addictions | Kay Trotter

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All Posts Tagged: addictions

Prevent Your Teen From Taking Drugs

As I prepare for the Youth Drug Summit “A Community Conservation on Drugs” for the Flower Mound, Highland Village and Lewisville area, I want to share these parenting tips, my thoughts on the important role parents play during the turbulent teen years, and how imperative it is for parents to  join with your teen so together both teen and parent can “Keep Them Safe.”

The single known antidote — the only secret weapon that has consistently proven capable of disarming all known triggers of substance abuse — is the artful application of PARENTING

Prevention Made Simple

The best defense against substance abuse is the creation of an intrinsic belief system, starting around age 3. Once in place, this belief system will shield your child in a way that no lecture, no punishment and no incentive based technique ever could.

All kids are different, as are all parents, but there is one identical masterpiece that every family should seek to paint together before their child reaches the age of 15. The secret masterpiece is a child who truly believes that substance abuse is wrong, and “believes” that it is a threat to their future.

3 yrs belief


  • Be there for your teen when s/he needs to get out of a bad situation. Peer pressure is hard to deal with for every teen. You can help your teen deal with saying no to drugs to their peers by being the scapegoat: “I can’t do that, my parents would kill me!” Or be the parent who will pick up your teen without repercussions if s/he finds the party they’ve gone too has drugs available or their date has been drinking.
  • Get to know your teen’s friends and their parents on a first-name basis. Want to know what your teen is up to? Ask their friends. They may not share everything, or much of anything, but you will get a general idea if there are any risk-taking behaviors going on just by how the other teen acts. This is especially true when you get to know your teen’s friends. You will also have stronger support for keeping your teen from taking drugs if you know your teens friends’ parents well enough to use their first name. Building a relationship with them, casual is fine, will give you a leg up if you ever find your teen is doing drugs.
  • Keep connected in the after school hours. If you can’t be home with your teen, call and leave notes. Have another adult supervise your teen or sign them up for an after school program. If these things aren’t possible, establish a routine for your teenager and keep them busy during this time. After-school hours are the single most important time to know where your teens are and what they are doing, as statistics show 3 p.m. through 5 p.m. is a choice time for teens to use drugs. You can prevent your teen from doing drugs at this time through supervision.
  • Talk to your teen often about drugs. Use ice breakers from television shows or the radio in the car. Remember these are conversations, not lectures. And don’t be afraid to bring up the topic of drugs. Kids as young as preschool are taught about drug use in school in positives ways. Your teen knows all about them by the time they get to middle school or high school. When you open the topic of drugs up in conversation, you are letting your teen know that you are available if they need to talk, which is an excellent way to prevent your teen from taking drugs.
  • Get your teen involved in extra-curricular activities. Schools offer sports or clubs and community organizations offer classes and youth groups. These will help them mold their identity in a positive way and give them less time doing nothing and becoming bored. Studies have shown teens that have less time to just hang out and spend more time in organized activities are less likely to do drugs.
  • Ask questions when your teen makes plans to go out. Who will they be with, where are they going, what will they be doing, etc. Then check up on them. Call other parents and do this together. Teens who think they will get caught will be less likely to do drugs.
  • Be a role model. If you drink, drink responsibly – and don’t ever use illegal drugs. You may think that your kids don’t know that you are using, but they do or they will find out eventually. If you do take drugs, seek help and show your teen that you are taking responsibility for your actions.
  • Unite your family against drugs using strong family beliefs. Establish that your family doesn’t use drugs. Not that you will shun your child should they make a mistake, but that your family believes there are other healthier ways to enjoy life and fix problems rather than escaping into a drug haze.


Always Remember

An Ounce of Prevention

is Worth More than a Pound of Cure

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By Daniel Folmer – LPC-Intern and Tracie Posehn LPC-Intern, Counselors at and Supervised by Dr. Kay Sudekum Trotter – Counseling Services PLLC

“Being part of the Nintendo generation taught me that turning on a game was an easy escape from reality. Whatever academic, social, or occupational problems haunted me during the day, there was always a place I could succeed: video games. For people who struggle in reality, gaming and technology can easily takeover as the watermark for success. How can we recognize problematic usage of technology and gaming? How can we help those who seem to be stuck in a pattern of abuse?” – Daniel Folmer, LPC-Intern

Can Gaming be Beneficial to the Brain?


  • Video gamers show improved skills in vision, attention and certain aspects of cognition.
  • Gamers perform better than non-gamers on certain tests of attention, speed, accuracy, vision and multitasking – (Daphne Beveller, University of Rochester)


  • Facebook – Bullying, Gossiping, Predators
  • Video Games – Violence, Drugs, Alcohol
  • Pornography
  • Twitter – Uncontrolled Communication
  • Chat Roulette
  • Tumbler
  • Text Messaging

Screen Time – How Much is too Much?

A University of Bristol study surveyed 1,000 kids ages 10 and 11. Over a period of seven days, the children filled out a questionnaire reporting how much time they spent either watching TV or at a computer – something doctors call “screen time” – and answered questions describing their mental state. An accelerometer measured physical activity levels.

Kids who spend more than two hours of screen time a day were 60% more likely to have psychological difficulties such as depression or ADHD. Those who got more physical activity fared better than their sedentary peers, those with more screen time still scored worse in behavioral areas such as hyperactivity.

According to a report in the March issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals, teens who spend more time watching television or using computers seem to have poorer relationships with their parents and peers.


61% spend around 20 hours of screen time per week, on average

32% spend around 40 hours of screen time per week

7% are exposed to more than 50 hours of screen time per week

Source: American Heart Association’s 48th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention.

Prolonged exposure to rapid image changes during critical periods of brain development (like on a TV show designed for an infant) may precondition the mind to expect high levels of stimulation.  This may then make the pace of real life less able to sustain our children’s attention. The more hours a child views rapid-fire television, the more likely they will have attention challenges later in life.


  1. Kids under 2-years-old should not watch any TV
  2. Kids older than 2 should watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming. Source: The American Academy of Pediatrics


 Internet Addiction Disorder

Salience: Using the Internet dominates the person’s life, feelings and behavior.

Mood modification: The person experiences changes in mood (e.g., a “buzz”) when using the Internet.

Tolerance: Increasing amounts of Internet use are needed to achieve the same effects on mood.

Withdrawal symptoms: If the person stops using the Internet, they experience unpleasant feelings or physical effects.

Relapse: The addict tends to relapse into earlier patterns of behavior, even after years of abstinence or control. (Griffiths, 2003)

Iowa State University Professor Douglas Gentile found that 8.5% of 1,178 youths studied are addicted to video games, using the same standards for addiction used for pathological gamblers.

Youth included in the study played video games 24 hours per week. They were more likely to have video games in the bedroom. Youth addicted to video games were also twice as likely to have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Youth studied were found to have attention deficits in school, lower grades, were inclined to steal, and had more health problems.

Teens, who play violent video games, may exhibit lingering effects on brain function, including increased activity in the region of the brain that governs emotional arousal and decreased activity in the brain’s executive function, which is associated with control, focus and concentration. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Compared with the group that played the nonviolent game, the group that played the violent video game demonstrated less activation in the prefrontal portions of the brain, which are involved in inhibition, concentration and self-control, and more activation in the amygdala, which is involved in emotional arousal.

A study in China has shown that teens spending at least five- to 10-hours a day on the web are one-and-a-half times more likely to develop depression than moderate users

A loss of interest in social interaction and other symptoms of addictive behavior is present among teens who spend an excessive amount of time browsing or playing games online.

Some teens show signs of anxiety while away from the computer.

Why do Kids Play Internet Games?

  • Achievement
  • Exploration
  • Socialization
  • Killing

What Can Parents Do

Few children are excited to have the activities they love taken away or limited.  When making a change to the habits in your home, provide logical reasoning for placing a limit.  Your child does not have to agree with you, but, by providing fact-based reasoning, you demonstrate working in the best interest of the child rather than a sudden burst of authority.

If you feel your child is engaged in TV or Video Games extensively and want them to do something else, help to give alternative activities to meet similar needs. Here is a list of more positive, real-world based activities to supplement your child’s technology usage:

SPORTS                           YOUTH GROUP                           SCOUTS

NATURE                          SCHOOL CLUBS                          FINE ARTS

Remember, you are the parent and the role model for healthy living.  Help your child make healthy choices by setting an example and making a change for the family and not only the child.

Begin the conversation by identifying family and personal values, and then move towards negative behaviors you have seen increase/exist.

Meeting Your Child’s Emotional Needs

  • Expect to meet with resistance initially and allow for your child to voice opinion and show emotion
  • When setting a limit, provide a replacement activity for your child while making a transition to a new habit/behavior
  • Be clear that you are setting a boundary rather than entering negotiations
  • Acknowledge your child’s feelings and argument against making a change. Remember acknowledging is not agreeing, it just shows “you heard” your child
  • Listen and show empathy without changing your position
  • Be consistent in your expectations and have clear consistent consequences that are enforceable
  • Provide verbal and non-verbal encouragement when your child is making appropriate choices
  • Note positive changes you observe: better sleeping habits, increased productivity, greater patience and tolerance, respectful communication . . .

Concrete Limits and Boundaries That Can and Need to Be Set



You can contact Daniel Folmer to schedule an appointment or arrange for Daniel to come speak to your group about Internet Gaming at:

  • 214-499-0396
  • or visit the web site

Additional recourses:

How TV affects your child:

Internet Addiction increases depression in teens:

Even TV in the background Impacts Brain Development:

Positive Technological Avenues:

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