New Friends and Old Pals: How to Handle & Interact with Your Teen’s Friends (Even the “Bad” Ones) Pt.2

Chances are your teen’s friends are pretty important to them (Understatement of the year?).

As kids grow into teenagers, friendships become increasingly vital, and all they to want to do is hang out with their buddies. Not to mention, the more they spend time with their friends, the less they seem to want to do so with you.

It can be tough as a parent to let go. It can be even tougher when you think about the tremendous impact these peers have on your kid’s attitudes, behavior, and beliefs.

Are they a kind-hearted group of pals? Do they respect adults and have good values? Will they encourage my teen to drink or take drugs? How can I make sure my child makes good choices when she is with her friends?

There are several key strategies to implement to best monitor and interact with your teen’s friendships. In our previous article, we discussed the importance of early steps like personally getting to know friends, exchanging phone numbers with both friends and their parents, and helping friends in times of need even when your child is not directly involved.

While these tips will all help build a successful bond with these pals—thereby strengthening your relationship with your teen as well—and help avert potentially dangerous situations, there is more you can do to keep your teen safe, having fun, and out of trouble.

Even if that means keeping her safe from certain “friends” and their influence.

As your teen starts spending more and more time out of the house with her friends, it is important to maintain a balance between overseeing safety and allowing autonomy. Until circumstances require otherwise, find that effective middle ground between overbearingly cautious and ignorantly laissez-faire.

Always be aware of your kid’s general plans when she is out—where she’ll be, what time she’ll be home. Know who she’s with, especially if it includes new friends who you have not been well acquainted with yet.

As we’ve recommended before, a great strategy to promote good behavior in teens is to give them the opportunity to gain a little bit more freedom by demonstrating responsibility. One approach is to allow your teen to alter his plans while he is out so long as he calls or texts to notify you first. For example, perhaps he and his group suddenly decide to go roller skating after their initial dinner plans, which will keep him out later than he originally thought.

Ultimately, it is your decision and you can always say no—simply telling you what’s going on doesn’t give your teen unbridled free reign—but generally permit these new plans. For most teenagers, if you show that you trust and respect them, they’ll be significantly more likely to want to uphold that trust by making good choices.

[The Edge of Seventeen Mom Texting Daughter clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsLO7CHInXM&t=24s]

Should your teen demonstrate that she can’t handle this freedom or takes advantage of it, explain to her that she is not ready and revert to a more rigid system. Similarly, if you have suspicions that your teen is not is telling the truth about her plans but don’t have concrete evidence or are wary of a certain friend that was mentioned, go check out the scene for yourself.

Did your teen say she’s spending the night at a friend’s house? Drive by on your own to see if her car is there. Is she going with a group to the movies? You might as well catch a flick at a similar time and check if you see them in the lobby.

This isn’t the time to bust out your spy moves or wear a disguise. Don’t suddenly jump behind a bush to avoid being seen or pretend you totally forgot she and her friends were planning to be there if they come to talk to you.

Be casual. Act like—or better yet, actually have—errands or other business in the area and are not purely there to check up on them. Teenagers will not respond well if you seem like you do not trust them, especially when you claimed to trust them previously.

What about those friends of your teen that you just don’t care for (whether you simply aren’t fond of their personalities or are legitimately worried about their influence on your child)? How should you handle those cases?

First, still behave toward these friends in person the same as you would any other. Treat them kindly and talk to them when you have a chance. Even if they are your complete opposite and you cannot fathom what your teen sees in them, try to find just one thing you have in common.

Be extremely careful in openly criticizing friends or labeling them a “bad kid,” which can be one of the quickest ways to infuriate your teen. And never outright say you don’t like one of them.

Many teenagers are very protective of their friends, and an attack on a buddy is viewed as an attack on themselves. Not only that, but your teen will likely interpret your comments as a condemnation of his social skills, of his judge of character and ability to distinguish and attract quality people. Conversely, it might cause him to doubt you and think you unfairly judgmental.

However, there may be kids who are legitimately negative influences upon your child’s life, and it would be best if your teen spent less time with these individuals. They might encourage illegal and/or unsafe behavior, or perhaps they emotionally harm your teen, taking advantage of him or lowering his self-esteem. You can’t stand idly by but must manage the situation deftly so that you do not alienate your teen in the process.

First of all, banning a friendship or forbidding your teen from seeing his pal(s) is risky and should only be considered in circumstances that truly endanger the physical safety or emotional well-being of your child. More than likely, this action will infuriate your kid and cause him to seek out these friends more often due to rebellious spite or fear of losing them.

Instead, adopt the following strategies, which together should limit or cease a bad friend’s power over your child. The first is to focus on your teen and her behavior, regardless of a friend’s involvement.

Talk to her about her actions that you disapprove of and clearly establish and enact consequences when your expectations are not met. Eventually—perhaps subconsciously—an equation will take root in her head:

This negative reinforcement will lead her to spend less time with that friend or greatly alter her behavior when with him.

The second approach more directly addresses an unfavorable friend but still without “attacking” him in the eyes of your teen. More so, the goal is to have your kid conclude on her own that said person is not a good presence in her life.

Have a conversation with your teen about friendship, asking her what she thinks makes someone a good and bad friend. Share your own opinions on these categories as well. She’ll likely reference her own experience regarding the matter, but if not, ask your kid what friends of hers exemplify these qualities.

Do certain buddies consistently live up to her and/or your characterization of a good friend? Are there those who do not meet these expectations and do or say things that place them on the negative side?

Your teen may come to some startling revelations about a friend or two when she takes the time to truly think about it, especially if those pals fail her personal definition of a good friend.

When you do need to discuss a particular friend, subtly reveal your concerns while figuring out how your teen feels about that individual. Acknowledge that you might not know the whole story.

Ask what your kid sees in a certain pal about whom you are skeptical. Say something along the lines of, “Hey, it seems like Chris gets in trouble a lot and sometimes bosses you around. Help me understand: What do you see in him?”

Maybe you’ll learn about a side of Chris not obvious when he’s in your company, or that he is currently going through a family crisis or other issue which is affecting his behavior.

Conversely, your teen might struggle to come up with an answer or only respond with something incredibly minimal like “he’s funny.” In the latter case, press on: “Okay, that’s great, but is there more to it than that? Is he _____ (kind, trustworthy, does he always have your back, etc.—whatever important quality you want to address)?”

Don’t force your teen to give up that friend immediately or keep pushing him if he’s clearly getting frustrated with your questioning. What’s important is simply planting that little seed of concern.

It might not mean much right away, but even if teenagers won’t admit it or realize it themselves, their parents’ opinions matter a great deal, and your periodic comments will get your teen thinking. He will likely start noticing the aspects of his friend you addressed even though he never had before:

“Huh, Mom was right; Paul really doesn’t seem to value my opinion,” or Wow, I do end up in situations I’m uncomfortable in a lot when I hang with Sarah.”

With time and subtle encouragement, your teen will start to limit his time with that friend or gradually phase her out altogether.

At the end of the day, you must also remember that many friends will not easily be summed up as the perfect “good friend” who never gets in trouble or fights with your teen or as the trouble-making bully of a “bad friend” that needs to go. Teens are teens, people are people, and most will fall in the grey area in between.

Friends sometimes argue and hurt each other’s feelings. Good-hearted kids make mistakes and sometimes drink. It doesn’t mean they are automatically a horrendous presence in your teen’s life that must be removed.

Approach each incident individually at first but notice trends. Give second chances but trust your instincts. You’ll know in your gut when a friend is a little rough around the edges but alright at heart versus a truly negative influence.

Finally, remind your kid that her true friends will respect her choices and stand by her side even if they are different from their own, and she does not need to choose between drinking and having a social life. Teach your teen the skills to resist peer pressure and how to handle herself in a situation where drinking, drug use, or other risky behaviors are present.

Be available, be compassionate, be concerned and adamant when you need to be.

Be a confidant, be a source of guidance, be a parent.

It’s not always easy but if you keep this all in mind and your eyes open, you can navigate through the fascinating world of teenage friendships.

*          *          *

By Tyler Wroblewski

Click here for Part 1 of “New Friends and Old Pals: How to Handle & Interact with Your Teen’s Friends (Even the “Bad” Ones)”

Pictures From

Friends Walking Away: From Skinny Casual Lover at https://www.flickr.com/photos/136920307@N06/28884337216

Smoking Woman: From Valentin Ottone at https://www.flickr.com/photos/saneboy/3050003040

Teen Texting: From Carissa Rogers at https://www.flickr.com/photos/goodncrazy/8466275231

Driving in Car: From Timo Newton-Syms at https://www.flickr.com/photos/timo_w2s/305245555

Disguised Dad: From Jeff Turner at https://www.flickr.com/photos/respres/2468996828

Smoking Teen Boy: From https://pixabay.com/p-484090/?no_redirect

Thought Bubble: Original image from https://pixabay.com/p-305444/?no_redirect. Text added by author.

Group of Friends: From David Amsler, www.flickr.com/photos/amslerpix

Teen Boy Sitting Outside: From https://pixabay.com/p-1098665/?no_redirect

Teen Girl Thinking: From Petr Kratochvil [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Line of Friends: From Vaibhav Sharan (https://www.flickr.com/photos/vibhu000/7279793602) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Friends Looking Up: From hepingting (CB106492) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

New Friends and Old Pals: How to Handle & Interact with Your Teen’s Friends (Even the “Bad” Ones) Pt.1

Friends.

Pals. Buddies. Companions. Amigos. Besties and BFFs.

Whatever you call them, friends are one of the most important aspects of many people’s lives. They’re a source of fun, trust, and support, people to talk and listen to, and who can tremendously shape our beliefs, interests, and behaviors.

This is especially true for teenagers.

Teens are still developing mentally, emotionally, physically, and socially, still figuring out the world and their place in it. While parents typically remain the primary influence on their kid, the time adolescents spend with peers and the value they place in them grow substantially during the teenage years (who else are they going to send a texting rant to upon storming out of the room, after all?).

Because of the significant role friends play in teens’ lives, parents should always pay attention to with whom their child spends her time.

For although good behavior and attitudes can spread through a peer group, so too can unsafe or unhealthy actions like underage drinking, drug use, and more. Whole friend groups may turn to risky behaviors together as they get older, or these activities may be introduced by one or more individuals to the rest of the group that previously had no inclination toward them.

Sudden changes in friendships, in particular, might suggest substance abuse. Just as getting involved with alcohol or drugs often causes teens to lose interest in their hobbies, school, work, and family, they might also unexpectedly stop hanging out with their usual friends.

At the same time, teens may suddenly start hanging out with new people who share the same substance-using interests. These new friends might seem out-of-character for your teen to bond with and don’t seem to have much in common with your child otherwise.

Of course, we are dealing with teenagers here. Friendships do change, evolve, and sometimes end, with new relationships waiting to blossom right around the corner—especially in the teenage world of hormones and high school drama.

There are a thousand reasons why your teen might end a friendship or start a new one, and substance use is only one of them. Don’t automatically assume your teen is snorting coke just because she no longer rides bikes with Susie from 6th grade.

Instead, simply keep an eye on your teen’s friendships while looking out for other personality, behavior, or physical developments that signal possible drug use. Only when enough of these signs couple together should you seriously investigate the problem further and intervene if alcohol or drug use is occurring.

This article will cover how to best interact with your teen’s friends and approach and monitor his relationships, both new and old.

The first strategy is also the most obvious: Know who your kid’s friends are!

Ask your teen who he hangs out with. What are their names, what are they like? How did he meet them?

Then, at the first available opportunity you see these friends in real life, go over and introduce yourself. Shake hands. Even if it’s a pal your teen has had for a long time, whom you’ve kind of-sort of seen around the house for years but never formally met, make the next time you see her finally be that day.

Even better, take some time to talk to them. Figure out for yourself what the people who play such an important role in your teen’s life are like. Are they polite? Shy? Outgoing? Are they open to meeting and talking with you or counting down the seconds until you go away?

From that initial introduction on, try to chit chat for at least a little bit each time you see them. Ask about their hobbies, how school is going, if they have any fun vacations planned with their families—anything really, whatever topics that genuinely intrigue you, and help you get to know them as a person (this may also inform you more on what your teen is like, as friends often share interests and personality traits).

Over time, you’ll build your own sense of connection or relationship with each friend.

Try to be the parent your teen’s friends want to talk to. You hope your own child enjoys conversing with you and will seek you out for guidance, right? If you can act as this same source of help and advice for his buddies, that’s all the better.

Maybe they don’t have a strong relationship with their parents or another trusted adult in their lives that they can open up to or ask for help when they are embarrassed or afraid of getting in trouble. You can be that vital resource.

Offer to listen to thoughts, stories, and problems. Respond with understanding and honesty. Give advice if they seek it but also know that sometimes teenagers just need somebody to listen when they express themselves.

It is also a good idea early on to exchange phone numbers with your teen’s friends. That way you can still reach your kid despite her rushing out the door to meet a buddy, her phone down to 2% and dwindling fast. If ever for some reason your teen doesn’t or can’t respond to your calls or texts, you still have a way to make sure she is safe by communicating with her friends.

On the flip side, swapping contact information gives your teen and her friends another means to contact you. Perhaps your teen needs to update you on her plans while she is out, but her phone died, and she doesn’t know your number by heart (she should, of course, but when’s the last time a teenager memorized a number after plugging it into her contacts?). Now, however, because her friend also has your number, she can easily reach you.

In case of more dire situations, exchanging contact numbers is increasingly important. Say your teen binge drinks at a party and exhibits signs of possible alcohol poisoning, worrying his friends. Yet your teen refuses to call you for help or give up his phone for others to do so. Luckily, his buddies don’t need his phone to call you for help and explain what is going on (upon which you should tell them to call 911).

Friends might also reach out to you in situations that don’t even involve your teen, yet they require your help. One example is if a friend becomes intoxicated while out and cannot drive home. He thankfully recognizes that he should not get behind the wheel but is too scared or embarrassed to call his parents. Since you are a responsible adult he trusts (because you took the time to get to know him and build a relationship), he calls you for a ride.

Or perhaps he isn’t drunk but simply at a party or other environment he feels uncomfortable without a safe way to leave. In any case, you are able to remove the teen from a potentially dangerous situation, which could have jeopardized his safety or the safety of others. Even though your child might not be a part of the situation at all, helping your teen’s friend is the right, moral thing to do, and you should be proud that he admires you enough to reach out.

When you pick up your teen’s pal, you might feel angry and want to scold him, just as if it was your own kid. However, remember and implement our previous tips on picking up an inebriated teenager: Acknowledge you are grateful he asked for help and save the lecture or yelling. Your job is simply to get him home.

Remember that being the trusted, possibly even “cool” parent does not mean you are bound to secrecy regarding the situation. You are still an adult, after all, and must inform the friend’s parents of what happened. The friend might not have originally called his parents, but they need to know.

Certainly, you’ll have that chance when you knock on their door late at night carrying their drunken teen. If, however, you had to bring him to your home to stay with your teen for some reason—perhaps the parents are out of town—make sure to call them as soon as possible to let them know their child is safe and with you.

Give all the details you know about the situation and remind the parents that their kid made the smart choice of calling for help and that it is probably best to hold off on talking to their teen until he is sober.

Unsure of where your kid’s friend lives? Don’t know his parent’s phone numbers?

Of course, if the friend is coherent enough you can get this information from him, but he might not be if he is drunk or high.

And, sure, your teen may have swapped numbers with his folks (especially if they also read this article!), but maybe not. Or maybe your teen is at her grandparents’ house, which doesn’t receive much phone service, or is otherwise unreachable.

That’s why, with both your teen’s old pals and new, try to build some connection (or at least facial recognition) with her friend’s parents—ideally, before the friend is passed out in your passenger seat.

Just as you should meet your kid’s buddies, so too should you introduce yourself to parents at the first opportunity. Swap phone numbers. Small talk if there’s time.

Admittedly, a face to face meeting might be a tad difficult to come by once teenagers get their licenses and start driving themselves places, but try your best.

Perhaps make an excuse to drop off your teen at a friend’s house instead of her driving on her own one day. Or you can always take the direct approach and simply ask to meet a friend’s parents or invite the family over to dinner.

Getting to know friends’ parents will better keep teens of both families safe and show you even more what your teen’s pals are like. You might even make some friends yourself.

*          *          *

By Tyler Wroblewski

Click here for Part 2 where we will discuss interacting with friends you don’t like, ways to encourage your teen to end/limit a caustic friendship, knowing and checking up on your teen’s plans with friends, and more. 

Pictures From

Group of Girls: From db Photography | Demi-Brooke at https://www.flickr.com/photos/demibrooke/2577242406

Women Drinking: From https://pixabay.com/p-1173651/?no_redirect

Girls Smoking Pot in the Woods: From St. Gil, Marc, 1924-1992, Photographer (NARA record: 8464473) (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Shaking Hands: From Lucas (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Teen and Man Shake Hands: From https://pixabay.com/en/men-shaking-hands-hands-shaking-950915/

Woman and Teen Talk Outside: By John Benson at www.flickr.com/photos/j_benson

Exchanging Numbers with Teen: From Dave Proffer at https://www.flickr.com/photos/deepphoto/3939213937

Passed Out Woman: From Newtown Graffiti at https://www.flickr.com/photos/newtown_grafitti/7982820624

Talking on the Phone: From https://pixabay.com/p-1582238/?no_redirect

Getting into Car: From Lou at https://www.flickr.com/photos/wolfm49/1015256548

Women Talking: From https://pixabay.com/en/women-beautiful-talking-2079133/

Looking at a Map: From Victor at https://www.flickr.com/photos/v1ctor/4753184912

Adult Female Friends: From Lori at https://www.flickr.com/photos/lolololori/2581438627

 

A Parent Guide to Drug Paraphernalia & Physical Evidence of Teen Drug Use

Whether your teen is an all-around upstanding citizen or known to get into trouble here and there, peer pressure and the inclination of teenagers toward risky behavior always make drug use a possible avenue in your child’s growing up. As a parent, it is vital to keep a vigilant watch for signs of substance abuse, which can be difficult to spot if you don’t know what to look for.

drug-paraphernalia

Changes in personality and attitude, behavior, and friends can all be indicators of possible drug use, but here we are going to focus on perhaps the most tangible sign: drug paraphernalia and other physical evidence. Of course, finding actual drugs is a surefire sign of substance abuse, but there are additional objects and materials that might indicate your teen is doing drugs.

Drug paraphernalia refers to a wide assortment of devices used to store, transport, make, prepare, do, or consume drugs. In this article, we’ll help you recognize some of these items and the drug(s) with which they are most associated.

paraphernalia

Now you might be thinking that this is all pretty self-explanatory. Obviously discovering a bong tucked under your teen’s bed is going to raise a few red flags that he’s smoking the wacky tobacky.

However, the tricky part is that although the paraphernalia connected to certain substances, such as marijuana, may be more familiar to non-users, ecstasy or LSD paraphernalia (for example) might not be. Even trickier is the fact that while some items are made exclusively for drug use or are instantly connoted with certain substances—rolling papers, syringes, etc.—many are normal, everyday objects. You yourself may have purchased them for their intended purpose, unaware of how your teen is actually using them.

Take straws for instance.

Everybody loves a good straw. Especially if straw-memeit’s of the bendable or silly variety. Why crane your neck to take a drink when you can use this nifty little device to miraculously transport liquid straight from your cup to your mouth?

But did you know straws, particularly if they have been cut into smaller pieces, are also commonly used to snort heroin, meth, and cocaine?

So let’s say you buy a box of plastic straws for normal drinking use. What might indicate that your teen uses them instead for nefarious purposes? For straws and any other common object that can be involved in substance use, pay attention to these factors:

  • Do you ever actually see your teen use them for their intended purpose?
  • Where did you find the item(s)? Somewhere unusual? In a hidden or secret spot? do-not-enter
  • Does your teen have a lot more of the item than would be typical?
  • In instances where the items are used communally by the household, do they run out much faster than expected? Are they gradually disappearing (in accordance with typical usage) or do many go missing at a time?

So without further ado, what are some of these paraphernalia—mundane or otherwise—often involved in drug use?

Marijuana

Also known as cannabis, weed, pot, Mary Jane, reefer, and dozens of other names, marijuana is the most used drug by teens (and adults) after alcohol and tobacco. Roughly 20% of high school seniors have used marijuana in the past month. Despite its legality in a handful of states, weed is still illegal under federal law and has been shown to cause detrimental effects on the still-developing brain of adolescents and young adults.

grinders

  • Grinders: Used to shred up marijuana buds into smaller bits in preparation for smoking. They are small cylindrical objects comprised of two halves with grinding teeth and a tiny magnet in the middle.rolling-papers
  • Rolling Papers: Small sheets of (usually white or translucent) paper or plant material used to make marijuana cigarettes called joints. Pot smokers will also use cigar wrappings to roll weed, which is known as a blunt.roach_clip_statsRoach Clips: Any sort of clamp or holder, typically made of metal, which a smoker uses to grasp a marijuana cigarette as it burns smaller and smaller, primarily to smoke as much from the joint as possible and avoid burning fingers. Common examples of roach clips include forceps and alligator clips.bongs
  • Bongs: Vertical water pipes that vaporize the smoke of the drug for inhalation. They are most often made of glass or plastic and range in size from eight to fourteen inches, though they can be much bigger.
Heroin, Cocaine, and Meth

heroin

Though derived from very different materials, heroin, cocaine, and meth are all highly addictive and dangerous substances. All three are commonly found in powdered form, though cocaine and meth also frequently come in crystal form (aka crack cocaine and crystal meth).

Since heroin, cocaine, and meth can all be snorted, smoked, sniffed, and injected, they share much of the same preparation and consumption paraphernalia.

cocaine

  • Razor Blades and Cards: Powdered drugs are prepared for snorting typically by being separated, or cut, into thin rows called lines. Razor blades and any type of card (credit card, playing card, gift card, etc.) are the most regularly used, though any other firm straight-edged item will work.
  • Mirrors: Cutting drugs into lines requires a hard surface. Most often a reflective surface is preferred as well. Therefore, users will often carry small portable mirrors.

snorting

  • Pen Tubes, Straws, and Tightly Wrapped Dollar Bills: Numerous objects can be utilized to snort drug lines—empty pen tubes, (cut up) straws, and rolled up dollar bills among the most regular—but any hollow cylindrical device could be used.

powder_meth

  • Tin or Aluminum Foil: The drugs may be placed on napkin-sized sheets of foil which are then heated over a flame or other source of heat. As the drug smokes and evaporates, users inhale the fumes. Afterward the foil will usually be charred on the bottom.
  • Spoons: Frequently found with burn marks, spoons are used to hold the heroin-spoondrug while the user places a lighter underneath. The dissolved or melted
    form of the drug is then sniffed or injected.
  • Glass Tubes: In addition to their potential use as snorting paraphernalia, glass tubes—such as those often sold with fake miniature roses—are also employed in inhaling the rising fumes of a heated drug (such as from foil or a spoon). They may be chipped, melted, or charred on one end with a white residue in the middle. Additionally, they are sometimes accompanied by bits of steel wool or cotton, which are placed on the inside of the tube.
  • Syringes: Used to directly inject the drug into the bloodstream, syringes injecting-519389_1280pose an added danger via potential infections and transmission of bloodborne pathogens from dirty needles and needles shared between multiple people. Users may keep around disinfectant supplies like rubbing alcohol in their efforts to sterilize needles.
  • Belts, Bungee Cords, Strips of Cloth and Shoelaces: Drug users create makeshift tourniquets out of these and other rope-like objects and tie them around the site of the injection, typically the arm, in order to enlarge veins.
Inhalants

Inhalants refer to aerosols, solvents, gases, and nitrites that are breathed through the mouth or nose to produce a high. They are the most commonly abused drug by 12 and 13 year-olds.

spray-paint

  • Commercial Products: One of the reasons inhalant use is so prevalent among younger teens is that many of these high-inducing substances are already in the house. Always be aware of chemical products in your home, keeping tabs on how much you should have versus if any is missing. In addition, finding an inhalant substance in some place other than where you keep them—in your teen’s closet, perhaps—is a strong sign of possible abuse. Among the products to monitor are:

-Gasoline and lighter fluidglue

-Paint, spray paint, paint thinners, and paint remover

-Glue

-Shoe Polish

-Degreasers

-Detergent, bleach, and other laundry or dry cleaning products

-Any product in an aerosol can including whipped cream, hair spray, deodorant, and cooking oil

huffing

  • Brown Paper Bags: Users will also inhale substances from inside a bag, a method known as bagging.

rags

  • Rags: Huffing is a method of inhalant use in which a person soaks a rag in a chemical and then breathes in the fumes from it.
Ecstasy

Ecstasy most commonly comes in pill form and is frequently associated with dance parties, music festivals, and raves. Other common names for ecstasy are Molly and E.

ecstacy-03

  • Bags of Candy: Users will often hide ecstasy pills among similarly colorful candy.pacifer
  • Pacifiers, Lollipops, and Jawbreakers: When on the drug, users tend to tightly clench their jaw. These items help make them more comfortable.
  • Vapor or Mentholated Rubs: Allow users to breathe easier and enhance the drug’s sensations.
  • Surgical or Painter’s Masks: Abusers will often use vapor rubs by applying them to these or similar masks.

glow-stick-693843_1280

  • Glow Sticks: These and other colorful, neon items are often collected by users to enhance their sensations while high.
LSD

LSD, or acid, is a powerful hallucinogenic drug, and an LSD high, known as a trip, can last as long as twelve hours per hit. LSD is typically synthesized into a liquid but may also be found in pill or capsule form.

blotter-paper-2

  • Blotter Paper: Small sheets of absorbent paper composed of smaller perforated sections which are soaked in LSD and ingested. They are frequently decorated with colorful patterns or illustrations.
  • sugar-cubesSugar Cubes: The original delivery system when LSD first became popular, sugar cubes are likewise coated or filled with LSD then sucked on or ingested.
  • Eyedroppers: Used to take LSD directly via placing drops on the tongue.

Multiple/Various Drugs

Some objects are utilized across a wide variety of drugs, thus finding such an item can make it difficult to ascertain what the exact substance your teen might be abusing. Nevertheless, discovering any of these objects (or when paired with shady circumstances in regard to the more mundane items) should raise some red flags.

  • Scales: A teen may possess a small portable scale, roughly the size of a smart phone, for the purpose of buying or selling drugs to ensure the amount of the drug agreed upon in the transaction is accurate.small-drug-baggie
  • Baggies: Re-sealable, sandwich-sized plastic bags are a typical method of storing a drug stash. Though a common item in transporting food, teens using drugs can be found with an unusually high number of empty baggies in their pockets, rooms, backpacks, etc. Users also commonly shift the drug to a corner of the bag, use a twist tie or other knot to secure it, and then cut off the remainder of the bag. Also be on the lookout for tinier baggies, containing a single dose or hit of a substance.

bottles-681901_1280

  • Glass Vials, Boxes, and Other Small Containers: In addition to baggies, teens will use any type of vial, box, or container to store their drugs. Drug users may even buy storage paraphernalia that look like normal items or alter such objects themselves to house a secret holding compartment. Examples of items used to store drugs include:

-Mint or candy boxes

-Stuffed animals or other toys book-cut-pages

-Books with the middles of pages cut out

-Makeup containers and lipstick tubes

-Battery boxes

-Soda, snack, cleaning supply, shaving cream or any other type of cans

-Bottles and thermoses

Since such paraphernalia are designed to evade suspicion, you may not realize an object is storing drugs, even upon thorough inspection. Therefore, take note of certain behaviors that seem odd given the item.

In the case of a stuffed animal example, for instance, let’s say your teen says she keeps it for sentimental reasons. Why then does she bring it to school and parties? Or in another example, your teen finished all of the chips in that can of Pringles weeks ago. Why does she still have the can in her room? And how come she absolutely refuses to share a mint even though you see lighterher carrying around that metal Altoid box all the time?

  • Lighters: Numerous drugs, in one form or another, can be smoked including weed, crack cocaine, salvia, PCP, meth, opium, and heroin, as well as tobacco.
  • Pipes: As with lighters, pipes can indicate any number of drugs that are smoked. Pipes are commonly made of anything from wood to porcelain to glass to clay.

Drug users can be clever and persistent in their smoking and have been homemade-pipeknown to craft their own pipes. While perhaps some people have the whittling skills to carve a pipe out of a wooden block, smokers frequently devise makeshift pipes out of apples, pens, plastic bottles, paper towel tubes, and other household items.

Furthermore, head shops and paraphernalia producers continually develop new pipes concealed within or designed to look like everyday objects. Some might even function as the item normally should. More common examples include pipes disguised as belt buckles, markers/highlighters, lipstick, and video game controllers.

Other Physical Evidencepaint-on-clothes

Beyond paraphernalia, there are other physical signs and tangible objects that indicate your kid might be using drugs. Repeatedly finding unexplained stains, paint, or powders on your teen’s body or clothing—even if you can’t explicitly identify them as an illicit substance—is one such example. Many others are methods your teen may employ to hide his abuse.

Case in point, unless you are Corey Hart, there’s no reason to wear your sunglasses at night. Teens who constantly keep their shades on after dark or indoors might be concealing bloodshot eyes or dilated or constricted pupils, a common effect of substance abuse. Eye drops also indicate this behavior.

Similarly, have you noticed your teen always wearing arm bands or long sleeves even during really warm weather? He might be covering needle marks or scabs.

Next, drug use is a smelly business. Whether from the substances themselves, the process of preparation or consumption, or the effect they have on a person’s body, drugs often come with a strange assortment of odors, aromas, and stenches, smells teens will want to hide.

incenseThey might burn incense while they smoke to mask the drug’s burning scent or frequently spray air fresheners. A sudden or heavy use of breath mints, mouthwash, perfume or cologne might also suggest your teen is covering the smell of drugs on his clothes or body.

Finally, monitor your child’s interest in drug culture. Does he frequently visit websites, listen to music, watch movies, or read magazines the regularly glamorize substance use? Of course, simply liking a song now and again that references drugs doesn’t mean your kid is an addict; however, increasingly delving into a culture that celebrates abuse can quickly lead to him joining that lifestyle.

weed-shirtAnd how about his clothes and other possessions? It’s not difficult to find t-shirts, posters, jewelry, mugs, and countless knickknacks plastered with images of drugs or drug use, marijuana in particular, at a flea market or novelty store at the local mall. While not every belt buckle shaped like a pot leaf secretly hides a pipe or weed stash, your teen’s possession of one is troubling all the same.

Drug use can be difficult to spot, but with this guide you will recognize some of the most common objects connected with substance abuse.

Furthermore, although drug culture will evolve and develop new paraphernalia and consumption methods, asking the same questions—why is my teen so protective of his ______ (fill in the blank with any item),  how come he has so many ______, but I never see him use them?, etc.—can help you identify other objects not popularly used or invented yet.

But finding drug paraphernalia is just the first step. Next, with physical evidence in hand, you need to confront your teen.

*          *          *

By Tyler Wroblewski

Click here for tips and strategies on how to intervene when your teen is using drugs or alcohol.

Resources

“Drug Paraphernalia Associated with LSD.” LSD Abuse Help. http://www.lsdabusehelp.com/drug-paraphernalia-associated-with-lsd

“Drug Paraphernalia: Spot the Warning Signs of Teen Drug Abuse.” Teen Rehab Center: Substance Abuse Resources & Treatment. Teen Rehab Center. https://www.teenrehabcenter.org/resources/drug-paraphernalia/ 

“Drug Paraphernalia, What Every Parent Should Know.” Addiction Search. http://www.addictionsearch.com/treatment_articles/article/drug-paraphernalia-what-every-parent-should-know_113.html 

“How to Identify Drug Paraphernalia.” Get Smart About Drugs. Drug Enforcement Administration. https://www.getsmartaboutdrugs.gov/content/how-identify-drug-paraphernalia 

“Identifying Drug Paraphernalia.” Teen Rehab Newport Academy. Newport Academy, 2016. https://www.newportacademy.com/resources/substance-abuse/identifying-drug-paraphernalia/ 

“Inhalants.” DrugFacts: Inhalants | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). National Institutes of Health. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/inhalants 

“Recognizing Methamphetamine Use.” PoliceLink: The Nation’s Law Enforcement Community. Police Link. http://policelink.monster.com/training/articles/12184-recognizing-methamphetamine-use 

“The Truth about Crack Cocaine,” “The Truth about Crystal Meth,” “The Truth about Cocaine,” “The Truth about Ecstasy,” “The Truth about Heroin,” “The Truth about Inhalants,” “The Truth about Marijuana,” & “The Truth about LSD.” The Truth about Drugs. Foundation for a Drug-Free World, 2016. http://www.drugfreeworld.org/home.html

“Tools of the Trade: How to Spot Ecstasy Paraphernalia.” Alcohol and Drug Rehab Programs – Addiction Treatment Centers. Project Know. http://www.projectknow.com/tools-of-the-trade-how-to-spot-ecstasy-paraphernalia/ 

Yoder, Robert. “The Parents Guide to Drug Paraphernalia.” Palm Beach Drug Rehab and Alcohol Treatment. The Palm Beach Institute, 2015. https://www.pbinstitute.com/parents-guide-drug-paraphernalia/

Pictures From

Table of Paraphernalia: From Frank Boston at www.flickr.com/photos/fixersphotos

Paraphernalia: From Espiritusanctus (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Straws: Original image from Horia Varlan from Bucharest, Romania (Eight drinking straws in rainbow colors) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Words added by author.

Do Not Enter: From Emma Craig at https://www.flickr.com/photos/98925031@N08/9571827657

Grinders: From Liquid Splitter [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Rolling Papers: From Erik Fenderson [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Roach Clips: From Spydercanopus at English Wikipedia, edited by Craig Pemberton at English Wikipedia (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Bongs: From IN HL at www.flickr.com/photos/100443193@N08

Heroin: From United States Drug Enforcement Administration [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Cocaine: From Zxc (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Snorting: From https://pixabay.com/en/cocaine-drugs-death-396752/

Meth on Tin Foil: From United States Drug Enforcement Administration [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Burnt Spoon: From Psychonaught (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Injection: From https://pixabay.com/en/injecting-medical-shot-veins-519389/

Spray Paint: From Kufi Smacker at www.flickr.com/photos/kufismackerpck

Krazy Glue: From Mike Mozart at https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeepersmedia/15014590012

Inhaling Aerosol Cans: From Evil Erin at https://www.flickr.com/photos/evilerin/3424970624

Old Rag: From https://pixabay.com/p-245431/?no_redirect

Ecstasy: From DEA (DEA, US) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Pacifier: From inner.child (www.ebay.co.uk) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Glow Sticks: From https://pixabay.com/p-693843/?no_redirect

Blotter Paper: From Psychonaught (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Sugar Cubes: From david pacey at https://www.flickr.com/photos/63723146@N08/7164573186

Baggie: By Mikeaz (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Glass Vials: From https://pixabay.com/en/bottles-antique-old-glass-vintage-681901/

Book with Cut Pages: From Mork (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Lighter: From David J. Fred (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/bysa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Makeshift Pipe: From Whitney from Scottsdale, USA (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Paint-Covered Man: From The Pug Father at www.flickr.com/photos/fleur-design

Incense: From https://pixabay.com/p-699434/?no_redirect

Pot T-Shirt: From m01229 at https://www.flickr.com/photos/39908901@N06/7552600614

Thinking: Original image from https://pixabay.com/p-1701188/?no_redirect. Words added by author. 

5 Helpful Tips for Parents When Your Teen Goes to a Party (Pt. 2)

Party on, Wayne. Party on, Gar—

Hold it right there.

Before anyone does any partying, parents need our remaining tips. With movies, TV, music, and more often emphasizing alcohol and drug-fueled excess as the central theme of every big get together, it’s understandable for parents to be nervous when their teen mentions a party next weekend.

We’ve already covered gathering info on the party, communicating with other parents, and sitting your teen down for a serious talk before the party even begins. But what else can you do to protect your child while still allowing her to go out and have a good time?

#4 Safety Must Be the Number One Priority

safety-first

While a teen’s primary objective for a party is fun, yours must always be safety.

First, remember you have the ultimate say in whether you allow your teen to go to any particular party. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. While this will very likely be an unpopular decision with your teen, as a parent you sometimes have to make hard choices when looking out for your child’s well-being.

Once you permit your teen to go, one of the most important safety precautions you need to observe is ensuring safe transportation to and from the party. Find out how your kid intends to get there.

Walk? Get a ride? Drive herself? Each entails potential dangers against which you should prepare.

walking-454543_1920For instance, we all want to save gas and should do our best to go green. If the party isn’t too far away, your teen might be thinking, “Sweet, I can just walk there” (or bike, skateboard, etc.). And though this health-conscious, environmentally friendly decision automatically seems like the best choice, there are certain safety considerations to bear in mind:

  • Is the neighborhood/general area safe to walk around at night?
  • Will your teen’s route be well lit?
  • Does she have to travel alongside busy streets or roads that have little to no shoulder?
  • Will she be traveling alone or with friends?pedestrian-925850_1920

Depending on the answers to these questions, driving might be the better option after all. Even if walking is deemed safe enough, still remind your teen to travel in groups, stay in well-lit areas, and be careful of hazardous roadways.

Driving, of course, poses its own dangers, especially if alcohol is even remotely involved. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers and one third of all these driving fatalities are alcohol-related.1 In surveys reported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in ten teens in high school drinks and drives.2

teen-driverRegardless if your teen is the driver or a passenger in a carpool, you absolutely must make sure she understands to never get into a car with a driver who’s been drinking. Even if your teen’s friend has told her he will be the designated driver and abstain from booze during the party, it’s vital she sees him keep that promise and find a new safe ride if he doesn’t.

Too often teenagers will get in a car with an impaired driver or try to drive themselves after drinking in order to get home and not get in trouble for staying out too late. Since your person-woman-apple-iphonechild’s safety is your first and foremost concern, tell her that she can—in any condition, at any time of night—always call or text you for help.

No matter whether your teen spotted her supposed DD taking shots or is herself intoxicated and unable to drive, assure her that you care more about her well-being than getting her in trouble. You never want her to put herself even greater danger because she feared reaching out to you.

questions-1014060_1920One approach to this that will help encourage your teen to contact you when needed is to implement a “No Questions Asked” rule. If she calls saying she has drank and cannot drive, your reaction might be to yell, get angry, or ask how she let herself fall into this mess.

But remember, her safety is your top priority. If you want her to call for your help, you need to create an environment where she won’t be afraid to ask for it.

When you pick her up from the party, don’t drill her with questions or begin (heatedly) lecturing. Instead, tell her you are happy and thankful she reached out. Remind her that doing so was the smart, right decision, even though it was probably hard to do. If you don’t think you’ll be able to speak without losing your cool, just stay quiet. Sit back. Listen.

trafficjamfrustration

Following up with your teen on the night’s events and the choices she made, however, is crucial. Find out what happened and go over what she should have done differently during the party. Give out suitable consequences but take that she did the right thing by calling rather than try to lie and sneak around into consideration.

Just not tonight. Tonight is about getting her home safely.

#5 See Your Teen Home

In a newsflash that will surprise no one, parties tend to go late into the night. That said, for those of you that hit the pillow face first before 9:30, this next tip might be a bit of a challenge. But if you’re a Night Owl, or can at least pretend to be one for an evening, try it out.

coming-homeStay up and see your teen come home. Depending on when you set curfew, it might be tough, but this tip will accomplish two worthwhile goals.

1).  For your own peace of mind, you can go to bed knowing that your child is safe and sound for the night. Letting him go to a party is a potentially stressful experience, but you now can rest easy.

2). Staying up allows you to see whether he followed through on his curfew and, especially if you were suspicious, examine his physical condition. Verify with your own eyes whether he drank or did drugs.

Be casual while you observe. The last thing you want to do isdetective-1424831_1280 seem like you’re purely inspecting your teen to get him in trouble or act like you distrust him. Teens hate that. Talk to him as you normally would (it’s not an interrogation). Tell him you’re glad he is home and ask if he had fun.

As you do, check for some basic signs of alcohol and drug use:

  • Is your teen stumbling through the door?
  • Does his breath or clothes smell like smoke or booze?
  • Are his eyes red, dilated, or unable to focus?
  • Can he follow the conversation?
  • Is he slurring his words or speaking abnormally loud?

If your teen has indeed been drinking or taking drugs, again, yelling-manas in Tip #4, you may get angry and want to yell.

But is shouting at a drunken teenager really going to convince him to make better choices in the future? Will he even comprehend what you’re saying?

It is essential that you have a serious conversation with your teen and determine appropriate punishments. Both, however, will be more effective in the morning when your teen is sober and coherent.

silhouette-1082129_1280

Parties can be a lot of things.

Fun. Scary. Exciting. Stressful. Stress-relieving. Casual. Wild. Memorable. And that’s for both the teenage party-goers and the parents waiting at home.

But so long as you talk early and often with your teen, communicate with other parents, and always place your child’s safety as your top priority, you can make sure the party is memorable for all the right reasons.

*         *          *

By Tyler Wroblewski

Click here for Part 1 of our first three tips for when your teen goes to a party!

You might be apprehensive to allow your teen to go to a party if you don’t have a strong, trusting relationship or don’t know if she is aware of the risks posed by drugs and alcohol. If either of these statements is true, it can be difficult to figure out where to even start to reverse them.

Luckily, Omni Youth Programs is here to help. Our Active Parenting of Teens, Teens in Action, Families in Action, and Families Matter programs focus on giving families the tools and strategies to communicate effectively, end power struggles, and build trust together, all while illuminating the dangers of alcohol, drugs, and other risky behaviors. For more information check out our Program Details page or visit omniyouth.net to schedule a training.

Pictures From

Safety First: From Matt Crampton at https://www.flickr.com/photos/mattcrampton/3249191779

Walking Shoes: From https://pixabay.com/p-454543/?no_redirect

Walking at Night: From https://pixabay.com/p-925850/?no_redirect

Teen Driving: From State Farm at https://www.flickr.com/photos/statefarm/7838240744

Teen Girl Texting: From https://pixabay.com/en/smartphone-woman-girl-iphone-569076/

Questions: From https://pixabay.com/p-1014060/?no_redirect

Stressed Driver: From Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Sneaking In: From Marcel Oosterwijk at https://www.flickr.com/photos/wackelijmrooster/3177929150

Inspector Cartoon: From https://pixabay.com/en/detective-searching-man-search-1424831/

Yelling Man: From Paul Cross at https://www.flickr.com/photos/paulcross/5819125499

Sunset Talk: From https://pixabay.com/p-1082129/?no_redirect

Works Cited

  1. Stim, Attorney By Rich. “Teen Drunk Driving & Underage DUIs: The Sobering Facts.” Drivinglaws.org. http://dui.drivinglaws.org/resources/dui-and-dwi/dui-basics/the-sobering-facts-underage-duis.htm. N.p., n.d.
  1. “Teen Drinking and Driving.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/teendrinkinganddriving/. 2012.

5 Helpful Tips for Parents When Your Teen Goes to a Party (Pt. 1)

The Adicts at SO36. Kreuzberg-Berlin

Parties.

From Halloween celebrations to Girls Night sleepovers, poolside bashes to fancy dress-up jamborees, parties come in all shapes and sizes, ranging in activities, occasion, location, and attendees. In one form or another, parties are likely to be a part of your child’s teenage experience.

They can be an important setting for your teen’s growth, an opportunity to make new friends, learn to be more comfortable in large groups, and develop vital social skills needed for life as an adult. Not to mention they can be a lot of fun.

flip-cupHowever, some parties are also a place of alcohol, drugs, and risky sexual behavior. It’s not difficult to think of a wild, toga-clad John Belushi in Animal House or the characters of American Pie and Superbad desperate to drunkenly get laid at the End of the Year Party or a dozen other pop culture examples that glamorize high school and college parties as consequence-free nights of intoxicated outrageousness. Just about every teen movie depicts all parties as having lots of booze and zero supervision—even if that doesn’t reflect reality.

With all this in mind, it can be nerve-racking as a parent to allow your kid to go to a party, whether it’s their first one or their hundredth. This article will discuss steps you should take when your teen goes to a party that will help keep him or her safe.

#1 Start with the Basics
calendar-819617_1280

This might seem simple, but it’s all too important.

Who, what, when, where? Heck, add the why in there too (Is there a specific reason the party is this weekend? Parents out of town or something like that?).

Always know information such as the party’s address/location, start and end times, and who is throwing the party. Who all is going for that matter? Just some close friends or practically the whole student body? And the kicker: Will the parent’s be home?

hanging-not-drinking

Set a curfew and make sure your teen knows it. Also establish rules on whether or not he’s allowed to go other places during the night—a different party, a friend’s house, maybe a fast food joint.

Depending on your child and the level of trustworthiness and integrity he generally upholds, allowing a little bit of freedom in these matters might prove beneficial.

Bouncing around to different places? Hcall-parent-for-helpave him send a text updating you each time his plans change. Realizes he’ll be out later than he initially thought? That’s fine, so long as he calls to let you know.

Again, not every teen can handle this level of autonomy, and you will need to ensure that this policy is not taken advantage of, but for teens that are up to the challenge, showing that you have faith in them will encourage them to prove that your trust is not unfounded.

#2 Use the International Parent-to-Parent Communication Network

Okay, so maybe there isn’t a global parental communication system, but talking to other parents the old-fashioned way about the upcoming party is still a good idea.

First of all, other parents can be an invaluable source for getting the information in Tip #1 if you don’t learn it from your teen.

conversation-799448_1280

Reach out to parents of other teens that are attending as well as the parents of the party’s host.  If you don’t currently have their contact information it can be a little more difficult than the days of looking up a family’s home number in the phone book, but there are other methods.

Of course, simply askiknock-on-doorng your teen is the first and easiest step. Or ask your teen’s friends next time you see them for that matter. In addition, you can always do a little Facebook stalking, ahem, research, to find and message parents online. Finally, you can use the direct approach and knock on their door for the ol’ face to face (again, their address will have to be something you ask your teen or teen’s friend if you’ve never dropped her off or otherwise know where their home is).

When you do get a hold of other parents, share what you know about the party with each other and take note of any discrepancies you discover from what you have heard from your respective kids. Indication that your teens are lying or hiding things is a sign that the party may not be a good idea.

For that matter, check that the host’s parents are aware there even is a party. They might be surprised to learn that their teen has such plans while they’re on their weekend get away.

One key element to discuss with other parents is whether or not there will be booze-presentalcohol. Even if only one teen shares this with her parents, inter-parent communication will ensure no one is left in the dark about this important fact.

Furthermore, don’t assume there won’t be alcohol simply because parents will be home. Sure, they might physically be in the house, but do they plan on actually supervising or at least checking in on the party periodically? How will they handle the situation if some of the guests sneak in booze or other drugs?

cartoon-boozeMoreover, some parents (incorrectly) believe that it is safe for teenagers to have alcohol if they are around and won’t care if it is at the party. Despite alcohol’s effects on the developing brain and studies that show that minors who are supplied alcohol by their parents are actually at increased risk for continued drinking in their teenage years and problem drinking later in life,1 some parents will even provide booze themselves.

#3 The Birds and the Bees and the Booze and the Weed

Whether you know there will be alcoholic drinks or not, a party right around the corner is a perfect occasion to have a serious conversation with your teen about alcohol, drugs, sex, and/or whatever other precarious subject he may be in need of.

serious-talkYep, that’s right. It’s awkward talk time.

Well, hopefully it won’t be too bad. And even if it is uncomfortable for you, him, or the both of you, it’s necessary to push through the awkwardness. These conversations are important, and, luckily, the longer you talk—not to mention the more often you have these talks in general—the easier and more natural things will become.

As you prepare for a conversation—and it will certainly go better if you prepare at least a general idea of what you want to say—keep these points in mind.

disapproveDon’t assume your teen already knows your exact stance on the subject matter. Make sure he knows by explicitly telling him what you do and don’t approve. Set ground rules. Teens that know their parents would disapprove of them drinking are 80% less likely to drink.2

Go above and beyond simply stating that you don’t want him to drink. Ask your teen what he’ll do if there is alcohol, pot, or other drug use going on. Together, brainstorm and discuss strategies to turn down a drink. Simply saying from the outset that he will abstain from drugs and alcohol is great, but it might be hard to follow through once surrounded by the peer pressure of a party environment. Knowing and practicing specific ways to say no will make it immensely easier to do so.

*         *          *

By Tyler Wroblewski

Click here for Part 2 on our remaining tips on when your teen goes to a party!

You might be apprehensive to allow your teen to go to a party if you don’t have a strong, trusting relationship or you don’t know if she is aware of the risks posed by drugs and alcohol. If either of these statements is true, it can be difficult to figure out where to even start to reverse them.

Luckily, Omni Youth Programs is here to help. Our Active Parenting of Teens, Teens in Action, Families in Action, and Families Matter programs focus on giving families the tools and strategies to communicate effectively, end power struggles, and build trust together, all while illuminating the dangers of alcohol, drugs, and other risky behaviors. For more information check out our Programs Details page or visit omniyouth.net to schedule a training.

Pictures From

Dance Party: From Montecruz Foto at www.flickr.com/photos/28328732@N00/5807760586

Drinking Games: From stangls at https://www.flickr.com/photos/8068440@N08/509538615

Calendar: From https://pixabay.com/p-819617/?no_redirect

Backyard Party: From brad_bechtel at https://www.flickr.com/photos/wellvis/1262802262

Young Girl Texting: From Carissa Rogers at www.flickr.com/photos/goodncrazy

Silhouettes Talking: From https://pixabay.com/p-799448/?no_redirect

Knock on Door: From Eden, Janine and Jim at https://www.flickr.com/photos/edenpictures/6247800223

Girls Drinking: From Incase at https://www.flickr.com/photos/goincase/5143421728

Old Cartoon: From Warner Bros. (https://archive.org/details/TheBoozeHangsHigh) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Serious Conversation: From University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment’s photostream at https://www.flickr.com/photos/snre/6721655935

Disapproval: From hobvias sudoneighm at https://www.flickr.com/photos/striatic/2191404675

Works Cited

  1. Feliz, By Josie. “Myths Debunked: Underage Drinking of Alcohol at Home Leads to Real Consequences for Both Parents and Teens.” Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. http://www.drugfree.org/newsroom/myths-debunked-underage-drinking-of-alcohol-at-home-leads-to-real-consequences-for-both-parents-and-teens/. N.p., n.d.
  1. Staff, By Join Together. “Parents Influence Teens’ Drinking Decisions: Survey.” Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. http://www.drugfree.org/news-service/parents-influence-teens-drinking-decisions-survey/. N.p., n.d.

It’s Called Alcohol POISONING for a Reason

Carson Starkey always believed the world was full of unlimited possibilities. And throughout his life, he proved it.

He played on his high school’s tennis, cross-country, and lacrosse teams and competed in cycling tournaments up to the international level, all while graduating in the top ten percent of his class at Stephen F. Austin High School. Carson loved the outdoors and frequently volunteered his time to projects such as building hiking and biking trails. He could get along with people of all ages and held tight relationships with both friends and family.

A passion for architecture led Carson from Austin, sigma alphaTexas all the way to Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, California, where he majored in architectural engineering. During his first quarter he pledged to Sigma Alpha Epsilon, a move that surprised his family, who did not think he would join Greek life.

On December 1, 2008, the fraternity held its traditional “Brown Bag Night,” where Carson and the other pledges were each given a bag full of a variety of alcohol and told to finish it all before midnight. In just twenty minutes, Carson emptied his bag of two 24 ounce Steel Reserve beers, a 16 ounce Sparks alcoholic energy drink, and a fifth of rum split between him and another person. Pledges additionally passed around a bottle of Everclear.

People noticed Carson drooling, his eyes gaining a glazed look, and his body going limp, before he passed out entirely. It was later discovered that his blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was 0.4.

Some of the fraternity members brought Carson to a car to take him to a hospital but ultimately changed their minds out of fear of placing themselves and their chapter in trouble. Instead, they moved Carson back inside the house and onto a dirty mattress with a trash can nearby, leaving him alone and unmonitored the rest of the night.

Carson never woke up.

The next day, Carson’s mother Julia dialed back a missed call from earlier that morning. The San Luis Obispo County Coroner’s Office answered.

That was how the Starkey’s learned of their son’s death via alcohol poisoning.

What is Alcohol Poisoning

Despite its availability and popularity, alcohol is a known toxin. The human body can only process alcohol so fast—approximately one drink per hour. Any more, and the alcohol will enter the bloodstream quicker than the body can metabolize it, which leads to a person being intoxicated (see toxic is even right there in one of the most common synonyms for drunk!).

When a person drinks far more than his or her body’s threshold, such as when binge drinking, he or she risks alcohol slowing down vital bodily functions such as heart rate, breathing, and gag reflex. The loss or impairment of these functions can lead to choking, hypothermia, heart irregularity, organ failure, and more, all of which—as in the terrifyingly sad case of Carson Starkey—can lead to death. Survivors may suffer from irreversible brain damage.

Every year approximately 4,300 teens and young adults die from alcohol poisoning. Six people (of all ages) are killed by it every day in the United States alone.

amy winehouseSix people. Every day.

In 2011, Grammy award-winning singer Amy Winehouse died from alcohol poisoning after a session of binge drinking depressed her respiratory system. Country musician Keith Whitley was similarly found dead with a BAC of 0.47. Bon Scott, the original vocalist of the rock band AC/DC, choked to death on his own vomit because booze had shut down his gag reflex. His friend had left him in his car that night to “sleep it off.”

Signs & Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

If you ever drink or plan to be in a situation around drinkers, it’s crucial you know the signs of alcohol poisoning and what to do. Some basic indicators of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Slow, shallow, or otherwise irregular breathingpassed out girls
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion or if the person seems to be in a semi-conscious stupor
  • Skin that feels cold or clammy or has turned pale or bluish
  • Eyes that have dark circles underneath or appear sunken
  • Unconsciousness

Any of these symptoms could be a sign of a fatal dose of alcohol, and immediate action must be taken.

What To Do

Don’t ignore the problem or think the person simply needs to sleep it off. In fact, his condition will grow worse even as he sleeps, because the alcohol will continue to be absorbed into the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body. As the friends of Carson Starkey, Bon Scott, and countless other victims have learned, leaving a person to sleep it off could mean he’ll never wake up.

call for helpRather, as soon as you observe any of the symptoms of alcohol poisoning call 911. Don’t wait just a little bit longer to see if the person’s state will improve; his condition is more likely to worsen over time, not get better.

While you wait for help, stay with the person and do your best to keep them calm, still, and comfortable. Monitor his breathing and heartbeat.

Now is not the time for you or anyone else to lecture “I told you you shouldn’t have drank so much,” or make jokes about him “being a lightweight.” If he is even able to comprehend what you are saying, it may very well make him angry and attempt to run away, drink more, fight somebody, or do something else equally stupid and dangerous.

If the intoxicated person lies down you absolutely must ensure he is not on his back or stomach. These positions make it very easy for someone to choke and asphyxiate on his own vomit.

Instead, lay him down on his side. If you need to roll him over to this position, use the Bacchus Maneuver (as demonstrated in this video):

But What If I Get in Trouble?

If the fraternity brothers of Sigma Alpha Epsilon hadn’t stopped to think about this question, Carson Starkey might still be alive.

Police_LineShould someone display signs of alcohol poisoning, you have both a moral and legal responsibility to get her immediate medical attention. Even if you are unsure of her condition, call 911 right away. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when a person’s life is on the line.

Still, countless cases of alcohol-related emergencies (including but not limited to alcohol poisoning) go unreported every year because people, particularly minors, are afraid of getting in trouble for drinking. For example, in a Cornell University study 19% of college students reported being in an alcohol-related situation where they should have called for help, but only 4% did.

First of all, the consequences for possessing or consuming alcohol as a minor or furnishing alcohol to a minor are nothing compared to the criminal negligence, manslaughter, and/or other severe charges a person may face if somebody dies from alcohol poisoning, and she did nothing to prevent it.

Second, in order to encourage underage drinkers to call for help when it is needed, many states, including California, have enacted Medical Amnesty laws. Under this legislation, if an intoxicated minor calls 911 for herself or another person—and stays with the person in the case of the latter—she is guaranteed protection from criminal prosecution.

Worried about how your friend will react to you calling 911 on her behalf? Don’t be.

If any sane, logical person wakes up in a hospital bed and hospital bedlearns she was treated for a potentially life-threatening condition, the last thing she’ll do is bust your chops for ruining her night at a party. Reaching out for help is not snitching or being a tattle tale—it’s looking out for other people. It shows you have their back and care more about them than about keeping the party going or getting judged for “worrying too much.” It’s that very worry that may save your friend’s life.

Alcohol poisoning is a serious and rampant issue. Knowing the signs and being brave enough to take action can mean the difference between life and death.

body bag

*        *        *

By Tyler Wroblewski

For more on Carson’s story please visit awareawakealive.org

Before your child goes to a party, make sure to have a serious conversation about alcohol and other drugs. Ask what your teen would do if he found himself in this situation and inform him of the risks and signs of alcohol poisoning and what to do. 

Pictures From

Sigma Alpha Epislon House: Original photo by Kane5187 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Cropped by author.

Amy Winehouse: By Rama (cropped version from) [CeCILL (http://www.cecill.info/licences/Licence_CeCILL_V2-en.html) or CC BY-SA 2.0 fr (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/fr/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

Passed Out Wine Girls: By danielle_blue at https://www.flickr.com/photos/danielleblue/1453928309

Talking on the Phone: By Marjan Lazarevski at https://www.flickr.com/photos/mlazarevski/9645066390

Police Line: By Tony Webster (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Hospital Bed: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Paramedics: By Chris Wagner at en.wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

10 Best Tips If You Don’t Want to Drink (Pt. 2)

Offered a cold one at a party? At a wedding reception where everyone pressures you to take advantage of the open bar? With friends who smuggle a six pack into the summer music festival?

Thirsty for more tips on how to handle these situations and more?

Modeselektor_at_Melt!_music_festival_in_Germany

Deciding to abstain from alcohol is a positive and healthy choice, particularly if you are still a teen, but it can sometimes be a difficult one to make. Other people may put enormous pressure on you to drink, and it can be hard to turn them down. And while avoiding or leaving events and situations where there is alcohol is certainly an option, sometimes it’s not always possible or desirable (you did pay good money for that music festival ticket, after all).

Here are five more tips for people who don’t want to drink.

#6 Explain Your Reasons Effectively

As explained in Tip #5 in our first article, simplicity is always useful when turning down a drink, with basic responses like “no thanks, I’m good,” proving quite successful. If somebody asks you why and you choose to give an answer—remember you can always avoid the question and use the Broken Record Technique—quick, straightforward answers are likewise the best tactic. Some examples include:

  • I’m the designated driver (more on this in Tip #10)
  • I have to get up early tomorrow
  • I just don’t feel like it
  • I partied pretty hard last night/weekend so I’m taking it easy
  • My parents will kill me and they somehow find out everything I do
  • (In the case of beer) I’m allergic to gluten

Of course, some reasons may be more effective than others explainingdepending on the crowd around you, but generally any will suffice. A good idea is to know your reasons ahead of time and even practice saying them, especially if you’re shy or nervous about telling people no. It will allow for a confident delivery (see Tip #4).

When giving any sort of reason for your sobriety there are two key points to remember:

1.) While it’s definitely simpler when your reason is true—you really do need to get up early—it doesn’t have to be. If you’re comfortable with it, a little white lie sometimes makes things easier if you’re around people you don’t know well (I don’t recommend lying to friends, and they probably know enough about you to discern the truth anyway).

In my own life, I’ve used this technique when I was feeling self-conscious or wanted to avoid the hassle of telling people I outright don’t drink. That included letting on that I drank earlier that night or in my past, even though it wasn’t true. Sobriety is nothing to be ashamed of, but telling a small lie can be less intimidating for some people.

2.) When explaining why you aren’t drinking, the best defense is not a good offense. Whether your reasons are personal or you don’t think anyone should consume alcohol, a house party is neither the time nor place to start lecturing people about impaired driving and brain trauma.

No one wants to feel attacked. So just as you want people to be chill with your decision, so too do you need to be chill with theirs.

So instead of answering with “I don’t drink alcohol and neither should you,” stick with “It’s just not my thing” or “I don’t like the way it makes me feel.”

That said, if you truly do think your friends should stop drinking, or alcohol is becoming a serious problem, do reach out. Just know that mid-kegger is probably not the most practical opportunity.

#7 What’s in Your Red Cup?

One of the easiest ways to deter pressure to drink alcohol is to already have some other drink in your hand. Whether it’s soda, water, juice, a virgin cocktail, or something else entirely, just by virtue of holding a cup or bottle, a lot of people won’t even bother you. They’ll either recognize that you’re good with what you have or assume your drink is already of the booze variety. It’s completely up to you whether you inform them it’s non-alcoholic.

You can pretty much count on any event having some sort of water source, and a lot of parties will have soda or juice available for chasers and mixed drinks. In the case of the latter, however, make sure you don’t personally drink all of it. Turns out—as I’ve come to learn—this tends to upset other people.

A good tip is to bring your own drink to the party to ensure there’s something for you. You could even bring over a big liter of soda, jug of juice, etc. to share with everyone. Not only is this a good way to thank your host and contribute to the event, but also people can’t really complain you drank most of it if you are the one who brought it.

#8 Loosen Up without Boozin’ Up

Alcohol is often called a social lubricant, a way to help people lower their guard and feel more at ease in a social setting. People generally want everyone else to have fun, especially if they are the host of the event, and might offer you a drink so you can loosen up and join the fun.

239092944_b575509fb1_zIf this happens, it’s important to show them what you already know: You don’t need alcohol to have a good time.

Open up, laugh, joke, dance, sing karaoke, be silly! Whatever is going on or whatever the general mood is, make sure you are a part of it.

Depending on your personality, this might be difficult. You may feel awkward shakin’ it on the dance floor, for instance, but trust me, no one will notice—you’re just another person enjoying the party. Being a wet blanket skulking in the corner, on the other hand, will attract negative attention and isn’t fun for anybody.

Are people playing drinking games at the party? See if you can play with something non-alcoholic. In plenty of games, from Beer Pong to Down the River to Flip Cup, swapping in a beverage of your choice for yourself is easy and has no effect on other players. Sure, this won’t work with games like Rage Cage or King’s Cup which involve communal drink(s), and not all people are going to accept non-drinking participants in such an alcohol-centric activity, but should circumstances permit it, go ahead and try. Many drinking games are fun just as regular games.

Warning: Completely fail at a game that requires coordination when you are sober, and you absolutely will be the butt of some jokes. I speak from experience.

#9 Roll with the Punches

It’s not uncommon to get a little teasing for deciding not to drink, even from friends and others who accept your choice. You might be called a prude, goody two shoes, or maybe Mom or Dad. People may joke that you’re secretly a narc or an outer space alien.

The best way to hanLaugh at yourselfdle this is to take it in stride and learn how to laugh at
yourself. I bore the nickname “Sober Sally” for years, but instead of letting it get to me, I wore it with pride. In some sense it even made things easier, a way to get a laugh out of people who asked me to drink.

“Hey, Tyler, want a beer?”

“That’s alright, man, I’m actually a bit of a Sober Sally.”

“Haha, no worries, dude.”

Remember though, a little bit of joking is okay. Bullying is not. If something truly bothers you, speak up.

Also know that at the end of the day, there might always be that one jerk guy or girl who just can’t get over your sobriety no matter what you say or do. Just remain calm, jovial, and confident, and pretty soon they’re the one who is going to start looking like an obsessive creep.

Not drinking is your decision, and if someone dislikes it, that’s their problem not yours.

#10 Use that Clear Head of Yours

If you plan on attending places where there is drinking, you need to get used to being around drunk people. Intoxicated people often don’t think clearly and are much more susceptible to their emotions. Sometimes troubles arise, and it would help to have someone around who can think logically.

That’s where you come in.

BiffFightsStrawbBlonde1941TrailerMake sure everyone has a safe way home and nobody gets taken advantage of. Try to cool down arguments that might turn into fights. Learn how to take care of a person who’s had too much and to tell the difference between somebody who needs immediate medical attention and who is fine to go to sleep.

Don’t act like you’re Superman or the next Mother Theresa about it, though. As helpful as you might be, people won’t respond well to you portraying yourself as some sort of savior just because you aren’t drinking. At the same time, don’t feel like must sacrifice your whole night looking out for others. Have your fun but keep a subtle eye out for anything troubling.

passed out

On a similar note, since you will be sober, offer to be the designated driver.

While it can be annoying when others automatically assume you’ll DD, overall it works out for the best for you and everyone else. It ensures that your friends will have a safe ride, and it gives you an easy out for staying sober.

And because people tend to be so desperate not to be the DD, you definitely hold some leverage.

After my friend Kenny puked in my van—he got most of it in a bucket, but I still had to scrub the seat the next day—I insisted on only driving other people’s cars. You can call dibs on the music or ask for gas money; like everything else about the night, the choice is up to you.

*        *        *

By Tyler Wroblewski

We hope this list proves useful if ever you find yourself surrounded by alcohol while staying sober. Deciding not to drink doesn’t mean giving up friends or a social life, and with these tips, you can keep both and still have fun and stay safe.

Pictures From

Concert: From Alec Luhn (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Talking on Steps: From Akuppa John Wigham at www.flickr.com/photos/90664717@N00

Juice: From https://pixabay.com/en/beverage-juices-drink-food-healthy-882652/

Karaoke: From Kyle Taylor at https://www.flickr.com/photos/kyletaylor/239092944

Laugh at Yourself: From Celestine Chua at www.flickr.com/photos/celestinechua

Fist Fight: From Public Domain image via Wikimedia Commons from film “Strawberry Blonde.”

Passed Out Man: From https://pixabay.com/en/alcohol-hangover-event-death-drunk-428392/

10 Best Tips If You Don’t Want to Drink (Pt.1)

As a teen, there’s a decent chance you will be offered alcohol or other drugs at some point. Maybe by a stranger at a party, an acquaintance, even a friend. And for a multitude of reasons I won’t get into right now (teen drinkers are more likely than their non-drinking peers to become alcoholics—sorry, just had to slip one in there!), we at Omni Youth Programs encourage you to turn down their offer.

Easier said than done, right?

Like, how exactly do you say no? Or how should you respond when people ask why? What if you decide to be sober but still want to hang out with friends who drink or go to a party where alcohol may be present?

Of course, Omni Youth Programs advises teens to avoid situations that involve underage drinking completely. The best way to turn down a drink is to not be in a scenario where someone would offer you one. Furthermore, even if you are staying sober, an alcohol-infused environment could still prove dangerous. Intoxicated people are more prone to bad decisions, crazy antics, and violence, all of which could put you in danger—not to mention the trouble you could get into with the law, even if you did not personally consume any alcohol.

That said, we also recognize that avoiding alcohol entirely is not always possible when leading a typical teenage life. You might show up to a pool party, not realizing there would be booze present, or go to a concert with a drunken crowd. Maybe you don’t have a safe way to leave the situation or perhaps you simply don’t want to miss out on an otherwise fun time because of the poor choices of others.

These top ten tips can apply to everyone, whether you never drink, just aren’t drinking for the night, or simply want to drink in moderation when everyone else is getting hammered. Furthermore, while I will mostly be addressing teens, these tips can be just as helpful for non-drinking adults at the bar.

#1 Trust Your Friends

As I’ve explained before, telling my friends I didn’t want to drink was one of the most nerve-racking moments in my life. I was scared my decision would weaken our friendships, and we’d drift apart. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

hiking picture editWhile it’s possible your friends may be initially disappointed, they’ll quickly adjust. Friends don’t need to like all the same things
or have the exact same opinions on everything to be able to appreciate one another. Your real friends will accept you for who you are.

Also, once you tell your pals the first time, it’s either not a problem anymore or it gets infinitely easier to deal with. My buddies came to accept that I was a non-drinker, and if they or anyone else asked me to drink it was increasingly easy to say no. Furthermore, whenever we were at a situation with a lot of new people, I felt like they always had my back about my choices and would support me in the face of anyone who gave me trouble.

#2 Go Where You’re Comfortable

As I tagged along with my friends to various events where alcohol was present, I gradually discovered what types of gatherings I could have fun at and those that I knew I wouldn’t enjoy. A significant part of that was the “level” of alcohol or how much the event centered on drinking.

Some non-drinkers are comfortable with even the wildest of frat parties, some only enjoy low-key BBQs with a few beers present, while others don’t like being around booze at all. For me, I was cool with kickbacks and small-sized parties, but anything much crazier than that and I’d decline the invite.dancing legs

Figure out where you are comfortable. If you’re feeling weird, don’t feel awkward about leaving the situation. Always know that your decision not to drink does not define you. Don’t think it dictates who you can or can’t be friends with or where you can or can’t go to have fun. That’s up to you.

#3 You Aren’t Alone

Sometimes it can feel like you’re the only one in the world not drinking, and pop culture often portrays being drunk as a requirement for a good time. But did you know roughly 70% of teens don’t drink?

Lots of people choose not to drink or do so only in moderation. When you are at a party or other social situation with alcohol, it’s likely there will be other people not drinking. Whether they’re the designated driver, totally abstain from alcohol, or need to get up early, you can usually find others who are sober.

friends hands edited

Also, countless entertaining activities don’t involve alcohol, everything from playing sports to hiking to shopping at the mall and more. Sure, a lot of my buddies like to drink, but that’s far from the only time we get together. Your friends will also be into doing other fun things. Capitalize on those opportunities.

#4 It’s All in How You Say It

The number one part of telling people you don’t want to drink is in the way you say it. No matter the exact words you use to say no or explain your reasoning, you need to be confident but polite. Go ahead and repeat that to yourself.

Confident but polite.

Confident: If you sound wishy-washy people might think you don’t really believe you don’t want to drink and just need a little convincing. Be assured in your decision and show it. I was at a kickback with a lot of people I didn’t know once, and it took at least three times as long for everyone to finally understand I wasn’t a drinker, all because I was too meek in my initial response.

Polite: On the flip side, you shouldn’t sound so over-confident as to be arrogant or aggressive. Doing so may seem like you are attacking everyone else. Make sure to thank them for offering—sometimes people ask you to be a good host—but then politely decline.

#5 Short but Sweet

Simplicity is your friend.

It is the greatest tool in your belt, the strongest weapon in your arsenal. When it comes to turning down a drink, simplicity is often the best tactic.

“Hey, do you want a shot?”

“Nah, man, I’m good.”

Boom. Drop the mic.

 Mic

Sometimes, less is more. You don’t need to go into long-winded explanations as to why you aren’t going to shotgun that beer if no one asks. Save yourself the time and effort and keep things short and simple. “No thanks,” “that’s alright, I’m fine,” and the like are all perfectly great responses that tend to garner equally great results. You didn’t make a big deal out of turning down a drink, so why should anyone else?

And if the first “I’m good” isn’t enough, you can always use the Broken Record Technique (aka the B.R.T.). Someone asks you again and again and again to drink? Just repeat the same short phrase again and again and again. They’ll take the hint.

*       *       *

By Tyler Wroblewski

Click here for the remaining five awesome tips for non-drinkers!


Pictures From

Beer: From Len Rizzi (photographer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Group Picture & Picture of Hands: From the author.

Dancing: From www.audio-luci-store.it at www.flickr.com/photos/audiolucistore

Microphone: From Robert Bejil at www.flickr.com/photos/robnas/

Let’s Get Started!

Hi, and welcome to Omni Youth Programs, a non-profit agency dedicated to preventing teen alcohol use, strengthening families, and developing youth leaders!

intro post pic

Our goal here is to educate readers’ knowledge of alcohol and its detrimental effects, particularly on teenagers and families. As this blog grows, we’ll be exploring a multitude of different topics related to alcohol, teens, and families, which we hope will clarify some widespread myths and answer frequent questions.

How, for example, did the legal drinking age become 21, and what are the reasons for that? Why is binge drinking popular and why is it so dangerous? As a parent, what are signs that your child might be drinking or doing drugs and how should you approach the situation?

We’ll also take an in-depth look at alcohol’s role in or effect on specific issues including violence, athletic and academic performance, sex, and more.

Moreover, although preventing underage drinking is Omni Youth Programs’ primary focus, we know that alcohol is not the only problem teens face. So, on occasional we will additionally delve into topics such as bullying, depression, and drug use, and how teens and families can confront these issues in their own lives.

And remember, if you or teens you know are struggling with alcohol use, or if you want to take preemptive preventative action, Omni Youth Programs is here to help. We train individuals and groups (for free!) to lead model-based programs to educate teens and families about the dangers of alcohol while improving participants’ self-esteem, life skills, and family bonds.

Together, we can empower the future.