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Posts Tagged ‘red flags of risky teen behavior’

Who would have ever thought that a cell phone could be used for anything other than talking? Thanks to the continued advances in technology, teens are using technology to engage in unhealthy habits and risky behaviors. They are using their cell phones for sexting, which is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs, primarily between cell phones. Parents need to know the real dangers of this latest teenage phenomenon if they want to protect their child from the potential of serious legal consequences.

Sexting statistics are enought to alarm any parent whose teenager owns a wireless device.

  • 48% of teens say they have received sexually suggestive texts, emails or instant messages.
  • 40% of teen boys say they have sent such messages.
  • 37% of teen girls say they have sent such messages.
  • 22% of teen girls say they have sent or posted nude/semi-nude photos of themselves.
  • 18% of teen boys say they have done the same.

Why do teens send these sexually oriented messages? Out of peer pressure, revenge, or as a way of getting attention. Whatever the reason, parents need to be aware that teens engage in these unhealthy behaviors.

In my next blog, we will look at the devastating consequences of sexting and how parents can talk to their children about engaging in risky behaviors that bring very serious consequences.

This blog brought to you by the Erich Hoffer award-winning author  www.mitzirudderow and her book “Coming Clean: Drug Addiction Help and Hope.”

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Are you Technically Literate?

Computers and cell phones are the two primary ways that teens share the most private parts of their lives. If you are a parent who suspects that your child is abusing drugs or alcohol, the quickest way to find out is to learn as much as you can about your teen’s social networking devices and monitor their activity on a regular basis. Being a technically literate parent will help you to pickup substance abuse red flags.

The number of teenagers who carry a wireless device has increased by 40% in the last six years according to a national survey from CTIA and Harris Interactive. The survey goes on to say that 47% of teens feel their social life would end or be not nearly as good without their cell phone.

“My Space” and “Facebook” have been called a “year book on-line.” It has become a “tell all” for teens through their social networking comments and images. This year 48% of Americans ages 12 and older have profiles on one or more social networking websites, according to a national survey from Arbitron and Edison Research.

If you are a parent paying the bills for cell phones and internet usage, you reserve the right to enforce strict guidelines. Make sure your parenting toolbox includes monitoring your kid’s use of them, so you do not miss substance abuse red flags. This is not rocket science…it is simply good parenting.

This blog brought to you by the award-winning author www.MitziRudderow.com and her award winning book Coming Clean Together: Drug Addiction Help and Hope.

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Coming Clean and Becoming Aware

Lethargic behavior, angry mood swings, excessive time alone, inability to sleep at night, and difficulty in getting out of bed in the morning. These are all major red flags of substance abuse and recognizing these signs can help parents know if they need to seek help for their troubled teen. Let’s take a brief look at each one:

 

  • Angry mood swings – this is recognized by extreme outbursts that can end in violence unlike the “temper tantrums” that are birthed from normal adolescent drama.
  • Excessive time alone – on those rare occasions when my son was at home, he isolated himself in his room playing video games or watching TV. I later learned that he was actually high on drugs or using them in his room. Isolation is often times the only option for a drug user.
  • Unable to sleep at night – a teen who consistently doesn’t sleep is more often than not artificially stimulated. Many drugs are stimulants and speed up the central nervous system, causing increased heart rate and blood pressure.Hard to get up in the morning – drugs taken the night before can wear off in the early morning hours causing someone to “crash” leaving them almost incoherent and impossible to wake up.

Parents, have you noticed any of these red flags in your teen? If you are living in denial, come clean now and make it your business to know what these signs could mean. It might save a life!

This blog brought to you by award-winning author www.mitzirudderow.com and her book Coming Clean: Drug Addiction – Help and Hope.

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Unmistakeable Red Flags

A red flag that I could not ignore was my son’s drop in attendance when he was in high school. It was what convinced me that my son was experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Being absent, skipping classes and a drop in grades are all unmistakable red flags of substance abuse. This is a parenting tip that every pro-active parent needs to know.

A drop in grades alone is not necessarily a warning sign of teenage substance abuse. But, if you do begin to receive progress reports indicating that your teen is failing a course, seek immediate help from the teacher or the school counselor. Early intervention could be all that is needed to get your child back on track.

Does your child’s school alert you when there is an unexcused absence? This might be something you want to find out. By law, all schools must take attendance and most of them alert parents when their child is not in class.

Calls from the attendance office became a routine occurrence in our home and was the concrete evidence I needed to confront my son with my suspicions of his substance abuse. I was a parent in denial but I could not ignore these two red flags when they appeared together. The most valuable tools in my parenting toolbox were the relationships I formed with the attendance office and social counselor at school. They helped me unveil the ugly truth about my son’s substance abuse and showed me where to seek help.

This blog brought to you by the Eric Hoffer Award Winning author of  “Coming Clean: Drug Addiction Help and Hope” and www.mitzirudderow.com.

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Change in Friends

One of the quickest ways to recognize teenage substance abuse is a dramatic change in your teen’s friends. Parents need to always be aware of this red flag. If you look up one day and suddenly realize that all the faces and names of your teens friends are new, I recommend that you be a quiet observer and take note. This could be a sign that your teen is participating in some risky behaviors that more often than not result in experimenting with drugs and alcohol.

Parents, keep a watchful eye on the company your teen keeps. Observe their behaviors and heighten your awareness for a change in their attitude. If your teen suddenly transforms into someone you don’t know anymore, take action immediately. You are looking at a red flag. It is your right and responsibility to reject any friend that you sense is a bad influence.

The need to be accepted is the most common reason why adolescents suddenly switch gears and run with a different crowd. Usually when the old faithful friends of the past disappear that is a sure indicator that your teen is being negatively influenced and heading down a dangerous road. They cave to peer-pressure and are willing to do anything to fit in.

Looking back on my own experience as a parent, I did not understand the long term consequences when my son made a dramatic change in friendships. I needed to be a pro-active parent who was aware of this red flag but instead, I was a mother who didn’t pay attention and missed this critical indicator of substance abuse. I am willingly share my mistake so that other parents won’t travel as far down that dangerous road with their teen as I did with mine.

 This blog brought to you by the award-winning author www.mitzirudderow.com.

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When is Red Really Red?

What does it mean when we say something is a “red flag?” If you are referring to teenage substance abuse, it means…PAY ATTENTION…YOU COULD HAVE A PROBLEM! Notice I said, could have. A red flag is a warning sign of potential danger and there is still a chance for recovery. Red flags begin to turn a deeper shade of red, particularly when it comes to drug and alcohol abuse, when you see consistent patterns in any of these dangerous warning signs.

In the next few months I am going to share 12 major red flags of teenage substance abuse that I think every parent needs to know. These are the warning signs that I ignored because I wasn’t paying attention and I was a parent in denial. If you notice some of these behaviors in your teen every once and awhile, most likely they are what we would call “age appropriate behaviors” and hopefully your teen will eventually grow out of this phase. However, if they become the norm rather than the exception, PAY ATTENTION, you could be headed for trouble.

Early detection of these warning signs increase the chances of getting help before experimental use of drugs and alcohol make the giant leap into full blown abuse. Knowledge and awareness are power and parents today need all the power they can find to stay one step ahead of this ever growing cultural crisis.

This  blog brought to you by www.mitzirudderow.com. Coming Clean: Drug Addiction Help and Hope is an Eric Hoffer Award Winning Book.

 

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Call ‘Em Up and Call ‘Em Out!

Last week, I shared my perspective on parents who serve alcohol to their teens and their friends. I have received so many great responses to this aspect of parents enabling kids, I am going to continue the conversation from another angle. Has your teen been served alcohol in someone else’s home? If so, was it a parent who served them? Did you pick up the phone, call ‘em up and call ‘em out?

I recently had a conversation with a parent on this very issue. The mother exclaimed “my daughter would have been horrified if I had called and told them how I really felt.” It takes courage to make that call to other parents to express disapproval of serving alcohol to underage kids – especially if the other parents are good friends. But failing to do so, becomes a sign of denial. Unfortunately, it is so much easier to avoid conflict than risk our teens feelings or loss of a friend. But, last time I checked, being a parent is not a popularity contest, and if you really come clean about that friendship, it probably wasn’t that great to begin with.

If we want to see teenage substance abuse subside, parents need to take a stand and make their opinions known. Good parenting is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week job. Each stage is challenging enough, but the teenage years are equivalent to all the high school and college advance placement courses combined. Teenagers stretch and test us in areas we didn’t know existed until we are abruptly confronted with a new situation.

If the truth were known, the parent who is gently reprimanded for their inappropriate behavior of serving alcohol to minors will respect you more in the end. So will your teen, in time. Do you have the courage to step up and make positive role modeling the highest priority in your life? Or will you pay any price for the peace that comes through silence?

This blog brought to you by www.mitzirudderow.com.

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