Sometimes when your son or daughter is struggling with substance use, it feels like you’ve tried absolutely everything to help. What if you’ve nearly given up hope?

In this short video, Master Addictions Counselor Mary Ann Badenoch, LPC, offers some new ways to think about opportunities for change. For example, instead of focusing on the end goal, be sure to notice the small victories along the way. This can lead to larger positive change and help you remain hopeful.

Today’s Reality

Even if you smoked pot 20+ years ago without harm, today’s situation is different.  We want our children to avoid marijuana because they care about the risks in marijuana itself.

Here’s the facts for raising your children today:

* Marijuana has been modified since 1994. The THC, which gives the high, is 3-10x stronger in the plants of today.  If a child begins using today’s pot , it’s like to learning to drink with grain alcohol, instead of beer or wine.  Also, youth today frequently use the potent “dabs” “wax” and “budder.”  These are extractions can have 40-80% THC.

* Marijuana is addictive, contrary to a popular myth, particularly with today’s stronger strains of pot.

* In states with medical marijuana, teen usage is much higher than in other states, and many teens who use pot get it from some marijuana cardholders.

* Those who begin in adolescence or their teens, have an addiction rate of 17 percent, as opposed to 9 percent for those who begin using marijuana as an adult. *Emergency Department hospitalizations from marijuana rose from 281,000 to 455,000 between 2004 and 2011, making it 2nd amongst the illegal drugs causing ER treatment.

* Individuals responses to marijuana can be vary greatly, and the potential for paranoia and psychotic reactions are real side effects, omitted in the pot propaganda.

* Marijuana is fat soluble and stays in the body for weeks, which is why some people have flashbacks.

* The  brain, which is 1/3 fat, isn’t fully developed until age 25 or later, and until it is, marijuana can cause irreversible damage.

* Marijuana is not as widely used as alcohol,  6-7% of the adult population, vs.  66% who drink, one reason the comparison doesn’t work. * Marijuana usage causes traffic deaths and it is not safe to combine with driving.

* More teens seek substance abuse treatment for pot than any other legal or illegal substance. * Marijuana is a gateway drug,  because nearly every young person who develops a drug addiction begins with marijuana.  Early pot users such as Robert Downey, Jr. (age 9), and Cameron Douglas  (age 13), prove that the stranglehold of drug addiction lasts for years.

* A multi-year study out of New Zealand, tracking marijuana users and through their mid-30s showed IQs decrease an 6-8 percentage points over time.  Again, we point to the medical studies summarized on this webpage.

* In a recent study, schizophrenics who have used marijuana had an onset of the disease 2-1/2 years earlier than those who did not use marijuana. * Marijuana can trigger psychotic symptoms and/or mental illness, and cognitive decline in youth, more quickly than alcohol, while tobacco does not.

* Since marijuana usage increases the odds of developing a mental illness, expansion of pot will expand mental health treatment needs.

* Efforts to legalize for age 21+  hide the motivation to attract young users and build big profits.  Legal pot mean more young users.

* Marijuana usage is associated with greater risk for testicular cancer in males.

* With universal health care, all of us will pay for the increase in medical care for those needing help from pot abuse.

* The number of pot-related hospitalizations in Colorado accelerated in 2009 and went out of control in the first half of 2014.

* Existing mental health issues, such as ADHD, anxiety and depression, greatly increase the use of drugs for self-medication.

Mental Health, Physical Health Alike

“We cannot promote a comprehensive system of mental health treatment and marijuana legalization, which increases permissiveness for a drug that directly contributes to mental illness,”  states former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, who fought tirelessly on behalf of parity for mental health treatment. Kennedy and policy expert Kevin Sabet promote  Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

* The National Alliance for Mental Illness lists four illegal drugs which cause psychosis: cannabis, LSD, methamphetamine and heroin and two classes of legal drugs, amphetamines and steroids. Pharmaceutical drugs are sold with warnings, while marijuana isn’t.

Sharon Levy, Chairwoman of the American Academy of Paediatrics committee on substance abuse, said “We’re losing the public health battle” and policy is being made by legalization advocates who might be misinformed about marijuana’s dangers.”


I am not a long-time user.  I used casually for about six months, but then suddenly had a terrible experience with marijuana-induced psychosis.   I had moved from a state where is was illegal, to Washington.  A dispensary sold me something incredibly strong just recently, in March.   It was a joint mixed with a marijuana wax- I didn’t even know what that was.  I was SO naive, but there is literally NOTHING out there that lets consumers know that ANYthing even remotely bad can happen.

As long as I didn’t drive under the influence, what could go wrong?   I thought all pot was “safe.”    The irony is that I am nearly 40, a stay-at-home mom with honor roll kids, no history, ZERO history with drug usage, or ANY depression, mental illness etc etc.. NONE.  I never used marijuana before I moved to Washington. I literally just set out to listen to music and unwind while I got the house clean….awaiting the arrival of my husband who was gone on a business trip.   My kids were on Spring break, at a friend’s house.

About halfway through I felt very dizzy and unbalanced… So I thought I just needed to sit down, or maybe eat.. I looked at the glass of wine I had poured… and dumped it in the drain…. Then I had a sudden disturbing image of myself biting THROUGH the wine glass… It came over and over.  Bite the glass….. the words wouldn’t leave my head…. I’m biting glass.  My heart began to race, my hands began to shake. I felt freezing cold, yet was sweating. Then I was feeling a sudden surge of Adrenalin and was panic stricken.  I began having suicidal ideations, in MINUTES…

Shooting Myself and Biting Glass

Over and over and over… shoot yourself… bite through the glass… shoot yourself…and much worse.. it was as if a tape of my worst nightmares were playing over and over and over again in my head…and it was just as physical as it was psychological….. With absolute sincerity, I tell you that I barely made it through that night alive, and even the subsequent days and weeks… I still suffered terrible suicidal ideation……….

NEVER, ever did I have suicidal thoughts or feelings in my life. I am happy, well-adjusted, and a warm, outgoing person with lots of friends and a solid marriage.

Within days I began researching, because I KNEW what I had experienced was from smoking…again, I reiterate, I had nothing else in my system or history to indicate otherwise….and there it was.. All the research indicating that it WAS the pot.. Marijuana-induced psychosis is a proven thing and all too common. There is ZERO safety put in place in these recreational pot stores.  They don’t warn a consumer about strength, concentration or side effects.  It as if you are buying a glass of milk to them!! I later found out that marijuana wax is known as a “dab” and I am still unsure of what they really are…

No Warnings Against Psychosis! The ER in Olympia Washington sees on average TWO cases of marijuana-induced psychosis a DAY!! Yet we don’t hear of this!? Why not? I would have NEVER tried any medicine or drink that could even remotely do this to me, but thought I was using something as harmless as a glass of wine because they say it is.   I can’t even fully describe the horror of that night as it’s very, very hard to revisit. Thank you for warning people.  I am glad I was able to use some of the resources and information you have shared to help recover…….People need to know.  Marijuana can be deadly.   I almost lost everything to very casual use.

I am lucky to have health insurance and lucky that my husband could be with me.  My husband had to take an entire week off to stay home with me! Again how fortunate I am and I’m in the position to have someone that could do that.

I am lucky in that I am NOT an addict or addicted to it. So not using isn’t an issue….. I would never smoke pot again, but the suicidal ideation was so intense and such a terrible and traumatic experience…. It is hard to describe how horrific it is was and I’d rather be tortured than ever experience that again…. I just never thought that was even possible….    From BK, Washington


Please share this post with every concerned parent you know! The Parents Against Pot website has many very useful and interesting articles and testimonies and we would thoroughly recommend anyone interested in the arguments for and against the use of marijuana (pot) to log on to:



To evaluate the association between drug use and parenting styles perceived by Brazilian adolescent children.


This cross-sectional study enrolled adolescents aged 14 to 19 years that used the Serviço Nacional de Orientações e Informações sobre a Prevenção do Uso Indevido de Drogas (VIVAVOZ). A total of 232 adolescents participated in the study. Phone interviews were conducted using the Parental Responsiveness and Demandingness Scale, which classifies maternal and paternal styles perceived by adolescent children as authoritative, neglectful, indulgent or authoritarian. Socio demographic variables were collected and an instrument was used to assess monthly drug use and abuse.


Maternal and paternal parenting styles perceived as neglectful, indulgent or authoritarian (non-authoritative) were significantly associated with drug use (odds ratio [OR] = 2.8; 95% confidence interval [95%CI], 1.3-5.7 for mothers and OR = 2.8; 95%CI, 1.3-6.3 for fathers). Non-authoritative styles also had a significant association with tobacco use in the previous month in the analysis of maternal (OR = 2.7; 95%CI, 1.2-6.5) and paternal (OR = 3.9; 95%CI, 1.4-10.7) styles, and use of cocaine/crack in the previous month (OR = 3.9; 95%CI, 1.1-13.8) and abuse of any drug (OR = 2.2; 95%CI, 1.0-5.1) only for the paternal style. Logistic regression revealed that maternal style (OR = 3.3; 95%CI, 1.1-9.8), adolescent sex (OR = 3.2; 95%CI, 1.5-7.2) and age (OR = 2.8; 95%CI, 1.2-6.2) were associated with drug use.


Adolescents that perceived their mothers as non-authoritative had greater chances of using drugs. There was a strong association between non-authoritative paternal styles and adolescent drug abuse. PMID:  21556486   DOI:   doi:10.2223/JPED.2089

Source:  J Pediatr (Rio J). 2011 May-Jun 8;87(3):238-44.doi:10.2223/JPED.2089. Epub 2011.

Filed under: Parents,Social Affairs :



The social developmental processes by which child maltreatment increases risk for marijuana use are understudied. This study examined hypothesized parent and peer pathways linking preschool abuse and sexual abuse with adolescent and adult marijuana use.


Analyses used data from the Lehigh Longitudinal Study. Measures included child abuse (physical abuse, emotional abuse, domestic violence, and neglect) in preschool, sexual abuse up to age 18, adolescent (average age=18years) parental attachment and peer marijuana approval/use, as well as adolescent and adult (average age=36years) marijuana use.


Confirming elevated risk due to child maltreatment, path analysis showed that sexual abuse was positively related to adolescent marijuana use, whereas preschool abuse was positively related to adult marijuana use. In support of mediation, it was found that both forms of maltreatment were negatively related to parental attachment, which was negatively related, in turn, to having peers who use and approve of marijuana use. Peer marijuana approval/use was a strong positive predictor of adolescent marijuana use, which was a strong positive predictor, in turn, of adult marijuana use.


Results support social developmental theories that hypothesize a sequence of events leading from child maltreatment experiences to lower levels of parental attachment and, in turn, higher levels of involvement with pro-marijuana peers and, ultimately, to both adolescent and adult marijuana use. This sequence of events suggests developmentally-timed intervention activities designed to prevent maltreatment as well as the initiation and progression of marijuana use among vulnerable individuals.

Source:  Addict Behav. 2016 Nov 17;66:70-75. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.11.013. 

A new study by researchers at the University of Rochester sheds light on how parents and caregivers of children with foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) can best help their kids achieve to the best of their abilities, and at the same time, maintain peace at home and at school.

Children with FASD often have problems with executive functioning, including deficiencies in impulse control and task planning, information processing, emotion regulation, and social and adaptive skills. Young people with FASD are at high risk for school disruptions and getting into trouble with the law.

The study involved 31 parents and caregivers of children with FASD ages four through eight. The research team looked at data taken from standardized questionnaires and qualitative interviews that focused on parenting practices.

The findings reveal that parents of children with FASD who attribute their child’s misbehavior to their underlying disabilities — rather than to wilful disobedience — are more likely to use pre-emptive strategies designed to help prevent undesirable behaviors.

Given the brain damage associated with FASD, pre-emptive strategies are typically more effective than incentive-based strategies, such as the use of consequences or punishment for misbehavior.   The study shows that educating families and caregivers about the disorder is critical.

“Children with FASD often have significant behavior problems due to neurological damage,” said Dr. Christie Petrenko, a research psychologist at the University’s Mt. Hope Family Center.   She adds that parents who use pre-emptive strategies “change the environment in a way that fits their child’s needs better. They give one-step instructions rather than three-steps because their child has working memory issues.”

“They may buy clothes with soft seams if their child has sensory issues, or post stop signs to cue the child to not open the door. All of these preventive strategies help reduce the demands of the environment on the child,” said Petrenko.

The findings also reveal that parenting practices correlate with levels of caregiver confidence and frustration.   Families of children with FASD are frequently judged and blamed for their children’s misbehavior. However, parents who are successful in preventing unwanted behaviors have greater confidence in their parenting skills and lower levels of frustration with their children than parents who respond to unwanted behaviors with consequences after the fact.

Petrenko and her team at Mt. Hope Family Center are continuing to test new parenting strategies and interventions in order to identify which practices are most effective.


As a parent and grandparent, I believe legalizing recreational marijuana would result in serious harm to public health and safety, and urge my fellow Californians to vote “No” on Proposition 64 on Nov. 8.

Marijuana is a complicated issue. I support its medicinal use and have introduced federal legislation to make it easier to research and potentially bring marijuana-derived medicines to the market with FDA approval.

I also recognize that our nation’s failure to treat drug addiction as a public health issue has resulted in broken families and overcrowded prisons. That’s why I support the sentencing reform that would reduce the use of mandatory minimum sentences in certain drug crimes, give judges more flexibility to set sentences and promote treatment programs to address the underlying addiction.

But Proposition 64 would allow marijuana of any strength to be sold. It could make it easier for children to access marijuana and marijuana-infused foods. It could add to the already exorbitant costs of treating addiction. And it does not do enough to keep stoned drivers, including minors, off the roads.

With 25 million drivers in our state, that should set off alarm bells. While we do not fully understand how marijuana affects an individual’s driving ability, we do know that it significantly impacts judgment, motor coordination and reaction time.

In Washington, deaths in marijuana-related car crashes have more than doubled since legalization. In Colorado, 21 percent of 2015 traffic deaths were marijuana-related, double the rate five years earlier – before marijuana was legalized.

In California, even without recreational legalization, fatalities caused by drivers testing positive for marijuana increased by nearly 17 percent from 2005 to 2014. While the presence of marijuana does not prove causation, these numbers are concerning. A study on drugged driving and roadside tests to detect impairment required by Proposition 64 should be completed before, not after, legalization goes into effect.

Proposition 64 does not limit the strength of marijuana that could be sold. Since 1995, levels of THC – the psychoactive component of marijuana – have tripled. Increased strength can increase the risk of adverse health effects, ranging from hallucinations to uncontrollable vomiting.

We’ve already seen examples of harm. This summer in San Francisco, 13 children, one only 6 years old, were taken to hospitals after ingesting marijuana-infused candy – a product permitted under Proposition 64.

The combination of unlimited strength and the ability to sell marijuana-edibles should concern all parents. So should the risk of increased youth access. Age restrictions don’t prevent youths from using alcohol; marijuana will not be any different.

Nearly 10 million Californians are under age 18. Studies show that marijuana may cause damage to developing brains, and one in six adolescents who uses marijuana becomes addicted.

While more research on prolonged use is needed, a large-scale study found that people who began using heavily as teens and developed an addiction lost up to eight IQ points, which were not recoverable.

This means that a child of average intelligence could end up a child of below-average intelligence, a lifelong consequence.

The proposition could also allow children to see marijuana advertisements, making it more enticing for them to experiment.

In fact, Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang ruled that Proposition 64 “could roll back” the prohibition of smoking ads on television. Even though it is against federal law, the proposition explicitly permits television and other advertisements, provided that three in four audience members are “reasonably expected” to be adults.

We need criminal justice reform and a renewed focus on treatment. But legalizing marijuana is not the answer, particularly in the nation’s largest state. Proposition 64 fails to adequately address the public health and safety consequences associated with recreational marijuana use.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is the senior senator from California.


In the spring of 2013, Neighborhoods Against Substance Abuse, Inc. (NASA) in Greenfield, Indiana, knew that it had an escalating problem on its hands. Alcohol, tobacco, prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, and marijuana use were all on the rise among its youth in Hancock County, the coalition’s service area. One major concern was the inconsistent enforcement of underage drinking laws and school policies countywide. So NASA decided to create an Underage Drinking Task Force, a partnership of law enforcement agencies, schools, probation, judges, the prosecutor’s office, and the coalition to help rectify the situation.

“Together we examined the problem from the perspective of each of the stakeholders, and then we developed common goals and practices,” explains Tim Retherford, Executive Director of NASA. “What this did was to unify the County’s underage drinking efforts so that it was treated consistently.”

With a population of 72,000, Hancock County consists of several small cities and towns; Greenfield, the County Seat has 21,000 residents. The county also has four public school corporations, including four public high schools with about 4,000 students. Although Hancock County is just 30 minutes from Indianapolis, it is primarily a rural, farmland community.

With reducing underage drinking as its primary goal, the Task Force created a broad range of initiatives.  Among them:

* An MOU signed by all eight law enforcement departments, making policies dealing with underage drinking uniform countywide; Indiana State Police signed the MOU as well.

* The Underage Drinking Task Force established a group of police officers (from the eight departments and the State Police) who work overtime to enforce underage drinking in Hancock County

* Enforcement of underage drinking laws now uniformly imposed, including zero tolerance laws

* Overtime payment for Underage Drinking Task Force police paid for by local funds and by Justice Assistance Grants (JAGs) from the state of Indiana

* Regular “Party Patrols” by Underage Drinking Task Force police across the county

* Agreement by Hancock County’s school corporations to impose consistent consequences and penalties for youth caught drinking

* For youth caught drinking, County Probation Department requires them to attend an alcohol educational class and complete community service and a brief assessment is conducted by a treatment professional (if it is determined necessary) who is a probation officer and who can recommend further treatment by a local alcohol treatment office

Data shows that enormous progress has been made. For example, in a study prepared by the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University, in June of 2013, 34.1 percent of Hancock County’s high school seniors, said that they had consumed alcohol during the previous 30 days, compared with 22.3 percent in 2014; 21.1 percent in 2015; and 19.7 percent in 2016. Furthermore, from 2013-14, there were 123 Underage Drinking Task Force arrests, and from 2015-16, there were just 52.

NASA is also working on many other fronts, including involving youth to develop innovative ways to communicate its substance use messages.

“Our Youth Council is one important key to our continued success, as they know best how to design messages to their peers,” Retherford says. “For example, they let us know they want to learn in a fun, interactive way.”

So NASA has brought entertaining, motivational speakers to the middle and high schools. Among them was Craig Tornquist, an Indiana stand-up comic. Dressed in his best “Elvis” garb for part of his presentation, he talked to students about the dangers and consequences of alcohol and drugs, and how substance use can ruin lives, calling attention to celebrities such as Robin Williams, Prince, and Whitney Houston.

The teens also coordinated a “being in the majority campaign.” As a part of that, they designed baseball card-size cards with statistics about the numbers of students who don’t do drugs or drink alcohol.

The coalition also uses different strategies to communicate its message to adults in Hancock County. For this population, it has developed a traditional media campaign using TV and print ads in the local newspaper. One TV ad featured a dozen teenagers saying individually, “I am one.” The camera then pulls out to reveal the entire group, and they all say, “We’re one of 65 percent of the youth in our community who don’t use drugs.”

Recently, the coalition also brought a representative from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area to Greenfield to meet with professionals in the county to discuss the effect legalization of marijuana has had on Colorado. “We are doing everything we can,” added Retherford. “Beginning with working with so many partners in our community, to create a safer place to raise our families.”

Source:   22nd September 2016A

Filed under: Education Sector,Parents,USA :

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:  26th August 2014

Dakof G.A., Cohen J.B., Henderson C.E. et al.

Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment: 2010, 38, p. 263–274..

US researchers may have found a better way to support mothers at risk of losing custody of their children so they engage in and benefit from substance use treatment and meet family court requirements, meaning more children can safely stay with their parents.

SUMMARY The family environment of the children of problem substance users is often compromised by instability, neglect, and poor parenting. Improving parental functioning – especially reducing substance use – makes children safer and improves child welfare outcomes. However, substance use treatment completion rates among parents who come into contact with the child welfare system are low. For solutions to these problems, many communities have turned to family drug courts. Adapted from the adult drug court model, family drug courts were established to enhance the effectiveness of child welfare agencies by increasing enrolment and retention in substance use treatment, motivating parents to address their addiction, and coordinating the many services needed to stabilise families. Unlike typical drug courts, these courts do not operate in the criminal justice system, most participants are women, and the court addresses the dual issues of parental addiction/recovery and child safety and custody. Most family drug courts employ court counsellors who refer clients to substance use treatment and other services, develop a recovery plan, and monitor and report clients’ ongoing progress to the court.


Key points 

Family drug courts aim to enhance the effectiveness of child welfare agencies by promoting engagement in substance use treatment, motivating parents to address their addiction, and coordinating the services needed to stabilise families. 

To further promote treatment engagement and family court compliance of mothers facing loss of custody of their children, a programme was developed for court counsellors which involved the mother’s family and other significant figures in their lives. 

Compared to a more typical case management role, the tested programme led to more mothers retaining their parental rights and greater improvements in substance use, health, family functioning, and risk of child abuse. 

However, samples were small and by the end of the study several of the differences between the two sets of mothers were also small. 

The Engaging Moms Program – the focus of this study – is a family-oriented intervention shown to have succeeded in its objectives of facilitating treatment entry and short-term retention among mothers of infants who have been exposed to parental substance use. It was then adapted for use in a family drug court context and (relative to usual case management services) found in a non-randomised trial to improve completion of the drug court programme (72% versus 38%) and the proportion of mothers reunited with their children (70% versus 40%). Although the results were encouraging, this study had several limitations, leading to the current randomised trial comparing in a family drug court context the effectiveness of the Engaging Moms Program versus intensive case management of the kind recommended for such courts.

During the recruitment period of the trial, 62 of the 69 mothers who attended a family drug court in Miami in the USA agreed to join the study. They averaged 30 years of age, were mainly black or Hispanic, poor, unemployed and poorly educated. Just 1 in 10 were married. As children, many had been victims of physical and sexual abuse and most currently suffered serious mental health problems. They used a mixture of drugs including alcohol and cocaine and averaged about three lifetime arrests.

Mothers in the study were subject to the usual 12–15 month regimen of court hearings, supervision and support. Additionally, court counsellors were specially trained and supervised to deliver one of the programmes being compared as alternative ways to engage and retain these mothers in substance treatment and improve child and parental outcomes. The 62 women were randomly selected such that equal numbers were allocated to the Engaging Moms option or the comparator.

Neither option was a treatment in its own right, but sought to promote treatment entry, retention and benefit, as well as satisfactory completion of the drug court programme. Intensive case management counsellors aimed to develop a strong therapeutic relationship with the mother, assess her needs, plan support, link her to services, monitor progress, and advocate on her behalf. In contrast, the Engaging Moms Program (based on  multidimensional family therapy) engaged not just with the mother and with services but with the mother’s social network, especially her family. For example, in stage two of the programme focused on changing behaviour, counsellors conducted individual and joint sessions with the mother and her family and or partner. These dealt with: the mother’s motivation and commitment to succeed in drug court and to change her life; the emotional attachment between the mother and her children; her relationships with her family of origin; her parenting skills; her romantic relationships; and emotional regulation, problem solving, and communication skills. Considerable attention was devoted to repairing the mother’s relationship with her family, often damaged by hurts, betrayals, and resentments. Also the counsellor facilitated the mother’s relationship with court personnel and service providers and helped prepare her for court appearances, during which they advocated for the mother.

Regardless of the approach to which they had been allocated, during the trial mothers saw their counsellors for on average about 40 hours, but the Engaging Moms Program included seven hours of family sessions versus just under four in the case management option.

Research workers assessed the mothers several times up to 18 months following drug court intake (97% of assessments were completed), when information on child welfare status was extracted from court records. This primary outcome was defined as positive if the mother retained her parental rights, either having sole or joint custody of the children, or when the children were under the guardianship of a relative. Other outcomes considered not to be positive involved termination of the mother’s parental rights and the child being placed with a relative or in foster care.

The small number of mothers in this pilot study limited the chances of statistically significant findings, so the focus instead was on whether the differences between outcomes from the Engaging Moms Program and case management were large enough that with a bigger sample they might have proved statistically significant.

Main findings

Of the 31 Engaging Moms mothers, 24 had retained their parental rights compared to 17 of the 31 case management mothers, an advantage for Engaging Moms which narrowly missed the conventional criterion for statistical significance. These figures included 16 Engaging Moms mothers who had sole custody of their child compared to 12 allocated to case management. Over twice as many case management mothers had their children removed to foster care – 9 versus 4. Two-thirds of Engaging Moms mothers satisfactorily completed the drug court programme compared to about half the case management mothers.

Over the first three months both sets of mothers significantly improved in terms of their substance use, mental and physical health, family functioning, risk posed to child, and employment, improvements maintained or augmented through the remainder of the 18-month follow-up. In no case were these improvements significantly greater among Engaging Moms mothers, but several outcomes substantially favoured these mothers. They were more likely to further reduce their drinking, experience greater improvements in mental and physical health and family functioning, and more steeply decreased their risk of child abuse. At the three-month follow-up, on all three relationship dimensions they also reported significantly stronger therapeutic relationships with their counsellors.

The authors’ conclusions

The Engaging Moms Program delivered in the context of a family drug court increased the likelihood of positive outcomes for mothers (retention of parental rights and improved welfare and functioning) in comparison to intensive case management. In all domains of functioning, families assigned to Engaging Moms showed improvement that was equal to or better than families assigned to case management. Arguably the primary mechanisms leading to better results were a stronger therapeutic alliance with the counsellor and more extensive family involvement.

Although the results of this pilot study are encouraging, there are important limitations. The primary one is that a small sample size limits the scope for testing differences between outcomes in the two sets of mothers and weakens the reliability of the results; different results might be obtained with larger samples.
COMMENTARY Commending the Engaging Moms Program is its apparent non-punitive humanity and the plausibility of its strategy of repairing what may have been a damaging social network and engaging it in supporting the mother, promising not just the short-term gains which the study was able to document, but a more stable, long-term future for mother and child. Particularly encouraging is the non-diminution of the gains and sometimes their augmentation over the period after the interventions ended. As well as benefiting the families involved, long-term reduction in social costs can be expected. With family drug and alcohol courts spreading in the UK, the Engaging Moms model might be adapted to further improve their outcomes for parent and child.

However, convincingly demonstrating the advantages of the approach for maternal and child welfare is a difficult task when so much else is going on in the mothers’ lives, when the basic family drug court programme is the same for both intervention and comparison mothers, and when the comparator is itself seemingly a humane and well structured approach. Details below.

As the authors observed, if replicated with a larger sample, the difference in the retention of parental rights, and probably too in resort to foster care, would have been statistically significant, but also a larger sample may show these to have been unreliable findings. On the other measures of maternal welfare and family functioning and safety, though there were substantial extra improvements among the Engaging Moms group, in some cases this mainly reflected a drop from an initially higher level of severity. By the end of the study the differences in absolute terms between the two sets of mothers were generally very small. Several of the researchers were involved in developing the programme they evaluated, raising the possibility of their somehow favouring the programme, a  risk endemic  in substance use research. Also it has to be acknowledged that termination of a mother’s parental rights and placement of the child elsewhere is not necessarily a negative outcome from the point of view of the child’s long-term welfare. On this issue we can only rely on the professionalism and child-centredness of the Engaging Moms counsellors, and on the presumption that if there had been over-enthusiastic advocacy, the court would not have been unduly swayed.

UK research and practice

The first family drug and alcohol court in Britain was piloted at an inner London family court initially for three years to the end of 2010. Researchers concluded that more parents seen by these specialist courts than by comparison courts had controlled their substance misuse by the end of proceedings and been reunited with their children. They were also engaged in more substance misuse services over a longer period. Evidence of cost savings were noted in relation to court hearings, out-of-home placements, and fewer contested proceedings. Parents and staff felt this was a better approach than ordinary care proceedings. A  later report  from the same study with a longer follow-up of more families reinforced the earlier findings. More family drug and alcohol court parents had stopped misusing substances and dealt with other problems, and more mothers had been reunited with their children, but this 36% v 24% gap was not statistically significant.

The main weakness of this UK study is that in some known respects and perhaps in others not known, the comparison families differed from the family drug court families in ways which might have affected child welfare outcomes, regardless of the type of court proceedings. Also, through a preceding feasibility study the researchers had been involved in developing the programme they evaluated. As with the featured study, this raises the possibility of their somehow favouring the new intervention they helped to create.

Three NHS professionals who helped develop the first court in London  have explained that it differs from normal family courts in its multi-disciplinary assessment and intervention team made up of both child workers (child protection social workers and a child and adolescent psychiatrist) and adult workers (substance misuse workers and an adult psychiatrist), plus volunteers with personal experience of overcoming substance misuse, some of whom are court ‘graduates’. Court proceedings form an integral part of the treatment process. The family works with the same judge throughout and compared to normal courts, the court takes a less adversarial approach to care proceedings, the parent speaking directly to the judge in the absence of lawyers.

Similar courts have now opened in Gloucestershire and Milton Keynes and  as reported  in 2015, more were due to open in 2015/16 in areas including East Sussex, Kent and Medway, Plymouth, Torbay and Exeter, and West Yorkshire, funded by the Department for Education. Despite this significant expansion, as in London, these courts  will sit  once a week and hear relatively few cases.

Large-scale US evaluation

From the USA the  first large-scale outcome study  of a family drug court compared the progress (as revealed by court and administrative records) of mothers and children processed through three such courts with those processed through normal channels either in the same areas or in similar areas without a family drug court. An attempt was made to statistically even out relevant differences between the two sets of families. Findings favoured the family drug courts. Mothers processed through these courts were more likely to be unified with their children, who spent less time in out-of-home placements. More drug court mothers entered substance use treatment and they did so more rapidly, stayed longer and were more likely to complete the programme. However, the relative benefits arising from the family drug courts were at best a minor influence on child custody outcomes, and the study could not be sure that all relevant differences between the two sets of families had been accounted for.

An Effectiveness Bank hot topic  has explored  the issues involved in protecting children and offers one-click access to all Findings analyses relevant to child protection.

Source:   A randomized pilot study of the Engaging Moms Program for family drug court Last revised 28 May 2015. First uploaded 20 May 2015

Freisthler B1Gruenewald PJ2Wolf JP2.


The current study extends previous research by examining whether and how current marijuana use and the physical availability of marijuana are related to child physical abuse, supervisory neglect, or physical neglect by parents while controlling for child, caregiver, and family characteristics in a general population survey in California.

Individual level data on marijuana use and abusive and neglectful parenting were collected during a telephone survey of 3,023 respondents living in 50 mid-size cities in California.

Medical marijuana dispensaries and delivery services data were obtained via six websites and official city lists. Data were analyzed using negative binomial and linear mixed effects multilevel models with individuals nested within cities.

Current marijuana use was positively related to frequency of child physical abuse and negatively related to physical neglect.

There was no relationship between supervisory neglect and marijuana use. Density of medical marijuana dispensaries and delivery services was positively related to frequency of physical abuse.

As marijuana use becomes more prevalent, those who work with families, including child welfare workers must screen for how marijuana use may affect a parent’s ability to provide for care for their children, particularly related to physical abuse.

Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Source:  Child Abuse Negl. 2015 Jul 18. pii: S0145-2134(15)00237-9. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2015.07.008.  [Epub ahead of print]

DENVER (CBS4) – The results of a new study about the impact of Colorado’s marijuana legalization is raising troubling questions for parents. The study cites a significant increase in marijuana-related traffic deaths, hospital visits and school suspensions. The parents CBS4’s Melissa Garcia spoke with say they’re concerned about their children seeing messages promoting pot all over town. Activists say it’s the way pot is marketed and sold that has started to create some serious problems.

“I never dreamed in a million years that this would happen to my son,” said parent Kendal, who didn’t want to use his last name.

Kendal came home one evening to find his 13-year-old son unconscious from what he says was a marijuana overdose.

He was grey. His heart wasn’t beating and he wasn’t breathing,” he said.

Kendal used CPR to resuscitate him and later talked to his son’s high school peer and supplier.

“I had heard from kids that there was 60 percent of this particular high school using drugs, and she shook her head and said, ‘That’s way low,’” Kendal said.

“Kendal’s story breaks my heart, but I’ve got to tell you we have heard that from hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of parents throughout the state,” said Diane Carlson, Smart Colorado co-founder.

Carlson says Colorado’s child and teen use of marijuana has become an epidemic.

“Kids have no idea how dangerous or harmful Colorado’s pot is,” she said.Carlson says Colorado’s child and teen use of marijuana has become an epidemic.

According to a report released this month by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, Colorado saw a 29 percent increase in emergency room visits, and a 38 percent increase in hospitalizations during retail marijuana’s first year.

The study states that over 11 percent of Colorado’s 12 to 17 year-olds use pot — 56 percent higher than the national average. It also cites a 40 percent increase in drug-related suspensions and expulsions — the vast majority from marijuana.

Carlson says the culprit is its commercialization. “Marijuana might have been legalized in our state; it did not have to mean massive commercialization and promotion of marijuana use,” she said.


There is, naturally, a hope amongst parents whose child is desperately ill with seizures that a new treatment will help.  Many parents in the USA have been convinced that medical marijuana may be the answer – and some have even moved home in order to be able to legally purchase this substance.  Sadly however, it has been shown that whilst this substance may be able to help some patients it can also have disastrous effects on others.  There is much research going on with a purified and uniform preparation of cannabidiol (CBD) called Epidiolex to see if this can indeed become a genuine treatment for epileptic seizures.  Until then, parents should be advised not to use the products available in ‘medical marijuana dispensaries’ – which are not regulated for purity or uniformity and could be dangerous for their children. (see letter below).

This situation has come about because of the shameful way so called medical marijuana has been used as a wedge to introduce the recreational use of the substance – dating from the statement made in the seventies  by Keith Stroup in a post debate encounter at Emory University in the USA when he said “we’ll be using the issue as a red herring to give marijuana a good name’.

This is the current position of the American Epilepsy Society, as written in a letter from Dr. Brooks-Kayal to a Pennsylvania legislator:

March 22, 2015

Dear Representative,

As Pennsylvania considers enacting new cannabis legislation (HB 193), I write to offer the perspective of the American Epilepsy Society (AES), the leading U.S. organization of clinical and research professionals specializing in the treatment and care of people with epilepsy.

Epilepsy is the most common and potentially devastating neurological disease that affects people across the lifespan. In America, one in 26 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy at some time in the course of their life – more will experience an isolated seizure. Epilepsy is associated with significant morbidity and mortality and is associated with many co-morbidities including depression, cognitive dysfunction, and autism. Today between 2.2 and 3 million Americans, including almost 400,000 children, live with epilepsy, with one third living with treatment-resistant seizures that do not respond to current medications.

The American Epilepsy Society position on medical marijuana as a treatment option for people with epilepsy is informed by the current research and supported by the position statements from the American Academy of Neurology, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association. Additionally, a 2014 survey of practitioners published in the journal Epilepsy Currents found that the majority of epilepsy practitioners agreed with and supported the AES position.

Specifically, AES has called for more research, for the rescheduling of marijuana by the DEA to ease access for clinical studies, and has supported the compassionate use program of GW Pharmaceuticals, where a is being administered under the guidance and close monitoring of an appropriate medical professional. AES has also been highly supportive of the double-blind clinical trial now underway by GW Pharmaceuticals and of the forthcoming clinical trial by INSYS Therapeutics.

These clinical trials utilize a vastly different substance than the artisanal cannabis products that are being considered for use in Pennsylvania, and that have been used in Colorado. As you likely know, medical marijuana and its derivatives are legal in Colorado, but you may not realize that the content of these products is not regulated for purity or uniformity. A study by a team from Children’s Hospital Colorado that was presented during the AES Annual Meeting in December 2014 and has recently been accepted for publication in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior, found that artisanal “high CBD” oils resulted in no significant reduction in seizures in the majority of patients and in those for whom the parents reported improvements, these improvements were not associated with improvement in electroencephalograms (EEGs), the gold standard monitoring test for people with epilepsy.

Additionally, in 20% of cases reviewed seizures worsened with use of cannabis and in some patients there were significant adverse events. These are not the stories that you have likely heard in your public hearings, but they are the reality of practitioners at Children’s Hospital Colorado who have cared for the largest number of cases of children with epilepsy treated with cannabis in the U.S.

The families and children coming to Colorado are receiving unregulated, highly variable artisanal preparations of cannabis oil prescribed, in most cases, by physicians with no training in pediatrics, neurology or epilepsy. As a result, the epilepsy specialists in Colorado have been at the bedside of children having severe dystonic reactions and other movement disorders, developmental regression, intractable vomiting and worsening seizures that can be so severe they have to put the child into a coma to get the seizures to stop. Because these products are unregulated, it is impossible to know if these dangerous adverse reactions are due to the CBD or because of contaminants found in these artisanal preparations. The Colorado team has also seen families who have gone into significant debt, paying hundreds of dollars a month for oils that do not appear to work for the vast majority. For all these reasons not a single pediatric neurologist in Colorado recommends the use of artisanal cannabis preparations. Possibly of most concern is that some families are now opting out of proven treatments, such as surgery or the ketogenic diet, or newer antiseizure medications because they have put all their hope in CBD oils.

AES is sympathetic to the desperation parents of children with severe, treatment-resistant epilepsy feel, and understand the need for compassionate or promising new therapies in in appropriate and controlled circumstances. We are however opposed to the use of artisanal preparations of unregulated compounds of cannabis that contain unverified content and are produced by people with no experience in pharmaceutical production. That is what is currently happening in Colorado and may soon be happening in multiple states across the county as they legalize the use of medical marijuana products.

The products currently provided in Colorado do not meet the FDA definition of expanded or compassionate use. The FDA requires compassionate use therapies to meet the same criteria as an investigational new drug which require standard purity, content and content uniformity testing of the product. None of these criteria are met in the products being given to people with epilepsy in Colorado and we are seeing the distressing results noted above. And yet, these and other similar products are being considered for use in Pennsylvania.

It is also worth noting that in late February 2015, the FDA issued several warning letters to firms that claim that their products contain CBD. The FDA has tested those products and, in some of them, did not detect any CBD as claimed on the label. Because there is no standard for these products, the market is increasingly flooded with a wide variation of products and states which approve access to these preparations will bear the burden of monitoring for quality and controlling for the continuity of supply.

In sum, there simply is no clinical, controlled research to support the adoption of new CBD legislation for epilepsy such as your state is considering. The anecdotal results of a few families in Colorado, shared in the media, should not be the basis for law making. The rush by states to pass CBD legislation has created an unusual situation where people with epilepsy and their families are demanding access to a highly variable homegrown substance that may or may not be beneficial and the medical and scientific community lacks the necessary efficacy and safety data to make good treatment decisions regarding cannabis for people with epilepsy, especially in children.

The new legislation in most states places epilepsy practitioners in an untenable situation where they are expected, or in some states directed by law, to respond to requests for these highly variable artisanal products with no protocols, no research and no clinical guidelines regarding dosing or side-effects, and no assurance that the cannabis products that are to be recommended are pure, safe or uniform, making it nearly impossible to know if we are truly “Doing No Harm.”

We need to accelerate the clinical research and wait to act until we have results to support decisions. If there are components of cannabis with specific therapeutic values we need to know this and we need to develop pharmacy grade compounds that utilize these components to help the nearly one million people living with drug resistant epilepsy. And if the harmful aspects of cannabis outweigh the therapeutic benefits, we need to find out now, before more medically fragile children have been exposed to cannabis products that are not effective and may risk damage to vital organs, brain development, or worse.

We urge you and your fellow committee members to delay adoption of new cannabis legislation and to continue to support and encourage new research. If we can be of additional help please contact our Executive Director, Eileen Murray, at

Thank you for your consideration of our position.


Amy Brooks-Kayal, MD,  President, American Epilepsy Society.  Chief and Ponzio Family Chair, Children’s Hospital Colorado,  Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology, University of Colorado School of Medicine

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

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:   4th My 2015

These remarkable scans clearly reveal how smoking during pregnancy harms an unborn baby’s development.

New ultrasound images show how babies of mothers who smoke during pregnancy touch their mouths and faces much more than babies of non-smoking mothers.

Foetuses normally touch their mouths and faces much less the older and more developed they are. Experts said the scans show how smoking during pregnancy can mean the development of the baby’s central nervous system is delayed. Doctors have long urged pregnant women to give up cigarettes because they heighten the risk of premature birth, respiratory problems and even cot death.

Now researchers believe they can show the effects of smoking on babies in the womb – and use the images to encourage mothers who are struggling to give up.

Image shows the 4-D ultrasound scan of two foetuses at 32 weeks gestation, one whose mother was a smoker (top) and the other carried by a non-smoker (bottom). The foetus carried by the smoker touches its face and mouth much more, indicating its development is delayed

As part of the study, Dr Nadja Reissland, of Durham University, used 4-D ultrasound scan images to record thousands of tiny movements in the womb.

She monitored 20 mothers attending the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, four of whom smoked an average of 14 cigarettes a day.

After studying their scans at 24, 28, 32 and 36 weeks, she detected that foetuses whose mothers smoked continued to show significantly higher rates of mouth movement and self-touching than those carried by non-smokers. Foetuses usually move their mouths and touch themselves less as they gain more control the closer they get to birth, she explained.

The pilot study, which Dr Reissland hopes to expand with a bigger sample, found babies carried by smoking mothers may have delayed development of the central nervous system. Dr Reissland said: ‘A larger study is needed to confirm these results and to investigate specific effects, including the interaction of maternal stress and smoking.’

She believed that videos of the difference in pre-birth development could help mothers give up smoking.

But she was against demonising mothers and called for more support for them to give up. Currently, 12 per cent of pregnant women in the UK smoke but the rate is over 20 per cent in certain areas in the North East. All the babies in her study were born healthy, and were of normal size and weight.

Dr Reissland, who has an expertise in studying foetal development, thanked the mothers who took part in her study, especially those who smoked. ‘I’m really grateful, they did a good thing,’ she said. ‘These are special people and they overcame the stigma to help others.’

Co-author Professor Brian Francis, of Lancaster University, added: ‘Technology means we can now see what was previously hidden, revealing how smoking affects the development of the foetus in ways we did not realise.

‘This is yet further evidence of the negative effects of smoking in pregnancy.’ The research was published in the journal Acta Paediatrica. 

Read more:  23 March 2015

Not magic at all of course, but a consequence of the fact that substance use problems are closely related to other problems which often develop at early ages when substance use is just not on the agenda. The 2010 English national drug strategy and corresponding public health plans seemed to recognise this, breaking with previous versions to focus attention on early years parenting in general, and particularly among vulnerable families. 

Though studies are few compared to approaches such as drug education in schools, this renewed emphasis on the early years has a strong theoretical rationale and some research backing. Child development and parenting programmes which do not mention substances at all (or only peripherally) have recorded some of the most substantial prevention impacts. Though mainly targeted at the early years, some extend to early teenage pupils and their families. The rationale for intervention rests partly on strong evidence that schools which develop supportive, engaging and inclusive cultures, and which offer opportunities to participate in school decision-making and extracurricular activities, create better outcomes across many domains, including non-normative substance use. As well as facilitating bonding with the school, such schools are likely to make it easier for pupils to seek and receive the support they need.

Understandably, such findings do not derive from random allocation of pupils to ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ schools, so are vulnerable to other influences the study was unable to account for. More convincing if more limited in intervention scope are studies which deliberately intervene and test what happens among young people randomly allocated to the focal intervention versus a comparator. An early example was a seminal Dutch drug education study of the early ’70s which had a profound impact in Britain. For the practitioners of the time, it was a warning about the dangers of the dominant ‘scare them’ approach, but it might as well have been a lesson about the approach which outperformed the warnings – classroom discussions which simply gave teenage pupils a structured chance to discuss the problems of adolescence, leaving it up to them whether drugs cropped up.



Among the most prominent and promising of current approaches is the Good Behavior Game classroom management technique for the first years of primary schooling  illustration. Well and consistently implemented, by age 19–21 it was estimated that this would cut rates of alcohol use disorders from 20% to 13% and halve drug use disorders among the boys. In the Effectiveness Bank you can read about the study and read a practitioner-friendly account of the research from the researchers themselves. The same programme has been combined with parenting classes, leading to reductions in the uptake and frequency of substance use over the next three years.

Another primary school example is the Positive Action programme which focuses on improving school climate and pupil character development. In Hawaii and then the more difficult schools of Chicago, it had substantial and, in Chicago, lasting preventive impacts.

In Britain perhaps best known is the Strengthening Families Programme, a family and parenting programme which in the early 2000s impressed British alcohol prevention reviewers. It features parent-child play sessions, during which parents are coached in how to enjoy being with their children and to reinforce good behaviour. At first the accent is on building up the positives before tackling the more thorny issues of limit-setting and discipline. Though the potential seems great, later research has not been wholly positive, and the earlier results derived from the minority of families prepared or able to participate in the interventions and complete the studies.

A final example comes from Norway, where a study raised the intriguing possibility that taking measures to effectively reduce bullying in schools helps prevent some of the most worrying forms of substance use.

Isolating these and other similar studies is not possible via our normal search facilities, so we have specially identified and coded them. They may prove to be the future for drug prevention, as traditional drug education struggles for credibility as a prevention tool. See how this future is shaping up today by running this hot topic search.

Source:     3rd March 2015

Teens Affected by Addiction is a project aimed at raising awareness about the impact of alcoholism on families – here, they share some personal stories. 

Here, four people who grew up with an alcoholic parent share their stories.  These stories have been collected by ‘Teens Affected by Addiction’, a Young Social Innovators project from Mount Mercy College in Cork, Ireland,  with the aim of raising awareness about how addiction impacts children.

“I will never get my childhood back”

“My life as a child of an alcoholic parent was frightening and lonely. My dad was a chronic alcoholic. I had a different childhood to all my friends: no birthday parties, couldn’t invite friends over to the house, and Christmas was a nightmare.

There was no one I could talk to and no one could help me, I just had to put up with it.

When I was 17 I had no choice but to leave home. I had to live my own life. My mother was heartbroken but she knew I had to go.

When I was 18, I was able to get counselling which was a great help to me. I was able to understand that alcoholism was an illness. A few months after leaving home my dad turned his life around and stopped drinking.

I will never get my childhood back but I now have a great relationship with my father and my mother now has the life she deserves. I hope this story can give other children some hope and let them know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”


“Missing you”

The following is a short poem a woman sent to us about her father’s alcoholism.

I don’t miss the sense of invisibility to you, 

I don’t miss listening constantly for the front door,
I don’t miss watching your face to decipher your mood,
I don’t miss dodging your verbal assaults,
I don’t miss the sense of being so small,
I don’t miss the enormity of you and your drink,
I don’t miss the deep shame,
I don’t miss everyone covering up for you,
I don’t miss everyone knowing but me,
I don’t miss the smell of drink,
I don’t miss the fear of drink,
I don’t miss my friends knowing,
I don’t miss no-one caring about me,
I don’t miss fear,
I don’t miss loving you,
I don’t miss hating you,
I don’t miss you.


 “We had food in the house but it wasn’t for us – it was for the social worker to see.”

“My alcoholic parent was my mother. She always drank. She started when she was young. When she was a child her father abused her and her brothers. They were battered by their father constantly. They locked their doors every night to keep their father out. She was beaten badly and was always expected to act like a lady. She started drinking to forget the pain she had to go through. This doesn’t make what she did to her children any bit forgivable.

When I was a child my uncle and aunts tried to take me away from my home by taking me on day trips with my sister. Back then I thought my mother would heal. My sister and I used to beg my uncle and aunts to bring us home so we could mind our mother. We didn’t want to upset her by being away for too long. One of my uncles was like a father to me. His oldest daughter and I look like brother and sister. We are just as close too. They tried to help me and give me a better life but they couldn’t.

My mom had a lot of ‘boyfriends’. They never really stayed too long. A small few used to beat me. These men were constantly in our house so we never really questioned a strange man in our house. It was normal for us.

At 15 years old I would come home from school and meet up with my mother and grandmother in the pub. My mother would buy me beer and I would sit in the pub with my drunken mother and help her get home. My home was filthy. There used to be dogs running through the house constantly and the house was never cleaned. We had food but it wasn’t for us. The food was perfect but we were not allowed eat it as it was only for when the social workers called so it would look like she was feeding us. In reality we were starving.

I started hanging out with a very rough group where I lived. They were drinking constantly and doing drugs. Eventually, I got away from them and my mother. I ran from Ireland at 16 to the States to my father. My sister was so upset with me for leaving her with my mother back in Ireland.

Now I’m living in America with a beautiful wife and three amazing children. Sometimes what happened still affects me but I try to block it out and ignore it and carry on. I’m honestly not recommending running away. I am planning on coming back to Ireland soon to sort out a few things with my mother.


“I’ve never not known Mum to have her cans by her chair and her vodka stashed away under the bed”

Well to begin with there’s a common misconception that men are generally the alcoholics in a family but when it’s the mother, the nucleus of the family is destroyed and everything falling apart becomes an inevitable fate. I come from a small family with it just being my mum, dad and my brother and I. We’ve been battling with my mother’s alcoholism for as long as I remember, I’ve never not know her to have her cans by her chair and her vodka stashed away under the bed. It wasn’t that I always saw it as the norm but when you don’t know any different it does tend to be a bit more difficult to imagine the situation differently. I’m actually very happy to see the back of 2014 as from December 2013 my whole family spiralled out of control and I spent more times in hospital than anywhere else. My parents split in December 2013 after 21 years married (I am 20 years old) my mum’s alcoholism was at its peak. Having been in and out of hospital for the past six years due to liver failure, she was on a path to destruction. In those months, mum had fallen whilst drunk and tried to hit my father with a golf club and broke her femur. She had several serious operations and she nearly died as her blood is extremely thin due to medication and alcoholism. Mum came out of hospital and continued to drink and began running around saying that she was fine and could walk. She fell hundreds of times and it became so bad she now can’t walk properly. I live with my grandmother, having left school at 17 as I suffered from depression and I went back to do my Leaving Cert and moved out of my home. Within months a series of events led to both my father and brother leaving and moving into an apartment and my mum was left wallowing in her drunken states ringing and abusing everybody (she still does this).I contacted the HSE in January 2014 with several emails sent to all organisations that support victims of alcoholism, I got a lot of reaction. I was furious that I spent years sitting in my mothers’ doctor’s surgery with my dad begging for ways out. They would always look at us helplessly and say “move out”. I felt embarrassed and as if there were no light at the end of the tunnel. My grandmother who I live with and who’s been a mother to me all my life has had a nervous breakdown and right now I spend my days working eight hour shifts as a photographer in a studio and then I go home to this mess. 

My mum has been in hospital about eight times since February 2014 when a stomach ulcer burst and she was found in a pool of blood by my grandmother. I soon lost faith but I always tried to get help; my letter to the HSE got me six months with a councillor but I was so busy with my Leaving Cert and everything I just couldn’t find time to go.

Now I am still living with this situation but I try my very best to overcome it every day and I refuse any kind of medication such as an “anti depressant” as I believe it’s just a easy way for doctors to dose people up and make money. I wish to study politics and history and possibly then business in university in the future and I hope that one day I can actually help people.

These stories are shared by ‘Teens Affected by Addiction’, a Young Social Innovators project from Mount Mercy College in Cork. The students have recently received funding from the YSI Den to publish a book with the stories of adults who grew up with an addict in the home. 

 Please see or email: if you would like to share your story.

Follow Teens Affected by Addiction on Twitter: @affbyaddiction

Source:    March 2015

Can marijuana use put offspring at heightened risk for opiate addiction, even if the use stops before the offspring are conceived? Recent animal research by NIDA-supported scientists suggests that the answer may be yes.

Dr. Yasmin L. Hurd and colleagues at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City showed that rats whose parents had been exposed as adolescents to the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana sought heroin more vigorously than the offspring of unexposed animals. Although more research is needed to confirm and explain the findings, they are consistent with other studies suggesting that a parent’s history of drug use, even preconception, may affect a child’s brain function and behavior.

Lasting Imprint

Scientists have known for a while that drugs of abuse produce some of their effects epigenetically—that is, by increasing or decreasing the rates at which the body’s genetic machinery produces certain proteins. Researchers recently reported that some epigenetic changes produced by cocaine appear to be inherited and affect the behavior of subsequent generations. In that experiment, rats whose parents had been exposed to cocaine responded differently when introduced to the drug than did rats whose parents had not been exposed.

Dr. Hurd and colleagues hypothesized that rats whose parents were exposed as adolescents to the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC) would inherit epigenetic changes that would alter their responses to heroin. To test the hypothesis, the researchers injected adolescent male and female rats with THC for 3 weeks on an intermittent schedule (1.5 milligram per kilogram of body weight every 3 days) that corresponds to the amounts consumed by a typical recreational marijuana user. They waited 2 to 4 weeks for the drug to wash out of the rats’ bodies, then paired and mated them.

Figure 1. Offspring of THC-Exposed Parents Work Harder To Get Heroin  When only a single press of a lever was required to obtain a dose of heroin, the offspring of THC-exposed and unexposed rats self-administered similar amounts of the drug. However, when the researchers raised the work requirement to 5 lever presses for a single dose, the rats whose parents had been exposed to THC pressed almost 3 times as often as the offspring of unexposed rats.

When the offspring of these matings reached adulthood, the researchers presented them with a lever that, when pressed, delivered heroin (30 micrograms per kilogram of body weight). At first, the animals self-administered the drug at roughly the same rates as a group of control animals whose parents had not been exposed to THC. However, when the researchers made the animals work harder for the drug—requiring them to press the active lever at least 5 times to receive a dose—those whose parents had been exposed to the drug pressed on average nearly 3 times as often as the control rats (see Figure 1).

When the researchers removed the animals’ access to heroin, the THC-exposed rats’ offspring exhibited more pronounced withdrawal symptoms, such as increased locomotion and repetitive behaviors. Also during withdrawal, the two groups of rats differed in their readiness to approach a novel stimulus in their environment.

Figure 2. Offspring of THC-Exposed Rats Show Long-Term Depression of Synaptic Activity in the Striatum Medium spiny neurons in the dorsal striatum of rats whose parents had been exposed to THC responded less to electrophysiological stimulation than the neurons in rats whose parents had not been exposed to THC.

Using electrophysiology, the researchers also demonstrated that the offspring of the THC-exposed rats had altered neuronal functioning (see Figure 2). The specific alteration that they observed—enhanced long-term synaptic depression of medium spiny neurons in the dorsal striatum—has been associated with addiction in previous studies. The neurons are less responsive to stimulation, which inhibits an individual’s ability to adjust to experience and results in habitual and compulsive behaviors rather than adaptive ones.

To identify the epigenetic factors that might underlie the differences they had observed in the offspring of the THC-exposed animals, the researchers assayed concentrations of messenger RNA (mRNA) for key proteins in the brain. The formation of mRNA is the first step in the process of protein production, and mRNA levels indicate how much protein is being produced at a given time. The researchers’ analysis showed that, during adolescence, the THC-exposed animals’ offspring had higher levels of mRNA for glutamate receptors and for the cannabinoid 1 receptor in the ventral striatum. During adulthood, the offspring of the THC-exposed rats had less mRNA for N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-type glutamate receptors in the dorsal striatum (see Figure 3). Reduced production of glutamate receptors could underlie the reduced responsiveness to stimulation researchers observed in that brain region.

Figure 3. Offspring of THC-Exposed Parents Show Decreased Expression of Genes for Key Receptor Genes in the Brain Expression of genes for the glutamate-responsive receptors NMDA (Grin1 and Grin2A) and α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionate (AMPA) (Gria1) and for the endocannabinoid receptor CB1 (CNR1) was lower in the dorsal striatum of adult rats whose parents had been exposed to THC. These changes in gene expression suggest an epigenetic effect of THC on glutamate and endocannabinoid signalling in the brain.

Is It Real?

The Mount Sinai researchers took pains to rule out potential nonepigenetic explanations for the differences they observed between their groups of rats. One concern was that the THC-exposed rats’ pups might themselves be exposed to the drug during gestation, resulting in altered brain development. To preclude this possibility, the researchers postponed mating their THC-exposed animals until sensitive gas chromatography and mass spectrometry confirmed that no drug remained in the animals’ blood or brain tissue. Another concern was that the THC-exposed animals might parent differently than the unexposed animals, potentially altering their offspring’s responses to heroin. To prevent this, the researchers removed the THC-exposed animals’ pups from their parents immediately after birth and had unexposed dams raise both groups of offspring in mixed litters.

Despite these careful controls, Dr. Hurd and colleagues say that they cannot completely rule out nonepigenetic explanations for the alterations they observed in their THC-exposed rats’ offspring until they see what happens in the next two generations of their germ line. The researchers are proceeding with this work.

“The idea of cross-generational transmission of complex traits such as drug responses without alterations to the genome is contentious,” says Dr. John Satterlee, Project Officer at NIDA’sGenetics and Molecular Neurobiology Research Branch. “Is it real? And if it’s real, how is it transmitted?” he asks.

Dr. Satterlee agrees with Dr. Hurd that studies on future generations are needed to definitively rule out the possibility that nonepigenetic factors led to the observed effects in the offspring. Previous exposure to THC theoretically could affect the womb or placental formation, he says, or lead to changes in the parents’ microbiome—the assemblage of microorganisms in the gut controlling a variety of conditions and behaviors—that were then transmitted to their offspring.

“If the effect is real, it’s important,” Dr. Satterlee says. “If studies show that marijuana use also shows cross-generational effects in people, those results would add to the known dangers of the drug and amplify the importance of prevention efforts, especially those aimed at youth,” he adds.

This study was supported by NIH grants DA030359 and DA033660.

Source: Neuropsychopharmacology. 39(6):1315-1323, 2014. Abstract

Szutorisz, H.DiNieri, J.A.Sweet, E. et al. Parental THC exposure leads to compulsive heroin-seeking and altered striatal synaptic plasticity in the subsequent generation.

Nearly five young people are being admitted to hospital every day in NSW because of alcohol, exclusive data from NSW Health shows.

The figures show the huge toll alcohol is taking on children and young people in NSW, with a child aged between zero and four admitted to hospital almost every week because of injuries linked to their parents’ drinking. 

In total, nearly 1800 children aged between zero and 19 were so injured by their own drinking or that of others they were admitted to hospital in the 2012-13 financial year.

Experts say the government needs to urgently crack down on alcohol sales to children by introducing undercover stings, while parents need to heed the message that providing alcohol to their kids is dangerous.

The director of the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth, Mike Daube, said the hospital admissions were just the tip of the iceberg.

“This is only injuries so severe they need hospitalisation, and even then it is five a day in NSW alone,” he said. “This comes in a week when research has shown more than half of kids say it’s easy to buy alcohol.

“How many more wake-up calls do we need … state governments need to crack down on this issue.”

In the 2012-13 financial year, the last for which information is available, 1565 teenagers aged 15 to 19 year were admitted to hospital because of problems linked to alcohol. The overwhelming majority were male.

The injuries could involve problems directly caused by alcohol consumption, or injuries linked to alcohol, NSW Health said. Last month a 19-year-old student, Carl Salomon, died after falling from a crane into water in Balmain after a night out drinking.

And the harm doesn’t stop with teenagers. More than 50 children aged between zero and four and 70 aged five to nine were treated in hospital because of injuries linked to alcohol. Even more would have suffered from problems linked to foetal alcohol syndrome, which occurs in a baby whose mother drinks heavily while pregnant, that are not included in the data.

The chief executive of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, Michael Thorn, said cheap, two-for-one and similar alcohol deals encouraged young people to binge drink. “Kids are very price-sensitive,” he said. “And they don’t take it home if they haven’t drunk it all”.

This week the foundation released a report into alcohol’s impact on children and families that found up to a quarter of people could be experiencing harm from the drinking of family members.

“Being raised in a harmful environment is very deleterious to a child, it affects their education, their development, their wellbeing, and it certainly increases their likelihood of health problems later,” he said.

Jo Mitchell, the director of the centre for population health in NSW Health, said dangerous drinking did not just occur among young people. “This is a serious public health issue across all age groups,” she said. “Often people think there’s a specific problem for young people … whereas the data shows that across the board there are high levels of risky drinking among adults as well.”

A new NSW Health data snapshot shows the rate of alcohol hospitalisations in NSW increased by 35 per cent from 1998-99, with nearly 52,000 hospital cases linked to alcohol in 2012-13.

But she said there had been some good successes in recent years in decreasing drinking rates. The department was also focused on delaying the age at which young people drank, and raising awareness among parents about the dangers of alcohol supply.

One such program, called “Stop the Supply“, has been run by the Northern Beaches Community Drug Action Team.

Team chairwoman Susan Watson said many parents were not aware of the dangers of youth drinking.

“We know that alcohol causes damage to [a growing] brain, and we didn’t know that years ago … so it’s really about starting conversations with parents about that,” she said. “It can be really difficult for parents to make these decisions when there is all this pressure out there, not just from themselves but from other parents.”

Source: 1st March 2015

The fall of the Roman Empire is the subject of much debate, and includes attention to the possible role of their aqueducts, lined with lead. More likely, the decline was the result of lead poisoning caused by the consumption of grape juice boiled in lead cooking pots. The aristocracy of Rome consumed as much as two liters of wine a day — almost three bottles — adding alcoholism to the risk of lead poisoning. 

Lead poisoning has an impact on intelligence, even at concentrations as low as 10 micrograms per deciliter. In the New England Journal of Medicine on April 17, 2003, Richard L. Canfield writes that children between the ages of 3 and 5 suffer a decline of 7.4 IQ points from environmental lead exposure. That figure represents a substantial loss of intellectual capacity. There is no effective treatment for children so exposed. One can be grateful for a dedicated public health campaign to mitigate this powerful yet avoidable toxin in the lives of children.

That said, no one is advocating that pregnant woman splash lead-based paint in their nursery. Unlike another substance that also holds high risk during the prenatal period. Incredibly, it is a substance that for pregnant women is more than permitted, it is encouraged by some advocates. That substance is marijuana. In the life of the developing adolescent, heavy marijuana exposure is associated with brain abnormalities, emotional disruption, memory decline, and yes, loss of IQ; a decline of an estimated 8 points into adulthood, according to research by M. Meier in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in October, 2012. But what of prenatal exposure, from maternal marijuana use?

The website Cannabis Culture provides an answer in a 1998 article. The opening graphic is of a dreamy, topless woman who is in the late-term of her pregnancy. She is curled around a hookah. Under advice from a “Dr. Kate,” she is told that smoking marijuana while pregnant is not only safe, but that “cannabis can be a special friend to pregnant women in times of need.” It is said to mellow out those periods of morning sickness and to reduce anxiety.

The potential impact of such misinformation is widespread. According to the 2012 National Survey of Drug Use and Health, the rate of illicit drug use in 2012 was 18.3 percent among pregnant women aged 15 to 17. The drug being used is overwhelmingly marijuana.

An article by L. Goldschmidt in Neurotoxical Teratology in April/May 2000 concluded “Prenatal marijuana use was significantly related to increased hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention syndrome (as well as) increased delinquency.” The marijuana used by pregnant women in this study would almost certainly be seen today as low-potency.

Recent research is even more specific concerning the damage. For instance, Xinyu Wang published on Dec. 15, 2004 in Biological Psychiatry results from examination of foetal brains. It noted, “Marijuana is the illicit drug most used by pregnant women, and behavioral and cognitive impairments have been documented in cannabis-exposed offspring.”

Their results showed “specific alterations of gene expression in distinct neuronal populations of the fetal brain as a consequence of maternal cannabis use.” The reduction was correlated with the amount of maternal marijuana intake during pregnancy, and particularly affected male fetuses. The THC “readily crosses the placenta and can thus affect the fetus,” while “longitudinal human studies have shown motor, social, and cognitive disturbances in offspring who were exposed to cannabis prenatally.” Finally, “school children exposed in utero to marijuana were also weak in planning, integration and judgment skills.”

The authors also note “Depending on the community, 3 percent to 41 percent of neonates born in North America are exposed in utero to marijuana.” Marijuana, the president has assured us in an interview with  David Remnick  (The New Yorker, Jan. 27, 2014), is “no more dangerous than alcohol.” To which he could now add, “and for the newly born, only marginally more dangerous than lead.” With this president, you take your assurances where you may.

In Colorado today, marijuana is treated as a legal recreational indulgence and is hawked as a medicine. Moreover, adolescent use of this substance, in the form of the new, highly potent industrial dope now being produced, is soaring. Included in that population of adolescent users are young females, some of whom are, or shortly will be, pregnant.

Murray is a former White House chief scientist and currently a senior fellow at the Center for Substance Abuse Policy at Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C.

Source:    Sept   2014

New Hanover County is seeing an alarming trend of young children testing positive for drugs.

Child Protective Services handles a large number of substance abuse cases in parents, but discovering illegal substances in children was something they hardly expected.  Kari Sanders, child protective services chief, said four children in the county, three years old and younger, recently tested positive for cocaine and marijuana.   “In very severe cases, we have begun testing the children who are coming out of that environment, and it is very alarming that they are testing positive for drugs,” Sanders said.

Protective service officials used hair samples to test the children, but have no way of knowing how they came in contact with the drug.   “It could possibly be second-hand. It could be due to the exposure in the home,” Sanders speculated. “It could be because they’re young children, toddlers, and they’re touching the substances in the home.”

While adults can receive treatment in drug rehabilitation facilities, young children have different needs and require specialized methods of treatment.  “We’re being extremely diligent in ensuring that they’re getting regular pediatric care and their physician is aware that they tested positive, so they can take the appropriate action. Of course, we’re ensuring the children get developmental screenings so we can track their progress while they’re in our custody,” said Sanders about the process that happens after children are removed from their homes.

She said their main objective at Child Protective Services is to restore the children’s health and find a foster home for them, which is sometimes difficult.   “I think there’s always a consistent need for foster parents, and we truly need foster parents who are in our community, in the same school districts that the children are coming from so children can remain in their home environment,” said Sanders about a statewide shortage of foster families.

“They may be removed from their home, but if we can keep other things consistent, like their school or daycare, that’s very important.”

Source:  18th Sept.2014

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:  5th Sept. 2012

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:  21st April 2014










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: in Synthetic Drugs  7th October 2013

Police figures reveal they were held on suspicion of trying to sell drugs including cocaine, heroin and cannabis

More than 1,000 children – some as young as 12 – have been arrested in a blitz on playground drug pushers.   Police figures reveal they were held on suspicion of trying to sell drugs including cocaine, heroin and cannabis.   One 12-year-old in London was arrested for allegedly having a Class A drug with intent to supply. She was also tested to see if she had been taking drugs.

The figures were revealed as charities warned gangs are using youngsters to peddle substances knowing they are likely to attract less suspicion.

There were 116 girls among the total of 1,111 pupils aged 16 or under arrested last year.

Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder of Kids Company charity, said: “These numbers show only those that are being caught, the real scale of this is infinitely more.

“However people need to understand that these kids are not in some way morally flawed. It is simply survival behaviour and it is a mistake to think that these kids believe it to be a glamorous choice.”   She added: “They are constantly in fear and being threatened by adults who run them and adults from other gangs as well as being frightened about being caught by the police.”

Children arrested for dealing drugs

o Total number of under-16s arrested  –   1,111


o Number of girls among them   –   116


o Age of youngest child arrested     –  12

A total of 23 girls were arrested in the capital for suspected drug dealing, including nine alleged offences related to the most serious Class A narcotics.

In South Wales a 13-year-old girl was quizzed over supplying Class B substances, as were 14-year-old girls from Cambridgeshire, Avon and Somerset, and Devon and Cornwall police forces.

A 15-year-old girl arrested in Dorset was quizzed on suspicion of dealing heroin. Sussex police nabbed a 16-year-old girl for allegedly selling cocaine and officers from Cleveland questioned a 15-year-old in relation to passing on cannabis resin.

In some of London’s most drug-riddled estates gang members in their late teens to 20s, known as “olders”, give younger teens, or “youngers”, and “tinies”, those aged 13 and below, their drugs to sell or hold.

A spokesman for drugs charity Addaction said: “In our young people’s services we do sometimes see the very young. These children are not normally addicted, but the very fact that they’re being drawn into that world is hugely worrying.   These will be the people we’ll be seeing in 10 years’ time if they’re not helped now.” He  added: “The earlier we can intervene, the better the outcome is likely to be.”

Separate figures from the Department of Education reveal there were 8,070 incidents last year of pupils getting into serious trouble over incidents linked to drink or drugs.

Source:    1st June 2014

Filed under: Parents :

Parents’ attitudes toward substance use may help to explain observed racial/ethnic variations in prescription drug misuse among teens, reports a study in the May Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, the official journal of the Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

“Our findings add support to growing evidence that parents continue to remain a vital part of adolescents’ decision-making, particularly regarding potentially risky behaviors,” according to the new research by Brigid M. Conn, MA, and Amy K. Marks, PhD, of Suffolk University, Boston.

Parent Disapproval Linked to Lower Rate of Drug Misuse The researchers analyzed data on prescription drug misuse from a national survey of more than 18,000 adolescents. “Misuse and abuse of prescription drugs is one of the fastest growing drug epidemics in the United States,” the researchers write.

As in previous studies, Caucasian teens had the highest rates of prescription drug misuse. For example, 3.4 percent of Caucasian adolescents misused tranquilizers, compared to 2.9 percent of Hispanic and 0.9 percent of African American youth.

In contrast to previous studies, teens from higher-income families had lower rates of prescription drug misuse. Rates were also higher in older adolescents, and in girls compared to boys. The teens were also asked about their parents’ and peers’ attitudes toward specific types of substance use. Parental disapproval was associated with lower rates of prescription drug misuse—although this effect varied by race/ethnicity. Even though Caucasian teens had the highest rates of prescription drug misuse, those whose parents strongly disproved of all types of substance use were at lower risk than teens in the two minority groups.

Strong parental disapproval of alcohol use was linked to lower rates of prescription drug misuse in African American teens, while parental disapproval of marijuana use was a stronger factor for Hispanic teens. Dr. Marks comments, “No matter what the ethnic/racial background of the family, parents’ disapproving attitudes about misusing substances in general—whether alcohol, marijuana, or tobacco—play a strong role in protecting their adolescents from misusing prescription medicine.”

Step toward Understanding ‘Culture-Specific’ Factors in Substance Abuse

Caucasian teens whose close friends disapproved of substance use had lower rates of prescription drug misuse, although peer attitudes had little impact for African American or Hispanic teens. Dr. Marks adds, “Parents can also help their adolescents navigate toward friends with shared substance use disapproval attitudes.”

The study confirms racial/ethnic variations in substance use by adolescents. It also provides initial evidence that disapproval by “important socialization agents”—especially parents—has a significant effect on prescription drug misuse.

That result may provide clues as to how the racial/ethnic variations arise. Past studies of substance use in teens have typically used race as an “explanation” for observed differences.

More recently, researchers are focusing on values and other “culture-specific factors” that may explain risk behaviors, rather than generalizing across groups. “We’re already working on new studies to understand some of the unique socializing factors or agents which seem to be protective for Hispanic and African American adolescents, beyond parental disapproval,” says Dr Marks.

She adds, “As we learn more about what kinds of socializing messages matter most to which cultural groups, clinicians, teachers, social workers, and parents alike can help keep steering their adolescents in meaningful ways to make healthy behavioral choices when it comes to prescription drugs.”

Source:   May 2014

Filed under: Parents,USA :

Bergen County is facing a new kind of drug crisis that’s claiming the lives of young adults at an alarming rate. So far this year, at least 13 deaths are attributed to heroin, The Record reported on Sunday. They include 22-year-old Brendan Cole of Allendale, 21-year-old Caitlin Reiter from Franklin Lakes, and 19-year-old Daniel Lajterman of Ramsey.  This weekend, Lajterman’s mother, Linda, penned an open letter to parents regarding teen drug use. We are publishing it here in its entirety, with her permission.  Dear Friends,  It’s been almost one month since we lost our Danny. I vowed his death will not be just another drug related casualty and yet I don’t have the strength to use my voice to reach out to others. I thought of starting a blog but can’t get it going. I have a message to parents and young people about what we learned so the best way to get it out is for everyone who reads this post to share it and hopefully our experience can save another life. Here is what we learned:

1. This can happen to anyone. No socioeconomic barriers exist. Every time you smoke weed, or use what is perceived as recreational drug, there is a chance that it is tainted with a substance that can kill.  2. The drug dealer is not always the creepy inner city guy or some bad kid from town; it could be your next door neighbor, a father of children your kid’s ages.  3. Most teens don’t think anything bad will ever happen to them. They often think they are in control of the situation and are just “partying”. Parents don’t think it will happen in their family. Drugs and my kid “never”! WAKE UP EVERYONE; what was considered recreational drug use just a few years ago is completely different now. Coke, Molly, Xanax, Shrooms, Acid, Weed and any form of pain killers are the NORM. Don’t worry so much about locking up your liquor cabinet; lock your medicine cabinet first. We spoke to many of Danny’s friends after his death to try to make sense of what happened. Kids today speak a different language regarding what is normal. We were in shock at how blatantly they talked about using these drugs as if they were having a pizza. It is a different world today. My older kids were as shocked as we are. One is 29 the other is 27. What is normal now was considered crossing the line when they were in college! Danny wasn’t out of high school a year before he died.  4. You can have the best environment and the happiest of families. Your child could be abusing or addicted drugs and you might not even know it. Danny came from a very happy home; parents who are married over 30 years and still love each other as we did 30 years ago. He had an older brother and sister who adored him and watched over him like a parent. Grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins. A very tight, happy and loving family. We can’t wrap our heads around this; you think there has to be some type of family drama or problem that would cause your child to start using any type of drug. It doesn’t! If drugs grab hold of your child, it is a demon you may not even be aware of until something drastic occurs.  5. You can talk to your kids about drugs, schools can educate them; it usually doesn’t help or work in most cases. You’re lucky if your kid learned something from the education process. Danny had all the lectures, education and information from school, his family, his siblings, his cousins and from families we know with kids with drug abuse problems There are many families who are experiencing the in and out of rehab hell; a hell we would gladly visit if we were given the chance. Unfortunately, most of you know what happened to him. Go re-read lessons 1 and 2. We talked constantly about what was going on out there from our limited knowledge base. That is one of the problems; as parents most of us don’t even know what to look for when you would never put the words drugs and your kid in the same sentence. Remember, Danny didn’t start smoking weed alone. I am sure he didn’t experiment with other substances alone either. Your kid may be trying different party drugs and you wouldn’t even know it.

6. Teenagers are very skilled at half truths. There is a fine line between trusting your kid and becoming a maniac who is following the teens every move. My son told me everything I wanted to hear to ensure he was okay and not doing anything stupid. He even told me about an intervention his friends had after New Years for some of his buddies. I knew all about it! He left out the part that he was being intervened as well. He told me about the amount of partying his friends were doing at college when they came home for winter break and how many of them have changed. He trained us to leave him alone. As the parents of a 19 year old, we had no reason not to trust him so we gave him the freedom to act like a first year college student. 7. Right under our nose our son was using drugs. I work from home for the past 18 years. My office is two feet from his bedroom. I am home all the time. There was not one sign that could not be considered a typical teenage action. Danny went to school, he went to work at his part time job, and he had a girlfriend he adored. He ate dinner with us every night. He called home and reached out to us whenever he was out. He called me every day on his way home from school to see what we were having for dinner. He had conversations with us when he felt like it. He told us he loved us every single day. Sounds normal right? He never took money from my purse, occasionally he would take my debit card but I could see exactly what he did; fast food and gas in his car. He got angry once in a while, what teenager doesn’t? He slept late and stayed up late; typical college student behavior. Does that sound like a drug abuser? Not to us especially after having gone through the teenage years with our older kids. 8. There is tremendous shame and embarrassment felt by kids when they recognize they have a substance abuse problem. They may have done terrible things to get money to buy drugs. These feelings of shame can prevent them from seeking help from the people who love them and would do anything for them. We learned a great deal about our son after his death that I know, 100%, would cause him to be scared out of his mind to tell us. Parents know that parental love is unconditional but many kids don’t understand it. It is that fear of what may happen if their parents find out that holds them back from being truthful. We thought we had an open relationship with Danny where he could tell us anything (mom and siblings especially). If he had not been given a lethal dose of homemade drugs, we most likely would have only found out if he told us, someone else told us, or if he got arrested. We found out when we broke down his bedroom door. Parents, please reinforce unconditional love to your kids. Let them know that no matter what they have done or are doing, you will be there for them. It may be disappointing and embarrassing, but you can save your kids life. We wish we had the chance to at least try. 9. The unwritten CODE OF TEENAGERS is to keep silent about anything you know that may cause you lose a friend. This is the way it is and the way it always was. We all have to learn a new code, a code that can save a life. Having a friend be mad at you is different than having a friend or their child that is dead. You only lose a friend when they are gone forever. That friend will thank you some day and their family may be spared the agony my family is living through right now. Re-read number 3. There is a new normal out there that is beyond most of our comprehension. Anyone who knows their friends are making bad choices, using drugs that are deadly or parents who know their kids are using drugs but didn’t reach out to warn the parents of their friends to look out: BREAK the CODE; open up your mouth and tell their families. It wasn’t until Danny died that we found out how many of his friends knew what he was doing. We also learned that one of his friends, a friend he had since age 6, was in a day rehab. His mother didn’t call me and warn me to look out for my son. I would have done that for her if I was the one that found out first. Her son is now in rehab and can try to get a new start; Danny didn’t get that chance. We didn’t get a chance to help our son. Had someone tipped us off, it may have taken a while to process but we would at least been looking out for signs. Schools and police departments have a place in this at some point, but first and foremost, kids should have a safe method of informing so they will actually do it. Be creative, find ways within your communities to let kids know they need to BREAK the CODE and tell someone. They can save a life.  10. For those of you who are lucky enough to have the opportunity to help your child DON’T MESS IT UP!!! Get them into rehab. Do what you need to save them. If you need to move to a new area to get them away from their friends, DO IT. Help them get the support they need through groups, counseling etc. Be there for them every step of the way now and forever. We didn’t get the chance to help our Danny. We can’t help but be somewhat jealous of those families that can at least try. I spoke to families that are living the “in and out of rehab hell” and I swear, we would take that hell over our hell any day. Both are horrible but your kids are alive, our son is not. I can’t even describe the pain my family is experiencing right now and how our lives are changed forever. If you are lucky enough to get the chance, do it right!!  Unfortunately, many kids have very short memories for a local tragedy. We saw real and true tears at Danny’s funeral from many of the hundreds of kids who came. We have also learned that a few days later, many were back to business as usual waiting for the next chance to get wasted at whatever excuse there is for a party. Some kids learned a lesson, many didn’t learn a thing. Please share this with everyone on your friend list and parents, please recognize it doesn’t just happen to other people, it can happen to you. We thought the same thing and will now have to live with broken hearts for the rest of our lives. Please learn from our experience and hopefully help your child or friend before it is too late.  Sincerely,  Linda Lajterman

Source:   25th March 2014

Filed under: Parents,Social Affairs :

New evidence shows that ‘God consciousness’ can keep young people off drugs.

Young people who regularly attend religious services and describe themselves as religious are less likely to experiment with alcohol and drugs, a growing body of research shows. Why? It could be religious instruction, support from congregations, or conviction that using alcohol and drugs violates one’s religious beliefs.

Moreover, frequent involvement in spiritual activities seems to help in the treatment of those who do abuse alcohol and drugs. That’s the conclusion of many reports, including our longitudinal study of 195 juvenile offenders that will be released in May in Alcohol Treatment Quarterly.

Fewer and fewer adolescents today are connected to a religious organization. Young people are less affiliated than previous generations, with 25% of the millennial generation unattached to any particular faith, according to a 2010 Pew Research report. The problem is more fundamental than missing church on Sunday. Young people in our study of juvenile offenders seem to lack purpose and are overwhelmed by feelings of not fitting in. Meantime, the legalization of marijuana in several states, the flood of prescription medications, and the availability of harder street drugs gives youth wide access to mind-altering substances.

How do we help them? As one troubled young woman in our study, whom we will call Katie to protect her identity, said: “I started to get better when I started to help out in Alcoholics Anonymous. When we help others, we get connected to a power greater than ourselves that can do for us what alcohol and drugs used to do.”  Katie’s idea, to connect those who are struggling to a “higher power,” may seem too simple. Clinicians remain divided about whether AA’s goal of helping alcoholics find a higher power to solve their problems is appropriate in treatment planning. But new research, including our own study, is beginning to lend support to Katie’s conclusion.

There are two key elements of the 12-step program AA uses: helping others and God-consciousness. Those who help people during treatment—taking time to talk to another addict who is struggling, volunteering, cleaning up, setting up for meetings, or other service projects—are, according to our research, statistically more likely to stay sober and out of jail in the six months after discharge, a high-risk period in which 70% relapse.

Increasing God-consciousness also appears to produce results. Our study showed daily spiritual experiences predicted abstinence, increased social behavior and reduced narcissistic behavior. Even those who enter addiction treatment without a religious background can benefit from an environment where they are encouraged to seek a higher power and serve others.  Nearly half of youth who self-identified as agnostic, atheist or nonreligious at treatment admission claimed a spiritual affiliation two months later. This change correlated with a decreased likelihood of testing positive for alcohol and drugs during treatment.

A connection with the divine and service to others both seem to enhance sobriety. That’s because they provide what young people like Katie have been missing: a deep sense of purpose, opportunities to provide help to other people, connections with others, and the chance to make a difference in the world. This reduces self-absorbed thinking, something AA cites as a root cause of addiction.

Though AA was designed with Christian principles, its founders ultimately developed an approach that did not require participants to hold any particular religious beliefs. But the founders were on to something when they rooted AA core tenets in a connection with a higher power and service to others.   Why might this combination work? Neuroscientists, including Andrew Newberg in his 2010 book “How God Changes Your Brain,” are beginning to uncover what happens to the mind when the unconscious neurological foundations of addiction are short-circuited by spiritual awakening and a new focus on helping others. Neuronal pathways in the brain appear to be instantaneously realigned.

Research suggests that addicts may be prisoners of the left hemisphere of their brain, which tends to ruminate on problems such as social anxiety. But when their right brains are triggered by an intense emotional experience, unexpected solutions appear. Spiritual experience can be an important catalyst to this kind of brain rewiring.

As a teen we will call Ben told us, “I am aware today in sobriety that my thinking has drastically changed. You take a telescope and move it a centimeter, and your whole world changes. Now I ask myself: What can I bring to the table? How can I help?” How does a person rewire their own brain? There are many paths, but some adolescents agree with “Allen,” who told us, “I need a power greater than myself to enter my life.”

Source:  WALL STREET JOURNAL    March 27, 2014 

With the theme “What we don’t know could hurt our children,” the New Buffalo, Bridgman and River Valley school districts teamed up to sponsor a Parent Drug Awareness Night on Wednesday, March 19. “No community is safe or isolated from these issues,” said New Buffalo Middle School Principal William Welling. During the presentation, it was mentioned that all of the abuses covered in the talk were familiar to area teens. Armed with information on emerging drug trends in West Michigan and related resources for parents were Stephanie VanDerKooi, prevention coordinator with Lakeshore Coordinating Council for Prevention & Addiction Recovery Services, and Kelly Laesch, crime prevention coordinator for Berrien County Sheriff. Acknowledging that alcohol and marijuana continue to be the top substances abused by kids, VanDerKooi spent the bulk of her presentation in the New Buffalo Middle/High School Media Center on the new drugs being abused which she said are primarily prescription drugs, including Adderall and Oxycontin, plus the use of inhalents and cocaine.

First on her list was Molly, a slang term for Ecstasy powder, being popularized by recording and rap artists and other teen idols. When snorted, swallowed or eaten, Molly increases energy, changes moods and produces euphoria. Detrimental effects include anxiety and paranoia, increased body temperature, headaches, dizziness, depression and even death. Other new trends covered by VanDerKooi include: • Smoking Alcohol or AWOL (alcohol without liquid) by pouring dry ice (readily available in local grocery stores) and inhaling it directly or through a straw. This is extremely potent because it bypasses the stomach and liver. • Huffing, or using inhalants, including volatile solvents, fuels, aerosols, anesthetics and nitrates. Even though the substances are legal, if they are used for illegal purposes, users can be charged with breaking the law. • Hookah pipes and Hookah Lounges are regaining popularity because the flavored tobaccos are cheap and are not regulated. Hookahs can produce the same effect as smoking 100 cigarettes at one time. • E (electronic) Cigarettes, which still have the additive nicotine present and have become a huge business. They are being bought by teens to smoke marijuana, heroin and Ejuice. Schools and public places are being urged to ban them as part of their smoke-free policies. • Prescription Drug Abuse is on the rise, particularly with seventh to tenth graders because of their easy access in medicine cabinets found at home, friends and relatives, particularly

grandparents. Popular drugs include strong pain relievers, stimulants and sedatives or tranquilizers. • ADHD Medications, such as Ritalin and Adderall, are popular with many for weight loss. They are hard to detect in school and are often shared at test time. They improve focus but their side effects include anxiety, mania or psychosis. • Prescription Oxycontin is frequently over-prescribed for pain relief after surgeries but is being crushed and abused by snorters and is highly addictive with severe withdrawal symptoms. • Heroin,which today has 40 to 50 percent potency compared to the heroin used in the 1970s with 5 percent potency. It is highly addictive and inexpensive, compared to Oxycontin. • Sizzurp/Purple Drank, Lean are names used to describe drinks make with promethazine with codeine cough syrups along with fruit flavored sodas and teas, Jolly Rancher and other popular ingredients. VanDerKooi also covered drug culture clothing, such as Hot Topic or Pac Sun, Seedless and Diamond Brand clothing and slotflops or stash-it flip flops with hidden pockets. The drug counselors both stressed the need to watch for signs of drug abuse among their teens, to talk about drugs during “teachable moments” using everyday topics and to teach their kids to say “no” and also how to say “no.” Among the website resources listed were:;;, and the teen-based A complete parents’ guide can be found at website: “Set boundaries and give them your expectations. Discipline is tough but we’ve got your backs. We’re always here for parents,” Laesch said.

Source:  Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Filed under: Parents,USA :

The NDPA have been concerned for some time about the easy availability of drugs online.   There are sites actively promoting the legalization of drugs, misinformation about drugs, and even sites showing young children smoking cigarettes and encouraging others to do so.   Shocking research showed recently that 8 out of 10 of  UK youngsters watch porn online.   The world wide web has been a tremendous force for good in many ways – but there is a very dark side to the internet.  The following items show the extent of  big business involved in making money out of selling illegal drugs online.   (is Google the Tesco of  the internet ?)


The article below from today’s Wall Street Journal shows the effectiveness of going after companies that aid and facilitate the illicit drug trade. Several years ago, I queried for a book on a particular drug that I was interested in learning more about and along with the responses from the search engine came a pop-up offering to sell me the very drug I was asking about — a Schedule II controlled substance – without a prescription! I wrote a letter to indicating that this could be interpreted as a “facilitation” violation of the Controlled Substances Act and needed to be stopped immediately.

Back came a nice letter (by FedEx) from’s chief counsel  advising me that the company was just as upset and concerned as I but was powerless to stop these “pop-ups.” The chief counsel said that the ad likely was inserted by one of the anonymous servers used to transmit my Internet request to It seems that data mining software used by the servers detect key words used in emails and unencrypted messages that pass through them and automatically generate unsolicited return messages to the sender offering, as in my case, something for sale. On the basis of what little I knew about all this, I concluded nothing further could be done.

I was wrong! Fortunately, in the interim, brighter minds at my alma mater (DOJ) and elsewhere figured this out and concluded that Google was one of several companies at fault.

A fine of $500  million is a drop in the proverbial bucket for Google. Of potentially greater interest here may be what happens after Google settles the current criminal case. Unlike a civil case in which a defendant may settle without having to admit wrongdoing, a settlement in a criminal case usually requires admissions of guilt to specific law violations. If this is the case, will there be subsequent state actions filed against Google on behalf of harmed residents? Will we begin seeing TV ads asking “If you or a loved one ever ordered drugs via the Internet, call the law offices of so-and-so; you may be eligible for a cash settlement, etc.”?

Given the fact that unregistered Internet “rogue” pharmacies more often than not sell counterfeit drugs or outdated, toxic, and/or ineffective drugs and, in doing so, accept only credit cards or international money orders in payment, I’m sure there are retrievable records of such purchases and possibly aggrieved patients who may have been harmed by products illegally advertised and sold via the Internet and facilitated by the advertising services provided by Google. When all is said and done, the total payout for these potential claims, if indeed they are viable, could be several times the amount of the proposed settlement in the current criminal case against Google. Better yet, it should be enough to end or severely curtail this aspect of modern-day drug dealing.

John J. Coleman, PhD  President, Drug Watch International  2011

Google Near Deal in Drug Ad Crackdown

Read more:

Google Inc. is close to settling a U.S. criminal investigation into allegations it made hundreds of millions of dollars by accepting ads from online pharmacies that break U.S. laws, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Internet company disclosed in a cryptic regulatory filing earlier this week that it was setting aside $500 million to potentially resolve a case with the Justice Department. A payment of that size would be among the highest penalties paid by companies in disputes with the U.S. government.   Google gave few details in its filing about the probe, saying only that it involved “the use of Google advertising by certain advertisers.”   The federal investigation has examined whether Google knowingly accepted ads from online pharmacies, based in Canada and elsewhere, that violated U.S. laws, according to the people familiar with the matter.

A Google spokesman declined to comment, as did a Justice Department spokeswoman.     WSJ’s Thomas Catan reports that Google is close to settling with the government over allegations that the company made millions from illegal ad companies.

Search engines can be liable if they are found to be profiting from illegal activity. In December 2007, the three largest Internet companies, Google, Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc. agreed to pay a combined $31.5 million fine to settle civil allegations brought by the Justice Department that they had accepted ads from illegal gambling sites.

Prosecutors can charge such acts under a number of different statutes. From a legal standpoint, a key distinction for Google would be that the illegal activity allegedly took place through its paid advertising service, not just the results that its search engine produces.

There are scores of websites that offer to sell prescription drugs. Some violate U.S. laws by selling counterfeit or expired medicines or dispensing without a valid doctor’s prescription.  One question under investigation is the extent to which Google knowingly turned a blind eye to the alleged illicit activities of some of its advertisers—and how much executives knew, the people familiar with the matter said.   The probe has been conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Rhode Island and the Food and Drug Administration, among other agencies, according to these people. A spokesman for Rhode Island U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the FDA said the investigation was ongoing and declined to comment further.

Google generated nearly $30 billion in total ad revenue in 2010, largely from its AdWords system. AdWords helped revolutionize online advertising, offering marketers the chance to bid to display their ads when people searched for certain keywords on the Google search engine. An advertiser only pays when a user clicks on the ad.

Google, like other Internet companies, has struggled for years to deal with what it calls “rogue online pharmacies.” In 2003, for instance, Google said it banned ads from U.S. companies that offer drugs like Vicodin and Viagra without a prescription.   Google acted after rivals, including Yahoo and Microsoft, made similar moves as the FDA began publicly pressuring sites to accept only drug ads from licensed Internet pharmacies.

But Google said in 2004 it would continue carrying ads for Canadian pharmacies that send medicines to U.S. customers. The decision riled some U.S. druggists and drew criticism from regulators.  After the FDA began its latest investigation, Google made changes last year to its policies for drug ads, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Google said in February 2010 it would begin allowing ads only from U.S. pharmacies accredited by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy and from online pharmacies in Canada that are accredited by the Canadian International Pharmacy Association.   In September Google filed a federal lawsuit in San Jose, Calif., seeking to block individuals running illegitimate pharmacies from advertising on its search engine and to recover damages.

“Rogue pharmacies are bad for our users, for legitimate online pharmacies and for the entire e-commerce industry—so we are going to keep investing time and money to stop these kinds of harmful practices,” Google lawyer Michael Zwibelman wrote on the company blog at the time.

Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder and a current high-ranking executive and board member, sidestepped questions about the investigation at a conference Wednesday and alluded to the fact that Larry Page is now running the company.

“Luckily, since we changed roles a few months ago, I don’t have to deal with filings, and the DOJ, the SEC or other acronyms,” Mr. Brin said, using the initials for the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission.

The current investigation is Google’s latest brush with law enforcement and regulatory agencies in both the U.S. and abroad. The company is facing multiple investigations into possible antitrust and privacy violations in several nations. Google maintains that its breakneck growth will inevitably attract greater regulatory scrutiny, and that it’s done nothing wrong in connection with other probes.    There are other signs the government is serious about cracking down on illegal online pharmacies. On Thursday, entering the words “no prescription required” into Google’s search engine produced an ad that led to a Justice Department alert reading: “Prescription Drugs. Buying online could mean doing time.”

Source:  Wall Street Journal     MAY 13, 2011




Parents who believe that following the Continental way of introducing their children to alcohol early as a way of promoting responsible drinking could actually risk them developing alcoholism in later life, a new study has claimed.

Researchers at Yale University said that the younger people have their first drink, the more likely they are to suffer alcohol-related problems in sixth form and at university, and be more prone to drug abuse, liver damage and problematic brain development.

The report belies the belief of many parents who think that giving their children watered-down wine from an early age, or allow them to drink in their mid-teens whilst being supervised, will teach them the dangers of drinking and encourage them to behave more responsibly with alcohol when they grow up.

Meghan Morean, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine and corresponding author for the study, said: “Beginning to use alcohol at an earlier age was associated with heavier drinking and the experience of more negative consequences during senior year of college.

“Many studies have found relationships between an early AFD (age at first drink) and a range of negative alcohol-related outcomes later in life, including the development of alcohol use disorders, legal problems like drink-driving, and health problems like cirrhosis of the liver.

“There is also evidence that beginning to drink at an early age is associated with more immediate problems, such as compromised brain development and liver damage during adolescence, risky sexual behaviours, poor performance in school, and use of other substances like marijuana and cocaine.”

The research involved 1,160 first year college students who had data compiled about their drinking habits from the previous four years. Teenagers had their first drink, on average, aged 14. Those who had started getting drunk at 15 were far more likely to develop problems than those who waited until they were 17, even if they had had their first drink at 15, she said.

However, she said that while having your first drink at a young age is associated with many negative consequences, it is not clear that it directly causes heavy drinking or other negative outcomes.

In 2009, the Chief Medical Officer warned that children under 15 should not drink alcohol and warned that as many as a third of 11-15 year olds on a typical weekend drank.

A year later, the charity Alcohol Concern reported that youngsters drinking was a “significant problem” for the UK and that it accounted for 5% of young people’s deaths. In response, the Alcohol Health Alliance UK said that parents should realise they are role models and that “their behaviour in relation to alcohol has more impact than what they tell their children”.

Aric Sigman, who advises the NHS on children and drinking, and has written a book about the issue, Alcohol Nation, said that parents were too happy to ignore the addictive qualities of alcohol as they would drugs, and said that even small amounts of alcohol at a young age can cause addiction.

He said: “Britain has been living under a misconception about not becoming addictive to what is a highly addictive substance.  “Parents have this idea that you can somehow override the addictive qualities simply because alcohol is something adults enjoy and like to share.

“Those who drink between the ages of 14 and 16 are four times more likely to become alcoholics or experience problems.   “Aside from any moral argument, this is a purely a physiological one. Children are very different physiologically to adults in terms of damage to cells and tissue. We know this in relation to skin cancer, cervical cancer, other addictive substances; alcohol is no different.   “Parental disapproval is brilliant for child sobriety. There is a myth that banning your children will turn them into drinkers later. It won’t, and parents should not be conned into discussing their fears.”

Jeremy Todd, Chief Executive of the charity Family Lives, said: “A balance has to be made between whether parents feel comfortable about introducing alcohol to their children in safe environment such as the home, or whether they trust that their children will only drink alcohol once they have reached the legal age.

Ultimately parents know their children and will need to make a judgement call about when and if to introduce their child to alcohol. Equipping parents with the tools to ensure they can talk effectively with their children is the best way of preventing children excessively experimenting and can prevent later problems in teenage and adult life.”

The findings of the Yale research are due to be published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Source:  25th August 2012

Filed under: Alcohol,Health,Parents :

Colorado has legalized marijuana, and I’m glad. We need to try some new approaches to drug policy in this country, and if Colorado is willing to be the guinea pig, we should be grateful.

But here at home, we need to be careful that Colorado’s experiment doesn’t blur one very important fact. Here, there and everywhere, teens should not be smoking marijuana.

Tina Clemmons is a prevention specialist for the Dallas Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. She has been hearing more and more parents dismiss concerns about their teens’ drug use.  “They say, ‘It’s just marijuana.’ ”

Dr. David Atkinson, a local professor of psychiatry and an addiction specialist, hears much the same thing from teens themselves. “ ‘It’s only pot,’ they say.”

But both Clemmons and Atkinson strongly reject the argument. “I’m frightened to death,” Clemmons said. “Parents and young people are not aware of the consequences.”

Now, please don’t confuse this with the “reefer madness” hysteria of old. This is about scientific evidence, not scare tactics.  And the science is clear that marijuana is not safe for the still-developing brains of teens and even young adults.

Susan Foster is vice president and director of policy research at Columbia University’s Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. She put the matter in a way that jolted me.  “In most cases,” she said, “addiction is a pediatric disease.”

I think of runny noses and ear infections as the stuff of pediatrics. It’s painful to think of addiction as also part of childhood medicine.  But Foster said, “Adolescence is the critical period for onset of addiction. That’s because the brain is still developing and is more vulnerable to damage.”

CASAColumbia has studied the link between addiction and age at first use of addictive substances — alcohol, tobacco and drugs, both legal and illegal.

“We see some startling information,” Foster said. “Those who use addictive substances before age 15 are 6 1/2 times more likely to develop addiction than those who did not use until 21 or older.”

Brain chemistry is complicated, she said, but this risk factor is clear. “Early use hikes your risk of addiction,” she said. “The more time you can buy before first use, the lower the risk.”  And addiction is not the only risk of early use. Daily use of marijuana among young people produces an average drop in IQ of 6 to 8 points, said Atkinson, who is on the faculty at UT Southwestern Medical Center.  That’s about the same as for children exposed to elevated lead levels, he said.

All three experts I talked to say they believe that relaxing marijuana laws in Colorado and elsewhere is prompting more marijuana use among teens. “Legalization sends a tacit message of approval,” Atkinson said.  So it becomes more important than ever, they said, for parents to send a clear message of disapproval — for marijuana and all addictive substances. Clearly stating expectations actually works, studies show.

And though risk declines with age, Atkinson cautioned against framing the warning that way with teens. One of their greatest desires is to be treated as adults, he said, so a “You’re still too young” message is ineffective.

Instead, he said, parents should give a concise, straightforward explanation of the scientific evidence of damage to developing brains. “Adolescents often do well with that type of knowledge,” he said. “They feel they are being respected when they are taught the science.”

No matter what a parent’s history with marijuana may have been, that should not translate into acceptance with their own children, the experts said. “Kids will be kids” is not responsible parenting.   It will be interesting to see what Colorado’s experiment in drug policy brings. But let’s keep the experiment there, not in our homes.

Source: 26th March 2014

Filed under: Parents :

Marijuana legalization may be the same-sex marriage of 2014 — a trend that reveals itself in the course of the year as obvious and inexorable. At the risk of exposing myself as the fuddy-duddy I seem to have become, I hope not.  This is, I confess, not entirely logical and a tad hypocritical. At the risk of exposing myself as not the total fuddy-duddy of my children’s dismissive imaginings, I have done my share of inhaling, though back in the age of bell-bottoms and polyester.

Next time I’m in Colorado, I expect, I’ll check out some Bubba Kush. Why not? They used to warn about pot being a gateway drug, but the only gateway I’m apt to be heading through at this stage is the one to Lipitor.

Still, widespread legalization is a bad idea, if an inevitable development. Washington state will be the next to light up, in a few months. A measure is heading to the ballot in Alaska this year, along with measures in Oregon and California. As with gambling — also a bad idea, by the way — more states are certain to feel the peer pressure for tax dollars and tourist revenue.  I’m not arguing that marijuana is riskier than other, already legal substances, namely alcohol and tobacco. Indeed, pot is less addictive; an occasional joint strikes me as no worse than an occasional drink. If you had a choice of which of the three substances to ban, tobacco would have to top the list. Unlike pot and alcohol, tobacco has no socially redeeming value; used properly, it is a killer.

So the reason to single out marijuana is the simple fact of its current (semi-)illegality. On balance, society will not be better off with another legal mind-altering substance. In particular, our kids will not be better off with another legal mind-altering substance. As the American Medical Association concluded in recommending against legalization in November, “Cannabis is a dangerous drug and as such is a public health concern.” It added: “It is the most common illicit drug involved in drugged driving, particularly in drivers under the age of 21. Early cannabis use is related to later substance use disorders.”     And this point, for me, is the most convincing: “Heavy cannabis use in adolescence causes persistent impairments in neurocognitive performance and IQ, and use is associated with increased rates of anxiety, mood, and psychotic thought disorders.” A 2012 study of more than 1,000 New Zealanders from birth to age 38 found that “persistent cannabis use was associated with neuropsychological decline broadly across

domains of functioning, even after controlling for years of education.” Long-term users saw an average decline of eight IQ points.   Once again, teenage toking was the problem. The decrease in IQ was linked only to those with adolescent marijuana use, not those who started in adulthood.

“Impairment was concentrated among adolescent-onset cannabis users, with more persistent use associated with greater decline,” the study reported. For those who started as teens, stopping didn’t fully restore functioning. The results, the study concluded, “are suggestive of a neurotoxic effect of cannabis on the adolescent brain.” Please do not argue that Colorado’s law, like those proposed elsewhere, bans sales to those under 21. Ha! I have teenage children. The laws against underage drinking represent more challenge to overcome than barrier to access.  And although alcohol seems to be the teen drug of choice among the adolescents I know, the more widely available marijuana becomes, the more minors will use it. If seniors in fraternities can legally buy pot, more freshmen and sophomores will be smoking more of it.

And it’s not as if the kids need encouragement. By the time they have graduated from high school, nearly half have tried smoking pot; 16.5 percent of eighth-graders have. More alarming, the number who perceive great risk from regular use has been plummeting, from 58 percent to 40 percent among 12th-graders, according to a study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.   And, that study says, for those who trumpet tight controls on sales to minors, a third of 12th-graders who live in states with medical marijuana and who have used the drug in the past year report that one source is another person’s prescription. Another 6 percent have their own Rx.

Throwing people in jail for smoking pot is dumb and wasteful. Given changing public attitudes — for the first time last year, a majority of Americans supported legalization — Colorado and Washington are apt to be the vanguard states, not the outliers.

If this doesn’t make you nervous, you are smoking something.   Maybe even legally.

Source:  3rd Jan.2014

Filed under: Legal Sector,Parents,USA :

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is releasing new resources to help parents, health care providers and substance abuse treatment specialists treat teens who are struggling with drug abuse. The resources also provide advice on identifying and interacting with teens who may be at risk.

The resources are being released in advance of National Drug Facts Week, January 27 to February 2, when communities and schools around the country will host events to allow teens to learn how drugs affect the brain, body and behavior.

One of the new resources is an online publication, Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Research Based Guide. The guide includes principles to consider in treating adolescent substance use disorders; frequently asked questions about adolescent drug use; evidence-based approaches to treating adolescent substance use disorders; and the role of family and medical professionals in identifying teen substance use and supporting treatment and recovery.

NIDA notes that teen drug use and treatment needs differ from those of adults. Teens are less likely to seek treatment on their own, because they may not want or think they need help. Only 10 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds needing substance abuse treatment receive any services, according to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

“Because critical brain circuits are still developing during the teen years, this age group is particularly susceptible to drug abuse and addiction,” NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow said in a news release. “These new resources are based on recent research that has greatly advanced our understanding of the unique treatment needs of the adolescent.”

Source:    23.01.2014

Filed under: Parents :

David Brooks

Stoned People Do Stupid Things: The decriminalisation of marijuana in more states will only produce more users

FOR a little while in my teenage years, my friends and I smoked marijuana. [ additional reference – marijuana is now very much stronger, and therefore more harmful, than the 1.0% – 2.0% smoked in the l960s] It was fun. I have some fond memories of us all being silly together. I think those moments of uninhibited frolic deepened our friendships. But then we all sort of moved away from it. I don’t remember any big group decision that we should give up weed. It just sort of petered out, and, before long, we were scarcely using it.

We didn’t give it up for the obvious health reasons: that it is addictive in about one in six teenagers; that smoking and driving is a good way to get yourself killed; that young people who smoke go on to suffer IQ loss and perform worse on other cognitive tests.

I think we gave it up, first, because we each had had a few embarrassing incidents. Stoned people do stupid things (that’s basically the point). I smoked one day during lunch and then had to give a presentation in English class. I stumbled through it, incapable of putting together simple phrases, feeling like a total loser. It is still one of those embarrassing memories that pop up unbidden at four in the morning.

We gave it up, second, I think, because one member of our clique became a full-on stoner. He may have been the smartest of us, but something sad happened to him as he sunk deeper into pothead life.

Third, most of us developed higher pleasures. Smoking was fun, for a bit, but it was kind of repetitive. Most of us figured out early on that smoking weed doesn’t really make you funnier or more creative (academic studies more or less confirm this). We graduated to more satisfying pleasures. The deeper sources of happiness usually involve a state of going somewhere, becoming better at something, learning more about something, overcoming difficulty and experiencing a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

One close friend devoted himself to track. Others fell deeply in love and got thrills from the enlargements of the heart. A few developed passions for science or literature.

Finally, I think we had a vague sense that smoking weed was not exactly something you were proud of yourself for. It’s not something people admire. We were in the stage, which I guess all of us are still in, of trying to become more integrated, coherent and responsible people. This process usually involves using the powers of reason, temperance and self-control — not qualities one associates with being high.

I think we had a sense, which all people have, or should have, that the actions you take changes you inside, making you a little more or a little less coherent. Not smoking, or only smoking sporadically, gave you a better shot at becoming a little more integrated and interesting. Smoking all the time seemed likely to cumulatively fragment a person’s deep centre, or at least, not do much to enhance it.

So, like the vast majority of people who try drugs, we aged out. We left marijuana behind. I don’t have any problem with somebody who gets high from time to time, but I guess, on the whole, I think being stoned is not a particularly uplifting form of pleasure and should be discouraged more than encouraged.

We now have a couple of states — Colorado and Washington — that have gone into the business of effectively encouraging drug use. By making weed legal, they are creating a situation in which the price will drop substantially. One Research and Development Corp (RAND) study suggests that prices could plummet by up to 90 per cent, before taxes and such. As prices drop and legal fears go away, usage is bound to increase. This is simple economics, and it is confirmed by much research. Colorado and Washington, in other words, are producing more users.

The people who debate these policy changes usually cite the health risks users would face or the tax revenues the state might realise. Many people these days shy away from talk about the moral status of drug use because that would imply that one sort of life you might choose is better than another sort of life.

But, of course, these are the core questions: Laws profoundly mold culture, so what sort of community do we want our laws to nurture? What sort of individuals and behaviours do our governments want to encourage? I’d say that in healthy societies government wants to subtly tip the scale to favour temperate, prudent, self-governing citizenship. In those societies, government subtly encourages the highest pleasures, like enjoying the arts or being in nature, and discourages lesser pleasures, like being stoned.

In legalising weed, citizens of Colorado are, indeed, enhancing individual freedom. But they are also nurturing a moral ecology in which it is a bit harder to be the sort of person most of us want to be. NYT Smoking all the time seemed likely to cumulatively fragment a person’s deep centre, or at least, not do much to enhance it.

Source:\ New Straits Times, January 4, 2014

Filed under: Parents,Social Affairs,USA :

Andrew Jennings killed himself aged 25, after years of mental illness. His mother, Maggie believes his paranoid schizophrenia was triggered by cannabis use. She told Katy Edwards the poignant and disturbing story.   Andrew John Jennings died in April this year, clutching a photograph of his childhood cat, Mr. Wigs , in a fume-filled car down a quiet Suffolk lane. He was 25 years old.

At his funeral in St Peters Church, Charsfield, his mother Maggie and sister Belinda, 27, spoke of his long battle against paranoid schizophrenia, the terrible illness that dominated his whole life and had made him a prisoner in his own body.   Belinda, who works as a senior laboratory technician for Greene King, had said: “None of us can understand how tough it was for him, every hour of every day. In the end he realized this was no life for him.  “Andrew is at peace for the first time. Deep down I know this was the best and only option for him.”

By the end, Andrew was plagued with up to five “characters” – voices and faces, who would torment him constantly — mocking him and goading him ceaselessly.   His mother, a former producer on BBC Radio Suffolk’s John Eley programme, who now runs a B&B in Debach, believes he took his own life, knowing there could be no other escape from the illness.

She described the moment when Andrew left her and her partner Brian, for the very last time, just minutes before he committed suicide.   She said: “He told me that if it did have to happen that I should know there was no other way and that I was not to blame myself in any way. He said at no time in my life could I have done anything different — that this was in him and there was nothing that could have changed it.”

Maggie is certain, however, that had her son not used cannabis for much of his adult life, he might still be alive today.    She said: “I accept that had he not been so heavily into cannabis he could still have been very sensitive and troubled. He might even have needed a bit of help but he wouldn’t have had this dreadful, dreadful thing.”     She referred to recent research carried out by the Institute of Psychiatry, in London, which revealed a strong link between cannabis consumption and schizophrenia.

Professor Robin Murray, who led the study, published in the British Medical Journal earlier this month, has warned that the research should not be ignored. He cited many examples of cases, where, as with Andrew Jennings, bright young boys have suddenly begun to fail at school, displaying bizarre behaviour, before going off the rails altogether, ending up in a psychiatric unit.   Maggie first began to have concerns about Andrew when, aged 14 and a pupil at Ipswich School, he fell in with a group of cannabis users.

He became less communicative and was getting into trouble at school, which Maggie found very strange, given that he had won an award for the most promising student the previous year.   He had also begun to behave strangely.   On one occasion, he went missing for a whole week, having hidden away in a friend’s barn near Woodbridge. Another incident saw him set fire to the kitchen floor.  He was asked to leave Ipswich School, aged 15, owing to his disruptive behaviour and spent one year at Farlingaye High School in Woodbridge.

“He was a lovely, lovely child but he was beginning to change into someone I didn’t know,” Maggie said. “I am sure it was the drugs.”   She took him to the family doctor, who told her she did not need to worry, adding that “boys will be boys”.  Maggie also insisted that Andrew saw a drugs counsellor, but came away feeling she had been dismissed as an over-anxious mother.

Andrew did very poorly in his GCSE examinations and tried a few college courses, but could not settle. It was when he was working as a forklift truck driver in Felixstowe and living in his own flat that, Maggie believes, real paranoia took hold.   “He would come back with very strange stories about his work mates,” she said.  “He thought everyone was looking at him and calling him   names.”

Andrew was becoming a loner and had begun to drink heavily. He went through a string of part time jobs. He would complain to his mother that the man living above his flat made too much noise and would call him names.  “You could never tell what was real and what wasn’t,” Maggie said.  “He took no pride in anything. He would dress in black and curl up in his dirty flat.”   Even the habitual Friday night curries with his mother and sister were becoming very strained.   “It was obviously awkward for him to come,” Maggie   added.

When Andrew was in his early 20s, he tried to kill himself by slashing his wrists in the bath.

For some reason – Maggie believes he was frightened – he got out of the bath and went outside where he held up a car with a knife, intending to hi-jack the vehicle and drive it off a cliff.   The police intervened before Andrew had left the scene.

It was after seeing a community psychiatric nurse that he was finally diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and admitted to St Clements Hospital in Ipswich. “Even then, the real Andrew was still there, somewhere,” Maggie said.   “He was such a lovely person. He checked with the man whose car he took that he had insurance as he didn’t want to see him out of pocket.”   Sadly, Andrew’s medication never fully controlled his illness. He would drink alcohol, interrupting the efficacy of the drugs and, his mother believes, was still smoking cannabis regularly.   On his release from St Clements, Maggie tried to care for him at home but as the voices in his head began to take over, she became increasingly frightened.   A case in the media of a schizophrenic son having killed his mother because she refused to “back off”, eventually prompted Maggie to seek help.

“I had become terrified of him. I was going to bed with the car keys under my pillow so I could make a quick getaway,” she said.   Maggie was advised to take a back seat and allow carers at East Suffolk Mind to look after Andrew at The Moorings, in Ipswich.  Andrew had his own flat, which he loved, a television and a music system. He got on very well with his carers and enjoyed good food — smoked salmon, olives and feta cheese were his favourites. He was also a talented artist, although his illness would never allow him to concentrate for any period of time.

Maggie keeps a sketch of her niece, which Andrew completed just months before he died and also one of his beloved cat, Mr. Wigs.   She described how the voices would change Andrew’s face — from a smiling, “rubbery” texture, to a pinched, tortured face. She could always tell when he was having a particularly bad episode.

Andrew had told Maggie to watch the film A Beautiful Mind, which shows actor Russell Crowe’s character slump into the depths of mental illness, surrounded by the imaginary characters which dog his every waking moment. “Andrew said that was what life was like for him,” she added.   On one occasion, in February of this year, Maggie remembers Andrew asking her to cook him a Moussaka, which they enjoyed together, sitting on her patio in Debach.   She said: “Afterwards he took my hand and he said ‘It’s OK mum, I’m going to be around for a little while yet but I don’t think I can live like this for much longer.

“I cried and tried to talk him through it. I said that a miracle could always happen — there could be some new drug. He said he had nothing to look forward to. I was running out of things to suggest.”   At Maggie’s suggestion, Andrew bought himself a bicycle and set about planning a marathon journey to Wales.   “The planning was keeping him going,” Maggie said.

In the event, he only got as far as Debenham, realising there could be no real refuge from the voices.    Eventually, Maggie believes, he decided he could go on no longer.

He visited his mother’s house at around 11pm on April 24 this year to borrow a hosepipe, telling his mother he had hit an animal and wanted to clean blood from his car.  She was half-asleep and confused — she had come to suspect strange behaviour from her son. On leaving the house, Andrew had tapped Maggie’s partner Brian on the arm and asked him to take good care of Maggie.  It was only after Andrew had left that Maggie realised what he had meant. She and Brian sped after him in their car but were not able to catch him. They found his flat empty and feared the worst.

Andrew’s body was discovered, near Maggie’s home, down a quiet country lane. It was the only reprieve he could find from the horrifying illness that had made his life a living nightmare.   As far as Maggie is aware, her son never took any drug stronger than cannabis, apart from one experiment with ecstasy, which he had vowed never to try again.

“We’ve got to stop youngsters dying needlessly from cannabis,” she said.  “I hope Andrew’s example will make people think again.”

Mary Canon, a senior lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, with a specialist interest in the link between adolescent cannabis use and schizophrenia, said: “Cannabis definitely worsens the symptoms of schizophrenia, if it already exists. The prognosis is much worse if patients are heavy cannabis smokers. There is very little doubt about that.”

She added that cannabis could also be a trigger in those people who may have be susceptible to the illness.  Tina Graves, housing services manager for East Suffolk Mind, which cared for Andrew during the last few years of his life, said: “There is some evidence to suggest a link between cannabis use and schizophrenia but it has not been proven one way or the other. Everyone here was very distressed about what happened to Andrew and we have every sympathy with his family.”

Source: East Anglian Daily Times (UK) 2003

Filed under: Effects of Drugs,Parents :

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

Neonatal withdrawal cases on rise, causing infant suffering, high costs

The consequences of drug addiction can carry a heavy toll for the tiniest people: newborn babies who suffer from withdrawal. In the neonatal intensive care unit, health professionals see firsthand a product of alarming increases in prescription opioid abuse — community health advocates cite a 666 percent increase in the dispensing of oxycodone from 2009 to 2011 in Hall County. “We’ve definitely felt that in the neonatal world,” said Janessa Canals-Alonso, nurse manager at Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s NICU. “Where before we were impacted more by premature deliveries, or just a very sick infant, all of sudden we’re constantly having babies that are in withdrawal in our units.” In the Northeast Georgia NICU, about two babies per month are treated for neonatal abstinence syndrome, the medical terminology for addiction withdrawal. Those incidences have doubled in only five years, Canals-Alonso said. Studies show the syndrome is most commonly associated with opiate use — from prescription painkillers like Oxycodone to illegal drugs such as heroin — prior to and during pregnancy. Other types of drugs, like barbiturates, cocaine and smoking, also can cause withdrawal symptoms in newborns.   The effects of NAS are in addition to the impact of the drug on the infant’s development. The severity and duration of withdrawal depends on the drug involved. Symptoms include seizures, tremors, excessive high-pitched crying, hyperactivity and vomiting. The infant is not considered “addicted” to the drug, which speaks to a physical and behavioral state of mind, but experiences withdrawal when the dependency-inducing supply of the drug is cut off outside the womb. A baby suffering from the syndrome for opiate use has to be administered medications such as methadone, an opiate used to treat heroin addiction, and then slowly weaned off of the drug. Such treatment is not cheap. “This hits health care costs dramatically,” Canals-Alonso said. “Just one NICU day itself, without anything, could be $1,200. When you start adding medications, any other treatment that goes on — it could be thousands and thousands of dollars.” The average stay in the NICU is about 15 days for an infant with withdrawal, she said. “This has been a very difficult topic for many NICUs throughout the nation,” Canals-Alonso added.   Indeed, research has shown that like the proliferation of opioid pain prescriptions, the increase locally in infant withdrawals mirrors national trends. A 2012 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at information on millions of discharges from thousands of hospitals in 44 states to measure trends and costs associated with NAS over the past decade, revealing almost a fivefold increase from 2000 to 2009 in the number of mothers using opiates — from 1.19 to 5.63 per 1,000 hospital births per year. The rate of newborns diagnosed with the syndrome increased from 1.20 to 3.39 per 1,000 hospital births per year. Factoring inflation, total hospital charges for NAS were estimated to have increased

from $190 to $720 million over the same period of the study, with the majority of costs shouldered by Medicaid, researchers said. In October, the Food and Drug Administration recommended tighter controls on hydrocodone, signaling an increasing sense of urgency to combat prescription, illegal sales and improper diversion — such as teens raiding the bathroom cupboard — of prescription opioids.    Men are more affected, but women are catching up in the prescription drug problem, which the Center for Disease Control has labeled an epidemic. The number of women dying due to prescription drug abuse rose 400 percent between 1999 and 2010, the CDC reported, compared to 250 percent for men. One of the biggest problems for pregnant women dependent on a prescription drug is that it may be too late to take the cessation measures necessary to prevent infant withdrawal.   “That can affect the infant. They can have seizures in utero if you went cold turkey,” Canals-Alonso said. “So a lot of the time, to play it safe, the physician will keep that mom on medication or wean her off very slowly. But they can’t take her off completely; that mom can’t take herself off completely.” The seeming paradox of such a situation, and a severe consequence, was prominent in an Oct. 9 wreck in South Hall County, where a pregnant woman was arrested for DUI of drugs, serious injury by vehicle, endangering a child while driving under the influence, driving while license suspended and failure to maintain lane. Sugar Hill resident Amber Nicole Taylor, 22, said she was on drugs prescribed to her when she crossed the center lane and hit two vehicles before overturning her own, seriously injuring her father, according to the Georgia State Patrol. Taylor pleaded guilty and will participate in Hall County’s drug court program. Canals-Alonso said doctors should have frank, informed discussions with patients on the consequences of delivering a baby in withdrawal.   “I think there needs to be more education on the back end as to what are the symptoms the baby can have once delivered,” she said. “Unfortunately when we get these moms, they’re very upset because they weren’t informed that their baby was going to go through up to a six-week withdrawal.” The onset of symptoms of neonatal withdrawal can begin as early as 24 hours of birth or can be delayed until five to seven days of age, dependent on type of drug or substance used. A baby with NAS symptoms sometimes never sees a NICU. “That’s an entire other concern,” Canals-Alonso said. “These babies are very difficult to manage. They cry uncontrollably; you can’t console them. They’re very jittery and they are difficult feeders. A mom is already having to deal with so many new life changes in addition to a baby who is inconsolable. That just adds so much stress.”  She paused, a nurse’s concern coloring her voice.   “You know, you worry about those babies, and those moms as well,” she said.


Infant addiction By the numbers

5.63: Number of new mothers using opiates per 1,000 hospital births in 2009, up from 1.19 in 200

3.39: Number of newborns suffering neonatal abstinence syndrome per 1,000 hospital births in 2009, up from 1.20 in 2000

$720 million: Total hospital charges related to NAS in 2009, up from $190 million in 2000

Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, based on study of hospitals in 44 states

Source:  2nd November 2013

Filed under: Parents,Prescription Drugs :

We all agree that teenage drinking is a problem that never seems to go away. Most of the concerns about teens and alcohol are centered around their safety, whether behind the wheel or out at a party. But what about the long-term problem of alcoholism?

Can teenage drinking lead to a lifetime of addiction?

Sure, we worry about our teens and underage drinking. But what impact can early drinking have on your teen’s future? Alcoholism can have a devastating effect on the lives of everyone it touches — and rob your child of dreams for the future. We wondered if teens who drink were more likely to struggle with alcoholism down the road.

Who’s drinking?

Nearly 26 percent of Americans aged 12 to 20 reported that they currently consume alcohol, according to a 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The rate of underage drinking increases with age within this range. In a study out of George Mason University, teens reported that it has become the norm for teens to get together for the sole purpose of drinking alcohol. Teens also said that drinking alcohol can be a way of dealing with stress. Obtaining alcohol is easy for teens, and they reported that they usually drink whatever alcohol is available.

Alcoholism, or alcohol abuse?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), young people who start drinking before the age of 15 years are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who do not begin drinking until they have reached legal drinking age (21 years old). What begins as alcohol abuse — binge drinking, for example — can turn into a dependency on alcohol (alcoholism) down the road. What constitutes alcohol abuse? The CDC describes alcohol abuse as an unhealthy pattern of drinking that results in harm to one’s health, interpersonal relationships or ability to work, including: * Failure to fulfill major responsibilities at work, school or home * Drinking in dangerous situations, such as drinking while driving * Legal problems related to alcohol, like physical altercations or drunk driving * Ongoing relationship problems that are caused or worsened by drinking Patterns of alcohol abuse can lead to a dependency on alcohol — also known as alcohol addiction or alcoholism — which is marked by strong cravings for alcohol, the inability to limit drinking and continuing to drink despite warnings and interpersonal problems. Teens who have abused alcohol for several years are potentially on the path of alcoholism.

What’s the problem?

Dr. Suzana Flores is a clinical psychologist in private practice who treats both adults and teens. “Alcohol and drug use is a common issue with teens, but in therapy I focus more on why they are choosing to drink to excess,” she says.  “People who start drinking heavily as teenagers will likely show signs of irresponsibility in relationships, finances and career.”

There is the usual peer pressure and following the crowd, or problems at home or with friends — and teens will often self-medicate with alcohol. Even if teens are drinking purely for recreational purposes, there will still be long-term emotional effects. “For example, when someone starts drinking heavily — let’s say around the age of 15 or so — and maintains this pattern of drinking over time, psychologically, they can remain ‘stuck’ at that maturity level for their entire lives,” she shares. “Their decision-making will likely be impulsive and without forethought. They can get into destructive relationships and live their life based on short-term wants without being able to think in terms of long-term consequences,” Dr. Flores says. “For this reason, people who start drinking heavily as teenagers will likely show signs of irresponsibility in relationships, finances and career,” she adds. The damage done by abusing alcohol at an early age is tough to reverse, and teens may be left with a bleak future unless they can break free from their addiction.

Talk — then talk some more

Some parents have difficulty with talking to their kids about the dangers of alcohol. Whether you are afraid your teenage past will come back to bite you, or you just don’t know what to say, it’s important that you keep a conversation going about alcohol — all through their teen years. A full 83 percent of youth surveyed reported that their parents are the leading influence in their decision not to drink alcohol. The good news is that parents are talking to their kids more than ever about underage drinking and the dangers it poses. Almost half of parents report they have spoken with their 10- to 18-year-old at least four times in the past year about the dangers of underage drinking. Teens and alcohol can be a dangerous combination — now, and over the long term. Keep talking to your teens, know their friends, monitor their activities and stay involved. Your involvement and support may be the most important influence in your teen’s life.

Source:  27th September 2013

Filed under: Parents :

Whether it is used for medical reasons or recreational “highs,” marijuana has become more than a controversial topic.  Arguments for medical use and legalization press forward like an unstoppable force.  Each day, proponents of marijuana reform seem to win another battle.

But as a parent and youth drug abuse prevention specialist, I wonder how these social changes in the acceptance of marijuana will affect our children’s future.

Our generation likes to take credit for drug use because we grew up in the tumultuous 1960’s and 1970’s, though drugs have been used for thousands of years.  The children of the 60’s are now adults pushing for a revolution of the legal status of cannabis.

But there is a very big difference between the marijuana of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, and the marijuana of our children’s generation.  Technological advances allow cannabis plants to be cultivated with much higher concentrations of psychotropic components.  In other words, the street pot of today has an average of 8-13% THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol which causes the “high”) as compared to 0.5-2% THC in the 1970’s.  Some of today’s more expensive strains are created with THC levels in excess of 30%.

No one really knows how this super-pot will affect our children as they grow into adulthood.  We can+not fairly compare the effect of old 1960’s pot on our generation to today’s super-pot on this new generation. Scientists and medical professionals need time to study the long term effects of exposure to high THC levels on the developing adolescent brain.

Longitudinal studies have indicated that teen exposure to low-THC marijuana increases risk of dependency, depression, anxiety, attention deficit, impaired learning, and defective memory. One such 30-year study published this spring showed that I.Q. drops an average of 8 points if a person begins using marijuana before the age of 18 and continues using marijuana to age 38.  There was less I.Q. loss in the group of people who stopped using marijuana in adulthood.  But the least I.Q. loss was in the group of people who did not start using marijuana until after the age of 18.  This data indicates that adolescence is a vulnerable time for marijuana use.

So now we need data on the adolescent brain with today’s high potency marijuana. Well, there is a social experiment going on right now to study the effect of marijuana on today’s adolescent brains.  It is the medical marijuana and legalization reform movement that is going on across this country.  More teenagers will be using marijuana due to loosening laws.  The Colorado Department of Education reported that high school student use of marijuana has increased by 39% from 2008 to 2012.  Middle school student use increased statewide by 50% from 2008 to 2012.

Our children have become the unwitting guinea pigs to a national experiment.  No waivers or consent forms for parents to sign.  No disclosure of potential risks to our children’s future.   We should have the results in about 20 years.

Source:  12th August 2013

Filed under: Parents,Social Affairs :

Teens who regularly use marijuana may be at risk for developing serious psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, a new study suggests.

This is because regular marijuana use in adolescence, but not adulthood, may permanently damage brain function and cognition, according to new research.

Scientists from the University of Maryland School of Medicine hope that the latest findings will help warn policy makers contemplating legalizing marijuana about the potential long-term dangers of the drug.


“Over the past 20 years, there has been a major controversy about the long-term effects of marijuana, with some evidence that use in adolescence could be damaging,” senior author Asaf Keller, Ph.D., Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine said in a news release.

Previous studies have suggested that children who start using marijuana before the age of 16 are significantly more likely to develop permanent cognitive deficits and psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia.

“There likely is a genetic susceptibility, and then you add marijuana during adolescence and it becomes the trigger,” Keller explained.

The current study wanted to identify the biological evidence and determine whether marijuana use during adolescence really comes with permanent health risks.

In the study, researchers examined the cortical oscillations in mice. Cortical oscillations, or patterns of neuronal activity, are believed to underlie the brain’s various functions.  Researchers say that these oscillations are very abnormal in people with schizophrenia and in other psychiatric disorders.

The study revealed that mice exposed to very low doses of the active ingredient in marijuana for 20 days had “grossly altered” cortical oscillations in adulthood.  Researchers said these mice also exhibited impaired cognitive abilities.

“We also found impaired cognitive behavioral performance in those mice. The striking finding is that, even though the mice were exposed to very low drug doses, and only for a brief period during adolescence, their brain abnormalities persisted into adulthood,” lead researcher Sylvina Mullins Raver, a Ph.D. candidate in the Program in Neuroscience in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said in a statement.

After repeating the experiment in adult mice, researchers found that the cortical oscillations and ability to perform cognitive behavioral tasks remained normal in mice exposed to the drug only after they’ve fully matured. Researchers said this suggests that it was only marijuana exposure during the critical period of adolescence that impaired cognition through this mechanism.

Further analysis revealed that the frontal cortex, the brain area that controls executive functions such as planning and impulse control, is significantly more affected by the drugs during adolescence. Researchers noted that the frontal cortex is also the area most affected in schizophrenia.

While the latest study was on mice, researchers believe that the findings have implications for humans as well. They say the next step is to continue researching the underlying mechanisms that cause these changes in cortical oscillations.

“The purpose of studying these mechanisms is to see whether we can reverse these effects,” explained Keller. “We are hoping we will learn more about schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders, which are complicated conditions. These cognitive symptoms are not affected by medication, but they might be affected by controlling these cortical oscillations.


Source: Counsel & Heal Mental Health  July 2013

This article from Sue Rusche of What About The Children campaign was published to show just how inane are comments from the drug user community on the internet. The sad part is that many young people use Facebook and Twitter and can be easily influenced by the comments they read on these and similar sites.  Parents need to educate their youngsters so that they know how biased and full of untruths such comment from drug users can be. NDPA

Don’t Expect to Learn Anything True about Marijuana From Internet Commenters

Six days after The Huffington Post published my latest article, browsers had logged in 156 comments. The post was titled Marijuana Legalization Proponents Deny Health Harms Just Like the Tobacco Industry Did; 153 of the 156 comments proved the point.

Just 30 people made 80 percent (125) of the comments. Contributing the most were truthaboutmmj (19); kevin hunt2012 (12); Andrew swanteni (9); Blows Against the Empire and ConnieInCleveland (6 each); RMForbes, SchumannFu, and Volteric (5 each); JohnThomas, Tomaniac, and WowFolksAreDumb (4 each); average dude, FlyingTooLow, JD Salinger, Matthew Fairbrother, McMike55, moldy, Paul Paul, and susierr (3 each). Eleven people contributed 2 comments each; 28 contributed 1 each. Only one person, Jan Beauregard, PhD, a Virginia psychotherapist whose specialties include addictive disorders, agreed that marijuana has health harms. She contributed three comments.  Clicking a link in a commenter’s name will take you to Huff Post’s Social News and a collection of all the comments that person has made about Huff Post stories. Commenters apply for a spot on Social News by linking it to their Facebook accounts, which magnifies Huff Post’s reach. Call it Huff Post squared. Huff Post cubed occurs if commenters also link Social News to their Twitter accounts. Huff Post awards badges to commenters based on the number of comments they make on Huff Post’s stories and the number of Facebook Friends and Twitter Followers they have. The more comments, friends, and followers, the higher level badges they earn. WowFolksAreDumb, for example, who must hold some kind of record, has written more than 10,000 comments since joining Social News in May 2012 and has earned four badges–Level 2 Networker, Level 2 Superuser, Level 1 Crime Solver, and Moderator.

Huff Post has brilliantly tapped into social media to expand its audience exponentially. But this brave new world comes at a cost. Few editors live in this world. Opinions triumph over facts. Quantity trumps quality. Truth loses.

Juxtapose this with two major problems of current science: 1) the public cannot access most published studies and 2) scientific disciplines are so specialized that public access would hardly matter. A PhD is needed to understand the complexity of new knowledge scientists are developing today, and a PhD in one discipline does not guarantee understanding of knowledge developed in another. Scientists can’t speak each other’s languages anymore, so specialized have various disciplines become. An astronomer couldn’t explain the genome to you any better than a geneticist could explain the cosmos.

Without access to comprehensible science, science illiteracy rules, particularly in the area of the science that underlies addictive drugs. Perhaps the most puzzling argument that runs through many of the comments about my post is one that rejects later work which contradicts earlier studies. WowFolksAreDumb, for example, writes, “According to Dreher 1994, there are no prenatal or neonatal differences between babies from mothers who did use cannabis during pregnancy and babies from mothers who did not.” In addition to the 2012 study I wrote about, more than 50 other studies about the harmful effects of marijuana on the developing fetus have been published since 1994, but WowFolksAreDumb claims the 1994 study negates them all. Maxpost, Midnight Toker, goes a step further. He interprets Dreher’s study to mean: “Pregnant women SHOULD smoke DOPE!!!”

Commenters attacked all the studies I wrote about, particularly the study indicating a link between marijuana use and testicular cancer. Steve Hager dismissed it this way: “I believe the testicular cancer study involved 6 people, maybe it was only 3. Worthless, really.” That study actually involved 163 young men diagnosed with testicular cancer and a control group of 292 healthy men of the same age and ethnicity and asked them about their drug use. The investigators found that compared to those who had never used marijuana, men who had used the drug were twice as likely to have testicular cancer. It’s difficult to understand why Mr. Hager couldn’t trouble himself to check how many people were involved in the study since I provided links to both the account of it published by Science Daily and the abstract of the study itself. Both clearly state the number of research subjects.

The collision of social media with current, complex science produces a chasm where scientific truth can be manipulated easily – and aggressively. I emailed Dr. Beauregard to thank her for supporting the marijuana science I had written about. She emailed back, “I have found many of the same facts, but the comments are more than I can stand and the backlash is horrific. I only posted a few things and have had literally over 50 people email me with hostile, emotional comments based on personal experience as a user.”

And that, in a nutshell, is the heart of the problem. When it comes to marijuana, users dominate not just Huff Post, but the Internet as well. They relentlessly assault anyone who reports that a marijuana study might show a detrimental effect. Few have time to put up with this, not therapists like Dr. Beauregard who treats marijuana addiction, not scientists who conduct the studies, not writers who report the science. With marijuana, what takes place on the Internet is a shouting match; those who shout loudest win.

After this experience, I’ve learned something else about the drug: marijuana not only makes you lie, it makes you rude.

Source:  National Families in Action March 29, 2013 

Filed under: Parents,Social Affairs :

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:  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:  9th August 2023

The number one reason youngsters give for not smoking or using drugs is fear of disappointing their parents. You can be a powerful influence. You can set clear expectations and limits. You can be a supporter who encourages them to pursue their dreams and goals.

Here are 7 ways you can protect your child from alcohol and other drugs:

1. Talk Often With Your Kids

Fact: Kids who learn a lot about the risks of alcohol and other drugs from their parents are up to 50% less likely to use.

* Have regular discussions from an early age, with consistent messages about the risks of alcohol and other drugs.

* Plan what you want to say for the appropriate age.

* Practice how you will respond to tough questions.

* Find teachable moments.

* Teach them how to turn down alcohol and other drugs. * Visit for more helpful tips on how to talk with your kids.

2. Be Clear About Your Expectations

Fact: You can build trust with your child by having clear and consistent rules.

Tell them it is not okay to drink or do drugs because:

* It‘s against the law.

* You’re still growing and your brain is still developing. Alcohol and drugs can damage your memory, your ability to learn, and can permanently damage your brain.

* Doing drugs and drinking when you’re a teen makes you more likely to become addicted, and can lead to desperate measures including committing crimes.

* You are more likely to make a bad decision when you are drinking or getting high, such as getting in a car, getting in a fight, or having sex.

* Kids who drink are more likely to try other drugs.

3. Be a Role Model

Fact: Kids imitate adults.

* If you drink, do it in moderation, defined as “the consumption of up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men.”

* Never drink and drive.

* Don’t use illegal drugs.

* Use prescription drugs properly.

* (Never say things like “I need a drink” – the message heard by teens is ‘a drink helps when you have a bad day, stress or problems !)

4. Be Involved In Your Kid’s Life

Fact: Kids are less likely to use drugs when they have relationships with caring adults.

* Listen to your child. Ask them about things they enjoy doing.

* Be empathetic about problems with friends.

* When your child seems angry or upset, start a conversation with an observation like “you seem sad” or “you seem stressed.”

* Have dinner together at least four times a week.

* Get to know your child’s friends and their parents.

* When your child is going to someone’s house, make sure an adult will be home.

* Encourage your child to call any time they feel uncomfortable.

5.  Establish Rules and Follow Through

Fact: Parents’ leniency is a bigger factor in teenage drug use than peer pressure.

* Talk to your child about rules at a calm time. Explain the rules, for example what time they must come home, and the consequence for breaking the rule.

* Build a trusting relationship with respect and consistency. Reward good behavior.

* Follow through with consequences. Uphold your rules and rules set by the school and community. If your child is punished for breaking a rule, help them understand why, and discuss what they can do differently in the future.

Here are some responses to common excuses and arguments:

* “You’re the only parent who won’t let me…” (I am sorry you feel that way, but that is the rule in this house.)

* “I didn’t know I was supposed to be home at… “ (You do now.)

* “It’s not mine, I was holding it for a friend… “ (You’re still responsible.)

* “I swear, it was the first time I tried it… “(Bad things can happen on the first time.)

* “That teacher/person in charge is out to get me…“ (That is irrelevant.)

* “Why don’t you trust me? … “ (Your trust bank account is low right now. Here’s what you can do to make a deposit.)

6. Encourage Your Child to Work Hard in School:

Fact: Kids who perform well in school are less likely to become involved with alcohol and drugs.

* Encourage improvements in grades and in good work.

* Make sure your teen has a quiet place to do homework.

* Coach your child on effective ways to ask teachers for help and advice.


7. Support Your Child’s Involvement in Outside Activities:

Fact: Kids who pursue their interests and dreams are less likely to try alcohol and drugs.

* Community Service – Volunteering and getting involved in the community give a sense of purpose, and expand your child’s awareness of the world.

* Sports– Keeping active in sports provides physical, mental and emotional benefits, and keeps kids from getting bored.

* Art, Drama and Music – Creative expression and friends with common interests can help a child develop a talent and increase self-confidence.

Filed under: Parents :

Recovery from alcohol and drug problems is a process of change through which an individual achieves abstinence and improved health, wellness and quality of life.

Guiding Principles

There are many pathways to recovery. Individuals are unique with specific needs, strengths, goals, health attitudes, behaviors and expectations for recovery. Recovery is a process of change that permits an individual to make healthy choices and improve the quality of his/her life.

Recovery is self-directed and empowering. The process of recovery leads individuals toward the highest level of autonomy of which they are capable. Through self-empowerment, individuals become optimistic about life goals.

Recovery involves a personal recognition of the need for change and transformation. The process of change can involve physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual aspects of the person’s life.

Recovery is holistic. Recovery is a process through which one gradually achieves greater balance of mind, body and spirit in relation to other aspects of one’s life, including family, work and community.

Recovery has cultural dimensions. Each person’s recovery process is unique and impacted by cultural beliefs and traditions.

Recovery exists on a continuum of improved health and wellness. Recovery is not a linear process. It is based on continual growth and improved functioning.

Recovery emerges from hope and gratitude. Individuals in or seeking recovery often gain hope from those who share their search for or experience of recovery. They see that people can and do overcome the obstacles that confront them and they cultivate gratitude for the opportunities that each day of recovery offers.

Recovery involves a process of healing and self-redefinition. Recovery is a holistic healing process in which one develops a positive and meaningful sense of identity.

Recovery involves addressing discrimination and transcending shame and stigma. Recovery is a process by which people confront and strive to overcome stigma.

Recovery is supported by peers and allies. A common denominator in the recovery process is the presence and involvement of people who contribute hope and support and suggest strategies and resources for change.

Recovery involves (re)joining and (re)building a life in the community. Recovery involves a process of building or rebuilding what a person has lost or never had due to his/her condition and its consequences.

Recovery is a reality. It can, will, and does happen.

Source: Natl. Summit on Recovery, Conference Report – SAMHSA – September 2005  Published at   

Filed under: Parents :

Urban Outfitters, a trendy shop selling mainly to young people was marketing merchandise made to look like prescription pill bottles including prescription label flasks, pint and shot glasses.  Drug prevention groups and parents flooded the company with complaints and they did withdraw these items. We need to be vigilant and make our voices heard whenever we see companies normalising or glamourising drug use.  Take up the phone or a pen and make a complaint !   NDPA


NEW YORK, June 17, 2013 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — The following is a Statement of Steve Pasierb, President and CEO, The Partnership at

Last Friday, Urban Outfitters issued a statement to CNN that it was halting the sale of prescription drug paraphernalia products. The statement read, “In this extensive range of product we recognize that from time to time there may be individual items that are misinterpreted by people who are not our customer. As a result of this misinterpretation we are electing to discontinue these few styles from our current product offering.”

On behalf of The Partnership at, our partners and the families across the country affected by the issue of prescription drug misuse and abuse, we commend Urban Outfitters for doing the right thing by discontinuing the sale of these products from their current offerings.

This May, the California Friday Night Live Partnership alerted us that Urban Outfitters, a national retail store popular with teens, was selling merchandise made to look like prescription pill bottles including prescription label flasks, pint and shot glasses. In response, The Partnership at launched an advocacy campaign and petition requesting that Urban Outfitters remove these products from their stores and website. Thanks to countless parents, teens, alliances and partners, including support from U.S. Representative Hal Rogers, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and 22 State Attorneys General, our efforts secured more than 4,700 signatures of support on

Given that 90 percent of addictions start in the teenage years, these products, which linked medicine and alcohol and were aimed at a high school and college-age audience, wrongfully glorified the abuse and misuse of prescription drugs. All teenagers – regardless of who they are or where they live – are subject to the lure of drugs and alcohol. For this reason, The Partnership at continues to focus its efforts on educating, motivating, supporting and empowering families with the resources they need to help protect children from drug and alcohol abuse, most specifically in conjunction with The Medicine Abuse Project, our national initiative to prevent half a million teens from abusing prescription drugs and over-the-counter cough medicine by 2017.

According to the CDC, prescription drug abuse in the United States is now at epidemic levels. More Americans die from prescription drug overdoses than from heroin and cocaine overdoses combined. And according to our recently released Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, teen prescription drug misuse and abuse is up by 33 percent since 2008.

Educating parents and our youth about the dangers of medicine abuse is an ongoing job; a job that we all as members of society must do together.

Source: 17th June 2013

Filed under: Parents,USA :

Parents make a difference in their kids abusing pot, alcohol, drugs

A recent SAMHSA study confirms that kids are many times less likely to use drugs when they know that their parents would disapprove of that behavior.

Put another way, in terms of marijuana use alone, kids are 6 times more likely to use pot simply because of a parental attitude of indifference towards marijuana use.

Given the huge difference in outcomes, is there any other drug education program that can achieve this kind of result? Of course not. Parents are on the front lines of prevention and need to understand that their attitudes about drug use are a key factor in decisions made by their children.

I am often approached by concerned parents who are desperately seeking the solution to keeping their kids drug-free in a drug-filled world. The answer is always the same: love your kids enough to take a strong stand against drug use, communicate your values consistently and regularly to your children, surround your children with other caring adults and youth who possess similar values, and live the way you teach.

Does parental involvement guarantee that a child will not be influenced by a culture that is awash in drug propaganda? No, but it will give that child the best chance for a drug-free life.

ROCKVILLE, Md., May 26 (UPI) — More than 1-in-5 parents say they have little influence in preventing teens from using illicit substances, but surveys prove them wrong, a U.S. agency says.

A report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found 22 percent of U.S parents of children ages 12-17 said they had little influence on whether or not their child uses illicit substances, tobacco or alcohol.

The annual survey involved 67,500 Americans age 12 or older.

Pamela S. Hyde, administrator of SAMHSA, said national surveys of youths 12-17 show those who believe their parents would strongly disapprove of their substance use were less likely to use substances. For example, 5 percent of current marijuana users said their parents would strongly disapprove of their trying marijuana once or twice versus 31.5 percent of current marijuana who did not perceive this level of parental disapproval.

“Surveys of teens repeatedly show that parents can make an enormous difference in influencing their children’s perceptions of tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drug use,” Hyde said in a statement. “Although most parents are talking with their teens about the risks of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, far too many are missing the vital opportunity these conversations provide in influencing their children’s health and well-being. Parents need to initiate age-appropriate conversations about these issues with their children at all stages of their development in order to help ensure that their children make the right decisions.”


<em>Source: </em>

Filed under: Parents :

Early intervention is valuable when facing drug and alcohol use

Intervention is a big word with frightening implications to a lot of parents, but parents don’t need to be scared off by an intervention opportunity, especially if an intervention is just what their child needs to come clean.

To help parents learn how to speak to their children about drug and alcohol use, the Partnership at created Intervention, an eBook available online or as a printed copy through the Unified Prevention! (UP!) Coalition for a Drug-Free Doña Ana County, an initiative of the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico.

Intervention helps parents answer questions like: What is a drug or alcohol Intervention, how do I know for sure if my teen is using, how should I prepare for a talk with my child, how do I make sure the talk is productive and what if my child needs outside help?

The eBook points out that an intervention can be a conversation where parents express concerns about drug or alcohol use and make it clear they do not want their teens drinking or using drugs. In many cases, interventions cannot come too early since casual or experimental drug use can quickly turn into drug abuse, dependence or addiction and can lead to accidents, legal trouble, and serious health issues.

There are two types of interventions-formal and informal. A formal intervention is a planned and structured conversation required when a user is suffering from dependence or addiction, or has refused help or treatment on previous occasions. A formal intervention should involve parents and loved ones and a trained professional can be brought in to conduct the intervention in a capable way.

An informal intervention is a personal discussion with the drug or alcohol user, and is usually the best option for first time discussions and for parents that suspect their teen is experimenting. Informal discussions allow parents to have a back and forth conversation while making observations and listening to their teens.

Neither type of intervention should be held when the user is drunk or high or the parent is angry or unprepared.

“What I would tell a parent who suspects or has discovered that their child is using is to accept it. The worst thing that you can do is to go into this place of denial and start saying, ‘Oh, well, a friend left it here. Oh, well, that must have been there. Oh, well, that’s not my child’s.’ That is the worst thing you can possibly do. Accept it. Confront your child. Have a discussion,” said Lorraine Popper, a mother who contributed to the Intervention eBook.

One thing to remember during intervention is that follow-up is extremely important. Parents should prepare to follow-up on anything that is said during the intervention, especially rules and consequences.

Parents who see their teens facing a deeper progression of drug and alcohol use should seek guidance from authorities with the ability to provide resources and guidance including a school counselor, professional therapist or addiction counselor; pediatrician or family doctor or sports coach. When drug or alcohol use starts causing serious and recurring problems, it is likely time to start looking into intensive treatment programs. Both inpatient and outpatient programs provide the stability, education, discipline and counseling adolescents need to get better. For more information visit

Source: alcohol use         6.3.1013

Filed under: Parents :

Marijuana advertising is no longer an underground operation in Colorado but the latest trend is angering some parents- texts sent to children’s cell phones.

Medical marijuana ads are everywhere, from newspaper advertising to billboards. Now the advertising is branching into new territory, directly targeting consumers via cell phone texts.

“I really didn’t know what it was until I asked my mom,” said 10-year-old Trey Digby.Trey started getting texts from an unknown out-of-state number and showed his mother. “I couldn’t believe that a marijuana dispensary could come into my home and text my kids and expose them to this,” said Trey’s mother Kelley Digby. Digby said since Nov. 2012 her son has received about 25 text ads from the Urban Dispensary in Denver. Even after requesting the number be removed from their database, the texts keep coming.

The dispensary manager said the shop does not advertise to children, only to patients who provide their phone numbers on a membership form. Those phone numbers are manually entered into a group texting site out of California. Digby said that’s an imperfect and dangerous way to advertise. “There are so many numbers that can be easily transferred to children and avenues for error, numbers transposed and give kids access to these.”

The Colorado Drug Investigators Association said this new form of pot advertising is disturbing. “I’m a parent, so when I see something like this it makes me mad,” said Colorado Drug Investigators Assn. Sgt. Jim Gerhardt. “People that are proponents for it, you need to pay attention to how this might impact kids.”

Trey agrees. “Please stop sending these texts they’re bothering me and I’m kind of scared.”

Colorado’s Marijuana Task Force recommends prohibiting all mass marketing campaigns that have a likelihood of reaching minors. Another recommendation from the task force allows opt-in marketing on the web and mobile devices as long as there is an easy way to opt out.


Filed under: Parents,USA :

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:

Source: American Journal of Public Health Preventive Medicine April 25, 2013 in Addiction (Medical Xpress)


The NDPA has often spoken of the need to change the culture around illegal drug use. Young people are being bombarded with mixed messages and find it hard to know who to trust. Parents, quite rightly, want to protect their children and don’t want them using drugs which have addiction potential. More and more research is proving that even cannabis is not the harmless substance once thought and the risk to mental health of users is considerable. And yet the media, via tv, newspapers, music and clothing normalise and glamourise drug taking. The letter below was sent to the CEO of a chain of youth clothing shops.

Letter sent to CEO of Urban Outfitters USA May 2012

Subject: Glasses made to look like pill bottles

I am a parent and grandmother, and one of the thousands of dedicated volunteers who work worldwide to prevent our children from using drugs. I am shocked to learn that your company is selling products made to look like prescription pill bottles. Have you not read about the deaths and health harms from young people using prescription pills ? They think the pills must be safe if prescribed by a doctor – not realising that they are only safe for the patient -not for others using them to get high ?

Is there nothing that companies like yours won’t do to make a profit – even at the risk of death and health to young vulnerable teenagers ?

Shame on you.



Filed under: Parents :

Written by Sheila Polk and Carolyn Short

Marijuana brings dangerous consequences.

If you weren’t afraid to share the road before, a recent survey result should send chills up your spine: most teenagers who drive under the influence of marijuana said the drug either improves their performance behind the wheel or is no hindrance at all.

The survey, by insurer Liberty Mutual Holding Co. and Students against Destructive Decisions, reveals that teens aren’t just saying that – they believe it, and they’re driving while stoned.

Ironically, a leading cause of death for teens is the car crash; and marijuana use, even in small amounts, significantly increases that risk.

Who – or what – is responsible for this incredible ignorance? In perhaps another chilling development, we are seeing the social norming of pot through the medical marijuana movement: “It can’t be harmful; it’s medicine!” Call something medicine and its perceived risks decline while its acceptance spreads.

Political rhetoric on the legalization of marijuana is highly charged. Meanwhile, nobody is hearing the truth: Marijuana is harmful for both the user and society.

Marijuana contains more than 400 chemicals. The primary psychoactive chemical is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and is the component of marijuana principally responsible for the “high” experienced by pot smokers. Along with the high, users exhibit slower reflexes and decreased coordination. Marijuana also impairs judgment.

Slower reaction times, impaired judgment, and problems responding to signals and sounds equal dangerous drivers. No wonder those who drive within three hours of smoking marijuana are twice as likely to be involved in a major car crash.

The THC content of marijuana varies widely depending on the strain of plant, how grown, and the part of the plant that is used. The pot of the 60’s had an average THC content of .5 to 3%. Today’s pot is much more potent. As the THC content increases, so do the potential adverse effects.

This is one of several reasons why the FDA and medical associations say smoked marijuana isn’t “medicine.” It can’t be delivered in discreet, consistent and measurable doses. It also has a high potential for dependence and abuse.

Smoked marijuana use is also associated with respiratory ailments, mental illness, impaired cognitive and immune functioning, and poor academic performance. Recent studies show teen pot smokers do worse in school, can have lower IQs as adults and are more likely to develop serious mental health issues.

Pot use harms society as well. Increased costs of substance abuse treatment, health care, high school and college drop-outs, and decreased productivity typically are borne by the public.

It should come as no surprise that the idea for “medical” marijuana came from the pot lobby, not from medical doctors. Medical doctors already have access to prescription Marinol which accesses the effective aspects of THC in a controlled dose and has

withstood the rigorous approval process by the FDA. Pot is big business, promoted by a well-funded, well organized and politically influential pot lobby.

Meanwhile, our teens have heard adults declare via the ballot box that marijuana is medicine and so they conclude that its use is not risky. And now we learn that most teens who drive stoned actually think they are safe.

How dangerous. How frightening. How sad.


Filed under: Effects of Drugs,Parents :

Teen-age college students are significantly more likely to abstain from drinking or to drink only minimally when their parents talk to them before they start college, using suggestions in a parent handbook developed by Robert Turrisi, professor of biobehavioral health, Penn State.

“Over 90 percent of teens try alcohol outside the home before they graduate from high school,” said Turrisi. “It is well known that fewer problems develop for every year that heavy drinking is delayed. Our research over the past decade shows that parents can play a powerful role in minimizing their teens’ drinking during college when they talk to their teens about alcohol before they enter college.”

The researchers recruited 1,900 study participants by randomly selecting incoming freshmen to a large, public northeastern university. Each of the individuals was identified as belonging to one of four groups: nondrinkers, weekend light drinkers, weekend heavy drinkers and heavy drinkers.

The team mailed Turrisi’s handbook to the parents of the student participants. The 22-page handbook contained information that included an overview of college student drinking, strategies and techniques for communicating effectively, ways to help teens develop assertiveness and resist peer pressure and in-depth information on how alcohol affects the body. The parents were asked to read the handbook and then talk to their teens about the content of the handbook at one of three times to which they were randomly assigned: (1) during the summer before college, (2) during the summer before college and again during the fall semester of the first year of college and (3) during the fall semester of the first year of college.

“We were trying to determine the best timing and dosage for delivering the parent intervention,” Turrisi said. “For timing, we compared pre-college matriculation to after-college matriculation. For dosage, we compared one conversation about alcohol to two conversations about alcohol.” The results appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

“We know that without an intervention there is movement from each drinking level into higher drinking levels,” Turrisi said. “For example, non-drinkers tend to become light drinkers, light drinkers will become medium drinkers and medium drinkers will become heavy drinkers. Our results show that if parents follow the recommendations suggested in the handbook and talk to their teens before they enter college, their teens are more likely to remain in the non-drinking or light-drinking groups or to transition out of a heavy-drinking group if they were already heavy drinkers.”

According to Turrisi, talking to teens in the fall of the first year of college may not work as well; for many families it had no effect on students’ drinking behaviors. Likewise, adding extra parent materials in the fall seemed to have no additional benefit.

Source: 19th March 2013

College students who use marijuana and other illegal substances, even occasionally, are more likely to leave school than students who don’t dabble in drugs, new research finds.

There’s a strong link between marijuana use and “discontinuous enrollment,” said study author Dr. Amelia Arria, director of the Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. The same goes for other illicit drugs, she added.

In a recent issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Arria and her colleagues reported that students with high levels of marijuana use (more than 17 days a month) were twice as likely as those with minimal use (less than a day a month) to have an enrollment gap while in college. But even students who used pot less often, in the range of three to 12 days a month, were more likely to experience enrollment gaps.

Arria said, “We wanted to look at whether or not drug use interferes with goals students had set for themselves. Our results show that marijuana use is not a benign thing.”

For their research, the authors used data from the College Life Study, ongoing research on health-related behaviors among college students. They tracked 1,133 participants (47 percent male) over four years. All of the students began their freshman year between the ages of 17 and 19, and they all attended the same university located in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

During each school year, they participated in questionnaires and interviews, even if they had decided not to return to classes at the university (a financial incentive was offered). Their enrollment and graduation data were obtained from university records that the students consented to share.

“Continuous enrollment” was defined as being enrolled at the university for at least one credit during each fall and spring semester for the first four years of the study, Arria said. By the study’s end, 71 percent of the students had remained continuously enrolled over four years, and 29 percent had not.

Reasons that students left college varied. While some transferred to another university, others exited college life altogether, so the authors opted to use the term “discontinued enrollment” instead “dropout.”

Aria said it’s key to point out that their results were independent of other factors such as demographics, high school GPA, fraternity or sorority enrollment, personality type, risk-taking behaviors, and a student’s use of tobacco and alcohol.

“Marijuana use was still a predictor of discontinuous enrollment,” Arria said.

A second study, published in the journal Psychiatric Services and funded by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, looked at drug use and mental health problems and the risk of leaving college prematurely. Arria and her colleagues report that students who experience symptoms of depression and seek treatment for depression during college might be at risk for an enrollment gap, too, especially if they use pot or other illicit drugs.

However, students whose depression was identified and treated before heading to college were not at risk for enrollment problems once at the university level.

Dr. Marc Galanter, director of the division of alcoholism and drug abuse at NYU Langone Medical Center and a professor at the NYU School of Medicine, said the studies are interesting, especially when reviewed together.

“When they say there’s a need for early intervention for illicit drug users, there may be other issues that cast the die for drug use, namely depression,” Galanter said. “The question is, do drugs cause the problem or are they a consequence of some other problem? Could it be depression that leads people to use drugs secondarily? It’s not clear what’s causal.”

Study author Arria said that although marijuana tends to be viewed as a more benign drug, that is a fallacy. “The perceived risk of marijuana is declining because people think it’s more benign than it is, and its use is going up among college students. But we’ve known for a long time that marijuana affects cognition and memory.”

Nonmedical use of prescription drugs is also a concern among college students.

Galanter said, “The real serious drug problem is the painkillers — Percocet, Vicodin, OxyContin. There are a notable number of young people getting seriously addicted. It’s a noticeable statistic. Some of these drugs come from the family medicine cabinet but there are also people who get illicit prescriptions and then sell the drugs as dealers.”

Arria said that school administrators and parents can help by communicating with kids early in adolescence about the risks of drugs, and intervening when a child needs help and support. Armed with that support, students are more likely to stay in college once they get there.

Source: Health Day News 22nd March 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: Thursday, February 7, 2013

Dust-Off is flying off the shelves in university towns as party-loving Brits find cheap ways to get high. The deadly habit, known as dusting, involves sucking in compressed gas with a straw on the can’s nozzle.

The high is so intense it can paralyse the user for up to ten minutes.

Ryan Linas, 20, from Nottingham Trent University, said: “You take a full can of Dust-Off and inhale as much as you can in one breath. You just feel really high. It’s euphoric. Of course it’s dangerous, all drugs are dangerous but it’s really cheap and you don’t have to worry about getting arrested when you buy it.”

The trend has spread to several unis across the UK after becoming a huge hit in America.

The spray contains freon, which pushes oxygen out of the lungs and can cause a mini stroke or heart attack. Ryan added: “My friend from Leeds introduced me to dusting when he came back from Seattle.

“I’m not boasting or anything but you can get high over and over again for £4.99.”

Tesco supermarkets have barred under-18s from buying Dust-Off.

Source: Daily Star Sunday 3rd Feb.2013

Filed under: Parents,Social Affairs :

The largest effect of marijuana is neurological. The main psychoactive (mind-altering) chemical in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. THC targets the specific brain cells or cannabinoid receptors that are in the highest concentration found in sections of the brain dealing with pleasure, learning, concentration, coordination and memory. These areas show measurably lower functioning when someone smokes not only for that day but also for weeks afterward.

Few drugs have such a long-lasting effect in the brain. This is due to the brain being made up largely of fatty tissue and THC binds and is stored in fat cells. The more someone ingests the more is stored. This is why marijuana is detected in drug tests for much longer than most other drugs.

Anytime you artificially introduce chemicals that create a flood of dopamine in the brain there is a potential for dependence. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and sends signals from one nerve cell to another. In the case of marijuana, THC targeting these receptors creates the “high” and a feeling of euphoria is created. Anytime you have a drug that creates such pleasure there is a possibility for abuse.

Now I’d like to be clear: not everyone who smokes marijuana will become addicted. Addiction doesn’t work like that. Some people can ingest drugs with relativity little effect on their lives. For some it takes control. Brains respond differently. People have different psychological experiences, different genetics. Some have a glass of wine at dinner and some drink until they lose everything. The line of addiction is crossed when the substance that is abused affects a person’s life in significant ways and they still don’t stop.

Marijuana is no different. It can be used with little effect being shown on a person’s life or it can tear apart a family. Since I work with teens and by extension families, I’ve seen kids choose smoking pot over friends, sports, school, jobs and just about anything worthwhile. It is clear that marijuana use by teens is much higher than in the general adult population. Ask any teenager how hard it is to buy marijuana at school and most will tell you it’s available daily.

Downplaying the damage that smoking marijuana can do only hurts kids. Teenage brains are still developing into the early 20s. An area of the teenager’s brain that is fairly well developed early on is the area that seeks pleasure and reward. This means that early on we know what feels good and how to seek it out. We know to smoke marijuana feels good and that the more we do it the better we feel. The section that takes the longest to develop is a section of the brain that thinks about outcomes, forms judgment. Also longest to develop are sections that regulate and control impulses or emotions. So what we have is a brain that knows what feels good yet doesn’t have the maturity to think through or control emotional decisions. As with anything developing, adding chemicals to a brain has a cost.

Teens are more likely to have addiction issues the younger that they use as a kid. Marijuana stunts progression of brain development thereby creating psychosocial changes in perception of the world around them. If you alter someone’s ability to make good choices throughout life you can bet the lasting effect will hurt us all when they are adults.

We all base our reactions and thoughts mostly on personal first-hand experience. Many of us in this country have smoked marijuana. Many of us know people who do it in a seemingly harmless way. In thinking about the idea of legalization I hope we can all dig

deeper. Our own arrogance that because we did or do it and are fine doesn’t mean that it’s that way for everyone. The message that our teens are hearing is that it’s safe to use. Factual-based conversations will be needed, but saying marijuana is natural or hurting our economy by having it illegal or that it’s safe is all just untrue.

Will Wooton is director of Pacific Treatment Services and co-author of “Bring Your Teen Back From The Brink”. PTS is a substance abuse company working with teens and young adults. Website:

January 31, 2013

If you have kids, you most likely prayed hard that they would avoid drugs and alcohol. Once a child becomes intoxicated, childhood is over. The young person will never be the same again.

Thus, a sane society discourages substance abuse if only to protect children. A sane society does not put a happy face on inebriation.

We are not a sane society.

With almost 30 million Americans currently categorized as “substance abusers,” you would think that Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign, which launched in 1983, would be resurrected. But saying no is not what America in 2013 is all about.

Saying yes to whatever you want to do is the rule of the day.

Washington State and Colorado have legalized the use of marijuana, and many Americans are celebrating.

As Bob Dylan once sang: “Everybody must get stoned!” The usual excuses are put forth: It’s a freedom issue. We can tax the drug to generate revenue. It will get the criminal element out of it.

But the truth is that legalized pot (or drugs of any kind) creates massive unintended consequences.

–In Holland, so many problems arose from pot being sold in “coffee shops” that a law banning the sale of cannabis to “foreigners” was passed. It seems the streets of Amsterdam, in particular, have become saturated with stoned people doing things outside that should be done inside.

–The Netherlands recently passed a new law, forbidding children from smoking pot in school. That’s right, some of the urchins were getting high between classes. One teacher told the press it’s hard to stop that when pot is being sold legally across the street where hard-core drug addicts buy it and then sell it to the kids in order to get heroin money.

–In Portugal, they have legalized all drugs. The result: Drug-related homicides have increased by 40 percent. Drug overdoses are up by 30 percent.

–In Switzerland, drug-related deaths doubled and the health care system was overwhelmed after heroin was made legal in Zurich. The law was rescinded.

But here in the USA, we are now bullish on pot. Willie Nelson wrote a book glorifying the drug. Snoop Dogg says he wants to teach his kids how to smoke reefer. And the media in general see marijuana as a harmless diversion. If you are down on pot, you are decidedly uncool.

Fine with me. I’ll risk the stigma. According to the federal government, 8,400 Americans begin using drugs every day, half of them under the age of 18. And 68 percent of folks who become addicted to drugs begin with marijuana. Get the picture?

Celebrate the pot culture if you want. But know that you are not helping kids by taking the high road.


Filed under: Parents :

Is there a familiar aroma emanating from your kid’s room? Do you shake your head and ignore it thinking, “Hey, I got high when I was a teen and I turned out OK, right?” Well, think again.

While recent studies show some good news regarding the decline in teenage cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse, the bad news is that more are using marijuana and doing so more regularly than ever before. These studies also reveal a growing perception that marijuana use is harmless — a confluence of trends that could lead to an entirely new health crisis among our teenage population. Take a look at some of the latest research about marijuana use and consider talking to your teen about it.

* Who is getting high and how often: Today, children are experimenting at increasingly younger ages. The Department of Health and Human Services reported that the average age of first-time users in 1999 was 16.4 years. More recently, studies are looking at the regularity of marijuana use by teens. A large group of 8th, 10th and 12th graders were surveyed in a study conducted under a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Results showed that 6.5% of high school seniors smoke marijuana on a daily basis. Nearly 23 % of these seniors said they smoked in the month prior to the survey and just over 36 % said they smoked within the previous year. Among 10th graders, 3.5 % said they use marijuana daily, 17 % smoked in the previous month and 28 % in the past year. Close to half of all these students in the study viewed marijuana as having few, in any, adverse effects.

* Potential for physical addiction: The main psychoactive substance in today’s marijuana (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or “THC”) is the same as it was in the pot smoked years ago. But over the past 15 years, the concentration level of THC has more than doubled. Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, recently talked to the New York Times about the pot that kids are getting high on today. “It’s much more potent marijuana, which may explain why we’ve seen a pretty dramatic increase in admission to emergency rooms and treatment programs for marijuana,” said Volkow. Those who try to quit on their own face withdrawal symptoms — including mood swings, anxiety attacks and depression — and are often surprised by the intensity and duration of their discomfort. According to the Caron’s Adolescent Treatment Center, marijuana has overtaken alcohol as the primary drug of choice for teens entering their inpatient treatment programs.

* Psychological reliance: The increased potency in today’s pot not only has physical consequences, but psychological ones as well, with teens being the most vulnerable victims. Experts find that when youngsters start smoking marijuana at an early age, it is often used with greater frequency and in larger quantities than if started later in life. While we tend to dismiss the potential of marijuana dependency — especially when compared to tobacco, alcohol or illegal drugs like heroin — about 1 in 6 teens will become addicted, says Dr. Volkow. If marijuana is regularly used to relieve the challenging emotions typical of adolescence, it easy to see how

occasional smokers may become addicted. Teens who gain a sense of confidence by smoking weed in social situations or use it to help them relax or sleep will no doubt find it compelling to use again. Instead of developing internal skills to cope with life, marijuana can become their go-to source for comfort.

* Impact on the heart: The THC in pot passes into the bloodstream from the lungs (if smoked) or digestive tract (if eaten). It then flows to the brain and other organs throughout the body. When smoked, it is absorbed more rapidly than when ingested through food or drink, but either way it can increase the heart rate by 20-100 % and remain raised for up to three hours. According to one studyreported by The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “it was estimated that marijuana users have a 4.8-fold increase in the risk of heart attack in the first hour after smoking the drug, ” While this risk may increase with age and depend on cardiac vulnerability, marijuana has been shown to lead to heart irregularities, palpitations and arrhythmias.

* Impact on lungs: While marijuana contains some of the same carcinogens that tobacco does, most pot smokers assume they don’t inhale as often and therefore the smoke has less impact on their lungs. But studies show regular marijuana use can lead to many of the same respiratory problems experienced by tobacco smokers, including increase in phlegm production, chronic cough and the risk of lung infections. In a recent study by the NIDA found that people who don’t smoke cigarettes but who use marijuana regularly tend to have more health problems that keep them out of work (primarily due to respiratory illnesses) than do non-smokers.

* Influence on cognitive development: Whether marijuana is ingested or smoked, THC reaches receptors in the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thinking and concentration. By over-activating these receptors, marijuana creates the enjoyable high that users experience. But with long-term use, over-activation appears to interfere with memory, problem solving and learning. The New York Times reports, “The most disturbing new studies about early teenage use of marijuana showed that young adults who started smoking pot regularly before they were 16 performed significantly worse on cognitive tests of brain function than those who had started smoking later in adolescence.” One recent study even showed a drop in IQ. A thousand participants were given IQ tests at age 13 and then again at 38. An 8 point drop in IQ was found among the 38 year olds who had started regularly smoking pot by 18, with declines that persisted even if after they quit using a year later. Lead researcher, Madeline Meier, Ph.D., pointed out that “While 8 IQ points may not sound like a lot…a loss of IQ from 100 to 92 represents a drop from being in the 50th percentile to being in the 29th,” a potential disadvantage for those teens for years to come. Dr. Staci Gruber, another researcher at McLean Hospital, found supportive evidence for these changes on the brain scan images of regular marijuana users. She believes early exposure possibly “changes the trajectory of brain development,” especially in the frontal cortex white matter.

* Marijuana use and teenage driving: A survey of 2,300 eleventh and twelfth graders byStudents Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) found close to 20% of teens admitted to driving while high on marijuana, with more than 30% believing the drug doesn’t distract them. A recent study of 50,000 motorists found those who

smoked marijuana within three hours of driving had twice as many car accidents when compared to those who were sober. In another study, a third of drivers who were fatally injured tested positive for drugs, with marijuana at the top of the list. The combination of marijuana and alcohol was found to be worse than either substance alone. Stephen Wallace, senior adviser at SADD, worries about the recent statistics coming from studies on teens driving under the influence. “Marijuana affects memory, judgment and perception and can lead to poor decisions… .what keeps me up at night is that this data reflects a dangerous trend toward the acceptance of marijuana and other substances compared to our study of teens conducted just two years ago.”

Parents may feel hypocritical lecturing their kids about marijuana, given their past experimentation with drugs when they were growing up. Or they may assume — as they do about some other teenage behavior — “this too shall pass.” But it’s important not to be lulled into looking the other way regarding the risks teens face today using marijuana. This is not the pot — nor the counterculture — that existed in the ’60s, and our more lenient attitudes will only likely increase the prevalence and potency of what is out there today. While marijuana may, in fact, be a passing adolescent indulgence for some teens, there is enough research that suggests they face potential dangers that previous generations did not.

What do you think about marijuana use by teens today?


|HOUSTON — On December 7th Emily Bauer began to slur her speech, stumble, complain of massive migraine headaches and began to turn violent, psychotic, and too difficult for her frightened family to control.

Her family called for an ambulance to take her to the nearest hospital. But within 24 hours she was being life-flighted from a Cypress-area hospital to the Texas Medical Center, the victim of a massive series of strokes.

She suffered severe brain damage. She was only 16 years old. And the culprit was synthetic marijuana.

“She actually had swelling on her brain that they had to drill into her head to relieve the pressure,” said her father Tommy Bryant. “They didn’t even know if she’d make it through that procedure. But they had to do it.”

Emily has turned 17 since she has been hospitalized at Children’s Memorial Hermann. But doctors warned her family it could be her last birthday. Doctors discovered that Emily’s brain damage was extensive. She was disconnected from life support. Plans were being made to donate her organs if she died. A month later Emily is still alive but she can’t walk, she can’t feed herself, and she is blind. Recently she began to recognize her parents and is able to have limited conversations. But Bryant and his wife have been given no assurances how much of their daughter will ever come back.

“It’s hard,” Bryant told us of the now month-long ordeal. “It literally, the way we’re looking at it now, is we’re gonna re-raise a child. I don’t wish this upon anybody, anybody at all,” he said.

Bryant has since discovered that his daughter and her friends were experimenting with synthetic marijuana brands like Kush and Spice that the teens purchased over the counter at a convenience store near her home. Multiple injuries and deaths across the United States have been linked to the products sold as incense or potpourri in small packets and marked with the disclaimer “not for human consumption.” Lawmakers and municipalities have been struggling for years to outlaw the products and their ingredients.

“Some of the chemicals that we’re reading online that are in these things, I mean I wouldn’t put on my grass,” said Bryant.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says about 11 percent of high school seniors reported using synthetic marijuana, according to a 2011 survey. And calls about synthetic marijuana to the American Association of Poison Control Centers more than doubled between 2010 and 2011.

Bryant and his family, with their daughter still in the hospital and hoping she can be transferred soon to a physical rehabilitation facility, have started their own Facebook page dedicated to Emily’s story and the dangers of synthetic marijuana. It’s called S.A.F.E. – Synthetics Awareness for Emily.

“If we reach one more kid, a family that doesn’t have to go through this, that doesn’t have to spend hours upon hours, nights upon nights in a hospital not knowing what their kid is going to get back, then I feel like we’ve accomplished one small thing,” he said.

Source: January 10, 2013


Filed under: Parents :

“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 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:

Source: Dec.2012

Within the last three years, Mike Abramson and three of his friends have been handed a drink spiked with an odorless, colorless and tasteless drug. With an estimated one-million date rape victims every year, Abramson claims the chances are someone close to you has had a similar experience—an experience he is now trying to prevent.

Abramson, a Worcester Polytechnic Institute alum and current patent attorney, started DrinkSavvy, a startup producing and selling color changing drinkware. With the help of WPI Chemistry Professor Dr. John MacDonald, Abramson has developed plastic straws, cups and stirrers made of material that can make invisible drugs, including GHB, Ketamine and Rohypnol, visible. Although partygoers can already purchase rape drug test strips, DrinkSavvy products are discrete, allowing consumers to monitor their drinks throughout the night without needing to take out a card every time their date hands them a drink. Instead, they can slip out a stirrer when a suitor’s back is turned, or be handed a DrinkSavvy cup the minute they’ve been made their first beverage. Now all Abramson needs is funding, which is why he has headed to Indiegogo. With 19 days left, he has raised over $20,000 of his $50,000 goal.

On the Indiegogo page, Abramson writes local bars, clubs and universities will, one day, offer DrinkSavvy glassware “and eventually even bottles and cans.” And although the goal right now is to detect three of the most common date rape drugs, Abramson admits the drinkware will start to “be updated regularly as new drugs become popular.” Abramson has already received $12,500 from WPI to help commercialize the product. He’s also already started to garner support. One proponent wrote in the DrinkSavvy guestbook: “It is about time a product like this has been invented! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I wish you the best of luck!”

Source: 11.12.12

Filed under: Parents,Social Affairs :

by Faith A. Coleman MD / 2012

Prescription drug abuse and addiction is fast-becoming the most common and most threatening drug-related problem in our culture. All ages are affected; among teens it’s epidemic. Prescription drug abuse results in one death every 19 minutes in the United States.

Prescription drug abuse (to simplify, this article will use the word “abuse” to describe a spectrum of behaviors, including but not limited to misuse, abuse and addiction) is the act of someone ingesting a prescription drug other than the person for whom it was prescribed, for a purpose other than its intended action, in an inappropriate manner.

Prescription drugs are often stolen from friends and relatives. Medicine cabinets, kitchen cupboards, purses, and auto glove compartments are common sites for prescriptions in use and those used years ago. There are few guarantees in life, but this is one of them: a prescription drug abuser/addict on a hunt can always find more places to search than anyone can find places for hiding.

Abusers have countless rationalizations for their use. Some seem plausible (especially to the abuser), but there are NO justifiable uses for prescription drugs other than the use for which they were prescribed, by the person for whom they were prescribed. Wanting to get “high”, to dull emotional or physical pain, peer pressure, desperation to fit into a group, ANY group, (gangs, bullies, drop-outs, truants, shop-lifters) and other “reasons” are given. Stimulants are popular for staying awake studying for exams, for adults trying to keep their “competitive edge” in a tight job market, or, by necessity, working multiple jobs. Prescription drugs are big business on the street; the thief may not be the user.

A future article will discuss specific drugs, use and misuse, dangers, signs and symptoms of use, and appropriate action when misuse is suspected. Today, the most important message to readers is that ALL drugs should be assumed DEADLY except for the person for whom it is prescribed.

The holiday season can be joyful and exhilarating, but there are often extra family, workplace and financial demands. More socializing can mean more access to prescription drugs in homes and other gatherings. Practice prevention, year-

round. Medicines don’t belong in medicine cabinets. They should ALL be locked up ALWAYS. However annoying or inconvenient, an extra minute or two is trivial when those minutes are preventing a catastrophe. No one should ever have to hold vigil at the bedside of their own or their best friends’ teen, praying for signs of life to return.

It may seem like our kids don’t hear much of what we say, but current, well-done research showed that THE MOST IMPORTANT INFLUENCE IN KEEPING KIDS OFF DRUGS IS THEIR PARENTS! Your teen may resent your rules and protest your control. It is not a parent’s job to be liked. All kids will experience peer pressure to misuse drugs. Rejoice if you get to hear your teen say “No way! My parents would kill me!” You gave them a way out, a way they didn’t lose face. For more information: National Institute on Drug Abuse

Source: 2012

Filed under: Parents :


Close to 11,500 people were treated in emergency rooms in 2010 for nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and other symptoms related to the use of synthetic or fake marijuana products such as “K2” or “Spice.”

Three-quarters of these people were aged 12 to 29, and 78% in this group were male. Most did not receive follow-up care after they were sent home from the ER.

The new data were released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), as part of their Drug Abuse Warning Network. There were 2.3 million ER visits involving drug misuse or abuse in 2010, and of these, 11,406 involved fake marijuana products.

What Is Synthetic Marijuana?

Synthetic marijuana is marketed to have marijuana-like effects in the brain.

“Spice,” “K2,” “Mr. Smiley,” “Red X Dawn,” and “Blaze” are just some of the street names for synthetic marijuana drugs.

Until July 2012, they were available online and in convenience stores. Then the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) stepped in and banned five chemicals found in Spice and K2. This does still leave some wiggle room for creative manufacturers.

“I believe people are still able to get these products in different ways,” says Rear Admiral Peter Delany, PhD. He is the director of the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality at SAMSHA in Rockville, Md. “You can ban chemicals, but if manufacturers modify the chemical format, they are no longer on the banned list.”

The group plans to have some data available next year as to what has happened since the DEA’s ban.

Until then, parents need to understand what fake marijuana products are and the lingo that kids use to discuss these substances.

“This is a drug and it can have repercussions, especially if it is mixed with other things,” Delany says.

According to the new report, in almost 60% of emergency room visits involving synthetic marijuana in people ages 12-29, no other substances were involved.

Symptoms of fake marijuana use may include:

* Agitation

* Anxiety

* Nausea

* Vomiting

* Paranoia

* Seizures

* Hallucinations * Increased heart rate and blood pressure

* Tremors

“Kids are coming in intoxicated with nausea and dizziness more frequently than in the past, and synthetic marijuana is something that we consider when we see these symptoms,” says Robert Glatter, MD, an emergency medicine doctor at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “They present in ways that you would think they were using mind- or mood-altering substances.”

These products can’t be detected on drug screens, which is why some kids are drawn to them and why it is challenging to capture solid information on their use and abuse, he says.

Paul Hokemeyer, PhD, says fake marijuana use is a real crisis. He is a therapist at Caron Treatment Center’s New York City Office. “Adolescent boys are always looking for new ways to get high.” Here, “they get high off of toxic chemicals, and this may have long-term risks,” he says. “We don’t know what they are putting into their body.”

Source: 4th Dec 2012


Filed under: Parents :

weed-candyTampa, FL — Marijuana is a hot topic in this country.  At least 18 states    have legalized pot in some form, but there’s always someone out there willing to take advantage, and the newest street treat is actually an old fashioned recipe – candy made out of pot.

“Well there’s different forms of it. There’s hard candy and taffy and gums, and it comes in all different colors and flavors,” says Cristal Bermudez -Nuñez, spokesperson for Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

“Weed candy”, as it’s called on the street, has been popping up in cities like Los Angeles, New York and Philly.

Foods like brownies and cakes have been made for decades, but the latest reincarnation could contain much more than just marijuana.

Drug dealers can add ingredients to it to give it a kick, and THAT is where the real danger lies.

“Just like when they make weed brownies and other items that contain marijuana, it all depends on the person making it, and whether they add things that could make it potentially even more dangerous,” says Nuñez.

The candy comes in all forms and has names that play off real candy products like Munchie Way, Green Gummies, and Soda Pot.  They look real, but no one would ever know, so law enforcement is giving parents a heads up.

“As a good parent, you always want to be sure what your kids are into, and make them aware that products like these are circulating,” Nuñez says.

Filed under: Parents :

Now 14, this girl from Maidenhead began using mephedrone at the age of 12. She is currently getting help at Turning Point

I was the “it” girl at school and had a lot of friends. I have an older sister who is two years older than me and was also known as the “it” girl. She went to parties with her friends and I knew that she got drunk and used drugs like weed. Her use of drugs scared me a bit because I knew so little about drugs and alcohol, but I just got with it hiding it from my mum because I didn’t want her to get into trouble.

I remember one day in particular when my sister came home and told me that she had been to a party and tried this thing called “mephedrone”. She told me she snorted it and that really scared me. Being so young I thought she was going to die, but time went on and she kept doing it and I got used to her doing it and it started not to bother me that much. In my world everything was still fine.

I remember that day. It was boiling hot and I was on my way to the river to meet my friends when I got a phone call from my sister. I answered it and I could tell she was high; she invited me to go to her friend’s house. As I got there I could see that they were all on something, but it didn’t bother me, I was used to seeing it and they all seemed so happy. I got to known to everyone that day as “the little one” by all of my sister’s friends. They had set tents up in the back garden and listening to music and dancing. I remember one of my sisters friends called me over to the tent; I remember so clearly the words she used: “Hey lil sis, wanna try a bit?” I had never done drugs before and I remember the adrenalin running through my body. My heart started racing with excitement and nerves, and I remember looking over to my sis to make sure she was OK with it. Because she was high she didn’t mind and gave me a wink. I took the tooter to my nose and sniffed hard. That was possibly the worst mistake I ever made. I fainted and remember my sister holding me up with the sun blasting on my face. A few seconds later I got up and felt amazing. Because I was gymnastic I started doing flips everywhere and was having the time of my life. The day went on and I done more and more, so I can’t remember the rest until I got home and felt like death had just stabbed me in the back. My sister and her friends hadn’t warned me about the comedown and I was crying my eyes out feeling like I wanted to die. It was so horrible and because I didn’t even smoke weed or cigarettes I couldn’t do anything to calm me down. I was young and panicking. I was 12. For about a month afterwards I remember that every time I heard a particular song that we had listened to that day I started feeling down.

On another day it was snowing, my friends and I decided to go to a local venue in town where we met another girl I suggested we should try mephedrone. She had never sniffed anything before. We loved it so much we done it the week after, and the week after and the week after that. For about four or five months we were on it every weekend and became very close with this boy who was 18 at the time and he done it with us. Every weekend I would buy at least 3-4 grams (£20 a gram). It got so bad we started stealing money from our parents and one time my friend even stole £100 from her dad’s bank account. We were hurting everyone around us, but we couldn’t care less as long as we were having a good time. I was so unhealthy; being awake from Friday morning till Sunday night was not good for a small 13-year-old girl’s body. My face was grey and I had constant bags under my eyes. I would chew my lips so much from gurning it would bleed.

Over these few months I lost most of my friends and I became known as one of the druggies which didn’t bother me so much. I found hanging out with my old friends was boring, I mean, why would you want to hang out with a bunch of 13-year-olds when you could be hanging our with 16-to-20-year-olds? In between doing all this drone, I had tried coke, speed, MDMA, mushrooms, ketamine and some prescription drugs. By this time I had travelled down a long dark road, always isolated or excluded from smoking, swearing, arguing, fighting etc. I was the definition of a rebel, and it made me stand out in school. I was the class clown and all my classmates used to tell me how funny and brave I was to get into massive arguments with teachers. I blamed it on partly entertaining myself and partly on the drugs always making me hot headed. I wasn’t just getting into trouble in school, I was arguing at home too. I didn’t care what anyone thought, and I didn’t listen to anyone. We bunked a lot, and walked out almost every day. I remember on my 14th birthday we walked out of school and went and bought a gram of drone and did a half-gram line. We did the same the week after because it was my friend’s birthday.

I looked back at the last year and half of my life, most of it I couldn’t remember but the bits I could, I had nothing to show for it. I started becoming depressed and was like this for a few months. I didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. A big argument with my best friend gave me some space away from each other which is what I really needed. I met up with the few friends that had stuck by me even though I totally ditched them for a few months. When I caught up with them I found out how much they had all changed. Even though I had seen them for the little time I was actually in school, when I went out with them I could see how much they had grown up. Months passed and life was getting easier, but I remember when I saw someone sniffing drone I would still get butterflies and think of a way I could have a sneaky line. Sometimes I gave in, other times I didn’t but as time went on it was getting harder to say no.

I started year 10 and wanted it to become a clean slate. I stopped smoking weed before school so I could concentrate and I slowly decreased the number of days I went out in the week. I met with “T2”; a local charity which works with young people who have substance misuse problems through my school. My key worker helped me clear things in my head. I started to finally see what was good for me, what was right and wrong, because up to now all the drugs had mushed my brains and changed my perceptions of life. T2 got me back on track, heading up the right path. This had felt like I had broken through my first barrier. I was starting to become a normal teen again and I loved it.

I have reached a crossroads in my life. I could carry on the way I was and achieve nothing in my life or I could stop all of it and be somebody. Obviously I don’t want to waste my life away and I wanted to stop and become someone. I find it hard for a 14-year-old girl to choose between partying, having fun and staying in revising to become successful. I know what I want in life and I am not going to let alcohol, drugs or wrong crowds stop me. I’m not “innocent yet” so to speak but I ‘m a lot further along this road than I was a year ago. Whoever is reading this, and might be in a situation like I was/am, it so hard to snap yourself out of that lifestyle – believe me, I’m two years down the line and still travelling but it gets easier and you HAVE to keep going if you want to make something of yourself in life.

Source: The Guardian 16th September 2012

Filed under: Drug Specifics,Parents :

Don’t let schedules and long to-do lists get in the way of a good talk with your Southington youngster.
As children think about heading back to school, many are worried about social anxiety and peer pressure, according to experts from the Governor’s Prevention Partnership, which is offering parents tips on how to ease stress on children as the school year starts. In Southington, the school district works closely with a team of volunteers from throughout the community as part of the Southington Town-Wide Effort to Promote Success, or STEPS program, to encourage smart choices and “Working together, as a community, can make all the difference,” Kelly Leppard said during a STEPS event earlier this year. While the organization includes commitments from teachers, school administrators, business owners, religious leaders and others from around town, Leppard said success also depends on parental involvement and encourages local residents to talk with their children daily. Catherine Barden, the coalition coordinator for the Madison Alcohol and Drug Education coalition, agreed, and said the end of summer is great time to make sure the lines of communication are open when it comes to issues like drug use and alcohol.
She also noted that “parents can include more than just mom and dad.”
“It’s grandparents, aunts and uncles, close family friends, mentors and other caring adults,” she said. School officials this week offered the following tips:

1. Clearly communicate the risks of drug/alcohol use
2. Let your kids know you disapprove of any drug/alcohol use–teens who believe their parents will be upset if they try marijuana are 44 percent less likely to do so
3. Use “teachable moments” to raise drug/alcohol issues
4. Frequently talk and listen to your kids about how things are going in their lives
“Even if you used in the past, don’t be afraid to talk!” Barden said. “Remember, you do matter: Kids who learn a lot about the risks of drugs at home are up to significantly less likely to use drugs.” Barden said a recent MTV survey showed that almost half of all kids name a parent as their hero. She also offered the following six tips for monitoring your children as they head back to school:
1. Know who your child is with.
2. Know what they’re doing.
3. Know where your child will be.
4. Know when your child is expected home.
5. Know who your teen’s friends are– communicate with their parents.
6. Establish and enforce rules–including a clear “no use” policy.

Here is the information provided by the Governor’s Prevention Partnership: Children and parents can face many challenges as the transition to back-to-school takes place. Often times, the new school year can mean heightened stress for children as they adjust to new friends, new teachers, a return to homework, and new and harder classes. Getting back into the swing of things can be tough, even for the most resilient kids and parents. Many parents, with busy work schedules and never-ending to-do lists, end up not finding the time to talk to their children about the upcoming school year and how to deal with the challenges they may be facing. “It is crucial for parents to make time to talk with their children everyday after school to really get in touch with them,” said Jill K. Spineti, President and CEO of The Governor’s Prevention Partnership. “Opening up that line of communication with a child is essential to making sure they are dealing with their stress in a safe and healthy way and for building a trusting relationship so they can turn to their parents when there is a problem. There’s no doubt that children who are supported by caring parents and adults are more likely to succeed.” Heading back-to-school can be a particularly stressful time for many young people, and social anxiety and peer pressure are at the top of the list for youths’ concerns. According to a 2011 national study conducted by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA), when teens ages 12-17 were asked, “What is the most important problem facing people your age?”, 24 percent of the teens responded drugs (including tobacco and alcohol) and 24 percent of teens responded social pressures, making them the two highest concerns of the surveyed teens. To help with these important issues and to ensure that youth stay safe, successful and drug-free, The Governor’s Prevention Partnership is offering tips to parents and caregivers to make the transition of back to school a stress-free one. Back To School Tips For Parents: Find the right time to talk – Back-to-school preparations add to a parent’s busy schedule, so it’s important to plan ahead. A good way to fit important and effective conversations with your child into your schedule is to identify the times of the day when your child is most talkative. It may be while eating a meal, or when they get home from school, or right before bed. These will be the best times to initiate conversations with a child because it is when they will be most willing to participate so the conversation will be helpful for both the parent and child. Be available – One of the best things a parent or caregiver can do is be available and willing to listen to a child about their day at school or if problems or worries occur. While it is important for parents to initiate certain conversations, it is equally important to keep communication lines open even throughout the school year. Older children, in particular, may not always be willing to talk about their problems, but it is important to ensure that they know they have someone to go to with their problems. Prepare for social pressures – While there is no way to completely eliminate social pressures from a child’s life, a parent can better prepare their child by taking time to discuss possible scenarios they may face. Also, by exposing children to a variety of social situations, and being available to talk with them about the challenges they may face in those situations will help them become better equipped to handle social pressures on their own. Do not overreact – It is important for a parent to stay calm and collected (at least on the outside). Keeping a cool composure will help put a child at ease, and will prevent
small problems from escalating. The best thing for a parent to do is to listen to the child and discuss the options available to solve the problem. This will not only teach the child to handle similar situations in the future, but it will also make them feel comfortable talking to their parents if other problems arise. Know and utilize your resources – Sometimes a child’s problems are too big for a parent to handle on their own, so it is important to know where to get assistance. If bullying is an issue a child is dealing with, it may be necessary for a parent to bring the issues to the school’s attention. Every Connecticut school has a designated professional that both parents and students can bring their bullying issues to and can be assured that their issue will be handled in an appropriate and efficient manner. Additional information about resources for parents, including tips to prevent drug and alcohol use, can be found at Be positive and encouraging – While it is important for a parent to acknowledge any anxiety their child may be having, it is also important to highlight and focus on the positive aspects a new school year brings. Parents should encourage their children to try new extra curricular activities and clubs at school. Building up a child’s self esteem and confidence will give them the courage to face the new school year with a positive attitude and the desire to succeed socially and academically. The Governor’s Prevention Partnership, the state affiliate for The Partnership at, is a statewide, nonprofit public-private alliance, building a strong, healthy future workforce through leadership in mentoring and prevention of youth violence and bullying, underage drinking, and substance abuse. The Partnership is the only statewide organization focusing exclusively on prevention issues affecting youth. Resources for parents, educators and young people related to each of the organization’s program initiatives can be found on
Related Topics: Alcohol and drug use, Back To School, Parental Talk, Safety Tips, and Teenagers

Source: 22.08.12

Filed under: Parents :

Middle-class children are far more likely to have drunk alcohol by the age of 12 than those from lower social groups, research has found.

More than one in three of those born in professional households had downed a full glass before reaching their teenage years, the statistics show.

The 35 per cent figure among the middle classes is almost twice the level found among 12-year-olds across all economic groups. Experts said that most children who had drunk alcohol at such a young age were getting it from their own homes. While some were secretly raiding well-stocked drinks cabinets, many more were being allowed to drink by parents who believed that it would help them to develop more mature attitudes towards alcohol.
The Ipsos Mori poll for charity Drinkaware, which is funded by the alcohol industry to promote sensible drinking, surveyed more than 500 parents from the social groups ABC1 and their children, aged between 10 and 17.
The findings contrast with NHS figures which show that across all social classes, 19.9 per cent of 12-year-olds have had a full glass of alcohol.

The majority of parents in the Drinkaware study thought it was inevitable that children would drink before they turned 16, while one third thought it was “OK” for them to do so. Chris Sorek, the charity’s chief executive said: “These children who are drinking at the age of 12 are not walking into a pub to buy a pint, and they are not getting alcohol from off-licenses. “In the main, they are drinking at home, because their parents think teenage drinking is inevitable, and think that this might be the way to introduce it sensitively.”

In fact, research had found that children were more likely to develop an alcohol problem if they were not set clear boundaries, he said.

Government advice states that alcohol should never be given to children below the age of 15, but 50 per cent of those surveyed had drunk it by the age of 14.

A crackdown on underage drinking in the seaside down of Newquay found that 70 per cent of drunk teenagers stopped by police had been given alcohol by their mother or father. Many of those apprehended during a campaign against under age drinking in the resort last summer were 15 or 16 and had been allowed to go to Cornwall with friends to celebrate the end of their GCSEs.

Mr Sorek said: “We found that parents were dropping off their children with beer and alcopops – they were literally leaving them with a tent, sleeping bags, wellies and a crate of beer.” During the campaign, which followed the deaths of two teenagers, officers confiscated more than 6,000 bottles and cans of alcoholic drink. One group of four boys from Bristol arrived with more than 100 alcoholic drinks between them.
In one case a police community support officer rang the mother of one of four 16-year-old boys from Surrey who were caught with 64 cans of Special Brew. “The mother had a go at my member of staff, saying, ‘Haven’t you ever had fun? You are stopping my son having fun, it’s outrageous,'” said Supt Julie Whitmarsh, of Devon and Cornwall Police.
Another mother from the Home Counties, when told that her child had been behaving badly, dismissed the officer’s concerns by saying: “My child is not the usual riff-raff.”

On Wednesday Drinkaware will launch a new advice panel, “Mumtank”, run by mothers with expertise in health and child psychology. One of the members, GP Dr Sarah Jarvis, said: “While parents may be tempted to encourage children to try alcohol earlier rather than later, as a form of alcohol education, medical evidence shows that an alcohol-free childhood is best.”

Last year an international study of almost 2,000 12- and 13-year-olds found that those whose parents allowed them an occasional supervised drink were more likely to abuse alcohol as they got older. The study found that children whose parents took such an approach were more likely to have got into alcohol-related trouble- such as fights, blackouts, or not being able to stop drinking than those whose parents had a “zero-tolerance” strategy.
A separate Dutch study of 500 12-to-15-year-olds, found that it was the amount of alcohol available at home, and not how much parents drank, that determined teenage drinking habits – suggesting parents should keep their drinks cabinets locked.

Source: 15th April 2012

Filed under: Parents :

A new study finds a link between DNA changes in the sperm of male smokers and genetic changes in their newborn children. The research suggests that these changes may increase children’s risk of developing genetic diseases.
The findings indicate that men should stop smoking before they try to conceive, because a fertile sperm takes about three months to fully develop, according to researchers at the University of Bradford in England. “Anti-smoking campaigns are usually aimed at pregnant women, but couples planning their families—and public health policy-makers—need to know that the father must stop smoking before conception to avoid risking the health of the baby,” lead researcher Diana Anderson said in a news release.

She measured genetic changes in fathers’ blood and semen around the time of conception, as well as mothers’ blood and umbilical cord blood at the time of delivery, in 39 families. The families were asked about their lifestyle, as well as their occupational and environmental exposures, UPI reports.
“These transmitted genetic changes may raise the risk of developing cancer in childhood, particularly leukemia and other genetic diseases,” Anderson said. “We hope that this knowledge will urge men to cease smoking before trying to conceive.” She noted the study does not show a direct cause-and-effect relationship between a father’s smoking and any specific disease. She added, “It’s evident that that the lifestyle of men before they try to conceive can directly affect the genetic information of their children.”

The findings appear in the FASEB Journal. June 2012

Filed under: Parents :

Commentary: Legalization of Marijuana and the Impact on Children

In many state legislatures around the country, or by ballot (direct voter) referendum, important decisions are or will be made as to legalization of marijuana in some form. Before voters cast their ballots, or their elected officials decide, think about what will happen to children if marijuana becomes accessible to adults, much like alcohol.

California is one example. There, proponents are collecting signatures for one of four initiatives headed for California’s 2012 ballot to legalize the production, distribution and sale of marijuana for recreational use. The Regulate Marijuana like Wine Act of 2012 will legalize the drug and regulate it like alcohol.
Science reveals that the brain develops throughout adolescence and does not mature until ages 22 to 23 for young women, 24 to 25 for young men. Also, the younger kids are when they start using addictive drugs, the more likely they’ll become addicted. Children who start drinking or smoking pot at age 14 or before are eight times more likely to become addicted to alcohol, six times more likely to become addicted to marijuana than those who start in their 20s, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

If California is going to regulate marijuana like alcohol, how good a job does the state do at preventing underage drinking? We can anticipate how many California kids will smoke legal pot tomorrow by asking how many drink legal alcohol today, despite a legal purchase age of 21. The answer is terrible: alcohol use is double that of marijuana use among the state’s 5th and 7th graders and nearly double that of 9th and 11th graders, according to the 2008-2010 California Healthy Kids Survey.

Worse, the number of 7th graders who started using alcohol at age 14 or before is more than three times greater than the number who began smoking pot at those ages. For 9th graders and 11th graders, twice as many started using alcohol as marijuana during childhood. The actual numbers are staggering: one-third of California’s 7th graders (29 percent) and half of its 9th graders (47 percent) are at risk of becoming addicted to alcohol before they reach the legal drinking age because they had access and started drinking as children. These statistics may be the same, or worse, in any state in the nation.

Keeping drugs illegal prevents commercial industries from emerging, ones that are free to advertise and market to increase consumption and free to target children, a given percentage of whom will become addicted—and lifetime customers. We’ve been there, done that with alcohol and tobacco, whose business models depend on addicting children to replace users who die from tobacco- and alcohol-related diseases and accidents.
Everyone, Californians included, must get serious about protecting children from being exploited by commercial industries that sell addictive drugs. Much tougher provisions than those governing alcohol and tobacco will be required to force a marijuana industry to keep its hands off kids. Until such provisions are included in legalization initiatives, legislators and voters should reject proponents’ calls to turn another addictive drug into a commercial industry…unless they’re willing to declare war on children.

Sue Ruche is the President and CEO of the National Families in Action (NFIA). In 2010, NFIA launched its But What about the Children? Campaign which calls for 12 provisions to protect children and adolescents that must be in any law that legalizes marijuana.

Source: June 2012 (First published Dec.2011)

Say goodbye to the drug-fuelled raver and hello to the clean-living ecowarrior. Teenagers are changing and, for perhaps the first time in history, their parents approve.

Rates of drug- taking, drinking and smoking among children have plummeted in the past decade. Girls, it seems, are more likely to emulate the polite, studious Hermione Granger, played by Emma Watson in the Harry Potter films than wild-child party girls like Peaches Geldof in her heyday.

Among 11 to 15 year olds, the proportion who admitted to having taken drugs fell from 29 per cent in 2001 to 17 per cent in 2011. Regular smokers of at least one cigarette a week halved from one in 10 to one in 20. The number who said they had drunk alcohol in the past week was down from 26 per cent to 12 per cent.

Experts said a “profound shift” had taken place in the new generation’s attitude to drink and drugs. The findings were based on a survey of 6,500 children aged 11 to 15 at secondary schools in England, conducted between September and December 2011.

Tim Straughan, the chief executive of the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre, said: “The report shows pupils appear to be leading an increasingly clean-living lifestyle and are less likely to take drugs as well as cigarettes and alcohol. All of this material will be of immense interest to those who work with young people and aim to steer them towards a healthier way of life.”

Siobhan McCann, of the charity Drinkaware, said: “While the decline in the number of children trying alcohol is good news, the report still shows there are 360,000 young people who reported drinking alcohol in the past week alone. Parents are the biggest suppliers of alcohol to young people aged 10 to 17 and also the biggest influence on their child’s relationship with drink.”

Drug-taking, drinking and smoking increases with age, the study found. Among 11-year-olds, fewer than one in 30 said they had taken drugs in the past year, compared with almost one in four 15-year-olds.

Cannabis was the most popular drug but its use fell during the decade. In 2011, one in 13 young people said they had smoked it, compared with one in seven in 2001.

Drug use was found to be highest in southern England and lower in the Midlands and the North. The proportion of children saying they had smoked cigarettes at least once was the lowest since the survey was first carried out in 1982 – reflecting the pressure created by anti-smoking laws. Even so, one in five said they had tried cigarettes and one in 20 did so regularly.

In 2001, one in five teenagers said they drank alcohol at least once a week. By 2011, that proportion was down to one in 14. Miles Beale, of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: “The increase in the number of young people who have never drunk alcohol, and the fact those who do drink appear to be drinking less, suggests that the messages about the risks of underage consumption are being heard.”

‘Most of us think of our future, and drink won’t help’
Rosie Brighton, 13, Watford

“I know a few people my age that drink but not many. When you look at people that turn up for school hung-over, not caring and not getting the grades, it is off-putting. Most of us are working hard to get good exam results because we look at the high unemployment rates and think we’ll need all the help we can get. We’re thinking about our future, and drink is not going to help that.

“I don’t know anyone who smokes or takes drugs. A lot of people are afraid of how mad their parents would be if they were caught. I think health authorities and schools have to educate children about drugs early. I had my first lesson in school about drugs in Year 6, but have been made aware of the dangers by my mum.”

Source: The Independent July 2012

In 2009, Mainesaw 179 deaths due to overdose and 165 of those were related to prescription drugs. Many of the abused prescription drugs are respiratory depressants such as Oxycontin®, Vicodin ® and Oxycodone which slow down one’s breathing to dangerous levels, are addictive and can lead to death in overdose situations.

For many of these drugs, it does not take a large amount to have dangerous health effects. According to recent data, nearly 7 million Americans are abusing prescription drugs, more than those abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, Ecstasy, and inhalants combined.  That 7 million was just 3.8 million in 2000, an 80 percent increase in just six years.

Some teens are also abusing over-the-counter drugs, primarily cough and cold remedies that contain dextromethorphan (DXM), a cough suppressant.  Products with DXM include Nyquil, Coricidin and Robitussin, among others. Teens often have easy access to these products. The abuse of over-the-counter cough and cold remedies can cause blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, coma and even death.

As a result of the increase in prescription drug abuse, many communities are seeing an increased need for health-care and law enforcement services. Robberies and burglaries have increased nearly 4 percent in Maine from 6,848 in 2008 to 7,109 in 2009, according to reports.

According to the Maine DEA, prescription drug-related arrests accounted for 41 percent of all drug arrests for the first six months of 2009. Maine’s unintentional poisoning deaths (most all related to prescription drug abuse and misuse), rose 210 percent from 1999 to 2004.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, unintentional poisoning deaths have become the second leading cause of unintentional death second only to motor vehicle accidents. Between 2004 and 2008, the number of visits to hospital emergency departments involving the non-medical use of narcotic painkillers increased 111 percent.

What can parents do to safeguard their kids from the dangers these medicines pose? 

Educate yourself a talk with your kids because your opinion really does count! Studies consistently show that parents are the No. 1 influence on their kids, yet the MIYHS student survey revealed that 58 percent of students admitted their parents had not talked to them about the dangers of alcohol and other drugs within the past year.

Feel like you don’t know enough about this issue to guide them?

Visit CASA’s website at for resource materials

Safeguard. Measures to take at home include: monitor all drugs in your home by recording quantities and storing them in a secure location; set clear rules for your kids about all drug use, including not sharing medicine and always following prescriptions and dosages as they’re written; be a good role model by following these same rules with your own medications.

Source:  22nd Oct 2010

There has been much discussion in recent months about Canadian drug laws. Some favour liberalization because the current approach has been unsuccessful in reducing the harm caused by illegal drugs. Others claim that the strict enforcement of existing laws is necessary to control the spread of harmful, mind-altering drugs.

Interestingly, the starting point for both sides is that drugs cause “harm.” What logically flows from this single point of agreement is that drug-prevention education must be a key component in any national drug policy — to minimize the chance of “harm” ever arising.

There are two simple but key points to keep in mind when formulating drug prevention initiatives:

• It is about children. All parents know the importance of nurturing their very young children; we see their minds developing almost on an hourly basis. Recent research shows that the teen brain goes through similar major development, particularly in the prefrontal cortex area that controls reasoning and impulses, and this is the time when the brain is most open to outside influences. Negative influences that can lead to harmful behaviour and positive influences that can inspire the teen to make healthy choices

• It is about parents. Studies show that parents have a greater influence on their children than friends, TV, the Internet or celebrities, and studies show that teens of parents who have discussed the risk of drug use are 50-per-cent less likely to use drugs than teens in families who have not had this discussion.

The Partnership for a Drug Free Canada recently commissioned a national survey which shows that, although parents say it is important to have a conversation with their kids about the dangers of drugs, there is still a lack of meaningful dialogue.

While 92 per cent of parents of 11 to 19 year olds claim to have talked with their kids about drugs in the past year, 40 per cent of parents surveyed admitted that their conversation lasted a few minutes or less. That is not what we would consider a meaningful dialogue.

That’s why our current drug-prevention campaigns, which are targeting parents, put so much emphasis on the need to talk to their kids.  Parents need to educate themselves before they engage. Too many parents jump right in without preparation and the conversation can derail quite easily. My suggestion is: Learn as much as you can so you understand what your kids are facing in the schoolyard, on the street and at gatherings and parties.

In the survey, 97 per cent of parents agreed with the statement “It is important for parents to talk to their kids about drugs,” yet almost half (49 per cent) wished they knew better what to say to their kids about drugs.  Meanwhile, 40 per cent of teens said they “wished they knew better how to say ‘No’ when someone offers drugs.”

It is obvious that parents want to discuss “drugs” with their children but, as we have seen in many countries, they may be reluctant to do so, both because they fear that the kids know more about the subject than they do and because they are uncomfortable about how to enter the discussion.

Yes, we certainly must provide treatment services to those suffering from addiction, while recognizing that the most effective way to reduce the number of future sufferers is to provide the prevention education that can help reduce the number of people ever trying drugs in the first place.

Richard Pound is the founder and former president of the World Anti-doping Agency and the current chair of the Partnership for a Drug Free Canada.

Source:  28th May 2012

The article “Reclassifying cannabis ‘would make no difference to young’ – Experts say that the vast majority of teenagers get the drug from their friends” by Jonathan Owen from U.K.’s The Independent, January 6, 2008, relates to basic concerns that need attention in the U. S. as well as the U.K. and probably other countries as well.     

As for the title of the article as implied reason against returning to the higher classification of cannabis in the U.K., there has long been awareness that teenagers in the U. S. are getting their cannabis mainly from friends or relatives (as older siblings) rather than directly from drug dealers, certainly in early stages of use, and that was probably also the case in the U.K. prior to its having lowered the classification.But some of the teens must surely get the drugs from for-profit dealers in order to have a supply to share with friends and relatives.  

The quoted report stated that young people need to be educated about the health risks, but that supposedly has been ongoing in schools for years.I have been a member of several grassroots volunteer drug prevention organizations since 1983, having become involved as a parent, and not one of those organizations has examined school drug curriculum.Yet, I have read complaints from several credible sources about the psychosocial approach that is dominantly used in school drug education/prevention in theUnited States (and perhaps other countries as well?).   

Those critiques point out that the psychosocial approach with its focus on teaching decision-making skills and on self-esteem implies to youth that they have the ability and maturity to make their own decisions regarding drug use.Furthermore, these decision-making activities often are not related to drug use, and indications are that there has been too little taught about the health and behavioral consequences of drug use.The psychosocial approach often uses classroom group discussions about drug use instead of focusing on teacher lecturing, thus students are indirectly encouraged to be influenced by their peers instead of adult authorities.School drug curriculum should be regularly reviewed by drug prevention organizations with more thorough information on what the complaints have been than in these several sentences.   

With cannabis use having become so prevalent among youth and so many cultural influences to use drugs, neither parents nor law enforcement should be expected to be the main detectors of youth drug use or of no-use enforcement.Experience has shown that is not realistic.  With technology of drug testing now available, schools and other youth organizations, such as sports teams, need to randomly drug test their students and participants and then provide graduated consequences for positive tests without involvement of law enforcement.Parents and law enforcement need that support and assistance from society.And most importantly, youth needs that adult-provided protection.

Nancy Starr

Source:  DrugWatch International   January 2008

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Parents :

Adolescent use of marijuana has become almost as acceptable as staying out a little past curfew. Most agree the latter shouldn’t happen, but it’s understandable and  as long as things don’t get worse  easy to address with a clock and threat of grounding. No big deal.

Not so with marijuana. If your child is smoking pot and it starts to get worse you won’t know when or why until you have a child for whom a grounding is a mere impediment to a dangerous new lifestyle. And more importantly you will have missed critical opportunities to help your child address his problems in a healthy, positive way.

I see a lot of adolescents in my practice, many of whom arrive after a lengthy relationship with pot.  But my first contact is usually with the anxious parents. “Something is going on,” they say. “His grades are going down; She’s spends all her time in her room; He’s moody and uncommunicative; she’s lost interest in her flute. ” “He’s different,” they say. “She’s like a stranger.”

How long has this been going on I ask? Around six months says mom. Closer to a year says dad.  Ask a few questions, a sort of psychological triage, looking for any recent changes or traumas that might offer a clue.

Then I put it out there. “Do you think your child is involved with drugs?”

Here is the answer I almost always receive. “No.  I don’t think so. Maybe just a little marijuana.”

So, let’s stop here. I want to say this loud and clear.

The correct answer to my questions is a simple “YES.”

I realize there is a battle afoot to legalize the stuff. I understand that most parents when asked if their child smokes marijuana will usually respond in a tone rife with defeatism, “Of course. They all do.” I get it. There is comfort in numbers. But unfortunately this beleaguered answer tends to end a conversation instead of inspire a look at the heart of the matter.

“Why does my child choose to do drugs?”

Certainly I know there are some teens who dabble with marijuana every so often at a party.  Maybe she wants to fit in.  Maybe the munchies and some frenzied laughter feel like a fun release.  But this same adolescent stays on top of her grades, enjoys long term friendships and converses typically peevishly with her parents on a regular basis.  I don’t meet these kids or their parents in my office. Obviously not every child who smokes marijuana is going to dance around the drain.

But from what I can see, more and more kids are doing just that . At this point you might be thinking, ” When I was young I smoked all the time. I was fine!.” Well, the truth is marijuana is more powerful now, 20 to 30 times according to some estimates, and is more often laced with other drugs.  The information age has also made it far easier to get it when you want it.  All of this makes a big difference.

I recently attended a lecture at a private Residential Treatment Center for adolescent drug addicts, at which the director made a point of saying there wasn’t a child there who hadn’t convinced their parents or themselves that a little marijuana was okay.

Adolescents are walking into my office in increasing numbers having grown alienated, unproductive and increasingly self-destructive. They are standing on a long road of marijuana use. These are unhappy kids and whether they are smoking a little on occasional weekends, every weekend, everyday or are already into heavier stuff, they need emotional help.

The sooner they get it the better. Which is why it is critical that every parent recognize that their pot smoking teenager, who may be doing what everyone else is doing, IS STILL DOING A DRUG and that it is a form of self-medication.

This is no time to seek comfort in numbers. It’s a time NOT TO PANIC, but to pay attention.

Marijuana helps kids hide from the painful and negative feelings with which so many teens struggle. By minimizing pot, parents may be neglecting to look around for the REASON their particular teen is needing to stifle his or her feelings. They are looking away from their child’s emotional health which may in fact be far more fragile than it seems. Most kids don’t connect hating life with identifiable painful feelings. They just think life stinks and drugs offer a vacation..

So how do you help open their eyes?

If you ask your child if she is depressed or anxious she will likely say “no.” This is because she doesn’t really know what the words mean and anyway believes she’s found a way to stop feeling “bad.” Ask anyway. It’s an opportunity to teach emotional vocabulary. For example, “You’ve been so quiet lately. Not laughing much and you’re not hanging out with your friends. You seem depressed, kind of sad to me.” Your teen will most certainly say you’re wrong, but that’s okay. Her education has begun.

As for how to ask your teen about drug use it’s really quite counterintuitive. Don’t ask when he is bleary eyed, or comes home laughing hysterically, or if you walk in his room and find yourself in a haze of AXE. Wait for a quiet moment when you’re child is not going to be highly defensive, or out of it and express the question with concern as opposed to accusation.

Point out what you noticed the other night, say you’re worried about drugs including marijuana, and then center on your concern for how she is FEELING. If she closes down just smile and invite her to talk when she’s ready. If she snaps that everyone smokes a little marijuana try, “I understand the way it is out there but it doesn’t make it right or healthy.” Then let it alone. Return to the subject when there are more clues or you can sense there’s an opening. The point is not to let her waste energy being angry at you. She needs that energy to just think.

When it comes to their well-being teens rarely do that. Which is why you have to.

Marijuana is a drug. For many kids it will become addictive. It could become the first step to the use of other drugs. Drugs that could ruin and even end lives.

So watch your child. If there’s a problem you’ll see it…because too many times just a little marijuana, despite what you are being told, is simply not okay.

And remember, “just a little” is dangerously subjective.

Source: August 19, 2010

Filed under: Parents :

While negative influences abound, positive messages reinforcing a drug-free lifestyle seem scarcer all the time. More responsibility than ever falls on the parents of our teens to educate them of the pitfalls of marijuana — a gateway drug. New data suggests a connection between perceived risk and frequency of use, along with an increase in escalation to more dangerous drugs after experimenting with marijuana.

According to The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS), 2011, past-month marijuana use among teens was 27 percent — up a staggering 42 percent from 2008, and marking an upward trend in teen marijuana use the past three years. These disturbing statistics hint at a more relaxed opinion of the drug among teens, which leads to heavier use.


While the PATS data reflect that about half of teens seemingly disapprove of their peers using marijuana, the data also found among teens a decrease in perceived risk involved with smoking the dangerous drug. The still small voice of anti-drug messages is waning in the face of negative pressures from pot enthusiasts, causing more and more teens to use marijuana early and often.


We can assume from the findings in the study that if more teens are using marijuana more regularly, then more teens will experiment and transition to more dangerous drugs and substances. Regular and heavy teen marijuana users are significantly more likely to use substances like cocaine (30 times more likely), Ecstasy (20 times more likely), and abuse prescription pain relievers (15 times more likely), according to PATS data. Now, teens are not only at risk of becoming addicted to marijuana, they are more likely to develop an addiction to hard-core drugs as a result.

At the root of the alarming potential trends is the decrease in perceived risk. We are losing the war for our teens’ attention, and the cost will be dear if perceptions are not changed.


Still believe the myth that marijuana’s not a gateway drug? Not only are heavy pot users more likely to experiment with heavier drugs, they are also in as much risk of developing cancer as a heavy cigarette smoker. Marijuana smoke contains some of the same carcinogens found in cigarettes and often in higher concentrations. Studies have shown that someone who smokes five joints a week may be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes every day.

Many people know the typical short-term effects of marijuana use — dry-mouth, anxiety or paranoia, decreased motor skills — but more disturbing are the long-term effects, which quickly can escalate into lifelong issues for abusers. The most common effect is “amotivational syndrome,” in which abusers suffer from a chronic lack of interest in their future and cease to care about things that used to be important to them. Also, as their tolerance for the narcotic agents in marijuana increase, the abuser needs larger and larger amounts of the drug to achieve the same high. This also contributes to the gateway process — once the user stops experiencing the high, he or she escalates use to other drugs to make up the difference.


Source:  3rd June 2012

The smoking ban in public places has led to a reduction in the number of complications in pregnancy, a new study has found.  Complications in pregnancy have fallen as a result of the ban on smoking in public places, according to a new study.
Researchers found the ban, introduced almost six years ago, has led to a decrease in the number of babies being born before they reach full term.  It has also reduced the number of infants being born underweight.
Legislation outlawing smoking in enclosed public places, such as pubs and restaurants, came into force in Scotland on March 26 2006.  The research team, led by Professor Jill Pell of the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Health and Wellbeing, looked at more than 700,000 single-baby births before and after the introduction of the ban.   They discovered that the number of mothers who smoked fell from 25.4% to 18.8% after the new law was brought in.
Experts further found there was a drop of more than 10% in the overall number of babies born “preterm”, which is defined as delivery before 37 weeks’ gestation. There was also a 5% drop in the number of infants born under the expected weight, and a fall of 8% in babies born “very small for gestational size”.
Dr Pell said the research highlighted the positive health benefits which can stem from tobacco control legislation.  She said: “These findings add to the growing evidence of the wide-ranging health benefits of smoke-free legislation and support the adoption of such legislation in other countries which have yet to implement smoking bans.
“These reductions occurred both in mothers who smoked and those who had never smoked. While survival rates for preterm deliveries have improved over the years, infants are still at risk of developing long-term health problems so any intervention that can reduce the risk of preterm delivery has the potential to produce important public health benefits.”
Source: Updated: 07/03/2012
Filed under: Health,Parents :

Parents of teenagers’ friends can have as much effect on the teens’ substance use as their own parents, according to a new study.

“Among friendship groups with ‘good parents’ there’s a synergistic effect – if your parents are consistent and aware of your whereabouts, and your friends’ parents are also consistent and aware of their (children’s) whereabouts, then you are less likely to use substances,” said Michael J. Cleveland, research assistant professor at the Prevention Research Centre and the Methodology Centre, Penn State.

In the study, 9,417 ninth-grade students were surveyed during the spring semester, and then again the following spring semester. The subjects came from 27 different rural school districts in Pennsylvania and Iowa, all participating in the Promoting School-university-community Partnerships to Enhance Resilience (PROSPER) study.

In ninth grade, the students were asked to name five of their closest friends. The researchers then identified social networks within the schools by matching up the mutually exclusive friendships. Overall, the team identified 897 different friendship groups, with an average of 10 to 11 students in each group.

At that time students also responded to questions about their perceptions of how much their parents knew about where they were and who they were with. They were also asked about the consistency of their parents’ discipline.

In the tenth-grade follow-up, participants answered questions about their substance use habits, specifically their use of alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana.

Researchers found parenting behaviours and adolescents’ substance-use behaviours to be significantly correlated that higher levels of parental knowledge and disciplinary consistency leading to a lower likelihood of substance use, whereas lower levels lead to a higher likelihood of substance use.

It was also found that behaviours of friends’ parents influenced substance use even when taking into account the effects of the teens’ own parents’ behaviours and their friends’ substance use, demonstrating the powerful effect of peers on adolescent behaviour

For example, if adolescents’ parents are consistent and generally aware of their children’s activities, but the parents of the children’s friends are inconsistent and generally unaware of their own children’s activities, the adolescents are more likely to use substances than if their friends’ parents were more similar to their own parents.

“The peer context is a very powerful influence,” said Cleveland. “We’ve found in other studies that the peer aspect can overwhelm your upbringing.”

According to the authors, this to be the first study where parenting at the peer level proved to have a concrete and statistically significant impact on child outcomes.

“I think that it empowers parents to know that not only can they have an influence on their own children, but they can also have a positive influence on their children’s friends as well,” said Cleveland. “And that by acting together the notion of ‘it takes a village’ can actually result in better outcomes for adolescents.”

The study was published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Filed under: Parents :

A word of warning to parents of adolescents, from the nation’s poison centers:  Yes, you’ve secured your medicine chest and your liquor cabinet, but a new thrill-seeking activity among teens might make you consider locking away the cinnamon shaker as well.

 In the first three months of 2012, the nation’s poison centers have had 139 calls—close to three times as many as were received in all of 2011—seeking help and information about the intentional misuse of cinnamon.  At least 122 of these calls arose from something called the “cinnamon challenge”—a game growing in popularity among teens in which a child is dared to swallow a spoonful of ground or powdered cinnamon without drinking any water.

 As cinnamon coats and dries the mouth and throat, coughing, gagging, vomiting and inhaling of cinnamon ensures, leading to throat irritation, breathing difficulties and risk of pneumonia, says Dr. Alvin C. Bronstein, medical and managing director of Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center.   For teens who suffer from asthma, the “cinnamon challenge” can be particularly risky, because they can develop shortness of breath.

 Of the 139 calls received so far this year by poison control centers, 30 required medical evaluation.  What started kids abusing the contents of the kitchen’s little bear shaker?  Look no further than the internet:  Videos posted there are helping spread word of the cinnamon challenge.

 “We urge parents and caregivers to talk to their teens about the cinnamon challenge, explaining to their teens that what may seem like a silly game can have serious health consequences,” said Bronstein.

 The latest warning comes out of the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System, which collects data on some 2 million calls made to poison control lines across the country each year, providing early warning of dangerous trends.

 Source:  ErieTimes News  – USA    2nd April 2012

Filed under: Parents :

   Adopted children are twice as likely to abuse drugs if their biological parents did too, suggesting that genetics do indeed play a role in the development of substance abuse problems.However, trouble or substance abuse in the adoptive family is also a risk factor, according to a study of more than 18,000 adopted children inSweden.

This suggests that both environment and biological family history can influence a child’s likelihood of future drug use.”For someone at low genetic risk, being in a bad environment conveys only a modestly increased risk of drug abuse,” says lead study author Dr. Kenneth S. Kendler, professor of psychiatry and human genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. “But if you are at high genetic risk, this can put your risk for drug abuse much higher.”

 The findings should be reassuring to adoptive parents, and to people who are thinking about adopting, because they show the importance of a positive environment, experts say.  “A child who is adopted, just like a child who is biological, does carry a certain genetic risk, but this shows that the environment they’re being raised in and how their genetic risk interacts with that is probably much more important for the potential development of any disease, including substance abuse and dependence,” says Dr. Lukshmi Puttanniah, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, who was not involved with the study.

 The study, published this week in the Archives of General Psychiatry, included 18,115 children born inSwedenbetween 1950 and 1993 and later adopted. Overall, 4.5% of adopted individuals had drug-abuse problems as identified by Swedish medical, legal and pharmacy records, versus 2.9% of people in the general population.

But 8.6% of those who had at least one biological parent who abused drugs had their own abuse problems versus 4.2% of adoptees whose biological parents did not have a history of drug abuse.

 Adopted children had roughly double the risk of drug abuse if their biological full- or half-sibling had similar issues. But the risk was about the same if their adoptive siblings — those who had no biological connection to them — had abused drugs.

In general, trouble in the adoptive family, such as parental divorce, death, criminal activity, and alcohol problems was linked to a higher risk of drug abuse in the adopted child. There are a number of things adoptive parents — and biological parents for that matter — can do to minimize the risk of their children experimenting with drugs and alcohol, say experts.

“If parents are responsible, are monitoring their children’s behavior, paying attention to them, spending time with them, that’s going to have a positive effect and protect them from going down the path of alcohol and drug abuse,” says Maria M. Wong, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Idaho State University in Pocatello.

 “Knowing the medical history of children who will be adopted is always a good idea, however . . . genes are not destiny,” adds Dr. Wilson Compton, director of the division of epidemiology, services, and prevention research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which helped fund the study. “This study shows that in a healthy, safe, and secure environment with little exposure to drug abuse and other problems in the adoptive relatives, even children with multiple drug abusing biological relatives do much better than those whose adoptive families don’t provide such advantages.”

But the current study omitted some factors, some of which might be important to current and future adoptive parents.For instance, the researchers didn’t know when the adopted child joined his or her new family.

“Children who are adopted at age 5 are in a different risk category from newborns,” says Dr. Lisa Albers, director of the Adoption Program at Children’s Hospital Boston.

 And the study probably underestimates the number of drug users given that drug abuse was identified only if a person had had a brushwith the law, had been hospitalized or had a certain prescription history. That sets a “relatively high bar,” Albers says.  In any event, rates of drug abuse in theU.S.tend to be higher than inSwedenor other Scandinavian countries, says Kendler.  Also, researchers didn’t take into account changes in adoption in the last 50 years.

 For instance, many more children placed for adoption today have birth parents with a history of substance abuse compared with 50 years ago, says Albers.

On the other hand, the medical community has moved forward “light years” in its understanding and ability to handle other risk factors for substance abuse, such as ADHD, impulse control challenges, mental health concerns like anxiety or significant trauma, which may have occurred prior to the child coming into the family — all of which are risk factors for substance abuse, says Albers.

“If we have parents with a history of drug abuse, we can probably do better . . .. if we address the early signs that put the child at risk for drug abuse,” says Albers.

“Joining an adoptive family that is supportive even if you’re genetically at high risk is a very positive thing,” she adds.

Source:  5th March 2012

TORONTO, Nov. 2 — Methamphetamine can be detected in the hair of newborns whose mothers used the drug during pregnancy, researchers here have found.

Action Points

Note that this study shows that methamphetamine used during pregnancy can be found in the hair of neonates, suggesting it crosses the placental barrier with effects that are not completely understood.

Advise patients who ask that drug abuse during pregnancy can be detrimental to the fetus, with a range of physical and intellectual sequelae, as well as hazardous to the mother.

It represents the first direct evidence in humans that crystal meth, which is a growing drug-abuse problem in North America, can cross the placenta and affect the growing fetus, according to Facundo Garcia-Bournissen, M.D., of the Motherisk program at the Hospital for Sick Children.
Researchers at the program have been testing hair samples from parents and adults across Canada for several years, usually when there is clinical suspicion of drug abuse on the part of parents, Dr. Garcia-Bournissen and colleagues reported in the online issue of Archives of Disease in Childhood.
From June 1997 through December 2005, the database accumulated results of 34,278 tests for drugs in hair, representing 8,270 people. Nearly 60% (or 4,926) of these people were positive for at least one drug of abuse, the researchers said.
In a retrospective analysis, Dr. Garcia-Bournissen and colleagues examined the incidence of methamphetamine in hair samples:
• The first methamphetamine was found in hair in 2003, when six samples tested positive, with a slight increase in 2004, with eight cases.
• There were 372 cases in 2005 and the researchers said preliminary data for 2006 indicates that the surge has not stopped.
• The study identified 11 mother-neonate pairs in which each was positive for methamphetamine.
• Also, one newborn was negative, although the mother was positive.
The median methamphetamine values in the mother-baby pairs were 1.75 ng/mg for the mothers and 1.63 ng/mg for the newborns. Dr. Garcia-Bournissen and colleagues said.
The median concentrations were not significantly different, “suggesting that the transplacental transfer of methamphetamine is extensive,” the researchers said. On an individual level, maternal and neonatal drug levels correlated significantly (at P=0.003, using Spearman’s rho test, with r=0.8).
Interestingly, among the 171 subjects who were positive for methamphetamine and whose hair was tested for other drugs, 83.5% were positive for at least one other drug, usually cocaine, Dr. Garcia-Bournissen and colleagues found.
In contrast, among the 1,053 subjects negative for methamphetamine but positive for some other drug, only 38% were positive for more than one drug, they said.
“Positive exposure to methamphetamine strongly suggests that the person is a polydrug user, which may have important implications for fetal safety,” the researchers said.
The effects of the drug on the exposed child remain unclear, Dr. Garcia-Bournissen and colleagues noted, although there is some evidence that “children exposed in utero to methamphetamine are at risk of developmental problems, because of either the effect of direct exposure to the drug during pregnancy or growing in the environment associated with parental methamphetamine misuse, or probably both.”
Because the study was retrospective and anonymous, clinical information on the exposed infants is not available, the researchers said.

Source: 2nd Nov. 2006

 Q: How can I tell if my child has been using marijuana?

A: There are some signs you might be able to see. If someone is high on marijuana, he or she might:

 Seem dizzy and have trouble walking;

  • Seem silly and giggly for no reason;
  • Save very red, bloodshot eyes; and
  • Have a hard time remembering things that just happened.

 When the early effects fade, the user can become very sleepy.

 Parents should be aware of changes in their child’s behavior, although this may be difficult with teens. Parents should look for withdrawal, depression, fatigue, carelessness with grooming, hostility and deteriorating relationships with family members and friends.

 In addition, changes in academic performance, increased absenteeism or truancy, lost interest in sports or other favourite activities, and changes in eating or sleeping habits could be related to drug use. However, these signs may also indicate problems other than using drugs.


In addition, parents should be aware of:

 Signs of drugs and drug paraphernalia, including pipes and rolling papers;

  • Odour on clothes and in the bedroom;
  • Use of incense and other deodorizers;
  • Use of eye drops; and
  • Clothing, posters, jewellery, etc., promoting drug use.

 Source: The National Institute on Drug Abuse  2010



Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Parents :

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: 26th October 2011

Filed under: Alcohol,Parents,Youth :

TORONTO, Nov. 2 — Methamphetamine can be detected in the hair of newborns whose mothers used the drug during pregnancy, researchers here have found.
Action Points

  • Note that this study shows that methamphetamine used during pregnancy can be found in the hair of neonates, suggesting it crosses the placental barrier with effects that are not completely understood.
  • Advise patients who ask that drug abuse during pregnancy can be detrimental to the fetus, with a range of physical and intellectual sequelae, as well as hazardous to the mother.

It represents the first direct evidence in humans that crystal meth, which is a growing drug-abuse problem in North America, can cross the placenta and affect the growing fetus, according to Facundo Garcia-Bournissen, M.D., of the Motherisk program at the Hospital for Sick Children.
Researchers at the program have been testing hair samples from parents and adults across Canada for several years, usually when there is clinical suspicion of drug abuse on the part of parents, Dr. Garcia-Bournissen and colleagues reported in the online issue of Archives of Disease in Childhood.
From June 1997 through December 2005, the database accumulated results of 34,278 tests for drugs in hair, representing 8,270 people. Nearly 60% (or 4,926) of these people were positive for at least one drug of abuse, the researchers said.
In a retrospective analysis, Dr. Garcia-Bournissen and colleagues examined the incidence of methamphetamine in hair samples:

  • The first methamphetamine was found in hair in 2003, when six samples tested positive, with a slight increase in 2004, with eight cases.
  • There were 372 cases in 2005 and the researchers said preliminary data for 2006 indicates that the surge has not stopped.
  • The study identified 11 mother-neonate pairs in which each was positive for methamphetamine.
  • Also, one newborn was negative, although the mother was positive.

The median methamphetamine values in the mother-baby pairs were 1.75 ng/mg for the mothers and 1.63 ng/mg for the newborns. Dr. Garcia-Bournissen and colleagues said. The median concentrations were not significantly different, “suggesting that the transplacental transfer of methamphetamine is extensive,” the researchers said. On an individual level, maternal and neonatal drug levels correlated significantly (at P=0.003, using Spearman’s rho test, with r=0.8).
Interestingly, among the 171 subjects who were positive for methamphetamine and whose hair was tested for other drugs, 83.5% were positive for at least one other drug, usually cocaine, Dr. Garcia-Bournissen and colleagues found.
In contrast, among the 1,053 subjects negative for methamphetamine but positive for some other drug, only 38% were positive for more than one drug, they said.
“Positive exposure to methamphetamine strongly suggests that the person is a polydrug user, which may have important implications for fetal safety,” the researchers said. The effects of the drug on the exposed child remain unclear, Dr. Garcia-Bournissen and colleagues noted, although there is some evidence that “children exposed in utero to methamphetamine are at risk of developmental problems, because of either the effect of direct exposure to the drug during pregnancy or growing in the environment associated with parental methamphetamine misuse, or probably both.”

Because the study was retrospective and anonymous, clinical information on the exposed infants is not available, the researchers said.

Source: 2nd Nov. 2006

In this Dutch study, promoting parental rule setting and classroom alcohol education together nearly halved the proportion of adolescents who went on to drink heavily. Rarely have such strong and sustained drinking prevention impacts been recorded from these types of interventions.


This Dutch study tested the long-term impact of the Örebro intervention (first developed and tested in Sweden) targeting parental rule-setting in relation to the drinking of their adolescent children, allied with classroom alcohol education. The parenting element entailed a brief presentation from an alcohol expert at the first parents’ meeting at the start of each school year on the adverse effects of youth drinking and the negative effects of permissive parental attitudes towards children’s alcohol use. After this parents of children from the same class were meant to meet to agree a shared set of rules about alcohol use. In fact, only half the schools did this; the remainder used the later mailing to send a checklist of candidate rules to parents for them to select from and return to the school. Three weeks after this meeting, a summary of the presentation and the result of the classroom discussion was sent to parents’ home addresses. Classroom alcohol education consisted of four lessons from trained teachers at the schools plus a booster a year later, using mainly computerised modules to foster a healthy attitude to drinking and to train the pupils in how to refuse offers of alcohol.
The 19 schools which joined the study were randomly allocated to the parenting intervention alone, to classroom alcohol education alone, to the combination of both, or to act as control schools which carried on with alcohol education as usual.
An earlier paper from the same study reported that relative to education as usual, among the 2937 (of 3490) 12–13-year-olds not already drinking weekly and who met other criteria for the study, the combined parenting and education intervention curbed the initiation of weekly drinking and heavy weekly drinking over the next 22 months (and reduced the frequency of drinking). In contrast, on their own, neither the parenting elements nor the lessons made any significant difference when the whole sample of children not yet drinking weekly at the start were included in the analyses.

Main findings

The featured report tested whether these effects were still apparent a year later, 34 months after the start of the study and when the pupils averaged just over 15 years of age, a time when two thirds of Dutch youngsters are already drinking weekly and will soon (age 16) be able to legally buy alcohol. Of the 2937 in the initial sample of non-weekly drinkers, 2533 (86%) completed the follow-up assessment. The probable responses of the remainder were estimated on the basis of prior assessments and other data. As before, the parenting elements or alcohol education alone had made no statistically significant differences to drinking, but the impacts of both together in retarding uptake of weekly and heavy weekly drinking were greater than a year before chart. Compared to 59% and 27% in education-as-usual control schools, after the combined intervention 49% and 15% of pupils were drinking weekly or drinking heavily each week. After adjusting for other factors, the results meant that in combined intervention schools, the odds of these patterns of drinking versus less extreme drinking had been reduced to 0.69 relative to education as usual, highly statistically significant findings. Put another way, for every four pupils allocated to parenting plus alcohol education, one was prevented from drinking weekly and also one from drinking heavily each week at age 15.

The authors’ conclusions

In a liberal drinking culture where adolescent and underage drinking is common, targeting both parents and young adolescent pupils (but not either on their own) exercises a sustained and substantial restraining influence on the development of regular and regular heavy drinking as the youngsters approach the legal alcohol purchase age. The findings underline the need to target adolescents as well as their parents and of targeting adolescents at an early age, before they start to drink regularly and when family factors are a major influence on youth drinking. Doing so has the potential to create appreciable public health gains.

Source: Koning I.M., van den Eijnden R.J., Verdurmen J.E. et al.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine: 2011, 40(5), p. 541–547.

Many mothers and fathers think that allowing their children to have a supervised drink is a good way of exposing them to alcohol safely and taking away its illicit thrill. But new research suggests it sends mixed signals that result in them being more likely to abuse alcohol as they enter their core teenage years.
A joint American-Australian study of more than 1,900 12 and 13-year-olds found that those whose parents took such a “harm minimisation” approach were more likely to have experienced “alcohol-related consequences” – such as not being able to stop drinking, getting into fights, or having blackouts – two years later than those whose parents had a “zero-tolerance” strategy.
A year into the study, almost twice as many Australian teenagers (67 per cent) had drunk alcohol in the presence of an adult than their American counterparts (35 per cent), reflecting general attitudes in Australia and the US when it comes to supervised underage drinking.
The following year, just over a third (36 per cent) of the Australians had experienced alcohol-related consequences compared to only a fifth (21 per cent) of the Americans.
While cultural differences alone could feasibly account for the disparity, the results also found that teens who had been allowed to drink while supervised were more likely to have had such experiences regardless of which country they were from.
The results of the study, conducted by the Centre for Adolescent Health in Melbourne, Australia, and the Social Development Research Group in Seattle, USA, are published today in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
British attitudes to teenage drinking are more similar to those in Australia than America, a matter reflected in law. While in the UK and Australia one can buy an alcoholic drink in a pub or off-licence from the age of 18, in the US the minimum age is 21. However, two years ago Sir Liam Donaldson, then England’s chief medical officer, said children under 15 should never be given alcohol, even though it is legal for parents to give a child over five alcohol in the home.
A separate Dutch study of 500 12-to-15-year-olds, also published in the JSAD today, found that it was the amount of alcohol available at home, and not how much parents drank, that determined teenage drinking habits – suggesting parents should keep their drinks cabinets locked.
Dr Barbara McMorris, of Minnesota University, who led the first study, said: “Both studies show that parents matter. “Despite the fact that peers and friends become important influences as adolescents get older, parents still have a big impact.” She added: “Kids need parents to be parents and not drinking buddies. Adults need to be clear about what messages they are sending. Kids need black and white messages early on. “Such messages will help reinforce limits as teens get older and opportunities to drink increase.”

Source: 28th April 2011

A new study suggests that the brain damage suffered by children whose mothers used metamphetamine during pregnancy may be even worse than the effects that alcohol has on a fetus.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that some of the brain regions of meth-exposed children were even smaller than in alcohol-exposed children. One such region is the caudate nucleus, which plays a role in learning, memory, motor control, and motivation.

“Our findings stress the importance of drug abuse treatment for pregnant women,” said research team leader Elizabeth Sowell.

According to Sowell and her colleagues, being able to identify which brain structures are affected in meth-exposed children may help predict the specific types of leaning and behavioral problems that will afflict these children.

 Source:  The Journal of Neuroscience. March 17 2011

A new assessment tool may allow doctors to evaluate the impact of methamphetamine on babies exposed in the womb. The tool may help identify which babies will go on to develop problems due to exposure to the drug, according to a new study.

Medical News Today reports that doctors at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University andWomen & InfantsHospital inProvidence,RI, looked at the effects of prenatal exposure to methamphetamine in 185 newborns and compared them with 195 newborns who were not exposed to meth, but were exposed to alcohol, tobacco or marijuana before birth.

They reported at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting inDenver that an assessment tool called the NICU Network Neurobehavioral Scale (NNNS) was used to evaluate the babies during the first four days of life and again when they were one month old.  The tool evaluates the babies’ muscle tone, reflexes, behavior, motor development and stress.

The researchers said that the tests could help identify which babies are doing well and which are the ones who could benefit from intervention and prevention services.

Source:  3rd May 2011

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:   Nov 2010

Q: How can I tell if my child has been using marijuana?
A: There are some signs you might be able to see. If someone is high on marijuana, he or she might:

• Seem dizzy and have trouble walking;
• Seem silly and giggly for no reason;
• Save very red, bloodshot eyes; and
• Have a hard time remembering things that just happened.
When the early effects fade, the user can become very sleepy.

Parents should be aware of changes in their child’s behavior, although this may be difficult with teens. Parents should look for withdrawal, depression, fatigue, carelessness with grooming, hostility and deteriorating relationships with family members and friends.

In addition, changes in academic performance, increased absenteeism or truancy, lost interest in sports or other favorite activities, and changes in eating or sleeping habits could be related to drug use. However, these signs may also indicate problems other than using drugs.

In addition, parents should be aware of:

• Signs of drugs and drug paraphernalia, including pipes and rolling papers;
• Odor on clothes and in the bedroom;
• Use of incense and other deodorizers;
• Use of eye drops; and
• Clothing, posters, jewelry, etc., promoting drug use.

Source: The National Institute on Drug Abuse 2010

Filed under: Parents :

An Evaluation of the Kids, Adults Together Programme (KAT)

A key influence on the timing of young people’s first alcohol use is the family (Spoth et al. 2002) and a number of substance misuse prevention programmes (mainly in the USA) have tried to influence families. Most are based in schools, which potentially provide an efficient way to reach large numbers of young people and their families (Bryan et al. 2006). However, in practice, school-based initiatives have not always managed to engage significant numbers of parents (Lloyd et al. 2000; Rothwell et al. 2009; Stead et al. 2007; Ward and Snow 2008).
This report describes the findings from an exploratory evaluation of a new school-based alcohol misuse prevention programme – Kids, Adults Together (KAT), which engaged with parents as well as children. The programme comprised a classroom component for children, a family fun evening, and a DVD. The research study evaluated the development and early implementation of KAT, and aimed to establish the theoretical basis for the programme. It explored implementation processes and acceptability, and identified plausible precursors of the intended long-term outcome which could be used as indicators of likely effectiveness.
Mixed qualitative data-collection methods were used during two phases of evaluation. The first phase of the evaluation investigated how KAT had originated and developed; its relationship to existing evidence and theory; and its aims. Methods used were an analysis of thirty-two documents selected by the programme organizers and meant to provide an ‘audit trail’ of programme development up until the start of the evaluation; a literature search; and interviews with six members of the working group who had been involved in setting up the programme, the programme organiser and his assistant, the KAT DVD producer and the organiser of the Australian PAKT programme (on which KAT is based).
The second phase comprised observation of the classroom preparation and KAT family events in two pilot schools; focus groups with forty-one children; interviews with both head teachers and with teachers who delivered the classroom preparation; follow-up interviews with the programme organisers and six Working Group members; interviews with twelve parents who attended the KAT family events; and a questionnaire for parents of all 110 children who had been involved in the classroom preparation. There were two rounds of focus groups and parent interviews: the first as soon as possible after the KAT event at each school and the second months later.
Programme aims
The main aim of KAT was identified as reducing the number of children and young people who engaged in alcohol misuse. Exploration of the programme’s implementation suggested that family communication should be reaffirmed as its primary objective. This was consistent with the social development model (Catalano and Hawkins 1996) which links family communication with children’s alcohol-related behaviour later in life.
KAT achieved high levels of acceptability among pupils, parents and school staff. Parents enjoyed the fun evening, and thought it was delivered in an, engaging and non lecturing way. Participants thought it was good that the KAT programme had been run in the school setting, and felt that such work should be delivered to children at a young age. Staff in both pilot schools believed that the way in which the evening was promoted as an opportunity for parents to find out what their children had been working on helped avoid a perception that the fun evening was designed to lecture parents.
The KAT programme’s most significant and persistent impact on communication was the effect on family conversations about parental drinking. Many children who thought their parents drank too much alcohol reported trying to change their (parents’) behaviour.
The classroom preparation was effective in promoting communication about alcohol issues amongst members of the class but outside the classroom, its effect was minimal, and until the work had culminated in the fun evening, few children said much at home about it. Most children were very keen to go to the fun evening, to show off their work, to see what it was like and to enjoy the refreshments and entertainment. Many put pressure on their parents to attend.
The fun evening acted as a catalyst for setting off conversations about what children had done in the classroom and activities during the evening. The DVD was effective in extending the influence of the programme beyond the school-based components.
Both children and parents reported having gained new knowledge about alcohol as a result of their involvement with the KAT programme.
There was little evidence that involvement in KAT (as a whole or its constituent components) had led to changes in parents’ or children’s attitudes to alcohol consumption. Overall the children held critical attitudes towards alcohol and the effects which its consumption might lead to. Most parents who were concerned about the dangers of alcohol and the use of alcohol by their children held pre-existing concerns or attitudes.
KAT raised children’s and parents’ awareness of issues relating to alcohol and some parents had thought about their own drinking practices, particularly how drinking alcohol in front of their children could influence them.
Evidence from participants suggested that KAT had only a small effect on intentions regarding future behaviour. These intentions were often stimulated by specific aspects of the programme such as the DVD or leaflets in the goody bag.
There was evidence from some parents and children at both schools that drinking behaviour of parents and other family members had changed as a result of KAT. The effect was not confined to those who had attended the fun evening, suggesting that KAT was able to influence communication within wider networks of family and friends.
The report highlights five main findings from the evaluation of KAT:
1. KAT has demonstrated promise as an alcohol misuse prevention intervention through its short term impact on knowledge acquisition and pro-social communication with family networks
2. The interaction between the programme’s core components (classroom activities, family fun evening and the programme DVD/goody bag) appear to have been integral to the impact on knowledge acquisition and communication processes that occurred within participating families
3. The timing of KAT (its delivery to children In primary school Years 5 and 6) is appropriate both because it precedes the onset of drinking (or regular drinking), and because it engages families whilst they are still a key attachment and influence in young people’s lives
4. KAT achieved high levels of engagement and acceptability among parents, and this included some families with problems/support needs in relation to alcohol
5. Engagement levels among parents were higher among mothers than fathers. The research was not able to explore the in-depth experiences of those parents/carers who did not or could not attend the KAT fun evening
The following five recommendations are made for the future development and evaluation of KAT:
1. Further research is needed to refine and develop the theoretical model of how KAT works, whether short term changes in knowledge, communication and behaviour are sustained over the longer term, and how these processes might reduce alcohol misuse
2. KAT needs to be delivered and evaluated in different school contexts to further test its underpinning model, and explore the acceptability and local adaptation of the programme within these settings
Future research needs to explore in more detail the reach of the programme (including the engagement of fathers), examine what barriers to attendance might exist and put in place strategies to minimise them
3. Future stages of implementation should clarify if KAT specifically aims to reach families with problems/support needs in relation to alcohol, or whether it is intended as a primary prevention intervention for general school populations
4. It is important to address the support needs of children whose attempts to discuss issues raised by KAT (particularly around parental drinking) are rejected or not received positively by their parents

Source: Alcohol Insight number 70

I-dosing on “digital drugs” is becoming an alarming new trend amongst teens. Web sites are luring kids with free downloads of “digital drugs,” which are audio files designed to induce drug-like effects. Videos of teenagers trying the digital drugs are all over YouTube
Web sites are luring kids with free downloads of “digital drugs,” which are audio files designed to induce drug-like effects. The sites claim it is a safe and legal way to get high, but parents fear it could lead to illegal drug use.
Videos of teenagers trying digital drugs are all over YouTube, leaving parents, educators and law enforcement officials with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs concerned.
“Kids are going to flock to these sites just to see what it is about and it can lead them to other places,” said OBNDD spokesperson Mark Woodward.
The digital drugs use binaural or two-toned technology to alter your brainwaves and mental state.
“Well it’s just scary, definitely scary. Just one more thing to look out for,” said parent Kelly Johnson.
Recently Mustang Public Schools sent out a letter warning parents about the new trend after several high school students reported having physiological effects after trying one of these digital downloads. Students and graduates are still talking about it.
“I heard it was like some weird demons and stuff through an iPod and he was like freaking out,” said Mustang High School student Meghan Edwards.
“People do need to be concerned about it. It’s not just something that should be overlooked,” said Shelbi Reed, Mustang High School graduate.
“We had never come across anything like this and anything that is going to cause these physiological effects in a student, that causes us concern,” said Shannon Rigsby, Mustang Public Schools Communication Officer.
Mustang schools are doing what they can to put a stop to it, including cracking down on the use of cell phone and other technology while on campus.
The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics said parental awareness is key to preventing future problems, since I-dosing could indicate a willingness to experiment with drugs.
“So that’s why we want parents to be aware of what sites their kids are visiting and not just dismiss this as something harmless on the computer,” Woodward said. “If you want to reach these kids, save these kids and keep these kids safe, parents have to be aware. They’ve got to take action.”
Another concern the OBN has is that many of these I-dosing sites lure visitors to actual drug and drug paraphernalia sites.

Source: 13th July 2010

Filed under: Parents :

Q: How can I tell if my child has been using marijuana?
A: There are some signs you might be able to see. If someone is high on marijuana, he or she might:

• Seem dizzy and have trouble walking;
• Seem silly and giggly for no reason;
• Save very red, bloodshot eyes; and
• Have a hard time remembering things that just happened.

When the early effects fade, the user can become very sleepy.

Parents should be aware of changes in their child’s behavior, although this may be difficult with teens. Parents should look for withdrawal, depression, fatigue, carelessness with grooming, hostility and deteriorating relationships with family members and friends.

In addition, changes in academic performance, increased absenteeism or truancy, lost interest in sports or other favorite activities, and changes in eating or sleeping habits could be related to drug use. However, these signs may also indicate problems other than using drugs.

In addition, parents should be aware of:

• Signs of drugs and drug paraphernalia, including pipes and rolling papers;
• Odor on clothes and in the bedroom;
• Use of incense and other deodorizers;
• Use of eye drops; and
• Clothing, posters, jewelry, etc., promoting drug use.

Source: The National Institute on Drug Abuse 2010

Parents who try to teach responsible drinking by letting their teenagers have alcohol at home may be well intentioned, but they may also be wrong, according to a new study in the latest issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

In a study of 428 Dutch families, researchers found that the more teenagers were allowed to drink at home, the more they drank outside of home as well. What’s more, teens who drank under their parents’ watch or on their own had an elevated risk of developing alcohol-related problems. Drinking problems included trouble with school work, missed school days and getting into fights with other people, among other issues.

The findings, say the researchers, put into question the advice of some experts who recommend that parents drink with their teenage children to teach them how to drink responsibly — with the aim of limiting their drinking outside of the home.

That advice is common in the Netherlands, where the study was conducted, but it is based more on experts’ reasoning than on scientific evidence, according to Dr. Haske van der Vorst, the lead researcher on the study.

“The idea is generally based on common sense,” says van der Vorst, of Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands. “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.”

But the current findings suggest that is not the case.

Based on this and earlier studies, van der Vorst says, “I would advise parents to prohibit their child from drinking, in any setting or on any occasion.”

The study included 428 families with 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.

The findings, according to van der Vorst, suggest that teen drinking begets more drinking — and, in some cases, alcohol problems — regardless of where and with whom they drink.

“If parents want to reduce the risk that their child will become a heavy drinker or problem drinker in adolescence,” she says, “they should try to postpone the age at which their child starts drinking.”

Available at:

Source: H. van der Vorst Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 71 (1), 105-114. Jan 2010

THE number of children being treated for booze problems nearly DOUBLED in three years, The Sun can reveal.
A staggering 8,799 under-18s – including some of PRIMARY school age – were treated for misusing alcohol in the 12 months to April last year.
This was a shocking 80.1 per cent rise on the year to April 2006, when just 4,886 received help.
And figures released to The Sun under the Freedom of Information Act show 67 kids aged just 11 or younger were treated for alcohol problems in 2008-09. More than half of those referred or treated during the year were either 16 or 17.
The regions with the biggest child booze problems were the North West, where 1,760 kids received help, and the South East, where 1,148 were treated.
Another 872 kids from London received help for alcohol problems.
The sharp rise has come since the introduction of 24-hour drinking in November 2005. The figures, released by the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse, show another 7,248 under-18s referred to them with drug problems also had trouble with drink.
Earlier this month, The Sun reported that three kids under 10 are being treated in hospital for drug abuse every day.
Source  22nd March 2010

Filed under: Parents :

Poor parenting is not the reason for an increase in problem behaviour amongst teenagers, according to research led by Oxford University.

A team led by Professor Frances Gardner from the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at the University of Oxford found no evidence of a general decline in parenting. Their findings show that differences in parenting according to family structure and income have narrowed over the last 25 years. However, the task of parenting is changing and could be getting increasingly stressful, particularly for some groups.
Parents and teenagers are choosing to spend more quality time together than 25 years ago, with 70 per cent of young people regularly spending time with their mothers in 2006 compared to 62 per cent in 1986. For fathers, the figure had increased from 47 per cent to 52 per cent.
This research follows a Nuffield-funded study in 2004, which identified an increase in both adolescent conduct and emotional problems over the last 25 years.
Despite the rise, this latest study shows that today’s parents are more likely to know where their teenage children are and what they are doing than their 1980s equivalents. The proportion asking what their children were doing has increased from 47 per cent in 1986 to 66 per cent in 2006.
Differences in the monitoring of teenage children, according to family type and income, have narrowed. For example in 1994, 14–15 year olds from single parent families were more likely to be out late without their parents knowing where compared with two parent families, but by 2005 this difference had disappeared.
Professor Gardner said: ‘We found no evidence for declining standards of parenting overall, and this leads us to believe this factor does not generally explain the rise in problem behaviour.’
Parents of teenagers are increasingly likely to report symptoms of depression and anxiety themselves, particularly one-parent families and those on low incomes. For example, the proportion of parents from the most economically disadvantaged group who reported symptoms of depression and anxiety had increased by more than 50 per cent between 1986 and 2006.
The research highlights a different set of challenges for parents compared with 25 years ago. Young people now are reliant on their parents for longer, with higher proportions of 20–24 year olds living with their parents. Many more remain in some kind of education or training into their late teens. In addition, the development of new technology, such as mobile phones and the Internet, has created new monitoring challenges for parents.
‘Today’s parents have had to develop skills that are significantly different and arguably more complex than 25 years ago, and this could be increasing the stress involved in parenting,’ Professor Gardner said.
The research, commissioned by the Nuffield Foundation for a briefing paper, Time trends in parenting and outcomes for young people, was authored by Dr Ann Hagell, Head of the Nuffield Foundation’s Changing Adolescence Programme.
The research team reviewed published evidence, and analysed two sets of UK nationally representative data. The first was the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), with annual data on parenting reported by teenagers and their parents from 1994 onwards. The second data source comes from a related Nuffield-funded project, led by Dr Stephan Collishaw, to study causes of trends in youth mental health.

Source: Science Daily 2 August 2009

Filed under: Parents :

UN-commissioned guidance from international experts on how to mount prevention programmes based on family skills training involving parents and children in a joint effort to improve family dynamics and child development. Engaging parents seems the major barrier.

This review and guidance initiated by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime concerned the role of family skills training programmes in the prevention of substance use problems among children in families across the board (‘universal’), or families whose children are particularly at risk (‘selective’). Unless integrated with these types of interventions, the document did not include programmes aimed at individuals identified as at high risk or as already experiencing substance use problems (‘indicated’). A literature and website review identified 130 universal and selective programmes. Research articles and programme descriptions were solicited from the developers. Practitioners, managers, researchers and developers from these programmes throughout the world were invited to a technical consultation meeting. The guide was drafted on the basis of the discussions and the literature review. This account largely relies on its final chapter, which summarised the major points.
Families can act as powerful protective forces in healthy child development, in particular with regard to substance use. To bolster this process, universal and selective family skills training programmes generally aim at strengthening the protective factors in families, equipping parents with the skills to provide supportive parenting, supervision, monitoring and effective discipline, and giving entire families opportunities and skills to strengthen attachment between parents and children. These approaches are more intensive and differ from parent education, which typically limits itself to providing parents with information about substances and their effects and does not involve the children.
Such programmes have been extensively evaluated and found effective in preventing substance abuse and other risky behaviours – about three times more effective than life skills education programmes aimed only at children and young people, and with more long-lasting benefits. Conservative estimates indicate that for each pound spent, over the long term these programmes return a saving of nine pounds. They also form part of effective multi-component programmes which offer other interventions in other settings (such as schools, media and the community), and of tiered programmes which operate across several levels of prevention simultaneously according to the needs of the families (universal, selective and indicated).
Although the evidence is limited to few programmes in high-income countries, recommended principles for family skills training programmes can be identified. These include a solid theory of how the training will affect risk and protective factors based on research on factors related to substance abuse which can be addressed at the family level. Programmes should be matched to the target population, especially the age and developmental stage of the children and the level of risk or problems in the families. This makes accurate needs assessment vital. Programmes must be of sufficient intensity and duration to address the targeted outcomes. In general, universal programmes extend over four to eight sessions, selective programmes for higher risk families, 10 to 15. Sessions last about two to three hours and should be based on interactive techniques implemented in small groups of eight to 12 families. A typical and effective programme will provide parents with the skills and opportunities to strengthen positive family relationships, family supervision and monitoring, and improve the communication of family values and expectations.
Recruitment and retention of parents are significant barriers to the dissemination of such programmes. However, retention rates of over 80% can be achieved by addressing the practical (transportation, childcare) and psychological (fear of stigmatisation, feelings of hopelessness) barriers. Interventions are most effective if participants are ready for change, such as at major transition points like children starting school or a new school phase.
Often it most feasible and/or cost-effective to base a project on an evidence-based programme developed elsewhere for a similar target group, preferably one with the best prevention record. In this case, it is important to carefully and systematically adapt the programme to the cultural and socioeconomic needs of the target population. Such adaptations enhance recruitment and retention of families. However, during its initial use the programme should be implemented with only minimal local adaptations or changes. Feedback from participants and group facilitators on what worked or did not work so well can be used as the basis for further refinements. Experience with these and outcome evaluations should be used to assess whether a deeper adaptation is required.
As with other types of programmes, adequate training and ongoing support must be provided to carefully selected staff. Most evidence-based programmes require two to three days of training for 10 to 30 future group leaders. Training should give them the opportunity to practise their skills, but also discuss the theoretical foundations, evidence of effectiveness, and the values of the programme. Ongoing support by programme managers and supervisors (and, if possible and appropriate, from programme developers) is important, especially in the form of e-mail contacts and web-based networking of group facilitators across agencies. Site visits and debriefing sessions also enhance quality and fidelity of implementation, as well as the collection of monitoring data.
Programmes should include strong and systematic monitoring and evaluation components. This work contributes to the understanding of prevention strategies, indicating which programmes are effective, under which circumstances, and for which populations, and provides evidence of effectiveness which can be used to lobby policymakers and donors, potentially helping to sustain the programme.
There is no question that the family is a powerful influence on child development and on substance use and problems in particular, nor that interventions with families and parents can (see for example this demonstration from Sweden) help prevent substance use in various forms. What is questionable is whether the research, though sometimes promising, is sufficiently extensive and sound to warrant widespread implementation of these programmes. Searching for practical guidance, British reviewers found that research deficiencies mean that no clear choice could be made about what works best either for marginalised and vulnerable groups, or for families in general. The background notes focus on two of the best researched family skills interventions (the Strengthening Families Programme and the Family Check-Up) as a way of testing the adequacy of the evidence overall, and address the issue of engaging families of early adolescent children. For other relevant evidence run this search for pre-school and parenting interventions on the Findings site.
When in 2008 the US government analysed the costs and benefits of substance use prevention programmes, family skills training programmes were among those with the highest benefit to cost ratio, though they lagged behind some other school/community/family programmes, and also well behind some entirely different kinds of initiatives like enforcing laws on serving drunk customers in licensed premises. Estimates for the two relatively well researched family skills interventions focused on in the background notes rested on one or two studies, which in both cases provided a narrow and at best tentative basis for the calculations, casting doubt over the degree to which they can be relied on to guide prevention programme planning. Nevertheless, the same may be said of some of the other programmes included in the analysis. For the analysts, the major drawback of family training as a universal prevention modality was its higher cost relative to other types of initiatives, leading them to suggest that this approach be reserved for high risk schools, areas or families
A particular issue is whether by the time family skills training comes in to its own – from age six to 11, and in major studies not until the early years of secondary schooling – enough families can be involved to make these strategies a viable way of curbing youth substance use problems across the population as a whole. British experience so far suggests this is not the case, though high-risk families under pressure to attend and/or energetically and sensitively targeted can be engaged in and benefit from family skills training. As the featured review comments, one way cost and accessibility barriers are being addressed is through computerisation of such programmes so families can go though them at times convenient to them and in their own homes, a tactic trialled for example with some success among mothers and daughters in New Jersey.
Based on UK experience and the adequacy of the international evidence, family skills training programmes of the kind reviewed can be recommended for consideration for families who have come to attention because their children (age six upwards) are at risk of behavioural problems which may include risky substance use. Sensitive personal approaches from programme staff, perhaps preferably from the same communities, can recruit many to participate, stay in and benefit from the programmes. Universal application to all families seems at the moment to lack sufficient evidence (especially in the UK) to warrant the considerable investment required, a situation which may change if low-cost, accessible computer-based alternatives prove feasible, effective and capable of widespread implementation.

Source: K. Kumfer 09 March 2010

One of the questions that comes up time and again is how do we safeguard our children from being exposed to drugs and pro drug use content on the Internet?
Most parents are already attuned to risks on the web like online predators and sexual content. Increasingly, sites that promote illicit drug use — actually explaining which drugs to use and how to do it — are coming to the attention of parents as their children are exposed.  What’s more, rogue online pharmacies and their e-mail spam promote painkillers and other drugs to teens with “no prescription needed” while blogs and teen content portray drug and alcohol abuse as no big deal.
Our colleagues at the Treatment Research Institute in Philadelphia have been studying the growth of these sites.  They came away so worried about the scale and scope that they’ve invited us to partner with them and an Internet developer to launch a new online platform called WebSafe Parent available at
WebSafe will be an online community educating adults about this content and how their children are exposed to it.  WebSafe will also provide Community Alerts that regularly notify registered “WebSafe Parents” about new and potentially harmful websites and other threats.  Parents who want to go a step further can purchase state-of-the-art software that can monitor and control how long, when and what sites children are visiting — and even block children from giving out personal information.  Longer term, members will be invited to join local “WebSafe Communities” where they can exchange information about threats with other adults in their area.
This is an increasingly digital world where teens surf freely and much of the time profit greatly from the experience.  Our goal through this latest partnership is to enlighten and empower parents to protect their kids when they get into situations that can ultimately prove dangerous.  It’s also a prime opportunity to remind parents and caregivers of the immense power and influence you have to help your kids make the right choices for themselves!
What are your thoughts on the content kids are exposed to on the web?  Do you think your kids have discovered pro drug, sexual or other content?


Filed under: Parents :

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 :

John, an engineer in his fifties, lives in Scotland with his wife. One of their two sons, Simon, became a heroin addict.
I have huge sympathy for Amy Winehouse’s parents, I know exactly what they are going through.
We had high hopes for Simon. He was highly intelligent and had a natural ability with computers. We first realised something was wrong when he started having rapid mood swings, from happy to extremely angry. He also went from having glowing school reports to not doing well at school. He seemed to have got in with the wrong crowd.
Simon had started using drugs when he was 13 but we didn’t realise it until a couple of years later. I found cannabis in his bedroom and didn’t know what it was, but I flushed it down the lavatory. He said he was looking after it for a friend and, foolishly, I believed him.
We moved to the north of Scotland, in the hope of removing him from the bad influences, but again he got in with the wrong crowd. At 16, he was excluded from school for generally bad behaviour. We put him into a private college and he then took a string of manual jobs, but they didn’t last. He would just sit up all night watching television and then sleep through the day. And he would disappear for days at a time, leaving his mother and me tearing our hair out.
Simon left home when he was around 18 – a mutual decision. It had been like living in a war zone. There were lots of confrontations, occasionally violent, and he stole from us to the point where we never left money lying around at home, and put a lock on our bedroom door.
He denied taking drugs other than cannabis. He told me I was imagining things. I felt sad and disappointed, watching someone with a lot of potential and ability throwing it all away.
After leaving home, he still lived in our city. I continued to subsidise him, thinking that I was helping with his rent and not realising that he spent the money on drugs. I’m not sure when he progressed to heroin. But from the moment he started using it, it controlled him.
We would get calls from the police, who had him in custody for possession or whatever, or we would get calls from him in winter, saying he had no money for gas and electricity. At first I gave him money, but that meant that he could spend his benefit money on drugs. Eventually, I told him where to get emergency loans and free food parcels.
My younger son’s friends would see his brother begging. It hurt us terribly. At least the papers weren’t printing pictures of my son, apart from when he was in court, like they do with Amy Winehouse. Addiction affects the whole family – it’s a family illness – but a lot of statutory bodies forget this and focus on the addict alone.
There is still a huge stigma attached to drug addiction, which makes it even harder for addicts’ parents, because they are so isolated. A lot of my own family didn’t know about Simon’s problem – it’s something you don’t discuss.
Nine years ago, a friend of my wife’s suggested that we went to Families Anonymous meetings, and we’ve been going ever since. They allowed us to realise that we had no control over our son and that only he could change himself. The meetings also allowed me to get my life back. Before, it had been out of control, even though I was still going to work. They made me realise that I had to practice tough love toward my son. I would never presume to give advice to Amy’s parents because everyone’s situation is different, but the one thing I would suggest is to give Families Anonymous a try.
In 2006, Simon went to the Cenacolo rehabilitation centre in Ireland. He was expected to remain there for a year. We were told he was doing well but he decided to leave after four months. He returned to his flat that summer, and died in December of a drug overdose, aged 26.
• Names have been changed to protect anonymity. Families Anonymous helpline 0845 1200 660.

Source: The Observer 28th Jan 2008

Filed under: Parents :

Compared to teens who have frequent family dinners (five or more per week), those who have infrequent family dinners (fewer than three per week) are twice as likely to use tobacco or marijuana; more than one and a half times likelier to use alcohol; and twice as likely to expect to try drugs in the future, according to The Importance of Family Dinners V, a new report by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University.
The CASA report also found that compared to teens who have frequent family dinners, those who have infrequent family dinners are more than twice as likely to be able to get marijuana in an hour and one and a half times likelier to be able to get prescription drugs to get high within an hour.
The report reveals that compared to teens who have frequent family dinners without distractions at the table (talking or texting on a cell phone, using a Blackberry, laptop or Game Boy), those who have infrequent family dinners and say there are distractions at the table, are three times likelier to use marijuana and tobacco, and two and a half times likelier to use alcohol.
The report also found that compared to teens who have five to seven family dinners per week, those who have fewer than three family dinners per week are:
• Twice as likely to have friends who use marijuana and Ecstasy;
• More than one and a half times likelier to have friends who drink, abuse prescription drugs, and use Meth; and
• Almost one and a half times likelier to have friends who use illegal drugs like cocaine, acid and heroin.
“The magic of the family dinner comes not from the food on the plate but from who’s at the table and what’s happening there.  The emotional and social benefits that come from family dinners are priceless,” said Elizabeth Planet, CASA’s Vice President and Director of Special Projects.  “We know that teens who have frequent family dinners are likelier to get A’s and B’s in school and have excellent relationships with their parents.  Having dinner as a family is one of the easiest ways to create routine opportunities for parental engagement and communication, two keys to raising drug-free children.”
Family Dinners and Parental Attitudes and Behaviors on Alcohol
The report found that 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 seen their parent(s) drunk and to think their father is okay with them drinking.
Teens who think their fathers are okay with their drinking are likelier to drink and get drunk than teens who believe their fathers are against their drinking.  Teens who have seen their parent(s) drunk are likelier to drink, get drunk, and try cigarettes and marijuana, compared to teens who have not seen their parent(s) drunk. 
The Family Dinner
“Over the past decade and a half of surveying thousands of American teens and their parents, we’ve learned that the more often children have dinner with their parents, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs.  I urge parents to arrange their schedules and the outside activities so that they can have frequent family dinners.  If they do so, they’ll discover what a difference dinner makes.”  Says Joseph Califano.
Other Notable Findings
• Compared to 12- and 13-year olds who have frequent family dinners, those who have infrequent family dinners are six times likelier to use marijuana, four times likelier to use tobacco, and three times likelier to use alcohol.
• Compared to teens who attend religious services at least weekly, those who never attend services are more than twice as likely to try cigarettes, and twice as likely to try marijuana and alcohol.
• Compared to teens who have frequent family dinners, those who have infrequent family dinners are one and a half times likelier to report getting grades of C or lower in school. New York, NY, September 23, 2009 –

Filed under: Parents :

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 :

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 :

From the founding of National Families in Action during the height of the War on Drugs to Joseph A. Califano’s book, How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid, parents and communities have been touted as the keys to preventing alcohol and other drug problems among youth, and research now shows that environmental and genetic risk factors can be trumped by parental engagement during the critical adolescent years, according to Nora D. Volkow, M.D., director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
“Parents are incredibly important in raising drug-free kids, but in many instances they are not there or are not involved” — absences that can have measurable effects on brain development as well as other aspects of growing up — said Volkow. For example, studies of orphans have demonstrated that the brains of children who lack connections to parents actually mature more slowly, raising the risk of drug use and other impulsive behaviors. Half of all vulnerability to addiction can be traced to an individual’s genetic background, but that hardly means that a child’s fate is sealed if they have a family history of addiction. Rather, Volkow said that addiction is, in many ways, a developmental disorder that is intimately linked to the maturation of the brain from childhood through adolescence and into early adulthood.
Delivering the keynote address at the Nov. 17 CASACONFERENCESM How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid: The Straight Dope, organized by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA*) at Columbia University, Volkow compared this brain development to a sculptor taking a block of stone and transforming it into a work of art.
“In childhood the brain is particularly ‘plastic,'” said Volkow. “It is open to stimuli much more than as an adult, and these stimuli affect brain formation both physically and chemically. A child’s cerebral cortex — the brain’s center for memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thought, language, and consciousness — starts out larger than that of an adult, but shrinks as the brain differentiates during the first two decades of life. “The brain of an adult is much more connected than that of a child,” noted Volkow.
The frontal cortex — critical for using cognitive control to regulate desires — is the last part of the brain to fully differentiate, said Volkow, which helps explain why adolescents are especially prone to risk-taking and experimentation. As the brain advances on its “developmental trajectory” it can be strongly influenced by environmental factors, she said. Social stresses are crucially important,” Volkow said, pointing to the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Study research showing that risk of drug abuse rises tenfold among individuals who experience five or more “adverse childhood experiences,” such as recurrent physical or emotional abuse.
“Studies of children raised in orphanages showed that their brain connectivity was much less developed than those with normal parenting,” added Volkow; the effect was most pronounced among the children who had been living in orphanages the longest. The research “directly connected the lack of parenting to delays in the development of the brain,” she said. Children who are genetically predisposed to addiction rarely suffer from drug problems if they have parents who are actively involved in their lives, according to researchers. Those who have both genetic vulnerability and absent or uninvolved parents have a “very significant increase in drug addiction,” however, according to Volkow.
Studies of prevention programs like “Preparing for the Drug-Free Years” (PDF) and “Communities That Care” demonstrate that parents, families and communities can create an environment that is protective against youth drug abuse. Moreover, said Volkow, researchers have found that interventions can actually improve dopamine levels in the brain. Even though kids may be born to very adverse environments, the plasticity of the brain now gives us a path forward in terms of identifying interventions to help reverse the changes caused by these stimuli and increase the likelihood that kids will be able to stay drug-free,” said Volkow.
The NDPA would agree with the comments below – you can be an excellent parent and still have a child who chooses to use drugs…. However, the article ids also correct in stating that parents who know as much about illegal drugs as their children and who parent ‘actively’ (i.e. know where their children are, who are their friends, how are they achieving in school etc.) are less likely to have the problem of drug use in their family.
Posted by Amy Rosenman, MD on 07 Dec 09 02:07 PM EST
This review is too simplistic.There are still many children brought up in ideal circumstances who develop drug problems. This review still seems to “blame” the family for something beyond their control in many circumstances. However, knowing that family involvement and support is crucial gives many hope that recovery is possible. I too have worked with families of addiction for many years in my medical practice. 12 step programs are very valuable and help keep the family relationships constructive.
Posted by Emily on 07 Dec 09 06:28 PM EST
I agree that parental involvement helps prevent drug abuse, but I know of families that were doing everything right, and their child still became addicted to drugs. In at least one case, the child had no risk factors for substance abuse other than an alcoholic grandparent. I think it is important for parents to know that a family history of alcoholism or drug abuse should not be ignored. In such cases, parents need to be better educated regarding what to do to prevent substance abuse and how to recognize it when it happens.
Posted by Jay Arr on 10 Dec 09 10:35 AM EST
We are the product of our reactions to all the forces of our genes, enviroment, inter-personal relationships,cultural impact, and our reactions to them. Sometimes we are the victims by being stuck in a prison of emotional immaturity. Alcohol and drugs beckon us to escape this life of lies and the lies eventually become our reality. The reality is SAD-S for stigma, A for apathy, and D for denial..I was saved by Alcoholics Anonymous-25 years ago.
Source: CASA Conference. Columbia University Nov. 17th 2009

Children in families experiencing alcohol or drug abuse need attention, guidance and support. They may be growing up in homes in which the problems are either denied or covered up. These children need to have their experiences validated. They also need safe, reliable adults in whom to confide and who will support them, reassure them, and provide them with appropriate help for their age. They need to have fun and just be kids.
Families with alcohol and drug problems usually have high levels of stress and confusion. High stress family environments are a risk factor for early and dangerous substance use, as well as mental and physical health problems. It is important to talk honestly with children about what is happening in the family and to help them express their concerns and feelings. Children need to trust the adults in their lives and to believe that they will support them. Children living with alcohol or drug abuse in the family can benefit from participating in educational support groups in their school student assistance programs.
Those age 11 and older can join Alateen groups, which meet in community settings and provide healthy connections with others coping with similar issues. Being associated with the activities of a faith community can also help. Dependence on alcohol and drugs is our most serious national public health problem. It is prevalent among rich and poor, in all regions of the country, and all ethnic and social groups. Millions of Americans misuse or are dependent on alcohol or drugs. Most of them have families who suffer the consequences, often serious, of living with this illness. If there is alcohol or drug dependence in your family, remember you are not alone. Most individuals who abuse alcohol or drugs have jobs and are productive members of society creating a false hope in the family that “it’s not that bad.”
The problem is that addiction tends to worsen over time, hurting both the addicted person and all the family members. It is especially damaging to young children and adolescents. People with this illness really may believe that they drink normally or that “everyone” takes drugs. These false beliefs are called denial; this denial is a part of the illness. Alcoholism and other drug addiction have genetic and environmental causes. Both have serious consequences for children who live in homes where parents are involved. More than 28 million Americans are children of alcoholics; nearly 11 million are under the age of 18. This figure is magnified by the countless number of others who are affected by parents who are impaired by other psychoactive drugs.
Alcoholism and other drug addiction tend to run in families. Children of addicted parents are more at risk for alcoholism and other drug abuse than are other children. Children of addicted parents are the highest risk group of children to become alcohol and drug abusers due to both genetic and family environment factors. Biological children of alcohol dependent parents who have been adopted continue to have an increased risk (2-9 fold) of developing alcoholism. Recent studies suggest a strong genetic component, particularly for early onset of alcoholism in males. Sons of alcoholic fathers are at fourfold risk compared with the male offspring of non-alcoholic fathers. Use of substances by parents and their adolescent children is strongly correlated; generally, if parents take drugs, sooner or later their children will also. Adolescents who use drugs are more likely to have one or more parents who also use drugs. The influence of parental attitudes on a child’s drug taking behaviors may be as important as actual drug abuse by the parents. An adolescent who perceives that a parent is permissive about the use of drugs is more likely to use drugs.

Source: Public Service Announcement from SAMHSA in the public domain 27th Jan 2010

Filed under: Parents :

Parents who try to teach responsible drinking by letting their teenagers have alcohol at home may be well intentioned, but they may also be wrong, according to a new study in the latest issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

In a study of 428 Dutch families, researchers found that the more teenagers were allowed to drink at home, the more they drank outside of home as well. What’s more, teens who drank under their parents’ watch or on their own had an elevated risk of developing alcohol-related problems. Drinking problems included trouble with school work, missed school days and getting into fights with other people, among other issues.

The findings, say the researchers, put into question the advice of some experts who recommend that parents drink with their teenage children to teach them how to drink responsibly — with the aim of limiting their drinking outside of the home.

That advice is common in the Netherlands, where the study was conducted, but it is based more on experts’ reasoning than on scientific evidence, according to Dr. Haske van der Vorst, the lead researcher on the study.

“The idea is generally based on common sense,” says van der Vorst, of Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands. “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.”

But the current findings suggest that is not the case.

Based on this and earlier studies, van der Vorst says, “I would advise parents to prohibit their child from drinking, in any setting or on any occasion.”

The study included 428 families with 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.

The findings, according to van der Vorst, suggest that teen drinking begets more drinking — and, in some cases, alcohol problems — regardless of where and with whom they drink.

“If parents want to reduce the risk that their child will become a heavy drinker or problem drinker in adolescence,” she says, “they should try to postpone the age at which their child starts drinking.”

Available at:

Source: H. van der Vorst Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 71 (1), 105-114. Jan 2010

Filed under: Europe,Parents :


• Compared to 12- and 13-year olds who have frequent family dinners, those who have infrequent family dinners are six times likelier to use marijuana, four times likelier to use tobacco, and three times likelier to use alcohol.
• Compared to teens who attend religious services at least weekly, those who never attend services are more than twice as likely to try cigarettes, and twice as likely to try marijuana and alcohol.
• Compared to teens who have frequent family dinners, those who have infrequent family dinners are one and a half times likelier to report getting grades of C or lower in school. 


Source:   Sept.2009

Chapel Hill Independent School District announced today that they will host Project 7th Grade, a national initiative of the notMYkid organization that educates parents, schools and children on substance abuse prevention, for a presentation on effective means for families to communicate and prevent teenagers from abusing prescription and illicit drugs. Project 7th Grade serves as a family-oriented prevention resource that helps parents develop plans to communicate and maintain an early, but ongoing dialogue with their children about the perils of substance abuse, incorporating drug testing as a cornerstone of deterrence.
This presentation will be held in English on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 and in Spanish on Thursday, April 24, 2008 at 6:30p.m. at 13172 Hwy 64 E Tyler, TX. All area parents are invited to attend this program but please note it is not open to students. Parents will learn about drug issues, trends, terminology, see photos of paraphernalia and be given tips on talking to their kids about drugs and establishing a proactive drug prevention plan for their families. Each family that attends is also given a First Check drug test kit to take home with them, it tests for seven illicit and five prescription drugs, and often just having the kit in the home is enough of a deterrent for middle school students.
“Project 7th Grade is unique because it encourages proactive, two-way communications between parent and child to prevent drug use before it has had a chance to occur,” said Lacy Lowrey, Manager of National Program Development for Project 7th Grade. “We provide the essential resources so that pare! nts can develop their own family substance abuse prevention plans based on their own particular circumstances, as well as offering test kits to serve as an effective deterrent and means for teenagers to escape peer pressure.”
Source: 21.4.08

Filed under: Parents :

The article below was written in an American publication in 2008 and drew on previous articles from the 1990s – also included here. It is salutary to see that the comments about drug education in schools in the USA are still completely relevant to drug education in Britain today.

Parents should ask to see which drug education programme is being used in the schools which their children attend – and they should read them with great care, to identify any covert messages. To prevent drug use by young people it is vital that parents, schools and colleges all give the same message – drug use is unlawful, unhealthy, and unacceptable – NDPA

In a recent article about the debate on the legalization of marijuana between Robert Stutman, a retired DEA agent, and Steve Hager, editor-in-chief of High Times Magazine, which had been sponsored by the student union at the University of Kansas, a student later said that the debaters had appealed too much to the emotions of the audience, that she had wanted more concrete facts.

Another notable comment from another student said she did not smoke marijuana but was interested in the event because some of her friends did smoke. “I don’t look down on people that smoke,” she said. “I have never smoked and never will. It’s a personal choice, and it’s just how I am.”

It seems that many students think that marijuana use is a “personal choice,” without regard to its being against the law and school codes. Several highly qualified people who have reviewed school drug curricula have pointed out that the approach being used in most school drug education, which focuses on self-esteem and teaching ‘decision-making skills,’ implies that drug use is a choice for the student to make. Furthermore, with that psychosocial emphasis, indications are that there has been too little knowledge provided to students about drugs and the harms of their use, which is surely what drug education is assumed to be about.

Arlene Seal, Ph.D., who has a vast background in drug-prevention analysis and activities, wrote several excellent articles in the mid-1990s about concerns regarding the choice/decision-making approach being used in school drug curricula. Two of those articles are excerpted below, and also below is an excerpt from another article on the same subject, that one written in 1990 by a professor in education at Northern Illinois University.

Although there may have been some improvements in school drug curricula since these articles were written, apparently the basic “choice/decision-making” emphasis remains the same, as was indicated by the comment of the student in the recent article about the marijuana legalization debate held at Kansas.
If we are to be effective in youth drug-use prevention, we must pay more attention to, and have an input in, what is being taught (and how) in drug education in the middle and high schools, prior to students arriving at college.
Source: Nancy Starr, Drugwatch International. October 2008


by Arlene B. Seal, Ph.D., published in Prevention Pipeline, May/June 1991,
condensed from a longer article published in Dec./Jan. 1991 Adolescent Counsellor. (Dr. Seal has been a drug-education consultant for many years, was a Fulbright Scholar, and is Founder/President of Positive Moves.)

I am very concerned about the prevalence of drug education throughout the country that focuses on individual choice and decision-making skills. Most often these programs and curricula emphasize self-esteem or self-confidence as prerequisites for responsible behavior and ‘good choices or decisions.’ Although engendering important social development and life skills, this approach dilutes the fact that illicit drugs are dangerous and illegal.
Drug education for young people that relies upon ‘choices’ or ‘moderation’ about drug use carries subtle and misleading messages that say:

* Any age is old enough to have gained a perspective in life and an experienced frame of reference to make critical life decisions to choose what one wants to do.

* Laws are not important. One has a right to do whatever one individually feels or thinks is best for oneself regardless of authority or society.

*When one is able to make a choice equivalent to deciding whether or not to go out and play, it must mean that there is no real harm in drug use.

Furthermore, ‘choice’ implies that there are two or more viable options. Is there any ‘choice’ about drugs that is medically and socially acceptable other than no unlawful use? Use of illicit drugs is against the law because it is harmful to the survival and well-being of society. It is not a matter of choosing whether or not to use illegal drugs, but rather a decision whether or not to break the law.

Drug education, especially for children, that centers on choice has three inherent problems:

1. Choices or decisions cannot be made without a frame of reference.
Over the past thirty years, American society changed many of its rules and the societal frame of reference got lost in individualistic interpretation. How can young people possibly make critical choices in a society that is no longer clear about the rules it follows?

2. ‘Choice’ evades a clear message of right and wrong. There is no choice about murder, it is societally unacceptable. If one commits murder, one makes a decision to break the law with known consequences.

3. Giving children critical life choices relinquishes adult and societal responsibility. One does not tell a 5-year-old that cars can hurt or kill and then send the child off alone to cross a street on the first day of school. . . Is it realistic or responsible on the part of adults to give young people choices about drug use that is equally life-threatening? . . . .

One of the most positive things we can do, as parents and as a society, to help our children, ourselves, our country and our world gain long-term freedom from rampant societal drug use, is to be clear and consistent in the messages we give and the lines we draw. We must insist that all drug education transmit a non-acceptance for illegal drug use.


– Excerpts from an article by Arlene B. Seal, Ph.D., which originally appeared as a guest editorial in IDEA Newsletter, April 1993.

Following the 1986 Drug-Free Act, many people with the best of intentions but with limited understanding of the new direction required, implemented strategies, policies and programs within the initial context of treatment and law enforcement. While treatment and law enforcement are essential parts of national policies, these approaches cannot accomplish the drug-free goal. They are both REACTIVE approaches that begin only after the problem has occurred…. .
Critical to the long-term solution of preventing the problem before it occurs, is a PREVENTIVE approach that will change societal attitudes about the acceptance of drugs…..

This raises one of the most significant problems in current US drug education strategies and policies. Much of the continued use of drugs and some of the other major problems associated with drugs in the US, such as gangs and violence, can be attributed, in part, to the type of education implemented over the past two decades at all levels.

Today, about 59%-98% of drug ‘prevention’ curricula and youth programs (including ‘drug-free’ youth programs) are based on a ‘choice/decision-making’ model.

Drug prevention education based on teaching children that ‘it is their choice or decision whether or not to use drugs’ is actually COUNTERPRODUCTIVE TO THE GOALS OF A DRUG-FREE SOCIETY. In fact, teaching children that drug use is their ‘choice’ increases acceptance of drug prevalence and use by making both use and non-use viable options. More simply, choice/decision models violate the accepted federal standard of no use that is the litmus test for receiving federal monies, including drug-free school dollars.

Furthermore, since all drugs are illegal for children, teaching a child that s/he is the only one who can decide on behavior that is best for her/himself, burdens a child with responsibility relinquished by adults and society while it undermines the child’s respect for authority in any form—parent, teacher, school, religion, government.

Teaching children guided decision-making skills by responsible and caring adults is a process that takes place gradually over years (like an apprenticeship) while the child gains knowledge and a life perspective with which to make good choices and wise decisions—and to understand that there are non-negotiables in order to protect individuals and the well-being of society.

Promoting the concept that drug use is the choice of each individual is the premise promoted by drug advocacy groups. This concept is the pathway to an ultimate outcome of legalization of drugs.

By teaching children that it is their choice whether or not to use drugs, children are learning that drugs are acceptable in society while they are being indoctrinated to eventually vote for drug legalization.


by Lowell Horton, Professor of education at Northern Illinois University
from ‘ON TARGET’, March 1990 -reprinted in ‘National Chemical People Newsletter’, March – April 1990. Excerpts follow:

All 50 states now have laws requiring alcohol and other drug education. As often as not, these mandates are ambiguous and poorly conceived. While several good drug education packages are available, many others were rushed to the market with more interest in the bottom line than in outcome.

School leaders are required to exercise thoughtful consideration before approving programs for school districts. Many drug education programs send a mixed and confusing message to students. Others are clearly wrong. Here are some clues that your program may be worse than no program at all. (One of those clues with commentary follows.)

Drug education that is value free so students can decide for themselves. This overworked saw is still grinding in too many schools. The message from this transmogrification of teaching critical thinking is that we should simply present the facts in a non-biased way and allow children to decide for themselves whether they will drink alcohol, smoke pot or snort cocaine.

Further, this outrageous notion exhorts teachers to remain neutral without pointing out right and wrong. This absurd approach is totally inappropriate. Fourteen-year-olds do not have the ability, nor should they have the responsibility, for making unaided decisions about drug use. As educators, we do have legal and moral obligations to assist our students in making legal and healthful decisions. We don’t need to apologize for standing against drug use. Beware of mixed and hidden messages……

Administrators, teachers, community groups and students must work together to craft a program that will unequivocally contribute to the goal of a totally drug-free environment in the school and community.


From newsletter of The Chemical People of Erie County, Pa. Fall 2002 – The letter below, written by former Drug Enforcement Administration member Robert Stutman, was sent to nine major newspapers. Is it a reflection of what students did not learn in high school drug education and/or what they are not learning at college or what they are learning at college?

Dear Editor:
As the former head of the New York office of the Drug Enforcement Administration, as a current member of the Board of Directors of Educating Voices, Inc., an organization of people who care about this issue and are working to do something about it, and as someone who delivers about one hundred speeches a year on the subject of drugs in all types of venues, I believe that I was probably as sophisticated about drugs in America as most people could hope to be. However, with April 20th, the “Holy Grail” of the marihuana counter-culture quickly approaching, I felt obliged to speak out.

I debate the “Legalization of Marihuana” dozens of times a year on major college campuse. Recently, I have been aghast at the utter lack of knowledge and misconceptions on which our college students are basing their decisions as to whether they should use marihuana and indeed, whether it should be legalized. I have college students regularly tell me that “Marihuana cures cancer” and “I drive better when I am stoned on grass.”

Those ridiculous positions, not even advocated by leaders on the other side of the issue, are examples of the struggles and dangers we face as a nation. Unfortunately, most Americans are pretending drugs are not a major problem in the U. S. I wish they could spend time with me debating against the legalization of drugs with our college students, always in the minority in an auditorium full of students. April 20th will reinvigorate those Americans who want to make drugs available to our young people. When will the rest of us become reinvigorated?

Robert Stutman.

Filed under: Parents :

Researchers have tested several models to explain in what way different factors influence the possibility that an adolescent starts to abuse substances. In all of these models, parental and family factors have a central position in the long-term pathways leading to substance abuse, whereas peer influence acts as a contributing factor closer to the time when youth initiate drug or alcohol use. In other words, although peer influence is often the major reason adolescents initiate negative behaviours, a positive family environment is the primary reason youth do not engage in these behaviours, including drug and alcohol abuse, delinquency and early or unprotected sex.

While it is recognized that the peer group is influential, it is now known that an
adolescent’s choice of peers is greatly affected by the relationship he or she has with his or her parents. When adolescents have a positive relationship with their parents, they are more likely to choose peers who are a positive influence. Further research has identified the critical family factors that help to protect children from substance abuse:

(a) Secure and healthy parent/child attachment;
(b) Parental supervision, monitoring and effective discipline;
(c) Communication of pro-social family values;
(d) Parental involvement in child’s life;
(e) Supportive parenting (emotionally, cognitively, socially and financially).

Research on resiliency has also confirmed these points. This body of research focuses on children and families living through acute or chronic stressful life events and confirms that parental and family factors contribute to the capacity of youth to overcome adverse family situations and achieve positive outcomes.

Research shows that parents who are supportive, who encourage their children to become independent, expect compliance with rules and are consistent and fair in their discipline practices have children who are more resilient than other children. This style of parenting is often labelled “authoritative parenting”. Other factors that have been found to contribute to resiliency are an organized family environment, supportive relations, family beliefs, family cohesion and flexibility, family problem-solving and coping skills, and communication.

The research provides strong evidence that parents and families can be powerful
protective factors in the lives of children and youth; conversely, the research provides clear evidence that certain family characteristics can act as strong risk factors. Poor management of children’s behaviour, harsh and inconsistent discipline, and lack of opportunities to learn social skills have been associated with social, psychological and academic problems in children and adolescents. In general, a chaotic home environment and lack of structure in the family life are major risk factors for substance abuse. Moreover, parent-child relationships and families characterized by indifference, non responsiveness, emotional insecurity and lack of consistency by parents in caring and comforting children during the early years of development are associated with higher risks of depression, anxiety and relationship problems among children and adults. Childhood depression has been further associated with drug use in early adolescence.

These factors often characterize families with substance-abusing parents, where family relationships are likely to be disrupted, particularly if the mother is an addict. When parents abuse substances, children have greater chances of repeated exposure to family conflicts and violence, including physical and verbal abuse, and to alcohol and drugs. Families with addiction problems tend to socially isolate to protect themselves from detection, social censure and criminal action. A side effect of this is that children also become isolated and develop fewer pro-social relationships.

To conclude, research indicates that the main factors in a family that put
children and youth at risk of substance abuse are the same factors that place youth at risk for other problem behaviours; hence efforts to prevent substance abuse will also have beneficial effects on other risky behaviours. The main factors in a family that put children and youth at risk of substance abuse are:

(a) Lack of bonding and insecure relationship with parents;
(b) Lack of a signifi cant relationship with a caring adult;
(c) Ineffective parenting;
(d) Chaotic home environment;
(e) Parents or siblings who abuse substances, suffer from mental illness or are involved in criminal behaviour;
(f) Social isolation.

Definition of family skills training programmes
What are family skills training programmes? Family skills training programmes generally aim at strengthening the family protective factors that have been mentioned above. For example, they might include exercises to increase communication, trust, problem-solving skills and conflict resolution or they might include opportunities for parents and children to spend positive time together, as ways to strengthen the bonding and attachment between parents and children. To match the protective and risk factors described above, family skills training programmes generally include strategies aimed at increasing:

(a) Positive family relationships;
(b) Family supervision and monitoring;
(c) Communication of family values and expectations.

These strategies are generally grouped and presented in three sub-sessions within a given intervention session: family skills training programmes generally combine:
(a) training of parents to strengthen their parenting skills;
(b) training of children in personal and social skills; and
(c) family practice sessions.

Thus, a typical session will see parents and children attending their own training groups and, at the end, coming together as a whole family for some practice time. These interventions are generally delivered to groups of families and allow for practice time within individual families. Some programmes use technology (computer-based learning and telephones) as an intervention modality, especially for universal-level delivery and for families living in remote locations.

A recent research review40 concluded that the most effective family skills training
programmes include active parental involvement, focus on the development of
adolescents’ social skills and responsibility among children and adolescents, and
address issues related to substance abuse. Effective interventions also involve youth in family activities and strengthen family bonds.

Source: Family skills training programmes for drug abuse prevention
ONDCP Vienna 23rd March 2009

Filed under: Parents :

NEW YORK, NY – A new study released by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America reveals a troubling new insight into the reasons why teens use drugs. According to the 2007 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study of 6,511 teens (PATS Teens), the number one reason teens see for using drugs is to deal with the pressures and stress of school. In this nationally projectable study (margin of error +/- 1.6 percent), 73 percent of teens reported that school stress is the primary reason for drug use, indicating that teens’ perceptions of motivating factors for using drugs are dramatically different than past research has indicated.
Deep Disconnect Between Teen Behavior and Parental Awareness
An accompanying 2007 Partnership study of parents’ attitudes about teen drug use, released in June, showed that parents severely underestimate the impact of stress on their teens’ decision to use drugs. Only 7 percent of parents believe that teens might use drugs to cope with stress.
“A wide disconnect exists between what teens are thinking and feeling and what parents believe about their teens when it comes to attitudes about drug use,” said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Partnership. “This is a pivotal opportunity for parents to understand what motivates today’s teens to engage in this type of risky behavior, and to communicate the very real dangers and risks, while offering their kids support and guidance on dealing with pressure in a healthy way.”
In previous PATS Teens studies, when teen respondents were asked to select from a number of reasons for using drugs, the number one reason (65 percent) selected was to “feel cool.” The 2007 study was the first to offer the option of selecting school stress as a motivator, one which nearly 3 out of 4 teens (73 percent) strongly agreed with. This was followed closely by “feeling cool” (65 percent) and “feeling better about themselves” (65 percent).
Over the past decade, studies have indicated a steady changing trend in what teens perceive as the motivations for using drugs. The “to have fun” rationales are declining, while motivations to use drugs to solve problems are increasing.
Overall Teen Drug Use Declining; Prescription Drug Abuse Disturbingly High Among Nation’s Youth
The 2007 PATS Teens study confirms that overall substance abuse remains in steady decline among teens. Marijuana use is in its tenth consecutive year of decline, down 30 percent since 1998 alone. Teen use of Ecstasy, inhalants and methamphetamine has continued a multi-year, significant decline, and use of both alcohol and cigarettes continue to decrease.
Teens’ ongoing intentional abuse of prescription and over-the-counter medications remains a serious concern, as many teens mistakenly believe the abuse of medicines is less dangerous than abuse of illegal drugs.
According to the survey:
• 1 in 5 teens (4.4 million) has abused a prescription medication,
• Nearly 1 in 5 teens (4.2 million) has already abused a prescription painkiller,
• 41 percent of teens think it’s safer to abuse a prescription drug than it is to use illegal drugs.
“Teens continue to take their lives into their own hands when they intentionally abuse prescribed medications, said Pasierb. “Whether it’s to get high or deal with stress, or if they mistakenly believe it will help them perform better in school or sports, teens don’t realize that when used without a prescription, these medicines can be every bit as harmful as illegal street drugs.”
Source Press Release. Partnership for a Drug Free America. Aug. 2008

Filed under: Parents :

Youngsters under 21, often the first time away from home, often drink to excess when they are in college. This can reflect on their academic work, acceptable behaviour and sadly, too often, result in alcohol overdoses. Yet parents, (who are paying the bills !) are not informed unless or until the situation is one of
asking the student to leave. Well done to the University of Kansas.
Calling parents about alcohol abuse good policy
University of Kansas officials get good marks on policy to notify parents of student drinking
University of Kansas students seeking relief from stress or just a bit of fun may think twice now before inviting alcohol or drugs to the party.

University officials have decided that what underage students are doing in Lawrence doesn’t necessarily have to stay in Lawrence if it involves alcohol or drugs. Henceforth, the university will inform parents when students younger than 21 are found to be in violation of drug and alcohol laws.

We welcome the change in policy at KU, and think universities that don’t phone home now when young students endanger their lives or the lives of others during an incident of substance abuse would do well to follow suit.

It’s the nature of university officials across the country to want to treat their students like responsible adults. However, some students don’t always act like responsible adults, and if a call home and parental intervention will put them back on track, so be it.

In KU’s case, officials had good reason to review the school’s policy and make a change. Alcohol played a role in the deaths of two students this spring.

Jason Wren, 19, of Littleton, Colo., was found dead at a fraternity house March 8 after a night of heavy drinking. He had been kicked out of a university residence hall for earlier incidents involving alcohol. Dalton Hawkins, 18, of Shawnee, died April 24 after falling off the roof of a campus building. An autopsy report indicated he had been drinking.

We think Wren’s family would have been interested in knowing he was having trouble with alcohol and are pretty sure they would have tried to help him with his problem.

It’s unfortunate that universities everywhere, including several in Kansas, have stories about students who were lost to encounters with too much alcohol. Perhaps the changes brought about at the University of Kansas following the deaths of Wren and Hawkins will save some lives.

In addition to calling parents, KU will step up efforts to educate students about drinking and has instituted an amnesty policy meant to encourage students to get help for friends having alcohol-related emergencies.

At Kansas State University, officials notify the parents of underage students who have multiple offenses with alcohol or other controlled substances that occur on the campus. The policy had been in place in KSU residence halls and was extended to the entire campus last fall.

At Washburn University, parents may be notified if a student is deemed to be in a crisis, but the school doesn’t have a policy to notify parents of use.

Stepping in to help a student before he or she has had multiple offenses or is in a crisis situation probably would prove to be more effective, and could save a life.

We’d encourage all universities to review their policies concerning students and alcohol to determine whether they’re doing all they should to ensure someone doesn’t have to call a student’s parents with some really bad news

Source: The Topeka Capital Journal May 10, 2009

Filed under: Parents :

It’s summer, when kids should be able to run free. “Should be able” is the operative phrase here, unfortunately. – No parent would ever wish drug abuse on their child; the thought that their beloved newborn could turn out to be a drug user, terrifies every responsible, loving parent!
Today, marijuana pervades our teens world; your children are the targets of those who promote drugs. There are tens if not hundreds of thousands of websites promoting marijuana; these websites ridicule the scientific studies; they ridicule the war on drugs, convincing many that nothing can be done to stop drug use.
Primarily, what parents need to know is: Prevention works.
Parents and grandparents can normally prevent the tragedy that comes from drug use, but they must not only educate themselves, they need to become actively and aggressively part of the anti-drug community, for drug use has now reached a pandemic stage among youth.
The average age of first use of any drug in America is 12. The first drugs of use are tobacco, alcohol and marijuana, all “gateway drugs,” and are accepted as an accurate predictor of potential future drug use.
What Can Be Done?
Use the tragedies around us to teach our children!

1. First, make sure your children know that use of any drugs is unacceptable – that participating in drug use will close any number of doors which would normally be open to them throughout their lives – that it can limit their choices, having a permanent impact on their lives.
2. In front of your children, talk about the parents whose children have become users and the pain and grieving their parents are going through! If the chance occurs, let them experience it first hand, by being with you when you visit with those parents; let them experience the pain.
3. Set rules and consequences and be consistent about enforcing them. Explain to them how the world works – regarding how education and schooling, is preparing them to support and provide for their future families.
4. Role play with them, giving them effective ways to say “no”! Peer pressure will be on them much earlier than you expect.
5. Instill leadership qualities; some children naturally tend to be followers; teach them not to.
6. Understand the pressures: the alcohol, tobacco industries and marijuana promoters know that if one is drug free at 21, it’s unlikely they will ever use drugs – children are targets and peer pressure is real.
7. Become involved with your children’s environment:
a) Schools; make sure their policies clearly promote drug-free youth.
b) Internet: monitor their use; there are many good tracking programs.
c) Music: listen to it, not only theirs, but their friends; and if you suspect lyrics, search them out online – you’ll be amazed!Music for example is one of the underpinnings of promoting drug use (as well as of other anti-social behaviors).
d) Reading: visit your library or buy and read a couple issues of “High Times” to see how pot is being presented to youth! Actively speak out against, and challenge all things which promote the acceptance of drugs – paraphernalia and hemp products.
e) Closely monitor their well-supervised and age-appropriate whereabouts; contract with them that you will be there and never complain if they ever encounter a situation where they’re in the presence of drug use – that you’ll pick them up immediately. Learn to say “no” to their requests.
Basically, engage life; support the safe environment in your community.
Now comes the hard part – if in case we loose a battle, and an older child begins to use, statistically, that child will very likely pass the drug on to younger children!
When a child begins to use and there are younger children in the home, that child needs to be put into a program to get them off and keep them off all drugs – for the sake of the younger children in the home, yet this is useless without regular testing! If they relapse, for the safety of the other children, they need to leave the home – that relates back to the #1 item above – they’ve been warned that if they’ve made a choice to violate rules, they’re old enough to not live at home.
Source: 28th June 2009

Filed under: Parents :

3668 Bonita View Drive., Bonita, Ca. 91902 (619) 475 9941/475 9942 email

To: President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

CC: Vice President Joe Biden
Director of The Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske

Dear Mr. President:

We, an international coalition of drug prevention professionals and organizations throughout the world, many with over thirty years of experience, believe that the nation’s problems of health, academic achievement, crime, welfare and resultant impacts on the federal and state budgets cannot be resolved without focusing on the root cause of all of these problems ….. alcohol, tobacco and other drugs (hereinafter ATOD). We therefore call upon the President of the United States to reduce the demand for ATOD as follows:


• Almost all of our nation’s problems, are caused by or made worse by alcohol, tobacco
and illicit drugs. (hereinafter ATOD).

• In your first term of four years, unless there is a radical shift to prevent the disease of addiction, the nation will incur $2.4 TRILLION in cost and an estimated 2.8 MILLION AMERICANS WILL DIE from tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs and misuse of legal drugs.

• Addiction to ATOD is a “pediatric onset disease” (Dr. Barthwell, former Deputy Director of ONDCP). Almost all addiction begins with adolescents, aged 11 to 18 years old.

• If a young person reaches age 21 prior to first significant use of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs, they should virtually never have a problem. (Joseph Califano Jr., Chairman of CASA)

• Just as we inoculate for measles, small pox, polio and other diseases, if we universally employ the best known prevention methods we can significantly reduce the level of death, destruction and economic cost of health care, and increase academic achievement and productivity.

• America has 5% of the world’s population, yet we consume 65% of illicit drugs. Over 2000 young people start smoking tobacco daily, 50% of whom will die from it, and in the process of dying will inflict enormous costs on society for health care. 50% of adolescents use drugs and alcohol, 25% frequently.

• Demand for drugs fuels the drug cartels which in turn financially underwrite terrorism and corruption in Mexico and throughout the world. Reducing demand is of equal importance to interdicting supply, and no longer an option if the nation is to effectively win the war on drugs.

• The High School Drop Out Rate – UC Santa Barbara recently concluded a study showing the average drop out rate in California is 24.2%. Each class of drop outs (127,000 students) cost California taxpayers $46.4 billion …. $365,000 PER DROP OUT, as two thirds will end up on welfare, in prison, and/or burdening public health care. Nationally there are 1.2 million high school drop outs ( If the same cost figure applies as in California, the ANNUAL NATIONAL COST FOR HIGH SCHOOL DROP OUTS IS $438 BILLION.

• The Cost of Substance Abuse – NIDA reported in 2006 that the annual cost of illicit drugs to the nation was $181 billion, and when combined with alcohol they exceed $500 billion, which includes costs for healthcare, criminal justice and lost productivity. Add tobacco, and the figure is over $700 billion a year … SOON TO BE ONE TRILLION DOLLARS A YEAR.

• Criminal Activity/Prison Overcrowding – Drugs and alcohol are implicated in roughly 85% of all crime. 80% of prison inmates are high school drop outs. Unless corrective measures are taken to improve the high school drop out rate, the social and economic costs to society will increase as the employment, crime, welfare and health care costs increase.

• Death Rate – According to The Center for Disease Control, overdose deaths in 2006 amounted to 3,042 deaths a month. In 1998, the last year total drug deaths were quantified, overdose deaths were only 27% of the total and drug related deaths comprised the balance. If that holds true today, 2,620 Americans die weekly from drugs….. almost the equivalent of 9/11, every week. But tobacco trumps them all, with 1200 deaths a day.

• Treatment vs Prevention – NIDA reported in 2006 23.6 million persons aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol (9.6% of persons aged 12 or older), and only 2.5 million actually got treatment. Every dollar spent on addiction treatment returned $4 to $7 dollars in reduction of drug-related crimes. While treatment is economically sound, and necessary, the savings in human lives, misery and costs from PREVENTING the problem to begin with could save HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS ANNUALLY.

• States (and we think the federal government) spend 113 times as much to clean up the devastation that substance abuse visits on children as they do to prevent and treat it.” (Joseph Califano; 2001 Study called Shoveling Up: The Impact of Substance Abuse on State Budgets). This is appalling economic and social policy.

• “The primary responsibility for the protection of its people does lie with the state itself …. and, prevention is the single most important dimension of the responsibility to protect. “(George Soros, The Bubble of American Supremacy)

• Parents are considered to be the number one factor in determining a child’s at-risk behavior. However, parents are unable to protect all children without federal help. 56% of kids in American children are at moderate to high risk of substance abuse (CASA) and the only plausible way to ensure that all children are protected is with federally mandated and approved school-based drug prevention programs in all schools combined with improved education for students and their parents on the pharmacology of drugs.

• We cannot rely on persuasion to get 17,000 school boards in America to make the right choices to defer the onset of ATOD and protect kids. A federal mandate is required to direct schools to protect all kids using the best known prevention techniques starting with non-punitive random drug testing.

• ATOD is a national problem, that inflicts more death, destruction and economic cost on this nation than all other forms of terrorism combined. It makes no sense to focus on terrorism alone, or a war in Iraq that claimed 3,000 soldiers in four years, when 3,000 Americans die monthly just from drug overdose, not to mention a cost of $200 billion a year just for drugs ( $600 billion if one adds alcohol and tobacco.)

• Two of the most important responsibilities of all elected officials are to protect the people, and manage tax dollars intelligently.

• Schools, by virtue of the fact they house 98.5% of adolescents, are critical in terms of shoring up the shortfalls in parenting. A federal mandate for schools to implement the best known prevention practices is an absolute necessity to protect all kids.

• In large part due to drugs and alcohol, there are 6.1 million children in America being raised by grandparents or foster parents; 1.6 million of those are in foster homes.

• China has more children getting straight A’s in school than all of the kids in the school system in America combined, and 1.2 million kids in America don’t even graduate from high school. (Capt Len Kaine, Retired) We cannot retain our competitive position in the world if this is not corrected.

THEREFORE we request President Obama and the Administration to take the following actions to reduce the demand for alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs:

1) Implement a Demand Reduction Program in all schools for grades 6 through 12 to include:

A) A requirement for non-punitive random drug testing for ALL STUDENTS aged 11 to
17 years old. This is the best known tool for deterring the onset of ATOD use. It keeps kids in the system, gives them a reason to say no to peer pressure, takes the burden off teachers and the administration to play drug cop, identifies problems early so kids can get help if needed, keeps law enforcement out of the equation, gets parents involved when problems arise, decreases juvenile problems, and enhances academic achievement and graduation rates.

B) Use the best known practices to keep alcohol, tobacco and other drugs off campus.
According to CASA research, the propensity to use is 5 times greater if ATOD is readily available on campuses.

C) Strive to get Student Assistant Programs (SAP) and effective counselors on each campus, to
fill the void in many young people’s lives caused by the lack of effective parenting.

D) Continue with educational programs that convey an effective no-use message from grades
K – 12 for young people and adults in communicating the pharmacology of ATOD, and their effect on individuals and society in general.

E) Create activities during and after school that enhance physical fitness and healthy

2) As a condition for receiving federal aid for welfare, health care or child/family assistance, require all
recipients to subject to random drug testing.

3) As a means of expanding knowledge on the pharmacology of drugs by parents and the general public, have ONDCP and/or the Department of Health and Human services provide materials and information to all major employers in the United States so they in turn can provide the information to their employees; and extend incentives such as tax credits for employees who pass an exam. Smaller employers should be allowed to piggy back on larger employers.


The health of our nation, and the individuals in it, requires a coordinated effort by the Departments of Health and Human Service, Education and ONDCP, but most importantly, leadership from the President of the United States.

The magnitude of the problem suggests that DEMAND REDUCTION for alcohol, tobacco and other drugs is no longer an option, but a necessity, if America is to reduce the cost of health care, enhance education, productivity and retain its competitive position among nations. We pray that you will have the wisdom, courage and conviction to stand in the face of opposition and mandate a policy that will protect our young people, and in turn the future of our nation.


• Roger Morgan, Californians For Drug Free Schools
• Carla D. Lowe, Californians For Drug Free Schools
• Sandra Bennett, Northwest Center for Health & Safety
• Dee Rathbone, National Institute of Citizen Anti-Drug Policy
• Joyce Nalepka, Drug Free Kids, Americas Challenge
• Dr. Eric Voth, Consultant to the White House
• Ron Cuff, Partnership for Responsible Parenting
• Aurora Williams, Partnership for Responsible Parenting
• Dr. Arlene Seal, Founder & President, Positive Moves/CWD International, Inc.
• Dr. Eric Voth, Chairman of the Institute of Global Drug Policy
• Alex Romero, Founder, Arizonans for Drug Free Youth & Communities
• Mina Seinfeld de Carakushanksy, President of BRAHA, Brazilian Humanitarians in Action
• Brenda Chabot – The Inland Valley Drug Free Community Coalition
• Dr. Paul Chabot, Coalition for Drug Free California
• Lori Green, Yucca Valley Anti-Marijuana/drug Activist
• Cap Beyer, Chairman of the National Student Drug Testing Coalition
• Jeanette McDougall – MM, CCDP. Director – National Alliance for Health & Safety
• Katalin Szomor – Hungarian Parliament’s Drug Committee. Drug Czar 1991-1997
• Stephanie Haynes – SOS – Save our Society from Drugs
• Fabio Bernaber – President of Associazione Osservatorio Droga – Rome Italy
• Linda Taylor – Ex Director Repeal Prop 36 Fund. Anti Drug Activist
• Yvonne Gelpi, Former Head Mistress and Principle of De La Salle High School, New Orleans
• Geraldine Silverman – New Jersey Federation for Drug Free Communities
• Wayne Rogues – Retired DEA. Rogues Group
• Theresa Costello, Port Richmond Community Group, Philadephia
• Ruby Schaaf, R.N. The Chemical People of Erie County, Pa.
• Nancy Starr, The Chemcial People of Erie County, Pa.
• Kate Patten, The Kelley McEnery Baker Foundation. “Forever Kelley;s Mom”
• Susie Dugan, Drugwatch, Omaha, Nebraska

Pres Barak Obama – Petition for Demand Reduction

Filed under: Parents :

As a D.A.R.E. officer and a school resource officer in Reno County, Kansas, I am out every day in my community—particularly at schools—working to prevent substance abuse. When I heard about the Five Moms Campaign, I was inspired to raise awareness about this problem among teenagers. Cough medicine abuse is something people don’t really know about or ever think would be a problem, and I want parents to know that it can be just as dangerous and prominent as other drugs.
There was one other inspiration that made me decide to be a part of the Five Moms Campaign: my adopted son. My son is four, and has had a difficult life full of changes. He is a little behind in learning and is just starting to make progress. I will do everything in my power to make sure that as he grows older, he is able to catch up in school and graduate without any setbacks, especially something like cough medicine abuse.
As I watch my son grow, so do the dreams I have for him. And, those dreams don’t include doing drugs. To help build those dreams, I try to spend as much quality time with my son as possible. We enjoy swimming, camping, playing at the park, and taking walks in the summertime. And as he gets older, having conversations about the dangers of cough medicine abuse and other drug abuse will certainly be a part of our “fun” time together.
Working as a D.A.R.E officer, I have the opportunity to teach kids about the dangers of drugs. It’s a great feeling to know that at the end of the day, I might have convinced at least one kid that it’s not worth destroying his or her life with drugs. But my influence can only go so far. Parents have to do their part at home for the message to really get through.
This campaign is my opportunity to reach out to parents. You can make sure that what your child learns from D.A.R.E. and other programs doesn’t stay at school. And make sure that what you learn about cough medicine abuse doesn’t stay with you. Share it with your kids. There are many worries in today’s world that we can’t control. But this—cough medicine abuse—is something that you can help protect your children from. It’s something you can control.
Join the Conversation
The Five Moms Campaign has a community on It is a place for parents to communicate about cough medicine abuse. Your voice matters; come and talk with other moms.
Source: 2009

Filed under: Parents :

More than 11,000 children under 16 years old were treated last year for addictions to alcohol and drugs, including heroin, according to new figures released this week.
The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse puts the total figure of children treated at 11,294. This includes 6,075 under-16s addicted to cannabis, of which 102 are under 12 years old.
More than 4,000 children received help for alcoholism, including 57 under-12s.
The children addicted to class A drugs included ten under-12s who were dependent on heroin, out of 93 under-16s. A further 323 children were treated for cocaine misuse, 165 for ecstasy, and 36 for crack.
Conservative Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said the government is neglecting a ‘forgotten generation’ of children. “It’s a sad indictment of our broken society that so many are turning to things like drug and alcohol abuse at such a young age” he said.
The Department of Health said the high figures were due to an increase in spending on treatment, a rise of £10million, from £15million to £25million in the past five years,
Funding for the government’s national anti-drug campaign which is aimed at teenagers has been cut by 41 per cent from £9.05million in 2006-7 to £5.35million today.
Charity Drugscope offered an optimistic approach to the figures, saying the overall numbers of young people using illegal drugs has fallen in recent years, especially cannabis.
Source: 8th July 2009

Filed under: Parents :

The 2008-09 PRIDE Survey showed that middle and high school students whose parents set clear rules for them “a lot” or “often” were less likely to report using illicit drugs in the past year (12 percent and 21 percent, respectively). By contrast, 49 percent of students whose parents never set clear rules reported a 49 percent illicit drug use.

Similar results were found for having parents who punish them for breaking these rules. Previous studies have found that youths living in households where parents kept track of their whereabouts and set curfews were less likely to report heavy drinking (for more information see CESAR FAX, Volume 17, Issue 31,

The 2009 Pride Survey National Summary is based on the responses of 122,243 students selected from 447,532 students from 25 states who completed the Pride Survey for Grades 6 to 12 during the school year from August 2008 to June 2009. These students, while not drawn through a formal probability sampling process, do represent a broad cross-section of American youth. Results from previous years’ national summaries have tracked closely with nationwide surveys such as Monitoring the Future. October 2009

Filed under: Parents :

[This blog, first posted on 20th May, 2009 has had over 1100 visits]
We found my 20 year old brother dead of an overdose. He had just kicked the habit so tolerance was low. He started a job and the first payday was his last.
Mum wrote this after I got clean. Copy and use it anywhere it can be of use.
What is it like being the mother of an addict?
(Experiences of a mother of two young heroin addicts)
Sheer horror! I just could not exaggerate the chaos drugs cause in a family.
It sort of creeps up gradually, after the disbelief that it really can’t be happening to your boys. You think that it is something that only happens to other people’s kids. You know, the type that don’t have any parental control.
Well, all of a sudden, it’s your turn to be judged. You just know that everyone thinks that you must have been a bad parent. You even jump on the bandwagon yourself and keep asking yourself where you went wrong, with a long list of ‘if only’s’.
But the real hurt comes with watching the ones you love and have cherished turning into the low life everyone despises – even they themselves.
Your heart breaks as they become a physical wreck: thin, gaunt, grey, full of cigarette burns they didn’t feel, with only two things on their minds. Where to get the drugs, and how to pay for them?
The realisation doesn’t come all at once and it takes a while before the stealing from your purse begins. But it is inevitable – even though you’ve convinced yourself that they wouldn’t do that to you.
From then on, the inconvenience of having to hide every penny starts. Not just because you don’t want to lose your money, but because you don’t want to become part of the problem by financing their habit. You can’t even give Christmas presents in case they sell them to buy drugs (not that Christmas will ever be the same again).
There is so much lying, scheming and deceiving that it is impossible to know the truth or to believe anything. Obviously, you cannot allow drugs to be taken in your home; so with the threats of them being made homeless, come all the promises of giving up, and you just have to believe it, because what else can you do?
Giving up on them does not seem like an option.
Coming off heroin, they need a lot of help to have any chance of success, so they now become a full-time job. You feel yourself withdrawing from the outside world and dreading visitors calling, while they ‘cold turkey’ on your couch and leave the fires on all night, and burn holes in your furniture – surrounded by bottles of pills to get over the withdrawals, most of which are also subject to abuse.
Then of course there’s the naltrexone (which is your only weapon to stop them taking heroin) – but it’s not long before they develop several ingenious ways to hide it, spit it out, or some other way to look like they’ve taken it and put you off your guard. Always one step ahead!
You live in a constant state of stress, trying to catch them out, wondering which drugs they might be taking, always hoping your suspicions are wrong. But sooner or later the needles and paraphernalia start to appear and you know you’re going round the same old cycle again.
There’s something demonic about the whole thing; the thought of your son sticking a needle full of poison into himself is excruciatingly painful. You just wonder: what has happened to my family, my life?
You feel too ashamed to tell anyone and so you become very isolated, fearful and helpless. Then – just in case you had a little pride left – you (and probably all your friends) see your son begging in the street. Your child, begging? Can it get any worse? Unfortunately, yes.
The most horrific part of it all: the overdosing.
Now you watch your son on the point of death, wondering whether the ambulance will arrive in time, trying to keep him alive in the meantime, watching him turn blue, and the life trying hard to leave the worn out, abused body.
After regular arrivals of ambulances outside your house, you start to leave the house by the back door. And just when you are starting to get complacent about the whole thing, you are hit in the face by the reality of a dead son.
And while you grieve for your precious one who lost the battle before he’d barely got into it, the other son is stealing your money to buy more drugs. The dead brother, the near-death experiences of his own, seem to have no impact at all.
So afraid that he will die, too, we go looking for him, and find him, and drag him out of public toilets, but he goes off anyway. Maybe that’s the only way he can deal with the situation.
A few more overdoses down the line and I’m completely neurotic about leaving him in the house, for fear of coming home to a corpse: it’s been too close, too many times. I have to come in slowly, listening for a noise, or for evidence of signs of life – too scared to look properly.
Once I came home to find him tangled up in the telephone cord – followed shortly afterwards by an ambulance and the police, who had presumed he’d died while calling 999. Another time, while fighting for life, a loud, shrill, almost inhuman noise was coming from him although his mouth was clenched shut. That was the time the ambulance crashed on the road just before arriving. Of course, he was oblivious to all this trauma.
Every time he left the house it was a worry. It seemed a bit naïve to trust him even though I really wanted to. Always on your mind is – is he getting drugs? Where has he got the money? Will he overdose and die? Then the cycle starts again, the cold turkey, the getting better and then back to the drugs again.
We wanted to help him stop so badly, and in the early days we really thought that if we could keep him off the drugs for a couple of weeks the habit would be broken. We tried shutting him in but he escaped through a very small upper window (that’s how thin he’d become).
In desperation we’ve followed, chased, begged, threatened, bribed, but nothing ever seemed to make a difference for long. To us, he was a sick child, but really he was a grown-up with free will, so we were helpless. All we could really do was provide a safe environment for the times when he wanted to try and get better, and swallow our own heartbreak and anger.
Next came the hope of going to rehab. This created its own tensions with trying to get funding (we didn’t know there were any free rehabs then), getting a place in the detox at the right time to go on to a room in the rehab, and hoping that he would not go off the rails in the meantime.
When it finally all fell into place it was a relief beyond imagining – only to have our hopes dashed again when after months of waiting, he only stayed a few days.
Giving up still wasn’t an option, so after getting funding again and his returning for three months, things were at least improving for a while, and we were all getting a much-needed break.
He left early and relapsed, however, but had a few more attempts at rehab. Although he never completed much of the program there, they certainly seemed to help – even though (until the last time he went) he relapsed every time he left and usually overdosed before he got back home.
Thinking back, I know I underestimated the power of the drugs, how evil they are – the hold they have and how difficult it is to get off them. The personality change and the times he let us down, seemed almost out of his control.
A turning point came when he reached a new low while injecting crack cocaine. I had always thought my money was safe as long as it was on my person, and that he would never hurt me, however much he was under the control of the drugs – but things changed.
He prised my bag out of my hands while I was screaming and begging him to stop. I was hoping something would click in his mind and he would realise what he was doing, but he just had a blank look in his eyes. I was absolutely devastated.
For the first time, I felt frightened of him, and called the police, hoping they would find him before he got more drugs – knowing that that was where he was headed. But they didn’t know where to look as there were too many dealers in our small town.
I didn’t press charges just in case it was a one off, and thank God, it was. It was the turning point in his recovery and for us. I knew everything would have to change after that: a line had been crossed and everything would have to change one way or the other.
I think, looking back, it may have been the best thing that happened – his real recovery began here – but it didn’t seem like it at the time.
I’m so thankful we didn’t give up on him – but most of all I am so thankful he didn’t give up on himself.
(S. died of a heroin overdose in 1999, aged 20; T. has now been clean for nearly a year and is rebuilding his life)
PS. Where was God in all of this? I can’t write this story without mentioning the strength God gave me when I most needed it. It was the times when I really thought I couldn’t take anymore that He really helped me through, sometimes by using other kind, helpful people and their prayers.
One person in particular was like a gift from God. Also I believe it is only by a miracle that I still have one son alive. God kept on giving me hope in what seemed like a hopeless situation, but then that’s what God is like. I just can’t imagine how those without him cope.
“This beautifully written and moving piece of writing can also be found as a pdf. Mark has asked us to use it wherever it might be of use. So please copy and pass on to other people. It may help someone else.” DC
Source: Community Blog Wired in to Recovery. Nov.2009

Filed under: Parents :

By Ginger Katz

On September 10, 1996, I lost my 20-year-old son, Ian to a drug overdose just before he was going into a rehabilitation program the next day. Ian had used tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana in high school. At one point he was picked up by an officer at Cranbury Park in Norwalk, CT. He was scolded and told to go home. The officer said “If I ever find you in this town again with any drugs, I will arrest you, now go home.” I insisted that Ian go into counseling at that point. I had such high hopes for Ian; I thought we had caught the addiction early. I thought it all went away, until I received the phone call from his biological Dad stating he was snorting heroin in college. My breath was taken away. My life changed.

At first, I was ashamed of his problem. I didn’t want to tell anyone about his problem when he came home from college. He was going to a day treatment program and we thought his problem was being fixed. He didn’t want me to tell his friends in Norwalk who did not know. The ugly truth is, the problem wasn’t fixed. I found him in the morning just before I was going to meet my friend at six am for our morning run. Ian died in his sleep. Neighbors told me my cries for help to 911 that morning were heard two blocks away.

Addiction does not discriminate. It doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter what race you are, how financially sound you are, if your homeless or if you have a family who loves you dearly. It can happen to anyone. Drug addiction not only destroys the person who is using; it also destroys the family. Addiction robs you of your money, it robs you of your spirit, and finally, when you have nothing else left to give…it robs you of your soul. My son Ian was a good kind person who suffered from a terrible disease and we miss him everyday of our lives………..
Please keep up the fight. You are all saving lives one child at a time.


Filed under: Parents :

A recent study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health has revealed that women who continue to smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have children with behavioral problems. Disturbances caused can show signs as early as when the child is three years old.
For the sake of the study, over 14,000 mothers and child pairs were observed. The pairs were picked from the millennium cohort study. All the children observed had been born between 2000 and 2001. Professor Kate Pickett from the Hull York medical school, University of York, carried out the research.
Mothers, who were categorized as light or heavy smokers with regards to the number of cigarettes they smoked each day during pregnancy, were given a questionnaire which required them to score their children’s behavior. While 12.5% women said they smoked lightly and 12.4% said they had stopped smoking altogether when pregnant, 10% admitted to smoking heavily all throughout the term.
Based on the data collected, the study confirmed that children whose mothers smoked heavily were two times more prone to behavioral problems, a thing which kept going down as the number of cigarettes smoked during pregnancy went down. According to the study, smoking when pregnant, damages the developing structure and functioning of the fetus’s brain. Boy fetuses are more prone to damage. 3/11/2009

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: Sept.2009

Being a teenager isn’t as risky as it used to be, but too many teens still put their lives and their health at risk, a CDC survey shows.Every two years, the CDC conducts its huge Youth Risk Behavior Survey. It contains detailed data from more than 14,000 questionnaires anonymously completed by teens in grades 9 through 12.

Overall, the 2007 results suggest that teens are acting more responsibly. Fewer are sexually active, nearly all wear seat belts, drinking and drug use are down, 80% of kids don’t smoke, and there are fewer suicide attempts.

This is good news to Howell Wechsler, EdD, MPH, director of the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health. In some cases, the new numbers begin to approach the CDC’s Healthy People 2010 objectives.   “What we are seeing is from the early to mid-1990s to now, on a large number of health risk behaviors, we are seeing very, very encouraging progress,” Wechsler tells WebMD.

Even so, the new numbers are enough to take a parent’s breath away:
• 7% of teens say they’ve attempted suicide (down from nearly 9% in
• 35% of teens say they’re sexually active (down from 37.5% in 2001).
• 18% of teens say they carry a gun, knife, or club (no significant change from 2001).
• 20% of teens say they smoke cigarettes (down from 36.4% in 1997).
• Nearly 45% of teens say they use alcohol (down from 50% in 1999).
• About 20% of teens say they use marijuana (down from nearly 27% in 1999).
• Only about 21% of kids eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables (down from 24% in 1999).
• 25% of teens play video games or use the computer for three or more hours a day (up from 21% in 2005).
• More than 65% of kids don’t get enough exercise , and 25% of teens say they don’t even get an hour of exercise on any day of the week.

“We are gratified that there is progress being made,” Wechsler says. “But my take on it is this: I have a bunch of kids myself and I am not going to be satisfied until we meet our goals — and in most areas we are still not meeting our Healthy People 2010 objectives. So I see no cause to be overly

(Which teens are most at risk? Find out from guest blogger Howell Wechsler on WebMD’s News Watch blog.)

Best States/Cities, Worst States/Cities

In some cases, the overall numbers conceal states and localities where teen behavior is much better — and much worse — than average:
• 62.2% of Kentucky kids have tried smoking cigarettes, compared with only 24.9% of Utah teens (national average: 50.3%).
• 34.5% of West Virginia teens use tobacco products, compared with only 8.9% of kids in Vermont (national average: 25.7%).
• 44.7% of Alaska teens have tried marijuana, compared with only 17.4% of Kentucky kids (national average: 38.1%)
• 90.8% of kids in New York attend physical education classes at least once a week vs. 28.4% of kids in South Dakota (national average: 53.6%).
• 49.7% of Baltimore teens are sexually active, compared with 17.5% of San Francisco teens (national average: 35%).
• 39.2% of ninth to 12th graders in Dallas have been offered, sold, or given an illegal drug, compared with 13.5% of teens in Baltimore (national average: 22.3%).

Wechsler says the survey data don’t show exactly why teens in some areas take fewer health risks than teens in other areas. But he says that state and local efforts to reduce specific risk behaviors pay off. He points to anti-tobacco efforts as an example.

“One thing that is instructive is the tremendous difference in resources different states put into this,” Wechsler says. “In some states, teen tobacco use is much lower than the national rate. And we see this in exactly those states where they have made substantial investments in tobacco

Even Good Teens Take Risks — What Parents Must Do

If none of this sounds like your teenager, listen to Nancy Cahir, PhD, a child/adolescent/adult psychologist in private practice in Atlanta.

“What I have seen in my practice is even parents who think it couldn’t happen to their child — well, it can,” Cahir tells WebMD. “Even with the ‘perfect child,’ there may be hidden issues; even in good families, bad things can happen. There is no discrimination when it comes to high-risk behavior for teens.”

Parents have a responsibility to involve themselves in their children’s lives, Cahir says. They cannot assume their teen is doing fine because they haven’t had calls from the school or because their teen’s grades are good.

“Parents, I say stay close to your children. Know your kids the way you know your best friend, and keep in touch with them,” she says. “Spend time with them, know their friends, and know the parents of the children your children hang out with. Say to them every day, ‘Did you have a difficult day? What’s going on with you? How are you doing?'”

It’s probably not news that teens can be moody, even surly at times. Your teen may respond to your inquiries with something like, “My life is none of your business.”

Not so, says Cahir.

“Every parent has the right to say, ‘It is too my business,'” she says. “Parents sometimes shy away from being more involved because they don’t want to seem intrusive. But it is their business to know whom their child hangs out with, to know whether the child is in distress, and to help their children through these difficult times. Sometimes kids don’t like hearing that, and may respond in defiant ways, but parents must toe the line and say, ‘We have a right to know.'”

But Wechsler agrees with Cahir that communication is not only what your children need, but what they truly want.

“As a parent of two teens myself, you tend to believe them when they walk out of the room and don’t express any interest in hearing from you,” Wechsler says. “But kids really do want that communication with parents. They really do want to hear their parents’ values. They really need their parents to monitor their whereabouts and stay in touch and stay a very strong part of their lives.”

Cahir says the key to communicating with teens is developing mutual respect.

“Each member of a family should treat the others members like a best friend or at least as a guest in the house,” she says. “If you are angry with your teen, or your teen is angry with you, you have to talk it out in a way that is not hostile or aggressive. I’ve seen some families go after each other tooth and nail and they end up really harming each other.”

If communication breaks down, it may be time for the family to sit down with a professional to learn how to express disagreements in a constructive way.

The full CDC report, “Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance — United States, 2007,” is available on the CDC’s web site. For comparison, earlier years’ reports are also available.

Source:CBS News Web 4 June 2008

In a new study, researchers have determined that prenatal exposure to cigarette smoking, when combined with a specific genetic variant, places children at increased risk for aggressive behavior and other behavioral problems.
The study, led by scientists at the Institute for Juvenile Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago, identified a long-lasting influence on a child’s behavior precipitated by the monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) gene variant in conjunction with prenatal exposure to tobacco. MAOA is an enzyme which regulates key neurotransmitters in the brain. 
The genetic variant responsible for increased risk of behavioral problems differs between boys and girls, researchers said. In boys exposed to tobacco smoke prenatally, the low-activity MAOA (MAOA-L) gene variant was associated with increased disruptive social interactions, aggressive behavior, and serious rule-violating.
Among girls, the high-activity MAOA (MAOA-H) gene variant was associated with increased disruptive behavior. In addition, girls with both the MAOA-H variant and prenatal exposure to cigarette smoke had an increased “hostile attribution bias” — a tendency to perceive anger in a range of facial expressions — that was not seen among boys.
There was a higher risk of disruptive behavior for both boys and girls the more their mother smoked during pregnancy, according to the study.
“The tendency to over-perceive anger suggests the possibility that the combination of prenatal tobacco exposure and the MAOA risk variant affects the brain’s processing of emotional cues,” said Lauren Wakschlag, the study’s principal investigator. “Clearly, close attention to sex differences in these patterns will be critical for future studies,” she said.

Source:Join Together. March 16th 2009

A literature review
The most extensive and consistent evidence relates to young people’s interaction with their
families. The key predictors of drug use are parental discipline, family cohesion and parental
monitoring. Some aspects of family structure such as large family size and low parental age
are linked to adolescent drug use. There is also consistent evidence linking peer drug use
and drug availability to adolescent drug use. There is extensive evidence on parental
substance use, although some studies report no association while others indicate that the
association is attenuated by strong family cohesion. Age is strongly associated with
prevalence of drug use among young people reflecting a range of factors including drug
availability, peer relationships and reduced parental monitoring. There is limited evidence
suggesting that genetic factors account for a significant proportion of the variance in liability to
use cannabis, however this interpretation has been criticised by other writers. There is a
similar level of evidence linking self-esteem and hedonism to drug use. The available
evidence indicates that higher levels of drug use are strongly associated with young people’s
reasons for using drugs after controlling for risk factors.
Categories where evidence linking specific factors is mixed include: mental health, Attention
Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), stimulant therapy, religious involvement, sport, health
educator interventions, school performance, early onset of substance use and socioeconomic
status. For some of these categories there is evidence of indirect effects; for
example, socio-economic status may influence parental monitoring which in turn influences
drug use. The review did not consider any studies relating to previously identified risk and
protective factors such as ethnicity or impulsivity.
For young drug users in treatment, psychosocial risk predicts drug abuse at treatment entry
but not follow up. In contrast, protective factors are of increased importance during recovery
The overall ratio of risk to protection may be more important than any individual factor. These
results, although supported by a relatively small body of research, support the concept of
resilience to drug use. According to this view resilience to drug use is enhanced by increasing
social skills, social attachments and material resources despite constant exposure to known
risk factors.
Whereas risk and resilience are, to a large extent, independent of individuals’ motives, there
is evidence that the latter are just as important as the former in determining drug use. Young
drug users consistently report getting intoxicated and relief from negative mood states as
reasons for their drug use. Qualitative research shows that the context in which young people
experience drugs is crucial for understanding how risk and protective factors operate in
relation to experimental and sustained drug use.
Risk factors have differential predictive values throughout adolescence. Some factors may
occur at birth (or before) while others occur at varying times throughout adolescence. Some
factors may persist for long periods of time while others are transitory. The distinction
between early and late onset risk factors is important as preventive measures need to focus
on particular age groups.
This review was pragmatic because it was time constrained and not all the studies identified
could be reviewed in detail. From the studies reviewed, the evidence relating to factors
associated with increased (or decreased) risk of drug use is described. Further analysis would
require a detailed assessment of individual studies, with clear specification of exposures (risk
and protective factors), outcomes (type and level of drug use) and study design (i.e. did
exposure precede the outcome).
Much of the current knowledge about risk and protective factors is not yet available in a form
that would permit the calculation of the effect of reducing exposure to risk (or enhancing
protective factors), even if was possible to modify the exposure. The evidence indicates that
risk and protective factors are context dependent and operate on people taking drugs for
disparate reasons. With these caveats, improving the general social environment of children
and supporting parents will probably be the most effective strategies for primary prevention of
drug use. Studies indicating that risk and resilience can be successfully altered include
interventions for parental monitoring and enhancement of social attachments and skills.
These interventions show promise but have rarely been implemented or evaluated in the UK.

Source:   Home Office OnLine report 05/07 Martin Frisher et al

Research Summary
A Penn State researcher says that parents who let teens drink alcohol may be setting their kids up for binge drinking in college, but the study by Caitlin Abar of the school’s Prevention Research and Methodology Center makes no distinction between parents who simply let kids drink some wine during meals and those whose permissiveness extends to drinking outside the home.
Science Daily reported June 11 that Abar surveyed 300 college freshmen and correlated their alcohol use to the drinking rules set down by their parents. Abar found that students whose parents never allowed them to drink were less likely to report heavy drinking in college.
On the other hand, “the greater number of drinks that a parent had set as a limit for the teens, the more often they drank and got drunk in college,” said Abar.
Abar said the research argues in favor of “zero tolerance” for teen drinking and against the theory that parental restrictions on drinking casts alcohol as attractive “forbidden fruit” and leads to greater temptation to drink in college. Whether or not parents themselves drank had little impact on college binge drinking, Abar added.
Thirty-one states allow parents to legally serve alcohol to children under age 21.
The research was presented at the recent and.
Source: annual meeting of the Society for Prevention Research ,to be published in the journal Addictive Behaviors June 24, 2009

Children of drug users are at high risk for developing substance use disorders themselves later in life. From 1991 to 1993, researchers funded by NIDA recruited families, with a parent in methadone treatment for heroin addiction and at least one young child, into a randomized trial of the Focus on Families (FOF) intervention, which includes relapse prevention services and parent training skills. Results from the original analysis of the trial showed that FOF both reduced parents’ drug use and improved children’s delinquent behavior compared with participants in the control group, who only received standard services provided by methadone clinics. To assess whether FOF continued to have an effect on children as they grew up, the researchers performed a 12-year followup study—85 percent of the children originally enrolled in the trial participated. Of those, 59 percent had met the criteria for a substance use disorder at some point in their life. Overall, the rates of substance use and dependence were similar between childhood participants in the FOF and control groups. However, when the results are broken down by gender, males who received the FOF intervention had a significantly lower risk of developing a substance use disorder—specifically, alcohol and marijuana disorders—than those in the control group. This may be because the FOF intervention focuses on teaching parents to handle externalizing problem behaviors (such as getting into fights), which are more common in boys than girls, explain the authors. Of concern was the fact that at the time of the followup study, 32 percent of the parents in the FOF group had died, compared to 13 percent of parents in the control group. High mortality is typical in long-term studies of patients on methadone, though the researchers could not find evidence that higher exposure to the FOF intervention was related to mortality in this study. In fact, the highest mortality rate was found among families who were assigned to FOF but never participated in the skills training or case management. FOF participants who attended 75 percent or more of the assigned sessions had about the same mortality rate as participants in the control group.

Source: Haggerty KP,et al. Long-term effects of the Focus on Families project on substance use disorders among children of parents in methadone treatment. Addiction. 2008 Oct 8

Parenting practices during the middle years of elementary school, such as supervision and monitoring, may affect adolescent initiation of marijuana use, according to a new NIDA-supported study conducted by Dr. Chuan-Yu Chen and colleagues from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The scientists followed 1,222 youth from elementary school through young adulthood to determine if early parenting practices protect youth from early onset of marijuana use. The researchers measured three dimensions of parenting-parental monitoring, parental involvement/reinforcement, and coercive parental discipline parenting (attempts to correct child behavior by using serious threats such as physical and nonphysical punishment)-as well as opportunity to first try marijuana.

The scientists found that children with the lowest levels of parental monitoring and parental involvement/reinforcement were almost 30 percent more likely to try marijuana for the first time when compared with the most highly monitored children. Similarly, children with higher levels of coercive discipline were more likely to try the drug for the first time. Overall, the scientists observed a delay and reduction in the opportunity to first try marijuana among children with the highest levels of parental involvement/reinforcement, which lasted through early adulthood.

• WHAT IT MEANS: Numerous studies have documented associations between parenting practices and an array of health-compromising behaviors in adolescents. The results of this study expand upon existing evidence and suggest that parenting practices such as early increased monitoring and supervision may have lasting effects by reducing and delaying marijuana use through young adulthood. Additional research is needed to better understand the role of parental practices in preventing and delaying adolescent drug use.

Source: Pediatrics. June 2005 issue

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News and Commentary by Sharon Secor September 2004

Big Pimpin’ For The Shorties

It’s probably not surprising, in a cultural climate in which porn inspired phrases as “the money shot” or drug-dealer slang as “re-up” have come to be used so commonly that they regularly show up in newspapers, to find the concept of the pimp becoming normalized, even venerated as a pop icon. But pimps for kids? That should more than surprise us. It should anger us.

Pimp and ‘ho” Halloween costumes for children, sold online by Brands On Sale, a company out of California, recently made national news. In addition to being available online, according to a article of August 28, 2004, some of the shopping mall chain stores are also carrying such items. Matching adult and child pimp suits are being sold at some Spencer Gifts. The costumes have sparked outrage throughout the country. This, however, is merely one of the most recent and more blatant examples of pimp culture for kids.

Pimp Juice, a noncarbonated energy drink that we can thank the rapper Nelly for, made more than one million sales in less than four months, according to a January 28, 2004, report on Where is the outrage?

While there was a bit of protest when the beverage began to move from concept to product, it evidently faded fast. On July 12, 2004, reported that Pimp Juice would move beyond its 60 distributors in 32 states and 81 markets to achieve full national distribution, as well as distribution to a variety of other countries, including Mexico, Japan, China, and Israel by fall of this year. 

Nelly says his product is for people from “ages 50 right down to 9”, though it seems difficult to imagine any mature adult stopping by the local beverage center to pick up a case of Pimp Juice. It is not at all hard to imagine, however, with the huge youth audience for hip-hop and rap music, teens and even preteens picking up a case.

Since 1992, Original Pimpgear has been selling clothes. In addition to their original line, they also sell Pimp, Pimpgirl and Big Pimp brands. Naturally, these are urban and hip-hop inspired designs. And, who are they popular with? Presumably, it’s not typically grown ups running around with the word ‘pimp’ scrawled across their chest.

The list goes on and on. Who watches MTV’s Pimp My Ride? Who plays urban set pimp video games?, a “free web browser based game,” combines—to use the new vernacular—pimped out, “hippity hoppity” low-rider prize cars (what today’s fashionable gangster-pimp drives) and a ghettoized setting in which a participant plays at being a “ruthless pimp” and tries to “master the art of pimping” what are referred to as “hoes.” 

In another free computer game, Pimp’s Quest, the player tries to “avoid getting shot” and “pimp out” the town. The only female character is described as follows: “Yolanda first got into stripping as a toddler. From there, she graduated to mutual masturbation at 12, outright whoring a 18, and at 21 holds the record for most guys at one time.” Supposed to be funny, I guess. This game comes with a companion craps game.

This pimpin’ is fun, pimpin’ is cool mentality comes directly from hip-hop culture, one of the most popular music genres among today’s youth. Many of the top rappers embrace the persona of the pimp, in addition to that of the pornographer, gangster, drug dealer, street thug and ex-con.

Yet, hip-hop is no longer confined to popular youth culture. Despite the fact that hip-hop royalty is made up of people who, according to public record, have been convicted of or are currently charged with murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, assault, perjury, robbery and drug trafficking—as well as of pornographers and self-admitted pimps—we even see them welcomed into our schools.

The poetry of Tupac Shakur, “the drug-dealing, baseball bat-wielding, cop-hating, Black Panthers-worshiping, convicted sexual abuser who made a fortune extolling the “thug life” before he was gunned down in Las Vegas eight years ago,” as described by Michelle Malkin in a June 30, 2004, column, was on this year’s summer reading list for public school children in Worcester, Massachusetts. According to Worcester public school officials, it will be indefinitely, as it’s “popular with the kids.” In Palm Beach, Florida, school board member Debra Robinson hopes to see Shakur’s work in their public school classrooms, as well.

The bottom line, however, is the parents. Even rapper Nelly doesn’t want his ‘shorties’—a 10-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son—watching some of his music videos, according to a September 11, 2004 St. Louis Post-Dispatch article. Yet, throughout the nation, parents finance and permit their children’s immersion in a poisonous culture. They buy the clothes, the music, keep the cable television, and don’t insist upon sanity in education. Why is there so little outrage?

“I know some people will make a big deal about it,” said one mother who purchased pimp costumes for her 10-year-old and 11-year-old sons, according to an August 29, 2004, New York Post article. “But come on, it’s Halloween. Let’s not take things too seriously. One son makes straight A’s, the other A’s and B’s. They’re good children who wanna get a laugh.” 

This parent, then, along with the many others who bought such costumes for their children—sizes began at 4, with infant’s sizes promised for next year—sees nothing wrong with kids playing at pimping. Finds it to be funny, in fact, a joke, something to be laughed at.

The teen girls pimped, forced into prostitution, probably aren’t laughing. On August 24, The New York Post reported on one of countless similar stories throughout the nation. A Long Island man is facing “charges that include kidnapping, promoting prostitution, assault, rape and performing a criminal sexual act” for his role in forcing girls who were 13 and 14 years of age at the beginning of their three year ordeal into prostitution. It is alleged that the man had his name tattooed on the older girl, marking his property, and it is also alleged that he—taking his pimping seriously—demanded that she perform $500 dollars worth of sex acts per night, beating her if she failed.

In a New York Times article published on September 15, 2004, Leslie Kaufman writes of the fate of a 12-year-old prostitute in juvenile court, who’d already been released once before on a prostitution charge when the pimp paid the fine. Citing the research of Margaret Loftus, doing work for the Juvenile Justice Project at the Correctional Association of New York, Kaufman points out that the new child prostitutes, in addition to those victimized by international trafficking, “seem to be coming from neighbourhoods where they have been recruited by expanding numbers of gangs.” Kaufman also reports that Loftus has found that “the pimps themselves are getting younger, drawn to some degree by the life sometimes glorified in rap culture.”

The child-sized pimp and ho costumes are indeed vulgar. But, the real outrage is that we have accepted, even welcomed, the cultural movements that have brought them into being. We permit pimps and thugs to be a part of our children’s formative years and public school experience. We’ve allowed ourselves—and our children—to be tricked out by pimp culture.

Source:ObscenityCrimes.orgSeptember 2004

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“My son Ian died of a drug overdose. If this can happen
to him, it could happen to anyone.”

Ginger Katz

The night before Ginger Katz had to face the grim reality of burying her 20-year-old son, Ian, she had a vision. She saw herself setting out on a life-long mission to speak out against the lurking danger that took her son at such an early age – drug abuse and the code of silence that surrounds it.

Ian was a typical American teenager. Young, vibrant and full of life, he was well-liked among his many friends. He was an outgoing, popular student with a bright future. Ian was also very athletic, had a black belt in karate and was a star sports player. He was an integral part of a closeknit family that gave him love and support.

But none of it was enough to keep Ian safe from the lure of drugs. He first experimented in high school with alcohol and marijuana. By his sophomore year in college, his drug use had escalated and Ian was snorting heroin. Most attempts to get Ian into recovery for his heroin addiction ended in failure as Ian continued using drugs and deceiving his family. From stints in treatment centers, to family counseling, even to asking Ian to leave her home in an attempt to force him to save his own life, none of Ginger’s attempts kept her son from using drugs.

Finally realizing that his drug use was a grave mistake and that the responsibility for it was his, Ian came to Ginger in tears asking her for help. He desperately wanted to see a doctor the next morning to finally break free from the hold heroin had on his life. Ginger hoped that all of the time she spent educating herself about drug abuse in an effort to reach out to Ian would finally pay off. The next morning came and brought with it a parent’s worst nightmare:

Ginger found her son lying lifeless in his bed. Ian had died in his sleep just hours before he planned to enter a drug treatment facility. “Mom, I want to go see the doctor in the morning,” were her son’s poignant last words. Shortly after Ian’s funeral in September 1996, Ginger and her husband Larry, Ian’s stepfather, embarked on their newfound mission.

They established The Courage To Speak Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives by stressing the crucial importance of parent-child communication as a means to keep kids drug free. Through her presentations, Ginger reaches teens and their parents as few others can, touching them deeply with the compelling story of her family’s tragic loss into which she weaves up-to-date prevention information. Ginger first appeared before teens with her message in 1997 during an assembly at Ian’s former high school in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Since then, Ginger and her husband have given more than 400 presentations in schools, parent groups, churches and civic organizations across the country and to national conventions of major prevention organizations. “I pass around pictures of Ian and talk about his life,” said Ginger, “bringing them to the moment when I discovered that Ian had died in his sleep. Then, the silence in the room is deafening. After teens hear what it feels like to be a mother losing her child, they take it to heart.”

Ginger’s message to parents is to start talking to their children early and often about the difference between good medicines and harmful drugs before a drug dealer does. She emphasizes the importance of parents arming themselves with information about all the substances their children are exposed to and the challenges they face at school and in social circumstances. “The worst situation you can have,” Ginger said, “is an unsuspecting child and a naive parent who doesn’t think drug addiction will ever happen to their child.” She encourages parents and children to have the courage to speak to one another –about fears, drugs, or any other issue. When they do, they create an opportunity for honesty and healing.

By sharing with teens a very personal portrait of her son’s life, Ginger wants Ian’s story to illuminate their path when they are faced with the decision to use drugs. She wants them to remember the pain associated with drug abuse and how it took her son’s life because he did not understand what could really happen to him if he used drugs.

Today, Ginger continues sharing Ian’s story with those who need to hear it most – parents and teens. She has recently developed Courage To Speak Drug Prevention Curriculum for Middle Schools now being implemented in the seventh grade health classes of many local schools. The organization is adapting the program for elementary and high schools for implementation in the coming school year. In addition, Ginger’s organization provides a support group for parents who have lost children to drugs and receives calls from all over the country. The Courage To Speak also offers a service referral line and an informative Web site for parents and children. Ginger finds personal strength in her passions, such as writing in her journal. A lifelong athlete, she encourages children to find their own healthy passion as she participates and organizes local basketball and other sporting events in Connecticut. She says she never thought she would find the will to continue living after losing her beloved Ian, but she has found strength in these cherished passions in her life. She will continue to bring her “courage to speak” message to children and parents as long as they are willing to listen.

Ginger Katz will serve as a Partnership parent partner, reaching out to other parents through the Partnership’s Web site, along with a group of about a dozen other parents who have also lost children to substance abuse.To find out more about the Courage To Speak Foundation, contact Ginger Katz at or (877) 431-3295.

The article below comes from the USA – it is a shocking example of the way the ‘entertainment’ media is reaching children and young people.If you are a parent you should know that there is an increasing number of websites easily accessed by
young people which promote porn, glamourise drug dealing and have a subliminal influence on youth.Check out the British watchdog for such content on television by visiting

Source: Partnership for a Drug-Free America

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Parents – did you know that if you can encourage your children not to smoke you will be helping them to remain drug-free ?Research shows that only 2% of non-smokers use illegal drugs compared to 56% of smokers. Cigarette companies spend more than $11.2 billion annually on marketing in the United States, much of it that reaches and influences kids.The 1998 legal settlement between the states and the tobacco companies prohibited the tobacco companies from taking “any action, directly or indirectly, to target youth… in the advertising, promotion or marketing of tobacco products.” The settlement was supposed to restrict tobacco marketing. However, since the settlement, the tobacco companies have increased their marketing expenditures by 66 percent to a record $11.45 billion a year, or $31.4 million a day, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Much of this marketing is still targeted at kids.

One of the tobacco industry’s most outrageous new tactics is the introduction of candy-flavoured cigarettes and other sweet-flavoured tobacco products

R.J. Reynolds – the same company that once marketed cigarettes to kids with a cartoon character, Joe Camel – has launched a series of flavoured cigarettes, including a pineapple and coconut-flavored cigarette called “Kauai Kolada” and a citrus-flavored cigarette called “Twista Lime.”
Brown & Williamson has introduced flavoured versions of its Kool cigarettes with names like “Caribbean Chill,” “Midnight Berry,” “Mocha Taboo” and “Mintrigue.”
The U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company is marketing its products with flavours including berry blend, mint, wintergreen, apple blend, vanilla and cherry.
Brown & Williamson has also been promoting its Kool cigarettes with hip-hop music themes and images that have particular appeal to African-American youth.
There are several ongoing efforts to stop the tobacco companies from continuing to target our children. Several state attorneys general have sued tobacco companies for violating the state settlement’s prohibition on targeting kids. In addition, the federal government is pursuing a lawsuit against the tobacco companies that, among other things, seeks to stop tobacco marketing to kids, and Congress is considering legislation to grant the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority over tobacco products, including the authority to ban flavoured cigarettes and crack down on other forms of tobacco marketing and sales to kids. 17.09.04)

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Once upon a time there were places in the world where children were not mini adults. Little boys wore short trousers and climbed trees and made camps. Little girls played with dolls and wore frilly dresses. Children went to school and were mostly respectful to teachers and other adults. On the radio at teatime Uncle Mac told stories and there were plays about gangs – but these gangs were friends who played together and had names for their group – like The Pirates or The Outlaws….. Television had comedies and dramas and musical entertainments like Sunday Night at the Palladium .. on the tv policemen were portrayed as avuncular bobbies who walked the beat and knew everyone in their neighbourhood. Sex was something that most children knew little about – and were not really interested in until puberty kicked in….at around 13 -14 years of age. And drugs ? Well they were things the doctor gave you when you were ill.

But times change. Even baby boys don’t wear short trousers anymore – they wear mini-jeans – preferably with a name ! Imagine – clothes with names – like Baby Gap …… And the little girls, as young as 5 or 6 wear crop tops often with pretend tattoos on their midriffs – and they can buy make up in a special range for children…. and gangs ? well they are pretty vicious these days – they have sometimes bullied other children so badly that their victims have committed suicide. These gangs have been known to terrorise older folk too so that they are frightened to leave their homes. Sex ? Well there are a lot more cases of sexually transmitted diseases in young teens, and far too many 16 or 17 year old girls become mothers and lose not only their innocence but their ambitions and their potential.

And drugs ? Lots of newspapers and magazines write stories about drugs. Pop stars record songs about drugs. Films star ‘heroes’ who use drugs. People say that drugs are no big deal. They say that its normal to do drugs. They say – let’s not make criminals out of people who break the law – and the real siren song is – why don’t we legalise all drugs ?

Well in many fairy stories there are mythical beasts – and in this story we have the Beast with Seven Eyes.

Sadly, there is much truth in this fairy story. The culture of our society has changed so much that early sexual behaviours and the use of drugs has become much more common place. If we want to change our society and revert to some of the more healthy behaviours of the past, if we want to prevent young people from using drugs and help them to reach their potential we need to change our attitudes and ensure that drug use once again becomes unacceptable.
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This page aims to help parents to help their children to remain drug-free – to say ‘no’ to drugs.

Research has shown that about 50% of young people have tried illegal drugs – but, less than 20% go on to use drugs more than once or twice. So 80% of our youth do not do drugs.

Parents remain the most important influence on their children – with peers, the media and school also having an effect. We believe parents should know at least as much as their children about drugs – and we believe that parents ‘can make a difference’.

How do I start Parenting for Prevention?

Choose ‘teachable moments’ to discuss drugs and alcohol – instigate a discussion (not a lecture) around a TV programme, news story or advertisement… talk about how the media portrays smokers and drinkers as smart, beautiful sophisticated and compare this to reality.

Ensure that your children realise that not ‘everybody’ is doing drugs and drinking. We know that if adolescents perceive drugs use to be more prevalent than it really is they are more likely to try drugs themselves – so set them right!

Improve your listening skills. Watch for body language, give non-verbal encouragement, use the right tone of voice to encourage children to share their worries, do not use sarcasm and do not humiliate the child.

When discipline is necessary remember to criticise the action, not the child. Try to make any punishment appropriate to the behaviour – for example coming home later than expected could mean the curfew being earlier the next week. Think carefully before declaring what any discipline is to be – and stick to it.

Build self-esteem – set realistic targets, give real responsibility, praise any achievements or improvements – especially if the child does not make the A grade!

How important is family policy?
Studies have shown that children want and need structure in their lives. They behave more responsibly when parents set reasonable limits. It is important to have boundaries and values – the phrase “that behaviour is totally unacceptable in this family” can be used from a very young age. Adolescents may kick against boundaries (“come on Dad, everyone else is going to the all-night party”, “oh Mum everyone else is wearing see-through blouses” etc.) – but parents need to be firm once boundaries have been established. It is perfectly acceptable to say that, for example, the time for coming home at night can be later by arrangement for special occasions and can be reviewed every six months.

A strong family value system can help a child refuse offers of drugs. “My Dad would go ape/kill me/ground me for a year if I did…” or “my Mum would be really upset – I just can’t”. Instilling a belief system and standards that the whole family live up to can be a potent protective force when the adolescent faces problems in the outside world.

Children need to know from an early age that there will be consequences if they infringe family rules. But remember – for every piece of criticism you should try to praise at least twice! Children thrive and blossom with praise and are never too old for plenty of hugs.

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Make you children strong and resilient

Build self-esteem. The experience of being respected by others and having their feelings and needs taken seriously helps a child to accept themselves.

Dealing with conflicts. Teach that conflicts can be solved by negotiation. Teach how to resist peer pressure – and how to use peer pressure constructively.

Independence. Encourage children to be independent – to be competent in various actions. This could start by giving them a stool to reach the basin and letting them clean their teeth, to teaching them how to travel to school by bus instead of by car. Give them pocket money and let them spend it how they wish – but no topping up if they spend it all at in one day. Give them a small allowance when older and let them buy their own clothes. Youth hostelling week-ends with friends can be fun and help to foster independence.

Fulfilment. Encourage music, sports, collecting, hobbies, uniformed clubs, conservation work etc. Young people who are very involved in a social life through these activities are much less likely to drift into drug use through boredom or curiosity. A strong, self-reliant and confident child can say ‘no’ on their own accord.

Remember – Prevention Works!

What else do I need to know?
Educate yourself (and your children) on drugs and the harmfulness of drug use. (We can provide a book list if you write to us with an S.A.E. We also run 8-week video based Parenting for Prevention courses). Be alert to the signs and symptoms of drug use.

Keep communication lines open, talk with not at your child.

Know your child’s friends – and their parents. Phone the parents of your child’s friends if you are concerned about any behaviour – they may also be worried. Discuss action all families can take as a team. Be aware of the pro-drug culture.

Quick tips…

Set clear standards of behaviour. Be consistent. Hold your child responsible for their actions. Correct constructively if necessary. Affirm the good in them and praise often.

Be alert to the attitudes and interests of your child and of their friends.

Help to provide meaningful, thoughtful and unselfish activities. Young people are idealistic and like to feel needed and useful by taking part in service oriented projects.

Teach good communication and coping skills. Teach them to think before they act. Talk about your feelings and beliefs and encourage them to do the same.

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10 Principles of parenting
1. Love abundantly and hug often.
2. Discipline constructively.
3. Spend time together as a family.
4. Teach right from wrong.
5. Listen wholeheartedly.
6. Foster independence.
7. Be realistic.
8. Praise at least twice as often as your criticise.
9. Offer guidance and share experiences.
10. Talk with rather than at your child.

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What should I look for? – The signs and symptoms
Many parents are worried that their child may begin to use drugs. There are stories in the media which swing from shock, horror, addiction and death to so-called debates about the legalisation of cannabis – which is said by some to be harmless.

What are parents to believe? They are right to be concerned – drug use should be taken very seriously. This leaflet sets out to give some factual information for parents – about the signs and symptoms of use and also about prevention of drug use.

Sometimes parents will notice things which on their own mean nothing – but the following things have all been recognised by parents whose child has subsequently been found to be using drugs.

Phone Calls. Teenagers and the telephone usually mean long phone calls – does your child hang around’ the phone sometimes and pick it up as soon as it rings… replies very briefly and then leaves the house – returning after a short time. This can often be a dealer friend phoning to say that they are nearby with some drugs.

Bedrooms. Do you often find the windows open even on cold days ? Lots of air-freshener being used? This can be to disguise the smell of cannabis being smoked in the room.

Money. Does your child never seem to have money nowadays? Do you notice that valuable things seem to be missing – cameras, jewellery etc. Drug users often sell items to buy drugs – at first their own but later they may steal from the family.

Language. Users do not speak of “using drugs” – they will say someone “does drugs” – watch for words like gear, deals, straight, clean, munchies, clucking, – and slang terms for drugs.

If you are worried that your child may be involved with drugs it is important not to ignore matters. Of course it is better to try to prevent use – and research has shown the following:

Parents who are too strict or too easy-going are more likely to have children who use drugs. Firm, fair and age-appropriate discipline is best.

Families should eat together and have regular family meetings’ where things like holidays, pocket-money, chores, curfew times are discussed. Each family member should be allowed to contribute and should be listened to.

Any infringement of agreed rules (such as home by 11.00 p.m.) should be dealt with in a consequential way. Punishments should be made to fit the incident. From babyhood parents should agree together on standards of behaviour – if you say it you must mean it!

Celebrate and praise! Parents should have a simple rule of thumb – for each time you need to criticise you should subsequently praise at least twice for behaviour which you want repeated. Celebrate any small improvements and see the child blossom.

Is your child less responsible … comes home from school late, forgets family occasions, ignores requests to help with chores, uses bad language, becomes argumentative and tells parents “don’t hassle me” ?

Clothes, music, hair styles … do they now wear totally different clothes and hair styles …listen to different music, become less interested in academic work and demand permission to stay out later and to have more ‘privacy’?

Is communication more difficult… does your child refuse to talk about new friends, go ‘out’ without saying where they are going; tend to defend the ‘recreational’ use or legalisation of drugs when the topic is discussed on TV or radio; declares teachers are unfair; defends the ‘rights’ of children and talk about the ‘bad habits’ of adults who use alcohol or smoke cigarettes?

Physical changes … has your child lost weight, changed sleep patterns – cannot sleep till early hours of morning, cannot wake up in the morning, increased appetite for sweet snacks, very thirsty, becomes very forgetful and seems to have lost all motivation for exams,or future careers?

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Some physical signs

The following brief physical symptoms may suggest the use of a variety of drugs. These symptoms may not effect everyone and are
dose and time dependant.

Hyper-activity and alertness amphetamine
Bloodshot eyes cannabis
Confusion, bizarre behaviour LSD
Compulsive behaviour amphetamine
Constipation heroin
Crawling sensations cocaine
Dreamy, introverted, head nodding heroin
Dreamy, spaced out, giggly, distorted perception of all senses especially time, hungry for sweet things, slow thinking cannabis
Depression amphetamine, LSD
Dilated pupils (sometimes) amphetamine, cocaine, LSD
Dry mouth, great thirst amphetamine, cannabis
Flushed (sometimes) amphetamine, heroin
Loss of co-ordination solvents, LSD, cannabis
Frequent urination amphetamine
Increased appetite cannabis
Loss of appetite amphetamine
Insomnia amphetamine
Nausea cannabis
Pin-prick pupils heroin
Paranoia amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine
Skin pallor solvents, cannabis
Restless/talkative amphetamine
Rapid, repetative speech amphetamine
Rhinitis (running nose) heroin
Sweating heroin, amphetamine
Shaking heroin, cocaine, LSD

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Alternative signs of drug use
Parents of young drug users have told us that a combination of the following ‘alternative signs and symptoms’ may be very indicative of use:

Drug slogans on clothes (see related article “What does 420 mean?”)

Pro-drug posters on walls of bedroom.

Jokes and conversations about drugs.

Agrees with legalisation of drugs.

Uses ‘druggy’ words like stoned, gear, stash, high, hit, trip, fix, dry, busted, hooked, doing drugs, score, wrap, works.

Bedroom window often open even in chilly weather. Smell of air fresheners used to disguise the sickly sweet smell of cannabis.

Wears sunglasses a lot, uses eye drops and nasal sprays, loses weight, can’t sleep at night, oversleeps in the morning.

Oversize Rizla papers found in bedroom or clothing.

Friendship groups change – usually older. Parents are not introduced to new friends. Unknown people come to house but do not stay.
Child becomes secretive, often lies, moody and sullen.

Membership of sports clubs, uniformed groups etc. lapses. Wants to ‘party’ a lot and go to raves, clubs and pubs.

Stays out much later than requested, sometimes all night, tells parents ‘don’t hassle me’, behaves unreasonably.

Child becomes aggressive, quick temper. Demands privacy in bedroom – angry if room is tidied.

School/college grades drop noticeably. Homework/course work neglected, talk of leaving school/college to get a job.

Never has any money, borrows money, valuable personal possessions like rings, watch camera etc. disappear – “I’ve lent them to a friend”.
Money disappears from family members.

Relationships with family deteriorate. (Siblings often know of drug use but don’t tell).

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Why drugs are wrong
The misuse of drugs, legal or illegal, affects not only the user but those around them. It is essential that one looks at more than physical harm – and takes into account the consequences for other people; it is not ‘a victimless crime’.

Take, as a starting point, the WHO definition of ‘Health’ which encompasses Physical, Mental, Intellectual, Social, Emotional, Spiritual and Environmental; then see how each of these components of total health is affected by drug misuse….

Social – The loss of a sense of commitment or responsibility, and the drift out of education or employment; perhaps into petty crime, is part of the life story of too many drug users.

Mental – The use of powerful psychoactive drugs, particularly cannabis which is fat-soluble, can affect cerebral blood flow and cause damage to the brain. Psychoses are not unknown and clinical depression often results. There is currently concern that the use of Ecstasy may result in long term depression or a type of Alzheimers when users reach old age. Other drugs impact mental health.

Intellectual Damage – from heavy use of alcohol is widely known; current research indicates cannabis has serious effects on memory – and also impacts ability to think, learn and decide; vital to students.

Emotional – The breakdown of family and other relationships, anger, guilt, conflict and stress are much more common in users and in their families.

Spiritual – Drug rehabilitation clinics often find that problem drug users have lost any sense of spirituality; in seeking for something to fill an inner void they turn to drugs as the answer.

Environmental – We are part of an ecosystem; we can either be ‘takers’ or ‘givers’ – drug users set themselves apart from the non-using majority and are chemically influenced to ‘look after No.1’ first.

Physical – This is by far the most documented area; more and more research is showing the possible harm from the use of drugs – icluding tobacco, alcohol and cannabis. Fresh evidence is being collected and it is quite clear that the more we learn about drugs the more we realise their damaging impact on the body. (For more information, see NDPA Research and Cannabis Info sections of this website).

Definitions (within this context)

Drug – Any substance misused for psychoactive purposes.

Drug Misuse – The use of any illegal drug and the inappropriate use of any legal drug.

Appropriate – As defined by age circumstances or purpose of use.

Weasel Words

The euphemistic terms often used to cloud the drugs issue.

Experimental use – There is nothing scientific or controlled about drug misuse.

Recreational use – This word means something healthy; misusing drugs isn’t.

Soft drugs – The scientific body now rejects this misleading term.

Informed choice – When it comes to an illegal act, choice is not appropriate anymore than it is for theft or violence. Moreover, who is doing the informing? This needs close scrutiny.

Drug education – Should discourage use. Some materials are indifferent or even encourage drug use. And vet them carefully

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An article by Peter Stoker for Bella Magazine

Learning the symptoms of drug use is all very well, but let’s say you were instead concerned about promiscuity. Would it be OK to wait for a sure fire symptom like pregnancy before you acted? Or would this be a little late in the process ? So it is with drugs. An effective parent needs to look for the early signs, not just of behaviours that may possibly precede drug use but also look for signs of what may precede that behaviour. And that means Attitude.Each of us, parent or child, follows a logical process in embarking on an action. We mull over thoughts, issues, impulses (messages) from people, or print, or music or screens. We formulate and review possible options, weight up risks and benefits, then select our preferred line of action. All this is inside our heads: invisible to anyone out there, including our parents.

The first outward sign is the development of an attitude towards the matter. If our attitude favours it, and the situation is conducive, we’ll probably go for it.

Take an everyday example of attitude change, tobacco smoking. Young children will make vehement statements against this “horrible habit”, will try to stop mum and dad doing it, and yet five years later they may be puffing away. What happened? You can’t blame it on candy cigarettes any more. It is almost certainly fair to put a good chunk of the blame onto cigarette advertisements but what may have been missed is the gradual change of the child’s attitude from revulsion, to tolerance. To curiosity. To admiration and thence to indulgence. Experience shows that young people often buy into the drug culture long before they start to use drugs.

Some markers of attitude change

What they say – have they stopped slagging off drug users? Are they prepared to argue the principles? When did you last discuss these with them?
What they wear – have their fashions changed markedly? What is their fashion? – what does it stand for?
Where they live – check out their room ! Whose posters and postcards are on the wall now, since My Little Pony or Thunderbirds when into the bin
How they relax – What sort of music, magazines, TV, radio do they follow?
How they relate – Have they dropped one crowd of friends for another? Are the new friends older? Are you happy with the new crowd and why/why not?
OK, so now you know some of the things to look for, put it into practice; but be aware that just because some of their attitudes are changing this doesn’t automatically mean they are into drugs, alcohol, or indeed any other negative pastime. But if their attitude is changing this is the time to step in. A few minutes now may save you years of agony later. State where you stand and why. Set clear boundaries for behaviour and make plain what will be the consequences they will earn by crossing these boundaries. Do not waiver. Try to avoid punishment i.e. ‘getting even’ in the consequences you set. Ensure that your own use of legal drugs is consistent with your
message, reflect on why you do what you do and be prepared to explain it rationally. Stay close to your child, show an interest and concern in everything they do – and check that Attitude.
Find out for sure by talking, really talking with your children – not talking at them but with them – which includes listening. Researchers say we spend on average 15 minutes a day talking to our children, of which 13 minutes is spent complaining! Why not reverse that ratio? You might be pleasantly surprised.

And should you become concerned that your child may be moving towards the drug culture, don’t let yourself be talked out of your concern. You are right to be worried. Any drug use can be harmful, legal or illegal. So-called (and falsely called) ‘soft’ drugs can indeed lead to others; its not inevitable, but if they don’t start on ‘soft’ stuff they almost never use the ‘hard’. Don’t listen to libertarians telling you that it’s just a rite of passage, that most survive their ‘drug using career’ – tell that to the parents of dead children, and listen to their reaction. Drug abuse is still a minority indulgence, especially since many of those counted as users only use once or twice. None of us need Drugs of Abuse, and we are all better able to fulfil our potential without them. Be prepared to fight for your child’s total health. Stick up for what you feel to be right. After all,

“A Person who won’t stand for something will fall for anything.” Anon.

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By Stephanie Dunnewind Seattle Times staff reporter

Parents really aren’t as dumb as many teens think, but it’s true adults may not realize how the adolescent years have changed since they were young.

So we checked books, Web sites and experts for things that most teens know — but many parents don’t.

April 20 is a pot-smokers’ holiday

“It’s the day that everyone smokes pot,” explained Sue Cutler, a chemical-dependency counselor with Bellevue-based Youth Eastside Services. “It is highly celebrated! Parents and adults don’t have a clue. Some kids even have it tattooed on their person. It’s a big day to watch your child.”

According to a 2002 article in the pro-marijuana magazine High Times, the editor believes 4/20 traces back to 1971, when a group of students in San Rafael, Calif., would meet after school at 4:20 p.m. The students started using 420 as a code for marijuana so they could talk about it without alerting parents and school staff. Since San Rafael was home to the Grateful Dead, 420 spread among the Deadhead community before being popularized by High Times.

Others link 420 to a police code for pot arrests or to Hitler’s birthday.

No one cards you on the Internet

Internet sites promoting alcohol warn potential users they must be 21 and require a birth date for access. But any teens able to do math can make up whatever birth dates they want. Even if they initially put their real age in, sites immediately allow users to re-enter an older date. For example, type in a birth date of 1990 and Mike’s Hard Lemonade site moans, “Oh, no, hit the pavement” — but still shows the date option. On the very same screen, change it to 1970: “Great, come on in,” it greets.

Why would teens want to, anyway? For kid-friendly features such as playing virtual air hockey (Mike’s Hard Lemonade); listening to free music (“mix, rate and send your favorite songs to a friend!” on; answering sports trivia (“It’s Game Time so grab a cold, fresh Budweiser”); and creating custom videos out of audio and video clips of scantily clad dancers holding bottles of Smirnoff Ice.

Minors visited alcohol Web sites nearly 700,000 times in the last six months of 2003, according to comScore Media Metrix. On two sites — and — underage visitors accounted for more than half of in-depth visits (viewing more than two screen pages), noted comScore, which provided its analysis to the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at Georgetown University.

Budweiser was the most popular, with some 90,000 visits each to and

“The alcohol industry’s Web presence remains largely a potential playground for underage youth with little if any adult supervision,” concluded the center’s 2004 report.

Judy Blume’s “Forever” is tame these days



Now books like the popular “Gossip Girl” series don’t bother with a moral at the end — or any morals, period. The back of one recent book quotes Teen People as saying the series is ” ‘Sex and the City’ for the younger set.”

It’s really more of an East Coast version of “The O.C.,” with wealthy high-schoolers — some as young as 14 — trading partners, cheating on friends, drinking liquor (both casually and to excess) and smoking cigarettes and pot. As one senior tells her boyfriend, “Just bring your toothbrush. I’ve got everything else covered. … Meaning the three Cs: champagne, caviar and condoms.”

The eighth book in the best-selling series by Cecily von Ziegesar, “Nothing Can Keep Us Together,” came out in October, followed by a spinoff, “The It Girl,” in November.

Most medicine cabinets are unlocked

In 2003, nearly one in 10 teens — a total of 2.3 million kids between ages 12 and 17 — said they had abused a prescription drug at least once in the previous year, according to a July 2005 report by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. That’s a 212 percent increase since 1992.

“The problem of abuse of controlled prescription drugs in America has grown under the counter and under the radar to the point where this abuse now eclipses abuse of all illicit drugs except marijuana,” the report noted.

Popular drugs include Vicodin, OxyContin, Ritalin and Adderall.

The percentage of teens who knew a friend or classmate who abused prescription drugs shot up 86 percent from 2004 to 2005, according to a CASA report released last summer.

Parents’ “easily accessible medicine cabinets containing these very drugs are an open invitation to children — fueling ‘pharming’ parties where teens bring drugs from home and trade or share for purposes of getting high,” wrote CASA Chairman Joseph A. Califano.

“Parental ignorance about the dangers of these drugs and failure to safeguard them (e.g., by locking their medicine cabinets) can yield inadvertent but devastating harm to their own children.”

Even “good” kids lie

Teens lie for three main reasons, explains Natalie Fuller, in “Promise You Won’t Freak Out: A Teenager Tells Her Mother the Truth about Boys, Booze, Body Piercing and Other Touchy Topics.” They want to do something they suspect parents would forbid; they’ve done something they’d get punished for; or “because we feel you are being so unreasonable that you don’t deserve the truth.”

The most common lies revolve around a teen’s plans: where, who and what they’re doing, Fuller writes. Another common deception is sneaking out of the house.

“Most of us aren’t evil, just practical: You have a rule that we want to break, and we don’t want you to know we’re breaking it,” she notes. “That’s why, if you care about your rules, it’s important to catch us.”

Parents matter

In survey after survey, parents rate peers as having the most sway on teens. But in survey after survey, teens themselves rank parents as their No. 1 influence.

In a 2004 National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy study, for example, less than a third of teens cited friends as having the most impact on their decisions about sex, compared to half of parents who thought that. Instead, nearly half of teens picked parents as most influential.

This crops up in other ways as well, as studies show teens strongly connected to their parents are less likely to abuse drugs and do better in school.

While parents often feel that teens dismiss anything they say, teens’ behavior indicates that they are often listening.

Teens who say their parents would only be “a little” or not upset at their use of marijuana are six times more likely to have tried pot than teens who believe their parents would be extremely upset, the 2005 CASA report found.

Teens who feel they can confide in their mother or both parents have the lowest risk for substance abuse, compared with teens who turn to other adults for serious problems.


Source:Stephanie Dunnewind: Jan.2006

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BY CECILIA OLECK Detroit Free Press

TROY, Mich. – Looking to add Trippy Krispy Treats to your holiday hors d’oeuvres list?

Until this week, you could find a recipe for the marijuana-laced sweets in a cookbook sold at the newly opened Urban Outfitters at the Somerset Collection mall in Troy, Mich.

But the hip store – which caters to the trendy high school and college crowd with cool clothes, edgy books and games, and funky home decorations – pulled “The Marijuana Chef Cookbook” by S.T. Oner after a Troy group complained. Teenagers and other shoppers “didn’t go there specifically to be exposed to that,” said Ann Comiskey , executive director of the Troy Community Coalition for the Prevention of Drug and Alcohol Abuse , the group that raised concerns to Urban Outfitters’ local managers. “They went there to buy clothes or a handbag. They went to buy a T-shirt and, `Oh, by the way, here’s a book on marijuana.’ ”

Calls to the Troy store were referred to the company’s Philadelphia headquarters. A spokeswoman there declined to comment. She would not say whether the book had been pulled from other stores. The cookbook was still available Friday on the retailer’s Web site,

The Urban Outfitters store in Ann Arbor, Mich., never got the cookbook, but an employee who answered the phone Friday said the store does sell a board game called “Weed the Game.” It’s not the first time the chain has been criticized for its merchandise. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People opposed its “Ghettopoly” game and the Anti-Defamation League objected to a T-shirt that read, “New Mexico, Cleaner than Regular Mexico.”

The retailer also was criticized when it sold a T-shirt reading “Voting Is for Old People” and another emblazoned with shopping bags and money signs that read “Everyone Loves a Jewish Girl.”

Coalition members were pleased that Urban Outfitters removed the marijuana cookbooks, but some shoppers didn’t understand the controversy. “If you don’t like something they’re selling, don’t buy it,” said 15-year-old Jay Savage of Clinton Township, Mich., who visited Urban Outfitters for the first time Wednesday with his mom and 18-year-old sister Natalie.

Jay said he hadn’t noticed any of the store’s edgier items, including drinking and sex card games, but that it wouldn’t have stopped him from going there for the clothes. But Comiskey said Urban Outfitters was sending the wrong message . “Selling books on how to do something illegal – like how to pack a good joint – that’s a risk for our kids.”

Source: Dec.2005

Parents can help to prevent paraphernalia promoting drug use from being sold alongside items which attract young people.   Complain loudly to the store managers and to the company headquarters. Examples of items seen in the UK stores are clothing items with ‘Mr. Spliffy’ embroidered on them, t-shirts with drug slogans such as ‘No Hope Without Dope’, costume jewellery featuring cannabis leaves, large green packs of Rizla cigarette papers, posters with do drug slogans – all of these items give a covert message to young people that illegal drugs are acceptable – attitudes are changed and drug use amongst our youth goes up.   Also going up are the incidents of drug related illnesses –from mental health problems and depression to heart attacks and HIV/Hep.C   Please visit the Research pages of this website to see how illegal drugs can adversely  affect individuals and societies.    Just think of the amount of money being spent in our NHS on methadone, injecting needles, and drug related illnesses……no wonder operations are being cancelled.  

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Have You Done These With Your Teen Yet?

1.. Set Rules Have you set clear rules and let your teen know that marijuana use is unacceptable? Two-thirds of kids say that upsetting their parents or losing the respect of family and friends is one of the main reasons they don’t smoke marijuana or use other drugs. Set limits with clear consequences for breaking them. Praise and reward good behaviour.

2.. Understand and Communicate Have you talked to your teen in the past month about the harmful physical, mental and social effects of marijuana and other illicit drugs effects on young users? Young people who learn about the risks of drugs at home are up to 50 % less likely to try drugs than their peers who learn nothing from their parents. Look for teachable moments in everyday life to keep the conversation ongoing.

3. Monitor Your Teen’s Activities and Behaviours Have you checked to see where your teen is, who he is with, and what he is doing? Teens who are not regularly monitored by their parents are four times more likely to use drugs. Sometimes surprise your teen by checking up to make sure they are where they say they are.

4. Make Sure You Stay Involved in Your Teen’s Life Have you talked to your teen’s coach, employer and friends lately? Stay in touch with the adult supervisors of your child (camp counselors, coaches, employers) and have them inform you of any changes in your teen.

5. Engage Your Teen In Summer Activities Have you helped plan activities to keep your teen busy? Research shows that teens who are involved in constructive and adult-supervised activities are less likely to use drugs.

6.. Reserve Time For Family Have you planned a family activity with your teen in the corning weeks, such as going to movies together, taking a walk, or sharing a meal? Teens who spend time, talk and have a close relationship with their parents are much less likely to drink, take drugs or have sex.

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Extract from Jeff Weise’s online Journal – “I’m a Stoner”

As authorities try to figure out what stoked Jeff Weise’s rage enough to drive him to kill nine people and then himself, perhaps the teen summed it up best himself. Yet another front page story of murder being committed by someone who, from his online journal, admits to being a regular user of cannabis

“I’m nothin’ but your average Native American stoner,” he wrote in his bio on the site. “I’m mellow half the time, mostly natural, but mostly drug induced as well. I’m not a junkie, or an alcoholic, MJ is my gal’ of choice. Enough about that though, I don’t know why you’re reading this anyway. I’m gonna roll this joint so I’ll c’ya later….”

Source: or 651-228-5551.

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ONDCP Alerts Parents: Marijuana Use Spikes When School’s Out.  More Teens Try Marijuana During the Summer Than Any Other Time of Year

(Washington, D.C.)—White House Drug Czar John P. Walters warned parents today that first-time marijuana use among teens increases dramatically during the summer. According to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there is a 38 % increase in marijuana initiation during June, July and August, compared to the rest of the year. The survey’s data are taken from the most recent National Survey on Drug Youth and Health.

“It’s a fact that more teens try marijuana for the first time during the summer months. Parents need to be especially vigilant over the next few months and help keep their kids drug-free.” said John P. Walters, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. “Marijuana use is especially harmful for teens, because their bodies and brains are still developing.”

Having more unsupervised and unstructured time in the summer may trigger teens to take the risk of smoking marijuana. Research shows that unmonitored teens are four times more likely to use marijuana or engage in other risky behaviors. Teens who report they are “often bored” are 50% more likely to smoke, drink, get drunk, and use illegal drugs than teens who aren’t. Teens with summer jobs are also at risk for drug use because of increased disposable income and exposure to older co-workers.

“Parents play a crucial role in keeping their kids drug-free” said Phillippe Cunningham, Ph.D., family therapist at the University of South Carolina. “We know that teens of parents who keep a close eye on them and ask them where they are going, what they’re doing and when they’ll be home, are less likely to use marijuana. Even if your teen is busy with a summer job, keep close tabs on them. This is a risky time of year.”

Research shows that parents are the most powerful influence on their teen when it comes to drugs. In fact, two-thirds of youth ages 13–17 say fear of upsetting their parents or losing the respect of family and friends is one of the main reasons they don’t smoke marijuana or use other drugs.

More teens use marijuana than all other illicit drugs combined. Research shows that marijuana can be addictive and lead to a host of health, social, learning, and behavioral problems at a crucial time in young lives. Shortened attention spans, decreased energy and ambition, depression, suicidal thoughts, breathing problems and exposure to cancerous chemicals are just a few of them. Additionally, the marijuana that teens use today has more than twice the concentration of THC, the chemical that affects the brain, than the marijuana of 20 years ago.

On the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign’s Web site for parents,, adults can learn how to prevent their children from using marijuana. Pointers include setting clear “no-drug rules,” monitoring their teen’s behavior, reserving time for family and encouraging participation in summer activities.

Parents can access a Summer Plan Worksheet that will help them plan activities for the children over the summer, as well as finding a list of supervised summer programs. Parents can also take the “Does Your Summer Plan Stand Up to the Heat?” quiz.

In 1998, with the bipartisan support of Congress and the President, ONDCP created the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, an effort designed to educate and empower youth to reject illicit drugs. Counting on an unprecedented blend of public and private partnerships, non-profit community service organizations, volunteerism, and youth-to-youth communications, the Campaign is designed to reach Americans of diverse backgrounds with effective anti-drug messages.

For more information on the ONDCP National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, visit


Source: Jennifer deVallance ONDCP, (202) 395–6618 Press Release 13th June 2005

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Parents, school administrators, and students are counted among the fans of substance-free dorms, which ban the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

The New York Times reported Nov. 6 that it is often parents who sign their kids up to live in a drug-free dorm. “If your parents are looking over your shoulders when you fill out the housing forms, you want to look good,” said George Awkward III, a senior at Washington and Lee University. “I thought I would see what it’s like, and my mom said, ‘You need it.’ We kind of made the decision together.”

Such dorms are now available at dozens of colleges nationally. Some see a disconnect between the concept and the fact that students under 21 are not legally allowed to drink, anyway. But the drinking law is widely flouted, and researchers say that students in drug-free dorms are less likely to binge drink than their peers, and less apt to suffer drinking-related problems like poor grades, encounters with police, or accepting rides with drunk drivers.

“The best bet for students who come into college and want to avoid the secondhand effects of drinking, like having their studying interrupted or having property vandalized, is to request substance-free residences,” said study author Henry Wechsler, director of the College Alcohol Studies project at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Even some students who drink like the idea of drug-free dorms. “Sometimes it’s parent driven, but a lot of times it’s students who drink socially but don’t want to live in a climate where there’s a lot of drunkenness around them,” said Alan Levy, director of housing public affairs at the University of Michigan.

Some schools have taken the concept a step further, offering “recovery” dorms for students previously treated for addiction. “I was in residential treatment for part of my time in high school,” said one junior at Earlham College. “When I got to college, I didn’t want to have to worry about having all that stuff in my face. I’ve been in wellness housing my whole time here. I could handle normal housing now, but I like the people I live with, and there’s a very good atmosphere.”

Freshmen tend to find drug-free dorms the most appealing. Schools like the dorms not only because of the message they send but because they suffer about half the property damage than “wet” dorms. 

Source: New York Times reported Nov. 6 2005

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Just as Teens Confront New Drug Threats and Changing Landscape, New Cohort of Parents Carry Lax Attitudes, Less Concern About Drug Risks Facing Kids, Talk Less With Teens About Drugs

New York, NY. /PRNewswire/ – When it comes to today’s parents and their views about drugs, it appears old attitudes are like old habits — they die hard, and sometimes, not at all.

In its 17th annual tracking study of parents’ attitudes toward drugs and teen drug use, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America today reports that the current generation of parents – the most drug-experienced group on record – sees less risk in a wide variety of illicit drugs, and are significantly less likely to be talking with their teens about drug abuse, when compared to moms and dads just a few years ago.

“While the vast majority of parents have left old habits behind, they’re carrying old attitudes and beliefs forward,” said Steve Pasierb, president & CEO of the Partnership. “If old habits die hard, the data suggest that lax attitudes about drugs die even harder.”

Released today at a press briefing in New York, the 2004 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) surveyed 1,205 parents across the country (margin of error = +/- 2.8 %). Top-line findings of the nationally projectable study(1) show:

” Today’s parents see less risk in drugs like marijuana, cocaine and even inhalants, when compared to parents just a few years ago.

” The number of parents who report never talking with their child about drugs has doubled in the past six years, from 6% in 1998 to 12% in 2004.

” Just 51 % of today’s parents said they would be upset if their child experimented with marijuana.

” While most parents believe it’s important that parents discuss drugs with their children, fewer than one in three teens (roughly 30%) say they’ve learned a lot about the risks of drugs at home.

Many of today’s parents (those with pre-teens and teens) were high school students themselves during the late ’70s and early ’80s — a period when teen drug use reached its absolute high point.(2) In fact, when compared to high school seniors today, teen drug use rates were significantly higher in the late ’70s and early ’80s. “It’s not all that uncommon today to come across teenagers who’ve never use drugs who have parents who have,” Pasierb said.
% have tried marijuana at least once in their lives, according to the Partnership’s study. Significant %ages report trying other illicit substances as well.

Despite their first-hand knowledge about the issue, the Partnership’s study finds that today’s parents significantly underestimate the presence of drugs in their teens’ lives.

” Just one in five parents (21 %) believes their teenager has friends who use marijuana. Yet 62% of teens report having friends who use the drug.

” Fewer than one in five parents (18%) believe their teen has smoked marijuana, yet many more (39%)

  already are experimenting with the drug.

” This perceptual disconnect is even more pronounced when it comes to drugs that weren’t around when today’s parents were teenagers. Only one in every 100 parents — 1% — believes their teen may have used MDMA, commonly referred to as Ecstasy. The reality is quite different: Some nine % of all teens — 2.1 million teens in America — used Ecstasy for the first time last year, down from a peak of 12% in 2001.

Pasierb noted that the drug scene in America is vastly different today than it was back in the late ’70s and ’80s. “Alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine — parents know these drugs,” he said. “Today’s teens, however, are exposed to new drugs of abuse — Ecstasy, GHB, crystal meth and increasingly, a wide variety of prescription and over-the-counter medications. In total, parents are seeing less risk in a variety of drugs and fewer parents are talking with kids just when teens are facing new drugs and new drug threats. All of this adds up to a potentially dangerous convergence in the trends — one that we must interrupt.”

The Partnership’s tracking data underscore the powerful influence parents can have on teen decision-making about drugs. Teens who report learning a lot about the risks of drugs at home are up to half as likely to use drugs, according to the data.

“To be clear, parents don’t want their kids using drugs – any drugs,” Pasierb said. “But the data tell us today’s parents don’t regard drug use as seriously as past generations of parents. Our challenge is getting parents to look at this issue anew, and in ways that penetrate their current beliefs and attitudes.”


Source: The Partnership for a Drug-Free America – Thursday, February 24, 2005

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Prevention in the home works for children of tobacco users, new study shows.

Parents who can’t quit smoking can still take decisive action to prevent their kids from smoking, according to new research.

A three-year study found that kids whose parents smoke were half as likely to try cigarettes if their parents instituted a home-based anti-smoking program. The study of 776 children and their parents Parents’ smoking habits can greatly increase the risk of their children smoking. Research shows that if one or both parents smoke, children may have at least twice the risk of becoming habitual smokers by the time they graduate from high school.

“The fact that parents who smoke can exert a protective anti-smoking effect on their children might seem counter-intuitive,” said study author Christine Jackson, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at PIRE Chapel Hill Center. “Other research has already found that strong parental attitudes and actions against smoking reduce the odds of children using tobacco. Our study found that the same is true even when the parents themselves are smokers.”

Parents, not peers or siblings, are the primary socializing influences during the childhood years, particularly when it comes to personal activities such as diet, physical activity, media use, sexuality and substance abuse, including tobacco use.

But, socializing kids against smoking requires much more than just telling them not to do it. The anti-smoking program that was studied, Smoke-Free Kids, consists of six activity guides for parents and their children ages 8-10 that include games, contests and role-playing. The purpose is to increase effective communication about smoking between parents and kids, including an honest exchange about the parents’ smoking history and addiction and why that relates to expected abstinence among children.

Smoke-Free Kids was not designed to get parents to quit smoking, although 15 percent of the parents involved did quit by the end of the three-year study. However, whether or not a parent quit smoking did not have an impact on the program’s success in deterring kids from smoking.

“Parents who smoke feel guilty about being role models for smoking; they feel hypocritical about trying to prevent their children from smoking,” Jackson said. “For these reasons, it’s difficult to persuade parents who smoke to become anti-smoking advocates in the home.”

Still, most parents who smoke ardently hope that their children do not smoke, she said. “Public health educators and pediatricians should make a special effort to help parents who smoke take action, so that their children won’t face the same deadly health threat that they face,” Jackson said.

The study and the research evaluating it were funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Cancer Institute.

PIRE, or Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, is a national nonprofit public health research institute with centers in seven cities and funded primarily by federal grants and contracts.


Source: ‘Enabling Parents Who Smoke to Prevent Their Children From Initiating Smoking: Results from a Three-year Intervention Evaluation’. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine,
a journal of the American Medical Association. Dec/Jan2006

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NEW YORK (AP) — One of the hottest-selling T-shirts around the country shows a simply drawn snowman with a menacing expression.

It’s not Frosty’s evil twin. The image popularized by drug-dealer-turned-rapper Young Jeezy symbolizes those who sell a white substance known on the street as snow: cocaine.

Anti-drug campaigners and education officials are alarmed, saying the T-shirt and others like it are part of sophisticated marketing campaigns using coded symbols for drug culture that parents and teachers are not likely to understand. Some schools are banning kids from wearing the snowman images.

“The snowman is made of white, grainy stuff like sugar,” said 12-year-old seventh-grader Mailik Mason, standing next to his mother in a Manhattan store selling the snowman shirts. “It has to do with a certain drug, crack or coke.”

Young Jeezy’s hit debut album, “Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101,” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard album charts. On one of his songs he raps, “Get it? Jeezy the Snowman / I’m iced out, plus I got that snow, man.”

The shirt was first produced solely for Jeezy by Miskeen Originals, a hip-hop fashion firm in New Jersey, the company says. The owner, Yaniv Zaken, says his artists produced a handful for the rapper to wear on TV appearances.

They then sold a larger batch to retailers, but pulled them when Zaken discovered that his employees had not licensed the T-shirt from Jeezy.

“I wasn’t sure what the snowman meant until the artist explained to me that it was a drug dealer, the man delivering snow,” Zaken said. “Now everyone is selling the snowman — all unlicensed. It’s become a street-hood hit worldwide.”

A spokesman for Young Jeezy’s record label, Def Jam Records, confirmed that the rapper held the rights to the snowman image but declined to comment on complaints that it was sending children the wrong message.

“This is part of a phenomena in which parents have no idea what their children are exposed to. There is a code that children are aware of but not parents,” says Sue Rusche, president and CEO of the anti-drug group National Families In Action.

Rusche’s organization has tried to pressure companies that they believed were targeting children with drug messages, like fashion companies marketing “heroin chic” in the 1990s. She was unaware of the snowman T-shirt.

Mason says he’d like to have a snowman T-shirt — but that his school in Brooklyn has banned it. His mother, Autherine Mason, 34, said she had been unaware of the snowman’s meaning and wouldn’t buy it for her son now that she knows.

Dr. Gilbert Botvin, director of the Institute for Prevention Research at Cornell University Medical College, has been studying what influences children to use drugs and alcohol. He believes that pop culture does play a role.

“The research tells us that influences coming from the media can have a profound effect on kids and influence them to use drugs,” he says. “All of these things help to convey the impression that engaging in these behaviors using drugs is normal and that drugs might help you be successful or sexy or something.”

Botvin says parents need to educate themselves about the media their kids are consuming and pressure schools to monitor what messages they allow students to advertise.

But sometimes it’s hard to overcome the buzz on the street.

Ali Kourani, a Manhattan wholesale salesman, says the T-shirt is their top seller across the country.

“It’s big money,” Kourani said.

This story replicates a similar situation in the UK several years ago.  Many youngsters were wearing clothing items (t-shirts, hats, sweatshirts) with a ‘Mr. Spliffy’ logo.  Most parents were unaware that this was a pro-drug message – a ‘spliff’ being a term for cannabis joint. Some younger children may not themselves have known that the items were promoting drug use – but many teens thought it fun to persuade parents to buy them items because they were ‘fashionable’ – knowing the parents would not have done so if they had known the truth. Though Mr.Spliffy has thankfully disappeared , most street markets and cheap clothing shops still sell posters, jewellery, ashtrays and clothing items covered in cannabis leaf logos or druggy slogans such as ‘No Hope Without Dope’ or similar.   All these items help to ‘normalise’ drug use.      NDPA


Source: November 2005

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Some parents oppose school drug testing as an invasion of privacy and waste of resources. Others praise the idea. A new home-testing campaign initiated by gives parents responsibility for safer schools along with administrators.

St. Louis, Mo. (PRWEB) January 10, 2006 — Random drug testing programs initiated by schools have turned some parents into adversaries instead of allies over privacy issues, depleted scarce resources, and been applied only to students in extracurricular activities. An alternative approach unveiled by solves each of those problems by placing responsibility with parents rather than the school districts to which they belong.

In addition to reducing many of the problems related to substance abuse, this approach rewards participating schools by sharing revenue as well. Since school districts don’t administer or pay for drug testing, resources are preserved and liability is avoided.

According to Mason Duchatschek, the Executive Director of, pressure often increases once kids say no to drugs, alcohol, or tobacco. The words “My parents test me” stop pushy peers in their tracks and give every teen the “socially acceptable” excuse they need. To ensure accuracy, home-based testing kits utilize the same technologies found in labs and medical clinics across the country.

Financial and moral decisions regarding drug testing are placed in the hands of parents to protect their children’s privacy. Privately, parents can detect their children’s usage before law enforcement officers, school officials, or potential employers do and—most importantly—before addictions set in.

Additional resources for parents and school officials regarding this program are available for free at


Source: Jan.2006

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At a time schools across the country are doing everything they can to fight drugs in schools, in Knoxville, Tennessee, one school has found a way. Scott County has taken a STAND against drugs.

Sarah Byrd is a senior at Scott High School. She and most students here have been randomly tested for drugs since they started high school. “I really like it because they test each and every student that signs the papers, and it lets people know who is on drugs and who is not. It makes me feel better when I know who is safe and who is not,” said Sarah Byrd.

The program is called STAND, Schools Together Allowing No Drugs. Scott County and Oneida city schools were the first in the state to start a drug testing program. “We think it’s very effective. It has actually become a routine part of our instructional program here,” said Scott High School principal Sharon Wilson.

Students are randomly tested if they have any privileges, like playing sports or even parking in the school parking lot. If their parents will not give consent for testing, students are not allowed to participate in extra curricular activities.

“It’s done discreetly. It’s not meant to embarrass or stigmatize children, it’s an avenue to get them some help, it’s an early intervention program,” said Wilson.

If students test positive, they are not punished, they get counseling.

“The reaction that we have found has been one of support and enthusiasm, especially by the parents,” said Wilson. Judge Jamie Cotton started the program in 2001.

“We’re seeing a steep decline in the number of recidivism, the repeat offenders, and in the number of positive tests overall,” said Judge Cotton.

Some were hesitant at first, but with education, more parents and students like STAND.

“If you want privileges from the school, you need to abide by their rules,” said Sarah.

Officials say it has improved students’ behavior and decreased the drug problem.

Judge cotton says many other counties in East Tennessee and other states are interested in the program.

For more information about the STAND program, call the director, Trent Coffey, at (423) 286-9925.

 Source: www.WBIR.COM April 2005

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More parents are purchasing drug-testing kits to use on their children, the Wall Street Journal reported June 2.  U.S. sales of home drug-test kits have more than doubled since 2003, with annual sales now around $20 million. Retailers like Wal-Mart sell the kits, and companies like Pharmatech have brought to market testing products with a price tag within reach of most parents — $14.95 to $29.95. For parents who are squeamish about asking their kids for a urine sample, Psychemedics sells a home hair-testing kit.

Some parents augment drug testing with other means of keeping tabs on their kids, such as reading their e-mail or checking their cellphone logs. “The technology for monitoring family members is robust and it’s getting stronger all the time,” said Robert McCrie, a professor of security management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

Parents who use the drug tests say that their concerns for the safety of their children regarding issues like drug use or drunk driving sometimes outweigh the issue of trust between parent and child. Many see the tests as a deterrent, and some kids say the tests give them a good excuse to say ‘no’ to their drug-using friends.

But addiction experts worry that the home tests can be less than accurate, although some products offer mail-in confirmation at certified labs. Parents can also ask a pediatrician to conduct the test, although many doctors may be reluctant to do so, said Harris B. Stratyner, clinical director of addiction at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.


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The company’s marketing materials describe the drink as a way to kick-start the morning for children as young as 4. The company Web site, adorned with a picture of an elementary school wrestler and a gymnast, says its drink can help a child “develop fully as a high-performance athlete” and fill nutritional gaps “in a sport that is physically and mentally demanding.”

The drink, called Spark, contains several stimulants and is sold in two formulations: one for children 4 to 11 years old that includes roughly the amount of caffeine found in a cup and a half of coffee, and one containing twice that amount for teenagers and adults. Despite the promotional materials, Sidney Stohs and Rick Loy, executives with AdvoCare International of Texas, which makes the products, said Spark was not devised or marketed for children’s athletic performance but rather for their overall good health.


“It’s not just a caffeine delivery system; it has many more nutritional properties,” said Stohs, senior vice president for research and development at AdvoCare, the nation’s leading company in direct marketing of dietary supplements for athletes.
Source : The NewYork Times

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FRIDAY, Dec. 9 (HealthDay News) — Peer pressure isn’t the only major factor influencing whether teens use drugs. Parents also play an important role, a new study finds.

“Much of the previous research in this area shows that adolescents make their decisions about drugs based on influence from their friends. But those studies neglect the notion we found here, that some of the family characteristics help determine who teens associated with,” study lead author Stephen Bahr, a professor of sociology at Brigham Young University, explained in a prepared statement.

“We also found that some steps taken by parents had a direct effect on lowering drug abuse, even in the face of peer influences,” he said.

The study of more than 4,000 students in grades seven through 12 found that:


  • For each degree of tolerance (on a five-point scale) toward marijuana that teens perceive in their parents, there is a 33 percent increase in frequency of teen marijuana use.
  • Frequency of marijuana use declines 10 percent for each degree that teens perceive their parents are monitoring their activities, even after taking into account peer influence.
  • Risk of illegal drug use is reduced by 14 percent for each degree that teens believe parents are monitoring their activities.

The study also found that siblings have a major impact on teen drug use. Having an older sibling who used marijuana was associated with a 58 percent increased likelihood that a teen would also use the drug.

The findings appear in the current issue of the Journal of Primary Prevention.

“The fact that parents can make a difference in peer choices, or even after those peer choices are made, is an important message to get out there. Parents, you shouldn’t throw up your hands, even if you find out your kids are starting to hang around with kids who use drugs,” study co-author and sociology professor John Hoffman said in a prepared statement.

He and Bahr suggest that parents can monitor their teens by asking questions such as: Who are your friends? Whose house are you going to? What will you be doing? Which adults will be around? When will you be home?

Source: Dec.2005, HealthDay News

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The article below is of interest since it shows how the pro-drug legalisers will attempt to infiltrate existing groups and use the members to push their philosophy. Retired people usually include grandparents – the vast majority of whom do not want their younger family members involved in drug use. Perhaps those of us working in drug prevention could utilise existing groups and get them to help us promote healthier, drug-free lifestyles.

From Pot to Porn to AARP

By Cliff Kincaid December 29, 2004

The American Association for Retired Persons now calls itself simply “AARP” because some members are offended by the term “retired” and it wants to appeal to younger Americans. But the organization is now trying to explain a far more serious and deceptive practice. It hired an admitted former drug user and dealer as an editor of its 22-million circulation magazine. He has emerged as a spokesman on the so-called “medical marijuana” issue, telling America that seniors might benefit from smoking dope.

AARP confirmed AARP magazine editor Ed Dwyer’s curious background, saying that he wrote for High Times magazine and Playboy but had also done work for “quality” publications. AARP said his resumé didn’t include a stint as a writer for Penthouse, but there are several references to that in the public record. What’s more, AARP magazine top editor Steven Slon also worked for Penthouse. It turns out he and Dwyer are old friends.

High in America, a book taking an inside look at the drug culture, reported that High Times was described by its founder, drug smuggler Tom Forcade, as being like a “sleazy carnival” with “pills in one room, grass in another, coke in another room, nitrous in the next room, glue in another room, and so on down the hall.”

Dwyer didn’t respond to my emails and telephone calls. But emerging as a national spokesman for the magazine, Dwyer was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that “The use of medical marijuana applies to many older Americans who may benefit from cannabis.” An article and poll results on the issue will appear in the March-April issue. Slon says Dwyer helped edit the marijuana article and claims that it is a balanced treatment, but he wouldn’t provide an advance copy.

The poll results were released in advance, generating widespread coverage with Tonight Show comedian Jay Leno cracking, “Nearly 75 percent of elderly Americans approve of the legalization of medical marijuana. And you thought grandpa used to forget stuff before!” But it’s not a laughing matter to anti-drug activists who recognize the use of marijuana cigarettes for “health” reasons as a ploy to soften opposition to the legalization of pot.

Slon claims Dwyer’s drug use is a thing of the past and AARP says that he worked for High Times years ago, from 1974-1978. However, he also authored a piece for the December 2004 “anniversary” edition of the magazine about how High Times “was a dope-fueled mission” for him. Dwyer didn’t disavow his early drug-taking years and, in fact, speaks fondly of “the memories and opportunities.”

For those who have never seen a copy, High Times features centerfold pictures of illegal substances, like Playboy features women exposing their private parts. The “sex was plentiful” and the work, Dwyer wrote, was “most rewarding when we got to sample the centerfolds,” naming several varieties of dope. He said that some of his best story ideas “came out of a balloonful” of nitrous oxide or laughing gas.

High Times founder Tom Forcade, he said, would “give me pounds of marijuana or hash to peddle…” but Dwyer gave most of it back because he wasn’t good at dealing drugs. However, he took the job when Forcade gave him “a bag of Colombian” marijuana as an inducement.

Dwyer reveals that Forcade would talk only “half-jokingly” in admiring terms about such figures as North Korea’s Kim Il Sung, Hitler, and Juan Peron of Argentina. He eventually committed suicide, but Dwyer survived, bouncing from job to job until he has ended up at what is now called “AARP The Magazine.” The old name, “Modern Maturity,” was dropped because it was too bland. The new version is apparently modeled after ESPN The Magazine and designed to be fashionable and youth-oriented. But AARP may have become too slick for its own good by hiring veterans of the counter-culture and using seniors in a deceptive campaign to peddle dope.

With the assistance of Jeanette McDougal of Drug Watch International, anti-drug activists Joyce Nalepka and Dee Rathbone uncovered the Dwyer connection when they read how AARP had “decided to study” the issue of “medical marijuana.” They said, “To those of us who’ve known for years that High Times magazine is a virtual market place for all things pro-drug, including marijuana seeds, mushroom spores, and drug paraphernalia, we had to wonder how many grandparents who participated in this AARP poll were aware what they were voting to support. We suspect very few have any idea. Grandparents are the most anti-drug segment of our society.”

Perhaps this is why seniors have been targeted with a poll that is being used to push dope. Forcade, if he were alive, would be proud of AARP The Magazine

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The BBC’s Panorama programme. Cannabis: what teenagers need to know will explore the latest scientific research on the effects of cannabis on the human mind and links between cannabis and psychosis. It will meet young people for whom cannabis use is a way of life, and speak to scientists who are examining how cannabis may alter young minds. According to producers, ‘our children are smoking cannabis earlier and smoking more of it than any previous generation. Britain has the highest proportion of young people using cannabis of any European country – 38 per cent will have tried the drug by the time they are sixteen. ‘Most don’t even think of it as a drug, and the popular perception is that it has no serious long-term effects. The truth is, until recently, very little was known about how cannabis actually affects the adolescent brain.’ The programme will explore this in detail, an readers are invited to contribute comments and experiences on the issue to a site being developed on the BBC’s website

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The government’s decision that cannabis should remain a Class C drug came as it accepted it could trigger serious mental illness. Here, one father tells the traumatic story of how cannabis turned his bright and promising teenage son into a wreck.

My son James was always a popular teenager. He had masses of friends, was good at sport, and was also intelligent and handsome. Like many boys in their teens, he was constantly going out to meet friends, arrange football or cricket games or see his long-term girlfriend. He’d done well at school with 10 GCSEs and three A-levels, and he went off to Southampton University to study history and politics. He was following the fine example of his sister Joanne, who had been to Nottingham University and was doing well in public relations.

I remember thinking one sunny day seven years ago that life was good, and couldn’t get much better. I had a good job as a journalist, a great wife, and two lovely children. I was proud of both of my kids and thought they had a great future ahead of them.

But I hadn’t reckoned on cannabis.

I didn’t know of the damage it would inflict on my son and my whole family. I didn’t know then that it would ruin his life and he would be plunged into a deep and dark nightmare, which has still not ended. My wife and I knew that James had smoked some cannabis when he was younger, and was still dabbling in it. But we were not aware of the dangers he faced from the drug.

In fact, when I was a student at university in the 1970s I had tried it. Unlike Bill Clinton, I had inhaled. But I never smoked regularly and hadn’t touched the stuff for decades. When we suddenly found out there was a problem, it was unexpected and dramatic. My son had just finished his first year at university, and it was the summer break. When we returned from a weekend away, we found our son was a different person. It was as though someone had stolen my lovely James overnight. He was talking weirdly, his thoughts were all over the place, he was having hallucinations, and was totally paranoid. He thought people and vampires were after him. But it was going to get a lot worse, and I’m still waiting for my son to fully return to me.


We found out that James had started smoking cannabis regularly from the age of 15. He was very good at hiding it and controlling himself when he’d been smoking. He’d even given it up when he sat his exams.

But at university he went wild, spending around £5,000 ($8,854) in one year on cannabis, much of it on “skunk weed” – a particularly potent variety of the drug, that’s between 10 to 30 times stronger than ordinary cannabis. It had literally blown his mind. Some experts claim that for many younger people who have “drug induced psychosis”, like my son, this sort of mental illness would have happened anyway. That is total rubbish. He was a perfectly normal boy, until this happened.

Once we knew he was really ill, we tried to get help for him, but in our West Country town the doctors and psychiatrists were hopeless. We paid for him to see a child psychiatrist, and after he put James on some anti-psychotic drugs things began to calm down. James took a year out of university, but it took about six months to wean him off cannabis, as he was psychologically dependent on it.

Just over a year after his breakdown, he went back to Southampton. We were hoping this would all be forgotten; just a bad memory. We were wrong. James was clean of the drugs but he was still terribly paranoid. He started to focus on food, and thought people were trying to poison him, so he stopped eating properly.

Weight loss

By Christmas his weight had fallen dramatically, from 11 stone to just over seven stone (154 lb to 98 lb). He’d given up sport, his girlfriend had left him after five years, and many of his friends had given up on him. Although he managed to pass his exams, and finish his second year at college, by the summer things were not looking good. James went to stay with his sister in America, but then stopped taking his medication and started drinking. When he got home it was clear things were going off the rails. He was getting angry and violent, and we were worried he might harm himself.

Eventually, just before the following Christmas, he was so bad we had to section him under the Mental Health Act (court order to have person taken, against their will if necessary, for evaluation). It was the worst day of my life, and the authorities made it even worse by screwing up the arrangements. He barricaded himself into his bedroom and it took 10 police officers dressed in full riot gear to smash his door down and drag him off to hospital. They thought he was a danger, but he wouldn’t have hurt a mouse.

Succumb to treatment

It took another trip to hospital a year later, before James finally realised he needed to take some sort of medication to stay stable. That was over four years ago, which I’m told is a hopeful sign. Since then he has not only given up all drugs, but also cigarettes and even alcohol. Things are slowly getting better, but sometimes the progress is glacial. He still cannot hold down a full-time job and his paranoia can be powerful and debilitating.

What appalled me about David Blunkett’s decision two years ago to downgrade cannabis to a Class C drug is the signal it sends to our young people. My own son told me: “It’s okay Dad, it’s herbal and organic.”

That may be so, but as our experience shows, cannabis is anything but harmless. Comments made online in response to article:

Like most kids, I dabbled with Cannabis but grew out of it. The friends that carried on and got in to it heavily are now a shadow of their former selves; heads always hung low, not very coherent, very slow reaction to anything. It’s actually a real chore to see them now and these are guys I grew up with and had a laugh with.


This upsetting story is not isolated. My experiences of psychiatry as a medical student showed that there were virtually no cases of paranoid mental illness in which cannabis did not play a role of some kind. If you ask many psychiatrists working in the area they will tell you that cannabis is worse than heroin as a cause of mental illness and behavioural problems.
Charlie, Oxford

I agree. A family member changed beyond all recognition due to long term cannabis use. He was once the life and soul of a party and full of life. Now he’s a shadow of his former self suffering severe anxiety and depression.
M, Hastings

I completely agree. My ex-partner, with whom I have a son, used to have so many friends, and I loved being with him. He regularly smoked cannabis prior to our son being born, but I thought it was controllable. He became violent, paranoid, slept all day, could not even get a job due to not getting out of bed, let alone hold one down. So many people believe it is harmless, but when you see the dramatic changes in someone like I have, you would disagree.
Louise, Lancashire England

Source: From BBC NEWS 01/20/2006

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Ofelia Madrid
When the Paradise Valley Unified School District recently announced that it would hand out free drug-testing kits to parents of seventh-grade students, district officials did it with confidence.

They had surveyed middle school parents about the idea, and the results were overwhelmingly supportive. That’s why Jim Lee, director of student services for the district, was disappointed when fewer than 100 parents from the two pilot schools showed up for a meeting to get the free test.

District officials and, which is working with Paradise Valley, hoped as many as 800 parents would show.

Passing out free drug-testing kits in Arizona middle schools comes at a time when Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is recommending school boards across the county implement random drug testing at the high school level. And the Scottsdale Unified School District is considering bringing drug-sniffing dogs to high school campuses.

The low turnout hasn’t deterred founder Debbie Moak. Plans to expand Project 7th Grade nationwide are already in the works.

Even though parents from Desert Shadows Middle School and Vista Verde Middle School seemed cool to the idea, the phone has been ringing off the hook, she said.

“We’re getting calls from other states, asking, ‘Do we have to wait until fall? We need this now,’ ” Moak said.

The program will next move to Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Boston, California, Arkansas and Rhode Island.

Other states have experimented with giving away home drug-testing kits. A high school near Dallas has given out about 300 tests in three years. A Utah school district sells the kits for $7 and communities in Michigan also sell them. In 2003, a Wyoming school board purchased 100 kits and made them available to parents.

Parent Renee Weiss was recently getting ready to attend the Desert Shadows meeting, when her husband asked, “Why are you going to this?”

Their daughter, who is in the seventh grade, gets good grades and Weiss knows all her friends. There’s no reason to suspect that her daughter would even consider using drugs.

Still, Weiss wanted to get the information and the free drug-testing kit.

“We may not need this in our house, but even if it just opens a conversation, that’s a good thing,” Weiss said.

At the school meetings, parents are given drug-abuse information along with the multidrug test, to use in their homes. The urine test screens for marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and opiates. Parents get results within 8 minutes.

Many of the parents will probably do what Weiss plans to do: not rush home to use it, but to use it to talk to her daughter.

“We have a great community of kids, but there is the underlying stress to get good grades and social pressures,” she said. “It’s a very interesting age. I think it’s a good idea if it’s used as a preventive measure.”

Students in middle school are under tremendous peer pressure, said Desert Shadows Principal Carol Kendrick.

“I do believe the earlier we can get students to start talking about this, the earlier we can prevent it,” she said. “It’s not that we want to catch the child with a drug problem, but help them.”

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne said he favors the effort to keep students drug-free.

“Seventh grade is the right grade, because unhappily that’s when the bad habits start,” he said.

Horne was school board president of the Paradise Valley School District for many years and helped the district become a leader in the area of drug-testing high school students. It became the first district in the state to adopt a random drug-testing policy for athletes in 1991. The district spends about $21,000 per year testing 400 to 500 high school students. Queen Creek and Show Low school districts also test.

It’s not known yet whether Project 7th Grade will expand to the rest of the Paradise Valley middle schools in the fall, but Moak is hopeful.

“We have left the kits with the district and are willing to come back in and provide the education,” she said. “This isn’t just about sending home a test kit. We want to educate and prevent substance abuse. We want parents to know there are resources for getting help at all different levels.”



Source: The Arizona Republic May. 9, 2005

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Florida State University’s (FSU’s) efforts to curb college drinking reveals the lengths to which the alcohol industry will go to enforce its own philosophy regarding prevention, the Wall Street Journal reported Oct. 14.

At FSU, three students have died from alcohol-related causes since 1999. This year, a Harvard School of Public Health survey found that 57 percent of FSU undergraduates said they drink solely “to get drunk.” The survey also found that 53 percent of FSU students binge drink.

In addition, FSU was named the nation’s top “party school” by the popular college guide, the Princeton Review, for the second time in four years.

With a five-year, $700,000 grant from the Princeton, N.J.-based Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), FSU formed the Partnership for Alcohol Responsibility in 1999. Its goal was to develop a plan that would prohibit “ladies drink free” nights and other discount specials, ban underage students from entering bars, and toughen penalties for establishments serving anyone under age 21.

The coalition was comprised of faculty members, students, civic leaders, bar owners, and others. FSU President Talbot D’Alemberte had urged the coalition to involve Susie Busch-Transou, vice-president of Tri-Eagle Sales, the local Anheuser distributorship and daughter of the chairman of Anheuser-Busch Cos. The group declined to name her to the partnership; however, Busch-Transou attended all of the coalition’s public meetings.

The coalition also approached the local alcohol industry for its support to curb excessive student drinking. Instead, the local alcohol industry used its money and political clout to push for alternative measures.

Tri-Eagle and Anheuser Busch successfully lobbied for passage of a bill that toughened drunk-driving penalties in Florida and made it a felony to manufacture fake IDs. But Busch-Transou objected to the partnership’s plan to ban happy hours and other discounts. She argued that the regulations aimed at addressing problem drinkers also unfairly punished responsible drinkers.

Although the partnership’s activities generated a great deal of media attention, the public pressure failed to convince bar owners to curb promotions aimed at students. Daniel Skiles, who ran the partnership, said bar owners told him they would be happy to stop the promotions, but not unless all others did the same. Bar owners – not the local alcohol distributors – eat the profits for drink discounts, and although they said would make more money if they stopped the specials, they won’t risk losing business to other bars that don’t.

In 2000, FSU faced another challenge. The local alcohol industry formed its own group, the Responsible Hospitality Council, to urge the state to enforce existing alcohol laws rather than create new ones. Bars also were encouraged to soften advertisements of drink specials, and to train servers to decline serving underage customers.

The same year, a top Anheuser-Busch official met with D’Alemberte, Skiles, and other FSU officials at the request of Busch-Transou. The executive presented a proposal to fund a “social norms” program at FSU that would encourage drinking in moderation. FSU agreed to take grant money from the brewer.

During the meeting, FSU also agreed not to support any new state laws that would limit youth drinking. The position contradicted the requirements of the RWJF grant, as well as the strategy advocated by Skiles.

Skiles said that previous studies found that policy changes like increasing the drinking age to 21 were more effective in curbing alcohol misuse than social-norms programs. Because 85 percent of FSU students live off-campus, Skiles said lobbying for a change in state and local alcohol laws would be more effective.

But D’Alemberte worried that pushing for new alcohol laws might imperil state funding for other FSU projects, such as a new medical school. “I certainly know the power of the beverage industry in the legislature,” said D’Alemberte, a former state legislator.

As expected, when the partnership unveiled its strategic plan in 2001, it was immediately criticized by the alcohol industry. The industry claimed that the measures would raise alcohol prices.

“Problems cannot be legislated out of existence,” the industry said in a letter to the partnership. “That was tried over 80 years ago with Prohibition.”

D’Alemberte and other FSU officials also voiced displeasure with Skiles, especially after an MSNBC segment on campus drinking focused on FSU. He was later removed from his role as spokesman for the partnership.

“They did not like it appearing as if there was a drinking problem at the school,” said Skiles, who resigned from FSU in 2002.

Despite the coalition’s efforts, the drinking culture among FSU students has remained strong. With more than 150 bars, restaurants, gas stations, convenience stores and supermarkets within a two mile radius of the campus selling beer, wine, and hard liquor, alcohol is still very much part of the university’s social life. The campus newspaper continues to devote considerable ad space for drink specials at local bars.

The partnership has a new director and chairman and is in the process of rewriting its strategic plan. FSU officials acknowledged that the school is making slow progress against student drinking — bars are checking IDs more often, and some have quit serving free 21st-birthday drinks. And this year, the school didn’t make the Princeton Review’s top-20 party school list.

Skiles, the former director, quotes advice from the website of the American Medical Association, which was helping with the RWJF efforts: “If you’re being effective, sooner or later the alcohol beverage industry is going to come down on you.”

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The U.S. Congress has approved more than $4 million in funding to expand Parent Corps, a grassroots organization to fight alcohol and other drugs, Fox News reported Aug. 19.

Currently, Parent Corps has chapters in three states. The latest funding will expand the initiative to nine states. “Our goal is to have each parent leader mobilize 400 parent volunteers,” said Sue Rusche, executive director of National Families in Action.

The federal funds will be used to recruit parents, train them, and pay for two Parent Corps organizers in each of the states.

Parent Corps works to reduce alcohol and other drug use among children. “Though schools are able to provide an awful lot, in many ways they have taken on too many parental roles, and it would be nice to put it back in the parents hands,” said Dana Smith, a parent.

Parent Corps hopes to have a full-time parent leader in every school in the nation by 2014.

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A date rape drug – GHB – is reportedly being used in the North Rand area.

Superintendent Eugene Opperman, police spokesperson for the area, said: “It’s a mixture of stuff… that when put into a drink causes sedation and amnesia.”

At the weekend three teenagers were found sprawled in an alley near a Benoni business. Two girls, aged 15 and 16, lay unconscious and twitching while a 17-year-old boy lay on his stomach nearby, vomiting.

All three were taken home to their parents, and although what they had taken was not determined there is a possibility that GHB might have been involved.

“These scenes are becoming far more common than ever before. The tell-tale signs of drug and alcohol abuse are almost always found,” Opperman said.

“But what worries the police most is the apparent lack of parental control in many instances, and sometimes also a total lack of interest shown by some parents in the well-being of their children.”

Opperman said that youngsters found under the influence of drugs or alcohol were generally taken home, and their parents would be advised to get help for their children.

“In cases where we find the kids in possession of drugs we can arrest them. But the courts would rather help them than prosecute, so we prefer to try to get families back together and work towards a solution rather than prosecute right away.”

Speaking about the new date rape drug, Opperman said crime intelligence operatives were trying to work out the extent of the problem.

“So far we know it’s something the older kids or even some adults like to use if they see a young girl they would like to bed. Once she has taken it they can take her away and drop her back later, and who would even know?” he said.

Opperman said the police would be starting an awareness campaign to educate children, parents and others about the dangers of drugs, and the need for good parental control and social responsibility.

Opperman urged parents to keep track of where their children are at all times, and what they do with their free time. He said attempts should be made to find out who their children’s friends are, and pocket money should be limited.


Source: Daily News, South Africa August 17, 2004

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Teens who say at least half their friends are having sex are more likely to report having tried marijuana, alcohol and cigarettes.

The annual survey, released Thursday, asked teens aged 12-17 about their use of illegal substances. Researchers then looked for other activities of daily life that were associated with such use.

“This year’s survey reveals a tight connection between teen sexual behavior and substance abuse,” said Joseph A. Califano Jr., president of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

“Parents who become aware of certain dating and sexual behavior by their children should be alert to the increased likelihood of substance abuse,” he said.

In a separate effort to discourage underage drinking, the children’s cable TV channel Nickelodeon and an advocacy group, The Century Council, were announcing an initiative Thursday to reach out to kids and parents. “Ask, Listen and Learn” aims to educate kids about the issue and to help parents talk with their kids about underage drinking. It is to include booklets, Web sites and TV public service ads aimed at both groups.

Unlike other surveys, the one by the Columbia group did not ask teens about their own sexual activity, but asked them to estimate how many of their friends were sexually active. It was conducted this way because the ethical review board that oversees the center would not approve a direct question, said spokeswoman Lauren Duran.

Researchers compared teens who reported at least half their friends are sexually active with those who said none of their friends are. About one in four teens reported at least half their friends are sexually active; about four in ten said none are.

The study found that the first group is:

– More likely to have tried alcohol, 66 percent vs. 10 percent of those whose friends don’t have sex.

– More likely to have gotten drunk at least once in the past month, 31 percent vs. 1 percent.

– More likely to have tried marijuana, 45% vs. 2%.

 More likely to have tried cigarettes, 45% vs. 8%.

The survey also found that the more time teens spend with their boyfriends or girlfriends, the more likely they are to smoke, drink and use drugs.

No matter what their behavior, teens said that smoking, using illegal drugs and getting drunk are not cool. More than 80% said each of these activities make a teenager “seem like a loser.” About 10% said the activities make him or her “seem cool.”

The telephone survey of 1,000 teenagers was conducted between April 16 and May 16, 2004. The margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points for the entire group, larger for subgroups.

On the Net: National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University:

Ask, Listen, Learn:  

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Substance abuse or addiction is never about one person. Anyone who has watched a family member struggle with abuse or addiction knows how painful and disruptive it can be to the entire family. It can send shock waves that extend to all areas of family life and development.

Family characteristics alone do not determine whether a person will abuse drugs. However, a focus on families is critical to understanding and preventing the cycle of abuse and addiction that is prevalent in many American families. The cycle begins early: prenatal exposure to tobacco, alcohol and drugs can result in long-term effects, such as attention and learning problems, behavioral and conduct disorders, and even infectious diseases.

A recent white paper by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University explored the effects of family members’ substance abuse on children and examined multiple ways in which families influence children’s substance-related decisions and behaviors.

Independent research as well as the opinion of experts who participated in CASA’s 2004 CASACONFERENCE, Family Matters: Substance Abuse and the American Family, reveal that parents who abstain from smoking, drink responsibly, do not use illegal drugs, monitor their children, know their friends, provide loving support and communicate effectively,  are less likely to have children who use and abuse tobacco, alcohol or drugs.

CASA’s 2004 annual survey of teens and their parents found that over 14 million teens ages 12 to 17 (55 percent) are at moderate to high risk for substance abuse. Given the large proportion of teens at significant risk and the important role families play in children’s decisions to use tobacco, alcohol and drugs, it is essential parents know what they can do to help their children grow up substance free.



— Supervise and monitor your children’s activities, know their friends, impose reasonable curfews, and know who they are with and where they are going.

— Provide access to at least one caring parent or other adult with whom the child can form a secure bond and feel safe.

— Use an authoritative parenting style, that is, one that is neither overly controlling nor too permissive.

— Teach coping behaviors that provide an alternative to using substances when stressed or sad.

SOURCE National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia Web Site: ;

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By Adam Sherwin Media Reporter

DRUGS charities have expressed concern at a new drama series produced by the MTV network, billed as ‘a dope opera’.

Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator has advised the youth channel over the series, Top Buzzer, in which the central characters are two drug dealers. MTV Europe’s British- made comedy-drama is aimed at 16 to 24-year-olds, who make up the majority of MTV Europe’s 17 million viewers.

It follows the fictional “lives and laughs” of cannabis dealers Lee and Sticks’ and the characters who drop by their flat to “score”. Sticks’ believes that his dealing will make him the next Sir Richard Branson, while Lee’s aspiration is to be the Malcolm Gluck (the wine critic) of “superpot”.

After the reclassification of cannabis from a class B to class C drug, MTV said that the time was right for a series that treats the drug as the relatively harm less hobby of “typical young urbanites”, “Our audience does not see cannabis as greatly different from beer,” said Chris Sice, Vice-President of NITV Networks UK and Europe. He insisted, however, that the series, made by Johnny Vaughan’s World’s End production company, would not glamorise drugs.

MTV Europe’s lawyers have taken advice from Ofcom, whose code of standards states:

“Care needs to be taken to avoid any impression that illegal drugs are an acceptable feature of modern British society, particularly in programmes of special appeal to children and young people. Drug abuse should not be shown in such a way as to appear problem-free or glamorous.”

Darrell West, of the drugs education charity DARE, said:

“One programme on a youth channel like MTV which says cannabis is acceptable could wash away a year of education through DARE that all drugs are harmful.”

Figures from the charity DrugScope show that 31 per cent of British l5-year-olds smoked cannabis in the past year: The British Crime Survey 2002-03 found that nearly 26 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds smoked cannabis. Terrestrial channels in Britain have expressed an interest in screening Top Buzzer and is hoping to sell the format around the world.



Source: Times 26.8.04

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Patricia was tortured by her daughter’s addiction

Every week four or five teenagers go missing in the east London borough of Hackney because of drugs-related problems.  The London Inside Out team meets one mother whose desperate measures to keep her daughter off crack cocaine put her at odds with the law.

Look about an average 16-year-old’s room and you might expect to find posters, discarded clothes and CDs.  But in Natalie’s room there are also four small holes – a reminder of the steel plate her mother Patricia used to chain her to the wall to keep her off crack cocaine.

Patricia was driven to the desperate measures after her daughter started dabbling in the highly addictive drug when she was 14.  Natalie started staying out all night and became aggressive. Eventually she ran away for five weeks.


Patricia was tortured by the thought of what was happening to her daughter and when Natalie came home she was determined to stop her running away again.

“The images were just horrendous,” Patricia told London’s Inside Out team.  “When she turned up I was elated, but horrified.  “I was elated to see she was alive and that my child was back home, but horrified because she did not look like my child anymore.

“Her face was drawn in, she had no flesh in her cheeks, they were actually hollow and sucked in.”


Desperate to keep her daughter off drugs, Patricia locked Natalie in her room and chained her feet to the wall.   Crack is easy to buy in many areas.   She was later arrested for false imprisonment.

“It was the final straw to me to try to save my daughter from going back to the drugs or having that feeling that my daughter could end up murdered,” said Patricia.   Natalie says she is now glad that her mother was prepared to go to such extremes.   She told Inside Out: “I felt angry, but I knew it was for the best.   ” Even then I knew that she was doing it to help me and it has helped me in the long run.”


Natalie is currently living with her sister in south London, to keep her away from Hackney’s drugs scene.  But Patricia can not rest until her daughter is able to make a permanent move away from the borough.

She has even been re-tracing Natalie’s footsteps, visiting Hackney’s squats and crack houses, to keep track of her daughter’s movements.  “As long as we remain in the borough of Hackney, there’s more than a 99% chance that my daughter will go back to the drugs,” said Patricia.

“I just think we need to come clean away from the area where it all started, in Hackney – it would be good to get right out of the borough.”


Source: BBC Inside Out Sunday, 27 October, 2002

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Commentary By Judy Shepps Battle, 14th Oct. 2004

Rob Devine. This name is probably unfamiliar to you, unless you happened to read a South Jersey newspaper last Sept. 8; or if, perhaps, you are a parent or student at Triton Regional High School in Runnemede, N.J.

If so, then you know that 17-year-old Rob died of cardiac arrest while trying to get high by inhaling fumes from a commercial air-freshener canister. This fatal response, known technically as “sudden sniffing-death syndrome,” is the very real risk one takes when “huffing” or abusing inhalants.

Does the name Andrew R. Sandy ring a bell? This Maryland middle-school student’s fume-of-choice was Freon, gathered from the heating and cooling system of his family home. He died at age 13; he’d reportedly been huffing Freon since age seven.

How about honor-roll and three-sport athlete Jessica Manley, age 14, from Decatur, Ind.? She reportedly wanted to be a writer or veterinarian when she grew up, but one incident of deliberately huffing bathroom air freshener ended those dreams. Jessica was among a growing number of girls using inhalants; since 1991, in fact, federal studies have shown that more girls than boys are huffing to get high.

Overall, the number of young people experimenting with inhalants continues to grow yearly. More than 2.6 million youths, aged 12 to 17, report having used inhalants at least once in their lifetime. That is just about one of every 10 kids in this age group.

The hard facts are that the abuse of inhalants by 8th-graders has risen 18 percent in the past two years, while increasing 44 percent among 6th-graders in the same time period. Sadly, the latest reports indicate that the number of children seeing such abuse as “risky behavior” is decreasing.

Simply put, more kids are likely to huff. And more young people are likely to die.

Huffing is a form of inhalant abuse in which fumes or vapors are inhaled through the mouth to get a quick high. Researchers have found significant huffing as early as fourth grade and deaths from this practice in kids as young as 10. For 12- and 13-year-old children, inhalants head the list of most commonly abused substances.

“Huffable” substances — typewriter correction fluid, paint solvent, air freshener, cooking sprays and deodorants — are legal, cheap, easily available, and difficult to detect when used. Some kids paint their fingernails with correction fluid instead of nail polish and then sniff. Others pour solvents on their shirtsleeves and discreetly huff.

Sound like a harmless activity? Not so. Sniffing highly concentrated amounts of solvents or aerosols can produce heart failure and death within moments. There is no way a user can gauge how much substance enters the body.

Any incident of huffing is a fatality waiting to happen.

The best parallel for this type of substance abuse is anesthesia. Huffing slows down body functions and provides a slight stimulation at low amounts, a loss of inhibition at higher amounts, and loss of consciousness as dosage continues to increase.

Initially, the user may experience nausea, fatigue, bad breath, coughing, nosebleeds, a loss of appetite, and shaky coordination. Heart and breathing rates may decrease and judgment may become impaired. Coma, brain damage, and cardiac arrhythmia also are potential dangers.

The credibility barrier regarding the danger of huffing must be hurdled. Parents are reluctant to see their otherwise goal-oriented and achieving children as potential chemical abusers, yet huffing is attractive to a wide variety of youth, regardless of their grade-point average.

Similarly, many kids believe in their own immortality, and do not associate inhaling the contents of a spray can with instant death.

Both these beliefs need to be challenged.

It is not enough to include inhalant abuse as a chapter in a drug-prevention or health-education class. We need to use the media — music, TV, movies, billboards — to present to the entire community the painful and potentially permanent affects of huffing common household substances.

Retailers must also be educated regarding underage purchase of these products. Sales of multiple cans of air fresheners and other huffable products need to be regarded with the same level of concern as many retailers now show for minors purchasing cigarettes.

As with the more commonly abused chemical substances, such as alcohol, marijuana, and cigarettes, we need to talk with our kids — early and often — about the dangers of huffing.

It is time to devise and implement effective anti-inhalant abuse strategies on a community level so that Rob Devine, Andrew R. Sandy and Jessica Manley may remain among the last tragic deaths from huffing.

Judy Shepps Battle is a New Jersey resident, addictions specialist, consultant, and freelance writer. She can be reached by e-mail at Additional information on this topic is available from the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition website,

‘Huffing’ is an American term for what is known in the UK as VSA – Volatile Solvent Abuse. Young People who ‘sniff’ to get high use a variety of substances such as glue, Tippex, most kind of products that come in aerosol cans such as hair spray or oven cleaner. The epidemic of sniffing did not ‘go away’ in the early 90s – it just stopped being front page news. Parents need to remain vigilant and to ensure that their children understand the very real risks of potential fatalities from sniffing. NDPA


Source: PRWeb Jan 31st 2006

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The first step in a drive to make free drug testing kits available to all UK schools and parents is now under way.

A UK supplier of home testing kits, Preventx, are giving thousands of their products to schools across the country to help tackle the growing numbers of drug abuse among children.

Schools are allowed to test pupils with parents’ consent if they have been suspected of taking and selling drugs, and in 2004, Prime Minister Tony Blair gave his backing to heads who decide to introduce testing measures.

Preventx director, Michelle Hart said: “This is the first of what we hope to be many schemes that we are involved with that will help tackle school drug issues.

“We supply a high percentage of our testing kits to public schools, but due to budget constraints, state schools sometimes cannot afford them. The government has to realise that something should be done to an already escalating problem.

“We intend on supplying not only to schools but to parents also, so they can ease their own minds in the privacy of their own home. If children know they could be tested, it gives them an excuse to say ‘no’ to drugs.”

In January 2005, a random drug testing programme was introduced at the Abbey School in Faversham, Kent. Head teacher, Peter Walker said since introducing the testing programme, GCSE pass rates had increased and the school felt a lot safer environment.

Public Health Minister, Melanie Johnson said: “It’s vital that we make it easier for young teenagers to get tested for drugs. By offering this service in convenient locations such as in schools or in homes, it will make it easier to detect and prevent.”

An 11-year-old schoolgirl from Glasgow was rushed into hospital on Wednesday after collapsing in school from smoking heroin. Teachers believed she had accidentally taken the drug but left them astonished when she admitted to have been smoking it regularly for the last two months.

Source: PRWeb Jan 31st 2006

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A Colorado women diagnosed with lung cancer has produced a documentary about her battle with the disease and the impact on her family, in hopes of dissuading young people from smoking Susan DeWitt, 39, a former smoker, was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in January 2004. A few months later, she ran across some teenagers smoking in a mall parking lot and asked them if there was anything she could say to them to get them to quit. When she suggested a film about what it would be like to watch a parent die of cancer, the teens stopped joking and agreed that it might be persuasive.

Encouraged, DeWitt asked her teenage children to begin filming her own struggles with cancer. That battle so far has included a failed surgery to remove a tumor, and the detection of small tumors that had spread to her brain. The video documents the private concerns of DeWitt’s children as well as landmarks like the day they helped shave their mother’s head.

“My mom watched me graduate from high school. It’s the greatest feeling watching them sit in the stands, cheering me on when they called my name to get my diploma,” said DeWitt’s son, Cody, 19. “And I want her there when I graduate college and I go out in the real world. But more importantly, most of all, I want my younger sisters to have a mom waiting for them after they get their diploma, helping them through all the hard times that they’re going to have.”

Cody says in the documentary, “Through My Children’s Eyes,” that he had previously smoked with high-school friends but had not done so since his mother’s diagnosis. The DeWitt’s goal is to have the video played at every high school and junior high in Colorado.

About 80 percent of people diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer are dead within five years. DeWitt’s cancer is currently considered stable.

“They always say that the hardest thing for a parent to do is bury your child,” Cody said. “But the hardest thing for a kid to do is watch your parents die. Slowly. It’s unbelievable and it’s just horrible.”

To contact the Susan L. DeWitt Foundation for Extended Breath, e-mail

Source: ABC News reported Jan. 10.06

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WASHINGTON, Nov. 28 /PRNewswire/ — Each day, more than 9,000 new driver’s licenses are issued to 16 and 17 year olds nationwide, the very same age group that is at greatest risk for marijuana use, and a 2005 survey reveals that these teens say that cars are the second most popular place for smoking marijuana. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is partnering with driving schools and other leading health, safety and youth-serving organizations to warn parents of the prevalence and dangers of drugged driving and to provide information to help teens “Steer Clear of Pot.”

More than 2.9 million driving-age teens reported lifetime use of marijuana, and last year more than 750,000 16 and 17 year olds reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs. According to the 2004-2005 PRIDE Surveys, when asked where they use, approximately one in seven (14%) high school seniors cited “in a car,” making cars the second most popular location after at “a friend’s house” (20.4%).

“Parents need to realize that drugged driving is nearly as common today among teens as alcohol-impaired driving,” said John P. Walters, Director, National Drug Control Policy. “Marijuana impairs many of the skills required for safe driving, such as concentration, coordination, perception and reaction time, and these effects can last up to 24 hours after smoking the drug.   It is critical that parents know the dangers associated with drugged driving and are vigilant in monitoring their teen drivers, especially young, less experienced drivers.”

Monitoring the Future data shows that approximately one in six (15%) teens reported driving under the influence of marijuana, a number nearly equivalent to those who reported driving under the influence of alcohol (16%). A recent study from a large shock trauma unit found that 19 percent of automobile crash victims under age 18 tested positive for marijuana.

“Getting a driver’s license is a milestone in a teen’s life that goes beyond the road to symbolize independence and freedom,” said Thomas “Buddy” Gleaton, Ed.D., President, PRIDE Surveys. “In the more than 20 years that PRIDE Surveys has been tracking teen drug use, teens consistently report engaging in risky behaviors in cars. Parents need to keep a watchful eye to be effective in reversing these trends.”

ONDCP’s National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign is providing parents and teens with information about the risks of drugged driving through a renewed “Steer Clear of Pot” initiative. The Media Campaign will underscore the harmful effects of teen marijuana use and drugged driving through the promotion of free materials, including a “New Drivers Kit” for teens and parents, available with other new content on the Media Campaign’s Web site for parents, .

In addition, “Steer Clear of Pot” partners will distribute drugged driving and marijuana prevention materials to driver’s education teachers, teens, and parents nationwide:

— The American College of Emergency Physicians will inform its nationwide membership base of 15,000 in 49 chapters of “Steer Clear of Pot” resources through its newsletter and Web site;

— The Driving School Association of the Americas will include information about the initiative in its magazine, The Dual News, which is distributed to 8,000 professional driving schools and 50,000 driving school educators, and will promote available resources on the organization’s Web site;

— The Emergency Nurses Association will inform its 28,000 members about available resources through its monthly newsletter; and

— GEICO, the fifth-largest private passenger auto insurer in the United States, has incorporated the Media Campaign’s messages into its existing “Can I Borrow the Car?” teen driving and safety materials and is providing co-branded versions of those materials through the Campaign’s “New Drivers Kit.” The company continues to distribute co-branded “Steer Clear of Pot” materials and promote the Media Campaign’s resources to its 5.5 million policyholders and 22,000 GEICO associates.

“Driver’s education and behind-the-wheel training are at the foundation for developing safe driving skills,” said Bradley Huspek, President, Driving School Association of the Americas. “Parents and driving instructors play a critical role in educating teens about being responsible drivers and steering clear from drugs.”

Experts say parental supervision and setting clear rules are associated with less risky teen behavior. A recent SADD/Liberty Mutual Group report found that nearly 60 percent of teens who drive say their parents have the most influence on their driving, followed by 27 percent who say their friends are most influential. Parents can take action and help their teen “steer clear of pot” with simple steps such as:

— checking the car for signs of drug paraphernalia;

— setting limits on driving in risky conditions;

— knowing where their teen is going and what route they intend to drive; and

— reinforcing safe driving practices by driving together.

Since its inception in 1998, the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign has conducted outreach to millions of parents, teens and communities to reduce and prevent teen drug use. Counting on an unprecedented blend of public and private partnerships, non-profit community service organizations, volunteerism, and youth-to-youth communications, the Campaign is designed to reach Americans of diverse backgrounds with effective anti-drug messages.

For more information on the ONDCP National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, visit .

SOURCE The Office of National Drug Control Policy Web Site:

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Geraldine Silverman,Chairman
Millburn Municipal Alliance for Drug Awareness
NJ Federation for Drug Free Communities
Life Member of the New Jersey PTA’s
23 Audubon Court
Short Hills, NJ 07078-1812 1-973-376-8927

July 18,2005

Ms. Anna Weselak, President, National PTA
541 North Fairbanks Court, Suite 1300
Chicago, Illinois 60611-3396

Dear President Weselak:

I am writing to you as Chairman of the Millburn Municipal Alliance, an officer of the New Jersey Federation for Drug Free Communities, a Life Member of the New Jersey State PTA, and a local, state and nationally recognized figure in the field of prevention.

In the May, 1981 issue of PTA Today, Virginia Sparling, then President of the National PTA wrote, “As we review the activities of PTA members in their fight to protect their children from destruction by drugs, marijuana in particular, we see the PTA’s Human Network – a network of people who care about children and have a common commitment to promote the well-being of children in the home, school and community – functioning at its highest potential.”

The New Jersey PTA’s have upheld all these goals and has been recognized as a leader in legislation on “21” laws, drug paraphernalia laws and seat belts laws. We also pride ourselves for seeing our New Jersey PTA President, Manya Ungar, rise to become the National PTA President in the mid 1980’s, furthering all our goals for all the nation’s children.

The National, State and Local PTA’s have always been dedicated to inform parents, teachers and students as to the dangers of drug use and to oppose the sale of illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia. By uniting with one voice, one consistent “no use” message regarding children, we were successful in dramatically reducing illicit drug use by our children from 1981 to 1992 as documented by the studies and reports from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), PRIDE and the annual Michigan Survey done on youth and drugs.1

What changed? We began to see a swing upwards by adolescents using illicit drugs, from 1992 to 2000. There were several reasons among which was the Clinton’s Administration downgrading the Drug Czar’s staff to a mere skeleton, the glamorization of illicit drug use by Hollywood and MTV, an explosion of teen age pregnancies, more single parent homes, more working parents and above all a well financed pro-drug legalization organization came into being, today known as the Drug Policy Alliance which promotes the philosophy that drug use by youth is inevitable and can best be remedied with “harm reduction” programs and attitudes.

As a drug prevention specialist with 27 years of experience, I can state for a fact that drug use is not inevitable. To even suggest that our children can take drugs responsibly without becoming addicted, flies in the face of the reality that no one knows who will or who will not become addicted.

I am very concerned to learn that the National PTA, for the past two years has had Marsha Rosenbaum, a ranking leader in the Drug Policy Alliance, an active proponent of drug legalization and the “harm reduction” philosophy, conduct workshops on “Teens and Drugs.” By having her as a speaker, National PTA has acknowledged her philosophy of “responsible use,” and has set many of us back in our efforts to promote a “no use message.”

I firmly believe that the majority of State PTA’s still believes that our youth have the right to grow up free from drugs and that we must all accept responsibility for making that goal a reality. With every parent, every teacher and every student who is reached, the PTA’s will have moved one step closer to achieving the goal of eradicating drug use among our children. Hopefully, in the future, the National PTA will reconsider having people like Marsha Rosenbaum from the DPA or other pro-legalization organizations, conduct workshops at your annual convention. We need National PTA to once again rejoin the state and local PTA’s in “one voice, one message, no use.”


Geraldine Silverman, Chairman Millburn Municipal Alliance, NJ Fed. for Drug Free Communities and Life Member NJ State PTA

1. The use of all drugs by all ages was reduced in the USA by over 60% between 1979 and 1990 – due mainly to the work of over 8,000 parent groups which spoke out loudly and clearly against ‘responsible use’ drug education programmes.

The NDPA would respectfully suggest to all parents who read this section of our website to visit their local schools and ask to see which drug education materials are being used in the classrooms and to request that so-called harm reduction policies (another term for ‘responsible use’) are abandoned and replaced with genuine drug prevention messages. It is not inevitable or normal for young people to do drugs and the majority of our youth remain drug-free, it is therefore imperative that schools ‘drug education and prevention’ materials s do not give covert acceptance of drug use messages in the classrooms. Please contact the NDPA for further information on drug education.

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The Scottish Drug Misuse Database statistics said the majority of drug users questioned in the region had started injecting under the age of 20.

The figures – for individuals who had injected in the past month – cover the year up to March 2005.

South of Scotland SNP MSP Alasdair Morgan called it “very alarming”.

National concern was raised about the issue when an 11-year-old girl in Glasgow was taken to hospital when she collapsed in school after smoking heroin.

Agencies in Dumfries and Galloway said it was a problem which needed to be faced on a day-to-day basis.

“This has got to be tackled constantly, not just when there are headlines about it,” said Raymond Carvill of Stranraer Against Drugs.

He also raised concerns about the collapse of a drugs information scheme piloted in local primary schools which he said was a great success.

Lead officer for substance misuse for Dumfries and Galloway Council and NHS, Jim Parker, said they were still looking at rolling that project out across the region.

“There are a number of areas we want to develop at the moment,” he confirmed.

“It is utilising the funding we have got against the priorities we have got.”

Mr Morgan has called for serious and sustained investment to tackle the issue.

“These numbers represent an extremely small proportion of those under 19,” he said.

“It is very worrying, however, that any proportion of our young people have so few prospects in their lives that they have turned to the hardest of drugs.”

Source: BBC News Feb.07 2006

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First I’m going to tell you a little about me and my family. My name is Jeff. I am a Police Officer for a city in the USA which is known nationwide for its crime rate. We have a lot of gangs and drugs. At one point we were # 2 in the nation in homicides per capita. I also have a police dog named Thor. He was certified in drugs and general duty. He retired at 3 years old because he was shot in the line of duty. He lives with us now and I still train with him because he likes it. I always liked the fact that there was no way to bring drugs into my house. Thor wouldn’t allow it. He would tell on you. The reason I say this is so you understand that I know about drugs. I have taught in schools about drugs. My wife asks all our kids at least once a week if they used any drugs. Makes them promise they wont.

I like building computers occasionally and started building a new one in February 2005. I also was working on some of my older computers. They were full of dust so on one of my trips to the computer store I bought a 3 pack of DUST OFF. Dust Off is a can of compressed air to blow dust off a computer. A few weeks later when I went to use one of them they were all used. I talked to my kids and my two sons both said they had used them on their computer and messing around with them. I yelled at them for wasting the 10 dollars I paid for them. On February 28 I went back to the computer store. They didn’t have the 3 pack which I had bought on sale so I bought a single jumbo can of Dust Off. I went home and set it down beside my computer.

On March 1st, I left for work at 10 PM. Just before midnight my wife went down and kissed Kyle goodnight. At 5.30 am the next morning Kathy went downstairs to wake Kyle up for school, before she left for work. He was propped up in bed with his legs crossed and his head leaning over. She called to him a few times to get up. He didn’t move. He would sometimes tease her like this and pretend he fell back asleep. He was never easy to get up. She went in and shook his arm. He fell over. He was pale white and had the straw from the Dust Off can coming out of his mouth. He had the new can of Dust Off in his hands. Kyle was dead.

I am a police officer and I had never heard of this. My wife is a nurse and she had never heard of this. We later found out from the coroner, after the autopsy, that only the propellant from the can of Dust off was in his system. No other drugs. Kyle had died between midnight and 1 AM

I found out that using Dust Off is being done mostly by kids ages 9 through 15. They even have a name for it. It’s called dusting. A take off from the Dust Off name. It gives them a slight high for about 10 seconds. It makes them dizzy. A boy who lives down the street from us showed Kyle how to do this about a month before. Kyle showed his best friend. Told him it was cool and it couldn’t hurt you. It’s just compressed air. It can’t hurt you. His best friend said no.

Kyle was wrong. It’s not just compressed air. It also contains a propellant called R2. It’s a refrigerant like what is used in your refrigerator. It is a heavy gas. Heavier than air. When you inhale it, it fills your lungs and keeps the good air, with oxygen, out. That’s why you feel dizzy, buzzed. It decreases the oxygen to your brain, to your heart. Kyle was right. It can’t hurt you. IT KILLS YOU. The horrible part about this is there is no warning. There is no level that kills you. It’s not cumulative or an overdose; it can just go randomly, terribly wrong. Roll the dice and if your number comes up you die. IT’S NOT AN OVERDOSE. It’s Russian Roulette. You don’t die later. Or not feel good and say I’ve had too much. You usually die as your breathing it in. If not you die within 2 seconds of finishing “the hit.” That’s why the straw was still in Kyle’s mouth when he died. Why his eyes were still open.

The experts want to call this huffing. The kids don’t believe its huffing. As adults we tend to lump many things together. But it doesn’t fit here. And that’s why its more accepted. There is no chemical reaction. no strong odour. It doesn’t follow the huffing signals. Kyle complained a few days before he died of his tongue hurting. It probably did. The propellant causes frostbite. If I had only known.

Its easy to say hey, its my life and I’ll do what I want. But it isn’t. Others are always affected. This has forever changed our family’s life. I have a hole in my heart and soul that can never be fixed. The pain is so immense I can’t describe it. There’s nowhere to run from it. I cry all the time and I don’t ever cry. I do what I’m supposed to do but I don’t really care. My kids are messed up. One won’t talk about it. The other will only sleep in our room at night. And my wife, I can’t even describe how bad she is taking this. I thought we were safe because of Thor. I thought we were safe because we knew about drugs and talked to our kids about them.

After Kyle died another story came out. A Probation Officer went to the school system next to ours to speak with a student. While there he found a student using Dust Off in the bathroom. This student told him about another student who also had some in his locker. This is a rather affluent school system. They will tell you they don’t have a drug problem there. They don’t even have a DARE or Plus program there. So rather than tell everyone about this “new” way of getting high they found, they hid it. The probation officer told the media after Kyle’s death and they, the school, then admitted to it. I know that if they would have told the media and I had heard, it wouldn’t have been in my house.

We need to get this out of our homes and school computer labs. Using Dust Off isn’t new and some “professionals” do know about. It just isn’t talked about much, except by the kids. They all seem to know about it.

April 2nd was 1 month since Kyle died. April 5th would have been his 15th birthday. And every weekday I catch myself sitting on the living room couch at 2:30 in the afternoon and waiting to see him get off the bus. I know Kyle is in heaven but I can’t help but wonder if I died and went to Hell.

This Officer is asking for everyone who receives this email to forward it to everyone in their address book, even Law Enforcement Officers.

In the 1980s there was a lot of media coverage about VSA – volatile substance abuse (‘glue sniffing’). Then increased cannabis use and crack hit the headlines – making people believe ‘sniffing’ – or ‘huffing’ as they call it in the USA – had gone away. Sadly, this dangerous practice is still very much around. NDPA print this article in our Parents page because we want you all to know how aware parents need to be. If it is possible to use non-aerosol products in your home (hair sprays, cleaners, polishes etc.) it may be wiser to use the alternatives.

Source: Drugwatch International email

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50 primary pupils ‘are heroin addicts’


Key points


Key quote
“You can get drugs everywhere, but questions should be asked. Why put a methadone clinic next to a shopping centre? It is only going to attract drug users to the area.” – POLLOK TAXI DRIVER

Story in full UP TO 50 children of primary school age in Glasgow are regularly using heroin, it was claimed last night.

The shocking figure was revealed as it emerged that an 11-year-old girl had collapsed at a primary school in the city last week after smoking heroin. Yesterday, community leaders, health workers and politicians said the young girl’s case highlighted the need to tackle the drugs problem at an even younger age.

The girl, who has not been identified, was admitted to Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill on Wednesday, where she was reported to have shown severe withdrawal symptoms.

She remained in hospital last night and has been enrolled on an addiction treatment programme, one of the youngest ever to do so in the UK.

The girl admitted to social workers that she bought £10 bags of the class-A drug outside a shopping centre in Pollok, in the south of the city. She told doctors she had been smoking heroin for more than two months. Strathclyde Police and Glasgow City Council have launched separate investigations.

Last night, Stewart Stevenson, the Scottish National Party’s deputy justice spokesman, claimed that charities battling Scotland’s rampant drug problem had told him they were dealing with dozens of children of a similar age taking heroin. He said the youngsters were more likely to smoke the drug, a practice known as “chasing the dragon”, than inject it.

Of the 11-year-old girl, he said: “Unfortunately, she’s far from alone in that there are several dozen identified heroin addicts at primary school age in the Glasgow area. I understand there are probably as many as 50 primary school addicts in Glasgow. The Executive have spent practically nothing on training teachers in primary and early secondary to deal with this … I talk to a lot of people working with drug users and this is what I have been told.”

Gaille McCann, a Glasgow councillor who helped to set up Mothers Against Drugs after Allan Harper, 13, died from a heroin overdose in 1998, agreed that the latest case was not an isolated incident.

She said: “This is the harsh reality of the drug problem today, and it must not just become a seven-day story but instead act as a wake-up call to us all, particularly the policymakers in their ivory towers.”

However, Alistair Ramsay, the director of Scotland Against Drugs (SAD), warned against using anecdotal evidence to gauge the scale of the pre-teenage heroin problem.

He said SAD had trained thousands of teachers and school heads on how to deal with the effects of child or parental drug users.

Mr Ramsay said: “Thankfully, incidents like this are very rare, but when they occur they are truly shocking. Parents should not overreact, but if they know their child well they will spot changes in behaviour very quickly, and this will help with an early identification of a problem.”

Last year, experts at the University of Glasgow found that children as young as ten have experimented with heroin and cocaine. The researchers found that children aged between ten and 12 north of the Border were twice as likely to take drugs as their English counterparts.

Last night, the deputy justice minister, Hugh Henry, said: “Everyone is shocked when they hear about such a young person’s life being put at risk.

“This story gives further reinforcement, if any were needed, that we must keep up our broad approach to tackling drug abuse in society.”

Yesterday, residents in Pollok said they were shocked but not surprised at the case. Marguerita O’Neill, a community health worker, said: “I know there are drugs in every scheme, but this is horrifying. She was only 11 – it terrifies the life out of me.”

Neil Williams, a taxi driver, said: “You can get drugs everywhere, but questions should be asked. Why put a methadone clinic next to a shopping centre? It is only going to attract drug users to the area.”

The Labour MP for Glasgow South West, Ian Davidson, said the girl’s plight showed the importance of “sweeping up” low-level drug-dealing in the community, as well as the high-profile drug cartels.

He said: “Clearly, it’s a great worry to find that any primary school child is using hard drugs.

“We need to identify whether this is a particular issue to this family or, more worryingly, if this is the tip of the iceberg in terms of this sort of drug use among classmates.”

In a statement, Glasgow City Council said: “An 11-year-old child was admitted to hospital on an emergency basis last Wednesday with what appeared to heroin intoxication.

“We are monitoring the situation, and the ongoing case discussion will continue on Monday.”

Source: The Scotsman; 30 Jan 2006

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COLUMBUS – Since scientific literature shows the use of marijuana to be a major risk factor in the development of addiction and drug use among school children, law enforcement officials are concerned over a new marketing ploy.

“They package this stuff just like it is something a kid can buy off the shelf,” said Columbus Police chief Clare May. “When I look at it, I see candy bar, something I would want to buy if I were a child.”

May was referring to a bag of evidence containing four “candy bars” recently confiscated from a driver during routine checkpoint stop by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Highway 11, between the village of Columbus and the port of entry. The driver, Jose Antonio Avila, of North Hollywood, California, told the officials he needed the “candy” for medicinal purposes. Avila was cited for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.

“This stuff is marijuana mixed with chocolate and packaged in the same colors and logo as Kit-Kat or Reese’s peanut butter cups are only it reads ‘Kief-Kat’ and ‘Reefers,'” May said. “There is a warning on a couple of the candy bars that it is for medicinal use only but the warnings are so small and vague that a child wouldn’t read them. “I can see there this is a problem where an illegal business takes advantage of a legal business under the ruse that this is medical marijuana. “I do not agree with the way this stuff is packaged and sold because it is attractive to children,” he said. Under New Mexico law, marijuana is an illegal drug. And even if it was for medicinal purposes, as Avila claimed, he had no prescription on him at the time he was stopped by the authorities. Because the citation is for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, Columbus Municipal Court will process the case.

Source: By Sylvia Brenner Deming Headlight. 16 May 2005

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There is growing policy and practice interest in the effect of parental substance misuse – both drugs and alcohol – on children. Despite this, young people are often neglected in both policy discussion and service provision. This qualitative study was undertaken in Scotland and explored the lives of 38 young people between the ages of 15 and 27 years whose parents have or had a drug and/or alcohol problem. It found:



In the UK there are estimated to be between 250,000 and 350,000 dependent children living with parental drug misuse, and 920,000 living with parental alcohol misuse. Parental substance misuse can cause considerable harm. Children are at risk from emotional and physical neglect as they grow up. They also risk developing emotional and social problems later in life. Both outcomes are of growing concern to policy and practice. Older children, especially those aged 16 and over, are often neglected in policy discussion and in service provision. More needs to be known about their lives so that effective policy and service support can be developed.

The study involved interviews with 38 young people between the ages of 15 and 27 years old (most were between 16 and 21) who had been affected by parental substance misuse. The late teens and early twenties is a period of transition to adulthood, and interviews explored past experiences and present situations, before asking interviewees to consider the future.

While most of the young people came from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, six had middle-class backgrounds. Some of the young people appeared to be managing well for themselves, and within this group several were in higher education. Others had relatively chaotic or precarious lives. Twelve had serious drug problems; most of this group were receiving treatment.


About the project

The study was based at the Centre for Research in Families and Relationships at the University of Edinburgh. Data was collected using in-depth qualitative interviews conducted by Sarah Wilson. Interviewees were recruited from a wide range of drug, youth work and homelessness services, and through leafleting and ‘snowballing’.

How to get further information

The full report, Parental drug and alcohol misuse: Resilience and transition among young people by Angus Bancroft, Sarah Wilson, Sarah Cunningham- Burley, Kathryn Backett-Milburn and Hugh Masters, is published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation as part of the Drug and Alcohol series (ISBN 1 85935 248 0, price £13.95)..


Filed under: Drug use-various effects on foetus, babies, children and youth,Parents :

According to a new report, more teens first try marijuana in June and July than any other months of the year. To help parents prevent their teen from using marijuana this summer, the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s (ONDCP) National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, the YMCA of the USA, and the American Camping Association kicked off this year’s “School’s Out” initiative.

The Media Campaign is offering new action-oriented advice and resources to help parents keep teens drug-free once school is out; a summer drug-free checklist, a summer calendar with suggested activities, and an interactive self-rating tool (Does Your Summer Plan Stand the Heat?). These resources are available on the Campaign’s Web site for parents at
Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Parents,Prevention and Intervention,Youth :

An Alabama doctor who lost a brother to methamphetamine addiction has formed a support group called “After he died, I started looking into it as a physician, as a scientist”, said Dr. Mary Holley, an obstetrician in Albertville. “What is this drug that destroyed his life in just two years?”

Holley formed the group last year and there now are chapters in Tennessee, Georgia, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Ohio.

The group works with churches to form addiction-support groups. In addition, the MAMa website offers information that explains the dangers of meth.

“People don’t realize what this drug is doing,” Holley said. “One look at the brain scan in my pamphlets will change that attitude.”

Holley, a Christian, said a religious approach to treating drug addiction is more effective than law enforcement. “Law enforcement is helpless. They can’t possibly bust every lab. They can’t keep them in jail long enough for them to heal,” Holley said. “Education is helpless. They lack the resources and the moral authority to change the situation.”

Holley said that when speaking with young people, she found that, “20 percent of meth users are basically healthy kids who made a bad decision. About 75 percent are broken, hurting people, abused and battered as kids.

Source: Associated Press reported Aug. 28. 2004
Filed under: Methamphetamine/GHB/Hallucinogens/Oxycodone,Parents :

Children with asthma who have at least one parent who smokes are twice as likely to have asthma symptoms all year long compared with children of non-smokers, according to researchers from the University of Michigan (U-M) Health System.The involved in-depth telephone interviews with 896 parents of asthmatic children ages 2 to 12 years old in 10 states. “We set out to look at children who have seasonal asthma symptoms, but found that a substantial percentage have symptoms year-round,” said Kathryn Slish, a researcher in the U-M Department of Pediatrics. “We looked more closely and found a strong relationship between parents’ smoking status and the likelihood that their child would have problems all year long.”

“The only other factor that was associated with year-round symptoms was Medicaid insurance coverage,” added Cabana.

With well-publicized information that secondhand smoke can trigger asthma in children, Slish said, “it’s astounding that so many parents smoke around their asthmatic kids, and don’t stop even though their children are having trouble breathing all year.”

The researchers recommended that pediatricians, family physicians, and nurses address the subject of smoking with the parents of any child diagnosed with asthma and to provide resources to encourage them to quit.

The study’s findings were presented May 4 at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting.

Source: University of Michigan (U-M) Health System.
Filed under: Drug use-various effects on foetus, babies, children and youth,Nicotine,Parents :

Youth who say their parents would ‘strongly disapprove if they tried marijuana once or twice” used any illicit drug at a rate of 7.1 per cent, compared with 31.2 per cent for youth who thought their parents “did not strongly disapprove.”

Source: U.S. National Household Survey on Drug Abuse 2000
Filed under: Parents,Youth :

A study issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSAs) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) this month found that drug-and alcohol-dependent women who are pregnant or have children significantly reduce their alcohol or drug use as well as criminal behaviour following residential substance abuse treatment. Treatment also produced improved birth outcomes for pregnant women. The study, 1993-2000 Residential Treatment Programs for Pregnant and Parenting Women, evaluated residential substance abuse treatment programs designed for pregnant women or women with infants or older children. The report examined 50 programs that provided on-site residential care for both parents and their children.

Among women in treatment, use of crack declined from 51 percent before treatment to 27 percent six months after treatment. Similar declines were noted in use of marijuana (from 48 percent before treatment to 15 percent after treatment); powder cocaine (34 percent to 9 percent); methamphetamine (21 percent to 6 percent); heroin (17 percent to 6 percent); and alcohol (65 percent to 25 percent). Over 60 percent of women reported being completely drug-and alcohol- free throughout the first six months following discharge from residential care. An additional 13 percent relapsed at some time after discharge but were completely alcohol-and drug-free in the past 30 days. Women who stayed in treatment longer than three months were more likely to remain alcohol-and drug-free than were those who left within the first three months of treatment (68 percent vs. 48 percent).

Pregnancy Outcomes
The rate of premature delivery among clients in treatment was 7.3 percent, representing a 70 percent risk reduction as compared to an 24 percent rate of premature deliveries among untreated or drug abusers. rate of low-birth weight delivery was 5.7 percent, an 84 percent risk reduction as compared to an expected 35 percent low birth weight rate among untreated alcohol or drug abusers.  The infant mortality rate for treatment clients infants was 0.4 percent, a 67 percent risk reduction as compared to the 1.2 percent infant mortality rate for previous client pregnancies.
The adverse pregnancy rates are not only much lower than those of untreated substance-abusing women, but are also lower than rates reported for all U.S. women. American women have an 11.4 percent premature delivery rate, a 7.5 percent low-birth weight rate and a 0.7 percent infant death rate, according to the report.

Criminal Outcomes

As compared to the 12 months prior to treatment, the percentage of clients arrested for alcohol or drug offenses (selling drugs, public intoxication, driving drunk, etc.) declined from 28 percent to 7 percent during the six months following discharge. A decline from 32 percent to 11 percent was seen in the percentage of clients arrested for non-substance offenses, such as shoplifting, burglary, prostitution or assault. Women who remained in treatment longer than three months were less likely to be arrested than were those who left treatment prior to three months – 9 percent vs. 20 percent.

Relationships And Parenting

The percentage of clients living with an alcohol-or drug-involved spouse or partner declined from 45 percent prior to treatment to 12 percent after, according to the report. The percentage of clients reporting that they and their family use drugs together declined from 26 percent to 4 percent.
Clients who had physical custody of one or more children increased from 54 percent before entering treatment to 75 percent after treatment. Clients who had children living in foster care declined from 28 percent before treatment to 19 percent after treatment.

Source: Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly 13(35):3, 2001.




Filed under: Addiction,Parents,Prevention and Intervention :

A new survey finds that unsupervised teens are four times more likely to be D students than teens supervised every day. The survey, After School for America’s Teens, released by YMCA of the USA, finds that 59 percent of teens are unsupervised after school at least one day in a typical week. And those teens are more likely to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and engage in sexual activity, nearly three times as likely to skip classes at school. They are also three times more likely to use marijuana or other drugs.
The survey of 500 teens 14-17 years of age reveals a strong interest in community and neighbourhood-based after school programs. Although many teenagers participate in after school programs, more than half of all teens (52 percent) wish there were more community or neighbourhood-based activities available. Some 62 percent of teens left alone during the week say they would likely participate in after school programs, while two in three teens (67 percent) expressed interest in programs that would improve their grades, develop leadership skills and involve them in the community.
Unsupervised teens are in the ‘Danger Zone’ the hours of 3 to 6 p.m. after school  when being unsupervised can lead to problems with alcohol, drugs, sexual activity and even crime. This danger cuts across race income and family structure, according to the University of Minnesota’s National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, the largest-ever survey of American adolescents. Teens who are failing school and “hanging out” with friends are more likely to engage in at-risk behaviours.
The After School survey revealed that teens who do not engage in after school activities are five times more likely to be D students than those who do, while nearly eight in 10 teens (79 percent) who participate in after school programs are A or B students. Only half (52 percent) of teens who do not participate earn such high marks.

Source:  Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, Washington, D.C. Feb 2001.
Filed under: Parents,Prevention and Intervention,Youth :

In a study involving twins, researchers found that addiction to alcohol is often influenced by genetics as well as family environment. For the study, researchers from Palo Alto Veterans – Affairs Health Care System in Menlo Park, Ariz., interviewed 1,213 identical and non-identical male twins  with an average age of 50, 1,270 of the twins’ children, ages 12 to 26, and 862 mothers of those children.

The researchers found that children of twins who had a history of alcohol addiction were more likely to show signs of alcohol misuse or dependence than children of non alcoholic fathers. But while children of alcohol-abusing identical twins whose co-twin was alcohol-dependent were more likely to be alcohol-dependent than children of non alcoholic twins, children of an identical twin with no history of alcohol abuse whose co-twin was alcohol-dependent were no more likely to abuse alcohol than the children of non alcoholic twins. These findings support the hypothesis that family environment effects do make a difference in accounting for offspring outcomes, in particular, that a low-risk environment (i.e., the absence of parental alcoholism) can moderate the impact of high genetic risk regarding offspring for the development of alcohol-use disorders,” the study’s authors said.

Source: Archives of General Psychiatry, Dec 2003.
Filed under: Addiction,Parents :

Author: Renee Besseling

In 1982, the grocery store on the corner of my street in Amsterdam was replaced by a “coffee shop’ For me, a mother of two young children, this was reason enough to delve into the matter of drugs. Children, who earlier might get an apple from the store owner, were now suddenly greeted by a hemp leaf in the window. For them, in the beginning, this only meant that we had to go some- place else to get fruits and vegetables, but it also quietly introduced the drug-selling coffee shop into their world.

Yesterday’s child is grown up today, and will be tomorrows parent They are the ones who will not only have to support their elders, but look after the younger generation. They ensure society’s development and progression. Their development is important not only for their future, but for that of all of us. Drug use slows down this development – sometimes to a complete stop.

Why a book on drugs from a Dutch perspective?

The reputation of the Netherlands is based to a great extent on the image of liberal Dutch drug policies as portrayed in the American press and entertainment industry as well as in more scholarly books and articles that seek to undermine the war on drugs. Dutch drug policy essentially advertises a use of certain illicit drugs which have been deemed safe’ or “recreational”, inviting users from abroad to try the wide selection of drugs available in Amsterdam while exporting a tolerance detrimental to children and society everywhere.

Discussion in the United States is heating up. While the government actively wages the “war on drugs” in the United States and abroad, voter-supported initiatives on city and state levels seek to decriminalize the use of some drugs, especially marijuana, and install programs in inner cities distributing methadone and syringes. Some countries allow shooting galleries – even giving out heroin to dependent persons. Through the use of these and other “harm reduction” measures, health organizations are failing to combat the causes of drug dependence, leaving the dependent person to their own devices. Now, for the first time – from a parent’s perspective – the destructive liberal drug policies of the Dutch are exposed for the failure they are.

For whom is this book intended?

This book is meant for parents, educators and alarmed citizens to aid then in the debate on drugs. It aims at a better understanding of the mechanisms of dependence and the prevention of drug abuse, but it is also meant to strengthen the position of parents and educators who often find themselves ill-equipped in discussions with so-called experts. Hopefully, this book will be useful as a second opinion for those who are responsible for creating national and local drug policies to counter the simplistic and irresponsible propaganda supporting drug tolerance and ‘harm reduction,”

The author Renee Besseling. is a mother of two children. For the last 20 years she has been involved in the struggle for a restrictive drug control policy in the Netherlands and Sweden. She is co-founder of Europe Against Drugs (EURAD), and currently the International Secretary of the organization. She is a local chapter chairperson of Swedish Immigrants Against Drugs (SIMON) and an international delegate to Drug Watch International (USA).
To order visit www. prponline. net and look under ‘Prevention Books. (ISBN:O-944246-05-2, $19.95) For more information, please contact George T. Watkins at 1-800-453-7733 or

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Five class-action lawsuits have been filed nationally that accuse the alcohol industry of marketing to underage drinkers.

Lynne and Reed Goodwin are the lead plaintiffs in a case filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Miller and Anheuser-Busch; their daughter, Casey, 20, was killed by an 18-year-old drunk driver, and the couple believes that the beer industry encourages kids to drink.

Similar class-action cases have been filed during the past 14 months in Ohio, Colorado, North Carolina, and Washington. The lawsuits accuse the industry of using raunchy and provocative ads to target adolescents in youth-oriented magazines and on TV shows with large youth audiences. Also targeted is marketing of flavored malt beverages (a.k.a. “malternatives” or “alcopops”) like Smirnoff Ice and Mike’s Hard Lemonade, which critics see as appealing to teens who dislike the taste of beer or alcohol.

The lawsuits seek damage awards and restrictions on advertising. Most of the nation’s biggest brewers and distillers are named in one suit or another. The industry says it does not advertise to anyone under age 21 or encourage underage drinking. Companies point to the fact that they have funded “responsible drinking” messages, training for clerks to spot fake IDs, and education for parents about preventing youth drinking.

The companies also challenge the lawsuits for seeking damages for kids or parents who illegally purchased or consumed alcohol. “These cases seek to reward underage drinkers, or their parents, for breaking the law,” said Edward M. Crane, a lawyer for Anheuser-Busch. “That would send an undesirable message to teens — namely that underage drinking is OK and might even be profitable.”

A 2002 federal report estimated that 12-to-20-year-olds consume 11.4 % of all alcohol sold; other studies put the figure closer to 20 % — a $22.5 billion market.

The industry, aware of the impact of the 1998 nationwide tobacco settlement, also has moved to prevent similar lawsuits from being filed by states. Former Mississippi Atty. Gen. Mike Moore, who spearheaded the tobacco settlement, has been hired by Anheuser-Busch, and other former state attorneys general have been retained as lobbyists by other alcohol companies.

Source: Los Angeles Times reported Jan. 27. 2005
Filed under: Alcohol,Parents :

Parents give support to school’s plans to introduce random drug testingColne Community School, in Brightlingsea, could now bring in the scheme in September after questionnaires were sent to parents last month. Principal Terry Creissen said more than 90 per cent of parents who responded were in favour of the proposed scheme, which would cost about £10,000 a year to run, with funding planned through sponsorship. Governors will make a final decision about whether to give the go-ahead later this month and, if so, the first drugs tests will be taken in September. Students will also be surveyed about the issue. [East Anglican Daily Times, 23 June]


Children at playschool in Austria are having their toys taken away

Children at playschool in Austria are having their toys taken away in the belief it will help them fight drug addiction and alcoholism later in life. Pilot tests have shown that taking away children’s toys encourages them to think more about how to entertain themselves. They become more social and even those on the outside of the group find a positive role. The campaign comes after recent studies in Austria found more and more children are growing up in families in which one or both parents drink too much alcohol and the number of teenagers developing problems with alcohol and drugs is growing. [Ananova, 24 June]

Research finds that young drug users can suffer brain damage similar to the early stages of Alzheimer’s

New research by scientists at Edinburgh University has found that young drug users can suffer brain damage similar to the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The research claims that young injecting drug users are up to three times more likely to suffer brain damage than non-users. The studies suggest that intravenous use of heroin or methadone can be linked to premature ageing of the brain. It revealed that some drug users sustained a level of brain damage normally seen only seen in much older people and similar to the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. [The Scotsman, 22 June]

Doctors attack government drug strategy for failures on drinking and smoking

Doctors have attacked the government’s National Drug Strategy for failing to tackle drinking and smoking in early life. ‘[The strategy] was set up with crime-reduction on mind – and for that reason it’s designed to tackle illegal drug use only,’ Dr Vasco Fernandes, consultant physician in alcohol and drug addiction, told public health doctors at a British Medical Association conference. Delegates voted for the government to set up accessible addiction services for young people and to focus on smoking prevention. Most drug addicts did not progress straight to heroin or crack cocaine, but began with the ‘gateway drugs’, smoking and drinking – problems which the government was leaving to other agencies, according to Dr Fernandes. ‘If we are serious about preventing addiction to both legal and illegal drugs, we must have better services to tackle these problems among young people, and they must be co-ordinated into the national drug strategy,’ he said. To do otherwise was to spend time ‘locking the door after the horse has well and truly bolted’. The conference called for a review of 24-hour drinking, including public debate.

Heroin scripts

Heroin prescribing treatment has gained new backing by a research team from the University of Amsterdam. Revealing their findings in the British Medical Journal, researchers said the treatment was expensive – but that the cost to health services was offset by savings linked to reduced levels of crime. The study was based on 430 heroin addicts on methadone maintenance in the Netherlands

Scientist developing portable sensor that can identify and trace tiny particles of heroin and cocaine Yorkshire research scientist Dr Deborah Rathbone is developing a portable sensor device that can identify and trace tiny particles of heroin and cocaine by ‘hoovering’ the air around a suspect. Apart from hoovering people, Ms Rathbone said the device could also be used on cars at roadside checkpoints, suitcases at airports and container lorries. The detector will be much more sensitive than sniffer dogs, and since it is portable it could be used to catch drug smugglers at any border. [Yorkshire Evening Post, 8 June]

Researchers identify critical gene that appears to control craving and relapse behaviour in heroin addicts

By examining the neurons of heroin-hooked rats, Ivan Diamond and colleagues at CV Therapeutics in California found that the AGS3 gene can increase the output of pleasure and addiction signals from a region of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens. This region was already known to be important for pleasure and reward, and central to heroin addiction. The research, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows exactly which gene triggers the pleasurable response. [The Guardian, 2 June]

Study into alcohol use in Blackpool reveals one in six people has been hospitalised through alcohol since 2000

A new study into alcohol use in Blackpool has revealed one in six people in the resort has been hospitalised through alcohol since 2000 and there are up to 90 preventable deaths a year through drink abuse. Problems are also gripping the emergency services – figures show more than a third of arrests made in Blackpool involve drunks. Director of Public Health for Blackpool Fylde and Wyre, Dr Andy Howe, said: ‘alcohol harm has become a priority due to the high levels of drink-related crime, injury and alcohol-related disease experienced in Blackpool’. [The Blackpool Gazette, 7 July]

Kids as young as 15 signing up for self-help meetings in a bid to kick their cocaine habits

Cocaine Anonymous Scotland has revealed how a growing number of youngsters are becoming addicted to the drug and they claim that cocaine abuse has reached ‘epidemic’ proportions. Experts blame the falling cost of the drug.

Profit margins for heroin traffickers into Britain

Profit margins for heroin traffickers into Britain are so high that they outstrip luxury goods companies such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci, according to half of a study that Downing Street has withheld from publication under freedom of information legislation. The report delivers a scathing verdict on efforts to disrupt the drugs supply chain and was leaked to the Guardian, which speculated on the government’s refusal to publish less than favourable news on the eve of the Live 8 concert. [The Guardian, 5 July]

Beer made with a caffeine additive to be launched in the UK

A beer made with a caffeine additive is to be launched in the UK – amid fears that it might fuel binge drinking. A spokesman for BE – Beer with Extra – which also contains guarana, and ginseng said ‘it will be marketed at people aged 18 to 34 who like drinking in bars and nightclubs’. Andrew McNeill, the director of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, said he was concerned that the caffeine content might encourage people to drink alcohol for longer periods. [The Scotsman, 4 July]

Source: DrugRelatedNews DDN July 05
Filed under: Alcohol,Drug use-various effects on foetus, babies, children and youth,Europe,Parents :

Kids of smokers, drinkers especially prone to these behaviors, study findsChildren with a parent who smokes, drinks heavily or uses marijuana are more likely to adopt these behaviors when they’re teens or adults, U.S. research suggests.


Children of smokers are especially at risk, say a team from the University of Washington.

“If your parents were smokers, it is a double whammy because you are more likely to use drugs in general and even more likely to smoke cigarettes,” study co-author Karl Hill, a research associate professor at the university’s Social Development Research Group, said in a prepared statement.

“There is something about tobacco that if parents smoke, their kids are more likely to smoke. It may be that parents who smoke might leave cigarettes around where their children can see and get to them. Parents may not leave marijuana and alcohol around in the same way,” Hill said.

The researchers tracked 808 people who were students when they were first recruited from Seattle elementary schools in 1985. Data was also collected from their parents and their children.

In addition to a family/substance abuse link, the researchers found familial links for child behavior problems such as conduct disorder (fighting, stealing); attention-deficit disorder (lack of focus, inability to sit still or maintain attention); and oppositional-defiant disorder (problems with authority).

“Children of smokers, heavy drinkers, or marijuana users are more likely to have behavior problems when they are young, and consequently more likely to have drug problems themselves as they get old. These children then grow up to be adult substance users, whose kids have behavior problems and the cycle is repeated,” study author and research scientist Jennifer Bailey said in a prepared statement.

The study was published in the current issue of the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers information about preventing substance abuse in children.

SOURCE: University of Washington, news release, Aug. 10, 2006
Filed under: Parents,Youth :

SCOTS parents want teenagers to be given random drug tests in schools, according to new research.

More than three quarters (78%) of Scottish parents said they would support the move in a bid to stamp out the growing use of drugs in the playground.

The research found that almost all parents (95%) said they were worried about the problem.

Two-thirds (65%) said they backed random testing – because they are afraid schools are not doing enough to tackle the drugs problem.

They want education leaders to introduce random urine tests for recreational drugs such as cannabis, ecstasy and cocaine.

Researchers questioned more than 600 parents and guardians of secondary school teenagers across the UK.

Nearly half of those questioned thought testing was the most effective way to reduce drug abuse among teenagers.

But fewer than one in five thought information campaigns worked.

One in nine wanted an increased police presence near schools that have a problem with drugs.

The poll comes after a study by Glasgow Universities Centre for Drugs Misuse last year found that Scots children as young as ten have taken cocaine and heroin.

And it revealed that hundreds of primary school pupils regularly smoke cannabis and experiment with other Class A drugs.

The most recent study was carried out for drug-test supplier Euromed by market research company, 1FF Research.

Euromed sells tailored test kits – which provide results in under ten minutes – to clients such as NHS trusts and the UK Prison Service.

A spokeswoman for Euromed said: Drug testing in schools is a very sensitive issue and they must be careful if they are considering introducing them.

“But random testing has proven a successful way to tackle drug misuse.

“This research shows how drugs in secondary schools are a worry to parents and how parents are not confident that schools are successfully tacking the issue.”

She added: “In Scotland there was by far the highest concern among all UK parents about drugs being available in secondary schools.

“And more parents in Scotland backed their own children being randomly drug tested.”

Source: Jan 2004
Filed under: Parents,Youth :

The FAN Club involved the parents of youth participating in the Boys and Girls Clubs of America’s SMART Moves program and the SMART Leaders booster program. Participants included parents of 11 to 13-year-old boys and girls of various ethnic groups. The club was designed to strengthen families and promote family bonding, which has been shown to increase children’s resistance to drug use. Parents in the FAN Club received stress management support and participated in educational and enrichment activities, parental leadership activities, and regularly scheduled group social activities.

After their parents participated in the FAN Club, children showed a greater ability to refuse alcohol, marijuana, and cigarettes. They also learned of the health consequences and prevalence of substance use.

Filed under: Parents,Prevention and Intervention,Youth :

The Dare To Be You program included preschoolers, ages 2 to 5, and their families, teachers, and related community members in four ethnically diverse areas in Colorado. Parents participated in a 24-hour educational curriculum where trained facilitators taught them responsibility, personal efficacy, self-esteem, communication and social skills, problem solving and decision-making skills, and child development and home-management strategies. Facilitators also provided them with booster sessions and monthly family group meetings and participated in periodic community events for ongoing support. The children were enrolled in a 20-hour educational program focusing on communications, responsibility, self-esteem, and problem solving.
Dare To Be You showed a dramatic improvement in the parents’ sense of competence, satisfaction with – and positive attitude about – being a parent, and use of nurturing family management strategies. There were substantial decreases in the parents’ use of harsh punishment, and significant increases in the children’s developmental levels compared with non-participant peers.

Filed under: Parents,Prevention and Intervention,Youth :

Preliminary report shows that medical emergency episodes related to marijuana/hashish use have increased 200 percent since 1990. In 1995, 47,100 people among both sexes, all age groups, and across cultures reported to hospital emergency departments for medical care related to their use of marijuana and/or hashish.

Source:  The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN)  August  1996   –  Keeping  Youth  Drug-Free  –  A guide for Parents,  Grandparents, Elders, Mentors and National Clearing House for Alcohol  –  Other  Agencies & Drug Information. 1997.
Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Health,Parents :

A long-term study looking at the PRIDE prevention programme (for youth and parents) over five years found that there had been a continuous decrease in the use of all substances by almost all age groups. One example was that cannabis use by 16 – 17 years old had decreased from 45% to 30% among youths who participated in the programme. [Adams, R., “The PRIDE Survey,” Western Kentucky University, 1989].

In an assessment of 42 schools that participated in parent education and organisation, the findings showed that prevalence rates for cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana were significantly lower at the one year follow-up study. The net increase in drug use prevalence in schools receiving prevention programming was half that of other schools. [Pentz, Dwyer, et al., 1989].

When families are included in school programmes, risk factors can be reduced and early signs of problems can be reversed. One study has shown that three months of targeted family problem-solving training reduced drug use and a correlate factor (school failure) by the end of a 16 month follow-up, while control group families which did not get the training remained the same. [Biy, 1986]. (Quoted in Life Education International Fact Sheet. 1999).

A study of six schools examining the effects of drug prevention lessons for children to complete at home with parents showed that the children reported significantly less perceived peer use of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana, as well as significantly less peer pressure susceptibility to experiment with cigarettes. Mothers reported significantly more recent and frequent communication with their children about refusing drugs and, along with fathers, significantly greater discussions on how to resist peer pressure to use alcohol, tobacco and marijuana. Fathers also reported significantly greater motivation to help their children avoid drug use. [Werch, C.E; et al. Effects of a Take-home Drug Prevention Program on Drug-Related Communication and Beliefs of Parents and Children;” Journal of School Health: 61 (8): 346-350; ~1991].
In general, from existing studies on prevention programmes for parents, it has been found that those assessing children have shown reductions in their use of tobacco and alcohol. [Bry, National Institute on Drug Abuse; 1983].

Parent training can help reduce children’s behaviours that are precursors of drug use and increase positive behaviours such as school achievement, social skills and family involvement. [StouthamerLoeber, 1986].

Source: All reference resources are cited in: Parent Training is Prevention: Preventing Alcohol and Other Drug Problems Among Youth in the Family. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1991.

Filed under: Parents,Prevention and Intervention :

Recent surveys show that we are making progress in our national battle against some drugs.  Casual use is declining, attitudes are changing, and we know more about what works to prevent drug use by our young people.  As parents, we can build on that progress in our own families by having strong, loving relationships with our children, by teaching standards of right and wrong, by setting and enforcing rules for behavior, by knowing the facts about alcohol and other drugs, and by really listening to our children.

Teaching Values
Every family has expectations of behavior that are determined by principles and standards.  These add up to “values.”  Children who decide not to use alcohol or other drugs often make this decision because they have strong convictions against the use of these substances – convictions that are based on a value system.  Social, family, and religious values give young people reasons to say no and help them stick to their decisions.
Here are some ways to help make your family’s values clear:

Communicate values openly.  Talk about why values such as honesty, self-reliance, and responsibility are important, and how values help children make good decisions.  Teach your child how each decision builds on previous decisions as one’s character is formed, and how a good decision makes the next decision easier.  Look for conflicts between your words and your actions.  Remember that children are quick to sense when parents send signals by their actions that it’s all right to duck unpleasant duties or to be dishonest.  Telling your child to say that you are not at home because a phone call comes at an inconvenient time is, in effect, teaching your child that it is all right to be dishonest.

Make sure that your child understands your family values.  Parents assume, sometimes mistakenly, that children have “absorbed” values even though they may be rarely or never discussed.  You can test your child’s understanding by discussing some common situations at the dinner table; for example, “What would you do if a person ahead of you in line at the theater dropped a dollar bill?”

Setting and Enforcing Rules Against the Use of Alcohol and Other Drugs
Parents are responsible for setting rules for children to follow.  When it comes to alcohol and other drug use, strong rules need to be established to protect the well being of a child.  Setting rules is only half the job, however; we must be prepared to enforce the penalties when the rules are broken.

Be specific.  Explain the reasons for the rules.  Tell your child what the rules are and what behavior is expected.  Discuss the consequences of breaking the rules: what the punishment will be, how it will be carried out, how much time will be involved, and what the punishment is supposed to achieve.
Be consistent.  Make it clear to your child that a no-alcohol/no-drug use rule remains the same at all times – in your home, in a friend’s home, anywhere the child is.
Be reasonable.  Don’t add new consequences that have not been discussed before the rule was broken.  Avoid unrealistic threats such as, “Your father will kill you when he gets home.”  Instead, react calmly and carry out the punishment that the child expects to receive for breaking the rule.

Getting the Facts
As a minimum, parents should:

Parents who are clear about now wanting their children to use illicit drugs may find it harder to be tough about alcohol.  After all, alcohol is legal for adults, many parents drink, and alcohol is a part of some religious observations.  As a result, we may view alcohol as a less dangerous substance than other drugs.  The facts say otherwise:

Children and Alcohol
About half of all youthful deaths in drowning, fires, suicide, and murder are alcohol-related.  Young people who use alcohol at an early age are more likely to use alcohol heavily and to have alcohol-related problems; they are also more likely to abuse other drugs and to get into trouble with the law.  Young people whose body weight is lower than adults reach a higher blood alcohol concentration level than adults and show greater effects for longer periods of time.
We know that smokers are 10 times as likely as non-smokers to develop lung cancer and 3 times as likely to die at early ages from heart attack.  In fact, in 1985, smoking was the leading cause of early death among adults.  Nicotine, the active ingredient in tobacco, is as addictive as heroin, and fewer than 20 percent of smokers are able to quit the first time they try.  Despite these facts, many children use these products.

Facts on Tobacco

Talking With and Listening to Your Child
Don’t wait until you think your child has a problem.  Many young people in treatment programs say that they had used alcohol and other drugs for at least two years before their parents knew about it.  Begin early to talk about alcohol and other drugs, and keep the lines of communication open.
Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t have all the answers.  Let your child know that you are concerned, and that you can work together to find answers.
Be a good listener.  Listen closely to what your child says.  Don’t allow anger at what you hear to end the discussion.  If necessary, take a 5-minute break to calm down before continuing.  Take note of what your child is Not saying, too.  If the child does not tell you about problems, take the initiative and ask questions about what is going on at school or in other activities.  Young people need to know that they can rely on their parents for accurate information about subjects that are important to them.  If your child wants to discuss something at a time when you can’t give it full attention, explain why you can’t talk, set a time to talk later, and then carry through on it!
Give lots of praise.  Emphasize the things your youngster is doing right instead of always focusing on things that are wrong.  When parents are quicker to praise than to criticize, children learn to feel good about themselves, and they develop the self-confidence to trust their own judgment.
Give clear messages.  When talking about the use of alcohol and other drugs, be sure you give your child a clear no-use message, so that the child will know exactly what is expected.  For example, “In our family we don’t allow the use of illegal drugs, and children are not allowed to drink.”
Model good behavior.  Children learn by example as well as teaching.  Make sure that your own actions reflect the standards of honesty, integrity, and fair play that you expect of your child.
Effective communication between parents and children is not always easy to achieve.  Children and adults have different communication styles and different ways of responding in a conversation.  In addition, timing and atmosphere may determine how successful communication will be.  Parents should make time to talk with their children in a quiet, unhurried manner.  The following tips are designed to make communication more successful.
Pay attention, Don’t interrupt, Don’t prepare what you will say while your child is speaking, Reserve judgement until your child has finished and has asked you for a response.
Be aware of your child’s facial expression and body language.  Is your child nervous or uncomfortable – frowning, drumming fingers, tapping a foot, looking at the clock?  Or does your child seem relaxed, smiling, looking you in the eyes?  Reading these signs will help parents know how the child is feeling.
 During the conversation, acknowledge what your child is saying -move your body forward if you are sitting, touch a shoulder if you are walking, or nod your head and make eye contact.
“I am very concerned about…” or “I understand that it is sometimes difficult…” are better ways to respond to your child than beginning sentences with “You should,” or “If I were you,” or “When I was your age we didn’t…” Speaking for oneself sounds thoughtful and is less likely to be considered a lecture or an automatic response.
If your child tells you something you don’t want to hear, don’t ignore the statement.
Don’t offer advice in response to every statement your child makes. It is better to listen carefully to what is being said and try to understand the real feelings behind the words.
Make sure you understand what your child means. Repeat things to your child for confirmation.

(Source:Growing up drug-free; a Parents Guide to Prevention. US Dept Education. Published  circa 1991)
Filed under: Parents :

40.8% of paediatricians in the USA failed to diagnose illegal drug abuse when presented with a classic description of an adolescent patient with symptoms of drug abuse.  The symptoms included red eyes and runny nose, frequent sore throat, headache and chronic fatigue, loss of appetite and loss of interest in school and worsening relationships with parents.
The study illustrates why parents, caregivers and other adult influencers need to be aware that every child is at risk for trying or using drugs, and that adults words and actions make a difference in keeping young people drug free.

Source: CASA.  Columbia University, New York


Filed under: Parents,Youth :

Boredom, stress, and the availability of extra money are three main reasons why teens use drugs, the New York Times reported Aug. 20.
The annual survey of parents and children ages 12 to 17 by Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) found that children who are frequently bored are 50 percent more likely to get drunk, use illegal drugs, or smoke.

In addition, teens who experience high levels of stress are twice as likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs as children with little anxiety in their lives.
The study further found that teens with $25 or more a week in spending money are twice as likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs.
The report, according to Joseph Califano Jr., chairman and president of CASA, also showed that 55 percent of all children have a moderate or high risk of drug misuse.

“Parental engagement in their child’s life is the best protection Mom and Dad can provide,” he said.
The survey also found that the average age for first use of alcohol is about 12; more than 5 million children ages 12 to 17 say they can purchase marijuana in an hour or less; and children in schools with more than 1,200 students are at a higher risk for addiction

Source: Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse(CASA)
reported in Newyork Times Aug 20 2003
Filed under: Parents,USA,Youth :

ccording to the results of a national survey in America 34% of parents of teens thought their child had been offered drugs, while over one-half (52%) of the teens reported being offered drugs. This disparity is even greater for youth–7% of parents thought their preteen had ever been offered drugs, while 23% of the youths said they actually had. Parents perceptions of their children’s drug use is not much better. While parents of preteens had fairly accurate perceptions of their children’s experimentation with marijuana and cocaine, they underestimated their children’s use of inhalants. Parents of teenagers seriously underestimated their children’s use of all three of these substances. According to the authors, “parents need to understand the true vulnerability of their kids to drug experimentation today, and to educate themselves about drug use so that they can have greater confidence in listening to, talking with, and educating their children”.

Drug Availability and Use Among U.S. Students, Grades 4-12,
Parents Perceptions Versus Students’ Self-Reports, 1995*

Pre-teens Teenagers
(Grades 4-6) (Grades 7 – 12)

Parents’ Youth Parents’ Teens
Student’s Experiences Perceptions Reported perceptions Reported

Anyone ever tried to sell or give drugs 7% 23% 34% 52%
to student
Student tried marijuana at least once 1 2 14 38
Student tried cocaine/crack at least once 1 1 3 8
Student tried inhalants at least once 1 6 3 24

*This national survey was conducted by Audits & Surveys Worldwide, Inc. on behalf of the Partnership For a Drug-Free America. Self-administered questionnaires were given to a randomly selected sample of 2,424 youth (grades 4-6). 6,096 teenagers (grades 7-12) and 822 parents (adults aged 18 and older who were parents of children under 19). The survey was conducted in May and June of 1995.
Source: CESAR from Partnership, for a Drug-Free America. Attitude Tracking Study. February 1996.

Filed under: Drug use-various effects on foetus, babies, children and youth,Parents,USA :

British scientists have found more evidence to show that people with asthma should not smoke. Researchers at the University of Glasgow say smoking can interfere with asthmatics’ medication.Speaking at a European Respiratory Society conference in Vienna, they said it can increase the risks of breathing problems or an asthma attack. The researchers said the findings highlight the need to encourage asthmatics who smoke to quit.
Figures suggest that 40% of people with asthma aged between 16 and 44 smoke. This is much higher than the general population, where 32% of people in this age group smoke.
Source: BBC Online, 30 September 2003

Filed under: Drug use-various effects,Health,Nicotine,Parents :

Report Shows Parents Unaware of Children’s Ecstasy Use

While nearly 3 million teenagers in America have already tried the club drug Ecstasy, only one percent of parents believe their son or daughter is among them – and half of all parents are unclear about the effects of the so-called ‘love drug,’ according to a national survey by the Partnership for Drug-Free America (PDFA).
The 2001-2002 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) surveyed 1,219 parents across the country from December 2001 to January 2002. (Margin of error + / -2.8 percent. Data are nationally projectable.) This is the 14th installment of parents data fielded for the PATS study since
1987. Top line findings include the following:

‘Kids who learn a lot about the risks of drugs at home are less likely to try drugs’ Pasierb said. “Yet millions of parents sincerely don’t believe that their kids are the ones experimenting with drugs like Ecstasy. It’s these assumptions that enable drug use to go undetected. rf you’re a parent hearing this, the question we beg you to consider is ‘Could this be me?”
Ecstasy–chemically known as 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA – is a synthetic, psychoactive drug with amphetamine-like and hallucinogenic properties. Taken orally in pill form, Ecstasy can be extremely dangerous, especially in high doses. Ecstasy accelerates the release of serotonin in the brain, producing an intense high, often characterized by extreme feelings of love and acceptance – ‘the very emotions teens crave the most,” Pasierb said. Ecstasy can cause dramatic increases in body temperature and can lead to muscle breakdown, as well as kidney and cardiovascular system failure, as reported in some fatalities. A growing body of research has found Ecstasy to be neurotoxic. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, MDMA can damage the neurons that use the chemical serotonin to communicate with other neurons.
As reported by the Partnership’s research and other studies, Ecstasy use has increased significantly across the country. Partnership research indicates that older teens (16-17) are more likely to experiment with Ecstasy than are younger teens (13-15); most users are boys, but by a slim margin. Unlike methamphetamine and other drugs that are more regional in nature, Ecstasy is a drug that has been found in major cities and small towns throughout America, with noteworthy emergence in locations as diverse as Baltimore, Maryland and Billings, Montana. (See “Pulse Check” findings.) Emergency room mentions related to Ecstasy increased nearly 13-fold from 421 in 1995 to 5,542 in 2000.

Source:Partnership for a Drug-Free America,New York July 2003
Filed under: Ecstasy,Parents,USA,Youth :

Vancouver, British Columbia, a city unaccustomed to widespread crime, is facing a rise in gang-related violence stemming from drug dealing and local turf wars between young people of Indian descent, “They are Indo-Canadians killing Indo-Canadians,” said Kash Heed, commanding officer of the Third Police District in Vancouver. “Seventy-six murders mainly within one ethnic group. The cycle of violence, we’ve not cracked it yet.”

Immigrant community leaders blame inaction on the part of Vancouver police for the rise in gang violence. “Out here, it’s a slap on the hand,” said Amar Randhawa, co-founder of the Unified Network of Indo-Canadians for Togetherness and Education Through Discussion (UNITED). “Law enforcement can’t crack the lower hierarchy, let alone get to the top.”

But police officials said the cycle of murder and revenge has hampered their efforts. “One day suspect, and the next day victim,” said Heed. “One day you are the shooter. The next day you’re lying in your coffin.”

According to police, gangs deal in the potent variety of marijuana called B.C. bud, which is grown in the province. “It is often exchanged for cocaine, cash, or firearms. It is a deal between two criminal gangs, one on the south side of the border and one on the north side, guns for marijuana,” said constable Alex Borden of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. “If there is violence in our streets and firearms are involved, we are concerned the firearms come from across the border.”

According to Joe Giuliano, assistant chief at the local U.S. Border Patrol office in Blaine, Wash., 23 Canadian smugglers have been arrested on the U.S. side of the border so far this year. “Virtually all marijuana smuggling in the past fiscal year is either directly or indirectly tied back to the Indo-Canadian community,” he said.

According to officials, gang members are generally from upscale families. “Unlike in other countries, people involved in the gang activity here are not the poor or disadvantaged,” said Wallace Oppal, a justice of the Court of Appeal of British Columbia. “For the most part, kids involved here are people who come from middle-class and upper-class homes. They get involved for the glamour.”

Heed added that parents should get more involved in discouraging their children from joining gangs. “We’ve gone to notify people their son was killed and they have been in such denial they slammed the door in the police officer’s face,” Heed said. “They don’t want to believe their child is involved. They will ask the question to their dying day after their son is murdered why they didn’t do something.”

Source: the Washington Post reported July 22. 2004
Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison,Europe,Legal Sector,Others (International News),Parents,Youth :

The present study investigated whether maternal cigarette smoking and marijuana use during pregnancy were associated with an increased risk of initiation and daily/regular use of such substances among one hundred fifty-two 16- to 21-year-old adolescent offspring. The participants were from a low risk, predominately middle-class sample participating in an ongoing, longitudinal study. Findings indicated that offspring whose mothers reported smoking cigarettes during their pregnancy were more than twice as likely to have initiated cigarette smoking during adolescence than offspring of mothers who reported no smoking while pregnant. Offspring of mothers who reported using marijuana during pregnancy were at increased risk for both subsequent initiation of cigarette smoking (OR=2.58) and marijuana use (OR=2.76), as well as daily cigarette smoking (OR=2.36), as compared to offspring of whose mothers did not report using marijuana while pregnant. There was also evidence indicating that dose-response relationships existed between prenatal exposure to marijuana and offspring’s use of cigarettes and marijuana. These associations were found to be more pronounced for males than females, and remained after consideration of potential confounds. Such results suggest that maternal cigarette smoking and marijuana use during pregnancy are risk factors for later smoking and marijuana use among adolescent offspring, and add to the weight of evidence that can be used in support of programs aimed at drug use prevention and cessation among women during pregnancy.
Porath AJ, Fried PA. Department of Psychology, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1S 5B6.

Source: PMID: 15734278 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE

Filed under: Drug use-various effects,Marijuana and Medicine,Nicotine,Parents :

Children exposed to secondhand smoke at home are more likely to carry the streptococcus pneumonia bacteria in their nose and throat, according to Israeli researchers.

A study involving more than 200 children and their mothers found that 76 percent of children exposed to secondhand smoke carried the bacteria in their noses and throats, compared to 60 percent of those not exposed to smoking. The bacteria can cause minor illnesses like ear infections or more dangerous conditions like sinusitis, pneumonia, and meningitis.

Among the mothers, 32 percent of smokers carried the bacteria, compared to 15 percent of nonsmokers exposed to tobacco smoke and 12 percent of nonsmokers not exposed to secondhand smoke.

“Since carriage in the nose is the first step in causing disease, the increased rate of carriage suggests more frequent occurrence of the disease. Indeed, active and passive smoking are associated with increased rate of respiratory infectious diseases,” said lead study author David Greenberg, M.D. “This should definitely encourage the parents not to smoke in the presence of their child, especially if this child has predisposing factors such as asthma.”
Source: Journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. April 1, 2006

Filed under: Health,Nicotine,Parents,Youth :

Research Summary

Researchers have found that infants as young as three months old accumulate nicotine and carcinogens in their bodies when they are exposed to tobacco smoke, the Guardian reported May 12.

Authors of the study — the first to test smoke exposure on children so young — said that parents who smoking around infants could raise children’s’ risk of addiction, cancer, and other health problems later in life. “The take-home message is that parents should not smoke around their children, because they will suffer from the exposure,” said Stephen Hecht of the University of Minnesota cancer center.

The study of 144 children (ages three months to one year) who lived with family members who smoked found that 98 percent had nicotine in their urine, and 93 percent had cotinine, a marker for nicotine metabolism. Further, 47 percent of the infants had detectable levels of NNAL, a carcinogenic metabolite of cigarette smoke.

“Persistent exposure to environmental tobacco smoke in childhood could be related to cancer later in life,” said Hecht

The study appears in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention.
Source: The Guardian May 15 2006

Filed under: Health,Nicotine,Parents,Youth :

Mon Mar 24, 5:33 PM

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A new study in rats suggests that prenatal exposure to marijuana may affect offsprings’ behavior and memory, Italian researchers announced Monday.

The findings reaffirm advice for pregnant women and lactating women to avoid marijuana use, according to one of the study’s authors.

“We cannot say that findings in rats can be directly translated to humans,” said Dr. Vincenzo Guomo of the University “La Sapienza’ Roma in Rome via e-mail. “But we know that animal studies can generate predictive information on various aspects of human brain function and could represent an essential step in the development of interventions to manage human diseases.”

“In this regard, our findings suggest that both pregnant and lactating women should avoid the use of marijuana,” Cuomo said.

The findings are pub]ished in the advance online edition of the journal Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences (news – web sites).

Although marijuana is one of the most widely used illegal drugs, studies of its effects on pregnant women and their offspring have had conflicting results, said Cuomo.

This may be explained by possible impurities in the drug and by the use of tobacco along with marijuana, according to Cuomo. Rigorous studies on the effects of marijuana in pregnancy are reratively rare, Cuomo said.

However, some researchers have for many years been following relatively large numbers of children whose mothers smoked marijuana during pregnancy, according to the Italian researcher. In general, their findings suggest that exposure to marijuana during pregnancy is related to later adverse effects on mental and motor development, Cuomo said.

In the current study, Cuomo’s team injected pregnant rats with a synthetic compound that is similar to a chemical found in marijuana. The daily dose in rats corresponded to the low-to-moderate dose people get when they smoke marijuana.

Among the rats born to exposed mothers, the researchers identified memory and behavioral problems. The offspring of exposed mothers were hyperactive, though this difference in behavior was not long lasting. However, rats whose mothers bad been exposed to the marijuana-like compound did have memory problems, according to the report.

The results of the study, Cuomo said, are in line with clinical data showing that the use of marijuana by women during pregnancy has negative consequences on the mental function and behavior of their children.

SOURCE: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2003/lO1073/pnas.05378491 30.

Filed under: Brain and Behaviour,Drug use-various effects,Marijuana and Medicine,Parents :