Every day, 129 people die of an accidental drug overdose. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Overdose is preventable.
Help us increase awareness and decrease stigma on International Overdose Awareness Day, August 31st.
Here’s how you can get involved and help prevent overdose:
Share messages on social media. Right-click and save the below image to share on your own social profiles, or visit us on Facebook to share our #overdoseaware2016 posts throughout the day.
Know the signs of an overdose and how to administer the life-saving drug Naloxone in addition to calling 9-1-1.
End the stigma. Visit our Get Help page to take action and learn more.
Light a candle for someone you’ve lost to addiction or add your story of loss. Visit our memorials page.
For more images and suggested posts like the above, download our Overdose Awareness Day toolkit.
Together, we’ve made great progress on changing the conversation around addiction. Thank you for helping to end the stigma, and joining us to spread the word this Overdose Awareness Day.
If you have a son or daughter starting college, you’ve probably procured dorm room bedding, textbooks and a meal plan. But have you prepared your student to handle anxiety and stress? College students today often feel overwhelming academic and social pressure. A survey conducted by the JED Foundation and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids found that half of first-year students said they felt stressed most or all of the time.
With help from Dr. Meredith Grossman, Clinical Psychologist, here are 7 simple techniques to help your college student better manage the stress and anxiety he or she may face in the year ahead.
1. BREATHE: “Teach them to manage their stress in a healthy way,” suggests Dr. Grossman. One great way is breathing with your stomach. Another good technique is noticing your breath by saying, 'I am breathing in' when you breath in and 'I am breathing out' when you breathe out. Make sure you are modeling this for them. Even if they roll their eyes, or say it is stupid, modeling is the most powerful form of learning, so be sure to model healthy ways to cope with stress. For an easy guide, she recommends the app “Stop, Breathe and Think.”
2. PRACTICE MINDFULNESS: Mindfulness helps bring you out of your anxious thoughts and into the present moment. Dr. Grossman suggests two easy methods: “3x3” works by taking in your surroundings and noticing three things you hear, three things you feel and three things you see. Another is to look around you and notice something that starts with an A, a B, a C, etc. until you’ve completed the alphabet.
3. TEACH THEM "TLC": TLC stands for “Talk to a Friend, Look for the Silver Lining and Change the Channel.” If your son or daughter is feeling anxious, he or she should talk to a friend/parent/counselor/teacher, then look for the silver lining (no matter how bad things are, there is always a silver lining or a way things could be worse) and then change the channel – which means find a positive distraction such as taking a walk, taking a shower or doing a mindful breathing exercise.
4. DEMONSTRATE "RID": Another tool Dr. Grossman suggests is to RID yourself of anxiety by first “Renaming your thought” – remind yourself that you’re just having an anxious thought. Then Insist that YOU are in charge (not your anxious thought). Anxiety plays tricks on us and what we worry about rarely comes true. Then Defy your anxiety by doing the opposite of what your anxiety wants you to do. Anxiety wants you to avoid what you are afraid of. You need to do the opposite: Face your fear and you will overcome it.
5. ENCOURAGE GRATITUDE EXERCISES: Being grateful helps your child reframe her thoughts. Studies show that people who engage in the habit of expressing gratitude are more likely to be happy and healthy. Gratitude exercises can be as simple as thinking of three things for which you’re grateful, sending a quick thank-you text to a friend or jotting down a couple reasons why you feel lucky.
6. TELL THEM TO SET ASIDE QUIET TIME: Encourage your teen to find a few minutes of alone time each day to relax, stretch or listen to music to reduce negative emotional states. Or encourage them to plan a weekly workout schedule. Thirty minutes of aerobic exercise 3-5 times a week can help the mind and body handle stress.
7. MAKE SURE THEY ASK FOR HELP: Remind your son or daughter that it’s okay to ask for help – whether for academics, stress or mental health. Make sure your teen knows about campus health programs, mental health services and resources – and encourage him or her to seek help if needed. In addition, familiarize yourself with resources for parents and create a list of people you, as a parent, can reach out to on campus if you are concerned about your son or daughter’s health. If you’re worried about your child, consult with a therapist. If you are worried about your child’s drinking or drug use, please call our Parents Toll-Free Helpline at 1-855-DRUGFREE (1-855-378-4373) to speak with a trained and caring specialist.
A FEW THINGS TO NOTE:
- If Your Child Calls Home Upset or Anxious: Dr. Grossman suggests trying to remain calm. First validate how they’re feeling (Ex: “It sounds like this is a really hard time for you,”) and be positive. If they’re struggling with grades, tell them you know they can turn it around. Reassure them that they’ll be okay. You can say, “I believe you can do it. I know you can handle it.” Remind them that they can’t control their emotions, but they can control their actions.
- Be Aware of Benzodiazepine and Stimulant Abuse: Some students abuse prescription drugs not prescribed to them, such as benzodiazepines to feel calm, sleepy or less anxious and stimulants to stay up late and cram for exams. Learn more about the effects of benzodiazepine abuse and the effects of stimulant abuse.
- Discuss Drugs & Alcohol: Research shows that students who choose not to drink often do so because their parents discussed alcohol use and its adverse consequences with them. Talk about the dangers of drug and alcohol use, including medicine abuse, binge drinking and mixing substances. Remind your child that using drugs and alcohol can impact their classwork, relationships and safety; it can impair judgment and lead to bad decision-making and risky situations. Come from a place of love. You can say, “If anything happened to you, I would be devastated,” and “Be true to who you are.”
To Help Your College Student Handle Stress and Anxiety:
- Prepare him or her with breathing techniques, mindfulness and other tools to help him or her relax and redirect their thoughts.
- Be sure he or she knows how and where to get help on campus.
- Talk to him or her about the dangers of drinking and using drugs, including abusing prescription drugs not prescribed to him or her.
Thanks to The JED Foundation, our summer intern Megan Fritz, and especially Dr. Meredith Grossman, for their help in preparing this post.
The post School Stress: 7 Tips to Help Your College Student Manage Anxiety appeared first on Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.
Thanks to our great, longstanding partner the Treatment Research Institute (TRI), a nonprofit substance use research organization, parents and families now have another website to help address teen substance use.
The Family Resource Center offers scientifically-informed and trusted resources to help parents and caring loved ones prevent drug or alcohol use, intervene early, find treatment and support adolescents and young adults in addiction recovery.
Included in the new site are many Partnership resources such as our Toll-Free Helpline, 1-855-DRUGFREE (1-855-378-4373), our Medication-Assistant Treatment resources for parents with a child with an opioid addiction, our Drug Guide for Parents and Medicine Abuse Project campaign.
We congratulate TRI on the launch of this comprehensive website to help families.
Your kids are going to ask you tough questions about drugs and alcohol (see below for examples). Not to worry — we’re here to help you answer them.
But before talking with your teen, keep the following strategies in mind to help you have a positive and productive conversation — no matter what question is thrown at you.
- Remain calm. Take a deep breath before responding.
- Keep an open mind. If your child feels judged, he’s less likely to be receptive to what you have to say.
- Avoid lecturing. Instead, try to come from a place of positivity and curiosity which will help lead to a more open dialogue. Example: Let’s explore your question in more detail, because it’s a good one.
- Thank your child for coming to you with questions. This will reassure him that you’re a safe place to get answers. At the end of your conversation, thank him again for talking with you.
- Remind your teen that you care deeply about his health and well-being. Example: “I want us to be able to discuss these topics because I love you and I want to help during these years when you’re faced with a lot of difficult choices.”
YOUR CHILD ASKS: Prescription drugs aren’t as bad as street drugs, right?
Be sure your child understands that simply because prescription drugs are legal it does not mean they are always safe — and that prescription drugs are only legal for the person for whom they’re prescribed.
Abuse of prescription medicines can be just as addictive and dangerous (even fatal) as the abuse of illegal street drugs. In fact, some of those “hardcore,” illegal street drugs are made of the same stuff as prescription pain relievers.Read More
For instance, heroin and oxycodone are both opioids derived from a common root: poppy. While kids might think that taking a prescription painkiller (like OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin) gives the full-on euphoria of heroin without the risks, the truth is, if misused or abused, prescription painkillers are very dangerous. Also, if you take someone else’s prescription you may not know what the pill really is or what the strength is. A large, single dose of oxycodone can result in potentially fatal respiratory depression.
It’s also important to point out that combining prescription drugs with other substances — particularly alcohol — can result in life-threatening respiratory distress and death.
Learn how to safeguard and dispose of unused or expired medicine >
Learn about our action campaign, The Medicine Abuse Project >
Watch our new film exploring teen stress and pressure and the unhealthy ways many cope, including abusing Rx stimulants, BREAKING POINTS >
YOUR CHILD ASKS: Weed’s legal, isn’t it?
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but marijuana for medical purpose is now legal in 25 states, of which four (plus Washington, DC) have legalized it for recreational purposes.
In those four states (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, plus DC), you must be 21 years old to purchase, possess or use retail marijuana or marijuana products. And it is illegal to give or sell retail marijuana to minors.Read More
The people in these states hope that by 21, they’ve given young adults enough time to make their own decision around it.
But why would states make something legal that could be harmful?
Let’s look at alcohol. It’s legal, but causes damage, including DUIs, car accidents and other behavior that leads to jail time. Alcohol can also cause major health problems, including liver problems. Cigarettes are also legal, even though they are highly addictive and proven to cause birth defects and cancer. Just because something is legal and regulated doesn’t make it safe or mean it isn’t harmful.
Mind-altering substances — including marijuana — are harmful for the still-developing teen brain. During the adolescent years, your teen is especially susceptible to the negative effects of any and all drug use, including marijuana.
Scientific evidence shows that marijuana use during the teen years could potentially lower a person’s IQ and interferes with other aspects of functioning and well-being. Even occasional use of pot can cause teens to engage in risky behavior, be taken advantage of, find themselves in vulnerable situations and make bad choices while under the influence — like combining weed and alcohol, driving while high or engaging in unsafe sex.
Note: it’s important that your child inherently understands that you don’t approve of his use of marijuana, in the same way that you don’t want him to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol or use other drugs. Teenagers say that parents are the most important influence when it comes to drugs and alcohol. (They are listening to you, even though they may not show it.) That’s why it’s important to be clear about your expectations.
Learn how to talk to your kids about marijuana with our free Marijuana Talk Kit >
YOUR CHILD ASKS: Drinking is worse than smoking weed, isn’t it?
While some teens may argue that weed is safer than alcohol, research shows that teens don’t typically use alcohol OR weed; they use both, often at the same time — a dangerous combination. The biggest impact of mixing marijuana and alcohol is the significant increase in impairment in judgment. The level of intoxication and secondary effects experienced can be unpredictable. Some people may be more prone to episodes of lightheadedness and fatigue.Read More
Also, because marijuana is an anti-emetic (used to treat nausea and vomiting in medical situations), it may be easier to drink alcohol until dangerously high blood alcohol levels are reached, as the normal body defense of vomiting when drunk may be muted by the marijuana.
Tell your teen that you don’t want her to be doing anything that can harm her — whether that’s smoking pot, cigarettes, drinking or other reckless behavior.
Remain curious and ask your teen why she thinks weed is safer than alcohol.Sign up now >
YOUR CHILD ASKS: Why is heroin so addictive?
Heroin is a highly-addictive drug derived from morphine, which is obtained from opium poppy plants.
Heroin use impacts the brain more severely than other substances and can create brain changes that lead to addiction.Read More
After an injection of heroin, the user reports feeling a surge of euphoria or “rush.” With regular heroin use, tolerance develops. This means the person must use more heroin to achieve the same intensity or effect.
At higher doses used over time, addiction develops and the person has an overpowering physical urge for the drug. This is called craving. The person also experiences a loss of control, making it more difficult to refuse the drug, even when use becomes harmful. Most people who are addicted to opioids cannot taper off (use less of the drug over time) without help.
With physical dependence, the body has adapted to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms may occur if use is reduced or stopped. Withdrawal, which in regular abusers may occur as early as a few hours after the last administration, produces drug craving, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea and vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps (“cold turkey”), kicking movements and other symptoms.
Heroin abuse is associated with a number of serious health conditions, including fatal overdose, infectious diseases like hepatitis and HIV (because these diseases are transmitted through contact with blood or other bodily fluids, which can occur when sharing needles or other injection drug use equipment.)
Some teenagers and young adults are at greater risk of becoming addicted because of their temperament or personal situation, such as having a mental health disorder or experiencing trauma in childhood.
In addition, if there is a history of addiction – cocaine, alcohol, nicotine, etc. – in your family, then your child has a much greater risk of developing a drug or alcohol problem. Explain to your teen that while he may be tempted to try drugs, the odds are really against him. His genes make him more vulnerable and he could easily develop a dependence or addiction. Use this family history as a way to talk with your child and regularly remind him of this elevated risk, as you would with any disease.
YOUR CHILD ASKS: Molly just makes you feel happy. What’s wrong with that?
“Molly,” is the powder or crystal form of MDMA, which is the chemical used in Ecstasy. Some claim that Molly is less dangerous than other illegal drugs because it’s not physically addictive, more pure than other forms of ecstasy and will not cause cognitive impairment as it doesn’t kill brain cells. The reality, however, is that the use of Molly — a stimulant drug — comes with serious health risks. The DEA notes that it can cause confusion, anxiety, depression, paranoia, sleep problems and drug craving.Read More
Health risks can include anything from involuntary teeth clenching, a loss of inhibitions, transfixion on sights and sounds, nausea, blurred vision and chills and/or sweating. More serious risks can even include increased heart rate and blood pressure and seizures.
The news media reported several stories about Molly’s popularity at music festivals. This is perhaps the most hazardous of settings, because when combined with the hot crowded conditions, intake of MDMA can lead to severe dehydration and dramatic increases in body temperature. This, in turn, can lead to muscle breakdown and kidney, liver and cardiovascular failure.
An additional risk of taking Molly is the potential of it being “cut” or mixed with other harmful substances by someone else, despite claims of it being pure.Sign up now >
YOUR CHILD ASKS: Dad, Mom, did you ever try drugs?
Here’s what you can say if you did smoke weed when you were younger:
“I’m not going to pretend like I didn’t, and that’s why I’m talking to you about this. I will tell you that when I did smoke, my judgment was compromised and the only thing that prevented me from getting into some horrible circumstances was luck.”Read More
You may want to point out some of the negative things that happened to you (or your friends) that you wish didn’t.
“And you may be thinking: Well, you did it, and nothing horrendous happened to you. I just want you to understand that these are chances you may take, and they are just that, chances. A lot of harmful things don’t happen to you because of your ability to make clear decisions. When you are stoned that ability is very much compromised.”
Here, you’re not only being informative but reminding her that marijuana can impact her judgment.
Here’s what you can say if you didn’t smoke weed when you were younger:
“You may or may not believe this, but I never smoked weed when I was a kid. It didn’t have a place in my life, and would have interfered with the activities I enjoyed.”
Here, you’re explaining why marijuana didn’t interest you. Your reasoning may have been that you didn’t want it to interfere with the activities you enjoyed; that you didn’t feel you needed to use weed to fit in; that you were turned off by the smell; or any other honest reason that kept you from trying marijuana yourself.
Learn more: How to Talk to Your Kids About Drugs If You Did Drugs (pdf) >
Watch this video: “But YOU smoked when you were younger” >
If you are worried about your teen’s drinking or drug use, please call our Parent Toll-Free Helpline at 1-855-DRUGFREE (1-855-378-4373) to speak with a trained and caring specialist. Or visit Get Help to learn more.
What questions are your kids asking you? Share with us in the comment section below and we’ll help you answer them.