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Clinical Presentations and Outreach

Helping Teens Make the Right Choices:  Substance Abuse Prevention Strategies for Parents

Clinical Presentation to Parents of middle and high school students -- St. John Vianney -- -- February 25 & 27, 2018.

(This presentation was similar to the Campolindo High School presentation on February 28th, 2011 -- but was updated and revised based on current research and reports.)

[Click on this LINK to access all of the files and information relevant to this presentation.]


Substance Abuse, Addiction, Treatment, & Recovery: A Journey to a New Life

Clinical Presentation to Parents and Teen Clients
Muir Wood Adolescent Treatment Center -- April 8, 2017; May 13, 2017; June 24, 2017; July 15, 2017, August 12, 2017, September 16, 2017, and October 28, 2017.


[Click on this LINK to access all of the files and information relevant to this presentation.]


Surrender, Solutions, & Recovery: A Journey to a New Way of Living

Clinical Presentation to Parents and Teen Clients
Muir Wood Adolescent Treatment Center -- February 28, 2015; April 11, 2015; July 11, 2015; August 29, 2015; October 3, 2015; November 14, 2015; January 9, 2016; February 13, 2016; March 26, 2016; May 7, 2016; June 18, 2016; July 23, 2016; October 15, 2016; November 16, 2016; January 14, 2017, and February 25, 2017.


[Click on this LINK to access all of the files and information relevant to this presentation.]



Tim Browne, Ph.D. -- Key Note Presentation

Information and Prevention Strategies for Parents Conceerned About Teen Substance Use, Abuse, and Dependency
Sponsored by the Ross Valley Healthy Community Collaborative (RVHCC)

[Click on this LINK to access all of the files and information relevant to this presentation.]


Helping Teens Pursue A Path of Recovery: Substance Use, Abuse, Dependency, Addiction, and Recovery

Clinical Presentation to Parents and Teen Clients
Muir Wood Adolescent Treatment Center -- June 28, 2014; August 16,2014; September 27, 2014; and November 8, 2014


[Click on this LINK to access all of the files and information relevant to this presentation.]


Helping Teens Make the Right Choices:  Substance Abuse Prevention Strategies for Parents

Clinical Presentation to Parents and Teen Clients
Muir Wood Adolescent Treatment Center -- October 5, 2013;  February 14, 2014; & May 10, 2014

(This presentation was similar to the Campolindo High School presentation on February 28th, 2011 -- but was updated and revised based on current research and reports.)

[Click on this LINK to access all of the files and information relevant to this presentation.]


Interviewed by a local community periodical for an article concerning the current prescription drug abuse epidemic both locally and nationally.

"The New Face of Addiction: Prescription Drug Abuse is Skyrocketing Among Teens in Our Community"  Diablo Magazine, March 2013.


Appearance as a Guest Expert on the Weekly Radio Broadcast of:
Childhood Matters -- Hosted by Rona Renner, R.N.
The Teen Brain
(Guest Hosted by Beth Samuels, MA)
 Released: September 11, 2011
Are you often baffled by the difference between the way adults and teens think? What's unique about the teen brain? Is it "wired for chaos?" Learn how understanding teenagers neurologically can make you a more effective and compassionate parent. Join Beth Samuelson, MA, founder of Student Organizational Services (SOS) and co-host of our special series, "Your Teen Matters", and her guests as they discuss how to make sense of the "teen brain."
Tim Browne, PhD, is a Clinical Psychologist with a private practice in Lafayette, CA.
Andrew J. Giammona, MD, practicing child and adolescent psychiatry at Children's Hospital and Research Center Oakland.
(To listen to a pod cast of this program and other programs in this series click

Presentation to the Parents of:
Campolindo High School Students -- February 28, 2011
Miramonte High School -- November 3, 2011
Mill Valley Middle School -- March 6, 2012
Helping Teens Make the Right Choices:  Substance Abuse Prevention Strategies for Parents
I.   Introduction
A.    Presenters, Goals of Workshop, Note cards and pencils, hand outs with URL’s.
II.   Facts and Statistics About Recent Teen Substance Abuse Trends
III.   Gate Way Drugs

A.  What defines a gateway drug?
1.   These drugs are usually more available to teens.

2.   The use of these drugs coincides with a higher likelihood that the teen will “graduate” to harder drugs.

B.  Old Gate Way drugs: Cigarettes, Marijuana, and some have said Alcohol. (The issue here is that, in many cases, alcohol can be the most difficult drug to acquire for teens.)
C.  A Current List of Gate Way Drugs: Cigarettes, Marijuana, Alcohol, and Inhalants. And, now, perhaps Presciption and over the counter drugs.
D.      Are gateway drugs less addictive or less dangerous?
1.    NO -- Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances there is (as addictive as opiates).
2.    More recently Inhalants -- Associated with brain damage (Especially with younger kids – issue of availability and lack of education.
E.      Marijuana – TODAY’S POTENT POT:
1.    Extremely HIGH THC levels compared to 10 years ago.
2.    Slow metabolism -- fat soluble, not water soluble.  Therefore THC is stored in the fatty tissues of the body -- one of the largest fat deposits in the body is the brain. 
3.    Medical problems: Extensive use can result in sperm, hormone and glandular imbalances, delayed puberty, and other growth problems. Habitual marijuana users are also susecptible to lung      disease, chronic bronchitis, and cancer.
4.    Habitual marijuana use has also been associated wih short-term memory problems.  These memory deficits do improve with sustained abstinence.
5.    Extensive use is also correlated with what is now known as the "amotivational syndrome" (a.k.a.,  couch potato).  This syndrome describes the potential for habitual marijuana users to lose interest in activities, goals, and aspirations which were once important to them.
6.    Paranoia.  And, in some cases, where the teen is sensitive to the effects, and/or in cases of extremely potent MJ – there can be a “kindling effect” which can lead to a psychotic episode or break.

7.    Now we have data that MJ is both psychologically and physically addicting:
a.    Persons who engage in prolonged marijuana abuse have been found to experience both an increased tolerance for the drug, as well as specific and debilitating withdrawal symptoms once they discontinue their use (i.e., irritability, depression, anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia).
b.    And like the pattern of withdrawal with other addictive drugs (i.e., nicotine), the user often attempts to do something to alleviate these lousy feelings associated with withdrawal. Usually this means smoking more MJ, or turning to another drug to relieve the withdrawal symptoms.
F.      Alcohol is extremely dangerous when abused.
(e.g., frequency of ER visits for high BAL and Alcohol poisoning, driving after drinking, riding with impaired drivers, exposure to dangerous situations, diseases, legal issues for teens).
1.       Kids who begin drinking alcohol before the age of fifteen are 5 TIMES more likely to become an alcoholic later in life!  
2.      Teens who drink are 22 TIMES more likely to use marijuana and 50 TIMES more likely to use cocaine!
3.       Alcohol kills 6.5 TIMES more kids than ALL other illicit drugs combined! 
4.      NINETY PERCENT of ALL teen drinking is binge drinking (defined as at least 5 drinks in a short period of time).
5.      By graduation from high school 66% of teens are “regular drinkers” and 40% can be classified as frequent binge drinkers.
IV.     Which drugs are considered “hard” drugs and why? Today, we need a new term since all drugs are hard or potentially dangerous.
►    Let's call these hard drugs “HARDER” drugs.
A.    “Harder” Drugs
1.   Hallucinogens (e.g., LSD (acid), Psilosybin Mushrooms, Mescaline, Peyote, Morning Glory seeds (LSA), Ibogaine, and more recently – salvia).
2.   Cocaine (e.g., crack, various combinations – with marijuana, heroin, etc.).
3.   “Designer” Drugs (e.g., Ecstasy, GHB, Rufinol, 2-CB, etc.)
4.   Amphetamines (e.g., Methamphetamine, Benzedrine, etc.).

5.   Opiates – prescribed and illicit (e.g., heroin, opium, morphine, Codeine, Dilaudid, Vicodin, Norco, Ocycontin, Darvon, Percocet, etc.).
6.   Barbiturates (e.g., Seconal, Phenobarbital, etc)

7.   Benzodiazepines -- usually anxiety meds (e.g., Valium, Ativan, Xanax, Klonpin, Librium, etc.)

8.   Non-Benzodiazepine Sedatives (e.g., Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata, etc.).
B.      Not all teens escalate their drug use from "Gate Way" drugs to “harder drugs”.
1.      Not everyone goes from gateway drugs to harder drugs -- Some start with harder drugs!

2.      Example of the Methamphetamine EPIDEMIC of the '90's and now we have the current  prescription drug EPIDEMIC.
V.      Recent Substance Abuse Trends for Teens
A.      Increase in both Marijuana and MDMA (Ecstasy -- aka MDMA, “Molly”, "Thiz") abuse despite past trends indicating a reduction in use of these drugs by teens.
B.      Dramatic increase in the use and abuse of “over the counter” and prescription and drugs by teens in past 3 to 5 years.
1.      Over the Counter Drug Abuse
a.   Abuse of over the counter cough syrup containing “DXM” or Dextromethorphan (i.e., Robitussin). Use of this drug has been called “Roboing” or “Robo Tripping”.

b.   Abuse of this drug results in a significant hallucinogenic or dissociative experience and can be associated with serious depression of central nervous system functioning (e.g., breathing).

c.   Abuse of over the counter cold or allergy medications (e.g., Sudafed, etc.).
C.      Prescription Drug Abuse by Teens – Anything they can acquire to alter their consciousness
1.   Abuse of Codeine and Promethazine cough syrups.   These cough syrups are often combined with soft drinks and candy (aka “Purple drank”, “Lean”) --popularized by a certain element of the “hip  hop” music culture. Very dangerous central nervous depressant – especially when combined with alcohol.
2.   Prescription stimulants (e.g., ADHD medications like Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall, Dexedrine etc.).
a.   Both of these drugs are very dangerous, especially when combined with alcohol as they can result in fatal respiratory depression.

3.   TWENTY PERCENT OF ALL Teens will abuse a prescription medication.
4.   Prescription Medications most often often abused –
a.      Rx Stimulants for ADHD or “Diet” pills (Ritalin, Adderell, etc)
b.      Anti-Anxiety meds – (Benzodiazepines like Valium, Ativan, Xanax, etc.) – (These drugs can be very dangerous to stop using abruptly if a person has built up a tolerance/dependence to these drugs due to the potential for life threatening seizures during the experience of withdrawal symptoms).
c.      Sleeping Pills (sedative hypnotics like Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata, etc).


5.      MORE Recent Trends of RX Abuse have Involved Abuse of Rx Opiate Pain Medications

a.   Hydrocodone – this synthetic opiate is usually combined with another non-opiate pain reliever like acetaminophen. (e.g., Vicodin, Percocet, etc.).

b.   Oxycontin – this medication is a time released hydrocodone derivative. Abusers of this substance will crush the pills into a powder form and then smoke or “snort” he powder, or combine the powder in a solution and inject it.
c.   Abuse of these prescription pain killers is very dangerous because they are often associated with accidental overdose, and can lead to rapid dependency and eventual heroin addiction.
VI.     Why do Teens Start Using Substances?

 Primary Factors Associated with Teen Use and Abuse of Substances:
►      Biggest reason for starting drug use reported by Teens is:
– Now a more important than Peer Pressure - acording to teens.
      Other important factors associated with teen substance use:

A.          Family History of Drug or Alcohol Problems
B.          Early Drug or Alcohol Use/Experimentation
C.          Perceived Risk of Negative Consequences
1.   Teens who perceive a greater risk of negative consequences are less likely to use substances.

D.      Perceived Social Approval

1.      Teens are more likely to use a substance if they perceive that it is socially approved.

E.      Perceived Availability
1.      Perceived availability is often associated with overall social approval, and so, a drug that’s readily available is considered socially acceptable and will likely increase in use.
D.      Emotional or Psychiatric Issues or Diagnoses

1.       Like: Depression, Bipolar DIsorder, Anxiety Disorders, Previous Trauma History, ADHD, significant loss of someone in the teen's life, etc.
E.      The Buffering Influence of Parental, School, and Community Involvement in the Teen’s Life

1.     Parental involvement plays a vital role in preventing teen substance abuse. 

Parents MUST understand that they are an integral and effective part of substance use prevention.
VII.         Substance Abuse Prevention:  Strategies for Parents of Teens
A.     National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH; 2009)
1.   Families, peers, schools, and communities are all key components in substance use prevention among youths.
a.   Recent  research has shown that:  Teens were less likely to use alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drugs when they reported:
1)   Their parents disapproved of substance use. And,
2)   Their parents were "Always" or "Sometimes" involved in some of their specifc day-to-day activities.
b.   The day to day activities which seemed to make a difference in the teen's decision to use tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drugs included:
(1) Letting the teen know they were proud of something they had done.

(2) Letting them know when they had done a good job.

(3) Requiring the teen to do chores around the house.

(4) Limiting the amount of time they watched TV.

(5) Providing help with homework, and

(6) Limiting their time out with friends on school nights.
 [From the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH, 2009)]
B.          Parenting Principles to Help Teens Remain Drug Free
1.   “Tune Into Your Teen”
a.   Spend time together.
b.   Talk openly and honestly (Tell your Teen if there is a history of addiction in either parent's family).
c.   Use positive communication skills especially during a conflict.
d.   Acknowledge the positive qualities and successes of your teenager.

2.      Guide Your Teen
a.   Set rules focusing on safety and providing guidance rather than using power or issuing punishment.
b.   Provide opportunities for “give and take” – but maintain the final say.
c.   Be firm and consistent, but NOT overly restrictive or intrusive.
d.   Set fixed “house rules” regarding “health and safety” first – then negotiate other rules.
e.   Be flexible – re-negotiate rules as teens show more responsibility and maturity.
f.     Be specific when it comes to rules about substance use. Tell your teens there are not permitted to use tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs.
g.   Don’t forget to address the rules associated with the use of over the counter or prescription drugs.

3.        Monitor Your Teen
a.   Make sure your teen knows that you will be monitoring them.
b.   Check in with other parents about your teen's plans or whereabouts.
c.   Initiate “surprise visits” if you suspect your child is being dishonest about where they say they are.
d.   Be respectful – Ask, don’t interrogate about activities and whereabouts.
e.   Standing rule of “no parents – then no party”.
f.     Involve yourself in your teen’s school and activities.
g.   Get to know other adults in your teen’s life.
h.   Use this network to “compare notes” about how your teen is doing.
i.     Check in with teens about their spending and where their money is going.
j.     Know your child’s friends, their friend’s siblings, and parents.
k.   Monitor your teen’s physical and mental health.
l.    Educate yourself regarding the signs of substance use and abuse. (A list of Signs and Symptoms of Teen Substance Abuse Can be Found HERE.)
m.  If there are SIGNIFINCANT signs or symptoms of actual use or abuse – the teen forfeits their right to privacy.
n.   When to Drug Test your Teen?
(1)   It is often wise to seek professional assessment as an adjunct to testing.

(2)   If testing is initiated and teen is positive, then a professional evaluation is critical.
(3)   Negative drug screens or no guarantees.
o.   If there are more than a few signs of substance abuse (i.e., more than 2 to 3 symptoms in each symptom category), then a professional evaluation for substance abuse and/or chemical dependency is critical.
(1)  Observe the teen's behavior, mood, and personality changes.

4.   Respect Your Teen
a.   Stay involved, but give your teen the privacy and space they need to be an individual (provided there are no signs of substance use).
b.   Encourage your teen to express their own ideas and opinions.
c.   Don’t be arbitrarily dismissive of your teen’s beliefs.  Instead, engage in healthy debate.
d.   Make time to listen and be responsive to your teen’s fears, feelings, and concerns.
e.   In disciplining your teen focus on the behavior or mistake, not on the teen. Parenting by shaming is very destructive.
f.     Don’t belittle your teen’s taste in dress or music.
g.   Appreciate and acknowledge your teens unique interests, skills, and strengths.

5.   Be A Good Role Model
a.   Don’t smoke or use illicit drugs yourself.
b.   Don’t allow your teen to drink or smoke in your home.
c.   Never provide alcohol to teenagers in your home.
d.   Don’t involve your teen in your use (i.e., asking them to get you a beer, a cigarette, or make you a drink).
e.   NEVER drink and drive.
f.     Enlist your family members and friends as positive role models for your teen.

(The above helpful guidelines for parents were taken from the publication, "Navigating the Teen Years: A  Parent's Handbook for Raising Healthy Teens".  A PDF version of this handbook can be found





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