Youth Substance Abuse

Conversations are among the most powerful tools parents can use to protect their kids. But, tackling a topic like drugs or alcohol is difficult. Reginia Guess, a student assistance program counselor with Students Taking a Right Stand (STARS), joined us on a recent episode of Community Health Matters to discuss how the organization works to prevent youth substance abuse. View her interview here.

STARS is an evidence-based program to address social and emotional barriers for youth. Counselors work on-site in schools in six middle Tennessee counties throughout the school year to provide education, early intervention and counseling, and to help link students and families to services in the community. And, there are no fees associated with program services!
Youth who need help may seek it out for themselves, or they may be identified as being at risk by school administrators, teachers, peers, family members or guardians. Warning signs that a youth may be abusing substances include:

  • Unexplained changes in personality, attitude or appearance
  • Sudden mood changes, anger, agitation
  • Skipping classes, declining grades, getting in trouble at school
  • Acting isolated or withdrawn
  • Missing money, valuables or prescription drugs from the home

These problems can accumulate due to anxiety, self-regulation of emotions, the availability of prescription drugs in the home, peer pressure and more.

STARS combats these issues by building on the strengths of the child and family, promoting protective factors, fostering resilience and reducing risk factors. As a visible presence in schools, STARS counselors form collaborate relationships with school counselors and administrators. The typical positive outcomes of students in the program include increased attendance, improved grades, greater attachment to the community and a general step towards a healthier life.
To contact a STARS counselor, visit starsnashville.org or call 615-279-0058. If you are concerned for your child, you may also call the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids helpline at 1-855-DRUGFREE or access its parent toolkit at DrugFree.org.

Did you know hearing loss affects not just the person with the hearing impairment? It also affects friends and family, and hearing loss can result in social isolation or withdrawal, frustration or depression.

If you’re having trouble hearing people on the other end of the phone, have to ask people to repeat themselves often, or find yourself cupping your hand or leaning in to hear, have your hearing checked.

If you do have hearing loss:

  • Don’t try to hide it – hearing loss is a medical condition that is treatable
  • Wear your hearing aids
  • Plan for noisy environments. Position yourself where most of the noise is behind you, such as sitting in the front row at a movie or church
  • And be patient with yourself

To learn more about hearing health, visit hihealthinnovations.com

March’s topics include overweight children, building young families and neonatal abstinence syndrome.

Dr. Michelle Fiscus, president of the Tennessee Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, talks about addressing the issue of overweight and obesity in children.

Representatives from March of Dimes discuss an innovative program called Tied Together, a dynamic parent education program designed to build on the strengths of young families.

Substance abuse during pregnancy can result in agonizing drug withdrawal for the newborn. Karen D’Apolito, director of the neonatal nurse practitioner program at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and March of Dimes volunteer, talks about this growing concern and the steps being taken in Tennessee to help prevent it.

Substance abuse during pregnancy can result in agonizing drug withdrawal for the newborn. Karen D’Apolito, director of the neonatal nurse practitioner program at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and March of Dimes volunteer, talks about this growing concern and the steps being taken in Tennessee to help prevent it.

Did you know if you take drugs during pregnancy, they can pass through the placenta to your baby in the womb?

Then because they are no longer receiving the drug after birth, the newborn infant may suffer painful symptoms of withdrawal. This is called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, and it’s a growing problem in Tennessee and across the country. If you are expecting a baby and are using drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, ask your health care provider for help with stopping as soon as possible to help keep you and your baby safe.