Archive for November, 2011
Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
Doorways LLC, a Phoenix Teen and Young Adult Counseling Center Seeks to Provide over 200 New Beanie Caps and Blankets to Tumbleweeds Center for Youth
On any given day there are over 1800 homeless youth living in the streets of Maricopa County and very few places for them to turn to for help. One of those places is Tumbleweeds Center for Youth which provides emergency shelter, counseling, and educational and employment assistance to over 3,000 homeless young people per year.
Doorways LLC, a counseling clinic in Phoenix that specializes in working with teens and young adults, is inviting the community to join them in helping out homeless teens by dropping off donations of new beanie caps and lightweight blankets at their clinic located at 1825 E. Northern Ave. Suite 200, Phoenix, AZ 85020.
“Living on the streets is difficult enough, but living on the streets in the winter can be even more so. By providing homeless youth with their own beanie cap and lightweight blanket that they can take with them we can fill an unmet physical need and in a small way help with their emotional and spiritual needs as well,” says Jan Hamilton, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and Founder of Doorways.
Donations of new “Beanies and Blankets” will be accepted through December 20th, 2011. The donations will be delivered to Tumbleweeds prior to Christmas Day.
For directions or any other information go to www.doorwaysarizona.com, or call 602.997.2880.
About Doorways LLC.
Doorways LLC. is a faith-based counseling organization in Phoenix, Arizona, that provides comprehensive outpatient treatment focused exclusively on adolescents, young adults and their families. Therapists at Doorways specialize in treatment for eating disorders, mood disorders, substance abuse, depression, ADD/ADHD, self-harm, suicide and more. For more information, visit http://www.doorwaysarizona.com, or call 602-997-2880.
Monday, November 28th, 2011
No matter what statistics you look at, it’s clear that substance abuse by adolescents is a major public health concern. Although recent years have seen the percent of adolescents who are abusing substances level off, there are some disturbing trends in which teenagers are using and how early they are starting to use. When you consider that 90% of adults with substance abuse problems started using before they turned 18 and 50% of those adults started before age 15, the trend towards younger and younger adolescents experimenting and becoming regular users becomes even more important.
To many adults, the experimentation with drugs and alcohol that occurs during the adolescent years seems like a normal part of growing up. But using drugs and drinking alcohol aren’t just inappropriate because they are breaking the rules, they can result in very serious consequences to both their future and their health.
During this phase, teens can have a hard time forming cause and effect connections between choices they make today and the long term consequences of those choices. Substance use can further lower inhibitions resulting in a string of bad choices. From the increased risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident to the increased likelihood of developing a lifelong addiction, substance abuse during adolescence is life threatening and needs to be treated accordingly.
According to the current Monitoring the Future Survey as reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
- The daily use of marijuana increased in 3 of the 4 high school grades year over year and was the highest it has been since the early 80’s amongst those in the senior class.
- Marijuana use has surpassed cigarette smoking amongst the seniors.
- Although cigarette smoking has been declining in recent years, those declines have stalled amongst high school students indicating that smoking may soon be on the rise again.
- While marijuana is the drug of choice for high school students, prescription drugs and the abuse of over the counter medication are now number two in 12th graders. Although non-medical use of drugs like Vicodin and Adderall has not increased in recent years, usage statistics remain high.
- Ecstasy, which had seen years of decreasing use, increased last year in 8th graders.
- Overall, alcohol use has continued to decline year over year.
While there is no way to determine which adolescents will try drugs and alcohol or which will become addicted to one of these substances, there are some risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing a serious drug or alcohol problem. These factors include:
- Being part of a family with a history of substance abuse problems
- Being depressed
- Having low self esteem or feeling as though they do not fit in anywhere
- Drug availability in the community
- Learning disabilities and mental health conditions
- Poor academic performance
- Being part of an unhealthy social group
There are several warning signs that parents can use to determine if their teenager is in danger. As many of these signs can also point to problems other than alcohol or drug abuse, it is important to discuss any concerns with a medical practitioner to rule out physical causes.
There are several physical signs like unexplained fatigue, ongoing health complaints, bloodshot eyes, glazed over gaze, and a cough that lasts for weeks and won’t go away. From an emotional standpoint, adolescents who exhibit sudden changes in personality, rapid mood swings, increasingly irresponsible behavior, and general lack of interest, especially in things that they were previously interested in should be evaluated. Other warning signs include starting fights with family members, breaking rules, dressing differently, withdrawing from friends and family, swapping current friends for a different group of friends, skipping school, and requiring significant disciplinary action on a regular basis.
How to Help
There is no question that one of the most effective tools parents have in preventing their teens from abusing drugs and alcohol is the relationship they have and are able to maintain with their teenager. Parents should initiate discussions on the dangers of substance abuse, be honest, open, and invite their teen to participate. Parents need to provide a good role model for teenagers to follow by exhibiting responsible behavior, communicating often, and raising issues as soon as they develop in a calm and supportive way.
Research has shown that parents are in fact the “Anti-Drug” and are the main deterrent against experimenting with drugs and alcohol during adolescence. The key is building a solid relationship that encourages open communication. Remain a visible presence in their daily lives by being involved, supporting them in their interests, and attending their activities like games, plays, and concerts. Be clear, consistent, and fair in setting rules and expectations. Overly harsh and restrictive rules often have the same result as no rules at all, an increased risk of substance abuse. Overall, remain an active and interested participant in their lives and be available when they need advice, support, or help as they navigate the challenges of adolescence.
Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011
For many parents, it is difficult to understand why an adolescent who has their whole life in front of them, would consider ending it prematurely through suicide. As children make the transition to teenagers, they become more private and generally stop sharing their thoughts and feelings as openly with their parents. This can make it even more difficult to gauge when normal teenage angst develops into clinical depression, an anxiety disorder, or suicidal tendencies.
Many factors may contribute to teen suicide. Compared to the stress and pressures of adulthood, teenage problems may seem small and unimportant to us. Things like not fitting in at school, being bullied, and losing friends and first loves are just a normal part of growing up to most adults. It is often hard for us to remember that these normal things often carry a huge emotional toll for teens. We know that her boyfriend breaking up with her isn’t the end of the world, but it can feel that way to her. We can see that not making the basketball team doesn’t mean he won’t be successful in life, but it can feel that way to him.
As the third leading cause of death for those aged 15 to 24 and the fourth leading cause for those aged 10 to 14, suicide is a serious issue for teenagers. A survey of high school students showed that more than half of them had thought about suicide and almost 10% admitted to trying it at least once. No matter how well-adjusted you think your teen is, it is important to know the warning signs and when to intervene to keep your child safe.
Who is at Risk?
Adolescence and the teen years are a time of turmoil and rapid change. Between forming their own identities, learning to deal with new sexual feelings, struggling to figure out where they fit in, and the pressure to perform in school, teens can easily become overwhelmed. If teens feel like they don’t have a reliable support system or if they lack healthy outlets for dealing with their tumultuous emotions, it can leave them feeling disconnected and alone both of which increase the risk of suicide.
For many teens who attempt or commit suicide, this desperate act comes directly after a stressful event in their lives like the end of a relationship, death of someone close to them, parental divorce or separation, or something they perceive as a life altering failure like being cut from a sports team or doing poorly in school.
Teenagers, especially girls, who were subjected to any kind of abuse as children are more likely to attempt suicide. In general, girls are more likely to think about suicide and are twice as likely to attempt suicide as boys. However, boys are four times as likely to succeed. The risk of suicide increases when there are guns in the home which means parents need to maintain safe storage practices for all firearms even when their children have grown into teens.
Here are other factors that increase the risk of suicide in adolescents and teenagers:
- A psychological problem like depression or bipolar disorder. 95% of people who commit suicide were mentally ill when they took their life.
- Recurrent unpleasant feelings like isolation, distress, hopelessness, worthlessness, and irritability.
- Learning how to handle emerging sexuality including homosexuality in an unsupportive environment.
- Previous suicide attempts.
- A family history of mental health problems or suicide.
- Being a victim of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.
The Warning Signs
In order for parents to be able to protect their children from suicide, they need to know what to watch for. Here are some of the warning signs that your teen may be suicidal.
- Drastic changes in personality, appearance, sleep habits, or appetite.
- Relationship drama with a girlfriend/boyfriend.
- Withdrawing from friends, social groups, and activities.
- Unexplained drop in grades.
- Participating in rebellious and/or dangerous behavior
- Running away from home or giving away personal items that are important to them.
- Substance abuse.
- Writing or talking about death and suicide.
- Previous suicide attempts.
The most important thing parents can do is talk to their children and listen when their children talk to them. Many teenagers who contemplate suicide feel like no one understands them or cares about them. Talking to your teen about their lives, expressing your love for them, and ensuring your teen knows you are there to help, no matter what problem they are facing, all help reassure them that you are there, that you care and that you want to understand.
When your teen opens up, don’t minimize, judge, or dismiss their concerns. Regardless of whether or not you think her failure to make the cheerleading squad is a life or death situation, she might and downplaying her emotional reaction only shows her you don’t understand what she is going through.
Pay attention to your parental intuition. If you feel like something is wrong, don’t downplay your own emotions either. Ask your teenager about what is going on in their lives, what they are concerned about, and share your concerns with them. Talk in specifics rather than generalities. Listen to what they say and don’t say. Don’t talk over them, interrupt them, correct them, or be dismissive of their concerns or problems. Ask the other people in their lives like teachers, counselors, and friends. Don’t shy away from the “s” word. If you are concerned about suicide, ask directly and invite your teen to participate in an open discussion on the topic. Get help right now. If you have concerns about suicide and think there is a possibility of your child being a danger to themselves, don’t wait. Find a mental health professional to assess your child today.
Monday, November 21st, 2011
In order to protect teenagers from sexual abuse, it is important that both parents and teens understand what constitutes sexual abuse. While it is broadly defined as abuse that can be considered sexual in nature, some acts, like date rape or sexual advances from an adult are generally considered by everyone to be forms of sexual abuse. But things like voyeurism, exposure to pornography, and exhibitionism that do not involve direct physical contact between a teen and a perpetrator are also forms of sexual abuse and can be as devastating s physical abuse to the victim.
Although most teenage sexual abuse is committed by an adult in a position of power, it is also important for teenagers to understand that the perpetrator doesn’t have to be an adult for sexual activity to be considered abuse. Teenagers need to be aware that being drunk, drugged, afraid, or otherwise incapacitated does not make sex consensual. Even if they don’t fight back, unwanted sexual advances and forced sexual activity is sexual abuse and is illegal.
Amongst teenagers, girls are more likely to be the victims of sexual abuse and 1 in 4 girls will have been sexually abused by the age of 18. The majority of teenage sexual abuse victims know their abuser. The most common type of abuser is a family member or someone who has close ties to the family. More than 50% of females who are raped in theU.S.are raped before they turn 18 and teenagers account for more than half of all reported sexual abuse in this country. Abuse victims have an increased risk of being abused again and teens between 16 and 19 are more than 3 times as likely as anyone else to be the victim of sexual abuse. The majority of sexual abuse against teenagers happens in their own homes. Teenagers also make up almost a quarter of sexual offenders.
While the report rate for sexual abuse across all ages is about 50%, this statistic drops to 31% amongst teenagers. Due in part to anxiety about the social stigma of being a victim and fears of retribution, many teens choose not to report their abuse in an attempt to forget it happened at all. Other factors like mediocre arrest rates, conviction rates below 20%, and short prison sentences may also deter victims from stepping forward.
It is very common for victims of teen sexual abuse to have changes in behavior and to exhibit the same symptoms as a teen who has survived a traumatic event. Common behaviors seen in victims of teen sexual abuse include:
- Increased anxiety and panic attacks
- Eating disorders
- Displaced anger
- Nightmares and difficulties sleeping
- Problems in school including acting out in class and rapidly falling grades
- Withdrawing from friends, family, and activities
- Self destructive behavior like cutting, using drugs, or promiscuity
- Poor hygiene or excessive bathing
- Running away
- Suicidal thoughts, talking about suicide, and attempting suicide
- Discussing sexual knowledge or language that is not age appropriate
Preventing Sexual Abuse
The best way to help prevent your teen from becoming the victim of sexual abuse is to arm them with information. Understanding what constitutes sexual abuse can help teens identify and avoid dangerous situations. Discussing the topic openly lets your teen know that if something does happen, they can come to you for understanding and support. Help your teen practice saying no and empower them to be the boss of their own body. Just as with smaller children, don’t force teenagers to hug or have physical contact with family members or any other person if it makes them uncomfortable. Give them the absolute right to say no if they do not want someone touching them and you will empower them to say no when it matters most.
How to Get Help
Sexual abuse is traumatic and can cause serious issues with sexuality, self esteem, trust, loyalty, and the development of healthy relationships. Teens who have been victims of sexual abuse may be struggling with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, PTSD, cutting, and other self harm or self destructive behaviors. The first step is to find the right practitioner who can provide the treatment and support needed to overcome the effects of the abuse. Together with this professional, parents and friends can create a caring, understanding support system to aid in recovery.
Thursday, November 17th, 2011
Most people have heard of anorexia, but have you heard of “Drunkorexia”? Though not an official diagnosis, this term refers to food restriction and alcohol consumption. It has become more prevalent among young adults. It is especially common in college students that are trying to keep themselves thin. Parents should be aware of this issue so that they can help their adolescents overcome it so that it does not take over their life. Catching this early is the key to making a full recovery before it begins to get out of hand.
What Is” Drunkorexia”?
“Drunkorexia” is a combination of excessive alcohol consumption and eating disorder behaviors. Generally, college age students will skip meals during the day in order to keep their weight down and the calories that they save is spent on alcohol. A new study conducted by the University of Missouri that found girls are much more susceptible to this combination than guys.
People that are “Drunkorexic” will purge the alcohol they consume in the attempt to not gain weight
The problem that teens and young adults are facing is that “Drunkorexia” causes double downsides. While inadequate nutrition is something that can cause many health issues, the over consumption of alcohol poses many risks as well. They will not only reap the physical repercussions of anorexia or bulimia, they will also have issues with alcohol abuse including alcohol poisoning and malnutrition. While intoxicated, teens and college students are also much more likely to fall victim to physical or sexual abuse.
What to Look For
It is a good idea to educate yourself about this disorder, especially if your college student has a history of eating disorders or drinking. There are a few signs that you can look for that will help you to recognize Drunkorexia in your adolescent. Here are a few of these signs:
- Frequently skipping meals
- Spending a lot of money but having nothing to show for it
- Poor grades
- Poor class attendance
- Rapid weight loss
The Good News
Most college campuses have recognized that eating disorder behaviors are a wide spread issue and they offer classes on nutrition and healthy living. They offer many counseling services to students to educate them on the risks involved with both eating disorders and alcohol abuse.
Also, there are counseling programs that will offer help to adolescents that are already sunk into the “Drunkorexic” trap. Whether you have issues with binge drinking, anorexia, bulimia, or a combination, help is available. Most adolescents will not admit to themselves that they have a problem. It often takes the help of a friend or parent to get them the help they need.
Doorways offers many treatment options for those who are dealing with eating and alcohol disorders. Counseling is typically needed to overcome these disorders and when you choose Doorways as your treatment provider, you will be able to get the help that you need in a faith-based setting. This is definitely great news for those that are dealing with “Drunkorexia. “
Wednesday, November 16th, 2011
PTSD and Teens. Image via Wikipedia
PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, used to be something associated only with war veterans and abuse survivors but it can affect anyone who experiences a traumatic event. Even though teens and adolescents may show different symptoms than adults , they can suffer from the same disorder and usually require treatment to overcome the challenges it presents. Understanding the causes and contributing factors can help parents identify when their children need help and how to get them the help they need.
What is PTSD?
Post traumatic stress disorder describes the development of a set of symptoms following a traumatic experience. Everyone who is impacted by trauma may feel extreme stress and suffer from strong emotional responses, difficulties with normal activities like sleeping, eating, and concentrating, and anxiety or fear related to the circumstances of the event. However, not everyone impacted by trauma also develops PTSD.
Those who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder will have symptoms for a month or longer and their symptoms don’t abate with time. In some cases, symptoms do not start directly following the event and may actually get worse as time passes.
What Causes PTSD?
Experiencing a traumatic event like a car accident, natural disaster, violent crime, or physical assault can cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is not necessary for someone to be injured or even to have directly participated in the event in order to develop PTSD. In some cases, merely witnessing an event can lead to the disorder. It is important to note that not everyone who experiences trauma will develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder just like not everyone who has the same experience will respond in the same way.
One theory about why some people develop PTSD has to do with our bodies fight or flight response, the chemical reaction triggered by fear or danger. This physiological response is meant to enable us to protect ourselves and respond in critical survival situations. But in some people, a traumatic event disrupts this response, causing the same kind of chemical reaction in circumstances where it isn’t necessarily warranted. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, severe stress, fear, and danger when there is no external cause of those feelings.
There are some risk factors that can elevate someone’s likelihood of developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. These risk factors include previous experience with traumatic events, a history of mental illness, lack of social support after the event, and being injured as part of the event. There are also factors that can make someone more resilient and thereby reduce their risk of PTSD including strong post-event support, feeling positive about how they handled the event, and specific coping strategies for dealing with stressful events.
What are the Symptoms of PTSD?
Regardless of when PTSD develops, there are some characteristic symptoms that develop after the experience. People may experience any combination of these symptoms.
- Mental images of the event or it’s aftermath
- Avoidance of people, places, or things that are reminders of the event
- Unwillingness to talk about the event or discuss what happened
- Emotional detachment
- Edginess, irritability, and hyper-vigilance
- Trouble sleeping
- Inability to concentrate
- Depression and survivor guilt
- Angry outbursts
While teens and older adolescents may show symptoms similar to adults, they may also act out and become disruptive and destructive. In young children and some adolescents, PTSD can cause a different set of symptoms including bedwetting, forgetting how to speak, refusing to speak, repeatedly acting out the traumatic event, and having unusual separation anxiety from parents or other adults.
How is PTSD Diagnosed?
PTSD is diagnosed by a doctor, psychiatrist, or psychologist based on a personal interview. In order to be diagnosed, a person must display a certain set of symptoms for at least one month. The set of symptoms must include one symptom related to re-experiencing the event like nightmares or flashbacks. They must also be experiencing at least three avoidance symptoms like refusing to talk about the event or to participate in any activity relating to the event. Additionally, the person must suffer from at least two different symptoms showing hyper-arousal like irritability and edginess.
PTSD is treatable and sufferers can make a complete recovery but it doesn’t generally resolve without assistance. PTSD is most commonly treated with counseling or therapy and in some circumstances medication to treat underlying depression or other conditions may be used to help mitigate the effects of the disorder. If you are concerned that your teen or young child may be suffering from PTSD, schedule an appointment with their doctor to rule out any medical causes of their symptoms and get a referral for a qualified practitioner.
Thursday, November 10th, 2011
Rachel Daberkow and Theresa Burt will be attending the 5th Annual Children’s Obesity Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, on December 1st, 2011. The conference will showcase the latest obesity research and trends and present evidence-based best practices. For more information go to The Worthy Institute LLC.
Thursday, November 10th, 2011
National Nurse Practitioner Week Celebrated Nov 13-19, 2011.
As the healthcare provider shortage crisis looms, nurse practitioners offer the high-quality, cost-effective, patient-centered services needed to help solve the increasing demand for healthcare in the United States.
Nurse practitioners are licensed, expert clinicians with advanced training who provide primary, acute and specialty healthcare services. They work as a partner with their patients, helping them make educated healthcare decisions and healthy lifestyle choices.
Penny Kaye Jensen, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, FAANP is president of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.“Nurse practitioners have a proven track record of success, and research has shown that they provide high-quality primary care with outcomes that are similar to, or even better than, primary care physicians,” Dr. Jensen said.
National Nurse Practitioner Week, November 13 – 19, 2011, is a time to celebrate these unique healthcare providers and to remind lawmakers of the importance of allowing nurse practitioners to practice to the full extent of their experience and education.
The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) is the oldest and largest national professional organization for nurse practitioners (NPs) of all specialties. AANP represents the interests of approximately 148,000 nurse practitioners in the country and advocates for the active role of NPs as providers of high-quality, cost-effective, comprehensive, patient-centered and personalized healthcare. For more information, visit www.aanp.org. To locate an NP in your community, go to npfinder.com.
Thursday, November 10th, 2011
Rachel Daberkow, RD., MS., RD, will be speaking at Celebrate Recovery at Chandler Christian Church, 1825 S Alma School Rd., Chandler, Arizona. Please contact the Church for more information about Celebrate Recovery Programs.