Here is a list of some helpful articles.

What is a troubled Teen?

A 'troubled teen' is a term used for a youth that is having problems which are causing negative 
behaviors and if these problems continue to affect the teen, he/she will not develop into a happy 
successful adult. These problems are beyond the normal issues that all adolescents face or they 
could be the inability to deal with the normal issues teenagers face. They can be anything from 
the teen’s environment like abusive relationships, poor peer groups or unsafe neighborhoods to 
physical and mental health issues.. 

Warning Signs of Troubled Teens

Teens can all show these signs at different times, it’s when there are more than six of these 
warning signs for an extended period of time that you will know you are dealing with a troubled 
teenager. The warning signs are:
• dropping grades; 
• extreme mood swings that do not fit the situation; 
• volatile temper and/or intense sadness; 
• loss of interest in activities; 
• a sudden change in peers and/or avoids positive friendships; 
• deliberately trying not to fit in with peers; 
• becomes secretive; 
• fails to comply with rules and limits; 
• feels the need to avoid all consequences for misbehavior and turns to lying; 
• teen begins to experiment with alcohol and drugs; 
• finds humor in others distress; 
• attitude is more surly and defiant; 
• openly displays rebellion; 
• and spending too much time alone or sleeping.

Finding addiction treatment for your child

If you’re a parent looking for a substance abuse treatment program for your teen, you like
many are in a crisis mode, without a lot to go on. It can be a very scary time and your needs are 
Only 10 percent of the estimated 1.4 million adolescents who need treatment receive it, 
according to the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine. When they do, it often isn't 
targeted to their developmental needs. The fact that adolescents have different triggers than 
adults for drug and alcohol use may not be addressed in treatment. And programs too often fail to 
integrate two key ingredients: families and social services.
But there are plenty of good programs out there, and Action Family Counseling is one of them.
As a parent I know you are wondering how to go about finding reliable treatment for your teen. 
So whether you choose Action Family Counseling Drug and Alcohol Treatment Programs for 
your teen or any one of a number of providers available, as you begin your search you want to 
ask these questions. 

What is the program’s success rate? How many teens actually finish?

This answer may be hard to come by since few programs track how their adolescent clients 
fare after treatment. However a good treatment center will have a follow up system to at 
least tract these clients 30, 60, and 90 days after they have been released from treatment, And 
many programs such as Action Family Drug and Alcohol Treatment Programs have programs 
and resources for teens to continue a various treatment regimens as follow up to their initial 

How long is the program? How successfully does it keep teens engaged and enrolled?

Many experts flatly state that any program shorter than 90 days isn't worth the money or time 
because it takes that long to begin to see a change in behavior. But it’s not that simple. What's 
really important is not whether a program is 30 days or 90 days, but that treatment staff is able to 
make a connection with your teen. When treatment staff become solid role models engage a teen 
to practice newly learned skills, teens are much more likely to reintegrate back into their families 
and communities. 
Many parents ask will my teen ever have a successful life? But having a successful life is not just 
the absence of drugs. Kids need something better than drugs, something to replace drugs. It could 
be sports, academics, a different peer support group, a job, volunteering, a cohesive and loving

Is family a big part of the program?

Every good substance abuse treatment model starts with a strong family component, including 
therapy, to work to change to the home environment. We tell teen clients that we’re going to 
get involved in every aspect of their lives. The family is key. If we're not in the home, we don't 
understand what's happening. We're just looking at their lives from the outside in. Addiction is a 
family disease and recovery is a family process. Rebuilding families is a key recovery.

Signs and Symptoms of Teen Drug Use

We all know kids today are exposed to critical choices at a younger, more vulnerable
age than ever before. What was typical for high school students 10-20 years ago is more 
typical for junior high school students and even elementary school students today.
Living and growing up, even in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s was simpler, safer, and less 
stressful than today living in 2014 . Today, drugs are dangerously stronger, easier to use, 
less expensive, and more and more accessible to the very young. 
Parenting is tough today. A significant numbers of families have two working parents 
or a single parent in the home. Grandparents and relatives are usually far away. Parents 
are tired and have less time, contact, and influence over children than they have had for 
decades. Kids have less opportunity to learn values, problem-solving skills and healthy 
ways to relieve stress from their lives. Neighborhoods are less interactive and more 
isolated. With far less guidance from positive adult role models, children are making 
critical and life changing decisions that can a affect them for the rest of their lives. 
Police and counselors who work with troubled adolscents say younger kids are now 
dealing drugs -- especially very high-priced and potent marijuana -- on most high school 
campuses. In addition to marijuana, drugs dealt on our local high school campuses 
include ecstasy, LSD, methamphetamines (speed, meth, crystal meth, just to name 
a few), and over the counter and prescription drugs which are obtained from home 
medicine cabinets. Heroin and synthetic drugs such as Spice, K2, and Bath Salts have 
also appeared on our school campuses. 
Some of them are supplied by organized networks of smugglers and cultivators, placing 
even young teens into contact with a very dangerous world of adult criminals. 
None of our kids are immune to the lure of drug and alcohol use and abuse. 
For the last several decades middle-class families have been fleeing from the cities to 
the suburbs, in part because many parents see the suburbs, and suburban public schools 
in particular, as refuges from the disorder and social collapse they see as endemic to 
America's urban school districts. Parents believe that suburban public schools provide 
children with safer, more orderly, and more wholesome environments than their urban 
Cary Quashen, a nationally recognized drug expert, who has over 30 years of experience 
as a high-risk teen counselor wants parents to know about today's teen drug culture. 
According to Quashen, parents frequently inquire about the signs and symptoms of 
addiction when trying to assist their teen or a teen's friend. Addiction is described as the 
compulsive activity and over-whelming involvement with a specific activity, whether 
smoking or activities that involve the use of almost any chemical substance such as drugs 
or alcohol. 
"With drug and alcohol addiction the dependency may be psychological or both 
psychological and physical. A psychological dependence can be very powerful and 
difficult to overcome. It is based on a desire to continue taking a drug to induce pleasure 
or to relieve tension and avoid discomfort," says Quashen, "Drugs that cause this type 
of dependency work on the brain creating effects such as reduced anxiety and tension, 
pleasurable mood changes such as elation or euphoria, feelings of increased mental and 
physical ability and an altered sense of perceptions. When the dependence is physical 
the body adapts to the drug when it is used continually leading to a tolerance and then 
withdrawal symptoms when use stops. The idea that addicts are weak willed or morally 
corrupt has long ago been debunked. That attitude keeps chemically addicted people 
from seeking treatment and fosters shame and fear around their illness." 
Quashen adds the sooner a drug problem is recognized, the easier it is to stop it. If a 
parent is concerned about drug or alcohol abuse by their teen one should look for sudden 
changes in mood and behavior, such as: 
  • Unusual hostility, irritability, or secretiveness
  • Withdrawal from the family
  • Changes in friends
  • Resistance to discipline
  • A pattern of dishonesty, stealing and trouble with the police
  • The possession of large amounts of cash
  • A drop in grades
  • A sudden increase in absences and tardiness
  • Poor concentration and short-term memory
  • Slurred speech
  • A loss of motivation and interest in regular activities
  • Drug-related messages or symbols on possessions
  • A lack of concern for appearance or hygiene
  • A noticeable change in your teen's physical well-being such as:
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Dilated or shrunken pupils
  • A constant runny nose or cough
  • A major change in eating or sleeping habits
  • Sudden weight loss
  • A lack of energy 
Quashen also adds that these signs may indicate a problem other than drug use and that 
drugs and traces of drugs, and drug paraphernalia are more direct evidence of drug use. 
"If you suspect that your teen is using drugs, question everything," says Quashen. "Make 
sure you monitor what your teen is doing as much as possible. If you feel you have strong 
evidence and decide to intervene, wait until your teen is sober. Call on other family 
members and friends to support you in the confrontation, if necessary."
Quashen also offers these do's and don't:
  • Don't panic or blame yourself
  • Do self-examine, consider the example you've set
  • Don't be sarcastic, accusatory or sympathy seeking
  • Do express concern and understanding
  • Don't be swayed by denials if you have hard evidence
  • Do be firm, stick to established discipline
  • Don't try to sway the teen with emotional appeals
  • Do present the evidence calmly and rationally, without giving the teen a chance to lie
So the question becomes where do you turn for support if your teen if is using drugs? 
According to Quashen, there are programs in many communities that deal with 
adolescent drug and alcohol use and abuse. One only needs to look on line today to find 
support services. Those residing in counties and cities can find support by contacting 
these cities and counties directly. In this day and age according to Quashen, local law 
enforcement agencies and hospitals have support services contact information as well. 
Founded by Cary Quashen years ago, the ACTION Parent & Teen Support program is a 
non-profit program, which supports groups of concerned parents who meet to offer each 
other support and practical solutions to problems. A parent who has been trained, as an 
Action group facilitator leads each parent group.
"The Action Parent & Teen Support program is structured very differently from most 
parent support groups," said Quashen, "While parents are meeting, teens attend the 
Action Teen Group. These groups are led by certificated and licensed counselors who are 
experienced in working with young people growing up into today's world, who maybe 
be making wrong choices. There are "no bad" kids, but kids who make wrong choices, 
and sometimes those choices can be deadly. Teens are often faced with pressures and 
decisions that can be confusing and frustrating. Action offers a place for teens to learn 
positive behaviors that will work for them. They learn skills to promote healthier and 
happier lifestyles."
According to Quashen parents who have specific concerns about potential teen drug use 
can have their teens drug tested at an Action Parent & Teen Support Group meeting. 
In addition to the Action Parent & Teen Support Group meetings, Quashen is the 
president, and founder of the Action Family Counseling Centers and runs intensive 
outpatient and residential treatment programs for adolescent substance abuse in Los 
Angeles, Ventura, and Kern Counties. For further information about the Action Parent 
& Teen Support Group meetings one may call the Action Hotline at 1-800-FOR TEEN
For further information about the signs and symptoms of teenage drug use and Quashen’s
speaking engagements or the Action Parent & Teen Support Group meetings held across
the Southern California area, one may call the ACTION Hotline at 1-800-For-Teen.

Explosive Teen Anger Could Be Depression or Drug Use Related

By Cary Quashen
It’s a common occurrence. We open our morning newspapers 
or turn on the television or radio to find yet another violent 
episode in which teens are perpetrators of brutal and senseless 
actions. Frequently there is no explanation other than a deeply 
rooted anger had taken over the teen. 
Anger is often regarded as negative; we're taught that it's all 
right to express anxiety, depression, or other emotions, but not 
to express anger. As a result, we don't learn how to handle it 
or channel it constructively. It is often how anger is expressed, 
and that expression of anger can become destructive. There are 
a number of reasons for explosive anger in teens. Sometimes 
anger is used as a form of control, sometimes anger is a form 
of manipulation, sometimes anger is a sign of depression, and 
sometimes anger is fear and sadness. Families in crisis know 
all too well that a teen's anger has an effect on all of those 
around him or her. The issue is whether the anger is normal or 
We know a tantrum is quite common for a two year old, but is 
not normal for a second grader or a teenager. Teens need to 
learn how to identify and manage their anger. Parents often 
become afraid of their angry teens.
Anger is what we call a cover-up emotion, a sign that says 
something is wrong. However, the real problem is always 
underneath. It takes a tremendous amount of energy and 
determination to deal positively with a teenager who is acting 
out such angry behavior. 
Physical or verbal abuse at home, alcohol or drug problems in 
the family, divorce or loss of a loved one, economic distress, 
learning disabilities, or physical illness could be the root of a 
teen’s anger.
It's easy to recognize anger when a teenager is yelling and 
physically threatening another person. But teens express their 
anger in a variety of other ways. In fact, many behaviors that 
we consider stereotypical of teenagers can be manifestations 
of anger.

Symptoms of Outwardly Directed Anger

• Yelling and screaming. 
• Throwing objects 
• Hitting (either objects or people). 
• Driving too fast. 
Symptoms of Inwardly Directed Anger
• Lack of eye contact during conversations. 
• Mumbling, instead of speaking clearly. 
• Lack of interest in any activities. 
• Generally sullen disposition. 
• Alcohol or drug use. 
No one knows for sure when a teenager's anger could become 
dangerous to themselves or others. 

The following signs indicate that a teen may need professional attention: 

• Raging behavior, in which the teen is uncontrollable. 
• Consistent explosions of temper, even short-lived, at the 
slightest provocation. 
• Drastic changes in a teen's behavior—from sullen to 
unnaturally energetic, or from extremely energetic to 
• Physically hanging back from the group on a constant 
basis, never participating in activities. 
• Consistently blaming life for treating him unfairly. 
• Cruelty to any animal. 
• Any behavior that causes an adult or others in a group to 
become afraid or uncomfortable around the teenager. 
Teach your teen to deal with anger. Help them recognize anger 
and what to do about It. 
• Teach them to recognize that anger comes from feelings 
of hurt or shame and try to identify the source of those 
• Help them to learn to identify "trigger thoughts" that 
bring on angry feelings. 
• Help them imagine scenes in which one can respond to 
a "trigger thought" with a positive thought, feeling, or 
• Help them recognize that other people are free to make 
their own choices—whether good ones or bad—and the 
teen has the ability to choose how to respond. 
• Encourage them to listen to music (with headphones on) 
and dance with some anger-inspired energy.
• Encourage them to write it down in any form - poetry or a 
journal, for example.
• Encourage them to draw it - scribble, doodle or sketch 
your angry feelings using strong color or lines.
• Encourage them to play a sport or work out. You'll be 
amazed at how physical activity helps to work the anger 
• Teach them to meditate or practice deep breathing. This 
one works best if they do it regularly, not when they 
are actually having a meltdown. It's more of a stress 
management technique and will help them use self-
control and not blow a fuse when they are mad.
• Encourage them to talk about their feelings with someone 
they trust. Many times, other feelings like fear or sadness 
lie beneath the anger. Talking about these feelings can 
• Teach them to distract themselves so they can get you’re 
their mind past what's bugging them. Watch television, 
read or go to the movies instead of stewing for hours 
about something.
Sometimes, just knowing that a parent or an adult does care, 
and is available to really listen and willing to treat them as the 
honorable person they long to be, is enough to save a teen's 
If you believe your teen has a problem with anger, it is 
your job to help them develop positive conflict resolution 
techniques. Parents who teach anger-management strategies 
and encourage non-aggressive conflict-resolution techniques 
early on may find the teenage years less challenging. If your 
child has long-lasting feelings of anger or is unable to adopt 
coping strategies, seek medical assistance and treatment.
Cary Quashen is the founder and president of the Action Family 
Foundation, Action Parent & Teen Support Group Programs and 
Action Family Counseling Drug and Alcohol Treatment Centers 
for adolescents and adults. He has worked with at-risk teens 
the past 30 years. And is nationally recognized drug treatment 

Teens are at risk when both parents work

A full wallet and an empty house may be a dangerous combination for many teenagers. In fact, they may signify a youngster’s access to drugs and a motivation to pursue them along with other unacceptable behavior.

Cary Quashen, founder of Action -- a  parent and teen support group program, serving a number of areas in Southern California  -- suggests that teens with access to illicit drugs may be motivated to use them by the emptiness of their lives, often symbolized by an empty house. And that house may just as well be in an upscale neighborhood, as it is in a more modest neighborhood in any town USA.

“Kids today spend all day in the company of their friends. When they go home no one is there because both parents are at work,” he says. “It’s bad because they go out again to spend even more time with their friends. And when not with their friends they are either texting or talking on the cell phone with them. In effect, their friends become their role models.” He blames drugs followed closely by alcohol for most teen problems in school, with the law and with their parents.

Quashen has taken his message and discussed his unique counseling approach on numerous talk shows, including Good Morning America and The Doctor’s Show.

According to Quashen, Action Parent & Teen Support Group Programs are free intervention groups and parents are encouraged to bring their teenagers.

The group conducts an intensive parent and teen support program that Quashen describes as “very focused.” It creates a safe place for families to deal with problems and make changes, he says. Concerned parents meet weekly to support each other and offer practical solutions. Each group is led by a parent who has been trained as a group facilitator and who has “been there,” too. While parents are meeting, the teens themselves attend an ACTION teen group, led by experienced counselors.

“Trying to face these problems alone can be overwhelming and frightening at times,” Quashen says. “We deal with drugs, alcohol, anger management, self-esteem, defiance and rebellion,  and other issues dealt with by parents of teenagers who are considered out of control.”

“Marijuana and prescription drugs are the biggest culprits,” Quashen says. “Marijuana use to be thought of as a gateway drug, the first step toward heroin, cocaine and other narcotics. And it never went away. Today it is the primary drug; in tandem with prescription drugs and over the counter medications” he adds, “marijuana is much more powerful than it was back in the 1960s. The people growing this stuff have turned it into a real science.”

Alcohol is the “scariest” substance that teenagers abuse, Quashen asserts. “I’ve been doing this (counseling) for 30 years, and alcohol causes more fatalities than anything else. In most cases, kids don’t stop what they’re doing until the consequences outweigh the fun they think they are having.”

According to Quashen, ecstasy has become popular again, so has meth, prescription drugs are still popular and of course marijuana. While there seems to be constant chatter about heroin and heroin kills, the reality is that all drugs kill. And no one wants to loose their teenage to drugs or alcohol.   

With regard to heroin, Quashen says because kids have discovered a way to smoke it, they think it’s safe. And yes kids are shooting it. Then there are the contemporary legal drugs being sold  such as Spice, K2, Salvia, and Ivory White, which are forms of synthetic drugs,  designed to be sold legally, but never the less designed to get you high.

Quashen points out what many parents already know, but he says they are in denial about their children’s behavior. “Twenty years ago if you asked a teenager who was more important, family or friends, they would have said family. Today, they say friends,” he relates. “Why? Well, Johnny used to come home from school and find Mom there getting dinner ready for the family. Today, Johnny comes home to nobody -- an empty house. When the parents get home from work, they’re tired, and they don’t pay much attention to what their kids are saying, and they miss the visual clues as well.”

“Morals, values, ethics are character traits that should be taught at home but too often are not,” he adds. “And it doesn’t matter who the parents are. We see young people whose parents are policemen, doctors, lawyers, psychologists, psychiatrists, what have you.” Wayward teens are referred to Action from many sources such as juvenile courts, police, doctors, hospitals, school officials and word of mouth.

Just as we are what we eat, we are also what our minds digest. Quashen notes that too often video games and reality television shows geared towards teens have become substitutes for sports, parenting and wholesome activities. When adults fail to establish boundaries, he says, their teenage children wander into misadventures that lead to drugs, sex and criminal behavior.

For more information about Action Parent & Teen Support Groups in the Southern California area one may call the 24-hour hotline at 1-800-FOR-TEEN (1-800-367-8336). You may also find us at

Adults Don't Give Teens Alcohol


Cary Quashen

Tony and Susan throw the best keg parties in town. The beer flows and a designated teen collects car keys at the door. Teenagers mill around, shouting over the pounding music, hugging and “high-fiving” Tony and Susan. 

What’s wrong with this picture? Tony and Susan graduated high school 25 years ago, and this is their son’s party. The family is planning a few more beer bashes during the summer. Unfortunately, they think beer pong is a harmless party game. NOT! 

Some parents see drinking as a sign of adulthood. There is a belief that once someone has graduated from high school, they are an adult. But they’re STILL under 21-years of age and drinking is illegal. 

Some parents seek the approval of their teens, and want to be heroes in the teen arena. I am astounded parents think as long as they are serving the alcohol, they can control their kids and other kids’ actions.

Often times these parents think they should be nominated for ‘Parents of the Year’. They regard themselves as enlightened crusaders for their teens. They walk the teenage walk and talk the teenage talk. They’re so desperate to be considered cool by their kids; they believe the law doesn’t apply to them. They think they’re wiser and better than the parents who won’t provide the alcohol.

When you add drinking to natural teenage curiosity and pleasure seeking, the results can range from the lowered self-esteem of a girl who had sex with several guys at a party to tragedies like driving into a brick wall, fighting and injuring or killing someone. These parents know that kids are going to drink but they’ve decided to be the responsible ones and supervise their drinking.

The mixed messages parents send when they “bargain” with teens and allow them to drink at home may be to blame for excessive teen drinking. Do you know that permissiveness at home affects adolescent choices more than peer pressure? Many times parents send the message that fun revolves around a can of beer. Many parents feel they are "buddies" with their teens when they allow them to drink.

It’s pathetic if parents rely on their teen’s definition of fun. Of course I liked to drink in high school and thought is was really cool when certain parents let us drink in their home. Underage drinking is a factor in nearly half of all teen automobile crashes. It also contributes to suicides, homicides and fatal injuries, and is a factor in sexual assaults and date rapes.” 

Parent-sponsored drunkfests make it harder for the kids who don’t drink and parents who won’t let their kids drink. It’s almost an inherent challenge these parents lay down by saying, “I’m sponsoring this because I think your teen is mature enough to drink responsibly.” 

Some parents feel like they would be ostracized if they said their kid couldn’t go to a prom or graduation party because there was drinking going on. But I don’t understand how parents can justify serving 16, 17 and 18 year olds beer and hard liquor. 

Parents need to understand that too many drinks ingested either accidentally or intentionally can result in alcohol poisoning, which can often result in death. Alcohol is a drug that numbs the brain. If too much is used, it paralyzes the nerve center in the brain and puts the brain to sleep. When the brain slows down, so does the respiratory system, When the lungs and heart stop sending oxygen to the brain, breathing stops. 

’Making it ‘safe’ for kids to drink is a complete contradiction of terms! There are laws regulating use by age because of the lack of physical maturity and psychological maturity. People under the age of 21 have dramatically impaired judgment.”

I urge parents to rethink just what ‘responsible drinking’ is for someone under the age of 21. Parents think THEY did it, so their kids can do it too. After all, parents don’t want to say what they did as teens was wrong. Guess what, in this instance, it’s ok to be a hypocrite. 

Teens need you to point them in the right direction and keep them safe. You’re supposed to give them wisdom, not a keg party in the backyard or the garage. 

Cary Quashen is an expert in the field of addiction treatment and recovery and is the founder and president of Action Family Counseling. He can be reached by calling (661) 297-8693.

Biggest Risk Factor for Teens Taking Ecstasy: Use of Other Drugs

Biggest Risk Factor for Teens Taking Ecstasy: Use of Other Drugs

Courtesy of Join Together 

High school seniors who are most likely to take Ecstasy are those who use other drugs, researchers at New York University have found.

Overall, about 4.4 percent of high school seniors reported using Ecstasy within the last year, Newswise reports. Males are at particularly high risk for use. The drug is also known as “Molly,” “E” and “X,” the article notes. It has become popular at dance parties.

The findings, published in Substance Use & Misuse, are based on data from the Monitoring the Future nationwide annual study. About 15,000 high school seniors are included in the study each year. The study did not specifically ask about Molly. Since many teens may not realize Molly is another name for Ecstasy, more of them may be using the drug than the study indicates, the researchers noted.

Other risk factors for teen Ecstasy use included having a weekly income of more than $50 from a job, or more than $10 weekly from other sources. Students living in cities were at increased risk, as were teens who had used alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana or other illegal drugs.

“Ecstasy use also tends to precede use of other club drugs so preventing Ecstasy use (e.g., among those who attend nightclubs and parties) may also prevent initiation and use of drugs such as ketamine (‘Special K’) and GHB,” lead researcher Joseph J. Palamar, PhD, MPH, said in a news release.

“Hundreds of new designer drugs have emerged in recent years, some of which were created to mimic the effects of Ecstasy,” Dr. Palamar said. “Many individuals may be ingesting what they think is Ecstasy, but it may in fact be an even more dangerous new substance. Likewise, today Ecstasy commonly comes in powder form instead of pill form, which may even further increase the chances of receiving the drug cut with additional designer substances.”