mixing drugsSkittles parties, a common practice among teens, revolve around collecting prescription drugs, mixing them in a bowl and taking them in combination.

We all know the dangers of prescription drug abuse, but these kinds of parties are extremely dangerous. The most common drugs collected from home medicine cabinets include opiate painkillers, anti-anxiety medication (benzodiazepines), stimulants (ADD medications), and sleeping pills.

Taking any of these drugs in combination could be a fatal mistake. Taking an opiate with a benzo enhances the high delivered by the opiate to a level that could put the user in a coma. The CDC reports that 30% of overdose deaths involving narcotics resulted from the combination of opiates and benzos.

Mixing stimulants and depressants is also risky business. Combining drug use with alcohol only increases the chances of a fatal interaction.

If you’re planning to ring in the New Year, keep the party clean and safe.

Parents, check in with your young revelers regularly and make sure they can reach you for a safe ride home. 

Drunk DrivingThe night before Thanksgiving is the busiest night of the year for bars and restaurants across the country. Alcohol is a factor in nearly half of all traffic fatalities throughout the year, but Thanksgiving eve will see more drunk driving fatalities than any other night.

Keep in mind that the average person can metabolize one drink an hour, and that’s while consuming food and water. At this pace, most people will keep their blood alcohol content within the legal level of .08. But the best rule of thumb to follow is not to drive if you’ve had even one drink.

If you’re planning to celebrate the holiday with friends or family, remember to designate a driver BEFORE you head out or plan your transportation using a taxi service or local Uber or Lyft drivers.

You can also do your part to prevent drunk drivers from taking to the streets. Inform your service staff if someone seems like they’ve had too much to drink and keep a close eye on friends, too.

Teens Drinking and Driving TipsIt’s no secret that alcohol-related crashes are a leading cause of death for teens, but it could be fear of getting in trouble with their parents that causes them to get behind the wheel. According to a AAA survey, 84% of teens said their friends would drive after drinking rather than calling home for a ride.

Even if your teen doesn’t drive, the risk is real. In the same survey, 22% of teens said they would take a ride from a drunk friend before they called their parents.

So how can you keep your teen from drinking and driving?

  1. Be clear with your teen about your expectations. Let him know that while you don’t condone drinking, you have a “no questions asked” policy if they need a ride, no matter what the circumstances are.
  2. Let your teen’s friends lean on you, too. Let your daughter know she can call you to come get her and her friends, no matter what time of night it is. Her friend’s parents will have to hear the truth eventually, but in the morning once everyone is safe.
  3. Get it in writing. Sober contracts help reinforce the message that it’s never a good choice to drink and drive. Sign one as a family, then have a keychain made out of it. The presence of the contract with the keys will help your teen make the right choice not to drive.
  4. Work with other parents. Your teen may hesitate to call you if he needs a ride, but he might call Ben’s mom instead. If you and Ben’s mom are in this together, you’ll sleep better at night. Plus, when parents agree to supervise parties at their homes and keep the alcohol out, there are fewer opportunities for teens to drink.
  5. Have a back-up plan. Make sure your teen has the number of a taxi company in his or her phone or wallet and emergency cash to pay for the ride.
  6. Keep the lines of communication open. The more freely your teen can speak with you about their troubles, including alcohol, the less likely is it that he or she will get into a troublesome situation.

Kids trick or treat safetyChildren develop social skills through watching parents, friends, and others interact over a lifetime. A key component to helping children become socially competent is providing opportunities for practice. Halloween presents an exceptional opportunity to discuss healthy social skills and behavioral responses. According to Megan Bond-Stokes, MSW, LSW, Program Manager, Unison Health's Children's Partial Hospitalization, “all children need support and encouragement – not just the ones receiving mental health services.”

The child and family therapists at Unison Health suggest the following tips to help your child succeed in being a MONSTAR this Halloween:

  • Set expectations before trick-or-treating. Talk with your child over dinner, while getting costume on, or even several days prior about how you expect them to behave while trick-or-treating. Repeat as needed to reinforce expectations or have your child repeat them back to you.
  • Emphasize respectful interactions with adults by reminding your child to say “trick-or-treat”, “please”, and “thank you” AT EVERY HOUSE.
  • If your child forgets GENTLY cue them in the moment to say ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’.
  • Make using manners a contest with friends
  • Emphasize patience and manners with peers as well by reminding your child to wait their turn in line without complaining or pushing other children.
  • Offer feedback to your child DURING the outing to reinforce/praise your child for the positive behaviors that you are seeing, “I really like how you are using your manners with others tonight.”
  • To promote positive social interactions - challenge your child to give two compliments to others about their costumes while trick-or-treating.
  • Remind your child that if another child is bothering them to use kind words to handle the situation or to get help from an adult.
  • Remind your child to make eye contact to encourage healthy social skills.
  • Remind your child about giving healthy personal space (i.e. don’t touch people’s costume’s without permission).

With nearly 40 years of experience, Unison Behavioral Health Group is the community’s recognized and preferred leader in providing integrated behavioral health and substance abuse care for adults, adolescents and children. Unison accepts Ohio Medicaid and most private insurances. Unison is certified by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Unison is also accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.

Frese tucwvk5f4u9yz17oy0dnggDr. Frederick Frese, an accomplished psychologist who battled his own mental illness, will be in Toledo on Thursday, October 15, 2015 to present “New Directions in Schizophrenia.” The event will take place from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Community Center, located at 740 North Superior Street. Joining Dr. Frese for this special event is his wife, Dr. Penny Frese. Penny will address the urgency of mental health awareness in youth.

Well-known and revered for both his sense of humor and his remarkable ability to translate research and public policy into useful information, Dr. Frese has specialized in the area of schizophrenia for over forty years.

Diagnosed with the condition when he was 25, he has worked tirelessly as a practitioner and advocate for consumers and their families. Despite his diagnosis, Dr. Frese was able to earn a degree from the American Graduate School of International Management in Phoenix, AZ and a doctorate in psychology from Ohio University.

Presented with support from United Healthcare Community Plan, State of Ohio continuing education units for counselors and social workers will be available. Registration fee is $79 per person and includes lunch. For more information on this event –and other professional development opportunities offered by Unison Health – please contact Melissa Driver at 419-936-7576.