Drugs and Alcohol

All Articles in the Category ‘Drugs and Alcohol’

Addressing teen substance use: Post 2 Do UAs at home or Not to do UAs at home

This is the second post by guest blogger Lisa Chinn LMHC, CDP on adolescent substance use. She has written from her perspective as a mental health provider in adolescent chemical dependency. In this post, she’ll cover the topic of home urine toxicology screens.

To do UAs at home or Not to do UAs at home?

What is a UA? UA is short hand for urine analysis, urine toxicity screen or drug test. UAs are neutral evidence of whether a person has used substances or not. The drug test is not dependent on a person’s word or their behaviors. As a drug treatment provider, I recommend that UA or drug testing be done at home when a parent suspects or knows that your adolescent is using. Most teens who use drugs know that many substances will be gone from the body within a couple of days of using, therefore if the only drug testing they get are at their appointments, they may not get “caught” for a while.

Drug testing has two purposes: to catch a person when they are NOT using and to catch them when they ARE using. It is just as important to catch them when they are NOT using, as it is to catch them when they are using. Read full post »

Addressing Teen Substance Use: Post 1 Is Your Teen(s) Using In Your Home?

In the Adolescent Medicine Clinic at Seattle Children’s Hospital, we have the privilege of working with chemical dependency professional, Lisa Chinn LMHC, CDP. Over the next two months, we’ll be posting a guest authored series written by Lisa on teen substance abuse. She’ll cover some of the challenging topics parents often ask about in our clinic setting including how to address substance use in your home, whether or not to have your teen provide random drug screens, and how to address alcohol poisoning. Lisa is a great resource and we hope readers find useful information throughout the series!

Is Your Teen(s) Using in Your Home? Read full post »

What is a hookah and is it safe

Girl smoking waterpipeAs fewer teens are smoking cigarettes, other trends in tobacco and nicotine use are starting to rise. One of these is the use of e-cigarettes or e-vapes. E-cigarettes include the use of a nicotine containing cartridges that is vaporized so the use can inhale the product. A second trend is one I hadn’t given much thought to until recently: smoking a hookah. Is this dangerous? How does it compare to smoking a cigarette?

The hookah (aka water pipe) is a pipe where tobacco (or other leaves, like herbs or marijuana) is heated, the smoke passes through water to cool it into a vapor, and this vapor is inhaled through an individual mouth piece. Hookah use originated in Asia and the Middle East, but it’s popularity is growing in urban settings in the US. Unlike cigarette smoking, most states do not have a ban on hookah use inside public settings so hookah bars are starting to pop up. Teens are also finding their way to using the hookah. Read full post »

Recreational marijuana and a parent’s role in prevention

store openingThis week the first recreational marijuana stores opened in Washington State. Initiative 502 was passed in 2012 to legalize marijuana in the state without a physician’s recommendation, but it was just yesterday that recreational stores could legally sell it. One store opened in Seattle, the others were in Bellingham, Prosser, and Spokane. It remains illegal for anyone under age 21 to use or possess marijuana, but legalizing recreational use does send a message to those who aren’t yet adults: it’s legal now, so it must be ok, right? We’ve had posts on marijuana legalization and teen marijuana use in the past, but here we wanted to highlight the importance of parents in preventing underage use. Read full post »

E-Cigarettes and marijuana

e-cigaretteIn the past few months I’ve had the privilege to speak with parents of high school students about the prevention of drug use. One of the questions that’s come up repeatedly from school staff has been: ‘What do we do about e-cigarettes?’ Now I’ve noticed the e-cigarette vendor signs in urban areas and have read the media hype about e-cigarettes, but I hadn’t realized how prevalent they were in schools, nor had I understood another common use for these mini vaporizers: they’re a way to use marijuana undetected.

E-cigarettes are small vaporizers that look like a pen. The American Academy of Pediatrics highlighted this week that half the Poison Center calls on e-cigarette liquids involved children, so they are becoming more and more common in households. To use an e-cigarette, the nicotine liquid is heated and the user can inhale to receive the same sensation as smoking a cigarette, but without as much of the smell as traditional cigarettes. The people who advertise e-cigarettes state that their advantage is that the user does not receive all the toxins, but what they don’t tell you is that a user is still receiving the nicotine and continues to be addicted to it. Nicotine itself is a toxin that can lead to heart and large vessel disease and as a physician, I recommend avoiding it.

Marijuana, in the form of concentrated hash oil, can be used in place of the nicotine with an e-cigarette. When used, the vapor does not have the pungent smell of the typical joint or bong which makes it extremely difficult for anyone to know if the oil is nicotine or hash. Teens can use the e-cigarette to take a hit while sitting in class (it may look like they’re chewing on a pen) and a teacher may not even notice. If an e-cigarette is found by school staff, they have no way of knowing what is in it.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that amongst those in high school, tobacco use has declined overall, but the use of e-cigarettes has doubled. In WA, where marijuana has been legalized for those age 21 and over, we’re finding that marijuana use among 12th graders has exceeded tobacco use with 27% reporting use of marijuana and 16% using tobacco. Both drugs can have harmful effects on the body. Marijuana affects the teen’s developing brain and can drop IQ points, lead to lack of motivation, and is associated with poor school achievement. Teens who use marijuana are also more likely to use other substances.

What does this mean for parents?

Be aware of drug paraphernalia and if you find something, but aren’t sure what it is, ask your teen about it.

Communicate with your teen your expectations about behavior, including substance use.

Seek help if you suspect your teen is using. Some great resources include NIDA and SAMHSA.

For more information please check out:

Our previous posts on marijuana here and here

A recent post by seattlemamadoc on e-cigarettes

How to talk to your teen about your own history

How to talk to your teen about drugs

A parent’s role in prevention of underage drinking

As a follow up to our post last week on the Safe Roads Awareness, we wanted to share a video that discusses the importance of you, as a parent, in preventing underage drinking and the consequences that are associated with it. In this video post, Dr. Leslie Walker talks about how important your communication with your teen is in preventing alcohol use.

Safe Roads Awareness Week March 25th

drunkdrivingThis week marks the one year anniversary of a tragic accident that affected a local nurse and her family. Karina Schulte, her 10 day old son, and his grandparents were walking on a spring day in their neighborhood when a drunk driver struck them. He killed both grandparents and severely injured Karina and her son. In this post, guest author Inga Manskopf of Prevention WINS discusses the importance of parents in preventing teen alcohol use as well as preventing teens from riding in a car with someone under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Read full post »

Why Just Say No Isn’t Enough

iStock_000013145333XSmallThe untimely death of respected actor and father, Philip Seymour Hoffman is bringing more media attention to the dangers of substance use. Mr. Hoffman won an Oscar, he was a devoted father, and had a promising career ahead of him. His death reminded me of 2 very important messages I learned as a teenager: anyone can become addicted to drugs and just saying no might not be enough. Read full post »

Meow Meow and the Problem with Designer Drugs

teen taking pillSometimes when I’m not sure what to write about, I’ll scan the news for the latest stories and articles involving teens. When I did that this week, I was rather taken aback to see articles about a teen taking a drug called “meow meow”, stabbing his mother, and cutting off his own penis. (His mother is in stable condition and his penis has been surgically reattached.)

Meow meow is one in a series of “designer drugs“: drugs formed when amateur (or professional) chemists tinker with the structure of an existing drug in order to create a new one. I wanted to expand on an earlier post about some specific designer drugs, and talk more about designer drugs in general. Read full post »

Teens, Responsibility, and “Affluenza”

drunkdrivingOne night in June, a teen named Ethan was driving with seven friends in his father’s truck. They were highly intoxicated on beer they had stolen from Wal-Mart, and possibly other alcoholic substances, after a house party. Ethan also had Valium in his system. The truck swerved up onto a sidewalk, killing four people. Two teens were thrown from the back of the pickup, and one is currently in a coma.

This case wasn’t made widely public until the sentencing: Ethan received 10 years’ probation. Prosecutors had asked for 20 years’ imprisonment. One of the arguments that a psychologist for the defense used was that Ethan was unable to understand the consequences of his actions. The developmental argument for a still-developing brain was used, but a rather creative one was also brought up: that Ethan suffered from “affluenza”. Read full post »