At this time of year I always think about what I am thankful for. Of course, I am thankful for good health, my family, friends, colleagues, etc.

However, this year despite my gratefulness I am a little scared. You see, I continue to hear of and see teens who cannot seem to deal with "life on life's terms."

They are smoking more and more marijuana and cigarettes, drinking more and more caffeine-laden drinks, consuming alcohol and not giving it a second thought, taking prescription drugs that were not prescribed for them, playing computer games where the primary objective is to slaughter "humanoids" and not sounding like they believe in a power greater than themselves.

Don't get me wrong - marijuana, cigarettes, alcohol, etc. have been abused for many years and when I was a kid we didn't have laptops so it is kind of like apples and oranges. But today addiction research has shown a connection between substances and online activities.

Also, I am not preaching religion or even discussing the concept of God when I speak of a higher power - but I constantly hear: "hey doc, when you're dead your dead." Maybe that's true but it does not mean that "you" are the highest power in your life - I mean what about humanity as a whole or belief in a spiritual force of nature or something other?

Look folks, I know there are plenty of tweens and teens who don't get high or sit around just staring at a computer screen. But for those who do have mental health and addiction issues -- these can become very real and troublesome behaviors. However, there is hope for families. But hope only comes about with the help of others: parents, relatives, friends, specialists who care.

I also know that times have been pretty rough in the past few years and that perhaps "life on life's terms" has gotten a bit more difficult. To that I simply say let's keep trying. This country of ours is, in my mind, the greatest country in the world. It allows us to be free and speak our minds - and most of all to keep on keeping on one day at time.

About the Author

Harris Stratyner, Ph.D., CASAC

Harris Stratyner, Ph.D., CASAC, is a Clinical Associate Professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine; he is also with Caron Treatment Centers.

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