New Back-to-School Checklist from Elements Behavioral Health Helps Parents Prevent Substance Abuse From Sabotaging the School Year

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Kids who enter a new school year struggling with drugs or alcohol can see their dreams for academic success dashed before the year even begins, but parents can help. Elements Behavioral Health has developed a helpful 10-item checklist with key warning signs that a teen or young adult needs to tackle a drug or alcohol problem before the new school year begins.

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If a child is struggling with drugs or alcohol at the beginning of the school year, it’s important to get help as soon as possible, because drug problems can progress rapidly and have serious consequences if they aren’t addressed early on.

High school and college students who enter a new school year struggling with drugs or alcohol can see their dreams for academic success dashed before the year even begins. To prevent substance abuse from sabotaging the school year, Elements Behavioral Health has developed a 10-item checklist for parents with the subtle and sometimes complex signs that a child has developed a drug or alcohol problem. Paying attention to the signs of drug use is critical because early detection can often prevent short-term experimentation from developing into dependence or addiction.

Summer is an especially important time to be alert to drug use because adolescents and young adults are most likely to start using drugs when they’re off from school, said Joni Ogle, LCSW, CSAT, director of the young adult drug rehab program at Promises Treatment Centers® in California. “Kids are especially susceptible to drug use in the summertime, when boredom combined with less supervision and new outside influences enter their lives,” she said. In fact a U.S. government report found that far more kids begin drinking alcohol and using drugs in June and July than any other month.

The checklist is designed to help parents identify behaviors and personality changes that could signal drug use. “There are some obvious signs,” said Ogle, “such as bloodshot eyes, enlarged pupils, slurred speech or the smell of alcohol or marijuana. But often the indicators are subtler, such as moodiness or a change in sleep, appearance or friendships.” Parents need to take action, and the sooner the better, she said, because early drug use is a predictor of later substance use disorders, as well as social problems, school and work issues, and impaired brain development.

It’s important for parents to know that help is available. The Elements Behavioral Health® family of treatment centers includes specialized rehabs for teens and young adults struggling with substance abuse as well as co-occurring mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety and trauma.

The checklist is intended to be a tool, and act as a gentle reminder to parents that there’s more to back-to-school preparations than new clothes and supplies. “As parents, we can get so focused on making sure our kids have all the things they need for school that it’s easy to overlook signs that they need a different kind of support in order to make the school year successful,” said Elements Behavioral Health CEO David Sack, MD. “If a child is struggling with drugs or alcohol at the beginning of the school year, it’s important to get help as soon as possible, because drug problems can progress rapidly and have serious consequences if they aren’t addressed early on.”

About Elements Behavioral Health

Elements Behavioral Health is an owner of a series of behavioral health programs located throughout the United States. The Elements Behavioral Health® family of programs offers comprehensive, innovative treatment for substance abuse, sexual addiction, trauma, eating disorders, and other mental health disorders. Through its programs, the company is committed to delivering clinically sophisticated treatment that promotes permanent lifestyle change, not only for the patient but for the entire family network. For more information, visit elementsbehavioralhealth.com.

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Vera Appleyard

Dr. David Sack
@ElementsBHealth
since: 10/2011
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