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About

Choices & Changes is dedicated to providing resources and tools, in an effort to educate individuals, teens, parents, families, and communities about substance abuse. Substance abuse is not a personal problem it is society's problem. For this reason it is important for every person to be aware of substance abuse and how it inadvertently affects people involved and people not involved.

Individuals

Asking for Help

Acknowledging that help is needed for a substance addiction may not be easy. But keep in mind that the sooner a person gets help, the better are his or her chances for a successful recovery. Any reluctance one may feel about discussing substance abuse with anyone including your health care professional may come from common misconceptions about alcoholism and drug abuse. In our society the myth prevails that a substance problem is somehow a sign of mere weakness. As a result, one may feel that to seek help is to admit some type of shameful defect in oneself. In fact, however, substance abuse is no more a sign of weakness than is asthma or diabetes. Besides, taking steps to identify a possible substance problem has an enormous payoff a chance for a healthier, more rewarding life. The majority of substance abuse individuals need outside assistance to recover. With support and treatment, many individuals are able to stop drinking and/or using drugs and rebuild their lives.

Individualized Counseling

Choices & Changes offers Individualized drug counseling that focuses directly on stopping the addict's substance use. It also addresses related areas of impaired performance such as employment, illegal activity, and family/social relations as well as the content and structure of the patient's recovery program. Through its emphasis on short-term behavioral goals, individualized substance abuse counseling helps the patient develop coping strategies and tools for abstaining from drug/alcohol use and then maintaining abstinence. Individuals are encouraged to attend as needed.

Links for Individuals

Adult Children of Alcoholics World Service - www.adultchildren.org

American Council for Drug Education - www.datia.org/education/978-american-council-for-drug-educaiton-acde.html

Cocaine Anonymous - www.ca.org

Marijuana Anonymous - www.marijuana-anonymous.org

Narcotics Anonymous - www.na.org

Overeaters Anonymous - oa.org

Recovery Schools - recoveryschools.org

Sex, Etc - www.sexetc.org

DRUG HELP - drughelp.org

Washington State Alcohol/Drug Helpline - www.adhl.org

Teens

Causes for Teen Substance Abuse

Parental and peer substance use are considered two of the more common factors contributing to youthful decisions regarding substance use. The age at which adolescents begin to use alcohol is decreasing, with 25 percent of young people beginning to drink before the age of 13, according to the CDC. Some adolescents are more at risk of developing substance-related disorders. This includes adolescents with one or more of the following conditions present - children of substance abusers; adolescents who are victims of physical, sexual, or psychological abuse; adolescents with mental health problems, especially depressed and suicidal teens; and physically disabled adolescents.

Awareness

Adolescent substance abuse is believed by some to be the most commonly missed pediatric diagnosis. Adolescents who use drugs are most likely to visit a physician's office with no obvious physical findings.

Sadly, substance abuse problems are more likely to be discovered by physicians when adolescents are injured in accidents occurring while under the influence, or when they are brought for medical services because of intentional efforts to hurt themselves. In view of that, Choices & Changes is committed to making available a variety of resources and tools to aid in educating teens and their families about substance abuse.

Helpful Links For Teens

Alanon-Alateen - www.al-anon.alateen.org

Children of Alcoholics Foundation - www.coaf.org

Cocaine Anonymous - www.ca.org

Marijuana Anonymous - www.marijuana-anonymous.org

Narcotics Anonymous - www.na.org

Columbia University's health advice for Students. Go Ask Alice - www.goaskalice.org

National Association For Children Of Alcoholics (NACoA) - nacoa.org

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's College Drinking Prevention - www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov

Overeaters Anonymous - oa.org

Tobacco prevention website for teens - www.nostankyou.com

Washington State Alcohol/Drug Helpline Teenline: "Lets Talk About It" - www.theteenline.org

Washington State Alcohol/Drug Helpline - www.adhl.org

Parents

Awareness & Prevention

Choices & Changes wants to help parents be aware of their child's exposure to alcohol and legal and illegal drugs by providing informative facts, resources, and tools.

Experimentation with alcohol and drugs during teenage years is common. Unfortunately, teenagers often don't see the connection between their actions today and the consequences tomorrow. In addition, they have a tendency to feel indestructible and immune to the problems that others experience. The fact is that using alcohol and drugs at a young age has negative health effects.

Parents can prevent their children from using drugs by talking to them about drugs, open communication, role modeling, responsible behavior, and recognizing if problems are developing.

Experimentation vs. Addiction

Some teens will experiment with alcohol or drugs without significant problems. Others will develop a dependency, causing significant harm to themselves and possibly others. It is impossible to know which teens will experiment and stop and which will develop serious problems. Teenagers at risk for developing serious alcohol and drug problems include those:

  • With a family history of substance abuse
  • Who are depressed
  • Who have low self-esteem, and
  • Who feel like they don't fit in or are out of the mainstream
  • Who have experienced a major loss in their life

Drugs, Alcohol and Substances Abused by Teens

Teenagers misuse a variety of drugs, both legal and illegal. Legally available drugs include alcohol, prescribed medications, inhalants (fumes from glues, aerosols, and solvents) and over-the-counter cough, cold, sleep, and diet medications. The most commonly used illegal drugs are marijuana (pot), stimulants (cocaine, crack, and speed), LSD, PCP, opiates, heroin, and designer drugs (Ecstasy). The use of illegal drugs is increasing, especially among teenagers. The average age of first marijuana use is 14, and alcohol use can start before age 12. The use of marijuana and alcohol in high school has become ordinary.

Substance abuse is associated with a variety of negative consequences, including school failure, and poor judgment which may put teens at risk for accidents, violence, unplanned and unsafe sex, and suicide.

It is especially important for parents to understand drug slang and terminology. The more you understand what these terms are the more you will be able to observe your teen or loved one's behavior. The following link provides helpful information on slang and street terms for drugs.


http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/streetterms/

Warning Signs

Physical: Fatigue, repeated health complaints, red and glazed eyes, and a lasting cough.

Emotional: Personality change, sudden mood changes, irritability, irresponsible behavior, low self-esteem, poor judgment, depression, and a general lack of interest.

Family: Starting arguments, breaking rules, or withdrawing from the family.

School: Decreased interest, negative attitude, a drop in grades, many absences, truancy, and discipline problems.

Social problems: New friends who are less interested in standard home and school activities, problems with the law, and changes to less conventional styles in dress and music.

Some of the warning signs listed above can also be signs of other problems. Parents may recognize signs of trouble and possible abuse of alcohol and other drugs with their teenager. If you have concerns you may want to consult a physician to rule out physical causes of the warning signs. This should often be followed or accompanied by a comprehensive evaluation by a child and adolescent mental health professional.

Helpful Links For Parents

Alcoholics Anonymous - www.aa.org

American Council for Drug Education - www.datia.org/education/978-american-council-for-drug-educaiton-acde.html

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's College Drinking Prevention - www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov

National Poison Control: 1-800-222-1222

DRUG HELP - drughelp.org

Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free - www.alcoholfreechildren.org

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) "A Call to Action: Changing the Culture of Drinking at U.S. Colleges." - http://http://www.campushealthandsafety.org/resources/resource_rws_225.html/niaaa/report.html

Washington State Alcohol/Drug Helpline - www.adhl.org

Families

Choices & Changes believes that every person is unique and special but sometimes they encounter emotions or behaviors that cause problems in their lives and the lives of those around them. Families often worry when their loved one has difficulty coping with life, feel sad, cannot sleep, gets involved with legal and illegal drugs or alcohol, or cannot get along with family or friends.

Signs and Symptoms of Drug/alcohol Abuse

Chemically dependent individuals can display both behavioral and physical symptoms at any time throughout the chemical dependency process. It is important to remember that if an individual has any of the following symptoms it does not necessarily mean that he or she is using drugs and/or alcohol. The existence of some of these symptoms could be related to a multitude of other problems (i.e. stress, depression). Whatever the cause, they may merit attention, especially if they persist or if several of them are occurring at one time. The key thing to look for is change; be aware of major changes in an individual's physical appearance, personality or behavior. If you would like to know more about the disease of drug addiction, how to spot drug abuse or alcoholism, check out our comprehensive list of symptoms below:

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Mood Swings: Virtually all mood-altering drugs produce a wide range of mood swings from euphoria to depression. A user may be passive and withdrawn one minute and angry or hostile the next.
  • Personality Changes: A normally energetic and outgoing person becomes chronically depressed and uncommunicative.
  • Defensiveness: Blaming or claiming to be persecuted or victimized.
  • Overly Emotional: Inappropriately happy, depressed, hostile, or angry.
  • Overly Self-Centered: Always has to have their own way and will do anything to have it.
  • Tendency to Manipulate: Making excuses for failure or finding ways to have other people handle their problems or bear the consequences of their actions or behaviors.
  • Strained Communication: Unwillingness or inability to discuss important issues or concerns.
  • Withdrawal from Family Activities: Refusing to eat at family meals, participating in celebrations or holidays or making any adjustments to family life.
  • Change in Dress and Friends: Sudden deterioration of long friendships/relationships, deterioration in personal appearance and hygiene, spends time with suspicious friends and/or co-workers.
  • Lack of Self-Discipline: Inability to follow rules, complete household chores, school assignments, work-related duties, keep appointments or commitments.
  • Apathy: Little or no interest in meaningful activities such as clubs, hobbies, sports, or other activities.
  • School and Work Problems: Excessive tardiness, absences, drop in grades, drop in job performance, missed deadlines, failure to turn in assignments and take tests or perhaps suspension or expulsion.
  • Anxious Behavior: Chronic jittery, jerky, or uneven movements, fearfulness, compulsiveness and talkativeness.

Physical Symptoms

  • Change in appearance: Sudden gain or loss of weight.
  • Poor physical condition: Lack of coordination, stumbling, shaky hands, dizzy, consistent "run down" condition, chronic fatigue, irregular heartbeat.
  • Eating: Changes in habits such as loss of appetite, increase in appetite.
  • Eyes: Bloodshot or watery, consistently dilated pupils.
  • Frequent colds: Sore throat, coughing, nausea, vomiting.
  • Nose: Chronically inflamed or runny nostrils.
  • Speech pattern: Significant changes such as slurred speech, faster speech, slower speech.

Relapse Warning Signs

Chemically dependent individuals can demonstrate relapse behaviors at any time throughout their recovery process, but they are especially prone during the early stages of recovery. The relapse process starts when a person falls into old patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. The following are signs of relapse at any stage in recovery:

  • Lack of gratitude: For recovery or what has been achieved in the recovery process.
  • Complacency: When things begin to improve. The chemically dependent person believes that they no longer need to focus on their recovery efforts; they are convinced they will never begin using again.
  • Lack of self-care: They become exhausted, develop or return to irregular eating habits or poor health habits in general.
  • Self-pity: The chemically dependent person talks and acts as if no one else has it as bad as they do.
  • Denial: Increasing or a return to denial. The chemically dependent person starts rationalizing, justifying, minimizing or generalizing addictive thinking.
  • Blame: Begins blaming others instead of taking personal responsibility for one's own thoughts, feelings or behavior.
  • Isolation: Attempting to solve problems on their own; not sharing what is going on with others in the support group.
  • Unrealistic goals: Wanting too much too quickly.
  • Manipulation: Attempting to control one's recovery through blaming of others for their problems.
  • Discounting a recovery program: Stopping 12-Step meetings, not utilizing a sponsor or unwilling to allow others to help.

Signs & Symptoms of Substance Abuse in the Workplace


  • Absence: Frequently absent from work for no justifiable reason.
  • Tardiness: Arriving late and/or leaving work early.
  • Unnecessary breaks: Long lunches or unexplained disappearances.
  • Job Performance: Decreases significantly.
  • Avoidance: Of supervisor or other co-workers.
  • Appearance: Poor personal hygiene, sudden gain or loss of weight.

Links for Families

Alcoholics Anonymous - www.aa.org

Adult Children of Alcoholics World Service - www.adultchildren.org

Children of Alcoholics Foundation - www.coaf.org

Families Anonymous - www.familiesanonymous.org

Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons and Significant Others (JACS) - www.jacsweb.org

Recovery Schools - recoveryschools.org

Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free - www.alcoholfreechildren.org

Washington State Alcohol/Drug Helpline - www.adhl.org

Community

Choices & Changes recognizes the significance of social relationships and how substance abuse has an effect on communities. It is important that the public understand the benefits of treatment to recovery lead to a better life for everyone in the community. In an effort to educate the community about substance abuse and recovery we have provided various information and resources.

Community Links

  • Faces and Voices of Recovery
    Often those most affected by the disease of addiction are absent from the public policy debate. Faces & Voices of Recovery is a national campaign of individuals and organizations that advocates to end discrimination, broaden social understanding and achieve a just response to addiction as a public health crisis. The aim of the campaign is to increase awareness about the recovery community by improving access to policymakers, researchers, and the media, and to facilitate relationships among local, regional, and national advocacy groups.
  • National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence
    The National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) fights the stigma of alcoholism drug addiction. Founded in 1944 by Marty Mann, the first woman to find long-term sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous, the NCADD provides education, information, help and hope to the public. It advocates prevention, intervention, and treatment through offices in New York and Washington and a nationwide network of Affiliates.
  • Behavioral Health Recovery Management
    In many ways, the emergence of peer-to-peer services has been influenced by concepts of recovery management, particularly as espoused by William White, treatment historian and an active supporter of recovery support services. White introduced the concepts of recovery management and drew from researcher William Cloud in promoting the notion of recovery capital-those assets and resources a person brings to the recovery process. His writings are available at the Web site of Behavioral Health Recovery Management, Inc.
  • Recovery Month
    RCSP grantees are active participants in CSAT's Recovery Month activities. Each September, Recovery Month provides a platform to celebrate people in recovery and those who serve them. Thousands of treatment and recovery programs around the country share their successes with neighbors, friends, and colleagues in an effort to educate the public about addictive disorders as a national health crisis, that addiction is a treatable disease, and that recovery is possible. Recovery Month highlights the benefits of treatment for the affected individual, their family, friends, workplace, and society as a whole.
  • Public Education and Media
    DBHR supports research-based communications strategies that raise awareness of the harmful consequences of substance abuse, and promote healthy attitudes and behaviors. We provide information and education about substance abuse trends in Washington, how to prevent and reduce substance abuse, and how to access prevention and treatment resources.News releases and public education materials.
  • Reducing Underage Drinking (RUaD)
    Underage drinking is our state's biggest drug problem. Each year, alcohol kills more kids than tobacco and illicit drugs combined. DBHR has secured grants from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention since 1998 to fund strategies to reduce underage drinking. We and our state partners have formed the Washington State Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking to collaborate on statewide planning and actions.Learn more about RUaD. Facts About Underage Drinking in Washington. 2010 Campaign PPT.

Helpful Links

General Information

Alcoholics Anonymous - www.aa.org

American Council for Drug Education - www.datia.org/education/978-american-council-for-drug-educaiton-acde.html

Children of Alcoholics Foundation - www.coaf.org

National Association For Children Of Alcoholics (NACoA) - nacoa.org

Cocaine Anonymous - www.ca.org

DRUG HELP - drughelp.org

Marijuana Anonymous - www.marijuana-anonymous.org

National Institute on Drug Abuse -www.drugabuse.gov/drugpages

National Poison Control- 1-800-222-1222

Overeaters Anonymous - oa.org

Recovery Schools - recoveryschools.org

Sex, Etc - www.sexetc.org

Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse (AMERSA) -www.amersa.org

Center for Substance Abuse Treatment - https://www.samhsa.gov/about-us/who-we-are/offices-centers/csat

Drug Strategies - www.drugstrategies.org

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - www.samhsa.gov

National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information - http://healthliteracy.worlded.org/docs/culture/materials/orgs_015.html

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence - www.ncadd.org

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration - www.nhtsa.dot.gov

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - www.niaaa.nih.gov

National Institute on Drug Abuse - www.nida.nih.gov

Office of National Drug Control Policy - www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov

National Social Norms Resource Center - www.socialnorms.org

Washington State Alcohol/Drug Helpline - www.adhl.org

Prevention Links

Prevention professionals will find technical assistance at: www.theathenaforum.org

Prevention Works! Resource Kit: Substance Abuse and Other Problems

Center for Substance Abuse Prevention - https://recoverymonth.gov/organizations-programs/hhs-samhsa-center-substance-abuse-prevention-csap

Department of Education's Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention - www.campushealthandsafety.org/resources/resource_rws_225.html

Facts on Tap - www.factsontap.org

Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free www.alcoholfreechildren.org

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) "A Call to Action: Changing the Culture of Drinking at U.S. Colleges."www.wesleyan.edu/studentaffairs/wellbeing/aod/aod_reports/NIAAA_Call_to_Action_2002.pdf

Partnership for a Drug-Free America - www.drugfree.org

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - www.cdc.gov

A Substance Abuse Guide for Parents - www.drugrehab.com