Holiday Spirits: Know the Facts Before You Drink

(Posted November 2018)

True or false:

Drinking caffeine (coffee) will sober you up.

It is safe for you to drive as long as you are not slurring words or stumbling around.

Of course both the above statements are false but these myths often influence a person’s decision on how they celebrate. Remember, as you enter the legal drinking age for alcoholic beverages, the risks related to alcohol consumption present a potential for unhealthy and unsafe issues. Holiday “spirits” are not just a mood or an emotional state. For many holiday “spirits” means celebrating by consuming alcoholic beverages. If you are planning on celebrating the holiday season with parties and family events that include alcohol, know the truth about the effects and risks. Despite the possible dangers, myths about drinking continue and for some can prove fatal. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has developed fact sheets to convey important information that challenges these widespread, yet incorrect, beliefs about how quickly alcohol affects the body and how long the effects of drinking last. This information is supported by scientific studies and published in fact sheets that provide correct information at a glance.

Remember, if you have a Substance Use Disorder, the best and safest decision is to not consume any alcohol beverages. Celebrate your recovery and look for other ways to celebrate the holidays. Take time to visit the NIAAA website and learn more about your decision to drink alcohol and alternatives for a good holiday. Visit NIAAA for these informative fact sheets: and

We wish you a safe and happy holiday.

What is Your Risk?

(Posted June 2018)

  • Are teenagers at greater risk for drug addiction?
  • Are teens more likely to do drugs if their parents are smokers?
  • Can alcoholism and drug addiction be inherited?

These are questions that were generated during the yearly National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week® when teens around the country can ask questions about substance use on Chat Day. Chat Day is a live online chat with scientists from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). This year, NIDA saw several questions similar to the ones above asking what can put a person at greater risk for problems with drugs or alcohol.

Has that question ever entered your thoughts? Do you know the factors that influence a person’s development of a drug problem? To help you better understand the issues related to a drug problem and the factors that indicate an issue, visit the NIDA Blog Team website Part I at:

To continue the learning opportunity for you in regard to the risk of developing a Substance Use Disorder (SUD), read part II of the NIDA Blog Team series and view the short video that explains how SUD’s may develop. This information can be viewed at:

Be aware that resources for help are available. In Illinois you will find information through the Department of Human Services website. Licensed treatment organizations are listed by counties and can be found by going to:

Getting “High” vs Not Feeling “Low”

(Posted March 2018)

For the past few months we have posted information about how drugs can change the way the brain’s “reward system” works. This is the part that creates the “feel good” effect when a young person begins to experiment and use drugs. The research on brain development and the pruning process for brain neurons indicates that the growth process happens much later than previously thought. This process is not complete until young adults are well into their early twenties. For you to begin to understand the dangers of drug use, especially at a young age, knowing that the “feel good” experience is only part of the story is an important fact. With ongoing drug use, the early “high” feelings change. As the brain changes and tolerance occurs, it often leads to feelings of depression and anxiety when the drug is not present. Thus, the need for the drug to feel “normal” or not “low” may lead to continued drug use.

To learn more about this process, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for Teens has posted two links to the NIDA Teen Blog Team information site.  Visit the NIDA Teen links at:

Where Do I Start?  

(Posted February 2018)  

Do I need help?                                                                      

Who can help me figure out my issues?                                    

How do I know where to go?

Have you ever ask yourself these questions? If you suspect you may have a problem with alcohol or other drugs or you are feeling seriously depressed, seek help in understanding what is going on with your issues. One good resource to begin the journey for help is to take a look at the guide provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The guide, Finding Quality Treatment for Substance Use Disorders, offers three steps to accessing care and provides five signs of quality treatment. Take a look at the guide by linking to:

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and SAMHSA to develop another valuable resource for use when seeking services for substance abuse or mental health issues. The resource, A Roadmap to Behavioral Health, was designed as a behavioral health resource and offers “8 Steps of the Roadmap” which is important information about mental health and substance use disorder services. The guide provides definitions for many behavioral health terms and steps to help you find a behavioral health services provider. It addresses how to make an appointment and how to prepare for your appointment. The steps offers suggestions as to how to best participate in your treatment and steps to obtain follow-up care. The “8 Steps of the Roadmap” offer information specific to behavioral health, as well as links to other federal resources. This useful resource is found by linking on to:

Disasters: You Aren’t Alone

(Posted October 2017)

In recent months disaster hit and devastated many parts of Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia and Puerto Rico. In the midst of the hurricanes that changed people’s lives, many flood victims were rescued by neighbors, first responders and caring people who made the decision to go the sites and assist those in need. As a result of these disasters, many people have experienced and continue to experience extreme stress. This stress may be as serious as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD increases the risk for many problems as people deal with the effects of the disaster.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens (NIDA) has identified some reactions to stress that teens may be experiencing as a result of the recent hurricanes. Some of the issues may be depression, anxiety and substance abuse concerns. It is important young people realize the risk for engaging in unhealthy behaviors such as alcohol or other drug use. NIDA wants teens to know “You are not alone.” To assist addressing the challenges of a disastrous experience, NIDA has provided a link to resources to support stress management. This is important as people recover from the damage, both physical and emotional, of the devastating events.

To learn more about managing the stress created by a natural disaster and the devastation experienced, link to: Learn ways to help take care of yourself and gain the strength for a strong future.

What is Going On?

(Posted June 2017)

As a young adult, do you ever question why you are feeling so “high” but know you haven’t used any substance to cause the feeling? Or, do you wonder why one day you feel very “hyper” and a few days or months later you are very depressed? Have you ever attempted to manage your “hyper behaviors” or “depression” with substances? Do you have issues with patience? Do you interrupt people when talking with them, and don’t know why? Did you know that the above issues are related to your brain development and how it functions?

When younger, were you ever diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder? Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? Or Substance Use Disorder (SUD)? If so, it may be important for you to follow up and revisit your signs, symptoms and diagnoses.’ All three issues have some similar symptoms and all three issues have a strong impact on how you manage a healthy life. For example, medication for Bipolar Disorder may be troublesome for a person in substance abuse recovery and medication for ADHD is known to often be abused by a person with addictive behaviors.

As you begin your journey as a young adult, now is a good time to address these disorders when appropriate. To begin gathering information that is related to the three issues, take a minute and look at the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) blog. The publication offers an overview of the disorders and how they are related. You will discover this information at:

“It Can’t Happen to Me”

(Posted April 2017)

How do I know if I have an addiction issue?

If I want to ask for help, where do I begin?

Have you ever thought “I don’t have a problem with drugs because it can’t happen to me”? Wrong! It can happen to anyone and at any age. Using drugs often starts when a person is young and continued use of drugs can lead to addiction (Substance Use Disorder). If you believe you may have a substance use disorder, it’s important to speak to a professional who is skilled in substance abuse assessment and discussion. Your health and your life could be at risk. If you have doubts or worries that may prevent you from taking that step, visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse website for teenagers. Go to for more information regarding a possible addiction and resources for help. Link to for a better understanding of who and how addiction may develop. To access a step by step guide to looking for help with addiction visit

Do I have a Substance Use Problem?

(Posted February 2017)

Have you ever wondered if you may have a problem with alcohol use or any other mood altering substance? If so, there are tools to assist you in addressing the concern. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) provides a self-test for teenagers that may help you learn more about possible problems. The purpose of the self-test is not to create a diagnosis of alcohol or drug dependence but is to be used only as information to help your understanding of alcohol and drug use and issues related to it. The self-test cannot take the place of a professional evaluation but may help you take the first steps toward a healthier, sober lifestyle. NCADD also provides links to resources to assist you in taking those first steps. The self-test for teenagers can be accessed at:

Get Ready: The Holidays are Approaching

(Posted December 2016)

As the holidays rush toward us, some of you may be feeling uneasy or vulnerable. You may be facing your first holiday celebrations in your recovery from alcohol or other drugs. People in recovery from substance abuse often experience stress created by the traditions and celebrations of the season. Knowing how to manage the holiday issues in recovery is important as it can be a trigger to relapse if not handled with planning, support and awareness of healthy approaches to the holiday. Basic holiday management tools are offered by a number of resources. The approach most often suggested to help is to be proactive and develop a recovery safety plan ahead of your holiday events. Take a look at the ideas offered in the resources provided below. These will offer you practical approaches to a safe and sober holiday season.


7 Tips for a Sober Holiday Party Season. Milios, Rita. (2014). Living in Recovery, Living with Addiction. Retrieved on November 17, 2016 from

Tips for Enjoying Happy Sober Holidays, Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. (2015). Retrieved on November 17, 2016 from

Young People in Recovery

(Posted November 2016)

If you are a young person on the journey of recovery, you may be interested in exploring the information and support that the organization, Young People in Recovery (YPR), has to offer. YPR is a national grassroots advocacy organization that focuses on creating recovery communities throughout the country for young adults seeking or in recovery. Their intent is to empower young recovering adults to become involved in their communities by supporting them with the tools to take charge of a healthy future in recovery. Visit the YPR website to learn how you may become involved a local chapter of YPR or be the catalyst to start one. You will find the information you need at

Addiction a Disease? Find out now!

(Posted October 2016)

If you or someone you care about is experiencing issues related to substance use, reading the information provided by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) may help you understand the concept of why addiction is classified as a disease. The article, Addiction as a Disease, is easy to comprehend and may help you understand how substance use changes the brain, why will power is often not enough and why addiction fits the description as a chronic disease. The information was updated in August 2016 and is found on

Discovering Recovery

(Posted May 2016)

“I don’t understand what recovery really means.”

“Why is it important for me to know?”

 If you are considering treatment services for substance use, understanding the meaning of recovery may be confusing. As you find out more about the term recovery, it may offer a welcome sense of hope. To help you and others understand the recovery concept, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has developed a working definition. SAMHSA defines recovery as a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential. (SAMHSA, October 5, 2015)

 In addition, SAMHSA has identified principles that are thought to help support recovery efforts. These principles may help explain recovery concepts for people affected by addiction. The publication, SAMHSA’s Working Definition of Recovery: 10 Guiding Principles of Recovery, provides additional information on how to incorporate these principles into a healthy recovery. To find out more, proceed to the SAMHSA online store and download the recovery information from:


Recovery and Recovery Support. (October 5, 2015) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from on March 28, 2016.

Do I Have a Drug Abuse Problem?

Do you ever wonder why your family or friends tell you that you are behaving differently? Do you ever feel tired or depressed or angry for no reason? Are you using alcohol or other drugs despite harmful consequences? If so, you may be experiencing a substance abuse problem. Remember that addiction can happen at any age but it usually starts when a person is young. By the teen years it is likely you have been offered a variety of alcohol or other drugs.

If you are concerned about your use or that of a friend, here are some signs that may help you to identify what is going on. It is your health and future at risk.

  • Hanging out with different friends
  • Careless with your appearance
  • Getting worse grades
  • Missing classes or skipping school
  • Losing interest in your favorite activities
  • Getting in trouble in school or with the law
  • Changes with eating or sleeping habits
  • Having more problems with family members and friends (NIDA, 2014)

Addiction does not affect any special type of person. It can happen to anyone. We know that treatment can help young people stop using drugs and lead productive lives. If you suspect you or a friend are on the road to addiction it is important to seek help early. Don’t wait. Talk with a parent or other trusted adult if you think you are addicted. Treatment works!

For more information visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse website at: or


  1. Retrieved May 22, 2015: How do I know if I have a drug abuse problem? (June 2014)