Despite several studies that serve as warnings, as well as alerts from health agencies, the use of electronic cigarettes by teenagers continues to rise.
This finding was revealed by a study by researchers from the University of Hawaii Cancer Center led by Dr. Thomas Wills. According to the study as published in a news release, 30 percent of students in Hawaii between 14 and 15 years of age were reported to be using e-cigarettes. This figure is quite alarming, considering that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in 2012 that 10 percent of teenagers use the alternative electronic sticks.
What’s troubling about this scenario is that e-cigarettes were advertised to lead people away from more harmful tobacco products, but researches have shown the exact opposite: e-cigarettes may promote smoking tobacco products. “The fact that e-cigarette only users were intermediate in risk status between non-users and dual users raises the possibility that e-cigarettes are recruiting medium-risk adolescents, who otherwise would be less susceptible to tobacco product use,” the researchers said.
The study involved a survey of close to 2,000 pupils who were asked about their use of tobacco cigarettes and the electronic variants, as well as marijuana and alcohol.
Wills emphasized the real issue of addiction to smoking, which is not easy to turn away from. “A lot of teens think it is easy to quit smoking but it isn’t true. It’s hard for anybody to quit,” Wills added.
It’s unfortunate to have a young person die from drug overdose before people listen to the warnings, but an anti-substance abuse advocate is using this recent incident to highlight the dangers of drug abuse.
Carolyn Anderson, who serves as executive director of the Gulf Coast Substance Abuse Task Force in Mississippi, has long urged the general population to be aware of the present situation on substance abuse. “Teens, parents, teachers and anyone in the community, you need to step up. Make them feel special. Make them feel love. Make them feel life is worth living, and push them towards their potential,” Anderson said in a news release, referring to teenage deaths associated with drug overdose.
The latest incident involved a teenage boy, age 13, who was declared dead due to overdose on opioids and benzodiazepine. “This is a horrible thing to think. Someone at 13 is gone because of an overdose,” said Anderson.
The agency director is a strong advocate of early intervention by people whom the teens look up to. “I want teens that are upset, depressed or being bullied. I want them to find an adult they can confide in, whether it’s a coach, teacher, Sunday school teacher… Talk to someone. Don’t experiment,” Anderson expressed. She also urges parents to use locked medicine boxes to prevent access by young kids. “Make sure it’s put away so they don’t find them,” she stated further.
Be watchful when your children suffer a concussion, because the likelihood of them engaging in drugs and alcohol may have increased.
This finding was discovered by a group of Canadian researchers whose study was based on a nationwide health survey on children from Grades 9 to 12. Results of the study suggested that high school students who suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or concussion were up to four times more likely to use illicit drugs such as marijuana and cocaine than those who were spared from any head trauma. The group of students who had TBI also had higher likelihood of alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking.
Study co-author Dr. Michael Cusimano, who works as neurosurgeon in Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital, expressed his astonishment in the findings. “It’s a really toxic combination when you have the two together… And it’s alarming how early this is occurring. This is Grade 9 to Grade 12,” said Cusimano in a news item.
What’s worse is that the drug and alcohol abuse can be aggravating for people who are recovering from TBI. “They can’t participate as well in the rehab, and they don’t recover their original abilities as well as people who have not been using drugs and alcohol,” he stated.
Although only about 5 percent of kids will probably experience getting hit on the head — and majority of them through sports activities — the health effects of a head trauma are devastating, according to study co-lead Dr. Robert Mann of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. “What we found in this research is that these injuries are more common than we would have thought… and that also there does appear to be a cluster with these injuries of problematic behaviour, substance abuse and mental health concerns,” Mann said.
The researchers hope that the study will be a reminder for parents to check on their children who underwent TBI, and ask if they’re using alcohol or drugs.
Prescription drug abuse has become a hot topic as of late, with a string of fatalities and hospital admissions caused by this alarming issue. Worse, some medical professionals are not aware that they are issuing prescriptions for excessively strong medications.
According to ABC Australia, doctors in the country were able to issue more than 100,000 prescriptions for anti-psychotic drugs to children in 2013. Queensland, one of the many states in Australia, pegged the highest rate in anti-psychotic drug prescriptions at 645 per 100,000 people. NSW and Victoria followed suit.
While some child cases were under the supervision of consenting parents, other children given overprescribed medicines were in foster homes. Majority of the anti-psychotic drugs were designed to treat psychiatric conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, but a growing trend is turning to these medicines to address autism and aggression in kids.
According to the news report, medical professionals are not united in the issue on prescribing anti-psychotic medication in children. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists allow this kind of medicine to be prescribed to kids for legitimate reasons, with psychosis being one of them. “Sometimes we do see kids who have aggressive and behaviour problems who’ve had a range of many other treatments and sometimes they do benefit from anti-psychotic treatment,” said Dr. Nick Kowalenko, college chair for child and adolescent psychiatry. However, Kowalenko emphasized that the drugs are not absolute substitutes to a “comprehensive treatment approach”.
Risperidone is the medicine most often prescribed by doctors to treat psychosis in Australia, with over 28,000 prescriptions issued in 2013 alone.
[ Image source ]
Mass shootings in schools may continue to pose a threat on teenagers, but some other deep-seated dangers have been linked to carrying a gun.
According to a joint study by researchers of the New York University Langone Medical Center and Columbia University, teenagers who carry a firearm are more likely to engage in drug abuse and violence. The study looked into historical data from a national survey on teen behavior from 2001 to 2011, and analyzed any trend linkages between gun possession and personal behavior.
Results of the study showed that teenagers who carried a weapon were more likely to use heroin, cocaine, marijuana and other illicit drugs. The percentage of the respondents who said “yes” to carrying a gun in school in the past month also have a higher tendency to engage in a fight at school or drank alcohol inside the school premises.
Study co-author Dr. Sonali Rajan of Columbia University shared the importance of their study on teen intervention. “Our work takes [the recommendations] one step further and says we need to place an emphasis on the school environment, it’s not just about addressing mental health — but from a public health and prevention standpoint… cultivating from a young age school environments where students feel respected by their peers and teachers and vice versa,” Rajan said in a news release.
Meanwhile, co-author Dr. Kelly Ruggles of the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone Medical Center added that “the point really is that we need to look at the comprehensive whole child, all the different things making up how kids are feeling in their environment.”
According to a new study, teenagers may suffer from brain damage during later years when they engage in binge drinking now.
Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst found a link between teen binge drinking and reduction in brain protection. The researchers looked into a substance called myelin, a material that improves electrical impulse transfers across the nervous system. Loss of myelin has been linked to impairment of brain functioning as well as neurodegenerative autoimmune diseases.
The study involved testing laboratory mice that were given access to free-flowing sweetened alcohol during the adolescent stage, with a control group receiving sweetened water only. Results showed that as the test rats grew, the group that drank alcohol were found to have lower myelin levels in the brain’s prefrontal cortex.
Study co-author Dr. Heather Richardson said that the results may confirm previous studies about the effects of teen binge drinking on overall brain processing. “Our study provides novel data demonstrating that alcohol drinking early in adolescence causes lasting myelin deficits in the prefrontal cortex. These findings suggest that alcohol may negatively affect brain development in humans and have long-term consequences on areas of the brain that are important for controlling impulses and making decisions,” Richardson said in a news release.
In addition to this, rats exposed to alcohol were found to have poorer memory. This could translate to memory and learning impairment in people who engage in excessive alcohol consumption.
The study authors are hopeful that their discovery could be used to investigate the importance of myelin in preventing schizophrenia, Tourette syndrome and other psychiatric disorders.