do research on the areas around campus that are for rent. However, there are some fire prevention safety tips that you might not have thought about.

The best advice to help keep your college student safe is… don’t sign on the dotted line until you’ve actually seen the apartment or house.

Why? Because about seven people every year, die in fires in dorms, fraternities, sororities and off-campus housing.

Since 2000, nearly 120 people have died in campus fires, according to a U.S. Fire Administration (USFA).

Off-campus housing tops the list for fires.

Most (94 percent) fatal campus fires took place in off-campus housing, according to incidents examined by USFA between 2000 and 2015.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has teamed up with USFA, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and Campus Firewatch to help get this warning out. Don’t sign a contract for housing until you see it yourself. That goes for Mom and Dad too. See it, take a housing tour and make sure you look for:

#1 Working smoke alarms

Make sure there are working smoke alarms on every level and inside each bedroom. Smoke alarms save lives. Fire sprinklers add lifesaving protection too.

USFA found that smoke alarms were missing or did not have batteries in 58 percent of fatal campus fires. None of the fatal fire locations had fire sprinklers.

#2 Two ways out of each room for a safe escape. Make sure all windows and doors open easily. You need to be able to get out if there is a fire. Two ways out are best.

#3 Campus or off-campus housing that can handle today’s electric power needs.

Laptop computers, phones, televisions and coffee makers take a lot of power. Some older homes may not be able to handle all the electrical demand by today’s students. USFA found that electrical issues caused 11 percent of the fires.

#4 Be in the know.

Make sure that your college student knows how to be responsible around alcohol and smoking. The USFA study found these two things involved in the majority of the fires.

Also, if your child is going to be cooking his or her own meals, a discussion about keeping an eye on the food when it is cooking and avoiding distractions is a necessity.

College is a time of new and exciting beginnings. Be sure to “See it before you sign it” for off-campus housing so that an overlooked danger doesn’t have a chance to bring precious college years to an abrupt and devastating end.

Story source: http://onsafety.cpsc.gov/blog/2016/04/04/see-it-before-you-sign-it/

Your Teen

Is Your Teen’s Aching Knee More Than “Growing Pains”?

2.00 to read

Many kids experience what is commonly referred to as “growing pains” as they get older.  Children may experience aches and pains as young as 3 to 4 years old, then again around 8 to 12 years of age.

When a teen’s legs and knees hurt, he or she may also be told that they are probably suffering from growing pains and that they will grow out of it. 

There are times when a youngster or teen has simply overdone it by running and / or jumping too much. Like anyone else, if they haven’t used those muscles enough – they’ll be sore.

However, consistent knee pain is something else.

A Danish study says that if a teen’s knee pain persists, it could become a chronic condition affecting their quality of life.

"We can see from the study that one in three young people between the ages of 12 and 19 experience problems with pain in their knees," said Michael Skovdal Rathleff, a physiotherapist from Aarhus University. "Seven percent of the adolescents experience daily knee pain in the front of the knee. More than half still have problems after two years, so it is not something they necessarily grow out of."

The study involving 3,000 teens revealed knee pain is a more significant problem than previously thought.

"If knee pain is not treated there is a high risk of the pain becoming chronic. And this clearly has a big consequence for the individual's everyday life and opportunities," Rathleff noted in a university news release. "Our findings show that these adolescents have as much pain symptoms and reduced quality of life as adolescents on a waiting list for a cruciate knee ligament reconstruction, or as a 75-year-old six months after receiving a new knee."

Other studies have shown that about 25 percent of patients who've undergone a knee replacement because of osteoarthritis of the kneecap also had knee pain since they were teenagers. Osteoarthritis of the kneecap, the researchers concluded, may sometimes begin early in life. They added, however, that earlier treatment and proper training could help.

According to a study published in BMC Pediatrics, pain resolves in about half of the young people with knee pain when they get the right physical therapy. Unfortunately, many kids may not get the therapy they need soon enough.

"It is worrying that the pain only disappears in the case of half of the young people who actually do the training," said Rathleff. "The indications are that we should start the treatment somewhat earlier where it is easier to cure the pain."

Do all teens with a bad knee need physical therapy? Not necessarily, it all depends on the child's circumstances, Rathleff noted.

If your child has knee pain that doesn’t seem to go away or consistently comes and goes, you might want to talk with your family doctor or pediatrician about physical therapy and see if he or she recommends it. The benefits could be life changing for your active teen. 

Source: Mary Elizabeth Dallas, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/teen-growing-pains-may-persist-for-years-690210.html

Your Teen

Teens Suffering from FOMA (Fear of Missing Out)

2:00

At one time or another, we’ve probably all experienced the feeling that our friends are out having fun, doing interesting things or just simply meeting up, and for some reason, we didn’t know. It’s called the fear of missing out or FOMA. Teenagers are particularly susceptible to FOMA in today’s super charged social media network, according to a new study.

Experts from the Australian Psychological Society (APS) found FOMO elevates anxiety levels of teenagers and may contribute to depression.

It’s not only teens whose stress levels are increasing due to heavy social media use, but adults are also experiencing more anxiety.

The findings, released in the 2015 National Stress and Wellbeing in Australia Survey, measured the levels of stress that Aussies experience and how the use of social media affects their behavior and wellbeing.

Dr. Mubarak Rahamathulla, a senior social work lecturer at Flinders University who led the report, said that levels of anxiety, stress and depression of Aussies who were involved in the study have increased since the beginning of their survey.

The survey included questions on Aussies' experience on social media, as well as a separate survey containing questions about FOMO for teenagers who were aged 13 to 17 years old. More than half of all the teenagers involved in the survey admit that they use social media 15 minutes before bed every night.

Four in ten of the teens said they use social media when they are in the company of others and one in four said they check in on social media while eating breakfast and lunch every day.

The fear of missing out seems to affect teens more that are heavy social media users. About 50 percent of the respondents said they felt the fear of missing out on their friends' inside jokes and events, as well as the chance to show they're having fun on social media.

All this checking in to see what their friends are up to seems to leave some teens feeling like they are living less rewarding lives. For instance, a user may be watching TV at home and decides to casually check and scroll through Facebook. Only, the user sees that his friends have posted photos of them out clubbing and he suddenly feels like he's missing out on something important.

“There is a very strong positive correlation between the hours spent on digital technology and higher stress and depression," said Rahamathulla.

He added that teens today are somehow getting confused between the online world and the real world.

APS member and psychologist Adam Ferrier said that people have always felt the fear of missing out on parties and activities even before the Internet, but social media indeed elevated the FOMO intensely.

Some teens are catching on that too much social media isn’t good for one’s sense of wellbeing. They’ve made the decision to cut back and spend more time with family, doing something they like to do or enjoying a little quiet time alone. But many teens are caught up in the habit of checking on what others are doing and comparing their life to their friends.   

Experts agree that parents need to be aware of how much time their child is spending on social media and watch for symptoms of depression or anxiety. Redirecting their attention or requiring that electronics be turned off after a certain hour at night can help them remember that the real world is a good place to visit and hang out for awhile.

Source: Alyssa Navarro, http://www.techtimes.com/articles/104417/20151109/fomo-leads-to-depression-and-anxiety-in-teen-social-media-users.htm

 

Your Teen

Teens Using Internet for Better Health

2:00

There’s been a lot of bad news concerning teens and the Internet but finally there’s something good to report. According to a new study, many adolescents are using the Internet to research ideas on how they can improve their health.

In the first national study in more than a decade to look at how adolescents use digital tools for health information, nearly one-third of teenagers said they used online data to improve behavior — such as cutting back on drinking soda, using exercise to combat depression and trying healthier recipes — according to a study to be released Tuesday by researchers at Northwestern University.

Now that’s the kind of Internet use that makes parents let out a sigh of relief.

The study emphasizes the importance of making sure that there is accurate and easy to understand information that is available “because it’s used and acted upon,” said Ellen Wartella, director of Northwestern’s Center on Media and Human Development and lead author of the report.

While social media may be the new neighborhood community, 88 percent of the participants said they didn’t want to share their health concerns on Facebook or on one of the many other social media outlets.

“I mainly find it kind of moving, because it really illustrates that a lot of teens are grappling with very real, very important health challenges and that the Internet is empowering them with the information they need to take better care of themselves,” said Vicky Rideout, a co-author of the study.

Researchers surveyed 1,156 American teenagers between 13- and 18-years-old. Teens in English-speaking households were surveyed last fall, and those in Spanish-dominant households were surveyed in March. Eighty percent of those surveyed attended public school.

The survey explored how often teens use online tools, how much information they receive, what topics they are most concerned with, what sources they trust and whether they have changed their health behaviors as a result.

The top health topics were fitness and exercise (42 percent), diet and nutrition (36 percent), stress or anxiety (19 percent), sexually transmitted diseases (18 percent), puberty (18 percent), and depression or other mental health issues (16 percent).

While Internet health-related searchers are growing in popularity, parents are still the number one choice for teens to learn about health issues (55 percent).

The next source was health classes in school, doctors and nurses and Internet searches being the fourth most popular way to get the information they wanted.

“The Internet is not replacing parents, teachers, and doctors; it is supplementing them,” the researchers wrote.

In fact, 23 percent of teens say they have gone online to research information about a condition that affects a friend or family member. Data from the study indicates that 31 percent of low-income teens have done so, compared with 18 percent of high-income teens.

What are the top health topics teens are Googling? Fitness and exercise was number one (42 percent). Followed by diet and nutrition (36 percent). Next up was stress or anxiety (19 percent), and a few that many parents might not think of; sexually transmitted diseases (18 percent), puberty (18 percent), and depression or other mental health issues (16 percent).

The survey points out that teens may need extra attention when it comes to digital literacy skills. So many articles are wrapped in advertising that is trying to sell someone a particular weight-loss product or new diet aid. Half of teens say they usually click on the first site that comes up. Domain names that end with “.edu” are more trusted than those that end with “.com,” the survey found.

“We need to make sure there is good information for teens online,” Rideout said. Teens could be influenced by the tweets they see about e-cigarettes without realizing that a large proportion are coming from manufacturers, she said.

Still though, teens are learning a lot from the Internet; a place where they can search for answers anonymously. It’s up to parents, teachers, doctors and nurses to guide them towards websites with sound information that is based on on the kinds of websites where they can find science-centered information and helpful advice.

Source: Lena H. Sun, http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/nearly-13-of-teens-changed-health-habits-based-on-digital-search-study-finds/2015/06/01/c6679aec-0892-11e5-95fd-d580f1c5d44e_story.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Teen

10 Reasons Teens Act The Way They Do

2:30

Anyone in the midst of raising a teen knows that the adolescent years can be some of the most difficult to get through and understand.

As a parent or guardian of a teenager that wants to be more independent, but also needs supervision and guidance, the times can be challenging indeed.

If that’s the position you find yourself in, you may be asking – what’s going on in that youngster’s brain? Actually, there’s a lot happening!

There are several scientific reasons an adolescent brain can be similar to a toddler’s: After infancy, the brain's most dramatic growth spurt occurs in adolescence. Here’s 10 things you may not know about your teen’s brain.

10. Critical period of development. Adolescence is generally considered to be the years between 11 and 19. It’s easy to see the outward changes that occur in boys and girls during this time, but inside, their brains are working on overdrive.

"The brain continues to change throughout life, but there are huge leaps in development during adolescence," said Sara Johnson, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Parents should understand that no matter how tall their son has sprouted or how grown-up their daughter dresses, "they are still in a developmental period that will affect the rest of their life," Johnson told LiveScience

9. The growing brain. Scientists used to believe the greatest leap in neuronal connections occurred in infancy, but brain imaging studies show that a second burst of neuronal sprouting happens right before puberty, peaking at about age 11 for girls and 12 for boys.

The adolescent's experiences shape this new grey matter, mostly following a "use it or lose it" strategy, Johnson said. The structural reorganization is thought to continue until the age of 25, and smaller changes continue throughout life.

8. New Thinking Skills. This increase in brain matter allows the teenager to become more interconnected and gain processing power, Johnson notes.

If given time and access to information, adolescents start to have the computational and decision-making skills of an adult. However, their decisions may be more emotional than objective because their brains rely more on the limbic system (the emotional seat of the brain) than the more rational prefrontal cortex.

"This duality of adolescent competence can be very confusing for parents," Johnson said, meaning that sometimes teens do things, like punching a wall or driving too fast, when, if asked, they clearly know better.

Sound familiar?

7.  Teen tantrums. While teens are acquiring amazing new skills during this time, they aren’t that good at using them yet, especially when it comes to social behavior and abstract thought.

That’s when parents can become the proverbial guinea pig. Many kids this age view conflict as a type of self-expression and may have trouble focusing on an abstract idea or understanding another's point of view.

Particularly in today’s heavy media influenced world, teens are dealing with a huge amount of social, emotional and cognitive flux says Sheryl Feinstein, author of Inside the Teenage Brain: Parenting a Work in Progress (Rowman and Littlefield, 2009.)

That’s when they need a more stable adult brain (parents) to help them stay calm and find the better path.

6. Intense emotions. Remember the limbic system mentioned earlier (the more emotional part of the brain)? It’s accelerated development, along with hormonal changes, may give rise to newly intense experiences of rage, fear, aggression (including towards oneself), excitement and sexual attraction.

Over the course of adolescence, the limbic system comes under greater control of the prefrontal cortex, the area just behind the forehead, which is associated with planning, impulse control and higher order thought.

As teens grow older, additional areas in the brain start to help it process emotions and gain equilibrium in decision-making and interpreting others. But until that time, teens can often misread parents and teachers Feinstein said.

5. Peer pressure. As teens become better at abstract thinking, their social anxiety begins to increase.  Ever wonder why your teen seems obsessed with what others are thinking and doing?

Abstract reasoning makes it possible to consider yourself from the eyes of another. Teens may use this new skill to ruminate about what others are thinking of them. In particular, peer approval has been shown to be highly rewarding to the teen brain, Johnson said, which may be why teens are more likely to take risks when other teens are around.

Friends also provide teens with opportunities to learn skills such as negotiating, compromise and group planning. "They are practicing adult social skills in a safe setting and they are really not good at it at first," Feinstein said. So even if all they do is sit around with their friends, teens are hard at work acquiring important life skills.

4. Measuring risk.  "The brakes come online somewhat later than the accelerator of the brain," said Johnson, referring to the development of the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system respectively.

At the same time, "teens need higher doses of risk to feel the same amount of rush adults do," Johnson said. Not a very comforting thought for parents.

This is a time when teens are vulnerable to engaging in risky behaviors, such as trying drugs, sex, getting into fights or jumping into unsafe water.

So what can a parent do during this risky time? "Continue to parent your child." Johnson said. Like all children, "teens have specific developmental vulnerabilities and they need parents to limit their behavior," she said.

It’s when being a parent to your child instead of trying to be their “friend” is more difficult but much more important for their physical and emotional safety.

3. Yes, parents are still important. According to Feinstein, a survey of teenagers revealed that 84 percent think highly of their mothers and 89 percent think highly of their fathers. And more than three-quarters of teenagers enjoy spending time with their parents; 79 percent enjoy hanging out with Mom and 76 percent like chilling with Dad. That’s not 100%, but it’s probably more than you thought.

One of the tasks of adolescence is separating from the family and establishing some autonomy, Feinstein said, but that does not mean a teen no longer needs parents – even if they say otherwise.

"They still need some structure and are looking to their parents to provide that structure," she said. "The parent that decides to treat a 16 or 17 year old as an adult is behaving unfairly and setting them up for failure." 

Listening to your teen and being a good role model, especially when dealing with stress and the other difficulties life can present, can help your teen figure out their own coping strategies.

2. Sleep. Ah, yes, sleep. Although teens need 9 to 10 hours of sleep a night, their bodies are telling them a different story. Part of the problem is a shift in circadian rhythms during adolescence: It makes sense to teen bodies to get up later and stay up later, Johnson said.

But due to early bussing and class schedules, many teens rack up sleep debt and "become increasingly cognitively impaired across the week," Johnson said. Sleep-deprivation only exacerbates moodiness and cloudy decision-making. And sleep is thought to aid the critical reorganization of the teen brain.

"There is a disconnect between teen’s bodies and our schedules," Johnson said.

Shutting down the electronics an hour before bedtime has been shown to help teens as well as adults get to sleep quicker and sleep better. No computer, TV, video games or cell phones.

1.The “I am the Center of the Universe” syndrome. You may have noticed that your teen’s hormones are causing quite a bit of havoc. Experts say that’s to be expected. But you may still wonder- what the heck is going on with my kid?

The hormone changes at puberty have huge affects on the brain, one of which is to spur the production of more receptors for oxytocin, according to a 2008 issue of the journal Developmental Review.

The increased sensitivity caused by oxytocin has a powerful impact on the area of the brain controlling one’s emotions. Teens develop a feeling of self-consciousness and may truly believe that everyone is watching him or her. These feelings peek around age 15.

While this may make a teen seem self-centered (and in their defense, they do have a lot going on), the changes in the teen brain may also spur some of the more idealistic efforts tackled by young people throughout history.

"It is the first time they are seeing themselves in the world," Johnson said, meaning their greater autonomy has opened their eyes to what lies beyond their families and schools. They are asking themselves, she continued, for perhaps the first time: What kind of person do I want to be and what type of place do I want the world to be?

Until their brains develop enough to handle shades of grey, their answers to these questions can be quite one-sided, Feinstein said, but the parents' job is to help them explore the questions, rather than give them answers.

And there you have it. Teen’s brains are exploding with new data, confusing signals and dueling desires. It’s a tough time in one’s development- but rest assured, what you teach them by example and compassion as well as how you gingerly help guide them will last a life-time. Even when you do the best you can, there are no guarantees that they will turn out the way you’re hoping they will – they are after all- individuals with a will and a mind of their own. But now you know a little more about why your teen acts the way they do.

Story Source: Robin Nixon, http://www.livescience.com/13850-10-facts-parent-teen-brain.html

Your Teen

Alcohol-Branded Clothing & Accessories Linked to Youth Alcohol Use

2:00

The T-shirts, handbags, backpacks, hats, jackets and sunglasses we wear and carry all say a little something about who we think we are or would like to be. Clothing with slogans and photos, accessories with name –brands or specific designs help express, at least a small way, how we connect with others and want others to connect with us.

From politics to religion to music and movies – we’re not likely to wear something that we philosophically disagree with. That’s pretty much true in all age groups.

So, what does it mean when teens proudly wear clothing and carry products with alcohol-brands up front and center?

According to a large review of different studies on the topic, teens that own caps, shirts, and other merchandise displaying alcohol logos are more likely to drink.

Australian researchers reviewed results from 13 studies looking at alcohol-branded merchandise and teen alcohol use. The research included more than 26,000 kids and teens, mostly from the United States.

Four studies looked specifically at young people who hadn't started drinking alcohol. Those who owned alcohol-branded merchandise were more likely to start drinking a year later, the researchers said.

While the study doesn’t prove causation (teens will drink if they own alcohol-branded items), it does show an association between the two activities.

"It is possible that owning the merchandise makes young people more likely to drink, or that young people who drink are more likely to want to own the merchandise, or a combination of these effects," explained study leader Sandra Jones. She's director of the Centre for Health and Social Research at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne.

Dr. Victor Strasburger, lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Children, Adolescents, and Advertising policy statement, said, "The studies showed that this ownership contributes to onset of drinking, not the amount of drinking.”

“But we know that when teenagers begin drinking, they tend to binge drink, not use good judgment, and drive when drunk or intoxicated," he added.

Because of the study’s findings, Jones believes that promotional alcohol-branded products encourage drinking among adolescents.

"As they transition through adolescence, young people are developing their sense of identity," she said.

"The things that they wear, carry, and consume help to create and convey their desired identity. There is increasing evidence that brands facilitate this by allowing the young person to take on and project the desirable characteristics that are associated with that brand. These characteristics and brands then become a part of their sense of self, as well as the way that others see them," Jones said.

In addition to hats, caps and T-shirts, other examples of alcohol-related products include accessories, such as bags, backpacks, belts, lighters, sunglasses, wallets and key rings. Other promotional items include drinking glasses, utensils, cooler bags, bottle openers and coffee cups, the researchers said.

Depending on the study, ownership of such items ranged from 11 percent to 59 percent of the young participants. Ownership was higher among older children and males, the researchers said.

Most of the studies didn't find any gender differences. But two studies did find that the association between branded merchandise and drinking issues was actually stronger for girls.

Jones noted that company policies and regulations could help prevent the availability of such products for teens. She recommended restricting the sale of alcohol promotional products where the sale of alcohol is allowed, that alcohol-branded clothing not be made in children’s sizes and toys and gimmicks that appeal to children be discontinued.

Jones also noted that it’s not only up to businesses and government to regulate the availability of these products to kids, but parents as well.

"Many of these items are given away for free at promotional events or as gifts with purchase, and parents may hand them on to their children -- or allow others to do so -- without processing the fact that they are providing their child with extended exposure to an advertisement for an alcohol brand," she said.

Strasburger said the media are often irresponsible when it comes to alcohol. "They depict alcohol use as normative behavior, or a solution for complex problems, or show being drunk as funny," he said. "We spend something like $5 million on alcohol advertising every year, then we wonder why so many teenagers drink. It's not rocket science."

The findings were publised online in the April 1st edition of the journal Pediatrics. 

Story source: Don Rauf, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/kids-and-alcohol-health-news-11/booze-branded-merchandise-may-spur-teen-drinking-709478.html

 

 

 

Your Teen

Good Mood is Contagious Among Teens

1:30

A lot has been written about depression in teens because it can have serious and sometimes fatal consequences. However, like all things, there’s another side to teen temperaments and it turns out that it’s quite contagious; the good mood.

While many researchers have wondered if depression spreads more easily among teenagers, a new study suggests that depression does not but good moods do and are helpful in combating depression.

Researchers looked at more than 2,000 American high school students to see how they influenced each other’s moods. They found that a positive mood seems to spread through groups of teens, but having depressed friends doesn't increase a teen's risk of depression.

In fact, having plenty of friends in a good mood can halve the chances that a teen will develop depression over six to 12 months. Having a lot of happy friends can also double the likelihood of recovering from depression over the same time period, the researchers found.

"We know social factors, for example living alone or having experienced abuse in childhood, influences whether someone becomes depressed. We also know that social support is important for recovery from depression, for example having people to talk to," study author Thomas House, a senior lecturer in applied mathematics at the University of Manchester in the U.K., said in a university news release.

"Our study is slightly different as it looks at the effect of being friends with people on whether you are likely to develop or recover from being depressed," he added.

House believes that teens who have a strong network of positive friendships might actually help protect against depression.

"This was a big effect that we have seen here. It could be that having a stronger social network is an effective way to treat depression. More work needs to be done but it may that we could significantly reduce the burden of depression through cheap, low-risk social interventions," House concluded.

Depression is serious and should never be taken lightly, some teens may be overwhelmed by the emotional and physical changes they are experiencing. This study suggests that adolescents that are around other adolescents who are happy most of the time seem to pick up on that feeling and it helps in lifting their spirits and changing their outlook.

Sources: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/good-moods-spread-among-teens-702402.html

http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/teens/emotional-well-being/understanding-your-teenagers-emotional-health.printerview.all.html

 

 

 

Your Teen

Cyberbullying

It used to be that parents only had to worry about their child being bullied while on the playground. But now, with over 50 million children online, parents need to take steps to make sure their children are not being bullied while online.

“When a child is online, you can’t see how the victim is reacting, you can’t see how many people are against one person,” says Dr. Kristy Hagar, an assistant Professor of Psychiatry UT Southwestern Medical Center. She says some of the warning signs of cyberbullying include a child not wanting to go to school, behavioral changes and spending a lot of time online. “Girls tend to cyberbully more frequently than boys,” says Dr. Hagar. She also adds that pre-teens are more likely to tell their parents about it than older children. It is important for parents to talk with their children at an early age about internet safety and predators. Dr. Hagar also says parents should monitor their child’s online activities. “Set ground rules and time limits for computer use, this is the best way to insure safety.”

Your Teen

Painkillers May be Gateway to Heroin Use in Teens

2:00

Heroin use is increasing among U.S. adults and adolescents at an alarming rate.  The reason appears to be linked to the high cost of prescription painkillers, their addictive properties, as well as tough laws established for prescribing and purchasing opioids. Heroin is easy to get and much cheaper and it is becoming a huge problem not only for adults but teens as well.

Three-quarters of U.S. high school students who use heroin first tried narcotic painkillers, a new survey reveals.

Survey results from nearly 68,000 high school seniors provide some clues to heroin's recent deadly path from the inner city into affluent suburbs and rural communities.

"The more times a teen uses non-prescribed painkiller pills, the greater the risk he or she is at for becoming dependent on the drug," said lead researcher Joseph Palamar, an assistant professor of population health at New York University.

"People who become dependent on painkiller pills often wind up resorting to heroin use because it's cheaper and more available than these pills," Palamar explained.

Researchers say that white students appear more likely than black or Hispanic students to start with painkillers and then move on to heroin.

Recent and frequent nonmedical painkiller use increased the odds that kids had tried heroin: More than 77 percent of teens who reported using heroin had also used narcotic painkillers, also called opioids, Palamar said.

And almost one-quarter of kids who said they'd taken narcotic painkillers more than 40 times also reported heroin use.

Palamar believes updating drug education programs will help. But kids need to get the message that these drugs put them at risk for addiction and overdose death, he said.

"The biggest problem is that many teens don't trust drug education in schools or information provided by the government," Palamar said.

Adolescents are particularly difficult to persuade that drug use can get out of control quickly. For decades, the government has taught that marijuana is just as dangerous as heroin.  Many Americans now believe that marijuana use is not dangerous and four states have legalized recreational use with others considering it.

Palamar notes that narcotic painkillers present an especially complicated situation.

"Most other drugs are illegal in all contexts, yet these drugs -- the most dangerous drugs -- are prescribed by doctors and are often sitting there in parents' medicine cabinets," Palamar said. "If teens don't believe warnings about street drugs, then why would they be afraid to use government-approved, pharmaceutical-grade pills?"

Palamar's recommendation: "We need to educate our educators, and then we need to start giving more honest and accurate information to our teens because what we're doing now isn't working."

Drug education teachers are sometimes less informed than their students "who might have learned from experience or from friends who use," he said.

The study data came from the 2009-2013 Monitoring the Future surveys. These annual questionnaires assess the behaviors, attitudes and values of students in 130 public and private U.S. high schools.

The report appeared recently in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Source: Steve Reinberg, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20151229/painkillers-often-gateway-to-heroin-for-us-teens-survey

 

 

 

 

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