Drug Abuse Prevention

New Bill to Combat Cough Syrup Abuse Awaits Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Approval

A legislation aimed at fighting dextromethorphan abuse has recently won the support of New York lawmakers, and is now at Governor Andre Cuomo’s desk for final approval.

dextromethorphan abuseThe bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, directs any retail establishment to prohibit the sale of products containing dextromethorphan (DXM) to persons under 18 without a valid prescription.

“Too many of our teens are abusing this medicine to get high,” Jaffee said during a press conference at South Orangetown Middle School early this month.

Jaffee began working on the bill two years ago after hearing stories about the negative impact of DXM abuse. She did her research on the topic, review the  dangers of peer pressure, and assess how poor discussion about the problem is destroying the lives of the country’s future generation.

Similar legislation is already in place several counties including Westchester, Suffolk and Nassau County. But Jaffee’s bill will enforce the age restriction on a state level. Once Gov. Cuomo signs the bill, a $250 fine will be imposed to those who will be caught violating the provisions of the new law.

“I think the bill is going to make a huge difference. It will deny access. And once you deny access, you raise awareness,” Jaffe noted. “It’s a very important step.”

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East Tennessee State University Receives $2.2 Million Grant to Combat Prescription Drug Abuse

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has awarded East Tennessee State University more than $2 million to launch a five-year research program aimed at fighting prescription drug abuse.

prescription drug abuseDr. Robert Pack, the principal investigator on the grant, professor and associate dean for Academic Affairs at the ETSU College of Public Health, said the research initiative will be especially relevant to the Southern Appalachia region where the Rx abuse epidemic is disproportionally high.

“Prescription drug abuse is a disease, plain and simple, and it affects people from all walks of life,” Dr. Pack said in a news release. “I would say that most everyone in our region knows someone personally – a friend or a family member – who has been caught in the grip of it, or still is.”

Dr. Pack and his team will study how improving communication among health care providers who prescribe drugs, pharmacists who dispense them, and the patients who receive them can reduce illicit use of prescription medicines. They will also study how well health care providers think that they communicate with patients about substance abuse, and how prepared they feel to intervene in cases of suspected substance abuse. The researchers will also quantify outcomes of drug take-back events and drug donation boxes where substances with potential for abuse are removed from households.

“This won’t be just an academic exercise,” Pack added. “Through our research on improving communication among providers, prescribers and patients, we intend to develop real solutions to reduce the impact of prescription drug abuse in our region.”

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Prevention Efforts Found Effective in Reducing Substance Abuse

Cliché as it may sound but prevention still goes a long way when it comes to addressing public health issues, such as substance misuse.

fight substance abuseAccording to researchers from the Penn State and Iowa State University, kids who are exposed to community-based prevention programs while they are still in middle school are 65 percent more likely to reduce their overall misuse of prescription drugs. Significant reduction rates were also observed for methamphetamine, marijuana, alcohol, cigarette and inhalant use.

The study is part  of the Promoting School-Community-University Partnerships to Enhance Resilience (PROSPER) model which brings evidence-based prevention programs to schools and communities to strengthen families, build youth skills, and reduce substance abuse.

For the purpose of the research, PROSPER administered a combination of family-focused and school-based programs for nearly 30 communities evenly split between Iowa and Pennsylvania. The programs started while the students were still in sixth grade.

In addition to reducing substance abuse, the researchers found that prevention programs improve relationships between teens and their parents, as well as life skills and few problem behaviors. They emphasized that timing is equally important in ensuring the effectiveness of prevention programs.

“We think the programs work well because they reduce behaviors that place youth at higher risk for substance misuse and conduct problems,” Richard Spoth, director of the Partnerships in Prevention Science Institute at Iowa State, said in a news release. “We time the implementation of these interventions so they’re developmentally appropriate. That’s not too early, not too late; about the time when they’re beginning to try out these new risky behaviors that ultimately can get them in trouble.”

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How to Know if Your Teen is Using Marijuana

Marijuana is the most widely abused drugs among teens and adults. It is often smoked as a cigarette or in a pipe or bong; sometimes ingested in the form of  marijuana-laced cookie, candy, or drinks. If you are concerned your teenager might be using marijuana, there are several ways for you to know it aside from drug testing him/her.

Here are some of the telltale signs to look for:

smoking marijuana1. Take note of your teen’s eyes. Marijuana use can immediately cause dilation of blood vessels in the eyes, thereby, making them bloodshot.

2. Observe your teen’s conversation pattern. Does s/he suddenly have difficulty conveying her/his ideas? Does s/he often lose track of her/his thoughts mid-sentence? Does s/he laugh uncontrollably or exhibit a sense of paranoia when talking? As a mind-altering drug, marijuana can cause short term memory loss, distorted perception, and trouble with thinking and problem solving.

3. Use your sense of smell. Teenagers will do everything to cover up their bad habit. Still, you can smell the distinctive odor of marijuana in your child’s clothing, car, or room. Also pay attention if your teen has suddenly started using air fresheners or scented candles more often than needed as this could indicate an attempt to mask marijuana’s smell

4. Look for drug paraphernalia in your teen’s room. This is perhaps the most intrusive way of checking whether your teen is into marijuana but it can help in saving your child from the dangers of substance abuse. Some things to look for are rolling papers, lighters, pipes, roach clips used for holding the burning end of a marijuana “joint.”

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Parents, Schools Giving Away Expensive Prizes to Prevent Teens from Attending Wild After-Prom Parties

We all know that reward system is often used in motivating a child or an employee to behave well. But will this same approach work for teenagers if it means skipping unsupervised after-prom parties?

after-prom party rewardsVarious schools around the U.S. have lined up extravagant goodies, such as brand new cars, iPads, and college scholarships, in the hope of attracting teens to attend supervised, alcohol-free events after their annual high school proms.

According to Reuters, the prizes are sometimes provided by local businesses while others are purchased through parent-led fundraising.

In Roanoke, Virginia, one student will be given a new 2013 Nissan Juke and two others will get iPads.

“Research shows that if they stay to the end of the after-prom party, they are more likely to be alcohol- and drug-free,” said Kathy Sullivan, the director of the Roanoke group.

In Pennsylvania, one high school student will drive away a black Honda Civic just for going to a supervised after-prom party. In Derby, Kansas, a high school booked an entire amusement park for its after-prom party.

Meanwhile, Allen High School in Allen, Texas gave away eight $250-worth of scholarships, several computers, a party for 20 at a local barbecue restaurant and tickets to a Texas Rangers baseball game.

At the Johnson City, New York, students have a chance to get microwaves, laptops and television sets. On top of that, attending students will be given a suitcase with $100 worth of merchandise.

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More Than 30 Colleges and Universities in the U.S. Joined Forces to Tackle Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is considered the most common form of excessive alcohol use in the United States. Not only is the habit unhealthy, it’s also blamed for thousands of highway accidents that have happened over the years. So to address the problem, 32 higher education institutions across the country forged a partnership through the National College Health Improvement Project (NCHIP) created by  Dartmouth College two years ago.

binge drinkingNCHIP’s initiative Learning Collaborative on High-Risk Drinking is geared at address the problem of high-risk drinking on college campuses with the use of comprehensive evaluation and measurement techniques. Participating colleges and universities are encouraged to come up with alcohol prevention program, see how it works,  improve as needed, and then scale up the program.

“It’s been a really great source of collaborative learning and resources,” Annie Stevens, associate vice president for student and campus life at the University of Vermont, told The Associated Press. “It really does give you a chance to get out of your own bubble and look around and rely on your colleagues. We’re all struggling with the same thing and saying, ‘Hey, have you found anything you’re doing that seems to work?’”

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism revealed that four out of ten college students in the U.S. engage in high risk drinking; approximately 1,800 college students die each year from alcohol-related injuries. Binge drinkers, in particular, are found to be at higher risk of unintended pregnancy, alcohol poisoning, unintentional and intentional injuries, neurological damage, high blood pressure, and liver disease.

At the University of Vermont, several programs have been utilized to combat high-risk drinking, among them include sending emails to parents before big party weekends and coordinating with police to pinpoint troublesome properties off-campus. Stevens said students are also asked about alcohol use any time they go to the campus health clinic for any reason, and if a students’ answers raise red flags a physician steps in. Such alcohol screening method is also in place at Dartmouth, along with another program developed at the University of Washington called BASICS — Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students.

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