Archive for April, 2012

Teens Get Creative in Drug Abuse

At a forum held in Grovetown Middle School, different methods kids use to get away with drug use were introduced — and kids these days have found clever ways to get access to and use drugs.

School administrators admitted that they have caught students bringing vodka-soaked candies and marijuana pipes made from ink pens at school.

vodka candiesBut Bradford Health Services administrator Terry Childers said parents should be on the lookout if their kids start to read the obituary section of a newspaper. “They would look for people who died of something like cancer, knowing their houses probably had a lot of prescription drugs in them. Then, these kids would wait for when the funeral was being held and rob the house,” Childers said.

Other signs of drug addiction shared by the lecturers include stealing from parents, academic troubles, unusual disruptive behavior, lying, and getting home late.

Childers added that another drug popular to students is Spice. A synthetic marijuana formulated by a scientist from Clemson University, Spice is sold in the United States as incense or potpourri which are readily available in tobacco and convenience stores.

A.J. Creswell who is a senior counselor for the Insight program, a program focused on spreading awareness of teen substance abuse, added that continued use of Spice could lead to psychosis.

Yet prescription medications claim the top spot when it comes to the drug of choice among teenagers. According to Creswell, kids can easily get hold of such drugs with about 70% of users confessing that they get their supply from their parents’ prescriptions.

Creswell warned parents on the growing problem of substance abuse. “The kids who come through my program are some of the smartest I’ve ever met,” he said. “Drug dealing isn’t just some guy on a street corner. Kids are getting them from friends, at home, even at gas stations.”

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Hand Sanitizers: Latest Trend in Teen Alcohol Abuse

Here is something that just blew my mind — teens have found a way to get drunk with hand sanitizers.

The latest trend in alcohol abuse comes in the form of hand sanitizers which teens consume to get drunk, and because they are not aware of the dangers in ingesting the said substances, emergency room admissions are increasing by the day.

hand sanitizerHealth experts said that hand sanitizers have long been experimented on not only by the youth as alcohol substitutes. Since March 1, 16 cases countywide and 60 cases statewide in 2010 have been reported at California’s Poison Control which involve hand sanitizers.

According to pediatric medical toxicologist Dr. Cyrus Rangan, the misuse of hand sanitizers is increasing fast. As the director of the county Department of Public Health’s Toxic Epidemiology Program, Rangan confirmed that a small bottle of hand sanitizer contains 60% alcohol and this is what teens are after to get drunk. “That’s like drinking several shots of hard liquor,” Rangan added.

Dr. Rangan continued that although there hasn’t been any death reported with the abuse of hand sanitizers, continuous intake of the substance could lead to a coma.

Unfortunately, hand sanitizers can be purchased easily and with no restricting law governing its distribution or sale, the number of bottles that kids, at any age, can buy is literally limitless. Teens have learned to separate the alcohol from the product using bath salts. Details of the whole procedure are found online.

The more dangerous scenario in the misuse of hand sanitizers is when younger children ingest it thinking it’s fruit juice by mistake, says Helen Aborgast from the Children’s Hospital during a press conference. “Just a spoonful can cause a problem,” she said. “It’s a concern for us. We’re going to be going to the high schools to talk about it.”

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Parent-Child Communication to Fight Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Parents and students at Ludlow High School gathered last Tuesday to discuss teen substance abuse. For the more than 700 attendees, one clear message was promoted throughout the event: that the key to preventing teen substance abuse is good communication between parents and their kids.

parent talking to childIt has been made into a statewide initiative in Massachusetts that reminds both parents and children to not hesitate talking about sensitive issues before complicated situations arise.

Ludlow has had its fair share of teen problems; from prescription drugs to alcohol abuse, there is a growing concern from the people themselves which has driven authorities to hold forums and gatherings that will educate both parents and students about the dangers of substance abuse.

Latest figures gathered showed that 48% of Massachusetts high school students claim to have access to alcohol in their own homes and that they drink often and heavily. Some students say they give in to peer pressure and learn to drink in order to fit in.

Yet these teens aren’t informed about the dangerous consequences of underage drinking or drug overdose and the legal repercussions that come with these activities.

Hampden County District Attorney Mark Mastroianni said teens are not the only ones who get in trouble with the law if they get into alcohol habits very early. Individuals aged below 21 years old could be jailed if caught in possession or consuming alcohol, but adults who serve alcohol to minors not related to them can go to jail for up to a year.

Sean Ward of Ludlow shared his experiences about his continuing recovery from addiction. “I actually used to be a pretty heavy drug addict, my mom and I started talking and going to therapy and certain things like that, and this, this is great.”

In a feature from 22News, a support group for parents dealing with substance abuse holds their weekly meeting at Providence Hospital on Route 5 every Wednesday at 6:30 pm.

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T2T Campaign Working Against Prom Season Drinking

Prom and graduation seasons are fast approaching and during this time, underage drinking and drug use can easily make their way into every teen’s life.

T2T campaignThis is why the North Memorial program Partnership for Change has launched a “T2T” campaign with a mission to keep kids safe especially during the coming season. For the past four weeks, pink signs around the northwest suburbs have been spread and last Monday, the program worked its way to Maple Grove Senior High school.

The “T2T” messages have been revealed in various social media outlets of the campaign: Time 2 Think, Time 2 Teach, Talk 2 Teens, and Teen 2 Teen. The last message will be unveiled this coming Saturday, April 28 during Maple Grove’s own prom event.

All of the bright pink signs used by the T2T program have been distributed through community lawn signs, flyers, social media sites, and websites that are often visited by the target students at Maple Grove, Park Center Senior High, and Osseo High School. The messages will hopefully help prevent underage drinking and drug abuse among the youth in the area.

Partnership for Change coordinator LeeAnn Mortensen said their campaign aims to protect kids during end of school seasons. “We have implemented the campaign for the first time in northwest Hennepin County. The campaign is an important reminder during the upcoming prom and graduation seasons to keep students safe.”

Mortensen claimed that about 200 yard signs have been distributed which helped in promoting awareness of underage drinking and drug use throughout the whole community.

Yet they are continuing their efforts to encourage parents, concerned citizens, community leaders, and students to do their share in fighting alcohol and drug abuse especially in the northwest Hennepin County.

“In the end we hope to protect the health of the families in our communities and ultimately save lives,” she said.

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Local Community Efforts Keep Teen Alcohol Use Down

At the recently held Marshfield Area Parent Network dinner, the results of the 2012 Youth Risk Behavior Survey were presented and one encouraging development emerged — that alcohol use among Marshfield-area teens has declined, and is steadily declining since 2008.

teen drinkingThe survey had both local public and Catholic middle and high school students as participants. The Marshfield Area Coalition for Youth (MACY) claimed that the decline in alcohol use among teens could be attributed to their continued efforts in working with other partner agencies to curb underage drinking.

MACY member and Marshfield Clinic substance abuse program manager Dorothy Chaney confirmed that since 2005, their organization has been driven to control teen drinking. “The survey shows alcohol use among youths is steadily declining, and this is amazing,” Chaney stated.

The survey showed that 64.6% of students admitted to consuming alcohol, down from 2008’s figure of about 68.9%. On the other hand, students’ perception of risks and dangers upon use of alcohol increased, with 73% of them saying they could get in trouble with just one or two drinks a day. In the same survey done four years ago, the same condition only yielded 59%.

Marshfield School Board president Tim Deets was positive that underage drinking rates will continue to drop as far as their area is concerned. “This increase in the perception of risk is a good thing. Ultimately, these are decisions that youths make, and if their perception of risk is increasing, then when the time comes to make a decision, they will understand the risk enough to not do it,” Deets added.

Chaney also proudly shared to the 840 parents gathered at the dinner event that Marshfield local teens’ risk behavior levels were below the national and state averages. She attributes this situation to the initiatives of local agencies, police department, schools, and even businesses in their area all helping to keep kids safe. “All the key community leaders are involved in these issues. The community is coming together to make a change.”

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Most Young Smokers Develop Into Pot Users

If earlier studies recorded 35% of cigarette smokers also experimenting with marijuana, today’s latest findings has put 50% of young smokers aged 18 to 25 as weed users too.

smoking marijuanaA research conducted at the University of California yielded the result which is considered a big leap from the previous data gathered. Experts say that studies as such are very important in determining what programs are necessary to control present conditions. “The importance of getting accurate data like these cannot be stressed enough, as treatment programs and the financial support required for them are often guided by studies that demonstrate both prevalence and risk.”

Study author Danielle Ramo from UCSF Department of Psychiatry said they took advantage of technology and social media to gather data for their research. Ramo said they were surprised with the results. “…. rates were much higher, which shows the problem might be larger than we realize.”

The study was done with 3,500 participants all considered regular smokers. They remained anonymous and were asked to confirm any marijuana use in the last 30 days. After recording their answers, it was found out that from the 68% who smoked cigarettes on a daily basis, 53% of them also smoked pot within the last month.

Study senior author Judith Prochaska made it clear that being in a medical marijuana state was not a factor in the prevalence of marijuana use or the use of both tobacco and marijuana by their sampling population. There was no significant difference in results too when age, income, or gender factors were taken into consideration.

For Bruce Goldman, director of Substance Abuse Services at Zucker Hillside Hospitals in Glen Oaks, the findings of the study was what he actually expected. He also emphasized the need for new methods in developing treatment programs for substance abuse.

The same sentiment was heard from study author Prochaska. “Adapting the social media aspect into intervention and incorporating the social environment are new ways to approach finding the most effective means for treatment.”

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