Prepared by: Nicole Filiberti, LSW
In a world full of issues that makes turning on the evening news a sad event, the opioid epidemic taking place in our country is surely going to make the list. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioids are a class of drugs which, unlike other classes, includes both the legal or prescribed, and illegal kinds.
Unfortunately, New Jersey knows the pain of this epidemic a little too well. According to the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General, there have been a recorded 1,138 overdose deaths in the state since January 1st 2018 (njcares.gov). Many studies on the topic have been conducted or are in the process of being carried out by experts across the nation. There are also a great deal of initiatives taking place right here in New Jersey to stop the increasing statistics.
Our teens are especially at risk because heroin is available and it’s “affordable”. With their still developing brains, they are likely to become addicted and not likely to access treatment.
Opioids By Name
We know these as prescription pain killers and there is a high physical and emotional addiction to them – they include: oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine and morphine. There is also a synthetic opioid called fentanyl. Oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine and morphine can be addictive both physically and emotionally.
To get technical, opioids derive from the opium poppy plant and have both relaxing and pain relieving effects on the body. These effects can be very helpful to people suffering with pain, but are also the reason people use and abuse these substances for non-medical purposes.
Opioids bind to and activate opioid receptors that are located in cells all over the brain. This process results in the body feeling less pain and sense of euphoria. This is where the emotional addiction kicks in. There is also a significant amount of dopamine released throughout the body when someone uses opioids. This process is what strongly reinforces taking the drug repeatedly, as the user begins continuously craving that feeling. (drugabuse.gov)
Training Our Medical Providers
NJ Cares was launched in February of this year to address this issue. It uses a team approach involving law enforcement officials and other agencies. Working with New Jersey police departments and Emergency Medical Technicians, NJ Cares provides these individuals with support and resources to help identify as well as provide assistance for people addicted to opioids. One of these resources is the usage of Statewide Opioid Response Teams (ORT), which is a 24/7 program in which crisis intervention is provided for individuals who are addicted to opioids.
Mental health advocates, substance abuse recovery advocates, and EMTs will work together with police officers to provide support and referrals to treatment programs for those who need them. Also, part of the ORT program is extensive training to members so they are well versed in de-escalation techniques and methods to utilize when working with those suffering from opioid addiction.
Many studies shed light on a central theme that plays a significant part in addressing this issue: doctors. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (aka SAMHSA), millions of people are prescribed opioid drugs each year to treat medical conditions that may lead to severe pain that is otherwise difficult to manage for patients. Such instances are pain following a surgery or a bone fracture. (samhsa.gov). Both SAMHSA and the CDC have launched programs that include continuing education for prescribers as well as information for patients so they can better determine if opioids are truly necessary and if so, to ensure they are continuously monitored and used appropriately.
Another key aspect of NJ Cares is its creation of a website driven by data in real time. A quick look on NJCares.gov will show site visitors information on opioid overdoses broken down by county, as well as monthly reports. This website aims to show people in real time how significant of an issue this is and to inspire individuals to have a conversation about this very real problem.
Warning Signs that Your Child May be Addicted
Sudden changes in behavior can be caused by multiple factors, but one of significance is drug use. It is important to take note of changes in your adolescent's mood and behavior, especially if they are suddenly appearing tired often or if they begin displaying a hostile attitude. The National Institute on Drug Abuse lists these other warning signs (drugabuse.gov):
- carelessness with grooming
- a change in peer group
- decline in academic performance
- missing classes or skipping school
- loss of interest in favorite activities
- changes in eating or sleeping habits
- deteriorating relationships with family members and friends
The internet brings a wealth of resources to families in need of substance abuse treatment. SAMHSA runs a helpful service locator tool which can be found at findtreatment.samhsa.gov. SAMHSA also runs a 24/7 hotline which also provides referrals to local treatment facilities as well as support groups and community based agencies. This hotline phone number is 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
Once an adolescent is discharged from a rehabilitation facility, there are various treatment options available to them. Finding a therapist who has substance abuse counseling experience is key when choosing a treatment provider. Another beneficial factor to look out for is to work with a therapist who utilizes a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approach to treatment. CBT helps people in recovery identify negative thought patterns which are then linked to behaviors. CBT assists people struggling with addiction by assisting them in utilizing positive coping skills in response to harmful thought patterns, leading to an increase in emotional regulation.
Reducing the stigma surrounding substance abuse can help individuals suffering from substance abuse feel comfortable seeking out assistance when it is needed. Families should be encouraged to browse this website frequently and have discussions with each other on the topic, specifically developmentally appropriate conversations with children and adolescents from parents and guardians.
The opioid epidemic is a very real problem in New Jersey. There are a few steps individuals can take, whether they are being prescribed opioid drugs or they are community members who want to help reduce the stigma. Having these conversations is vital in addressing the issue and making much needed changes to these very concerning statistics.
Kicking! Punching! Hitting! Aggression in children is a natural part of growth and development. Check out some of these tips from handinhandparenting.org to help understand and relieve children's aggression.
Parenting is the toughest job I have ever had. I have never felt so vulnerable as I do as a parent. Not only am I on 24-7 but my job has changed from making sure I have my little ones favorite snacks to being able to hear how hard it is to manage emotions in a growing body and things don’t always make sense. I worry. A lot. I’ve always worried but now, I really worry now. I wonder how their day is going, if they’ve been able to keep up with their lessons, class assignments, the social art of navigating lunch, recess, the bus.
I pray for all of our childrens’ safety as they are housed within a building that once seemed safe. I pray for our children to know and show kindness to each other and to befriend and protect the kids who are a bit more emotionally fragile.
I know you can relate to parenting being a trigger of our own ‘stuff’, the stuff that we thought we could leave behind. But parenting makes you feel out of control. It’s unpredictable and sometimes it’s ok, and other times, it’s awesome, and other times, I just want to quit.
No one really likes to talk about the times they want to quit because there is immense pressure to be a great mom, no, a super mom! A super mom who can handle her own childhood issues when triggered while parenting and still keep it cool, say something meaningful and still be able to look good while doing it.
Not my experience and I have a strong feeling that I’m part of a really big club that doesn’t like to admit that parenting and mothering triggers anxiety and childhood unresolved conflicts.
Please repeat this mantra with me everyday, but especially on the days when you feel emotionally drained: “I am the best mom I can be. I am good enough as a person and a mom. This rough moment will pass.”
Please read this blog “Taking Control of Your Parenting Triggers” by Imperfect Families. Take comfort in knowing you are not alone in this journey.
In line with Dr. Liz's blog entitled, "What I Learned After Watching Screenagers" and a radio show with Maria Bailey on Mom Talk Radio, Hilarie Gamm offers more information about the impact of technology on our growing children. Hilarie agrees - technology is everywhere and it's not going anywhere. She explains the benefits of social media and offers guidelines for parents in guiding our children with the on-line world.
Dr. Liz's Book REview: "The Angry Octopus: An Anger Management Story Introducing Active Progressive Muscular Relaxation And Deep Breathing" by Lori LIte
Dr. Liz's Review
Another fabulous children’s book by Lori Lite! What a valuable resource to me as a mother and Child Psychologist. The pictures are vivid and engaging. With the story being about an octopus, it was easy for my own children and the children with whom I work to relate to the release of ink as a visual for being angry. The octopus learning to take control of its body through deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation is an easy way for our children to relate to the angry and overwhelmed feelings as well as self-calming.
Happy to add this book not only to my personal library but to my library in my private practice to read with young children to allow them to relate to underwater sea creatures, which is not intimidating and normalizing. This book has the added benefit of being able to follow the breathing exercises alongside the octopus, which makes this book not only entertaining, but functional. I value books that double up as therapeutic tools!
Prepared by Chrissy Sunberg, M. Ed., AAC
All children hate chores – adults hate them too, actually. But inherent in completing these dreaded tasks are skills and emotional messages that are conveyed that go far beyond taking out the garbage or emptying the dishwasher.
With homework beginning to dwindle over the next few weeks, it may be a good time to discuss and plan the chore chart and each person’s contribution to running your house. Although it’s helpful for us as parents to have another set of hands or two helping to take out the garbage or bring in the mail, our children are gaining a lot more than just points or allowance.
A Sense of Belongingness
When you introduce (or re-introduce) the chore chart in your home, you may want to call a family meeting and have a discussion about it. That is, present to your children that you are a team, a family. Each member in the home is an important and valuable contributor to how your house runs. When one person does not do their part, the rest of the system suffers. For example, not taking out the garbage means the cans are full and the odor is not fresh!
Over time, your child will begin to develop a sense of being a part of a community which will easily transfer to the classroom, boy/girl scouts, and sports. You won’t need to discuss the importance of being a team member only, but rather your child will have gained a deeper understanding of what that really means, and what happens when one person doesn’t do their part.
Building Executive Functioning Skills
Another benefit to our children having chores is that they begin to develop their executive functioning skills. A child may think about when they will empty the dishwasher around their homework or sports, for example. A child who is sorting laundry will need to maintain attention to the task, take a look at the clothing, make an assessment and follow through. And the more complex the task, the more executive functioning skills are used.
Stop! Collaborate and Listen
There are many approaches to creating a chore chart, but for me, it’s most important that the maintenance is easy so that the consistency in using it is possible. One easy way to create a system is to have your children create a list of chores that need to be done in the house to keep it running. They can then write those chores on popsicle sticks. Each completed chore can be turned into points or money value. Those points can then be translated into privileges (e.g., ice cream with mommy, movies with daddy, etc)
Each child can have their own jar or can in which they can choose (or can be assigned) 2, 3 or 5 chores per day (depending on age). Once chores are completed, the popsicle sticks go into their “Done” jar or can. At the end of the day, a parent can keep a log of the number of chores completed. Payment or privileges can then be provided at the end of the week.
Make it a collaborate approach. Learning to collaborate is a life skill that will enhance your child’s ability to negotiate and compromise. First, you may be thinking, what type of chores are appropriate for my child’s age.
Which Chores are Appropriate for My Child’s Age?
According to WebMD, the following is a suggested list of chores for your child by age.
Chores for children ages 2 to 3
Any of the above chores, plus:
Any of the above chores, plus:
Any of the above chores, plus:
Chores for children ages 10 and older.
Any of the above chores, plus:
I bet you didn’t know that there were so many benefits to having a chore system in place in your home, huh? Well, the benefits far exceed a clean playroom or a made bed!
What a fun time with Terricka and Antonio Cromartie recording our first episode of Season 2 of The Cromarties on USA! Watch it tonight at 10:30/9:30c.
Final projects, papers, exams, and essays. With the final weeks of the semester approaching, academic demands and stress levels skyrocket. Help stay ahead of the game with some of these study tips!
Dr. Liz presents: "Anxiety Disorders & Their Academic Implications" at Madison High School on May 3 ,2018
A big thank you to the administrators and parents of the Madison Public School District who came out to hear Dr. Liz present on this hot topic. Thank you for the opportunity to connect with your community!
Dr. Liz Matheis
Dr Liz Matheis and her team specialize in assisting children and their families with Anxiety, Autism, AD/HD, Learning Disabilities and Behavioral Struggles