Drug Abuse Prevention
A coalition in Clatsop County, Oregon is crossing their fingers as they wait for August to know whether they will be granted a federal fund that would help them continue their campaign against substance abuse.
The North Coast Prevention Works Coalition has been created to bring together issues facing teenagers, such as underage drinking, tobacco use, drug abuse, and suicide. In August, the group will find out if the Drug Free Communities Program would award them a $125,000 federal grant they can use to continue their efforts in fighting substance abuse in their community.
In the meantime, though, the coalition has to show first the history of their strategies and initiatives aimed at reducing alcohol and drugs among youths.
Coalition and county officials told The Daily Astorian some of the programs they implemented, such as public service announcements on radio, bottle tagging to prevent underage drinking, school visits to discuss the effects of underage drinking and drug abuse, and prescription drug take-backs, to name a few.
To qualify for the grant, a long-term plan is developed, representation from 12 sectors of the community is achieved and participation in the National Evaluation of the DFC program is required.
Jill Quackenbush, prevention supervisor with the Clatsop County Juvenile Department, said the DFC program’s main focus is on preventing youth substance abuse, but it is also comprehensive and you can’t focus on just one drug of choice.
“Their focus is preventing youth substance abuse – that has to be part of your mission,” Quackenbush explained. “We need to make sure we’re addressing that, but that can’t be the only thing we’re addressing.”
Five mothers have taken it into their own hands to spread the word about a lesser known kind of drug abuse among teens; over-the-counter medicine abuse.
Tammy Walsh, who has a son in recovery from OTC medicine abuse, has come forward to use her experiences to help others. Welsh hopes to be an inspiration so people stand up and speak out about OTC abuse. A group called, The Five Moms, is the group that Welsh advocates for. They travel the country making people and parents aware of the risks and dangers of OTC drug abuse. They teach entire communities about abusing cough medicine, how parents should approach their teens, how to monitor medications, and the true scope of the problem.
Welsh says the most important things for parents to remember is never to lecture teens as they will tune you out. Rather help them make healthy decisions. Start talking to kids early on and don’t be afraid to bring the subject up. Teach your kids how to say no and give them every tool needed to do so. Be clear about the health risks associated with drug abuse.
Welsh says that parents must know how to spot the signs of abuse. They need to know what to look for, some of the slang, and a change in habits or patterns.
Teens call the act of abusing over the counter drugs “robotripping” or “skittling” and some teens actively look for substances they can use to get high in the medicine cabinets of their homes where adults just see medicine that is virtually harmless. Many teens today are abusing these very drugs. They can be addictive and dangerous if abused.
A study from 2012, out of the University of Cincinnati indicated that ten percent of middle and high school students had said that they have abused over-the-counter drugs. The most commonly abused OTC drugs included Dextromethorphan, which is found in cough syrups and decongestants.
When children are taught about substance abuse dangers the conversation must include a lot more than just discussing illicit drugs, prescription drugs, and alcohol. Children really need to know that a plethora of trouble lurks right in their medicine cabinet at home. In fact, while parents are putting a lock on the liquor cabinet they should also be putting one on the medicine cabinet too.
Drugfree.org says that when parents teach their children about the risks of OTC drugs they are half as likely to use them.
This article was contributed by Klean Treatment Center.
Being physically attractive can win someone a lot of favors. Whether you just want to be popular at school, land a prestigious job or get promoted at work, how you look in the outside carries some weight as to whether or not you will achieve your heart’s desires. This is precisely one of the major reasons why many teenagers resort into crash diets, take weight loss supplements or use steroids — all for the call of physical beauty.
An October 2012 campus survey conducted by the University of Michigan revealed that 27.8 percent of female undergraduates, 11.8 percent of male undergraduates, 21.5 percent of female graduate students, and 10.3 percent of male graduate students on campus had eating disorders. More than 80 percent of women and 96 percent of men who were struggling with an eating disorder had not received treatment in the past year.
The researchers found that students who diet regularly dislike their bodies, fear gaining weight and seldom seek help for eating disorders.
But if you think the problem stops there, think again, because eating disorders can be a culprit in a person’s substance abuse problems.
The 2003 study, titled Food for Thought: Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders, conducted by The National Center on Addictions and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that people with eating disorders are up to five times more likely to abuse alcohol or illicit drugs and those who abuse alcohol or illicit drugs are up to 11 times more likely to have eating disorders.
High school girls with eating disorders are at greater risk to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol or use drugs than those without eating disorders. Similarly, girls who smoke, drink or use drugs are at higher risk to report past month eating disorder symptoms than those who do not have substance abuse issues.
The study concluded that individuals with eating disorders abuse caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine, heroin and over-the-counter medications such as diuretics, emetics or laxatives to suppress appetite, increase metabolism and purge themselves.
Marci Warhaft, the woman behind Fit vs. Fiction, knows exactly what makes kids today so obssessed with their appearance and the need to look good.
“It seems like you can’t flip open a magazine or turn on the TV without being inundated with images of impossibly beautiful, seemingly flawless women,” Warhaft explained. “As a result, so many young girls feel like they just don’t measure up and become desperate to change the way they look, even at the risk of damaging their health through risky weight loss behaviours. The same goes for the boys. I hear from boys as young as nine years old who are completely ashamed of their bodies because they don’t have the chiselled abs or bulging bicep muscles they see on actors on tv or at the movies.”
It’s common knowledge that many boys who want to beef up their bodies would rather take the easy route, that is, using anabolic steroids. But while steroids really help in improving strength and muscles, they are also associated with negative side effects, such as baldness, increased risk of prostate cancer, infertility, acne, bloated appearance, swelling of feet and ankles, and penile enlarged, to name a few. That’s not all; steroids users may eventually experience depression, irritability, anxiety, delusions, and other psychological problems.
Warhaft emphasized the importance of fostering a healthy environment at home. She said parents and children should be able to discuss weight issues at home as openly and honestly as possible. Encouraging the kids to become physically active is also a good way to help kids maintain a HEALTHY look as opposed to the kind of appearance they see among movie stars.
“Our fitness goals shouldn’t be about fitting into skinny jeans or a string bikini, but should be about FEELING strong and healthy,” Warhaft added. “We need to get our kids involved in activities that help them appreciate the amazing things their bodies can DO, so they won’t become preoccupied with how they look.”
North Carolina’s Dare County Department of Public Health recently held a meeting in the Kill Devil Hills Town Hall to talk about the department’s substance abuse initiative, and demonstrate household items that can be used by kids to hide drugs or alcohol.
Kelly Nettnin, public health education coordinator with Dare County DPH, offered a handful of tips on how parents can prevent kids from using alcohol and drugs. Like other health experts, she agrees that substance abuse can strike to any family, and the temptation of drugs can present itself even to the well-raised kids.
“You can do absolutely everything right as a parent and still have a child develop those problems,” the Sentinel quoted Nettnin as saying.
But Nettnin stressed the importance of communication in helping kids make sound choices, as well as spotting signs of substance abuse. She explained that parental involvement, such as making connection with your kids’ friends and their parents, can go a long way in determining the kind of crowd your kids hang out with.
Additionally, parents are encouraged to “monitor their children’s use of the internet, which is often used to purchase illicit substances.”
“If your kid is on Facebook,” Nettnin emphasized, “I highly recommend that you are on Facebook and that you stalk them.”
To foster effective communication within the family, parents should learn to speak on the child’s level, and maintain an ongoing conversation about substance abuse and the dangers associated with it.
Other tips for effective communication include:
- asking open ended questions
- evaluating your dialogue
- remembering that teens are capable of making mature, responsible decisions with the support of parental guidance
- eating dinner around the table together with no TV or cell phones at least five times a week
“When your child does come to you with a problem,” Nettnin added, “do not overreact. Try to keep your cool. They’ll be more likely to come to you later.”
Other strategies parents can do to prevent kids from getting into drugs are:
- encouraging the child to get involved in extracurricular activities
- being an active part of their life
- setting clear and consistent standards and rules
- enforcing positive attitude toward school
- fostering a healthy sense of self
- encouraging positive attitude toward school
- maintaining a safe and health-promoting environment
Nettnin noted that parents should be absolutely clear on their position on drug and alcohol use by communicating their attitudes and values, and confronting the child with facts, not judgment.
“If your child asks if you used alcohol or drugs, remember that the issue isn’t your past, but your child’s future,” Nettnin shares. “Your job as a parent is not to make sure your child likes you – it’s to make sure he makes it to 18 years of age alive and healthy and well.”
It’s sad to hear that despite warnings about the dangers of inhalants, teens continue to experiment with them only because they want to get high.
In Los Angeles, a 14-year-old girl reportedly died this week after inhaling a computer keyboard cleaner. Drug experts believe inhaling toxic substances, or huffing, is a growing trend in kids these days, and many parents are unaware that many household products can be the culprit.
“It was really scary to read that and really sad, because i know with inhalants, with that and really sad, because i know with inhalants, wit that young lady and it may be the first time she’s ever done…it totally changes your body’s ability to asphyxiate yourself and you could die the very first time,” Mike Gemar, Canyon Ridge High School Vice-Principal, told KMVT.
Gemar knows a lot about inhalants because he attended training on it, and one of the important things he learned is how inhalants can affect the brain and the central nervous system. Unfortunately, at least 1 in 5 kids inhale some type of chemical or toxic substance before reaching 8th grade.
Given this information, Canyon Ridge High School is stepping up its fight against substance abuse by educating students as young as 8th graders about inhalants. There are also available resources on campus to help students make informed decisions about drug use and abuse.
Brady Dickinson, the principal at Canyon Ridge, said their students study the dangers of drug use as part of the health curriculum. Similarly, the effects of substance abuse, both short- and long-term, are shared to the students to raise awareness.
Inhalants are considered drugs under the school district’s policy. Dickinson adds that the policy is aimed at preventing kids from using drugs and educating them about their health.
Children who are living with an addicted parent, sibling or relative are at greater risk of experiencing a range of problems, including emotional disturbances, behavioral issues, poor educational performance, and susceptibility to substance abuse later in their life.
The Intervention Organization noted that there are more than 8 million children in the United States who live with at least one parent struggling with alcohol or drug dependency. One in four children below the age of 18 is living in a home where alcohol abuse is a fact of daily life.
As much as an addicted parent needs treatment, children of addictions also need professional help in order to cope with the trauma of growing up in families affected by alcohol or drug abuse.
Health professionals, school teachers and guidance counselors, community-based program personnel, and social workers are just some of the adults that can provide children of addictions the help and encouragement they need.
If you want to help children who live in alcohol or drug-dependent families, check out the organizations listed below for more guided assistance.
The National Association for Children of Alcoholics
This non-profit organization have affiliate groups throughout the U.S., as well as in Great Britain, Germany, and Canada. They work to raise public awareness by creating videos, booklets, posters and other educational materials for intervention and children support. One of its affiliates in the United States is the Betty Ford Center Children’s Program, which offers education, support, and hope to 7-12-year-olds impacted by a loved one’s addiction to alcohol and/or other drugs. For more information about the work they do, you can visit www.nacoa.org
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.
Since 1944, this non-profit organization has raised public awareness about addiction throughout the United States and increasingly across the global community. In the U.S. alone, it currently has over 100 affiliates that serving individuals, families, workplaces, schools, health providers, and psychological therapeutic community, among others. In addition to delivering media campaigns, NCADD is also committed to provide intervention services, drinking driver programs, recovery support, and school and community-based prevention. For additional details about NCADD, visit www.ncadd.org