Archive for November, 2012

Latest National Report Shows Underage Drinking a Persistent Problem in All U.S. States

A new report issued on Nov. 20 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) revealed that underage drinking is still a serious problem across all states.

underage drinking“Underage drinking should not be a normal part of growing up. It’s a serious and persistent public health problem that puts our young people and our communities in danger,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “Even though drinking is often glamorized, the truth is that underage drinking can lead to poor academic performance, sexual assault, injury, and even death.”

Although efforts aimed at reducing the extent of underage drinking in recent years has shown progress, particularly among those aged 17 and younger, the rates of underage drinking are still unacceptably high. Combined 2008 to 2010 data indicate that 26.6 percent of people aged 12 to 20 drank alcohol in the past month, and approximately 8.7 percent of past month drinkers purchased their own alcohol the last time they drank.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report shows that the rates of underage drinking in the past month were highest in Vermont (37.0 percent) and lowest in Utah (14.3 percent). States with the lowest incidence of underage youth illegally purchasing their own alcohol included New Mexico (2.5 percent), Idaho (2.6 percent), and Oregon (2.6 percent).

Southern states that had some of the lowest rates of underage drinking include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.  Whereas, some of the highest rates of underage youth illegally purchasing their own alcohol include Alabama, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina.

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New CDC Report Says Many Teens Believe Smoking Hookah Carries Less Risk

A new report in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (DCD) journal suggests that while fewer youth are smoking cigarettes, an increasing number are smoking hookah. And what’s more alarming is that many teen hookah smokers don’t recognize the health risks associated with hookah use.

hookah_smokingThe researchers, led by Daniel S. Morris MS, PhD, of Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division, wrote that many hookah smokers believe that smoking a hookah carries less risk of tobacco-related disease than cigarette smoking. However, hookah smoke contains many of the same toxins as cigarette smoke and has been associated with lung cancer, respiratory illness, low birth weight, and periodontal disease. In 2011, 18.5 percent of 12th graders reported having smoked a hookah in the past year.

The report also cited the prevalence of hookah use in Oregon which increased significantly from 2.7 percent in 2008 to 5.1 percent in 2009 among 8th-grade students in counties with hookah lounges. In counties without hookah lounges during the same time, the prevalence of hookah use by 8th-grade students increased from 1.6 percent to 1.9 percent. In San Diego,  30 percent of high school students learned about hookah smoking from seeing a hookah lounge.

Morris and colleagues noted that more still needs to be done to cut down youth hookah smoking. They noted potential policy interventions that include equalizing tobacco tax rates for all tobacco types, requiring warning labels on hookah tobacco and accurate labeling of product contents, extending the cigarette flavoring ban to hookah tobacco, enacting smoke-free air laws and removing exemptions for hookah lounges, and expanding shipping restrictions on tobacco products.

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University of Central Missouri Going Tobacco-Free

The University of Central Missouri Board of Governors approved on Nov. 16 a new tobacco-free policy that will begin implementation in January 2014.

smoking banAccording to UCM press release, the purpose of the new Use of Tobacco Policy, which will make the institution tobacco-free by July 2014, is to “promote the health of the university community, to preserve and protect university property, and to provide a clean and safe environment to work, study and learn.”

The policy was developed by an 11-member campus committee that was created in fall 2011 at the request of President Charles Ambrose.

Under the new regulations, the use of all tobacco products and nicotine delivery methods not approved by the FDA will not be allowed on all UCM campuses. Prohibited products include  traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes, pipes, cigars, hookah/ water pipes and all other forms of smoke-generating products, and smokeless tobacco such as chewing tobacco, snus and snuff. They will be banned on campus grounds and in all university-controlled buildings, including residence halls and apartments, as well as in university-owned or leased vehicles.

However, exemptions to the policy apply to personal vehicles, the Keth Memorial Golf Course range at Pertle Springs, parking lots during designated public events such as commencement, as well as sporting or performing arts events. Tobacco use may also be permitted for controlled research and educational or religious ceremonial purposes, if approved by the proper senior administrator. But sale of tobacco products on campus and tobacco advertisements in any university-owned media will be disallowed.

“This tobacco-free policy communicates that we as an institution value health, and will help prevent incoming students from moving from experimentation and casual use to a daily addictive practice,” said Janice Putnam, a professor of nursing. “Many businesses, cities, and states are creating similar policies to protect the health of their employees, so in addition to the health benefits, a tobacco-free campus helps prepare our students for a tobacco-free work environment.”

UMC will provide a six-month initiation period for education, distribution of information, and opportunities for individuals who want to stop using tobacco to take advantage of low-cost cessation resources.

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Steroids Remain a Favorite Muscle-Enhancing Drugs Among High School Students

Teenagers want to be admired and for many of them, having a beefed up and nicely toned muscle is a sure fire way to get someone’s attention. Sadly, achieving a muscular body doesn’t happen quickly, prompting a number of today’s youth to go the easier route, that is, taking anabolic steroids.

anabolic steroids in teenagersIn a new study of nearly 3,000 kids and teens at 20 different middle and high schools in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, about five percent were found to have used anabolic steroids to put on muscle, the Reuters reports.

“Really the pressure to start using (steroids) is in high school,” said Dr. Linn Goldberg, from Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, who was not involved in the study. “You get the influence of older teens in high school, so when you’re a 14-year-old that comes in, you have 17-year-olds who are the seniors, and they can have great influence as you progress into the next stage of your athletic career.”

According to the study, majority of the surveyed kids were poor or middle-class. While student-athletes were more likely to use most methods of muscle-building, steroids use was equally common among athletes and non-athletes.

Aside from steroids, more than one-third of boys and one-fifth of girls  who participated in the survey admitted taking protein powder or shakes to gain muscle mass, and between five and ten percent used non-steroid muscle-enhancing substances, such as creatine. The study, which appeared on Monday in the journal Pediatrics, also found Asian students were three to four times more likely to have used steroids in the past year than white students.

The researchers point out the media as one of the driving factors for  teens to engage in anything that would make them get tone.

Anabolic steroids have become popular in professional sports, including baseball, football and boxing. But aside from enhancing muscles, steroids use has also been linked to other ugly side effects, such as acne, baldness, insomnia, infertility, risk of cardiovascular disease, and depression.

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Survey Shows Youth Begin to Use Prescription Drugs Earlier Than Other Drugs

A survey released by the Coalition for a Drug-Free Greater Cincinnati last week revealed that adolescents try using prescription drugs for non-medical reasons earlier than other commonly abused substances.

prescription drugsThe 2011-12 PRIDE Student Drug Use Survey evaluated drug use among school age children in Greater Cincinnati and found that the respondents begin to use prescription medicines not prescribed for them earlier than alcohol, tobacco or marijuana. More than 6 percent of the surveyed youth admitted using prescription drugs for non-medical reasons within the past 30 days, the Kentucky Post reports.

Over 57,000 students in grades 7-12 from 119 schools participated in the survey in fall 2011. The data showed alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, and prescription drugs as the most widely used drugs by the local youth. The average age students report for first use of prescription drugs not prescribed for them is 12.9 years, compared to 13 years of reported first use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana.

The PRIDE Student Drug Use Survey is conducted every two years. Some of the core questions asked to the students included average age they started using substances, use in the past 30 days, students’ perception of risk, students’ perception of disapproval of parents, students’ perception of disapproval of friends, and how available the substances are.

“Preventing teen drug and alcohol use takes a full community effort,” CDFGC President/CEO/Executive Director Mary Haag said in a news release. “We, along with our local community-based coalitions and partners, focus on getting to the underlying, root causes of youth substance abuse to create systems-level of change within a community. The PRIDE survey is just one of the key elements in setting the stage for this change.”

The Coalition presented the survey result during a summit focused on the abuse of prescription opioid drugs by Tri-State youth. Haag had said they are concerned that their youth “are starting to use these medicines at such a young age.”

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North Fork Schools Anticipates Student Drug Testing Before the Year Ends

Students at North Fork School District may soon have to submit themselves for mandatory drug testing after the North Fork Board of Education approved during its October meeting the reinstatement of the policy.

drug testingAccording to Mount Vernon News, the district will follow the drug testing policy established in 2003. Students who are involved in any extra-curricular activity or those who drive vehicles on school grounds will be required to undergo random drug testing. The test will be performed periodically to give students a fair and equitable chance of being chosen each time selections are required.

The purpose of the program, which is expected to begin  around December, is to ensure the health and safety of all students; undermine the effects of peer pressure; encourage students to participate in drug treatment; and to prevent the impact drugs and alcohol has on the learning environment.

It wasn’t clear yet whether the drug tests will be performed by a third party service provider or what kind of substances are going to be screened, but the board assures more details will be disseminated to parents through emails, coaches and parent advisories.

North Fork School District’s 2003 policy states: “The board realizes that a student’s participation in the district’s school sponsored extra-curricular program and student drivers, who use illegal drugs, alcohol or tobacco, pose a threat to their own health and safety, as well as to that of other students.”

“The board also recognizes that the use of alcohol and illicit drugs by students is a national problem and, with the support from the U.S. Supreme Court, the North Fork Local School District will put a program of deterrence and intervention into effect as a pro-active approach to a truly safe and drug-free school.”

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