Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears: Not Alone in Their Struggles with Drugs and Alcohol -- Bestselling Author Offers Advice and Tips to Teens on Avoiding Negative Addictions

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With the deluge of recent press and attention on Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears, one might think that Hollywood celebs are the only young people in the world who are in trouble with the law and who revisit rehab because of their struggles with drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, they are not alone.

Perhaps you are one of these teen statistics, heading down the path toward addiction. Maybe you're already hooked. Whatever your situation, remember that it's much easier to break those habits now, while you're still a teen, than it will be later

    Sean Covey, bestselling author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens ( and The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make ( and FranklinCovey senior vice president of innovations and products, said, "Drug and alcohol abuse strikes the best and brightest among us and no one is immune, no matter how rich or famous. There are many good people who become alcoholics, compulsive gamblers or drug addicts. They're really not that different from you and me. They have the same hopes and dreams. The only thing that separates them from the rest of us is a few key choices they made, usually during their teen years."

A survey, conducted in September 2006 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), found alarming figures of abuse of prescription drugs among young people. There are 6.4 million people ages 12 or older who used prescription drugs non-medically in the past month. Of these, 4.7 million used narcotic pain relievers, 1.8 million used tranquilizers, 1.1 million used stimulants (including 512,000 who used methamphetamine) and 272,000 used sedatives.

A report from the Schneider Institute for Health Policy at Brandeis University in 2001 found that alcohol is the most commonly used drug among young people: it kills 6 1/2 times more youth than all other illicit drugs combined. By the 8th grade, 52% of adolescents have consumed alcohol, and 40% of those who started drinking at age 14 or younger later developed alcohol dependence, compared with 10% of those who began drinking at age 20 or older. Also, 50% of high school seniors report drinking alcohol in the past 30 days with 32% reporting being drunk at least once in the same period.

Covey believes that many young people make the mistake of turning to drugs, alcohol and other negative addictions because they have a deeper need that is not being met:

-- They are trying to hide pain from the past, like a death in the family, a divorce or abuse

-- They have something missing from their lives (low-self esteem, past trauma incident)

-- They have a family history of addiction of some kind

-- They feel insecure and desperately want to belong

-- Their friends are doing it and they feel pressured by them

-- They feel confined and want to rebel

-- They want to escape from their current problems

-- They are bored or curious

Then, destructive patterns are established:

-- They start with drugs at a young age

-- They begin by using gateway drugs, like tobacco, alcohol and marijuana

-- They move into heavier drugs

-- They get addicted and their addiction consumes them

-- They fight the addiction -- and sometimes win -- but the battle continues throughout their lives

"Perhaps you are one of these teen statistics, heading down the path toward addiction. Maybe you're already hooked. Whatever your situation, remember that it's much easier to break those habits now, while you're still a teen, than it will be later," said Covey.

Covey counsels teens to be in touch with their own feelings enough to know if they are feeling depressed, angry, hurt, rebellious, fearful, insecure or have some other holes in their lives that need to be filled. Instead of filling up those holes with drinking or drugs, he suggests substituting harmful substances or practices with something more satisfying and enduring, such as positive addictions, where teens 'get high' naturally.

He offers the following list of Positive Addictions as alternatives:

1. Exercise. Working out and exercising releases endorphins, which are the body's natural painkillers and positive mood-makers. Have you heard of runner's high, that euphoric feeling you get while running? Nothing can clear your head like a good workout.

2. Sports. Competing in sports is healthy, consuming and addictive. Sports will help you meet new people and keep you so occupied you won't have time for the drug scene.

3. Music. Develop your musical talents. I have a friend who discovered he had a great gift for music at about age 13. Despite never taking a lesson, he became the best guitarist in the school. His music consumed him and when he was down, he'd play his guitar instead of drowning himself in drugs.

4. Service. Losing yourself in service has always been the best way to forget your own troubles.

5. Hobbies. Find something you love to do and get good at it. Whether it is photography, cooking or astronomy, hobbies produce a natural high without the big crash after.

6. Learning. Get turned on by learning. Read voraciously. Take advanced placement classes or college courses at your school. Pour your heart into it.

7. Family. No one cares more about you than your family, including cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. When you're hurting, cast your burdens upon them, instead of looking for another outlet.

8. Faith. Practicing your religion or beliefs alone or with others can give meaning and purpose of your life and offer you standards to live by.

9. Friends. In times of trouble, when problems are overwhelming, lean on good friends. Talk through your problems with them instead of the bottle.

10. Journal writing. Your journal can become your best friend, your solace, the place where you can let out all your emotions and not be judged.

Covey said, "Whether you are a famous Hollywood celebrity or an average, everyday teen, if you or others think you have a problem with substance abuse, the first step is to admit it to yourself. Then, get help from your parents, a good friend, a support group or a counselor. There are many treatment centers, programs and support groups that can help. You're better off if you don't try to fight it alone. Don't procrastinate, get help now. It will only get harder the longer you wait."

About FranklinCovey

FranklinCovey(R) (NYSE:FC) is a global leader in effectiveness training, productivity tools and assessment services for organizations and individuals. FranklinCovey helps companies succeed by unleashing the power of their workforce to focus and execute on top business priorities. Clients include 90 percent of the Fortune 100, more than 75 percent of the Fortune 500, thousands of small and mid-sized businesses, as well as numerous government entities and educational institutions. Organizations and individuals access FranklinCovey products and services through corporate training, licensed client facilitators, one-on-one coaching, public workshops, catalogs, 88 retail stores and FranklinCovey has nearly 1,500 associates providing professional services and products in 39 offices and in 95 countries.

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Debra Lund
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