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By LifeLine

Marijuana Use in Teens

Marijuana & Teens

Marijuana use in teens is not a new topic and currently its particularly prevalent as cannabis legalization, for either medicinal marijuana or recreational use, spreads around Utah and across the country. As a result of more cannabis-friendly attitudes nationwide the influx across our southern border has decreased steadily and significantly from 2011 when almost 2.5 million pounds of the federally illegal substance were seized. However, because surrounding state production has increased, its a fact that teen marijuana use and exposure is still quite common.

Thankfully teen marijuana use in Utah is now a declining trend. A survey in 2015 of 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th, grade students found that almost 90% considered marijuana use at their age “wrong to very wrong”. Programs and professionals like Lifeline For Youth are having a positive impact.

A prime reason marijuana use in youth is so widespread is from the climate of the current pop culture. Musical mentions and celebrity promotions, as well as easier availability of “legal-illegal” weed, still make this a pressing reason for talking to your teen about marijuana. Because of the escalating incidence of exposure through these avenues, children and teens in the same study above view teen pot use as “less risky” than it used to be.

Let’s be clear too, that the type of cannabis that we are referring to is the more psychoactive varieties that have a higher level of THC vs the medical varieties that have significantly higher proportions of CBD constituents.

Risks of Teen Marijuana Use

Because this is such a debated subject, fact and fiction are thrown around with abandon. In order to talk to your teen about pot, which we’ll address later, let’s get down some basic facts about how marijuana use effects teens.

Mental Side Effects

Reduced school performance is a real thing with even casual pot use. Affecting the attention levels and memory in all realms of learning for days and even weeks at a time, using weed has been found to alter the neurodevelopment of teens

The primary delivery method of pot use is through inhalation, whether the whole herb, or waxes, cannabis oils, or shatters (used in vaping).  This method especially affects the hippocampus which is responsible for regulating short term memory. Overstimulation of the endocannabinoid receptors in the brain prevents the brain from developing memories.

In chronic marijuana use teens are at risk for developing false memories, and under daily usage for the long term, juvenile brains have shown deformed hippocampal regions by their early 20s. They perform nearly 20% worse in the long term memory tests and verbal memory test and have an overall poorer performance at general cognitive tasks!

Physical Side Effects

Tests have shown damage to neurotransmitters that regulate dopamine receptors. Because dopamine is a natural hormone that regulates happiness, these lower release levels (where impulse control is regulated) can cause depression under long term use. Those who begin smoking weed as teens, specifically from 16 to 20, are more likely to have marijuana dependency problems as adults.

Long term use, even occasional or sporadic use, can cause persistent coughs due to carcinogen damage from the ammonia and hydrogen cyanide found in the plant. Trouble breathing and overproduction of phlegm and mucus are also common with similar results to tobacco use.

THC of today’s strains can be from 6-10 times stronger than the weed of a generation ago. This poses some striking problems for the heart. THC increases heart rate up to 50 beats per minute up to 3 hours. Even though we think of heart problems as markers of those advanced in years,  the possibility of a heart attack, and developing heart rhythm disorders as well as stroke is present in teen pot use as well, especially when combined with energy drinks that can adversely affect the heart. Heart disease doesn’t have to be a factor in THC related heart problems and studies evidence increased acute coronary syndrome, even in the younger marijuana users.

Those youth who may be pregnant at the time of using cannabis pose risks to the unborn child as toxins can easily pass from mother to child via the placenta. Research has found that this can affect the long term memory of the child as well. These effects are also present when using THC products while breastfeeding

Other Side Effects of Using Marijuana

  • Withdrawal can trigger depression, insomnia, anxiety, and loss of appetite.
  • Possibility of testicular cancer relationship. Though studies are not definitive, there is a correlation with observed rates of testicular cancer in men.
  • Possible limiting of sexual function. Contrary to the thought of stimulating sexual activity, tests in animals show that penile tissue is affected and can actually impede the function of the gonads.

Social & Psychological Effects of Marijuana

Real effects teens and youth need to be aware of is how even occasional but long term weed use can change them. Development of social anxiety and general anxiousness are a trait of chronic pot users. Notable personality changes in your loved one can be very concerning and data-gathering has shown the longer weed is utilized, the higher the risk of psychotic illness becomes as well as a drop in IQ and becoming fixed in lower socioeconomic circles.

Talking to Your Child About Marijuana Use

No one wants to see these issues arise. Remain open and available to your child and ask if they have run into the issue of marijuana. Being able to relate to them with instances from your own experience can help a great deal. Avoiding condemning tones and attitudes with the topic will encourage them to be open about questions they may have.

If you have concerns that your child may be using marijuana, and have questions about how to help your child don’t hesitate to reach out to Lifeline For Youth. Our trained personnel can guide you through the maze and help you find answers. Give us a call today!

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By LifeLine

Pornography Addiction

Pornography Addiction in Teens

By any standards, porn addiction is one of the most addictive drugs out there today. Unlike removing the substance from a drug addict, the sexual images of pornography are always within reach of the user’s memory. With easily accessible, and unlimited quantities, in light of smartphone and internet access, this habit is easier and cheaper to pick up than any substance abuse.

As a parent of a teen with porn addiction, the range of emotions you experience can be overwhelming if even suspected porn addiction in your child. Grief, shame, anger, and fear are all very real. Let’s look at some facts and information and get a handle on how to best address the issue of pornography addiction in teens, and set a course for recovery.

Amid brain development in children ages 10-13, neurons are forming at elevated rates, as some of the last gray matter growth periods before adulthood. By age 15 the brain is in full-swing producing dopamine, thus enabling the brain to register pleasure at four times the normal rate. Because the brain is still forming it can easily become wired in response to pornography exposure, resulting in lifelong consequences.

Warning Signs of Pornography Addiction

These typical symptoms of being hooked on pornography, in teens, may not all be present. It’s your job as a caregiver to be observant of any out-of-the-norm behaviors.

Sometimes pornography can be a default resulting from ‘not having anything else better to do’, which also shows a lack of self-motivation to constructive things in life, or a tendency towards complacency (self-satisfaction).

  • General secrecy and large amounts of alone time
  • Masturbation
  • Sexual aggression or age-inappropriate relationships
  • Secretive behavior on devices such as cleared history and passwords
  • Decline in school performance
  • Decline in interest in peer interaction (or increase, depending on if they look at pornography with friends)
  • Lying about the nature of romantic or sexual activities
  • Lack of empathy towards others involved
  • Excessive or non-existent interest in dating

Although there is no “official diagnosis” of porn addiction there are plenty of medical commentaries on the topic. Results of porn addiction may include:

  • Anxiousness
  • Unstable relationships with members of the opposite sex
  • Impaired concentration
  • Accompanying technology or gaming obsession
  • Low motivation
  • Depression (and/or easily depressed )
  • Negative self-perception / Low self-esteem
  • Sexual dysfunction such as erectile dysfunction (ED)

The deciding factor of any situation, suspected or confirmed is going to be your reaction to it. Because the nature of addiction is to harbor shame for the addictive behavior, make sure you are able to step back and take a time out to think through your approach.

What to do (and not do) when your child may be viewing pornography.

One of the best ways to get in front of the eight ball is to culture a transparent relationship with your child from an early age. By addressing any issues you as a parent or caregiver have had in the past you can properly address porn viewing from a perspective of healing. However, if you’re here looking for information, this may be a step to start such a culture now. Remember “now” is not too late.

As stated, take a deep breath and think.  Any kind of attacking behavior is going to push the activity into hiding and quite possibly make it worse.  Avoid asking “Why would you do this?” or “How could you?” Obviously hurtful name calling such as “pervert” “sicko” or “disgusting” will only heap on the guilt and shame that comes from teens viewing pornography brings.

Address the topic from a relational point. By relating to your teen with conversation starters such as “When I was your age, I had questions about things like this too”, you can open up a dialogue in order to gain a better outlook. Was the child confronted with the porn in the first place? Are they being pressured by peers to view porn? Did they learn about it through natural curiosity?

When bringing up a sensitive topic as porn viewing you need to position yourself as the safe person to come to. We can do this perhaps by admitting that there may have been struggles with explicit material in your past as well. Asking more questions such as “Help me understand how this happened” can create a conversation where your child can open up.

Avoid overbearing punishment. By nature, punishment is punitive, where consequences are from love and discipline. Concentrate on encouraging conversation aimed at “journeying out this thing” with them.

What do I do now?

Depending on the age of the child your consequences may look different. If the child is very young, there needs to be a type of executive decision. If your children have access to smartphones, consider switching to a flip phone. Removing any devices from their room to a family area where the screen is easily monitored, installing filters for words and specific sites is also helpful. There are even means and settings for your home network to make all web-browsing family-safe.

 

If your child is older try to avoid smothering behavior by over-monitoring and analyzing everything. This will result in avoiding you and create distrust, causing the sneaky behaviors to continue.

 

Older children that have long term habits or deeper addictions may need additional measures in place to help break the cycle. At Lifeline For Youth, we help deal with the roots of the problem, which can often be loneliness, sadness, depression, frustration or boredom. By addressing these underlying issues, rather than the outcomes alone, the chances of healing are much more successful.

 

When having a professionally trained counselor help you the parent and the child identify triggers and temptations, together we can strategize and establish a course of action with proper guardrails to begin rekindling a healthy perspective.

 

With time and effort, pornography addictions can be overcome. If you have questions or need directions feel free to give the medical professionals at Lifeline For Youth a call today. Together there is hope. 

Treatment for teen depression includes and depends on a support system that will teach your child how to overcome and prevent thinking that could lead to relapses. At Lifeline for Youth, we have a 97% satisfaction rate with our teens and their families.

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By LifeLine

Social Media Addiction

Social Media Addiction

What if there were a danger that threatened the very core of your child’s being-their individuality, their self-esteem, or even their ability to be emotionally stable? What if this danger broke down the fabric of their mental well being, and their every relationship?

When we think of dangerous behavioral addictions often the things that come to mind are blatantly risky behaviors like bungee jumping, sky diving, or self-harm. Other “lesser” risky behaviors can present themselves as gambling, shopping or casual sexual relationships. 70% of today’s youth carry around a potentially lethal catalyst that can change the chemical, emotional and psychological responses of a healthy child from normal into a morbidly dangerous equation in almost no time at all.

Social Media Addictions usually center around Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, and are new on the scene of internet addiction.

Less than 20 years in the making, they are found to create more dependence than even cigarettes or alcohol. Studies have found that the act of self-disclosure on social media stimulates the same pleasure centers in the brain, similar to those of sex and food responses. In short it triggers areas responsible for survival instincts. With all the click bait algorithms designed to suck them into a vortex of engagement, the draw of instant gratification can produce a significant high. So, what may have begun as a noble venture into helping your child attain a digital social life and status among their peers can turn into a consumptive nightmare.

Upon further investigation, researchers have found that all ages are using social platforms to manage stress relief resulting from anxiety and depression giving the user an anticipated “out” in avoiding real-life situations and connections. Youth and teen years bring their own set of social adjustments and more and more children are finding relief from these social anxieties among their multiple media accounts. With more than 70% of youth having smartphones or access to a smartphone, compulsive social media is creating an underestimated behavior epidemic devouring today’s younger generation.

 

Those who struggle with addictions to social media have trouble interacting with the people in the immediate vicinity often don’t understand that hiding behind a digital persona to maintain a sense of safety can often cause them to be even more socially insecure. Utah’s Lifeline For Youth has a proven track record with our qualified counselors. By understanding the nuances of social media addiction, the qualities related to them we create individualized plans to help your child cope.

Recognizing Social Media Addiction in Your Child

Recognizing obsessive and even compulsive behavior in our children’s use of computers, phones or tablets can be hard. To be frank, a lot of the reason we don’t is that, sadly, we are modeling these very actions and habits ourselves. As guardians, we need to stay alert and engaged. By placing unrestricted access to content and social interactions in our children’s hands without guidance or instruction, we tempt disaster.

These signs are strong symptoms of social media addiction:

Checking the websites at every chance

Some of the first signs you may notice is that your child may hurry to finish meals or is frequently preoccupied during meals or family occasions with constant social media involvement. I

Withdrawl

If you’ve tried limiting your child’s screen time and noticed hypersensitivity, fidgety behavior, problems paying attention or overly aggressive or emotional outbursts, your child may have a moderate to severe problem.

Making ‘friend’ , ‘follower’ , or ‘like’ counts competitive

Like every human, social acceptance is a basic necessity, we are “pack-oriented”. But when they grade themselves and their self-worth on virtual popularity and then fail to see it meet their expectations, the blow to their mental welfare can be crippling.

Revealing too many personal details

Oversharing of private information such as photos or current ‘status symbols’ by children on social media platforms displays the need for social approval and a way to receive acknowledgment by the “friends”.

Educational performance decline

One of the most significant signs of internet addiction in children is not being able to concentrate on their schooling due to constant distractions provided by social networking websites. If you find your child deviating from the normal patterns of study and grade levels in significant ways, get an opinion from one of our outstanding advisers at Lifeline For Youth.

Interference with real-life relationships

Because digital interaction is convenient and provides a way to “engage” without much effort it becomes the preferred method for many. Allowing concealment or revealing of emotional details may feel like a mental safety net that they aren’t permitted in other, more exposed exchanges.

Irritability and tiredness

Many children spend a considerable amount of time more than their caregivers realize. Hours upon hours in front of the computer screen, or handheld device, especially late into the night, without a doubt disrupts the emotional and physical well-being of the child. Considering the increased requirements of sleep for proper function and growth of the brain during the adolescent years, fatigue may be a sign that the child isn’t or can’t self-regulate their time.

Depression or Social Anxiety

Ultimately the biggest problem on social sites is dealing with perceived perfectionism from other users. The majority of teens face criticism for their less than perfect looks, clothes, cliques or activities and cyberbullying takes a toll on their self-esteem. Chronic depression, anxiety often go hand in hand with oversaturation in the social media scene. This can often end up in suicidal thoughts or attempts. A growing number of clinical cases where, not only, has an adolescent considered suicide as a result of negative feedback to social media endeavors, but in some cases even attempted and completed suicide.

Personalized intercession can be the tool that changes all that. Lifeline For Youth can assess the situation and provide a practical and achievable roadmap for success.

Don’t let your child become a digital statistic. At Lifeline For Youth, we can help your child learn skills about overcoming social media addiction. Call today for a consultation.

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By LifeLine

Suicide. Attempted Suicide. Suicidal Thoughts.

Suicide. Attempted suicide. Suicidal thoughts.

All of these terms can make us quite nervous.  As parents, as loved ones, as suicide survivors. 

Nationally Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US with over 1.3 million attempts in 2017 alone. In Utah youth suicide is the second leading cause of youth deaths.

As 5th in the nation for overall deaths by suicide, Utah has seen a 46.5% increase in suicide and attempted suicide since 1999. Every 14 hours someone completes the act, and 2 youth every day succumb to the black ink of statistics.

How did we get here?

Why? Always the biggest question on researchers minds. After several federally funded studies, Utah researchers have found that there is no one factor or theme that runs through every instance. In plain English coping abilities fall short in addressing the stressors of those with mental health conditions.

 

In a positive light though, the many years of study have shown that with intervention, rates can go down, and quickly. There is light, and hope for the youth of Utah!

What do possible suicide indicators look like?

Signs of suicide or suicidal thoughts can be almost nonexistent. So many times loved ones of completed suicide acts can be completely clueless, with little to no leads on why there was no indicators. Look for these most common signs of suicidal tendencies:

1. Talking about suicide or killing themselves. Even the slightest reference to killing themselves should spur an investigation. Never take these references lightly, especially when accompanied by the following:

2. Increased substance abuse, drugs or alcohol. 1 in 3 suicides involves alcohol consumption. The stats are so convincing that those who screen for suicide tendencies immediately take note especially when accompanied by #3

3. Depression/ bipolar issues. 2 out of 3 suicides also have been noted to have strong depression or recurrent bouts of manic-depressive behavior.

4. Anxiety or guilt. Guilt for causing issues within the family and anxiety in all social and home life situations can be a big instigator in suicidal thoughts. Another key clue is feeling trapped or overwhelming feelings of being a burden on others

5. Purchasing a firearm.

6. Researching different methods on how to accomplish suicide. Usually evident in browser history.

What's behind suicide?

With compounding pressures in our modern world, we often overlook several contributing components of a possibly suicidal mindset. Three main categories exist, the health aspect, environmental contributors, and historical precedence.

 

Among health aspects, we find prior or undiagnosed mental health conditions, serious physical health conditions (which often include high rates of pain endurance), and even traumatic brain injuries.

 

Environmental contributors are those things that lead to self-harm tendencies. These often present as prolonged stress, demanding workloads, and harassment. Stressful events like financial strain and crisis, dealing with the breakdown of a family through divorce and other major life transitions, including loss of a loved one, are recurrent thought initiators.

 

Overwhelming mental loads can also be caused by suicide in the family, childhood abuse, and neglect or trauma. Mental pressure is often harder to fight if there have been previous attempts in the child’s past.

Fast Facts

Suicide attempts are 3 times more likely in females but 3 times more successful in males.

Higher elevation has been proven to be a contributing factor in increased suicide rates.

Most attempts at suicide fail – at a rate of 1 successful suicide for every 10-25 attempts.

Treatments need to be customized to each individual. Successful recovery is possible with the right treatment plan like those offered at Lifeline For Youth.

Making connections with others is often one of the best things a person with self-harm thought can do. Building relationships to prevent withdrawing is powerful.

Hope in a dark time.

Lifeline For Youth wants to shed some light on a dark situation. We encourage you and those you love to seek qualified care with trained professionals. Often suicidal youth avoid condemnation and fear of judgment for having suicidal thoughts. Often the people closest to them can be ineffective because of the fact that they are too invested. Many attempted suicide survivors find confidants in strangers or good non-judgmental friends. Just knowing others have had similar thoughts gives hope that they aren’t alone.

Lifeline For Youth knows that family can cause intense stress making depression rates 11 times higher in children. But we also know that strong social support from the family can lower depression or repeat attempts, and build confidence. With structured care, we work for total mental health recovery leading to successful and constructive futures.

How you can help.

One of the largest misconceptions about attempted suicide survivors is that after they receive help and move on in life, there are no more issues. Low times can and will still occur and its good to know how to handle them. Here is a list of things that you can do and encourage in your survivor.

1. Encourage self-care. Discovering new interests and activities that they can enjoy and use to make themselves feel good.

2. Be a proactive listener. Ask questions and really listen. Interest in what’s going on is a great deterrent. The prime objective is to be able to listen without judgment, looking at the person, not the attempt. Focus on the progress being made.

3. Avoid shame or shameful attachments. Often when “confirmed” of the wrong of their choices they will find further grounds for thoughts that they shouldn’t be there.

4. Find a counselor that fits. Not all counselors or counseling methods fit every child.

5. Give hugs. Let the child know they are valued and wanted. Human connection is a necessary and vital part of good mental health recovery.

6. Offer understanding free from blame and guilt. This is a time to focus on the survivor, make it about their success.

7. Have a success plan to help guide them from despair to safety when things get unmanageable.

Even though a sad, but very real aspect of life, attempted suicide can have a very successful outcome. With proper intervention and continued care Lifeline For Youth can help draw the pieces together and create a beautiful future with promise.

Call today for more information. If you feel you are in an emergency situation please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or the Safe-UT Hotline at 1-801-587-3000.

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By LifeLine

Gaming Addiction

Gaming Addiction

Technology is unavoidable in today’s world. Without it you wouldn’t be here reading this article. The most popular subset of the growing concerns of technology obsession is the widespread gaming addiction in teens and young adults.

 

Though the debate continues on whether gaming addiction parallels gambling or alcohol addiction, the effects are none the less the same types of effects we see in those more serious addictions.

What Is Gaming Addiction?

What science can tell us is that gaming can trigger pleasure centers in the brain, releasing a dopamine storm. What science isn’t definitive about yet, is whether or not gaming is the cause or the effect of these overactive reward centers in the brain.

Unlike drug or alcohol addiction where there are abused substances taken into the body, Gaming is in the category of Behavioral Addictions. Other comparative behavioral type dependencies could include sexual addictions, extreme sports addictions, gambling or even shopping addictions. Really its anything that allows the participant to experience a natural, body-induced, chemical “high”. This can result in excessive amounts of time, around 20-30 hours and even up to 50 hours a week (that’s as much as a full-time job!) spent in virtual fantasy worlds.

 

Gaming disorders often affect males significantly more than females. Over 41% of gamers admit to using games to alter their moods and self-perceptions. Of that, 7 % were diagnosed as being “dependent” on gaming.

How Does Gaming Addiction Start?

It’s not unusual to see a younger population enjoying games in their time off. So what is it that causes gaming to become a life-altering obsession?

Before we tackle that question we need to identify two types of gaming styles.

1. Standard Single-Player games...

Standard single-player games are the type where the player has a clear and defined mission or goal. Commonly called a PVC or Player Vs. Computer games, these games center around completing missions or beating a high score.

2. Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games or MMORPG's

The second type of gaming is known as MMORPGs or Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games. In these games, a player can create or assume a character identity in which they develop interactions, relationships, abilities, and powers by completing quests, mini-missions, or outlined tasks of various kinds. These fantasy role-playing games continue to develop even when the gamer is not participating. Called PVP, or Player Vs. Player games, these can be the more addictive of the alternate gaming realities.

What's the big deal?

Regardless of type, games are designed by their creators to become addictive by new offerings of “patches” and upgrades, enlarging the gamer’s fantasy realm with new levels, missions, and conquests.

 

Not unlike adults, children and teens can and often use gaming as a go-to distraction and stress reliever from difficult circumstances in their real lives. Often a teen that is struggling socially, academically, or experiencing stressful home-life interactions will retreat to a world where he or she can feel accepted by peers with similar goals and interests while feeling like they have control over their lives and environment.

 

With games set up to offer instant gratification through achievements, attained powers, and admiration from gaming peers in their groups (called guilds or clans) the dopamine and feel-good feelings of accomplishment run amok begging repeat performances to achieve or maintain these virtual honored statuses.

Symptoms of Gaming Addiction

Gaming disorders often will manifest in both emotional, academic, and physical ways, much like any other addiction or disorder.

Emotional Symptoms of Gaming Addiction-

  • Restlessness and Irritation when not actively playing a game. Because of hyper-focusing, an otherwise occupied gamer will be distracted by thoughts of gaming or anticipating the next gaming engagement.
  • Emotional outbursts of frustration, anger or rage when not allowed to play or from being restricted or having access revoked.
  • Lying about the amount of time spent gaming to friends, parents and other authorities like teachers.

Academic Symptoms of Gaming Addiction-

  • Decline in grades due to avoiding homework to make more time for gaming.
  • A decline in extracurricular activities that take time away from gaming.
  • Becoming socially reclusive as peer groups shift from real life friends and acquaintances to online gaming social circles.

Physical Symptoms of Gaming Addiction-

  • Lack of sleep or disrupted sleeping patterns.
  • Avoiding proper eating or hastened eating in order to get back to gameplay.

Gaming & Addiction

What’s very important to note is that statistically, gaming addiction has a very close relationship with depression and other substance abuse. If you notice any symptoms of depression or suspect substance use please seek help from the professionals at Lifeline For Youth today.

How Do I Know When It's Gone Too Far?

First, we want to tell you that there is always hope. With Lifeline For Youth, our experienced staff can help children and teens establish healthy mechanisms to deal with life’s challenges and reduce and control or completely eliminate gaming. Give us a call today!

 

When gaming disorders aren’t addressed in a timely manner there can be long-term effects. What started as a lack of sleep or disturbed sleeping patterns can turn into serious sleeping disorders. With such upside-down schedules school attendance and work, performance can suffer to the point of dropping out or losing employment.

 

By avoiding proper and timely eating the child can experience diet-related health issues that can affect them for years. Missing smaller social engagements can turn into complete “real world” isolation, regardless of their circle of cyber-friendships.

What Can I Do to Help My Game Addicted Child?

Sometimes seeing a problem and knowing what to do about it can be quite a difference. It would seem that simply removing the gaming access or devices should be an easy fix. However, when obsessions turn to addictions, the playing field is a lot different. Intense emotions and rash actions can make your child act out of character. This is the time to call the trusted professionals that you’ll find at Lifeline For Youth. By equipping your child with self-management tools and increasing communication its possible to see the unsocial become social again, the academically lacking to academically excel. With one call you can turn the tide. Make that call today!

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By LifeLine

Warning Signs of Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse

Raising a teenager is extremely hard because of all the hormone and life changes that your kid is going through. It can be difficult to tell if your child is acting strangely, or if they’re just going through normal teenage struggles.

The teenage years are not only difficult for the parent but of course for the child. High school is a stressful time of growth which can be really scary for some kids.

Unfortunately, the adolescent years are when many kids will turn to drugs as a coping mechanism for all the change going on inside of them.

In this blog, we’ll discuss warning signs of substance abuse in teens so that you can get your kid the help he or she may need.

Signs of Substance Abuse in Teens

It can be difficult to tell if your kid is acting strangely due to hormonal imbalances or because they are abusing drugs. It’s important to know what kinds of changes are abnormal for teenagers to display.

There are three main areas of change that can be related to substance abuse in teens: behavioral, psychological, and physical changes.

Behavioral Changes

There are a ton of behavioral changes that your kid may start displaying if he or she is using harmful drugs. These will likely be the first signs that your child is suffering from substance abuse.

If your teen starts missing school, performing below normal academic levels, or is getting into frequent trouble, these are signs that they could be abusing drugs.

If you notice your child is changing their peer group from people who were positive influences, to other teens who seem to not care about school or get into frequent trouble with the law, this is a common sign your child is using drugs.

Another warning sign that your kid is hiding their drug use is if they start acting very secretive and seem to be avoiding you. If they are demanding more privacy than normal, they may be hiding something from you.

If your child starts defying your rules, not coming home by curfew or disrespecting you, this could also be a warning to you. However, it is also common for teens who are going through a rebellious stage and doesn’t necessarily mean your kid is using drugs.

Psychological Changes

Changes in your teen’s personality or mood are a symptom of drug abuse. These changes may not be apparent right away, but over time your kid’s brain will become more and more affected by the drug use.

If your child starts displaying frequent mood swings, this could be due to drug abuse. Also, extreme highs and lows are a common sign of opiate addiction.

Anxiety is another symptom of drug use, especially if your child is going through withdrawals. If your teen hasn’t had anxiety before, and suddenly starts experiencing it regularly, this is definitely a warning sign.

Loss of concentration, motivation, or interest in things they used to enjoy are all common signs of drug use. Your kid may only care about getting high and doesn’t have any interest in other things anymore.

Drug addicts often use manipulation to get what they want. They tend to have less regard for other people and will feel okay taking advantage of them to gain access to more money or drugs.

Issues With Health

Drug use can cause a ton of different health problems, ranging from mild to severe.

Changes in appetite or sleep pattern are the two major health changes associated with drug use. If your kid is eating or sleeping excessively, or maybe not at all, then they could be addicted to drugs.

They will try to hide these symptoms from you. If you notice a significant increase or decrease in weight, you should know something is going on.

Headaches, sweating, nausea, and vomiting are common signs of opiate withdrawal to watch out for.

If your kid is experiencing these symptoms, followed by an absence and return to an elated state, they may be using drugs.

Additional Warning Signs

If your child is using drugs, there’s a good chance they are either stealing the drugs from you (such as your prescription painkillers or anxiety medications), or they are stealing cash from you to pay for drugs.

Keep a close eye on your medication and make sure they are stored where your child cannot access them. If you notice medication or money frequently going missing, it’s definitely time to confront your child.

If your teen starts wearing long sleeves, or you notice track marks on their arms, they may be using intravenous drugs and will need your intervention immediately.

If you find drug paraphernalia, residue, or your child comes home smelling like drugs, then this is an obvious sign you need to speak with your child.

What to do for Substance Abuse in Teens

Before approaching your teen, make sure you are certain they are using drugs. Look in their car and room for any signs of drug use, and if you find the proof, it’s definitely time to confront them.

If you discover your teen is using drugs, it will be difficult to find a way to approach him or her about it.

Instead of getting angry and yelling at them, try to understand what has led them to use drugs. There’s a good chance your child will become defensive and deny any drug use, and get very angry with you.

Remain persistent, and try to discuss different recovery options with your son or daughter.

There are a ton of fantastic addiction programs catered to adolescents. You will need to completely support them along the way and understand that addiction can last a long time.

If your kid has decided it’s time to get clean and stop using drugs, contact us today. We’ll discuss what treatment options are available for substance abuse in teens.

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By LifeLine

5 Signs Your Teen Needs Opioid Addiction Help

5 Signs Your Teen Needs Opioid Addiction Help

As a parent, knowing the signs of drug abuse in your teens can be life saving. Here are 5 signs your teen needs opioid addiction help and how to get it.

Are you worried that your teen could be struggling with an opioid addiction?

It’s an epidemic that’s sweeping the country. Around 20,000 people in America die every year from opioid overdoses. That’s why it’s recently been declared a public health emergency.

The signs can be hard to spot. In this article, we’ll equip you with everything you need to identify someone who needs opioid addiction help.

How to Know When Someone Needs Opioid Addiction Help

Read on to find out how to know when your teen is using opioids.

1. Changes in Sleeping Patterns

A teen who is abusing opioids will almost certainly exhibit drastic changes in sleeping patterns.

Opioids have a depressive effect, which also results in fatigue. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be sleeping more. In fact, it’s likely that they are getting much less restful sleep.

Abuse of any substance can disrupt sleeping patterns, and in this sense, opioids are no different. These drugs can cause both sedation and wakefulness, which allows them to wreak havoc sleeping habits, energy levels, and emotional well-being.

The side effects of opioids, such as nausea, restlessness and cold sweats, can prevent an addict from being able to fall asleep. They may suffer from insomnia, and when they do fall asleep, may wake up frequently.

All this contributes to low energy levels, drowsiness, and irritability.

2. Changes in Mood

One of the most telling signs that a teenager needs opioids addiction help is drastic changes in mood or personality.

You may be surprised to find that your once bubbly and outgoing son or daughter has now become withdrawn and anti-social. Mood swings may be frequent, and although they could easily be put down to typical teenage life, they shouldn’t be overlooked.

In some cases, the behavior of addicts may even become aggressive. When you reach out to them in an attempt to get to the bottom of their apparent emotional issues, they can become hostile. This drives a wedge between family members, pushing the distance even further apart.

Depression is another red flag. The links between opioids  abuse and depression are well-documented and thought to be caused by a number of factors. The first is a change in hormones, as well as the way the brain responds to pleasure and reward.

The second is that opioid abuse can lead to feelings of despair, anxiety, and isolation. Those already suffering from depression are especially susceptible to addiction, as they’re likely to use the drugs as a form of self-medication.

Unfortunately, it can become a vicious cycle. Opioid use increases the risk of depression, and depression increases the risk of addiction. Once a teenager is stuck in this cycle, it can be difficult to shake them out of it.

The combination of depression and addiction can cause suicidal thoughts. When opioid addiction help isn’t sought soon enough, sufferers can lose their lives to suicide and overdoses. This is the tragic reality for many families in America.

3. Poor Concentration

A teen who’s suffering from opioid addiction may have trouble concentrating and engaging in conversations and activities.

They often also lose enthusiasm for hobbies and friends they once cared about. They may no longer have any motivation for their studies, or things they once enjoyed.

In fact, they may be completely indifferent to anything and everything. This can be alarming for a parent. Trying to talk to them can be just as frustrating, as it may seem fruitless.

When questioned, opioid-addicted teens are often quiet and unresponsive. This makes it impossible to get through to them. As a result, parents are left feeling powerless to intervene.

If you’re having trouble connecting with your teen, it’s best to seek professional opioid addiction help. A licensed therapist can work with them to accept, evaluate and treat their addiction.

4. Lack of Personal Hygiene

As well as emotional red flags, there will be a number of physical ones, too. The first is a displayed lack of personal hygiene.

When opioid addiction takes hold, the sufferer usually begins to stop taking care of their appearance. As the drugs become more and more of a focus in their lives, hygiene takes a back seat, and it starts to show.

If your teen isn’t taking care of themselves like they used to, be on the lookout for the other warning signs on this list, too.

5. Health Problems

A teen who’s hooked on opioids may experience nausea and vomiting. This is because opioids affect the digestive system.

They cause the appetite to be suppressed, and this, combined with vomiting and an inhibited metabolism, can result in dramatic weight loss. Of course, addicts may also feel compelled to spend money on drugs instead of food, and therefore eat much less.

You may be able to spot abrasions or track marks on their skin, which will signal use of intravenous drugs. This may lead to other skin problems, such as rashes or infections.

Other health problems may also arise, as your teen’s immune system can be suppressed by drug abuse.

You may also notice that they are less responsive to pain. They may feel numbness from time to time, or unable to feel pain altogether. This is because the opioids attach to receptors in the brain, effectively blocking the feeling of pain.

This is how opioids are intended to help people. They provide relief from severe and chronic pain. However, it causes the harmful high that allows addiction to develop rapidly.

Seek Professional Help

Opioid addiction can be devastating for a teenager and their family, but it doesn’t have to ruin their lives. With professional help, your teen can put overcome their problems and put substance abuse firmly in the past.

At LifeLine for Youth, we offer dedicated programs to provide treatment for troubled teenagers. This also involves education, so they can get back on track with their studies and transition back into school life.

Don’t just take our word for it. To find out how LifeLine has helped to free other young people from the confines of addiction and take control of their lives, see our client testimonials

By LifeLine

Pornography Addiction in Teens

Pornography Addiction in Teens

While it may be perfectly normal and healthy for teenagers to develop curiosity in their sexuality, changing times have brought with them alarming statistics addressing teens hooked on pornography. Thanks (or no thanks) to the internet and cable television, there is a huge collection of pornographic images available for unrestricted viewing by adults as well as teenagers.

In the past, young people could not easily access pornographic materials unless they went an extra mile to scavenge from trash or access hidden adult collections. Today, they don’t have to expend any effort searching -it is all overly accessible. Even children armed with only rudimentary computer skills can unlock the floodgates to a barrage of X-rated images. It takes only a couple of mouse clicks to gain access.

Most unfortunately teens are inundated with a barrage of sexual stimuli before their capacity to integrate such materials into their sexual identity is fully developed. Thinking about it, much of the teen pornography issues reflect the broader social reality and the fact that pornography has officially gone mainstream.

Teenagers, being in their formative stages, are quite unsure about their sexual identity and to them pornography is not much different than a trip to the candy shop. They revel in the newfound euphoric feelings while at the same time secretly connecting with other folks with whom they share similar sexual tastes.

Studies done on this area have ascertained that pornography has roared into our everyday life so overwhelming that the existing social science models of treatment can no longer contain the phenomenon. Many young people suffer from exposure to pornography because it is an addictive force that is slowly consuming their productivity and capturing their creativity. 

The Impact of Pornography on Teenagers

While the definition of pornography is clear, the effects it has on teenagers is still a hotly debated topic. There are a few empirical studies that have been done on the issue, but they are yet to give a conclusive view. The reasons behind the scarcity in clinical research data is because many teenagers are often reluctant in speaking about their sexual habits. Lifeline For Youth understand the shame and remorse your child experiences and our trained counselors know how to open the lines of communication. Many of the studies done show a strong correlation between teen exposure to pornography and the potential for serious harm. For instance, in 1999, Benedek and Brown conducted a research on this area and noted some negative effects of pornography on teenagers. Among the findings included:

Imitation and modeling of inappropriate behaviors


Unhealthy interference with the normal sexual development process


Emotional side effects such as nightmares and feelings of guilt, shame, anxiety, and
confusion


Premature stimulation of sexual activity

Development of potentially harmful and misleading attitudes towards sex

In addition to the risks above, other researchers found out later on that teen pornography addiction is associated with risks such as poor social bonds and aggressive sexual patterns. If left unchecked, youth porn can lead to addiction which is considered a pervasive phenomenon

In terms of chemical processes, pornography has been found to be powerful in the creation of biochemical rush among teenagers. Basically, when teenagers are exposed to arousing images, epinephrine is secreted from the adrenaline gland into the bloodstream. Once it gets here, it is transported to the brain where it successfully locks the image in.  

Once the image mapping has been completed, it takes a simple recollection of the image to trigger an arousal. For this reason, teens can vividly recall the pornographic images they were exposed to years ago while they were still young children.

Other chemicals that come into play to create the euphoric state in the addicted teenagers include adrenaline, serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins, each of which are responsible for addictions, be it drug or behaviorally induced.. When teenagers experience this biochemical thrill, they unsurprisingly, look for every opportunity available to experience it again. At this point, practitioners consider pornography to be more than merely a social issue. They aptly categorize it as a drug because of its addictive nature.

Gender, Multicultural, and Socioeconomic Considerations

Cultures tend to have established parameters defining what is appropriate with sexuality. While some of these cultures are much broader in perspective, others are much narrower, making the sexuality topic almost a taboo to mention. Practitioners in this field usually approach cultures with care as they educate themselves on the various norms.

The most affected gender has been the males, but the rate of teenage girls hooked on pornography is also rising. Many of the girls turn to pornography with the aim of using it as the blueprint for their sexual activities and development.

When it comes to socioeconomic considerations, the most vulnerable teens to pornography are those coming from challenged backgrounds. In the same research by Benedek and Brown, children from single parent homes are particularly at risk. Other risk groups include youth with mental and emotional challenges and teens who have lived through sexual or physical abuse.

How to Address Pornography Addictions

There are various therapeutic options for teens at risk of pornography addiction or those who are addicted. Some of the considerations you have to make when handling such sensitive cases include:

Reducing Shame

Shame is one of the major factors for teens struggling with pornography. Some may be
hesitant to answer questions while others avoid eye contact altogether. In addressing such cases, you should try to minimize the shame by being
non-judgmental and supportive about their struggles.


Normalizing the Problem

A lot of teenagers with compulsive porn problems tend to suffer in isolation. Many of them believe they are alone and perverts in their actions. To handle this, you have to reassure them that their problem is one of the prevalent issues, but still communicate clearly the dangers it has on them.

Porn addiction recovery is not something that is available at all teen addiction treatment centers. If you suspect that your child has had repeated exposure to inappropriate material on the internet, on television, or in print, you need Lifeline For Youth. We can provide targeted and specialized pornography addiction treatment. The porn addiction treatment options provided at Lifeline For Youth can help break the cycle of bad choices and physical addiction.  Call today for information.

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By LifeLine

How do I know if my teen is using drugs or alcohol?

“How can I tell if my teen is using drugs or alcohol?”

Drugs leave physical and behavioral symptoms, just like a cold or chicken pox, and if present, can be indicative of use. Depending on what type of drug or drugs your child may be using, different markers may be present. Let’s look at some of the signs of teen drug use. We’ve broken them down into 3 categories: Physical, Behavioral, and Psychological.

Physical Signs of Substance Abuse

The Eyes

Have you ever really looked into someone’s eyes? Almost every type of substance abuse presents physical changes in the appearance of the eyes- from very enlarged pupils (pupil dilation), to very tiny pupils, called pinning. Also, other common effects seen in the eyes are redness, called “bloodshot” eyes (Conjuctiva), and watery or “glossy” looking eyes. Common with some stimulants like amphetamines (think Ecstasy and MDMA) are blurred vision and rapid eye movements or quivering (called nystagmus). Half closed and droopy eyelids register a “stoned” look that is all too common.

Rapid Changes in Weight

You’ve been accustomed to the thick and thin of your teen’s weight fluctuations since they were born. Weight is put on to supply growing bodies with the nutrients it needs to progress, resulting in thinner bodies after the growth spurt is over. However if you start noticing rapid changes in weight without the added increase in height or muscle mass, it may be time to pay attention.

Certain stimulants like Adderall used for ADHD and the like, if abused can cause weight loss.

Also the use of other substances can cause a dulling of the senses and lack of awareness to hunger and inattention to the needs of the body, thus affecting weight loss.

Changes In Hygiene and Grooming

Some teens don’t pay much attention to the details of physical upkeep, especially during times when their bodies are changing considerably. However,  a decrease in attention to appearance can be a clue to the puzzle if your teens habits take a drastic turn. Look for out-of-the-ordinary smells. Pay special attention to their breath and clothing. If they have developed a sudden interest in air fresheners or perfumes, they may be trying to hide the smell of drugs or smoke.

Paraphernalia

This is the most obvious of the signs of drug use in teens. Indisputable are the tools of the trade, and they can range from small cases and tins to unsuspected items like gum wrappers, modified pop cans, cut up straws, or dollars curled up with residue. Snack size bags and zip-lock style plastic bags can hold all types of drugs, from marijuana to prescription pills. Pay attention to kitchen items your child may be taking off to their room and not returning.

You are your child’s parent, not their friend so that means you have every right to look through their room and belongings! Especially if you suspect something like substance abuse is a problem for your teenager.

"You are your child’s parent, not their friend so that means you have every right to look through their room and belongings! Especially if you suspect something like substance abuse is a problem for your teenager."

LifeLine for Youth

Behavioral Signs of Substance Abuse

Decline in School Performance

Big changes in grades and attendance that happen within a short time and have no explanation (family stress, sickness etc.) and are atypical of your child, might mean an intervention could be necessary. Combined with other physical and behavioral markers, poor grades, attendance, downturn of participation in class and sports, or getting into more trouble (fights, arguments) than is normal can be a big red flag for drug use in teens and young adults.

Changes in Social Circles

During the time of discovering one’s autonomy likes, dislikes and interests will change. With this vacillation of interests will come changes in the friends your child hangs around with. This is to be expected. But drastic changes in the number of friends, either increase or decrease should raise some eyebrows. If you see your child wanting to isolate themselves or withdraw from family that may be a sign of substance abuse. When a child spends a lot of time with unnamed friends and acquaintances, or several that you’ve never heard of or seen before, pay attention, parent! Teens will fall in with those that share their interests and it merits your attentive eye.

"If you see your child wanting to isolate themselves or withdraw from family that may be a sign of substance abuse."

LifeLine for Youth

Missing Money or Prescriptions

News flash – drugs cost money. When you’re a teenager, you don’t have a ton of disposable income lying around. So, if money or valuables or prescriptions seem to go missing in your home, or your child is asking to borrow more than usual this may be a red flag.

Problems with Family

Among all the ups and downs of a child learning to become an independent young adult, one of the most frustrating is the disagreements and fall-outs with parents and those in the family. Heightened and unexplained anger, paranoia, blaming others for problems, and an overly emphasized amount of time alone or out of the house means serious business. Wanting to be alone, isolated, withdrawn, or silent is an indicator that something is wrong.

Psychological Signs of Substance Abuse

Mood Swings

True, mood swings are just part of the changes that come with puberty, but the keyword here is DRAMATIC mood changes. Is your child suddenly irritable for no good reason? Often they will develop a lack of interest in things they previously enjoyed that appears out of the blue.

Everybody reacts differently to drugs, but watch for the two extremes:

  • Suddenly becoming hyperactive or exteremly agitated. Your child seems to have developed an unhealthy sense of paranoia, irrational fears, and anxiety.
  • A sudden loss of motivations and inability to focusRelated to mood swings is a sudden or dramatic change in sleeping habits or appetite.

If you feel like there is an unexplained, abrupt change in attitude or in personality, it may be time to intervene.

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You are not alone!

Raising children is difficult, no one will contest that. Second guessing yourself becomes second nature. Sometimes taking the time to second guess your teens odd behavior could have critical, and perhaps even deadly consequences. When you see questionable behavior out of your already moody teen, it can lead you to wonder “How can I tell if my teen is using drugs or alcohol?

Thankfully, according to a 2016 report teen drug and alcohol use are declining. Sadly though it was reported that still nearly 40% of teens had “been drunk” within the year. When these substance use and drug abuse behaviors touch your household, the effects can be devastating. Knowing where to turn and who to trust for youth care in Utah can be confusing. Lifeline for Youth can help families overcome the crisis of substance abuse, depression, and provide restorative addiction treatment for teens and their families.

Hiding a drug habit involves a lot of subterfuge so we thought you might appreciate a little help with some of the more popular slang that exists:

DRUG SLANG 101:
• Dexing: Abusing cough syrup.
• Triple C: This stands for Coricidin HBP Cough and Cold.
• Special K: Ketamine – a medication used as an anesthetic in humans and animals.
• Crank: The stimulant methamphetamine.
• Antifreeze: Heroin.
• Crunk: This is a verb that means to get high and drunk at the same time.
• Snow: Cocaine.
• X: Ecstasy or 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA).

For a more detailed list of drug slang, download it here: dea-drug-slang-code-words-may2017

So, what do I do now?

Bringing up the topic of alcohol or drug use with your teen as soon as possible is important, but should never be done before you are prepared to do so, while you are angry, or while your child is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Check out this article for some great tips on how to effectively communicate with your teen.

If you and your child have an open line of communication already, talk with them about the issues they are facing to determine if they need therapy or support. Remember, just because your child is using drugs or alcohol doesn’t automatically mean you are a bad parent or that your child is a bad kid. So, do your best to set your personal feelings to the side while you discuss the issues with your child.

There are many reasons teenagers begin using drugs or alcohol. Some begin using them as a coping mechanism to help deal with unpleasant feelings such as anger, depression, boredom, anxiety, trauma, or confusion. Drugs and alcohol are often used to simply escape the problems they face related to simply growing up. If anyone else in the family uses drugs or alcohol, research shows teenagers are more likely to experiment with them themselves. Family members are role models for children, whether it’s good or bad. Even if family members do not use drugs or alcohol, teenagers are also influenced by their environment and most especially by their peers.

"Bringing up the topic of alcohol or drug use with your teen...should never be done...while you are angry, or while your child is under the influence...."

LifeLine for Youth

Talking with your Teen

Once you are ready to talk with your adolescent, about using drugs or alcohol, don’t be afraid to be yourself. They need to understand that you are the parent and you are trying to look out for their best because you love them. Let them know you are truly concerned while also helping them understand that you want to support them and help them with any issues they may be facing. Never beat around the bush, though, because that may cause confusion and give them a way out of admitting their problems with drugs and/or alcohol.

It is very possible that your teen may react angrily. It is only natural for anyone to put up walls immediately to keep from having discussions that may be hard. Continue talking with your teen though, so they can be assured you are looking out for their best. It is likely you will need to use outside support to help your teen and family deal with the substance abuse. If your child is willing to move forward with help, it is important to have a treatment center ready immediately to get them on the road to recovery.

Check out our article about how to talk with your teen.

Parents, we want you to know that Life Line for Youth is there if know or suspect your teen has drug addiction or behavioral issues and you need help. We’re here to lend a hand with supportive youth care to help repair the damage done when families don’t know where to turn. Each child deserves a chance, each family deserves a future. Contact us today for more information

Each child deserves a chance! Each family deserves a future. Reach out to us today!

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