Teen Cocaine Use on Rise in UK

In the last three years, the treatment of cocaine addiction in minors increased 50 percent in the U.K. Nearly 750 kids sought treatment in 2008, up from 453 in 2005/06.

“Overall, nearly 25,000 under-18s needed addiction treatment for drugs and alcohol misuse last year,” England’s Daily Mail newspaper reported. “Half of those were for cannabis, more than a third for alcohol.”

The country’s National Treatment Agency did find some good news – treatment of crack and heroin addiction dropped significantly.

Supplement Abuse Can Cause Range of Problems for Teens

It’s not the kind of drug use that parents typically worry about, but it can have dangerous side effects. While anabolic steroid use has declined among teens, use of over-the-counter supplements has increased, causing some concern.

“Proponents say the legal products can provide a competitive edge and fill in nutritional gaps for athletes with hectic schedules and poor diets. But supplements, which are as easy to buy as aspirin, can pose risks to young athletes, whose developing bodies often are undergoing rapid physical changes.” [Source: Savannah (GA) Morning News]

The long-term effects of over-the-counter supplements are largely unknown, especially among teenagers. And because supplements are legal, few parents or coaches consider them dangerous or harmful. Creatine, one of the more popular supplements, can cause the kidneys to overwork and – according to the American College of Sports Medicine – shouldn’t be used by anyone 18 or under.

Book Offers Holiday Help for Parents of Troubled Teens

The holiday season can be a stressful time for almost everyone — and can be especially angst-inducing for parents of troubled teenagers. Instead of celebrating the season, these moms and dads worry that their kids will abuse drugs or alcohol, commit crimes, or even run away from home.

A new book by the parent of a struggling teen may offer hope to parents who find themselves succumbing to holiday-related stresses and pressures. A Dec. 8 PRWeb press release provided the following details:

“The holiday season brings out unrealistic expectations about family life and can be painful for parents dealing with troubled teens,” [said Marcia Stein] It’s easy to feel isolated, that you’re a failure as a parent, but the truth is that many parents dealing with teens’ extreme behaviors feel they’re at the end of their rope. Some problems can be managed with improved parenting skills and others require professional help.” …

The author of a recently published book, Strained Relations: Help for Struggling Parents of Troubled Teens, Stein interviewed parents and professionals, obtaining stories, resources and information for parents and those in the role of parents.

The Danger of Teen Suicide ‘Clusters’

Within a six-month period earlier this year , four students at Harvey Gunn High School in Palo Alto, California, committed suicide at a railroad track crossing. One other student attempted to kill himself at the same spot, but his mother prevented it.

These incidents and others have called attention to the topic of “suicide clusters.” This term means that a group of people in the same area can begin thinking in the same way, resulting in “copycat” suicides.

While as many as 14 percent of all high school students think about suicide at some time or another, if one of their peer group actually commits suicide, the incident can move other teens with suicidal thoughts into a crisis mode.

One study from the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine concluded that up to 40 percent of those who attempt suicide tell researchers that a friend, relative or parent had also tried suicide.

The irony is that those who were closest to the victim may be at lower risk for suicide — those who imitate the act tend not to be closely linked to the person they imitate.

Teenagers who kill themselves usually have made several attempts at suicide before they succeed. They may have been hospitalized for mental illness or have recently broken up with a girlfriend or boyfriend. Other risk factors for suicide are frequent family moves, attending multiple schools, and living with several different parental figures.

Having a strong connection to a caring adult lowers a teenagers risk for suicide.

If you know of a young person who you suspect may be considering suicide, do not ignore your suspicions. Talk to this person, or arrange for a teacher, guidance counselor, therapist or other qualified individual to intervene.

Student Wonders Why Rx Abuse Penalized Less than Street Drug Use

In a commentary on the website of Ohio State University newspaper The Lantern, Bryan Dale Miller muses about the disparity between the relatively lax penalties for prescription-drug abuse and the much stricter punishments dealt to those who abuse street drugs:

Prescription drug abuse is eclipsing street drug abuse among the upper-middle class. It offers hundreds of different chemical euphoria, without the stigma of breaking the law or the inconvenience of dealers who run dry …

Why, then, is there a difference in the way the law treats the crackhead who asks you for change on High Street, and your Ritalin-fueled dormmate who stays up all night downloading mp3s and playing Freecell? Race, money and possession of socioeconomic capital, most likely.

Seventy percent of US prison inmates are being held for street-drug related offenses, and about half of them are black. Street-drug users get jail time, while prescription drug abusers get counseling and messages like “your children are in danger” from network media.

Pharmaceutical and insurance companies are two of the top big-money lobbies in Washington. Next time you hear the phrase “war on drugs,” give a little thought to which drugs are under attack, who’s using them, who’s selling them, and why we favor one buzz over another.