Facts

 

Teens + Binge Drinking

The Centers for Disease Control estimate that nearly 38 million or one out of every six Americans have participated in binge drinking. In the Jan. 10 issue of the CDC journal Vital Signs researchers surveyed 458,000 Americans who were 18 and older, asking them how much they had to drink in the past 30 days. The age group with most binge drinkers is 18-34 years.

– CBS, January 12, 2012, www.CDC.gov/vitalsigns

In a previous study by the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), researchers reported that 29.8% of those 12 and older reported binge drinking in the past month.

– National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2008-2009

Bienville Parish Teens and Binge Drinking

According to the 2014 Louisiana Caring Communities Youth Survey in Bienville Parish:

  • 11% of Bienville Parish 6th through 12th grade students reported binge drinking (having 5 or more alcoholic drinks in a row) in the past two weeks.
  • 11.9% of students in Grade 8 as compared to 18.6% in Grade 12 binge drank, supporting research that shows that binge drinking in the past two weeks for adolescents typically increases with age
  • “Everybody” isn’t binge drinking, and it’s important to get the word out!

Binge Drinking is Dangerous

Drinking large amounts of alcohol (four of five drinks) in a short period of time is known as binge drinking. In Weld County, many teens are daring each other to drink a lot at one time. They’re also playing drinking games. This is extremely dangerous, because it can result in alcohol poisoning.

  • The first symptom of alcohol poisoning is usually violent vomiting
  • When teens over drink, it can result in a sleepy feeling, or even unconsciousness
  • Binge drinkers can experience difficulty in breathing or even have a seizure
  • Alcohol poisoning can create dangerously low blood sugar levels
  • In extreme situations, alcohol poisoning can cause death

It’s important for parents to have a conversation with their children about drinking games, binge drinking and the dangers of alcohol poisoning.

Teen Drinking + Driving

Youth aged 16-24 are involved in 28% of all alcohol-related driving accidents—the highest percentage represented. This is for many reasons:

  • They tend to be relatively inexperienced drivers
  • They are relatively inexperienced drinkers
  • They have low impulse control
  • They have a false sense of being invincible
  • Since they can be very “me-oriented,” it can be hard for them to think about how their actions could harm others.

It’s important that parents talk to their teens about the dangers of drinking or driving, or riding with someone who has—including you! Consider letting them know that it’s better for them to call you for a ride than it is for them to get in a car with someone who has been drinking.

Alcohol + Teen Dating Violence

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol plays a large role in abusive relationships among teenagers. In fact, more than 60 percent of sexual assaults involve alcohol—and one in four teenagers will experience sexual or nonsexual abuse by the time they finish college or turn 21.

If your daughter is the victim of dating violence, she may:

  • Develop an eating disorder
  • Begin using drugs or alcohol
  • Have trouble sleeping or experience stress-related physical illnesses
  • Be depressed, have suicidal tendencies
  • Quit hanging out with her friends and become isolated
  • Not be able to concentrate and gets lower grades in school

Important Facts:

  • Teen girls who experience dating violence are more likely to binge drink
  • Teen boys who report dating violence are more likely to use marijuana
  • Teens who experience dating violence are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors as adults. Teen girls are more likely to smoke, have suicidal thoughts and have symptoms of depression. Teen boys are more likely to be antisocial, use marijuana and have suicidal thoughts
  • Teens who are in physically abusive relationships are 2-3 times more likely to be in a violent relationship between the ages of 18 and 25

Pediatrics, The Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Longitudinal Relations Between Teen Dating Violence Victimization and Adverse Health Conditions, Deinera Exner-Cortens, MPHa, John Eckenrode, PhDa, and Emily Rothman, ScDb

Tobacco

Keep Kids Away From Tobacco

It’s important to remember that tobacco is a drug, and incredibly dangerous to people of any age. One of the saddest statistics is this: 90% of tobacco users started using tobacco as a child under the age of 18. And it only takes about four cigarettes (on average) to become addicted. It is so important to talk candidly to your children about tobacco and the tobacco industry. Studies have shown that teens with a negative view of the tobacco industry are much less likely to use tobacco than those with a neutral or positive view. While some teens may see tobacco use as simple experimentation, rebellion or independence-seeking behavior, it often becomes a lifelong addiction. It can result in poor health, disease, decreased quality of life and an early death—not to mention it’s a very expensive habit!

 
 

Beware of the Tobacco Industry

The tobacco industry spends big money getting product placement in movies. They have stars that kids look up to smoke, trying to convince kids and young adults that it’s cool. The Tobacco industry wants your child to start smoking so they have a customer for life—even though their product will have a negative affect on the life of the smoker!

 
 

Talking points for your child:

  • Smoking is seen as not socially acceptable
  • Tobacco isn’t really an “adult” activity, since very few adults smoke, and 85% of those who do, wish they didn’t
  • Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the world, killing more people every day that fires, suicides, homicides, AIDS, alcohol, car accidents and other drugs COMBINED
  • It is a very, very expensive habit
  • Smoking is not a “rite of passage.” It is not safe to do at any age
  • There is no such thing as moderate or safe tobacco use, even for adults
  • The tobacco industry has manipulated the components of tobacco products to make it more addictive and to include many toxic and cancer-causing chemicals
 
 

Signs your child may be smoking:

  • Clothing and hair smells like cigarette smoke
  • Increased use of breath mints
  • Increased and heavier use of cologne or perfume
  • Bad breath
 
 

Dangers:

  • Coughing
  • Yellow teeth and fingernails
  • Brittle hair
  • Early wrinkles
  • Bad breath
  • Infections
  • Respiratory disease
  • Early death

Teens + Marijuana

Besides alcohol, marijuana is the most popular drug of choice in the United States. It looks like dried parsley with stems and seeds and is green, brown or grey. Most drug use begins with marijuana, and leads to more serious drugs. Users smoke it, roll it in cigarette papers, hollowed-out cigars (blunts), pipes or water pipes (bongs). It can be mixed into foods (brownies) or brewed as a tea. 

Unlike when we were growing up, there are now studies that show how marijuana can have long-term negative effects on the brain.  For example, researchers at Northwestern University explored the relationship between the casual use of marijuana and brain changes for young adults. They used magnetic resonance imaging to analyze different parts of the brain. Those who used cannabis just once or twice a week showed significant abnormalities in two significant brain structures. The areas that were affected are the ones responsible for processing emotions, making decisions and motivation. Just occasional use can cause damage to these pretty important parts of the brain.

Researchers believe casual marijuana use among teens can also result in amotivational syndrome, a psychological condition that can cause people to become less oriented toward their goals and purposes in life. Which is hard enough with your ordinary teen-but they usually grow out of it. BUT with casual marijuana use, they might not.

 Bienville Parish Teens and Marijuana Use
According to the 2014 Louisiana Caring Communities Youth Survey in Bienville Parish:
  • Approximately 8% of Bienville Parish high school students used marijuana in the past 30 days.
  • 10.4% of students in Grade 8 as compared to 29.8% in Grade 12 have used marijuana in their lifetime, indicating that use typically increases with age.

Slang Dictionary:

Back in the day, we called marijuana pot, weed and Mary Jane.  But you won’t believe how many slang terms there are now!  Here’s a great list that can help you recognize current terminology and language about marijuana and its’ many forms.

 
 

Symptoms:

  • Affects mood and coordination. Can cause mood swings from happy to depressed
  • Increases appetite. Causes “the munchies”
  • Elevates heart rate and blood pressure
  • Causes bloodshot eyes
  • Can cause paranoia or mild hallucinations
 
 

Dangers:

  • Known to create psychological dependence in teens, as a stress reliever or “feel good” solution
  • The body can demand more and more in order to achieve the same level of “high”
  • Usually leads to more drug experimentation
  • Significantly more potent than marijuana of the past, with dramatically stronger effects 
 

Talking About Marijuana

 It’s more important than ever for parents to have the “marijuana conversation” with their kids—especially since there are a lot of misconceptions about marijuana. The good news is, teens actually do listen to their parents, and more than you think!

  1. It’s never too early to talk to your child about marijuana. 
  2. Ask what they think they know about marijuana, and then share facts with them. Most kids don’t think it can be addictive, or that it can hurt brain development. Take the time to do a little research before your conversation. Here’s a great fact sheet on the National Institute on Drug Abuse website
  3. Look for “teachable moments.” There are lots of stories about marijuana in the news. When you see one, ask your child what they think about the story. Share your thoughts and feelings about it.
  4. State your expectations clearly. Let them know marijuana use is not acceptable, and let them know the consequences if they do use it.
  5. Discuss how marijuana can limit their future. Drug use can jeopardize a scholarship, keep them off a sports team, hurt their grades and even result in an arrest, which could lead to a permanent criminal record.
  6. One conversation isn’t enough. Make sure you bring up the topic every month or two. It’s important to do occasional “touch bases” about topics like marijuana, alcohol and other drugs.
 

New Study Links Childhood Overeating and Binge Eating with Future Marijuana Use

A new study by JAMA Pediatrics presents some startling information:  children who overeat and binge—even if weight gain doesn’t result—will likely use marijuana and drugs in the future.  Researchers were investigating the association of overeating (eating to excess but without loss of control) and binge eating (overeating with loss of control) with a number of negative health outcomes.

More than 17,000 youths (ages 9-15 at enrollment) were questioned every year or two about their health status and behaviors for more than a decade. During this period:

  • 41% started using marijuana and 32% started using illicit drugs
  • Youth who reported overeating were 2.7 times more likely to start using marijuana or other drugs
  • Binge eaters were 1.9 times more likely to start using drugs compared to their peers
  • Neither binge eating or overeating was associated with binge drinking

OTC Drugs

The Facts About Over The Counter Drugs

Just because you can buy over-the-counter drugs legally, it doesn’t make them safe. It’s easy for kids to get their hands on over-the-counter drugs at pharmacies, grocery stores or convenience stores. You don’t need a prescription, and they’re not expensive. Most of the pills and liquids that are abused are used to treat symptoms of common colds, headaches or pain. When taken as prescribed on the packaging, they are safe. But when they’re taken to get “high,” it can be very dangerous, and even deadly. Oftentimes kids mix OTC drugs with alcohol, which is even more dangerous. It’s important to talk to your teens about your expectations and consequences, because when you talk, they listen.

 
 

Slang Terminology: Candy, C-C-C, drex, DM, red devils, triple C, robo, rojo, skittles, tussin, vitamin D and velvet.

 
 

Symptoms:

  • Impaired judgment and mental functioning
  • Loss of coordination and dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hot flashes
  • Numbness of fingers and toes
  • Hallucinations
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Mood swings and changes in normal habits or appearance
 

Dangers:

  • Dangerous reactions with other medications or alcohol
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Permanent liver or brain damage
  • Seizures
  • Death

Prescription Drugs

What You Should Know About Prescription Drug Use
Most drugs have been created to help people, including antibiotics, vaccines, and drugs to fight disease or ease pain. When used correctly and prescribed for a doctor, they can work wonders. But when used without a prescription, they can become incredibly dangerous, especially to young adults and adolescents.

Drugs are chemicals, designed to change the way our body works. They come in many forms: pills, injections and inhalants—but the goal is the same: to get the drug into your bloodstream. In order for a drug to be effective, a doctor must prescribe it taking into account your health history, weight, age and body chemistry. It must be determined how much you need, how often you need it, and the conditions needed to ingest or administer the drug.

Drugs can intensify or dull your senses, alter your body chemistry and even affect the way you make decisions. To take a drug without a prescription is incredibly dangerous. To take multiple drugs without prescriptions is playing with fire.

Some kids think it’s fun to take drugs and have “pharming” parties, where everyone brings prescription drugs from their parents’ medicine cabinets and shares them. Often, they take more than one kind of pill at a time, not knowing if there will be a dangerous reaction between the drugs, or even if they are taking something they could be allergic to! This is a very dangerous practice, which can result in side affects like vomiting, elevated heart rate or blood pressure, unconsciousness and even death.

Never take a pill or medicine that hasn’t been prescribed for you. If you take drugs when you are healthy, they can make you sick.

Amphetamines

Amphetamines are stimulants that come in pills or tablets, and can be ingested or snorted. They are often prescribed as diet pills, as they accelerate functions in the brain and body.

Slang: speed, dexies, uppers and bennies.

Symptoms:

  • Increased heart rate and breathing
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Sweating, shaking, headaches, blurred vision, sleeplessness
  • Diarrhea (never pleasant!)
  • Intense feelings of power, alertness and energy

Dangers:

  • Can cause hallucinations and intense paranoia
  • Very psychologically addictive
  • Withdrawal symptoms include aggression, anxiety and intense drug cravings
  • Intense mood swings
  • Diarrhea (yuck!)
Stimulants

Stimulants are drugs that enhance brain activity. They include Adderall, Dexadrine and Ritalin. They are traditionally used to treat narcolepsy, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and short-term treatment of obesity. Abusers swallow them or inject them.

Symptoms:

  • Increased alertness attention and energy
  • An intense sense of well being
  • Heartbeat races
  • Quicker breathing
  • Can create feelings of hostility or paranoia

Dangers:

  • Increases blood pressure and heart rate
  • Constricts blood vessels
  • Increases blood glucose
  • Increases breathing
  • Heart attacks and seizures
  • Dangerously high body temperatures
Sedatives and Tranquilizers

Nembutal, Valium, Mebaral, Quaaludes and Xanax are just a few of the depressants kids are using. They’re used to treat anxiety, tension, panic attacks and sleep disorders. They slow down brain activity, resulting in a drowsy or claming effect. They are pills that are swallowed or injected.

Symptoms:

  • Slurred speech
  • Shallow breathing
  • Sluggishness and fatigue
  • Disorientation and lack or coordination
  • Dilated pupils
  • Higher doses cause memory impairment, irritability and paranoid and suicidal ideation

Dangers:

  • Can slow breathing
  • Can slow heart and respiration, leading to death
  • Highly addictive
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Use can lead to seizures

Illegal Drugs

Drugs: Having Fun or Playing with Fire?

There’s a lot of pressure on kids today—to perform well in school, to excel at sports, to get into a good college. There’s also a lot of pressure for kids like you to experiment with alcohol and drugs. You’ve probably already been offered a drink of alcohol at a party. Or maybe a friend wanted you to try marijuana or some other drug.

They may tell you it’s harmless to have a beer or a hit off a joint—that it’s no big deal. But before you decide they know more about it than you do, it might be a good idea to find out the real facts. When you know the facts, it’s easier to make a decision that’s right for you, and not one made because of peer pressure.

Kids today are trying alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, inhalants and even abusing over-the-counter drugs. And sometimes it might feel like “everyone’s doing it.” The fact is most young people in Bienville Parish don’t do drugs. And fewer kids drink alcohol than you think. It’s time to arm yourself with information and make your own choice.

If you have questions, ask your parents, or a trusted friend or adult. Do research on the internet. There are lots of ways to get the information you need in order to make important decisions about your life.

Spice/Synthetic Marijuana

Spice is a mixture of herbs that is marketed as a “legal” alternative to marijuana, even though it is labeled as “not for human consumption.” It consists of dried, shredded plant materials and manmade chemicals that cause mind-altering effects. It’s commonly referred to as K2, Fake Weed, Yucatan Fie, Skunk and Moon Rocks.

For the past few years, it’s been available through head shops, gas stations and online distributors. Because it has a high potential for abuse and no medical benefit, the DEA has made it against the law to sell, buy or possess. It is the second most popular drug among high school seniors, next to marijuana. Some Spice products are sold as incense, but it looks like potpourri. Spice is usually inhaled or prepared as an herbal tea for drinking.

Symptoms:

Many users report experiences similar to marijuana. It creates a relaxed feeling and changes in perception. Other symptoms include extreme anxiety, paranoia and hallucinations. Spice abusers have also experience fast heart rates, vomiting, agitation, high blood pressure and confusion.

Dangers:

This drug is so new, the medical community is still learning how it affects the brain. The chemicals in Spice attach to the same nerve cell receptors at THC, which is the mind-altering component of marijuana. Some of the chemicals found in Spice are stronger than marijuana and can lead to stronger and less predictable effects. It is possible that there are harmful heavy metal residues in Spice mixtures, but more research is needed.

 
Molly

Rappers are rapping about it, singers are singing about it, and chances are, where there’s music, you’ll probably find young people doing Molly, a new synthetic Ecstasy-like drug that’s growing in popularity nationwide. Not to be confused with Ecstasy, the “love drug” of the 80’s, Molly is mixed with methamphetamines, acid, caffeine and other unknown drugs, depending on the pseudo chemist that mixes up the batch. Not knowing what the drug is tainted with can be dangerous, especially if the user has a mental health issue or mixes the drug with alcohol or other substances.

It causes muscle tension, tremors, severe dehydration, high heart rate, nausea, faintness, chills, sweating and blurred vision. But to those who use it, it enhances the music experience and even make touching feel like a blissful experience.

However, bliss is not what’s going on. More and more users are ending up in the hospital, or even dying. In 2013, two people died at New York’s Electric Zoo Festival, closing the festival down.

What you should know about Molly:

  • It’s easily available
  • It’s inexpensive compared to most other drugs
  • The name “Molly” also makes it feel less scary to try to teens
  • It’s quickly growing in popularity. Twelve percent of 18-25 year olds in the U.S. have used Molly, according to a 2012 survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • There was a 123% increase in hospitalizations between 2004-2009, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Rock stars and rappers are glorifying Molly in lyrics, which also convinces teens that it’s “cool” and safe to use
Bath Salts

Bath salts contain manmade chemicals related to cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant that’s found naturally in the khat plant. It’s a white or brown crystalline powder that’s sold in small plastic or foil packages and labeled “not for human consumption.” Bath salts are usually swallowed, inhaled or injected and are most dangerous when snorted or injected with a needle. It can be labeled as jewelry cleaner, plant food or phone screen cleaner and is available on line or in drug product stores under names like Ivory Wave, Bloom, Cloud Nine, Lunar Wave, Vanilla Sky, White Lightning and Scarface.

Symptoms:

Bath Salts create an energizing and agitating effect. It can create feelings of joy and increased activity or energy, and can raise the heart rate and blood pressure. It’s considered a “cheap” substitute for amphetamines and cocaine, but can raise the brain dopamine level 10 times higher than cocaine. Users experience hallucinations similar to those of MDMA or LSD.

Dangers:

Bath salts have been linked to a high number of visits to emergency rooms and Poison Control Centers across the country. Users have needed medical attention for heart problems, high blood pressure, kidney failure, chest pains, paranoia and panic attacks. It can also lead to dehydration. It has a high rate of addiction, similar to that of methamphetamines, including strong withdrawal symptoms.

Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine is most commonly known as “meth”, and is a powerful, addictive stimulant. It can be swallowed, snorted, injected or smoked. It’s also known as crank, speed, ice, crystal, chalk, crypto, fire and glass.

Symptoms:

  • A euphoric rush, especially when smoked or injected
  • Highly addictive. Users crave more meth more often
  • Tolerance is developed quickly
  • Intense delusions, like bugs crawling under the skin
  • Development of violent, aggressive behavior over time
  • Weight loss, loss of muscle tone and tooth decay
  • After use, users experience a “crash,” including fatigue, anxiety, depression and confusion

Dangers:

  • Chemicals used in making meth are dangerous to people and the environment
  • Prolonged use can cause psychosis and permanent brain damage
  • Can cause convulsions, auditory hallucinations, irregular heartbeat and insomnia
  • Results in depressions, anxiety, fatigue, extreme aggression
Cocaine and Crack

Cocaine is made from the dried leaves of the coca plant, and is a white, crystalline powder. Cocaine is inhaled or injected. It’s known as coke, snow, blow, nose candy, big C and white.

When cocaine is heated over a flame and combined with other substances like water and baking soda, the result is crack, named for the crackle the heat causes. It comes in white or tan pellets. It’s known as freebase or rock, and is smoked.

Symptoms:

  • Cocaine elevates the heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure and body temperature
  • Both provide a burst of energy, Can cause jitteriness, dry mouth and teeth grinding
  • It’s a powerful stimulant that shocks the central nervous system for 15-30 minutes if snorted, and 10-15 minutes if smoked

Dangers:

  • Highly addictive. Creates physical and psychological cravings
  • Injecting cocaine increases risk of infection of hepatitis or HIV through shared, dirty needles
  • Snorting cocaine can create holes in the lining of your nose, or chronic nasal dripping
 
Ecstasy (MDMA)

Ecstasy is a “designer drug”, made by foreign or “underground” chemist. It’s available in powder, tablet or capsule form and is swallowed or snorted. It combines a hallucinogenic with a stimulant and intensifies all emotions. Also known as X, XTC, Adam, E, Roll.

Symptoms:

  • A tingly sensation of the skin
  • Increased heart rate and raised body temperature
  • Dry mouth
  • Can cause cramps, blurred vision, chills or sweats and nausea
  • Users tend to clench their jaws while using. Many teens or young adults chew on things like pacifiers while on Ecstasy
  • Can cause depression, paranoia, anxiety and confusion

Dangers:

  • Can cause organ damage or death
  • With chronic use, depression, paranoia, anxiety and confusion can become permanent
  • Can cause fatal heart attacks and breathing cessation, even with one use
  • Highly addictive, with intense physical and psychological cravings
Heroin and Opiates

Heroin is derived from the dried, processed liquid resin of the opium poppy. It can be in a powder form or a sticky, tar-like substance. The powder can range from white to dark brown in color. It’s injected, smoked or, in its pure form, inhaled. It’s known as Horse, Smack, Big H or Junk.

Symptoms:

  • A euphoric burst of high feelings, followed by drowsiness, nausea, stomach cramps and vomiting

Dangers:

  • Highly addictive. Users feel the need to take more heroin as soon as possible, in order to feel good again
  • Heroin ravages the body over time. Chronic constipation, dry skin, scarred veins and breathing problems are just a few of the long-term symptoms
  • If injected with a needle, users are susceptible to collapsed veins and exposure to infections through shared needles
  • Easy to overdose on
  • Extreme withdrawal symptoms, including insomnia, vomiting and muscle pain
Pain Relievers

OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, Codeine and Demerol are used to treat pain or relieve coughs or diarrhea. They come in capsules or pills and prevent the brain from receiving pain messages. When abused, they are swallowed or injected.

Symptoms:

  • Pain relief
  • Feelings of euphoria or well being
  • Drowsiness and slowed breathing
  • Constipation

Dangers:

  • Extremely addictive
  • Severe respiratory depression that can cause death
  • Severe withdrawal symptoms including muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting and cold flashes
  • When combined with alcohol, antihistamines, or other substances, it can cause death!
Inhalants

Some kids inhale or sniff fumes of volatile substances from every day products like glue, spray paint and paint thinner. While the high can be quick and intense, it only lasts a few minutes. It’s often called “huffing.”

Slang: poppers, snappers, air blast, oz, moon gas, whippets, boppers, bullet rush and poor man’s pot.

Symptoms:

  • Slurred speech
  • Lack of coordination
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Hallucinations, delusions
  • Loss in control, muscle weakness, muscle spasms and tremors
  • Lingering headache
  • Confusion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Leads to depression

Dangers:

  • Inhalants are extremely toxic and very addictive
  • They cause extensive and long-lasting damage to the brain and nervous system. It could affect your ability to walk, talk or even think!
  • Inhalants can create liver, lung and kidney problems
  • You can suffocate or asphyxiate, leading to permanent brain or other organ damage
  • Because the high doesn’t last long, users continue to inhale repeatedly, trying to extend the high. This is very dangerous
  • Inhalants can kill you the very first time you try them!
Resources:

National Institute on Drug Abuse. DrugFacts: Spice (Synthetic Marijuana). Bethesda, MD. NIDA, NIH, DHHS. Revised December 2012. Retrieved December 2012.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. Monitoring the FutureData Tables and Figures. Bethesda, MD: NIDA, NIH, DHHS. December 2012. Retrieved December 2012.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. DrugFacts: Synthetic Cathinones (“Bath Salts”). Bethesda, MD. NIDA, NIH, DHHS. Published November 2012. Retrieved December 2012.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. Monitoring the Future. Data Tables and Figures. Bethesda, MD: NIDA, NIH, DHHS. December 2012. Retrieved December 2012.

Bullying

Bullying in America is on the rise. More than 160,000 students stay home each day for fear of being bullied—and millions more have to face their tormentors in school and social situations every day. In Weld County, nearly 1 in 5 students report being bullied at school.

But bullying doesn’t just happen in school. It can happen anywhere…at home, a sports event, concert, park, shopping center, bike trails, parking lots—anywhere kids and teens are.

There are also more ways than ever to bully someone, thanks to new technologies like social media, photo and video capabilities in cell phones and other sophisticated methods.

When bullying exists, everyone loses:

  • Those being bullied have lower self-esteem, less confidence and increased fear, depression and anxiety. They can develop suicidal thoughts and perform worse in school and life.
  • Bullies grow up to have a much greater risk of getting in trouble with the law. In fact, by the age of 25, one in four bullies will spend time in jail.
  • Those witnessing bullying experience feelings of helplessness, fear and guilt.
What Is Bullying

We’ve all experienced or witnessed bullying before. It’s when one person intentionally harms or hurts another with words or behavior, and the one being hurt is unable to defend themselves. Bullying is also rarely an isolated incident. It’s often repeated, targeting the same victim, over and over again. The bully is usually older, physically bigger or stronger or has more social status. It can also be a group of kids who “gang up” on someone else.

Bullying can be:

  • Physical—pushing, shoving, kicking, hitting, biting, hair pulling, breaking, damaging or taking possessions and inappropriate touching.
  • Sexual—using words that demean someone about their gender or sexuality, unwelcome physical contact, inappropriate touching, posting inappropriate photos online.
  • Verbal—teasing, calling names, threats, demeaning jokes, gossip, spreading rumors, slander and intimidation.
  • Emotional—usually done by a group, rather than an individual. Includes leaving someone out on purpose, flying to hurt another’s reputation, humiliating someone publicly.
  • Cyberbullying—using technology to bully someone, including spreading rumors through social networking sites or sending or posting mean messages, texts, videos, stories or photos that hurt or ridicule someone.
Warning Signs

There are many forms of bullying, and there are different signs that a friend or family member might be the target of a bully. If you see one or more of these signs, speak up. Ask your friend or family member if they are being bullied. Then, contact an adult who can be of assistance—a teacher, parent, older sibling, school counselor or family friend.

  • Bruises, scratches and other physical evidence of abuse
  • An increase in damaged or lost personal items or clothing
  • Increased moodiness, sadness, depression or anxiousness
  • Change in friends
  • Change in sleep or eating patterns
  • A change in school performance
  • Physical complaints about headaches, stomach aches or other reasons to miss school or social activities
  • Emotional withdrawal or talk about suicide
What You Can Do

Bystanders to bullying often aren’t sure what to do. They fear retaliation if they stand up for someone being bullied. They might be embarrassed to speak up, or just want to belong. But the truth is, it doesn’t take much to make a big difference in a bullying situation. Here’s what you can do:

  • No matter what, don’t join in or encourage bullying. Your non-support sends a message that you don’t agree with what is happening.
  • Help the victim of bullying. Choose to walk or stand with them so they are not alone. Let them know you don’t agree with what’s happening.
  • Post a positive message on their social media site or let the bullies know you don’t think it’s right to make fun of people online. You can also report the online bullying and service providers will remove the post.
  • If the bullying is violent, like a fight, don’t intervene. Find an adult or authority figure immediately.
  • Inform your parents, teachers and school officials about the bullying.
  • Talk to your friends and ask them to help stop bullying, too. 
  • Join or start a bullying prevention program at your school.
Resources

Find Out More

More and more people are speaking out about bullying, which means there’s lot of information out there. Here are a few of our favorite links that can provide more information, tips and advice about bullying.

www.stopbullying.gov 

Suicide

Teens & Suicide

Teens today face more challenges and issues than ever. They can experience strong feelings of confusion, stress, self-doubt, pressure to succeed, financial uncertainty, and other fears while growing up. For some teenagers, transitions can be difficult, i.e. change of schools, loss of relationships, divorce, the formation of a new family with step-parents and siblings, moving to a new community or a death in the family. These can be upsetting and create or intensify self-doubts. Often, suicide may appear to be a solution to their problems and stress.

Suicide among youth is more common than you might think: it’s the third leading cause of deaths among 15-24 year olds and the sixth leading cause of death for 5-14 year olds.*

Warning Signs:

  • A change in sleeping and eating habits
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and regular activities
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Change in personality
  • Frequent complaints and physical symptoms, like fatigue, headaches
  • Frequent complaints about being a bad person or feeling empty or rotten inside
  • Complaints about hallucinations or bizarre thoughts
  • Boredom, loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
  • A change in personal appearance and hygiene
  • Lack of belief in praise or rewards
  • Becomes suddenly cheerful after a long period of depression
  • Gives or throws away favorite belongings, gets all affairs “in order”
  • Makes statements about wanting to kill self
  • Obsession with stories or songs about suicide, or famous figures who have died or completed suicide.

*www.aacap.org

Suicide Helplines:
The Northwest Louisiana Suicide Prevention Helpline:  1-877-994-2275
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  1-800-273-8255
LGBT Youth Suicide Hotline:  1-866-4-U-TREVOR
Suicide Helplines:
The Northwest Louisiana Suicide Prevention Helpline:  1-877-994-2275
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  1-800-273-8255
LGBT Youth Suicide Hotline:  1-866-4-U-TREVOR