The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.
E-mail your question about drugs, alcohol, smoking, addiction treatment, or whatever, and we’ll post an answer to this page within one week. Don’t worry, no one will know it was you who asked it.
You can also read through the questions below that others have asked and see the answers.
The opinions, advice, and information contained herein are not intended to provide professional advice or treatment, but are merely responses to the questions from unidentified persons without advantage of actual knowledge or specific facts, circumstances and history of each person; and therefore, all responses contained herein should serve only as a suggested guide or possible course of action based on the question. Responses provided herein cannot replace professional assessment a person may receive from a visit with a healthcare professional. Youth First, Inc. hereby disclaims any and all responsibility or liability, which may be asserted or claimed arising from or claim to have arisen from reliance upon opinions, advice or information disclosed herein.
Cutting is a "symptom" that may be associated with a number of emotional issues such as depression, eating disorders, anger, self image problems and others. It usually indicates significant pressure or stress and should be evaluated and treated by a mental health professional.
There may be limits to what you can do, but here are some options: Speak with your friend and share your concerns. Tell him/her how it makes you worry and share your hope that the friend is getting help. If things are getting worse I think it is also acceptable to speak with the counselor again and, perhaps, your friend's parents. They may not know things are getting worse. Your friend could be angry with you for talking with them, but will likely know you are trying to help. Remember, the counselor may not be able to share details wiith you because of privacy concerns. Healing often takes considerable time, so be patient with your friend.
You asked three serious questions. I can only answer them briefly.
First question: If a friend is talking about suicide, you need to share your concerns with him/her and then tell a responsible adult who has the influence to immediately respond. Options include a school social worker, counselor, teacher, parent, principal, or another adult you trust to seek immediate help.
Second, if a friend has been, or alleges that she has been, sexually assaulted, you should encourage her to seek medical attention and support. She should tell her parents or a school social worker/counselor who can help with disclosure to parents and other necessary authorities. If she won't, you should. Delay may result in mental health problems and other serious medical issues.
Finally, if a friend has a drug/alcohol addiction, keeping it a secret or making excuses for them won't help - it hurts them. Again, I suggest you go to a responsible adult whom you trust for guidance about what to do. Your school counselor or social worker would be a good place to start. Let them take over from that point. Ultimately, it's your friend's problem to fix. You have limited influence over them. but you can help by sharing your concerns and asking them to get help.
Thanks so much for your question. It sounds like you are one of the teens we would love to have involved at Youth First!
Your concern for your peers is admirable. And at Youth First we believe strongly that making good decisions helps create more opportunities for the future. We talk a lot about steering conversations- but not really arguing so much as listening.
It's Ok to say- I'm sorry you feel that way. I don't agree. But you can also take pride by getting involved in the groups, clubs and organizations that support substance free choices, abstinance and anti bullying since those are issues that matter.
I'm not sure where you are a student, but I hope you will introduce yourself to the Youth First social worker there and offer to take part in the school wide campaigns that support healthy behaviors.
And don't forget that some people brag a lot in order to fit in. Some are just looking for a peer to stand up and it only takes one brave voice to make a difference. Good luck and thanks!
It's real pressure, but not a real necessity. You will most likely be happier in the long run if you resist. Please read the response to "How young is too young to have sex?" below. Though the peer pressure and temptations are significant, there are more reasons to wait. The risks of pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, associated emotional confusion and guilt, traumatic break-ups, and upsetting your parents are just a few of the consequences. Speak with a counselor or an adult you can trust before making your decision.
Yes, in a few locations we provide a Strengthening Families program for parents & children this age. The children learn good social skills while the parents are learning more about positive & practical parenting strategies. The program is intended for "all families" and will make a good family stronger.
Strengthening Families Programs are open to the public and free of charge. If you would have an interest, please contact our Program Director, Laura Wathen, 812 421 8336 ext. 4, for additional information or discussion about sponsoring this program for your church or community.
I admire your concern for your sister. Sounds like you worry that she is going to suffer some difficult consequences or someone else will inadvertently. It can also put a real strain on your relationships in your family.
What I hope you can do is talk to a trusted adult about what’s happening in your home, what you are seeing and so forth. I realize it might be challenging to talk to your parents first but, they might be very concerned about your sister and the influence her choices have on you as well. A good step is to try talking to your sister, let her know you are concerned and then to let her know that it’s hard to cover for her. Whatever the case, please don’t keep this to yourself. If you are in a school where there is a Youth First social worker you can simply ask for a meeting time and talk out these concerns. If not, I hope you will turn to the counselor, a teacher, coach, or family friend to begin opening the door of communication in your home.
We appreciate the sensitivity of your question and hope that you will think about “what will happen if I do have sex and what will happen if I don’t?” and “what is the standard for this activity that’s important to me?”
Most teens are unaware of what changes in a relationship after they start having sex. There’s a lot more worries, more intensity that happens and, especially for girls, a strong bond that builds as a result of the sexual involvement. Unfortunately this can lead to sad and difficult break ups, very intense jealousies, and high stress.
Waiting can be correlated with less drama, less stress and a lot fewer worries in life.
In general, it’s a high risk activity because the consequences involve sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. The dangers are higher for both girls and guys than most think. Again, dynamics change in even friendship relationships in ways most teens just don’t expect. Should you choose to be sexually active, you need to be informed about the risks. Maturation and growth occur for different people in different ways.
I hope you will take some time to talk it out with a trusted adult, one of your parents, or the Youth First social worker at your school.
The short answer is "yes". Early sexual relationships, heterosexual or homosexual, outside of marriage, or in a relationship that is of short duration carries significant risks - both physical and emotional. The following pages are from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Website: http://www.4parents.gov/sexrisky/emotional/emotional.html "People often believe that the only risks from teens having sex are pregnancy or getting an STD. Not true. Teens who have sex are at risk for emotional problems too. It has been clear for quite some time that teen sex and emotional problems such as depression are related. What has not been clear is if teen sex causes depression, or depression causes teens to have sex.
Recent research suggests that both may be true. Teens, especially girls, who have sexual intercourse may be at greater risk for depression. And depression in teens is now known to lead to risky sexual behaviors. A 2005 study recommended that teen girls who have sex be screened for depression. This journal article found that teen girls who had sex, took drugs, and/or started drinking were up to three times more likely to be depressed a year later than girls who did not take those risks. For boys, the researchers found things to be a bit different. Boys who do a number of unhealthy things, like smoking cigarettes every day, smoking marijuana, and drinking alcohol, were more likely to be depressed. Another study, which also used data from that same large survey of teens, tried to learn whether depression predicts risky sexual behavior. The researchers found that boys and girls who have symptoms of depression are more likely to get involved in very risky sexual behaviors, such as not using a condom, having sex with a number of partners, and using alcohol or other drugs when they had sex.
One thing is also very clear: most teens who have sex wish they had waited. In fact, whether you ask boys or girls, older teens or younger teens, a large majority say they wish they had waited. According to a survey conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 2 out of 3 (66%) sexually experienced teens wish they had waited longer before first having sexual intercourse. And nearly 2 out of 3 (63%) of those teen boys and more than 2 out of 3 (69%) of those teen girls wish they had waited. And of those teens 12- to 14-years-old, 7 out of 10 (71%) wish they had waited. Of those teens 15-19, 6 out of 10 (63%) said they wish they had waited."
It sounds like you are feeling overwhelmed with life and aren’t sure where to turn. I suggest you see someone who will provide you with support right away. Please contact your school social worker today. Be open and honest with her about your feelings and circumstances. Even if she is busy, I’m sure she will want to know that this is a hard time for you. She will evaluate and suggest additional steps to improve your feelings. You could also try talking to other caring adults in your life like your parents, your pastor, a physician, minister, or a coach.
Depression sometimes tricks us into believing that others don’t care even when they do. If you would send "Ask Youth First" additional information (your hometown, school name, social worker name, and even your name), I may be able to offer other suggestions. I won’t post any specific, identifying information about you on the website. There is also a crisis line, 812-425-4355, that provides 24-hour service if you just need someone to talk to after regular office hours. Never "give up".
Reaching out is a good first step, but please don't stop with this email to "Ask Youth First". Take additional steps that will help you feel better about yourself and your life.
Your concerns are certainly justified. When alcohol and tobacco use start early in life there is greater risk of serious, life-long problems. The consequences you have provided are also very reasonable. If the behavior continues, your son may be "offered" additional consequences (school discipline, legal, accidents, relationship problems, health issues, etc.) that have more impact. These consequences may get his attention and provide you with opportunities to have additional conversations. In the meantime, your son may benefit from some assistance from Youth First or another agency.
Youth First offers a variety of prevention/intervention strategies. The web site shares information on some of them. They are based on the age, school, level of involvement and other risk factors. There is no charge for any of our services. We depend totally on donations and grants to sustain services for children and families. If you will contact Josh at Youth First (812 421 8336, ext. 0) and leave a message for Dr. Wooten (your name, phone number), I would be happy to call you & share what resources we have at your son's school and help him connect to those services or make other other suggestions.
You will need to view this as a long-term effort on his part. There are no quick fixes for the problems you describe. If he has a substance abuse problem, you should see if he can get into a proper treatment program. If you have the resources, he may benefit from a long-term residential program such as Aspen Ranch (Google it) in Utah. There are limited, out-patient treatment services for substance abusing teens are available in Evansville.
If your son has a serious conduct disorder, he may need far more help than any of the Youth First programs provide. The key to success for him will be a intense personal desire for positive change. If he doesn't want to change his behavior/attitude/lifestyle and accept the advice/guidance of those who want to help, it is unlikely that he will be successful. Intensive supervision by his probation officer, random drug screens, an individual therapist, school social worker support, along with clear limits & immediate consequences for misbehavior in home, school, or community will be helpful. A program could help if he's receptive to assistance.
If there is a Youth First school social worker at his school, she would need to meet your son for a thorough evaluation and determination of which programs might be of help. If he is not a "fit" for a program, he still might be appropriate for social worker support when he returns to the school setting. Youth First social workers and our programs are not available at every Evansville school. You may want to contact the Youth First office (Davi Stein, 812 421 8336) to find out what is available at your son's school.
Your question is somewhat vague, but I think you might be referring to misconceptions regarding some of the potential adverse effects experienced by those taking prescription medications for mental illnesses.
In this country there is a very long process of evaluation for medications that are ultimately made available to the public by a physician's prescription. The risk of adverse effects are carefully weighed against the potential benefit to those who need medical help because of mental illness. Every medicine, even aspirin and other over-the-counter drugs, has the potential for adverse effects. Most drug side effects are minor while others can be life threatening. Mental illnesses can also be relatively mild or, in other instances, life threatening.
After this approval process and prescribing, reports of possible adverse effects are reported by the medical community and tracked by agencies overseeing drug safety. It's not a perfect system, but it's better than in many other countries. Many products are not approved and, therefore, never released because of safety concerns. If concerns are found after release, they are sometimes withdrawn from the marketplace. The severity of some illnesses may warrant taking medications that carry more risk of adverse effects. After research by pharmaceutical companies to evaluate a product, application for approval, and subsequent approval by federal agencies, the decision to use them is between a doctor and the patient. Thanks for asking Youth First.
First of all, I want to say how nice it is for you to be concerned enough to write this question. You are obviously a good friend. Your friend must trust your judgment or she wouldn't have shared these problem with you.
If your friend will accept help from a school counselor or school social worker, she should see them immediately. If there is no such person at your school, she could speak with the Principal or your minister. It would be helpful if you went with your friend, to share your concerns and what she has told you, the first time. If she won't go for help with you, let her know you must talk with someone who can help. You are not in a position to assist her in other ways. Don't allow her to discourage you from getting assistance from a trusted adult who has the knowledge &/or influence to help.
If her cutting behavior indicates suicidal thoughts, you are dealing with a very serious situation. If she's not suicidal, she still needs immediate attention. Do not delay acting on this advice.
If you are living in the Evansville area, please check to see if there is a Youth First school social worker in your child's school. The Youth First social worker would be happy to hear from you and advise you about an appropriate intervention.
If your school isn't served by Youth First, you can call the Youth First office (812-421-8336) to speak with or leave a message for Davi Stein, Clinical Supervisor of Youth First School Social Work Program. After hearing additional details of your circumstances, she would be able to offer additional advice regarding your options.
If you don't live in this area, seek advice from a nearby addiction treatment center or mental health facility. If there is someone at the school who might help, you can speak with them without involving your son. After appropriate professional advice, take action. If your son is willing to seek help, the same resources may be helpful.
Your parents should be proud of you. It sounds to me like you did right thing by telling your counselor. In my opinion, you, your counselor, and the school administrators took appropriate action. Apparently, medical authorities notified CPS because of potential concern for your friends safety. They are usually required by law to this. CPS will try to help. You didn't cause any of these problems. You simply reported to someone with hopes of helping.
The lesson to be learned here is that "doing the right thing" doesn't always mean that everyone involved will be immediately happy with your actions. Don't let your friend's response keep you from doing the exactly the same thing again if you encounter similar circumstances in the future. Hopefully, when your friend is feeling better and the situation has settled down, she will realize your actions were taken because of your concern for her safety and your friendship rather than a desire to cause "trouble" for her or the family. In my opinion, she's very lucky to have a friend like you. You might have saved her life and helped her entire family. Feel good about what you did. You may need to give your friend some space & time. Take care of yourself.
Thank you so much to our generous Life Savers supporters: