Archive for February, 2012

Smartphone App to Help Keep Drug Cravings in Check

The University of Massachusetts Medical School scientists have come up with a new smartphone app that will help control drug cravings of people who are trying to stay drug-free at all times.

smartphone appThe report published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology indicated that the upcoming app called iHeal will gather physical and mental data from substance abusers to keep their stress levels in-check that will dramatically decrease the chances for relapse.

Those who choose to get the app will have to wear sensor bands around their wrists that will monitor their heart rates, body temperature, motion and the skin’s electrical activity. The band will in turn send information to one’s smartphone where the said app does its work to help keep a person away from using drugs again.

While the app is still being continuously developed by the team of researchers, professor of emergency medicine and director of toxicology at UMass Edward Boyer said the app could prove to become a strong drug-prevention intervention tool that can be found in smartphones.

“When the mathematics get good enough it should be able to predict when people will develop some kind of drug cravings,” Boyer said. “It might help with more immediate delivery and immediate effect.”

The app’s promising status has already caught the interest of rehab clinics such as the Hope House in Boston. A representative from the facility sees the app will be a great tool in fulfilling their mission. Hope House director for clinical services Stacy Conroy emphasized the probable role of the app for people who are recovering from substance abuse.

“We definitely know that stress is connected to relapse. One of the key factors [to recovery] is learning to manage daily stress. An application that is designed to help someone manage their stress would be helpful.”

Together with other methods for recovery, the app could be very effective and will be able to address the needs of individuals who want to get their lives back on a straight path.

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Conditional Driver’s License Holders Need to be Educated by Parents

In South Carolina, persons at least 15 years old but not over 16 can be given the privilege to drive through the conditional driver’s license provided by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

drivingThe law requires that before young drivers are issued their conditional licenses, they must first pass a driver’s education course and should have held a beginner’s permit for at least 180 days. The candidates should also pass road tests, attended driving school for at least the required minimum hours of attendance and satisfied all other requirements that will be asked by the department. They should also cover at least 40 hours of actual driving practice with 10 hours allotted for driving in the darkness supervised by a licensed parent or guardian.

Yet this type of provision has been a cause of concern for the National Center for Health Statistics as more and more 15- to 20-year-old individuals are dying due to vehicular accidents. It has been noted that the lack of experience by these drivers is the main reason why they don’t have good responses to emergency situations that have ultimately claimed their lives.

This is why it has been emphasized that the role of parents and adults is very important in molding responsible and skillful drivers. Aside from the basics of reminding young divers to always wear their seat belts, to never answer phone calls while driving, and to stay calm when behind the wheels, the need to establish and effectively implement family rules while driving is also very vital to avoid crashes.

Rules with regards to alcohol and drugs use will have to be on top of the list. Parents need to be serious and consistent in implementing driving limitations such as never allowing any type of alcohol or drugs inside the vehicle while in motion or not, and that no one should take the wheel if intoxicated. There should never be any distraction when kids drive to keep their safety on the road as well as the safety of other drivers they meet.

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Discussing Drug Trends Among Teenagers

A free public panel discussion was organized by the Ottawa Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition to address the growing problem of marijuana use in Northwest Ottawa County especially among teens. The discussion held at the Grand Haven 9 Theater was attended by about 60 parents and educators from Muskegon, Holland, and Tri-Cities.

synthetic marijuanaPanelists during the forum included police officials, school authorities, parents, and students that were all determined to help put a stop to drug abuse problems in their area. Sgt. Glenn Bo from the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety was joined by Deputy Sara Fillman of the Sheriff’s Office in Ottawa County, Cynthia Spielmaker from tha 20th Circuit Court/Juvenile Services, Karen Miedema of the Ottawa County Prosecutor’s Office, and some parents and students who volunteered to share their experiences with drug abuse.

Stephanie VanDerKooi from the Ottawa County Health Department said that kids today have easy access to dangerous drugs. From the latest survey made, they listed alcohol as the top choice of drug among high school students. Marijuana came in at second while synthetic marijuana (K2 or Spice) climbed at the third place. Completing the top five from the list are tobacco at fourth and prescription drugs at fifth place.

From the list of prescribed medications, Adderall, Ritalin, and Vicodin have been favored by citizens in Northwest Ottawa County.

“The big problem is, it’s (drugs) more potent than ever — but kids are looking at it like it’s no big deal,” Miedema said. “And it’s getting expensive — but, somehow, kids are getting the money.”

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Smokeless Tobacco Abuse Among Charlotte Teens

In Charlotte County, using smokeless tobacco has become a hit especially among teens. This is the reason why more and more kids are not minding the dangerous and unhealthy effects of tobacco use as the number of nicotine dependents continue to increase.

smokeless tobaccoSmokeless tobacco comes in two forms: the snuff and chewing tobacco. Chewing tobacco are shredded, twisted, and bricked tobacco leaves while the snuff is fine-grain tobacco contained in teabag-like pouches. Snuff is consumed by pinching or dipping the bags between the lower lip and gums while the chewing type is usually kept between the cheek and gum.

A recent survey shows that teens use smokeless tobacco for up to six times a day. According to the 2010 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, there are now 13.1% of high school students in Charlotte admitting to smokeless tobacco use at least once in the last 30 days.

Teens often think that because the tobacco is only chewed or allowed to sit in one’s mouth, it becomes safer than actually smoking it as they do cigarettes. Yet the same nicotine effect happens when they suck on the tobacco juices allowing nicotine to enter the bloodstream through the tissues in their mouth. There’s no need to even swallow the tobacco since it already takes effect just by staying in one’s mouth.

Principal Ron Schuyler from The Academy in Port Charlotte admitted that they don’t usually have any idea who is using smokeless tobacco. He says that teens can easily conceal their use of the substance to avoid being reprimanded.
“If any person is addicted to nicotine, they want to get that nicotine fix, and this way, they can get that fix with less chance of having any school discipline”

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Using Laughter to Teach Young People the Truth About Drugs

While it may be true that drug abuse is no laughing matter, especially when it involves young people, using comedy to teach the truth about drug abuse and the risks and dangers that they bring may make conversations about it more comfortable and open.

DirtThe Substance Abuse Prevention Council of the Youth Agency used grant funding to hire Boston comedian and actor John Morello to put up a performance of the one-man show entitled “Dirt.”

The show, set for 7 pm to 9 pm on February 27, Monday, at the New Milford High School auditorium, is open to everyone, especially parents and high school students. While middle school kids are also welcome, parents are warned that the show’s target audience is older youth.

In both a brochure and his website, Morello shared that the show does not aim to “preach, teach, or lecture;” on the contrary, it merely presents characters that are familiar to anyone who goes to high school: “the bully, the Queen Bee wannabee, the ignored, and parents who are hooked on their own drugs of ambition and perfection.”

A New York Times article about the show shared that Morello injects humor into the show in order to make an impact, as opposed to merely poking fun at the situation. He is also drawing from his own family experiences, having witnessed addiction in his own family. Morello has been performing for all over the country for the past 8 years.

Allison Zaccagnini, Youth Agency counselor, shared: “He’s not preachy. It’s real life, but it’s entertainment.”

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Missouri City PD Announces Teen Drug Testing Program

The Eureka Police Department in Missouri announced an effort that aims to help and prepare teens to face peer pressure when it comes to experimenting with substance abuse.

The new drug prevention program called “Test My Teen” is designed to ensure that parents are in touch with “what is really going on” with their teens, in addition to helping teens overcome peer pressure when their “friends” ask them to try out illicit drugs and alcohol.

Eureka Police Chief Michael Wiegand shared that the program will allow parents to download a voucher from the website of the Eureka Police Department, which will make them eligible for a free home drug test kit. Parents who avail of the program will only need to pay for shipping costs.

Test My Teen

The Test My Teen website shares answers to general questions, information on what to look for, conversation starters for parents who would like to talk to their teens about drugs, and references for counselors.

The provision of electronic vouchers ensures total anonymity, thereby allowing families to deal with whatever issues may be revealed by such drug tests privately. The home test kits, Wiegand shared further, will be shipped in plain packaging, in order to further ensure the privacy of the family.

Families who do not have access to the Internet, however, may pick up printed vouchers, which are available at the Eureka Police Department.

Wiegand shared the following statement in a news release: “For years, police have been the first to know, and the parents the last to know when local kids used drugs… with this testing program, we can work with parents and turn this thing around.”

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