Archive for May, 2012

Vermillion Schools to Decide on Drug Testing Program this Summer

To address the growing problem of drug abuse in Vermillion, a survey was conducted by school boards to gather the community’s opinion with regards to drug testing programs.

student drug abuseLocal Schools Superintendent Phil Pempin said that parents have, so far, approved of the drug testing initiative for students.

The survey simply asks respondents if they are in favor of drug testing students in Vermillion. “It has shown, so far, that parents are in favor of drug testing all students. We’ve got a controversial issue and we need to explore it,” Pempin said. “We are not saying we are going to do it at this point, but we are discussing it.”

The proposal includes provisions for drug testing students who participate in sports and other extra-curricular activities as well as those who want to have their own parking rights in the campus. It is estimated that the program will cost anywhere around $4,000 to $28,000 and a decision will be made by the district school board this summer with regards to the said initiative.

Vermillion Police Chief Christopher Hartung has given his full support in drug testing local students in Vermillion. “I would tell parents to do it. You don’t know what your kids are doing. No one knows what your kids are doing but your kids. There’s no good drug, no good alcohol, no good buzz. It’s all bad. The only thing that comes from it is funerals, hospitals and STDs.”

Pempin hopes that drug testing kids will help control the situation and can make students think twice before engaging in drug activities. The thought that there is an existing drug testing program in their schools could deter kids from taking drugs to avoid the consequences if found positive for drug use. Pempin said: “They can say, ‘No I can’t do that. There’s a possibility I could be tested and I’m not going to take that chance.”

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Can Students Use Medical Marijuana in Campus?

Yes, medical marijuana has been legally accepted in 16 states in the United States, but the substance is still not welcome in school campuses as marijuana remains an illicit and illegal drug under federal laws.

If colleges were to allow the use of medical marijuana in campus, their federal funding will be compromised and they could face harsh consequences brought about by the violation.

medical marijuanaThis is why students prescribed with medical marijuana make sure that when they need their dose of pot, they light up outside their schools or in their vehicles to avoid challenging any campus rules on drug use.

University officials say they understand medical marijuana patients, but they just could not afford to risk losing the money from the government that helps them run the schools. Stephen Nelson from the University of Southern Maine estimates around $60 million comes from the Title 4 financial aid. This amount could be taken from the schools should they allow marijuana use in campuses.

“It’s not a question of right or wrong, ethical or not ethical, any of that. Right now, we just can’t run the risk of losing federal dollars,” Nelson said.

University of Colorado staff Jill Creighton shares the same sentiments as Nelson. “Some student codes of conduct are much more lax about marijuana use in general, but the assumption is if we were to allow medical marijuana on our campuses, we would then be jeopardizing our Title 4 funding.”

For medical marijuana advocates, using marijuana inside campuses should be treated no different when students bring in prescribed medications such as Vicodin, morphine, or Percocet for their own medical conditions.

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Joint Community Efforts Help Control Alcohol Abuse

Anybody can be a victim of alcohol abuse, and the consequences are serious. Individuals who get caught up in the web of alcohol addiction not only destroy themselves but they also negatively affect family relationships, working behaviors, and other aspects in the community where they are in.

alcohol abuseAlcoholism is the term used to identify alcohol dependence. Alcoholics often feel tired, depressed and irritable for no specific cause at all. Also, too much alcohol intake can damage the liver and other major organs in the body.

This is why anti-alcoholism initiatives should start at home and with the family. Family members and friends should be quick to identify the symptoms that indicate alcohol problems. Some of these signs include the dependency of an individual’s actions to alcohol that could lead to irresponsibility both in family and work obligations, encounters with law enforcement for alcohol-related incidents, and turning to alcohol despite having enough social and health problems.

Community groups may help by doing their share in implementing guidelines and measures that control alcohol abuse. Concerned citizens could assist law enforcement authorities in monitoring and disseminating information about the dangers of alcohol abuse in the area. Authorities and community leaders should solicit the support of alcohol retailers to control the improper distribution of alcoholic beverages especially to minors.

For those who sincerely want to help, volunteers are very welcome to join and share their time with organizations and cause-oriented groups that aim to control alcoholism and underage drinking.

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Social Media May Hinder Full Drug Abuse Recovery

Results of a preliminary study done by researchers from the UCLA suggests that social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter could block the full recovery of adolescents under treatment in substance abuse programs.

social networkingUCLA graduate student David Tran from the Medical Education Program conducted a survey consisting of 20 questions that was given to 37 teenagers from the different substance abuse centers in East Los Angeles.

Data gathered showed that about 92% of the participants have social media activities. Of this population, more than 75% of the girls and more than 50% of the boys claimed that there are things that they see in social networking sites which set their triggers and cravings.

According to co-study author and medical director of the UCLA Substance Abuse Pharmacotherapy Unit Keith Heinzerling, results are still at the earliest stage and could not be considered definitive yet, and that more studies with bigger sampling populations should be developed before arriving to a conclusion.

Tran explains that while they still can’t prove anything at this time, results may indicate that there are cues found in social networking sites that could lead adolescents in recovery to relapse. Though patients can be restricted from visiting social networking sites, Tran says they will only find other means to join these communities online.

But Tran and Heinzerling were quick to say that not everything about social networking sites is damaging to recovering addicts. These sites can, in fact, be used as aides in substance abuse counseling. Support groups can be established in Facebook, for instance, that will be very helpful for patients. With the combined forces of treatment programs and experts in substance abuse counseling, such kinds of social networking groups can make things a lot easier for people who want to be sober again.

Tran’s study is one of those featured in the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association for 2012.

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Government Takes Alternative Approach to Substance Abuse

The current United States administration is aiming to solve the problem of drug abuse using an alternative approach — to deal with addiction as a disease that can be treated and prevented with the right measures.

fight substance abuseNational drug control policy director Gil Kerlikowske said that the present government is working with the international community to effectively combat the problem of substance abuse, but without the need to incorporate strong law enforcement actions.

Kerlikowske explained that medical advancements have proven that drug abuse is a chronic disease of the brain that can be treated or prevented. In fact, the anti-drug abuse czar is encouraging other countries to choose programs that will help addicts to recover and revise drug laws that are not very effective in breaking the addiction cycle.

“It’s very clear we can’t arrest our way out of this problem,” Kerlikowske said. “The availability of quality treatment and the engagement of the public health sector and primary care physicians in drug issues are very critical.”

The former police chief is taking his tour around different countries like Sweden, Britain, and Russia to see how other nations deal with drug abuse and whether there are points that the United States can adopt from these countries to enhance their own efforts against drug addiction.

“…it should be noted that about 85 percent of all drug treatment research is conducted or funded in the United States…so we’re also happy to share with other countries what we have learned,” Kerlikowske said.

Officials in the US claimed that drug use has dropped significantly in the last 30 years, yet there are still more than 20 million Americans that need treatment to be able to recover from their addictions. As of today, only 4 million victims of drug abuse have access to treatment facilities and other programs that deal with their conditions.

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Alcohol Manufacturers Use Internet to Advertise to Teens

The internet is a powerful tool that could either help or destroy the values of kids today. This is why in a report from two known journals, parents and other concerned adults are warned about alcohol manufacturers who take advantage of the web to promote their products to kids.

buying beer onlineThe Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is informing the public that the various advertising tactics made by the alcohol industry on the internet are noticeably aimed to arouse the curiosity of underage drinkers.

Due to heavy alcohol advertising, it is estimated that around 4,700 alcohol-related deaths happen to underage drinkers in the United States each year.

Another study done by Rebecca Williams and Kurt Ribisl from the University of California showed that internet alcohol sellers fail to verify their clients’ age and that success rates of minors buying alcohol online is about 45%.

The study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine emphasizes how safety precautions on the purchase of alcohol are often compromised.

Director of the Hopkins Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth David Jernigan shares the same sentiments. “The fact that there are literally thousands of online outlets selling alcohol and that purchase attempts by underage persons are successful almost half of the time tells us how insufficient the protections are for our youth.”

Alcohol traders are also using social networks to reach their youth market, and they are winning as studies have proven that advertising encourages more teens to drink, and even drink heavily.

Jernigan adds that it’s about time that regulating bodies and law enforcement catch up with technology when it comes to controlling underage drinking. “Tighter controls on content and better technology to limit underage access are needed to reduce alcohol use among young people.”

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