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Updated: 23 min 29 sec ago

School Stress: Are Study Drugs Helpful or Harmful?

Fri, 10/21/2016 - 11:12am

This is the ninth post in our weekly fall School Stress series, a back-to-school toolkit for parents on how to best navigate their teen’s stress and anxiety — explored in our documentary BREAKING POINTS.

Teens’ lives today are jam-packed and many of our teens are stressed out and anxious. Instead of coping in healthy ways, some are abusing prescription stimulants not prescribed to them—also known as “study drugs.” These are medicines that are used to treat Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) such as Adderall, Concerta and Ritalin – but are abused to pull all-nighters and cram for exams. Most don’t see this behavior as risky.
But what happens when high-school and college kids (who don’t have ADHD) take prescription stimulants that are not prescribed to them? Is this safe or are there real dangers?

In this video, Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, explains the science behind stimulant abuse:

Here are some highlights from the video of Dr. Volkow:

>  “The data is showing us is that overall stimulant medications do not improve your cognitive performance. If you have someone that is performing optimally, and you give them a stimulant, the performance may deteriorate.”

>  “If you’re giving stimulant medications to a kid that doesn’t have ADHD, at the time in their life when their brain is developing very rapidly that may interfere with those developmental processes.”

>  “When someone is abusing stimulants, the effects can be not very dissimilar to those that you observe with cocaine or methamphetamine — all of these are stimulant drugs.”

>  “When you are dealing with adolescents, which is the period of higher risk, that’s why you have to be particularly careful, because even though they may not have the genetic vulnerability, they’re at a stage in their life where exposure to drugs can create changes in the brain that may result in addictive behaviors.

>  “[Stimulant abuse] can produce full-blown psychosis. So you can end up in an emergency room because you are basically completely paranoid. It can be very severe, and devastating to the person. It does have deleterious effects.


  • Talk with your teens about how relying on study drugs to help “manage” life can establish a lifelong pattern of dependency and prevent them from learning important coping skills.
  • Almost half of teens who misuse or abuse Rx medicines obtained them from a friend. Be sure your teen knows that it’s never safe to take another person’s prescription medication.

If you are feeling overwhelmed or have a question about your child’s drug or alcohol use, call our toll-free Helpline where you can speak with a trained and caring master’s-level support specialist at 1-855-DRUGFREE (1-855-378-4373).

Your Community

Host a screening of BREAKING POINTS, a documentary film that takes on the issue of study drugs and talks to students who don’t believe they’re harmful.

The package includes a Screening Guide with discussion questions and other bonus materials.



The post School Stress: Are Study Drugs Helpful or Harmful? appeared first on Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

Categories: Bup Feeds

School Stress: 10 Ways Parents Can Help Kids Manage Stress

Fri, 10/14/2016 - 7:37am

This is the eighth post in our weekly fall School Stress series, a back-to-school toolkit for parents on how to best navigate their teen’s stress and anxiety — explored in our documentary BREAKING POINTS.

Stress is part of kids’ lives. While some stress can help motivate them to get work done, too much stress can be overwhelming and can cause problems with health, sleep and brain function. And when stressed, as seen in the BREAKING POINTS trailer below, some teens and young adults may turn to abusing stimulants, like Adderall and Ritalin, to stay awake and focused:

With help from Dr. Denise Pope, one of the experts featured in the above trailer and co-founder of Challenge Success at Stanford University, and author of Overloaded and Underprepared: Strategies for Stronger Schools and Healthy Successful Kids, here are 10 ways parents can support their kids as they navigate their busy lives, including homework, downtime and re-framing what ‘success’ looks like in today’s hectic academic environment.


1.  Act as a cheerleader and supporter for your teen – provide the necessary supplies and show an active interest in the content your child is learning, but allow the teachers to handle it if your kid fails to do the homework correctly or regularly.

2. Recognize that children learn in different ways and have different work styles – some do homework all at once, while others need to take frequent breaks. Discuss with your child the working conditions that will lead to the best homework outcomes.

3.  Work WITH your child to develop a schedule that will allow time to complete homework, work on projects and study for tests – while still attending activities, getting adequate sleep and having time for play.


4.  Don’t underestimate the importance of non-academic achievements. Challenge Success emphasizes that kids – regardless of age — need playtime, downtime and family time (‘PDF’) each day. Research show this acts as a protective factor for long-term academic engagement and overall well-being.

5.  Allow space and rejuvenation between activities. Encourage teens to unwind by listening to music, reading for pleasure and spending time with friends. Kids need time to reflect and dream, explore the world, develop interests, make friends and craft an identity.

6.  Schedule high-quality family time multiple times a week to give kids the experience of unconditional love, acceptance and support. Eat meals together, take walks, swap stories and practice family traditions.


7.  As a family, discuss the characteristics of success that you value most (e.g., compassion, integrity, health). Remind your kids that success is measured over the course of a lifetime, not at the end of a semester.

8.  Explain that there are many different paths to success. Talk about your own path, including your struggles and failures.

9.  Examine the subtle messages you send your kids. If your first question after school is, “How’d you do on the test?” you may be implying that grades matter more than anything else. Instead, ask, “How was your day? Learn anything interesting? Did you get to spend time with friends?”

10.  Help your teen find the right-fit college or post-secondary opportunity. Debunk the myth that only the most prestigious colleges will lead to success.


  • Support your teens by giving them the skills to help plan their time better.
  • Encourage downtime for rejuvenation.
  • Foster a healthy definition of “success.” Make sure your children know that they are loved for who they are, not only for how well they perform.
  • Talk to them about the dangers of stimulant abuse.


Bring BREAKING POINTS to Your Community

Host a screening of BREAKING POINTS in your school or community.

The package includes: a Screening Guide with discussion questions, a movie poster, a customizable invitation, a customizable Press Release, Action/Tip Sheets and a Fact Sheet to guide your community discussion.



The post School Stress: 10 Ways Parents Can Help Kids Manage Stress appeared first on Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

Categories: Bup Feeds

Pill-Shaped Products That Glamorize Medicine Abuse: Harmless Fun or Sugarcoating an Epidemic?

Mon, 10/10/2016 - 3:48pm

This post was originally published in 2013 and has been updated for 2016.

In June 2013, Urban Outfitters, a national retail store popular with teens, removed a number of products from its shelves after considerable pressure from public health groups, state attorneys general, legislators and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. The merchandise — pint glasses, flasks and shot glasses made to look like prescription pill bottles — made light of prescription drug misuse and abuse, a dangerous behavior that is responsible for more deaths in the United States each year than heroin and cocaine combined.

In fact, the United States is in the midst of a prescription drug abuse and heroin crisis which the CDC has labeled an epidemic.

Though the removal of these items was a step in the right direction to ensure the safety of our children and teens, a further look into today’s pop culture reminds us that Urban Outfitters’ glamorization of medicine abuse was not an isolated event.

Just this week, the Moschino “Capsule” collection — with a pill-popping motif — was launched and distributed within retail and online stores. Nordstrom has already pulled the high-end Italian fashion line after Partnership parent advocates and a Minneapolis drug counselor ignited outrage that it glamorizes prescription drug abuse and heroin.

The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids is outraged by Moschino and Saks Fifth Avenue for seeking financial profit from the current opiate epidemic. Please join us in demanding that these retailers immediately remove all products from the Moschino “Capsule” collection from all of their store locations and online sites

We’ve also stumbled upon quite a few other pill-shaped products. Check out the following items and let us know what you think – harmless fun or making light of a serious epidemic?

Music Equipment

Beats, a popular company specializing in headphones and speakers, sells a pill-shaped portable speaker. Nikki Minaj, an artist with a significant number of teenage fans, has her own signature bubblegum-colored Pill. Luxury Goods: Handbags and Jewelry

You may begin to spot people wearing pills as earrings, necklaces, handbags and rings. Pills have becoming a growing trend in the fashion world, as seen in designer Jeremy Scott’s “pill bag.” and Chanel’s pill charm bracelet (no longer available). Some designers, like Cast of Vices, cross the line further, engraving specific medication names on their jewelry. High-end fashion designers have even begun to incorporate pills into their runway shows, replacing decorative jewels with pill tablets and capsules. Happy Pills

Originally from Barcelona, customers from around the world have been chasing their sugar high in the form of Happy Pills. Their online store touts “bring happy moments to people, by using a magic recipe.” Correction Tape, Pens, Clocks, Flash Drives, Pillows, Chocolates…

Pill-themed accessories like Lucite paper weights, correction tape, pens, clock radios, flash drives, pillows and chocolates have also recently appeared on the market. Their bright colors may seem innocent but they send a dangerous message to children by connecting prescription medicine with playfulness and fun.

So what do you think? Are these colorful, attractive products innocuous – or do they downplay the seriousness of prescription medicine abuse? Post a comment below and let us know.

Whether harmless or harmful, the facts remain:

  • Prescription medicines, along with marijuana, are the most commonly abused drugs among 12 to 13 year olds.
  • Every 19 minutes, a person dies from a drug overdose in the United States.
  • Drug-related deaths now outnumber traffic fatalities in the U.S., with the rise driven by an increase in prescription drug overdoses.

Educate yourself about the ways you can prevent your teen from abusing prescription drugs and over-the-counter cough medication. Inform your child about the dangers of medicine misuse and abuse. Spread the word to your local community and social networks.

Visit The Medicine Abuse Project website to learn more. Together, we can #endmedicineabuse.

Think your child is abusing drugs? Visit Get Help and call our Toll-Free Helpline at 1-855-DRUGFREE (1-855-378-4373).


The post Pill-Shaped Products That Glamorize Medicine Abuse: Harmless Fun or Sugarcoating an Epidemic? appeared first on Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

Categories: Bup Feeds

School Stress: Modeling Healthy Behavior for Your Teen

Thu, 10/06/2016 - 9:29am

This is the seventh post in our weekly fall School Stress series, a back-to-school toolkit for parents on how to best navigate their teen’s stress and anxiety — explored in our documentary BREAKING POINTS.

Parents: You have much more influence over your sons and daughters than you think.

Even if your teens are trying their best to make you feel unimportant, don’t underestimate how much you can really impact them.

Model Healthy Coping Skills
Sixty-one percent of teens say stress and anxiety have a large impact on their lives. How we, as parents, handle stress and life’s pressures can be reflected in our children’s behavior as well. What you do and say guides your child’s behavior, attitudes and beliefs over the long term. That’s why it’s important to model the behavior you want to see in your kids.

Here are a few concrete examples of how our behavior can make an impact on our stressed-out teens and young adults:

  • When parents are stressed, kids feel it — even if they don’t show it. Acknowledge what you’re going through and talk about how you’re handling it.
  • Be aware when you automatically go to a substance to deal with a problem, whether that’s alcohol, nicotine or even aspirin.
  • When you pour a glass of wine or beer for yourself, be mindful not to say, ‘I had a really bad day’ at the same time, as this makes a connection of using a substance to manage stress or feel better.
  • Instead, pair your anxiety/stress with healthy coping strategies — and explain it out loud. Instead of saying: ‘I’m so stressed out today, I really need a drink,’ you can say ‘I had a really stressful day, so I think I’m going to go take a nice quiet walk to decompress.’ Or ‘I’m so stressed out today, I’m going to go for a run.’
  • Practicing mindfulness and meditation can be really helpful. And you can even say, ‘Who wants to meditate with me?’ Even if it sounds forced or goofy, it works — your kids are paying attention.

  • Teens can and do notice when you don’t practice what you preach. If your teen points out contradictions in your behavior (which they love to do), take responsibility and talking about how you can correct your slip-ups.
  • You should choose times and settings to model these behaviors that will increase the likelihood of your teenager paying attention and being receptive to them.
  • Positive modeling can be challenging, and does not automatically guarantee that your teen will follow the behavior you demonstrate — but it definitely improves the odds. They’ll internalize it and hopefully act on it, whether now or down the road.


  • Narrate what you’re doing — and why you’re doing it — when you’re performing behavior you’d like them to mimic or adopt.
  • Continue modeling good behavior, even if your child pushes back or seems indifferent to your actions.
  • Own your bad behavior and reflect on it — out loud in front of your kids. This is also modeling and helps them learn from your mistakes, too. It helps to show that failing and trying again builds coping skills, grit and resilience.
  • Praise your teens when you notice them demonstrating healthy coping skills on their own. Reinforcing positive behavior makes your teen feel proud, and goes far to assure the behavior continues.

Thanks to Dr. Meredith Grossman for her help in preparing this post.


The post School Stress: Modeling Healthy Behavior for Your Teen appeared first on Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

Categories: Bup Feeds

School Stress: Raising Resilient, Self-Aware Kids

Wed, 09/28/2016 - 10:32pm

This is the sixth post in our weekly fall School Stress series, a back-to-school toolkit for parents on how to best navigate their teen’s stress and anxiety — explored in our documentary BREAKING POINTS.

Students today are more anxious and stressed out than ever before.

Julie Lythcott-Haims saw this first-hand when she served as Stanford University’s Dean of Freshmen for a decade. She attributes this burgeoning mental health crisis in today’s young adults to both the intense pressure for academic achievement as well as parents’ over-zealous desire to see their child be successful.

In her book How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success, she describes how in our scary, competitive world, parents have developed a ‘checklist’ to lead to their child’s success. And as a result, childhood has become a time of overscheduling and overwhelming competition between school, homework, extracurricular activities, sports, clubs, community service, friends and more.

This increase in anxiety and stress is happening in kids everywhere — not just at Ivy League schools. As childhood and young adulthood become more and more goal-oriented (for example: getting straight A’s, getting into a top-tier university, being the president of several extracurricular clubs), kids are feeling more and more pressure to do just about anything to check items off their parents’ list.

East Carolina University found a skyrocketing number of students seeking crisis counseling for anxiety so they implemented a new program to help with resiliency and coping skills.

In her book, Lythcott-Haims quotes a recent graduate from a prestigious public university on the East Coast, discussing the disconcerting connection he’s seen among his peers between the pressure to get great grades and the normalization of popping an Adderall, unprescribed, in order to do so. “It’s just that there is so much to do,” he says. “Taking Adderall is our way of pushing back against the pressure from parents, professors, and friends. Just a way to counter the thing we’ve been given.”

Watch Lythcott-Haims’ outline some of the stresses of completing a ‘checklisted childhood” during her TEDx talk :

What Can Parents Do?

Even though parents mean well, they may want to step back and stop trying to curate their child’s path — especially when it comes to academics and grades. Reconsider what it means to succeed. Allow kids to get to know themselves, understand their strengths and challenges and find out what they’re passionate about. Give them opportunities to navigate life for themselves, and even fail.

The experience of trying, failing, and trying again builds grit, which is essential for building resilience in young adults. Resilience builds good mental health, and good mental health reduces the risk of drug use — not to mention allows kids to cope with the ups and downs that life will throw at them.

Lythocott-Haims suggests we take a step back from this “checklist” approach to parenting and start looking at the raising of our kids with the big picture in mind.


  • Help your child master basic problem-solving skills, which leads to growth, self-guidance, self-awareness and confidence. Start with everyday tasks such as cleaning their room, making themselves breakfast and remembering their own deadlines.
  • Allow them independence without constant supervision. They need to try and even fail and to figure it out for themselves.
  • Try to understand the stress that your child is facing, and assess whether you might be inadvertently contributing to it.
  • Let go of the illusion that success in life depends on admission to one of a handful of elite colleges. Help your child choose the college that’s right for him or her.
  • Encourage your child to study what they love. Give your child space to become who they truly are.



The post School Stress: Raising Resilient, Self-Aware Kids appeared first on Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

Categories: Bup Feeds