“Talk, They Hear You”

From: Gina Johnson, B.A.,
YSB Chemical Health Prevention Specialist – District 833

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a Federal agency that leads public health efforts.

“Talk, They Hear You” is a campaign to educate parents on how and when to talk to their kids about underage drinking. Attached are 5 conversation goals for parents to talk to their kids! Find more resources at

Combating the ‘Need’ for Caffeine

By: Gina Johnson, B.S.
YSB Chemical Health Prevention Specialist

I need to have caffeine in my life.

Have you ever thought something like this to yourself or out loud? Well, you are not alone.  Caffeine has become “the socially acceptable mind-alerting drug.” That’s why March Is Caffeine Awareness Month.

Caffeine is a natural stimulant –  a type of drug that increases activity of the body, by alerting the brain and spinal cord (Central Nervous System).

There are multiple types of stimulants that you may be aware of like cocaine, amphetamines (Meth and Adderall), and caffeine.

Caffeine is naturally found in tea, coffee, and dark chocolate. It is now manufactured to be in energy drinks, jerky, weight loss medicine, waffles, gum, etc. The most common way Americans get their caffeine consumption is through coffee but the highest levels of caffeine are found in energy drinks.

There are many potential benefits to drinking caffeine such as; it may boost memory, increase alertness, and can even help with recovery after a work out.

There are also potential negatives, especially in youth.

Caffeine may produce mild symptoms like restlessness, an increased heart rate, and insomnia. In higher consumption it can lead to dizziness, racing of ones’ heart, dehydration, and may increase anxiety. Pediatricians recommend young children to avoid caffeine consumption and adolescents to limit their consumption to 100 mg (one regular cup of coffee) a day.

New research being published shows the relationship between heavy caffeine consumption from energy drinks in high school students and drug use, due to the developing adolescent brain. 

Caffeine use may prime the brain for later drug use.* This is because of our brain’s reward center. The brain becomes used to the levels and begins to crave more of the stimulant, ultimately leading to higher dosage.

Caffeine has positives and negatives, so it is important to observe how much someone under the age of 18 is consuming due to their developing brain.

Prevention Tip: There are a lot of natural ways to raise your energy level. These tips below can help adults and youth learn healthier alternatives to high consumption of caffeine:

  • An apple in the morning is said to have the same effect as one cup of coffee.
  • Exercise: Jump rope, yoga, dance, or go for a walk.
  • Get 7-9 hours of sleep
  • Morning shower. Blast yourself with cold water for 5 seconds at the end.

YSB Chemical Prevention Specialists also give classroom presentations to youth in local schools to educate youth about safe limits and offer alternative strategies to drinking caffeine for ‘energy’.

If you are interested in scheduling a Caffeine-related presentation in your community or youth group , call 651-735-9534  or email:



Substance Abuse: Perception of Social Norms

By: Gina Johnson, B.A.
YSB Chemical Health Prevention Specialist in South Washington County Schools (D833)

How many of you think the majority of your peers are drinking, smoking or doing some type of drug?” The majority of hands shoot up throughout the entire class.  

As the Youth Service Bureau’s Chemical Health Prevention Specialist one of my roles is to do chemical health presentations in the high school and middle school classrooms in South Washington County School District. Every presentation I ask the students if they think everyone in their grade is doing some type of drug. Their answers are almost always “yes.”

I ask the students this because of social norms: the perception of use vs the reality of use. Our perception of use has a great influence on our own attitudes and behaviors.

Unfortunately, our perceptions aren’t always right. Students and adults tend to overestimate the usage rates around them- and it’s important for youth to know that not everyone is doing it.

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Juvenile Sex Trafficking- the Washington County Response

By: Peter Orput, Washington County Attorney, YSB Supporter and Guest Author

The selling of girls and boys for sex has been around for millennia.  This egregious scourge, however, has become far more common in the past several years to the point where it seems to be occurring frequently and everywhere.  The statistics are indeed frightening: 1 in 3 runaway children are lured into sex trafficking within 48 hours of running away. The average age of entry into prostitution is 12 to 14 years old.  Estimates put 1.2 million children being trafficked each year.  

What has driven this demand?  

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YSB Adds *Responsible Social Media Use* Program!

Responsible Social Media Use (RSMU) is a new service YSB designed to help youth who are struggling to use social media in a healthy way.

RSMU was developed at the suggestion of YSB’s referring parties (local law enforcement, school resource officers, and parents) and ranges from 2-5 sessions that fit the individual needs of each youth.

Diversion staff meet with the youth and parent/guardian to hear from the family about their particular situation. Together with staff, families help determine the number of sessions needed and the focus.

Depending on the situation, sessions cover media use, social interactions, healthy relationships, consequences, positive decision making, building self-confidence, and setting goals.

Please contact our Offices to schedule RSMU or to find out more!

Learn more about ‘What We Do’

The Popularity of Snapchat

By: YSB Youth & Family Education Coordinator, Merri Guggisberg

Snapchat is a popular messaging app that allows users to exchange photos and videos that disappear after a set time or after the receiver closes it. 

Users can also exchange private chat messages that can be saved.  Remember a screenshot can be taken (sender receives notification if this happens but can’t stop the receiver from taking it). 

According to Snapchat terms of use – the user has to verify they are at least 13 years old, and if under 18, they need to have parental permission.  The user also agrees to grant Snapchat access to their address book and allows it to upload that information to its servers. 

FYI- users share private contact information on family and friends without their permission.

Why do teens use Snapchat SO often?

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Internal Overload: Stress vs. Anxiety

By: Rebekah Winschitl, M.A., LPCC
YSB Youth & Family Therapist

It’s just this time of year, they will perk up”, “Once finals are over they will be back to their old self”, “She is just moody because she is a teenager”, “He won’t do his homework or chores because he is lazy”, “She says she is sick so she can get out of doing things or going to school”, “All teens sleep this much, it is because they are growing”.

These are phrases often said by parents when their kids are acting different than usual. It is easy, and very common, to associate any change in mood or behavior on the child’s age, level of motivation, or attitude and there is evidence to support that this is the case.

Adolescents often do sleep more and have mood swings due to growth and changing hormones. School is often stressful which may alter a child’s mood. Children also begin to show defiance as they grow older as a way to explore and test the world. Although many of these things are considered to be “normal”, too much of them may be more harmful than we think.

It is important to notice how these typically normal changes are effecting your child’s daily life.

  • Are they sleeping so much that they are missing meals and not spending time with friends?
  • Are they sick often enough to miss multiple days of school a month?
  • Is there mood or behavior erratic to the point where they are getting into trouble, showing poor performance at school, or seem to never be happy?

If so, then there may be something a little more than the typical developmental changes going on with your child.

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A Year of Transformation, Growth and Giving!

2017 has been a year full of transformational movement, growth and gifts for YSB.  We’ve always done great work, now we are just doing more of it in more places!

Thanks for helping YSB go the extra mile! 

Transformational (or transforming) organizations are focused on creating change to improve circumstances not just for families in need but for entire communities

YSB’s growth has focused on creating change to improve our services for the youth, families, and communities we serve. In a nutshell – we have more staff that can serve more youth in a bigger service area – and that’s a reason to celebrate!

The longer story details a year of dramatic change; take a stroll through and you will see! 

  • We are close to completing our 1.1-million-dollar program and capital expansion campaign. 
  • We have seven new staff with two more mental health therapists coming on board in January.
  • We have expanded our school-based chemical health programming from one district (834) to three (622 and 833). 
  • Our Youth and Family Education efforts have taken off as we provide learning and training opportunities to schools, businesses and community organizations at a dizzying rate.

Thank You!

Our focus over the last year has been one of creating sustainable growth – we are continually looking for additional ways to help provide the services we offer – and find new ways to fund those services. 

Increased funding to operate is becoming more and more important as we expand the scope of our services and our service areas, and reach more families without access to care.  Partnerships and collaborations are critically important, and magnify any success that we would achieve on our own. 

Did we say “Thanks?!”

YSB staff is learning to talk boldly about the important work we do ~ not always easy for some non-profit staff who prefer to let their work speak for itself!  YSB needs and welcomes your voice as we continue to go the ‘extra mile’. 

Please consider volunteering your time and talents.  Let us know what you’d like to see more of in this newsletter or programming – we value your thoughts! 

We would love to partner with you, and bring our educators into your faith community or business – the possibilities are endless!

As always, you can support YSB’s work in your community by giving a tax-deductible gift:

I personally welcome your call or e-mail.
  I am always happy to meet or have a conversation about the wonderful work we do, our plans for the future, and answer any questions you may have.

With Gratitude and in Partnership,

Andrée Aronson, Development Director

Overcoming Money Woes this Holiday Season

By Guest Author: Arlene Myers, Thrivent Financial  

With the holidays only a few weeks away, have you thought about what your expenses will look like this  year? If you are like most Americans, you’ll probably spend well into the four-figure range. According to Deloitte’s 2017 Holiday Survey1, the average consumer’s holiday season budget will be more than $1,200.

Given that, it’s no surprise that financial anxiety may intrude on the holiday spirit, particularly for people already dealing with budget and/or money challenges.

Still, there are ways to overcome these hurdles. Here are a few helpful tips from Thrivent Financial for you and your family.

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When Need and Generosity Intersect

YSB Guest Author: Peg Ludtke
Valley Outreach Volunteer – Stillwater, MN

You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well you just might find, you get what you need. — the Rolling Stones

What do you do when it seems there is bad news everywhere? How does a person fight despair when the  heartache and troubles of the world or maybe just your part of it, take hold and won’t let go? It is from this mindset that I started volunteering at the front desk at Valley Outreach last spring.

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