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Is Vaping Dangerous for Teens?

Use of e-cigs, or vaping, has increased in teenagers dramatically.  Anecdotally I have seen a tremendous upswing in the number of teens using nicotine and marijuana ever since electronic cigarettes came out.  It has been particularly pronounced in the last two years.  Apparently studies support this.  Studies also show that use of e-cigs has a high correlation to eventual cigarette use.

Check out this infographic from National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes on Health; and the US Department of Health and Human Services.


This should warn us all that adolescents are much more willing to try vaping than cigarettes.  Since they were small children, teens have been socialized to think cigarette smoking is “disgusting,” and “dangerous.”  Because vaping smells much better (if it smells at all), and because most teenagers aren’t aware of the dangers, some try it.  They truly think they’re inhaling water vapor.  This is simply not true.


A study was just released from the University of California at San Francisco that definitively links e-cig use to cancer causing toxins.  The saliva and urine was tested in non-using teens, vaping-only teens, and teens who both smoke cigarettes and vape.  While the highest amounts of the toxins were in the group the used both, a significant amount was also in the group that vaped.  The group who didn’t use at all didn’t have these toxins in their bodies.  More on the report written about this study can be found at


Here’s the bottom line: vaping is very dangerous for your adolescents.  The devices used to vape can look like a USB stick, wifi connector, credit card, a tiny black square, fancy pen, highlighter, etc.  You won’t smell smoke either.  You have to ask your teen outright, and keep track of their social media pictures.  If you suspect your teen might be vaping, but they won’t tell you the truth and you can’t definitively pin it on them, call their pediatrician.  They can order a nicotine test on your child (which won’t cover everything that can be vaped, but it will tell you quite a lot).


If you need to talk more about your teen’s potential addiction, we’re here to help.  Give us a call.


Helping teens grow and families improve connection,

Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

How to end a codependent relationship


He finally had the strength to end a toxic relationship! (Image courtesy of stockimages at

He finally had the strength to end a toxic relationship! (Image courtesy of stockimages at

Okay, obviously that is a cheesy photo.  However, once you’re out of a codependent relationship, and have gotten beyond the grief, this is how you’ll feel!


Anyhow, let’s get to the point.  Ending a relationship from a codependent position is one of the hardest things you will ever do, or have ever done.  You have recognized your friendship, dating relationship, sibling relationship, etc. has reached very unhealthy levels.  You now realize that you are often drained of time, energy, emotional well-being, and a general feeling of joy after you are around the toxic person in your life.  You feel manipulated, guilty and exhausted after you are with the person.  You have asked yourself repeatedly, ‘Why do I continue to answer their phone calls?’  The person calls you whenever they are in crisis.  The person always needs something that “only you” can give, whether it is money, time, a place to stay, or you name-it.  When you can’t break out of this cycle, you are in a codependent relationship.  Other terms you will frequently hear are enabler and coaddict.


So, the big question is, ‘How do I stop this crazy in my life?’  That’s really what it is too: crazy-making.  You always leave a conversation feeling like the crazy one, but your friends all tell you it’s the other person.  To end this kind of relationship takes very drastic measures.  You have to come to a place of strength and reality.  You need to take a very honest look at what has been happening between you and this person.  Is this a truly reciprocal and healthy relationship?  If the answer is “no” or, “It used to be,” then it is time to move on.


Once you have really looked at the relationship, you have to tell yourself, “I will no longer enable bad behavior.  I am not responsible in any way for the outcome of this person’s life.”  Truly, the person will get better or get worse with or without you.


Next, surround yourself with good friends or family who will keep you busy and keep you grounded in reality.  The crazy-maker in your life is going to call you with a crisis because that has always worked.  You will have to either not answer the call, or simply say over and over again, “You will have to call someone else with this problem.  I have been unable to help in the past because you have not chosen to help yourself.”


Finally, you need to maintain firmly whatever boundary or rule you’ve set.  If you told the toxic person you will not call them back in the middle of the night anymore, then turn your phone off at night.  You get the idea…


Again, ending an enabling relationship is challenging beyond belief.  However, once you’re through the mud and the muck of it, you’ll feel free.  You’ll feel like the guy in the picture at the beginning of this blog post!


Helping teens grow and families improve connection,

Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

What is Codependence?

Codependent people would literally give away everything to save someone else. Image courtesy of Teerapun /

Codependent people would literally give away everything to save someone else.
Image courtesy of Teerapun /

Codependence is a problem nearly as destructive as an addiction.  “It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive” (  Sometimes it is referred to as co-addiction.  Here is a hypothetical example of codependent behavior:  Julia is a mom with a 26 year old son named Trevor.  Trevor has an addiction to heroin.  Julia spends all her time and energy trying to fix Trevor’s problem even though Trevor does not yet want to quit.  Julia has taken out a loan against her house to pay for rehabs, continues to make payments on Trevor’s car so his credit does not go down, buys him food because “at least I’m not buying him drugs,” and constantly begs him to attend recovery meetings.  Julia frequently sets down boundaries she cannot enforce.  She told Trevor last week if he ever used drugs in her house she would put him out on the street.  He did, and then he apologized and promised not to do it again.  She forgave him and told him that was his last chance.  This is the fifth time that has happened.

When you think about people like Julia it is easy to see how difficult it would be to actually stop “helping” Trevor because she loves him.  On a deeper level Julia will feel like a failure if she lets her son go.  Unfortunately many experts believe that is the only way he will really try to get better.  Julia’s addiction is Trevor’s recovery.  Codependent people often ruin their lives and relationships to try helping the addict; they frequently wind up in nearly as bad an emotional position as the addict.  Often codependent people find themselves in financial ruin. is a good resource for someone who thinks they might have codependency.  Therapy is also very important in this situation.  It requires a lot of support to let someone go that you love and care for.  It is extremely scary, but addicts usually have to experience rock bottom to finally realize their drug of choice isn’t worth it.  If you’re codependent, you might be delaying that moment of truth for the addict in your life.  Codependency can also happen in other situations.  When someone you love is doing anything they shouldn’t you can be codependent to their behavior.  Here is one I’ve seen quite a bit:  Your teenager becomes sexually active with their girlfriend/boyfriend.  You are against them having sex at their age, but you also worry about the possible consequences they might experience at their age without adult guidance.  I’ve seen parents in this situation tell their teenage child to start having sex in their own room at home so that “At least there is an adult around if something goes wrong.”  The parent then feels they can control the outcome better by making sure their home is stocked with condoms, etc.  The problem here though is enabling a behavior the parents are not okay with.


If you need help determining whether you might be enabling your teen’s bad choices, or whether your teenager is codependent to someone else in their life, send us an email, give a call or just comment on this post.  Let’s see if we can help you sort out the difference between helping and helping too much.


Helping teens grow and families improve connection,

Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

Put Down That Cell Phone

Some teens send hundreds or even thousands of texts per day. Image courtesy of Ambro /

Some teens send hundreds or even thousands of texts per day.
Image courtesy of Ambro /

Tired of your teenager using the cell phone 24/7?  Are they answering texts at dinner, during homework, in the middle of the night, etc?


Getting a text message is rewarding in the brain.  It makes the teen feel good, and feel compelled to answer right away.  While it does build friendships and keep them bonded with their peers, it is extremely distracting!


For teens who are addicted to using their phone, their efficiency is terrible.  It takes extra hours to complete any task.  It only takes a few seconds to answer a text, but a lot of teens actually send/receive hundreds of texts each day, and some even over a thousand.  If you think about it, that’s a lot of time when it’s all added up.


When you require some downtime away from electronics, you are allowing your adolescent to develop an important skill.  It is essential that everyone has time for their mind to be quiet and calm.  Having the phone at all times means constant stimulation and entertainment.  It doesn’t force the brain to be creative.  It doesn’t allow time for contentment.   You will probably be the victim of a hellacious argument, but requiring the phone be given to you during homework time and at bedtime will do your teenager wonders.  They will probably find themselves able to complete assignments faster, and get better sleep.  They might also be surprised to realize they are happier.


Studies show that teens who are addicted to technology are actually somewhat miserable.  Teenagers who can wait awhile before answering a text because they want to finish their current activity experience a better sense of accomplishment.  They also don’t feel obsessive-compulsive.  The phone can become kind of like a leash if your adolescent isn’t careful.   You will get another added benefit: more quality time with your child.  Rather than everyone going out to dinner and sitting in the waiting area on their phones, you might actually talk.  You might find you can connect with your child and hear about their day.  Eventually they will even like it!  That takes time though so be patient.


Helping teens grow and families improve connection,

Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

“Triple C” or Coricidin Abuse

Coricidin, or "Triple C" is just an ordinary cold medicine unless it's taken in excess. Then it becomes a dangerous way to get high. Image courtesy of

Coricidin, or “Triple C” is just an ordinary cold medicine unless it’s taken in excess. Then it becomes a dangerous way to get high.
Image courtesy of

Lately there has been an upswing in teens abusing cough and cold medication.  As a parent you need to be very aware of this problem because an overdose has potentially lethal side-effects.  One of the most commonly abused cough and cold medications is Coricidin (The kids call it Triple C.)


The high comes from one of the chemicals in the drug, called dextromethorphan (DXM).  When taken in large quantities, it causes a euphoric feeling, sometimes hallucinations, and out of body sensations.  When taken as recommended, it is just a simple cold and cough medication for people with high blood pressure.  Teens will often take several doses of the pills at once until they feel high.


The side effects of Coricidin abuse are risky.  There can be mild side effects like vomiting, loss of motor control, dizziness, impaired judgement, etc.  However, there are also cases of extreme side effects like seizures, coma and death.  These side effects are often caused by an overdose of some of the other ingredients in Coricidin, such as the anithistamine.  (


One question a lot of parents have is, “How is my teen getting Coricidin?”  There are two main ways teens are able to get this drug.  The first is taking it right out of a medicine cabinet at home.  Many of my teenage therapy clients say they just took it from their parents or friends’ parents.  They say it was in the medicine cabinet.  The other way teens seem to be getting Coricidin is stealing from a local drug store.  Coricidin is not usually locked away behind plexiglass even though Coricidin abuse is a known problem.  The kids stick a box in their jacket, go buy a pack of gum, and just walk out.


It is really important to ask your teen if they have tried “Triple C” or if it has been offered to them.  It is also important to check through their stuff if you suspect it.  The risks associated with an overdose are very serious.  Please do not take it lightly if you find out they’ve tried it.


It’s scary because most teens really don’t know what they’re doing when they’re offered stuff like Coricidin.  They have absolutely no idea how dangerous it can be to overdose.  In fact, most teens don’t even realize you can overdose on it.  If they do, they think it can never happen to them.  Adolescents are notorious for thinking they are outside the consequences others have faced.


Keep having an open dialogue with your teenager.  Keep talking with them about the dangers of various drugs they might encounter.  Keep them educated on what certain drugs look like and what to watch out for.  Some parents worry if they educate their teens on certain, they are just inviting their teens to try it.  I suppose there are all kinds of kids, and in rare cases this might happen.  For most teenagers though, having knowledge helps keep them out of trouble.  You know your child best so use your judgement when deciding how much to tell them.


There are two good take-aways from today’s blog: 1) “Triple C” or Coricidin can be dangerous when taken in excess and 2) The most common place teenagers get things like Coricidin is their medicine cabinets at home- pay attention to what they can easily access.


Helping teens grow and families improve connection,

Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT

Uptick in Marijuana Dependence

There has been a steady increase in THC, which makes marijuana more addictive than in the past.

There has been a steady increase in THC, which makes marijuana more addictive than in the past.

Lately I have been receiving a lot of calls from parents about their teens using marijuana.  Teenagers have always experimented with marijuana, but recently something is different.  The teens who are coming in are complaining that they literally cannot quit using.  Marijuana has a reputation for being non-addictive, so why all of a sudden are there teens who feel addicted?


The addictive part of marijuana is called “THC.”  The potency of THC in marijuana in the US has more than doubled since the 1990s.  So, while marijuana possibly was not as addictive in the past, it is now.


The teens I have been working with say they have difficulty sleeping, anxiety, and a general feeling of discomfort if they stop using.  It is also so deeply ingrained psychologically that they have a hard time changing.  They have made friends around using marijuana, developed rituals and routines, and have become accustomed to lying.


Therapy is a good format to confront marijuana addiction.  It is really important for the teen to feel like someone understands how difficult it is to quit using.  A lot of people say things like, ‘Marijuana isn’t addictive, so just stop using it.’  Therapy is also always helpful to the teen’s parents in making changes at home that support sobriety.


If your teen is smoking marijuana, it is really important for you to confront them.  Don’t look the other way.  No matter what your teenager tells you, it is easy to graduate to more intense drugs.  Your teenager is also associating with people that you probably wouldn’t like.  Your teen is likely not being entirely honest with you about how frequently they use, or how much.  Marijuana is a deeper problem than people like to think.


When you talk with them about it, be gentle and loving.  However, if you set boundaries around drug use, make sure you stick with them.  Do something to hold your teenager accountable such as promising to randomly drug test, or take them to counseling.  Most importantly, do not be swayed by their logical arguments about why marijuana isn’t bad for them.  The newest scientific research coming out says otherwise.


Chances are if your teenager is using marijuana there are some noticeable signs.  Perhaps you’ve attributed these signs to them being older.  Your teen may be more argumentative, secretive, trying to have more independence, seems to lack money, is worried about money, often appears lazy, has bloodshot eyes more often than they used to, and eats a greatly increased amount of junk food in one sitting.  These symptoms don’t necessarily indicate marijuana use, but they certainly warrant you either asking or testing your child.  By the way, if your adolescent refuses a drug test, definitely be suspicious something is up.


It takes a lot of nerve, and love to confront your teenager on drug use.  It’s a hard thing to do because if they’re using, certainly part of you doesn’t want to know that.  They are very likely to be offended you are asking, whether they use or not.  It’s almost never an easy discussion, but it’s one of those things that has to be done from time to time.  Whoever said parenting is the best thing in life was generally right, but should have included the caveat that it’s also one of the most difficult things in life.


Helping teens grow and families improve connection,

Lauren Goodman MS, MFT