Archive for category Drug Abuse Prevention

Emojis Used In New Ad Campaign Against Drugs

If you’re finding it hard to reach out to your kids and protect them from drugs, try emoji.

emoji anti-drug campaignSome of you might not be familiar with this, but emoji is a icon-based language used in text messages and websites. It has been an effective medium of communication for teenagers, and that’s why the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids believes it’s a good way to reach out to the young generation to talk about drugs.

The campaign is called #WeGotYou, an initiative that makes use of emojis and smileys to communicate with teenagers and display information about drugs. The campaign includes print ads, outdoor billboards, and mobile messages. Its focus on mobile aims to grab the attention of gadget-loving teenagers. “We knew we wanted to be on a peer-to-peer level, so let’s do something in their language,” said Hill Holliday ad agency copywriter Amanda Roberts in a news item.

The mobile ads and bright yellow billboards display emojis that spell out campaign slogans, with the hope that adolescents will get the message. “It’s not about saying drugs are bad. It’s about saying drugs are not for me,” said Partnership for Drug-Free Kids CMO Kristi Rowe. The campaign wants to lead teens away from drugs, not by punishing them but by supporting them despite their drug use in the past.

Part of the campaign is the mobile-only site, which allows teens to make their own emoji messages. “We want kids to go to the mobile site and interact with the codes and share them with their friends, but also take that next step to change behavior and strike up conversations that they didn’t feel comfortable having in the past,” according to Hill Holliday senior VP Jeff Nowak.

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Teenagers Given More Antipsychotic Drugs Over The Years

A recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry discovered that adolescents are receiving an increasing amount of antipsychotic medication in recent years.

girl depressed psychotic drugsA team of researchers led by Dr. Mark Olfson of New York’s Columbia University reviewed prescription data from U.S. retail pharmacies to check the trend in antipsychotic prescriptions over the years. While children 12 years old and below were issued fewer drugs for psychosis from 2006 to 2010, antipsychotic prescriptions for teenagers from 13 to 18 years of age rose by 1.19 percent. Meanwhile, people aged 19 to 24 were prescribed 0.84 percent more than in previous years. “In older teenagers and young adults, a developmental period of high risk for the onset of psychotic disorders, antipsychotic use increased between 2006 and 2010,” the researchers said in a news release.

The study proponents conclude that the differences in data for each age group may have something to do with the need to address their respective concerns. “Age and sex antipsychotic use patterns suggest that much of the antipsychotic treatment of children and younger adolescents targets age-limited behavioral problems,” the team added.

Furthermore, the research team believes that prescribing antipsychotic drugs should involve more responsibility. “Clinical policy makers have opportunities to promote improved quality and safety of antipsychotic medication use in young people through expanded use of quality measures, physician education, telephone- and Internet-based child and adolescent psychiatry consultation models and improved access to alternative, evidence-based psychosocial treatments.”

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Double Increase in Neonatal Withdrawal Reveals Rising Trend of Prescription Drug Abuse

A new study published in the Journal of Perinatology discovered an alarming increase in neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) from 2009 to 2012. Cases of infants born with NAS in the U.S. were roughly 3.4 of 1,000 births in 2009, but increased twofold to 5.8 for every thousand deliveries in 2012.

neonatal abstinence syndrome infant baby childStudy lead author Dr. Stephen Patrick, who works at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, said in a news report that the primary reason behind this trend is the increase in prescription drug abuse. “The rise in neonatal abstinence syndrome mirrors the rise we have seen in opioid pain reliever use across the nation. Our study finds that communities hardest hit by opioid use and their complications, like overdose death, have the highest rates of the NAS,” Patrick said. Meanwhile, senior study author Dr. William Cooper emphasized the impact of NAS in today’s society. “The findings of this study demonstrate that neonatal abstinence syndrome is a growing public health problem in the United States and places a tremendous burden on babies, their families, and the communities in which they live,” Cooper stated.

The country’s east south central section, composed of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee, registered the highest rate of NAS at 16.2 births per thousand.

This study further confirms the importance of preventive intervention to address NAS, particularly by focusing on programs against opioid abuse. “Too often in our health system we react to problems instead of forging public health solutions. Imagine if we were able to use the dollars spent to treat NAS on improving public health systems aimed at preventing opioid misuse and improving access to drug treatment for mothers,” Patrick added.


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Drug-Related Death of Mississippi Teenager Prompts Heightened Warning

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.

drug overdoseCarolyn 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.

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Study: Teens With Head Injury Likely To Abuse Alcohol and Drugs

Be watchful when your children suffer a concussion, because the likelihood of them engaging in drugs and alcohol may have increased.

teen traumatic brain injury drug alcohol useThis finding was discovered by a group of Canadian researchers whose study was based on a nationwide health survey on children from Grades 9 to 12. Results of the study suggested that high school students who suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or concussion were up to four times more likely to use illicit drugs such as marijuana and cocaine than those who were spared from any head trauma. The group of students who had TBI also had higher likelihood of alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking.

Study co-author Dr. Michael Cusimano, who works as neurosurgeon in Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital, expressed his astonishment in the findings. “It’s a really toxic combination when you have the two together… And it’s alarming how early this is occurring. This is Grade 9 to Grade 12,” said Cusimano in a news item.

What’s worse is that the drug and alcohol abuse can be aggravating for people who are recovering from TBI. “They can’t participate as well in the rehab, and they don’t recover their original abilities as well as people who have not been using drugs and alcohol,” he stated.

Although only about 5 percent of kids will probably experience getting hit on the head — and majority of them through sports activities — the health effects of a head trauma are devastating, according to study co-lead Dr. Robert Mann of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. “What we found in this research is that these injuries are more common than we would have thought… and that also there does appear to be a cluster with these injuries of problematic behaviour, substance abuse and mental health concerns,” Mann said.

The researchers hope that the study will be a reminder for parents to check on their children who underwent TBI, and ask if they’re using alcohol or drugs.

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Teenage Drug Use and Violence Linked To Gun Possession

Mass shootings in schools may continue to pose a threat on teenagers, but some other deep-seated dangers have been linked to carrying a gun.

gun possessionAccording to a joint study by researchers of the New York University Langone Medical Center and Columbia University, teenagers who carry a firearm are more likely to engage in drug abuse and violence. The study looked into historical data from a national survey on teen behavior from 2001 to 2011, and analyzed any trend linkages between gun possession and personal behavior.

Results of the study showed that teenagers who carried a weapon were more likely to use heroin, cocaine, marijuana and other illicit drugs. The percentage of the respondents who said “yes” to carrying a gun in school in the past month also have a higher tendency to engage in a fight at school or drank alcohol inside the school premises.

Study co-author Dr. Sonali Rajan of Columbia University shared the importance of their study on teen intervention. “Our work takes [the recommendations] one step further and says we need to place an emphasis on the school environment, it’s not just about addressing mental health — but from a public health and prevention standpoint… cultivating from a young age school environments where students feel respected by their peers and teachers and vice versa,” Rajan said in a news release.

Meanwhile, co-author Dr. Kelly Ruggles of the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone Medical Center added that “the point really is that we need to look at the comprehensive whole child, all the different things making up how kids are feeling in their environment.”

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