Youth

Teens who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to try marijuana in the future, especially if they start vaping at a younger age, a new study shows.

More than 1 in 4 teenagers who reported  use eventually progressed to smoking pot, according to the survey of more than 10,000 teens.

That compared with just 8 percent of non-vapers, said lead researcher Hongying Dai, senior biostatistician with Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.

Further, teens who started vaping early had a greater risk of subsequent  use.

Kids aged 12 to 14 who used e-cigarettes were 2.7 times more likely to try marijuana than their peers, compared with a 1.6 times greater risk for teens who tried vaping between 15 and 17.

“Our findings suggest that the widespread use of e-cigarettes among youth may have implications for uptake of other drugs of abuse beyond nicotine and tobacco products,” Dai said.

For the study, Dai and her colleagues twice surveyed 10,364 kids aged 12 to 17—once in 2013-2014, and again a year later.

The researchers found that teens who’d reported using e-cigarettes in the first wave were more likely to have tried marijuana for the first time during the subsequent year.

Results also showed that 12- to 14-year-olds who had tried e-cigs were 2.5 times more likely to become heavy marijuana users, smoking pot at least once a week.

Worse still, the researchers found that the more often  used e-cigarettes, the more likely they were to either try marijuana or become a heavy pot smoker.

Dai said the nicotine contained in e-cigarette vapor could be altering the brain chemistry of young teens.

“The brain is still developing during the  years; nicotine exposure might lead to changes in the central nervous system that predisposes teens to dependence on other drugs of abuse,” Dai said.

It’s also possible that experimenting with e-cigarettes might increase a teen’s curiosity about marijuana, and reduce any worries about marijuana use, Dai added.

Additionally, kids who use e-cigarettes could be more likely to run with a crowd that tries other substances, said Dai and Dr. Scott Krakower, assistant unit chief of psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y.

“E-cigarettes are going to be in the same drug culture as other things,” Krakower said.

These findings should be concerning to parents because kids might not stop at trying marijuana, he said.

“If you go to marijuana, is that going to lead to pills? Is that going to lead to something else?” Krakower said. “When we see progression to another substance, it’s like the ‘and then what’ cascade—they went to marijuana, and then what?”

Since this is a survey, it can’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship. And it’s possible that wild, risk-taking teens who try e-cigarettes are predisposed to be adventurous with other drugs, Dai and Krakower said.

“It could be that they have more of that sensation-seeking personality, and if they pick up one they’re going to pick up the other,” Krakower said.

But Dai said her team took that into account, and even after adjusting for sensation seeking, “ever e-cigarette use was still significantly associated with subsequent marijuana use.”

Krakower recommends that parents look for warning signs of e-cigarette use—marked irritability, hiding things, skirting the truth—and put their foot down hard.

“There should be zero tolerance for this kind of behavior,” Krakower said.

Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, agreed.

“E-cigarettes are adult products and are not intended for youth of any age,” Conley said. “We agree with the authors’ conclusion that more education is needed to help young people understand the consequences of using age-restricted products and illicit drugs.”

The new study was published online April 23 in the journal Pediatrics.

Source: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-04-vaping-teens-pot.html April 2018

  • Cannabis is responsible for 91% of drug addiction cases involving teenagers
  • Skunk – high-potency herbal cannabis – causing more people to seek treatment 
  • Backs up research that skunk is having detrimental impact on mental health

Supporters of the drug claim it is harmless, but an official report now warns the ‘increased dominance of high-potency herbal cannabis’ – known as skunk – is causing more young people to seek treatment.

The revelation comes amid growing concerns that universities – and even some public schools – are awash with high-strength cannabis and other drugs.

The findings also back up academic research, revealed in The Mail on Sunday over the past three years, that skunk is having a serious detrimental impact on the mental health of the young. At least two studies have shown repeated use triples the risk of psychosis, with sufferers repeatedly experiencing delusional thoughts. Some victims end up taking their own lives.

The latest UK Focal Point on Drugs report, drawn up by bodies including Public Health England, the Scottish Government and the Home Office, found that:

Cannabis is responsible for 91 per cent of cases where teenagers end up being treated for drug addiction, shocking new figures reveal (file photo)
Cannabis is responsible for 91 per cent of cases where teenagers end up being treated for drug addiction, shocking new figures reveal 
  • Over the past decade, the number of under-18s treated for cannabis abuse in England has jumped 40 per cent – from 9,043 in 2006 to 12,712 in 2017;
  • Treatment for all narcotics has increased by 20 per cent – up from 11,618 to 13,961;
  • The proportion of juvenile drug treatment for cannabis use is up from four in five cases (78 per cent) to nine in ten (91 per cent);
  • There has been a ‘sharp increase’ in cocaine use among 15-year-olds, up 56 per cent from 16,700 in 2014 to 26,200 in 2016.

Last night, Lord Nicholas Monson, whose 21-year-old son Rupert Green killed himself last year after becoming hooked on high-strength cannabis, said: ‘These figures show the extent of the damage that high-potency cannabis wreaks on the young.

‘The big danger for young people – particularly teens – is that their brains can be really messed up by this stuff because they are still developing biologically. If they develop drug-induced psychosis – as Rupert did – the illness can stick for life.’

The large rise in the number of youngsters treated for cannabis abuse comes despite the fact that total usage is falling slightly.

The report concludes: ‘While fewer people are using cannabis, those who are using it are experiencing greater harm.’

Almost all cannabis on Britain’s streets is skunk, which is four times more powerful than types that dominated the market until the early 2000s. It can even trigger hallucinations.

Lord Monson said: ‘We really need Ministers to get a grip and launch a major publicity campaign about the dangers.’ 

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5642917/Nine-ten-teens-drug-clinics-treated-marijuana-use.html  April 2018

When I was a kid, smoking was very common among adults but not kids. If you look at many of the television programs and movies from before 1970, you will see just how popular smoking was. In the evenings during prime-time television, there seemed to be as many cigarette commercials as there were for any other product. Magazines were filled with cigarette ads and billboards along the roads helped to glamorized having a lit cigarette protruding from your lips. The rugged and handsome looking cowboy known at the Marlboro Man helped to attract men and women to the nicotine habit.

However, at the time, most junior and senior high schools forbid smoking on campus and anyone even caught with cigarettes was disciplined. Many high school kids did smoke and thought they were hiding it but little did they know just how much the smell of cigarettes stayed on their breath and on their clothes.

Then came all of the health warnings that smoking causes cancer. Anti-smoking groups sprang up all over America and pushed to ban most cigarette and tobacco advertising from television and magazines. Many states began to pass legislation to add an extra sales tax on all tobacco products. The push behind those taxes is that it helped raise money to fight cancer and the other health problems associated with smoking and chewing.

Yet, the sales of cigarettes and other tobacco products didn’t seem to be hurt that much if at all by the anti-tobacco push. Millions of American adults and teens still lit up and puffed away.

Then someone thought they were really smart and developed the e-cigarette. It’s a battery-operated devise that heats up a special liquid to point of creating a vapor, much like smoking. It didn’t take long for the concept to catch on and become a billion-dollar industry.

What attracted so many at first was that e-cigarettes didn’t contain the tar products found in burning real tobacco, so many believed it to be a safer alternative. Then it became stylish and millions of teens wanted to look like one of the gang, so they bought their e-cigarettes and began puffing away.

In fact, e-cigarettes became so popular with teens that the use of them by high school students rose by 900% from 2011 to 2015.

New research has found a two-fold danger, especially with teens smoking e-cigarettes.

First, that liquid that is heated up and inhaled as a vapor not only contains nicotine but some of the other toxic chemicals found in smoking real cigarettes. In other words, there is still a significant increased risk of developing cancer, emphysema and/or heart disease from smoking e-cigarettes.

Secondly, the use of e-cigarettes has been found to increase the chance of a teen and young adult turning to real cigarettes within 18 months of starting. They can still get addicted to the nicotine and that addiction often drives them to smoking the real thing. Instead of e-cigarettes helping people to stop smoking, studies have been found to indicate that they may actually increase the chance of smoking real tobacco products.

The bottom line is that e-cigarettes really aren’t that much better than smoking real cigarettes and in some cases are even worse because they give a false sense of safety.

Source: http://www.healthylifestylearena.com/2-fold-danger-of-teens-using-e-cigarettes/ May 2018

Filed under: Latest News,Nicotine,Youth :

(Alexandria, VA) – Marijuana legalization has led to massive increases in youth exposure to the substance, according the 2017 Annual Toxic Trend Report compiled by the Washington Poison Center.

In 2017, there were 378 total marijuana exposures reported to the Washington State Poison Center. This number is an all-time high for reported marijuana exposures and is an increase of 87 incidents from the previous year.

Almost a third of the reported instances of marijuana exposure in the last year occur within the age group of children up to 5 years old. The rate of exposure among this age group has seen an explosive increase of almost 58% compared to the previous year.

Of the reported 378 instances of marijuana exposure in 2017, nearly half occurred as a result of eating marijuana edibles. Following legalization and commercialization, the marijuana industry has flooded the market with high-potency THC infused cookies, gummies, sodas, and other edibles that are highly appealing children.


Of note: the reporting of exposures to the Poison Center is completely voluntary and is most likely an underrepresentation to the true amounts of marijuana exposure occurring in the state of Washington.

“This report is extremely troubling,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president and founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). “As Big Marijuana continues to churn out kid-friendly edibles, more and more young children are ending up in emergency rooms. The preponderance of data show that marijuana has a damaging effect on developing brains but reports such as this get swept under the rug as lawmakers rush to liberalize drug laws.”

###

About SAM Action 

SAM Action is a non-profit, 501(c)(4) social welfare organization dedicated to promoting healthy marijuana policies that do not involve legalizing drugs. Learn more about SAM Action and its work visit www.samaction.net.

Source: Email from SAM Action <reply@learnaboutsam.org>, July 2018

Parents’ greatest fear is that their kids will become addicted to drugs and alcohol

This is according to a Parent Co. survey with over 1500 participants. Fear of drug and alcohol addiction vastly outweighed concerns about terrorism, economic collapse, crime, and war. When we shared the results of this survey, comments from readers could be grouped into three categories:

1. Parents saying “Of course this is our biggest fear!”

2. Parents asking if it’s possible to analyze their kids’ behavior and attitudes for signs of future addiction.

3. Parents asking about the factors that contribute to future addiction. We set out to research these answers with help from AddictionWise, an online service for families and friends of addicts. (More on AddictionWise below.)

From harmful substance abuse of alcohol or drugs or cigarettes to gambling, sex, food, or exercise, addiction can manifest in many forms.

While research continues to explore the scope of addiction and addictive behavior, the bottom line is that science has yet to isolate an “addictive personality.”

However, there’s strong evidence that some people are born vulnerable to addiction. It’s also often possible to predict a child’s’ risk of future addiction.

Genetics, relationships in childhood, environmental and social influences, adolescent experimentation, and the existence of an underlying personality disorder may ultimately contribute to the development of addiction and addictive behaviors.

The biggest indicators of future addiction problems are:

* Genetics – a family history of addiction

* Association with drug-abusing peers

* Drug and alcohol experimentation in adolescence

It’s important to note that parental understanding of the mechanics of addiction is a powerful preventive tool.

Addiction is a medical condition that is characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences. It can be thought of as a disease or biological process leading to such behaviors. The two properties that characterize all addictive stimuli are that they are reinforcing (i.e., they increase the likelihood that a person will seek repeated exposure to them) and intrinsically rewarding (i.e., something perceived as being positive or desirable). – Wikipedia

Genetics

A history of family addiction may be the strongest indicator of future addiction.

Many studies have shown that children of addicts have a much greater chance of becoming addicts themselves. Environmental factors may play a role, but a history of family addiction may be the strongest indicator of a child’s future addiction risks.

According to Doug Sellman of the National Addiction Center, heritability runs at about 50% of the cause of addiction.

Dr. A. Thomas McLellan has determined that though more research is needed on the topic, genetics has a critical role in whether or not an individual will develop an addiction, just as chronic illness can be passed from one generation to another.

Undercontrolled Temperament

“[We] have firmly established that undercontrolled temperament comes before any involvement in gambling.” – Wendy Slutske, who is a professor of psychological science at the University of Missouri

In the past few years, research has focused on how “undercontrolled” temperaments in children strongly correlate to a future probability of addiction. A large-scale, long-term, longitudinal study from New Zealand found that undercontrolled three-year-0lds were more than three times as likely to become addicted to drugs and twice as likely to have problems with gambling as young adults than their peers with the most self-control.”

Aspects of an “undercontrolled temperament” include:

* a lack of self-control, including rapidly shifting emotions

* impulsive and willful behavior

* relatively high levels of negative feelings such as alienation and negative emotion

* less conscientiousness and less social agreeability compared to peers

Even after factors like IQ, gender, and socioeconomic status were accounted for the association with addiction still held. And when the “undercontrolled” children were assessed as adults, they hadn’t changed all that much. (This is also shown in this California Child Q-Set study.)

About 10% of children in the study exhibited an undercontrolled temperament.

Relationships With Peers and Adults

Children who have poor relationships with peers and adults are more at risk for addiction.

A child’s environment and family additionally can affect the development of addictive habits. Dr. Robert B. Millman has advocated that children who have poor relationships with peers and adults are more at risk for addiction whereas those with positive relationships are at less risk. Dr. Hatterer also confers with this perspective and elaborates a child who suffers abuse is also at risk for developing an addiction later in life.

Moreover, Dr. Hatterer articulates that a lack of consistent parenting throughout childhood also influences future addictive behavior patterns.

Drug experimentation in adolescence

Association with drug-abusing peers is often the most immediate risk for exposing adolescents to drug abuse and delinquent behavior. – Drugabuse.gov

A 30-year prospective study found that early-exposed adolescents remained at an increased risk for poor outcomes. Approximately 50% of adolescents exposed to alcohol and drugs before age 15 had no conduct-problem history, yet were still at an increased risk for adult substance dependence.

Likewise, children who feel isolated or alienated are at risk for addictions. They may lack self-confidence and not know how to reach out to others for their emotional needs. .These children may eventually turn to addictive substances to cope.

According to David Sack M.D: “For peer groups where substance abuse is the norm, the future looks bleak. Nine out of 10 people who end up addicted started drinking, smoking or using drugs by age 18, CASA reports. One in four high school students who drinks or uses drugs becomes addicted. Drinking at an early age is linked to dangerous binge drinking in young adulthood. Many people come to treatment with histories of drug abuse spanning decades, or the majority of their young lives, making the recovery process more challenging.”

Childhood Trauma

When a child has suffered a trauma such as physical, mental, or sexual abuse; the death of a parent; or neglect, she may turn to addictive behaviors or substances to help cope with her pain and stress. This is especially true if she hasn’t been taught healthy coping strategies.

Changes in Brain Chemistry vs. “Addictive Personality.”

There’s aren’t always signs of addictive traits in childhood. For many people, addiction is a progressive disease.

Addiction isn’t necessarily the consequence of an “addictive personality” (which technically doesn’t exist; see below) as much as a result of changes in brain chemistry. Dr. Alan Leshner, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, contends that “voluntary and controllable” drug and alcohol use can eventually morph into a daily addiction. Continued drug use alters the brain’s functioning and structure.

Leshner even considers drug addiction a form of brain disease.

“The development of addiction is like a vicious cycle: Chronic drug use not only realigns a person’s priorities but also may alter key brain areas necessary for judgment and self-control, further reducing the individual’s ability to control or stop their drug use. This is why, despite popular belief, willpower alone is often insufficient to overcome an addiction. Drug use has compromised the very parts of the brain that make it possible to “say no.” – Drugabuse.gov

Summing Up

A child with increased risk of addiction isn’t destined to become an addict.

Addiction typically begins as a symptom, not a cause, of personal and social maladjustment.

Addiction is a complex process. Many people gamble, drink, and take drugs without becoming addicted.

Addiction should always be viewed in the context of an person’s developmental history. It’s most often the result of a biological or behavioral predisposition. For example, many studies show that depressed or impulsive people are more likely to drink and take drugs.

But addictive tendencies don’t mean a child will inevitably become an addict. Parental understanding of the mechanics of addiction is also a powerful preventive tool. Families can help provide protection from later drug abuse when there is:

* a strong bond between children and parents

* parental involvement in the child’s life; and

* clear limits and consistent enforcement of discipline.

Research shows that parents and caregivers can help kids learn to practice self-control, which is a major factor in future prevention. Even undercontrolled children can outgrow self-control problems over time, and learned to rein in their impulses as well as their peers who showed earlier mastery. “Addictive Personality” vs Personality Disorders

Commonality is evident among different addictions, though research hasn’t found psychological characteristics specific to a so-called “addictive personality.” Psychologist Hans Jugen Eysenck posited that addictive habits serve an important functionality to the individual with an addiction, specific to their personality. Notably, the DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published in 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association most recently in 2013) does not classify an “addictive personality” as a personality disorder. Rather, addictive characteristics can underlie or co-exist with a personality disorder that manifests in “maladaptive cognitive, emotive, and behavior patterns,” such as social deviance from accepted societal norms.

Maladaptive behavior patterns, exemplified by the inability to implement effective coping strategies, delay gratification, and empathize in addition to black-and-white thinking, impulsive and irrational behavior, moodiness, sensation-seeking and a lack of forward-thinking skills, are possible signs of an addictive personality.

An individual with an addictive personality may also highly value nonconformity or deviant behavior and have difficulty making commitments and setting goals.

Furthermore, an existing personality disorder can lead to substance abuse as coping mechanism. An “addictive personality” or addictive habits have the propensity to reinforce an existing personality disorder. Personality disorders are categorized into three clusters: A, B, and C.

Cluster A disorders, distinguished by “odd, eccentric thinking of behavior” include paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorders, that stem from genetics and brain chemistry.

Cluster B includes antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder. Cluster B disorders, characterized by over-emotional, selfish, and unpredictable thinking and behavior, are diagnosed more regularly than Cluster A as these disorders have roots in childhood.

Cluster C includes avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders, which are predominantly disorders identified by anxiety and fear. Though a person may be diagnosed with one personality disorder, he or she may also exhibit signs of another personality disorder.

https://www.mother.ly/parenting/factors-that-can-contribute-to-future-addiction-in-children-can-contribute-thttps://www.mother.ly/parenting/factors-that-can-contribute-to-future-addiction-in-childreno-future-addiction-in-children

Source: https://www.mother.ly/parenting/factors-that-can-contribute-to-future-addiction-in-childrenhttps://www.mother.ly/parentin

Filed under: Social Affairs,Youth :

A fall in the price of cocaine has led to the highest number of young people using class A drugs in more than a decade, experts say.

Cocaine prices are at their lowest levels in more than 25 years and young people are finding Class A drugs easily accessible, charities warned.  The drug is more widely available thanks to mobile phones and is being distributed to users outside city centres thanks to “county lines” in which gangs use children to export their trade to suburban and rural areas.

Figures released by the Home Office from the Crime Survey of England and Wales for 2017/18 show that 8.4 per cent of 16 to 24 year-olds had used Class A drugs in the last year, compared to seven per cent in 2016/17.

The proportion is the highest since 2005/6 and a significant rise from the recent low of 4.8 per cent, seen in 2012/13.  Six per cent had used powder cocaine, up from 4.8 per cent in the previous year and the highest figure since 2008/2009.

Figures from the UN’s 2018 World Drug Report show that in 2016 the street price of a gram of cocaine in the UK was $54 (£41), the cheapest at any point since 1990, when the time series begins. In 2007 the price was $91 (£69), and prices climbed as high as $128 (£97) in 1998.

Yasmin Batliwala, chair of London-based drug and alcohol treatment charity WDP, said young people were paying as little as £30 for a gram.

“Our young people’s services have seen a significant rise in the use of Class A drugs. The primary drug of choice has always been alcohol, as well as cannabis, but certainly in the last two or more years the use of Class A drugs has increased substantially.  “Class A drugs such as cocaine are extremely easily available. It’s actually very difficult to avoid drugs these days.In terms of price the cost has come down, so they’re not that expensive,” she said.

Harry Shapiro, of DrugWise, said the lower price of the drug meant users no longer had to be “city boys with lots of money”.  Mobile phones also made it easier for people to “hook into a regular supply,” he said. “You’ve got a broader network of distribution making it available in places where it wasn’t before, and they don’t have to hang around on street corners waiting for a bloke any more.

“Some people have got their dealer on speed dial and it’s a bit like home delivery of pizza.  All of that allows for a more discreet, wider network of distribution.”

Earlier this month addiction charity Addaction said its drug workers were dealing with children as young as 13 who were addicted to cocaine.  The organisation said the issue was a particular problem in Scotland, where its South Lanarkshire service has lowered the age threshold of its services from 14 to 13.

One of the charity’s workers Jacqueline Baker-Whyte said: “In the past, cocaine was a drug for people with money. That’s no longer the case. It’s cheap, plentiful and easy to get. The ‘quality’ is usually poor and the side effects can be horrendous.”

A spokeswoman for drugs charity Release said the figures showed that “criminalisation does not deter drug use”.
“The reported increase in recent powder cocaine use could be attributed to the drug’s reduced street-level price, and its higher purity,” she added.

Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/07/26/class-drug-use-among-young-people-highest-decade-price-cocaine

Filed under: Cocaine,Youth :

The Oregon Health Authority also issued this month a baseline report titled Marijuana Report: Use, Attitudes, and Health Effects in Oregon. This comprehensive report includes several key findings.
 
Pictured above, for example, is a state map showing the 40 cities and 11 counties that have banned marijuana businesses within their boundaries. However, the Oregon Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program shows those numbers to be higher. Some 80 of the state’s 242 cities and 17 of its 36 counties have banned marijuana processing businesses and marijuana dispensaries from conducting business within their boundaries.
 
Oregon legalized marijuana for medical use in 1998 and for recreational use in 2014. Possession of up to eight ounces became legal for those age 21 or older July 1, 2015. Because recreational dispensaries will not open until late this year, the state allowed dispensaries selling pot for medical use to begin selling pot for recreational use as well October 1, 2015.
 
In just three months, however, some changes are already being seen. Marijuana-related calls to the state’s Poison Control Center increased in the last half of 2015, for example, from 105 in 2014 to 158 in 2015.
 
Other data include:

  • One in ten 8th-graders and one in five 11th-graders used marijuana in the past month, about the same as national levels.
  • Approximately 90% of marijuana users smoke the drug.
  • Some 62% of 11th-graders report marijuana is easy to get, some say easier than cigarettes.
  • Nearly half of current marijuana using 11th-graders who drive say they drove within three hours of using the drug.
  • Half (51%) of Oregon adults have seen marijuana store or product advertising, but less than one-third (29%) have seen information about marijuana health effects.
  • Nearly two-thirds (63%) of Oregon adults say they don’t know when it is legal to drive after using marijuana.

Read this report here.

There will never be fundamental change in west Belfast’s drug problem without addressing the poverty and conflict legacies affecting it, a new report has found.

Launched on Monday, the West Belfast Community Drugs Panel’s report examined all aspects of drugs misuse in the area and provided a series of recommendations.

The panel was set up in October last year in reaction to a spate of drug-related deaths in the west of the city and is made up of representatives from several government departments, including the Belfast Trust and the Public Health Agency.

Families in the area affected by drugs, including bereaved parents, were also invited to give their views through community representatives on the panel, which was chaired by Noel Rooney, former head of the Probation Board for NI.

Funding for the report was provided by the Belfast Policing and Community Safety Partnership, which is made up of councillors and representatives from statutory agencies.

The report found significant issues relating to drugs misuse in west Belfast, many related to chronic under-funding by successive governments and the lack of a coherent, multi-agency strategy to deal with the problem.

It also identified significant contributing factors relating to the area’s social housing provision.

Several of the root causes detailed in the report, however, are generational and systemic.

“The West Belfast drugs issue is directly related to the area being affected by systemic poverty and the legacy of the NI Conflict and, unfortunately, this looks set to worsen over time,” the report reads.

“There will never be a fundamental change for west Belfast without addressing the poverty and conflict legacies.”

Elsewhere, the panel found addiction to prescription medications to be disproportionately high in the area.

“Evidence shows the level of prescribing medication in west Belfast is higher than in most other parts of Belfast, the north of Ireland and Great Britain,” the document states.

The report recommends several measures that public agencies could take to try and tackle the problem, including:

– An anti-poverty plan aligned with appropriate, long-term funding (10-15 year minimum)

– A multi-layered education strategy with a focus on early intervention

– A co-designed pilot social housing model, specifically for the area

– A zero-tolerance drugs policy from the PSNI, with a stronger focus on small level dealing

In addition, the report includes a ‘What We Heard’ section summarising key information providing to the panel by members of the public, community representatives and others.

“Criminal gangs, some claiming to have paramilitary connections, are controlling the supply of cocaine and heroin in some streets to children as young as 12-years-old,” the report reads.

“They decide what to provide and how much it will cost local people.”

Prescription medications being reported as being currently misused in west Belfast include: Tramadol, an opiate-based painkiller, and Fentanyl, a tranquiliser 100 times stronger than heroin.

It is now in the hands of government agencies to decide which, if any, of the report’s recommendations they might adopt.

Source:  https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/children-as-young-as-12-taking-drugs   11th June 2018

 

Submitted by Livia Edegger

Strengthening Families Programme, a family-focused prevention programme used in 26 countries around the world, was found to be nine times more effective than individually-targeted programmes and yielded a $10 return for every dollar spent on it. The programme, designed for youth and their families, aims to improve parent-child interactions, parenting skills and strengthen young people’s social and problem-solving skills.

Submitted by Andy Travis 

Those who first used alcohol at or before the age of 14 were nearly four times more likely to meet the criteria for past year alcohol abuse or dependence than those who started using alcohol between the ages of 18 and 20 (16.5% vs. 4.4%) and more than six times more likely than those who started using alcohol at or after age 21 (16.5% vs. 2.5%).

These findings illustrate the need for alcohol education and prevention efforts as early as middle school.

Percentage of Adults (Ages 21 or Older) Who Abused or Were Dependent on Alcohol in the Past Year, by Age of First Alcohol Use, 2009.

 

Similarly, adults who first started using marijuana at or before the age of 14 are most likely to have abused or been dependent on illicit drugs in the past year. Adults who first used marijuana at age 14 or younger were six times more likely to meet the criteria for past year illicit drug abuse or dependence than those who first used marijuana when they were 18 or older (12.6% vs. 2.1%) and almost twice as likely as those who started between the ages of 15 and 17 (12.6% vs. 6.6%).

Percentage of Adults (Ages 21 or Older) Who Abused or Were Dependent on Illicit Drugs in the Past Year, by Age of First Marijuana Use, 2009.

 

Links:
• Adults Who Initiate Alcohol Use Before Age 21 More Likely to Abuse or Become Dependent on Alcohol(link is external) – CESAR FAX, University of Maryland, USA.
• Early Marijuana Use Related to Later Illicit Drug Abuse and Dependence(link is external) – CESAR FAX, University of Maryland, USA.

Source:

http://preventionhub.org/en/prevention-update/adults-who-initiate-alcohol-and-marijuana-use-age-21-are-much-more-likely-abuse-or-become-d

Submitted by Livia Edegger

Earlier this month Germany celebrated the results of the 2014 drug report which revealed a rapid decline in smoking, drinking and marijuana use among youth over the past ten years. Smoking among German teens aged 12 – 17 has halved in ten years (11.7%). Smoking rates have also dropped among 18 – 25 year olds, not as significantly though. Drinking rates have fallen from 17.9% in 2001 to 13.6% in 2012 among 12 – 17 year olds. In terms of gender differences, teenage boys are twice more likely to consume alcohol than their female counterparts. Little has changed among 18 – 25 year olds, the group that accounts for the highest alcohol consumption rate. Drinking in that age group was reported at 38.4% in 2012 which means it only dropped by a little over 1%. Cannabis ranks first among illicit drugs used with 5.6% of 12 – 17 year old teenagers using it compared to 9.2% in 2001. After years of steady consumption rates, cannabis use among 18 – 25 year olds is on the rise again and at 15.8% resembles figures of 2001.

Source:

http://preventionhub.org/en/prevention-update/germany-releases-drug-report

23rd July 2014

Submitted by Livia Edegger

A study conducted by the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that individuals who had started taking drugs early on in life were more likely to develop mental disorders and become polydrug users. At the time of clinical admission, three quarters of drug users between 18 and 30 years of age had started taking drugs at age 17 or younger. A tenth of drug users had started at an even earlier age. 78.1% of drug users that had started taking drugs at age 11 or younger were taking more than one drug compared to 30.4% of individuals that had initiated drug use after the age of 25. 38.6% of drug users that had begun taking drugs at age 11 or under had developed some form of mental disorder. These results underline the importance of prevention programmes in childhood and early adolescence, phases that are critical for young people’s development.

Links:

Source:

http://preventionhub.org/en/prevention-update/early-onset-drug-use-linked-mental-disorders-and-multi-drug-use

Submitted by Livia Edegger

The findings of a report released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) reveal a promising downward trend regarding drug use among secondary school students in England. Tobacco, alcohol and drug use among students have been cut in half in the past ten years. Smoking rates have dropped from 9% to 3% and alcohol rates have dropped from 25% to 9%. Illicit drug use has fallen by 50% between 2003 and 2013. The growing concern that e-cigarettes might fuel the uptake of smoking in teenagers was not supported by the report.

Links:

Source: 

http://preventionhub.org/en/prevention-update/drug-use-plunges-50-among-secondary-school-students-england

Filed under: Alcohol,Nicotine,Youth :

Submitted by Livia Edegger

The most popular alcohol brands among US youth are the ones most often featured in advertisements in teenage magazines, according to a new study. Their ads are found to be five to nine times more likely to appear in those magazines. Leading researcher Craig Ross of Virtual Media Resources warns parents of the effects of alcohol ads on young adults, “Parents should take note that scientific evidence is growing that exposure to alcohol advertising promotes drinking initiation, and is likely to increase the frequency of consumption for kids already drinking”. Along with a group of researchers he called for developing standards that would limit alcohol advertising to magazines with less than 15% of young people among its readership.

Links:

Underage drinkers’ favourite alcohol brands are heavily advertised in magazines 

http://www.drugfree.org/join-together/underage-drinkers-favorite-alcohol…

Source:

http://preventionhub.org/en/prevention-update/us-teens-targeted-alcohol-advertising-magazines

16th July 2014

Filed under: Alcohol,Youth :

Submitted by Livia Edegger on – 15:38

A group of researchers has developed a test to predict fourteen year old teenagers’ future drinking behaviour. The test takes a wide variety of factors that might influence young adults’ susceptibility to binge drinking into consideration such as family background, personality traits, availability of alcohol as well as brain-related variables. “There is no one really big thing. It’s a bunch of little things adding up to give you this prediction,” says Dr Robert Whelan from the University College Dublin. As of today, the test is far from practical as it lacks accuracy and relies on expensive brain scans. A more simplified and cost-effective version of the test could help identify at-risk adolescents for interventions in the future. Hugh Perry, chairman of the Medical Research Council Neurosciences and Mental Health Board, said further research could “lead to breakthroughs in this field and provide compelling evidence to inform public health policy and lay the groundwork for the design of interventions”.

Links:

Source:

http://preventionhub.org/en/prevention-update/researchers-create-tool-predict-teens%E2%80%99-drinking-behaviour

9th July 2014

Submitted by Livia Edegger 

A new study carried out by the European Institute of Studies on Prevention (IREFREA) explores the role of parenting styles on drug use among teenagers. A group of researchers interviewed almost 8,000 students between 11 and 19 years of age across six European countries. The study analysed four parenting styles – authoritarian, authoritative, indulgent and neglectful. The first two parenting styles were characterised by strict rules and control. Authoritative parenting was marked by good communication, affection and flexibility from the parents’ side while the authoritarian style lacked those characteristics. The more lenient parenting styles – ‘indulgent’ and ‘neglectful’ – differed to the extent that in the former parents were affectionate and understanding, qualities that were absent in the latter. The ‘authoritative’ and ‘indulgent’ parenting styles, in which parents were affectionate and understanding, were the most effective in keeping children from using drugs.

Links:

Source:

http://preventionhub.org/en/prevention-update/why-parenting-styles-matter-when-it-comes-drug-use-among-teens

17th June 2014

Submitted by Livia Edegger on  – 14:25

One of the most widely used school-based prevention programmes has proven to be effective in reducing drug use among adolescents in yet another country. After a team of researchers translated the programme known as Botvin LifeSkills Training into Italian, it was launched in around 180 schools in Lombardy, a region of Northern Italy. Within those schools the programme reached approximately 30,000 students and involved 1,800 teachers. The programme was found to reduce teenage smoking rates by 40% while boosting students’ self-esteem and equipping them with the relevant skills to deal with stressful situations. Following the success of the programme in Northern Italy, the Regional Observatory on Drug Addiction of Lombardy would like to see the programme implemented in schools across the country.

Links:

Source:

http://preventionhub.org/en/prevention-update/another-success-story-italy-adapts-botvin-lifeskills-training

17th June 2014

Submitted by Livia Edegger 

A recent study examines the extent to which peers and parents can influence an adolescent’s attitude towards drinking by comparing teenage drinkers with non-drinkers. The group of teenagers that viewed drinking as a fun activity were not restricted by their parents in their drinking and found it difficult to handle peer pressure. In contrast, the adolescents that did not drink were given stringent rules regarding drinking by their parents and did not feel the need to drink to fit in.

Links:

Source:

http://preventionhub.org/prevention-update/importance-parents-and-peers-young-people%E2%80%99s-attitude-towards-drinking

12th June 2014

Filed under: Alcohol,Youth :

Submitted by Livia Edegger

A new study found that movies that present alcohol in a positive light can encourage drinking among young adults. As characters are often seen as role models their drinking habits can have an impact on teenagers’ views on drinking. Since young viewers tend to be more involved in movies and are mostly unaware of the hidden advertising messages, alcohol marketing in movies might actually be more effective than ads. ‘Participants were more transported into and had a more positive attitude toward movie clips with alcohol portrayals compared to the same movie clips with no alcohol portrayals’, says researcher Renske Koordeman. Research on the effects of alcohol marketing in films is of relevance as most movies include some kind of reference to alcohol brands or drinking and watching movies is among the top pastimes among adolescents.

Links:

Source:

http://preventionhub.org/en/prevention-update/how-movies-may-affect-young-viewers%E2%80%99-attitude-towards-drinking

3rd June 2014

Filed under: Alcohol,Youth :

Submitted by Livia Edegger 

This study, carried out in several Dutch schools, was administered to adolescents and parents simultaneously as well as separately. While simultaneous interventions held off the onset of regular drinking, separate interventions did not have an impact on teenage drinking. Combined prevention, targeting adolescents and their parents, was found to be the most effective among adolescents with low self-control and lenient parents. The study highlights the importance of addressing self-control among adolescents and parenting styles as part of comprehensive prevention programmes.

Links:

Source:

http://preventionhub.org/prevention-update/dutch-prevention-programme-yields-promising-results

28th May 2014

Submitted by Andy Travis

This study found that youth with more substance users in their networks reported greater alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana consumption regardless of whether these network members provided tangible or emotional support. The homeless setting was more significant in consumption than meeting network members in other contexts. Numbers of adults and school attendees in networks reduced consumption.

Read more

Links:
• One in three parents do not talk to their children about the risks associated with drinking alcohol(link is external) Full statement ,with further links.
• Alcohol. It’s no joke. | Why Let Drink Decide(link is external) The video campaign.

Source:

http://preventionhub.org/en/prevention-update/survey-uk-parents-suggests-parents-more-concerned-about-risks-drugs-alcohol-government-anno

11th January 2011

Submitted by Livia Edegger

As a country with a history of heavy smoking and drug use among youth, Ireland embraces the results of a new study indicating a substantial drop in teen smoking. Youth smoking rates fell from 21.1% in 1998 to 11.9% in 2010. Similarly, the percentage of teenagers that take their first puff at age 13 or younger has decreased significantly. While in 2002 more than 60% of Irish teenagers had their first cigarette at age 13 or younger, by 2010 that number had fallen to just under 50%. These positive developments were presented at the Irish Cancer Society’s X-Hale Film Festival in Dublin, which featured 43 short clips produced by youth groups that drew attention to the harms of smoking.

Links:

Source:

http://preventionhub.org/en/prevention-update/teenage-smoking-cut-half-ireland

23rd July 2014

Filed under: Nicotine,Youth :

BATON ROUGE — When a classmate died of a drug overdose, Symmes Culbertson bought a black suit for the funeral.

“It didn’t feel right to wear a blue sports jacket,” the 23-year-old political science major said.

What he didn’t count on was how many more funerals of classmates he would attend — six since he began attending Louisiana State University in 2013. “The number of people that I have known by name or in passing that have died from prescription drug overdoses, just in my college years, is well into the teens,” Culbertson said.

These kinds of events have become increasingly common at U.S. colleges, where many students view mixing pills and chasing them with alcohol as a rite of passage, rather than a dangerous and often deadly practice.

“It’s a dirty secret,” said April Rovero, whose son, Joey, a student at Arizona State University, overdosed in 2009 after taking prescription opioids, benzodiazepines and alcohol. (Dr. Lisa Tseng, who prescribed the drugs that led to the deaths of him and two other young men, is now serving a 30-years to life prison sentence for illegally prescribing the medication.)

In the year that followed, she said nine more students from there also died at the hands of drugs.

National addiction expert Dr. Drew Pinsky said one thing that is killing many students is mixing opioids with benzodiazepines, such as Xanax — something he says doctors should never prescribe together because it can be lethal.

Since 1999, drug overdose deaths of those 15 to 24 have quadrupled to 5,376 a year, far surpassing the number of those dying from alcohol-related accidents.

“These are perfectly healthy young people,” said Rovero, who founded the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse. “Every one of these deaths is avoidable.”

‘A Perfect Storm’

Ken Hale, associate director of the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery on the Ohio State University campus, said “a perfect storm” has hit college campuses and the nation, starting with “the drug-taking culture in which we live. We use more medication than any other country.”

In 2016, the nation filled more than 4.5 billion prescriptions, including antibiotics, cancer drugs and other drug treatment protocols — an average of more than 14 per person.

But Hale said many of those prescriptions are the powerful and often addictive opioids. Even though the U.S. makes up less than 5 percent of the world’s population, it consumes 80 percent of opioids.

As a result, these drugs are easily available to students through family members or friends, he said.

With these prescription drugs come misperceptions about safety and legality, he said. Of those addicted to heroin, 80 percent started on prescription drugs.

“If I go to a party and someone says, ‘Here’s some heroin,’ flags go up, but if someone hands me a Vicodin (an opioid painkiller), they don’t,” he said.

College campuses have become incubators for the bigger problem, where students “may not hit the wall in college, but they start behaviors that led to the problem we have,” he said.

Hale noted that the No. 1 cause of death of those under 50 is drug overdose and that fact has contributed to the U.S. seeing life expectancy decline for two years in a row for the first time since the 1950s.

Ohio State is one of more than 100 colleges that have recovery centers, where students can live, Hale said. “College dormitories are not a good environment for someone trying to get sober.”

Funeral for a friend

Culbertson grew up in Greenville, a fast-growing small town in South Carolina. “In high school, the most hardcore thing was weed,” he said.

By 2014, pills had begun to seep into college life, no longer just for the weekend parties.

Students took Adderall, the stimulant used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, if they needed to study or take a test.

And students who didn’t have classes till the afternoon might visit the bar and get Xanax, sometimes chasing that tranquilizer with alcohol — what can be a deadly combination.

When 2015 came, so did news about a high school classmate, a former cross-country track star who became hooked on opioids after hurting his back and blowing out his ACL.

His sister, Callie, had helped him get sober, letting him live with her for six months.

Callie Culbertson, the older sister of Symmes Culbertson, graduated in December from LSU with a degree in animal science, history and psychology. She knows of eight young people from her hometown of Greenville, South Carolina, who have died of drug overdoses. (Photo: SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network)

Afterward, she kept in touch by telephone. One morning she learned on Facebook that he had overdosed — news that stunned her because she had just spoken to him the night before.

She and Culbertson attended the funeral, and she couldn’t believe that so many people attending were high, doing the same drugs that killed her friend.

Since that funeral, she knows of eight people from her hometown who have died of overdoses.

“Everybody knows somebody this has touched,” she said. “The problem is no one is changing.”

‘He only took five’

Culbertson returned to LSU, and the next funeral of someone he knew took place just a few months later.

The environment has become “so accepting of the drugs,” he said. “If you don’t enjoy them, then you’re the a–hole — at least if you speak up about it.”

More funerals followed, and last January, he got a call that a friend of his had just overdosed.

Culbertson had just seen his friend the night before, taking Xanax in a bar. “We were with him at midnight,” he said.

When it was obvious he needed help getting home, friends took him there. He never woke up.

Word came that he had died of fentanyl, a drug up to 50 times stronger than heroin, and that fentanyl may have been mixed with the Xanax pills.

After this death, Culbertson said some slowed down in their drug taking, but no one quit.

Months later, he heard of a classmate back home who had been hooked on opioids before secretly moving to heroin and overdosing.

On Oct. 14, hours after LSU defeated Auburn University in football, Culbertson and his friends met at a bar.

After midnight, a friend informed him that he had just stolen a bottle of liquor from the bar, and that he was going back to his place to celebrate with his girlfriend.

The next morning, a friend called him in tears, letting him know their friend was dead.

“That’s crazy,” Culbertson replied. “He only took five (Xanax) sticks last night.”

As soon as he hung up, he realized the insanity of his own words, nonchalantly saying that his friend had taken five Xanax bars.

“And I thought that was completely normal,” he said. “And that’s what has come to scare me — the culture here is so accepting of it that even me, who doesn’t do any of this stuff, it’s normalized to me. My thinking had gotten as distorted as anybody engaging in the culture.”

He wore the dark suit for his friend’s funeral in New Orleans and returned home to write out an idea for a short film, based on what he had experienced.

The next day, he pitched his idea to his film class. His movie proposal, “Only the Good,” resonated with his fellow students.

“I just wanted to tell the story about my peers that shows everybody thinks they’re having a good time, and while that’s true 90 percent of the time, there’s that 10 percent of the time where you not only do, you die from it, but it devastates the lives of the people that care about you.”

Turning a blind eye

Rovero would like to see learning about medicine safety start in kindergarten, saying schools and colleges need to do a better job of educating students.

“Colleges should be educating students about how addictive and dangerous these drugs can be, especially mixed with other drugs and alcohol, and about the risk factors and signs of addiction and overdose,” she said.

Students should be trained to aid those in trouble, she said. “Parents should work with their administrators to have resident assistants have a naloxone rescue kit on hand in dorm settings, just in case, and everyone with a kit needs to be trained to use it.”

All incoming LSU freshman receive orientation regarding alcohol, drug use and sexual violence prevention. University officials say they continue to work with students to identify and reduce high-risk drinking, providing addiction programs and services, including the Anxiety and Addictive Behaviors Clinic.

Culbertson praised LSU for its all of its efforts, including education, outreach and support groups.

But there is a huge hurdle, he said. “There’s not much a support group can do when people aren’t looking for support. Nobody feels like they have a problem.”

The problem is one of perception, he said. “Students don’t really identify themselves as drug addicts, and everybody else is turning a blind eye.”

Source: https://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2018/02/05

Colorado middle schools reported a 24 percent increase in drug-related incidents last year, according to USA Today. School-based experts tell the newspaper they believe the jump is directly related to marijuana legalization. Recreational sales of marijuana began on January 1, 2014.

Schools do not report which kinds of drugs are involved in the incidents, the article notes. State legislators are now asking school districts to keep track of which drugs they are finding.

John Simmons, the Denver Public Schools’ Executive Director of Student Services, says schools in his city saw a 7 percent increase in drug incidents, from 452 to 482. Almost all of the incidents were related to marijuana, he said.

Middle schools across the state reported a total of 951 drug violations, the highest number in a decade. School officials say while marijuana use has long been a problem, more students are trying it now that it is more easily available and socially accepted.

“We have seen parents come in and say, ‘Oh that’s mine, they just took it out of my room,’ and that sort of thing,” said school resource officer Judy Lutkin of the Aurora Police Department. “Parents have it in their houses more often, and the kids just can take it from home.”

“Middle schoolers are most vulnerable to being confused about marijuana,” said Dr. Christian Thurstone, attending physician for the Denver Health Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment program. “They think, ‘Well, it’s legal so it must not be a problem.’”

Meg Sanders, owner of MiNDFUL, a marijuana company that operates in Colorado, says her business is very careful not to market to children. “We feel it’s our responsibility as a responsible business to card not just once but twice for any recreational customer, and medical patients have to show several documents before they can purchase marijuana,” she said.

Source: http://www.drugfree.org/join-together/jump-colorado-school-drug-cases  19th Feb.  2015

By Kathy Gyngell Posted 12th September 2014

For years the great and the good of the drug legalising world – including members and former members of the Government’s own Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs – have consistently denied that cannabis is a gateway drug or addictive. They have downplayed its devastating consequences for adolescents. They have derided or ignored cannabis prevention campaigners and the evidence presented to them.

It is time for them to recant  – now and publicly – for their misleading and casual advice.

They can no longer remain in denial about the drug they have appeared so keen to defend, to normalise and to claim is less harmful than alcohol.

Irrefutable evidence of its damaging consequences for adolescents was published yesterday, in a new study of adolescent cannabis use , in The Lancet Psychiatry  –  a study in which almost  3,800 people took part.

Its objective was to find out more about the link between the frequency of cannabis use before the age of 17 and seven outcomes up to the age of 30, such as completing high school, obtaining a university degree and cannabis and welfare dependence.

The researchers found that the risks increased relative to dose, with daily cannabis users suffering the greatest harm.

They found that teenagers who smoked cannabis daily were over 60 per cent less likely to complete school or get a degree than those who never had. They were also 60 per cent less likely to graduate college, seven times more likely to attempt suicide, eight times as likely to go on and use other illegal drugs, and 18 times more likely to develop a cannabis dependence.

To its shame, the Washington Post described these findings as ‘startling”.  The fact is that they only reflect numerous previously published studies and surveys.

However, let’s hope that the that self-styled Global Commission on Drugs Policy and its leading light, Sir Richard Branson, will take note that Professor Neil McKeganeyrightly excoriated them on Tuesday   for promoting the legalisation of all currently illegal drugs.

It should be concerned and reflect on its gung-ho recommendations in light of this catalogue of damage; and so should President Obama – who seems to think kids smoking dope is OK.  He should really be worrying for under the lax approach of his administration cannabis use, or marijuana as Americans call it, has risen 29 per cent in six years, that is nearly a 5 per cent increase per year.  It is difficult to detach this rise from the effective decriminalisation of the drug in 23 states under so called medical marijuana legislation.  And the US is yet to see the full effects of the January 2014 initiation of legal marijuana in Colorado and Washington on the rest of the nation.

Thankfully, in the UK the number of 11–15 year olds who say they’d used cannabis in the past month (4 per cent) has been dropping consistently over the last 13 years or so.  The number significantly less than in the US where a worrying 7 per cent of high-school seniors (aged 17-18) are daily or near-daily users.

Richard Mattick, the study author and Professor of Drug and Alcohol Studies at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, in Australia, is right to stress: “Our findings are particularly timely given that several US states and countries in Latin America have made moves to decriminalise or legalise cannabis, raising the possibility that the drug might become more accessible to young people.”

The cat is out of the bag in the US. Let’s hope here in the UK, those seeking to normalise cannabis use, including the Lib Dems, several members of the ACMD and a number of Government-funded charities will finally see how irresponsible they have been and are.

Source:  www.conservativewoman   12th Sept. 2013

My blood boils when I hear loony liberal politicians (I’m thinking Nick Clegg) and middle class do-gooders telling us that ALL drugs should be legalised. That heroin, crack cocaine and LSD should all be freely available – even to teenagers.

Their argument is that if the State was in charge of the drugs industry instead of criminal gangs then the drugs wouldn’t be toxic and fewer people would die.

And there’ll be more of that silly talk in the coming weeks thanks to a Home Office report – trumpeted by Clegg – which claims punitive laws have no effect on curbing drug use.

What, so do we just give up and legalise them? If we can’t win the war on drugs do we just call it off? Do we do what we’ve done with other crimes we don’t have the money or the will to police – and just ignore them?

One of the countries cited as an example of decriminalisation in this report was Portugal. They legalised drugs in 2001. But now we know the numbers of 15 and 16 year olds using drugs has doubled there since laws were relaxed. Which is a total no brainer.

Then a bloke called Ian Birrell said on TV this week our Government spends billions of pounds on failed drugs policies. I’m sorry – unlike Portugal – our drugs policies aren’t failing. Since 1996 the use of Class A drugs among 16 to 24 year olds has plummeted by 47 per cent and the use of Class B by 48 per cent.

But commentators like Birrell still argue we should legalise them anyway because they’re everywhere and people can take them whenever they want. Well, maybe in his world they can, but not in mine. I don’t mix with people who shoot up every day or trip on LSD.

Don’t these lettuce-munching liberals realise millions of mums and dads all over Britain are fighting tooth and nail to keep their kids away from drugs?

And even though many of these parents live on estates where gangs sell drugs openly they’ll do ­whatever it takes to keep their kids away from them. Because they’ve seen what drugs can do.

Unlike those middle-class liberals, they live among hordes of hopelessly addicted youngsters whose lives are over before they’ve even started. These parents don’t want that for their kids. And they sure as hell don’t want to be lectured on the “benefits” of legalisation by a bunch of jumped-up modernisers who’ve never even set foot on a council estate.

PA

Should this be legal? Ecstasy Tablets 

Have we forgotten the World Health Organisation’s recent 20-year study on cannabis which says this supposedly “soft” drug doubles the risk of schizophrenia and psychotic ­disorders, stunts intellectual ­development and doubles the risk of its users causing a car crash?

So all those liberals who for years have been shouting that cannabis was perfectly safe were talking out of their backsides.

And why is it these people always try to make those who object to legalisation look like out of touch fuddy-duddies? Why do we listen when they scream that drugs laws are an abuse of our human rights?

We need to be telling teenagers that smoking cannabis is like playing Russian roulette with your brain, not changing the law so they can pop down the Co-op and score an ounce.

Yes, young people will always­ ­experiment with drugs but why make it easier? We need drugs laws because they make getting drugs just that bit harder. In fact, we need more than we currently have to criminalise those deadly legal highs which have killed 68 people this year.

And imagine if they WERE all ­legalised. The price would plummet and they’d be available to everyone including vulnerable 10-year-olds who’d buy them with their pocket money on the black market.

I’m not saying kids should be given criminal records for experimenting. But every little relaxation of our drugs laws takes us one step closer to ­legalisation.

And that would be catastrophic for ­generations of children whose minds will be ravaged with the full blessing of the State.

Source:  Mirror.co.uk   Nov. 1st 2014Top of Form

 

 

 

PHOENIX (December 18) — New state data from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that Colorado now leads the nation in marijuana use across all age levels and, most disturbingly, in the 12-17 and 18-25 age categories. Marijuana legalization advocates have persistently claimed that marijuana use will not rise with legalization, and that legalization will have little bearing on under-age use. This latest data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proves otherwise.

“Sadly for Colorado’s youth, the data now substantiates the theory that increased availability leads to increased use — despite being assured the contrary by legalization advocates. Arizonans should pay close attention,” said Seth Leibsohn, chair of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy. “In Colorado, teen marijuana use has not only increased since legalization, it is now the highest in the nation — more than 73 percent higher than the national average. For those who recommended a ‘wait-and-see’ approach based on Colorado’s experience, the results are in and they are not good. It should be crystal clear, in Arizona and any other state considering legalizing marijuana, that going down the same path would be devastating to our youth and our communities.”

“According to this data, Colorado is not only number one for marijuana use but also ranks near the top in the nation in its use of other illicit drugs,” said Sheila Polk, vice chair of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy. “Serious peer-reviewed science warns us that marijuana does significant harm to the developing adolescent brain, causes impaired memory and judgment, lowers IQ and increases school drop-out rates. It is unconscionable to unleash this harmful drug on Arizona’s youth.”

###

About Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy

The Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy PAC was formed to actively oppose any initiative that would legalize the recreational use of the drug marijuana in the state of Arizona. Visit www.arizonansforresponsibledrugpolicy.org for more information.

Source:  Press Release 18th Dec 2015  melissa@axiompublicaffairs.com

University of Michigan’s annual drug abuse survey – Monitoring the Future University of Michigan’s annual drug abuse survey, Monitoring the Future, were released today showing that the percentage of teens using over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine containing dextromethorphan (DXM) to get high remains at just 3 percent, the lowest level recorded for teen cough medicine abuse since 2015. When first reported in 2006, teen abuse of these OTC cough medicines was nearly 6 percent, but has declined significantly since then.

Since 2006, the rate of teen OTC cough medicine abuse has decreased by 44% (from 5.4% to 3%).

Over the past decade, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) has worked to help reduce teen DXM abuse by employing three strategies: increasing parent engagement in abuse awareness and prevention; heightening teen perceptions of the risks and social disapproval of medicine abuse; and limiting teen access to DXM through age-18 sales restrictions in states. In 2008, CHPA member companies voluntarily placed a “PARENTS: Learn About Teen Medicine Abuse” icon on the packaging of cough medicines containing DXM. The icon serves as a mini public service announcement for parents, making them aware of cough medicine abuse at the point-of-sale and point-of-use and directing them to StopMedicineAbuse.org – a well-established website and abuse prevention campaign aimed at engaging parents and community leaders about teen abuse of OTC cough medicine.

“Public policy and education are both vitally important to combating teen OTC cough medicine abuse,” said CHPA president and CEO Scott Melville. “This is why CHPA has long supported state efforts to limit teen access to DXM and has worked to increase parental awareness through our Stop Medicine Abuse education campaign, while at the same time, ensuring continued access for millions of families who responsibly use medicines containing DXM.” CHPA also collaborates with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids to target teens who are most likely to abuse DXM based on their online search activity and to provide them with accurate information about the consequences of abusive behavior. Teens are directed to visit WhatIsDXM.com to learn more.

“The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids welcomes the data from this year’s Monitoring the Future Survey showing no year-to-year increases in high school students’ misuse of over-the-counter cough and cold remedies,” said Partnership president and CEO Fred Muench. “For nearly a decade now, the Partnership and CHPA have collaborated on a digital media prevention effort targeting this behavior – and we have seen steady and significant declines over this period in teens’ misuse of OTC cough medicine to get high. It’s compelling evidence that smart, strategic prevention initiatives can work, and can deliver real benefits to teens and their families.”

Additionally recognizing that retailers play a critical role in abuse prevention, this year CHPA launched a new Pharmacists & Retailers page on the StopMedicineAbuse.org site, where retailers can download or order free materials.

Please visit StopMedicineAbuse.org for more information about teen DXM abuse, the retailer education materials, and other helpful resources for parents and community leaders.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) is the 136-year-old national trade association representing the leading manufacturers and marketers of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and dietary supplements. Every dollar spent by consumers on OTC medicines saves the U.S. healthcare system $6-$7, contributing a total of $102 billion in savings each year. CHPA is committed to empowering consumer self-care by preserving and expanding choice and availability of consumer healthcare products. chpa.org

Source: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20171214006254/en/New-Results-Annual-Survey

Monitoring the Future University of Michigan’s annual drug abuse survey, Monitoring the Future, were released today showing that the percentage of teens using over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine containing dextromethorphan (DXM) to get high remains at just 3 percent, the lowest level recorded for teen cough medicine abuse since 2015. When first reported in 2006, teen abuse of these OTC cough medicines was nearly 6 percent, but has declined significantly since then.

Since 2006, the rate of teen OTC cough medicine abuse has decreased by 44% (from 5.4% to 3%).

Over the past decade, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) has worked to help reduce teen DXM abuse by employing three strategies: increasing parent engagement in abuse awareness and prevention; heightening teen perceptions of the risks and social disapproval of medicine abuse; and limiting teen access to DXM through age-18 sales restrictions in states. In 2008, CHPA member companies voluntarily placed a “PARENTS: Learn About Teen Medicine Abuse” icon on the packaging of cough medicines containing DXM. The icon serves as a mini public service announcement for parents, making them aware of cough medicine abuse at the point-of-sale and point-of-use and directing them to StopMedicineAbuse.org – a well-established website and abuse prevention campaign aimed at engaging parents and community leaders about teen abuse of OTC cough medicine.

“Public policy and education are both vitally important to combating teen OTC cough medicine abuse,” said CHPA president and CEO Scott Melville. “This is why CHPA has long supported state efforts to limit teen access to DXM and has worked to increase parental awareness through our Stop Medicine Abuse education campaign, while at the same time, ensuring continued access for millions of families who responsibly use medicines containing DXM.” CHPA also collaborates with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids to target teens who are most likely to abuse DXM based on their online search activity and to provide them with accurate information about the consequences of abusive behavior. Teens are directed to visit WhatIsDXM.com to learn more.

“The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids welcomes the data from this year’s Monitoring the Future Survey showing no year-to-year increases in high school students’ misuse of over-the-counter cough and cold remedies,” said Partnership president and CEO Fred Muench. “For nearly a decade now, the Partnership and CHPA have collaborated on a digital media prevention effort targeting this behavior – and we have seen steady and significant declines over this period in teens’ misuse of OTC cough medicine to get high. It’s compelling evidence that smart, strategic prevention initiatives can work, and can deliver real benefits to teens and their families.”

Additionally recognizing that retailers play a critical role in abuse prevention, this year CHPA launched a new Pharmacists & Retailers page on the StopMedicineAbuse.org site, where retailers can download or order free materials. Please visit StopMedicineAbuse.org for more information about teen DXM abuse, the retailer education materials, and other helpful resources for parents and community leaders.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) is the 136-year-old national trade association representing the leading manufacturers and marketers of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and dietary supplements. Every dollar spent by consumers on OTC medicines saves the U.S. healthcare system $6-$7, contributing a total of $102 billion in savings each year. CHPA is committed to empowering consumer self-care by preserving and expanding choice and availability of consumer healthcare products. chpa.org

Source: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20171214006254/en/New-Results-Annual-Survey

Researchers from the McGill Group for Suicide Studies, based at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and McGill University’s Department of Psychiatry, have just published research in the American Journal of Psychiatry that suggests that the long-lasting effects of traumatic childhood experiences, like severe abuse, may be due to an impaired structure and functioning of cells in the anterior cingulate cortex. This is a part of the brain which plays an important role in the regulation of emotions and mood.

The researchers believe that these changes may contribute to the emergence of depressive disorders and suicidal behaviour.

Crucial insulation for nerve fibres builds up during first two decades of life

For the optimal function and organization of the brain, electrical signals used by neurons may need to travel over long distances to communicate with cells in other regions. The longer axons of this kind are generally covered by a fatty coating called myelin. Myelin sheaths protect the axons and help them to conduct electrical signals more efficiently. Myelin builds up progressively (in a process known as myelination) mainly during childhood, and then continue to mature until early adulthood.

Earlier studies had shown significant abnormalities in the white matter in the brains of people who had experienced child abuse. (White matter is mostly made up of thousands of myelinated nerve fibres stacked together.) But, because these observations were made by looking at the brains of living people using MRI, it was impossible to gain a clear picture of the white matter cells and molecules that were affected.

To gain a clearer picture of the microscopic changes which occur in the brains of adults who have experienced child abuse, and thanks to the availability of brain samples from the Douglas-Bell Canada Brain Bank (where, as well as the brain matter itself there is a lot of information about the lives of their donors) the researchers were able to compare post-mortem brain samples from three different groups of adults: people who had committed suicide who suffered from depression and had a history of severe childhood abuse (27 individuals); people with depression who had committed suicide but who had no history of being abused as children (25 individuals); and brain tissue from a third group of people who had neither psychiatric illnesses nor a history of child abuse (26 people).

Impaired neural connectivity may affect the regulation of emotions

The researchers discovered that the thickness of the myelin coating of a significant proportion of the nerve fibres was reduced ONLY in the brains of those who had suffered from child abuse. They also found underlying molecular alterations that selectively affect the cells that are responsible for myelin generation and maintenance. Finally, they found increases in the diameters of some of the largest axons among only this group and they speculate that together, these changes may alter functional coupling between the cingulate cortex and subcortical structures such as the amygdala and nucleus accumbens (areas of the brain linked respectively to emotional regulation and to reward and satisfaction) and contribute to altered emotional processing in people who have been abused during childhood.

The researchers conclude that adversity in early life may lastingly disrupt a range of neural functions in the anterior cingulate cortex. And while they don’t yet know where in

the brain and when during development, and how, at a molecular level these effects are sufficient to have an impact on the regulation of emotions and attachment, they are now planning to explore this in further research.

Source: http://www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/channels/news/child-abuse-affects-brain-wiring-270024

Researchers at Western University have found a way to use pharmaceuticals to reverse the negative psychiatric effects of THC, the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana. Chronic adolescent marijuana use has previously been linked to the development of psychiatric diseases, such as schizophrenia, in adulthood. But until now, researchers were unsure of what exactly was happening in the brain to cause this to occur.

“What is important about this study is that not only have we identified a specific mechanism in the prefrontal cortex for some of the mental health risks associated with adolescent marijuana use, but we have also identified a mechanism to reverse those risks,” said Steven Laviolette, professor at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.

In a study published online today in Scientific Reports the researchers demonstrate that adolescent THC exposure modulates the activity of a neurotransmitter called GABA in the prefrontal cortex region of the brain. The team, led by Laviolette and post-doctoral fellow Justine Renard, looked specifically at GABA because of its previously shown clinical association with schizophrenia.

“GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter and plays a crucial role in regulating the excitatory activity in the frontal cortex, so if you have less GABA, your neuronal systems become hyperactive leading to behavioural changes consistent with schizophrenia,” said Renard.

The study showed that the reduction of GABA as a result of THC exposure in adolescence caused the neurons in adulthood to not only be hyperactive in this part of the brain, but also to be out of synch with each other, demonstrated by abnormal oscillations called ‘gamma’ waves. This loss of GABA in the cortex caused a corresponding hyperactive state in the brain’s dopamine system, which is commonly observed in schizophrenia.

By using drugs to activate GABA in a rat model of schizophrenia, the team was able to reverse the neuronal and behavioural effects of the THC and eliminate the schizophrenia-like symptoms.

Laviolette says this finding is especially important given the impending legalization of marijuana in Canada. “What this could mean is that if you are going to be using marijuana, in a recreational or medicinal way, you can potentially combine it with compounds that boost GABA to block the negative effects of THC.”

The research team says the next steps will examine how combinations of cannabinoid chemicals with compounds that can boost the brains GABA system may serve as more effective and safer treatments for a variety of mental health disorders, such as addiction, depression and anxiety.

Source:  The Marijuana Report.Org, Sept. 2017

Louise Stanger is a speaker, educator, licensed clinician, social worker, certified daring way facilitator and interventionist who uses an invitational intervention approach to work with complicated mental health, substance abuse, chronic pain and process addiction clients.

In the mid-to-late 2000s, Red Bull, an energy drink high on energy and low on nutritional value, made its North American debut with the famous “Red Bull gives you wings” campaign. The tag line, a nod to the “pick me up” qualities it gives to drinkers of the product, set the stage for the way in which teens and young adults relate to the nascent product category.

In essence, advertising birthed energy drinks as the way to find uplift, fight fatigue, and give that extra boost. Regrettably, no one was paying attention to the drinks’ negative side effects.

Red Bull has since spawned its own grocery store aisle of knock-offs – Monster, Rockstar, Full Throttle, Amp – to name a few. In 2016, U.S. retail sales of energy drinks topped $11 billion (Red Bull generated $5.1B in revenue in 2010). By comparison, that number is roughly how much Hollywood makes on movie tickets in a year.

Paradoxically, energy drinks’ meteoric rise in popularity and consumption has coincided with major health risks and the onslaught of addiction to other harmful substances. How did a drink that tastes like cough syrup land with such a huge impact?

Long before Red Bull “gave us wings,” Chaleo Yoovidhya, a Southeast Asian pharmacist, developed energy “tonics” aimed at labourers and truck drivers in the 1960s, according to The Dragonfly Effect, a book that looks at successful branding campaigns for products like energy drinks.

Then in the 1980s, an Austrian billionaire businessman named Dietrich Mateschitz discovered the tonics and married them with innovative guerrilla marketing to launch in North America. The aim was to put cans of Red Bull, the syrupy concoction of sugar and caffeine, in the hands of their target market: young adult males and teens who are oblivious to the drinks’ ingredients. The ad campaign struck like a lightning bolt and a multibillion dollar industry took ro

The key ingredient in energy drinks that gives the consumer energizing effects is caffeine. Though caffeine, found in commonly consumed drinks like coffee, tea and sodas, isn’t outright bad for you, the serving size, frequency and consumption patterns are cause for alarm.

Most energy drinks contain 70-200 milligrams of caffeine; for example, Rockstar 2X has 250 mg per 12 ounces, a 12 ounce can of Red Bull has 111 mg, and a 5-Hour Energy shot, a variation of the energy drink craze, is a whopping 207 mg of caffeine in just 2 ounces.

To put these concentration levels into perspective, the American Academy of Paediatrics maintains adolescents must not consume more than 100 mg of caffeine per day (it’s 500 mg for adults).

And more alarming than the serving sizes are the rates at which teens consume energy drinks. When young adults and teenagers get with their friends, they’ll consume 3-4 drinks in a short period of time or even chug (i.e. “shotgun”) whole cans in an instant. Despite this binge-style consumption, teens remain oblivious to the high caffeine content and unaware of the effects energy drinks have on the body. Other studies and researchers have observed energy drinks become the chaser for alcohol consumption in certain situations.

At these high levels of consumption, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports serious health risks associated with energy drinks. These include:

· Increased heart rate, irregularities and palpitations

· Increased blood pressure

· Sleep disturbances, insomnia

· Diuresis or increased urine production

· Hyperglycaemia (increased blood sugar), due to the high levels of sugar content, which may be harmful for people at risk for diabetes or already diabetic

Perhaps most dangerous are the serious side effects caused when energy drinks are consumed with alcohol. According to University Health News Daily, “the dangers of energy drinks mixed with alcohol are related to reduced sensation of intoxication and impaired judgment.”

Here’s how it goes: the user gets a burst of energy and alertness (increased heart rate and dilated blood vessels) from the high content of caffeine in the energy drink, prompting the person to feel less intoxicated and therefore drinking more alcohol and putting themselves at risk for alcohol poisoning and severely impaired judgment.

Teens, young adults and college-aged students who play drinking games or drink in high-risk environments such as parties, boating, swimming, beach days, etc. put themselves at greater risk of injury and bodily harm with these combinations.

In addition to high-risk environments and dangerous situations, energy drink and alcohol mixing lowers inhibitions, making room for engaging in high-risk behaviours such as unwanted sexual encounters, driving vehicles, boats and jet skis under the influence, and other behaviours that may lead to hospitalization or encounters with law enforcement.

We need look no further than the case of Four Loko, an energy drink that comes ready made with alcohol and caffeine for proof that mixing the two is dangerous. The drink gets its name from its four signature ingredients: alcohol, caffeine, taurine and guarana.

According to a report in The Week, the company that produced Four Loko, Phusion Projects of Chicago aka Drink Four Brewing Company, came under ethical fire for marketing to adolescents under the age of 21 (as most energy drink companies do – though this was the first to pre-mix alcohol and caffeine).

Four Loko also caught fire with college students and it didn’t take long for reports of blackouts and other alcohol overdose related incidents to take hold of its users. University campuses across the nation including the University of Rhode Island, Central Washington University and Worcester State University began to ban the beverage and companies with similar beverages have since reformulated its drinks and reduced its marketing toward underage students and young adults. In 2014, the company reached a settlement to stop production and distribution of Four Loko in the United States, according to a report in The Atlantic.

Moreover, the University of Maryland’s research on the topic has found a link between high energy drink consumption and developing addiction to other harmful substances later on. Researchers looked at the health and risk-taking habits of 1,099 college students over a four year period.

Their analysis of the study found that participants who consumed highly caffeinated drinks (energy drinks, sodas, etc.) are more likely to develop an addiction to cocaine, alcohol, or other substances when compared to students who did not consume such beverages. “The results suggest that energy drink users might be at heightened risk for other substance use, particularly stimulants,” says Amelia Arria, an associate professor and lead author of the study.

New research from Purdue University found that mixing alcohol and highly caffeinated drinks could significantly change the brain activity of a teenager. Dr. Richard van Rijn, the lead researcher, says “it seems the two substances (energy drinks and alcohol) together push [teenagers] over a limit that causes changes in their behaviour and changes the neurochemistry in their brains.”

Although energy drinks are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, little oversight is given to labelling cans and packages with the risks related to consumption. As an educator, I believe the FDA must first do a better job of labelling. Just as cigarettes and alcohol have warning labels, so too must energy drinks.

Grocery stores should move energy drink products to areas where alcohol is sold – away from wandering young eyes. Public health discussions in high schools and middle schools need to take place. Youth and young adult sports teams must reconsider energy drink sponsorships and greater oversight concerning marketing practices toward under-aged youth.

As a young adult, if you do choose to consume these beverages, be sure to read the labels for serving sizes, caffeine content, and try to avoid mixing with alcohol. Parents, teachers, sports coaches, and community leaders must communicate to teenagers and young adults the harm energy drinks may cause. Together we must work together to be educated and informed against aggressive advertising to keep our teens and young adults healthy and engaged.

To learn more about Louise Stanger and her interventions and other resources, visit her website.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/red-bull-monster-four-loko-rockstar-the-downside_us_59b021cce4b0bef3378cdcee    6th Sept.2017

 

 

 

The Advocates for Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) coalition serves the top two counties of the northern panhandle of West Virginia. The coalition got creative and utilized trending youth activities to draw youth to prevention work.

The coalition is located only a half hour from Pittsburgh, PA, and roughly three hours from Columbus, Ohio.  Based on a 2015 United States Census, the total population served is 53,165 combined for Brooke and Hancock counties.  One of the largest cities, Weirton, resides in both counties and has always had a proud tradition of steel making and industrial employment.  Unfortunately, this tradition has seen many declines in recent years and the increase in unemployment has hit the area hard, causing many families and young adults to move or have long commutes to find decent work.

Hancock County borders a major interstate where drug trafficking occurs easily between three states.  The local news reports multiple drug arrests in the Ohio Valley almost daily with incidents involving drug trafficking, abuse, and death, as is illustrated by the story of four heroin overdoses in Weirton in one weekend.  The ASAP coalition started as a small committee who met to discuss the drug problems in the area in 1996 and grew to where they are today.  The coalition’s main focus remains towards community youth with the mission of “working together to reduce substance abuse in the Brooke and Hancock communities, focusing on youth and families, by means of prevention efforts in community education, mobilization, and the change of values and beliefs.”

In 2014, ASAP found a group of youth to form a new committee called the Youth Council.  Thanks to these youth, they have gained new insight about how they should be hosting and promoting alternate activities to community youth, and actually get them to participate.  They have seen a vast increase in participation at events targeted towards youth. One such activity, that has become an instant hit, is the ASAP Youth Council Video Game Tournament.

Youth focused activities are hard for any group, but thanks to the ASAP Youth Council, the coalition has been having success getting youth involved.

“Their input is invaluable, and when you have youth telling you “don’t advertise you are doing drug prevention to kids or they won’t come,” you listen,” said Mary Ball, ASAP Coordinator. “Their ideas were simple, focus on what kids like to do, then use that as a way into their world.  So, we did.  The first event we held was a video game tournament that we used for multiple purposes.  First, it was a great fundraiser for the kids.  Second, it was the perfect draw to get youth to show up.  Third, it was fun!  We chose a game everyone, young and old could play (Smash Bros.) and changed how we promoted the event to word-of-mouth, flyers where kids hang out, and utilized social media promotions.  The response was amazing.  But nothing in the advertising said anything about substance abuse prevention.  We had over 50 attendees at our first event, which was a small miracle compared to the 10-12 we normally got, if we were lucky.“

To incorporate the message of prevention, displays were placed at the event and announcements dispersed, reminding attendees about the dangers of sharing prescriptions; where to dispose of prescriptions; and pointing out how much fun they were having at an alcohol-free event.

The event not only drew youth, but the parents, friends, grandparents of the youth who participated, did not leave.  They stayed for the entire thing to cheer those competing in the tournament on, expanding the audience from the target of just youth, to all ages.  The success of this program led the coalition to try other things, such as taking advantage of the Pokémon Go game to bring people to ASAP by hosting a “Lure Party.”  The coalition got creative and added a cosplay contest to the video game tournament and increased participation by almost 10 percent. The coalition even designed pop culture prevention buttons that kids snag off the prevention tables because they want to wear that message.

“Listen to your youth members.  They are smart, they know what other kids want to see and will participate in,” advises Ball. “Do not be closed off to stepping out of your adult-zone and entering their world.  If we want kids to listen to our messages, we need to go to them and not expect them to come to us.”

Source: http://www.cadca.org/resources/coalitions-action-asap-coalition-uses-smash-creativity-engage-youth   8th Aug.2017

In his last article for Pro Talk, Renaming and Rethinking Drug Treatment, psychologist Robert Schwebel, Ph.D., author and developer of The Seven Challenges program, expressed his views about problems in typical drug and alcohol treatment. In this interview, he focuses on changes that he thinks would better meet the needs of individuals with substance problems.

The Seven Challenges Program

The Seven Challenges is described as “a comprehensive counselling program for teens and young adults that incorporates work on alcohol and other drug problems.” The program addresses much more than substance issues because it also helps young people develop better life skills, as well as manage their situational and psychological problems. Although there is an established structure for each session and a framework for decision-making (see website for the youth version of “The Seven Challenges”), it is not pre-scripted as in many traditional programs. Rather it is “exceptionally flexible, in response to the immediate needs of the clients.”

Independent studies funded by The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and published in peer-reviewed journals have provided evidence that The Seven Challenges significantly decreases substance use of adolescents and greatly improves their overall mental health status. The program has been shown to be especially effective for the many young people with drug problems who also have trauma issues.

Just recently, a new version of The Seven Challenges program was introduced for adults and is being piloted in a research project. Soon, a book geared toward the general public by Dr. Schwebel that incorporates much of the philosophy of the program, as well as many of the decision-making and behavior change strategies, will be available.

Q&A: What Should Treatment Look Like?

Q: In your last article for Pro Talk, you argued strongly against the word “treatment” and suggested that we use the word “counselling” instead. Will you reiterate why you prefer using “counselling” when talking about professional help for people with substance problems?

Dr. S.: Counselling is an active and interactive process that’s responsive to the needs of individuals. It may include education, but it’s more than that because the information is personalized and offered in the context of a discussion about what’s happening in a person’s life. Effective counsellors help clients become aware of their options, expand those options, and make their own informed choices.

Treatment, on the other hand, sounds like something imposed and passive that an authority (say a doctor) does to someone else or tells them to do. It also implies recipients receive a standardized protocol or regime with a preconceived goal, usually abstinence when we’re talking about addiction. It doesn’t suggest autonomy of choice or collaboration.

 

Q: You stress the importance of choice and collaboration, suggesting both are important in addiction counselling. Please tell us more.

Dr. S.: In collaborative counselling that allows choices, clients get to identify the issues they want to work on. They make the decisions. We make it clear that we’re not there to make them quit using drugs…and couldn’t even if we tried. We tell them, “We’re here to support you in working on your issues, things that are important to you; things that are not going well in your life or as well you would like them to be going.”

We also support clients in decision-making about drugs. They set their own goals about using. One person might want to quit using, while another might want to set new limits. For those who want to change their drug use behavior, we check in with them about how they’re doing regarding their decision on a session-by-session basis. If they have setbacks, we’ll provide individualized support to help them figure out why, We’re not doubting them or trying to “catch” them. Rather, we’re helping them succeed with their own decisions to change. This type of check-in would not apply to individuals who have not yet decided to make changes.

 

Q: Many addiction programs feel that dealing with addiction should be the first priority and that other issues are secondary. What are your thoughts about this?

Dr. S.: I’ll start by saying that they have equal importance. Drug problems have everything to do with what is going on in a person’s life. And, a person’s life is very much affected by drug problems. I do want to say, however, that not everyone who winds up in an addiction program has an addiction. That’s a ridiculous generalization. They may be having problems with binge drinking, issues with family or jobs because of substance misuse, or legal problems because they were unlucky and got caught. (For instance they got arrested for another crime and tested positive for drugs.) They often wind up in places that require abstinence and wonder, “What am I doing here?” Then they’re told they’re “in denial.”

Traditional treatment tends to focus narrowly on drug problems, usually pushing an agenda of immediate abstinence. However, drug problems – whether or not they qualify as “addiction,” are very much connected to the rest of life. Therefore, clients need comprehensive counselling that addresses what’s happening in their overall lives and helps clients make their lives better. So it’s not all about use of substances and making the individual quit. The goal is to support clients and to help them make their own decisions about life and substance use.

We use the term “issues” – not “problems.” Whatever is most important to the individual that day is what we work on. A client might say, “I have an issue with my mother.” We don’t just want to have a discussion about the issue; we want to set a session goal so that a client gets practical help with an issue each time. Ideally we try to facilitate a next step, some sort of action that can be taken between sessions. We want to support our clients in making their own lives better. We like to reassure clients that we won’t be harping on drugs all the time: At least half of what we do is about everything else besides drugs. This means that counsellors need to know how to help people with their other problems. Unfortunately, many have a narrow background in drug treatment and don’t yet know how to do that.

 

Q: How do you address the issue of “powerlessness” which a number of young people have told me they struggled with in12-step treatment programs they’ve attended? Don’t adolescents by nature resist anything that threatens to take away their autonomy?

Dr. S.: One of our main messages is “You are powerful; people do take control over their drug use. You have that power within you.” We also say, “You don’t need to do it alone. You are entitled to support. We’re behind you. We’re not saying it’s easy and

there won’t be setbacks along the way. If there are, we’ll help you figure out why and how to handle it differently the next time. At the same time we’ll help you with other issues in your life so you’ll have less need for drugs.”

I think there is great harm in the all-or-nothing approach to drug and alcohol problems and that more people would come for help if they were not told that they’re powerless. Also, many more would come if they felt they could make a choice about drugs and did not expect to be coerced.

 

A New Version of The Seven Challenges

Following is the new adult version of Dr. Schwebel’s The Seven Challenges program:

· Challenging Yourself to Make Thoughtful Decisions About Your Life, Including Your Use of Alcohol and Other Drugs

· Challenging Yourself to Look at Your Responsibility and the Responsibility of Others for Your Problems

· Challenging Yourself to Look at What You Like About Alcohol and Other Drugs, and Why You Use Them

· Challenging Yourself to Honestly Look at Your Life, Including Your Use of Alcohol and Other Drugs

· Challenging Yourself to Look at Harm That Has Happened or Could Happen From Your Use of Alcohol and Other Drugs

· Challenging Yourself to Look at Where You Are Headed, Where You Would Like to Go, and What You Would Like to Accomplish

· Challenging Yourself to Take Action and Succeed With Your Decisions About Your Life and Use of Alcohol and Other Drugs

Source:  http://www.rehabs.com/pro-talk-articles/what-drug-and-alcohol-treatment-should-look-like-an-interview-with-dr-robert-schwebel/     17th July 2017

An UdeM study confirms the link between marijuana use and psychotic-like experiences in a Canadian adolescent cohort. Credit: © Syda Productions / Fotolia

Going from an occasional user of marijuana to a weekly or daily user increases an adolescent’s risk of having recurrent psychotic-like experiences by 159%, according to a new Canadian study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

The study also reports effects of marijuana use on cognitive development and shows that the link between marijuana use and psychotic-like experiences is best explained by emerging symptoms of depression.

“To clearly understand the impact of these results, it is essential to first define what psychotic-like experiences are: namely, experiences of perceptual aberration, ideas with unusual content and feelings of persecution,” said the study’s lead author, Josiane Bourque, a doctoral student at Université de Montréal’s Department of Psychiatry. “Although they may be infrequent and thus not problematic for the adolescent, when these experiences are reported continuously, year after year, then there’s an increased risk of a first psychotic episode or another psychiatric condition.”

She added: “Our findings confirm that becoming a more regular marijuana user during adolescence is, indeed, associated with a risk of psychotic symptoms. This is a major public-health concern for Canada.”

What are the underlying mechanisms?

One of the study’s objectives was to better understand the mechanisms by which marijuana use is associated with psychotic-like experiences. Bourque and her supervisor, Dr. Patricia Conrod at Sainte Justine University Hospital Research Centre hypothesized that impairments in cognitive development due to marijuana misuse might in turn exacerbate psychotic-like experiences.

This hypothesis was only partially confirmed, however. Among the different cognitive abilities evaluated, the development of inhibitory control was the only cognitive function negatively affected by an increase in marijuana use. Inhibitory control is the capacity to withhold or inhibit automatic behaviours in favor of a more contextually appropriate behaviour. Dr. Conrod’s team has shown that this specific cognitive function is associated with risk for other forms of substance abuse and addiction.

“Our results show that while marijuana use is associated with a number of cognitive and mental health symptoms, only an increase in symptoms of depression — such as negative thoughts and low mood — could explain the relationship between marijuana use and increasing psychotic-like experiences in youth,” Bourque said.

What’s next

These findings have important clinical implications for prevention programs in youth who report having persistent psychotic-like experiences. “While preventing adolescent marijuana use should be the aim of all drug strategies, targeted prevention approaches are particularly needed to delay and prevent marijuana use in young people at risk of psychosis,” said Patricia Conrod, the study’s senior author and a professor at UdeM’s Department of Psychiatry.

Conrod is optimistic about one thing, however: the school-based prevention program that she developed, Preventure, has proven effective in reducing adolescent marijuana use by an overall 33%. “In future programs, it will be important to investigate whether this program and other similar targeted prevention programs can delay or prevent marijuana use in youth who suffer from psychotic-like experiences,” she said. “While the approach seems promising, we have yet to demonstrate that drug prevention can prevent some cases of psychosis.”

A large youth cohort from Montreal

The study’s results are based on the CIHR-funded Co-Venture project, a cohort of approximately 4,000 adolescents aged 13 years old from 31 high schools in the Greater Montreal area. These teens are followed annually from Grade 7 to Grade 11. Every year they fill out computerized questionnaires to assess substance use and psychiatric symptoms. The teens also complete cognitive tasks to allow the researchers to evaluate their IQ, working memory and long-term memory as well as their inhibitory control skills.

To do their study, the research team first confirmed results from both the United Kingdom and Netherlands showing the presence of a small group of individuals (in Montreal, 8%) among the general population of adolescents who report recurrent psychotic-like experiences. Second, the researchers explored how marijuana use between 13 and 16 years of age increases the likelihood of belonging to the 8%. Finally, they examined whether the relationship between increasing use of marijuana and increasing psychotic-like experiences can be explained by emerging symptoms of anxiety or depression, or by the effects of substance use on developing cognitive abilities.

Source:  University of Montreal. “Marijuana and vulnerability to psychosis.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 July 2017. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170705104042.htm.

 

A study by researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) that followed a sample of almost 2000 Victorian school children from the age of 14 until the age of 35 found that social disadvantage, anxiety, and licit and illicit substance use (in particular cannabis), were all more common in participants who had reported self-harm during adolescence.

The longitudinal study, the Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study, was the first in the world to document health-related outcomes in people in their 30s who had self-harmed during their adolescence. Until now, very little has been known about the longer-term health and social outcomes of adolescents who self-harm.

Published in the new Lancet Child and Adolescent Health journal, the study found the following common elements:

· People who self-harmed as teenagers were more than twice as likely to be weekly cannabis users at age 35

· Anxiety, drug use, and social disadvantage were more common at age 35 among participants who had self-harmed during their teenage years. While most of these associations can be explained by things like mental health problems during adolescence and substance use during adolescence, adolescent self-harm was strongly and independently associated with using cannabis on a weekly basis at age 35 years

· Self-harm during the adolescent years is a marker for distress and not just a ‘passing phase’

The findings suggest that adolescents who self-harm are more likely to experience a wide range of psychosocial problems later in life, said the study’s lead author, Dr Rohan Borschmann from MCRI. “Adolescent self-harm should be viewed as a conspicuous marker of emotional and behavioural problems that are associated with poor life outcomes,” Dr Borschmann said.

The study found that anxiety, drug use, and social disadvantage were more common at age 35 among participants who had self-harmed during their teenage years. “While most of this can be explained partly by things like mental healthduring adolescence and substance use during adolescence, adolescent self-harm was strongly and independently associated with using cannabis on a weekly basis at age 35 years,” Dr Borschmann said.

Interventions during adolescence which address multiple risk-taking behaviours are likely to be more successful in helping this vulnerable group adjust to adult life.

More information: Rohan Borschmann et al. 20-year outcomes in adolescents who self-harm: a population-based cohort study, The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health (2017). DOI: 10.1016/S2352-4642(17)30007-X

Source:  https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-07-twenty-year-outcomes-adolescents-self-harm-substance.htm

Canada’s Liberal government has stated that marijuana will be decriminalized by July 2018. This means the removal, or at the least, a lessening of laws and restrictions related to marijuana use and associated pot services.

While people on both sides of the debate have strongly held and differing opinions, the protection of youth is an area of agreement.

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, has been illegal in Canada for close to 100 years. Marijuana can’t be produced, sold or even possessed. If caught, one faces fines, jail time or both.

Despite this, Canada has one of the highest rates of cannabis use in the world. Over 40 per cent of Canadians have used cannabis during their lifetime. Furthermore, studies conducted by Health Canada indicate that between 10.2 and 12.2 per cent of Canadians use cannabis at least once a year.

As changes in cannabis regulation occur, new research has been conducted. The findings are, in a word, alarming. According to published research, someone who uses marijuana regularly has, on average, less grey matter in the orbital frontal cortex of the brain. Other research has found increasing evidence of a link between pot and schizophrenia symptoms.

A major factor is the potency of cannabis, which has gone through the roof for the last two decades. In the 1960s, THC levels were reported to have been in the one-to-four-per-cent range. Research reported in the science journal, Live Science, in 21014 indicates that marijuana’s main psychoactive ingredient, THC, in random marijuana samples, rose from about four per cent in 1995 to about 12 per cent in 2014. In a more-recent article, the leader of the American Chemical Society stated: “We’ve seen potency values close to 30-per-cent THC, which is huge.”

Despite these clear and increasing dangers, the Government of Canada’s stated objective is to “legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis for non-medical purposes.” Unfortunately, the government’s approach has serious flaws.  Most importantly, their approach lacks protections for youth, despite this being another specifically stated objective of the Canadian government’s new law.

While supporters of cannabis often compare it with alcohol, a legal, but carefully controlled substance in Canada, there is an important difference. Cannabis is commonly consumed by smoking, which leads to significant, second-hand affects and, as a result, second-hand structural changes in the brain.

In my neighbourhood, cannabis-users in one house, taking advantage of the decreasing legal response to cannabis in B.C. these days, happily smoke the substance on their back deck, only to have the blue smoke waft across to the trampoline next door, where my younger brother and his friends often play.

The government’s proposed new policy actually encourages youth exposure by making it legal for citizens to grow cannabis in their homes. There is no mention of the protection of children living in those residences, where cannabis is grown, consumed and potentially sold.

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police makes this point well. They warn that allowing home-grown cultivation will fuel the cannabis black market and that the four-plant limit proposed under the legislation is impossible to enforce. The chiefs further note that home cultivation is a direct contradiction to the government’s promise to create a highly regulated environment that minimizes youth access to the drug.

The biggest concern that the youth of Canada should have about the government’s approach to decriminalization is, however, drug quality — potentially with deadly results. The opportunity for tampering is obvious. A high school friend and classmate of mine casually uses cannabis and landed in the hospital for a few weeks. She believes that some of the cannabis she used was laced with another substance. I often wonder how close my friend came to dying like another of our fellow students at New Westminster Secondary School.

Canada isn’t ready for the decriminalization of cannabis. The Canadian government, and our health-care and legal systems, aren’t fully prepared for the problems and long-term effects that’ll have serious consequences for our youth. Important issues, including second-hand effects and basic safety, not to mention enforcement and legal implications, have yet to be fully defined and planned for. The federal government’s plan to decriminalize pot, as it stands now, doesn’t provide enough protection for Canada’s young people.

Mitchell Moir is a Grade 12 student at New Westminster Secondary.

Source:  http://vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/opinion-proposed-cannabis-policy-doesnt-do-enough-to-protect-youth   23rd June 2017

One in 5 adolescents at risk of tobacco dependency, harmful alcohol consumption and illicit drug use

Researchers from the University of Bristol have found regular and occasional cannabis use as a teen is associated with a greater risk of other illicit drug taking in early adulthood.   The study by Bristol’s Population Health Science Institute, published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, also found cannabis use was associated with harmful drinking and smoking.

Using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), the researchers looked at levels of cannabis use during adolescence to determine whether these might predict other problematic substance misuse in early adulthood — by the age of 21.

The researchers looked at data about cannabis use among 5,315 teens between the ages of 13 and 18. At five time points approximately one year apart cannabis use was categorised as none; occasional (typically less than once a week); or frequent (typically once a week or more).

When the teens reached the age of 21, they were asked to say whether and how much they smoked and drank, and whether they had taken other illicit drugs during the previous three months. Some 462 reported recent illicit drug use: 176 (38%) had used cocaine; 278 (60%) had used ‘speed’ (amphetamines); 136 (30%) had used inhalants; 72 (16%) had used sedatives; 105 (23%) had used hallucinogens; and 25 (6%) had used opioids.

The study’s lead author, Dr Michelle Taylor from the School of Social and Community Medicine said:

“We tend to see clusters of different forms of substance misuse in adolescents and young people, and it has been argued that cannabis acts as a gateway to other drug use. However, historically the evidence has been inconsistent.

“I think the most important findings from this study are that one in five adolescents follow a pattern of occasional or regular cannabis use and that those individuals are more likely to be tobacco dependant, have harmful levels of alcohol consumption or use other illicit drugs in early adulthood.”

In all, complete data were available for 1571 people. Male sex, mother’s substance misuse and the child’s smoking, drinking, and behavioural problems before the age of 13 were all strongly associated with cannabis use during adolescence. Other potentially influential factors were also considered: housing tenure; mum’s education and number of children she had; her drinking and drug use; behavioural problems when the child was 11 and whether s/he had started smoking and/or drinking before the age of 13.

After taking account of other influential factors, those who used cannabis in their teens were at greater risk of problematic substance misuse by the age of 21 than those who didn’t.

Teens who regularly used cannabis were 37 times more likely to be nicotine dependent and three times more likely to have a harmful drinking pattern than non-users by the time they were 21. And they were 26 times more likely to use other illicit drugs.

Both those who used cannabis occasionally early in adolescence and those who starting using it much later during the teenage years had a heightened risk of nicotine dependence, harmful drinking, and other illicit drug use. And the more cannabis they used the greater was the likelihood of nicotine dependence by the age of 21.

This study used observational methods and therefore presents evidence for correlation but not does not determine clear cause and effect — whether the results observed are because cannabis use actually causes the use of other illicit drugs. Furthermore, it does not identify what the underlying mechanisms for this might be. Nevertheless, clear categories of use emerged.

Dr Taylor concludes:

“We have added further evidence that suggests adolescent cannabis use does predict later problematic substance use in early adulthood. From our study, we cannot say why this might be, and it is important that future research focuses on this question, as this will enable us to identify groups of individuals that might as risk and develop policy to advise people of the harms.

“Our study does not support or refute arguments for altering the legal status of cannabis use — especially since two of the outcomes are legal in the UK. This study and others do, however, lend support to public health strategies and interventions that aim to reduce cannabis exposure in young people.”

Journal Reference:

1. Michelle Taylor, Simon M Collin, Marcus R Munafò, John MacLeod, Matthew Hickman, Jon Heron. Patterns of cannabis use during adolescence and their association with harmful substance use behaviour: findings from a UK birth cohort. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2017; jech-2016-208503 DOI: 10.1136/jech-2016-208503

Source:   www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170607222448<.htm>. 7 June 2017.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said on Tuesday morning. Rosenstein, along with acting head of the Drug Enforcement Agency, Chuck Rosenberg, and other prominent officials in law enforcement addressed the media at the DEA’s headquarters in Arlington, VA to discuss the ongoing response to the nation’s staggering opioid epidemic.

“We’re not talking about a slight increase. There’s a horrifying surge of drug overdoses in the United States of America. Some people say we should be more permissive, more tolerant, more understanding about drug use. I say we should be more honest and forthcoming with the American people on the clear and present danger that we know face,” opened Rosenstein.

“Fentanyl is especially dangerous. It is 40 to 50 times more deadly than heroin. Just two milligrams, a few grains of salt, an amount you could fit on the tip of your finger, can be lethal. Fentanyl exposure can injure or kill innocent law enforcement officers and first responders. Inhaling a few airborne particles can have dramatic effects,” he continued.

Rosenstein, Rosenberg, and their colleagues used the event to roll out new precautions for first responders in dealing with fentanyl. Such measures predominately featured hazmat suits as a means of avoiding airborne inhalation.

“Fentanyl’s everywhere and it’s killing people,” Rosenberg solemnly remarked.

Despite such a bleak update, Rosenberg claimed reasons for careful optimism in the midst of this epidemic. He has spoken extensively with his Chinese counterparts in law enforcement, given that China is the major source of Fentanyl that enters America. According to Rosenberg, the Chinese government banned 116 synthetic opioids for export and 4 more after his trip to China this March. Additional synthetics are scheduled to be banned as well.

“I do not want to understate such gains, nor do I want to overstate them,” he cautioned. More progress in international cooperation, he said, still has to be made in cutting off fentanyl shipments from China.

Rosenberg and other law enforcement officials such as Jonathan Thompson of the National Sheriffs’ Association assessed the difficulty associated with training first responders in such new duties and admitted that such efforts would strain already stretched resources in fighting what is an overwhelming epidemic.

Rosenberg’s daunting assessment of fentanyl put in perspective the existential danger of the ongoing opioid crisis that, according to Rosenstein, has contributed to the largest yearly increase in overdose deaths on record in America.

Rosenberg pointed out that such statistics tend to “wash over you.” To grasp the enormity of the epidemic he claimed that if three mass-shootings as deadly as the Pulse Nightclub Attack occurred three times every day for 365 days, then the death toll would roughly reach that of drug overdoses in 2015.

Source:   http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/06/07/doj-drug-overdose-now-leading-cause-of-death-for-americans-under-50/

Study Finds Users Are 26 Times More Likely To Turn To Other Substances By The Age Of 21

Study is first clear evidence that cannabis is gateway to cocaine and heroin

Teen marijuana smokers are 37 times more likely to be hooked on nicotine

Findings from Bristol University provide authoritative support for those warning against the liberalisation of drugs laws

Teenagers who regularly smoke cannabis are 26 times more likely to turn to other drugs by the age of 21.

The study of the lives of more than 5,000 teenagers produced the first resounding evidence that cannabis is a gateway to cocaine, amphetamines, hallucinogens and heroin.

It also discovered that teenage cannabis smokers are 37 times more likely to be hooked on nicotine and three times more likely to be problem drinkers than non-users of the drug.

The findings from Bristol University provide authoritative support for those warning against the liberalisation of drugs laws.

Medical researchers have argued for years that cannabis is far from harmless and instead carries serious mental health risks.

Dr Michelle Taylor, who led the study, said: ‘It has been argued that cannabis acts as a gateway to other drug use. However, historically the evidence has been inconsistent.

‘The most important findings from this study are that one in five adolescents follow a pattern of occasional or regular cannabis use and that those individuals are more likely to be tobacco dependent, have harmful levels of alcohol consumption or use other illicit drugs in early adulthood.

‘Our study does not support or refute arguments for altering the legal status of cannabis use.

‘This study and others do, however, lend support to public health strategies and interventions that aim to reduce cannabis exposure in young people.’

The Bristol evidence was gathered from a long-term survey of the lives of young people around the city, the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.

The survey, which was published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, examined 5,315 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18. One in five used cannabis.

Dr Tom Freeman of King’s College London said: ‘This is a high quality study using a large UK cohort followed from birth. It provides further evidence that early exposure to cannabis is associated with subsequent use of other drugs.’

The study of the lives of more than 5,000 teenagers produced the first resounding evidence that cannabis is a gateway to cocaine amphetamines, hallucinogens and heroin .

Ian Hamilton, who is a mental health researcher at York University, said: ‘It adds to evidence that cannabis acts as a gateway to nicotine dependence, as the majority of people using cannabis in the UK combine tobacco with cannabis when they roll a joint.

‘This habit represents one of the greatest health risks to the greatest number of young people who use cannabis.  It suggests that adolescent cannabis use serves as a gateway to a harmful relationship with drugs as an adult.’

The report said: ‘After taking account of other influential factors, those who used cannabis in their teens were at greater risk of problematic substance misuse by the age of 21.

‘Teens who regularly used cannabis were 37 times more likely to be nicotine dependent and three times more likely to have a harmful drinking pattern than non-users by the time they were 21. And they were 26 times more likely to use other illicit drugs.

‘Both those who used cannabis occasionally early in adolescence and those who started using it much later during the teenage years had a heightened risk of nicotine dependence, harmful drinking, and other illicit drug use.

‘And the more cannabis they used the greater was the likelihood of nicotine dependence by the age of 21.’

Source:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4582548/Proof-cannabis-DOES-lead-teenagers-harder-drugs.html   8th June 2017

 

Changes may increase risk of continued drug use and addiction

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Most people would get a little ‘rush’ out of the idea that they’re about to win some money. In fact, if you could look into their brain at that very moment, you’d see lots of activity in the part of the brain that responds to rewards.

But for people who’ve been using marijuana, that rush just isn’t as big – and gets smaller over time, a new study finds.

And that dampened, blunted response may actually open marijuana users up to more risk of becoming addicted to that drug or others.

The new results come from the first long-term study of young marijuana users that tracked brain responses to rewards over time. It was performed at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Published in JAMA Psychiatry, it shows measurable changes in the brain’s reward system with marijuana use – even when other factors like alcohol use and cigarette smoking were taken into account.

“What we saw was that over time, marijuana use was associated with a lower response to a monetary reward,” says senior author and U-M neuroscientist Mary Heitzeg, Ph.D. “This means that something that would be rewarding to most people was no longer rewarding to them, suggesting but not proving that their reward system has been ‘hijacked’ by the drug, and that they need the drug to feel reward — or that their emotional response has been dampened.”

Watching the reward centers

The study involved 108 people in their early 20s – the prime age for marijuana use. All were taking part in a larger study of substance use, and all had brain scans at three points over four years. Three-quarters were men, and nearly all were white.

While their brain was being scanned in a functional MRI scanner, they played a game that asked them to click a button when they saw a target on a screen in front of them. Before each round, they were told they might win 20 cents, or $5 – or that they might lose that amount, have no reward or loss.

The researchers were most interested at what happened in the reward centers of the volunteers’ brains – the area called the nucleus accumbens. And the moment they cared most about was that moment of anticipation, when the volunteers knew they might win some money, and were anticipating performing the simple task that it would take to win.

In that moment of anticipating a reward, the cells of the nucleus accumbens usually swing into action, pumping out a ‘pleasure chemical’ called dopamine. The bigger the response, the more pleasure or thrill a person feels – and the more likely they’ll be to repeat the behavior later.

But the more marijuana use a volunteer reported, the smaller the response in their nucleus accumbens over time, the researchers found.

While the researchers didn’t also look at the volunteers’ responses to marijuana-related cues, other research has shown that the brains of people who use a high-inducing drug repeatedly often respond more strongly when they’re shown cues related to that drug.

The increased response means the drug has become associated in their brains with positive, rewarding feelings. And that can make it harder to stop seeking out the drug and using it.

If this is true with marijuana users, says first author Meghan Martz, doctoral student in developmental psychology at U-M, “It may be that the brain can drive marijuana use, and that the use of marijuana can also affect the brain. We’re still unable to disentangle the cause and effect in the brain’s reward system, but studies like this can help that understanding.

Change over time

Regardless, the new findings show that there is change in the reward system over time with marijuana use. Heitzeg and her colleagues also showed recently in a paper in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience that marijuana use impacts emotional functioning.

The new data on response to potentially winning money may also be further evidence that long-term marijuana use dampens a person’s emotional response – something scientists call anhedonia.

“We are all born with an innate drive to engage in behaviors that feel rewarding and give us pleasure,” says co-author Elisa Trucco, Ph.D., psychologist at the Center for Children and Families at Florida International University. “We now have convincing evidence that regular marijuana use impacts the brain’s natural response to these rewards. In the long run, this is likely to put these individuals at risk for addiction.”

Marijuana’s reputation as a “safe” drug, and one that an increasing number of states are legalizing for small-scale recreational use, means that many young people are trying it – as many as a third of college-age people report using it in the past year.

But Heitzeg says that her team’s findings, and work by other addiction researchers, has shown that it can cause effects including problems with emotional functioning, academic problems, and even structural brain changes. And, the earlier in life someone tries marijuana, the faster their transition to becoming dependent on the drug, or other substances.

“Some people may believe that marijuana is not addictive or that it’s ‘better’ than other drugs that can cause dependence,” says Heitzeg, who is an assistant professor of psychiatry at the U-M Medical School and member of the U-M Addiction Research Center. “But this study provides evidence that it’s affecting the brain in a way that may make it more difficult to stop using it. It changes your brain in a way that may change your behavior, and where you get your sense of reward from.”

She is among the neuroscientists and psychologists leading a nationwide study called ABCD, for Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development. That study will track thousands of today’s pre-teens nationwide over 10 years, looking at many aspects of their health and functioning, including brain development via brain scans. Since some of the teens in the study are likely to use marijuana, the study will provide a better chance of seeing what happens over time.

Source: JAMA Psychiatry, doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.1161

Researchers at Canada’s Waterloo University studied what happens to academic goals, engagement, preparedness, and performance when high school students shift from no marijuana use to marijuana use. Their sample included 26,475 students in grades 9-12 in the COMPASS study, Canada’s largest survey of youth substance use. The researchers found that compared to students who do not use marijuana, those who use it at least once a month were:

· four times more likely to skip class,

· two to four times less likely to complete homework,

· two to four times less likely to value getting good grades, and

· half as likely to actually get good grades.

Moreover, half of those who smoked marijuana daily were less likely to report plans to attend college compared to nonusers. “We found that the more frequently students started using the drug, the greater their risk for poor school performance and engagement,” says Karen Patte, lead author of the study. Read more here.

Source: srusche@nationalfamilies.org  National Families in Action’s The Marijuana Report 17TH May 2017

“I wish that all families would at least consider investigating medication-assisted treatment and reading about what’s out there,” says Alicia Murray, DO, Board Certified Addiction Psychiatrist. “I think, unfortunately, there is still stigma about medications. But what we want people to see is that we’re actually changing the functioning of the patient.” Essentially, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can help get a patient back on track to meeting the demands of life – getting into a healthy routine, showing up for work and being the sibling, spouse or parent that they once were. “If we can change that with medication-assisted treatment and with counselling,” says Murray, “that’s so valuable.” The opioid epidemic is terrifying, especially so for a parent of someone already struggling with prescription pills or heroin use. It’s so important to consider any and all options for helping your child recover from their opioid dependence.

Part of the reason it’s so hard to overcome an opioid addiction is because it rewires your brain to focus almost exclusively on the drug over anything else, and produces extreme cravings and withdrawal symptoms as a result. By helping to reduce those feelings of cravings and withdrawal, medication-assisted treatment can help your son or daughter’s brain stop thinking constantly about the drug and focus on returning to a healthier life.

Medication-assisted treatment is often misunderstood. Many traditional treatment programs and step-based supports may tell you that MAT is simply substituting one addictive drug for another. However, taking medication for opioid addiction is like taking medication for any other chronic disease, such as diabetes or asthma. When it is used according to the doctor’s instructions and in conjunction with therapy, the medication will not create a new addiction, and can help.

As a parent, you want to explore all opportunities to get your child help for his or her opioid addiction, and get them closer and closer to functioning as a healthy adult – holding down a job, keeping a regular schedule and tapering, and eventually, stopping their misuse of opioids. Medication-assisted treatment helps them do that.

“MAT medications are most effective when they are used in conjunction with therapy and recovery work. We would never recommend medication over other forms of treatment. We would recommend it in addition to it.”

The three most-common medications used to treat opioid addiction are:

· Naltrexone (Vivitrol)

· Buprenorphine (Suboxone)

· Methadone

NALTREXONE

Naltrexone, known by its brand-name Vivitrol, is administered by a doctor monthly through an injection. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist. Antagonists attach themselves to opioid receptors in the brain and prevent other opioids such as heroin or painkillers from exerting the effects of the drug. It has no abuse potential.

BUPRENORPHINE

Buprenorphine, known by its brand-name Suboxone, is an oral tablet or film dissolved under the tongue or in the mouth prescribed by a doctor in an office-based setting. It is taken daily and can be dispensed at a physician’s office or taken at home. Buprenorphine is a partial agonist. Partial agonists attach to the opioid receptors in the brain and activate them, but not to the full degree as agonists. If used against the doctor’s instructions, it has the potential to be abused.

METHADONE

Methadone is dispensed through a certified opioid treatment program (OTP). It’s a liquid and taken orally and usually witnessed at an OTP clinic until the patient receives take-home doses. Methadone is an opioid agonist. Agonists are drugs that activate opioid receptors in the brain, producing an effect. If used against the doctor’s instructions, it has the potential to be abused. There is no “one size fits all” approach to medication-assisted treatment, or even recovery. Recovery is individual.

The most important thing to do is to consider all of your options, and speak to a medical professional to determine the best course of action for your family. The best path is the path that helps and works for your child.

Source:  http://drugfree.org/parent-blog/medication-assisted-treatment/  19th May 2017

During the 2015 election, the Liberals campaigned on a plan to greenlight marijuana for recreational use to keep it out of the hands of children and the profits out of the hands of criminals.

The party’s election platform said Canada’s current approach — criminalizing people for possession and use — traps too many Canadians in the justice system for minor offences.

Last month, the government spelled out its plans in legislation, setting sweeping policy changes in motion.  The new law proposes setting the national minimum age to legally buy cannabis at 18 years old. It will be up to the provinces should they want to restrict it further.

Is it true, as Wilson-Raybould and the Liberals suggest, that legalization will in fact keep cannabis out of the hands of kids?

Spoiler alert: The Canadian Press Baloney Meter is a dispassionate examination of political statements culminating in a ranking of accuracy on a scale of “no baloney” to “full of baloney” (complete methodology below)

This one earns a lot of baloney — the statement is mostly inaccurate but contains elements of truth. Here’s why:

THE FACTS

There is no doubt cannabis is in the hands of young people today.

In fact, Canada has one of the highest rates of teenage and early-age adulthood use of marijuana, says Dr. Mark Ware, the vice-chair of the federally-appointed task force on cannabis and a medicinal marijuana researcher at McGill University.

“We don’t anticipate that this is going to eliminate it; but the public health approach is to make it less easy for young adolescents, young kids, to access cannabis than it is at the moment,” he said.

Bonnie Leadbeater, a psychology professor at the University of Victoria who specializes in adolescent behaviour, said as many as 60 per cent of 18-year-olds have used marijuana at some point in their lives.

The aim of a regulated, controlled system of legalized cannabis is to make it more difficult for kids to access pot, Ware said, noting the principle goal is to delay the onset of use.

So will a recreational market for adults coupled with a regulatory regime really keep pot out of the hands of kids?

THE EXPERTS

Public health experts — including proponents of legalization — say that probably won’t happen.

“I don’t exactly know what they are planning to do to keep it out of the hands of young people and I think some elaboration of that might be helpful,” Leadbeater said. “It is unlikely that it will change … it has been very, very accessible to young people.”

Benedikt Fischer, a University of Toronto psychiatry professor and senior scientist with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, agrees the expectation that legalization will suddenly reduce or eliminate use among young people is counter-intuitive and unrealistic to a large extent.

“The only thing we could hope for is that maybe because it is legal, all of a sudden it is so much more boring for young people that they’re not interested in it anymore,” he said.

Increasing penalties for people who facilitate access to kids will help discourage law-abiding Canadians from doing so, says Steven Hoffman, director of a global strategy lab at the University of Ottawa Centre for health law, policy and ethics.

“That being said, when there’s a drug, there’s no foolproof way of keeping it out of the hands of all children,” Hoffman said. “For sure, there will still be children who are still consuming cannabis.”

Cannabis will not be legal for people of all ages under the legislation, he added, noting this means there may still be a market for criminal activity for cannabis in the form of selling it to children.

In Colorado, officials thought there would be an increase in use as a result of legalization, according to Dr. Larry Wolk, chief medical officer at the Department of Public Health and Environment, but he said there’s been no increase among either youth or adults.    Nor has there been a noticeable decrease.

“What it looks like is folks who may have been using illicitly before are using legally now and teens or youth that were using illicitly before, it’s still the same rate of illicit use,” he said.

THE VERDICT

Donald MacPherson, executive director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, said the Liberal government could provide a more nuanced, realistic message about its plans to legalize marijuana.

“To suddenly go over to the rhetoric … that strict regulation is going to keep it out of the hands of young people doesn’t work,” he said.

“There’s a better chance of reducing the harm to young people through a … public health, regulatory approach. That’s ideally what they should be saying.”

Careful messaging around legalized marijuana — like the approach taken by the Netherlands — could make cannabis less of a tempting forbidden fruit for young people, said Mark Haden, an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia.

“What we know is that prohibition maximizes the engagement of youth, so if we did it well and skillfully and ended prohibition with a wise approach and made cannabis boring, it would keep it out of the hands of kids,” he said.

“It isn’t completely baloney, it just hasn’t gone far enough in terms of a rich, real discussion. It is just political soundbites.”

For this reason, Wilson-Raybould’s statement contains “a lot of baloney.”

METHODOLOGY

The Baloney Meter is a project of The Canadian Press that examines the level of accuracy in statements made by politicians. Each claim is researched and assigned a rating based on the following scale:

· No baloney – the statement is completely accurate

· A little baloney – the statement is mostly accurate but more information is required

· Some baloney – the statement is partly accurate but important details are missing

· A lot of baloney – the statement is mostly inaccurate but contains elements of truth

· Full of baloney – the statement is completely inaccurate

Source:   http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/fact-check-will-legalizing-pot-keep-it-out-of-the-hands-of-kids-1.3397542   4th May 2017

Kuei Y. Tseng was awarded $1.95 million by NIH for a five-year study of “Adolescent Maturation of the Prefrontal Cortex: Modulation by Cannabinoids.” Regular marijuana use by teens can stop the brain from maturing, according to a new study by scientists at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, North Chicago, IL. Published March 4 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, the study is the first to establish a causal link between repeated cannabinoid exposure during adolescence and an interruption of the normal maturation processes in the prefrontal cortex, a region in the brain’s frontal lobe, which regulates decision making and working memory and undergoes critical development during adolescence.

The findings apply to natural cannabinoids, including those in marijuana, and a new generation of more potent, synthetic cannabinoid products. THC, the compound in marijuana that produces feelings of euphoria, is of particular concern. The chemical can be manipulated, resulting in varying concentrations between marijuana strains – from 2 to 28 percent. A higher concentration of THC and increasing use by younger teens poses a greater risk for long term negative effects, the study finds. Kuei Y. Tseng, MD, PhD, associate professor of cellular and molecular pharmacology at the Chicago Medical School at RFUMS and principal investigator of the study, blames the CB1 cannabinoid receptor, which governs neuronal communication, for the drug’s long -lasting effect.

Tseng and his team of researchers used rat models in testing the effect of cannabinoid exposure during narrow age windows and analyzed the way information is later processed by the adult prefrontal cortex. They discovered that when CB1 receptors are repeatedly activated by cannabinoids during early adolescence, development of the prefrontal cortex stalls in that phase. The window of vulnerability represents two thirds of the span of adolescence. Test animals showed no such effect when exposure occurred in late adolescence or adulthood.

“We have conclusively demonstrated that an over activation of the CB1 receptor during the window equivalent to age 11 to 17 in humans, when the prefrontal cortex is still developing, will inhibit its maturation and have a long lasting effect on its functions,” Tseng said.

The study shows how chronic cannabis use by teens can cause persistent behavioral deficits in adulthood, including problems with attention span and impulse control. The findings also add to prior research that draws a correlation between adolescent marijuana abuse and the development of schizophrenia.

The discovery, which comes as a growing number of states are considering legalization of marijuana for both medicinal and recreational use, calls for the attention of physicians who prescribe medical marijuana and policy makers who, according to Tseng, “will have to establish regulations to take advantage of the beneficial effects of marijuana while minimizing its detrimental potential.”

Researchers are focusing on developing outcome measures to reveal the degree of frontal lobe maturation and history of drug exposure. The challenge now, Tseng said, is to find ways to return the frontal lobe back to a normal state either through pharmacological or cognitive interventions.

“Future research will tell us what other mechanisms can be triggered to avoid this type of impairment of the frontal lobe,” Tseng said. “Ultimately, we want to restore the prefrontal cortex.”

Supported by RFUMS, the research was funded primarily through NIH Grant R01-MH086507 to Tseng and also by a 2012 seed grant from the Brain Research Foundation.

Source:  https://www.rosalindfranklin.edu/news/profiles/study-shows-marijuana-use-interrupts-adolescent-brain-development/   4th March 2017

Whether it’s knocking on a nearby door, making a quick call, or agreeing a deal on the way to school, there’s no ID necessary and no questions asked: teenagers in London never have to venture too far to find skunk.

In fact, they find the highly potent form of the Class B drug cannabis much easier to buy than both alcohol and cigarettes, where regulation steps in and requires them to prove that they are old enough.  No such barriers seem to exist when it comes to buying cannabis.

The country’s most popular illicit drug, the average age people start smoking it is 14.

But, for most young people today, it is the stronger, more harmful and seemingly ubiquitous variety of cannabis, high in the cannabinoid THC and low in CBD, and known universally as skunk, that is finding its way into their hands.  To investigate how easy it is for young people to buy cannabis and the risks that come with this, Volteface carried out a nationwide survey and spoke to a group of users and non-users, aged 15-17, from London.

Without chemical analysis, we can’t know for certain what type of cannabis young people are consuming, but we could find out what they thought it was, and the overwhelming majority of people said they used skunk, with many reporting that was the only form of cannabis they could get. And when it comes to getting skunk, it is very easy for young people, particularly in urban areas, to get hold of it.

Indeed, when asked how easy it is to buy cannabis, how often they smoked it or whether any of them had ever had any trouble getting the drug because of their age, the teenagers Volteface interviewed collapsed into laughter at how “ridiculous” these questions were.

In their world, these aren’t things they need to think much about, they’re a given.

The cannabis most commonly smoked in the UK in and before the 1990s was the low-potency hash. This changed as the decade progressed and the development of high potency strains such as skunk came to dominate the market in the Netherlands – a trend which found its way here.

With this in mind, Volteface’s research raises important questions about how much autonomy young people living in areas like London really have when it comes to the cannabis they are smoking.

Unlike previous generations, skunk and closely related strains, high in THC and low in CBD, is perhaps all they will have known, with these varieties accounting for 80-95 percent of the cannabis sold illegally on Britain’s streets according to most recent analyses.

How clued-up are today’s young cannabis users as to where and how to find regular weed and safer strains and the benefits of why they might want to do this?

Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, anyone caught in possession of cannabis could (in theory, but rarely in practice) face five years in prison or an unlimited fine.  Deterrence and censure – the law’s intentions are clear, and young people are well aware of the prohibition. Nevertheless, this doesn’t stop them from wanting to buy cannabis.  76 percent of those who completed Volteface’s survey, and several of the teenagers interviewed, said they were worried about getting into trouble with the police.

But, one 16-year-old Volteface spoke to was still smoking it, despite one occasion on which “I went straight to the cells for having 0.6 grams of weed on me” and his mother being called to collect him.

It appears that the only real barrier when it comes to young people getting cannabis is money.

The rest, they don’t have to worry about – the supply comes to them.  “If you’ve got the money, you can get cannabis, no problem,” said a 17-year-old user from London.  A 16-year-old added: “When we’re walking to school people come up and ask if we want to buy weed.  “If they think you’re the kind of person who smokes weed, they might just come up to you and ask you to take their number and then you just call them,” said another.

One teenager said that if a group are seen smoking cigarettes, they could be approached by cannabis dealers.  Although those interviewed in London for our research said cigarettes were seen as the most “socially acceptable” substance, most said it was still much easier to buy cannabis than tobacco.

As regulated products with a minimum age requirement, young people wanting to buy alcohol and cigarettes from any retail outlet must be able to show they are at least 18.

With cannabis, no such difficulty gets in the way.

96 percent of those who completed Volteface’s nationwide survey and said it was “extremely easy” for them to find cannabis were from cities.  “Getting tobacco is harder than getting cannabis, 100 percent,” said one of the group interviewed.   “It’s too easy.”“Knock on a door,” said one 16-year-old.

“It’s legit if you have the money. There’s times when you got the money for tobacco, but you’re not going to get served inside the shop as you’re too young.”  “Weed is the easiest thing out of cannabis, cigarettes and alcohol to get because you don’t have to have ID.”

Some of the teenagers said they sometimes tried their luck by asking an older young person standing outside the shop to go in and buy some drinks for them, but that this was rare.

In any case, as some of them pointed out, shops shut.

Dealers don’t close for business at 11pm on a Friday night.

Cannabis, more than cigarettes and alcohol, is seen as a greater part of the ‘every day’ lives of the young people smoking it, our research showed.

“You don’t need a motive to smoke it” is how one 16-year-old from London summed up its popularity.

“When I wake up, at lunch… any time I can” said another teenager about when they smoked it. “If I’m not doing anything and I’ve got money, I’ll buy some and smoke it”.  “It just chills you out,” another added.

Whereas, other drugs such as LSD, ecstasy and magic mushrooms, as well as alcohol, are used by young people “every few weeks” at parties or on nights out, the young people we interviewed said they often smoked a joint while listening to music, gaming, relaxing by themselves or with friends.

Most of the teenagers we spoke to in London said they smoked cannabis more commonly on weekends and week nights, but some said they smoked it during school hours, with one 16-year-old stating: “I smoke when I wake up”.

On average, the group spent £30 every three days on the drug. In fact, this seemed to be the group’s biggest problem with cannabis, someone commenting “If I think about all the money I could have saved by now…”

Another added: “We get deals init, so our dealers bus us a gram for £10, a z [ounce] for £200, should be £240.”

The most striking finding confirmed by Volteface’s research was the extent to which young people, to their knowledge at least, are smoking skunk, rather than any other form of weed.

The majority of the teenagers Volteface interviewed in London said they smoked skunk, which has come to dominate the market as the cheapest way to get really high.

Cannabis, made from a natural plant, contains two important ingredients: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC gets smokers ‘high’. It has also been correlated, particularly when consumed in high concentrations, with greater incidence of psychosis and development of dependence. CBD while not psychoactive itself, modified the effects of THC, including reducing its anxiety and paranoia inducing effects. It also, crucially, drastically lessens both the incidence of psychosis when people consume it alongside THC, and seems to make cannabis less dependence forming.

Whereas other forms of weed often contain the two substances in more equal ratios, skunk tends to contain solely high amounts of THC and hardly any CBD.

Significantly, the teenagers Volteface interviewed were aware of the distinction between weed and skunk, and the difference in their potential harmfulness, but the sheer ease of availability of the latter meant they were continuing to smoke it. Convenience trumps effort.

“We don’t smoke weed, we smoke skunk. But skunk is more available,” one 16-year-old said. “Skunk is bare chemicals and THC to make it stronger. It’s much more available,” another added. One 17-year-old said: “I don’t even think it’s that great, but it’s all you can get, there’s just bare THC in it.”

“My mum thinks I should smoke Thai because skunk will make you crazy,” said another 17-year-old.  A 16-year-old agreed: “My mum says I should smoke high grade rather than skunk because it’s gonna turn me mental.”

“When you first start buying weed, you don’t actually know what you’re buying. Now you can ask them what it is and they’ll tell you,” another teenager added.

In a 2015 study published in The Lancet Psychiatry, scientists from Kings College London found that 24 percent of all new cases of psychosis are associated with the use of skunk and the risk of psychosis was three times higher for skunk users and five times higher for those who use it every day. No increased risk of psychosis was found for those regularly smoking other forms of cannabis.

The causality between cannabis use and psychosis has been questioned though, with the possibility that those more likely to take the drug are also more prone to psychosis in the first place.

When asked whether they worried about the effects of skunk on their mental health, one teenager said: “Yeah – it’s when I’m older isn’t it? Long-term effects.”  But another added: “I can’t see myself getting something like depression.”

Some said they could feel cannabis having a negative effect on their physical health, with their ability to run and play sports affected.

After getting stopped by the police, parents were the second biggest concern for young cannabis users who participated in Volteface’s research, but this was mainly the case in non-urban areas and those outside of London.

For most of the young cannabis users interviewed in London, their parents were not so concerned as to stop them smoking it, although they did try to advise their children against smoking stronger strains.  “I think part of the reason my mum is okay with me smoking is because I do well in school,” one 17-year-old told us.

Another said: “They lecture me about it but they don’t try and stop me taking it. If my mum found weed in my room she probably wouldn’t take it.”

Skunk is in the lives of young people because it’s in the dealers’ interest to keep it there.

The environment in which they are operating, particularly in urban areas such as London, mean teenagers are regularly smoking a highly potent strain of a drug, which can result in severe mental health problems in later life, even though much less harmful strains are available.

As Volteface’s research suggests, young people today don’t have much control over the quality or type of the cannabis they are smoking. They only know the dealers they know, many of whom will have targeted them specifically.

When something is so easy, the incentive to look elsewhere and acquire knowledge about other options diminishes. We are also creatures of habit – the behaviours we start with and become accustomed to, we come to accept as a part of our lives. Particularly if any adverse effects of these behaviours fail to manifest themselves in the here and now. Make hay while the sun shines.

In young people, dealers seem to have found an ideal target market to push skunk and make a tidy profit, all within a context which runs counterintuitive to what many of us may believe: that making something illegal is keeping us safer.  Teenagers may be laughing at our ignorance on this issue now, but it’s skunk’s dexterous dealers who may well be having the last laugh in the end.

Source:  http://volteface.me/features/easy-young-people-access-skunk-uk/   April 2017

The surrender of more than 2,000 minors involved in drugs in Cebu shows the need to step up efforts to educate the youth on the ill effects of illegal drugs. The Cebu Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Office has produced a module on this for integration in Grades 7 to 9 classes starting this school year.

Jane Gurrea, Education Supervisor I of the Department of Education’s Division of Cebu Province, says anti-drug activities in schools have been strengthened by a memorandum issued by the department mandating the establishment of Barkada Kontra Droga chapters in schools.

Barkada Kontra Droga is a preventive education and information program to counter the dangers of drug abuse. HALF of the 2,203 minors rounded up under Project Tokhang were out-of-school youth, according to data collected by the Police Regional Office 7 from July 1, 2016 to Feb. 2, 2017.

Tokhang is the Philippine National Police’s program to knock on the doors of homes to persuade those suspected of involvement in illegal drugs to surrender. Some 2,166 of the minors in Cebu were drug users, 28 were sellers, while nine were mules. Could the rampant involvement of out-of-school youth in drugs have been prevented if Section 46 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 had been implemented?

Section 46 requires the establishment of a Special Drug Education Center (SDEC) for out-of-school youth and street children in every province to implement drug abuse prevention programs and activities. The SDEC should be led by the Provincial Social Welfare Officer. “Cebu Province still has to establish one,” however, said Grace Yana, social welfare officer  in charge of social technology unit of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) . But areas in Cebu with active Pag-Asa Youth Association of the Philippines (PYAP) chapters, like Talisay, Naga, Danao and Mandaue cities, already have SDECs, she said. PYAP is the organization of out-of-school youth organized by the local government units.

“When the local government units hear the word center, they think they will need a building, and it needs a budget. So we tell them, even if it’s just a corner,” Yana said of the challenges of setting up the SDEC. Cebu Province may not have an SDEC, but the Cebu Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Office (Cpadao) unveiled last November Project YMAD (Youth Making a Difference) that aims to provide out-of-school youth with socio-economic, physical, psychological, cultural and spiritual support through the PYAP.

Barkada Kontra Droga For in-school youth, the Cpadao is facilitating the implementation of the Barkada Kontra Droga drug prevention program, said Cpadao executive director Carmen Remedios Durano-Meca. Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) Regulation 5, Series of 2007 calls for the institutionalization of the Barkada Kontra Droga (BKD), a preventive education and information program to counter the dangers and disastrous effects of drug abuse. It empowers the individual to be the catalyst in his peer groups in advocating healthy and drug-free lifestyles, the regulation says. “Cpadao is the one facilitating that this be implemented in every school,” Meca said. “We tap the Supreme Student Government officers. We have a Student Assistance Program (SAP) designed to help children who get into trouble with drugs in the school setting.”

SAP includes an intervention program to reduce substance abuse and behavioral problems by having the parent-teacher association take up school and home concerns. Under SAP, which will be established through the guidance office, the school will establish drug policies and regulations.

In addition, Cpadao made a module, which it has given to the Department of Education (DepEd) to distribute to schools. “It’s been agreed to be integrated in the Grades 7, 8 and 9 classes starting school year 2017. It will be one hour a week from MAPEH (Music, Arts, Physical Education and Health) for the whole school year. Later, we plan to teach it to the younger children, like Grade 4,” she said. “We’ve had a review of the module,” Jane Gurrea, Education Supervisor I of DepEd’s Division of Cebu Province, said last month. “If we receive that module, this will be integrated initially for public schools as additional reference materials.”

The DepEd Division of Cebu Province covers the 44 towns in Cebu. This month, the division will have a training of teachers for the integration of drug abuse prevention education, which will include a discussion of the Cpadao module. But even now, under the present K to 12 curriculum, basic concepts on illegal drugs can already be tackled as early as in Grade 4, as teachers could integrate these concepts in subjects like Health, when the subject of medicine use and abuse is discussed, she said. Gurrea, who is also the National Drug Education Program coordinator in the Division, said drug prevention education can be taught in subjects dealing with values education, social studies or MAPEH. “For music, students can write a poem or song on drug use prevention. They can have role playing. In art, they can do drawing (on drugs).”

Additionally, under Section 42 of the Dangerous Drugs Act, all student councils and campus organizations in elementary and secondary schools should include in their activities “a program for the prevention of and deterrence in the use of dangerous drugs, and referral for treatment and rehabilitation of students for drug dependence.” It is unclear how actively these student groups have campaigned against illegal drugs, but Gurrea said that every third week of November, students join the celebration of Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Week under the Supreme Student Government.

“The officers have to campaign room to room to talk about issues related to prevention of drug use. In the public schools in rural areas, you can see signs on fences or pergolas saying, ‘Get high on grades, not on drugs.’ They invite speakers for drug symposiums, like the police,” she said. The Supreme Student Government is for high school, while the Supreme Pupil Government is for elementary school. “In every town, we have a federated Supreme Student Government (SSG) and Supreme Pupil Government (SPG), and also a Division Federation of SSG and SPG. One of the programs is drug education,” Gurrea said. The Department of Education mandates all schools to have a student council organization strengthened. Gurrea said the anti-drug activities in schools were already there, but the term Barkada Kontra Droga was not used then. It was only when the DepEd coordinated with Cpadao that the term BKD was used. With the assistance of Cpadao that spent for resource speakers and meals of the students last year, BKD was institutionalized. BKD was strengthened further by DepEd Memorandum 200, Series of 2016 issued on Nov. 23, 2016 mandating the establishment of BKD chapters in schools, Gurrea said. “With this institutionalization, on the part of the budget for activities, students now have access through the Municipal Anti-Drug Abuse Councils (Madac).

So instead of spending their SSG funds for their activities, they can present their planned activities to the Madac, from which they can seek financial or other assistance (like for speakers),” she said. With the memo, the SSG has been recognized as an entity, enabling it to connect with the community, such as with agencies and non-government organizations for anti-drug activities, she said. “We have continuous advocacy and awareness programs. Some schools have a walk for a cause or caravan,” Gurrea said. The public schools in the division also have their student handbook. “One thing stipulated there is that no student is allowed to be involved in illegal drugs. There are schools that let students sign that piece of paper containing the rules and regulations, for their commitment to follow the rules in that handbook,” she said.

So if awareness of the dangers of illegal drugs is not the problem, what accounts for the high number of minors involved in drugs? “We are looking at peer pressure or circumstances in the family,” Gurrea said.

Source:  http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cebu/local-news/2017/03/04/who-watching-children-529169

This study found:

* The Strengthening Families Program for Youth 10-14 (SFP10-14) reduced substance use among the friends of teens who participated in the intervention, as well as the participants themselves.

* The friends’ substance use reductions were mediated by altered attitudes toward substance use and reductions in unsupervised socializing with peers.

In SFP10-14, families with children ages 10 to 14 meet with intervention facilitators once a week for 7 weeks to discuss substance use, parenting practices, communication skills, responses to peer pressure, and other topics. Previous studies have demonstrated that the program reduces participating children’s substance use and improves participating parents’ parenting practices. The new study evaluated the program’s effects on the participating teens’ nonparticipating friends.

Dr. Kelly Rulison of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and colleagues at Pennsylvania State University analysed data collected from more than 5,400 students who attended sixth grade in 13 rural Pennsylvania and Iowa communities. None of the students participated in SFP10-14, even though the intervention was offered to all sixth graders in their schools. Each year for 3 years, the researchers elicited from each student the names of up to 7 peers in the same grade who were “close” friends. They also collected information on each student’s exposure to friends who participated in SFP10-14, to friends’ positive or negative attitudes about substance use, friends’ smoking or drinking to inebriation, and other variables.

Figure. Nonparticipants With Friends Who Participated in SFP10-14 Are Less Likely to Use Cigarettes Immediately before and after implementation of the SFP10-14 intervention, past-month cigarette use did not differ among nonparticipants with a varying number of friends participating in the intervention. Over time, however, diffusion of the program’s effects resulted in differences in cigarette use among the nonparticipants that were proportional to the number of their friends who had participated in SFP10-14. Nonparticipants with greater numbers of participating friends reported lower rates of past-month cigarette use than their peers with fewer participating friends.

The researchers’ analysis revealed that the benefits of SFP10-14 spread from participants to their friends. Thus, the more participant friends a nonparticipant had, the less likely he or she was to engage in substance use in the years following the intervention. At the 3-year follow-up, nonparticipants who had three or more participant friends were roughly 2/3 as likely to report that they had been drunk in the past month, and roughly 1/3 as likely to have smoked a cigarette in the past month, compared with those who had no participant friends (see Figure).

Two mediating factors accounted for most of the indirect benefit experienced by the SFP10-14 nonparticipants. Most influential was the amount of time they spent “hanging out” with friends without adult supervision. Dr. Rulison says, “Multiple mechanisms for

this result are possible, but it’s most likely that SFP10-14 changed participating parents’ supervision practices. Parents who have participated in the intervention tend to supervise their adolescents closely. Nonparticipating teens who spend time with friends who participate receive indirect supervision from their friends’ parents, regardless of how much their own parents supervise them.”

SFP10-14 nonparticipants’ substance use also was influenced by their participant friends’ attitudes toward smoking and drinking alcohol. Although this effect was small compared to that of unsupervised socializing, it implies that encouraging participants to advocate negative attitudes about substance use to their friends could help reduce community-wide teen substance use.

Additional findings from the study underscore the strong influence that peer behavior can have among teens and the potential for interventions such as SFP10-14, which reduce problem behaviors, to benefit teens who do not directly experience them. The researchers calculated that a unit increase in smoking prevalence among a teen’s friends was associated with a 14-fold increase in his or her odds of smoking, and an increase in the friends’ prevalence of drunkenness was associated with a near quintupling of his or her odds of getting drunk. However, the researchers acknowledge that selection processes also play a role in shaping teen behavior—that is, that teens who drink alcohol or smoke gravitate to friends who do the same.

Dr. Rulison notes that all the school districts in the study were majority-white with stable student populations, and the findings may not apply to other types of communities. She comments, “Diffusion results from the stability of the community and changing community norms, not community demographics. Whether diffusion occurs in more transient communities depends on the specifics of the intervention.” For example, she says, because the benefits of SFP10-14 spread partly by altering the behavior of participating parents, “diffusion is less likely if participating parents move away.”

However, the researchers also believe that diffusion may occur via the cumulative, normative effect of students’ beliefs. “Changing individual attitudes could lead to a sustained school- or community-wide change in norms, even if many of the original program participants move away,” Dr. Rulison says.

The researchers say that identifying the specific mechanisms and processes that support diffusion of a programs’ benefits can enable researchers to improve in program design and implementation. Accordingly, they recommend that program developers and evaluators measure their programs’ impact, if any, on nonparticipants, such as those who join the community after the intervention, siblings of participants, and nonparticipants who are not in the same class or grade in which the program is implemented.

Dr. Rulison and colleagues advise intervention designers to leverage diffusion effects to maximize their programs’ impact. “Intervention developers should target factors, such as peer attitudes and unstructured socializing, that might facilitate diffusion,” Dr. Rulison says. “Some programs already do so by specifically training student leaders to spread intervention messages.”

This study was supported by NIH grants DA018225, DA013709, HD041025, AA14702, and the WT Grant Foundation.

Source: Rulison, K.L.; Feinberg, M.; Gest, S.D.; and Osgood, D.W. Diffusion of intervention effects: The impact of a family-based substance use prevention program on friends of participants. Journal of Adolescent Health 57(4):433-440, 2015. 

* Waste firm Businesswaste.co.uk claims it is getting reports of bins being burned out across the country

* It believes youngsters are getting high from the fumes the burning bins create

* Certain dyes that makes the bins green can help people ‘get wasted’

* It’s 10 years since this ‘craze’ was last seen in the UK, when it his south Yorkshire

Children are burning bins and ‘getting high off the fumes’ in the latest drug craze which could be more dangerous than sniffing glue or petrol.

According to a waste management company, kids are setting plastic wheelie bins alight and then getting high on the fumes.  The experts say there are certain fumes created in the bin by the dyes which users can ‘get wasted’ from.

Officials at the firm say they have had reports from around Britain of youths burning wheelie bins to sniff the smoke.   Mark Hall, from waste firm businesswaste.co.uk, said cases were up 100 per cent in the last few months.  He said: ‘We’ve seen reports from Wolverhampton, Hull, Glasgow and Swindon over recent weeks, and they’re all the same.

‘Idiots stealing wheeled bins from outside homes and businesses, taking them to waste ground or parks, and torching them for whatever kicks they can derive.  ‘While some of them could just be arson, others include quotes from police officers who acknowledge that they’re doing it for weird drug-related kicks.’

The company has received ‘hundreds’ of reports from clients who discovered ruined bins.

He said ‘There was a craze about ten years ago and it died out.  ‘All of a sudden we are getting reports again. We have got a huge amount of them being burnt at the moment.  ‘It is growing – there is 100 per cent more than there was last month.’

The trend surfaced a decade ago in South Yorkshire but appeared to have made a revival, he said.  In 2007 South Yorkshire Police issued a warning to leave bins alone after 40 bins went up in smoke in the space of four months.

The risk of aerosol cans being contained in the rubbish, which could explode if they came into contact with fire, is high, particularly on business premises.  Anti-solvent abuse charities said inhaling the bin fumes could be more dangerous than sniffing glue or petrol.

Mr Hall said many people were not reporting the bin fires to police, making it hard to provide statistics on the crimes.  He said: ‘Just one aerosol might cause a potentially fatal explosion.’ And bins stolen from business premises could contain just about anything that can cause fatal injury to the unwary.  ‘Our people are sick of having to scrape melted plastic from pavements and parks, and our clients hate the inconvenience of having their bins stolen.’

The trend first surfaced about 10 years ago, and was a particular problem in south Yorkshire, but died out. It appears to have reared its head again

Stephen Ream, a spokesman for solvent abuse charity Re-Solv, said: ‘It would be very dangerous, it sounds like it would make you sick before you got high. ‘The fumes it would give off would be toxic.’

In 2007 it was reported that in Scotland it is known for people to burn bus shelters to get the same effect.   The craze was behind more than fifty bin fires in Barnsley, Yorkshire.

PC Jonathan Reed, of South Yorkshire Police, said in 2007 that officers were looking at ways to lock up the bins.  He said: ‘It is the drug of choice, setting fire to the bins and inhaling the fumes.  ‘The health and safety implications are terrible. It is only a matter of time before someone harms themselves.’

Wheelie bins are made from high density polyethylene – composed of double-bonded carbon and hydrogen molecules.  Burning an empty one releases carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.

These deadly gases starve the brain of oxygen, giving a headache-heavy short high.

Source:  businesswaste.co.uk   23rd  March 2017 

I totally agree that we all need to let Attorney General Jeff Sessions know that the majority of Americans suffer because of marijuana …. whether they choose to use it or not.  It is a factor in crime, physical and mental health, academic failure, lost productivity, et al.  American cannot be great again if we continue to allow poison to be grown and distributed to the masses.

The President has taken a position that “medical marijuana” should be a State’s right, because he is not yet enlightened on the reality of what that means.  If asked to define “medical marijuana” that has helped his friends, I doubt that he would say gummy bears, Heavenly brownies and other edibles with 60 to 80% potency, sold in quantities that are potentially lethal; smoked pot at 25% THC content; or waxes and oils used for dabbing and vaping that are as high as 98% potency that cause psychotic breaks, mental illness, suicides, traffic deaths and more.

Further, if states are to have a right to offer “medical marijuana”, it has to be done under tightly controlled conditions and the profit motive eliminated.  Privately owned cultivation and dispensaries must be banned … including one’s ability to grow 6 plants at home.  6 plants grown hydroponically with 4 harvests a year could generate 24 lbs of pot, the equivalent of about 24,000 joints. That obviously would not be for personal use.  We would just have thousands of new drug dealers, with more crime, more child endangerment, more BHO labs blowing up, more traffic deaths, et al.

Source:   Letter from Roger Morgan to DrugWatch International  Feb. 2017

In Iceland, teenage smoking, drinking and drug use have been radically cut in the past 20 years. Emma Young finds out how they did it, and why other countries won’t follow suit

State funding for organised sport and other clubs has increased in Iceland to give kids new ways to feel like part of a group all pics: Dave Imms

It’s a little before three on a sunny Friday afternoon and Laugardalur Park, near central Reykjavik, looks practically deserted. There’s an occasional adult with a pushchair, but the park’s surrounded by apartment blocks and houses, and school’s out – so where are all the kids?

Walking with me are Gudberg Jónsson, a local psychologist, and Harvey Milkman, an American psychology professor who teaches for part of the year at Reykjavik University. Twenty years ago, says Gudberg, Icelandic teens were among the heaviest-drinking youths in Europe. “You couldn’t walk the streets in downtown Reykjavik on a Friday night because it felt unsafe,” adds Milkman. “There were hordes of teenagers getting in-your-face drunk.”

We approach a large building. “And here we have the indoor skating,” says Gudberg.

A couple of minutes ago, we passed two halls dedicated to badminton and ping pong. Here in the park, there’s also an athletics track, a geothermally heated swimming pool and – at last – some visible kids, excitedly playing football on an artificial pitch.

Young people aren’t hanging out in the park right now, Gudberg explains, because they’re in after-school classes in these facilities, or in clubs for music, dance or art. Or they might be on outings with their parents.

Today, Iceland tops the European table for the cleanest-living teens. The percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who had been drunk in the previous month plummeted from 42 per cent in 1998 to 5 per cent in 2016. The percentage who have ever used cannabis is down from 17 per cent to 7 per cent. Those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23 per cent to just 3 per cent.

The way the country has achieved this turnaround has been both radical and evidence-based, but it has relied a lot on what might be termed enforced common sense. “This is the most remarkably intense and profound study of stress in the lives of teenagers that I have ever seen,” says Milkman. “I’m just so impressed by how well it is working.”

The country has created new opportunities for kids of all ages to get involved with the community

If it was adopted in other countries, Milkman argues, the Icelandic model could benefit the general psychological and physical wellbeing of millions of kids, not to mention the coffers of healthcare agencies and broader society. It’s a big if.

“I was in the eye of the storm of the drug revolution,” Milkman explains over tea in his apartment in Reykjavik. In the early 1970s, when he was doing an internship at the Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital in New York City, “LSD was already in, and a lot of people

were smoking marijuana. And there was a lot of interest in why people took certain drugs.”

Milkman’s doctoral dissertation concluded that people would choose either heroin or amphetamines depending on how they liked to deal with stress. Heroin users wanted to numb themselves; amphetamine users wanted to actively confront it. After this work was published, he was among a group of researchers drafted by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse to answer questions such as: why do people start using drugs? Why do they continue? When do they reach a threshold to abuse? When do they stop? And when do they relapse?

“Any college kid could say: why do they start? Well, there’s availability, they’re risk-takers, alienation, maybe some depression,” he says. “But why do they continue? So I got to the question about the threshold for abuse and the lights went on – that’s when I had my version of the “aha” experience: they could be on the threshold for abuse before they even took the drug, because it was their style of coping that they were abusing.”

At Metropolitan State College of Denver, Milkman was instrumental in developing the idea that people were getting addicted to changes in brain chemistry. Kids who were “active confronters” were after a rush – they’d get it by stealing hubcaps and radios and later cars, or through stimulant drugs. Alcohol also alters brain chemistry, of course. It’s a sedative but it sedates the brain’s control first, which can remove inhibitions and, in limited doses, reduce anxiety.

“People can get addicted to drink, cars, money, sex, calories, cocaine – whatever,” says Milkman. “The idea of behavioural addiction became our trademark.”

This idea spawned another: “Why not orchestrate a social movement around natural highs: around people getting high on their own brain chemistry – because it seems obvious to me that people want to change their consciousness – without the deleterious effects of drugs?”

By 1992, his team in Denver had won a $1.2m government grant to form Project Self-Discovery, which offered teenagers natural-high alternatives to drugs and crime. They got referrals from teachers, school nurses and counsellors, taking in kids from the age of 14 who didn’t see themselves as needing treatment but who had problems with drugs or petty crime.

“We didn’t say to them, you’re coming in for treatment. We said, we’ll teach you anything you want to learn: music, dance, hip hop, art, martial arts.” The idea was that these different classes could provide a variety of alterations in the kids’ brain chemistry, and give them what they needed to cope better with life: some might crave an experience that could help reduce anxiety, others may be after a rush.

At the same time, the recruits got life-skills training, which focused on improving their thoughts about themselves and their lives, and the way they interacted with other people. “The main principle was that drug education doesn’t work because nobody pays attention to it. What is needed are the life skills to act on that information,” Milkman says. Kids were told it was a three-month programme. Some stayed five years.

It’s less common to see children out on the streets in Iceland, as many are in after-school programs and participating in recreational activities

In 1991, Milkman was invited to Iceland to talk about this work, his findings and ideas. He became a consultant to the first residential drug treatment centre for adolescents in

Iceland, in a town called Tindar. “It was designed around the idea of giving kids better things to do,” he explains. It was here that he met Gudberg, who was then a psychology undergraduate and a volunteer at Tindar. They have been close friends ever since.

Milkman started coming regularly to Iceland and giving talks. These talks, and Tindar, attracted the attention of a young researcher at the University of Iceland, called Inga Dóra Sigfúsdóttir. She wondered: what if you could use healthy alternatives to drugs and alcohol as part of a programme not to treat kids with problems, but to stop kids drinking or taking drugs in the first place?

Have you ever tried alcohol? If so, when did you last have a drink? Have you ever been drunk? Have you tried cigarettes? If so, how often do you smoke? How much time to you spend with your parents? Do you have a close relationship with your parents? What kind of activities do you take part in?

In 1992, 14-, 15- and 16-year-olds in every school in Iceland filled in a questionnaire with these kinds of questions. This process was then repeated in 1995 and 1997.

The results of these surveys were alarming. Nationally, almost 25 per cent were smoking every day, over 40 per cent had got drunk in the past month. But when the team drilled right down into the data, they could identify precisely which schools had the worst problems – and which had the least. Their analysis revealed clear differences between the lives of kids who took up drinking, smoking and other drugs, and those who didn’t. A few factors emerged as strongly protective: participation in organised activities – especially sport – three or four times a week, total time spent with parents during the week, feeling cared about at school, and not being outdoors in the late evenings.

“At that time, there had been all kinds of substance prevention efforts and programmes,” says Inga Dóra, who was a research assistant on the surveys. “Mostly they were built on education.” Kids were being warned about the dangers of drink and drugs, but, as Milkman had observed in the US, these programmes were not working. “We wanted to come up with a different approach.”

The mayor of Reykjavik, too, was interested in trying something new, and many parents felt the same, adds Jón Sigfússon, Inga Dóra’s colleague and brother. Jón had young daughters at the time and joined her new Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis when it was set up in 1999. “The situation was bad,” he says. “It was obvious something had to be done.”

Using the survey data and insights from research including Milkman’s, a new national plan was gradually introduced. It was called Youth in Iceland.

Laws were changed. It became illegal to buy tobacco under the age of 18 and alcohol under the age of 20, and tobacco and alcohol advertising was banned. Links between parents and school were strengthened through parental organisations which by law had to be established in every school, along with school councils with parent representatives. Parents were encouraged to attend talks on the importance of spending a quantity of time with their children rather than occasional “quality time”, on talking to their kids about their lives, on knowing who their kids were friends with, and on keeping their children home in the evenings.

A law was also passed prohibiting children aged between 13 and 16 from being outside after 10pm in winter and midnight in summer. It’s still in effect today.

Home and School, the national umbrella body for parental organisations, introduced agreements for parents to sign. The content varies depending on the age group, and individual organisations can decide what they want to include. For kids aged 13 and up, parents can pledge to follow all the recommendations, and also, for example, not to allow their kids to have unsupervised parties, not to buy alcohol for minors, and to keep an eye on the wellbeing of other children.

These agreements educate parents but also help to strengthen their authority in the home, argues Hrefna Sigurjónsdóttir, director of Home and School. “Then it becomes harder to use the oldest excuse in the book: ‘But everybody else can!’”

State funding was increased for organised sport, music, art, dance and other clubs, to give kids alternative ways to feel part of a group, and to feel good, rather than through using alcohol and drugs, and kids from low-income families received help to take part. In Reykjavik, for instance, where more than a third of the country’s population lives, a Leisure Card gives families 35,000 krona (£250) per year per child to pay for recreational activities.

Children between the ages of 13 and 16 are prohibited from being outside after 10pm

Crucially, the surveys have continued. Each year, almost every child in Iceland completes one. This means up-to-date, reliable data is always available.

Between 1997 and 2012, the percentage of kids aged 15 and 16 who reported often or almost always spending time with their parents on weekdays doubled – from 23 per cent to 46 per cent – and the percentage who participated in organised sports at least four times a week increased from 24 per cent to 42 per cent. Meanwhile, cigarette smoking, drinking and cannabis use in this age group plummeted.

“Although this cannot be shown in the form of a causal relationship – which is a good example of why primary prevention methods are sometimes hard to sell to scientists – the trend is very clear,” notes Álfgeir Kristjánsson, who worked on the data and is now at the West Virginia University School of Public Health in the US. “Protective factors have gone up, risk factors down, and substance use has gone down – and more consistently in Iceland than in any other European country.”

Jón Sigfússon apologies for being just a couple of minutes late. “I was on a crisis call!” He prefers not to say precisely to where, but it was to one of the cities elsewhere in the world that has now adopted, in part, the Youth in Iceland ideas.

Youth in Europe, which Jón heads, began in 2006 after the already-remarkable Icelandic data was presented at a European Cities Against Drugs meeting and, he recalls, “People asked: what are you doing?”

Participation in Youth in Europe is at a municipal level rather than being led by national governments. In the first year, there were eight municipalities. To date, 35 have taken part, across 17 countries, varying from some areas where just a few schools take part to Tarragona in Spain, where 4,200 15-year-olds are involved. The method is always the same: Jón and his team talk to local officials and devise a questionnaire with the same core questions as those used in Iceland plus any locally tailored extras. For example, online gambling has recently emerged as a big problem in a few areas, and local officials want to know if it’s linked to other risky behaviour.

Just two months after the questionnaires are returned to Iceland, the team sends back an initial report with the results, plus information on how they compare with other participating regions. “We always say that, like vegetables, information has to be fresh,” says Jón. “If you bring these findings a year later, people would say, Oh, this was a long time ago and maybe things have changed…” As well as fresh, it has to be local so that schools, parents and officials can see exactly what problems exist in which areas.

The team has analysed 99,000 questionnaires from places as far afield as the Faroe Islands, Malta and Romania – as well as South Korea and, very recently, Nairobi and Guinea-Bissau. Broadly, the results show that when it comes to teen substance use, the same protective and risk factors identified in Iceland apply everywhere. There are some differences: in one location (in a country “on the Baltic Sea”), participation in organised sport actually emerged as a risk factor. Further investigation revealed that this was because young ex-military men who were keen on muscle-building drugs, drinking and smoking were running the clubs. Here, then, was a well-defined, immediate, local problem that could be addressed.

While Jón and his team offer advice and information on what has been found to work in Iceland, it’s up to individual communities to decide what to do in the light of their results. Occasionally, they do nothing. One predominantly Muslim country, which he prefers not to identify, rejected the data because it revealed an unpalatable level of alcohol consumption. In other cities – such as the origin of Jón’s “crisis call” – there is an openness to the data and there is money, but he has observed that it can be much more difficult to secure and maintain funding for health prevention strategies than for treatments.

No other country has made changes on the scale seen in Iceland. When asked if anyone has copied the laws to keep children indoors in the evening, Jón smiles. “Even Sweden laughs and calls it the child curfew!”

Across Europe, rates of teen alcohol and drug use have generally improved over the past 20 years, though nowhere as dramatically as in Iceland, and the reasons for improvements are not necessarily linked to strategies that foster teen wellbeing. In the UK, for example, the fact that teens are now spending more time at home interacting online rather than in person could be one of the major reasons for the drop in alcohol consumption.

But Kaunas, in Lithuania, is one example of what can happen through active intervention. Since 2006, the city has administered the questionnaires five times, and schools, parents, healthcare organisations, churches, the police and social services have come together to try to improve kids’ wellbeing and curb substance use. For instance, parents get eight or nine free parenting sessions each year, and a new programme provides extra funding for public institutions and NGOs working in mental health promotion and stress management. In 2015, the city started offering free sports activities on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and there are plans to introduce a free ride service for low-income families, to help kids who don’t live close to the facilities to attend.

Between 2006 and 2014, the number of 15- and 16-year-olds in Kaunas who reported getting drunk in the past 30 days fell by about a quarter, and daily smoking fell by more than 30 per cent.

At the moment, participation in Youth in Europe is a haphazard affair, and the team in Iceland is small. Jón would like to see a centralised body with its own dedicated funding to focus on the expansion of Youth in Europe. “Even though we have been doing this for

ten years, it is not our full, main job. We would like somebody to copy this and maintain it all over Europe,” he says. “And why only Europe?”

After our walk through Laugardalur Park, Gudberg Jónsson invites us back to his home. Outside, in the garden, his two elder sons, Jón Konrád, who’s 21, and Birgir Ísar, who’s 15, talk to me about drinking and smoking. Jón does drink alcohol, but Birgir says he doesn’t know anyone at his school who smokes or drinks. We also talk about football training: Birgir trains five or six times a week; Jón, who is in his first year of a business degree at the University of Iceland, trains five times a week. They both started regular after-school training when they were six years old.

“We have all these instruments at home,” their father told me earlier. “We tried to get them into music. We used to have a horse. My wife is really into horse riding. But it didn’t happen. In the end, soccer was their selection.”

Did it ever feel like too much? Was there pressure to train when they’d rather have been doing something else? “No, we just had fun playing football,” says Birgir. Jón adds, “We tried it and got used to it, and so we kept on doing it.”

It’s not all they do. While Gudberg and his wife Thórunn don’t consciously plan for a certain number of hours each week with their three sons, they do try to take them regularly to the movies, the theatre, restaurants, hiking, fishing and, when Iceland’s sheep are brought down from the highlands each September, even on family sheep-herding outings.

Jón and Birgir may be exceptionally keen on football, and talented (Jón has been offered a soccer scholarship to the Metropolitan State University of Denver, and a few weeks after we meet, Birgir is selected to play for the under-17 national team). But could the significant rise in the percentage of kids who take part in organised sport four or more times a week be bringing benefits beyond raising healthier children?

Could it, for instance, have anything to do with Iceland’s crushing defeat of England in the Euro 2016 football championship? When asked, Inga Dóra Sigfúsdóttir, who was voted Woman of the Year in Iceland in 2016, smiles: “There is also the success in music, like Of Monsters and Men [an indie folk-pop group from Reykjavik]. These are young people who have been pushed into organised work. Some people have thanked me,” she says, with a wink.

Elsewhere, cities that have joined Youth in Europe are reporting other benefits. In Bucharest, for example, the rate of teen suicides is dropping alongside use of drink and drugs. In Kaunas, the number of children committing crimes dropped by a third between 2014 and 2015.

As Inga Dóra says: “We learned through the studies that we need to create circumstances in which kids can lead healthy lives, and they do not need to use substances, because life is fun, and they have plenty to do – and they are supported by parents who will spend time with them.”

When it comes down to it, the messages – if not necessarily the methods – are straightforward. And when he looks at the results, Harvey Milkman thinks of his own country, the US. Could the Youth in Iceland model work there, too?

Three hundred and twenty-five million people versus 330,000. Thirty-three thousand gangs versus virtually none. Around 1.3 million homeless young people versus a handful.

Iceland’s government has made a long-term commitment to supporting the national project

Clearly, the US has challenges that Iceland does not. But the data from other parts of Europe, including cities such as Bucharest with major social problems and relative poverty, shows that the Icelandic model can work in very different cultures, Milkman argues. And the need in the US is high: underage drinking accounts for about 11 per cent of all alcohol consumed nationwide, and excessive drinking causes more than 4,300 deaths among under-21 year olds every year.

A national programme along the lines of Youth in Iceland is unlikely to be introduced in the US, however. One major obstacle is that while in Iceland there is long-term commitment to the national project, community health programmes in the US are usually funded by short-term grants.

Milkman has learned the hard way that even widely applauded, gold-standard youth programmes aren’t always expanded, or even sustained. “With Project Self-Discovery, it seemed like we had the best programme in the world,” he says. “I was invited to the White House twice. It won national awards. I was thinking: this will be replicated in every town and village. But it wasn’t.”

He thinks that is because you can’t prescribe a generic model to every community because they don’t all have the same resources. Any move towards giving kids in the US the opportunities to participate in the kinds of activities now common in Iceland, and so helping them to stay away from alcohol and other drugs, will depend on building on what already exists. “You have to rely on the resources of the community,” he says.

His colleague Álfgeir Kristjánsson is introducing the Icelandic ideas to the state of West Virginia. Surveys are being given to kids at several middle and high schools in the state, and a community coordinator will help get the results out to parents and anyone else who could use them to help local kids. But it might be difficult to achieve the kinds of results seen in Iceland, he concedes.

Short-termism also impedes effective prevention strategies in the UK, says Michael O’Toole, CEO of Mentor, a charity that works to reduce alcohol and drug misuse in children and young people. Here, too, there is no national coordinated alcohol and drug prevention programme. It’s generally left to local authorities or to schools, which can often mean kids are simply given information about the dangers of drugs and alcohol – a strategy that, he agrees, evidence shows does not work.

O’Toole fully endorses the Icelandic focus on parents, school and the community all coming together to help support kids, and on parents or carers being engaged in young people’s lives. Improving support for kids could help in so many ways, he stresses. Even when it comes just to alcohol and smoking, there is plenty of data to show that the older a child is when they have their first drink or cigarette, the healthier they will be over the course of their life.

But not all the strategies would be acceptable in the UK – the child curfews being one, parental walks around neighbourhoods to identify children breaking the rules perhaps another. And a trial run by Mentor in Brighton that involved inviting parents into schools for workshops found that it was difficult to get them engaged.

Public wariness and an unwillingness to engage will be challenges wherever the Icelandic methods are proposed, thinks Milkman, and go to the heart of the balance of responsibility between states and citizens. “How much control do you want the government to have over what happens with your kids? Is this too much of the government meddling in how people live their lives?”

In Iceland, the relationship between people and the state has allowed an effective national programme to cut the rates of teenagers smoking and drinking to excess – and, in the process, brought families closer and helped kids to become healthier in all kinds of ways. Will no other country decide that these benefits are worth the costs?

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/iceland-knows-how-to-stop-teen-substance-abuse-but-the-rest-of-the-world-isn-t-listening-a7526316.html  

FRAMINHAM, Mass. – A Framingham middle school student was hospitalized Monday after he and another student ate a marijuana edible on the school bus, according to a letter released by Fuller Middle School.   School officials are trying to find out who brought the edibles on the bus and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Stacy Velasquez says her 12-year-old son was riding the bus to school Monday morning when he found a container of gummy bears that got him very sick.   He called her crying.

“He said, ‘I ate something.’ I said, ‘what did you eat?’ He said candy. Where did you get it? He said he found it on the bus,” Velasquez explained.   When she arrived at Fuller Middle School, she says he was in a trance-like state, barely able to speak. She rushed him to the emergency room, snapping a video of his behavior.

“Once the tox screen came back, they said they’d never seen this before in a child so small, like an overdose so to speak of marijuana, but basically it would run its course and he would sleep it off.  And that’s what he did last night,” said Velasquez.

The district superintendent says they have no comment in regards to what happened, just that the police are now investigating.   Though marijuana is now legal in the state of Massachusetts, it’s not legal for anyone under the age of 21 to handle or ingest the drug.

“I would just like someone to make sure the school is doing their part and the bus drivers are doing their part to make sure the children get to and from school safely and that something like this doesn’t happen to someone else’s child,” Velasquez said. “I think the teenager involved [should be charged], because right now, it’s expected to be one of the high schoolers.”

Velasquez said her son is doing fine, he’s just embarrassed about what happened.   As for possible charges, police are looking through video taken on the bus to see who the edibles link back to.

Source:  http://www.fox25boston.com/news/framingham-middle-schooler-hospitalized-after-eating-marijuana-edible-on-school-bus/483211673?utm_source=January 11th 2017

As well as targeting children with ‘marijuana edibles’ children’s books are now being used as ‘a tool in (his) campaign for legalisation’.  Cannabis is addictive and the younger a person is when they begin to use the more likely they are to have problems later.

The author of ‘Hairy Pothead’ and ‘Green Buds and Hash’ explains why children’s books are the perfect way to make weed approachable.

When marijuana activist Dana Larsen first started writing his pot-themed fan fiction, he just thought it would be fun for other cannabis users to read. But after years of selling thousands of copies of his parody children’s stories like Green Buds and Hash and Hairy Pothead and the Marijuana Stone, Larsen realized they could be more: a tool in his campaign for legalization.

In Canada, where Larsen lives, a nationwide legalization policy probably isn’t far off. Possessing and selling weed is still illegal across the country, but this spring, the Canadian government will propose new laws that could make it the first major country to legalize marijuana across the board. Marijuana activists hope that this shift in regulation up north will trickle down to the United States—and eventually the rest of the world—in a major victory against the war on drugs.

That’s where Larsen believes his books come in. And he’s not the only one: An emerging collection of books—from It’s Just a Plant to If a Peacock Finds a Pot Leaf—are looking to make marijuana part of children’s literature. We talked to Larsen about how he believes his children’s book parodies can open up new dialogues about cannabis and can help usher in a new era of legalized, normalized weed.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

VICE: So how did this all start?

Dana Larsen: Well, I wrote the Hairy Pothead book quite a few years ago. It came out in 2008, and it’s been re-published a couple of times since then. I read the Harry Potter books to my daughter and thought they were quite good. When I was reading them, I could just see this whole parallel world of it all being cannabis related. I just wrote it all down, and people liked it. I’ve got a sequel to that coming out, but it’s taking a bit. I’m hoping to put out  Hairy Pothead and the 420 Code next year sometime. I wrote the Green Buds and Hash poem quite a few years ago, and I just posted it online. It picked up a lot of traction, and I thought, Well, this should be a book.

Are these books meant to be for children?

I didn’t really write them for kids. I write them because they amuse me, and I enjoy them. What actually struck me—especially with the Green Buds and Hash book—is how many parents do read it to their kids, and often it’s because either the parent or the child is a medical-marijuana user. It’s a way for them to have this dialogue in a non-judgmental way with their kid. There are plenty of children who I know that who have epilepsy and use cannabis medicinally or their parents do, and I’ve had some kids send me drawings of characters from the book that say, “My daddy’s medicine,” or something. That’s not what I expected when I wrote it. I don’t really write these for kids,

but I don’t see any harm in anybody of any age reading a story or thinking about these ideas. I don’t think that an eight-year-old is going to read this book and start lighting up a joint or whatever.

Are you hoping your market shifts toward more children in the future?

I have had many parents tell me they read my books to their kids, or that they’re buying them for their kids to read. But usually those kids are teenagers or older, and not children. If I had written Green Buds and Hash for children, I wouldn’t have had lines like, “Do you suffer from sclerosis, epilepsy, or neurosis?” I doubt many pre-teens know what those words mean. However, that book does get read to some young children, and it does please me to know that some parents are using my books—and that one especially—as a way of talking to their kids and teaching them about marijuana medicine. Especially when parent or child is a medical cannabis user themselves.

I don’t think reading Hairy Pothead will make someone start smoking pot, any more than reading Harry Potter will make them start practicing witchcraft. Right now, I have four books, and I do see an age progression in them. Green Buds and Hash is the early reader; The Pie Eyed Piper is for elementary school age. Hairy Pothead and the Marijuana Stone is for teens, and the Cannabis in Canada history book is for young adults and up.

If children are reading these books, how does that help normalize weed?

Much of the information that we get about cannabis is government and corporate propaganda against it. Cannabis and cannabis users are regularly demonized and mocked in the mainstream media. Even pro-cannabis media often portray cannabis users as dopey, lazy, and ignorant. In my stories, cannabis users are usually a little smarter than non-users—like they’re part of a secret group that has extra insight and wisdom. My stories portray cannabis as a magical substance with many uses and transformative powers, which I think is a valid assessment. Although the stories are fantastical, the cannabis information is accurate, and the stories can be educational.

The first Hairy Pothead book is 242 pages long—that’s close to the same length as the original. How long did that take you to do?

It took me about a year to write it. The sequel has been taking me a while because it should be about double the length. I’m also working on a new series coming out next year called, The Hash-tastic Voyages of Sinbad the Strain Hunter. He goes around finding giant cannabis plants that are hundreds of feet tall or finding little, tiny microscopic ones or other crazy adventures that sort of parallel all those stories from The Arabian Nights. I’ve got Jack and the Hemp Stalk and Little Green Riding Hood. I’m hoping to put out some of those stories next year as well.

Are you smoking pot every time you sit down to write?

Yeah. I smoke pot all day, every day, pretty much. I’m a very chronic cannabis user and have been for the past 20 years or so. I run dispensaries in Vancouver and do a lot of political activism work, so writing is not really my main focus. Most of my work is more like, I led a big referendum campaign in 2013 to collect signatures to try to force a vote here. We didn’t hit the signature target because it’s brutally hard in British Columbia compared to any American state. I work with the New Democratic Party; I do a lot of political stuff, and I’m a big part of the dispensary movement here in Canada.

What are your goals for legalization, and how do you see it playing out?

I think that legalizing cannabis is going to be the first step in a bigger shift to ending the whole global war on drugs. I think it’s going to take many years for all of this to play out, but to me, the war on drugs is really a war on the world’s best, most medicinal and culturally relevant plants—opium, poppy, coco, mushrooms, peyote, cactus, cannabis flowers, etc. These are things that are safest and most beneficial in their natural forms, and it’s really prohibition that makes them dangerous. My work has been focused on cannabis because although users of other drugs might have it worse in some ways, most of the policing, most of the enforcement, most of the money in the war on drugs goes against cannabis users because there’s more of us. I think that comes out in my fiction a lot, where a lot of my fairy tales end up in a transformative kind of way where everything changes because the metaphor of prohibition in that story is eliminated in some way.

It’s really a testament that Canada [could be] the first major country [to legalize marijuana nationally]. People will look to Canada and see what we do here, and it will definitely have an influence around the world with what other models come out there. Canada will hopefully be an example, and we’ll keep pushing here. Once it starts to happen, it’s going to happen everywhere.

Do you think educational tools like your books will help transform the overall perspective on pot over time?

Yeah. These things can be dangerous and risky, but they can also be wonderful and positive. I think a thing to compare that to, in a way, is sex. You want to be honest with your kids about sex and want them to understand how it works. We have sex-education classes in school. You might tell your children that abstinence is better, and you’d prefer them to be abstinent, but if you’re going to have sex, it’s better in a loving relationship, and it’s better if you use condoms or birth control. I don’t see any dichotomy or contradiction between those things, between encouraging abstinence and also saying, “If you’re going to do it, here’s a way to not kill yourself and to be safer.” With cannabis and drug use, that message can be there, too. You might not want your kid taking anything, but if you’re going to use something, cannabis is a lot safer than other substances.

I hope that my books and stories help normalize cannabis, because cannabis is normal. Especially in the Hairy Pothead book, as Hairy goes through his time at Hempwards School of Herbcraft and Weedery, you learn along with him. You learn a lot about hemp and cannabis and extracts and all the different classes. I sneak in a lot of learning and information in there. If people learn a little bit while they’re laughing and enjoying my stories, that is exactly what I want.

Source:  https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/childrens-books-are-the-new-frontier-in-weed-normalization

Earlier this week, the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP), released a study that claims a 24 percent decline in marijuana-related problems among teenagers, such as becoming dependent on the drug or having trouble in school and in relationships. The researchers also claim there is an association between drops in problems related to cannabis and reductions in behavioural issues, such as fighting, property crimes and selling drugs. Pro-marijuana bloggers have picked this up as “proof” that legalization is not harmful to kids, but an editorial in the very same journal says that “no such inference is warranted.”

At first blush this study seems encouraging, however, there are several facts that are not consistent with media headlines and interpretations:

* The study examines data from 2002 to 2013, and thus does not examine any time period with retail marijuana legalization even though researchers state that they did look at legalization policies. Legalization was not in place until late 2012 in two states only, and retail sales started in 2014. Also, data show that marijuana use declined from 2002 to 2009, but increased after.

* The findings of this study contradict data from the US Department of Health and Human Services, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, and the US Monitoring the Future Study which all show an increase in kids using marijuana and needing treatment.

* The article lumps together all states and does not differentiate between those with less restrictive “medical” marijuana policies and those with stricter controls. * Finally, as Hopfer discusses in his editorial, it is possible “a decrease in conduct problems accounted for the decrease in the development of marijuana use disorders. Although this is not proof of a causal effect, one potential inference is that as marijuana use becomes more acceptable, more individuals without conduct or adult antisocial problems will use marijuana and that the risk of developing a use disorder is lower in individuals without comorbid conduct or adult antisocial problems.”

The legalization lobby will try and tout this research as proving that legalization works. In reality, legalization is ushering in the advent of marijuana candies and other kid-friendly items by big business. Colorado is the top state in the nation for youth marijuana use. Problems related to marijuana in Colorado and Washington are mounting, as evidenced here, with an out-of-control marijuana industry focused on hooking kids and retaining lifelong customers. The World Health Organization report on marijuana found several negative effects for teens, including “several components of cognitive function, with the most robust effects on short term episodic and working memory, planning and decision-making, response speed, accuracy and latency.” The report also detailed studies that found “heavy cannabis use over several decades produced substantial declines in cognitive performance that may not be wholly reversible… (and) an association between poorer verbal memory and sustained daily use of cannabis throughout adult life.”

Source:  https://learnaboutsam.org/despite-study-marijuana-still-linked-problems-among-teenagers/

National statistics show 2,367 users aged 18 to 24 sought treatment in 2015-16 as drug becomes increasingly unfashionable.   A total of 149,807 opiate addicts came for treatment in England during 2015-16, down 12% on a peak of 170,032 in 2009-10.

The number of 18 to 24-year-olds in England entering treatment for addiction to heroin has plummeted 79% in 10 years, as the stigma surrounding the drug and changing tastes in intoxication have made it increasingly unfashionable.

In the year to March, 2,367 people from that age group presented with heroin and opiate addiction at the approximately 900 drug treatment services in England, compared with 11,351 10 years earlier, according to statistics from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS).

They constituted a tiny fraction of the 149,807 opiate addicts who came for help to kick their habit throughout the year, a number that is itself 12% down on a peak of 170,032 who came for treatment in 2009-10. The median age of those users was 39, the statistics showed.  Michael Linnell, the coordinator of UK DrugWatch, a network of drug treatment professionals, said many of the heroin users currently accessing treatment would have become addicted during a boom in the drug’s popularity in the late 1980s. Young addicts were “as rare as hen’s teeth”, he said.

Our neglect of ageing heroin users has fuelled the rise of drug-related deaths

“For the Thatcher generation who didn’t see a future and there were no jobs or employment and the rest of it, it was an alternative lifestyle in that you were really, really busy being a heroin user: getting up, scoring, nicking stuff to get the money to score and the rest of it,” Linnell said.

“There was a whole series of factors until you got to that point where people from those communities – the poorest communities – where you were likely to get heroin users, could see the visible stigma of the scarecrow effect, as some people called it.

“They didn’t want to aspire to be a heroin user because a heroin user just had negative connotations, rather than someone who was rebelling against something.”

Overall, 288,843 adults aged 18 to 99 came into contact with structured treatment for drug addiction during 2015-16, 52% of whom were addicted to heroin or some other opiate. Among opiate addicts, 41% were also addicted to crack cocaine, with the next highest adjunctive drugs being alcohol (21%) and cannabis (19%).

About half of those presenting to treatment – 144,908 – had problems with alcohol, a fall of 4% compared with the previous year. Among those, 85,035 were treated for alcohol treatment only and 59,873 for alcohol problems alongside other substances.

The most problematic drug among the 13,231 under-25s who came into contact with drug treatment services in the past year was cannabis, which was cited as a problem by 54%, followed by alcohol (44%) and cocaine (24%).

The numbers from this age group accessing treatment had fallen 37% in 10 years, which the Public Health England report accompanying the statistics said reflected shifts in the patterns of drinking and drug use over that time, with far fewer young people experimenting with drugs than in the past.  Karen Tyrell, the spokeswoman for the drug treatment charity Addaction, said the decline in problem drug use among young people reflected what drugs workers see on a daily basis, and credited evidence-based education, prevention and early intervention programmes for the change.

The shift, though, was precarious, Tyrell said, warning that yearly spending cuts to treatment services risked reversing the gains.

She added: “Of course, what this also means is that we have an ageing population of heroin users, many of whom have been using since the 80s or 90s, and who are now dealing with poor physical health and increasing vulnerability. In an environment of ever rising drug-related deaths, it’s imperative we don’t lose sight of their needs.”

Source:  https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/nov/03/

NIH Monitoring the Future survey shows use of most illicit substances down, but past year marijuana use relatively stable

December 13, 2016

The 2016 Monitoring the Future (MTF) annual survey results released today from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reflect changing teen behaviors and choices in a social media-infused world. The results show a continued long-term decline in the use of many illicit substances, including marijuana, as well as alcohol, tobacco, and misuse of some prescription medications, among the nation’s teens. The MTF survey measures drug use and attitudes among eighth, 10th, and 12th graders, and is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the NIH.

Findings from the survey indicate that past year use of any illicit drug was the lowest in the survey’s history for eighth graders, while past year use of illicit drugs other than marijuana is down from recent peaks in all three grades.

Marijuana use in the past month among eighth graders dropped significantly in 2016 to 5.4 percent, from 6.5 percent in 2015. Daily use among eighth graders dropped in 2016 to 0.7 percent from 1.1 percent in 2015. However, among high school seniors, 22.5 percent report past month marijuana use and 6 percent report daily use; both measures remained relatively stable from last year. Similarly, rates of marijuana use in the past year among 10th graders also remained stable compared to 2015, but are at their lowest levels in over two decades.

The survey also shows that there continues to be a higher rate of marijuana use among 12th graders in states with medical marijuana laws, compared to states without them. For example, in 2016, 38.3 percent of high school seniors in states with medical marijuana laws reported past year marijuana use, compared to 33.3 percent in non-medical marijuana states, reflecting previous research that has suggested that these differences precede enactment of medical marijuana laws.

Further, some 40.2 percent of seniors in so-called medical marijuana (MMJ) states are using edibles—foods infused with marijuana concentrates—compared to 28.1 percent of seniors in states that have not medicalized pot. High school seniors are in the healthiest part of the life span. One wonders why so many young people need so much “medicine.”

The survey indicates that marijuana and e-cigarettes are more popular than regular tobacco cigarettes. The past month rates among 12th graders are 12.4 percent for e-cigarettes and 10.5 percent for cigarettes. A large drop in the use of tobacco cigarettes was seen in all three grades, with a long-term decline from their peak use more than two decades ago. For example, in 1991, when MTF first measured cigarette smoking, 10.7 percent of high school seniors smoked a half pack or more a day. Twenty-five years later, that rate has dropped to only 1.8 percent, reflecting the success of widespread public health anti-smoking campaigns and policy changes.

There has been a similar decline in the use of alcohol, with the rate of teens reporting they have “been drunk” in the past year at the survey’s lowest rates ever. For example, 37.3 percent of 12th graders reported they have been drunk at least once, down from a peak of 53.2 percent in 2001.

Although non-medical use of prescription opioids remains a serious issue in the adult population, teen use of prescription opioid pain relievers is trending downwards among 12th graders with a 45 percent drop in past year use compared to five years ago. For example, only 2.9 percent of high school seniors reported past year misuse of the pain reliever Vicodin in 2016, compared to nearly 10 percent a decade ago.

“Clearly our public health prevention efforts, as well as policy changes to reduce availability, are working to reduce teen drug use, especially among eighth graders,” said Nora D. Volkow, M.D., director of NIDA. “However, when 6 percent of high school seniors are using marijuana daily, and new synthetics are continually flooding the illegal marketplace, we cannot be complacent. We also need to learn more about how teens interact with each other in this social media era, and how those behaviors affect substance use rates.”

“It is encouraging to see more young people making healthy choices not to use illicit substances,” said National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli. “We must continue to do all we can to support young people through evidence-based prevention efforts as well as treatment for those who may develop substance use disorders. And now that Congress has acted on the President’s request to provide $1 billion in new funding for prevention and treatment, we will have significant new resources to do this.”

The MTF survey, the only large-scale federal youth survey on substance use that releases findings the same year the data is collected, has been conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor since 1975.

Other highlights from the 2016 survey:

Illegal and Illicit Drugs

* Illicit Drugs other than Marijuana: Past year rates are the lowest in the history of the survey in all three grades. For example, 14.3 percent of 12th graders say they used an illicit drug (other than marijuana) compared to its recent peak of 17.8 percent in 2013.

* Marijuana-Past year use: Past year marijuana use among eighth graders dropped significantly to 9.4 percent in 2016, from 11.8 percent last year. Past year rates were somewhat stable for sophomores at 23.9 percent, and for seniors at 35.6 percent when compared to last year. However, past year marijuana use has dropped in the last five years among eighth and 10th graders.

* Marijuana-Daily use: Daily rates among 10th and 12th graders remained relatively stable at 2.5 percent and 6 percent for the past few years.

* Marijuana Edibles: Teens who live in states where medical marijuana is legal report a higher use of marijuana edibles. For example, among 12th graders reporting marijuana use in the past year, 40.2 percent consumed marijuana in food in states with medical marijuana laws compared to 28.1 percent in states without such laws.

* Synthetic Cannabinoids: Past year “synthetic marijuana” (K2/Spice) use among 10th and 12th graders dropped significantly from last year. For example, the rate for seniors fell to 3.5 percent compared to 5.2 percent in 2015, with a dramatic drop from its peak of 11.4 percent the first year it was measured in 2011.

* Cocaine: Past year cocaine use was down among 10th graders to 1.3 percent from 1.8 percent last year. Cocaine use hit its peak in this measure at 4.9 percent in 1999.

* Inhalants: Inhalant use, usually the only category of drugs used more by younger teens than their older counterparts, was down significantly among eighth graders compared to last year, with past year use at 3.8 percent, compared to 4.6 percent in 2015. Past year inhalant use peaked among eighth graders in 1995 at 12.8 percent.

* MDMA (Ecstasy or “Molly”): Past year use is down among eighth graders to 1 percent, from last year’s 1.4 percent. MDMA use is at its lowest point for all three grades in the history of the MTF survey.

* Heroin: Heroin rates remain low with teens still in school. High school seniors report past year use of heroin (with a needle) at 0.3 percent, which remains unchanged from last year. In the history of the survey, heroin (with a needle) rates have never been higher than 0.7 percent among 12th graders, as seen in 2010.

* Cold and Cough Medicine: Eighth graders alone reported an increase in misuse of over-the-counter cough medicine at 2.6 percent, up from 1.6 percent in 2015, but still lower than the peak of 4.2 percent when first measured in 2006.

* Attitudes and Availability: Attitudes towards marijuana use have softened, but perception of harm is not necessarily linked to rates of use. For example, 44 percent of 10th graders perceive regular marijuana smoking as harmful (“great risk”), but only 2.5 percent of them used marijuana daily in 2016. This compares to a decade ago (2006) when 64.9 percent of 10th graders perceived marijuana as harmful and 2.8 percent of them used it daily. The number of eighth graders who say marijuana is easy to get is at its lowest in the history of the survey, at 34.6 percent.

Prescription Drugs

* Opioid Pain relievers (described as “Narcotics other than Heroin” in the survey):  The  past year rate for non-medical use of all opioid pain relievers among 12th graders is at 4.8 percent, down significantly from its peak of 9.5 percent in 2004.

* Vicodin/OxyContin: The past year non-medical use of Vicodin among high school seniors is now lower than misuse of OxyContin (2.9 percent compared to 3.4 percent). The past year data for 12th graders 10 years ago was 9.7 percent for Vicodin and 4.3 percent for OxyContin.

* ADHD Medicines: Past year non-medical use of Adderall is relatively stable at 6.2 percent for 12th graders; however, non-medical use of Ritalin dropped to 1.2 percent, compared to 2 percent last year, and a peak of 5.1 percent in 2004.

* Tranquilizers: Non-medical use of this drug category, which includes benzodiazepines, has seen a general decline. For example, among 12th graders the 2016 past year rate is 4.9 percent, compared to its peak in 2002 at 7.7 percent.

* Attitudes and Availability: The majority of teens continue to say they get most of their opioid pain relievers (for non-medical use) from friends or relatives,

either taken, bought or given. The only prescription drugs seen as easier to get in 2016 than last year are tranquilizers, with 11.4 percent of eighth graders reporting they would be “fairly easy” or “very easy” to get, up from 9.8 percent in 2015. Also, when eighth graders were asked if occasional non-medical use of Adderall is harmful (“great risk”), 35.8 percent said yes, compared to 32 percent last year.

Tobacco

* Daily Smoking: The 2016 daily smoking rates for high school seniors was 4.8 percent compared to 22.2 percent two decades ago (1996). For 10th graders, the 2016 daily smoking rate is 1.9 percent, compared to 18.3 percent in 1996.

* Hookah Use: For past year tobacco use with a hookah, the 2016 rate dropped to 13 percent among high school seniors, from 22.9 percent two years ago, its peak year since the survey began measuring hookah use in 2010.

* E-Cigarettes (Vaporizers): The rate for e-cigarettes among high school seniors dropped to 12.4 percent from last year’s 16.2 percent. Of note: only 24.9 percent of 12th graders report that their e-cigarettes contained nicotine (the addictive ingredient in tobacco) the last time they used, with 62.8 percent claiming they contain “just flavoring.”

* Little Cigars: The 2016 past year rate dropped to 15.6 percent among 12th graders, from a peak of 23.1 percent in 2010, when first included in the survey.

* Attitudes and Availability: This year, more 10th graders disapprove of regular use of e-cigarettes than last year. For example, 65 percent of 10th graders say they disapprove, up from last year’s 59.9 percent. In addition, more 10th graders think it is harder to get regular cigarettes than last year; 62.9 percent said they are easy to get, compared to 66.6 percent last year. This represents a dramatic shift from survey findings two decades ago, when 91.3 percent of 10th graders thought it was easy to get cigarettes.

Alcohol

* Past year use: More than half (55.6 percent) of 12th graders report having used alcohol in the past year, compared to the peak rate of about 75 percent in 1997. Thirty-eight percent of 10th graders and 17.6 percent of eighth graders report past year use, compared to the peaks of 65.3 percent in 2000 among 10th graders and 46.8 percent in 1994 among eighth graders.

* Binge drinking: Among eighth graders, binge drinking (described as five or more drinks in a row in the last two weeks) continues to significantly decline, now

at only 3.4 percent, the lowest rate since the survey began asking about it in 1991, down from a peak of 13.3 percent in 1996. Binge drinking among high school seniors is down to 15.5 percent, half its peak of 31.5 percent in 1998.

* Been drunk: Representing a long-term downward trend, 37.3 percent of 12th graders say they have been drunk in the past year; 20.5 percent of 10th graders say they have been drunk, down from a peak of 41.6 percent in 2000. Eighth graders reported a rate of 5.7 percent, down from a peak of 19.8 percent in 1996.

* Attitudes: Just over 71 percent of 10th graders think it is easy to get alcohol, compared to last year’s rate of 74.9 percent, and down from 90.4 percent two decades ago.

Overall, 45,473 students from 372 public and private schools participated in this year’s MTF survey. Since 1975, the survey has measured drug, alcohol, and cigarette use and related attitudes in 12th graders nationwide. Eighth and 10th graders were added to the survey in 1991. Lloyd D. Johnston, Ph.D., who has been the principal investigator at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research for all 42 years, is retiring from that position this year, but the survey of teens will continue under the leadership of Richard A. Miech, Ph.D., who is currently a member of the MTF scientific team.

“The declining use of many drugs by youth is certainly encouraging and important,” said Dr. Johnston. “But we need to remember that future cohorts of young people entering adolescence also will need to know why using drugs is not a smart choice. Otherwise we risk having another resurgence of use as was seen in the 90s.”

“We want to thank Dr. Johnston for his lifetime of work building this survey into the important public health tool it is today,” added Dr. Volkow.

Source:  National Families in Action’s The Marijuana Report srusche=nationalfamilies.org@mail230.atl101.mcdlv.net  12th Dec.2016

Highlights

* •Motives for cannabis use can predict problematic use and use-related problems.

* •A MET/CBT intervention was associated with significant reductions in motives.

* •Reductions in a subset of motives significantly predicted change in outcomes.

Abstract

Background

Heavy cannabis use has been associated with negative outcomes, particularly among individuals who begin use in adolescence. Motives for cannabis use can predict frequency of use and negative use-related problems. The purpose of the current study was to assess change in motives following a motivational enhancement therapy (MET) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) intervention for adolescent users and assess whether change in motives was associated with change in use and self-reported problems negative consequences.

Methods

Participants (n = 252) were non-treatment seeking high school student cannabis users. All participants received two sessions of MET and had check-ins scheduled at 4, 7, and 10 months. Participants were randomized to either a motivational check-in condition or an assessment-only check-in. Participants in both conditions had the option of attending additional CBT sessions. Cannabis use frequency, negative consequences, and motives were assessed at baseline and at 6, 9, 12, and 15 month follow-ups.

Results

There were significant reductions in motives for use following the intervention and reductions in a subset of motives significantly and uniquely predicted change in problematic outcomes beyond current cannabis use frequency. Change in motives was significantly higher among those who utilized the optional CBT sessions.

Conclusions

This study demonstrates that motives can change over the course of treatment and that this change in motives is associated with reductions in use and problematic outcomes. Targeting specific motives in future interventions may improve treatment outcomes.

Source: http://www.drugandalcoholdependence.com/article   1st October 2016

Highlights

* Childhood sleep problems may be prospectively linked to adolescent substance use.

* Less sleep predicted earlier onset of alcohol and cannabis involvement.

* Worse sleep quality predicted earlier onset of alcohol and cannabis involvement.

* These associations generally held after accounting for various covariates.

* Childhood sleep is a promising target for reducing adolescent substance use risk.

Abstract

Background

Although an association between adolescent sleep and substance use is supported by the literature, few studies have characterized the longitudinal relationship between early adolescent sleep and subsequent substance use. The current study examined the prospective association between the duration and quality of sleep at age 11 and alcohol and cannabis use throughout adolescence.

Methods

The present study, drawn from a cohort of 310 boys taking part in a longitudinal study in Western Pennsylvania, includes 186 boys whose mothers completed the Child Sleep Questionnaire; sleep duration and quality at age 11 were calculated based on these reports. At ages 20 and 22, participants were interviewed regarding lifetime alcohol and cannabis use. Cox proportional hazard analysis was used to determine the association between sleep and substance use.

Results

After accounting for race, socioeconomic status, neighborhood danger, active distraction, internalizing problems, and externalizing problems, both the duration and quality of sleep at age 11 were associated with multiple earlier substance use outcomes. Specifically, less sleep was associated with earlier use, intoxication, and repeated use of both alcohol and cannabis. Lower sleep quality was associated with earlier alcohol use, intoxication, and repeated use. Additionally, lower sleep quality was associated with earlier cannabis intoxication and repeated use, but not first use.

Conclusions

Both sleep duration and sleep quality in early adolescence may have implications for the development of alcohol and cannabis use throughout adolescence. Further studies to understand the mechanisms linking sleep and substance use are warranted.

Source:  http://www.drugandalcoholdependence.com/article/S0376-8716(16)30246-0/pdf 9th August 2016

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Youth :

An intriguing new NIAAA-funded study offers a glimpse at how the adolescent brain responds to the language of therapists. Led by Sarah W. Feldstein Ewing, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Adolescent Behavioral Health Clinic at Oregon Health & Science University, the study assessed 17 young people ages 15–19 who were self-reported binge drinkers. Following a psychosocial assessment, the youths received two sessions of motivational interviewing aimed at reducing drinking. Between sessions, the participants underwent a brain scan using functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI.

During the fMRI, the therapist presented two types of statements: one set of “closed questions” based on standard language used within addiction treatment (e.g., “Do your parents know you were drinking?”); the other set included more effortful “complex reflections” (e.g., “You’re worried about your drinking.”)

The youth were re-evaluated one month after treatment. At the follow-up evaluation, the youth showed significant reductions in number of drinking days and binge drinking days. Furthermore, in the fMRI sessions, the researchers observed greater brain activation for complex reflections versus closed questions within the bilateral anterior cingulate gyrus, a brain region associated with decisionmaking, emotions, reward anticipation, and impulse control.

The scientists also noted that greater blood-oxygen level dependent (BOLD) response in the parietal lobe during closed questions was significantly associated with less post-treatment drinking. BOLD response is a way to measure activity in specific brain areas. Previous research has shown that this region’s secondary function is related to a person’s ability to navigate, plan, and make decisions.

The study team also observed lower brain activation in the precuneus was associated with study participants’ post-treatment ratings of the importance of changing their drinking. The precuneus, a subregion of the parietal lobe located inside the fissure that separates the brain’s hemispheres, is related to self-reflection and introspection and is involved in risk behavior. It is considered to be a hub of the brain’s key resting-state network.

The researchers also noted what they did not find from the brain scans—any link between treatment outcome and activation of the frontal lobes, which are a region tied to complex reasoning. The authors commented that this lack of activation might be

because the frontal lobes of the adolescent brain are still developing, making it difficult for teens to bring their frontal lobes “online.”

The study authors note that their findings have important implications for the treatment of addiction in adolescents and can improve our understanding of youth brain systems and inform how to influence mechanisms of behavior change in this population.

Reference:

Feldstein Ewing, S.W.; Houck, J.M.; Yezhuvath, U.; Shokri-Kojori, E.; Truitt, D.; and Filbey, F.M. The impact of therapists’ words on the adolescent brain: In the context of addiction treatment. Behavioural Brain Research 297:359–369, 2016. PMID: 26455873

Source:  http://www.spectrum.niaaa.nih.gov/news-from-the-field/news-from-the-field-01.html  Volume 8 Issue 3  September 2016.

In Illinois in the USA, randomly allocating towns to enforce laws against youth smoking in public led not just to fewer youth smoking but also fewer drinking or using and being offered illegal drugs – did anti-tobacco policing spill-over to create an environment unfriendly to drinking and illegal drug use?

Summary The featured report drew its data from a study which randomly assigned 24 towns in the US state of in Illinois to either more vigorously enforce laws prohibiting under-age possession and use of tobacco, or to continue with existing low-level enforcement practices, a study which showed the intended effects on youth smoking. The issue addressed by the featured report was whether this spilled over to affect other forms of substance use and availability.

The towns selected for and which (via their officials) agreed to participate in the study were also all engaged in a state-sponsored programme intensifying enforcement of the ban on commercial tobacco sales to youngsters under the age of 18. The difference in the 12 towns allocated to enhanced enforcement was that this was supplemented by intensified enforcement of laws against young people having or using tobacco, in particular by levying civic fines against minors caught using or possessing tobacco in public. By design, at the start of the study all the towns only infrequently enforced these laws, a situation continued in the 12 control towns not allocated to enhanced enforcement.

Assignment had the intended effect; over the four years of the study, the average yearly number of anti-tobacco citations issued to minors was significantly higher (17 v. 6) in towns assigned to enhanced enforcement than in control towns.

Earlier reports on the study also showed the intended impact on youth smoking, which increased at a significantly slower rate for adolescents in towns where enforcement was extended. The researcher-administered, confidential surveys of school pupils which established this also asked about current (past 30 days) and ever use of substances other than tobacco. The key statistics for the study were the total number of different types of drugs the student had recently or ever used, averaged over pupils in the same town to assess the impacts on youth in the town as a whole. Pupils were also asked how many times over the past year someone had tried to give or sell them illegal drugs. These surveys were administered in four succeeding years to students from grade seven (age 12–13) up to grade ten in 2002, 11 in 2003, and 12 in 2004 and 2005, meaning that in each year some of the same pupils but also many new ones were sampled.

Across the four waves of data collection 52,550 pupils were eligible to be surveyed of whom 29,851 (57%) completed at least one survey. From these were selected only the 25,404 pupils (who completed 50,725 surveys) living in the 24 towns in the study.

Main findings

At the start of the study towns in the two sets of 12 did not differ in the number of substances currently or ever used by their pupils. As the different tobacco enforcement policies were implemented, over the succeeding three years the number of different drugs that a pupil currently or had ever used increased significantly less steeply in towns assigned to enhanced tobacco enforcement. There was a similar and also statistically significant result for offers of illicit drugs.

Use of substances other than tobacco was dominated by alcohol, so a further analysis focused on this substance alone. Again, increases in the average proportions of pupils who had recently or ever drank alcohol were significantly less steep in towns assigned to enhanced tobacco enforcement.

Though differences between the two sets of towns were statistically significant they were modest, and in both sets most substances had or were being used by few pupils.

The authors’ conclusions

In this study, towns allocated to heightened enforcement of laws prohibiting youth possession and use of tobacco experienced relatively lower increases in the probability that their young people had or were using a number of different substances or had been exposed to an offer of illicit drugs, providing preliminary evidence that police efforts to reduce specific substance use behaviours might have a positive spill-over effect on other high-risk activities. Given the co-occurrence of different forms of substance use, strategies that strengthen community norms against youth tobacco use might work synergistically to help reduce youth drug use and illicit drug offers.

How did an enforcement effort focused exclusively on tobacco affect use and availability of other substances? There are several possible explanations. Being punished for tobacco-related crimes might deter individual children from possessing and using other drugs, and the knowledge that police in enforcement towns approach youngsters to enforce anti-tobacco laws may deter young people and even adults from selling drugs in these communities. Possibly relevant too is the ‘broken window’ approach to enforcement, supported by studies which have shown that enforcement of laws against lower-level crimes can deter more serious offences. According to this theory, creating an environment where youth cigarette use is not tolerated might create an unfavourable environment for drug use. More directly, greater contact between young people and police enforcing underage tobacco laws might give police more chances to search for and confiscate illegal drugs.

Police believe that publicly smoking cigarettes acts as a signal to drug dealers that a young person might also be in the market for drugs. If so, making youth smoking less visible in a town may also make that town less attractive to dealers. Reduced visibility may also minimise the perception that illegal behaviour is normal and acceptable in that community. The effect could be to reduce sales attempts by make potential young customers less obvious and by making the entire town seem an undesirable dealing location. Alternatively, the findings might reflect reduced offers of alcohol or other drugs from friends rather than drug dealers, because reductions in use of tobacco spread to other substances, especially alcohol.

However, alcohol not illegal drugs might account for the bulk of the findings. Use of tobacco and alcohol tend to go together, so if police crack down on tobacco, they might also discourage drinking.

Source: Journal of Community Psychology: 2010, 38(1), p. 1–15.

Beverages Target Youth

Alcohol Justice reported this week that an updated version of the alcopop Buzzballz is once again targeting youth. Buzzballz, with its bright colors and candy-like flavors packs a punch. The beverage has a 60-proof, or 30 percent alcohol by volume. That’s an additional 10-15 percent more alcohol than the original product that debuted several years ago.

The product is sold in a 750ml container of pre-mixed cocktails and a shot glass attached to the bottle.

The original flavored, colored, spirits-in-a-ball was created by a former high school teacher, who got the idea for a beverage that would be non-breakable and safe while sitting by the pool. According to the creator, Buzzballz is all meant to be fun, and not meant to be a harmful beverage.

Health advocates say the product is anything but harmless, and, in fact, appeals to youth. Flavors include Lemon Squeeze, Chocolate Caramel Cake, Red Hot Cinnamon Shot, Jalapeño Lime and Licorice Bomb.

To learn more about the dangers of alcopops and other flavored alcoholic beverages, see Alcohol Justice’s recent report.

 

Source:  http://www.cadca.org/resources/re-branded-buzzballz  28th Jan.2016

Filed under: Alcohol,USA,Youth :

 

Given that the health of American youth is in question and that so many states base their policies on reports issued by the State of Colorado, it is important to understand what the 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey (HKCS) actually tells us.

The survey’s results are gleaned from voluntarily self-reported information collected every other year from Colorado middle-school and high-school students. It is produced by a partnership of the Colorado Department of Education, Colorado Department of Human Services, the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment and the University of Colorado.



News organizations tracking the impact of marijuana on Colorado since voters sanctioned the drug for medical and recreational use are understandably quick to report the survey’s findings — but they’re unfortunately just as quick to deliver inaccurate and misleading information. Coverage of the 2015 survey results was especially poor. Dozens of news organizations — including The Denver PostFox News, the Washington PostTimeScientific American and Reuters — should correct and clarify their work.

Why? Because for many reasons, the 2015 survey’s data do not support claims that marijuana use among Colorado teenagers has remained flat or has declined. Examination of the survey’s aggregate data, segmented by grade and geographic region, tells a different story than the Marijuana Infographic and some passages of the executive summary distributed by state officials.

New reporting should inform the public about youth marijuana use rates in several Colorado regions — particularly where marijuana is most heavily commercialized.

Here are some important things to know about the 2015 survey:

Because of its methodology and sample size, this survey is a snapshot in time that represents no one other than the Colorado youth who took it. It is inaccurate to present or describe the 2015 survey as a “state survey” or to present its findings as average use rates among Colorado youth. The 2015 survey does not include data from El Paso County (home to the state’s second largest city, Colorado Springs), Jefferson and Douglas counties (home to two of the state’s largest school districts) and Weld County. It is also important to note that Colorado’s private and parochial schools do not participate in this survey and that only students attending school are surveyed. Students with drug problems are less likely to be in school — and, therefore, less likely to be surveyed.

Differences in methodology make it difficult to compare the 2015 survey to previous HKC surveys. The randomly selected sample size dropped from 40,206 in 2013 to 15,970 in 2015. Similarly, the high school response rate dropped from 58 percent in 2013 to 46.5 percent in 2015. Counties participating in the survey also changed from 2013 to 2015. Clearly, something in the survey methods changed from 2013 to 2015, making direct comparisons risky. But if state officials and journalists insist on making these direct comparisons, there are significant increases in youth marijuana use to report from 2013 to 2015 — as detailed below. They should report this information to the public.

Because of differences in methodology, Colorado survey results should not be directly compared to other national studies of adolescent marijuana-use rates, such as the Centers for Disease Control’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). These surveys are different. For example, the YRBS requires a response rate of at least 60 percent. If student responses fall below that mark, the YRBS states the results “represent only the students participating in the survey.” Of note, the HKCS did not reach this threshold for high school students in either 2013 or 2015. Therefore, direct comparisons of the two studies is risky. Such differences in methodology also make it risky to compare the Colorado data and other national studies, such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health and the Monitoring the Future (MTF), a survey from the National Institute on Drug Abuse run by contract through the University of Michigan. Further, the 2015 state report’s comparisons to a “national average” of youth marijuana use are also problematic. Please review explanations here and here from David Murray, a former chief scientist of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, who now serves as a senior fellow analyzing drug policy at the Hudson Institute. Among his observations:

“What is the possible source for deriving that ‘national average’? There is one genuinely national sample of youth drug use, that from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) that covers all states. But this cannot be the basis for the (State of Colorado’s) claim. In their latest 2014 estimates, NSDUH reported that 7.2 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 17 across the nation used marijuana in the past month – that figure, not 21.7 percent, would be the youth ‘national average.’ Moreover, the NSDUH specifically declared that Colorado had the nation’s highest rates. Adolescent marijuana use ranged from 4.98 percent in Alabama to 12.56 percent in Colorado. Worse, the NSDUH showed for youth that from 2009, when medical marijuana took off in Colorado, there has been a stunning rise of 27 percent through 2014 (from 9.91 percent to 12.56 percent). So Colorado youth use rates in the NSDUH are not only higher than the national average, but, after freer access to marijuana, have been steeply climbing.”

To examine drug-use trends from year to year and make comparisons between states, the NSDUH is more reliable (not perfect, but more reliable). The NSDUH interviews youth who are in and out of school. It is conducted in every state — and, unlike the current version of the Colorado Healthy Kids survey, it has data from before 2013. Unfortunately, as Murray notes above, this survey shows the prevalence of past-month marijuana use among Colorado youth has increased, with Colorado ranked first among 12-17 year olds in 2014.

One strength of the HKCS is that it offers some county-level data. It is helpful to have a fine-grain look at what is happening at a local level. So, if we must compare 2013 and 2015 survey results, it is best to limit comparisons to the responses of specific regions as defined by the survey. You can find a map of those regions here. Because there are many differences between high school freshmen and seniors, combining their class data — especially given that 18-year-olds in Colorado can purchase medical marijuana legally — can give false impressions about “teen use” rates. So, it is important to segment students by grade for a more accurate look at marijuana use rates.

Remember: Because of significant differences in methodology and sample size, the 2015 HKCS shouldn’t be compared to its 2013 predecessor or any national survey — but if state officials and journalists insist on doing so, let’s all consider this closer look at student respondents by grade and region. It suggests adolescent marijuana use rates has reached levels worth considering a serious health problem in some parts of the state.

For a full breakdown of the regional data, please see this chart (produced with the significant help of Christine Miller, a Ph.D. pharmacologist and Colorado native). Among the findings:


Region 16 (Boulder, Broomfield): High school seniors in this region reported the highest rate of past-month use among 12th graders in the state. In 2015, 42.2 percent of high school seniors reported past-month use, versus 28.5 in 2013. That’s a 48.1 percent increase. The use rate among high school juniors in this region jumped from 22.3 percent to 33.4 percent, a 49.8 percent increase.

Region 20 (Denver): Use among high school seniors increased from 30 percent in 2013 to 33 percent in 2015, a jump of 10 percent. Among juniors, the use rate increased from 29 percent to 37.7 percent, an increase of 30 percent.

Region 12: Western Corridor (Summit, Eagle-Vail): Use among high school seniors increased 90 percent from 20.1 percent in 2013 to 38.2 percent in 2015. As a curious side note, this region also reported a 2.3 percent decrease in past-month marijuana use among high school juniors and a 54.7 percent increase among its high school sophomores.

Region 11: Northwest (Steamboat Springs, Craig): Marijuana use among this region’s high school students rose in grades 9-12. Among seniors the rate increased 57.3 percent from 22.5 percent in 2013 to 35.4 percent in 2015. Among juniors, use rose 18.8 percent from 18.1 percent to 21.5 percent. Among sophomores, use rose 72 percent from 8.2 percent in 2013 to 14.1 percent in 2015. Among freshmen, use rose 22.2 percent from 8.1 to 9.9 percent.

Region 19: (Mesa County/Grand Junction): Use among freshmen jumped to 13.7 percent, an increase of 57.5 percent from 2013. Use among sophomores increased 50.6 percent from 26.2 percent from 17.4 percent in 2013. The use rate among high school seniors rose to 24.4 percent, an increase of 20.8 percent.

Region 7: Pueblo: Although there was little change in use rates, the rates remain stubbornly high. They are higher than the state average for all grades; ranges from double the state average for high school freshmen to 31 percent greater than the state average for high school seniors.

A common theme among these regions is a high level of marijuana commercialization in the forms of retail and medical stores. Other commonalities should be investigated to determine the most appropriate interventions.

Analysis of the 2015 survey also found some good news — particularly in regions 8 (San Luis Valley), 10 (West Central, including Gunnison, Hinsdale and Montrose ) and 17 (Central, including Gilpin and Teller).The reasons for these reported declines in past-month use should be explored. For example, are the declines because of an effective intervention, or are they related to a change in the survey methodology from 2013 to 2015? Based on the findings, protocols for prevention and intervention should be implemented to encourage similarly favorable results in other school districts throughout the state.

This entry for DrThurstone.com was co-written by Dr. Christian Thurstone and Christine Tatum. He is an associate professor of addiction psychiatry and the director of medical training of the addiction psychiatry fellowship program at the University of Colorado. She is a longtime journalist, former national president of the Society of Professional Journalists and Dr. Thurstone’s wife. Together, they also wrote Clearing the Haze: Helping Families Face Teen Addiction(Rowman & Littlefield, 2015).

 

Source:  http://drthurstone.com/healthy-kids-colorado-survey-2015/    5th July 2016

Your nail polish may soon be able to do more than just make a fashion statement. 

The innovative new polish called Undercover Colors would work by changing color when it comes in contact with any date rape drug, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The hope is that a woman will be able to check the safety of a drink by discretely dipping her finger in it.

The product is the brain-child of four male undergraduate students at North Carolina State University who say “Our goal is to invent technologies that empower women to protect themselves from this heinous and quietly pervasive crime.”

Although Undercover Colors polish is still in development, it already has thousands of likes on its Facebook page, which describes it as the “first fashion company working to prevent sexual assault.”

Nearly one in five women experience rape at some point in their lives, with 1/3 of those rapes occurring in college aged females, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Date rape drugs like Rohypnol, gamma hydroxybutyric (GHB) and ketamine can be easily slipped into a person’s drink because they have no color, smell or taste, and can cause weakness, confusion and even loss of consciousness, according to Womenshealth.gov.

“Through this nail polish and similar technologies, we hope to make potential perpetrators afraid to spike a woman’s drink because there’s now a risk that they can get caught,” the product creators said.

Undercover Colors is still in development and there is currently no date for when the product will become available.

Source:  foxnews.com  25th August 2014

Filed under: Ketamine,Social Affairs,Youth :

Seven years ago, Barbara Theodosiou, then a successful entrepreneur building a women’s business mentoring group, stopped going to meetings, leaving the house and taking care of herself. She grew increasingly distraught.

“You almost wake up and get this haunting feeling, this horrible feeling that my God, I just wish I wasn’t going to live today,” said Theodosiou, a mother of four from Davie, Florida. “Not that you would take your life but you’re so scared.” Petrified, really, but not for herself. For her children.  Theodosiou learned two of her four kids were addicted to drugs.

“I found out within six months that both my sons were addicts and like every other mother, I just wanted to go into bed and never get out.”  Her older son, Peter, now 25, took prescription drugs and then escalated to heroin. Her younger son, Daniel, now 22, started what’s called robotripping, where he would take large quantities of cough medicine to get high.

Barbara Theodosiou first noticed her son Daniel might have a problem with drugs when he was 16.  She says she first noticed signs of problems when her younger son was 16.  “I was taking Daniel to school one day and he was just like almost choking. I thought he was having a panic attack,” she said. A short time later, the school called and said staff members thought Daniel was on drugs.  “I was like, ‘There’s no way.’ … I have talked to my children my whole life about drugs.” 

Within just months, after a call from her son Peter’s roommate, her husband went to his house and found needles all over the place.  “If you know about addiction then when you find this out, you realize not only are you in for the fight of your life, but this is not something that gets fixed in six months. This could go on,” she said.

Barbara Theodosiou’s son Peter was addicted to heroin. He has been in recovery for 3½ years. “It’s like having someone punch you in the stomach. … You’re never the same from the second you find out.”

How does the mother of an addict cope? How does she juggle the incomprehensible challenge between supporting a loved one and not enabling their habit? And how does she deal with the stigma of having a child who is an addict?

In my in-depth interviews with Theodosiou and other mothers of addicts across the country, they made it very clear that being the mother of an addict is an incredibly lonely and isolating place, and that often the only people who understand what they’re going through are other mothers who are going through it themselves.

The fear of getting the call  

Theodosiou’s son Daniel overdosed three times that first year she realized he was using and nearly died each time.  One day, she returned to her house and saw police officers out front. “I remember pulling up and my heart was beating … I was just going to faint right there.”The police officer asked if she was Daniel’s mother. “For sure, I thought he was going to tell me Daniel was dead, and it ended up Daniel overdosed again, and again he was in the hospital.”

Melva Sherwood’s son Andrew died from a heroin overdose in October 2012. He was 27. 

Melva Sherwood of Vermilion, Ohio, got that unimaginable call on October 3, 2012. Her son Andrew, 27 at the time, died of an overdose of heroin. It was his son’s fifth birthday. “It was 11:30 at night. I was sound asleep and it was October. All the windows were open, and the entire neighborhood knew what had happened,” said Sherwood, who says she screamed “at the reality of it, that it was over, that it was done.”  “I have a friend who lives down the street, and she said it was horrifying to hear.”

The blame game 

Many mothers immediately beat up on themselves when they learn their children are battling addiction.  Brenda Stewart with her sons Richard and Jeremy, who both battled addiction and are now doing well.

Brenda Stewart of Worthington, Ohio, says it was heartbreaking realizing two of her three kids were addicts. Her son Jeremy, now 29, used prescription drugs and then heroin, and the drug of choice for Richard, now 31, was crystal meth, she said.

“I’ve been going to counseling for years to figure out what I did wrong. It’s just like, ‘What did I do?'” said Stewart, who has adopted Jeremy’s two children, ages 5 and 7. “And then you come to find out through tons of counseling and parents’ groups and everything else that this is something you didn’t do to your children. And that’s the hardest thing to get away from because you always feel responsible.”

 

Debbie Gross Longo’s son started taking prescription drugs at 15.  Debbie Gross Longo, whose son started using drugs at 13 and taking prescription drugs at 15, says the powerlessness of being an addict’s mom is worse than people might imagine. “As a mother, it’s been hell,” said the mom of four in Stony Brook, New York. “It’s like having a child that you cannot help and sitting on the edge of your seat all at the time because you know something might happen.” 

Viewing addiction as a disease was instrumental, many mothers say, in helping understand they didn’t cause their child’s addiction and couldn’t fix it either.  “When you really start to understand that it is a disease … you can start looking at your child in a different way, loving them for who they are and hating the disease,” said Stewart.

Sadly, the stigma of having a child with addiction is all too real and incredibly painful. Announce to your community your child has a disease like cancer and people will jump to help, said mothers I interviewed. Not so when you tell them your child is an addict.”There are no little girls selling cookies for addiction. Nobody has bumper stickers on their car,” said Theodosiou.  Her son Daniel was in the church group. “When they found out he was an addict, the entire church shunned him. He was completely not invited anywhere.”

‘The hardest thing in the entire world’ 

Every mom I spoke with talked about the intense struggle between supporting their addicted child or children and not enabling their destructive habit.   It is “the hardest thing in the entire world,” said Theodosiou, who said it was only after seven years and 30-plus stints in rehab that she knew she had to make a drastic change.  “All of these people were telling me you have to stop enabling Daniel. You need to let Daniel go. You need to just stop. … I had to actually face leaving Daniel on the street,” she said.  “I finally spoke to a pastor and an addiction specialist who told me that … the last person in the world who could ever help Daniel is me.”

 

Melva Sherwood’s son Aaron works full-time in marketing and sales and may pursue a career in nutrition.  Sherwood, who lost one son to a drug overdose and has another son who battled drug addiction, said she was never able to cut off her children completely, but she set limits.

“As far as enabling, I think you need to lay it on the table for them. This is what you can do. Here are your options but I’m not going to sit here and let you take advantage of me and lie to me,” said Sherwood, who is a registered nurse and the owner of a business providing caregivers for in-home assisted living.

Stewart, whose two sons were addicts, said she eventually realized the longer she enabled her children, the longer they weren’t going to face the consequences.  “It took the line in the sand, telling them I love them and if they were ever ready to get the help and really wanted it that I’m here for them … but I’m not going to set up another appointment,” she said.   But the enabling isn’t just about the addicts, said Stewart. Parents need to realize they are enabling themselves and are risking losing everything by thinking they can save their children.

“There are moms losing their lives to save their children. … They’re spending their whole paycheck trying to take care of their child. They’re not taking care of themselves. That’s just a ripple effect.”

Finding support from other moms 

Theodosiou went through the range of emotions that most mothers of addicts experience: the guilt followed by the intense sadness and then the anger.

“It’s just a very, very sad and a very lonely place,” she said.

Then, one day about a year and a half into her new kind of normal with two sons who were addicted, she had a conversation with God.  “I said, you know, God, if my sons are going to be living this life and be destroyed by this, I’m going to tell every mother and help every mother I can think of. I’m not going to keep it a secret.”

She headed to Facebook and started a group called The Addict’s Mom in 2008.

Her friend thought she was insane.  “She was like, ‘Are you crazy? You are going to go on Facebook and say that you are an addict’s mom?’ And I said, ‘You know what, I am and I know there have to be a million mothers just like me who are addicts’ moms.'”

CNN”s Kelly Wallace did lengthy interviews with mothers across the country whose children battled addiction.

Six years later, The Addict’s Mom, with its Facebook group, its fan page and its online community, has more than 20,000 members, with chapters in every state. Stewart is the state coordinator in Ohio for The Addict’s Mom.

“It’s given me a place that I feel at home, a place that I feel I can give back,” she said. “I also understand the parent’s pain and for me if I can help one parent ease that pain, then I’ve done something.”  Sherwood, who’s an administrator for the Facebook group, said the online community was an “unbelievable eye opener.”

“It was just like somebody turned on the light in the closet,” she said. “It gave me such comfort to … be able to put something out there online at any time during the day and have 20 people respond back with, ‘Hey, we know. We’ve been where you’re at. We feel for you. We’re praying for you.’ ”  “It definitely was a life-changing experience.”

‘If you can’t afford it, jail is your treatment’ 

Besides providing invaluable comfort and support, The Addict’s Mom is a resource center with information on low and no-cost rehabs, psychologists and sober living environments. This month, the group is launching weekly online video meetings where mothers can call in from all over the country and talk with experts on addiction.

The group has also launched offshoots, including The Addict’s Mom Healthy Moms, where the focus is solely on helping the mom live a healthy life (“We don’t even talk about the addict there,” said Theodosiou) and The Addict’s Mom Grieving Moms for mothers who lost children to addiction. It’s also started The Addict’s Dad for fathers and a group called The Addict for the addicts to talk directly with each other.

A big focus now, the moms I interviewed said, is raising awareness about the problem of drug addiction and finding affordable solutions.

“There is treatment if you’re rich and if you can afford it,” said Theodosiou. “If you can’t afford it, jail is your treatment.”  The Addict’s Mom is starting programs in states including New York, Kentucky and Ohio, where moms go into schools and educate students about addiction. The member moms are also flexing their lobbying muscles, advocating for laws such as legislation that allows a judge to order a person into treatment if a family member feels that person is a danger to himself or others.

“Our children are dying and at such an alarming rate,” said Theodosiou, noting how the day before our conversation there were two posts on The Addict’s Mom with reports that two children died.  “We are seeing an alarming rate of death in our society. We have to break the stigma. It’s a disease,'” said Theodosiou. “They are not bad people. We have to get the word out.”

Looking forward  

Raising awareness and helping other mothers drives members of The Addict’s Mom, but they are also always mindful of the lifelong battle their children are facing.  Sherwood’s surviving son is doing well, she said, working full-time in marketing and sales, and planning to take a nutritional coaching course for a possible career in nutrition.

“Today, I have my son back as he learns and implements the plan he has put into place with nutrition, exercise and being with those that truly love him and support his journey toward a better life,” said Sherwood. “What more could a parent ask for!”

Stewart’s son Jeremy has been in recovery for over two years. He’s engaged, is getting ready to buy a house and is very active with his two children. “Our hope is that in the very near future they are back with their father,” said Stewart, who currently cares for her son’s kids. Her older son, Richard, is also doing well, and has been in treatment since the end of June.

Gross Longo’s son, now 25, had been in recovery for six months and just recently relapsed. He entered a detox program and is starting again on the road to recovery, his mother said. “I am once again heartbroken,” she said. “(My son) is doing what he needs to do to get well, but do you understand how this is a day-to-day, year-to-year fight?”  Before her son’s relapse, Gross Longo told me she was so pleased about his recovery but also very cautious.

“They could change on a dime,” she said. “They could be doing wonderful for five years … and then one evening it’s gone.”  Theodosiou’s older son, Peter, has been in recovery for 3½ years and is a recent college graduate. He will soon begin a master’s program in speech pathology.  Her younger son, Daniel, had been in rehab for five weeks — his longest time ever in treatment — but recently relapsed, breaking the condition of his release from jail so he is back behind bars.   “I am really sad about Daniel,” said Theodosiou.

Despite her son’s setback, she continues to advocate for other moms of addicts, but also gets some much needed help for herself.   A few days before our conversation, a member of The Addict’s Mom called her and expressed concern.

“She said, ‘Barbara, we’re worried about you.’ And I said, ‘Why?’ And she said, ‘Because you have to take care of yourself. You help so many other people.  I still struggle with being OK and with my own issues and they help by reminding me, by being there, by being able to talk to them, by sharing resources and supporting me.”

Source:   http://edition.cnn.com/2014/08/26/living/addiction-parents/  26th August 2014

Childhood trauma, ranging from interpersonal violence to car accidents, was associated with increased risk for illicit drug use, according to findings in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

“Abuse and domestic violence were particularly harmful to children, increasing the chances of all types of drug use in the adolescent years,” Hannah Carliner, ScD, MPH, of Columbia University, said in a press release. “We also found that trauma such as car accidents, natural disasters and major illness in childhood increased the chances that teens would use marijuana, cocaine and prescription drugs.”

To assess associations between potentially traumatic events in childhood and illicit drug use, researchers analyzed data from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication-Adolescent Supplement for 9,956 adolescents aged 13 to 18 years.

Potentially traumatic events were categorized as interpersonal violence (physical abuse by caregiver, physical assault by someone else, mugged, raped, sexually assaulted, stalked, kidnapped, or domestic violence exposure), traumatic accidents (car accident, other serious accident, natural or man-made disaster, physical illness, toxic chemical exposure, or accidentally injured someone), network or witnessing events (unexpected death of a loved one, traumatic experience of a loved one, or witnessing injury or death), and other events.

Overall, 36% of the cohort reportedly experienced potentially traumatic events before age 11 years.

Exposure to potentially traumatic events before age 11 years was associated with higher risk for use of marijuana (risk ratio = 1.5; 95% CI, 1.33-1.69), cocaine (RR = 2.78; 95% CI, 1.95-3.97), prescription drugs (RR = 1.8; 95% CI, 1.29-2.51), other drugs (RR = 1.9; 95% CI, 1.37-2.63) and multiple drugs (RR = 1.74; 95% CI, 1.37-2.2).

Researchers found a positive monotonic relationship between number of potentially traumatic events and marijuana, other drug, and multiple drug use.

Interpersonal violence increased risk for use of marijuana (RR = 1.78; 95% CI, 1.54-2.07), cocaine (RR = 2.64; 95% CI, 1.75-3.98), nonmedical prescription drugs (RR = 2.2; 95% CI, 1.49-3.27), other drugs (RR = 1.7; 95% CI, 1.12-2.57) and multiple drugs (RR = 2.31; 95% CI, 1.69-3.15).

Car accidents and unspecified potentially traumatic events were associated with higher risk for marijuana, cocaine and prescription drug use, according to researchers.

“Drug treatment programs should consider specifically addressing the psychological harm caused by traumatic experiences in childhood, and developing less harmful active-coping strategies for dealing with current stress and traumatic memories among adolescents,” Carliner said in the release. “Such early intervention during this critical period of adolescence could have broad benefits to the health and well-being of adults.” – by Amanda Oldt

Source:  Carliner H, et al. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2016;doi:10.1016/j.jaac.2016.05.010.   June 16, 2016

Filed under: Brain and Behaviour,Youth :

An interactive mobile texting aftercare program has shown promise as a means to help teens and young adults engage with post-treatment recovery activities and avoid relapse, researchers report. In a NIDA-supported pilot study, the program, called ESQYIR (Educating & Supporting Inquisitive Youth in Recovery), reduced young people’s odds of relapsing by half compared with standard aftercare.

Dr. Rachel Gonzales and colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), designed ESQYIR to teach and reinforce wellness self-management in a manner that fits young people’s attitudes and communication styles. The researchers cite numerous advantages of the mobile texting approach: It is inexpensive and features personalization of content, convenience of use, ease of assessment and monitoring, and flexibility in the time and location of delivery.

The Need

Many young people comply poorly with aftercare interventions and resist involvement in 12-step programs and other post-treatment recovery activities. Dr. Gonzales says, “Teens and young adults don’t want to be stigmatized as having a disease or as still being in recovery. In their minds, after the primary treatment, they are done.” Young people often don’t view addiction as a disease, she adds. Instead, they regard substance use as a matter of lifestyle and personal choice. As a result, as many as 85 percent of teens and young adults relapse within 1 year.

Dr. Gonzales and her research team reckoned that young people might engage more readily with aftercare built on text messaging. This mode of communication is ubiquitous among young people, surpassing most other forms of social interaction. Messages can be personalized and can be accessed and responded to privately, when and where youths find it convenient or feel a need for help. Text messaging interventions are already used to treat maladies including obesity, sexually transmitted diseases, and tobacco dependence in young adults.

“The most effective programs take into consideration the users, their needs, their desires, and their way of connecting,” Dr. Gonzales says. Accordingly, when she and her team composed the text messages for Project ESQYIR, they solicited input from young people in recovery from substance use disorders (SUDs). “The program’s text messages are based on their voices, parallel their views of recovery, and speak to their recovery needs,” Dr. Gonzales says.

Keeping Tabs With Texts

The participants in the ESQYIR pilot study were 80 volunteers, ages 14 to 26, who had been treated in outpatient and residential community treatment centers in the Los Angeles area. The drugs that had caused them problems included marijuana (55 percent), methamphetamine (30 percent), cocaine (15 percent), heroin (11 percent), prescription drug (6 percent), and other substances including alcohol (4 percent). Half of the participants received the mobile texting ESQYIR program, the other half received the standard aftercare offered by their treatment facilities, which consisted of referral to 12-step programs.

Figure 1. Daily Mobile Texts Prompt Self-Monitoring, Give Recovery Advice and Encouragement

The participants in the text messaging program received daily text messages with tips to self-monitor their recovery- and substance use–related behaviors and with alerts to aftercare services in their community.

Each weekday at 12 noon, the participants in the ESQYIR group received a text that reminded them about being in recovery and provided a wellness tip for the day. The reminder portion of the text said, “Today’s a new day in ur recovery! Think about the change ur working towards.” The wellness tip promoted personal, social, physical, or emotional health. For example, one message read, “Write down the top 3 stressors that u need to avoid or deal with for helping u not use.”

Weekdays at 4 p.m., the participants in the ESQYIR group received a text that prompted them to self-monitor and text back numerical ratings of their abstinence confidence, wellbeing, substance use, and recovery behaviors (see Figure 1). The participants then received a feedback text, automatically selected from more than 600 possible messages, which provided motivational/inspirational encouragement, coping advice, or positive appraisal tailored to the participants’ self-rating. For example, motivational feedback texts encouraged participants to keep on track with recovery and attend therapy or self-help meetings when needed.

Dr. Gonzales says, “The self-monitoring texts helped participants remain mindful and aware of potential relapse triggers, particularly in risky situations.” With that awareness and the feedback provided by the program, the young people were able to generate strategies for coping with such situations without drugs, the researchers suggest.

On weekends, the participants received personalized texts with educational information adapted from NIDA reference materials and resource information on local support services.

Less Relapse, More Engagement

Figure 2. Text-Based Delivery of Aftercare Content Decreases Relapse

Teens and young adults receiving daily text messages had lower relapse rates than peers receiving only standard aftercare.

The UCLA researchers monitored the participants’ urine for alcohol and drugs monthly during the program. The results indicated that with passing time, the text-based aftercare participants’ odds of relapsing to their primary substances rose only half as fast as those of the standard aftercare group. Compared with the participants in standard aftercare, those assigned to the ESQYIR group were less likely to have relapsed 1 month (8.6 percent vs. 30.3 percent), 2 months (3.6 percent vs. 39.3 percent), and 3 months (14.7 percent vs. 62.9 percent) after the end of their substance abuse treatment (see Figure 2).

The researchers followed up with 55 of the original 81 study participants 180 days after the end of treatment (90 days after the end of the aftercare programs). Those who had received the ESQYIR mobile wellness aftercare intervention were still less likely to have relapsed (21.4 percent vs. 59.3 percent).

The ESQYIR and standard aftercare participants both attended on average ten 12-step meetings per month during their last month in substance abuse treatment. Both groups reduced their 12-step attendance in the aftercare period, but the ESQYIR participants did so to a lesser degree (8.9 vs. 2.9 meetings in the final month). The two groups no longer differed significantly in 12-step attendance during the third month post-aftercare (7.0 vs. 4.6 days per month). However, during that month the ESQYIR participants were more involved in other recovery-related extracurricular activities (e.g., exercise, walking, and community/volunteer service) than those who received the standard aftercare.

Text and Thrive

Dr. Gonzales and colleagues are planning a larger, stage II efficacy trial of the mobile-based ESQYIR aftercare wellness intervention. For this trial, they are enhancing the program with new features, including text messages to foster HIV awareness and prevention.

“We look forward to further research in this line of work and to learning more about the efficacy of this intervention,” says Dr. Jessica Campbell Chambers, health science administrator at NIDA’sBehavioral and Integrative Treatment Branch. “This work is extremely important given the high rates of relapse among recovering adolescents.”

Dr. Campbell Chambers concurs with Dr. Gonzales that although the pilot nature of the study and its relatively small cohort size make its results only preliminary, the findings are very promising. The UCLA study team will soon publish a report on the ESQYIR program’s effects at 6- and 9-months post-participation.

This study was supported by NIH grant DA027754.

Source

Gonzales, R.; Ang, A.; Murphy, D.A. et al. Substance use recovery outcomes among a cohort of youth participating in a mobile-based texting aftercare pilot program. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment 47(1):20-26, 2014.

The overdose antidote is being offered for use in High Schools and is a sad indictment of the situation in the USA where lax drug policies have resulted in huge increases in drugs use – including heroin even amongst youth.

The opioid overdose antidote naloxone is being offered free to high schools around the country by the drugmaker Adapt Pharma, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, quickly reverses overdoses from heroin and prescription painkillers. Naloxone will be offered in nasal spray form to high schools through state departments of education. The Clinton Foundation’s Health Matters Initiative is collaborating on the project.

Many states do not have rules that would permit high school staff to administer naloxone in an emergency without facing liability from parents or guardians, the article notes. There are significant variations in state and local rules about whether staff is allowed to administer medication to students. In some school districts, medication can only be administered by school nurses, who often work at more than one school.

The National Association of School Nurses (NASN) in June said that “incorporating use of naloxone into school emergency preparedness and response plans is a school nurse role.” In a statement, the group said “the safe and effective management of opioid pain reliever-related overdose in schools [should] be incorporated into the school emergency preparedness and response plan.” Last year, New York joined at least four other states in allowing public school nurses to add naloxone to their inventory. Other states with similar policies include Vermont, Massachusetts and Delaware.

Adapt Pharma is also providing a grant to NASN to support their education efforts concerning opioid overdose education materials. In a news release from the company, NASN President Beth Mattey said school nurses act as first responders in schools. “We educate our students, families, and school staff about prescription drug and substance abuse, and help families seek appropriate treatment and recovery options,” she said. “Having access to naloxone can save lives and is often the first step toward recovery. We are taking a proactive approach to address the possibility of a drug overdose in school.”

Source:  http://www.drugfree.org/join-together  26th Jan. 2016

Consumption of illegal drugs begins at the age of 10

The National Council Against Addictions (Conadic) has estimated that over 2.38 million Mexican youths are in need of some kind of rehabilitation treatment for abuse of substances, mainly marijuana and alcohol.

This is but one of the staggering figures presented in the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use Among Students, conducted in public and private schools in the 32 states, which also indicated that children are beginning to consume illegal drugs at 10 years old, two years younger than had been thought.

The survey also established that addiction among youths in secondary and preparatory schools – nearly 80,000 young men and 50,000 young women – requires immediate intervention.

A broader number of the same spectrum of students, about 311,000 men and 260,000 women, were found to need brief support interventions, which could consist of counselling sessions or a short rehabilitation internment period.

The course of action to take in the case of younger, elementary school students is still being assessed.

Conadic chief Manuel Mondragón wants to know the how and where of treatment: “713,963 secondary and preparatory school students need to be treated for use of drugs, and 1.674 million for abuse of alcohol. The question is, where are we going to treat them, and who will provide the treatment? What are our infrastructural capabilities?”

Mondragón said nearly 1.8 million children and teenagers – from elementary to preparatory – have tried illegal drugs, 152,000 of which are fifth and sixth-grade students, and whose first experience was with marijuana, followed by inhalants and cocaine.  Of that 1.8 million, over 108,000 have used marijuana between one and five times.

The abuse of alcohol is no less worrisome: 1.5 million secondary and preparatory school students have abused it, consuming over five drinks at a time and becoming drunk. Over 110,000 elementary school students have done the same.

The states with the most substance abuse among children are Chihuahua, Jalisco, State of México, the Federal District and San Luis Potosí.

Nine out of every 10 children in Michoacán, Campeche and Quintana Roo are experimenting with and abusing harder substances like cocaine.

Mondragón stated that immediate measures to deal with the issue could consist of shutting down all establishments that sell alcohol to minors, as well as signing agreements in every state to strengthen the use of breathalyzers and control the sale of legal and illegal drugs.  Mondragón also said the federal government is open to raising the limit of recreational drugs an individual can carry, currently set at five grams. This would permit the reinsertion into society of non-violent, first-offender youths who are currently in jail for possession of illegal substances.

Meanwhile, in Congress, the first round of discussions around the use of marijuana and its derivatives is taking place with the participation of representatives from the United Nations and parents’ associations.  The discussion is focusing on the legalization of medicinal cannabinoid-based products.

Source: http://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/study-finds-2-million-students-need-rehab/#sthash.yh7m6JYS.dpuf   26th Jan. 2016

Developmental trajectories of adolescent cannabis use and their relationship to young adult social and behavioural adjustment: A longitudinal study of Australian youth.

Abstract

This study aimed to identify distinct developmental trajectories (sub-groups of individuals who showed similar longitudinal patterns) of cannabis use among Australian adolescents, and to examine associations between trajectory group membership and measures of social and behavioural adjustment in young adulthood. Participants (n=852, 53% female) were part of the International Youth Development Study. Latent class growth analysis was used to identify distinct trajectories of cannabis use frequency from average ages 12 to 19, across 6 waves of data. Logistic regression analyses and analyses of covariance were used to examine relationships between trajectory group membership and young adult (average age: 21) adjustment, controlling for a range of covariates. Three trajectories were identified: abstainers (62%), early onset users (11%), and late onset occasional users (27%). The early onset users showed a higher frequency of antisocial behaviour, violence, cannabis use, cannabis-related harms, cigarette use, and alcohol harms, compared to the abstinent group in young adulthood. The late onset occasional users reported a higher frequency of cannabis use, cannabis-related harms, illicit drug use, and alcohol harms, compared to the abstinent group in young adulthood. There were no differences between the trajectory groups on measures of employment, school completion, post-secondary education, income, depression/anxiety, or alcohol use problems. In conclusion, early onset of cannabis use, even at relatively low frequency during adolescence, is associated with poorer adjustment in young adulthood. Prevention and intervention efforts to delay or prevent uptake of cannabis use should be particularly focussed on early adolescence prior to age 12.

Source:  Pub Med  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26414206 Author information:  Scholes-Balog KE1, Hemphill SA2, Evans-Whipp TJ3, Toumbourou JW4, Patton GC5.

Genetic differences may protect some who experienced childhood trauma from later marijuana dependence, study finds

WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY IN ST. LOUIS

Genetic variation within the endocannabinoid system may explain why some survivors of childhood adversity go on to become dependent on marijuana, while others are able to use marijuana without problems, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis.

“We have long known that childhood adversity, and in particular sexual abuse, is associated with the development of cannabis dependence. However, we understand very little about the individual difference factors that leave individuals vulnerable or resilient to these effects,” said Ryan Bogdan, PhD, assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences in Arts & Sciences and a senior author of the study.

Forthcoming in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, the study is among the first to pinpoint a specific genetic variant that may influence susceptibility to cannabis dependence in the context of childhood trauma.

THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, influences an array of mental and bodily functions because it closely mimics chemical enzymes that the endocannabinoid system naturally produces to send signals between neurons and other individual cells throughout the body. These signals trigger the production of other internal chemicals, such as adrenalin, which help the body modulate its response to external influences, such as fear, stress and hunger.

Like most bodily functions, the workings of the endocannabinoid system are closely programmed and controlled by a set of genetically coded instructions.

“In this study, we investigated whether variation in genes within the endocannabinoid system may be particularly important in setting the stage for cannabis dependence, especially in the context of childhood trauma,” said lead author Caitlin E. Carey, a PhD student working with Bogdan.

In phase one of the study, researchers examined genetic data from 1,558 Australian marijuana users who self-reported various types of sexual abuse as children. Carey and colleagues examined whether Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs, pronounced “snips”) located in or near endocannabinoid system genes were associated with the

development of marijuana dependence symptoms in the context of childhood sexual abuse.

SNPs represent differences in a single DNA building block called a nucleotide and are the most common form of genetic variation in people, with an estimated 10 million SNPs in the human genome.

While little is known about many SNPs, some have been identified as key biological markers for genetic diseases. When SNPs occur within a gene or in a regulatory region near a gene, they may affect how that gene functions, perhaps raising disease risk or changing how an individual responds to certain environmental factors such as drugs or trauma.

The vast majority of SNPs, including those looked at in this study, have two different alleles at each locus; one of these alleles is inherited from the biological mother, with the other being inherited from the biological father. Alleles with two matching pieces of genetic information are called homozygotes (for example A/A or G/G), while those with mixed pairs are called heterozygotes (A/G).

Of the endocannabinoid variants examined, a single variant within the monoacylglycerol lipase (MGLL) gene demonstrated a significant interaction with childhood sexual abuse and later cannabis dependence.

More specifically, the study found that variation within this SNP (known as rs604300) in MGLL showed a clear association between child sexual abuse and cannabis dependence, such that increasing exposure to childhood sexual abuse was associated with a greater number of cannabis dependence symptoms only among individuals who were homozygous for the more common G allele. There was no association between child sexual abuse and cannabis dependence symptoms in heterozygotes, and a negative relationship between childhood sexual abuse and cannabis dependence symptoms in A allele homozygotes.

“As we expected, childhood sexual abuse was overall associated with individuals reporting a greater number of cannabis dependence symptoms,” Carey said. “But what was particularly intriguing is that this association was only seen among people with two copies of the more common G allele. People with at least one copy of the less common A allele did not show this pattern, so these data suggest that the A allele may provide some form of resiliency to the development of dependence.

The endocannabinoid system is known to play an important role in the body’s response to stress. Monoacylglycerol lipase, which MGLL codes for, regulates the availability of 2-

AG, an endocannabinoid neurotransmitter that binds to the same receptors as the THC in plant-based cannabis.

Findings replicated in second sample

In phase two of the study, Carey and colleagues attempted to replicate the findings using data from 859 American participants obtained from the Study of Addiction: Genetics and Environment. Here again, they found the same interaction between the rs604300 genotype and child abuse to be significantly associated with cannabis dependence symptoms.

Carey and colleagues speculate that the rs604300 minor A allele’s role in buffering against later cannabis dependence may be related to how the brain reacts to threat.

As Bogdan said: “The amygdala is a region of the brain critical for behavioral vigilance, including coordinating our behavioral responses to threat in the environment. Heightened amygdala reactivity has been consistently linked to anxiety disorders. Prior research has shown that endocannabinoids and marijuana, as well as prior childhood adversity, affect amygdala function. Endocannabinoid signaling, in particular, regulates reactivity to threat by facilitating a dampening of amygdala response (i.e., habituation) when threats are repeatedly presented with no adverse consequence.”

The amygdala (shown in red) is a region of the brain critical for behavioral vigilance, including coordinating physiologic and behavioral responses to threat. The A allele at rs604300 within MGLL, which conferred protection to cannabis dependence in the context of elevated childhood adversity, was associated with heightened threat-related amygdala habituation (i.e., a increased dampening of response over time) among those exposed to elevated childhood adversity. Such elevated amygdala habituation is associated with recovery from environmental stress.

If the rs604300 A allele is associated with relative increased amygdala habituation (such as a dampening of response over time) to threat in the context of childhood adversity, it is possible that child abuse survivors with this allele may be less prone to later use cannabis in an attempt to achieve the same mood-altering result, they speculated.

In a third phase of this study, they tested for this connection in an independent group of 312 undergraduate students from the Duke Neurogenetics Study and found increased amygdala habituation as a function of early life stress in minor A allele carriers, but not in GG individuals. The finding reinforces the possibility that MGLL rs604300 genotype may play a key role in decoupling the neurobiological link between early life stress and mental health outcomes in later life.

Collectively, while speculative, these data suggest that elevated amygdala habituation among individuals with the A allele who were exposed to childhood trauma may result in decreased reliance on marijuana to cope with future stressors and negative affect.

“It’s important to mention that these findings are unlikely to be informative at an individual level,” Carey said. “We won’t see a genetic test for cannabis dependence anytime soon, if ever, but it’s a start.”

Source:   http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-11/wuis-mdi111015.php

The Food and Drug Administration recently announced it intends to require warning labels and child-resistant packaging on liquid nicotine products such as those used in e-cigarettes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the popularity of e-cigarettes has resulted in a number of cases of nicotine poisoning in recent years.

Jonathan Foulds, professor of public health sciences at  Penn State College of Medicine, says nicotine poisoning is not a new problem. “There is a long history of very young children getting a hold of their parents’ tobacco,” he says. “The most common scenario is that a toddler consumes something, and the parents don’t know how much. Then they call the poison control center or end up in the emergency room.”  In the best case that leads to anxiety, and possibly unpleasant investigations for the families, and in the worst case it could lead to loss of consciousness or death for the child, Foulds says.

He adds any substance that could be harmful to children should come in a childproof container. “There are hundreds of cases of poisoning from cigarettes every year, and so all nicotine products, including cigarettes, should be in childproof packages.”  Nicotine replacement lozenges and other novelty smokeless tobacco products that resemble candy can also be dangerous.

The liquid used in e-cigarettes is often flavored – anything from strawberry to cookies’n’cream – and may therefore smell appealing to children who come across it.

“All nicotine is a poison as are all tobacco products containing nicotine, so people using any of them should take great care to keep them out of reach of kids,” Foulds says.

A nicotine overdose usually makes a person sweaty, clammy, dizzy and nauseous. It proceeds to vomiting and loss of consciousness. It can also lead to death.  Luckily for most children, nicotine doesn’t taste good, so most do not continue to consume it once they have had a taste. But with the highly concentrated liquid nicotine, a child who drinks even a small amount could end up with a lethal dose.

Foulds says the proposed measures alone won’t solve the problem. He adds consumers need to be vigilant about using provided childproofing measures and making sure that any substances that could be harmful to children stay out of reach: “Simply put, nicotine is a poison and consumers need to take responsibility for keeping it away from children, whether it is in a childproof container or not.”

Source:  Newsroom:  Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center   23-Jul-2015

ABSTRACT

Background:

This analysis examines decriminalization as a risk factor for future increases in youth marijuana acceptance and use. Specifically, we examine marijuana-related behaviors and attitudes of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders in California as compared to other U.S. states during the years before and after California passed legislation in 2010 to decriminalize marijuana.

Methods:

Data come from Monitoring the Future, an annual, nationally representative survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students. Results: In 2012 and afterwards California 12th graders as compared to their peers in other states became (a) 25% more likely to have used marijuana in the past 30 days, (b) 20% less likely to perceive regular marijuana use as a great health risk, (c) 20% less likely to strongly disapprove of regular marijuana use, and (d) about 60% more likely to expect to be using marijuana five years in the future. Analysis of 10th graders raises the possibility that the findings among 12th graders may reflect a cohort effect that was set into place two years earlier. Conclusion: These results provide empirical evidence to support concerns that decriminalization may be a risk factor for future increases in youth marijuana use and acceptance.

Conclusion

The results of this study support decriminalization as a risk factor for increases in both marijuana acceptance and use among 12thgraders. Following decriminalization both marijuana acceptance and use significantly increased among California 12th graders as compared to their peers in other states. Policymakers and voters should consider the possibility that decriminalization sends a signal that encourages youth marijuana use. The study results both justify and motivate future work to determine whether decriminalization continues to exert an influence on future cohorts of California 12th graders, as well as an examination of intervening mechanisms that are amenable to policy and interventions.

Source:  International Journal of Drug Policy 26 (2015) 336–344 International Journal of Drug Policy 26 (2015) 336–

A recently published study sheds new light on how to prevent teen drug abuse. It also provides new evidence that the conventional wisdom regarding the timing of prevention efforts may be wrong. The current study shows that, with the right program, it’s possible to cut high school drug abuse in half.

The results of this study are especially important because they challenge the prevailing wisdom that high school is too late a time to start prevention programs. This program offers a successful approach to helping teens not exposed to an effective prevention program at an earlier age.

The new study, published in the World Journal of Preventive Medicine, shows that an approach proven effective with elementary and middle school students also works with high school students. The study compared students attending schools assigned at random to either receive or not receive the Botvin LifeSkills Training (LST) high school program, which was adapted from the evidence-based LST Middle School program. The LST program prevents tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use by teaching students skills for coping with the challenges of life, reducing motivations to use drugs and engaging in unhealthy behaviors, and fostering overall resilience.

Researchers found that the LST high school program reduced drug abuse in teens. Compared to the non-LST control group, there were 52% fewer daily substance users in the LST group. The study shows that dramatic reductions in drug abuse are possible with high school students across different racial/ethnic groups and different parts of the country.

“These are very exciting findings. This study not only shows that it’s possible to cut drug abuse in half among high school students. It also shows that you can do so with a program delivered by classroom teachers who only need minimal specialized training. Since this kind of program is inexpensive and can be widely disseminated to schools across the country, it offers tremendous potential as a cost-effective approach to a major public health problem,” said Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin, developer of the LifeSkills Training program and professor emeritus of Cornell University’s Weill Medical College.

The LifeSkills Training high school program is a highly interactive curriculum that teaches students skills that have been found to prevent substance use and violence. Rather than merely teaching information about the dangers of drug abuse, the LST program promotes healthy alternatives to risky behavior. Throughout the program, students develop strategies for making healthy decisions, reducing stress, and managing anger, as well as strengthening their communication skills and learning how to build healthy relationships. The program also helps students understand the consequences of substance use, risk-taking, and the influences of the media.

SOURCE National Health Promotion Associates. WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.June 25, 2015 /PRNewswire   World Journal of Preventive Medicine

Research Summary

Observational studies suggest that heavy, habitual marijuana use in adolescence may be associated with cognitive decline and adverse educational outcomes. However, conflicting data exists. The authors of this study used data from a large population-based prospective cohort of 1155 individuals from the United Kingdom to investigate the effects of cannabis use by age 15 on subsequent educational outcomes. They also explored the relationship between tobacco use and educational outcomes to assess for possible bias. The primary educational outcomes were performance in standardized English and mathematics assessments at age 16, completion of 5 or more assessments at a grade level C or higher, and leaving school having achieved no qualifications. Exposure was measured by self-report and serum cotinine levels.

* In fully adjusted models both cannabis and tobacco use were associated with adverse educational outcomes.

* A dose response effect was seen with higher frequency of cannabis use associated with worse outcomes.

* Adjustment for other substance use and conduct disorder attenuated these effects and tobacco had a stronger association than cannabis.

Comments:

This data sheds more light on a possible association between early exposure to cannabis and tobacco and subsequent poor educational outcomes. However, given the nature of the analysis, causality cannot be implied. Further research is needed at longer follow-up periods to gain more understanding of the relationship between cannabis use in adolescence and educational outcomes.  Jeanette M. Tetrault, MD

Source: Addiction. 2015;110(4):658–668.

A new drug prevention initiative has been initiated in Lee County, Va. that will provide youth with another way to resist the peer pressures of experimenting with drugs.

“This new program, ‘Give Me A Reason’, was designed to establish a way for parents to obtain free-of-charge drug testing kits that they can use to test their children for drug use,” said Lee County Sheriff Gary Parsons.

The kit uses a cheek swab saliva-based method that is much less invasive than blood test and less susceptible to tamper with. The press release states the kit will test for cocaine, marijuana, methadone, methamphetamine, hydrocodone, barbiturates, opiates, morphine and oxycodone.

“The best thing about these kits it is that they can be used in the privacy of your own home, and you can have the results in 10 minutes,” said the sheriff. “If parents have a drug test kit at home, their children will hopefully think twice before giving into peer pressure.”

The release states the kit will be one way to be able to help deter children from making a decision that may ruin their life. The department wants to have as many resources available to help parents deter their children form making the decision to try drugs.

“This is a voluntary program to help children make positive choices,” Parsons said. “We want our children in this community to have a successful future and make productive adults.”

Source:  middlesborodailynews.com   4th My 2015

Dutch study finds mathematics results suffer most from dope consumption – findings sure to fuel debate over steps towards legalisation If you want to do well in your exams, especially maths, don’t smoke dope.

This is the finding of a unique study that is likely to be fiercely debated by those in favour of and those against the liberalisation of cannabis laws.

Economists Olivier Marie of Maastricht University and Ulf Zölitz of IZA Bonn examined what happened in Maastricht in 2011 when the Dutch city allowed only Dutch, German and Belgian passport-holders access to the 13 coffee shops where cannabis was sold.

The temporary restrictions were introduced because of fears that nationals from other countries, chiefly France and Luxembourg, were visiting the city simply to smoke drugs, which would tarnish its genteel image.

After studying data on more than 54,000 course grades achieved by students from around the world who were enrolled at Maastricht University before and after the restrictions were introduced, the economists came to a striking conclusion.

In a paper recently presented at the Royal Economic Society conference in Manchester they revealed that those who could no longer legally buy cannabis did better in their studies.  The restrictions, the economists conclude, constrained consumption for some users, whose cognitive functioning improved as a result.

“The effects we find are large, consistent and statistically very significant,” Marie told the Observer.  “For example, we estimate that students who were no longer able to buy cannabis legally were 5% more likely to pass courses.

The grade improvement this represents is about the same as having a qualified teacher and, more relevantly, similar to decreases in grades observed from reaching legal drinking age in the US.”

For low performers, there was a larger effect on grades. They had a 7.6% better chance of passing their courses.  Interestingly, Marie and Zölitz found the effects were even more pronounced when it came to particular disciplines.

“The policy effect is five times larger for courses requiring numerical/mathematical skills,” the pair write.This, they argue, is not that surprising.  “In line with how THC consumption affects cognitive functioning, we find that performance gains are larger for courses that require more numerical/mathematical skills,” Marie said.  THC – tetrahydrocannabinol – is the active ingredient in skunk cannabis, which some studies have linked with psychosis.

The ground breaking research comes at a significant moment.  The clamour for liberalisation of cannabis laws is growing.

In Germany, Berlin is considering opening the country’s first legal cannabis shop. Uruguay plans to be the first nation in the world to fully legalise all aspects of the cannabis trade. In the US, more than 20 states now allow medical marijuana use, while recreational consumption has become legal in Alaska, Oregon, Washington and Colorado.

But, as Marie and Zölitz observe in their paper: “With scarce empirical evidence on its societal impact, these policies are mainly being implemented without governments knowing about their potential impact.

“We think this newfound effect on productivity from a change in legal access to cannabis is not negligible and should be, at least in the short run, politically relevant for any societal drug legalisation and prohibition  decision-making,” Marie said. “In the bigger picture, our findings also indicate that soft drug consumption behaviour is affected by their legal accessibility, which has not been causally demonstrated before.”

The research is likely to be seized upon by anti-legalisation campaigners.  But Marie was at pains to say the research should simply be used to raise awareness of an often overlooked aspect of drug use: its impact on the individual’s cognitive ability.  “If marijuana is legalised like it is in many states in the US, we should at least inform consumers about the negative consequences of their drug choices.”

It will also feed into the debate about THC levels in cannabis, which are becoming ever stronger. Levels of THC in marijuana sold in Maastricht’s coffee shops are around double those in the US. “Considering the massive impact on cognitive performance high levels of THC have, I think it is reasonable to at least inform young users much more on consequences of consuming such products as compared with that of having a beer or pure vodka,” Marie said.  History suggests that prohibition often results in the illicit drug or alcohol trade producing ever stronger products.

Campaigners for liberalisation argue that it could help bring THC levels down and allow users to know what they are buying. The authors concede that their findings could turn out to be different if they were to replicate their study in a country that did not have restrictions on cannabis use.  Marie said his work had helped inform his discussions with his teenage son.  “I have a 13-year old boy and I do extensively share this with him as a precautionary measure so that he can make the best informed choice if he is faced with the decision of whether to consume cannabis or not.”

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/apr/11/cannabis-smokers-risk-poorer-grades-dutch-study-legalisation

Several students and visitors from Wesleyan University were hospitalized on February 22 after taking the club drug MDMA. U.S. DEA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS/REUTERS

At least 11 people from the Wesleyan University campus in Middletown, Connecticut, were hospitalized on Sunday with symptoms consistent with drug overdoses. School officials and emergency responders are blaming MDMA, also known as Molly, a form of the drug ecstasy that medical experts say has become increasingly popular on college campuses.

Though some reports said 11 people had received medical treatment, Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth put the number at 12 in an email to students on Monday. That includes 10 students and two visitors.

“I ask all students: Please, please stay away from illegal substances, the use of which can put you in extreme danger. One mistake can change your life forever,” Roth wrote. “And please keep those still hospitalized in your hearts and minds. Please join me in supporting their recovery with your prayers, thoughts and friendship.”

In a statement on Monday, a Middletown Police Department spokeswoman, Lieutenant Heather Desmond, wrote that her department would be involved in an investigation into “the origin of the drugs taken” and to “determine the extent of the criminal involvement in the case.”

A spokeswoman for Middlesex Hospital tells Newsweek it treated 11 people, three of whom are still there and four of whom were airlifted by helicopter to Hartford Hospital. She could not comment on the conditions of the three patients there. A spokeswoman for Hartford Hospital confirmed that four people were there. She too could not speak to their conditions. The police spokeswoman wrote that two individuals are in critical condition and two are in serious condition.

Middletown Fire Chief Robert Kronenberger tells Newsweek his department made seven runs to Wesleyan related to the incident on Sunday after receiving calls between 7:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. It rendered aid to eight individuals, including two people in a single dorm room. “We saw the trend and we worked with the university and the police department to notify them of the trend,” Kronenberger says. “We’ve never had anything to this extent,” he says, referring to health and safety issues at Wesleyan. “A couple of them were in some serious dire straits,” he says about the students, adding that they were cooperative. “As a parent of two college-age students, this definitely concerns me and hopefully something to this extent will open eyes,” he says.

Wesleyan’s student newspaper, The Wesleyan Argus, first reported about the incident on its website on Sunday after the school’s vice president for student affairs, Michael Whaley, sent a series of emails to students.

Medical experts say MDMA use on college campuses has grown in recent years, and while there have been reports of bad reactions to the drug, it appears the Wesleyan incident is the most widespread.

In 2013, a University of Virginia sophomore collapsed at a nightclub after taking MDMA and later died. Students at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York; Plymouth State University in Plymouth, New Hampshire; and Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas have also died after taking the drug. In 2013, organizers of the Electric Zoo music festival in New York City cut the event short after two people died while taking MDMA, including a University of New Hampshire student.

“This age group is a risk-taking group that is willing to follow their friend wherever they go, and if the person next to them is popping a pill, then they’re going to do it too,” says Dr. Mark Neavyn, director of medical toxicology at Hartford Hospital, who treats patients there for MDMA overdoses.

“I think the popular culture engine kind of made it seem safer in some way,” Neavyn says, referring to references to the drug by the singers Miley Cyrus and Madonna that made headlines.

But when it comes to MDMA, people are rarely taking what they think they’re taking, the doctor says.

According to Neavyn, symptoms of an MDMA overdose include fast heart rate, high blood pressure, delirium, elevated body temperature and alterations in consciousness. Extreme cases could involve cardiac arrhythmia and seizures.

Wesleyan, which has about 2,900 full-time undergraduate students and 200 graduate students, also apparently dealt with MDMA-related issues last semester. As the Argus reported, the school’s Health Services Department emailed students on September 16 following a series of MDMA-related hospitalizations.

One former Wesleyan student from the class of 2011, who requested anonymity when discussing drug use, says the news is not surprising, given the prevalence of drugs on campus. “Anything you can imagine…would be readily available there,” the person says. “I don’t think at Wesleyan you need [a campus event] to take drugs. If it’s sunny, there’s probably a good percentage of people that are taking something.”

The campus activities calendar did not show any major events scheduled for Saturday or Sunday.

Another former Wesleyan student from the class of 2012, who also requested anonymity, says the drug culture at Wesleyan is comparable to that at similar schools. “It’s one of those things where, much like at those schools, you kind of have an understanding of where you can go to get it and who had it,” the person says. “If there’s a will there’s a way.”

www.newsweek.com weds Feb. 2015

It started with a wine cooler, said Paige Cederna, describing that first sweet, easy-to-down drink she experienced as a “magic elixir.” 

“I had no inhibitions with alcohol,” said Ms. Cederna, 24. “I could talk to guys and not worry about anyone judging me. I remember being really proud the day I learned to chug a beer. I couldn’t get that feeling fast enough.” But before long, to get over “that feeling,” she was taking Adderall to get through the days.

But it was now more than three years since she drank her last drop of alcohol and used a drug for nonmedical reasons. Her “sober date,” she told the group, many nodding their heads encouragingly, was July 8, 2011.

Ms. Cederna’s story of addiction and recovery, told in a clear, strong voice, was not being shared at a 12-step meeting or in a treatment center. Instead, it was presented on a cool autumn day, in a classroom on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, to a group of 30 undergraduate students in their teens and early 20s.

On the panel with Ms. Cederna were two other Michigan graduate students. Hannah Miller, 27, declared her “sober date” as Oct. 5, 2010, while Ariel Britt, 29, announced hers as Nov. 6, 2011. Like Ms. Cederna’s, Ms. Britt’s problems with drugs and alcohol started in her freshman year at Michigan, while Ms. Miller’s began in high school. All three are participants in a university initiative, now two years old, called the Collegiate Recovery Program.

Staying sober in college is no easy feat. “Pregaming,” as it is called on campus (drinking before social or sporting events), is rampant, and at Michigan it can start as early as 8 a.m. on a football Saturday. The parties take place on the porches and lawns of fraternities, the roofs and balconies of student houses, and clandestinely in dormitories — everywhere but inside the academic buildings.

For this reason — because the culture of college and drinking are so synonymous — in September 2012 the University of Michigan joined what are now 135 Collegiate Recovery communities on campuses all over the country. While they vary in size from small student-run organizations to large embedded university programs, the aim is the same: to help students stay sober while also thriving in college.

“It shouldn’t be that a young person has to choose to either be sober or go to college,” said Mary Jo Desprez, who started Michigan’s Collegiate Recovery Program as the director of Michigan’s Wolverine Wellness department. “These kids, who have the courage to see their problem early on, have the right to an education, too, but need support,” she said, calling it a “social justice, diversity issue.” Matthew Statman, the full-time clinical social worker who has run Michigan’s program since it began in 2012, added, “We want them to feel proud, not embarrassed, by their recovery.”

At the panel presentation, Ms. Britt, who temporarily dropped out of Michigan as an undergraduate, shared with the students her anxiety when she finally sobered up and decided to return to campus. “I had so many memories of throwing up in bushes here,” she said. “I wanted to have fun, but I also had no idea how to perform without partying.”

Ms. Cederna also remembers what it felt like to return to Michigan sober her senior year. Not only did she lose most of her friends (“Everyone I knew on campus drank,” she said), but she also dropped out of her sorority (“I was only in it to drink,” she said). “I ended up alone in the library a lot watching Netflix,” she said. Molly Payton, 24 (now a senior who once fell off an eight-foot ledge, drunk and high at a party), said, “I read all the Harry Potter books alone in my room my first months clean.”

Everything changed, however, when these students learned there were other students facing the same issues. Ms. Cederna first found Students for Recovery, a small student-run organization that, until the Collegiate Recovery Program began, was the only available support group on Michigan’s campus besides local 12-step meetings, most of which tend toward an older demographic.

“Through S.F.R., I ended up having five new friends,” she said of the organization, which still exists but is now run by the 25 to 30 Collegiate Recovery Program students; both groups meet every other week in the health center. The main difference between the two is that students in the Collegiate Recovery Program have to already be sober and sign a “commitment contract” that they will stay clean throughout college through a well-outlined plan of structure. Students for Recovery is aimed at those who are still seeking recovery, may be further into their recovery or want to support others in recovery.

When a young student incredulously asked the panel, “How do you possibly socialize in college without alcohol?” Ms. Britt, Collegiate Recovery Program’s social chairwoman, rattled off a list of its activities — sober tailgates, a pumpkin-carving night, volleyball games, dance parties, study groups, community service projects and even a film screening of “The Anonymous People” that attracted some 600 students. “But we also just hang out together a lot,” she said.

Indeed, looking around the organization’s lounge just before the holidays (a small, cordoned-off corner on the fourth floor of the health center, minimally decorated with ratty couches, a table and a small bookshelf stocking titles like “Wishful Drinking” and “Smashed”), it was hard to believe some of these young adults were once heroin addicts who had spent time in jail. On the contrary, they looked like model students, socializing over soft drinks and snacks as they celebrated one student who had earned back his suspended license.

“By far the biggest benefit to our students in the recovery program is the social component,” said Mr. Statman, who is hoping a current development campaign may provide more funding. (The program is currently supported by a mandatory student health tuition fee.) “Let’s just say, we all wish we could be Texas Tech,” he said.

The Collegiate Recovery Program was established at Texas Tech decades ago, and it is now one of the largest, with 120 recovery students enrolled (along with Rutgers University and Augsburg College in Minneapolis). Thanks to a $3 million endowment, the Texas Tech program now offers scholarships as well as substance-free trips abroad. The students there have access to an exclusive lounge outfitted with flat-screen TVs, a pool table and a Ping-Pong table, kitchen, study carrels and a seminar room. Entering freshmen in recovery even have their own dormitory.

“We found that simply putting them on the substance-free halls didn’t work,” said Kitty Harris, who, until recently, was the director for more than a decade of Texas Tech’s program (she remains on the faculty). “Most of the kids on substance-free floors are just there to make their parents happy.” (The Michigan students in the recovery program mostly live off campus for the same reason; they do not have their own housing.)

“Most students begin experimenting innocently in college with drugs and alcohol,” said Mr. Statman, who just celebrated his 13th year in recovery. “Then there are the ones who react differently. They are not immoral, pleasure-seeking hedonists, they are simply vulnerable, and for their whole life.”

Rates of substance-use disorders triple from 5.2 percent in adolescence to 17.3 percent in early adulthood, according to 2013 data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. It thus makes this developmental stage critical to young people’s future.

It is at the drop-in Students for Recovery meetings where one often sees nervous new faces. At the beginning of one meeting at Michigan last semester, a young woman introduced herself as, “One day sober.” Shortly afterward, a young man spoke up, “I am five days sober.” Danny (who asked that his last name not be published), a graduating recovery program senior applying to medical schools, later explained an important tenet all of them know from their various 12-step programs. “The most important person in the room is the new person,” he said, adding that after the Students for Recovery meetings, members try to approach any new participants, directing them to the C.R.P. website and to Mr. Statman, who is always on call for worried students.

“In the same way a diabetic might not always get their sugar levels right, part of addiction is relapsing, and we really don’t want our students to see that as a failure if it happens,” said Mr. Statman, adding that it is often the other students in the program who tell him if they suspect a student is using again.

Jake Goldberg, 22, now a junior, arrived at Michigan three years ago as a freshman already in recovery. “I did really well the first five months,” he said. “I was sober. I was loud and proud on panels, but I had internal reservations. I had few friends and felt like I wanted to be more a part of the school.” He recalled that in the spring of his freshman year, he suddenly found himself trying heroin for the first time. “I should have died,” he said, remembering how he woke up 14 hours later, dazed and bruised.

After straightening up, Mr. Goldberg relapsed again his sophomore year when he thought he might be able to have just one drink. “That drink led to drugs and to more drinking,” he said, remembering how Mr. Statman and Ms. Desprez called him into their office one day. “They told me this is not going to end well,” he said. Now sober two years, Mr. Goldberg said: “I now live recovery with all the structure, but I also am in a prelaw fraternity. When they drink a beer, I drink a Red Bull.”

Ms. Miller echoed Mr. Goldberg’s feelings over coffee one day on the Michigan campus. “Most of us did not get sober just to go to meetings all the time,” she said. “We want to live life too.” She also said that socializing with nonrecovery students is still challenging. “I went to a small party recently where everyone was eating pot edibles and drinking top-shelf liquor,” she said. “I got a bit squirrely in my head and had to leave.”

But now students in the Collegiate Recovery Program have a new place in Ann Arbor they can frequent: Brillig Dry Bar, a pop-up, alcohol-free spot that serves up spiced pear sodas and cranberry sours and features live jazz. And in March, four of the students in the program are joining dozens of recovery students from other colleges on a six-day, five-night, “Clean Break” in Florida, arranged by Blue Community, an organization that hosts events and vacations for young adults in recovery. (The vacation package includes music, guest speakers, beach sports and daily transport to local 12-step meetings.)

“My hope is that we continue to get more students who need a safe zone to our social events,” said Ms. Britt, who is about to publicize a “sober skating night” in March at the university ice rink. “They would see you can have a lot of fun in college without drinking.

“And honestly, we really do have fun.”

  source: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/03/01/style/not-the-usual-college-party-

 

A study published Wednesday found that consuming large flavored alcoholic beverages can increase risk for binge drinking and related alcohol injuries for underage drinkers. PHOTO BY EMILY ZABOSKI/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Super-sized flavored alcoholic beverages can increase the risk of binge drinking and alcohol-related injuries for underage drinkers, researchers from Johns Hopkins University and Boston University found in a study, a Wednesday press release stated.

The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health on Feb. 25, found that underage drinkers who reported consuming malts, premixed cocktails and alcopops drank more on average and were more likely to experience “episodic heavy drinking,” the report stated. About 1,000 people ages 13 to 20 were surveyed online.

David Jernigan, an author of the study and director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing at Johns Hopkins, said heavier drinking occurs with these flavored beverages because of the serving sizes. Most of these beverages hold the equivalent of 4 to 5 beers in one container, he said.

“We particularly found the correlations between the largest size of these drinks and negative behaviors because one of these super-sized drinks is the equivalent of four to five beers,” he said. “Even though the can may have serving size though most don’t, teens are treating them as a single serving. Some people in the field call it a binge in a can.”

Study co-author Alison Albers, a professor in BU’s School of Public Health, said the study brings up important issues and will help determine future policies.

“These findings raise important concerns about the popularity and use of flavored alcoholic beverages among young people, particularly for the supersized varieties,” she said in the release. “Public health practitioners and policymakers would be wise to consider what further steps could be taken to keep these beverages out of the hands of youth.”

Jernigan said careful packaging should be implemented in the production of super-sized beverages.

“The re-sealable top is more of a joke,” he said. “These are being treated as a single serving, and the results suggest this may be a dangerous form of packaging.”

Katharine Mooney, director of Wellness and Prevention Services at BU, said the university takes steps to prevent the overconsumption of alcohol.

“We discourage against any kind of risky behavior, and these oversized sugar sweetened beverages definitely all into the category of risky,” she said. “[It’s] just like a punch bowl at a party.”

Mooney said because the drinks do not taste entirely like alcohol, it is difficult to determine how much alcohol is in them, which often leads to over drinking. Over drinking can affect students’ physical, social and academic wellbeing.

The Boston University Police Department has noted that the number of alcohol violations and transports for the spring 2015 semester has increased compared to numbers from the spring 2014 semester, The Daily Free Press reported Thursday.

Mooney said BU Student Health Services tries to do whatever possible to inform students about the dangers of binge drinking and learn how to drink in a less dangerous way.

“One of the things we work really hard to educate students about our standard drink portion. A standard beer has the same alcohol content as one shot,” she said. “A student needs to be particularly aware of what they are consuming when drinking these so that they don’t drink more than they intend to.”

Several students said they recognize how super-sized flavored drinks can be risky.

Brock Guzman, a freshman in the College of Engineering, said the drinks are popular because of their cheap prices, and because some items contain caffeine, young drinkers find them even more appealing.

“It’s appealing because you can get really drunk and you stay awake,” he said. “They have caffeine in them and don’t really taste like alcohol.”

Sergio Araujo, a junior in Metropolitan College, said he has seen a friend in a dangerous scenario after consuming Four Loko, a popular super-sized alcoholic beverage. Though Four Loko’s contents used to include caffeine, the company chose to remove caffeine from their product in 2010.

“One guy I know drank them a lot, and he left a party alone, then he got lost in a snowstorm and was too drunk to find his way home,” he said. “He almost had to sleep in the snow.”

Jaqui Manning, a freshman in the College of General Studies, said she has seen firsthand the consequences when others drink the types of alcoholic beverages described in the study, as well as the products that contain caffeine.

“I’ve heard a lot of people have had really bad experiences with them,” she said. “Especially drinking them really fast is really dangerous because not only is there alcohol, but there is so much sugar and caffeine that goes into it, and your body sometimes can’t handle it.”

Source:  http://dailyfreepress.com/flavored-alcohol     6th March 2015

Excessive alcohol consumption is a leading cause of premature death in the U.S. and responsible for one in every 10 deaths. The statistics that describe the ways in which we drink ourselves to death are staggering. A study published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease found that nearly 70% of deaths due to excessive drinking involved working-age adults. The study also found that about 5% of the deaths involved people younger than age 21.  Moreover, excessive alcohol use shortened the lives of those who died by about 30 years. Yes, 30 years.

One strong factor that reinforces the popular culture surrounding drinking is the glamour of advertising. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health examined alcohol-advertising placements to determine whether the alcohol industry had kept its word to refrain from advertising targeting young people. This included television programs for which more than 30% of the viewing audience is likely to be younger than 21 years, the legal drinking age in every state.

The study found that alcohol related advertising increased by 71% in the last decade; this is largely attributed to exposure on cable television. That increase coincided with a reported upsurge of alcohol consumption by high school students. In conclusion, the study suggested that if the National Research Council/Institute of Medicine’s proposed threshold of 15% exposure to advertising was implemented, young viewers would see 54% fewer alcohol ads and society would see a correlating decrease in alcohol related deaths.

What about those “drink responsibly” admonitions on so many commercials? Federal regulations do not require responsibility statements in alcohol advertising. The alcohol industry’s voluntary codes for marketing and promotion emphasize responsibility, but they provide no definition for responsible drinking. So when you see the admonition to “drink responsibly” at the end of an alcohol-related television commercial, there is no idea given as to exactly what that may mean, particularly to someone under the legal drinking age.

David Jernigan, PhD, director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said:

The contradiction between appearing to promote responsible drinking and the actual use of ‘drink responsibly’ messages to reinforce product promotion suggests that these messages can be deceptive and misleading.”

Youth who start drinking before age 15 years are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who begin drinking at or after age 21 years according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Alcohol advertising influences many people across a wide range of demographics. Regardless of the warning labels on alcohol containers, community prevention programs and general public knowledge of the risks of excessive alcohol consumption, people continue to drink in health-damaging ways. Drinking in public, at sporting events, in parks, during celebrations, etc., is firmly embedded in society as acceptable behavior. At the same time, the large number of alcohol related deaths among all age groups is a concern, especially when this drinking behavior is generally developed while individuals are underage.

Alcohol use is a major public health problem that can lead to social, financial, and health related setbacks and premature death. Talk to health care professional if you or someone close to you is struggling with excessive alcohol consumption.

Source: www.psychcentral.com/science-addiction/2014/10

As social acceptance and public policy around marijuana shift, and especially if legalized recreational use becomes more widespread, we will need to consider the influence and potential regulation of its marketing.  For this, we should use what we already know from the science to guide our decisions and policies to minimize harm, because inevitably, advertising is going to reach children and adolescents, people who are addicted to marijuana, and those of all ages who are on their way to becoming addicted.

Ads for addictive substances—including tobacco and alcohol and fattening foods—have the obvious intent of generating new customers as well as enticing current users to use more, but that’s not all they do. Marketers know that by associating such products with other pleasurable stimuli and situations, ads contribute to reinforcing those positive associations in the brains of users, and thus contribute to the process of developing an addiction. 

Drug addiction is a disease of learning—learning to associate drugs with positive feelings and to associate cues that signal drug availability with similar feelings, ultimately leading to craving for the drug.  This part of the addictive progression is known as conditioning, discovered in the 1890s by Pavlov. Today we also understand the brain mechanisms that underlie the phenomenon: Once a person becomes conditioned to drug-related stimuli, those stimuli independently become associated with increases in dopamine in the brain’s reward pathway (i.e., without the drug even being present). These dopamine bursts fuel drug-seeking and craving. The same process can cause such stimuli to act as triggers contributing to relapse in those who are already addicted and are struggling to recover.

When there are salient advertisements for a product, it’s very hard to contain them, because images don’t even need to reach the level of conscious awareness to stimulate the urge to use that product. Recent neuroimaging research has confirmed the brain’s extraordinary sensitivity to “unseen” rewarding stimuli: A 2008 fMRI study by Anna Rose Childress and colleagues confirmed that limbic circuitry respond to drug (as well as sexual) reward cues that are too fleeting to be consciously registered. Also, because of the reach of the Internet, it will be hard to restrict exposure to marijuana advertising just to people in states where it is legal, or just to people old enough to purchase it.

For decades we have seen the harmful effects that alcohol and tobacco ads can have, especially those that target young people; similar associations have been found between exposure to food advertising and obesity. The relative harm of marijuana compared to other legal drugs remains hotly contested, but its potential addictiveness—especially to young people—is undisputed. Thus, it is crucial that states consider the lessons learned from tobacco and alcohol policy research and restrict (or preclude) marijuana advertising to reduce as much as possible the development of newly addicted individuals and avoid inducing relapse in people who are already addicted.

Source: www.drugabuse.gov October 23, 2014

Here is a challenge for President Obama’s recently confirmed Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy—will he confront what is becoming the largest immediate health risk to American youth: brain damage resulting from increased use of high-potency marijuana, which follows prominent drug legalization efforts in states and communities nationwide?

Murthy acquired some political notoriety by casting guns as a public health issue, but when it comes to marijuana, he has been, at best, reticent. Asked during Senate confirmation hearings about marijuana legalization, Murthy said more research needs to be done about the drug’s impact before conclusions are drawn. But all available evidence points in one, disturbing direction: frequent and early-onset marijuana use does major damage to IQ, memory, learning, and emotion. It’s hard to find a more perfect summons for a Surgeon General doing his public health duty.

And the link between legalization and increased use is becoming clearer by the day. The point was hammered home by the results of the 2014 Monitoring the Future study released yesterday by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The survey is school-based, reporting on the drug use of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders by type of drug used and by the frequency of use (lifetime, past year, and past month, as well as daily cigarette and marijuana use).

Researchers know that youth marijuana use is strongly related to perceptions of risk and norms of social disapproval. When marijuana use is perceived as a high risk and socially disapproved, marijuana use is low. When perceived risk or social disapproval decline, increased marijuana use will likely follow. Advocates for marijuana legalization ignore this basic point—it is their claims that marijuana is a “medicine,” and their support for marijuana’s legal, recreational status, that lead children and young adults to discount the very serious risks they face in using this drug. One can tell people that rattlesnakes make good pets. But don’t be surprised when tragedy ensues.

While this year’s Monitoring the Future study shows marijuana use relatively flat since 2013, the worrisome news lies in the results for youth attitudes and perceptions. NIDA notes a stunning five-year decline of fully 31 percent among 12th graders in perceived risks of smoking marijuana “regularly” (from 52.4 percent in 2009 to 36.1 percent in 2014).

Percent Perceiving Great Risk of Smoking Marijuana Regularly

The study also shows a sharp decline in the perceived risks of using marijuana “occasionally”—16.4 percent of surveyed 12th graders thought such use would cause harm, compared with 19.5 percent last year, a 16 percent decline in but a single year. The decline in perceptions of risk may be accelerating.

As norms of disapproval and perceptions of risk for tobacco use are thankfully rising, tobacco use has declined. Perversely, the societal message concerning marijuana is leading us in exactly the wrong direction, and more youth now use marijuana than tobacco.

Cigarettes and Marijuana use

Further, the use of marijuana by youth is in fact steadily up, if you analyze these data over a longer time period than, for example, the Denver Post‘s headlines would have you do. Since 2007, lifetime, past year, past month, and daily use of marijuana among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders combined have all increased (by 13916, and 22 percent in the respective categories). Surely the declining perceived risk of marijuana’s harmfulness augers a worsening of these trends, which should deeply worry leaders and concerned citizens.

Equally troubling, consumption of marijuana “edibles” by youth is also strikingly up, and all the more so in states that have approved so-called “medical” marijuana. About 26 percent of 12th graders who reported using marijuana in the past year have consumed edibles laced with the marijuana intoxicant, THC. But in states with medical marijuana laws, the rate is 40 percent of 12th graders, a statistically significant difference. Again, it should not surprise us to find increased drug use in states that put the force of law behind a “medicine” that has not been approved by the Food & Drug Administration—these actions directly alter public perceptions of harm and do so with demonstrable effect: last year’s Monitoring the Future study showed in states with medical marijuana laws that a staggering 40.4 percent of high school seniors reported using marijuana in the past year. In states that do not allow medical marijuana, 29.7 percent of 12th graders reported marijuana use (though the difference between the categories did not attain statistical significance in this year’s study).

Though the results of Monitoring the Future are based on self-reports and hence subject to some misreporting, the study samples used are fairly robust, with more than 40,000 students participating (representing the approximately 18 million public and private high school students in the country). And generally speaking, the studies remain valuable in determining the impact of societal trends regarding drugs—indeed “predicting” the future, which is done in at least two important ways.

First, adolescent drug use presages subsequent drug use all throughout life, as drug use is largely an adolescent-onset behavioral disorder. Therefore, when youth use rates rise, we can expect the impact of that use to cascade through subsequent years. Conversely, the protective effect of shielding children from experimenting with drugs during adolescent years can literally last a lifetime.

Second, as we have seen, steep declines in norms and attitudes among youth regarding marijuana use and its dangers portend greater use in the future. This relationship of attitudes and values to subsequent drug use has been well documented in the Netherlands, a country notorious for its liberalized drug use policies (though policies that have been recently retrenched).

When cannabis coffee shops opened in Amsterdam, researchers did not find the expected surge in Dutch youth marijuana use—lifetime use among Dutch 18- to 20-year-olds was 15 percent in 1984. But as a new generation of Dutch youth came of age under the liberalized regime with commercialized cannabis and shifting social norms, marijuana use rose dramatically, with 44 percent of 18- to 20-year-olds reporting lifetime use in 1996—a threefold increase in just over a decade. 

We can similarly expect a looming social disaster if we do not take action to reverse course in our own country. “A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” a famous ad campaign once stressed in support of minority college education. Monitoring the Future showed us yesterday that the minds and well-being of all children and young adults remain at risk. How long must we wait before the Surgeon General casts politics aside and does his duty to the nation? How long before the Obama Administration confronts and rejects the travesty of legal, recreational marijuana?

Source:  http://www.hudson.org/research/10877-the-future-of-teen-drug-use-

The UK needs to be prepared for a steep rise in the number of young adults affected by a severe form of lung disease due to their regular cannabis and tobacco use – lung specialists will tell the British Thoracic Society Winter Meeting on Wednesday 3rd December.

An observational study in Bangor, North Wales analysed patients attending A&E with a severe and accelerated form of emphysema linked to their high use of cannabis and tobacco.

Some patients were in their 30s and the whole sample had smoked 5 ‘joints’ a day – or more – for at least a decade.

Eight patients presenting with advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (the umbrella term for a collection of lung diseases including chronic bronchitis and emphysema), aged 35-48 years, were studied by researchers at Ysbyty Gwynedd, a Bangor hospital, over 2 years.

In four cases the lung damage was severe enough to require long term oxygen therapy and one patient is still awaiting a suitable lung transplant.

Researchers believe high cannabis and tobacco use was the major cause of the aggressive and advanced emphysema, independent of any genetic susceptibility, as all the patients had normal levels of the genes alpha 1 antitrypsin and chymotypsin.

Deficiencies of these genes can lead to the development of lung disease in some people.

Studies across the globe have also begun to pick up on this advanced and severe emphysema affecting young to middle aged people who use illicit drugs.

In Australia smoking cannabis through a bong device, has led to the rise of what experts are now calling ‘bong lung.’

Emphysema, a debilitating condition in which the air sacs of the lungs are damaged and enlarged, is mainly caused by tobacco use, and has historically affected people later in life.

Researchers think that the lungs may become damaged more quickly in cannabis users who smoke the drug with tobacco because:

·         A ‘joint’ can often be smoked without a filter – leaving smokers exposed to damaging chemicals from a ‘double whammy’ of both tobacco and cannabis

·         Cannabis smokers tend to inhale for longer – leading to the body retaining more chemical content – increasing the burden of smoke particles and carbon monoxide

·         The heavy chemical load is delivered at a potentially damaging temperature

·         Modern cannabis is now much stronger with a higher potential for damage

Dr Damian Mckeon, a consultant in respiratory medicine at Ysbyty Gwynedd, and Honorary Senior Lecturer at Bangor University, said: ‘We are seeing young people on the wards with the lungs of 80 year olds after less than a decade of smoking cannabis and tobacco.

Our study was in a rural region of North Wales but we believe these cases may represent the tip of the iceberg.

There are communities of young people all across the UK, often living in areas of high deprivation and unemployment, who smoke spliffs regularly.

They are putting their health and futures in grave danger.

Cannabis is far stronger these days and we are seeing the emergence of a new severe form of emphysema – which could lead to people struggling for breath for the rest of their life.

We urgently need a detailed study across the UK which analyses the national picture of cannabis-use and lung disease.’

Dr Bernard Higgins, Chairman of the British Thoracic Society’s Executive Committee, and consultant lung specialist at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle said: ‘This study is yet another small but persuasive piece of a jigsaw pointing to a real danger of regularly smoking joints.

The Government should monitor this emerging evidence carefully and take it into account when considering future drugs and smoking policy.

We must do all we can to stop lung disease blighting the lives of future generations and an innovative education campaign is key.

We also need to ramp up programmes to tackle the underlying reasons behind young people’s risk taking behaviour. We need better data on the national picture, and if hot spot areas can be identified we can then target both NHS services and prevention efforts more effectively.’

Recent UN data shows:

·         Cannabis is the most widely used drug among pupils aged 11-15 years in 2012 with 7.5% reporting they had taken it in the last year

·         Cannabis is also the most commonly used drug among adults aged 16-59, with 6.4% of adults using it in 2012. The next commonly used drug was powder cocaine

Another study presented at the meeting by researchers from the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital Trust, found that people who took illicit drugs such as crack and heroin were nearly 3 times more likely to need emergency hospital treatment to help them breathe (noninvasive ventilation) after a worsening of their lung condition – compared with current or ex tobacco smokers.

A further piece of research by the Hospital’s research unit (Royal Respiratory Research) found that nearly three quarters of follow up hospital appointments weren’t being attended by illicit drug smokers after they’d recently been discharged from hospital after a worsening of their lung condition.

The researchers believe community outreach work could offer a better way to engage with drug-users.

A ‘one stop shop’ approach could encompass advice, services and treatment for both their lung and drug problems – including: a medical review, stop smoking counselling, inhaler technique reviews, medication checks and drug prescriptions.

Source:   http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-12-uk-verge-steep-lung-disease.html

Abstract

Poor diet, physical inactivity, tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption are major risk factors for chronic disease and premature mortality. These behaviours are of concern among higher education students and may be linked to psychological distress which is problematic particularly for students on programmes with practicum components such as nursing and teaching. Understanding how risk behaviours aggregate and relate to psychological distress and coping among this population is important for health promotion. This research examined, via a comprehensive survey undergraduate nursing/midwifery and teacher education students’ (n = 1557) lifestyle behaviour (Lifestyle Behaviour Questionnaire), self-reported psychological distress (General Health Questionnaire) and coping processes (Ways of Coping Questionnaire).

The results showed that health- risk behaviours were common, including alcohol consumption (93.2%), unhealthy diet (26.3%), physical inactivity (26%), tobacco smoking (17%), cannabis use (11.6%) and high levels of stress (41.9%). Students tended to cluster into two groups: those with risk behaviours (n = 733) and those with positive health behaviours (n = 379). The group with risk behaviours had high psychological distress and used mostly passive coping strategies such as escape avoidance. The potential impact on student health and academic achievement is of concern and suggests the need for comprehensive health promotion programmes to tackle multiple behaviours.

As these students are the nurses and teachers of the future, their risk behaviours, elevated psychological distress and poor coping also raise concerns regarding their roles as future health educators/promoters  Attention to promotion of health and well-being among this population is essential.

© The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.

Source: Health Promot Int. 2014 Oct 14. pii: dau086. [Epub ahead of print]

* Liberal Democrats held up Portugal as shining example on ‘drugs war’

* But since legalisation the number of children users has more than doubled

* In 1995 8% of teenagers had tried drugs but after new law it rose to 19%

* More children under 13 have also tried cannabis since laws were relaxed

The nation held up by the Liberal Democrats yesterday as a shining example of how to win the war on drugs is far from the unqualified success story they make out.

For the number of children using drugs in Portugal has more than doubled since the country’s laws were liberalised, the latest figures show. A decade after the law was relaxed, nearly a fifth of 15 and 16-year-olds use drugs – well over twice the number in the years before decriminalisation.

The controversial Home Office report commissioned by the Liberal Democrats states: ‘It is clear that there has not been a lasting and significant increase in drug use in Portugal since 2001.’ But the evidence suggests otherwise.

The most recent independent report on what is happening in Portugal shows that in 1995 eight per cent of Portuguese teenagers had tried drugs.

In 1999, when laws began to be relaxed, it was 12 per cent.

But after decriminalisation in 2001, it rose to 18 per cent in 2003 and 19 per cent in 2011. The picture for cannabis use is similar. In 1995, only 7 per cent of Portuguese teens had tried the drug but by 2011 the figure was 16 per cent.

The report, by the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs, looked at 100,000 15 and 16-year-olds across Europe. Its most alarming finding covers children under 13 in Portugal.

In 1999, 2 per cent had tried cannabis. By 2003, that had risen to 4 per cent and remained at that level in 2011.

The Home Office report based its contrary findings on evidence from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, the EU drugs watchdog, which is based in Lisbon. But even the watchdog’s verdict on Portugal is contradictory.

It has not endorsed Portugal’s own drug abuse figures from a 2012 survey, saying the results are not yet available. But it adds that the country’s survey of children’s health ‘indicates an increase in the prevalence of cannabis use in the period 2006-10’.

The EU watchdog endorses ESPAD’s verdict. ‘The most recent ESPAD study corroborates the findings, showing an increase in consumption of illicit substances since 2006,’ its report on Portugal says. ‘This trend is observed among both male and female students.

However the Home Office report accepted, without qualification or reference to other sources, the Portuguese government’s figures produced by Portugal’s drug control agency SICAD.

It says that among all Portuguese adults the proportion that had used cannabis in the last year was 3.3 per cent in 2001, 3.6 per cent in 2007 and 2.7 per cent in 2012. On the basis of these figures, the Home Office report said: ‘Following decriminalisation in Portugal there has not been a lasting increase in adult drug use.’

There is, however, a question over the figures. The director of SICAD is Dr Joao Goulao, an influential political figure widely hailed as the architect of decriminalisation. He is publicly proud of the ‘success’ of his policy and boasted in 2012 of frequent visits by ‘politicians, doctors, experts and journalists from around the world’.

Critics say he has an interest in publishing figures to back his case. Kathy Gyngell, research fellow for the right-leaning British think tank Centre for Policy Studies, said: ‘The same man who introduced the policy is responsible for producing the figures.

‘Dr Goulao clearly has an interest in making the figures look good.’

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2815084/Portugal-decriminalised-drugs-Results-Use-teens-doubled-decade-nearly-fifth-15-16-year-olds-using-drugs.html#ixzz3HigpFzI8 

HOSPITALS across Bristol are under pressure from hundreds of admissions as a result of alcohol-poisoning – including more than 60 cases involving children.

The Department of Health figures released in the House of Commons show that there were 1,510 admissions in 2012-13 where alcohol poisoning was identified as the primary or secondary diagnosis.

While most cases involved adults, 62 admissions involved youngsters under the age of 18. Of those, 18 were aged between 11 and 16.

University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the city centre hospitals, had 970 people admitted with alcohol-poisoning, including 40 minors. North Bristol NHS Trust, in charge of Southmead and Frenchay during the time covered by the statistics, recorded 540 comparable admissions, of which 22 were children.

Figures for the same year showed there were 3,748 alcohol abuse-related admissions among children younger than 18 years old in England, of which 52 were under 11.

Labour MP Kerry McCarthy said it was regrettable that the Government scrapped plans to introduce a minimum pricing on alcohol.

The Bristol East MP said: “It’s worrying to see the number of people being admitted to hospital in Bristol due to alcohol poisoning, particularly young people under the age of 18 and even 16.”

Ms McCarthy said more needed to be done to educate young people about the dangers of drinking too much, as well as greater support for local services, which can help problem drinkers overcome their addiction.

A commitment to introduce a 45p minimum unit price for alcohol to deter youngsters and other drinkers from buying cheap alcohol was axed by the coalition in July last year, following lobbying by the drinks industry.

Earlier this year, the Government adopted a new approach, introducing a ban on the sale of alcohol below cost price (defined as the level of alcohol duty plus VAT), meaning that a can of average strength lager can now not be sold for less than 40p, while a standard bottle of vodka cannot be sold for less than £8.89.

The figures, which came in answer to a parliamentary question, show that there were also 21,401 admissions in 2012-13, where substance abuse was identified as the primary or secondary diagnosis, including 426 cases involving under-18s.

Maggie Telfer, chief executive of the Bristol Drugs Project, said the figures indicated that Bristol appeared to have a similar number of hospital admissions to other cities of a similar size.

Source: http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Young-Bristol-drinkers-admitted-hospital-alcohol/story-22786043-detail/story.html#ixzz3B1QYWsC6    August 20, 2014

Filed under: Alcohol,Youth :

A new study found that campaigns to prevent prescription drugs misuse can be more effective by focusing on peers and not peer pressure.

The study was conducted by researchers from Purdue University. The researchers evaluated survey interviews with 404 adults ages 18 to 29 who misused prescription drugs in the past 90 days. This included 214 in-person interviews. These individuals were recruited from popular nightlife locations such as bars, clubs, and lounges in New York City. Average misuse of prescription drugs, such as painkillers, sedatives and stimulants, was 38 times in the past 90 days.

“With the 18-29 age group we may be spending unnecessary effort working a peer pressure angle in prevention and intervention efforts. That does not appear to be an issue for this age group,” said study co-author Brian Kelly, a professor of sociology and anthropology who studies drug use and youth cultures, in a press statement. “Rather, we found more subtle components of the peer context as influential. These include peer drug associations, peers as points of drug access, and the motivation to misuse prescription drugs to have pleasant times with friends.”

“People normally think about peer pressure in that peers directly and actively pressure an individual to do what they are doing,” said Kelly, who also is director of Purdue’s Center for Research on Young People’s Health. “This study looks at that form of direct social pressure as well as more indirect forms of social pressure. We find that friends are not actively pressuring them, but it’s a desire to have a good time alongside friends that matters.”

For the study, researchers evaluated the role of peer factors on three prescription drug misuse outcomes: the frequency of misuse; administering drugs in ways other than swallowing, such as sniffing, smoking, and injecting the drugs; and symptoms of dependency on prescription drugs.

“We found that peer drug associations are positively associated with all three outcomes,” Kelly said. “If there are high perceived social benefits or low perceived social consequences within the peer network, they are more likely to lead to a greater frequency of misuse, as well as a greater use of non-oral methods of administration and a greater likelihood of displaying symptoms of dependence. The motivation to misuse prescription drugs to have a good time with friends is also associated with all three outcomes. The number of sources of drugs in their peer group also matters, which is notable since sharing prescription drugs is common among these young adults.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has officially declared that prescription drug abuse  in the United States is an epidemic.

As of 2012, overdose deaths involving prescription opioid analgesics, which are medications used to treat pain, have increased to almost 17,000 deaths a year in the United States. In 2013, only 16 percent of Americans believed that the United States is making progress in its efforts to reduce prescription drug abuse. Significantly more Americans, 37 percent, say the country is losing ground on the problem of prescription drug abuse. That figure is among the most pessimistic measures for any of the seven public health issues included in the survey.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Findings will be presented at the 109th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association by study co-author Alexandra Marin, a Purdue sociology doctoral student.

Source:  www.hngn.com   16th August 

 An early onset of drinking is a risk factor for subsequent heavy drinking and negative outcomes among high school students, finds a new study. 

Researchers asked 295 adolescent drinkers (163 females, 132 males) with an average age of 16 years to complete an anonymous survey about their substance use. These self-report questions assessed age at first intoxication – for example, “How old were you the first time you tried alcohol/got drunk?”  They also took stock of the previous month’s consumption of alcohol, including an assessment of the frequency of engaging in binge drinking.

“Teenagers who have their first drink at an early age drink more heavily, on average, than those who start drinking later on,” said Meghan E. Morean, an assistant professor of psychology at the Oberlin College, Ohio and adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine. The findings also suggest that how quickly teenagers move from having their first drink to getting drunk for the first time is an important piece of the puzzle.

“In total, having your first drink at a young age and quickly moving to drinking to the point of getting drunk are associated with underage alcohol use and binge drinking, which we defined as five or more drinks on an occasion in this study,” Morean noted. We would expect a teenager who had his first drink at age 14, and who got drunk at 15, to be a heavier drinker than a teenager who had his first drink at age 14, and waited to get drunk until age 18, researchers emphasised.

“The key finding here is that both age of first use and delay from first use to first intoxication serve as risk factors for heavy drinking in adolescence,” said William R. Corbin, associate professor and director of clinical training in the department of psychology at Arizona State University

The study is scheduled to be published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Source:  www.business-standrd.com  20th Sept 2014

Campaigners are warning Freshers starting university not to be lulled into a false sense of security by assuming that substances are not dangerous because they are not illegal

drug

A selection of ‘legal high’ drugs for sale in the United Kingdom Photo: Alamy

Almost one in five new students starting university this term has experimented with so-called legal highs, a new survey has found. 

A study conducted among fresher’s arriving at a large university in southern England, found that 19 per cent admitted trying one of the potentially lethal but legal substances in the past. A further 36 per cent of those questioned said they had been offered the drugs, while 61 per cent claimed to have a friend who had taken them.

Legal highs have become an increasing problem in recent years as unscrupulous manufacturers seek to mimic the effects of outlawed drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine and cannabis, with substances not on the Government’s banned list.

Last year there were more than 80 new legal psychoactive substances identified across the EU, and each time the authorities outlaw one, the chemists, often based in the Far East, simply tweak the formula and put it back on the market.

Such substances include stimulants called Clockwork Orange, Pink Panther, AMT as well as potently strong batches of synthetic cannabis, which can be four times as powerful as the strongest illegal version of the drug.

While such substances can be purchased entirely legally in shops on the high street, on stalls at festivals and online, they can be just as dangerous as Class A substances. Legal highs have been shown to cause heart attacks, strokes, organ damage through overheating, psychosis and in the most extreme cases death.

The UN Office of Drugs and Crime estimates the number of people in the UK aged between 15 and 24 who have tried legal highs could be in excess of 670,000, making this country the highest consumer in Europe.

Campaigners are now urging youngsters not to be fooled into thinking because they are not against the law, they are not dangerous.

The Angelus Foundation, which is the only British charity dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of legal highs and carried out the freshers’ survey is urging students and parents to get educated about the array of substances currently on the market. Maryon Stewart, who was inspired to set up the charity after her own daughter died taking the drug GBL which was legal at the time, said students were particularly vulnerable to the temptation.

She said: “There is no group more vulnerable to exposure to legal highs than students. Naturally, many take the opportunity to try new experiences and our survey shows one in four have already taken a legal high. Their prevalence appears to be rife. This revelation will be deeply worrying to many parents. “These substances can have highly unpredictable effects and are marketed with little regard for the serious damage they may inflict.

“Young people and parents alike should arm themselves with information on these dangerous substances. It could easily prevent further needless deaths and preserve the mental well-being of young people in the wider world.”

:: The Angelus Foundation has produced a short film offering information on the dangers of synthetic cannabis which can be viewed here:http://www.angelusfoundation.com/video/synthetic-cannabis-90sec-film/

Source:  www.telegraph.co.uk  28th Sept. 2014

Filed under: Legal Highs,Youth :

The United States is on the verge of having powdered alcohol – in packets like Kool-aid but with the punch of a rum or vodka cocktail – on sale across the country. After much confusion, Palcohol, which has seven flavours including Cosmopolitan and “Powderita” is on hold over problems with its labelling.

There is a lot we don’t know about this form of alcohol (although a version was patented as far back as 1964), but we know enough about how many young people might receive it and the troubles that are likely to come from putting this kind of product on the market. The makers of Palcohol have defended claims that their product could be used as a sneaky way of avoiding high drinks prices in venues and that the idea came as a neat way of avoiding carrying booze after a day of physical activities. In reality, it could be used in all sorts of ways.

What we do know is that powdered alcohol will probably be particularly appealing to young people, judging from their demonstrated preference for flavoured alcohol (take alcopops for example), and alcoholic jello. Many adults never imagined that alcoholic jello would take off among youth, but we know from recent research that these are not only popular, but also most popular among the kids who drink the most. Powdered alcohol is also easily concealable, which will make it more feasible for people who are underage to get hold of, travel with and consume, in both liquid and food form. Palcohol’s makers appear to have been caught off guard after the Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) announced approval for the product. They hastily changed marketing for their product. Their website had suggested mixing it with guacamole (for “kamikaze guacamole”), salad or other foods as part of their plans to market the product while pointing out that this does not add flavor to the dish, just alcohol.

What’s an average mixed drink?

The producers of Palcohol suggest adding five ounces of liquid to make “one average mixed drink”. It isn’t too big a leap to suggest that drinkers will experiment with adding less liquid and using multiple packets to strengthen the effects – something you can’t do with a regular bottle of drink.

When it comes to alcohol consumption in its traditional liquid form there can be a narrow margin of safety before brain stem functions like breathing, heartbeat rhythm and the gagging reflex begin to shut down when large amounts are consumed over a short space of time, as the fallout from the Neknomination craze has shown. When drinking over a two-hour time period brain stem function may be impaired for average sized men and women respectively at approximately 13 and 10 standard drinkservings of alcohol. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines the threshold of low risk drinking as no more than four and three drinks in any one day and 14 and seven in any one week period for men and women respectively. The possibility of consuming multiple packets could be dangerous.

Alcohol poisoning is already on the rise: hospitalisations of 18 to 24-year-olds related to alcohol overdoses in the US increased by 67% between 1999 and 2008. The hospitalisation of 26 teens aged 14 to 18 after loading up with drink before a Whiz Khalifa concert in New York shows that alcohol is already too accessible without making it available in packets that are easy to slip into a coat, a classroom or a concert. And of course, what better way to maximise the high than to add Palcohol to beverage alcohol, for at least twice the effect?

Stealth intoxication

The manufacturers have said they only promote responsible drinking, including asking people to make sure they find out whether they can take the product into venues. But we know very little about this new vehicle of alcohol delivery: is it easily detectable when added to other drinks? Could it be used as another form of stealth intoxication in a manner similar to other drugs used to facilitate sexual assaults, for example? If the company suggest adding it to food but say it doesn’t affect taste, does this up the chances of some unsuspecting person consuming it? Experience in multiple countries with alcopops has shown this type of product and marketing attracts young people at earlier ages, putting them at higher risk for addiction and other negative consequences than those who wait until they are older to drink.

In the US, regulation falls between a number of entities but the Treasury Department’s Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has the most power to regulate alcohol and control decisions through labelling and alcohol taxes. It is the agency that recently gave and then within days and without public explanation withdrew labelling approval for Palcohol to go on the market. It is also possible that the Food and Drug Administration could prevent Palcohol from going to market based on claims that it could be considered a food product or food additive. Given that Palcohol has never before been consumed or sold to the US public at large, it is unlikely the FDA would have considered it to be generally regarded as safe, the FDA’s standard for food safety.

The new, the cool, the tongue-in-cheek all appeal to younger people. Alcoholic powder would likely attract a similarly youthful and risk-taking customer base as did alcoholic jello, and the result might just be more drinking, more addiction, injuries and other adverse consequences to the drinkers as well as the people around them.

Source:   www.theconservation.com  April 2014

Filed under: Alcohol,Youth :

Level of drinking among teens is just a third of a decade ago

* Number of schoolchildren who have done drugs has halved over a decade

* Figures suggest the young are abandoning ‘sex, drugs and rock and roll’

* Opponents of drug liberalisation hail the findings as a vindication of bans

A generation of youngsters have turned their back on drink, drugs and smoking, according to a state-backed survey.

The research, published yesterday, showed that the proportion of schoolchildren who have tried cannabis or other illegal drugs has almost halved over the past ten years, and is continuing to drop year by year.

Alongside the unprecedented decline in drug taking, the results showed the level of drinking among schoolboys and schoolgirls is just a third of the rate a decade ago, and cigarette smoking has hit a 30-year low.

The spectacular drop in numbers of pupils both trying and regularly using drugs, alcohol and tobacco could herald a historic turnaround.

The figures follow evidence of a drop in numbers of teenage pregnancies, thanks in part to the availability of long-term contraceptive implants and injections.

Some analysts believe teen pregnancies are becoming less common because more girls want to complete their education and work on their careers.

Others have speculated that thanks to the rise of social media, millions of teenagers are spending their time at home in their rooms rather than out on the streets.

The study’s findings are based on questionnaires filled in during school lessons by more than 5,000 pupils aged between 11 and 15.

The survey was designed to minimise the impact of any boasting or misleading replies. For example, a dummy question was inserted asking pupils if they had taken a made-up drug, called Semeron, to try and decide which pupils were answering the questions honestly.

The results, published by the Government’s Health and Social Care Information Centre, showed that the proportion who have tried illegal drugs dropped from 30 per cent in 2003 to 16 per cent last year, with a fall of 1 percentage point between 2012 and 2013.

Regular drug takers – those aged between 11 and 15 who used drugs in the past month – went down from 12 per cent to 6 per cent over the decade. Cannabis use was recorded by 13.3 per cent of pupils in 2003 but only 7 per cent last year.

A decade ago, 9 per cent of pupils smoked once a week. However in 2013, 3 per cent of pupils reported smoking a weekly cigarette, the lowest level recorded in 30 years.

And a similar pattern applied to drinking habits. A quarter of pupils had drunk alcohol in the past week when the questionnaire was answered in 2003 – last year it was fewer than one in ten, 9 per cent.

Turning their backs on sex, drugs and rock and roll: A quarter of pupils had drunk alcohol in the past week when asked in 2003 – but last year it was fewer than one in ten, 9 per cent. (Stock image)

The figures suggest that today’s young people are abandoning the ‘sex, drugs and rock and roll’ ethos of the baby boom generation.

The rapid and sustained drop in drug abuse is a major blow to liberal reform lobbyists – who have claimed that cannabis and other substances must be decriminalised because the war on drugs is lost.

In fact, the study could be seen to suggest that the illegal status of cannabis, ecstasy, amphetamine and cocaine is helping persuade young people to reject drugs.

Among those pressing the Government for decriminalisation have been Sir Richard Branson, Sting and comedian Russell Brand, who have argued that laws against drugs create ‘many unintended and negative consequences’.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has even put his name to a call for a programme of ‘rigorously monitored’ cannabis legalisation.

However yesterday opponents of drug law liberalisation said the legalisers are out of date. Kathy Gyngell, from think-tank Centre for Policy Studies, said: ‘It is Sting and Richard Branson who are out of line and old fashioned.

‘The war on drugs is being won, thanks to ministers who have stuck to their guns. We are seeing the eclipse of the post-Woodstock, selfish, baby boom generation.

‘Young people are becoming more sober in every respect. They have seen what has happened and they know they can’t behave like that.’

While noting the decline of drug taking among children, the report warned that drugs still pose a risk to vulnerable young people. It said: ‘Young people who use drugs run the risk of damage to mental health including suicide, depression, psychotic symptoms and disruptive behaviour disorders.’

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2704957/Youth-turning-backs-alcohol-drugs-smoking-Level-drinking-teens-just-decade-ago.html#ixzz38SzdR2M2 

 PUBLISHED: 00:47, 25 July 2014 | UPDATED: 07:13, 25 July 2014

Filed under: Social Affairs,Youth :

As I  reported a few weeks ago, some professors published a peer-reviewed article on the negative social costs to outright legalization. I noted that although overall traffic fatalities in Colorado have gone down since 2007, they went up by 100 percent for operators testing positive for marijuana—from 39 in 2007 to 78 in 2012. (Colorado legalized marijuana for medical usage in 2009, before legalizing marijuana for other uses in 2012.) Furthermore, in 2007, those pot-positive drivers represented only 7 percent of total fatalities in Colorado, but in 2012 they represented 16 percent of total Colorado fatalities. 

Now, there is even more proof from Colorado that legalizing pot, as I have  argued before, is terrible public policy.  This new report paints an even bleaker picture of what is happening in Colorado since it legalized the possession, sale, and consumption of marijuana.    According to the new  report  by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area entitled “The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact,” the impact of legalized marijuana in Colorado has resulted in:

1. The majority of DUI drug arrests involve marijuana and 25 to 40 percent were marijuana alone. 

2. In 2012, 10.47 percent of Colorado youth ages 12 to 17 were considered current marijuana users compared to 7.55 percent nationally. Colorado ranked fourth in the nation, and was 39 percent higher than the national average.

3. Drug-related student suspensions/expulsions increased 32 percent from school years 2008-09 through 2012-13, the vast majority were for marijuana violations.

4. In 2012, 26.81 percent of college age students were considered current marijuana users compared to 18.89 percent nationally, which ranks Colorado third in the nation and 42 percent above the national average.

5. In 2013, 48.4 percent of Denver adult arrestees tested positive for marijuana, which is a 16 percent increase from 2008.

6. From 2011 through 2013 there was a 57 percent increase in marijuana-related emergency room visits.

7. Hospitalizations related to marijuana has increased 82 percent since 2008.

The  report includes other data about the negative effect of legalizing marijuana in Colorado, including marijuana-related exposure to children, treatment, the flood of marijuana in and out of Colorado, the dangers of pot extraction labs and other disturbing factual trends. 

Don’t expect this data to impact the push to legalize pot in Colorado, or elsewhere for that matter. Big pot is big business, and the push to legalize is really all about profit, despite inconvenient facts.  Drug policy should be based on hard science and reliable data. And the data coming out of Colorado points to one and only one conclusion: the legalization of marijuana in the state is terrible public policy.

Source:  http://dailysignal.com/2014/08/20/7

Charles “Cully” D. Stimson is a leading expert in criminal law, military law, military commissions and detention policy at The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. Read his research.

A new survey finds an estimated 17 percent of American high school students say they drink, smoke or use drugs during the school day. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University found 86 percent of teens say they know which of their peers are abusing substances at school, CNN reports.

The findings come from an annual telephone survey of about 1,000 students ages 12 to 17. According to the survey, 60 percent of high school students say drugs are available on school grounds, and 44 percent know a classmate who sells drugs at school. Marijuana is the most commonly sold drug at school. Prescription drugs, cocaine and Ecstasy are also available.

Social media plays a role in peer pressure to use drugs and alcohol, the study found. Three-quarters of students said they are encouraged to use marijuana or alcohol when they see images of their peers doing so. The survey found 45 percent said they have seen photos online of their classmates drinking, using drugs or passing out, up 5 percent since last year.

For the first time in the history of the survey, a majority of private school students—54 percent—said their school was “drug-infected.” In 2011, that figure was 36 percent.

Teens are more likely to use drugs or alcohol if they have been left alone overnight, and are less likely to do so if they regularly attend religious services, the survey found.

“The take away from this survey for parents is to talk to their children and get engaged in their children’s lives,” Emily Feinstein, project director of the teen survey, said in a news release. “They should ask their children what they’re seeing at school and online. It takes a teen to know what’s going on in the teen world, but it takes parents to help their children navigate that world.”

Source:  www.partnership@drugfree.org.  5th Sept. 2012

Public opinion is moving in favor of marijuana, even as medical research raises fresh alarms. 

The great irony, or misfortune, of the national debate over marijuana is that while almost all the science and research is going in one direction—pointing out the dangers of marijuana use—public opinion seems to be going in favor of broad legalization.

For example, last week a new study in the journal Current Addiction Reports found that regular pot use (defined as once a week) among teenagers and young adults led to cognitive decline, poor attention and memory, and decreased IQ. On Aug. 9, the American Psychological Association reported that at its annual convention the ramifications of marijuana legalization was much discussed, with Krista Lisdahl, director of the imaging and neuropsychology lab at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, saying: “It needs to be emphasized that regular cannabis use, which we consider once a week, is not safe and may result in addiction and neurocognitive damage, especially in youth.”

Since few marijuana users limit themselves to use once a week, the actual harm is much worse for developing brains. The APA noted that young people who become addicted to marijuana lose an average of six IQ points by adulthood. A long line of studies have found similar results—in 2012, a decades-long study of more than 1,000 New Zealanders who frequently smoked pot in adolescence pegged the IQ loss at eight points.

Yet in recent weeks and months, much media coverage of the marijuana issue has either tacitly or explicitly supported legalization. A CCN/ORC International survey in January found that a record 55% of Americans support marijuana legalization.

The disconnect between science and public opinion is so great that in a March WSJ/NBC News poll, Americans ranked sugar as more harmful than marijuana. The misinformation campaign appears to be succeeding.

Here’s the truth. The marijuana of today is simply not the same drug it was in the 1960s, ’70s, or ’80s, much less the 1930s. It is often at least five times stronger, with the levels of the psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, averaging about 15% in the marijuana at dispensaries found in the states that have legalized pot for “medicinal” or, in the case of Colorado, recreational use. Often the THC level is 20% or higher.

With increased THC levels come increased health risks. Since Colorado legalized recreational use earlier this year, two deaths in the state have already been linked to marijuana. In both cases it was consumed in edible form, which can result in the user taking in even more THC than when smoking pot. “One man jumped to his death after consuming a large amount of marijuana contained in a cookie,” the Associated Press reported in April, “and in the other case, a man allegedly shot and killed his wife after eating marijuana candy.” Reports are coming out of Colorado in what amounts to a parade of horribles from more intoxicated driving to more emergency hospital admissions due to marijuana exposure and overdose.

Over the past 10 years, study after study has shown the damaging effect of marijuana on the teenage brain. Northwestern School of Medicine researchers reported in the Schizophrenia Bulletin in December that teens who smoked marijuana daily for about three years showed abnormal brain-structure changes. Marijuana use has clearly been linked to teen psychosis as well as decreases in IQ and permanent brain damage.

The response of those who support legalization: Teenagers can be kept away from marijuana. Yet given the dismal record regarding age-restricted use of tobacco and alcohol, success with barring teens from using legalized marijuana would be a first.

The reason such a large number of teens use alcohol and tobacco is precisely because those are legal products. The reason more are now using marijuana is because of its changing legal status—from something that was dangerous and forbidden to a product that is now considered “medicinal,” and in the states of Colorado and Washington recreational. Until recently, the illegality of marijuana, and the stigma of lawbreaking, had kept its use below that of tobacco and alcohol.

Legality is the mother of availability, and availability, as former Health, Education and Welfare Secretary Joseph A. Califano Jr. put it in his 2008 book on substance abuse, “High Society,” is the mother of use. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, currently 2.7 million Americans age 12 and older meet the clinical criteria for marijuana dependence, or addiction.

Mark A.R. Kleiman, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, has estimated that legalization can be expected to increase marijuana consumption by four to six times. Today’s 2.7 million marijuana dependents (addicts) would thus expand to as many as 16.2 million with nationwide legalization. That should alarm any parent, teacher or policy maker.

There are two conversations about marijuana taking place in this country: One, we fear, is based on an obsolete perception of marijuana as a relatively harmless, low-THC product. The other takes seriously the science of the new marijuana and its effect on teens, whose adulthood will be marred by the irreversible damage to their brains when young.

Supporters of marijuana legalization insist that times are changing and policy should too. But they are the ones stuck in the past—and charting a dangerous future for too many Americans.

Mr. Bennett is a former secretary of education (1985-88) and was the first director of the National Drug Control Policy (1989-90). Mr. White is an attorney in Princeton, N.J.

Source:  William J. Bennett/ Robert A. White  Aug. 13, 2014   WALL STREET JOURNAL      http://online.wsj.com/articles/william-bennett-and-robert-white-legal-pot-is-a-public-health-menace-1407970966?mod=hp_opinion#

Jokes aside about tuned-out stoners who can’t find their car, some experts are asking, what if marijuana actually makes kids dumb?

Earlier this month, three researchers at the National Institute of Drug Abuse published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine surveying the current state of the evidence.   According to their report, marijuana use in adolescence and early adulthood may measurably lower users’ IQ decades later down the road.  They conclude there is reason to believe marijuana may permanently harm the adolescent brain.

Until the age of 21, the piece notes, the brain “is intrinsically more vulnerable than a mature brain to the adverse long-term effects of environmental insults.” Given the rapid pace of marijuana legalization, researchers are noting an increased urgency to do research on the developing brains of teen users.

Washington and Colorado have both legalized recreational marijuana use, and legalization is actively being considered in 14 additional states.   While none of these states propose making pot legal for minors, destigmatization and greater ease of access have already resulted in heavier use among youths in Colorado.

As marijuana is increasingly normalized and seen as relatively harmless, some experts doubt whether we know enough to justify rapid shifts in policy and behavior in pot usage.

“There is a lot we know and a lot we don’t,” said Wilson Compton, deputy director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse and a co-author of the NEJM paper, in an interview.  “We think it’s very important to understand risk and protective factors and to understand how significant any one of them is.”

 Mile high

Public opinion, for the moment, may be racing faster than science can keep up. Last fall, Gallup reported that a solid 58 percent of Americans favored legalizing pot.   And an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll this spring found that 49 percent saw tobacco as harmful, while 24 percent said the same of alcohol, 15 percent of sugar, and just 8 percent of marijuana.

Shifting perception is quickly translating to youth drug usage in Colorado, which became ground zero for pot legalization in 2012 when the state voters chose to legalize and tax the drug.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy reported last year that one in four Boulder County high school students now use pot — more than three times the national average.   And the numbers are shifting fast.  In Adams County, a Denver suburb, high school marijuana use jumped from 21 percent in 2008 to 29 percent in 2012.   Middle school pot use in Adams County jumped 50 percent during that period — from 5.7 to 8.5 percent.

Down under

No one is certain what all of these behavior changes mean for the long-term health of kids who become heavy pot users in adolescence, but some researchers think they have a good hunch.

One of the most critical insights comes from a 40-year, ongoing study in Dunedin, New Zealand, where researchers have for years followed the lives of 1,037 children born there during a one-year span in 1972 and 1973.The kids, now adults, were tested at two-year intervals throughout their childhood and subsequently at ages 21, 26, 32 and now 38.

Retention at each stage of the study has been remarkable: At the last interval, they got to 95 percent of the original group.  Every angle of physical, mental and social health is examined, and researchers also interview friends and relatives.

The result is an unprecedented data trove.

Arizona State University psychology professor Madeline Meier and several co-authors at Duke University used Dunedin’s data to check the effect of adolescent marijuana use, publishing their findings in 2012 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Those who regularly used marijuana as teens, the study found, lost significant IQ points between their 13th and 38th years.

Friends and associates also reported more cognitive problems among regular pot users, and even those who quit did not entirely regain all the ground they had lost in their youth.

Deflecting challenges

The data is so rich that Meier and her colleagues were able to deflect two challenges to their conclusions, and so far no more have surfaced. One critic from Norway published a critique suggesting that socioeconomic differences may have been the real culprit.   Perhaps, he posited, people with duller careers and less stimulating associates had their IQs artificially boosted during their schooling years, and then failed to maintain mental growth as they aged.

Meier and her colleagues went back to the original data and broke it down again, this time focusing strictly on middle class kids, and found that the results held firm.

Another challenger suggested that kids who used pot were naturally lacking in self-control, and thus likely to see their IQ slip as they aged.  Again re-analyzing the Dunedin data, the researchers demonstrated that marijuana’s impact on IQ took place regardless of how much self-control the subject had in childhood.

Meier readily admits the limits of this kind of observational study, which — unlike controlled, clinical studies — cannot determine causation and is often confounded by unseen variables. “With observational data there could always be an alternative explanation,” Meier said.  “However, we did rule out some of the best and most plausible explanations.”

One of the key findings was that the IQ reduction does not occur if the user began smoking marijuana after adulthood.   This, Meier says, has led some to see validation in the study for legalization among adults.

Moving forward

“The association seems clear but causal mechanisms not fully understood,” Wilson Compton said.  “What we need is additional work.”

The NEJM article by Volkow, Compton and their co-authors cites research showing “impaired neural connectivity” among users who began smoking pot in their teens — including areas of the brain that affect alertness, learning and memory.   They also cite studies showing reduced function in the prefrontal networks, which manage conscience and self-control.

All of this is not really surprising, they argue, since the developing brain is peculiarly vulnerable to damage in adolescence and early adulthood.  The NIDA team is currently planning (and arranging funding for) a study that will follow 10,000 children from age 10 through adulthood, looking at the impact of numerous substances and behaviors on the brain.

The team will do biological tests and interviews, as well as functional magnetic resonance imaging to see what the brain is doing in real time. The key to such an ambitious study, Compton said, will be follow-up rates.

Many studies struggle to keep track of people over many years, he said, but there are models for what works.  Persistence is critical, he said, because tracking down people who move is tough. “The science and the art is to not make it too burdensome,” he says.  “You have to make it interesting and important enough for them that they will be willing to continue.”

By the time the new study is funded, launched and completed 20 years later, an entire generation will have grown up under shifting attitudes toward and usage of marijuana. And, if Meier and her colleagues are right, many of these newly minted adults will be carrying permanent mental handicaps acquired in the experiment.

Source:   http://www.sjr.com/article/ZZ/20140620/NEWS/306209982/2002/LIFESTYLE

 

June 20, 2014

 

A discovery of Colorado students as young as 12 with “substantial amounts of marijuana” in their possession has anti-drug organizations sounding alarm bells and calling it “a canary in a coal mine” for Florida.  Cpl. Mike Dillon of the Mesa County (Colorado) sheriff’s department confirmed statements he made to Drug Free America Foundation.

In a telephone interview Wednesday he told Sunshine State News he caught children not yet in their teens bringing as much as three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana to school, “which is quite a bit of marijuana, especially for a 12-year-old.”   Dillon said he was working as a middle school resource officer when he discovered the uptick in student marijuana possession.

“Kids were stealing medical marijuana from their parents. I was finding … more often than not, they had taken it from somebody in their residence and those people didn’t even know their kids were taking it.” Colorado voters approved the regulation of medical marijuana in 2000 and limited recreational marijuana — up to 1 ounce in adults age 21 and over — effective last Jan. 1.   Asked how certain he was that the “uptick” came from medical and not the newer recreational marijuana, Dillon said in all cases in which he was involved, “parents had a medical prescription for the drug.” Hard numbers as proof aren’t easy to come by because generally speaking, school disciplinary statistics don’t isolate marijuana from general drug violations. But school resource officers, counselors, nurses, staff and officials with Colorado school safety and disciplinary programs are anecdotally reporting an increase in marijuana-related incidents in middle and high schools. The best quantifiable evidence in Colorado to date that indicates marijuana is a significantly growing problem in schools comes from a 2012-13 report that documents why 720 students were expelled from public schools across the state.

For the first time, marijuana was separated from other drugs when school officials were asked to identify the reason for students’ expulsions.   Marijuana came in first. It was listed as being a reason for 32 percent of expulsions. In an interview with the Denver Post, Janelle Krueger, longtime adviser to the Colorado Association of School Resource Officers, said, “We have seen a sharp rise in drug-related disciplinary actions which, anecdotally, from credible sources, is being attributed to the changing social norms surrounding marijuana.”   Krueger is the program manager for Expelled and At-Risk Student Services for the Colorado Department of Education. She said school officials believe the jump — or uptick — is linked to marijuana’s availability and the message legalization sends to kids — even though 21 is the legal age in the Rocky Mountain State — that marijuana is a medicine and a safe and accepted recreational activity.  Christine Harms, director of the Colorado School Safety Resource Center, backs up Krueger’s observations.

She said school psychologists “are seeing more incidents of kids smoking and thinking it is the safe thing to do.”   One doctor who works with adolescents with drug problems reported to Harms that 74 percent of the youth in his marijuana addictions group said they got their marijuana from someone who has a medical marijuana card. According to the Post, school and law enforcement officials claim “marijuana that parents or other adults might have kept hidden in the past may now be left in the open, where it is easier for  kids to dip into it to sell, use or, in some cases, simply to show off.”

Grand Junction, Colo., school resource officer Jeff Grady, who has spent 25 years working in schools, told the Post a story about sitting in his car at a park near Grand Junction High School one day watching groups of kids through binoculars because they come to the park to smoke on lunch breaks. “Kids are smoking before school and during lunch breaks.   They come into school reeking of pot,” he told the newspaper.  “They are being much more brazen.”

He said they’re harder to cite for any offense because now they can say they were around an adult medical marijuana user and weren’t smoking themselves. Calvina Fay, director of the Drug Free America Foundation, sees Colorado’s dramatic increase in pre-teen schoolchildren possessing marijuana as a warning to Floridians who will vote on approving medical marijuana in November. “This is the sad reality that we are seeing in all states that have passed these measures,” said Fay in a written statement.

“They use people who suffer with debilitating cancer or other conditions as a Trojan horse to pass these broad measures, and inevitably these powerful pot products end up in kids’ hands.”  It troubles Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, president of the Florida Sheriff’s Association, and other public safety officials that the ballot language Floridians will vote on does not address age in any way.

“Amendment 2 is full of loopholes, including no age restrictions, which may allow youth to easily obtain marijuana without parental consent,” Judd has said. Fay also points to weak state oversight of pot shops, which she believes invites problems.   A Florida Department of Health fiscal analysis predicts there will be more than 1,800 pot shops allowed to sell marijuana, but anticipates the hiring of only 13 inspectors to provide oversight statewide.

“We are unleashing the Wild West of incredibly potent marijuana and not providing the sheriffs to oversee it,” said Fay.   “This is a canary in a coal mine for Florida’s parents and school officials; they need to heed these warnings from Colorado.”  National policy organization Drug Free America Foundation said in its press release it is working with the Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot coalition to educate Floridians on the dangers of marijuana so they can cast an informed vote on Amendment 2 in November.

Source: http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/story/colorado-deputy-school-resource-officers-will-be-busier-if-medical-marijuana-passes-florida June 19, 2014

It’s not often that Sherwood, Oregon – a small, quiet suburb located southwest of Portland – makes the front page news – especially for stories related to drugs.  But it did the first weekend of February 2014, when two teenage girls ended up in the hospital after using a dangerous and relatively new designer drug.  The drug – officially known as 25i-NBOMe – is most commonly referred to as simply “25I” or “N-Bomb”.  “Smiles” is another nickname for N-Bomb and other closely related substances.

Fortunately for the Oregon teens, an off-duty deputy sheriff spotted them on the roadside as one of the girls was having a seizure.  He stopped and called an ambulance, only to have the other girl soon start seizing as well.  These girls survived, but several other teens experimenting with the deadly LSD-like drug haven’t been as lucky.  It’s been estimated that at least 19 deaths in the past couple of years are linked to the drug, including:

* June 2012 – The death of North Dakota teen Christian Bjerk, who was found lying dead on the ground after a fatal reaction to 25I [1].

 

* June 2012 – The death of 17-year-old Elijah Stai, who stopped breathing and ended up on life support after ingesting 25I mixed with chocolate.  The Minnesota teen died 3 days later, when his parents made the gut-wrenching decision to take him off life support [1].

* October 2012 – The death of a 21-year-old Arkansas male, who reportedly used N-Bomb intranasally.

* January 2013 – The death of Noah Carrasco, an 18-year-old Scottsdale, Arizona high school student.  He quickly lost consciousness after taking the deadly drug via nose drops that he thought contained LSD [2].

* April 2013 – The death of an 18-year-old student attending Arizona State University, believed to be caused by the designer drug N-Bomb [3].

* June 2013 – The death of 17-year-old Henry Kwan of Sydney, Australia, who threw himself out of a window and fell to his death after taking N-Bomb [4]

* September 2013 – The death of a 17-year-old high school student in Pennsylvania.  An overdose of the drug caused him to stop breathing, reportedly resulting in his death [5].

* February 2014 – The death of Jake Harris, a 21-year-old U.K. lifeguard and father-to-be.  Harris reportedly stabbed himself in the neck multiple times with broken glass after taking the drug [6]

 

Needless to say, the drug has the authorities – as well as many parents – very concerned.  One of the biggest problems is that the drug is often sold as LSD.  Although it’s similar to LSD in many ways, its effects can be significantly more dangerous.

 

Legal Issues Unfortunately, designer drugs often slip through the cracks in terms of drug enforcement, making them legal until deemed otherwise by the authorities.  With regards to N-Bomb, which had previously been legal, the fatalities linked to its use resulted in the Drug Enforcement Administration classifying it as a Schedule I controlled substance in October 2013.  The authorities have not been lenient with those individuals who either sold or supplied the drug to those who have suffered or died from its effects.

In the case of the two girls from Oregon, an adolescent boy was taken into custody for allegedly supplying them with the drug.  A total of 15 individuals have been charged in connection to the deaths of Elijah Stai and Christian Bjerk, a law-enforcement endeavor that’s been aptly dubbed “Operation Stolen Youth”.  Adam Budge, the 18 year-old friend who gave the drug to Stai, is facing murder charges for his death.  Charles Carlton, a 29-year-old man from Katy, Texas, pleaded guilty to numerous charges related to the two teens’ deaths, including possession with intent to distribute.  He had sold the deadly drugs via his online business, Motion Resources [7].

Potent Hallucinogen

N-Bomb is a hallucinogenic designer drug that is often likened to LSD, although some say that it’s up to 25 times more potent.  Designer drugs are synthetically produced by altering the chemical structure of existing drugs, like cocaine or marijuana.  They are meant to be used recreationally, and mimic the effects of the other drugs.  N-Bomb is actually derived from phenethylamine, commonly known as mescaline.  Mescaline is a natural substance found in the peyote cactus.  Mescaline’s use as a recreational drug became illegal in the U.S. in 1970, due to its psychedelic properties.

N-Bomb and other hallucinogens are known for causing powerfully altered perceptions, including brightly colored and widely distorted visual images.  Some users of the drug have described its effects as “Nirvana” and “ecstasy”, reporting “trips” very similar to those experienced with LSD.  As is typically the case with psychedelics, the unpredictable effects of N-Bomb have varied widely from one individual to the next.

Pleasurable effects of N-Bomb may include:

* Euphoria

* Bright moving colors and other vivid visual hallucinations

* Spiritual “awakening”

* A sense of profoundness

* Positive mood

* Enhanced awareness

* Enhanced creativity

* Loving feelings

* Sexual sensations and enhanced desire

Side effects of N-Bomb may include:

* Psychosis

* Altered state of consciousness

* Agitation

* Erratic behavior

* Chills, flushing

* Severe double vision

* Teeth grinding, jaw clenching

* Dilated pupils

* Depressed mood

* Confusion

* Nausea

* Intense negative emotions

* Paranoia

* Intense anxiety

* Muscle spasms and contractions

* Insomnia

* Impaired communication

* Vasoconstriction

* Swelling of feet, hands, face

* Kidney damage / failure

* Seizures

* Heart failure

* Coma

* Asphyxiation

How N-Bomb Is Used

N-Bomb or 25I is often sold on strips of blotter paper, which is one of the reasons users often erroneously assume it’s LSD.  The strip of paper is placed under the tongue, which allows the drug to enter the bloodstream sublingually. N-Bomb is also available as a powder.  Users can snort the powder like cocaine, smoke it, or mix it with a liquid and inject it like heroin.   Some users combine it with water in a nasal spray bottle to administer via the nose.  Vaporizing and then inhaling the drug is another method of administration used by some, but it makes controlling the dose very precarious.

When the drug is taken orally or sublingually, the effects generally last between 6 and 10 hours.  Those who inhale or snort the drug will generally experience its effects for a shorter period, ranging from 4 to 6 hours.  This can vary though, depending on the amount used.  When the substance is vaporized and then inhaled, the effects may kick in much more quickly but not last as long.

Dosing N-Bomb

A typical dose of N-Bomb is somewhere between 600 and 1200 micrograms.  Because the doses are so tiny (1 gram is the equivalent of 1,000,000 micrograms), it’s often very difficult to measure a dose accurately.  This is why users have a high risk of accidentally overdosing on the drug [8].

Multiple Concerns Arise About N-Bomb

Like so many designer drugs – particularly newer ones – N-Bomb isn’t fully understood.  It’s been on the street for less than 5 years, and it was discovered in a lab just 11 years ago.  So the full and long-term effects are not yet known.  What little information we do have is primarily from those who have had a bad reaction to the drug or died from it. Also, like other designer drugs and street drugs in general, there’s no way of knowing exactly what you’re getting.  It’s not at all uncommon for these substances to have other substances added in – making them even more dangerous than ever for users who don’t know what they’re getting.   Dealers often sell them under false names, like LSD.  After all, it’s a hallucinogenic drug with similar effects used in a similar manner.  No big deal…to them.

Information For Parents

If you’re the parent of a teen, it’s important to be aware of drugs in general, but especially designer drugs like N-Bomb.  First, these drugs are more readily available than you might realize.  Since new designer drugs are being created and coming available practically daily, they

slip through the cracks legally (at least for a while) so they’re much easier for teens to obtain.  Many are sold online or by friends or acquaintances.

Second, they’re appealing to many teens because they’re “exciting” and “cool”. They may rationalize that since it’s not a “real” drug, like cocaine or methamphetamine, it’s safe (or at least safer) to try.  And of course, their peers will often try to convince them that these drugs are harmless fun.  On top of that, teens tend to be reckless.  They tend to still perceive themselves as invincible, and often don’t consider the potential long-term consequences of their behavior.  Even when the risks are presented, teens often ignore them – much the same way they roll their eyes when reminded ad nauseam that drinking and driving is very dangerous or that wearing seatbelts saves lives.

Still, it’s vital to talk to your teen about N-Bomb and other designer drugs.  Strive to maintain good communication with him or her, and make sure your teen knows (both by your words AND your actions) that you genuinely care and that your door is always open, so to speak. If you do think your teen is using N-Bomb or any other drugs – including illegitimate prescription drugs, designer drugs, and regular street drugs – have a conversation as soon as possible.  Don’t ignore it.  Don’t minimize it.  Don’t assume that experimenting with drugs is just a normal part of adolescence.  Take it very seriously.  Consider setting up an appointment for an evaluation with an addiction specialist to determine if drug rehab is necessary.  Your teen may resent you, but a dead teen will never have the opportunity to appreciate how much you really do care.

Source:  addictiontreatmentmagazine.com  21st April 2014

Resources:

[1] http://www.houstonpress.com/2013-03-14/news/motion-research-charles-carlton/

[2] http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/05/04/n-bomb-drug-stirs-fear/2135407/

[3] http://www.azcentral.com/news/arizona/articles/20130503phoenix-area-n-bomb-drug-stirs-fear.html

[4] http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/high-alert-why-synthetic-drugs-are-so-hard-to-police/story-e6frg8h6-1226673596866

[5] http://www.abc27.com/story/23605144/deadly-drug-n-bomb-claims-teens-life

[6] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2552893/Lifeguard-stabbed-neck-taking-former-legal-high-N-bomb-hallucinating-tried-stop-effect-drug.html

[7] http://www.chron.com/neighborhood/katy/crime-courts/article/Katy-man-pleads-guilty-in-multi-state-drug-ring-5305077.php

[8] healthandwelfare.idaho.gov

A newly fashionable drug is setting off alarm bells in the minds of both health officials and parents.  The drug known as “molly” has a rather innocent-sounding name. It is a type of MDMA (commonly called Ecstasy) that has been implicated in several deaths over recent weeks.  Four teens and young adults have died and others have been hospitalized after taking the drug during concerts and dance festivals on the East Coast. Needless to say, this drug is not only dangerous, but may lead to the need for addiction treatment for those who use it.

Molly’s Sought After Effects

Molly is a synthetic drug that’s been around since the 1970s.  However, it’s only recently entered into mainstream use. People who take the drug report that it makes them feel joyful, open and upbeat. This is likely why it’s become popular at dance parties, concerts and festivals. People say molly makes them feel as though they need to have physical contact with others. The drug can also cause users to experience mild hallucinations.

Molly’s Effect On Brain Chemicals

As a drug, molly works as both a stimulant and a psychedelic. It boosts the levels of three brain chemicals linked to mood: dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. Molly also releases oxytocin, a chemical that creates feelings of intimacy. Oxytocin is normally released into the body after sex or childbirth. This explains why users report the need to touch others while they’re under the drug’s influence.

Pure Or Not – Molly Is Dangerous

Molly is a crystal or powder form of Ecstasy, or MDMA. The club drug is typically manufactured by dealers using home kitchens or labs. The problem is that while dealers and users refer to it as pure MDMA, researchers say that any single hit might be mixed with other drugs, like meth or bath salts, or chemicals such as baking soda. Regardless of whether the drug is pure or mixed with other substances, it can have dangerous consequences that make addiction treatment necessary.

Consequences of Taking Molly Molly produces a range of side effects. Some side effects, like exhaustion and dehydration, are mild; others, however, are more serious. For example, the surge of serotonin it produces depletes the brain of this critical neurotransmitter.  As a result, when the high wears off, users often experience symptoms such as anxiety, depression and sleep problems. These symptoms can last for days or weeks afterward.

Molly users are also at risk for medical emergencies. The drug can cause the body to severely overheat, resulting in potentially fatal damage to the brain. In addition, the synthetic drug can trigger a severe drop in blood sodium levels, which may lead to brain swelling and fatal seizures. Reports from emergency room officials reflect the drug’s growing popularity. ER visits related to molly use skyrocketed 123% between 2004 and 2009, according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network.

Health officials are still trying to pinpoint the exact role molly played in recent deaths. The deaths could be tied to one of the drug’s inherent consequences, or they might be linked to a batch that was potentially mixed with another drug, like meth.

Furthermore, another side effect creates cause for concern. Because the club drug generates a strong desire to be physically close to others, it has the potential to lead to unsafe sex. Under its influence, a molly user is more likely to engage in risky behaviors that lead to sexually-transmitted diseases such as HIV, or sexual assault.

The Problem Of Molly And Pop Culture

Despite its dangers, molly is glamorized in some arenas of pop culture. Singer Miley Cyrus included a reference to the party drug in her recent release “We Can’t Stop”. Another entertainer, Kanye West, has also released a song with a lyric that reportedly refers to the drug. Madonna has referred to the club drug during live shows as well. This kind of glorification may influence a teen’s or young adult’s decision to try molly.

Molly And Addiction

This form of Ecstasy is an addictive drug with the potential to create psychological dependence. One of the difficulties with pinpointing a molly addiction is that it can be hard for a parent, educator, or law enforcement official to tell when someone is using the drug. There is no telltale odor, as with marijuana; nor does its use require special equipment, like needles.

Some signs you should be alert for include:

* New or worsening depression or anxiety

* Sweating or chills

* Jaw clenching or teeth grinding

* Sudden loss of appetite

* Sleep troubles

* Increase in sexual activity

* Blurred vision

If you suspect that your or a loved one has developed an addiction to molly, reach out for help.

Molly Addiction Treatment

Detoxification (detox) is the first step toward recovery. If needed, a treatment center medical team will monitor you or your loved one to ensure the drug is safely eliminated from the body. Once detox is complete, the real work of treatment begins. Molly users will go through a range of therapies designed to help them stay drug free. Talk therapy is used to examine thinking patterns and behaviors that contribute to use. You or your loved one will also learn how to change your thinking and learn healthy ways to cope with the negative emotions that can lead to molly abuse.

A teen user might take part in family counseling, which typically has two primary goals. The first is to identify and resolve conflicts that may have played a role in the teen’s drug use. A second goal is to teach family members how to work with the drug user to prevent relapse.

Aftercare is critical, especially for teen and young adult users who are often heavily influenced by the behavior of their peers.  Speak with the treatment center about options that help you or your young person stay drug free after the initial rehab course is completed.

Molly is not a safe drug. If you or a loved one is abusing molly, seek addiction treatment now. The next hit could be the one that generates devastating and lasting effects.

Source:   Addictiontreatmentmagazine.com in Synthetic Drugs  7th October 2013

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To provide a review of the evidence from 3 experimental trials of Project Towards No Drug Abuse (TND), a senior-high-school-based drug abuse prevention program.

METHODS:

Theoretical concepts, subjects, designs, hypotheses, findings, and conclusions of these trials are presented. A total of 2,468 high school youth from 42 schools in southern California were surveyed.

RESULTS:

The Project TND curriculum shows reductions in the use of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, hard drugs, weapon carrying, and victimization. Most of these results were replicated across the 3 trials.

CONCLUSION:

Project TND is an effective drug and violence prevention program for older teens, at least for one-year follow-up.

Source:  PMID: 12206445 Am J Health Behav. 2002 Sep-Oct;26(5):354-65.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The aim of the study was to evaluate the contribution of cannabis to the prediction of delinquent behaviors.

METHOD:

Participants were 312 high-school students who completed self-report questionnaires measuring antisocial behaviors, the frequency of cannabis and alcohol use, psychopathic traits using the Youth Psychopathic traits Inventory, borderline traits, depressive symptoms, socio-economic status, life events, attachment to parents, and low academic achievement. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were conducted to investigate the contribution of cannabis use and potential confounding variables to antisocial behaviors.

RESULTS:

Boys reported a greater number of delinquent behaviors than girls (10.2±9.2 vs. 5.4±5.3, t=9.2, P<0.001). Thirty-seven percent of boys and 24 % of girls reported having used cannabis at least once during the last six months (P<0.001). Among cannabis users, boys reported a greater frequency of use than girls: average use for boys was 2-3 times per month whereas average use for girls was once a month (3.4±2.3 vs. 2.6±2, t=2.9, P=0.004). Cannabis users reported a greater number of antisocial behaviors than non-users (13.2±9.9 vs. 6.1±6.3, t=13.6, P<0.001). Multiple regression analyses showed that cannabis use was a significant independent predictor of antisocial behaviors in both gender (β=.35, P<.001 in boys, β=.29, P<.001 in girls) after adjustment for alcohol use, psychopathological and sociofamilial variables.

DISCUSSION:

The unique and independent association between frequency of cannabis use and antisocial behaviors does not indicate the causal direction of the relationship. It may be that cannabis use induces antisocial behaviors by enhancing impulsivity or irritability or by the need for money to buy cannabis. Conversely, antisocial behaviors may lead to cannabis use either through becoming used to transgressions or through the influence of delinquent peers using cannabis. This link is probably bidirectional, cannabis use and antisocial behaviors influencing mutually in a negative interactive spiral. This association suggests that these two problems are to be jointly approached when treating adolescents using cannabis or having antisocial behaviors.

Source:PMID: 24815792  Encephale. 2014 May 7. pii: S0013-7006(14)00046-3. doi: 10.1016/j.encep.2013.11.003. [Epub ahead of print]

Abstract

This investigation used meta-analytic techniques to evaluate the effectiveness of school-based prevention programming in reducing cannabis use among youth aged 12 to 19. It summarized the results from 15 studies published in peer-reviewed journals since 1999 and identified features that influenced program effectiveness. The results from the set of 15 studies indicated that these school-based programs had a positive impact on reducing students’ cannabis use (d = 0.58, CI: 0.55, 0.62) compared to control conditions.

Findings revealed that programs incorporating elements of several prevention models were significantly more effective than were those based on only a social influence model.

Programs that were longer in duration (≥15 sessions) and facilitated by individuals other than teachers in an interactive manner also yielded stronger effects. The results also suggested that programs targeting high school students were more effective than were those aimed at middle-school students. Implications for school-based prevention programming are discussed.

Source:  Health Educ Behav. 2010 Oct;37(5):709-23. doi: 10.1177/1090198110361315. Epub 2010 Jun 3.

 

Cannabis use in college students with psychiatric disorders is high and appears to have a significantly greater negative impact on function in this population, new research suggests.

Investigators at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, found that almost 25% of college students being treated for a mental illness also abused cannabis, which was linked to significant functional impairment and a greater likelihood of medical leave from school compared with their counterparts who used cannabis but did not have a mental illness.

“These findings suggest cannabis use was associated with increased impairment in function and an increased risk of being on medical leave. Even though this was not a substance abuse clinic, a large number of patients had comorbid substance use disorders. In fact, nearly half of the patients with bipolar disorder also had a cannabis use disorder,” lead investigator Meesha Ahuja, MD, said at a press briefing here at the American Psychiatric Association’s 2014 Annual Meeting.

High-Risk Age 

Most major psychiatric and substance use disorders commonly begin, and are very prevalent, in young adulthood, said Dr. Ahuja. She added that during the past decade, the number of college students presenting for psychiatric care has increased dramatically. Likewise, rates of cannabis use have also increased.

Finally, she noted, the concomitant use of cannabis and other substances in young adults with psychiatric disorders has been linked to poor outcomes, including increased symptomatology and hospitalization, poor treatment adherence, and increased treatment resistance.

Dr. Ahuja also pointed out that cannabis is widely used on college campuses, and the move toward decriminalizing it will make it even more widely available.   However, despite its widespread use by youth, there is no research examining the impact of cannabis on the scholastic or general functioning of college students in psychiatric care.

To look at this, the investigators conducted a cross-sectional study from the Young Adult Behavioral Health Program at Rhode Island Hospital, which receives psychiatric outpatient referrals from 8 colleges in the state.

The charts of 113 young adults (79% white; 67% female; mean age, 21 years) with a primary non–substance use diagnosis were reviewed.

The data included demographic variables, psychiatric diagnoses, including substance abuse and/or dependence diagnoses, student standing (medical leave vs active student), and functional impairment, assessed using the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF), a 100-point scale with higher scores indicating higher functioning.

Combination Therapy Needed 

The results revealed that 24% of the study sample had a cannabis use disorder, 18% had an alcohol use disorder, 4% had polysubstance abuse, and 3% abused cocaine. In addition, the average GAF score was 63.8.

Overall, 25% of the study sample was on leave from college. However, the investigators found that those with cannabis use disorder were significantly more likely to be on leave compared with their counterparts who did not have a cannabis use disorder ― 46% vs 13%.

In addition, those with cannabis use disorders had a statistically significant lower GAF compared with those without cannabis use disorders ― 56 vs 66 (P < .01). The investigators also found that 47% of students diagnosed with bipolar disorder also had a cannabis use disorder.

Interestingly, said Dr. Ahuja, alcohol use disorder was associated with a lower GAF score, and it was not associated with medical leave.  These findings, she said, suggest the need for a therapeutic approach that combines substance use and psychiatric treatment, which “should be easily accessible to college students throughout the country.

“Additionally, awareness about cannabis and its relationship to decreased functioning and the risk of worsening or contributing to psychiatric symptoms should be raised,” Dr. Ahuja added.

Legalization Dangerous? 

Commenting on the study, press briefing moderator Jeffrey Borenstein, MD, president and CEO of the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation in New York City, said he thought the study was important and that it highlights the potential risks associated with cannabis use.

“Marijuana use is associated with risk not only in people who are in treatment for psychiatric conditions but also for those who are not in treatment. My concern with the move to legalize marijuana is that it may encourage more people to experiment with marijuana, and that may be dangerous for them,” said Dr. Borenstein, who is also chair of the American Psychiatric Association’s Council on Communications.

“The law to legalize marijuana is 21 and above, and the average age in this study was 21 ― which means there are a number [of study participants] younger than that. That said, we don’t want people who use [cannabis] to be sent to jail; we want them to get treatment.

Source:  American Psychiatric Association’s 2014 Annual Meeting. Abstract NR7-1 Presented May 6, 2014.

The National Anti-Drug Secretariat’s (SENAD) Demand Reduction Department, together with municipalities and neighborhoods in Asunción, is carrying out a variety of activities as part of its Community Prevention Program.

Beginning in April, the Day Center will be open to children and minors in Asunción with a history of drug abuse. They will receive guidance about their addiction and will be encouraged to participate in healthy activities and tasks that keep them away from vices, said Luis Chaparro, the community program’s coordinator in the city of Ñemby, 20 kilometers from Asunción.

In the beginning, the program will focus on neighborhoods in the capital city and its surrounding areas before it’s offered in cities in the country’s interior, Chaparro added. Following the start of classes in March, teachers who specialize in different educational levels received training on how to treat young people battling addiction, Chaparro said.

“Teachers will be able to direct the students with drug addiction problems to the Day Center without removing them from the educational environment,” he added.  Authorities can also choose not to prosecute minors facing drug charges if they are receiving treatment at the Day Center.

“(Now) … young persons involved with drugs are sent directly to the courts, where they receive a criminal record for drug possession or consumption, which will be with them for the rest of their lives,” Chaparro said. “The aim is to change that.”

SENAD Communications Director Francisco Ayala added the goal is “to help young people, not stigmatize them. Societal discrimination can often lead to even worse situations,” he said. Students advised to become involved at the Day Center will be able to go to the facility immediately after their classes, Chaparro added.  “If a young person attends school in the morning, he or she can come to the Day Center in the afternoon, or vice versa,” he said.

Inaugural summer camp exceeds expectations

The first activity carried out under the framework of the Community Prevention Program was the Santa Aventura summer camp, which brought together 500 students between the ages of 5 and 19 during the final weeks of January.   The summer camp was held at the San Antonio de Padua Parish in the city of Ñemby. It offered workshops in dance, music, creativity, photography, painting, sports and self-defense, in addition to classes in the electrical and plumbing trades.

“These programs are useful in raising awareness that there are other ways to eliminate idleness and the misuse of time that often lead them to fall into bad habits such as the use of alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs,” Chaparro said.

Chaparro added that Santa Aventura also received a lot of interest from parents seeking more information about drug addiction prevention.   “Many of them don’t know where to turn or what to do when their child is in a situation like this,” he said.

Parents “have a desire to prevent [drug and alcohol abuse], and to do something for their children,” added Graciela Barreto, the general coordinator of SENAD’s community prevention programs.   Since September, A School for Parents has been under

development, hosting classes on prevention that are open to the public and held on the last Saturday of every month at SENAD’s headquarters.

“The workshops draw parents from cities throughout the Central Department, as well as the interior of the country,” Ayala said. “At these meetings, we hear about the different situations that parents of addicts are facing. They also provide us with guidance as to where we should focus our attention when implementing activities aimed at counteracting the problem.”

Marijuana, crack and cocaine continue to be the country’s most heavily consumed drugs. As of late 2013, SENAD had seized more than 500 tons of marijuana – 324 more tons than during all of 2012 – five tons of crack and three tons of cocaine.

More information about the SENAD’s drug prevention programs can be found at http://www.senad.gov.py. http://www.senad.gov.py.

Source:  http://infosurhoy.com   18th March 2014

Adolescents’ Brains Respond Differently Than Adults’ When Anticipating Rewards, Increasing Teens’ Vulnerability to Addiction and Behavioral Disorders

Pitt research team finds region in the adolescent brain associated with learning and habit formation highly responsive to reward

Teenagers are more susceptible to developing disorders like addiction and depression, according to a paper published by Pitt researchers today, Jan. 16, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The study was led by Bita Moghaddam, coauthor of the paper and a professor of neuroscience in Pitt’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. She and coauthor David Sturman, a MD/PhD student in Pitt’s Medical Scientist Training Program, compared the brain activity of adolescents and adults in rats involved in a task in which they anticipated a reward. The researchers found increased brain cell activity in the adolescent rats’ brains in an unusual area: the dorsal striatum (DS)—a site commonly associated with habit formation, decision-making, and motivated learning. The adult rats’ DS areas, on the other hand, did not become activated by an anticipated reward.

“The brain region traditionally associated with reward and motivation, called the nucleus accumbens, was activated similarly in adults and adolescents,” said Moghaddam. “But the unique sensitivity of adolescent DS to reward anticipation indicates that, in this age group, reward can tap directly into a brain region that is critical for learning and habit formation.”

Typically, researchers study the correlation between different behaviors of adolescents and adults. The Pitt team, however, used a method they call “behavioral clamping” to study if the brains of adolescents process the same behavior differently. To that end, the researchers implanted electrodes into different regions of rat adolescent and adult brains, allowing the researchers to study the reactions of both individual neurons and the sum of the neurons’, or “population,” activity.

The researchers’ predictions proved accurate. Even though the behavior was the same for both adult and adolescent rats, the researchers observed age-related neural response differences that were especially dramatic in the DS during reward anticipation. This shows that not only is reward expectancy processed differently in an adolescent brain, but also it can affect brain regions directly responsible for decision-making and action selection.

“Adolescence is a time when the symptoms of most mental illnesses—such as schizophrenia and bipolar and eating disorders—are first manifested, so we believe that this is a critical period for preventing these illnesses,” Moghaddam said. “A better understanding of how adolescent brain processes reward and decision-making is critical for understanding the basis of these vulnerabilities and designing prevention strategies.”

The Pitt team will continue to compare adolescent and adult behavior, especially as it relates to stimulants—such as amphetamines—and their influence on brain activity.

The National Institute of Mental Health funded this project.

The study was led by Bita Moghaddam, coauthor of the paper and a professor of neuroscience in Pitt’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. She and coauthor David Sturman, a MD/PhD student in Pitt’s Medical Scientist Training Program, compared the brain activity of adolescents and adults in rats involved in a task in which they anticipated a reward. The researchers found increased brain cell activity in the adolescent rats’ brains in an unusual area: the dorsal striatum (DS)—a site commonly associated with habit formation, decision-making, and motivated learning. The adult rats’ DS areas, on the other hand, did not become activated by an anticipated reward.

“The brain region traditionally associated with reward and motivation, called the nucleus accumbens, was activated similarly in adults and adolescents,” said Moghaddam. “But the unique sensitivity of adolescent DS to reward anticipation indicates that, in this age group, reward can tap directly into a brain region that is critical for learning and habit formation.”

Typically, researchers study the correlation between different behaviors of adolescents and adults. The Pitt team, however, used a method they call “behavioral clamping” to study if the brains of adolescents process the same behavior differently. To that end, the researchers implanted electrodes into different regions of rat adolescent and adult brains, allowing the researchers to study the reactions of both individual neurons and the sum of the neurons’, or “population,” activity.

The researchers’ predictions proved accurate. Even though the behavior was the same for both adult and adolescent rats, the researchers observed age-related neural response differences that were especially dramatic in the DS during reward anticipation. This shows that not only is reward expectancy processed differently in an adolescent brain, but also it can affect brain regions directly responsible for decision-making and action selection.

“Adolescence is a time when the symptoms of most mental illnesses—such as schizophrenia and bipolar and eating disorders—are first manifested, so we believe that this is a critical period for preventing these illnesses,” Moghaddam said. “A better understanding of how adolescent brain processes reward and decision-making is critical for understanding the basis of these vulnerabilities and designing prevention strategies.”

The Pitt team will continue to compare adolescent and adult behavior, especially as it relates to stimulants—such as amphetamines—and their influence on brain activity. The National Institute of Mental Health funded this project.

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.  Jan.16th 2012

 

In the last several months, my colleagues and I have noticed rising levels of THC in the urine of our young patients but the average increase I present here surprised even us.

THC, which is short for tetrahydrocannabinol, is the active ingredient in marijuana that gives users a high and is chiefly responsible for making the drug addictive (yes, it’s addictive; responsible and respected scientists no longer debate this). In the last 40 years, growers have worked steadily to spike THC levels in marijuana — taking a page from the playbook of Big Tobacco, which was caught spiking nicotine and adding chemicals to make cigarettes more addictive.

Marijuana’s THC levels have increased substantially in the last 40 years. In the 1960s and ’70s, marijuana’s THC levels averaged around 2 percent. Today, they easily exceed 10 percent. In medical marijuana states, including Colorado, where I live, potent strains frequently falling into adolescents’ hands top 40 percent THC. Then there’s the concentrated form of THC, commonly called hash oil, that is extracted from the plant and added to foods and drinks and inhaled through smokeless vaporizers. THC concentrate can exceed 90 percent. At the same time THC has risen, so has adolescent marijuana use. Consider this from the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Survey:

* In 1991, 8 percent of the nation’s high school students reported past-month marijuana use. The past-month use rate reported last year was 15.5 percent.

* In 1991, 0.9 percent of the nation’s high school students reported daily use. Last year it was 3.5 percent.

With all of this top of mind, my colleagues and I examined the results of approximately 5,000 urinalyses of adolescents treated in a downtown Denver clinic where I practice. The patients were ages 13 to 19.

As you’ll see in the chart below, from 2007 through 2009, the average rate was 358 nanograms per milliliter of urine. This time period immediately preceded the opening of hundreds of marijuana dispensaries in Colorado.

From 2010 through February 2013, the average THC rate registered at 536 nanograms per milliliter of urine. This time period coincides with a boom in access to, and social acceptance of, marijuana in Colorado, where voters in November 2012 approved a constitutional amendment legalizing the drug for recreational use.

Why should we care about this rise in THC rates? What do they mean? Here are some preliminary thoughts as I continue my research:

* Young people are using marijuana more frequently, or they’re using more potent marijuana, or they’re using more potent marijuana more frequently. I suspect the third option is most likely.

* When young people report for treatment, their marijuana addiction is more serious. It takes longer to treat them and requires more resources to do so — which means their treatment is more costly.

* Typically, the more severe the addiction, the poorer the prognosis for recovery.

* I am increasingly concerned about concentrated THC, which is infused into an ever-growing number of edible products and pushed to users in other smokeless forms that are billed as safer and healthier to use because they don’t involve smoking. My colleagues and I also have found that these smokeless forms of ingesting THC are increasingly popular with young people who are eager to hide their drug use.

It is reasonable now to question how much longer it will be before we see injection use of THC — especially as marijuana is legalized.

 

1.

Bahahaha  injection! Really?!?!    “Dr. Fool” needs a proper education!  Kim

Reply

Thanks for writing, Kim. Your response is typical of those I have received, so I’m posting it. THC injections have happened in laboratory settings where researchers are examining the links between marijuana use and psychosis. For example, this video, produced by the BBC, shows a woman receiving injections of pure THC and a mixture of THC and cannabinoid. It was posted in 2011 and has received more than 106,000 views.

So, THC injections aren’t implausible. Similarly, synthetic cannabinoid was developed in a laboratory for research purposes. Only a few short years later, “entrepreneurs” who studied published papers, were marketing the substance as a substitute for marijuana that would allow users to get high and also evade drug tests and, possibly, avoid arrest.

Even if THC injections are plausible that doesn’t mean that they will be widespread or even a minor trend. there are many ways to ingest marijuana most of them more comfortable than injection. why would anybody want to inject something that even you say could be smoked or eaten –  Alexander

Reply

Thanks for writing, Alexander. Yes, there are many ways to ingest drugs that are more comfortable than injection — and yet people inject drugs. Heroin can be taken orally, snorted and smoked, but many people who use it inject it. Injection delivers a faster, more intense high, which is why it’s a preferred delivery method for some drug users. Perhaps you also should contact researchers whose studies have included injected THC. Their thoughts are bound to be interesting.

Dr. Thurstone merely has reported that injection use of THC is plausible. As noted, it has certainly happened in clinical research settings. Two YouTube videos showing a woman receiving THC injections (one is posted here) have received nearly a half million views at this writing. Responsible healthcare providers should be aware of the possibility of injection THC. Communities should be aware of it, especially in Colorado, where THC injectables (meaning needles filled with THC) will be legal for sale to people 21 and older on Jan. 1, 2014. People should discuss the matter now — and not wait until it shows up in their homes, neighborhoods, schools and medical clinics.

 

I’m a youth who goes to school in Lakewood. I find it to be a joke how many other kids i see at my middle school are smoking pot. Sadly, so many of these kids are addicted. They often are told that it is not bad and that it will not hurt them, then they become addicted and fall into the vicious cycle due to the harmful effects of the drug. For all of the pro-marijuana people i would like to thank you for 1.) For screwing the youth 2.) For creating lies that deceive kids into doing this drug. If you pro-marijuana people don’t think that pot is bad then you must be high. – Harrison

Reply

Thanks for writing, Harrison. I’m especially interested in hearing from young people on this subject.

 

Hmm. So, when you say “At the same time THC has risen, so has adolescent marijuana use,” that makes me wonder, because you also say “In the 1960s and ’70s, marijuana’s THC levels averaged around 2 percent.”

So, if the hypothesis is that rising THC levels lead to rising use and you lament the 2% THC of the Woodstock Era, why are you only going back to 1991 to set your baseline? Isn’t that a little intellectually dishonest?

Because when we look back at the data from NSDUH, we see this:

1979: 16.8% age 12-17 use of marijuana in past month (that would be your 2% THC, right?)

1985: 11.9% monthly use (with THC between 3.44% – 7.95%, according to the Potency Monitoring Project in the ONDCP’s 2011 Data Supplement.)

1991: 4.3% monthly use, 3.18% – 11.20% THC

1997: 9.4% monthly use, 4.92% – 11.62% THC

2003: 8.0% monthly use, 5.63% – 14.00% THC

2009: 7.2% monthly use, 6.89% – 12.86% THC

Let’s see, given six data points each six years apart, we have learned:

The most kids smoked pot back in 1979 when it was the weakest pot. Then in 1985, fewer kids smoked pot even as it got more than twice as potent. Then in 1991, almost 1/3 as many kids smoked pot, even though it got still more potent. By 1997, twice as many kids were using even as the potency stayed relatively stable. In 2003, fewer kids smoked pot even though it got more potent, and in 2009 fewer kids smoked as the potency dropped.

Pretty much everything happened except your hypothesis according to this data set. even the latest data from 2011 show 8.0% monthly use and the dabs/hash phenomenon was well underway by then.

The reason we’re unfazed by your scaremongering of the urine metabolite levels of your paying clients is that all you’re finding is that the people forced into your business for violating prohibition are getting higher, not that getting higher forces people into your business. You know as well as I do (SAMSHA TEDS-A) that for every one person who self-admits to rehab solely for marijuana, another four are forced there by the criminal justice system. Colorado went and added language to the constitution that is really bad for your bottom line.  – Russ

Reply

Hi, Russ. Thanks for writing. I’ll take it from the top:

“So, if the hypothesis is …” That’s not the hypothesis, and I have not offered one.

Why did I mention Monitoring the Future data going back to 1991? This long-running survey has monitored 12th graders since 1975. However, I’m not interested only in high school seniors. I want to know about students in grades 8-12. The survey started to include 8th and 10th graders in 1991.I’m simply reporting here that kids are showing up in my clinic with more THC in their urine. The higher their THC levels, the more severe their addiction. Their THC levels have risen substantially since 2007. I’m unfazed that you express no concern about the significance of this.

“You know as well as I do …” No, I don’t. What I do know is that marijuana abuse is the No. 1 reason adolescents are admitted for substance abuse treatment in the United States. I also know that most of my patients come to my clinic voluntarily. Few are referred there through the courts. I’m glad you mentioned the TEDS data (that stands for Treatment Episodes Data Set). I encourage people to review it. From the most recent data set, which can be found online here:   http://wwwdasis.samhsa.gov/teds07/tedshigh2k7.pdf:

“The proportion of admissions for primary marijuana abuse increased from 12 percent in 1997 to 16 percent in 2003 through 2007. • Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of primary marijuana admissions were male. • Over half (51 percent) of primary marijuana admissions were non-Hispanic White, followed by 29 percent who were non-Hispanic Black and 15 percent who were of Hispanic origin. • For primary marijuana admissions, the average age at admission was 24 years.”

That profile is consistent with Colorado’s medical marijuana registry.  It’s also important for people to understand that private treatment centers don’t often participate in TEDS. As the study states: “In general, facilities reporting TEDS data are those that receive State alcohol and/or drug agency funds (including Federal Block Grant funds) for the provision of alcohol and/or drug treatment services.” People who are court-referred are more likely to go to publicly funded treatment programs, Russ.  Another important thing to know about TEDS is that it tracks admissions, or patient visits, not individuals.

By “added language to the constitution,” I suppose you mean Colorado’s Amendment 64. If by “bottom line” you mean the number of patients I see, you’re right. I find it very sad that my patient referrals have tripled since 2009, the start of the boom in marijuana dispensaries in Colorado and the continued era of decriminalization (public records show few people are jailed only for marijuana use in Colorado and across the nation). I am also sad that there’s so much demand for marijuana-addiction treatment now that our clinical program is having to hire another therapist, and at least one other adolescent treatment program serving metro Denver is expanding, too.

 

I’d be interested to know whether those urinalysis results were for actual THC or for THC metabolites like 11-hydroxy-THC.

Reply

Thanks for writing. Good question. We were measuring THC.

 

(yes, it’s addictive; responsible and respected scientists no longer debate this). Please list your source for this statement. Reply

Thanks for asking. There are several studies to review, but a great place to start is the work of Alan J. Budney, a professor of psychiatry at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine. His research and reviews of the literature have focused on physical withdrawals from cannabis.

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,USA,Youth :

Each day almost 600 children are taking up the habit, putting themselves at a much greater risk of lung cancer and other diseases.

More children are starting to smoke in London than anywhere else

Almost 600 children aged under 16 take up smoking every day in the UK, research has suggested.  A survey of secondary school pupils in years 7 to 11 (children mostly aged 11-15) estimated there were 207,000 new child smokers between 2010 and 2011.  The Health and Social Care Information Centre said the figures, published in the journal Thorax, were particularly high in London.

“Each day, 67 children, more than two classrooms full, start smoking in London,” said the experts, who included specialists from Cancer Research UK and Imperial College London.

An estimated 463 children start smoking every day in England, with 50 in Scotland, 30 in Wales and 19 in Northern Ireland.

The experts said: “Smoking is among the largest causes of preventable deaths worldwide. The present data should help to raise awareness of childhood smoking and to focus attention on the need to address this important child protection issue.”

People who start smoking before the age of 15 have a higher risk of lung cancer than those who start later, they said. The team also pointed to “compelling evidence” that young people are susceptible to branding and advertising and are influenced by the depiction of smoking in films. The experts said: “Legislation is needed to counter the efforts of the tobacco industry, but this requires political will by legislators at both national and local levels.” Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “Although the thought of nearly 20 classrooms full of children taking up smoking every day should be shocking, the sad thing is that it comes as no surprise.

“It is even sadder to think that, at current rates, half of these children are likely to eventually die as a result of their habit if they continue smoking.”

Source:  news.sky.com  Thursday 05 December 2013 

Filed under: Nicotine,Youth :

National figures on smoking prevalence are available, but the researchers wanted to estimate smoking uptake among children, to provide some baseline data to inform efforts for preventive measures, and focus attention and resources on what is “essentially a child protection issue.”

This is because taking up smoking at a young age is an even greater risk to health than starting later in life, they say. Smoking at a young age affects lung development and boosts the risk of progressive lung disease (COPD).

And people who start smoking before the age of 15 run a higher risk of developing lung cancer than those who take up the habit later on, even if the cumulative number of cigarettes smoked is smaller, they add.

The researchers based their analysis on data taken from the 2011 ‘Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England’ survey, which targets schoolchildren in England between the ages of 11 and 15 every year.

Questionnaires were completed by 6519 children in 219 schools. And by comparing the numbers of current smokers — regular and occasional — with smoking rates among the same age band surveyed the previous year, the researchers were able to estimate the numbers of new 11 to 15 year olds starting to smoke in 2010-11 in the UK.

To calculate the number of new child smokers for each locality, this estimate of 207,000 was then split across geographical areas according to population size and smoking prevalence among adults, on the assumption that there would be more child smokers where the proportion of adult smokers was high. Parental smoking is one of the strongest predictors of smoking among children.

The researchers then used population and adult smoking prevalence data for each of the four UK countries to calculate the number of new child smokers for each locality.

The analysis indicated that among the 3.7 million children aged between 11 and 15 in the UK, an estimated 463 start smoking every day in England, with the equivalent figures for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, 55, 30, and 19, respectively.

Of 74,000 children in this age group in Birmingham, nine take up smoking every day, while the daily tally in London is 67 out of 458,000 children in this age group.

The authors acknowledge that as their figures are calculated from survey data, they can only be approximate, but the fact that they are regional might be more helpful to healthcare professionals and regulators, they say.

Smoking rates among both adults and children are falling in the UK, but the figures are still high, so the pressure needs to be kept up to reduce smoking further, say the authors.

This means increasing taxation, curbing smuggling, and running well-funded anti-smoking media campaigns, as a well as banning smoking in cars and introducing plain packaging to reduce children’s exposure to branding, they say.

“Smoking is among the largest causes of preventable deaths worldwide,” they write. “The present data should help to raise awareness of childhood smoking and to focus attention on the need to address this important child protection issue,” they conclude.

Source:  www.sciencedaily.com  4th Dec. 2013

Filed under: Health,Nicotine,Youth :

Hospital emergency department visits related to the dangerous hallucinogenic drug Ecstasy, sometimes known as “Molly,” increased 128 percent between 2005 and 2011 (from 4,460 visits in 2005 to 10,176 visits in 2011) for visits among patients younger than 21 years old, according to a new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  Overall in 2011, there were approximately 1.25 million emergency department visits related to the use of illicit drugs.  Ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine) has both stimulant and hallucinogenic properties, and produces feelings of increased energy and euphoria among users. Abuse of Ecstasy can produce a variety of undesirable health effects such as anxiety and confusion, which can last one week or longer after using the drug. Other serious health risks associated with the use of Ecstasy include becoming dangerously overheated, high blood pressure, and kidney and heart failure.  Recently there have been several deaths associated with Molly, a variant of Ecstasy, among young people taking it at concerts and raves.  Another key finding shows that a substantial proportion of hospital emergency departments visits associated with Ecstasy during the six year period also involved underage drinking. In each year from 2005 to 2011, an average of 33 percent of emergency department visits among those younger than age 21 involved Ecstasy and involved alcohol. This unsafe combination causes a longer-lasting euphoria than Ecstasy or alcohol use alone and may increase the risk for potential abuse.  “These findings raise concerns about the increase in popularity of this potentially harmful drug, especially in young people,” said Dr. Peter Delany, Director of SAMHSA’s Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. “Ecstasy is a street drug that can include other substances that can render it even more potentially harmful. We need to increase awareness about this drug’s dangers and take other measures to help prevent its use.”  The report, titled Ecstasy-Related Emergency Department Visits by Young People Increased between 2005 and 2011; Alcohol Involvement Remains a Concern, is based on 2005 to 2011 findings from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN). DAWN is a public health surveillance system that monitors drug-related hospital emergency department visits and drug-related deaths to track the impact of drug use, misuse and abuse in the United States. The complete survey findings are available on the SAMHSA website at: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/spotlight/spot127-youth-ecstasy-2013.pdf.

Source:  www.cadca.org  5.12.13

Teenagers in the child welfare system are at higher-than-average risk of abusing marijuana, inhalants and other drugs, according to a study in the November issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

However, the study also shows that parental involvement matters. “When youth perceive that their parents or caregivers are actively engaged in their lives, this may steer them away from drugs,” according to lead researcher Danielle L. Fettes, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Diego. “Youth who feel supported by parents tend to have a better sense of self and better mental health and, in this case, are less likely to engage in high-risk behaviors—which is important for this already high-risk population.”

Using data from two national surveys, Fettes and colleagues found that 18 percent of teens in the welfare system admitted to ever smoking marijuana, versus 14 percent of other teens. Meanwhile, 12 percent said they’d abused inhalants, compared with 6 percent of other U.S. kids.

In addition, although abuse of “hard drugs,” like cocaine and heroin, was less common, teens in child welfare were still at greater risk: Six percent admitted to ever using the drugs, versus 4 percent of other teens.

The findings are not necessarily surprising, according to Fettes. It’s known that kids who enter the child welfare system typically have some risk factors for drug use—such as a history of domestic abuse or mental health issues.

But until now, there had been little research into their actual rates of substance abuse, Fettes said.

For their study, she and her colleagues culled data from two national health surveys: one covered 730 12- to 14-year-olds in the child welfare system; the other included 4,445 kids the same age from the general U.S. population.

Overall, teens in the welfare system were more likely to have tried marijuana, inhalants or hard drugs—but not alcohol. Around 40 percent of kids in each survey admitted to drinking at some point in their lives.

That, according to Fettes, may reflect a couple of facts. “Alcohol is readily available to teenagers,” she said, “and drinking is something of a normative behavior to them.”

But whereas drug use was more common among teens in the welfare system, not all of those kids were at equal risk. A key risk factor—for all teens in the study—was delinquency. Teenagers who admitted to things like shoplifting, theft, running away or using a weapon were at increased risk of both drug and alcohol abuse.

On the other hand, some family factors seemed to protect kids from falling into drug use.

Teens from two-parent homes were generally less likely to report drug use—and so were kids who said they felt close to their parents or other guardian. For the parents and others who care for these kids, Fettes said it’s important to be aware of the increased risk of substance abuse.

On the wider scale, Fettes said that right now, there are typically multiple, distinct service systems working with teens in the child welfare system. They may also be receiving mental health services and alcohol and other drug counseling, as well as having contact with the criminal justice system. “Often, they don’t work together,” she noted.

“Given the increased risk, the child welfare system may be an ideal venue to incorporate proven prevention and intervention programs for youth substance use,” Fettes concluded. “Drug abuse screening and treatment, or referrals for treatment, should be a regular part of kids’ case management.”

Source: Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs  4th November 2013

Young Swiss men who say that they believe in God are less likely to smoke cigarettes or pot or take ecstasy pills than Swiss men of the same age group who describe themselves as atheists. Belief is a protective factor against addictive behaviour. This is the conclusion reached by a study funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Karl Marx said that religion was the opium of the people. New figures now suggest that religion plays a role in preventing substance misuse. A research team led by Gerhard Gmel from Lausanne University Hospital has shown in the journal Substance Use & Misuse that, in Switzerland, fewer religious young men consume addictive substances than men of their age group who are agnostics or atheists.

At the army recruitment centre For their study on substance use in Switzerland, Gmel and his colleagues interviewed almost twenty-year-old men at army recruitment centres in Lausanne, Windisch and Mels between August 2010 and November 2011. The researchers have now evaluated the 5387 questionnaires completed by the young men. Based on the responses, the scientists split the young men into five groups: the “religious” believe in God and attend church services, the “spiritual” believe in a higher power, but do not practice any religion, the “unsure” do not know what to believe about God, the “agnostics” assume that no-one can know whether there is a God or not, and the “atheists” do not believe in God.

The researchers found that these groups deal differently with addictive substances. Among the 543 religious young men, 30% smoked cigarettes daily, 20% smoked pot more than once a week and less than 1% had consumed ecstasy or cocaine in the past year. Among the 1650 atheists, 51% smoked cigarettes, 36% smoked pot more than once a week, 6% had consumed ecstasy and 5% cocaine in the past year. The three groups that lay between these extremes were in the mid-range both regarding their religious beliefs and the consumption of addictive substances.

A protective influence for Gmel, these figures indicate that research into addictive behaviour should not only consider risk factors, but also protective factors. The results of his study show that belief is a protective factor when it comes to the consumption of addictive substances. Whether the differences between the groups can be attributed to the ethical values of the young men or to social control in the environments in which they live, remains unanswered.

Source: Religion Is Good, Belief Is Better: Religion, Religiosity, and Substance Use Among Young Swiss Men. Substance Use & Misuse, 2013; 48 (12): 1085 DOI: 10.3109/10826084.2013.799017

American middle and high school students seem increasingly taken with electronic cigarettes — and that alarms health officials who worry the devices will turn teenagers to regular cigarettes, according to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

The battery-powered electronic devices are marketed as safer and more socially acceptable than regular cigarettes and come with “flavor cartridges” — cherry, chocolate and lime and coconut, to name a few — that could appeal to youngsters.

Teenagers’ use of the electronic devices — sometimes call e-cigs — in 2012 was about double what they reported in 2011.

About 10 percent of high school students reported they’d used the e-cigarettes in 2012 along with 3 percent of middle-schoolers.

The devices do not contain tobacco, so they are not regulated like traditional cigarettes and can be purchased by minors.

But health officials said they still deliver nicotine and other chemicals and can serve as the proverbial gateway to regular cigarettes and all of their known health hazards. They also say the devices have not been well studied, so there may be other health risks that are yet unknown.

“The increased use of e-cigarettes by teens is deeply troubling,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, in a statement. “Nicotine is a highly addictive drug. Many teens who start with e-cigarettes may be condemned to struggling with a lifelong addiction to nicotine and conventional cigarettes.”

Source: Erie Times-News, October 3,2013

Filed under: Nicotine,Youth :

As a nation, we are drinking much more than we used to, which is partly attributable to alcohol being cheaper and more available than ever. Many British teenagers get into the habit early, although recent trends suggest this situation is improving (alcohol consumption among teenagers is slightly lower than it was ten years ago).

Nonetheless, drinking alcohol during adolescence is not a good idea, because the younger you are when you have your first alcoholic drink, the more likely you are to develop problems later on in life. The same is true for cigarette smoking and the use of illicit drugs such as cannabis and cocaine.

Starting early carries greater risk. NatCen

 

Arrested development

Why are adolescents particularly vulnerable to addiction? A large part of the answer comes from our understanding of the neurobiology of brain development during adolescence. The brain does not reach maturity until fairly late in life, with new connections between brain cells being formed right up until people are in their mid-20s.

Importantly, the brain does not mature at a uniform rate. The more primitive regions of the brain, including the reward system and other areas of the subcortex such as those parts that process emotions, reach maturity relatively early (when people are in their early teens).

The prefrontal cortex is a late bloomer. National Institute of Health

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The more “advanced” parts of the brain, such as the prefrontal cortex, are not fully developed until much later. In behavioural terms this means adolescents are particularly sensitive to their emotions and to things that are novel and motivationally appealing, but they are relatively unable to control their behaviour and plan for the future.

Taking risks

My research suggests this can explain why some adolescents drink more than others: teenagers who were relatively poor at exerting self-control, or who took more risks on a computer test of risk-taking, were more likely to drink heavily in the future.

This creates perfect conditions for vulnerability to addiction during adolescence, because the motivational “pull” of alcohol and other drugs is very strong, whereas the ability to control behaviour is relatively weak. Many scientists think if adolescents do drink a lot, and if they do it frequently, then this might cause long-lasting changes in the way that the brain is organised, which can make it very difficult to stop drinking.

We certainly see changes in the brains of people with alcohol problems (compared to people without problems), but it can be difficult to work out if alcohol caused those brain changes, or if those people had slightly different brains before they started drinking, and these subtle differences may have led them to start drinking in the first place.

Starting early carries greater risk. NatCen

 

Addiction and behaviour

In principle, adolescent brains could be vulnerable to “behavioural” addictions as well as alcohol and drug addiction, for exactly the same reason. Very few behavioural addictions are officially recognised by psychiatrists and psychologists at the moment (gambling addiction is the only exception).

The Channel 4 documentary Porn on the Brain shown this week asked whether pornography is addictive, and if adolescents could be getting hooked. As shown in the programme, it certainly seems to be the case that a minority of adolescents who use pornography exhibit some of the characteristic features of addiction, such as feeling unable to control their use of porn, and loss of interest in other activities.

Their patterns of brain activity when viewing porn seem to be similar to those seen in people with alcohol and drug addictions when they look at pictures of alcohol and other drugs. It remains to be seen whether addiction to porn will eventually be recognised as a psychological disorder, but it is clear that it can create problems for some adolescents and young adults who use it.

What can be done? Although it’s obvious, parents should do what they can to prevent their children from experimenting with alcohol, smoking and other drugs for as long as possible. The same applies to other things that might eventually be considered “addictive”. School-based prevention programmes can also be successful, including a recent program that is tailored to different personality types and has shown some promise at reducing alcohol consumption in teenagers.

Source: www.theconversation.com  2nd Oct.2013

A new study by Canadian social scientists finds boys who display anti-social behavior in kindergarten will likely abuse drugs later in life — unless they receive intensive intervention in their “tween” years.

The study began in 1984, in Montreal. Some kindergarten teachers selected boys in their class who came from low-income households and showed anti-social behavior for a longitudinal study by the University of Montreal.

Of the 172 disruptive 5-year-olds chosen, 46 were channeled into an intensive intervention program over two years, starting when they were 7.

The boys were given social skills training to learn how to control emotions and build healthy friendships. They were also taught to use problem solving and communication instead of anti-social behaviors. Their families were involved in parts of the program, with parents learning skills to help their sons through difficulties.

Researchers studied two control groups: 42 boys got no intervention at all, and the remaining 84 received only a home visit. All the boys were followed until they were 17, with specific attention paid to their use of drugs or alcohol. Results published recently in the British Journal of Psychiatry indicate that the boys who received this intensive therapy were less likely than the rest to use drugs as teens.   Researcher Natalie Castellanos-Ryan, of the psychiatry department of the University of Montreal, said the boys who received the intensive interventions had much lower levels of anti-social behavior. They never caught up with the level of drug or alcohol use of the other boys in the study, who began substance use from early adolescence. Even the boys who received periodic in-home visits, but not intensive intervention, had a high rate of substance misuse during teenage years.

The study authors concluded that “adolescent substance use may be indirectly prevented by selectively targeting childhood risk factors that disrupt the developmental cascade of adolescent risk factors for substance use.”

Castellanos-Ryan said her team hopes to follow up with the same cohort of boys who are now 30 years old, to see if the intervention is still paying dividends.

Source:  www.scpr.org  16 Aug 2013

An intensive intervention programme for disruptive young children could help prevent drug and alcohol abuse in adolescence, according to a new study.

Canadian researchers writing in the British Journal of Psychiatry set out to examine whether a two-year prevention programme in childhood could stop substance misuse problems in later life.

Some 172 boys for poor socio-economic backgrounds and all with disruptive behaviour participated in the study. They selected 46 boys and their parents for the two-year intervention programme, when they were aged between 7 and 9 years old. The programme included social skills training for the boys at school, to help promote self-control and reduce their impulsivity and antisocial behaviour, as well as parent training to help parents recognise problematic behaviours in their boys, set clear objectives and reinforce appropriate behaviours. A further 42 boys received no intervention and acted as the control group.

The remaining 84 boys were assigned to an intensive observation group, which differed from the controls in that their families were visited in their homes by researchers, attended a half-day laboratory testing session, and were observed at school. All the boys were followed up until the age of 17, to assess their use of drugs and alcohol.

The researchers found that levels of drug and alcohol use across adolescence were lower in those boys who received the intervention. The reduction in substance use continued through the boys’ early adolescence right up to the end of their time at high school.

Researcher Natalie Castellanos-Ryan, of the Department of Psychiatry at Université de Montréal and Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Sainte Justine, Canada, said: “Our study shows that a two-year intervention aimed at key risk factors in disruptive kindergarten boys from low socioeconomic environments can effectively reduce substance use behaviours in adolescence – not only in early adolescence but up to the end of high school, eight years post-intervention. This finding is noteworthy because the effects are stronger and longer-lasting than for most substance use interventions that have been studied before.”

Dr Castellanos-Ryan added: “The intervention appeared to work because it reduced the boys’ impulsivity and antisocial behaviour during pre-adolescence – between the ages of 11 and 13. Our study suggests that by selectively targeting disruptive behaviours in early childhood, and without addressing substance use directly, we could have long-term effects on substance use behaviours in later life. More research is now needed to examine how these effects can generalise to girls and other populations, and to explore aspects related to the cost/benefit of this.

Source: www.onmedica.com  9th August 2023

Underage drinkers are more likely than alcohol users ages 21 or older to use illicit drugs within 2 hours of alcohol use, according to data from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. One in five (20.1%) underage drinkers reported using at least one illicit drug the last time they used alcohol, compared to 4.9% of those ages 21 or older. Marijuana was the most commonly reported illicit drug used in combination with alcohol by both underage (19.2%) and older (4.4%) drinkers. In contrast, illicit drugs other than alcohol, including cocaine, heroin, and prescription drugs used non-medically, were used with alcohol by only 2.2% of underage drinkers and less than 1% of drinkers ages 21 and older. Future research will be needed to study if the co-occurring use of alcohol and marijuana changes among residents of Colorado and Washington, which have both recently enacted laws legalizing the recreational use of marijuana by adults.

Source: Adapted by CESAR from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables, 2012. Available online at http://www.samhsa.gov/data/NSDUH/2011SummNatFindDetTables/Index.aspx

Abstract

School factors are associated with many health outcomes in adolescence. However, previous studies report inconsistent findings regarding the degree of school-level variation for health outcomes, particularly for risk behaviours. This study uses data from three large longitudinal studies in England to investigate school-level variation in a range of health indicators. Participants were drawn from the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England, the Me and My School Study and the Research with East London Adolescent Community Health Survey. Outcome variables included risk behaviours (smoking, alcohol/cannabis use, sexual behaviour), behavioural difficulties and victimisation, obesity and physical activity, mental and emotional health, and educational attainment. Multi-level models were used to calculate the proportion of variance in outcomes explained at school level, expressed as intraclass correlations (ICCs) adjusted for gender, ethnicity and socio-economic status of the participants. ICCs for health outcomes ranged from nearly nil to .28 and were almost uniformly lower than for attainment (.17-.23). Most adjusted ICCs were smaller than unadjusted values, suggesting that school-level variation partly reflects differences in pupil demographics. School-level variation was highest for risk behaviours. ICCs were largely comparable across datasets, as well as across years within datasets, suggesting that school-level variation in health remains fairly constant across adolescence. School-level variation in health outcomes remains significant after adjustment for individual demographic differences between schools, confirming likely effects for school environment. Variance is highest for risk behaviours, supporting the utility of school environment interventions for these outcomes.

Source:    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23793374

Filed under: Education,Health,Youth :

The overlap between substance problems and mental concerns, such as mood and behavior disorders, is large. If you have one, you’re more likely to find yourself with the other also.

For example:

* People with depression or anxiety are roughly twice as likely to have some kind of drug use disorder.1   * Research has found that more than 40 percent of people with bipolar disorder will have a substance use disorder during their lives.2

* The converse is also true. Among those who are seeking help for a substance use disorder, as many as 50 to 75 percent will also have anxiety, depression, or some other mental health issue.3

And here’s another common condition that’s also associated with a significantly increased risk of illicit drug use: ADHD. The relationship is quite high, and it begins in adolescence and continues into adulthood.

A 2011 study that followed kids and teens for 10 years found that those who were diagnosed with ADHD were 47 percent more likely to have a substance use disorder later in life than their peers without ADHD.4

So which condition causes the other? This question arises in my psychiatric practice regularly. In all likelihood, some causation is traveling in both directions. Drug use—especially during adolescence—increases the chances of various forms of mental illness. Given that drugs can harm normal brain development, the drug use likely causes mental illness to arise in people who were already vulnerable to developing it.1 On the other hand, some people with a mental health issue may use drugs to self-medicate symptoms.

In any particular person, discovering which caused which is often impossible. Knowing the order in which these problems became apparent can be informative. But it’s not enough to lead us to state with certainty that one caused the other, because we usually can’t know if the second problem would have arisen anyway.

Reassuring findings about ADHD meds This leads us to an important question about ADHD that concerns many parents. I have heard more than a few folks say something to the effect of: “Wait … psychiatrists and other doctors are putting kids with ADHD on stimulant drugs, which have enough kick that some people use them recreationally. Isn’t it possible that ADHD medications themselves put kids at higher risk of developing substance problems?

That’s a valid concern, given that nearly 3 million kids and teens were being treated with medication for ADHD in 2007.5 However, although some might worry that treating ADHD symptoms with psychostimulant medications would result in later illicit drug use, a number of studies over the years have concluded that there seems to be “no compelling evidence that stimulant treatment of children with ADHD leads to an increased risk for substance experimentation, use, dependence, or abuse by adulthood.”6

It’s even possible that treating ADHD with medications helps protect kids from later drug use. One 2008 study followed 114 children with ADHD for five years, until they were 16 years old on average. Ninety-four of them had been treated with stimulant medications. The researchers found no increased risk of substance use disorders linked to treatment with stimulant medications. In fact, they found that kids who took these medications were 73 percent less likely to have a substance use disorder.7

Thus, although it might make intuitive sense to be concerned that treating ADHD with stimulants is setting the child up for trouble with drugs down the line, research does not bear that out and, in fact, it suggests the opposite.

The best advice for someone with either a substance use problem or mental health disorder is to remain vigilant for the emergence of the other type of problem. Their interrelationship is complex and still being sorted out – and it’s a good idea to tell any doctor who’s treating you if you have either (or both) of these issues.

Source:  Published on March 27, 2013 by J. Wesley Boyd, M.D., Ph.D. in Almost Addicted

In the last several months, my colleagues and I have noticed rising levels of THC in the urine of our young patients — but the average increase I present here surprised even us.

THC, which is short for tetrahydrocannabinol, is the active ingredient in marijuana that gives users a high and is chiefly responsible for making the drug addictive (yes, it’s addictive; responsible and respected scientists no longer debate this). In the last 40 years, growers have worked steadily to spike THC levels in marijuana — taking a page from the playbook of Big Tobacco, which was caught spiking nicotine and adding chemicals to make cigarettes more addictive.

Marijuana’s THC levels have increased substantially in the last 40 years. In the 1960s and ’70s, marijuana’s THC levels averaged around 2 percent. Today, they easily exceed 10 percent. In medical marijuana states, including Colorado, where I live, potent strains frequently falling into adolescents’ hands top 40 percent THC.  Then there’s the concentrated form of THC, commonly called hash oil, that is extracted from the plant and added to foods and drinks and inhaled through smokeless vaporizers. THC concentrate can exceed 90 percent.

At the same time THC has risen, so has adolescent marijuana use. Consider this from the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Survey:

* In 1991, 8 percent of the nation’s high school students reported past-month marijuana use. The past-month use rate reported last year was 15.5 percent.

* In 1991, 0.9 percent of the nation’s high school students reported daily use. Last year it was 3.5 percent.

With all of this top of mind, my colleagues and I examined the results of approximately 5,000 urinalyses of adolescents treated in a downtown Denver clinic where I practice. The patients were ages 13 to 19.

As you’ll see in the chart below, from 2007 through 2009, the average rate was 358 nanograms per milliliter of urine. This time period immediately preceded the opening of hundreds of marijuana dispensaries in Colorado.

From 2010 through February 2013, the average THC rate registered at 536 nanograms per milliliter of urine. This time period coincides with a boom in access to, and social acceptance of, marijuana in Colorado, where voters in November 2012 approved a constitutional amendment legalizing the drug for recreational use.

Why should we care about this rise in THC rates? What do they mean? Here are some preliminary thoughts as I continue my research:

* Young people are using marijuana more frequently, or they’re using more potent marijuana, or they’re using more potent marijuana more frequently. I suspect the third option is most likely.

* When young people report for treatment, their marijuana addiction is more serious. It takes longer to treat them and requires more resources to do so — which means their treatment is more costly.

* Typically, the more severe the addiction, the poorer the prognosis for recovery.

* I am increasingly concerned about concentrated THC, which is infused into an ever-growing number of edible products and pushed to users in other smokeless forms that are billed as safer and healthier to use because they don’t involve smoking. My colleagues and I also have found that these smokeless forms of ingesting THC are increasingly popular with young people who are eager to hide their drug use.

It is reasonable now to question how much longer it will be before we see injection use of THC — especially as marijuana is legalized.

 

Source:  www.drthurstone.com   9th May 2013

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Youth :

Prevention is often the best medicine, and that is not only true when it comes to physical health, but also public health. Case in point – young adults reduce their overall prescription drug misuse up to 65 percent if they are part of a community-based prevention effort while still in middle school, according to researchers at Iowa State University.

The reduced substance use is significant considering the dramatic increase in prescription drug abuse, said Richard Spoth, director of the Partnerships in Prevention Science Institute at Iowa State. The research published in the American Journal of Public Health focused on programs designed to reduce the risk for substance misuse. In a related study, featured in the March-April 2013 issue of Preventive Medicine, researchers found significant reduction rates for methamphetamine, marijuana, alcohol, cigarette and inhalant use.

Additionally, teens and young adults had better relationships with parents, improved life skills and few problem behaviors in general. The research is part of a partnership between Iowa State and Penn State known as PROSPER, which stands for Promoting School-Community-University Partnerships to Enhance Resilience. PROSPER administers scientifically proven prevention programs in a community-based setting with the help of the Extension system in land grant universities. The results are based on follow-up surveys Spoth and his colleagues conducted with families and teens for six years after completing PROSPER. Researchers developed the prevention programs in the 1980s and 1990s to target specific age groups.

Spoth said understanding when and why adolescents experiment with drugs is a key to PROSPER’s success. “We think the programs work well because they reduce behaviors that place youth at higher risk for substance misuse and conduct problems,” Spoth said. “We time the implementation of these interventions so they’re developmentally appropriate. That’s not too early, not too late; about the time when they’re beginning to try out these new risky behaviors that ultimately can get them in trouble.”

PROSPER administers a combination of family-focused and school-based programs. The study involved 28 communities, evenly split between Iowa and Pennsylvania. The programs start with students in the sixth grade. The goal is to teach parents and children the skills they need to build better relationships and limit exposure to substance use. “One of the skills students are taught through the school-based program is assertiveness, so that they feel comfortable refusing to do something that might lead to them getting in trouble,” Spoth said. “We try to help parents be more attuned to what their children are doing, who they’re with, where they’re going, effectively monitoring, supervising and communicating with their children.”

Parents say the program works. Michelle Woodruff will admit that being a parent is hard work. “Absolutely, underline and capital letters – it is hard,” said Woodruff, a mother of four sons who range in age from 13-21 years old. But the lessons learned through the PROSPER program, she believes, made her and her husband better parents and also brought out the best in their children. “It was a lot of little things that made us re-evaluate how we parented,” Woodruff said. “I think it makes children more responsible not only to themselves, but their parents and the community. They want to represent their families well, their schools well, their churches; I think it just makes them want to be a better person.” Woodruff is now a member of the PROSPER team in Fort Dodge, where she encourages and supports other parents who participate in the program. Facilitators of the family-focused program use games and role-playing to help parents and children improve communication and set expectations for behavior. Woodruff would like to see more families take advantage of the opportunity. “Do it, not only for the one-on-one time with your child, but also to meet other like-minded parents,” Woodruff said.

“We’re just trying to come together as a community to raise the best kids that we can possibly raise so that they’re successful members of society as adults.”

Community benefits . The ongoing community partnerships are evidence of the PROSPER program’s sustainability, Spoth said. The results extend beyond a reduction in prescription drug or marijuana use. Researchers know that substance abuse often leads to other problem behaviors, so prevention can have a ripple effect and cut down on problems in school and violent behaviors in general. The benefits are measured in economic terms as well as the overall health and outlook of the community. “There are things that can only happen over time if you have sustained programming, because more and more parents are exposed to programs that help them address all of the challenges in parenting,” Spoth said. “As a result, people feel like they’re making connections, their community is a better place to live, and they are positive about the leadership in their community.”

Read more at: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2013-04-prosper-substance-abuse-teens.html#jCp

Source: American Journal of Public Health Preventive Medicine April 25, 2013 in Addiction (Medical Xpress)

A new study found that middle school students in small towns and rural areas who received brief interventions had lower rates of prescription drug abuse into late adolescence and young adulthood.

Prescription drug abuse is taking a medication without a prescription, or in ways or for reasons not prescribed. Abuse of prescription drugs can have serious and harmful consequences, including addiction, poisoning and even death from overdose. Surveys have found that prescription and over-the-counter medications are among the top substances abused by young people. Developing successful community-based interventions to prevent this abuse is an important public health goal.

A team led by Dr. Richard L. Spoth at Iowa State University conducted 3 studies to assess the effectiveness of brief community-based interventions among rural or small-town students in grades 6 or 7. The studies didn’t target prescription drug abuse specifically. Rather, all 3 studies used universal preventive interventions, which address general risk and protective factors for substance abuse. The work was funded by NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Study 1 (conducted from 1993 to 2008) tested an intervention focused on families of 6th graders. Study 2(1998-2011) tested a combined family-focused intervention and a school-based life skills training program in 7th graders from 24 schools. Study 3(2002-2009) tested a family-focused intervention and school-based interventions in 6th graders from 28 school districts. Students were randomly assigned to an intervention or control group.

Students completed written questionnaires or phone interviews through ages 17 to 25. They were asked about lifetime use of drugs such as barbiturates, tranquilizers, amphetamines, narcotics, opioids and pain relievers not prescribed by a doctor for their use. The results appeared online on February 14, 2013, in the American Journal of Public Health.

In study 1, the intervention reduced the rate of prescription drug abuse by 65%. Of the youth who participated in the intervention, 5% reported lifetime prescription drug abuse at age 25, compared with 16% of those in the control group. In study 2, rates for prescription drug abuse were reduced 33-62% at different ages. In study 3, 23% of youth who participated in the intervention reported lifetime prescription drug abuse in the 12th grade, compared with 29% of those in the control group.

These findings show that brief interventions among 6th and 7th graders in small towns and rural areas can bring long-term reductions in prescription drug abuse.

“The intervention effects were comparable or even stronger for participants who had started misusing substances prior to the middle school interventions, suggesting that these programs also can be successful in higher risk groups,” Spoth says.

This study adds to growing evidence that brief intervention programs can have lasting effects on risky behaviors like drug abuse. Further research will be needed to better understand how best to design programs that target different high-risk populations.


Source: www.nih.gov/researchmatters/march2013/interventions.htm March 4th 2013

New data shows that teen’s perception of the harmfulness of marijuana is at its lowest levels since the data began being tracked in the late 1970s.

Due to the drug not carrying much of a perceived risk, data is also showing a steady increase in the use of marijuana among teens and first time use is being reported at earlier ages than ever seen before.

Marijuana use among children escalates after eighth grade and a study done by the University of Michigan found that more than 11 percent of 13-14 year olds surveyed report they used marijuana in the past year.

The same study showed that by the time these young teenagers become high school seniors, those numbers increased drastically, with more than one in five saying they smoked marijuana in the past month and more than one-third of them reporting they smoked it within the previous year.

Marijuana has long been seen as the gateway drug to other drugs and alcohol and that suggestion is still relevant today. Chronic drug users often report that marijuana was the first drug that they experimented with before moving on to other harmful drugs, such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines.

Teen’s low perception of risk with marijuana use is especially alarming due to National Survey on Drug Use and Health, reporting that 90 percent of addictions have roots in the teenage years. If teens continue to view marijuana use as non-risky, it’s like we are going to continue seeing use among teens, at even earlier ages, become more prevalent.

So why the increase in marijuana use among youth?

One possible thought is that the perception of risk has gone down since states have started legalizing the use of marijuana. This not only sends a message to teens that the drug isn’t as dangerous as it was once seen, but it also increases the availability and access that teens have to marijuana.

Dealers decrease in perceived dangers associated with the sale and possession of marijuana has allowed the drug to be moved more freely across state lines and into our cities.

We want to be clear that just because some states may be changing their laws to legalize the use of marijuana it does not change the detrimental effects drug use can have on a teen’s brain development.

Parents, you need to be informed that marijuana is slowly becoming a norm among teens. Even if your teen may not be using the drug themselves, the likelihood that they have been exposed to it in some form or another is highly likely.

Talk with your teen about marijuana as early as 12 years old to ensure they get the facts from a credible source, you.

Source: http://www.wahpetondailynews.com Thursday, February 7, 2013

“Coalition for a Drug Free California is alarmed at youth marijuana use not only in California, but around the nation. We have reached an epidemic and there is no end in sight. Elected leaders are failing our children and our communities. States that allow for so-called ‘medical-pot’ are seeing explosive numbers. The pro-drug legalization lobby poured millions of dollars into pro-marijuana campaigns in Colorado and Washington that now outright permit marijuana use, sale and cultivation. The impact of such reckless campaigns endangers America’s most vulnerable; our children. Forget the fiscal cliff — the bigger problem is the cliff today’s children are walking towards,” said Dr. Paul Chabot, President of the Coalition for a Drug Free California www.drugfreecalifornia.org By the numbers:

* Youth perception of the dangers of marijuana has fallen to the lowest level on record, a new study says. Researchers warn that already high use of pot will increase as states move to legalize.

* The annual survey found that only 41.7 % of eighth graders believe that occasional use of marijuana is harmful, while 66.9 % regard it as dangerous when used regularly. Both rates are the lowest since 1991, when the government first began tracking this age group.

* Youth perception of marijuana risks diminished even more as they got older. 20.6 % of 12th graders believe occasional use of

marijuana is harmful while 44.1 % believed that its regular use was detrimental, the lowest rate since 1979.

* The government-sponsored study said teens’ dwindling concerns about the dangers of marijuana, despite the risks, “can signal future increases in use.”

* Those who used cannabis heavily in their teens and into their adulthood showed a significant drop in IQ between the ages of 13 and 38, according to the studies.

* Marijuana use among teenagers remained stuck at high levels in 2012. 6.5% of 12th graders smoked marijuana daily, up from 5.1% in 2007. 23% of the high-school seniors said they smoked the drug in the month prior to the survey. 36.4% used it in the past year and 45.2% said they had tried marijuana at least once in their lifetime.

* Daily marijuana use by 10th graders rose dramatically from 2.8% to 3.5%, and for eighth-grade students it edged up from 0.8% to 1.1%.

According to a release from Drug Free America Foundation, “This report shows that marijuana use has increased among youth and that the attitudes about marijuana’s harmfulness has significantly decreased, which clearly demonstrates what we have known for years – when the perception of the harms of drugs decreases, use rises,” said Calvina Fay, Executive Director of Drug Free America Foundation and Save Our Society From Drugs. “Over the years, the ruse that marijuana is a medicine has created a false sense that this addictive, dangerous drug is not harmful, but in fact helpful. Now, this year, two states have legalized marijuana use for any purpose. Unless we aggressively push-back against all marijuana legalization efforts, I am very concerned this negative trend

of increased marijuana use will continue. Perhaps it’s time to withhold federal funds from states that fail to uphold our nation’s drug laws,” Fay added. Download the government’s report here: http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/

Source: www.drugfreecalifornia.org Dec.2012


If drug problems are greater in African American communities, providing more of the poison that serves as the root cause of the problem is not the answer. Marijuana causes the following:

Crime

According to ONDCP[1] 64 – 87% of people arrested test positive for drugs, depending on location. Marijuana is the most prevalent drug of abuse. Making marijuana more readily available will increase crime, as it has been the case in Sacramento, Stockton, Oakland and other cities which are witnessing record number of murders. According to African American Bishop Ron Allen, 90% of the black homicides are committed by blacks. Many of the crimes are directly related to drug deals or burglaries involving marijuana.

Permanent Brain Damage

A recent study in Australia[2]of 59 people who had been using marijuana for 15 years proved that marijuana interrupts the development of white matter in the brain, the complex wiring system. “Unlike grey matter, the brain’s thinking areas which peak at age 8, white matter continues developing over a lifetime.” (Dr. Marc Seal) There were disruptions and reductions in white matter of as much as 80%. The hippocampus, the area of the brain involved in memory, shrank in heavy users causing memory impairment and concentration. The average age of first use was 16, but as young as 10 or 11. The younger they started, the worse the damage.

Insanity
Marijuana’s impact on white matter has also been related to development of psychosis, including schizophrenia, paranoia and suicidal depression.. Age 14 – 16 is a critical period because the brain is going through a major development period, and cannabis can cause permanent damage.[3] A Dutch study showed teenagers who indulge in cannabis as few as 5 times in their life significantly increase their risk of psychotic symptoms.[4]

Still Births And Deformities[5]

Because today’s pot is 20 times stronger than decades ago, brain damage and physical deformities can occur to a fetus even two weeks after conception, before the mother even knows she is pregnant. The mother can quit but it’s too late for the unborn child. Studies from the 1973 done by Dr. Akira Miroshima showed that even low potency marijuana caused “more DNA damage than even heroin.” [6] While normal cells have 46 chromosomes, he discovered that one-third of “weekend smokers” who averaged two joints a week had only 20 to 30 chromosomes, about the same as a frog, which can cause mutations in sperm and ova and result in fetal damage. What’s worse, another study showed it is mutagenic, meaning it can skip one generation and affect the next.[7] Numerous studies confirm fetal damage by marijuana is a causal factor in physical deformities and behavioral problems of young people.

Addiction, Destruction and Death

According to the ONDCP, 17% of those under 18 and 9% of those over 18 years old who use marijuana will become addicted to it. Addicts either can’t work as well, or at all, so many turn to crime to feed their habit. More people are in treatment for marijuana that all other drugs combined. It doesn’t kill by overdose, but it is a major factor in suicides and a gateway to hard drugs that kill 3,400 Americans a month.

Adverse Impacts On Education

Impact on memory, motivation and ability to learn is a major factor in the 1.2 million high school drop outs nationally. America has declined to 26th in the world academically and going downhill. Preventing marijuana use by kids is of paramount importance.

Traffic Injuries and Death

33% of traffic deaths are related to drugged driving.[8] Marijuana, being fat soluble, stays in the brain for a month, compounding with each additional joint, adversely effecting memory, cognition, motor skills and reaction time. Nobody is in prison for simple possession, but rather for committing crimes while under the influence. Making marijuana more readily available will only exacerbate the problem. Black markets for those 21 and under will still exist, and drug dealers will relish the opportunity to advance marijuana users to the hard drugs. The focus should be on prevention, and keeping ALL kids in the system, safe and drug free.

——————————————————————————–

[1] Office of National Drug Control, The White House

[2] Seal, Dr. Marc 08/09/21012 Melbourne Murdoch Children’s Research Institute; Marijuana Causes Brain Damage.

[3] Dr. McGrath. University of Queensland.

[4] Patton, G.C. et al (2006) Cannabis use and mental health in young people. British Medical Journal.

[5] Science Daily (Aug 15, 2012) Study By Dr. Delphine Psychoyos, Texas A & M University

[6] Miroshima, Dr. Akira)

[7] Daliterio, Dr. Susan, U of Texas Medical School, San Antonio.

[8] DuPont, Dr. Robert – Institute of Behavior and Health www.stopdruggeddriving.com

Source: ROGER MORGAN rogermorgan.339@gmail.com 24th August 2012

Founder and Director of the Take-Back America Campaign, prior Chairman and Executive Director of the Coalition for A Drug-Free California. He is author of two books published on digital sites Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook, called MARIJUANA: Brain Damage. Birth Defects. Addiction and SOROS. The Drug Lord. Pricking the Bubble of American Supremacy. CEO of Steelheart International LLC, engaged in international business development, and an entrepreneur and businessman in California for 30 years He was Founding Chairman of the Coronado SAFE Foundation (1997), a non-profit dealing with drug prevention; prior Board Member of the San Diego Prevention Coalition; member of the National Coalition for Student Drug Testing, and Special Advisor to the Golden Rule Society in Coronado. His passion for drug prevention stems from two step-children who became drug addicted at age 12 and 14 roughly 30 years ago, and two nephews who died from drug related causes. He is a Rotarian; a charter member of the Coronado Community Church; two adult children, three grandchildren; and currently lives in Lincoln, Ca.

Roger Morgan

Steelheart International LLC

(916) 434 5629


http://www.bio-medicine.org/medicine-news http://www.bio-medicine.org/medicine-news THURSDAY, Aug. 2 (HealthDay news) — Among teens receiving treatment for substance abuse, many have used medical marijuana that was recommended for someone else, also known as “diverted” medical marijuana, a new study has found.

The study authors, from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colo., suggest that policy changes are needed to curb the improper use of medical marijuana by young people.

In conducting the study, lead author Stacy Salomonsen-Sautel and colleagues questioned 164 teens aged 14 to 18 at two adolescent substance abuse treatment programs in Denver about their use of medical marijuana. The investigators found that nearly 74 percent of the teens used marijuana that was recommended for someone else an average of 50 times.

Compared with teens who did not use medical marijuana, those who did began using the drug regularly at a younger age and were also more dependent on marijuana and showed more symptoms of conduct disorder, according to the report published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

The researchers pointed out, however, that most of the teens believed the drug comes with little or no risk.

Because recent state and federal policy changes have opened doors for more legalized medical marijuana use in Colorado, the researchers suggested that teens using medical marijuana most likely got it from an adult with a valid registry identification card for the drug.

The study authors concluded that improved safeguards are needed to prevent medical marijuana from falling into the hands of people who should not have it, particularly teenagers.

“Many high-risk adolescent patients in substance abuse treatment have used diverted medical marijuana on multiple occasions, which implies that substantial diversion is occurring from registered users,” Salomonsen-Sautel said in a journal news release. “Our results support the need for policy changes that protect against diversion of medical marijuana to adolescents.”

Source: http://www.bio-medicine.org/medicine-news 2.08.2012


Community groups from around the state of California celebrated the fact that neither marijuana legalization nor an expansion of the current “medical” marijuana system will be on the statewide ballot this November. The Secretary of State’s office has confirmed that none of the six pro-legalization measures gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. Legalization failed in 2010 and last July the Los Angeles City Council voted to ban “medical” marijuana storefronts.

“We may be seeing the beginning of the end for marijuana advocates in our state,” noted John Redman, Executive Director of Californians for Drug-Free Youth (CADFY), the state’s oldest anti-drug coalition. “After sixteen years of experimenting with de facto legalization, the majority of Californians who don’t smoke marijuana have realized that more marijuana availability isn’t good for our kids or our state.”

Initiatives 1516, 1518, 1524, 1544, 1571, and 1579 varied in their specific provisions. Initiatives 1516, 1518, 1524 and 1544 would have essentially legalized marijuana, whereas initiatives 1571 and 1579 would have expanded medical marijuana and legalized industrial hemp. Prevention and youth advocates feared these initiatives would have further pushed up drug use rates in the state.

“We have seen a direct correlation between increase marijuana availability through dispensaries and increased youth marijuana use,” remarked Aaron Byzak, President of the Vista, California based North Coastal Prevention Coalition (NCPC).

Two peer-reviewed studies published in prominent scientific journals in late 2011 reveal that states with mature medical marijuana programs, like California, have youth marijuana rates significantly higher than states without such programs. This has translated to a significant increase in marijuana use over the last five years.

“For a time it appeared that we were losing ground as we fought for the future of our kids,” Byzak continued. “But it appears that the people of California have seen through the smoke screen and chosen a healthy future.”

“Preventionists in California can finally breathe a huge sigh of relief,” Redman commented. “And focus on preventing marijuana use before it ever starts.”

Source: Press Release Californians for Drug Free Youth August 30th 2012

New research from BioMed Central’s journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, and reported in Medical News Today, found a link between traumatic childhood experience, especially for women, and adult smoking patterns. Researchers suggest that treatment and strategies to stop smoking need to take into account the psychological effects of childhood trauma.

Traumatic childhood experiences can range from emotional, physical, and sexual abuse to neglect and household dysfunction and affect a large range of people. In one of the largest studies of adverse childhood experiences (ACE), more than 60 percent of adults reported a history of at least one event. ACEs are thought to have a long term effect on the development of children and can lead to unhealthy coping behavior later in life.

Since psychiatric disorders, including depression and anxiety, are known to increase the risk of smoking, researchers across the U.S. collaborated to investigate the effects of psychological distress on the relationship between ACE and current adult smoking. The ACE
questionnaire was completed by over 7000 people, about half of whom were women.

Even after adjusting the data for factors known to affect a person’s propensity for smoking, such as their parents smoking during the subject’s childhood, and whether or not they had drunk alcohol in the previous month), women who had been physically or emotionally abused were 1.4 times more likely to smoke. Having had a parent in prison during childhood doubled chances of women smoking.

“Since ACEs increase the risk of psychological distress for both men and women, it seemed intuitive that an individual experiencing an ACE will be more likely to be a tobacco cigarette smoker. However, in our study, ACEs only increased the risk of smoking among women. Given this, men who have experienced childhood trauma may have different coping mechanisms than their female counterparts,” notes Dr Tara Strine, who led this study.

Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/247797.php. July 2012

Filed under: Nicotine,Youth :

Surveys of American and European teenagers have found dramatic differences between the two groups’ substance use. While American teens smoke and drink less than their European peers, they are more likely to use illegal drugs.
The results come from coordinated school surveys about substance use that include more than 100,000 students around Europe. They are largely modeled on the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey in the United States, making comparisons possible between the American and European results.
The United States had the second lowest proportion of students who used alcohol and tobacco, compared with teens in 36 European countries, HealthCanal reports. Among American students, 27 percent drank alcohol in the month before the survey.

The average rate in Europe was 57 percent. Twelve percent of American students smoked cigarettes in the month before the survey, compared with an average of 28 percent in Europe.
Eighteen percent of American teens reported using marijuana or hashish in the previous month, compared with an average of 7 percent among European teens. American teens reported the highest level of marijuana availability. The U.S. had the lowest proportion of teens who associated use of marijuana with great risk, according to Lloyd Johnston, the principal investigator of the American surveys.
American teens were more likely than European students to have tried any illicit drugs other than marijuana, including hallucinogens, Ecstasy and amphetamines.
“Clearly the U.S. has attained relatively low rates of use for cigarettes and alcohol, though not as low as we would like,” Johnston said in a news release. “But the level of illicit drug use by adolescents is still exceptional here.”
Source: Join Together weekly news 8th June 2012

When it comes to prevention of substance use in our “tween” population, turning kids on to ‘thought control’ may just be the answer to getting them to say no, Medical News Today reports.

New research published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, co-led by professors Roisin O’Connor of Concordia University and Craig Colder of State University of New York at Buffalo, has found that around the” tween-age” years, youth are decidedly ambivalent toward cigarettes and alcohol. It seems that the youngsters have both positive and negative associations with these harmful substances and have yet to decide one way or the other. Because they are especially susceptible to social influences, media portrayals of drug use and peer pressure become strong allies of substance use around these formative years.

“Initiation and escalation of alcohol and cigarette use occurring during late childhood and adolescence makes this an important developmental period to examine precursors of substance use,” O’Connor said. “We conducted this study to have a better understanding of what puts this group at risk for initiating substance use so we can be more proactive with prevention.”

The study showed that at the impulsive, automatic level, these kids thought these substances were bad but they were easily able to overcome these biases and think of them as good when asked to place them with positive words. O’Connor explains that “this suggests that this age group may be somewhat ambivalent about drinking and smoking. We need to be concerned when kids are ambivalent because this is when they may be more easily swayed by social influences.”

According to O’Connor, drinking and smoking among this age group is influenced by both impulsive (acting without thinking), and controlled (weighing the pros against the cons) decisional processes. With this study, both processes were therefore examined to best understand the risk for initiating substance use.

To do this, close to 400 children between the ages of 10 and 12 participated in a computer-based test that involved targeted tasks. The tweens were asked to place pictures of cigarettes and alcohol with negative or positive words. The correct categorization of some trials, for example, involved placing pictures of alcohol with a positive word in one category and placing pictures of alcohol with negative words in another category.

The next step in the study is to look at kids over a longer period of time. The hypothesis from the research is that as tweens begin to use these substances there will be an apparent weakening in their negative biases toward drinking and smoking. The desire will eventually outweigh the costs. It is also expected that they will continue to easily outweigh the pros relative to the cons related to substance use.

O’Connor said researchers would like to continue to track the youth, who, he said, know that drugs are inherently bad.

“The problem is the likelihood of external pressures that are pushing them past their ambivalence so that they use. In a school curriculum format I see helping kids deal with their ambivalence in the moment when faced with the choice to use or not use substances,” O’Connor concluded.

Source:www.cadca.org 15th March 2012

Adolescents’ use of marijuana may increase the risk of heroin addiction later in life, a new study suggests. Researchers say the work adds to “overwhelming” evidence that people under 21 should not use marijuana because of the risk of damaging the developing brain.

The idea that smoking cannabis increases the user’s chance of going on to take harder drugs such as heroin is highly contentious. Some dub cannabis a “gateway” drug, arguing that peer pressure and exposure to drug dealers will tempt users to escalate their drug use. Others insist that smoking cannabis is unrelated to further drug use.

Now research in rats suggests that using marijuana reduces future sensitivity to opioids, which makes people more vulnerable to heroin addiction later in life. It does so by altering the brain chemistry of marijuana users, say the researchers.

“Adolescents in particular should never take cannabis – it’s far too risky because the brain areas essential for behaviour and cognitive functioning are still developing and are very sensitive to drug exposure,” says Jasmin Hurd, who led the study at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.
But Hurd acknowledges that most people who use cannabis begin in their teens. A recent survey reported that as many as 20% of 16-year-olds in the US and Europe had illegally used cannabis in the previous month.

“Teenage” rats

In order to explore how the adolescent use of cannabis affects later drug use, Hurd and colleagues set up an experiment in rats aimed to mirror human use as closely as possible.

In the first part of the trial, six “teenage” rats were given a small dose of THC – the active chemical in cannabis – every three days between the ages of 28 and 49 days, which is the equivalent of human ages 12 to 18. The amount of THC given was roughly equivalent to a human smoking one joint every three days, Hurd explains. A control group of six rats did not receive THC.

One week after the first part was completed, catheters were inserted in all 12 of the adult rats and they were able to self-administer heroin by pushing a lever.
“At first, all the rats behaved the same and began to self-administer heroin frequently,” says Hurd. “But after a while, they stabilised their daily intake at a certain level. We saw that the ones that had been on THC as teenagers stabilised their intake at a much higher level than the others – they appeared to be less sensitive to the effects of heroin. And this continued throughout their lives.”

Hurd says reduced sensitivity to the heroin means the rats take larger doses, which has been shown to increase the risk of addiction.

Drug memory

The researchers then examined specific brain cells in the rats, including the opioid and cannabinoid receptors. They found that the rats that had been given THC during adolescence had a significantly altered opioid system in the area associated with reward and positive emotions. This is also the area linked to addiction.

“These are very specific changes and they are long-lasting, so the brain may ‘remember’ past cannabis experimentation and be vulnerable to harder drugs later in life,” Hurd says.
Neurologist Jim van Os, a cannabis expert at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands told New Scientist the research was a welcome addition to our understanding of how cannabis affects the adolescent brain.

“The issue of cross-sensitisation of cannabis/opioid receptors has been a controversial one, but these findings show the drug’s damaging effects on the reward structures of the brain,” van Oshe says. “There is now overwhelming evidence that nobody in the brain’s developmental stage – under the age of 21 – should use cannabis.”

Source: On line edition of Neuropsychopharmacology. Reported in NewScientist.com July 2006

• Young people in the UK have by far the most positive expectations of alcohol in Europe and are least likely to feel that it might cause them harm.
• Exposure to alcohol marketing increases the likelihood that young people will start to use alcohol and the amount they consume.
• The alcohol industry spends £800 million on marketing in the UK annually
• A spends £153 encouraging drinking per £1 contributed to Drinkaware – the industry led alcohol information organisation charged with promoting sensible drinking.
• Underage drinkers consume approximately the equivalent of 6.9 million pints of beer or 1.7 million bottles each week
• 630,000 11- to 17-year-olds drink twice or more each week.
• Between 2002 and 2009 – 92,220 under-18s were admitted to hospital in England for alcohol-related conditions- over 36 children or young people each day.
• Under-18s alcohol-related hospital admissions increased by 32% between 2002 and 2007.
• The latest European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs reported that in the UK 26% of 11-15 year-olds reported suffering an accident or injury because of their drinking, the highest percentage in Europe.
• Although cases of dependence amongst underage drinkers are rare, in 2008/9 – 8,799 younger people accessed treatment for alcohol up from 4,886 in 2005/6.

Source:www.alcoholconcern.org.uk Nov.2011

Position Statement – December 2011

The flawed proposition of drug legalisation

Various well funded pressure groups have mounted campaigns to overturn the United Nations Conventions on drugs. These groups claim that society should accept the fact of drugs as a problem that will remain and, therefore, should be managed in a way that would enable millions of people to take advantage of an alleged ‘legal right’ to use drugs of their choice.

It is important to note that international law makes a distinction between “hard law” and “soft law.” Hard law is legally binding upon the States. Soft law is not binding. UN Conventions, such as the Conventions on Drugs, are considered hard law and must be upheld by the countries that have ratified the UN Drug Conventions.

International narcotics legislation is mainly made up of the three UN Conventions from 1961 (Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs), 1971 (Convention on Psychotropic Substances), and 1988 (Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances):

• The 1961 Convention sets out that “the possession, use, trade in, distribution,import, export, manufacture and the production of drugs is exclusively limited to medical and scientific purposes”. Penal cooperation is to be established so as to ensure that drugs are only used licitly (for prescribed medical purposes).

• The 1971 Convention resembles closely the 1961 Convention, whilst
establishing an international control system for Psychotropic Substances.

• The 1988 Convention reflects the response of the international community to increasing illicit cultivation, production, manufacture, and trafficking activities. International narcotics legislation draws a line between licit (medical) and illicit (non-medical) use, and sets out measures for prevention of illicit use, including penal measures. The preamble to the 1961 Convention states that the parties to the Convention are “Recognizing that addiction to narcotic drugs constitutes a serious evil for the individual and is fraught with social and economic danger to mankind”. The Conventions are reviewed every ten years and have consistently been upheld.

The UN system of drug control includes the Office of Drugs and Crime, the International Narcotics Control Board, and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The works of these bodies are positive and essential in international drug demand and supply reduction. They are also attacked by those seeking to legalise drugs.

It is frequently and falsely asserted that the so-called “War on Drugs” is inappropriate and has become a very costly and demonstrable failure. It is declared by some that vast resources have been poured into the prevention of drug use and the suppression of illicit manufacturing, trafficking, and supply. It is further claimed that what is essentially a chronic medical problem has been turned into a criminal justice issue with inappropriate remedies that make “innocent” people criminals. In short, the flawed argument is that “prohibition” monies have been wasted and the immeasurable financial resources applied to this activity would be better spent for the general benefit of the community.

The groups supporting legalisation are: people who use drugs, those who believe that the present system of control does more harm than good, and those who are keen to make significant profits from marketing newly authorised addictive substances. In addition to pernicious distribution of drugs, dealers circulate specious and misleading information. They foster the erroneous belief that drugs are harmless, thus adding to even more confused thinking.

Superficially crafted, yet pseudo-persuasive arguments are put forward that can be accepted by many concerned, well intentioned people who have neither the time nor the knowledge to research the matter thoroughly, but accept them in good faith. Frequently high profile people claim that legalisation is the best way of addressing a major social problem without cogent supporting evidence. This too influences others, especially the ill informed who accept statements as being accurate and well informed. Through this ill-informed propaganda, people are asked to believe that such action would defeat the traffickers, take the profit out of the drug trade and solve the drug problem completely.

The total case for legalisation seems to be based on the assertion that the government assault on alleged civil liberties has been disastrously and expensively ineffective and counter-productive. In short, it is alleged, in contradiction to evidence, that prohibition has produced more costs than benefits and, therefore, the use of drugs on a personal basis should be permitted. Advocates claim that legalisation would eliminate the massive expenditure incurred by prohibition and would take the profit out of crime for suppliers and dealers. They further claim that it would decriminalise what they consider “understandable” human behaviour and thus prevent the overburdening of the criminal justice system that is manifestly failing to cope. It is further argued irrationally that police time would not be wasted on minor drug offences, the courts would be freed from the backlog of trivial cases and the prisons would not be used as warehouses for those who choose to use drugs, and the saved resources could be used more effectively.

Types of drug legalisation

The term “legalisation” can have any one of the following meanings:

1. Total Legalisation – All illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana would be legal and treated as commercial products. No government regulation would be required to oversee production, marketing, or distribution.

2. Regulated Legalisation – The production and distribution of drugs would be regulated by the government with limits on amounts that can be purchased and the age of purchasers. There would be no criminal or civil sanctions for possessing, manufacturing, or distributing drugs unless these actions violated the regulatory system. Drug sales could be taxed.

3. Decriminalisation – Decriminalisation eliminates criminal sanctions for drug use and provides civil sanctions for possession of drugs. To achieve the agenda of drug legalisation, advocates argue for:

• legalising drugs by lowering or ending penalties for drug possession and use – particularly marijuana;

• legalising marijuana and other illicit drugs as a so-called medicine;
• harm reduction programmes such as needle exchange programmes, drug injection sites, heroin distribution to addicts, and facilitation of so-called safe use of drugs that normalize drug use, create the illusion that drugs can be used safely if one just knows how, and eliminates a goal of abstinence from drugs;

• legalised growing of industrial hemp;
• an inclusion of drug users as equal partners in establishing and enforcing drug policy; and

• protection for drug users at the expense and to the detriment of non-users under the pretence of “human rights.”

The problem is with the drugs and not the drug policies

Legalisation of current illicit drugs, including marijuana, is not a viable solution to the global drug problem and would actually exacerbate the problem. The UN Drug Conventions were adopted because of the recognition by the international community that drugs are an enormous social problem and that the trade adversely affects the global economy and the viability of some countries that have become transit routes.

The huge sums of illegal money generated by the drug trade encourage money laundering and have become inextricably linked with other international organised criminal activities such as terrorism, human trafficking, prostitution and the arms trade. Drug Lords have subverted the democratic governments of some countries to the great detriment of law abiding citizens.

Drug abuse has had a major adverse effect on global health and the spread of communicable diseases such as AIDS/HIV. Control is vitally important for the protection of communities against these problems. There is international agreement in the UN Conventions that drugs should be produced legally under strict supervision to ensure adequate supplies only for medical and research purposes. The cumulative effects of prohibition and interdiction combined with education and treatment during 100 years of international drug control have had a significant impact in stemming the drug problem. Control is working and one can only imagine how much worse the problem would have become without it. For instance:

• In 2007, drug control had reduced the global opium supply to one-third the level in 1907 and even though current reports indicate recent increased cultivation in Afghanistan and production in Southeast Asia, overall production has not increased.

• During the last decade, world output of cocaine and amphetamines has stabilized; cannabis output has declined since 2004; and opium production has declined since 2008. We, therefore, strongly urge nations to uphold and enhance current efforts to prevent the use, cultivation, production, traffic, and sale of illegal drugs. We further urge our leaders to reject the legalisation of currently illicit drugs as an acceptable solution to the world’s drug problem because of the following reasons:

• Only 6.1% of people globally between the ages of 15 and 64 use drugs (World Drug Report 2011 UNODC) and there is little public support for the legalisation of highly dangerous substances. Prohibition has ensured that the total number of users is low because legal sanctions do influence people’s behaviour.

• There is a specific obligation to protect children from the harms of drugs, as is
evidenced through the ratification by the majority of United Nations Member States of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Article 33 states that Member States “shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties, and to prevent the use of children in the illicit production and trafficking of such substances”.

• Legalisation sends the dangerous tacit message of approval, that drug use is
acceptable and cannot be very harmful.

• Permissibility, availability and accessibility of dangerous drugs will result in
increased consumption by many who otherwise would not consider using them.

• Enforcement of laws creates risks that discourage drug use. Laws clearly define what is legal and illegal and emphasise the boundaries.

• Legalisation would increase the risks to individuals, families, communities and world regions without any compensating benefits.

• Legalisation would remove the social sanctions normally supported by a legal system and expose people to additional risk, especially the young and vulnerable.

• The legalisation of drugs would lead inevitably to a greater number of dependencies and addictions likely to match the levels of licit addictive substances. In turn, this would lead to increasing related morbidity and mortality, the spread of communicable diseases such as AIDS/HIV and the other blood borne viruses exacerbated by the sharing of needles and drugs paraphernalia, and an increased burden on the health and social services.

• There would be no diminution in criminal justice costs as, contrary to the view held by those who support legalisation, crime would not be eliminated or reduced. Dependency often brings with it dysfunctional families together with increased domestic child abuse.

• There will be increases in drugged driving and industrial accidents.

• Drug Control is a safeguard protecting millions from the effects of drug abuse and addiction particularly, but not exclusively, in developing countries.

• Statements about taxation offsetting any additional costs are demonstrably flawed and this has been shown in the case of alcohol and tobacco taxes. Short of governments distributing free drugs, those who commit crime now to obtain them would continue to do so if they became legal.

• Legalisation would not take the profit out of the drug trade as criminals will always find ways of countering legislation. They would continue their dangerous activities including cutting drugs with harmful substances to maximise sales and profits. Aggressive marketing techniques, designed to promote increased sales and use, would be applied rigorously to devastating effect.

• Other ‘legal’ drugs – alcohol and tobacco, are regularly traded on the black market and are an international smuggling problem; an estimated 600 billion cigarettes are smuggled annually (World Drug report 2009). Taxation monies raised from these products go nowhere near addressing consequential costs.

• Many prisons have become incubators for infection and the spread of drug related diseases at great risk to individual prisoners, prison staff and the general public. Failure to eliminate drug use in these institutions exacerbates the problem.

• The prisons are not full of people who have been convicted for mere possession of drugs for personal use. This sanction is usually reserved for dealers and those who commit crime in the furtherance of their possession.

• The claim that alcohol and tobacco may cause more harm than some drugs is not a pharmacokinetics of psychotropic substances suggest that more, not less, control of their access is warranted.

• Research regularly and increasingly demonstrates the harms associated with drug use and misuse. There is uncertainty, yet growing evidence, about the long-term detrimental effects of drug use on the physical, psychological and emotional health of substance users.

• It is inaccurate to suggest that the personal use of drugs has no consequential and damaging effects. Apart from the harm to the individual users, drugs affect others by addiction, violence, criminal behaviour and road accidents. Some drugs remain in the body for long periods and adversely affect performance and behaviour beyond the time of so-called ‘private’ use. Legalisation would not diminish the adverse effects associated with drug misuse such as criminal, irrational and violent behaviour and the mental and physical harm that occurs in many users.

• All drugs can be dangerous including prescription and over the counter medicines if they are taken without attention to medical guidance. Recent research has confirmed just how harmful drug use can be and there is now overwhelming evidence (certainly in the case of cannabis) to make consideration of legalisation irresponsible.

• The toxicity of drugs is not a matter for debate or a vote. People are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts. Those who advocate freedom of choice cannot create freedom from adverse consequences.

• Drug production causes huge ecological damage and crop erosion in drug producing areas.

• Nearly every nation has signed the UN Conventions on drug control. Any government of signatory countries contemplating legalisation would be in breach of agreements under the UN Conventions which recognise that unity is the best approach to combating the global drug problem. The administrative burden associated with legalisation would become enormous and probably unaffordable to most governments. Legalisation would require a massive government commitment to production, supply, security and a bureaucracy that would necessarily increase the need for the employment at great and unaffordable cost for all of the staff necessary to facilitate that development.

• Any government policy must be motivated by the consideration that it must first do no harm. There is an obligation to protect citizens and the compassionate and sensible method must be to do everything possible to reduce drug dependency and misuse, not to encourage or facilitate it. Any failures in a common approach to a problem would result in a complete breakdown in effectiveness. Differing and fragmented responses to a common predicament are unacceptable for the wellbeing of the international community. It is incumbent on national governments to cooperate in securing the greatest good for the greatest number.

ISSUED this 21st day of December, 2011 by the following groups:
Drug Prevention Network of the Americas (DPNA)
Institute on Global Drug Policy
International Scientific and Medical Forum on Drug Abuse
International Task Force on Strategic Drug Policy
People Against Drug Dependence & Ignorance (PADDI), Nigeria
Europe Against Drugs (EURAD)
World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD)
Peoples Recovery, Empowerment and Development Assistance (PREDA)
Drug Free Scotland

After alcohol, marijuana is the drug most abused by teens. In fact, marijuana is the most widely used illicit substance in the United States and recent data show an uptrend in teen marijuana use during 2009. Unfortunately, it is still viewed today by many as being the same drug it was 45 years ago, despite significant changes.

Prevalence of Use by
Teens in the past 30 ays (2008)
monitoringthefuture.org
Marijuana:
8th grade – 5.8%,
10th grade- 13.8%,
12th grade – 19.4%

It is a Stronger Drug Today. Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, A.K.A. “THC” is the active ingredient in marijuana that creates the intoxication. From the 1960’s – 1970’s marijuana was around 1/2 % – 3% THC. For 35 years following the 70‘s, the potency of marijuana slowly increased to 4% by 1995.

From 1995 to 2008 the percentage of THC went from 4% to just over 10% on average

2. Average Age of First Use is Younger Today.
Replicated studies since 1997 have provided a convergence of data suggesting that “early onset of first intoxication,” as an independent variable, significantly increases the probability of developing addiction. 4 Today the average age of first intoxication is 12 years old. This  ompares to the 1960’s when marijuana was primarily used by college students. One study by (1997) Grant & Dawson, shows the probability of a person developing addiction based on age of first intoxication in the chart below. In addition to age as a variable if the drug-user has a
genetic family history of addiction then the risk factor is increased by 15 percent. See chart below.

 

3. Marijuana Then vs. Today – A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words:

Marijuana Then:

Marijuana Then

Paraphernalia Then:

 

       

 

Marijuana Today:

20 – 25% THC)

Marijuana Today   Marijuana Today

Paraphernalia Today

Vaporizer, Grinder, Blunt Wrap

Vaporizer   Grinder   Blunt Wrap

Clearly this is not the same marijuana used 40 years ago or certainly prior to 1995. For many, this grade of marijuana has only been accessible from “cannabis clubs.” At the same time, because the cost of the marijuana in the clubs was so expensive, many card holders still purchased marijuana from dealers on the street. However, with the economic contraction high grade marijuana prices have fallen in many of the cannabis clubs and access is now easier. Moreover, seeds to grow highly potent marijuana are easily purchased via the internet.
Clients in our program state that “the weed is so sticky I need to use a weed grinder to break it up if I want to roll a blunt.”

4. Withdrawal From the Drug Can Occur Today:

t the 2009 medical doctor’s CSAM conference in San Francisco, a focus was on how to manage marijuana withdrawal with Gabapentin. Withdrawal symptoms include loss of appetite, problems sleeping and anxiety. Clearly people did not experience withdrawal 40 years ago and medicines weren’t being explored to manage withdrawal symptoms. Finally, with regard to teens, any drug being abused inhibits normal neural, emotional and social development, which can create a  athological relationship to intoxication resulting in negative consequences with school, family, money, friendships, romantic attachments, health, mental health, sports, employment, etc.

Final Thoughts: Evaluations, Education
&Treatment

Marijuana is not the innocuous drug that some believe it to be. Too often parents and professionals base their understanding of the drug from their own personal use 20 years ago. One of the biggest challenges facing professionals who pecialize in the treatment of teen and young adult addictive disorders is that the intervention is not only with the individual, but it is also with the family, other health care professionals, schools, and legal system, who might “minimize” or discount the severity of marijuana abuse. Statements such as “It is only marijuana,” “at least it isn’t oxycontin, meth, etc” are examples of the type of denial described as “minimizing.” These messages from various systems support denial for the individual who is having consequences in different areas of their life because of the drug. For this reason, intervention must occur with the individual, family and community in order to be effective. It is also
important that if families are seeking help for their child who is abusing drugs, they should seek professionals who are specially trained in adolescent and young adult addiction. If you are a parent or a professional working with teens and it is discovered that they have used, regardless of the frequency, an evaluation by a specialist is warranted. The individual needs to become educated, explore their relationship to intoxication and examine how it has already impacted different areas of their life in addition to learning new affect regulation and relational skills to move beyond this in their life. In addition, the family needs education on teen addiction, an understanding on how the brain, emotional, and social development are thwarted by drug use.
An examination of parental denial & enabling is needed as well as help with developing and implementing a good home contract, drug testing and education regarding how to be both a supportive resource for their child meanwhile maintaining a zero tolerance of drug use.

Sources:
1. Janet E. Joy, Stanley J. Watson, Jr., and John A Benson, Jr., “Marijuana and Medicine:
Assessing the Science Base,” Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, Institute of
Medicine (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999).
2. http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/data/09data.html#2009data-drugs
3. http://www.justice.gov/ndic/pubs37/37035/national.html
4. (1997) Grant & Dawson, Journal of Substance Abuse, Vol. 9
5. http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/newUsers.html
6. (1997) Grant & Dawson, Journal of Substance Abuse

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Youth :

PATIENTS suffering the effects of cannabis abuse are being treated by Tasmanian public hospitals every day, says a leading health authority.

People with short-term drug-induced psychosis and longer-term mental illness, compounded by pot smoking, are seeking medical help at an increasing rate.   Mental Health Services clinical statewide director Peter Norrie said the Royal Hobart Hospital was seeing many cannabis cases.

First-time pot smokers were turning up at the Royal with full-blown psychosis — delusional, confused and anxious.   Other more regular pot smokers with long-term mental illness were fronting for treatment for episodes likely to have been triggered or related to using cannabis. 

“These days it’s close to every day,” said Dr Norrie, who is a senior clinical consultant psychiatrist at the Royal.   He said he was talking about “drug-induced psychosis or long-term mental illness associated with pot smoking”.   Dr Norrie said it was “very common” for first-time users to present with “floridly psychotic” behaviour.

He said psychiatrists were increasingly concerned with the link between substance abuse and mental illness.   Cannabis use had been linked with depression, anxiety and schizophrenia. International studies show modern strains of marijuana are from three to 10 times stronger than those used by previous generations.

“Clinically psychiatrists have suspected a link for many years and the latest research seems to confirm this,” Dr Norrie said.

“The chicken-and-egg debate has raged for years whether pot causes psychosis or people with a tendency to psychotic illness are predisposed to smoke pot.”

Dr Norrie said the first signs of schizophrenia were often a lack of engagement with society. But those symptoms could also be what is commonly known as “typically teenage” or a sign of the onset of depression.

Disengaged teenagers could then turn to cannabis.

If psychosis did occur it was hard to tell whether smoking pot was a cause or a symptom. Dr Norrie said some pot smokers appeared to be able to continue the habit without serious mental illness but others were prone to individual cases of psychosis or longer-term mental disease.

“There’s a certain group of people who smoke pot who are unlikely to develop mental illness but there’s certainly a significant number of the population who suffer from mental illness and pot smoking adds to the risk,” Dr Norrie said.

Drug-induced psychosis usually consists of paranoia, confusion and anxiety.

Sufferers present with memory problems and delusions. They can believe they have special powers, hear and see things that are not there and are unable to distinguish what is real.

Source: Sunday Tasmanian 30th January 2005

Physicians who encounter myocardial infarction in teenagers should consider the possibility that the teens may have ingested K2, a form of synthetic cannabinoid, researchers said.

“Although chest pain is a common presenting complaint of teenagers seen in emergency departments, chest pain from cardiac causes remains exceedingly rare,” Colin Kane, MD, a pediatric cardiologist at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues wrote in the December issue ofPediatrics. “Use of illicit drugs causing chest pain and myocardial ischemia, however, must remain part of the differential diagnosis.”

The researchers reported on three cases of myocardial infarction in teenagers following ingestion of K2. Designer drugs containing synthetic cannabinoids have become more popular among teens, but little is known about their health implications.

K2 is a collection of herbs and spices that have been treated with a synthetic cannabinoid. The effects are said to be stronger than naturally occurring cannabis.

“These types of drugs give a marijuana-like effect but do not show up on drug screens,” Kane explained to MedPage Today. Therefore, careful questioning may be needed to elicit information about K2 exposure, the authors suggested.
All three cases involved 16-year-old males with no previous health problems. Each complained of chest pains of at least three days’ duration and presented between August and November of 2010.

Initial electrocardiograms revealed ST-segment elevation and high troponin levels. There was no personal or family history of early cardiac problems. Urine drugs screens noted the presence of THC in two patients. No other drugs, including cocaine and amphetamines, were found.

“When the first patient came we initially thought it was a virus that was affecting his heart,” said Kane. “The day after he was hospitalized, the chest pain, ECG, and laboratory test all changed dramatically. We went back to the patient and were more persistent about anything else he might have done. It just isn’t normal for a 16-year-old to have a heart attack.”
Shortly thereafter, two new cases presented with similar findings. After establishing that these males also had smoked K2, Kane and colleagues became concerned because their patients were not having just chest pains, but actual heart attacks.

“I have since then seen a number of kids in my practice who have smoked K2 and complained of chest pains,” said Kane. “I haven’t seen any other frank heart attacks.”

This led them to wonder if there was something different about the K2 that was in circulation at that time. Another option is that teenagers were showing up in the emergency room, but the heart attacks were not found because it is so atypical in the age group.

“It is disconcerting and frightening that K2 is relatively easy to obtain and could have such serious health consequences,” said Kane. “Emergency and primary care doctors need to ask patients specifically about the use of K2 and synthetic marijuana. If the clinical findings fit, physicians should take the extra step and look for heart damage, even in previously healthy teenagers.”

Source:   www.pediatrics.aappublications.org at University of Florida on November 14, 2011

As marijuana use among teenagers increases and its perceived danger among this age group decreases, clinicians need to know the latest science about the harmful effects of the drug on the adolescent brain, according to a researcher at the University of Colorado, Denver.

Paula Riggs, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, notes the most recent Monitoring the Future Survey shows a significant increase in marijuana use, including daily marijuana use among U. S. high school students and a decrease in perceived risk of use. “There are a number of indicators, including the increasing number of states that have passed ‘medical marijuana’ legislation, and that society as a whole tends to view marijuana as a relatively benign, recreational drug. However, scientific research does not support this.”

A growing body of research shows that adolescent marijuana use can be detrimental to the brain development and may produce long-lasting neurocognitive deficits and increased risk of mental health problems including psychosis, said Dr. Riggs, who spoke about this topic at the recent California Society of Addiction Medicine meeting.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. Although some have questioned whether marijuana is an addictive drug, scientific research shows that one in 10 people overall, and one in six adolescents, who use marijuana develop dependence or addiction, Dr. Riggs says. Research shows that marijuana can cause structural damage, neuronal loss and impair brain function on a number of levels, from basic motor coordination to more complex tasks, such as the ability to plan, organize, solve problems, remember, make decisions and control behavior and emotions.

Dr. Riggs also cited recent studies indicating that adolescents may be more vulnerable to addiction, in part due to rapid brain development. “Emerging research suggests that individuals who start using marijuana during their teenage years may have longer-lasting cognitive impairments in executive functioning than those who start later,” she says. “Animal studies also suggest that exposure to marijuana during adolescence compared to adulthood may increase the vulnerability or risk of developing addiction to other substances of abuse such as cocaine and methamphetamine.”

She adds, “It is important for pediatricians, psychiatrists and other mental health clinicians to be aware of current research because they are on the front line to identify teens when they first start to experiment. They need to be able to effectively screen adolescents for marijuana use, and be armed with the scientific facts to educate teens and families about associated risks.”

Source   www.partnershipatdrugfree.org  Nov. 2011

Nicotine appears to be a “gateway” drug that primes the brain to be susceptible to cocaine, according to a new study in mice.  The researchers say if further studies show the findings apply to humans, a decrease in smoking rates in young people would be expected to lead to a decrease in cocaine addiction, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The study found mice exposed to nicotine in drinking water for at least seven days showed an increased response to cocaine. The researchers also looked at data on cocaine use among a group of high school students, and found 81 percent of those who started using cocaine did so in a month when they were smoking tobacco.

The findings appear in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
Previous studies have shown that most illegal drug users report using tobacco products or alcohol before they started illicit drug use, according to a news release by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which funded the study. Until now, studies have not shown a biological mechanism through which exposure to nicotine increases vulnerability to illegal drug use, the release notes.

“Now that we have a mouse model of the actions of nicotine as a gateway drug this will allow us to explore the molecular mechanisms by which alcohol and marijuana might act as gateway drugs,” lead author Eric Kandel, MD, of Columbia University Medical Center, said in the release. “In particular, we would be interested in knowing if there is a single, common mechanism for all gateway drugs or if each drug utilizes a distinct mechanism.”

Source:   www.drugfree.org.  4th Nov.

Filed under: Cocaine,Nicotine,Youth :

Children of drug addicts are suffering in desperation as shame and secrecy shroud the substance misuse in families, it was claimed today.

Youngsters whose parents take drugs are also more likely to have problems with substances, as well as their mental health, social skills and academically, a seminar heard. Joan O’Flynn, director of the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD), said there is a need for more integration between addiction services, children’s services and medical professionals.

“Alcohol and drugs misuse by parents can impact negatively on a child’s experience of positive parenting and can create stressful family circumstances that impact on child development,” she said. “For many of the affected children, the effect of their parents’ substance misuse continues into their adult lives.

“For some, the impact can be multifaceted and persist not only into adult life but even into the lives of the next generation.” She added that stress, combined with the increased likelihood of the child being in care or homeless, leaves young people at a high risk of emotional isolation or social marginalisation.

Alcohol Action Ireland estimates between 61,000 and 104,000 children aged under 15 are living with parents who misuse alcohol. Director Fiona Ryan said: “Shame and secrecy shroud the issue of substance misuse in families with children living lives of quiet desperation.

“Alcohol Action Ireland has spent the past three years campaigning for children affected by parental alcohol problems to be seen and heard.” An NACD report – ‘Parental Substance Misuse: Addressing its Impact on Children’ – was launched at a seminar it jointly hosted with the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues.

The report reviewed all major international research on the impact of parental substance misuse on children and identified what steps can be taken in Ireland to reduce its impact.

It recommended additional research and data be collected to properly estimate the number of children whose parents have substance misuse problems. It also wants an assessment of which adult alcohol and drug treatment services are supporting parents and liaising with child support services. Women should also be educated on the adverse effects of consuming alcohol and drugs during pregnancy, it added.

Source: www.IrishExaminer.com 26th October 2011

Filed under: Alcohol,Parents,Youth :

It was the party drug of the 90s. But alarmingly Ecstasy’s popularity seems to be rising again. A worrying trend is re-emerging for the illegal substance after U.S. hospital admissions involving Ecstasy leapt 74.8 per cent in just four years, according to a national study.
Most of the Ecstasy-related hospital visits involved patients aged 18 to 29, but notably 17.9 per cent involved children as young as 12
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) study indicated the number of hospital emergency visits involving Ecstasy increased from 10,220 in 2004 to 17,865 visits in 2008.
Slightly more than half (52.8 per cent) of the emergency visits were male, the study found. More than a third of the Ecstasy-related visits were made in the South (34.0 per cent) while nearly a third were in the West (31.4 per cent).
Nearly a fifth were made in the Midwest (18.5 per cent), and nearly a sixth were made in the Northeast (16.1 per cent).
But in another alarming trend the study also found that 77.8 per cent of these visits – almost 8 in 10 cases – also involved the use of at least one of more other substances alongside Ecstasy.  The most common drugs used in combination with Ecstasy are marijuana, alcohol and cocaine. In cases where patients were 21 or older 39.7 per cent had taken Ecstasy with three or more other drugs. ‘The resurgence of Ecstasy use is cause for alarm that demands immediate attention and action,’ said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S Hyde, J D.

The drug induces feelings of euphoria but can produce psychedelic and stimulant side effects such as anxiety attacks, hypertension and even hypothermia. The variety and severity of these can increase when the drug is used in combination with other substances.
Dr Peter Delany, director of the Centre for Behavioural Health Statistics and Qualities at SAMHSA, said the agency ‘needed to start digging’ to find the cause of the spike in admissions. ‘Kids are getting it (Ecstasy) at raves and parties, which may indicate a return to social gatherings,’ he said. ‘It is also probably a very cheap drug,’ he added.
‘The largest group of people (doing Ecstasy) are 18 to 29. These are people who have a lot more freedom and a lot more money,’ he said. He also cited the need for prevention education to continue well into adulthood to address this age group.
The more pressing issue, Dr Delany said was the people who were admitted to hospital with more than one substance in their system. ‘Ignorance is part of it,’ he said. ‘There is a lot of risk taking in that age group. ‘This (Ecstasy) is not a safe drug. The first time out of the door can have some serious side effects. When you are mixing it with multiple drugs you don’t know what the reaction will be. Everyone is different,’ he said.
Dr Delany also cited so-called ‘pharm’ or ‘trail mixing’ parties, when young people put a collection of drugs into a bowl and it becomes a very dangerous lucky dip.
But these bowls don’t just contain illegal drugs, they also contain prescription drugs raided from parents’ medical cabinets. Another report by SAMHSA found there has also been a dramatic rise in emergency visits associated with the misuse of prescription drugs.
From 2004 to 2008 these rose from 144,644 visits to 305,885 visits a year and occurred among men and women, as well as among those younger than age 21 and those 21 and older.
The three prescription opioid pain relievers most frequently involved were Oxycodone products (rose 152 percent), Hydrocodone products (rose 123 per cent) and Methadone products (rose 73 per cent).
‘These alarming findings provide one more example of how the misuse of prescription pain relievers is impacting lives and our health care system,’ said SAMHSA administrator Pamela S Hyde. ‘This public health threat requires an all-out effort to raise awareness of the public about proper use, storage, and disposal of these powerful drugs.’

Source: www.dailymail.co.uk 25th March 2011

Filed under: Ecstasy,Health,Youth :

 

Mar 24, 2011

Marijuana use during adolescence and young adulthood increases the risk of psychotic symptoms, while continued cannabis use may increase the risk for psychotic disorder in later life, concludes a new study published in the British Medical Journal.

Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug in the world, particularly among adolescents, and is consistently linked with an increased risk for mental illness. However, it is hasn’t been clear whether the link between cannabis and psychosis is causal, or whether it is because people with psychosis use cannabis to “self- medicate” their symptoms.

So a team of researchers, led by Professor Jim van Os from Maastricht University in the Netherlands, investigated the association between cannabis use and the incidence and persistence of psychotic symptoms over 10 years.

The study occurred in Germany and involved a random sample of 1,923 teens and young adults from the ages of 14 to 24.

Incident cannabis use almost doubled the risk of later incident psychotic symptoms, even after accounting for factors such as age, sex, socioeconomic status, use of other drugs, and other psychiatric diagnoses. Furthermore, in those with cannabis use at the start of the study, continued use of cannabis over the study period increased the risk of persistent psychotic symptoms. There was no evidence for self medication effects as psychotic symptoms did not predict later cannabis use.

These results “help to clarify the temporal association between cannabis use and psychotic experiences,” the authors said in their study summary. “In addition, cannabis use was confirmed as an environmental risk factor impacting on the risk of persistence of psychotic experiences.”

Source: British Medical Journal March 2011

 

24 February 2011

DrugScope has welcomed new research demonstrating that drug treatment services for young people are extremely cost effective, with long term savings of between £5 and £8 for every pound invested.
Published by the Department for Education, the report, Specialist drug and alcohol services for young people – a cost benefit analysis, finds that drug and alcohol treatment for young people reduces otherwise significant economic, social and health costs. Immediate savings are achieved in reduced crime and improved health. In the longer term, there are reductions in costs associated with problematic drug use in adulthood, including unemployment, crime and drug and alcohol dependency.

Approximately 24,000 young people received specialist drug and alcohol treatment in the UK in 2008/09. Most were treatedprimarily for alcohol (37%) or cannabis (53%); one in ten were treated for problems associated with Class A drugs, including heroin and crack.
A report published by DrugScope in 2009, Young people’s drug treatment at the crossroads, found that as well as helping young people with their drug or alcohol problems, treatment services also address wider needs, such as mental health issues, involvement with the criminal justice system and social exclusion. Despite evidence of the cost effectiveness of spending on substance misuse treatment, many young people’s services have contacted DrugScope to report significant cuts in local funding.  Commenting on the report, Martin Barnes, Chief Executive of DrugScope said:
“At a time when many drug and alcohol services for young people are facing funding cuts, this research makes a timely, compelling and robust case for continued investment. Even on quite cautious and conservative estimates, the evidence shows that there are immediate net gains in return for spending on drug and alcohol treatment. Not only will cuts in services have a negative impact on vulnerable young people, the research confirms that greater costs are likely to be incurred in terms of crime, unemployment and poor health.
“The concern is that with a record number of young people not in education, employment or training there will be a greater demand on prevention and treatment services. It is far easier to prevent young people from developing problems at an early stage that it is to treat adults with addiction issues. A considered assessment of the benefits to local communities of investment in drug and alcohol treatment services needs to be made to inform decisions on funding.”

Source: www.drugscope.org.uk 24 Feb 2011

Vol. 13, Issue 26
Distribution: 6,606
U n i v e r s i t y o f M a r y l a n d , C o l l e g e P a r k

A Weekly FAX from the Center for Substance Abuse Research
Nine behaviors and attitudes differentiate students who used marijuana before age 15 from those who had not, according to an analysis of data from the 2002 Maryland Adolescent Survey (MAS). Overall, one-fifth of Maryland12th grade students reported using marijuana before age 15.

A scale of 9 warning signs of early marijuana use among 12th graders was developed from an analysis of the MAS data (see below). The scale also detected early use among 8th and 10th graders. The more warning signs a student had, the more likely he or she was to have used marijuana early (see Figure 1). For example, approximately three-fourths of 12th graders with 6 or more warning signs were early marijuana users, compared to 3% of 12th graders with no warning signs.
Students with more warning signs also reported using a greater number of other illegal drugs* and experiencing a greater number of serious problems resulting from drug and alcohol use (see Figure 2). The report, “Warning Signs for Early Marijuana Users Among Maryland’s Public School Students,” discusses the implications of these findings for intervening with youth and implementing prevention programs. Complimentary copies of the report can be ordered by contacting CESAR at cesar@cesar.umd.edu or 301-405-9770.

The 9 Warning Signs for Early Marijuana Use:

Behaviors
• Cigarette use before age 15
• Alcohol use before age 15
• 20 or more unexcused absences
• Drug arrest
• Alcohol arrest
Attitudes/Opinions

• Smoking marijuana is safe
• Smoking cigarettes is safe
• My parents think it’s okay to smoke marijuana
• My parents think it’s okay to smoke cigarettes

 

md-stats-for-young-mj-users

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Alcohol & Drug Problems Other Illegal Drugs Used
Figure 1: Percentage of Maryland
12th Grade Students Reporting
Marijuana Use Before Age 15

*Other illegal drugs were inhalants, nitrates, crack, cocaine, LSD, PCP, other hallucinogens, methamphetamines, designer drugs, heroin, amphetamines,
barbiturates, narcotics, and Ritalin®.

Figure 2: Mean Number of Other Illegal Drugs* Used
in Lifetime and Alcohol and Drug Problems**
by Maryland 12th Graders

**Alcohol and drug problems were school absences, health problems, family problems, being high/drunk at school, poor school performance, inability to stop
using drugs/alcohol, and driving while under the influence of alcohol/drugs.
301-405-9770 (voice) 301-403-8342 (fax) CESAR@cesar.umd.edu www.cesar.umd.edu

CESAR FAX is supported by BYRN 2003-1006, awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice through the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention.

SOURCE: Maryland Drug Early Warning System (DEWS), CESAR, “Warning Signs for Early Marijuana Users Among Maryland’s Public School Students,” DEWS Investigates, June 2004. For more information, contact Dr. Eric Wish at ewish@cesar.umd.edu.

Source: CesarFax June 28, 2004

This week, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University released the National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVI: Teens and Parents. This year’s survey reveals that teens who regularly use social networking sites are at increased risk of smoking, drinking and using drugs. The survey finds that compared to teens who in a typical day do not spend any time on a social networking site, those who do are five times likelier to use tobacco, three times likelier to use alcohol, and twice as likely to use marijuana.

The CASA Columbia survey also reveals that 40 percent of all teens surveyed have seen pictures on Facebook, Myspace or other social networking sites of kids getting drunk, passed out, or using drugs and kids who have seen such pictures at also at increased substance abuse risk.

This year’s survey explored teen TV viewing habits in relation to teen substance abuse and found that compared to teens that do not watch suggestive teen programming, those who do are likelier to smoke, drink and use drugs.

According to Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA Columbia’s Founder and Chairman and Former U.S. Secretary for Health, Education, and Welfare: “The relationship of social networking site images of kids drunk, passed out, or using drugs and of suggestive teen programming to increased teen risk of substance abuse offers grotesque confirmation of the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. The time has come for those who operate and profit from social networking sites like Facebook to deploy their technological expertise to curb such images and to deny use of their sites to children and teens who post pictures of themselves and their friends drunk, passed out or using drugs. Continuing to provide the electronic vehicle for transmitting such images constitutes electronic child abuse.”
Source: www.CADCA.org Aug. 2011

Women who smoke while pregnant should be aware that they are increasing the chance their baby will be born malformed, say experts.
The risk for having a baby with missing or deformed limbs or a cleft lip is over 25% higher for smokers, data show. Along with higher risks of miscarriage and low birth weight, it is another good reason to encourage women to quit, say University College London doctors.
In England and Wales 17% of women smoke during pregnancy. And among under 20s the figure is 45%. Although most will go on to have a healthy baby, smoking can cause considerable damage to the unborn child.
Missing limbs
Researchers now estimate that each year in England and Wales several hundred babies are born with a physical defect directly caused by their mother’s smoking. Every year in England and Wales around 3,700 babies in total are born with such a condition. The experts base their calculations on 172 research papers published over the last 50 years, which looked at maternal smoking and birth defects.
The findings, from 174,000 cases of malformation and 11.7 million healthy births, revealed that smoking increased the risk of many abnormalities. The chance of a baby being born with missing or deformed limbs is 26% higher, and cleft lip or palate is 28% more likely.
Similarly, the risk of clubfoot 28% greater, and gastrointestinal defects 27% more. Skull defects are 33% more likely, and eye defects 25% more common. The greatest increase in risk – of 50% – was for a condition called gastroschisis, where parts of the stomach or intestines protrude through the skin. Professor Allan Hackshaw, who led the research, suspects many women who smoke while pregnant do not know about these risks.
“There’s still this idea among some women that if you smoke the baby will be small and that will make it easier when it comes to the delivery. “But what is not appreciated is that smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of defects in the child that are life-long.”
Women should quit smoking before becoming pregnant, or very early on, to reduce the risks
He said very few public health educational policies mention birth defects when referring to smoking and those that do are not very specific – this is largely because of past uncertainty over which ones are directly linked. “Now we have this evidence, advice should be more explicit about the kinds of serious defects such as deformed limbs, and facial and gastrointestinal malformations that babies of mothers who smoke during pregnancy could suffer from,” he said.
Of the 700,000 babies born each year in England and Wales, around 120,000 babies are born to mums who smoke. Amanda Sandford of Action on Smoking and Health said: “This study shows some of the worst outcomes of smoking during pregnancy. Pregnant smokers will be shocked to learn that their nicotine habit could cause eye or limb deformities in their baby.
“There is clearly a need to raise awareness of these risks among girls and to ensure pregnant women are given all the support they need to help them quit smoking and to stay stopped after the birth.” Basky Thilaganathan of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said women who struggled to quit should at least cut down on how much they smoke.
Professor Hackshaw said the risk was likely dose-related – meaning the more a woman smokes, the bigger the risk to her unborn child.

Source: www.bbc.co.uk 12th July 2011

Reports that school prevention programs aimed at curbing alcohol misuse in children are somewhat helpful, enough so to deserve consideration for widespread use, according to a large, international systematic review.

The most significant program effects were reductions in episodes of drunkenness and binge drinking, reviewers found.

“School-based prevention programs that take a social skills-oriented approach or that focus on classroom behavior management can work to reduce alcohol problems in young people,” David Foxcroft, lead review author said. “However, there is good evidence that these sorts of approaches are not always effective.”

The reasons for inconsistent results with these programs are unclear, said Foxcroft, from Great Britain’s Oxford Brookes University.

Foxcroft and co-author Alexander Tsertsvadze, at the University of Ottawa Evidence-Based Practice Center, in Canada, analyzed 53 randomized controlled trials done in a wide range of countries with youth ages 5 to 18 when studies began.

Forty-one studies took place in North America, six in Europe and six in Australia. One was conducted in India and one in Swaziland. Two studies transpired in multiple locations.

Most studies assessed generic prevention programs that targeted several risky behaviors, such as drinking, smoking and drug abuse, while the rest focused on alcohol-specific programs.

The researchers compared drinking among the youngsters who took part in various school-based programs to the drinking done by students who were not. The youngsters in the comparison groups might have participated in other alcohol-prevention programs, such as family-based ones, or they might have just experienced the ordinary school curriculum.

The authors concluded that their evidence supported the use of certain generic prevention programs over alcohol-specific ones. They cited the Life Skills Training Program, the Unplugged Program and the Good Behavior Game as particularly effective interventions.

The review appears in the May 2011 issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.

“These findings are important,” David Jernigan, Ph.D., director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said. “Efforts to reduce young people’s drinking through school-based programs are legion. A $300 million federal program supporting school-based prevention ended last year, partly based on research findings that these programs do not work. This review does not find that. Instead it indicates that there is something in certain school-based programs that in fact can work.”

Jernigan emphasizes that “school-based programs are so often expected to do the whole job of prevention, and this is an unfair expectation.” He describes school-based programs functioning as “lonely voices” in an environment saturated with marketing messages promoting youthful drinking. The amount of drinking in a youngster’s home and community and the price of alcohol are other major influences that need addressing, he said. Until then, “we can’t expect large effects from school-based programs alone.”

Health Behavior News Service is part of the Center for Advancing Health.

Source: www.cadca.org 12th May 2011

The number of under-16s arriving drunk at accident and emergency inAberdeenhas soared by a shocking 60 per cent.

And health chiefs have warned that more and more vital hospital beds are now being filled up with booze-binge schoolchildren.

Alarming statistics reveal the number of people treated for alcohol-related emergencies by NHS Lothian has soared by 68 per cent.

There were 4,751 cases in 2008/09, up from 2,823 in 2006/07. And inAberdeen, the number has risen from 1,712 people five years ago to 2,220 in 2008/09.

The figure for the same period in Aberdeenshire increased from 900 to 1,051.

The numbers were only topped by Greater Glasgow andClyde, with 13,592 alcohol-related discharges in 2008/09.

Worried politicians last night called for urgent action to tackleScotland’s underage drinking shame.

MSP Murdo Fraser, the Tory shadow health secretary, said: “These are frightening figures that show just how deep the problem is. We have to target problem drinks and problem drinkers, give better education on the dangers of alcohol abuse, and crack down on those who sell to children.”

A Labour spokesman called the new statistics “highly alarming”.

He added: “The SNP Government has to bring forward measures that actually work. They need to crack down on the rogue shops that openly sell booze to kids.”

And north-east MSP Maureen Watt said: “The scale of the increase inAberdeenis deeply alarming.

“It is the second largest increase acrossScotlandand more than three times the national average.”

The Nats MSP added: “Aberdeen Royal Infirmary is not the only hospital in which, on any night of the week, beds and trolleys are blocked by people sleeping off the effects of drink.

“Do taxpayers think that is a good use of their money and health professionals’ time? I do not think so.”

Dr Pauline Strachan, director of acute services at NHS Grampian, told a Holyrood committee: “If we look at accident and emergency attendance it was traditionally 20 to 30-year-olds.

“Now we see children as young as 10, 11 or 12 being presented in a drunken state.

“There had been a 60 per cent increase in children under 16 being admitted drunk at accident and emergency.

“Also about 20 or 25 years ago, it tended to be 50 or 60-year-olds who had chronic liver disease.

“Now it’s not unusual for people in their 20s.”

Ambulance chiefs inAberdeenrecently revealed they dealt with more than 6,000 calls during popular drinking times last year.

NHS Grampian said: “Alcohol misuse places an unnecessary burden on emergency services.”

Source:scottish-sun@the-sun.co.uk   15th June 2010

Filed under: Alcohol,Health,Youth :

Teenagers – especially girls – who binge drink could be damaging the part of their brain which controls memory and spatial awareness, say Californian researchers.

Young women’s brains are particularly vulnerable to harm from alcohol because they develop earlier than men’s.  Tests on 95 adolescents aged 16 to 19 were carried out by researchers at severalUSuniversities.

The study is published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Researchers recruited 27 binge-drinking males and 13 females and gave them neurophsychological tests and “spatial working memory” tests to complete.

Binge-drinking young women were defined as those drinking more than three pints of beer or more than four glasses of wine at one sitting. Binge-drinking men drank four pints of beer or a bottle of wine.   The same tests were then carried out on 31 males and 24 females who did not have episodes of drinking heavily and the results compared.

Using MRI scans, the study team found that female teenage heavy drinkers had less brain activation in several brain regions than female non-drinking teens when doing the same spatial task.  They suggested that this could cause problems when driving, playing sports involving complex moves, using a map or remembering how to get somewhere.

Susan Tapert, professor of psychiatry at theUniversityofCaliforniaand lead study author, said these differences in brain activity negatively affected other functions, like concentration and “working memory”.

The study describes “working memory” as using and working with information that is in your mind, like adding up numbers. It is also critical to logical thinking and reasoning.  But the young men studied were not affected to the same extent, Dr Tapert said.   “Male binge drinkers showed some, but less, abnormality as compared to male non-drinkers. This suggests that female teens may be particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of heavy alcohol use.”

Fluctuations

Previous research has shown that among adult alcoholics, women are more vulnerable to the damaging effects of alcohol on the brain than men.

Edith Sullivan, a professor in psychiatry and behavioural sciences atStanfordUniversity, said that the brains of adolescent boys and girls appear to be affected differently by alcohol.  “Females’ brains develop one to two years earlier than males, so alcohol use during a different developmental stage – despite the same age – could account for the gender differences.

“Hormonal levels and alcohol-induced fluctuations in hormones could also account for the gender differences. Finally, the same amount of alcohol could more negatively affect females since females tend to have slower rates of metabolism, higher body fat ratios, and lower body weight.”

Don Shenker, from Alcohol Concern, said the research demonstrates why reducing binge drinking among young people must be an urgent priority. “Ministers should go much further to clamp down on off-licence promotions which are driving under-age drinking and reviewing the extent of alcohol marketing which young people are exposed to and which makes drinking appear attractive.

“We have to also look at intervening as early as possible so that when teenagers go to A&E as a result of drinking or in trouble with the police or at school, they are provided with the right advice and support to reduce their risky drinking and make healthier choices.”

A Department of Health spokeswoman said “We are already taking action to tackle problem drinking, including plans to stop supermarkets selling below cost alcohol and working to introduce a tougher licensing regime.   “Our recent white paper set out our plan to ring-fence public health spending and give power to local communities to improve the health of local people and this includes improving alcohol treatment services through a greater focus on outcomes and payment by results.   We will also be publishing a new alcohol strategy later this year to follow on from the public health white paper.”

Source: www.bbc.co.uk  16th July 2011

Contact address: Fabrizio Faggiano, Department of Medical Sciences, University of Piemonte Orientale A. Avogadro, Via Santena 5 bis, Novara, 28100, Italy. fabrizio.faggiano@med.unipmn.it.
Editorial group: Cochrane Drugs and Alcohol Group.
Publication status and date: Edited (no change to conclusions), published in Issue 3, 2008.

Citation: Faggiano F, Vigna-Taglianti F, Versino E, Zambon A, Borraccino A, Lemma P. School-based prevention for illicit drugs’ use. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD003020. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003020.pub2.

Copyright © 2008 The Cochrane Collaboration. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
________________________________________

Abstract

Background

Drug addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease. Primary interventions should be aimed to reduce first use, or prevent the transition from experimental use to addiction. School is the appropriate setting for preventive interventions.
Objectives
To evaluate the effectiveness of school-based interventions in improving knowledge, developing skills, promoting change, and preventing or reducing drug use versus usual curricular activities or a different school-based intervention .
Search strategy
We searched the Cochrane Drug and Alcohol Group trial register (February 2004), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (The Cochrane Library Issue 2, 2004), MEDLINE (1966 to February 2004) , EMBASE (1988 to February 2004), and other databases. We also contacted researchers in the field and checked reference lists of articles.
Selection criteria
Randomised controlled trials (RCT), case controlled trials (CCT) or controlled prospective studies (CPS) evaluating school-based interventions designed to prevent substance use.
Data collection and analysis
Two authors independently extracted data and assessed trial quality.
Main results
32 studies (29 RCTs and three CPSs) were included with 46539 participants. Twenty eight were conducted in the USA; most were focused on 6th-7th grade students, and based on post-test assessment.

RCTs

(1) Knowledge versus usual curricula
Knowledge focused programs improve drug knowledge (standardised mean difference (SMD) 0.91; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.42 to 1.39).
(2) Skills versus usual curricula
Skills based interventions increase drug knowledge (weighted mean difference (WMD) 2.60; 95% CI 1.17 to 4.03), decision making skills (SMD 0.78; CI 95%: 0.46 to 1.09), self-esteem (SMD 0.22; CI 95% 0.03 to 0.40), peer pressure resistance (relative risk (RR) 2.05; CI 95%: 1.24 to 3.42), drug use (RR 0.81; CI 95% 0.64 to 1.02), marijuana use (RR 0.82; CI 95% 0.73 to 0.92) and hard drug use (RR 0.45; CI 95% 0.24 to 0.85).
(3) Skills versus knowledge
No differences are evident.
(4) Skills versus affective
Skills-based interventions are only better than affective ones in self-efficacy (WMD 1.90; CI 95%: 0.25 to 3.55).

Results from CPSs

No statistically significant results emerge from CPSs.
Authors’ conclusions
Skills based programs appear to be effective in deterring early-stage drug use.
The replication of results with well designed, long term randomised trials, and the evaluation of single components of intervention (peer, parents, booster sessions) are the priorities for research. All new studies should control for cluster effect.
________________________________________

Plain language summary

School-based prevention for illicit drugs’ use
Drug addiction is a long-term problem caused by an uncontrollable compulsion to seek drugs. People may use drugs to seek an effect, to feel accepted by their peers or as a way of dealing with life’s problems. Even after undertaking detoxification to reach a drug-free state, many return to opioid use. This makes it important to reduce the number of people first using drugs and to prevent transition from experimental use to addiction. For young people, peers, family and social context are strongly implicated in early drug use. Schools offer the most systematic and efficient way of reaching them. School programs can be designed to provide knowledge about the effects of drugs on the body and psychological effects, as a way of building negative attitudes toward drugs; to build individual self-esteem and self-awareness, working on psychological factors that may place people at risk of use; to teach refusal and social life skills; and to encourage alternative activities to drug use, which instil control abilities.
The review authors found 32 controlled studies, of which 29 were randomised, comparing school-based programs aimed at prevention of substance use with the usual curriculum. The 46,539 students involved were mainly in sixth or seventh grade. Programs that focused on knowledge improved drug knowledge to some degree, in six randomised trials. Social skills programs were more widely used (25 randomised trials) and effectively increased drug knowledge, decision-making skills, self-esteem, resistance to peer pressure, and drug use including of marijuana (RR 0.8) and hard drugs (heroin) (RR 0.5). The programs were mainly interactive and involved external educators in 20 randomised trials. Effects of the interventions on assertiveness, attitudes towards drugs, and intention to use drugs were not clearly different in any of the trials.
Most trials were conducted in the USA and, as a nation’s social context and drug policies have a significant influence on the effectiveness of the programs, these results may not be relevant to other countries. Measures of change were often made immediately after the intervention with very little long-term follow up or investigation of peer influence, social context, and involvement of parents.

Source: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com and www.cochranlibrary.com 2008

Two of the most widely recommended US school and family prevention programmes retarded growth in some forms of substance use, especially among youngsters who had already used by their early teens, but there are some methodological concerns over the findings.
Summary 36 secondary schools in the rural US mid-west were randomly allocated to either carry on as normal (the control schools) or to one of two prevention programmes. Both were delivered primarily in the seventh grade (ages 12–13), and both featured the LifeSkills Training (LST) drug education curriculum consisting of fifteen classroom lessons with later ‘boosters’. In one set of schools, these lessons were supplemented by the Strengthening Families Program: for Parents and Youth 10-14. This entails seven two-hour evening sessions plus four booster sessions in the following year, during which groups of about six or seven families focus in turn on particular parenting issues and skills. In the first hour of each session, parents and children learn in parallel; in the second, they come together to practice these skills with each other. Only a quarter of the families allocated to these (and 38% of those actively recruited) attended any of the family sessions, but results are reported for all the families offered the intervention, regardless of attendance.
Questionnaire responses from 1677 pupils surveyed about six months before the grade seven lessons formed the baseline to assess changes in substance use among the same pupils over each of the five years following the lessons. Typically by then aged 17–18, about three quarters of the starting sample responded to the final assessments. For the featured report the sample was narrowed down slightly to pupils who had provided the relevant outcome measures at least three times: at baseline; about a month after the seventh grade interventions; and during at least one follow-up. For these pupils, the analysis tested whether over the five and a half years:
• trends in the growth of substance use differed between the three sets of schools; and
• whether by the end levels of substance use also differed.
First the study assessed how many pupils had started to use alcohol, cigarettes or cannabis. Most consistently positive results were found for cigarettes; growth in the proportion who had tried smoking, and the final proportion who had used by age 17–18, were significantly lower in intervention schools compared to control schools. For cannabis, only the final proportion was significantly lower, and for alcohol, only the growth trend, and then only when the family intervention had supplemented the lessons. When these measures were combined in an index representing experience of all three substances, both the growth trend and the final outcomes favoured the interventions. Experience of getting drunk was also measured and, like drinking itself, only the growth trend favoured the interventions.
Similar analyses for current use on at least a monthly basis and other more serious patterns of substance use found no results favouring the interventions. However, there were such results among the fifth of pupils considered at high risk of developing substance use problems. These were the pupils who at the first survey point at age 12–13 had already used two of the three substances. Compared to their lower risk peers, among these pupils both interventions had consistently greater effects on overall levels of use across the follow-up years. Further analysis showed that among lower risk pupils, the interventions made no significant difference. But among the higher risk fifth, growth in the average frequency of smoking cigarettes or using cannabis was less than in the control schools, and so too was final average frequency of use. This was not the case for the frequency of drinking or of getting drunk; for these measures only two of the eight outcomes significantly favoured the interventions. Among the same higher risk pupils, indices of serious use patterns combining measures of current or past use of all three substances consistently favoured the intervention schools.
Summarising their findings, the authors noted that for all substance initiation outcomes, one or both intervention groups showed significant, positive differences compared with the control group in the final follow-up year, and/or significant differences in growth trends over the five years since the interventions. In contrast, across all the pupils, more serious substance use outcomes reflecting mainly current and frequent use were not significantly affected. However, these forms of substance use were curbed when the analysis was restricted to higher risk pupils. Though the two interventions often bettered education-as-usual, in no case did one outperform the other. The authors speculated that less convincing initiation-prevention results than in earlier studies might have been due to the family intervention being delayed a year, when more pupils had already initiated substance use. In terms of affecting more serious forms of substance use, pupils already advanced in their substance use patterns responded relatively well, possibly because the messages were more ‘real’ for them and for their parents. Despite randomisation, there remained some significant baseline differences between control and intervention pupils which might also have obscured intervention impacts, though attempts were made to adjust for these in the analyses.
The two programmes tested in the study enjoy among the most widely respected research records in substance use prevention (LST SFP). The featured study’s strengths include large samples, reasonable follow-up rates, randomisation by school and an analysis controlling for the influence of the school itself, and outcome measures probing not just experience of the substances concerned, but how serious and lasting this was. Nevertheless the most which can be said is that the LifeSkills Training element probably retarded the initiation of smoking, possibly cannabis use, but not drinking, had no cross-sample benefits in respect of the forms of substance use of greatest concern, but may have had such benefits among the minority of pupils already relatively advanced in their substance use before the interventions started. Other LifeSkills Training studies have also most consistently found beneficial outcomes in respect of smoking, the programme’s original target.
Focusing on the featured study’s positive findings might give the impression of more all round success, but in respect of the full samples, these consisted of at most 13 out of 44 findings, and possibly (if arguably more appropriate methodological conventions had been followed) seven or fewer. Greater and more consistent success among the higher risk pupils is a tentative finding because of differences between intervention and control schools, because the study was not set up to test this subsample, and because of some methodological issues. Impacts on the forms of drug use of greatest concern emerged solely from this analysis, meaning that the interventions’ ability to reduce these cannot be considered to have been demonstrated, though the possibility that this might prove to be the case is encouraging. Importantly, though many tests did not show the interventions were superior to education-as-usual, none indicated that they were inferior; the only significant findings favoured the interventions. For more on all these issues see background notes.
Disappointingly, and despite earlier findings from the study, there was no real hint that adding the family programme improved on the school lessons in terms of the substance use measures reported in the study, though there may have been other benefits. Remaining support for the family programme comes mainly from a study whose findings (impressive as they were) derived from just over a third of the mainly white and rural families asked to participate in the study. A similar limitation applies to a later study of a substantially revised version among poor black families. Because of the way they were designed, these trials could establish benefits only among the minority of families prepared or able to participate in the interventions and complete the studies; they cannot be considered a secure indication of how the interventions would perform if applied across the board. So far in the UK a small pilot study has established the programme’s feasibility among a small set of families.
This leaves two of the most thoroughly researched universal prevention programmes for children of secondary school age with mixed findings of uncertain relevance to how they might perform if truly applied across the board. At least part of the problem lies in not in whether the benefits of these programmes are (or at least, can be) real, but in the difficulty of showing they are real. Verdicts in respect of drinking that public health strategies built on education and persuasion are relatively ineffective compared to measures such as restricting availability and raising price, would not be altered by the featured study. For smoking, the case for education in schools as a public health strategy is considerably stronger. Universal prevention programmes in general, and school-based programmes in particular, have greater impacts on tobacco use than on use of the other two substances featured in the study.
Some evidence supports the modest effectiveness of school programmes in preventing cannabis use. But of the four studies on which this verdict was based, one was a primary school programme not focused on substance use at all but on classroom management, education and parenting, another was conducted only among pupils for some reason excluded from mainstream education, and the programme studied in a third has since failed in a more real-world study conducted by researchers not associated with its development. The remaining study was conducted in secondary schools and concerned LifeSkills Training, but the impact on cannabis use was not statistically significant. This line up does not offer much support to drug education in mainstream secondary schools as a means of preventing cannabis use.
Mixed findings of a prevention impact from school programmes targeting substance use do not negate the possibility that general attempts to create schools conducive to healthy development will affect substance use along with other behaviours, nor do they relieve schools of the obligation to educate their pupils on this important aspect of our society. As much as the limited research, such considerations led the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to recommend that alcohol education should be an integral part of national science and health education curricula, in line with government guidance.
Thanks for their comments on this entry in draft to Richard Spoth of Iowa State University, Andrew Brown of the Drug Education Forum and David Foxcroft of Oxford Brookes University. Commentators bear no responsibility for the text including the interpretations and any remaining errors.
Last revised 02 July 2009

Source: Spoth R.L., Randall G.K., Trudeau L. et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence: 2008, 96(1–2), p, 57–68.

Why do otherwise good kids seem to make bad decisions when they are with their friends? New research on risk taking and the teenage brain offers some answers.
In studies at Temple University, psychologists used functional magnetic resonance imaging scans on 40 teenagers and adults to determine if there are differences in brain activity when adolescents are alone versus with their friends. The findings suggest that teenage peer pressure has a distinct effect on brain signals involving risk and reward, helping to explain why young people are more likely to misbehave and take risks when their friends are watching.
To test how the presence of peers influences risk taking, the researchers asked 14 young teenagers (ages 14 to 18), 14 college students and 12 young adults to play a six-minute video driving game while in a brain scanner. Participants were given cash prizes for completing the game in a certain time, but players had to make decisions about stopping at yellow lights, and being delayed, or racing through yellow lights, which could result in a faster time and a bigger prize, but also meant a higher risk for crashing and an even longer delay. The children and adults played four rounds of the game while undergoing the brain scan. Half the time they played alone, and half the time they were told that two same-sex friends who had accompanied them to the study were watching the play in the next room.
Among adults and college students, there were no meaningful differences in risk taking, regardless of whether friends were watching. But the young teenagers ran about 40 percent more yellow lights and had 60 percent more crashes when they knew their friends were watching. And notably, the regions of the brain associated with reward showed greater activity when they were playing in view of their friends. It was as if the presence of friends, even in the next room, prompted the brain’s reward system to drown out any warning signals about risk, tipping the balance toward the reward.
“The presence of peers activated the reward circuitry in the brain of adolescents that it didn’t do in the case of adults,” said Laurence Steinberg, an author of the study, who is a psychology professor at Temple and author of “You and Your Adolescent: The Essential Guide for Ages 10 to 25.” “We think we’ve uncovered one very plausible explanation for why adolescents do a lot of stupid things with their friends that they wouldn’t do when they are by themselves.”
Dr. Steinberg notes that the findings give a new view of peer pressure, since the peers in this experiment were not even in the same room as the teenager in the scanner.
“The subject was in the scanner, so the friends were not able to directly pressure the person to take chances,” Dr. Steinberg said. “I think it’s helpful to understand because many parents conceive of peer pressure as kids directly coercing each other into doing things. We’ve shown that just the knowledge that your friends are watching you can increase risky behavior.”
Dr. Steinberg notes that the brain system involved in reward processing is also involved in the processing of social information, explaining why peers can have such a pronounced effect on decision making. The effect is believed to be especially strong in teenagers because brain changes shortly after puberty appear to make young people more attentive and aware of what other people are thinking about them, Dr. Steinberg said.
The study results are borne out in real-world data that show teenagers have a much higher risk of car accidents when other teenagers are in the car. More study is needed to determine if the effect shown in the game study is the same when teenagers are in the presence of an opposite-sex friend or romantic interest. In the study, there were no meaningful differences in risk taking among boys and girls. However, some real-world driving data suggests that teenage boys take more risks behind the wheel when one or more boys are in the car, but drive more carefully if they are with a girlfriend.
For parents, the study data reinforce the notion that groups of teenagers need close supervision.
“All of us who have very good kids know they’ve done really dumb things when they’ve been with their friends,” Dr. Steinberg said. “The lesson is that if you have a kid whom you think of as very mature and able to exercise good judgment, based on your observations when he or she is alone or with you, that doesn’t necessarily generalize to how he or she will behave in a group of friends without adults around. Parents should be aware of that.”

Source: New York Times 5 Feb 2011

Filed under: Brain and Behaviour,Youth :

Half of all U.S. children live in a house where a parent or other adult uses tobacco, drinks heavily or uses illegal drugs, according to a report released on Tuesday.
These adults are three times more likely to abuse their children and four times more likely to neglect them than parents who do not abuse alcohol or drugs or use tobacco, said the report from Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.
“Children of alcohol and drug abusers are at increased risk of accidents, injuries and academic failure. Such children are more likely to suffer conduct disorders, depression or anxiety, conditions that increase the risk children will smoke, drink and use drugs,” the center said in a statement.
The report is an analysis of the center’s own research as well as dozens of reports from groups ranging from Alcoholics Anonymous, U.S. government surveys on families and health behavior and the Children’s Defense Fund, a nonprofit social welfare organization. It found that 35.6 million U.S. children, about half of all children in the country, live in a home where a parent or other adult uses tobacco, drinks heavily or uses illicit drugs.
More than 37 percent of U.S. children live with an adult who uses tobacco, nearly 24 percent live with a binge or heavy drinker and 12.7 percent live in a household where a parent or other adult uses illicit drugs, the report found.
Several studies show that children exposed to household cigarette smoke have a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome, asthma and ear infections. They are more likely to have their tonsils or adenoids surgically removed and recent studies show they have a bigger risk of cancer and heart disease.
“If substance abusing parents are not concerned about what drugs, alcohol and tobacco are doing to themselves, they should be concerned about the ill effects they have on their children,” center Chairman Joseph Califano said.
“Children of substance abusing parents are much likelier to become substance abusers themselves,” he added.
“A child who gets through age 21 without smoking, using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol is virtually certain never to do so.”

Source: WASHINGTON (Reuters) Mar 29, 2005

Results of a new survey into cannabis use showed that 1 in 3, 15 year olds has now smoked cannabis. 18% of pupils aged 11 to 18 had taken drugs in the previous 12 months. 13% had tried cannabis in the previous year, by the age of 15, that had risen to 31%. 28% of pupils sold they had been offered cannabis. Harder drugs like cocaine ecstasy and amphetamines had been touted to 1 in 5 schoolchildren. A Dept of Health spokesman said that the no. of pupils taking drugs had decreased slightly from 20% in 2001 to 1870 in 2002. This is all in a survey of 10000 pupils by the National Centre for Social Research and The National Centre for Educational Research.

Source: Survey of 10,000 pupils by National centre for Social Research & National centre for Educational Research. Reported in daily Mail 29 March 2003

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Youth :

Abstract

This study tests the impact of an in-school mediated communication campaign based on social marketing principles, in combination with a participatory, community-based media effort, on marijuana, alcohol and tobacco uptake among middle-school students. Eight media treatment and eight control communities throughout the US were randomly assigned to condition. Within both media treatment and media control communities, one school received a research-based prevention curriculum and one school did not, resulting in a crossed, split-plot design.
Four waves of longitudinal data were collected over 2 years in each school and were analyzed using generalized linear mixed models to account for clustering effects. Youth in intervention communities (N = 4216) showed fewer users at final post-test for marijuana [odds ratio (OR) = 0.50, P = 0.019], alcohol (OR = 0.40, P = 0.009) and cigarettes (OR = 0.49, P = 0.039), one-tailed. Growth trajectory results were significant for marijuana (P = 0.040), marginal for alcohol (P = 0.051) and non-significant for cigarettes (P = 0.114).
Results suggest that an appropriately designed in-school and community-based media effort can reduce youth substance uptake. Effectiveness does not depend on the presence of an in-school prevention curriculum.

Source: Health Education Research Vol. 21, Issue 1 2005

Using teacher therapists to identify problem personality traits in teenagers, and help them understand their behaviour, could be the key to stopping them binge drinking and taking drugs.
Adolescent alcohol consumption has more than doubled in the past decade and 15% of pupils reported taking drugs last year.
Addiction experts believe prevention is the key – stopping young people abusing drink and drugs before they start, instead of simply treating the addiction once it has taken hold.
Researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College, London, asked more than 1,000 13-year-olds at secondary schools in London to answer a range of questions about their personalities.
They were looking for pupils with four problem personality traits: negative thinking, anxiety, impulsiveness and sensation seeking.
Half of those teenagers were then given two tailored therapy sessions – one 90 minutes long, the second an hour. In small groups teenagers with particular personality traits were encouraged to explore their personalities – including strengths and difficulties.
They were encouraged to think about other ways to deal with the risks associated with that behaviour – techniques they hope the teenagers will then use when they come face to face with drink or drugs.
“It’s about coping with the trait rather than changing the personality – in no way do we ever suggest they stop being who they are or change who they are,” says Dr Patricia Conrod, Consultant Clinical Psychologist at King’s College.
“It’s changing how it is they’re coping with who they are and perhaps capitalising on some of the more positive sides of the trait and learning to manage some of its more difficult sides.”
The results, they say, speak for themselves – one study of 13 to 16-year-olds led to a 40% reduction in binge drinking and cut the chance of teenagers taking cocaine by 80%. It is the first school based programme outside the US to successfully prevent alcohol uptake and misuse in teenagers.
Students asked to give feedback about the sessions told the researchers they helped with controlling anger and dealing with negative thinking.
A second trial then looked at whether ordinary teachers, with no psychiatric training, could be taught to deliver the sessions.
Focusing on more than 20 secondary schools and another thousand pupils, it found that with little training: a three day workshop followed by three hours of supervised practice; teachers could do as good a job as the professionals.
Latest figures show that alcohol misuse currently costs the NHS around £2.7bn a year. Charities say as successful as treating an addiction can be, most do begin in adolescence, hence the need to attack the problem before it even exists.
“Prevention is important because we need to stop people progressing to much severer problems later in life,” says Nick Barton, the Chief Executive of Action on Addiction, who helped fund the study.
“We find for instance in our treatment centres that when we assess drinking or drug use history, that very often the onset was way back in adolescence, sometimes as young as 11 but certainly the period between 11 and 16 was when the first attraction to substance use took hold.”
The researchers believe this programme could be delivered with just two well trained counsellors per borough who would teach school staff how to lead the sessions.
It will cost money, they say, but in the long run a little bit of investment now to stop another generation of binge drinkers could save the NHS millions in the future.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health 25th August 2010

Media reports on illicit drugs “reduce acceptability and increase perception of risk” among young people, study finds.
Mainstream media reporting is far more likely to deter young people from using illicit drugs than encourage their use, a new Australian study has found.
But the study also found that types of reports most likely to have the strongest impact on young people – those on social and health consequences of drug taking – were underrepresented in the media.
The study by the Drug Policy Modelling Program at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of NSW, and funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, measured the impact of media reports on illicit drugs on the attitudes of over 2,000 young people aged 16 – 24.
The study also analysed 4,000 newspaper reports referring to illicit drugs and found that just over half focussed on criminal justice and legal issues, while only 24 per cent highlighted the health or social problems associated with drug taking.
Participants were shown eight different types of reports and their responses were measured.
Chief Investigator of the study Dr Caitlin Hughes, a Research Fellow at NDARC’s Drug Policy Modelling Program (DPMP), said that while drugs are one of the most common motifs in popular culture and one of the most frequently reported on there is very little research anywhere in the world on how media reporting on illicit drug issues influences attitudes or behaviour on illicit drug use..
“We know from related fields that media messages can influence people’s knowledge, attitudes and behaviour.
“It is commonly assumed that news media can incite drug use,” said Dr Hughes.
“Our research has found that the opposite is the case. Most media portrayals appear to reduce interest in illicit drugs, at least in the short term.
“They increase perceptions of risk, reduce perceptions of acceptability and reduce the reported likelihood of future drug use,” said Dr Hughes.
”But the irony is that the messages that are most effective at deterring youth interest in drugs are currently under-represented in Australian news media,” said Dr Hughes.
News items which focussed on the health and social issues – for example evidence about cannabis and psychosis or cannabis and poor educational outcomes – were more likely to have a deterrent effect than reports on drug busts and arrests.

“Our results show clearly there is an opportunity to better harness the media to shape young peoples’ attitudes to illicit drugs.
We are not saying news media is the silver bullet in drug prevention, but given news media is so pervasive we do think it ought to be recognised, both within Australian and internationally, as a potentially powerful tool for preventing illicit drug use.”

Key points:
• A total of 2,296 youth aged 16-24 years completed the survey
• All youth were shown 8 different media messages about drugs (on the two most commonly used drugs in Australia – cannabis and ecstasy)
• 66.4% and 86.5% of participants had weekly or more frequent contact with television news, online news, radio news and/or print newspapers
• Most news media messages elicited moderate to large impacts on youth attitudes. Negative health or social messages elicited large impacts on youth attitudes.
• Messages on ecstasy had greater impact on youth than messages on cannabis
• Females more likely to be deterred from use than males
• People who have never used drugs more likely to be deterred than current users
• Reports on criminal arrests significantly less persuasive than reports about negative health or social consequences
• Across all drugs, criminal justice/law enforcement topics accounted for 55% of all topics
• 60% of articles emphasised that illicit drugs lead to legal problems. 14% health problems, 10% social problems, 10% cost to society and 6% other (4% neutral and 2% benefits)
• Tabloids were more likely to emphasise legal problems: 71% compared to 61% for broadsheet
• 11 newspapers, one national, seven major metropolitan, in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth and three local in Geelong, Newcastle and Sydney were reviewed

What they said: (comments from the focus groups).
Re power of media to dissuade youth drug use:
“Media is probably one of the few ways that prevention message(s) can keep being pushed.” (20 year old female)
“When I was younger… the way that that was portrayed in the media totally shaped the way that I saw drugs.” (22 year old female)
Re fatal overdose of a young person:
“I think that would convince me not to take drugs. Just „cause……I feel sorry for her.” (17 year old male)

Source: Media reporting on illicit drugs in Australia: trends and impacts on youth attitudes to illicit drug use. Drug Policy Modelling Program, September 2010. It can be accessed through: http://www.dpmp.unsw.edu.au

Compared to teens who have frequent family dinners (five to seven per week), those who have infrequent family dinners (fewer than three per week) are more than twice as likely to say that they expect to try drugs in the future, according to The Importance of Family Dinners VI, a new report from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA*) at Columbia University.

The CASA family dinners report reveals that nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of teens think that eating dinner frequently with their parents is very or fairly important. Compared to teens who have frequent family dinners, those who have infrequent family dinners are:

  • Twice as likely to have used tobacco;
  • Almost twice as likely to have used alcohol; and
  • One and half times likelier to have used marijuana.

The report found that compared to teens who talk to their parents about what’s going on in their lives at dinner, teens who don’t are twice as likely to have used tobacco and one and a half times likelier to have used marijuana.

“The message for parents couldn’t be any clearer. With the recent rise in the number of Americans age 12 and older who are using drugs, it is more important than ever to sit down to dinner and engage your children in conversation about their lives, their friends, school – just talk. Ask questions and really listen to their answers,” said Kathleen Ferrigno, CASA’s director of Marketing who directs the Family Day – A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children initiative. “The magic that happens over family dinners isn’t the food on the table, but the communication and conversations around it. Of course there is no iron-clad guarantee that your kids will grow up drug free, but knowledge is power and the more you know the better the odds are that you will raise a healthy kid.”

The report also reveals that teens who have fewer than three family dinners per week are twice as likely to be able to get marijuana or prescription drugs (to get high) in an hour or less. Teens who are having five or more family dinners per week are more likely to say that they do not have any access to marijuana and prescription drugs (to get high).

This year the trend survey found that 60 percent of teens report having dinner with their families at least five times a week, a proportion that has remained consistent over the past decade.

Family Dinners and Having Friends Who Use Substances
Teens who have frequent family dinners are less likely to report having friends who use substances.

Compared to teens who have five to seven family dinners per week, those who have fewer than three family dinners per week are:

  • More than one and a half times likelier to have friends who drink regularly and use marijuana;
  • One and half times likelier to have friends who abuse prescription drugs (to get high); and
  • One and a quarter times more likely to have friends who use illegal drugs like acid, ecstasy, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin.

“We have long known that the more often children have dinner with their parents the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs. We can now confirm another positive effect of family dinners–that the more often teens have dinner with their parents, the more likely they are to report talking to their parents about what’s going on in their lives,” said Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA founder and chairman and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. “In today’s busy and overscheduled world, taking the time to come together for dinner really makes a difference in a child’s life.”

Family Ties
CASA’s 2010 teen survey took a close look at Family Ties, the bond between parents and their teens, and discovered that strong Family Ties are associated with a reduced likelihood that a teen will smoke, drink or use illegal drugs. The family dinners report found that teens who say they have an excellent relationship with their parents are less likely to use substances.

Compared to teens who have infrequent family dinners, teens who have frequent family dinners are three times likelier to say they have an excellent relationship with their father, almost three times as likely to say they have an excellent relationship with their mother, and more than twice as likely to say that their parents are very good at listening to them.

Among teens who don’t drink or use marijuana, those who have frequent family dinners are more likely to cite their parents as the reason why than teens who have infrequent family dinners.
The findings in this report come from The National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XV: Teens and Parents, released on August 19, 2010. This year we surveyed 1,055 teenagers ages 12 to 17 (540 males, 515 females), and 456 parents of these teens via the Internet, from April 8 to April 27, 2010. Sampling error is +/- 3.1 for teens and +/- 4.6 for parents. We also conducted our usual telephone survey of 1,000 teens ages 12 to 17 (511 boys and 489 girls) in order to continue tracking trends from prior years, from April 6 to April 27, 2010. Sampling error is +/- 3.1.

Source: http://www.casacolumbia.org   Nov 2010

Teens may smoke to “self-medicate” against depression, but researchers in Canada say smoking may increase depressive symptoms in some adolescents.

Lead author Michael Chaiton of the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit of the University of Toronto and co-author Jennifer O’Loughlin of the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre say the study involved 662 high-school teenagers who completed as many as 20 questionnaires from grades 7-11 about their use of cigarettes to affect mood.

Study participants were divided into groups of: teens who never smoked; smokers who did not use cigarettes to self-medicate, improve mood or physical state; and smokers who used cigarettes to self-medicate. Study participants were asked to rate on a rating scale depressive symptoms such as: felt too tired to do things; had trouble going to sleep or staying asleep; felt unhappy, sad, or depressed; felt hopeless about the future; felt nervous or tense; and worried too much about things.

Smokers who used cigarettes as mood enhancers had higher risks of elevated depressive symptoms than teens who had never smoked, researchers concluded.

Source: Journal of Addictive Behaviors.Sept 2010

Researchers at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry say a personality-based intervention for substance abuse that was delivered by teachers was successful in reducing drinking rates, particularly binge drinking, among adolescents.

In the article titled “Personality-Targeted Interventions Delay Uptake of Drinking and Decrease Risk of Alcohol-Related Problems When Delivered by Teachers,” principal Investigator Dr. Patricia Conrod and colleagues evaluated 2,506 adolescents, with a mean age of 13.7, using the Substance Use Risk Profile scale; a 23-item questionnaire which assesses personality risk for substance abuse along four dimensions including sensation-seeking, impulsivity, anxiety-sensitivity, and hopelessness.

Of the 1,159 students identified by researchers as being at high risk for substance abuse, 624 received intervention as part of the Adventure Trial and a matched high risk group of 384 received no intervention. School based interventions consisted of two 90 minute group sessions conducted by a trained educational professional. In order to adequately evaluate the students, the teachers attended a 3-day rigorous workshop, followed by 4 hour supervision and feedback session. An 18 point checklist was used to determine whether the teachers demonstrated a good understanding of the aims and components of the programs.

Although the trial is designed to evaluate mental health symptoms, academic achievement, and substance use uptake over a 2 year period, the authors have focused their findings on the six month outcomes of drinking and binge-drinking rates, quantity by frequency of alcohol use, and drinking-related problems. Reporting on the efficacy of the intervention at six months, author and Trial Coordinator Maeve O’Leary-Barrett writes, “Receiving an intervention significantly decreased the likelihood of reporting drinking alcohol at follow-up, with the control group 1.7 times more likely to report alcohol use than the intervention group (odds ratio, 0.6).”

Furthermore, receiving an intervention also predicted significantly lower binge-drinking rates in students who reported alcohol use at baseline (odds ratio, 0.45), indicating a 55 percent decreased risk of binge-drinking in this group compared with controls. In addition, high-risk intervention-school students reported lower quantity by frequency of alcohol use and drinking-related problems compared with the non-treatment group at follow-up.

The Adventure Trial is the first to evaluate the success of the personality-targeted interventions as delivered by teachers. The findings at six months suggest that this approach may provide a sustainable school-base prevention program for youth at risk for substance abuse.

In the JAACAP article, Principal Investigator Dr. Patricia Conrod and colleagues comment on the success of their program by stating, “In-house personality-targeted interventions allow schools to implement early prevention strategies with youth most at risk for developing future alcohol-related problems and provide the potential for follow-up of the neediest individuals.”

Source: Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Sept. 2010

 
An online survey of 27,000 U.K. teens found that many were well aware of the risks associated with marijuana use, including panic attacks and paranoia, the BBC reported Aug. 6. 2009The survey from the U.K. antidrug group Frank found that 74 percent of teens acknowledged at least some of the drawbacks of using marijuana; for example, 42 percent said they personally knew someone who had experienced memory loss, panic attacks or paranoia due to marijuana use.Overall, 64 percent of those surveyed said that marijuana could cause panic attacks, 41 percent said users could become paranoid, and 38 percent said memory loss was associated with using the drug.Half of the adolescents surveyed also believed that marijuana use led to loss of motivation and poor grades in school.Source: www.drugfree.org/join-together. March 2010  

“This report summarises the key findings from a report exploring public attitudes towards illegal drugs and drug misuse in Scotland, based on data from the 2009 Scottish Social Attitudes survey. It focuses in particular on attitudes towards opiate misuse, and on views of potential policy responses to this. However, it also places such attitudes in the context of wider views and experiences of illegal drugs.”

Main Findings
■ Support for legalising cannabis – which increased in Scotland (as in the rest of the UK) in the late 1990s – has fallen considerably in more recent years, from 37% in 2001 to 24% in 2009. Attitudes towards prosecution for possession of cannabis for personal use also hardened between 2001 and 2009.

■ Most people said taking cocaine occasionally is wrong – 76% rated it as 4 or 5 on a scale where 5 meant ‘very seriously wrong’.

■ 45% of people agreed that ‘Most people who end up addicted to heroin have only themselves to blame’, while just 27% disagreed.

■ Around half (53%) disagreed that ‘most heroin users come from difficult backgrounds’ (29% agreed).

■ Among those in paid employment, around half (47%) said they would be ‘very’ or ‘fairly comfortable’ working alongside someone they knew had used heroin in the past, while around 1 in 5 would be uncomfortable.

■ Just a quarter (26%) said they would be comfortable with someone who was receiving help to stop using heroin moving near to them, while half (49%) would be uncomfortable.

■ There was no public consensus on what should be the top government priority for tackling heroin use in Scotland – 32% chose ‘tougher penalties for those who take heroin’, 32% ‘more help for people who want to stop using heroin’ and 28% ‘more education about drugs’.

■ Just 16% agreed that people who possess heroin for personal use should not be prosecuted (compared with 34% for cannabis).

■ Public support for providing clean needles to injecting drug users fell from 62% in 2001 to 50% in 2009.

■ Opinion on educating young people about safer drug use was split – 44% agreed that young people should be given information about how to use drugs more safely, but 40% disagreed.

■ Four out of five (80%) agreed that ‘the only real way of helping drug addicts is to get them to stop using drugs altogether’. However, 29% agreed that ‘most heroin users can never stop using drugs completely’, while 27% said they neither agreed nor disagreed or did not know.

■ 63% disagreed that ‘Someone who has been a heroin addict can never make a good parent, even if their drug problems are in the past’.

■ Around two thirds (64%) said that young children of heroin users should be placed into temporary foster care until the parents stop taking heroin. A further 1 in 5 believed the child should stay at home while the family receives help from social workers and just 8% said the child should be permanently adopted by another family.

The full report is also accessible online.

Source: http://uwsnealb.wordpress.com/2010/05/28/scottish-social-attitudes-survey-2009-public-attitudes-to-drugs-and-drug-use-in-scotland/ May 25 2010

How serious is the child and teenage alcohol problem in your area?

More than 20 children and teenagers are being treated in hospital every day for alcohol-related illnesses, including mental disorders, poisoning and liver disease, according to newly released official data.

The figures, labelled “staggering” by one of Britain’s most senior doctors, show that in the year 2005-6, during which Labour introduced 24-hour drinking, the number of under-18s seeking treatment for alcohol-related health problems leapt by 13% to 8,894, an average of 24 a day.

The research, released in parliament by Caroline Flint, the health minister, shows that the number treated has gone up by 33% since Labour came to power in 1997.

Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: “This is a staggering rise and it is only the tip of the iceberg.
“Drinks sold by supermarkets and off-licences are cheaper than ever, and those shops have been at the front of the queue for 24-hour licences, so it has never been more available.

“The younger they drink, the more likely they are to have alcohol-related problems later in life. It is now commonplace to see men and women in their twenties with end-stage alcoholic liver damage.”
The disease figures released by Flint do not include those people treated for injuries sustained in incidents such as drunken fights or drink-driving.

Separately, the government has released figures for patients treated for alcohol-related conditions in accident and emergency wards, showing that alcohol-related medical emergencies and hospital treatments have doubled since 1997.

In some parts of the country the rise is even steeper. The worst areas include the region formerly covered by Cheshire and Merseyside Strategic Health Authority, where 742 young people were treated last year, a rise of more than 25% in just a year. In Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, the number went up by a quarter.
By contrast, some southern health authorities experienced an improvement. In Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, for example, there were only 119 cases, a fall of 30%.

In addition to the figures for children and teenagers, the Department of Health data also show that the number of people aged 18 and over treated for alcohol-related illness has gone up from 124,925 to 253,603 since 1997, a rise of more than 100%.
The data, released in a written answer, appear to contradict the government’s claims that the liberalisation of pub opening and supermarket off-sales time would lead to more responsible drinking.

They bear out research published earlier this year by the British Association for Emergency Medicine, which found an increase in alcohol-related injuries treated in hospital among all age groups since the change to the drinking laws.

Ahead of its launch of 24-hour opening in November 2005, the government assured voters that there would be tougher controls on underage drinking.
It announced on-the-spot fines for children buying alcohol and tougher penalties for staff serving them.
Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary, said at the time: “The result will be more freedom for responsible adults and tougher treatment for the yobbish minority.”

Labour’s approach to teenage drinking has not always lived up to the responsible image that it likes to project.
In the run-up to the 2001 general election, the party sent text messages to first-time voters telling them, “Don’t give a XXXX for last orders? Vote Labour”. This was an allusion to advertisements for Castlemaine XXXX, the Australian beer.

Dr Gray Smith-Laing, a consultant at the Medway Maritime hospital in Gillingham, Kent, who treats patients with liver disease, said last week: “What we’re seeing is the numbers going up, the age coming down.

“The idea that (24-hour opening) just smooths out the drinking and people drink the same amount over a longer period of time is complete rubbish.”
The Department of Health says that levels of binge drinking have peaked and new facilities such as walk-in centres could explain the growth in treatment for drink-related injuries.

The department said yesterday: “The increased attendances at A&E departments, as seen in recently published figures, began some years ago. Evidence suggests that increased rate of growth of attendances predates the change in licensing laws by several years. In fact, this year growth has actually slowed.”

SOURCE: POSTED BY ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS UK AT 7:50 AM MON 25.12.06

MULTIPLE DRUG USE NOW THE NORM, HEROIN SHUNNED BY YOUNG
Government drug policy is too centred on heroin abuse, fails to take account of the realities of current usage trends and needs to focus on individual user behaviour if it is to reflect the true picture and formulate meaningful responses, a leading academic at National University of Ireland Maynooth urged.
‘A Dizzying Array of Substances; An Ethnographic Study of Drug Use in the Canal Communities’ is the result of a long-term study which closely examined the realities of drug use in local life of Rialto, Bluebell and Inchicore, three communities served by the Canal Communities Local Drugs Task Force. It was led by principal investigator Dr A Jamie Saris and primary field researcher Fiona O’Reilly at the Department of Anthropology, NUI Maynooth.
The ethnographic research, carried out mostly in 2008 and early 2009, gives the most compelling evidence to date that multiple drug use is the norm amongst drug users in the Canal Communities and, the researchers concluded, most probably in other areas.
“The big problem is that as far as government is concerned, ‘drugs’, from a treatment perspective, has traditionally meant heroin. Thus, the apparent leveling off of the need for a very opiate-centric treatment service in the Canal Communities in recent years is deceptive” said Dr Saris.
Besides the ethnographic work, the study surveyed, on a long term basis, 92 people using either heroin or methadone in the study area. Unsurprisingly most of those surveyed were on methadone (98%). Of those surveyed:
•63% claimed to have used heroin in the previous three months
•30% had used crack cocaine
•22% had used powder cocaine
•46% had also taken street tranquilisers
•50% were on prescribed tranquillisers, and
•60% had also smoked cannabis within the past three months.
“The majority of those registered on the methadone treatment programme are also using a cocktail of other substances, very often including heroin. Multiple drug use is the reality for nearly all users, and official policy needs to have this understanding at its centre”, Saris said.
In the course of their study, the research team also noted a strong stigma against heroin use amongst the 16-25 age group who still regularly used a lot of other substances, including cocaine and off-label prescription medication. “The reality is that these people are difficult for a treatment infrastructure built around opiates to service. If they have issues, they are more difficult to address,” said Saris.
” The stress that policy-makers and community activists place on ‘crack’ or ‘heroin’ or any other single drug as clear and present social dangers obscures the ubiquity of polydrug use. It makes it appear that these users are very different from other drug-users in the rest of society including cannabis and recreational cocaine users, and it also obscures how commonly legal pharmaceuticals, such as benzodiazepines, even methadone itself, are regularly consumed ‘illegally’.”
He said that a focus on drug use alone is the mistake. “The lives we examined, however damaged by an attraction to certain pharmaceuticals, are rarely defined solely by such behaviour. These people are also sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, partners and lovers, as well as employees and community members. This sensibility does in fact inform a lot of local community activities aimed at assisting users, but such work is often difficult to justify to official funders under the rubric of ‘treatment’, as currently understood. Unless we can understand who users are, what they are taking and why, we will not be able to assign the appropriate resources, treatments or management systems.”
Tony MacCarthaigh, chairperson of the Canal Communities Local Drugs Task Force commented that “individuals and not chemicals need to become the focal point of treatment, and treatment needs to assist individuals in developing another orientation not just to drugs, but to life”.
Source: www.addictiontoday.org 9th July 2010


Monitoring the Future survey shows that while marijuana continues to be the most commonly used illicit drug among teens in the USA, current use of marijuana has dropped by 25 also dropped by seven percent among all three grades combined. Teen use of amphetamines, particularly methamphetamine, dropped significantly in five years and year-over-year, between 2005 and 2006, with less than one percent of teens having used it in the past 30 days.

The survey also noted reductions in the following drug categories between 2001 and 2006, including:

** Marijuana use is down in all categories for all grades combined. Lifetime, past year, and past 30 day use decreased 18 percent, 20 percent, and 25 percent (from 35% to 29%; 26% to 22%; and 17% to 13%, respectively).

** Use of cigarettes is down since 2001 in all four use categories (lifetime, past month, daily, and more than one-half pack per day) in all three grades.

** Youth use of alcohol was also down across the board – in all five use categories (lifetime, past year, past month, daily, and more than five drinks in a row in the last two weeks) and in all three grades over five years.

** Lifetime use of steroids for teens declined among all three grades, with past year and past month use also down among 8th and 10th graders.

Source: Source: nyac@TheAntiDrug.com Dec 2006

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,USA,Youth :

Combined data from SAMHSA’s 2002 to 2005 National Surveys on Drug Use & Health found an annual average of 1.1 million (4.5%) youths aged 12 to 17 used an inhalant in the 12 months prior to being surveyed. About 2.6% of all youth who had not used inhalants before were new users (that is, had used an inhalant for the first time in the past year. The annual average of new users was 600,000 youth (289,000 males and 311,000 females).
The types of inhalants most frequently mentioned as having been used in the past year by new users were: glue, shoe polish, or toluene (30.5%), gasoline or lighter fluid (25.3%), nitrous oxide or “whippets” (23.9%), and spray paints (23.5%).
Among new inhalants users, females were more likely than males to have used: glue, shoe polish, or toluene (34.9% vs. 25.8%); spray paints (26.1% vs. 20.8%); aerosol sprays other than spray paints (23.0% vs. 16.4%); correction fluid, degreaser, or cleaning fluid (23.4% vs. 13.6%); and amy nitrite, “poppers,” locker room odorizers, or “rush” (18.2% vs. 11.6%).
New male inhalant users were more likely than females to have used nitrous oxide or “whippets” (29.0% vs.19.3%). Between 2002 and 2005, use of nitrous oxide or whippets declined among new inhalant users (from 31.6% to 21.3% in 2005). In contrast, use of aerosol sprays other than spray paints doubled from 12.6% of new inhalant using youth in 2002 to 25.4% of new inhalant using youth in 2005.

Source: The NSDUH Report: Patterns and Trends in Inhalant Use by Adolescent Males and Females, 2002-2005

Filed under: Solvent abuse,Youth :

Brief skills training is effective to curb college drinking
A study in Swedish colleges, where over-use of alcohol is widespread, showed that a Brief Skills Training Program was effective in reducing alcohol consumption over a two-year period.

Students were randomly assigned to a brief skills training program (BSTP) with interactive lectures and discussions, a twelve-step–influenced (TSI) program with didactic lectures by therapists trained in the 12-step approach, and a control group. More than three quarters of the students were rated “high risk” on an alcohol consumption score.

At follow-up two years later, the high-risk students who had received the BSTP program showed significantly better outcomes than high-risk students who had undergone TSI. The TSI students did no better than the control group.

Source:The study results are in the March issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental


April 5, 2007

A new study finds that teaching teens ‘competence skills’ — such as good self-management and positive psychological characteristics — can effectively reduce adolescent alcohol and other drug use.
Health News Digest reported April 4 that the study from Weill Cornell Medical College researchers found competence skills can protect teens from social risk factors for substance abuse, including having friends who use alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drugs.
Researchers who studied a group of 1,500 (mostly Hispanic) adolescents from New York City over a period of three years found that those with high refusal-assertiveness marks and sound decision-making skills were less likely to smoke or use multiple substances, even when they had friends or siblings who did.
“The take-home message from these findings is that competence skills matter in our understanding of substance use,” says study author Jennifer A. Epstein of the Division of Prevention and Health Behavior at Weill Cornell. “They can combat powerful social influences from friends and siblings to use multiple substances, including cigarettes. Moreover, this research provides important support for drug-abuse prevention programs that include the teaching of competence skills, including refusal skills and decision-making skills.”
“Students need to be encouraged to develop competence skills to resist drugs, since social and other risk factors can never be entirely eliminated,” added Gilbert Botvin, senior author of the report and developer of the Life Skills Training prevention program.
The study was published in the issue of the journal

Source: journal: Addictive Behaviors. April 2007

Filed under: Education,Youth :


Research Summary

Smoking among young adults has plummeted since California implemented a groundbreaking tobacco-control plan 12 years ago, according to new research from the University of California at San Diego.

The California Tobacco Control Program, established in 1989, has been credited with reducing smoking among all adult smokers, but the decline among young adults has been especially striking, researchers said. Notably, cessation rates among young Californians were higher than among young adults in New York and New Jersey, which have similarly high tobacco prices but lack comprehensive stop-smoking campaigns, as well as compared to young adults in tobacco-growing states (TGS).

“We were surprised to find that, since the advent of the California campaign, young people have increased their rate of quitting by 50 percent, far more than their older counterparts,” said study author Karen Messer, Ph.D. “It used to be that smokers over age 50 were the ones quitting because they understood the health consequences of smoking …
“These young adults have grown up in a tobacco-controlled climate, where smoking isn’t the norm and isn’t socially supported. We may be seeing the first generation who believe it’s not cool to smoke, which could pay huge dividends in their future health.”

Another UCLA study focused on tobacco consumption trends. “We found that there is a national trend of declining cigarette consumption for all age groups, but the most significant by far was observed in California smokers over age 35,” noted researcher Wael K. Al-Delaimy, M.D., Ph.D.
“The data suggest that — compared with states with no tobacco control initiatives (TGS) or states with an increased cigarette price as the principal tobacco control measure (NY/NJ) – California’s comprehensive tobacco control program is more effective in decreasing cigarette consumption for those over age 35.”

Source: journal Tobacco Control April 2007


A Temple University psychologist argues that society would be better off using strict laws to prevent risky behaviors by adolescents rather than education programs, saying that teens’ brains are too immature to avoid risk-taking, USA Today reported April 5.
“We need to rethink our whole approach to preventing teen risk,” said researcher Laurence Steinberg, who drew his conclusions after reviewing a decade’s worth of research on the adolescent brain. “Adolescents are at an age where they do not have full capacity to control themselves. As adults, we need to do some of the controlling.”
Steinberg said society would be best served by raising the driving age, increasing cigarette prices, and enforcing underage-drinking laws than investing in prevention programs. “I don’t believe the problem behind teen risky behavior is a lack of knowledge,” he said. “The programs do a good job in teaching kids the facts. Education alone doesn’t work. It doesn’t seem to affect their behavior.”
“Kids will sign drug pledges. They really mean that, but when they get in a park on a Friday night with their friends, that pledge is nowhere to be found in their brain structure,” agreed psychologist Michael Bradley. “They’re missing the neurologic brakes that adults have.”
Isabel Sawhill, co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, said the findings are “good research for policymakers to consider, but we shouldn’t infer from this research that all our past efforts have been ineffective. I’m not in favor of just doing education, but I’m also not in favor of not doing it, either. We need to do some of both.”

Source: Current Directions in Psychological Science. April 2007


Young men are three times more likely to die from alcohol-related injuries than females. To make matters worse, new research released today shows that they do not respond to school-based drug education as well as their female counterparts.
Delivery of a new school-based program has resulted in lower alcohol consumption, less binge drinking and less alcohol-related harms – but only in females.
CLIMATE Schools: Alcohol Module was developed and trialled by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at the University of NSW. Researcher, Ms Laura Vogl, found that the findings were consistent with the results of many other school-based drug prevention programs.
“Males are a much harder group to reach,” Ms Vogl said. “It is common knowledge that alcohol use generally increases from the early to late teenage years. This program was effective in subduing this growth. Twelve months after the program was delivered it was clear that the CLIMATE program had subdued the growth of alcohol use and harm for females.”
After one year, students who did not get the CLIMATE program reported:
o Twice the increase in average weekly alcohol consumption compared with the students who received the CLIMATE program.
o A fives times greater increase in the frequency of binge drinking compared with the students who received the CLIMATE program.
o Twice the increase in the maximum number of drinks consumed during these binging occasions, and
o A five times greater increase in the number of alcohol-related harms experienced in the previous 12 months compared with the students who received the CLIMATE program

CLIMATE Schools: Alcohol Module was developed by NDARC in collaboration with the Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety and Depression and secondary school teachers. This program was trialled with over 1,500 Year 8 students in Catholic and Independent schools. This innovative program uses a computerised cartoon-based teenage drama to teach young people skills to minimise alcohol consumption and reduce the risk of harm.
The program was successful in teaching all young people, both males and females, the knowledge to minimise alcohol-related harm. It was also effective in moderating students’

beliefs regarding the positive benefits of alcohol. Students were far less likely to glamorise the effects of alcohol after they had completed the CLIMATE program.
However, when it came to behaviour change, it was only female students who changed their behaviour.
For the boys, the CLIMATE program was no more effective in changing alcohol use behaviour than the standard alcohol prevention education currently being delivered in the control schools.
Ms Vogl said that there could be a number of reasons to explain this result.
”The Australian Alcohol Guidelines were used in the program and these state that males can drink more alcohol than females to stay at low risk,” explained Ms Vogl. ”Currently, many young females drink similar amounts to their male counterparts. Pointing out to young women that they cannot actually drink as much alcohol for the same level of risk, may have been a shock for many and made them rethink their behaviour.“
Drinking and the experience of alcohol-related harm is often seen as a badge of honour or sign of manhood and could be a contributing factor to the gender differences.
“If a male student is involved in a fight, he may be viewed as a hero. Likewise, if a male has unplanned sex whilst under the influence of alcohol, he may be viewed as a stud. By contrast, if a female accidentally falls pregnant while under the influence of alcohol, she may be viewed as promiscuous. If she vomits in a public place as a result of drinking, the consequences can be dire.”
Traditionally, male socialisation and friendships also revolve more closely around alcohol than that of females. For alcohol prevention interventions to be effective with male students a broader range of alcohol related beliefs may need to be targeted.
Research has suggested that it may be necessary to focus on the negative sexual effects of alcohol, such as erectile dysfunction, to achieve success. The only obstacle to this is that it may be considered inappropriate to teach this in Year 7 and 8 of high school, when alcohol prevention education needs to be implemented.
“Alcohol-related harm is a major concern during adolescence, especially for males. Effective alcohol prevention programs do exist and in many cases are the ones implemented in schools. However, greater time needs to be given for more intensive interventions with the hope of more effectively changing the behaviour of young males.”
ends

Source: NDARC. Univ. of New South Wales. Australia February 25 2007

Filed under: Alcohol,Education,Youth :

Comment:
Amid all the talk about what to do about this particular nasty drug-no one in politics or the media is addressing the fundamental question. How did the UK get to have this terrible drug using culture? Did influential legalisation and liberalisation drug lobbyists adversely affect the drug use culture? Was “media advocacy” a big factor? Where some pro liberalisation/legalisation Members of Parliament (in all political parties) guilty of proselytising without working out the inevitable consequences? Are those members of the “great & (supposedly ) good” , (even some members of the Police & Judiciary), who advocated drug legalisation/liberalisation, also guilty parties? It has been said nations get the drug problem they deserve. We certainly deserve ours. It is surely time for some honesty a rethink and some more competent political leadership.
David Raynes  National Drug Prevention Alliance
*****************************************************
Desperate father pleads for action as legal party drug destroys his teenage son An accountant has made a dramatic nationwide plea for help to stop his son killing himself with the new party drug known as Miaow Miaow.

Stephen Welch, rang BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in desperation because he did not know how to stop his son Daniel’s addiction to mephedrone and his appeals for specialist support had been rejected.
The 58-year-old spelt out the reality of life with a teenager who is destroying his health with a legal substance.

And he revealed that the drug can be bought freely over the phone on an 0800 number “like a Chinese takeaway” and delivered in 15 minutes at a cost of less than £1 a hit.  He also revealed that many of his son’s friends in the affluent, medieval market town of Saffron Walden, were also dependent on mephedrone and experiencing physical and mental problems as a result.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Welch, a self-employed accountant, described how last week, Daniel collapsed in front of him after a heavy weekend taking the killer drug.  “He had heart pains, his blood pressure was all over the place, his body went numb,” said Mr Welch. “Then he went into a bout of intense depression and suicidal tendencies. We were very, very scared.  “We thought that maybe we were going to loose him. It was a terrifying situation.”

The close-knit Welch family is desperate for help but have been told by mental health experts that their son’s drug taking is a “lifestyle choice” which they can do little about.  “The said they were not able to offer us any assistance, apart from saying, if necessary, take him to accident and emergency,” said Mr Welch, 58. “There has been an offer of acupuncture sessions but no mention of rehabilitation or even counselling.”

Evidence is growing of a mephedrone epidemic among young people across the social range. A survey published yesterday revealed that more than one in 13 students who attend Cambridge University have tried the drug.

Last week, it was linked to the deaths of Louis Wainwright, 18, and Nicholas Smith, 19, in Scunthorpe. Police have also confirmed that a partygoer’s death from a heart attack in February was caused by mephedrone poisoning.   Despite escalating fears, the Government has taken no action to ban the drug. The substance is actively marketed on dozens of websites as plant food, with the companies and individuals who sell it making millions of pounds unhindered by the authorities.

“It is like ordering a Chinese takeaway but it comes quicker and is cheaper,” said Mr Welch. “The teenagers ring the 0800 number and it is delivered in little packets that say ‘plant food, not for human consumption’.  “Four grams costs £35 and is enough to give two hits to 20 people, that is under £1 a hit. Four grams of cocaine costs about £200.

“All of his friends are taking it, including some who wouldn’t have touched any drugs before but take this one because it is legal.  “They are all having the same problems. They are all, within a very short space of time, becoming dependant on it.”

Before discovering the drug, Daniel had completed his GCSEs at a private Quaker school and was studying a vocational course at a college near Norwich.  But the effects of his habit have left the teenager muddled, depressed and unable to work. While he has tried other drugs and has used cannabis regularly, the high he experienced with mephedrone was in a different league.  Mr Welch, whose three other children have never had drugs issues, said the availability of the drug made it so much harder to protect Daniel and break his dependency.

“It needs to be banned, if only to make it more difficult to get hold of,” he said. “I’m not naive enough to think it will not still be there.  It will go underground but it will become more expensive and it will put some children off taking it if it is illegal.  “It is no good the Government saying ‘we need to wait for this committee or that report’. People are dying from this substance.

“We have had a terrifying experience with our own son. People are making a fortune out of supplying this stuff and it is causing absolute havoc with our children.”  Meanwhile, until the Government acts, the Welch family try to cope with the day-to-day consequences of Daniel’s addiction.

“My wife is affected the most as she is at home most. It is emotionally just draining,” said Mr Welch. “We are absolutely distraught by this.
“The possibilities are too horrendous to think about – those two poor boys in Scunthorpe who died. My son said ‘I looked at their pictures and they looked like normal kids’. I said to him ‘Daniel, you look like a normal kid’.

“He has been very frightened by what has happened this week. We can only support him and hope that he is coming around to realising what a lethal substance this is.” Daniel said that the public and Government officials did not realise how bad the situation had become with mephedrone.  “I want to get across the massive effect it has had on my life and on the lives of people similar to me,” said the teenager.
“Something needs to happen. People are doing the drug who would never think of doing illegal drugs. It is affecting normal people.  “It is so readily available, a phone call away. And it is so cheap that someone always has it. You can swap a cigarette for a line. And that makes it hard to break away from it.

“I’ve got a lot of big decisions to make now about who I see and who I don’t. The problem is these are normal friends, people at university.
“But if I carry on in the way I have been I could be dead in three months. I’m losing weight, I’m not the person I was.”
Source:  www.telegraph.co.uk/health  21st March 2010

Research Summary

The more parents expect their teens to engage in risky behaviors such as drinking and using drugs, the more likely their teens are to follow through with those behaviors, Reuters reported Oct. 16.
Researchers found that adolescents with mothers who expected them to be more rebellious and take greater risks reported higher levels of risky behavior than other adolescents during follow-up surveys.
On the other hand, parents may lower the rate of risky behavior among their adolescent children by expecting that they can resist negative peer pressure and instead engage in positive behavior, according to the study.
“Parents who believe they are simply being realistic might actually contribute to a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said study author and Wake Forest University psychology professor Christy Buchanan. “By thinking risk-taking or rebelliousness is normal for teenagers and conveying that to their children, parents might add to other messages from society that make teenagers feel abnormal if they are not willing to take risks or break laws.”
The study’s recommendations for parents included modeling good behavior for their teens, exposing them to examples of positive things that other teens are doing, and making sure their teens know there are consequences to risky behavior.
The study was based on surveys of more than 200 6th- and 7th-graders and their mothers.
Source: Journal of Research on Adolescence. June 2009

Filed under: Parents,Youth :

The truth youth anti-smoking campaign has the power to save hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of dollars in smoking related health care costs and productivity losses, according to the Citizens’ Commission to Protect the Truth, a group composed of every former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and Health and Human Services with the exception of Michael Leavitt; every former U.S. Surgeon General; and every former Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine indicated that the medical care costs averted by the truth® campaign – due to prevention of smoking – were far greater than the costs of the campaign itself and found that for every dollar invested in truth®, it is estimated that society saved over $6.80. The study focused on the period of 2000–2002. During this period of time, the truth® campaign has been credited with reducing the number of children and teen smokers by 300,000.
We believe that if the truth® campaign continues for another five years (2009-2014) with similar effectiveness, there will be up to 500,000 fewer youth smokers with savings of up to $9.0 billion in future medical costs.
The Commission based its analysis on the findings of the study presented in the May 2009 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, which found that the decrease in the number of youth who initiated smoking as a result of truth® during the period of 2000–2002 may result in averting up to $5.4 billion in future medical costs.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of young smokers will die prematurely from smoking-related diseases. Since 80% of adult smokers began using tobacco products before the age of 18, the hundreds of thousands of children who opt not to smoke because of their exposure to truth® will almost certainly not become adult smokers.
“Ending smoking by American children and teens is crucial to the health and cost of healthcare to our nation. The truth® campaign provides a return on investment that would make the greediest corporate CEOs salivate. The truth® campaign is one of the most effective investments in the history of public health,” said Joseph A. Califano, Jr., Commission Chairman and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare who started the national anti-smoking campaign in 1978. “truth® is the only national smoking prevention campaign not directed by the tobacco industry which exposes the tactics of the tobacco industry, the truth about addiction, and the health effects and social consequences of smoking.”
The American Legacy Foundation’s life-saving truth® campaign is the largest national youth smoking prevention campaign and an extraordinary public health story. The campaign is a national peer-to-peer intervention that works. In its first two years, truth® was responsible for 22% of the overall decline in youth smoking—a decrease which represents approximately 300,000 fewer smokers. Peer reviewed studies, both old and new, underscore that truth® can inoculate teens against tobacco addiction. The truth® campaign’s successes are unassailable.
Source : Citizens Commission to Protect the Truth April 19, 2009


According to details given by the NHS, there has been a 65 per cent increase in people receiving treatment for cocaine addiction in UK. These are teenagers which is cause of concern.
These figures correspond to the announcement by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) earlier. It was found by an NHS study, conducted by the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse, that the number these teenagers has doubled since 2005.
It was reported that users were combining cocaine with alcohol that causes more damage to the heart and makes users more violent. It was noticed that a six-month treatment treated four in 10 people and they were no longer addicted, but several left the treatment midway.
In England, about 12,354 people were treated for cocaine addiction last year. Between 2005-06 and 2008-09 a rise was seen in the number of people coming for treatment and the figures increased from 453 to 745, and the number of 18- to 24-year-olds doubled from 1,586 to 3,005.
The chairman of the ACMD, Professor Les Iversen stated, “The figures were deeply concerning.”
The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats both stated that a change was needed in the government’s approach to tackling addiction.

Source: www.topnews.net.nz 3rdMarch 2010

A new American study suggests that parental monitoring can help bring down the cases of marijuana use by adolescents.
Psychologists Andrew Lac and William Crano of the Claremont Graduate University examined various studies to find the connection between parental monitoring (when parents know where their children are, what company are they in and what they are doing) and adolescent marijuana use.
Lac and Crano selected 17 studies containing data on over 35,000 participants. They assessed parental monitoring on the basis of admissions made by adolescent themselves and not their parents’ reports of keeping an eye on their children. The researchers found a strong link between parental monitoring and the decreased use of marijuana by adolescents.
The authors write: “Our review suggests that parents are far from irrelevant, even when it comes to an illegal and often secretive behavior on the part of their children.” They also believe that their analysis might come in handy for marijuana-prevention programs that are aimed at parents.
The findings of the review have been published in the latest issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. (ANI)

Source: Health Wise November 17th, 2009

A new Australian study suggests that parental encouragement leads to alcoholism in teenagers. The latest MBF Healthwatch survey found that 63percent of Aussies in the higher income bracket approve of alcohol consumption by 15 to 17 year olds at home under the eyes of parents.
“Our survey suggests many Australians believe it’s acceptable to buy alcohol for teenagers and allow them to drink under parental supervision at home,” Bupa Australia Chief Medical Officer, Dr Christine Bennett, said.
Dr Bennett continued: “Some parents may think this is harmless; some may see this approach as a way to teach their teenage children about socially responsible drinking. But we want parents to understand that early exposure may actually be doing them damage. “Evidence suggests that the earlier the age that alcohol is introduced, the greater the risk of long-term alcohol related health problems.
“Binge drinking in young people is on the rise. Too much alcohol impairs young people’s judgement, which can lead to violence, injury and build a pattern of use that leads to lifetime dependence. “It’s shocking to think that one teenager a week dies of alcohol abuse. We teach children about the harmful effects of smoking, unsafe sex and taking illicit drugs, but we also need to teach them about the damage that alcohol can do.”
The survey also found that people’s acceptance of supervised underage drinking was closely related to their income levels. Nearly 63percent people earning over 100,000 dollars approved supervised drinking; 53percent people with incomes between 70,001 to 100,000 dollars were comfortable with the idea followed by 48percent people getting paychecks ranging from 40,001 to 70,000 dollars.
Dr Bennett added: “Given that social drinking is a common part of the Australian culture, our challenge is to help our young people learn how to enjoy alcohol in a socially responsible way and protect them from harm now and in the long-term.
“That will mean educating young people about the risks of underage drinking and, as parents and a community, being good role models.”

Source: Health News Dec. 3rd 2009

Filed under: Alcohol,Australia,Parents,Youth :

Children, whose parents allow them to have alcohol at home in a bid to teach responsible drinking, drink even more outside of home, a new study claims.
A study of 428 Dutch families has found that teens who drank under their parents’ watch or on their own were at a greater risk of developing alcohol-related problems. The researchers insists that the study puts into question the advice of some experts who recommend that parents drink with their teenage children with the aim of limiting their drinking outside of the home.
Dr. Haske van der Vorst, the lead researcher on the study, said: “The idea is generally based on common sense. For example, the thinking is that if parents show good behavior-here, modest drinking-then the child will copy it. Another assumption is that parents can control their child’s drinking by drinking with the child.” Every family, which was quizzed, had two children between the ages of 13 and 15. Parents and teens completed questionnaires on drinking habits at the outset and again one and two years later.
The researchers found that, in general, the more teens drank at home, the more they tended to drink elsewhere; the reverse was also true, with out-of-home drinking leading to more drinking at home.
In addition, teens who drank more often, whether in or out of the home, tended to score higher on a measure of problem drinking two years later.
Haske van der Vorst, of Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands concluded: “I would advise parents to prohibit their child from drinking, in any setting or on any occasion. “If parents want to reduce the risk that their child will become a heavy drinker or problem drinker in adolescence, they should try to postpone the age at which their child starts drinking.” (ANI)

Source: Health News. Jan 28th 2010

Filed under: Alcohol,Europe,Parents,Youth :

Background: Prevention interventions that focus on the impact of social influences, making healthy choices, and promoting anti-substance abusing norms have proven effective in reducing adolescent drug use. The school-based drug abuse prevention program Life Skills Training (LST) teaches a variety of cognitive-behavioral skills for problem-solving and decisionmaking, resisting media influences, managing stress and anxiety, communicating effectively, developing healthy personal relationships, and asserting one’s rights. Researchers wanted to know if these strategies may also be successfully applied to combat adolescent delinquency, verbal and physical aggression, and fighting.

Study Design: Researchers introduced LST to 2,374 students in 20 New York City public and parochial schools, and established a comparable control group. Sample composition was 39 percent African-American, 33 percent Hispanic, 10 percent White; 55 percent economically disadvantaged; and 30 percent living in mother-only households.

What They Found: After 15 school-based sessions, delinquency and frequent fighting were significantly reduced across the entire intervention group.

Comments from the Authors: This study supports the idea that multiple problem behaviors may have common causes. It further suggests that the development of comprehensive, integrated school-based approaches to prevention may more efficiently target an array of related behaviors, thereby reducing the burden on resources and increasing the likelihood for adoption and implementation.

What’s Next: More research is needed to test the durability of the LST approach. It would also be useful to determine if these strategies can prevent more serious forms of violence, such as assault and homicide.

Publication: The study, led by Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin of the Department of Public Health at Weill Cornell University Medical College, was published in volume 7, pages 403-408 (2006) of Prevention Science.

Source: NIDA 27th Aug.2007

Oct 8, 2007 in alcohol, hospital
Tags: risky drinking, teenage binge drinking
The Telegraph:
One in seven people taken to hospital for drinking too much in the past year was under 14 years old, according to new figures.
A total of 2,239 under-14s were given treatment in A&E suffering from the effects of alcohol over the past 12 months, a study found – one in seven of the total under 59 admitted.
The revelations about the scale of underage drinking led to renewed calls for a clampdown on alcohol advertising seemingly targeted at children.
The last time The Telegraph looked at this issue (February 2007) they found there were 7,596 admissions involving 16- to 19-year-olds. The Guardian in June this year were reporting “that last year 5,280 children younger than 16 were admitted because of their drinking – of whom 59% were girls”. Previously (November 2006) the BBC had said they had found out there were “20 cases a day of under-18s diagnosed with conditions like alcohol poisoning.”

Source: Daily Dose 13th Oct.2007

Filed under: Alcohol,Youth :

In this national fellowship report, project directors from the first 10 Reclaiming Futures sites share the lessons they learned in creating and implementing a model for helping teens in trouble overcome drugs, alcohol and crime.

The directors offer specific steps for planning and instigating the changes, provide real-life examples from diverse communities across the nation, and provide a road map for communities to adopt the six-step model all at once or one step at a time.

The report recommends screening each teen for drug and alcohol problems, assessing the severity of his/her drug and alcohol use, providing prompt access to a treatment plan coordinated by a service team; and connecting the teen with employers, mentors, and volunteer service projects.

The report describes how judges, probation officers, treatment specialists, families and community members can take steps right now to improve the future of these youth.

Upon completion of a brief survey, the full report is available as a PDF to download at no cost.

http://www.reclaimingfutures.org/?q=judicial_report_survey&reportname=ProjectDirectors

Publication Year: 2007

Publisher

Reclaiming Futures
Portland State University
527 SW Hall, Suite 400
Portland, or 97201
Phone: 503.725.8911
Website: http://www.reclaimingfutures.org

Filed under: Addiction,Youth :

Children and adolescents who abuse alcohol or are sexually active are more likely to take methamphetamines (MA), also known as ‘meth’ or ‘speed’. New research reveals the risk factors associated with MA use, in both low-risk children (those who don’t take drugs) and high-risk children (those who have taken other drugs or who have ever attended juvenile detention centres).

MA is a stimulant, usually smoked, snorted or injected. It produces sensations of euphoria, lowered inhibitions, feelings of invincibility, increased wakefulness, heightened sexual experiences, and hyperactivity resulting from increased energy for extended periods of time. According to the lead author of this study, Terry P. Klassen of the University of Alberta, Canada, “MA is produced, or ‘cooked’, quickly, reasonably simply, and cheaply by using legal and readily available ingredients with recipes that can be found on the internet”.
Because of the low cost, ready availability and legal status of the drug, long-term use can be a serious problem. In order to assess the risk factors that are associated with people using MA, Klassen and his team carried out an analysis of twelve different medical studies, combining their results to get a bigger picture of the MA problem. They said, “Within the low-risk group, there were some clear patterns of risk factors associated with MA use. A history of engaging in behaviors such as sexual activity, alcohol consumption and smoking was significantly associated with MA use among low-risk youth. Engaging in these kinds of behaviors may be a gateway for MA use or vice versa. A homosexual or bisexual lifestyle is also a risk factor.”
Amongst high-risk youth, the risk factors the authors identified were, “growing up in an unstable family environment (e.g., family history of crime, alcohol use and drug use) and having received treatment for psychiatric conditions. Among high-risk youth, being female was also a risk factor”.

Source: BMC Pediatrics (2008, October 29). Methamphetamine Abuse Linked To Underage Sex, Smoking And Drinking. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 12, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com

By LINDSAY McINTOSH

THE antisocial effects of underage drinking are felt by communities across Scotland, with some areas becoming no-go zones on Friday and Saturday nights as a result.
But the real cost of the country’s child drink shame is human, with some youngsters killing themselves with booze.

Just over a year ago, the body of schoolgirl Naomi Thomson was found at a friend’s house in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire.
Her death certificate says the fatality is “unexplained”, but it lists “probable acute alcohol intoxication”. It is believed the 14-year-old drank herself to death at a sleepover party.

In February 2002, Craig Ritchie, 13, died after taking part in a secret drinking session with friends. He choked on his own vomit and suffered a heart attack. He was admitted to hospital in a coma and was declared dead ten days later. The pupil at Aberdeen’s Kincorth Academy had been drinking cider with a group of friends in Cove on the city’s outskirts.

In December 2005, two 13-year-old girls were found drunk and unconscious on a snow-covered street after going to an under-18s disco. One was on the brink of death when police officers discovered the scantily clad girls in Westhill, Aberdeenshire. The teenager did not come round for six hours after being treated for hypothermia and alcohol intoxication at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

Earlier this month, two girls of the same age were found on the streets in “mortal danger”, according to police. The pair had handed over their pocket money to a man to buy them alcohol from an off- licence in Livingston. Police said they could have lost their way and fallen unconscious which, combined with the cold weather, might have had fatal consequences. During an eight-hour blitz on the town, officers found six “heavily drunk” youths and took them to the police station to sober them up.

The definition of “under-age” sank to a shocking low this October, when community wardens in Cowie, Stirlingshire, caught a boy of seven swigging from a bottle of strong cider. Alcohol campaigners said the youngster could have died if he had drunk the whole one-litre bottle.

Wardens said they found young people openly drinking in the village streets, in flagrant disregard of local by-laws.

Jack Law, chief executive of the Alcohol Focus Scotland charity, said at the time: “Under-age drinking is a massive problem in Scotland, but we are obviously shocked at the age of this child. “There is evidence children find it relatively easy to access alcohol from adults. But these people need to realise there could be serious consequences.”

Under-age drinking is not only a pastime of children from deprived backgrounds. In the summer of 2000, Euan Blair, 16-year-old son of then-prime minister Tony Blair, was held for being drunk and incapable in Trafalgar Square. An ambulance was called for the teenager, as police were worried about his condition. He had been vomiting but did not require hospital treatment. The youngster had been at a post-exam celebration and gave a false name and address to police but was released without charge.
Source: The Scotsman 27 December 2007

Filed under: Alcohol,Youth :

Current figures underestimate the number of children who may be at risk of harm from parental substance use. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Public Health have generated new estimates using five national surveys which include measures of binge, hazardous and dependent drinking, illicit drug use and mental health.

Previous UK estimates were that 250-350,000 children live with problem drug users and 780,000 – 1.3 million with problem drinkers. However, the problem, according to the researchers, is that “these estimates are based on drug users in treatment or derive from problem drinking estimates in other countries.” The study, funded by Action on Addiction and the Wates Foundation and conducted by Dr Victoria Manning and colleagues at the National Addiction Centre, entailed a secondary analysis of national household surveys that enabled a focus on parenting and substance use. The new figures indicate that approximately 3.4 million children in the UK live with at least one binge drinking parent, 2.6 million with a hazardous drinker and around one million with a parent who uses illicit drugs.
Manning said: “In order to meet the needs of both parental substance misusers and their children, we first need to understand the true nature and scale of the problem. Without knowing the number of potentially at-risk families, we are unable to assist them until they come to the attention of agencies at crisis point.”
Around 335,000 children were estimated to be living with a drug dependent user, 72,000 with an injecting drug user, and 108,000 with an adult who had overdosed. The authors suggest the risk of harm may increase for the 500,000 children living with parents who have both mental health and substance misuse problems. According to Manning, “Whilst harm from parental substance use is not inevitable, we need to raise awareness of how recreational substance use, and in particular binge episodes, can affect parenting capacity. Substance use affects our judgement, emotions and how we respond to situations. Parental substance misuse can lead to inadequate child monitoring, modelling behaviour and poor standards of child care.”
The authors encourage the involvement of mainstream services to support vulnerable families by improving access to treatment, family interventions and parenting skills training to minimize the risk of harm.

Source: Victoria Manning, David W Best, Nathan Faulkner and Emily Titherington. New estimates of the number of children living with substance misusing parents: results from UK national household surveys. BMC Public Health, 2009;

As frequency of family dinners increases, reported drinking, smoking and drug use decreases.Compared to teens who have frequent family dinners (five to seven family dinners per week), those who have infrequent family dinners (fewer than three per week) are twice as likely to have used tobacco or marijuana, and more than one and a half times likelier to have used alcohol.

The relationship between the frequency of family dinners and substance use is especially strong among the youngest teens in the survey.

Compared to 12- and 13-year olds who have five to seven family dinners per week, those who have fewer than three family dinners per week are six times likelier to have used marijuana, four times likelier to have used tobacco, and three times likelier to have used alcohol.

Source: www.casacolumbia.org Sept.2009

Nearly one in two teenagers knows someone who has suffered from a mental health problem like paranoia after using cannabis, a survey suggests.Forty-two percent of 11-18 year olds know someone who has experienced memory loss, panic attacks or paranoia from cannabis, drugs information service Frank said.

The survey of 27,000 teenagers found 74% were aware of the risks.

It revealed 18% of teenagers felt under pressure to try the Class B drug.

One in ten thought it made them look cool.

The research, which was carried out on networking website Habbo Hotel, found 64% of young people were aware cannabis could cause panic attacks, 41% knew it could bring on paranoia and 38% thought it could result in memory loss.

Over 50% of teenagers associated cannabis use with losing motivation and doing badly at school or college.

But one in four said they saw cannabis as a “natural” drug, despite the risks.

And 14% of 11-18 year olds admitted using the drug to help them to cope with life.

Chris Hudson, from Frank, said: “The majority of teenagers (55%) don’t want to risk their health by using cannabis, however, some people choose to take the risk; while others wrongly believe cannabis is harmless because it is a plant.

“Cannabis messes with your mind – and reactions can be more powerful with stronger strains such as skunk, which is around twice as potent,” he warned.

Source: BBC Newsbeat 6th Aug.2009

Published: May 13, 2008 at 1:23 PM
COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 13 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say getting homeless youth off of alcohol and drugs is hard unless basic needs are met first.
The study, published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, concludes homeless youth — linked to the street subculture — can be brought back into society through education, employment and other activities that strengthen social ties. Those with the most social stability — such as those who attended school more often or those who had a job — were most likely to reduce their homeless days over a six-month period.

While youth who had a history of abuse or mental health problems were more likely to become homeless, those same characteristics didn’t predict teens and young adults getting off the street six months later.

“It looks like the predictors of homelessness might be different than the predictors of exiting homelessness,” lead author Natasha Slesnick of Ohio State University said in a statement. “So that means prevention targets should be different from intervention targets.”

The study, conducted between 2001 and 2005, interviewed 180 homeless youth between ages 14 and 22 at New Mexico drop-in centers.
 

 

DALLAS — June 3, 2008 — Young adults who abuse amphetamines may be at greater risk of suffering a heart attack, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have found.In the study, available online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers examined data from more than 3 million people between 18 and 44 years old hospitalized from 2000 through 2003 in Texas and found a relationship between a diagnosis of amphetamine abuse and heart attack.

Individual case reports have suggested a link between heart attack and amphetamine abuse, but this is believed to be the first epidemiological study of a large group of people on the issue, said Dr. Arthur Westover, assistant professor of psychiatry at
UT Southwestern and the study’s lead author.
  
“Most people aren’t surprised that methamphetamines and amphetamines are bad for your health,” Dr. Westover said. “But we are concerned because heart attacks in the young are rare and can be very debilitating or deadly.”

Amphetamines are stimulants that can be used to treat medical conditions such as attention-deficient disorder. They are illegally abused as recreational drugs or performance enhancers.

The researchers note that abuse of methamphetamine, a type of amphetamine often sold illegally, is increasing in most major U.S. cities.

In Texas, the researchers found greater amphetamine abuse in the north and Panhandle regions.

“This paper sounds a warning to amphetamine abusers, alerts emergency department personnel to look for amphetamine abuse in young heart attack patients, and it allows us to focus preventive efforts in geographical areas where the problems are greatest,” said Dr. Robert W. Haley, chief of epidemiology at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study. Dr. Haley holds the U.S. Armed Forces Veterans Distinguished Chair for Medical Research, Honoring America’s Gulf War Veterans.
“We’re also concerned that the number of amphetamine-related heart attacks could be increasing,” Dr. Westover said. “We’d rather raise the warning flag now than later. Hopefully, we can decrease the number of people who suffer heart attacks as the result of amphetamine abuse.”
Amphetamines may contribute to heart attacks by increasing heart rate and blood pressure and by causing inflammation and artery spasms that limit blood to the heart muscle. More research is needed to determine the exact mechanism of how amphetamines work on the heart, he said.
The current research could help doctors determine the cause of heart attacks in young adults, as well as treatment. Doctors recognizing an amphetamine-caused heart attack might choose not to administer a beta-blocker medication, a common treatment for heart attack, because it could interact with methamphetamine to make the heart attack worse.

The results could have broad implications in the general population, Dr. Westover said. Texas ranks 27th among all states in use of methamphetamine among 18- to 25-year-old adults, according to a 2006 government report.

“We’re talking about a state that is near the middle of prevalence of methamphetamine use in the United States, so it’s possible that the number of heart attacks in young adults in other states with a much higher prevalence of amphetamine abuse may be higher as well,” said Dr. Westover, who is a National Institutes of Health Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Scholar at UT Southwestern.
Dr. Paul Nakonezny, assistant professor of clinical sciences and psychiatry at
UT Southwestern, was also involved in the study.

The work was supported by a North and Central Texas Clinical and Translational Science Initiative grant from the National Center for Research Resources, a component of the National Institutes of Health.

Source: www.utsouthwestern.edu June 3rd 2008

 

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The earlier a young person uses marijuana the greater the risk for mental health problems later in life, the director of National Drug Control Policy said Tuesday, basing his conclusion on a survey of medical research.
 
“We’re trying to get out the word that the last 10 years of research have helped to alert us to the use of marijuana in particular is a very dangerous risk for the mental health of our young people,” John Walters said at a news conference.
He said the conclusion runs against popular culture that often considers marijuana a low-risk recreational drug.
Walters cited a government study that found a base rate of mental illness at between 8 percent and 9 percent among Americans 18 and older. For those who use marijuana, he said, “That increases to 12-and-a-half percent.”
And, he added, “For those who have used marijuana prior to age 12, the rate of mental illness jumps to 21 percent.”
The rate was half that, or 10.5 percent, for adults who first used marijuana at age 18 or older.
Those were the findings of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual survey sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Walters did not directly address the possibility of confusing cause and effect — that is, that people with mental problems might be more inclined to use drugs.
One study he cited was published last year in the Archives of General Psychiatry. It involved 600 pairs of same-sex twins, one of whom was dependent on marijuana and one of whom was not. The twin who was dependent was almost three times as likely to think about suicide and attempt suicide than his brother or sister, the study found.
Neil McKeganey, who heads the University of Glasgow’s Center for Drug Misuse Research, was at the press conference in support of Walters.
“It is leading us to look again at this so-called recreational drug,” he said. “Kids who start to use marijuana at a young age are much more likely to suffer serious, long-term mental health problems.”
The parents of a teenager who committed suicide last year were also at the news conference, and they linked their son’s death to his marijuana use.
Tanya Skaggs, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, said, “He had a severe lack of judgment that was because of the marijuana, this destructive behavior was continuing,” in the month