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June 28, 2011

Helping Your Child Become a Responsible Citizen



  
From The Department of Education "No Child Left Behind"
All parents want their children to grow up to be good people and responsible citizens. Just as children must be taught to tie their shoes, read and write, and solve math problems, so too must they be guided to develop qualities of character that are valued by their families and the communities in which they live. 
The benefits of encouraging children's positive character development are enormous. Research has shown that children who grow up with strong, positive values are happier and perform better in school. They also are better able to balance their personal wants and needs against those of others and make positive contributions to society.
The No Child Left Behind Act is the national effort to improve education, recognized that building character and learning values are important components of a child's complete education. The following information is from Helping Your Child a series of publications for parents and families provided by the Department of Education.
Research indications that children take values seriously only when they see that the adults they respect act in accordance with those values. Although parents must be the ones to determine which values they want their children to develop, they need the help of the community, particularly the school, in reinforcing those values.
An Activity To Do With Your Child
Being a good person of good character often requires having patience and sticking to something.
What to Do:
1. Let your child see you practice patience when doing a new or difficult task or when facing life's everyday frustrations, such as heavy traffic.
2. Use a timer as you and your child work at a difficult task. For young children, start with a small increment of tine and build from there. This activity will build perseverance. 
3. Help your children learn how to set priorities. For example, your child can be taught to complete homework before watching television, or to finish chores before playing with friends.  
4. Make a game out of doing hard tasks. How many pieces of spilled popcorn can you and your child pickup? Who can break the record for washing the most windows (and washing them well of course)?
Working with Teachers and Schools
Here are some suggestions for ways that you can work with your child's teachers ad other school officials to make sure that everyone understands the basic values that you want your child to learn and put into practice.
1. Visit with your child's teachers early in the school year and discuss what type of person you want your child to become and what values are important to you.
2. If the school has a character education program, ask for a description of the curriculum and talk with other teachers on how you can emphasize the lessons at home. If the school does not have a character education program work with the school and the community to begin one.
3. Be alert and for and communicate with teachers when the school is giving your children conflicting messages about values. For example, some teachers may expect that a child come prepared to every class with all the materials needed for that day's work and others may allow the child to borrow from others and sit next to each other or sit in class without materials.
4. Work with other parents to help your child's school establish high standards for behavior during school and at event such as ball games and concerts. Help create a list of volunteers for supervising school activities or chaperoning field trips.
RESOURCES









June 24, 2011

Q&A About Marijuana 2

Continued Q&A about Marijuana Use provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and National Institutes on Health.

Q: How does marijuana affect the brain?
A: THC affects the nerve cells in the part of the brain where memories are formed. This makes it hard for the user to recall recent events (such as what happened a few minutes ago). It is hard to lean while high-a working short-term memory is required for learning and performing tasks that call for more than one or two steps. Among a group of long-time heavy marijuana users in Costa Rica, researchers found that the people had great trouble when asked to recall a short list of words (a standard test of memory). People in that study group also found it very hard to focus their attention on the tests given to them. As people age, they normally lose nerve cells in a region of the brain that is important for remembering events. Chronic exposure to THC may hasten the age-related loss of these nerve cells. In one study, researchers found that rats exposed to THC every 8 months (about 1/3 of their life span) showed a loss of brain cells comparable to rats that were twice their age. It is not known whether a similar effect occurs in human. Researchers are still learning about the many ways that marijuana could affect the brain. 

Q: Can the drug cause mental illness?
A: Scientists do not yet known whether the use of marijuana causes mental illness. Among the difficulties in this kind of research are determining whether drug use precedes or follows mental health problems; whether one causes the other; and/or whether both are due to factors such as genetics or environmental conditions. High doses of marijuana can induce psychosis (disturbed perceptions and thoughts), and marijuana use can worsen psychotic symptoms in people who have had schizophrenia. There is also evidence of increased rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thinking in chronic marijuana users. However, it is not yet clear whether marijuana is being used in an attempt to self-medicate an already present, but otherwise untreated, mental health problem or whether marijuana use leads to mental disorders (or both).


Q: Do marijuana users lose their motivation?
A: Some frequent, long-term marijuana users show signs of a lack of motivation (sometimes termed "amotivational syndrome"). Their problems include not caring about what happens in their lives, no desire to work regularly, fatigue, and a lack of concern about how they look. As a result of these symptoms, some users tend to perform poorly in school or at work. Scientist are still studying these problems.

Q: Can a person become addicted to marijuana?
A: Yes. Although not everyone who uses marijuana becomes addicted, when a user begins to seek out and take the drug compulsively, that person is said to be dependent on the drug or addicted to it. In 2004, more than 298,317 people entering drug treatment programs reported marijuana as their primary drug of abuse, showing they needed help to stop using. Some heavy users of marijuana show signs of withdrawal when they do not use the drug. They develop symptoms such as restlessness, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, weight loss, and shaky hands. According to one study, marijuana use by teens who have prior serious antisocial problems can quickly lead to dependence on the drug. That study also found that, for troubled teens using tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana, progression from their first use of marijuana to regular use was about as rapid as their progression to regular tobacco use and more rapid than the progression to regular use of alcohol. 

Q: What is "tolerance" for marijuana?
A: "Tolerance" means that the user needs increasingly larger doses of the drug to get the same desired results that he or she previously got from smaller amounts. Some frequent, heavy users of marijuana may develop tolerance for it.

Q: Are there treatments to help marijuana users?
A: Up until a few years ago, it was hard to find treatment programs specifically for marijuana users. Treatments for marijuana dependence were much the same as therapies for other drug abuse problems. These include behavioral therapies,  multi systemic therapy, individual and group counseling, and regular attendance at meeting of support group, such as Narcotics Anonymous. Recently, researchers have been testing different ways to attract marijuana users to treatment and help them abstain from drug use. There are currently no medications for treating marijuana dependence. Treatment programs focus on counseling and group support systems. From these studies, drug treatment professionals are learning which characteristics of users are predictors of success in treatment and which approaches to treatment can be most helpful. Further progress set up to help adolescents in particular. Some of these programs are in university research centers, where most of the young patients report marijuana as their drug of choice. Others are in independent adolescent treatment facilities. Family physicians can be a good source for information and help in dealing with adolescents' marijuana problems.

Q: Can marijuana be used as medicine?
A: There has been much debate in the media about the possible medical use of marijuana. Under U.S> law since 1970, marijuana had been a Schedule I controlled substance. This means that he drug, at least in its smoked form, had no commonly accepted medical use. In considering possible medical uses of marijuana, it is important to distinguish between whole marijuana and pure THC or other specific chemicals derived from cannabis. Whole marijuana contains hundreds of chemicals, some of which may be harmful to health. THC, manufactured into a pill that is taken by mouth, not smoked, can be used for treating the nausea and vomiting that go along with certain caner treatments and is available by prescription. Another chemical related to THC (nabilonecannabinoids) may have other medical used. According to scientists, more research needs to be done on marijuana's side effects and potential benefits before it can be recommended for medical use. However, because of the adverse effects of smoking marijuana, research on other cannabinoids appears more promising for the development of new medications.

Q: How can I prevent my child from getting involved with marijuana?
A: There is no magic bullet for preventing teen drug use. But parents can be influential by talking to their children about the dangers of using marijuana and other drugs. and by remaining actively engaged in their children's lives. Even after teens enter high school, parents can stay involved in schoolwork, recreation, and social activities with their children's friends. Research shows that appropriate parental monitoring can reduce future drug use, even among those adolescents who may be prone to marijuana use, such as those who are rebellious, cannot control their emotions, and experience internal distress. To address the issue of drug abuse in your area, it is important to get involved in drug abuse prevention programs in your community or your child's school. Find out what prevention programs you and your children can participate in together.


Resources: National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information: 1-800-729-6686. Visit NIDA's Web site at www.drugabuse.gov, www.marijuana-info.org, and www.teens.drugabuse.gov




Q & A About Marijuana: Talking to Your Teens About Drugs

All information is provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institutes of Health

Following a troubling increase in marijuana abuse in the 1900s among U.S.  teens,recent finding have shown more encouraging trends. For example, part-year use has fallen significantly among students in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades since 2001:it has dropped by 24% among 8th-graders,23% among 10th-graders,and 15% among 12th-graders.Perceived risk of harm from smoking marijuana regularly remained stable for all three grades from 2005-2006 and perceived availability of marijuana fell significantly among 10th-graders , from 72.6% in 2005 to 70.7% in 2006. Even with these encouraging trends,marijuana is still the illegal drug most often abused in the United States. Its continued high prevalence rate,particularly among teens, indicates that we still have a long way to go. In addition, because many parents of present-day teens used marijuana when they were in college, they often find it difficult to talk about marijuana with their children and to set strict ground rules against it. This conversation must begin early, as marijuana use today often starts at a young age-with more potent forms of the drug now available to these children and adolescents. Parents need to recognize that marijuana use is a serious threat, and they need to tell their children not to use it. 

Q: What is marijuana? Are there different kinds?
A: Marijuana is a green, brown, or gray mixture of dried shredded leaves, stems, seeds and flowers of the hemp plant. It is the most often used illegal drug in the United States. Cannabis is a term that refers to marijuana and other drugs made from the same plant. Strong forms of cannabis include sinsemilla, hashish and hash oil. All forms of cannabis are mind-altering drugs; they all contain THC (delta-9-tetrahyfrocannabinol), the main active chemical in marijuana. They also contain more than 400 other chemicals. 

Q: What are the current slang terms for marijuana?
A: There are many different names for marijuana. Slang terms for drugs change quickly and they vary from on part of the country to another. Terms from years ago, such as pot, herb, grass, week, Mary Jane and reefer are still used. You might also hear names like Aunt Mary, skunk, boom, gangster, kif, or ganja. There are also street name for different strains or "brands" of marijuana such as "Texas tea," "Maui wowie," and "chronic." 

Q: How is Marijuana used?
A: Most users roll loose marijuana into a cigarette called a joint or smoke it in a pipe or a water pipe, sometimes referred to as a bong. Some users mix marijuana into foods or use it to brew tea. Another method is to slice open a cigar and replace the tobacco with marijuana, making what's called a blunt. Joints or blunts sometimes include other substances as well, including crack cocaine called "primos" or "woolies." Joints and blunts sometimes are dipped in PCP and are called "happy sticks," "wicky sticks," "love boat," "dust," "wets," or "tical."
Q: How many people smoke marijuana? At what age do children generally start?
A: A recent government study tells us that marijuana is the most frequently used illegal drug in the U.S. Nearly 98 million Americans over the age of 12 have tried marijuana at least once. Over 14 million had used the drug in the month before the survey.  The Monitoring the Future Survey, which is conducted yearly, included students from 8th, 10th, and 12th grades. In 2006, the survey found that 15.7% of 8th-graders have tried marijuana at least once, and among 10th-graders, 14.2%  were "current" users (in the past month). Among 12th-graders, 42.3% have tried marijuana at least once and about 18% were current users. Other researchers have found that the use of marijuana and other drugs usually peaks in the late teens and early twenties, then declines in late years.

Q: How can I tell if my child has been using marijuana?
A: there are some signs you might be able to see. If someone is high on marijuana, he or she might seem dizzy and have trouble walking, seem silly and giggly for no reason, have very red, bloodshot eyes and have a hard time remembering things that just happened. the user than can become very sleepy. Parents should look for withdrawal, depression, fatigue, carelessness with grooming, hostility and deteriorating relationships with family members and friends. Also, changes in academic performance, increased absenteeism or truancy, lost interest in sports or other favorite activities and chances in eating or sleeping habits could be related to drug use. In addition parents should be aware of signs of drugs and drug paraphernalia, including pipes and rolling papers, odor on clothes and in the bedroom, use of incense and other deodorizers, use of eye drops and clothing, posters, jewelry, etc. promoting drug use.

Q: why do young people use marijuana?
A: Children and young teen start using marijuana for many reasons. Curiosity and the desire to fit into a social group are common reasons. Certainly, youngsters who have already begun to smoke cigarettes and/or use alcohol are at high risk

Q:  Does using Marijuana lead to other drugs?
A: Long-term studies of high school students and their patterns of drug use show that very few young people use other drugs without trying marijuana, alcohol, or tobacco. Though few young people use cocaine, for example, the risk of doing so is much greater for youth who have tried marijuana than for those who have never tried it. Although research has not fully explained this association, growing evidence suggests a combination of biological, social, and psychological factors is involved.

Q: What are the effects of marijuana?
A: The effects of marijuana on each person depend on the type of cannabis and how much THC it contains, the way the drug is taken, the setting where the drug is used and the use of other drugs and/or alcohol. Some people feel nothing at all when they first try marijuana. Others may feel high (intoxicated and/or euphoric). It is common for marijuana users to become engrossed with ordinary sights, sounds or tastes and trivial events may seem extremely interesting or funny. Time seems to pass very slowly so minutes feel like hours. Sometime the drug causes users to feel thirsty and very hungry-an effect called "the munchies."

Q: What happens after a person smokes marijuana?
A: Within a few minutes of inhaling marijuana smoke, the user will likely feel, along with intoxication, a dry mouth, rapid heartbeat, some loss of coordination and balance, and a slower than normal reaction time. Blood vessels in the eye expand, so the user's eyes look red. For some people, marijuana raises blood pressure slightly and can double the normal heart rate. This effect can be greater when other drugs are mixed with marijuana, but users do not always know when that happens. as the immediate effects fade, usually after 2 to 3 hours, the user may become sleepy. 

Q: How long does marijuana stay in the user's body?
A: THC in marijuana is readily absorbed by fatty tissues in various organs. Generally, traces of THC can be detected by standard urine testing methods several days after a smoking session. In heavy, chronic users, however traces can sometime be detected for weeks after they have stopped using marijuana.

Q: can a user have a bad reaction?
A: Yes. Some users, especially those who are new to the drug or in a strange setting, may suffer acute anxiety and have paranoid thoughts. This is more likely to happen with high doses of THC.These scary feeling will fade as the drug's effects wear off. In rare cases, a user who has taken a very high dose of the drug can have severe psychotic symptoms and need emergency medical treatment. Other kinds of bad reactions can occur when marijuana is mixed with other drugs like PCP or cocaine.

Q: How is marijuana harmful?
A: marijuana can be harmful in a number of ways, through immediate effects and through damage to health over time. Marijuana hiders the user's short-term memory and he or she may have troubling handling complex  tasks. With the use of more potent varieties of marijuana, even simple tasks can be difficult. Because of the drug's effects on perceptions and reaction time, users could be involved in auto crashes. Drug users also may become involved in risky sexual behaviors, which could lead to the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Under the influence of marijuana, students may find it hard to study and learn. Young athletes could find their performance is off, timing, movements and coordination are all affected by THC.

Q: How does marijuana affect driving?
A: Marijuana affects many skills required for safe driving: alertness, concentration, coordination, and reaction time. Marijuana use can make it difficult to judge distances and react to signals and sounds on the road. Studies have shown  that approximately 4-14% of drivers who sustained injury or died in traffic accidents tested positive for THC. In many cases, alcohol was detected as well. When users combine marijuana with alcohol, as they often do, hazards of driving can be more severe than with either drug alone. In a study conducted by the national Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a moderate dose of marijuana alone was shown to impair driving performance; however the effects of even a low dose of marijuana combined with alcohol were markedly greater than those of either drug alone. In one study conducted in Memphis, Tennessee, researchers found that 150 reckless drivers who were tested for drugs at the arrest scene, 33% tested positive for marijuana and 12% tested positive for both marijuana and cocaine. Data also show that whole smoking marijuana, people display the same lack of coordination on standard  "drunk driver" tests as do people who have had too much to drink.

Q: What are the long-tern effects of marijuana?
A: A group of scientists in California examined the health status of 450 daily smokers of marijuana, but not tobacco. They found that the marijuana smokers had more sick days and more doctor visits for respiratory problems and other types of illness than did a similar group who did not smoke either substance. Finding so far show that the regular use of marijuana may play a role in cancer and problems of the immune and respiratory systems. 

Cancer
It is hard to find out whether marijuana alone causes cancer, because many people who smoke marijuana also smoke cigarettes and use other drugs. Marijuana smoke contains some of the same cancer-causing compounds as tobacco, sometimes in higher concentrations. Studies show that someone who smokes five joints per day may be taking in as much cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes every day. Tobacco smoke and marijuana smoke may work together to change the tissues lining the respiratory tract. Marijuana smoking could contribute to early development of head and neck cancer in some people.

Immune system
It is not certain whether marijuana damages the immune system of people. But both animal and human studies have shown that marijuana impairs the ability of T-cells in the lungs' immune system to fight off some infections.

Lungs and airways
People who smoke marijuana regularly may develop many of the same breathing problems that tobacco users have, , such as a daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent chest colds, a heightened risk of lung infection, and a greater tendency toward obstructed airways. marijuana smokers usually inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer, which increases the lungs' exposure to toxic chemicals and irritants.

Q: What about pregnancy? Will smoking marijuana hurt the baby?
A: Doctors advise pregnant women not to use any drugs because they may harm the growing fetus. Although one animal study has linked marijuana to loss of the fetus very early in pregnancy, two studies in humans found no association between marijuana use and early pregnancy loss. More research is necessary to fully understand the effects of marijuana use on pregnancy outcome. Some scientific studies have found that babies born to women who used marijuana during pregnancy display altered responses to visual stimulation, increased tremors, and a high-pitched cry, which may indicate problems with nervous system development. During preschool and early school years, marijuana-exposed children have been reported to have more behavioral problems and difficulties with sustained attention and memory than non exposed children. Researchers are not certain whether any effects of maternal marijuana use during pregnancy persist as the child grows up; however, because some parts of the brain continue to develop into adolescence, it is also possible that certain kinds of problems will become more evident as the child matures.

Q: What happens if a nursing mother uses marijuana?
A: When a nursing mother uses marijuana, some of the THC is passed to the baby through breast milk. This is a matter for concern, because the THC in the mother's milk is much more concentrated than that in the mother's blood. One study has shown that the use of marijuana by a mother during the first month of breastfeeding can impair the infant's motor development. This work has not been replicated, although similar anecdotal reports exist. Further research is needed to determine whether THC transmitted in breast milk has harmful effects on development.


Divorce and mentally Ill Spouses

Having a mentally ill spouse is certainly a challenging position to be in. There are some husband's/wives who may feel divorce is the only option they have.  The author gives some suggestions on how you may want to address this challenge. more

Eating Disorders May Raise Risk of Depression in Pregnancy

Aside from medical concerns, mental health issues need to addressed during pregnancy. more

June 23, 2011

High Wired: Does Addictive Internet Use Restructure the Brain?

Kids spend an increasing fraction of their formative years online, and it is a habit they dutifully carry into adulthood. Under the right circumstances, however, a love affair with the Internet may spiral out of control and even become an addiction.more

Sibling Rivalry

There are very few parents who have not experienced some sort of sibling rivalry amongst their children.  In fact, developmentally, it is normal. Children learn problem solving, compromise, and sharing by working out differences with one another.  However, for some families, rivalries could become problematic and even dangerous. Factors that may impact the intensity, frequency, and duration of these arguments include: individual personalities, age of children, parental role and role modeling, family stress, constructive/productive free time, and family dynamics.

Children are more likely to get themselves in trouble when they are bored or hungry. Since most children may not be able to express themselves, or at certain ages have good insight into their own self awareness, they may act out on their feelings.  Certain children may not have the disposition to watch or be watched by an older sibling in general, or a sibling in particular. Their personalities just may not click, especially if there is an age difference. Older teens are more interested in being with peers and as a rule spend less time with family. Children may also put or be put in a position of authority, without the ability to carry through consequences as a parent would.
   
If there is a special needs child, a sibling may be ill equipped to handle disciplinary issues. Also, parents who resolve their own differences through yelling or screaming, are teaching their children to work through their problems the same way. Family stressors such as divorce, relocation, and illness will also impact sibling relationships. Children may act out on their stress rather than verbalizing or trying to work through these issues. If parents are experiencing stress, this may take away their time and ability to address issues as well with their children.  Oftentimes, rivalries are intensified by competition for parental attention.

A parents role is to help children learn the skills to work through these issues. Important problem solving skills could be developed by encouraging children to compromise or negotiate agreements with one another. Not all issues between siblings can be resolved at any given moment. Children who have had much discord at earlier ages, become good friends later in life. Parents can help their families through this time by:

● Making sure you treat each child fairly and consistently
● Be proactive: determine times and places these rivalries play out and plan for it.
● Be consistent with nap times and snacks
● Set times up parent times for each child if possible.
● Pay attention to conflicts and make sure children are heard.  Being heard does not mean agreeing but acknowledging their point of view.
● Present it as a family goal to get along better with one another better. If consequences and incentives are laid out, children may be more invested in changing their behavior.
● Set clear ground rules and consistently follow through with consequences..
If the family is going through stress, talk about it and normalize it. Offer your children ● an opportunity to express themselves.
● Monitor your own response to conflict and how kids may learn from this.

Reducing Anxiety Without Medication (ADD/ADHD)

For those of us with attention deficit hyperactivity (ADD/ADHD), a little worry can quickly escalate to full-blown anxiety. When stress levels rise, we procrastinate, which only exacerbates ADD?ADHD symptoms. We become more forgetful, disorganized, and distracted. Amy, a working mother diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, is a worrier. As a freelance event planner, she uses her inclination to worry to anticipate problems that might ruin an event. She is successful, in part, because of it. At home, though, Amy can’t turn off the worry switch. More

June 22, 2011

Tips For Brain Boosting

Need to learn a lot of material fast and perform well when it counts? Two new studies suggest easy ways to speed up learning and ease anxiety before a test.more

Male Unemployment Increases risk of Divorce.

A new study on employment and divorce reviews how the changing role of men and women in the workforce appears to influence divorce rates. more

Adult ADHD and Relationships

When ADHD Adult Symptoms Get in the Way: Relationship Problems and Solutions. 

ADHD marriage expert Melissa Orlov explains the 9 ways symptoms can cause marriage or dating issues -- and offers advice on how couples can cope with adult ADD symptoms and treatments. more

June 21, 2011

Illinois Health Calendar

"Skunk Cannabis" Use increases risk of Psychosis.

Growing numbers of people in the South East are using a form of cannabis believed to put users more at risk of psychosis than other forms of the drug  more

Developing Your Arsenal Against Your Automatic Negative Thoughts


1.    Identify dysfunctional beliefs.

2.    Cultivate cognitive counter attacks against dysfunctional beliefs.

3.    List active alternate behaviors.

4.    Learn to predict situations that trigger unhelpful beliefs.

5.    Plan for stress and distress.  It is a normal part of life.

6.    Avoid old behaviors that don’t work, e.g. compulsive eating, whining,
    avoiding, procrastinating, etc.

7.    Expect to have to use outside aid and to take time to learn new
    behaviors.

Social Skills for Special Needs Children

June 17, 2011

Televison Watching and Disease.

A sedentary lifestyle increases likelihood of health problems.....more 

New research information on causes of autism.

Autism's Tangled Genetics Full of Rare and Varied Mutations

Several new studies highlight the complexity of autism's genetic roots, revealing why it strikes boys more than girls and offering clues for possible new treatments

Decision Making



Unavoidably  we are faced with major obstacles in life.  These obstacles could take form in relationships, employment, or other areas. Decisions need to be made regarding what course of action needs to be taken. We invest a great deal of time and energy in trying to make these situations fit the conclusion we want them to.  The end result that we desire may not be realistic or achievable. The investment in time and energy in cases such as this, could be better used in working towards a different focus.  Below are three choices we have in addressing these obstacles.  It is important that you understand  these three options are choices you have.  Which one you choose is ultimately your decision.  Realizing that there is more than one option is helpful for most people who feel “stuck”.

Change:   The situation in which you currently find yourself is uncomfortable and you desire to change it. There is some ability to alter the situation.  The party(s) involved are willing to negotiate or compromise a solution to the problem. This does not mean that other party has to do all of the changing. It just means that there is a possibility of change.  Situations that would fall under this would include: a spouse that would be willing to cut back or eliminate his\her drinking, a supervisor who may be willing to adjust his\her attitude towards you, or a family member who would be willing to stop being critical. Your time and energy is invested towards changing the situation so it can be more tolerable.  Compromise is included in this area
.
Adjust:   The situation in which you currently find yourself in could not be modified. The individual or situation involved  is not open or willing to change.  You accept the limitations of the obstacle and choose to direct your time and energy into adjusting to an uncomfortable and unchangeable situation.  The adjustment comes in knowing you can’t change the situation and accept your limitations.  This also means that for whatever reasons, you are choosing not to leave.  These reasons could be based on financial, emotional, or other reasons.  This does not mean you condone what is going on but just accept you can’t change it nor are you ready to leave.  Situations that would fall under this include: a spouse who most likely will  not stop drinking, an inflexible supervisor or work situation, or a family member who refused to stop being critical.  By choosing to focus in on this area , you have decided that you can endure this situation and you are not compromising your values.


Leave: The situation in which you currently find yourself in is unacceptable.  You realize that by staying in this situation, it is going to be too uncomfortable for you.  The situation will most likely not change and it would be too difficult for you to stay. Your energy is best utilized towards a transition and leaving rather than adjusting or trying to change it.  Examples include: a boyfriend\girlfriend that is physically abusive or a job that has no future.














Remember, there are always choices. There may not be a lot or the greatest choices, but they are choices nonetheless. 






June 15, 2011

What Type of Family Treatment is Available for Anger Management for a Teenager?

Mark Myers Expert Answer to: What Type of Family Treatment is Available for Anger Management for a Teenager?  More

360 Degree Feedback Evaluation (Article)

Want to make people happy? Make people sad? Care to create an uproar in your organization that rivals in ferocity any change you’ve ever introduced in your history? Want to stir up all of the dormant fearballs hidden just below the surface in your organization? I know; you think I’m talking about laying off half your staff. Right?Wrong. I am talking about organizations that do a poor job of introducing and implementing 360 degree, or multirater, feedback. Indeed, I’m also talking about organizations that do a good job of introducing 360 degree feedback. Nothing raises hackles as fiercely as a change in performance feedback methods, especially when they affect compensation decisions.more

June 13, 2011

Job Stress

Warning Signs of Job Stress.

Relapse Versus Return to Use

USING EPISODE

A using episode (either drug or alcohol) could be defined as either a relapse or return to use.  For the individual, it is possible that at some point they may move from one to another.  What helps distinguish the difference is prior to the using episode is how would they categorize themselves(relapse or return to use), and how they view the using episode after the fact.  It is common for a person to start building up to a change in commitment about being abstinent. For example, a week prior to use they are committed to avoiding use.  However, through a series of events, they change their commitment and use.  There are some areas listed below to help distinguish where a person may currently be in regards to abstaining from drug and alcohol use.

RELAPSE

Thoughts: “ I don’t want to use,” “I want to stop” “ my use is a problem,”  

Behaviors: Making an active commitment to avoid use, conscious of using situations.   

Motivation: High.  Does not want to use.

Attitude after use: “ I was making an effort to stop and messed up, “ I did not anticipate problems.”

Emotions after use: Feel guilty


DECISION TO USE

Thoughts: “Using is no problem,” I want to cut back but not stop,” “it is okay to use every now and then,” “my use is not a problem.”

Behaviors: No changes from when first using, actions geared more toward hiding use then stopping use.

Motivation: Low.

Attitude after use: “I got caught,” “ No big deal.”

Emotions after use: Irritated. Awkward

When an using episode occurs, it is important to evaluate where you see yourself. If you view yourself presently as seeing the episode as a relapse, effort would need to be focused on relapse prevention.  If you see yourself in the decision to use column, effort would be used to reexamining the costs and benefits to use, including what brought you into therapy in the first place.    

June 11, 2011

10 Things to do with Your Children this Summer

Summer is a wonderful time for families and kids to recharge from what could have been a stressful if not busy school year.  It is not uncommon for a parent to hear at some point during the summer...”I’m bored.”  When kids have too much down time that creates challenges for the family. The important idea to keep in mind is balancing between down time and creating opportunities for your children to remain active, both physically and intellectually.


 
1. Plan a vacation together

2. Plan a stay vacation together

3. For younger kids pick a theme for the day and have activity around it.

4. Volunteer for a day.... park district, hospital, or library

5. Pick a meal of the week. Shop for it and promote it as a big deal.

6. Plan a big kid party.  If you have more than one child switch off.

7. Plant a garden

8. Camp out in your backyard

9. Visit a local museum

10. Join a summer reading program or go to the library

June 7, 2011

Myers Counseling Group Summer 2011 Group Schedule

Greetings!
Myers Counseling Group wishes you warm summer greetings.  We are pleased to announce our Summer 2011 Group schedule and some new features on our website.  Myers Counseling Group have included that information in this update.  If you have any questions about our groups or general information, please contact: Mark Myers (815) 308-3368 or markm@myerscounseling.com.

Children's Therapy Group
Children's Therapy Groups are available for children ages 4-7, 8-10, and 11-13 with ADHD, behavioral, emotional, developmental, or situational challenges. It is an 8-week group focusing on improving social skills, coping strategies, and problem-solving skills.  The group uses engaging activities to teach new skills each week with complementary activities to practice at home, in community and school settings. It is our goal to facilitate the use of new skills beyond the group experience. The group will be starting Thursday June 23rd, 6 p.m. to 6:50 p.m. and runs for eight consecutive Thursdays.  The cost of the group is $35 per group.  Insurance, in most cases, could cover this. Contact Mark Myers at (815) 308-3368 ext. 100 or markm@myerscounseling.com


Anger Management Group for Adults
Anger Management Groups are available for adults. This 8-week group covers how and why we become angry and what can be done to manage ourselves in a more effective manner. Stress management, communication skills, and understanding anger triggers are included to help participants develop life-long strategies for anger management. Group activities focus on issues that are appropriate to issues members may be struggling with.  The group will be starting Saturday, June 25th, 9 a.m. to 9:50 a.m. and runs for eight consecutive Saturdays.  The cost of the group is $35 per group. Insurance, in most cases, could cover this. Contact Mark Myers at (815)308-3368 ext. 100 or markm@myerscounseling.com.


June 2, 2011

Establishing Goals for Substance Abuse Treatment

Individuals who verbalize a commitment to abstaining from substance use or who enter therapy for drugs or alcohol, may not always be committed to the same goals for therapy as significant others who want him\her in treatment. I have worked in the chemical dependency field for over 25 years and believe it is important to understand someone’s motivation level when addressing this issue. A person may believe they could control or manage their drinking. Family members/significant others could be under the impression that goal is not realistic. Or a person may not believe their use is a problem and are entering treatment to appease others. This presents a conflict in treatment goals between client (person entering treatment) and others.

A therapist’s role is to help the client clarify goals in treatment. It is important to have mutually understood goals. If, as a therapist, I am presenting tools more consistent with someone who has a goal of complete abstinence, and this individual is not committed to stopping use all together, therapy will not be successful. The first step in the therapeutic process is endeavoring to be on the same page with the client. A helpful tool I use is the motivational wheel.

Once goals are established, we come up with tasks that will help meet these goals. If a person uses substances when his/her goals are abstinence we go over the motivational wheel again. We establish if the use was: a lapse (goal was abstinence but had a slip) or decision to use (goal was not to stop and decided to use). If it is determined to be a lapse, we examine goals and determine what areas may need further focus. Lapses are not uncommon in recovery and may actually help develop focus and commitment to stopping use. If the client made a decision to use, I will explore what may have changed from the initially stated goals.

Recovery is not a event, but a journey. Each person may carve their own individual
path. It may entail some slips or challenges along the way. For some it may take longer to reach this goal than others. What is essential in therapy is that goals in treatment are agreed upon, realistic, clear, and obtainable. If a person is not committed to stopping all together, my role will be to establish safe guidelines in exploring the costs to use and impact on one’s life.

Adolescent Anger

During adolescents, individuals are struggling with many developmental, social, emotional, and physical challenges. Peer relations, body image, hormonal changes, sense of identity, and independence issues are to name a few. Most adolescents are able to work through this time with very little difficulties. Others may have a more difficult time negotiating their way through this time. Youths are not always directly expressive of their feelings, trust an adult enough to confide in them, or be able to articulate their emotions themselves as to what is going on.

The emotions this age group is addressing may come out more in their behavior rather than through expressing them. A youth may not verbalize depressed feelings but act depressed. External events(victim of bullying, breakups in relationship) could also be a factor in this behavior. Often, the way they express their emotion is by anger. Anger may not be intentional but more of an expression of them struggling with an emotion or event. An adult’s job is to decipher behavior and help youths manage and express their feelings in appropriate ways.

The first goal is to determine if there is a benefit to their anger. For example, a youth who gets angry every time a parent requests them to do some chores or asks where they are going, may be shaping their parents behavior into not asking these questions for fear of an angry response. The parent may back off for fear of an outburst.

Even if the anger is not serving a function of avoiding accountability for the youth, it is important that this emotion be addressed to help the adolescent learn to adapt to societal expectations. Parents’ will only reinforce this behavior if they do not address the behavior. If a child appears concerned about his anger outbursts, they will need to improve on their problem solving skills, triggers to anger, self talk, and relaxation skills

School Refusal

It is not unusual for a child to wake up on a Monday morning and complain about having to go to school. Most school age children when given the choice of fun (weekend) or learning (school), will choose fun. However, when this argument becomes intense, persistent, and frequent, we have a behavior that is described as school refusal. School refusal is when a child refuses to go to school, is frequently unable to stay in school for the whole day, or goes to school and leaves or needs to be taken home. These complaints could be direct, through verbalizing not wanting to go to school, or indirect such as physical complaints. The most frequent age we see this occur is between eight and thirteen years of age. However, any school age child could experience it.

When a child refuses or resists going to school, one of the first tasks we need to examine is the reason why he/she may be resistant. We need to rule out confirmable physical illness and mental health issues (i.e. depression). If those do not appear to be a reason, we can look at other areas. This would include peer group (encouraging to ditch school), drug/alcohol involvement, grades, choosing to do more fun things during the day, or worries/fears. A child may be resisting or refusing to go to school because they are afraid. The fear could derive from several areas: fear of a person (bullying for instance) , fear of leaving someone (separation anxiety), fear of situations (being around other people), or fear of an event (speaking in front of class).

Age, peer group, and history of the child are necessary information in determining motivation. Family history or events could also play a factor. If there is turmoil/conflict at home, this could impact on a child’s emotional stability. If there is a family history of anxiety, this may make the child more likely to have anxiety themselves.

Regardless of the reason, it is important to remember that the longer you wait to address these concerns, the more difficult it will be to get your child out of these thinking and behavior patterns. Whether their fears are real or imagined, there is a strong likelihood a pattern of feeling (somatic and emotional) and behaviors will solidify themselves. This pattern, the longer it goes on, the more challenging it becomes to undo. It is usually extremely important to involve school personnel in addressing school refusal concerns. They will be your biggest allies in overcoming this issue. If the school refusal persists, it is important to seek out professional help. A plan of action and working with support systems available are important steps to take.

Common Responses to Trauma

People reacting to losses or trauma tend to go through a set of ‘stages of grief’ which would include denial, outrage/anger, working through, and resolution. These stages don’t always occur in this order, and may happen at different time intervals. We briefly describe these stages:

Denial: You can’t believe that this is happening, it seems unreal, like a dream. The impact of the event has not been fully absorbed.

Outrage/Anger
: You are furious outraged at the event. You are hurt and may find yourself crying. You are sad and angry. You feel vulnerable and are looking at someone or something at which to direct your anger.

Working Through
: This happens over time. It is the process of sorting feelings out so we can return to ‘normal’. Many different feelings may still be surfacing but there is more of a stabilization of emotions.

Resolution
: This is a relative term. This does not imply that people will get over or forget about these events. What it means is that they will have worked their way into more of a regular routine.

Some Symptoms of Trauma Difficulties

The intensity and reaction to these events may vary from person to person. Individuals may be more affected by this event than others. Below, we move listed some symptoms individuals may experience. To some degree, most of us will experience these symptoms. However should a person become ‘stuck’ in these reactions or they interfere with daily life activities. In some extreme cases, these symptoms last several months after the incident.

Physical Reactions
: sleep difficulties, fatigue, headaches, muscle pains, change of appetite, dizziness, rapid heart beat, and forgetfulness.

Emotional Reactions
: Anxiety, feeling vulnerable, anger, easily startled, flashbacks or reliving the event, low motivation, fearful, feeling jumpy, and feeling on edge.

Other responses: nervousness, isolating, preoccupation with event, problems at work, irritability, increased conflicts with others, and moodiness.

Coping Strategies

• Encourage but do not force talking. With the intense focus on this issue, we may need our periodic breaks from this. By forcing the issue, it may increase the likelihood of feeling overwhelmed about this incident. We should all set our own comfortable pace in discussing this issue.

• Combat the feeling of helplessness by volunteering to help victims. Call 1-800- GIVE-LIFE (1-800-448-3543). Talk to others who are willing to talk about it.

• Keep regular routines as much as possible.

• Maintain nutrition and good eating habits.

• Exercise regularly.

• Sustain good sleep habits.

If you are having continued difficulties with this event, it would be a good idea to talk with your therapist about it. He\she may be ale to give you additional support or ideas to cope with this. As the healing process continues, it is important that we support each other through this traumatic event

Decision Making

Unavoidably we are faced with major obstacles in life. These obstacles could take form in relationships, employment, or other areas. Decisions need to be made regarding what course of action needs to be taken. We invest a great deal of time and energy in trying to make these situations fit the conclusion we want them to. The end result that we desire may not be realistic or achievable. The investment in time and energy in cases such as this, could be better used in working towards a different focus. Below are three choices we have in addressing these obstacles. It is important that you understand these three options are choices you have. Which one you choose is ultimately your decision. Realizing that there is more than one option is helpful for most people who feel “stuck”.

Change: The situation in which you currently find yourself is uncomfortable and you desire to change it. There is some ability to alter the situation. The party(s) involved are willing to negotiate or compromise a solution to the problem. This does not mean that other party has to do all of the changing. It just means that there is a possibility of change. Situations that would fall under this would include: a spouse that would be willing to cut back or eliminate his\her drinking, a supervisor who may be willing to adjust his\her attitude towards you, or a family member who would be willing to stop being critical. Your time and energy is invested towards changing the situation so it can be more tolerable. Compromise is included in this area.

Adjust: The situation in which you currently find yourself in could not be modified. The individual or situation involved is not open or willing to change. You accept the limitations of the obstacle and choose to direct your time and energy into adjusting to an uncomfortable and unchangeable situation. The adjustment comes in knowing you can’t change the situation and accept your limitations. This also means that for whatever reasons, you are choosing not to leave. These reasons could be based on financial, emotional, or other reasons. This does not mean you condone what is going on but just accept you can’t change it nor are you ready to leave. Situations that would fall under this include: a spouse who most likely will not stop drinking, an inflexible supervisor or work situation, or a family member who refused to stop being critical. By choosing to focus in on this area , you have decided that you can endure this situation and you are not compromising your values.

Leave: The situation in which you currently find yourself in is unacceptable. You realize that by staying in this situation, it is going to be too uncomfortable for you. The situation will most likely not change and it would be too difficult for you to stay . Your energy is best utilized towards a transition and leaving rather than adjusting or trying to change it. Examples include: a boyfriend\girlfriend that is physically abusive or a job that has no future.

It is helpful to understand that if you commit to one of these directions, to realize the behavior that would accompany this decision. The behavior to prepare for comes from both you and the other party need to be consistent with the direction you choose. If you are putting your energy into adjusting to an alcoholic spouse(not wanting to leave the relationship and identifying change may not in the near future), yelling at him\ her, would be inconsistent with the decision you choose. Same could be said of deciding to complain to a boss about a performance evaluation you were rated poorly on, after deciding to take another job. Expecting certain behavior that is inconsistent with where you emotionally committed, could lead to confusion and additional stress.

Legal But Not Safe: K2

Some individuals have gone to great lengths to experience altered states or “highs.” When we think of getting high, the images that comes to most peoples mind is illegal drugs or alcohol. That is not always the case. There are legal or easily accessible items that could be used to induce a high. The methods used may include inhaling household products, inhaling gasoline, abusing prescription and over the counter medication, and various products advertised at Head Shops (local retail shops that specialize in drug paraphernalia related to consumption of cannabis and other recreational drugs).

If a product is legal, it may not mean it is safe. A new trend is synthetic marijuana, K2, Spice, or fake weed. It looks similar to marijuana and individuals who use it would not come up positive on hair analysis or urinalysis. This product can be legally obtained over the Internet, Head Shops, or even gas stations. It was first introduced around 1990 but in the last few years has become more popular. The ingredients include a chemical made to mimic THC (the main chemical in marijuana that produces the high). The producers of this imply in their advertisements the drug is organic but that is not the case. The component that produces the high is made in a laboratory.

Due to it’s relative newness, there is not a lot of data out on the long term effects it produces. We do know that some studies indicate the high is similar to that of marijuana but may not have the long term effects of a marijuana high. Some of the side effects may include feelings of paranoia, anxiety, and depression. Just like other potential drugs of abuse, there is the concern that individuals will rely too much on it for relaxation or to reach the desired effects. This prevents individuals from developing their own methods or coping skills to address personal issues.  There are not any legal regulations on making this product , at this time, and some of the chemicals may be mixed in home laboratories resulting in imprecise mixtures that could make the effects of its use unpredictable and even dangerous.

There are some states that have banned it or have introduced legislation to ban it. Parents could help address this issue by talking about it with their children. Rather than focusing on whether or not the product is legal, we may miss the point that the drug is harmful to children. 

When Siblings Fight

There are very few parents who have not experienced some sort of sibling rivalry amongst their children.  In fact, developmentally, it is normal. Children learn problem solving, compromise, and sharing by working out differences with one another.  However, for some families, rivalries could become problematic and even dangerous. Factors that may impact the intensity, frequency, and duration of these arguments include: individual personalities, age of children, parental role and role modeling, family stress, constructive/productive free time, and family dynamics.

Children are more likely to get themselves in trouble when they are bored or hungry. Since most children may not be able to express themselves, or at certain ages have good insight into their own self awareness, they may act out on their feelings.  Certain children may not have the disposition to watch or be watched by an older sibling in general, or a sibling in particular. Their personalities just may not click, especially if there is an age difference. Older teens are more interested in being with peers and as a rule spend less time with family. Children may also put or be put in a position of authority, without the ability to carry through consequences as a parent would. If there is a special needs child, a sibling may be ill equipped to handle disciplinary issues. Also, parents who resolve their own differences through yelling or screaming, are teaching their children to work through their problems the same way.

Family stresses such as divorce, relocation, and illness will also impact sibling relationships. Children may act out on their stress rather than verbalizing or trying to work through these issues. If parents are experiencing stress, this may take away their time and ability to address issues as well with their children. Oftentimes, rivalries are intensified by competition for parental attention. A parents role is to help children learn the skills to work through these issues. Important problem solving skills could be developed by encouraging children to compromise or negotiate agreements with one another. Not all issues between siblings can be resolved at any given moment.

Children who have had much discord at earlier ages, become good friends later in life. Parents can help their families through this time by:

● Making sure you treat each child fairly and consistently
● Be proactive: determine times and places these rivalries play out and plan for it.
● Be consistent with nap times and snacks
● Set times up parent times for each child if possible.
● Pay attention to conflicts and make sure children are heard.  Being heard does not  mean agreeing but acknowledging their point of view.
● Present it as a family goal to get along better with one another better. If consequences and incentives are laid out, children may be more invested in changing their behavior.
● Set clear ground rules and consistently follow through with consequences.  If the family is going through stress, talk about it and normalize it. Offer your children an opportunity to express themselves.
● Monitor your own response to conflict and how kids may learn from this.

It is human nature for some conflict to exist between siblings. If the issues persist, it may be helpful to discuss your concerns with a professional therapist.