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Archive for April, 2008

Parental monitoring can reduce high-school drinking and, as a result, have a protective effect on students’ drinking at college, says research published this week in the online open access journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy.

The findings strengthen the idea that certain parental practices throughout high school and perhaps college could be used to curb high-risk drinking in older adolescents. Underage drinking is linked to a number of negative outcomes in this group, including suicide, high-risk sexual activity and an increased chance of alcohol dependence.

Researchers from the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland College Park, Maryland, USA interviewed over 1,200 students for the research, which forms part of the College Life Study. This is an ongoing, longitudinal, prospective investigation of health-risk behaviors in college students, including alcohol and other drug use.

The team assessed parental monitoring and student alcohol consumption (in drinks per day) in high school using surveys in the summer before the students attended a large public university in the mid-Atlantic. Students were followed up with a personal interview in their first college year to assess their alcohol consumption over the past year.

Higher levels of parental supervision were associated with lower levels of high-school drinking, independent of sex, race and religiosity. Although parental monitoring did not directly influence alcohol consumption in college, there was evidence that high school drinking mediates the relationship between the two factors. Thus, the higher the drinking in high school, the higher the drinking in college. The authors point out that these results call into question the opinion of many parents who think “responsible drinking” should begin in high school. Further research is needed to explore the extent and type of parental supervision that may reduce students’ drinking in college.

The authors write: “In summary, the transition to college marks a high-risk period for escalation of alcohol consumption. Parents and prevention practitioners can benefit from evidence that points to specific parenting practices that might help reduce the risk for heavy drinking, while at the same time allow for appropriate levels of autonomy that are critical for young adult development”.

(Taken from an online news email, distributed at www.noys.org)

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Please be informed that the Johnson County STOP Underage Drinking Project holds a monthly meeting the second Tuesday of every month.  The meetings take place at the Johnson County Sunset Drive Office Building at 11811 S. Sunset Drive, Olathe, KS 66061, and offers a chance for anyone interested in our work to come learn, share, and organize an initiative to STOP underage drinking in our community.

There are no membership requirements or dues, and you can become as involved as you want.  We completely understand that everyone carries a busy schedule, so we’ve added great training to each of our meetings administered by our partners.

Please consider the opportunity to become a part of a powerful team of motivated people working to STOP Underage Drinking.

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A first–of–its–kind national report reveals that 15.1 percent of the nation´s drivers age 18 and older drove under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year. The report says that in some states the levels are far higher – about one in four drivers.

Nationwide, an estimated 30.5 million people aged 12 or older drove under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year according to the report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The upper Midwest has the worst drunk driving rates in the country, with Wisconsin in the lead. The federal government estimates more than a quarter of the state’s adult drivers had driven under the influence. Rounding out the worst five are North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota. Driving under the influence ranged from a low of 9.5 percent in Utah, to highs of 26.4 percent in Wisconsin.

State Estimates of Adults Driving under the Influence of Alcohol and Illicit Drugs is based on the combined data from the 2004 to 2006 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and provides state-level estimates for the pervasiveness of driving under the influence of alcohol and driving under the influence of illicit drugs. These estimates are annual averages based on combined data collected from 127,283 current drivers surveyed in 2004, 2005 and 2006, the most recent data available.

The report also shows that nationwide nearly one in 20 adult drivers aged 18 or older drove under the influence of illicit drugs such as marijuana/hashish, cocaine/crack, inhalants, hallucinogens, heroin or prescription drugs used nonmedically.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were almost 16,700 deaths in 2004 caused by accidents related to driving under the influence of alcohol. Overall, driving under the influence of alcohol and illicit drugs is among the leading sources of preventable death by injury in the United States.

“This report highlights the enormous public health risk posed by this problem – one threatening the lives of many Americans every day,” said SAMHSA Administrator Terry Cline, Ph.D. “By highlighting the scope and nature of this problem in each state we can help communities best use their efforts and resources to address this preventable menace.”

State-by state listings of the percentage of adult drivers who drove under the influence of either alcohol or illicit drugs in the past year are provided in the chart following this release.
The full report is available on the Web at http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k8/stateDUI/stateDUI.cfm. .

Copies may be obtained free of charge by calling SAMHSA’s Health Information Network at 1-877-SAMHSA-7 (1-877-726-4727). Request inventory number SMA 08-4311. For related publications and information, visit http://www.samhsa.gov/.

(Taken from www.cadca.org)

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City strengthens minor in possession ordinance

On Tuesday, the council voted to strengthen an ordinance enforcing state law concerning minors in possession of alcohol.

The council approved two changes to the ordinance. The first makes it easier for preliminary breath tests for alcohol, or the refusal to submit to the tests, to be used as evidence in a trial. That change is in accordance with a similar amendment to Kansas state law.

The second change, however, makes Lenexa’s minors in possession ordinance more strict than the state’s.

With the change, Lenexa police officers can ask minors they suspect of being intoxicated to submit to preliminary breath testing. Those tests, or the refusal to submit to them, could then be used as evidence at trial.

Formerly, Lenexa was required to prove that a minor either possessed or drank alcohol within Lenexa’s borders.

The new “internal possession” provision to the ordinance, as it is called, was approved by six of the seven council members present.

The lone dissenter, Ward Two Councilman Tom Nolte, said the provision would create unsustainable work loads for the city’s police and court system.

Other council members said Lenexa was right to take a firm stand against teen drinking, which members, including Nolte, said was a serious problem.

(Taken from the Kansas City Star, Written by Andy Nelson)

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Organizers titled the meeting “Let’s Start Talking,” but with the panel of nine outnumbering the audience by three, the discussion on preventing underage drinking waned.

Instead, the discussion turned from preventing underage drinking to raising awareness of the issue.

“I’m embarrassed for my community,” Vicki Miller, Overland Park, said toward the end of the forum.

The Johnson County STOP Underage Drinking Project hosted a town hall-style meeting at Blue Valley Northwest High School, 132600 Switzer Ave., Overland Park, on April 9 as part of Alcohol Awareness Month and the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to prevent underage drinking.

Miller works at Oxford Middle School, 12500 Switzer Ave., Overland Park. She has two children who are Blue Valley district graduates, and one now in high school and one in middle school. She said the community is in denial about underage drinking.

According to surveys, STOP said the average age for the first use of alcohol in Johnson County is 13 years old and that 43 percent of seniors reported binge drinking in the last two weeks.

“How do we keep this a priority?” STOP Chairwoman Karen Leisner, who also works for the Regional Prevention Center in Olathe, asked the audience.

Tonya Merrigan, Blue Valley’s director of student programs and co-coordinator of drug and alcohol activities, said the district has made drug and alcohol prevention a priority and installed it into the K-12 curriculum.

“Rather than having stand-alone programs we felt it was important to incorporate it into the curriculum,” Merrigan said.

Merrigan said some of the high schools host after-prom and after-graduation parties to encourage students to celebrate without drinking. She also said the district’s high schools and middle schools have drug and alcohol prevention nights.

In May the district will work with the Regional Prevention Center to bring middle school and high school teachers, counselors and administrators together to look at Blue Valley’s drug and alcohol prevention activities and see what the next step should be, Merrigan said.

A new report, “Quantity and Frequency of Alcohol Use among Underage Drinkers” stated that 11 percent of all alcoholic drinks consumed in the United States are consumed by people under 21 years old.

Another report, “Substance Abuse and Dependence Following Initiation of Alcohol or Illicit Drug Use” stated that a majority of those who start using alcohol are still using it a year or more later.

Statistics have also shown that alcohol consumption starting in the teens results in alcoholism four times as often as alcohol consumption that starts at 21 years of age.

STOP reported five times as many teens die from alcohol overdose than any other drug.

That is a fact all too familiar for Jean and George Crossland, who told the story of how one of their sons died from alcohol poisoning while taking college classes.

“Once it happens and happens young, it’s not going to stop probably,” George said.

(Taken from KCCommunityNews.com, the Johnson County Sun, written by Philip Baston)

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The National Association of School Nurses (NASN) announced “Smart Moves, Smart Choices,” a program that responds to the growing rate of prescription drug abuse among middle and high school students nationwide.

NASN has teamed up with PriCara®, Division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., on the program, which features a news series and Web-based resources targeted to school nurses, teachers and parents. “Smart Moves, Smart Choices” educates teens about the serious risks of abusing prescription medicines, such as those used legitimately to treat pain.

“As the onsite healthcare professionals in schools, school nurses are preparing themselves with the right tools to help with the prevention of prescription drug abuse,” said Sandra Delack, RN, MEd, NCSN, NASN President-Elect. “This program will provide schools and parents with facts in a news-style format to motivate young people to make informed choices that lead to healthy behaviors.”

A national survey of more than 1,300 school nurses revealed that nearly 60 percent of school nurses indicated prescription drug abuse is a growing or significant problem in their communities.

The nurses’ observations are consistent with research showing the explosion of prescription drug abuse among youth: 

  • From 1995 to 2005, the number of teenagers treated for addiction to prescription pain relievers increased more than 300 percent.
  • Nearly one-quarter of 12th graders report that they have abused prescription drugs by the time they graduate from high school.
  • Every day, 2,500 children age 12 to 17 abuse a prescription pain reliever for the first time.

“Smart Moves, Smart Choices” includes four videos and lesson plans prepared for “the.Medic,” a health and wellness feature of MacNeil/Lehrer Productions’ “the.News,” a new national news service for middle and high school students.

Videos feature interviews with experts on drug abuse, scientists, health practitioners, parents and recovering teens. The series kicks off with “Myth Busters,” a video dispelling the misinformation about prescription drugs, including the beliefs that they are less dangerous than illegal drugs and not addictive.

Other topics include a look at the impact of abusing prescription pain medications on the developing brain, the social impact of addiction, and analyzing messages about drugs in popular culture.

Each downloadable video is accompanied by science and language arts curricula to facilitate classroom activities and discussion. The program includes a “the.Medic” video and guide for parents, who play an important role in reinforcing their children’s education about prescription medications.

“I think this program is a great way for teens to see and hear, firsthand, the consequences of poor choices…choices that they don’t have to make,” said Hayley Norwood, a recovering teen. “Since prescription drugs are given by a doctor, I thought they were okay for me to take, even though they weren’t for me. What I didn’t realize was the serious consequences I faced by taking someone else’s medications.”

NASN will promote the program among its 14,000 members to reach teens and their parents around the country.

For more information on the program and to view the videos and curricula, visit www.macneillehrer.com/thenews/themedic.

PriCara™, Division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., provided funding for the program.

 

The “Smart Moves, Smart Choices” program debuted at Shawnee Mission South High School on Wednesday, April 16, 2008.  For more information, contact Shawnee Mission South’s nurse, Kara Erickson at: 913-993-7516 or karaerickson@smsd.org

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Drug abuse can be prevented and addiction is a treatable illness.

  •  Substance abuse is a preventable problem.  We, as parents, are much more powerful than we think.  Upsetting us is the number one reason why kids do not use drugs, and kids who learn about drug risks from parents are only half as likely to start using.
  •  Get and stay closely involved with your kids’ lives as they head through middle school and into high school. You won’t connect well with your kids about serious health issues if you haven’t been interested in the day-to-day events of interest to them – which test caused half the class to flunk, which of their friends got a part in the play, who lied to their parents and went down to the city with older kids…
  • Begin the dialogue when your kids are young. Talk early and often. It doesn’t have to be a formal “birds and bees” type discussion, but should springboard off “teachable moments” — like an incident in their town or school, a problem in your extended family, a popular music video or movie, or something on the news.  Set a “no-use” expectation, including for alcohol, and make it explicit.   
  • Monitor your kids.  Kids whose parents supervise them closely are only half as likely to develop a drug problem.  Know the “who, what, why, where, when” of their activities, compare notes with other parents, and continue this practice as kids hit middle school, even when you no longer know all their friends, and friends’ families.   
  • Be the parent, not just the pal.  Your kids already have friends, but they need parenting.  Consistently enforce boundaries for your family that apply even when kids are in other settings, or with families that have different rules.  Teens like to be trusted, and will feel supported by clear and consistent boundaries that are explained in advance and are based on our love and concern for their well-being. 
  • Addiction is a health problem.  It does not happen because someone is “a bad person,” but is an illness that is in fact the number one preventable adolescent health problem.  (The American Academy of Pediatrics).  It is not your fault.  Stigma and shame due to past ignorance and stereotypes about the problem are unwarranted.  A drug disorder can take over your life, and cause you to lie, steal and act badly toward even those you love.  However, addiction has a physiological basis; chronic alcohol and other drug use change the brain and body chemistry, making it hard to stop.  Thirty years ago, families were told: your son needs to develop will-power to stop using cocaine… Now we know better. 
  • There is hope, help and healing available for your family if someone develops a substance abuse problem.  There are objective ways to assess the problem, and many new treatments.  Millions of people recover their health and turn their whole lives around, even though they tend not to be as visible as the public struggles of celebrities addicted to substances. 
  • Don’t wait — know the warning signs and act early.  If you suspect your child has a drug or alcohol problem, you are probably right, and need to learn more about the problem and steps for helping:  Intervene early, find the right type of help, and be persistent.  Warning signs include sudden changes (which are otherwise unexplained) in personality, irritability and mood swings, habits and friends,  excessive secrecy, and finding drug paraphernalia. There are objective “screener” short questionnaires that you can answer to determine the sort of problem you’re facing.  It’s a myth that someone has to hit “rock bottom” before seeking and getting help. Without help, addiction tends to progress and can even, eventually, be fatal. Although earlier intervention is best, it is possible to get help at any stage of addiction, and success rates with quality treatment are comparable to those for other illnesses like diabetes, asthma, or hypertension. 
  • Help is not just “rehab.” Most people recover from addiction without formal, in-patient treatment, or “rehab.”  There are many paths to wellness, including out-patient medical help, and sometimes a combination of treatment and a 12-Step, self-help program, which holds free meetings any time during the week, near enough to get to. 
  • Addiction runs in families, similar to illnesses like cancer or heart disease.  Kids who have a family pattern are at much higher risk of addiction if they use drugs or alcohol at all; no recreational use can stay safely under control, particularly during the formative years of adolescence. Families with a history of alcoholism or drug addiction should talk about this, so their kids are aware. If there is a problem developing, family involvement and support makes treatment work better. Everyone – the addicted child and the parents and siblings – need strong help and mutual support to solve the problem. 
  • You are not alone.  Substance abuse is common among teens, and drug addiction doesn’t discriminate.  It cuts across race, gender and economic lines, every region of this country, and every walk of life.  Most people now know someone who has struggled with addiction, and one in four teenagers is now living with an addicted parent.  Take heart.  More than anything, families need confidence that recovery is possible, and encouragement and information and professional support to heal this problem.

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