Archive for May, 2010

Shenandoah Valley Starts Process on Drug Testing Policy

A report on the Republican Herald shares the first reading of the proposed drug testing policy that will be followed in Shenandoah Valley schools. The school board met on Wednesday and the proposed policy was read aloud by Superintendent Dr. Stanley G. Rakowsky. This was then approved unanimously by the members of the board.

young cheerleadersThe policy will affect students in the seventh until the twelfth grade who are engaged in extra-curricular activities such as football, cheerleading and the student council. There will be voluntary and mandatory drug testing in the form of urine tests. The students will be selected at random by an approved contractor. Up to ten eligible students may be tested randomly in two-week intervals throughout the school year.

The parents or guardians of the students involved will need to sign a consent form that authorizes the release of test results. Students whose parents will not give their consent will be prohibited from getting involved in extra-curricular activities.
Students who are not involved in the specified extra-curricular activities may be covered through enrollment in a voluntary program provided that their parent or guardian gives the necessary permission.

The testing will cover the following substances: anabolic steroids, amphetamines, barbiturates, cocaine, codeine, depressants, heroin, marijuana, morphine, methamphetamine, opiates, PCP, stimulants, Valium and alcohol.

Wednesday’s reading, as mentioned earlier, is the first reading of the proposed policy. Two more public readings will be held before the school board takes a vote on adopting the policy or not. The policy may be amended during this time.

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Hirst Family: From Losing Andrew over Drug Abuse to Helping Others

We have shared several posts about families who have lost loved ones to drug abuse and who are now reaching out to other families in order to share their experiences and hopefully help save a young life.

We found yet another family who is using their loss as an inspiration to help others. A feature on MLive.com shares the story of Mike and Corinda Hirst, who lost their son Andrew to drug overdose.

Andrew HirstAndrew had been through quite a few scrapes in his young life. He has spent time in jail, a hospital, and rehab, and at one point had even tried to help the police catch drug dealers. His father Mike had gone all the way in trying to help his son and keep him drug-free. Andrew’s family shared that he hated heroin and was ashamed of his habit – but had difficulty staying away from it.

The young Hirst tried to kick the habit several times, as shared by his father. He willingly went to Brighton hospital for using oxycontin in 2008. According to Mike Hirst, Andrew was drawn to the substance by his high school friends. He eventually switched to heroin, which was said to be a cheaper alternative.

Andrew died after buying heroin from 18-year-old Amanda Ball, who was arraigned on Wednesday afternoon and charged with providing heroin and delivering a controlled substance causing death. If convicted, Ball may face imprisonment for life.

The Hirst family, including Andrew’s sisters Jill and Karey, would like to do what they can to assist authorities in fighting the distribution and use of heroin. While Andrew was not saved in time, “we are going to save someone else.”

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Birmingham Police Provide Drug-Testing Kits

The Birmingham Police Department (BPD) is providing drug testing kits to parents free of charge, according to an article on the Earnest W. Seaholm Highlander, the student publication of Seaholm High School. The BPD is offering the program in an effort to be of assistance to parents who suspect that their sons or daughters may be involved in drug use.

Detective Ron Halcrow gave the following comment regarding the BPD program: “It’s mostly to try to establish some honesty on [the kid’s] part, and so the parents can be proactive.”

healthy teensThe kits provided by the BPD are urine-based drug testing kits that test for eight different substances: barbiturates, amphetamines, methamphetamines, cocaine, oxycontin, THC, marijuana, and alcohol. All test kits are home-based and will provide parents with immediate results; there will be no need to send in samples to companies, which means that both the parents and the child will have privacy.

The BPD, however, will have no hand in the consequences that the child will have to suffer should a test come out as positive. Crisis counselor Sherree Williams shared that consequences will be entirely up to parents, as the school itself does not make its students undergo drug testing, but mentioned that she is open to talking to any student who may test positive.

Halcrow said that the BPD hoped that parents whose children test positive will try to help their children get back on track through treatment, counseling or rehab – instead of merely disciplining them. The BPD is also encouraging parents to make use of the services that they have to offer.

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Santana Moss and His Connection with Dr. Anthony Galea

The fact that Santana Moss was dragged into the controversy surrounding Dr. Anthony Galea has some people wondering: did the Washington Redskins wide receiver get human growth hormone from the Toronto sports doctor or not?

He is, after all, not the only sports star whose name is being dragged into this affair. Tiger Woods, Alex Rodriguez, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran have all been treated by Dr. Galea. “Treated with what?” is a question that remains to be answered.

Santana MossAccording to a report on the New York Daily News, Dr. Galea was on his way to Washington in order to treat Moss when his assistant, Mary Anne Catalano, was nabbed at the Peace Bridge border crossing in Buffalo. Galea is now being accused of unlawful distribution of HGH and smuggling, among other criminal charges. If convicted, Dr. Galea may have up to 20 years in an American prison.

HGH is banned by the NFL, although it does not test for it. There is speculation that Moss may face disciplinary action for using banned substances due to the issue, but a feature on KansasCity.com shares that Coach Mike Shanahan is said to be confident that Moss will not be disciplined.

Fellow Washington Redskins athlete Phillip Daniels said that Moss shared that he was undergoing treatments under Dr. Galea’s care, and the treatments were described as routine and did not have anything to do with banned substances.

Coach Shanahan said: “I sat down and talked to Santana today and went through a bunch of situations that have happened to him, and I feel really good about where he’s at. I feel real good that he’ll be, I don’t know if ‘vindicated’ is the word, but when people find out all the facts, everything will be OK.”

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Inhalants: Dangerous Way to Get High

Much has been written about the substances that are being abused by nowadays – illegal substances such as cocaine and heroin, prescription painkillers, alcohol. While these substances can now be relatively easy to get for some, they still are not things that a teenager can simply waltz into a store and get for themselves. But when it comes to inhalants, we have a different story.

inhalant abuseA feature on freep.com shares the experience of Wonder Lake, Illinois resident Dale Hunt, and how he lost his 18-year old son Aaron just last month. Experts say that there are a lot of teens who get their fix from inhalants, but parents have no idea about how popular they have become – or how dangerous they can be. Dale Hunt said: “I want parents and kids to know. People don’t need to die this way.”

The common inhalants used by teens are things that are cheap and can easily be bought by anyone: shoe polish, spray paint, gasoline. For Aaron Hunt, it was propane that is used to fuel lanterns. After huffing the substance, the young Hunt went into a seizure, and his heart had stopped by the time paramedics arrived.

The choice made by teens to abuse inhalants goes beyond the fact that it is cheap and can easily be bought; it is also not detected by most drug tests. It is important, therefore, for parents to recognize the warning signs: weight loss, deterioration of memory, chemical smells on your child’s breath, and the existence of chemical products in your child’s room or backpack. Even air freshener or computer cleaner may be considered as warning signs, according to Harvey Weiss, director of the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition.

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Changing the Drug-Related Reputation of Santa Cruz, California

The city of Santa Cruz, California, has the not-too-desirable reputation of being a “haven for heroin.” And the Santa Cruz Sentinel – as a conclusion to a series of reports – has a few ideas on how to change that notion.

santa cruzFirst up is a challenge to the District Attorney’s Office: put drug dealers in jail, and keep them there. The Santa Cruz Police reportedly shared to the Sentinel that the reason why drug users seem to thrive in the city is that they were under the impression that the law was soft on drug-related crimes. If drug dealers are not allowed to strike up plea bargains in order to go back to business, this impression may change.

The second suggestion is to adopt a strategy that is known to work, and for Santa Cruz that strategy seems to point to an option where addicts are subjected to close supervision and made to suffer consequences. This will include the more frequent utilization of Drug Court, which provides frequent reviews, outpatient treatment, drug testing and attendance in 12-step meetings.

Then there is the need to provide funding for the local methadone clinic. The clinic provides immediate and street level-level help; the Sentinel reports that it is cheaper to allocate $335 a month to put addicts on methadone as opposed to placing them in the health care system, as is usually the case when addicts get back on heroin.

Lastly, the Sentinel suggests that everyone pitch in to help local police in cutting off the supply of drugs as well as putting an end to the culture of illegal drugs. Something as simple as a citizen immediately reporting illegal drug activities can help.

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