Archive for category Drug Abuse Prevention
During adolescence, the brain is actively undergoing development, with much of the formative brain functioning and cognitive skills being established. Unfortunately, the teenage brain is also susceptible to wrong choices, and this includes drug use that may inhibit or impair proper brain development.
This is the reason behind the recent initiative of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to spearhead a comprehensive study on the effect of certain substances on the adolescent brain. Some of the substances identified to be part of the study include marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco.
In this light, NIH has handpicked researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder to join the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study. This series of studies aims to look into how drugs can affect the development of teenage brains. The university plans to do this by using the resources of the Intermountain Neuroimaging Consortium, in collaboration with the Institute for Behavioral Genetics and the Institute of Cognitive Science.
CU-Boulder professor and Institute of Cognitive Science director Marie Banich said that the breakthrough study could provide answers to some of the most essential questions surrounding teen health and drug use. “Adolescence is a time when the brain is quite sensitive to environmental influences, and the way the brain gets wired during this developmental period has lifelong implications,” Banich said via a news item.
The study will be financially supported by the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), and its results may change future policies on health and education.
If you are afraid that your children might pick up the habit of drug and alcohol abuse, you might find some hope in this bit of news.
Locals of Hancock County recently announced in a news article that they have come up with a concrete solution to discourage teenagers from using illegal drugs: “marijuana goggles“. The pair of spectacles gives a first-person simulation of the view of someone who smokes marijuana, even if the wearer does not smoke it.
A handful of teenagers, who were members of the Hancock County Youth Council, tried the goggles on themselves, and were surprised with the results. In a clear show of the device’s capability, the teenagers were able to finish a simple maze within 12 seconds, but took them four times the amount of time when they wore the goggles. They also tried a driving simulation, which they found difficult to do, considering that marijuana users have a hard time discerning the color red — which is the color of the stop sign in a traffic light.
The device was brought into the county by Neighborhoods Against Substance Abuse (NASA) member Tim Retherford, who let the youth council try the goggles. “Anytime you can do an activity — something that’s interactive with them, or something that provides education, that’s great. These actually simulate the loss of some of your cognitive functions,” Retherford said.
Blair Viehweg, a senior who lives in Mount Vernon, said that the wearing the goggles provokes the thoughts of the teenagers who wear the device. “I think it impacts them a lot because they can see how real it is,” Viehweg added.
Music festivals may sound fun, but these events may be exposing your teenagers to drugs of all sorts. A recent drug overdose survivor recently shared his experience and released a photo to discourage teenagers to engage in substance abuse.
Jordan Blackburn, 20, spent three days at Cumberland Infirmary in the U.K. — and was in a medically-induced coma for some time — after taking unknown drugs at the Kendal Calling Music Festival on July 31. He recalled that he was able to take more than three kinds of drugs during the event together with his friends, including 18-year-old Christian Pay who was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.
The photo above was released by Blackburn as a warning for teenagers to be vigilant when it comes to substance abuse in events like this. “I think at festivals especially, teenagers just want to have a good time with all their friends and they initially forget the dangers they can put themselves in by doing something stupid like we did,” Blackburn shared via BBC. “I don’t have much recollection, I think because it was such a traumatic event. It was really awful” he added.
Blackburn has already realized his mistake, and is now ready to pick up the pieces. “You never realise until it’s too late. You never think at that moment it is ever going to happen to you, but unfortunately you learn the hard way… You can never change the past, but you can always change the future. It’s just trying to make a positive thing out of something really really negative,” Blackburn expressed.
Alison Turnbull, the young man’s mother, said that Blackburn may have physically survived the ordeal, but he feels some sense of guilt over what happened. “Physically he’s fine. He’s still really tired; his body has been through quite a trauma. Mentally he’s coping OK, but I think he’s got what I would term as survivor’s guilt,” Turnbull said.
If you’re finding it hard to reach out to your kids and protect them from drugs, try emoji.
Some 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 wegotyou.life, 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.
A recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry discovered that adolescents are receiving an increasing amount of antipsychotic medication in recent years.
A 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.”
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.
Study 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.