With supportive solutions, teens can conquer substance abuse

Is your teenager using alcohol or drugs?

Fact: one in three kids begins drinking before 9th grade.

According to a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) report, 1 in 3 children starts drinking by the end of 8th grade – and of them, half reported having been drunk. A 2010 SAMSHA study indicates among youth aged 12 to 17, 10% had used an illicit drug within the 30 days prior to interview.

Consider these additional statistics.

  • Underage drinking costs the United States more than $58 billion every year.
  • 40 percent of those who started drinking at age 13 or younger developed alcohol dependence later in life. Ten percent of teens who began drinking after the age of 17 developed dependence.
  • Teens that drink are 50 times more likely to use cocaine than teens who never consume alcohol.
  • More than 60 percent of teens said that drugs were sold, used, or kept at their school.
  • 20 percent of 8th graders report that they have tried marijuana.
  • 28 percent of teens know a classmate or friend who has used ecstasy

Recently Brian Clark, LCSW started a treatment group for teens dealing with substance abuse issues. “I was struck by the lack of services in our community” noted Brian, “and I was receiving many inquiries for a group like this.”

The group is open to teens between ages 14 and 18 who are struggling with abuse or addiction issues. College students are excluded. Some of the issues that will be addressed include how is addiction defined, medical consequences, marijuana as a gateway drug as well as use vs abuse vs dependence. The group will also foster relapse prevention, emphasizing drink or drug refusal strategies along with sober support systems.

So far the participation has been great. “These kids are very candid in the group. One teen shared that the group was the one place he felt comfortable discussing his struggles to control his use” said Brian. “The group is a unique environment for the teens to share without judgment.”

If you or someone you know would benefit from the adolescent substance abuse support group, please contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services at 877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Behavioral Health Services


For your mind and body, integrated care is the best medicine

Recently, the Behavioral Health unit at Aurora St. Luke’s South Shore Hospital demonstrated the life-saving benefits of an integrated health care system.

After attempting suicide with carbon monoxide from the car in their garage, a patient was admitted to the behavioral health unit at Aurora St. Luke’s South Shore Hospital.  While this may be a familiar scenario to the behavioral health team, the fact that the patient had an Left Ventricular Assistive Device (LVAD) made it unusual.  Patients with this device are usually awaiting a heart transplant and may have other medical issues as well.

Caring for a patient with a ventricular assist device is a rarity on behavioral health units.  The team knew that the best place for the patient was on the behavioral health unit, but the nursing staff was unfamiliar with how to care for someone with that level of medical equipment.

This is where being at Aurora Health Care rather than any other organization makes a huge difference.  Because of dedicated caregivers and the willingness to have a positive patient outcome, two departments (the Cardiac Device Program at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center and the Behavioral Health team at Aurora St. Luke’s South Shore) coordinated the patient’s transfer and stay on behavioral health.  This included staff education to know how the ventricular assist device works, what is involved in the patient’s care, possible risks, and how to access resources in an emergency.

Behavioral health staff was receptive and willing to learn quickly and, together with the clinical engineer, assessed the device, the need for auxiliary power in case of a power outage, and its potential suicide risks for the patient and others on the unit.  The patient also was familiar with the clinical engineer and appeared somewhat less anxious, knowing that his care was being well coordinated and that he would be in good hands while on the behavioral health unit.

While the patient signed out the next day, he left knowing that the behavioral health team puts the patient first, always.

Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers complete mental health treatment options in a caring, confidential environment.  If you find you may be struggling with stress that is causing significant physical or emotional impairment in your lifecontact us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.