Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Educational Consulting with the "Failure to Launch" generation; what does independence really mean?

Last week, after spending the day at the School Connections meeting in Boston, MA, I treated myself with a date, a date with my college freshman daughter.  It’s always hard to get a few minutes with her, between her studying (ha!) and basketball practice/games and me running my own business, it’s a rare moment that this Dad can sneak away and have an uninterrupted dinner with his (now) adult daughter. 

During the course of our dinner between mouthfuls and small talk about her sister and my parents, there was a silence, and then she exclaimed, “You know I really do live on my own now.  Think about it, I get myself to classes, practice and games, get my own meals and don’t have to tell anyone where I’m going” Almost immediately I thought, well if you truly live on your own I guess I can pass along these tuition bills to you, but I suppressed that somewhat sarcastic response and just sat back, smiled and watched her as she explained to me the rigors of being in college.

After I got back from dinner I started thinking about what my daughter has talked about, and it got me thinking; what does independence really mean?  I’m sure we all have different definitions – is it living outside of the home?  On your own?  Or is it when you get your first job and that heavily coveted paycheck.  Maybe it is as my daughter says and it’s when you head off to college or basic training. 

Here’s the kicker; it doesn't matter what your perception if independence is; it’s what their perception is. 

Think about it, if a child feels independent, in their mind then they are.  Now what that independence looks like, and whether we agree that they truly are independent is a whole different discussion.  Also a different discussion is why we seem to have such a huge number of dependent, or failure to launch young adults on our hands these days.  Certainly theories abound; kids are growing up too fast, there’s too much technology, kids aren’t responsible enough, poor diets, poor parenting, they’re just lazy, we’re just lazy etc. etc. These are debates which are larger than this little blog, but whatever the reason(s) the reality is that there are a growing number of kids not taking what we consider the traditional path to adulthood.

This trend has impact across the board.  In the Independent Educational Consultant world, it means what we refer to as the young adult market has exploded.  While not a scientific study, anecdotally the young adult portion of Loeta’s business has gone from less than 10% in 2009 to nearly 50% today.  Coinciding with this has been an explosion of young adult programming in our field.  Whether it be wilderness programs, augmented rehab programming or residential therapeutic programs the choices are becoming wider and more varied. 

Some of these programs do a great job of giving these clients an avenue to utilize the tools they have gained over the years while getting them set up in a new city in school or the workforce, while others start from step one with intense therapy and/or treatment.  Some are a shorter more intense programs while others take up to a year to support their clients. A young person can now choose a college based on the college’s counseling and what kind of sobriety support they have; indeed we have come a long ways from Faber College.

At Loeta we spend a lot of our time on the road visiting these programs, just as we do with the adolescent programs, we get to know the people, we spend time with the clients, and we work with the clients on helping choose just the right program for them.  It’s a different process than the one when we work with families of adolescents, we acknowledge the independence of the adults we are working with, and work in conjunction with them, the programs and parents to help chart out a path.  It’s a very collaborative process, and one we are proud of.

So after dinner, I paid (of course), and we walked back to my “T” stop. After a hug goodbye, I watched her run across the street on her way up to her dorm and I though there goes a truly independent young woman, or, as I like to think of her, my little girl.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Heather, Molly and Sophie; 2 are sweet kids, one is an illegal drug - do you know which is which?

Rarely here at Loeta do we repeat the information shared in our newsletter in our blog, but we received such a positive response about this important information, we thought we'd break tradition this once..
So here is the October, 2013 Loeta Educational Consultants Newsletter...As always we encourage you to pass this information along and please follow and share us; it really is the best way to spread the word!
We all know that Miley Cyrus has been in the news a lot lately, and being the father of two teenage daughters, and one who takes some pretty long road trips with them, I get to listen to a lot of music which isn't really, how shall I put it delicately, of my generation.  In any case, on a recent road trip, I found myself listening to some Miley Cyrus music.  While I wasn't able to make out all of the lyrics, I can tell you it's safe to say that Ms. Cyrus's  Hannah Montana days are but a distant memory to her. Anyway, listening to her music got me thinking...
 No, I'm not going to talk about twerking, (I'll admit it now, I was one of those who actually had to look that up)  I'm going to talk about Miley's song, "We Can't Stop". You might know the one, where she utters the line, "Dancing with Molly." After I heard it, and did some investigation into the expression "Dancing with Molly,"  I started to think; just how knowledgeable am I about the drugs being consumed these days?

So I did a little research, and came up with some sobering facts.  The scariest to me is this; according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy(2010) "National data on emergency  room visits document a dramatic escalation in the number of admissions for non-medical use for prescription and over the counter drugs.  The number of admissions grew from 538,237 in 2004 to 917,974 in 2008 an increase of 81% , contrasted with a less than 1% increase in the numbers of visits involving illicit drugs such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine.
So just how much do we know about the drugs people are using and abusing these days?  Do we know the difference when someone talks about Triple C's or RISP? Or  are we hopelessly out of it?  We accept that as adults we will always be a bit out of it, but that doesn't mean we are allowed to turn a blind eye to what's going on; it's time to get educated. As for my own education, at least now the next time I hear that Miley is dancing with Molly I'll know she's making a drug reference, not talking about dancing with one of her girlfriends....But you already knew that, right?
BTW, Triple C  is one of the street names for dextromethorphan, or DXM a commonly abused OTC (over the counter) drug,  RISP is runners in scoring position, a baseball stat; go Sox

'Dabbing' the new drug of choice for teens?

Posted: 09/16/2013
By: MaryEllen Resendez
 It’s a new twist on an old drug and it’s becoming increasingly more popular among teens in Arizona.
 The drug is called “Butane Hash Oil” or BHO.
 On the street it goes by many names including shatter, wax, ear wax, honey oil, amber or dabbing. 
Dabbing because you only need a dab.
 “It's something that you need one hit of and you’re good for quite a while," said Shane Watson with the “Not My Kid” organization.
 Watson helps educate parents on the dangers of teens and drugs. Watson speaks from the heart, because he’s lived with the addiction hash oil can cause.
“I was the good student, I was the good kid, I was smart, I was strong and I was successful,” recalls Watson.
He was the kid no one guessed would do drugs, but he did. He started with alcohol and marijuana, but his curiosity lead him to hash oil and harsher drugs, including methamphetamine and heroin.
“I told myself tales that's not going to happen to me, I can out think it, I can out power it, I can outwork it,” said Watson.
But he couldn't; soon drugs were overpowering him.
“It was intense. I felt like I was walking through wet concrete," is how Watson describes the hash oil experience.
Watson lost a decade of his life to addiction. He hurt those around him and soon found he had lost everything.
“The bottom was waking up in Durango jail here in Phoenix being charged with multiple felonies. In one shot, in one evening, everything was gone,"  recalls a remorseful Watson.
Now Watson and Not My Kid are seeing a rise in the popularity of hash oil among teens, some users as young as 11 years old.
Only in this latest butane form of hash, oil is much more potent.
According to Not My Kid, strong strains of marijuana contain 25% tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, while some butane hash oil can contain upwards of 60-90% THC.
For teens, it’s easier to conceal, easier to carry, but much more dangerous to make.
“It uses butane, a very dangerous and flammable solvent and there have been fires. there have been explosions,” explains Watson.
Watson points out to a recent explosion in a town house in Tucson where cooking a batch of “Dab” set off back-to-back explosions and sent glass flying 15 feet into the air.
Another danger is butane can be left in the oil.
“The person that uses it could be smoking butane which is neurotoxic and very dangerous,”  Watson warns.
The oil is thick like honey and sometimes the same color. It can be a yellow wax like honey combs or ear wax, but it can tar colored.
Watson tells ABC15 teens will often use household items to make “Dab."
Parents should look for items like butane containers, glass or metal tubes, glass baking dishes, isopropyl alcohol, and coffee filters.
“It's a reality out there and it's something parents need to be aware of and wake up to that it is happening,”  Watson stresses.
Watson tells ABC15 teens will often use household items to make “Dab."
Parents should look for items like butane containers, glass or metal tubes, glass baking dishes, isopropyl alcohol, and coffee filters.
“It's a reality out there and it's something parents need to be aware of and wake up to that it is happening,”  Watson stresses.
Watson tells ABC15 teens will often use household items to make “Dab."
Parents should look for items like butane containers, glass or metal tubes, glass baking dishes, isopropyl alcohol, and coffee filters.
“It's a reality out there and it's something parents need to be aware of and wake up to that it is happening,”  Watson stresses.
Watson agreed to speak to ABC15 about his drug experiences to help educate kids about the effects and dangers of drugs, and to discourage the use of them.


Can you match the street name with the drug?

1 Molly                         a Ritalin
2 Special K                  b DXM
3 Kibbles n Bits           Ecstasy
4 Skittles                     d  Ketamine

Prescription Drug Abuse Up Among U.S. Teens

More than 5 million, nearly 25 percent, said they had abused these medications

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter
The United States appears to be in the throes of a prescription drug abuse crisis among teens, with a new survey showing that 24 percent of high school students -- more than 5 million kids -- have abused these medications.
That's a 33 percent increase from 2008, the survey authors noted. They said that 13 percent of teens acknowledged having experimented at least once with either Ritalin or Adderall (normally prescribed for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD) that was not prescribed for them.
What's more, 20 percent of teens who admit they have abused prescription drugs said their first experience doing so was before the age of 14, with 27 percent mistakenly believing that prescription drug abuse is safer than "street drugs," such as cocaine or ecstasy.
Compounding the problem: The parents surveyed seemed to share in this misconception, with almost one-third buying into the notion that Ritalin or Adderall can boost a child's school performance even if the child is not diagnosed with ADHD.
The findings stem from a nationally representative poll launched in 2012 by The Partnership at Drugfree.org, in conjunction with the MetLife Foundation. The survey involved nearly 3,900 teens currently enrolled in grades 9 through 12 at public, private and parochial schools, along with more than 800 parents who participated in at-home interviews.
"From my perspective, one way to look at this is that we've got a real public health crisis," said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO at the Partnership organization. "And it's not getting better. In fact, it's getting deeper and more complex," he said.
"The key here is that kids and often their parents are buying into the myth and misunderstanding that prescription drug abuse is a safer way to get high, a safer alternative to street drugs, and that they can control it," Pasierb continued. "And it's very important to note that, on this, kids and parents are in the same place. Kids say that they don't think that their parents are going to be upset if they know about this, and parents are essentially saying the same thing," he pointed out.
"Now, if cocaine or heroin use was going up the way prescription drug use is parents would certainly be freaking out," Pasierb added. "And they should be now, because prescription drug abuse is no better."
Among the findings: one-third of teens think there's nothing particularly wrong with the notion of using prescription medications that were never prescribed for them to tackle a specific injury or illness, with almost one-quarter believing that their parents are more concerned about street drug use than the misuse of prescription drugs.
Sixteen percent of parents also said they think prescription drugs are less dangerous than street drugs.
Perhaps this explains another survey finding: While about four in five teens said they had discussed both alcohol and marijuana use with their parents and almost one-third said they had talked with them about crack/cocaine, only between 14 percent and 16 percent said that the topic of painkiller/prescription drug abuse had ever come up.
This was true despite the fact that a parent's medicine cabinet is the repository for 56 percent of the prescription meds teens say they are abusing, the poll found, with nearly half of parents acknowledging that there are no barriers to access at home.
Indeed, 20 percent of parents actually admitted to willfully giving their teen a prescription med that they had on hand, for which their child had no prescription.
That said, Pasierb stressed that the goal of the survey was to draw needed attention to the misconceptions that are at the heart of a rapidly growing problem.
"We know that kids who start abusing when they are very young are much more likely to have an addiction problem as adults," he said. "So, parents need to intervene. They need to control supply and demand by locking up their medicine cabinets and throwing out old expired drugs. And they need to constantly weigh in, starting at very young age, even if they think they have the greatest kid in the world. They need to tell their child about the risks, and make clear how upset they will be if their child abuses these drugs."
One parent speaks from experience.
"I had to learn to set real rules for our home," acknowledged Kat Carnes, a single mom from Houston who has been helping her teenage daughter struggle with an addiction problem that involved a mix of alcohol, street drugs (such as ketamine, ecstasy and cocaine), and prescription meds (including antidepressants).
"She was in 8th grade when all this happened," Carnes recalled. "[But] as I learned more, I discovered that she had been using for a couple of years already, especially during her 7th-grade year, when I was battling breast cancer and not able to focus as closely on her as I probably should have."
Yet, Carnes said the mistakes she made as a parent who initially overlooked her child's growing addiction problem were "pretty common," despite the fact that she is well-versed in medicine and health issues, through her work as a scientific editor and a manager at a major local cancer center.
"I just sort of counted on her to do the right things," Carnes added, "and when she didn't I either tried to minimize it or just hid from it because I didn't know what to do."
Carnes explained that her daughter has now been sober for almost 22 months, with the assistance of a local drug abuse 12-step program and the camaraderie of other families struggling with teen drug abuse. Although careful to describe her daughter's recovery as an ongoing "process," she suggests that much of the progress has been rooted in open and honest communications.
"We hold each other accountable," said Carnes, "for our words and actions."

Answers to drug quiz...
1c, 2d, 3a,4b

Friday, October 4, 2013

How "Undercover Boss" helped me become a better Independent Educational Consultant

Have any of you ever seen that show Undercover Boss?  I've seen a few episodes over the last few years, and it's quite an interesting show.  I am always amused when they have the scene where the white collar boss (usually with a bad toupee on) attempts to work the register of the fast food restaurant or is a chambermaid  at a fancy hotel for one shift.  There is always that odd juxtaposition of the hotel owner being dressed down by hourly employee for not doing his or her job right in the first scene, and then the look of shock when they realize it was actually the owner they were scolding. 

Well in some ways that’s the way I spent my last year.  After 9 years away from running a school, I was thrust back into the world of therapeutic boarding schools.  And like the folks on "Undercover Boss", I often found myself listening to parents, students and staff members speaking about their Independent Educational Consultants (IEC’s), most of whom had no idea I had spent 9 years being an IEC, and more than likely knew of whom they spoke.  I’m not going to lie, during some of the stories I winced at mistakes made, but I have to say that most of the stories I heard made me realize how caring, intelligent and well-trained most IEC’s really are.  During this time of listening I learned a lot about our profession, and have picked up a few lessons…

So what exactly are these lessons?  Well first humility. Some of the most powerful and empowering moments I was involved with this last year, were when I saw IEC’s work inclusively as opposed to exclusively.  I (re)learned very quickly that no one person knows everything, and if we are truly out for the best interest of the child we need to take advice and input for a wide range of sources; parents, therapists and most importantly, the kids themselves.

Second lesson?  You can’t communicate enough.  When one does this job for a while, I think one gets a little too comfortable with the process. On a few occasions this year I was able to see how effective communication from an IEC positively impacted a child’s stay at my school.  When an IEC is pro-active as opposed to reactive, it is so much better for the child.   We as IEC’s know what the process looks like, but this last year really let me see the families go through it all, and the thing I feel could have helped in almost every tense situation was more communication.

My third lesson is harder to define, but in essence it’s to have more fun.  In watching the relationships between families and their IEC’s there was a discernible difference between the families who could sense the passion and enjoyment their IEC felt for their job, and those who were seemingly just cashing a check.  Our passion for what we do definitely comes through, and our positive (or negative) energy most definitely impacts not only the parents, but also the kids we are working with. 

So now that I've had my year as "Undercover Educational Consultant,"  I am so excited to take the lessons I learned, couple them with the new-found passion I have for working with the kids and apply them to all of my families.

Who knows, maybe this could be a new episode of the show; I wonder who’d they get to play me???