Archive for December, 2014
The latest report by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) reveals both good and bad news in terms of substance use by teenagers.
According to the annual teen tracking report by the government agency, teenage use of illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin has dropped this year. “Probably that relates to very aggressive campaigns for prevention,” said NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow in a news release.
In addition, the rate of teenage smoking using traditional cigarettes has also dropped significantly, as well as the rate of teenage binge drinking. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about e-cigarette use. What’s troubling for the agency is that the dangers of e-cigarettes have not yet been exposed completely. “One of the arguments has been that when you’re vaping nicotine you are not inhaling all the combustion products from tobacco leaves that you get from a regular cigarette… The problem has to do with the fact that if these e-cigarettes are improperly manufactured, then they can deliver toxins from leakage from paint or other materials that are used in their production,” Volkow said.
Illicit use of Adderall and other similar prescription stimulant drugs is also on the rise, according to the NIDA study. “The problem of using stimulant medication to study for tests is that stimulant drugs are addictive and actually they can be highly addictive,” the NIDA director added.
Despite several studies that serve as warnings, as well as alerts from health agencies, the use of electronic cigarettes by teenagers continues to rise.
This finding was revealed by a study by researchers from the University of Hawaii Cancer Center led by Dr. Thomas Wills. According to the study as published in a news release, 30 percent of students in Hawaii between 14 and 15 years of age were reported to be using e-cigarettes. This figure is quite alarming, considering that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in 2012 that 10 percent of teenagers use the alternative electronic sticks.
What’s troubling about this scenario is that e-cigarettes were advertised to lead people away from more harmful tobacco products, but researches have shown the exact opposite: e-cigarettes may promote smoking tobacco products. “The fact that e-cigarette only users were intermediate in risk status between non-users and dual users raises the possibility that e-cigarettes are recruiting medium-risk adolescents, who otherwise would be less susceptible to tobacco product use,” the researchers said.
The study involved a survey of close to 2,000 pupils who were asked about their use of tobacco cigarettes and the electronic variants, as well as marijuana and alcohol.
Wills emphasized the real issue of addiction to smoking, which is not easy to turn away from. “A lot of teens think it is easy to quit smoking but it isn’t true. It’s hard for anybody to quit,” Wills added.
It’s unfortunate to have a young person die from drug overdose before people listen to the warnings, but an anti-substance abuse advocate is using this recent incident to highlight the dangers of drug abuse.
Carolyn Anderson, who serves as executive director of the Gulf Coast Substance Abuse Task Force in Mississippi, has long urged the general population to be aware of the present situation on substance abuse. “Teens, parents, teachers and anyone in the community, you need to step up. Make them feel special. Make them feel love. Make them feel life is worth living, and push them towards their potential,” Anderson said in a news release, referring to teenage deaths associated with drug overdose.
The latest incident involved a teenage boy, age 13, who was declared dead due to overdose on opioids and benzodiazepine. “This is a horrible thing to think. Someone at 13 is gone because of an overdose,” said Anderson.
The agency director is a strong advocate of early intervention by people whom the teens look up to. “I want teens that are upset, depressed or being bullied. I want them to find an adult they can confide in, whether it’s a coach, teacher, Sunday school teacher… Talk to someone. Don’t experiment,” Anderson expressed. She also urges parents to use locked medicine boxes to prevent access by young kids. “Make sure it’s put away so they don’t find them,” she stated further.