Liar, Liar Pants On Fire

Lying involves a speaker making a false statement with the intention to deceive the recipient (Bok, 1978; Chrisholm & Feehan, 1977; Coleman & Kay, 1981; Lee, 2000). Lies differ in type, incidence, magnitude and consequence. There are various gradations of severity, from harmless exaggeration and embellishment, to intentional and habitual deceit.  In a study at the University of Arizona in 2000 Wendy Gamble identified four basic types of lies:

  1. Prosocial: lying to protect someone, told for the sake of preserving social relations,
  2. Antisocial: lying to hurt someone else intentionally, told for personal advantage or to avoid punishment,
  3. Self-enhancement: lying to save face, to avoid embarrassment, disapproval or punishment,
  4. Selfish: lying to protect the self at the expense of another, and/or to conceal a misdeed.

Most parents hear their child lie and assume he/she is too young to understand what lies are or that lying’s wrong.  Victoria Talwar, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Montreal’s McGill University and a leading expert on children’s lying behavior has found the opposite to be true—kids who grasp early the nuances between lies and truth use this found the opposite to be true—kids who grasp early the nuances between lies and truth use this knowledge to their advantage, making them more prone to lie when given the chance. LaFreniere (1988) reported descriptions of deceitful behavior in children as early as 19 months.  LaFreniere interpreted deceit at this age as a way of gaining attention, provoking laughter, or being humorous.  Babies will fake a cry, pause, wait to see who is coming and then go back to crying in order to gain attention from a specific person. Another incorrect assumption parents make is that their child will stop lying when he/she gets older. Many professionals will advise parents to just let lies go as the child will eventually grow out of it. The truth, according to Dr. Talwar, is that children “grow into it.” Observational studies have shown a 4-year-old will lie once every two hours, while a 6-year-old will lie about once every hour and a half. Pamela Meyer a leading expert in deception detection, and author of the book Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception states that a one year old learn concealment, two year olds bluff, five years olds lie out right (manipulating) by flattery, nine year olds are masters of the cover up and by the time a person is in college they will lie to their mother in 1 out of every 5 interactions.

Nancy Darling, Ph.D. while at Penn State University, observed that 98 percent of the teens reported lying to their parents. When questioned about 36 topics teens lied to their parents on 12 of those topics. They lied about how they spent their allowance, whether they’d started dating, what clothes they wore while in the company of their friends, what movie they saw and with whom they went, alcohol and drug use, whether they were spending time with friends their parents disliked, how they spent their afternoons while their parents were at work, whether chaperones were in attendance at a party and whether they rode in cars driven by drunken teens. Dr. Darling also noted that being an honors student or an overscheduled child did not significantly affect the outcome.

Lying can be a warning sign that there is something wrong in a child’s life.  It can be a symptom that something is not right for a child.  Violent Oaklander, Ph.D. explains that children may lie because they fear taking a stand for themselves and are afraid to face reality.  Children are immersed in self-doubt, poor self worth, guilt, and or shame leaving them unable to cope with the world around them.  Dr. Oaklander goes on to explain that often times children are forced to lie by their parents because parents can be to inconsistent, harsh, or may have impossible expectations to difficult for the child to meet.  Another important and often over looked reason children lie is they are just copying their parent’s behavior.

Psychologists have found traits within children that lie. Examples of these traits include:

  1. Emotional well-being. Children who chronically lie tend to have poor self worth and the lie is usually motivated out of fear or poor self-esteem. This child lies in order to make himself/herself appear more important, smart, brave or otherwise impressive.
  2. Cognitive ability. Dr. Talwar explains that lying is the more advanced skill than telling the truth. A child who is going to lie must recognize the truth, intellectually conceive of an alternate reality, and be able to convincingly sell that new reality to someone else.
  3. Social skills.  Lying also demand social abilities that honesty simply doesn’t require. Robert S. Feldman found that convincing lying is actually associated with good social skills. It takes social skills to be able to control your words as well as what you say non-verbally.

Being a “lie detector” is not a skill that is easily developed.  It takes quite a bit of training. Experts study facial expressions, micro expressions, eye movements, body movements, verbal expressions, and more to be able to accurately identify when a lie is being told. However, experts offer a few tips that may be helpful in identifying when a lie is being told.

First, It is important to know the child’s typical verbal and non-verbal behaviors. First establish a baseline. A baseline is how someone behaves when he/she is not lying and gives you a mode of comparison.  If you do not know the child very well, initiate a conversation about things they child likes to do (sports, hobbies, etc.) and pay close attention to both verbal and non-verbal expressions. This also aids in building rapport. Establishing a good baseline takes approximately 3-5 minutes.

Next ask the child to tell the story of what happened.  Listen carefully to what the child is saying. When you ask a “yes” or “no” question, the word “yes” or “no” should be in the answer versus long explanations of what occurred. Is the child overemphasizing their innocence? For example “I swear I didn’t do it”, or “just ask anyone.”

Listen to how the child tells you the story. People who are lying tell stories in strict chronological order. This is done to keep stories and details straight. How a person remembers a story is actually based on the experiences and emotional components of what occurred.  The meaningful parts are usually shared first.

If something does not make sense ask follow-up questions.  Also ask detailed questions – For example – what another person might have been wearing. Re-ask the same question later to see if the answer changes or not.

Use silence.  Silence offers no feedback on whether you believe the child or not and someone who is lying will usually work keep talking to fill in the silence.

Pay attention to whether the child is looking at you when talking. When asked a difficult question, truthful people will often look away because the question requires concentration, while dishonest people will look away only briefly, if at all. Someone who is lying will tend to maintain eye contact as a way of checking to see if the lie is being believed. Finally ask if the child telling the truth.

Remember these are only tips and in no way make you a trained “Lie Detector”

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Violent video games and the brain

As video games continue becoming more violent and increasingly realistic and as technology improves the controversy over whether or not violent video games are potentially harmful to players increases.  These debates have even made it as far as the Supreme Court in 2010.

In 2008 it was reported that 97% of young people ages 12-17 played some type of video game, and that two-thirds of them played games that contained violent content. A separate study found that more than half of all video games contained some form of violence. Because of this, parents, pediatricians, teachers, and mental health professionals are beginning to ask questions about the impact that violent video games will have on today’s youth.

Researchers are divided on whether or not violent video games actually increase aggression among children and teens. Many organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) propose that children learn are affected by the violence in video games and that there is a direct correlation between the numbing of emotions, sleep problems, academic impairments, and most importantly aggressive and violent behaviors.  There is also a concern that the amount of time a child or teen spends playing violent video games has a negative implications.

In a recent study presented by Indiana University School of Medicine researchers at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America showed a direct  relationship between playing violent video games over an extended period of time and a subsequent change in brain regions associated with cognitive function and emotional control. “For the first time, we have found that a sample of randomly assigned young adults showed less activation in certain frontal brain regions following a week of playing violent video games at home,” said Yang Wang, M.D., assistant research professor in the IU Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences. “The affected brain regions are important for controlling emotion and aggressive behavior.” Gentile, Lynch, Linder & Walsh (2004, p.6) state that teens who play violent video games for extended periods of time:

  • Tend to be more aggressive
  • Are more prone to confrontation with their teachers
  • May engage in fights with their peers
  • See a decline in school achievements. (Gentile et al, 2004).

Some researchers believe that while playing violent video games leads to violent actions, there are also biological influences that impact a person’s choices. According to Sean P. Neubert of Rochester Institute of Technology, a person who is biologically predisposed to aggression will be more strongly influenced by violent scenes and thus will have a greater risk for carrying out destructive actions.

On the other hand, there are researchers that have questioned this stance and argue that the majority of youth are not affected by violent video games and remain convinced that playing these types of games may be a part of normal development. Numerous researchers even note that video games have a “positive” impact on children, improving manual dexterity, social and cognitive development, and computer literacy.  It has been shown that “action” video game players have better hand-eye coordination and visuo-motor skills, such as their resistance to distraction, their sensitivity to information in the peripheral vision and their ability to count briefly presented objects, than non-players.

Dr. Cheryl Olson and her team at Massachusetts General Hospital’s (MGH) Center for Mental Health and Media at Harvard showed that violent games help students deal with stress and aggression. She has found that over 49% of boys and 25% of girls use violent games such as Grand Theft Auto IV as an outlet for their anger.

There is still a need for more research as there are many uncertainties and questions about the influence that violent video games may have on children.  The good news is there are a few simple things that parents can do to protect their children from potential harm. These precautions may help:

Limit the amount of time children spend playing video games. The AAP recommends two hours or less of total “screen” time per day (including television, computers, and video games).

  • Put TV’s and computers in common areas- not in children’s bedrooms.
  • Play video games with children to better understand the content and how they react.
  • Check ratings.
  • Encourage participation in sports and school activities.
  • Pay attention to “red-flags” such as, anger, depression, impulsivity and isolation.

When it comes to video games, moderation is key.

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Children With OSA Require Treatment To Reverse Brain Abnormalities.

Article taken from:

American Thoracic Society. (2012, May 21). “Children With OSA Require Treatment To Reverse Brain Abnormalities.” Medical News Today. Retrieved from

Treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in children normalizes disturbances in the neuronal network responsible for attention and executive function, according to a new study.

“OSA is known to be associated with deficits in attention, cognition, and executive function,” said lead author Ann Halbower, MD, Associate Professor at the Children’s Hospital Sleep Center and University of Colorado Denver. “Our study is the first to show that treatment of OSA in children can reverse neuronal brain injury, correlated with improvements in attention and verbal memory in these patients.”

The results will be presented at the ATS 2012 International Conference in San Francisco.

In the study, children (ages 8-11) with moderate-severe OSA were compared to healthy controls. Brain imaging with magnetic resonance spectroscopy imaging was performed at baseline in 15 OSA patients and seven controls, along with neuropsychological testing. OSA treatment consisted of adenotonsillectomy followed by monitored continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or nasal treatments. Brain imaging and neuropsychological testing was performed again in 11 OSA patients and the seven controls six months after treatment.

Compared with controls at baseline, children with OSA exhibited significantly decreased N-acetyl aspartate to choline ratios (NAA/Cho) in the left hippocampus and left frontal cortex, along with significant decreases in the executive functions of verbal memory, and attention. Following treatment, both left and right frontal cortex neuronal metabolites normalized, and hippocampal metabolites improved with a medium effect size (0.5).

More complete reversal of hippocampal abnormalities was seen in children with milder OSA when apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) improved (although this is very preliminary data). Verbal memory and attention improved with medium to large effect sizes. Improvements in attention and verbal memory were correlated with normalization of NAA/Cho in the right and left frontal cortex (p=0.5).

“We have demonstrated for the first time that treatment of OSA in children normalizes brain metabolites in portions of the neuronal network responsible for attention and executive function,” concluded Dr. Halbower. “We speculate that if OSA is treated earlier, there may be a more brisk improvement in the hippocampus, a relay station for executive function, learning, and memory.”

“Our results point to the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of OSA in children, as it could potentially have profound effects on their development.”

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ADD??? Or maybe…

Jeremy was a bright child in first grade.  His parents were frustrated because of his troubles in school.  As the day progressed Jeremy became fidgety, his ability to focus and attend to information decreased, and he became very irritable. In class Jeremy couldn’t sit still when the teacher taught. Everyone’s initial thought was Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but did Jeremy suffer from Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or could it be something else?

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is an important and prevalent problem, but research in sleep laboratories has shown that some children are mislabeled with ADD when the real problem is sleep deprivation.  A study by Ron Chervin, MD, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (April of 2006) found that 28% of children referred to an Ear Nose and Throat clinic for removal of their tonsils and adenoids because of symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea had also been diagnosed with ADHD. When these children were followed up one year after surgery, 50% no longer qualified for the diagnosis of ADHD.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a common medical condition that is now being identified in more and more children. Obstructive sleep apnea affects 2 percent of children with the peak age being 2 to 5 years old, but it can occur at any age. Obstructive sleep apnea can lead to behaviors easily mistaken for hyperactivity and is often overlooked by health professionals.  “Lots of studies suggest that kids with sleep apnea are more likely to be hyperactive, impulsive and inattentive.  It affects behavior and mood, so these kids can look a lot like a kid with ADHD ” says Dr. Judith Owens, associate professor of pediatrics at Brown University Medical School.”

“Sleep apnea is not a trivial disorder,” says Dr. David Gozal, director of the Pediatric Sleep Medicine Center at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Kentucky. “We’re very concerned, because we’re not just talking about the immediate implications for quality of life. If not recognized early enough, especially in vulnerable children, sleep apnea may accelerate long-term disease processes, leading to advanced disease by the time they’re in adulthood.” During the night, two things are taking place. “The oxygen level dips, which is not good for your health; and the more prominent issue is that these kids are waking up throughout the night, and they’re not even aware of it,” says Jodi Mindell, a professor of psychology who is associate director of the Sleep Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Karen Bonuck PhD, professor of family and social medicine and of obstetrics and gynecology and women’s health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine did a large, population-based, longitudinal study looking at the effects of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) symptoms from 6 months to 7 years of age on the child’s behavior.  She found SBD symptoms had strong, persistent statistical effects on behavior. “The worse their breathing symptoms, the greater their risk of such problems as hyperactivity, behavioral problems including aggressiveness and rule-breaking, anxiety and depression, and difficulty getting along with peers.”

Children with sleep apnea do not get sound sleep. They may also get suboptimal oxygen to the brain at night. Obstructive sleep apnea can have a serious negative impact on a child’s intellect and behavior. The common symptoms of sleep apnea are similar to Attention Deficit Disorder and include difficulty paying attention during the day, decreased academic performance, oppositional behavior, and restlessness. Other symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea in children may include: snoring – loud, squeaky, raspynocturnal snorting, gasping, choking (may wake self up), restless sleep, heavy irregular breathing, excessive perspiring during sleep, severe bedwetting, bad dreams (nightmares), night terrors, sleeps with mouth open, chest retraction during sleep in young children (chest pulls in), sleeps in strange positions, confusion upon awakening, morning headaches, unrefreshing sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, learning problems, excessive irritability, difficulty concentrating, frequent upper respiratory infections, and hyperactive behavior.

Left untreated, sleep apnea may negatively affect parts of the brain involved in learning, taking a toll on cognitive function and academic performance. The culprit causing the obstruction is usually the child’s own tonsils and adenoids,  which tend to be relatively large in small children and sit near the entrance to the airway.

Obesity is another risk factor, because of the pressure on the airway.  Children with sleep apnea may snore quite loudly for a bit, then are silent, then snort briefly, move about, and resume snoring. If snoring is accompanied by nighttime breathing difficulty and pauses in breathing, then it may well be sleep apnea. Though not all kids with sleep apnea snore. Even when they do, sleep apnea is often overlooked. Instead, the child is diagnosed with a behavioral disorder — most commonly Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) (Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, Sep 1997). If you suspect that your child may have symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea talk to your pediatrician or a sleep specialist.

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Teen Suicide

The reasons behind a teen’s suicide or attempted suicide can be complex. Although suicide is relatively rare among children, the rate of suicides and suicide attempts increases tremendously during adolescence. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that suicide is the third-leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds, surpassed only by accidents and homicide. (

Suicide rates differ between boys and girls. Girls think about and attempt suicide about twice as often as boys, and tend to attempt suicide by overdosing on drugs or cutting themselves. Yet boys die by suicide about four times as often girls, because they tend to use more lethal methods.

A teen with a good support system of friends, family, religious affiliations, peer groups, or extracurricular activities has an outlet to deal with everyday frustrations. But many teens don’t believe they have an outlet, and feel disconnected and isolated from family and friends. These teens are at increased risk for suicide.

Factors that increase the risk of suicide among teens include:

  • A psychological disorder, especially depression, bipolar disorder, and alcohol and drug use (in fact, approximately 95% of people who die by suicide have a psychological disorder at the time of death);
  • Feelings of distress, irritability, or agitation;
  • Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness that often accompany depression (a teen, for example, who experiences repeated failures at school, who is overwhelmed by violence at home, or who is isolated from peers is likely to experience such feelings);
  • A previous suicide attempt;
  • Family history. This can include a family history of suicide, mental disorders, and/or substance (drug or alcohol) abuse;
  • Identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual;
  • Lack of a support network, poor relationships with parents or peers, and feelings of social isolation;
  • Substance abuse/alcohol abuse, which can create feelings of dependency, illness and depression;
  • Feeling out of control and powerless due to drug or alcohol addiction can be a major risk factor in attempted teen suicide;
  • Evidence also supports the idea that suicides are sometimes imitated. In particular, exposure to the death of a peer by suicide or by another violent means may increase the likelihood of subsequent suicides among young people in a community.

Adolescence can be a period of great confusion and anxiety. There is pressure to fit in socially, to perform academically, and to act responsibly. There is also an awakening of sexual feelings, a growing self-identity, and a need for autonomy that often conflicts with the rules and expectations set by others.

Warning signs of a teen who may be thinking about suicide can include: talking about suicide or death in general, talking about “going away”, talking about feeling hopeless or feeling shame, pulling away from friends or family, losing the desire to take part in favorite things or activities, having trouble concentrating or thinking clearly, experiencing changes in eating or sleeping habits, or engaging in self-destructive behavior (drinking alcohol, taking drugs, or driving too fast, for example). These signs do not always mean that a teenager is thinking of suicide, but they should alert others to talk with the teenager about what is on his or her mind.

Parents should not be afraid to ask their teenager if he or she is thinking about suicide.  Talking with them about suicide does not make teenagers do it. Showing concern and asking questions calmly is the first step when dealing with a suicidal adolescent. Asking teenagers how they feel and if they have thoughts of ending their life keeps open lines of communication and sets the stage for professional intervention. If a teen has a specific plan to act on a suicidal impulse, the risk is greater and immediate intervention is needed.

Whenever an adolescent has suicidal thoughts or makes a suicide attempt, professional help should be sought immediately to protect the adolescent from hurting themselves.  Once the initial suicidal crisis is over, treatment with a mental health professional should continue. It often takes a number of sessions to help adolescents figure out what is happening in their lives that has led to suicidal behavior and to help them learn ways to manage stressors.

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Parent Tip

Parents who:

  • offer their child an accepting, caring, comforting, and protecting environment,
  • offer consistency, structure, and regularity of daily routine
  • do things regularly as a family like going out to dinner, playing games, etc
  • set reasonable and firm limits
  • encourage their child to make friends,

create a well developed child with a secure sense of self, are trusting, cooperative, self reliant, helpful towards others, and feel worthy of being helped when in need.

Parents who:

  • are persistently unresponsive to their child,
  • are rejecting,
  • persistently threaten to withhold love to control their child,
  • persistently threaten abandonment,
  • threaten their spouse with divorce,
  • induce shame by claiming the child’s behavior is responsible for parent illness

create an environment in which the child is expected to take care of the parent(s) offer their children a deviant pathway on to which a pattern of anxious attachment develops.

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Catch Them Doing It Right

How many times a day do you, as a parent, have to correct your child’s misbehavior with statements such as “stop that,” “clean up your room,” or “how many times am I going to have to ask you to put the video game away?”  I am guessing that it feels like an infinite number.

As parents, we have many jobs: working, cleaning the house, making dinner, walking the dogs, etc and when you add our most important job to the mix – raising our child(ren), it can become overwhelming.  Unfortunately, at times we may forget about our child until he or she does something to catch our attention – which often happens when they have done something wrong.

It is extremely important to avoid or break the cycle of ONLY paying attention to your child when he or she misbehaves.  It is critical to catch your children doing the right thing. “Praising your child is one of the most important things you can do as a parent. Praise is nourishment. It helps your child grow emotionally, just as food helps your child grow physically” (Burke, 1997, pg. 51).  The reason behind giving praise is to build up self-worth, to give a belief of personal satisfaction, with the addition of feeling secure within ones self (Hurlock, 1978, pg. 311).  A sense of confidence is enhanced when a child knows that a parent has paid attention and has encouraged him or her with a positive response.  Praise makes you radiate “well-being” (Cutts, 1952, pg. 245).  Catching your child doing things right will lead to better self-esteem which leads to a stronger, positive sense of self. This in turn helps children to better navigate the stresses of adolescence without giving in to the pressures.

For the next week try to catch your child doing the right thing.  If your teen tends to disrupt you a lot when you are busy, try to find a moment when he or she has not and thank them for not disturbing you.  If your child voluntarily does something like taking out the trash be sure to thank him or her for doing that, letting them know what it meant to you. If your child does what you ask without you having to ask 10 times, like turning off the X-Box at dinner time be sure to notice that and let them know you appreciate it.

In following this advice, it is important that you don’t look only for your child being extra good, just catch them doing right things.  Also, do not go overboard trying to catch everything.

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Strategies of the request….

Foot-In-The-Door (FITD) and Door In-The-Face (DITF) are sequential request strategies used to increase behavioral compliance.

The Foot-In-The-Door (FITD) theory is based on the Consistency Principle, which states once a person agrees to something they will usually stick with it.   When using the FITD technique first you ask for something small and when the person gives it to you then ask for something bigger.  The principle involved is that the initial small request creates a bond between the person requesting something and the person receiving the request.  In a study done by Freedman and Fraser in 1966 subjects were contacted and asked to answer a few questions about soaps they used in the home.  Three days later the subjects were contacted again and asked if a team of six men doing consumer research could come into the subjects home and go through their closets and cupboards.  Twenty-two percent of the subjects said yes.  An example that often comes up at Petrus Psychology is a child asks his/her parents if he/she can go over to a friend’s house.  After this initial request the child will later ask – “can I spend the night?”

The most powerful effect occurs when

  • the person’s self-image is aligned with the request
  • requests are close to issues that the person is likely to support,
  • requests are pro-social.
  • requests are an extension of the first request (as opposed to being something completely different).

A review of the research done by Burger in 1999 reveals that FITD increases compliance by 13 percent.  Reasons the technique does not work include:

  • if the initial request is too small to register
  • if the second request is to big
  • if the second request comes to quickly after the first request.

Door In-The-Face (DITF) theory is based on the Reciprocity Principle, which exploits the tendency for people to think they should pay back in kind what they receive from others. When using the DITF technique first you make a request of a person that is tremendous to which the person will most likely say no and then (looking disappointed) make a request that is more reasonable to get a yes. The DITF technique works by getting a person to naturally disagree to something excessive and then asking for something smaller.  The example that we often hear from parents of teens at Petrus Psychology is – “our son/daughter asked if curfew (which is normally 11:00 PM) could be changed to 3:00 AM.”  Parent says “no,” teen then says “okay, how about until 12:30.” Parent agrees.

The reason this technique works is because when the person refuses the first request they may feel guilty about refusing the request and fear some sort of rejection as a result.  The second request gives the person the opportunity to relieve their guilt and fears of rejection. Studies find that this sequence increases compliance to the smaller request beyond that obtained when only the small request is presented

This method works the best when the request:

  • Has a socially valid element
  • Is made soon after the first request

However studies also showed that when the initial request was outrageously high, participants agreed to the smaller request at a rate below that of the single-request control group.

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Bath Salts

In the last few months, federal and state authorities have started seeing what the media is calling the newest fad to hit the shelves of convenience stores, discount tobacco outlets, gas stations, pawnshops, tattoo parlors, truck stops, the internet, and other locations.  Bath Salts (having nothing in common with actual bath salts) are a synthetic powder that is sold legally as alternatives to the controlled substances cocaine, amphetamine, Ecstasy, and methcathinone.  Bath Salts are Schedule I controlled substance cathinone, which is a potent central nervous system stimulant.  Bath salts are marketed as “research chemicals,”“plant food”, or “bath salts”, “not for human consumption,” to circumvent the Controlled Substances Act.

The powder is a crystal-like substance that is typically smoked, snorted, or injected. It often contains lab-produced chemicals such as mephedrone and MDPV (methylenedioxypyrovalerone). “It’s a derivative that’s very similar to amphetamines, and its side effects are largely the same side effects we see with amphetamines in large dose,” said Jeffrey Baldwin, professor of pharmacy practice and pediatrics at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

Bath Salts alter the levels of brain neurotransmitters, chemicals that send messages between nerve cells, and it exerts its greatest effects on dopamine and norepinephrine. The effects of these chemicals can last for three to eight hours.  It is a central nervous system stimulant and abusers of “bath salt” products have reported that they experienced many adverse effects such as chest pain, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, agitation, panic attacks, hallucinations, extreme paranoia, and delusions.  Dr. Daniel Brooks, co-medical director of the Department of Medical Toxicology at the Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center in Phoenix, is familiar with mephedrone and MDPV as “relatively novel synthetic stimulants” but says that little academic research has been done on them and that they’ve never been tested on humans. Medical professionals aren’t 100 percent certain how these compounds are metabolized or how they’ll react with other drugs. The ingredients in bath salts aren’t listed on the packages, so users have no way of knowing what they’re actually ingesting.

Some of the street names for the bath salts include Red Dove, Blue Silk, Zoom, Bloom, Cloud Nine, Ocean Snow, Lunar Wave, Vanilla Sky, Ivory Wave, White Lightning, Scarface and Hurricane Charlie.

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Facts about drugs and drug use.

Facts about drugs

  1. Narcotics: Narcotics (such as heroin, morphine, Oxycontin, etc.) are used to dull the senses and reduce pain. Narcotics can be made from opium (from the opium poppy) or created in a laboratory (synthetic and semi-synthetic narcotics).
  2. Stimulants: Stimulants reverse the effects of fatigue on the body and brain. Sometimes they are referred to as “uppers.” Cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamine and Ritalin™ are stimulant drugs. Cocaine is derived from the coca plant grown in South America. Nicotine (found in tobacco) is also a stimulant.
  3. Depressants: Substances included in this category are tranquilizers, sedatives, hypnotics, anti-anxiety medications and alcohol.
  4. Cannabis: Marijuana and hashish are substances referred to as cannabis and THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocanabinol) is the ingredient in cannabis which makes the user feel “high.”
  5. Hallucinogens: These substances alter the perceptions and moods of users. LSD, Ecstasy, PCP and Ketamine are made in laboratories, some of which are clandestine; non-manufactured hallucinogens include peyote and mescaline.
  6. Inhalants: Many common items such as glue, lighter fluid, paint products, cleaning fluids, gasoline, and propellants in aerosol cans contain chemicals that produce intoxicating effects similar to alcohol. Inhalant abuse is the deliberate inhaling or sniffing of these products to get high.
  7. Steroids: Anabolic steroids are defined as any drug or hormonal substance that is chemically and pharmacologically related to testosterone and promotes muscle growth. Some steroids are used for legitimate medical reasons, but many are illegally manufactured and distributed.

When asked, young people offer a number of reasons for using drugs; most often they cite a desire to change the way they feel, or to “get high.”

Other reasons include:

  1. Escape school
  2. Escape family pressures
  3. Low self-esteem
  4. To be accepted by their peers
  5. To feel adult-like or sophisticated
  6. Curiosity
  7. Perception of low risk associated with drugs
  8. Availability of drugs

Prevention experts have identified “risk factors” and “protective factors” to help determine how drug abuse begins and how it progresses.

Young people are most vulnerable to drug use during times of transition; for instance, when teens make the switch from elementary to middle school or when they enter high school, new social and emotional challenges affect them on many levels.

  1. Here are some early signs of risk that may predict later drug use:
    1. Association with drug abusing peers
    2. A lack of attachment and nurturing by parents or caregivers
    3. Ineffective parenting
    4. A caregiver who abuses drugs
    5. Aggressive behavior
    6. Lack of self-control
    7. Poor classroom behavior or social skills
    8. Academic failure
  2. Scientists have also studied the adolescent brain, and have determined that the teen brain is not fully formed until young adulthood. Using drugs during the time that the brain is developing increases the potential for drug addiction. According to the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, adults who had first used substances at a younger age were more likely to be classified with dependence or abuse than adults who initiated use at a later age. This pattern of higher rates of dependence or abuse among persons starting their use of marijuana at younger ages was observed among all demographic subgroups analyzed.
  3. Protective factors can reduce the risks. It’s important to remember that not everyone at risk for drug abuse actually becomes a drug user.  It is important parents provide
    1. Structure
    2. Consistency
    3. Limits
    4. Communication

Many adults are uninformed—or in denial—about drug use, and their attitudes contribute to or enable young people to engage in drug-using behavior. According to the Partnership for a Drug Free America, many parents need to get better educated about the drug situation.

  1. Today’s parents see less risk in drugs like marijuana, cocaine and even inhalants, when compared to parents just a few years ago.
  2. The number of parents who report never talking with their child about drugs has doubled in the past six years, from 6 percent in 1998 to 12 percent in 2004.
  3. Just 51 percent of today’s parents said they would be upset if their child experimented with marijuana.
  4. While parents believe it’s important to discuss drugs with their children, fewer than one in three teens (roughly 30 percent) say they’ve learned a lot about the risks of drugs at home.
  5. Just one in five parents (21 percent) believes their teenager has friends who use marijuana, yet 62 percent of teens report having friends who use the drug.
  6. Fewer than one in five parents (18 percent) believe their teen has smoked marijuana, yet many more (39 percent) already are experimenting with the drug.
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