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Does D.A.R.E. Work?

Featured image credit: D.A.R.E. Program | Talbot County

Tips for Keeping Kids Away from Drugs

D.A.R.E. is a program that has been implemented in schools to keep young kids away from drugs. The acronym stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education and was implemented in public schools around the time your parents were there. The main purpose of the program was to increase awareness about drug abuse and addiction, as well as teaching kids how to not give into peer pressure.

The Specifics

The D.A.R.E. program started with the slogan, “Just say no,” which became a veritable meme, even before there was an internet to help it spread. The program lasted for seventeen weeks and included structured lessons about topics including personal rights, peer pressure, self-esteem, and alternatives to engaging in substance abuse and violence.

Criticism of the Program

Image credit: Police in Classroom | Counter Current News

Although the program seems like an intuitive solution to drug abuse among teenagers, D.A.R.E. wasn’t without its critics. Over thirty different studies concluded that the program did not have short-term or long-term effects on youth drug experimentation. At least one longitudinal study that lasted for over a decade indicated that those who completed the D.A.R.E. program were not less likely to partake in drug abuse or related behaviors, possibly because of D.A.R.E.’s obsessive focus on education without devoting resources to increased accountability. According to Recover Resource, structured accountability groups decrease risk of relapse and experimentation, so you would expect it to be a critical piece of a program designed to keep kids away from drugs.

In addition to the criticism on the program’s effectiveness, others criticized the fact that officers teach the course instead of educators. Some have argued that these officers do not receive enough training to effectively teach the course. Critics have suggested that the involvement of school counselors or trained educators would be more effective in delivering the material.

Benefits of the Program

D.A.R.E. continues to educate kids about the dangers of harmful substances and risky behaviors. While it may not be the comprehensive solution that your parents or their parents hoped it would be, it probably doesn’t hurt to be informed about these issues

The D.A.R.E. program had mixed results, at best. The design of the program might not have been fatally flawed, but the problem was that too many parents and educators used it as a crutch to avoid difficult conversations. Adults need to trust that you’re mature enough to have these conversations, however uncomfortable they are for everyone involved. After all, you’re going to be making more and more of your own decisions in the next couple of years, so it makes sense for you to know the relevant facts so you can live the kind of life you want to live.

 

Top Dangers for Today’s Teens and How to Stay Safe

As a teen, it’s important you take responsibility for your own safety and security. This is an essential part of life where you’ll be working on transitioning into adulthood. As you grow away from your parents’ care, you will be faced with more and more choices. Your response will determine a lot of your future. A life of new privileges, including driving and going out without your parents, leads to new responsibilities. Read about these top three dangers and work to make healthy choices in your own life.

Alcohol Use and Abuse

Teens are not legally able to purchase or possess alcohol, but many find it easy to obtain, whether it’s from their parents or friends. Drinking has many negative effects on the body, and early use can lead to a greater chance of alcoholism in adulthood. Binge drinking, or drinking heavily in one sitting, can lead to serious health problems and even alcohol poisoning. Over time, it can damage your liver and could lead to cancer. Each year, 5,000 people under 21 die due to underage drinking.

Prescription Drugs

Teens need to know the true dangers of prescription drug abuse. It is never okay to take someone else’s medication. Parents should keep all family prescriptions in a secure location for everyone’s safety. Prescription drug abuse can lead to dangerous drug interactions and even death. It is also a gateway to other drugs such as heroin.

If you are offered a friend’s prescription or something they have taken from their parents, make sure you tell an adult in authority, or your school resource officer.

Unsafe Driving

According to this article by Cloud Media News, dangers behind the wheel kill more teens than any other cause of death. Driving unsafely doesn’t only happen when under the influence of alcohol. 33% of all deaths between ages 13 and 19 were caused by motor vehicle accidents. Distractions, such as texting, talking on the phone, eating, or too much talking with passengers, can be extremely dangerous. Teens also need to make sure they do not drive impaired by drugs or alcohol, and that everyone in the car wears seat belts.

With a little thought and caution, teens can protect themselves from serious dangers. Talk to your parents or a trusted adult for help and don’t be afraid to ask for advice when you need it. Make sure you are a good example to your friends and younger siblings, and avoid becoming a statistic yourself.

4 Fun Video Games That Actually Make You Smarter

Video games are no longer exclusively for entertainment. In recent years, some of the industry’s most popular games are those which challenge players to think outside of the box. At this point, most people agree that certain games can help you develop your capacity for learning. These are the four best games for building your brain.

1. The Sims

Of all important life skills, social awareness is near the top. The Sims is an approachable game franchise that features an art style perfect for children and teenagers. However, don’t let the game’s cartoon appearance fool you. The Sims provides an immense amount of depth and shows players glimpses of how life really works in the outside world.

Players will learn about buying houses, making friends, self-development and many other topics that appear in day-to-day life. Those teenagers who enjoy The Sims are put into a growth mindset, and that is an essential feature of a lifelong learner.

2. Minecraft

Minecraft is one of the most popular video games among all age groups. In a sandbox world with limitless opportunities, players are free to explore their wildest ideas. In contrast to the tedium of regular life, Minecraft exposes players to the hidden secrets of the world’s happiest people: creativity and spontaneity.

The sandbox nature of Minecraft helps build players’ brains because few parts of the game are straightforward. Players exercise their critical thinking capacity, and they are forced to create solutions to problems that have many possible solutions. These are the skills of the real world.

3. Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley is a surprise hit from a few years ago, and it’s still one of the best games for brain development. Players are given total control over a farm, and they must forge their own path as the “new kid in town”. Players can choose from many divergent paths, but the core gameplay remains the same: specialize in something, build a reputation around town and watch as new opportunities unfold.

Above all, Stardew Valley teaches our brains to consider the compounding nature of responsibilities. When you grow and sell more crops, for example, people around town become more reliant on you. Over time, our brains will notice a similar pattern in all walks of life.

4. Tetris

Tetris is the oldest game on this list — and it’s the most classically brain-intensive. The fast-paced nature of Tetris helps players develop their on-the-fly decision making. This is an important skill in many areas of life, but it’s especially important in conversation. Those who can think quickly are always among the most influential people in the room.

More importantly, Tetris will help players develop trust in their intuitions. With only limited time to place blocks in their eventual landing place, players must develop a true sense of muscle memory. Such skills are important everywhere from the classroom to the workplace.

These are the four best games for building your brain, and they all have one thing in common: they force players to make creative decisions. Games that push your brain toward a growth mindset will always hold a special place in the world of entertainment. These are among the few games that educate as much as they entertain.

Resources:

Other Articles You Might Like:

The 10 Cool Free Games for Your iPhone

Disruptus – A Brain-Boosting Game for both Teens and Adults

Is MMO Toxicity Simply a Reflection of Real Life?

 

Is Porn Addiction a Thing?

There’s no question that pornography consumption is up among teens. Research shows that pornography is increasingly seen as harmless and acceptable among younger consumers. That is certainly the common line in popular culture. But is it true? Is porn a harmless pastime, or is your southern Baptist Great Aunt on to something?

Most people associate addiction with substances such as alcohol and drugs. Surprisingly, porn affects the brain in many of the same ways as substances, making it a detriment on affected individual’s daily functioning. There may be more to the pornography story than Hollywood is letting on.

What Exactly is Addiction?

Addiction is a chronic disease in which sufferers are unable to maintain comfortable brain function without getting their fix from a substance. A common misconception about addiction is that it requires consumption of substances that have “chemical hooks” that create a dependency in the addict’s biochemistry. While these hooks do exist, addiction is far more concerned with the addict’s neurochemistry – especially the presence of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens region of the brain.

Because addiction is linked with this neurochemical activity, and because that activity can be caused by any number of stimuli, addiction can also be found in food, exercise, and yes – even porn. All of these things have one thing in common. They get the brain hooked on them by releasing that dopamine, which is responsible for pleasure. Addiction affects the brain by flooding it with dopamine and over time, the user must look at more pornographic images to get the rush. Because of that, addicts become trapped in a repetitive cycle of shame, compulsion, and betrayal.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

Since porn doesn’t necessarily produce noticeable changes in your appearance like substances do, it can be difficult to tell if someone may be struggling with it. Once common sign is withdrawal from friends and family. Many porn addicts prefer to be alone and may avoid social outings that they once enjoyed. Sleep related issues such as insomnia or excessive over sleeping can also be a sign of a serious addiction.

These complications can result from feelings of depression, shame and even anxiety. Financial problems may also arise as a result of over spending on pornographic websites or forms of media. Another common characteristic of this addiction is irritability. This occurs when the feelings of pleasure dissipate in the brain, resulting in a low state of mind. Irritability can also trigger aggression and even mood swings which can hurt your relationship with loved ones.

Can I Quit?

Because of the serious consequences of pornography addiction, many young men are calling it quits. But like any addiction, quitting isn’t easy to do. LifeStar Therapy recommends anyone attempting to beat an addiction should gather a strong network of support. “If you’re hesitant to talk to someone about your addiction, remember addiction thrives in shame. By finding a group you can open up to, and where you can listen to others share their stories, the shame of the addiction decreases because you’ll be around people who understand and relate to your struggles. Support groups have people at various stages on the path of recovery, and those further along can offer insights and tips to help you. The benefits of groups are not only about the positive feedback and energy to succeed, but providing support to others as well.”

If you or someone you care about is struggling with an addiction to porn, professional treatment is widely available. Programs offer a variety of services that target different aspects of addiction. Things like therapy, one on one counseling and exploring new hobbies and interests may be used to tackle the problem at hand.

Porn may seem like an entertaining way to pass the time for many teens, but can quickly get out of hand for some people. If you feel like you or someone you loved may be addicted to porn, seek help immediately.

Does Bullying Cause Suicidality in Teens?

While there may never be a singular answer to why teens – or anyone else for that matter – commits suicide, there are certainly some common factors. Keep in mind, however, that two teens can face nearly identical circumstances and one will make it through while the other will not. Having said that, here are some common risk factors for teen suicide.

Lack of Parental Involvement and Support

Parental involvement is always a tricky issue, because not all parents are absentee parents and yet there is a difference between being present in a child’s life and being engaged in a child’s life. Just because a parent may not work and may be home all day does not mean they are necessarily actively engaged in their child’s life.

Conversely, a single parent may work long hours and still be actively engaged in their child’s life. The question is not whether the parent feels engaged, but whether the teen feels they are supported. And unfortunately, a teenager’s perception of care and support may not have much to do with the reality of the situation.

Bullying

While bullying is in and of itself rarely the singular cause of suicide, there is ample evidence suggesting strong correlation, if not causation. It is not clear whether bullying is causing teens to feel suicidal, whether bullies are targeting more vulnerable victims who already suffer from causal factors, or some combination of both. But there is no question that bullying and teen suicidality go hand in hand.

Nonconforming Gender Identity

According to Freedom Counseling, “Issues of sexual identity are hugely relevant to teen suicide. Trans teens in particular are vulnerable to mental illness and suicidality, independent of whether or not their peers and family identify them with the gender identity they express.” Again, however, struggling with LGBT issues is not in and of itself a lone indicator of suicidality. What it all comes back to is whether or not the teen feels loved, accepted and supported by someone or some group of people. They may not feel accepted or supported by their parents or peers, but if they find a supportive LGBT community to be a part of, that can help them safely weather the storms.

Depression or Other Mental Health Issues

As science discovers more about the power of neurotransmitters, it seems that in some cases the real cause of suicide might actually be the teen’s own brain chemistry. This is particularly exacerbated by extreme hormonal changes that take place during the pubescent years.

Ultimately, there are no sure-fire answers as to why individuals commit suicide and particularly not when it comes to teens. Signs of depression and suicide are difficult to see, and intervention does not have a perfect success rate. Still, the onus is on all of us to try and make a difference where we can in reaching out to vulnerable teens who are on the margins of society. Because one is too many.

Ways to talk about sexual abuse and assault

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 93% of children that have been sexually assaulted know their perpetrator and the recent scandal involving Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor, has reiterated how even “trusted” adults can manipulate a situation and do things that are not appropriate with a child. It’s important to know what sexual assault is and what to do if someone is making you feel uncomfortable.

Below are some tips from Krav Maga Worldwide, a global leader in defense training, on how to approach this difficult and sometimes uncomfortable subject.

Start the conversation early. This may seem very early but children under 12 are most at risk at 4 years old. Even if they can’t speak well, children at this age are busy figuring out the world. And they certainly understand and remember a lot more than adults usually realize. Its never to early to talk about this subject with your parents and caregivers.

Understand the only instances when private parts can be seen and touched. Nobody – including a parent or caregiver – should see or touch your private parts (what a swimming suit covers up) – unless they’re keeping them clean, safe, or healthy.

Talk openly about sexuality and sexual abuse. Abusers will sometimes say that the abuse should be kept a secret. Know that if someone is touching or talking in ways that makes you uncomfortable or scared, that it should not stay a secret.

Babysitters, coaches and teachers can all be perpetrators. Don’t assume all adults can be trusted. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 93% of children that have been sexually assaulted know their perpetrator. It’s important to understand that just because the person is considered a “trusted” adult they can still manipulate a situation and do things that are not appropriate.

Inform yourself about the tricks used by sexual predators. Such as continued accidental touching, or where the predator tricks you into thinking there is an emergency and you must go with the predator.

Trust your inner voice. Especially that feeling we all have inside that tells us what feels right and what feels wrong or uncomfortable. Many who have been sexually abused describe a feeling of discomfort as having a “yucky” feeling inside. You must trust or honor your inner voice or that “yucky” feeling.

You have the right to say NO! As the majority of abuse is based on coercion rather than force, learning to say NO strongly and forcefully really can make a big difference in many situations.

 About Krav Maga Worldwide

Founded in 1997 to promote Krav Maga throughout the United States and around the world, Krav Maga Worldwide trains and certifies instructors and licenses over 150 authorized Krav Maga Worldwide training centers in the United States, Canada, Japan, Mexico, South America, and Europe, as well as over 800 law enforcement agencies and military units. Krav Maga offers the highest caliber of instruction to thousands of people, supporting the company’s core commitment to improving and saving lives. Krav Maga Worldwide continues to develop, promote and implement self-defense and fitness programs. For additional information, visit: www.kravmaga.com.

 

Don’t Want Braces? Talk to Your Parents About These Options

For the majority of teens and pre-teens, braces have become a rite of passage—a symbol that you’re growing up. These metal wires often stay on for years, resulting in straighter and more beautiful teeth than ever before. While there’s no doubt that the results of braces will guarantee you a beautiful and functional smile, many teens don’t like how braces look and find them embarrassing.

Fortunately, there are other orthodontic alternatives.

1. Clear Plastic Braces

For those who don’t like the look of metal braces, these nearly invisible alternatives are definitely worth considering. Each ‘tray’ or set of clear aligners is custom made for each patient, with adjustments made over the course of treatment. These are suitable for addressing a variety of dental issues, including overcrowding, crooked teeth, gaps, overbite, and underbite. According to Dentaly.org, clear aligners are used anywhere from 9-18 months. That’s much shorter than the usual treatment period for braces. Plus, you can take out clear aligners when you eat and to brush and floss, making your daily dental hygiene routine that much easier.

2. Lingual Braces

While traditional braces are attached to the front of the teeth, lingual braces are actually attached to the back. They function in the exact same way as regular metal braces, but just without the metal on the front of your smile. They correct all the same problems that regular metal braces do, but without the embarrassment. That being said, their location can sometimes feel uncomfortable or strange to the tongue. Also, their location and position may make them a challenge to keep clean, so you’ll have to be extra diligent at brushing and flossing. Many dentists recommend getting an oral irrigation device to help clear food debris from these kind of braces to help keep them clean.

3. Veneers

Northstar Dental explains that veneersare a cosmetic dental procedure in which a thin layer of porcelain or composite material is placed over the outside of the tooth.For those who are only looking to change the look of their teeth, but not to alter their position, veneers may be the best option. These are custom-made porcelain caps that are permanently attached to the teeth. The end result is a normal-looking set of teeth that are straight and perfectly aligned with all the others. This is generally a great option for broken, discolored, or cracked teeth that can’t otherwise be corrected.

4. Ceramic Braces

With ceramic braces, the brackets are made of porcelain so that they blend in with the teeth and are less noticeable. Tooth-colored wires are also available to further make the appearance less noticeable. Metamorphosis Dental says that “Although ceramic braces may not be recommendable for a few cases of misalignment and biting problems, it is suitable for treating crooked teeth, overbite or overjet and widely spaced teeth or crowded teeth. Ceramic braces are generally more expensive but with given advantages when compared to metal braces.” These are as effective as braces, but they tend to be less painful and to irritate the gums less.

Kissing Braces Goodbye!

Talk to your parents if you don’t want traditional metal braces, because there are good alternatives! From there, you can work with your dentist to determine which option is best for you and your teeth. You might be surprised by which choice can help make your teeth look beautiful without the need for metal wires.

What to Do if a Friend or Family Member Has a Drug or Alcohol Problem

In 2014, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration concluded that approximately 22 million people suffered from a substance abuse disorder. In 2016, that number dropped by only 1 million. The same study found that 8.2 million of those people also suffer from a mental health disorder for both years. While living with addiction is hard, knowing someone with that addiction can be even harder. You want to help them, but feel that your voice will fall on deaf ears; especially, if they are your peers or family members. The right strategy will not only give you the confidence you need to speak up but will also save their life.

Be Well Informed

Before taking the plunge into a deep conversation, you should thoroughly know your topic. Many websites will give you in-depth information on the causes and effects of addiction. For example, the SAMHSA.gov website offers yearly data reports on substance abuse. The site also provides material on how to get help for someone who suffers from substance abuse and mental health disorders. In most cases, the addiction is used to hide depression, self-esteem disorders, and other mental health issues that are being suppressed by your friend or family member. You can also call a rehab facility and discuss your concerns with a professional without having to commit to anything. After you have studied on the subject, approach your loved one when they are not under the influence of their addiction. Explain to them how you feel and reassure them that they are not alone in the journey.

Be a Positive Support System

While the urge to take your friend or family member straight to a rehab center or AA/NA meeting is strong, sometimes the best therapy is knowing that you are there for them in their darkest hour. The most frustrating part of addiction for both you and your loved one is understanding the addiction recovery process. Recovering from addiction is different for each person. There will be times of anger, resentment, and withdrawal from your loved one. There will be times where they will mess up. Be patient with them and remember each day is a new day. Of course, if you do have to take them to a rehab center, be sure and maintain that same positivity. Their quality of life in the rehab center is just as important to their treatment as the therapy. Remember, addiction is just a disease, and you are just visiting a sick friend or family member.

When someone has an addiction, that person is not the only person who is affected by the habit. You have suffered the emotional rollercoaster of their addiction. While they are in a rehab center or meeting, take that time to go to Al-Anon meetings. These meetings are structured to help you understand their sufferings and help you learn how to deal with the recovery. Furthermore, plan events to distract your friend or family member during these hard times you know they are weak. The road to recovery might be a long journey, but in the end, their life is worth the trip.

Resources:

https://americanaddictioncenters.org/rehab-guide/addiction-statistics/

https://www.samhsa.gov/

http://www.midwestinstituteforaddiction.org/

How Can I Create a Relaxing Study Environment?

As a student, studying is a big part of having success and getting your work done. You will spend a large amount of time studying for tests and homework assignments. To get your work done with high quality, it is necessary to have a good environment to study in. Trying to prepare for a test or focus on a difficult assignment becomes nearly impossible when your environment is distracting or noisy. Here are some of the best ways to set up a relaxing study environment.

Find a Quiet Place

As stated before, noise and distractions are going to make it very difficult to study. The best thing that you can do is find a quiet area. If you are a high school student and still live at home, find an area in your home that is calm, like a corner of the basement or your room. If you decide to designate your room to study in, don’t do it in your bed. Studying in your bed will make you more likely to fall asleep and possibly not get your work done. It will also make it harder for your brain to relax when it is actually time for you to sleep. If you are a college student and live on campus, there are tons of quiet places to study in. Libraries and study rooms are widely available on college campuses and make for a great environment to study in.

Make Yourself Comfortable

If you are in a public area, this may not work for you. However, if you are in your room or dorm, you can make your study area more relaxing with a few simple tricks. First of all, some people really enjoy playing soft music in the background. Studies have shown that calm music can help stimulate the brain and make remembering things easier. Another way to make your area more relaxing is to diffuse relaxing scents. The aroma in your room can greatly affect your productivity. Try using a diffuser along with a scent like lavender or sandalwood, which are both known for their relaxing properties. You should also try to let some natural light in. Natural light puts less stress on your eyes, which can help you relax more.

Block Out Distractions

As a student, we are often drawn to one specific distraction: our phone. Cell phones can make a study session much less productive, especially if you get sucked down the rabbit hole of social media. If you want to have a good study environment, the phone needs to go. The simple act of muting your phone and setting it aside can allow you to have a much better study environment. Resist the urge to check it, except on scheduled study breaks and make sure you give yourself a time limit.

As you can see, there are many quick and easy ways to create a relaxing study environment. Each method is pretty simple for students to perform. If you are having a hard time being productive in your current study environment, try a few of the things we discussed here.

Living Sober: How Can I Avoid Drugs?

Your teenage years are complicated. You have to handle school, work, puberty, dating, and any number of other issues. It is so easy to get overwhelmed and to end up in a situation that you don’t want to be. So many teens turn to drugs or alcohol to help them deal, even though they know how bad that can be. So how can you find a way to avoid ending up in that situation.

Find Things You Love

A lot of teens turn to drugs because they are bored or they don’t enjoy anything that they are doing with their life. One of the best ways to avoid ending up in that situation is to find a hobby or two that you love. This can be an organized extra-curricular activity, a class, or just something that you do during when you have a moment. Not only can this bring joy to your life, but it can also act as a great stress relief.

Make Good Friends

The type of people you spend your time with is going to influence who you are and what you do. Peer pressure is a real thing, and it can have a huge effect when it is applied over a long period of time. If your friends are drinking and doing drugs, it is pretty likely you will end up doing the same at some point. Surrounding yourself with good friends who will support your decision to avoid drugs is going to be crucial to sticking with it.

Take Care of Yourself

One of the most common ways that teens end up with a drug addiction problem is through injury. Serious sports or work injuries are often treated with a narcotic prescription that evolves into an addiction. Those who are addicted then turn to more accessible drugs like heroin to feed that need. To avoid ending up in this situation, you need to take proper care of yourself. Stretch properly before playing sports and make sure you don’t push yourself too far. If you do end up needing to take heavy-duty prescriptions, set up a plan with your doctor and parents to avoid ending up addicted.

It is important to do everything you can to avoid drugs, regardless of your age. They can have a permanently damaging effect on all areas of your life, and you don’t want that. The temporary high you may get isn’t worth the lifetime of addiction and regret.