Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More prescription drugs for teenagers

"The chance that a teenager or young adult will received a prescription for a controlled medication has nearly doubled in the last 15 years," according to a study summarized in an article in Reuters.

The article goes on to say, "In 2007, one of out every nine teens . . . received prescriptions for medication such as pain killers, sedatives and stimulants that could potentially be abused, the study, led by Robert Fortuna at the University of Rochester in New York, warned."

"While he told Reuters Health that this doesn't necessarily mean that teenagers and young adults will either abuse the medications or pass them onto others, it does reinforce the need to let people know how dangerous the drugs can be -- and the need to monitor their use."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Alcoholic energy drinks a symptom of a larger problem

In an effort to shift the conversation about the banning of alcoholic energy drinks, a Boston Globe columnist writes, ". . . Four Loko is merely an upstart outlier that is easy to pick on. The bigger issue is underage drinking and binge drinking. We remain a hypocritical nation that wags our fingers at kids not to drink but lets top beer companies target them with advertising."

While the column goes on to discuss the huge amount of alcohol ads that minors are exposed to, I would add that there are multiple factors that influence underage and binge drinking, including advertising and alcoholic beverages that are attractive to young people. Factors such as local laws and their enforcement; parental and community attitudes and actions; and opportunities for youth to play meaningful roles in their communities and to be recognized for their positive contributions.

While banning certain alcohol products and reducing alcohol advertising will reduce underage and binge drinking, there are more strategies that communities need to consider when acting to prevent youth substance abuse.

Preventing prescription drug abuse

As I meet with community members, the topic of youth prescription drug abuse keeps coming up. People who work with teenagers report an increase in the number of young people who are abusing prescription drugs. According to the 2008 Healthy Youth Survey, 12% of Washington high school seniors abuse medicines.

A local coalition is advocating for drug take-back programs where Washington residents can bring their unwanted medicines to be properly destroyed. Their website includes fact sheets and other resources that community members can use to increase understanding and awareness of the issue.

In Seattle, the SAMA Foundation advocates for drug take-back programs, as well.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Strong coalitions support evidence-based prevention programs

Strong coalitions help communities implement evidence-based prevention programs, according to the results from a study conducted at Pennsylvania State University. Researchers found that the following coalition traits were significant when it comes to supporting local evidence-based programs:
  • perceived strength of coalition leadership;
  • task-oriented coalitions;
  • positive relationships among members, staff, and community organizations.
Other factors included adhering to the CTC (Communities That Care -- similar to the SPF -- Strategic Prevention Framework used by Prevention WINS) process with ongoing technical assistance and funding for coalition staff, resources, and materials.

Free tobacco prevention webinar

Understanding Tobacco's Toll on Individuals, Families, and Communities
December 2, 2010
12:00 noon - 1:30 p.m.

Gain new tools to address tobacco policy and smoking cessation.

Understand the role and effectiveness of quit lines.

Learn about the available resources to help reduce smoking in your community.

Hear from local communities about their successes.

To register, visit www.CADCA.org.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Alcohol & marijuana use

Students in Washington State recently took the 2010 Healthy Youth Survey. Results should be available in the spring. Below are charts showing the 10th and 12th grade rates of current alcohol and marijuana use in the state, King County, Seattle Public Schools, Nathan Hale High School, and Roosevelt High School as reported in the 2008 Healthy Youth Survey.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More proof that prevention works

A multi-year study preformed at 14 universities found that community-based, well-publicized prevention strategies can significantly reduce drinking and intoxication at off-campus locations. Activities included nuisance party enforcement operations; minor decoy operations; DUI checkpoints; social host ordinances; and use of media to increase the visibility of the strategies.

Monday, November 22, 2010

More prevention principles

Last week I blogged about scientifically based principles that can guide communities to implement prevention strategies that work. Following are a few more principles about starting programs in communities.

1) Prevention programs aimed at general populations at key transition points, such as the transition to middle school, can produce beneficial effects even among high-risk families and children.

2) Community prevention programs that combine two or more effective programs, such as family-based and school-based programs, can be more effective than a single program alone.

3) Community prevention programs reaching populations in multiple settings—for example, schools, clubs, faith-based organizations, and the media—are most effective when they present consistent, community-wide messages in each setting.

These three principles point to the effectiveness of integrated, comprehensive prevention strategies rather than one-time events. Some examples are:
  • providing structured time with adults through mentoring;

  • increasing positive attitudes though community service;

  • communicating clear policies on substance abuse;

  • supporting a large number of prevention strategies or integrating strategies into already existing activities.

Data about youth treatment and marijuana

As I was going through my old files today, I came across a report on substance abuse treatment in the Seattle area. I remember when I first read the report, what struck me was that marijuana is the primary reason, by far, that people under the age of 18 are admitted into substance abuse treatment programs even though alcohol is the primary substance abused by youth.

It reminded me of something I had read recently about the younger a person starts smoking marijuana the higher the likelihood of addiction. The effects of marijuana on youth differ from the effects on adults.

It also reminded me that I wanted to create a link to the presentation that Stephen Bogan gave at this year's Prevention Summit: Getting High to Not Be Low - Adolescent Marijuana Abuse, Addiction, and Mental Health.

As we continue our discussion about the legal status of marijuana, it's important we include conversations about youth substance abuse prevention and treatment.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Preventing deaths & saving money

To follow up with the previous post . . . it is estimated that Washington's tobacco prevention program prevented 13,000 deaths over ten years and saved about $1.5 billion in health care costs. Prevention does work!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

In the news

Tobacco Use Levels Off as States Slash Prevention Programs

When well-funded, youth substance abuse prevention programs work. We don't need to look further than the Washington State Tobacco Prevention and Control Program which has contributed to a 50% reduction in youth smoking rates since 2000. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, public health expert fear that funding reductions will undermine the progress states have made in reducing tobacco use.

"A study led by Staci Ann Gruber of Harvard Medical School found that people who began using marijuana before age 16 and who used it the most performed the worst on a test of cognitive flexibility. Cognitive flexibility means being able to change your response to something based on the context of the situation."

Prevention principles: in the community

As the Prevention WINS coalition starts planning youth substance abuse prevention activities under our new Drug Free Communities grant, we will be guided by information about what has proven to work.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has identified several Prevention Principles intended to help people deliver research-based prevention programs at the community level. The first four principles cover risk and protective factors.

Principle 1: Prevention programs should enhance protective factors and reverse or reduce risk factors.

Risk and protective factors differ from community to community. The Prevention WINS coalition identified the following risk factors in our community:

  • Favorable attitudes towards drug use among high school students (individual/peer domain);
  • Poor family management -- parents monitor their children less and less as the get older (family domain);
  • Youth who use are not caught and when they are very few consequences exist (community domain).
Principle 2: Prevention programs should address all forms of drug abuse . . . including underage use of legal drugs; the use of illegal drugs; and the inappropriate use of legally obtained substances.

The tested and effective prevention programs implemented by Prevention WINS over the past four years include Life Skills Training and Guiding Good Choices. Both of these programs address all forms of drug abuse. In the future, the coalition will continue to address all forms of substance abuse using environmental strategies.

Principle 3: Prevention programs should address the type of drug abuse problem in the local community.

In northeast Seattle, the top two drugs used by teenagers are alcohol and marijuana according to the Healthy Youth Survey. The coalition's action plan addresses both.

Principle 4: Prevention programs should be tailored to address risks specific to audience characteristics such as age, gender, and ethnicity.

This will especially be true as the coalition develops a social norms campaign and works on local advocacy issues as part of the DFC grant.

With these four principles in mind, community organizations are encouraged to:
  • Develop integrated, comprehensive prevention strategies rather than one-time community-based events.
  • Provide young people with structured time with adults through mentoring.
  • Increase positive opportunities, skills, and recognition through community service and other activities.
  • Communicate and enforce clear policies.
  • Organize at the neighborhood level.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Prevention WINS January meeting

Save the date . . .

DFC Celebration & General Coalition Meeting
Thursday, January 20, 2011
8:00 - 9:30 a.m.
Seattle Children's Hospital, G-1026

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Let's draw the line

The Washington State Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking (RUaD) recently launched a new campaign called Let's Draw the Line. The campaign's overall goal is that everyone in our state wants to draw the line between youth and alcohol. Communities throughout the state will be organizing Let's Draw the Line events and activities, including Prevention WINS. Visit http://www.letsdrawtheline.org/ for more information.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Liquor laws as prevention

Though the two initiatives that would have deregulated or privatized hard alcohol distribution and sales in Washington failed this week, the issue won't be going away any time soon. Already, a state senator has said that he will take another run at it during the upcoming legislative session, according to a story on KPLU.

The Dangers of Alcohol Deregulation: The United Kingdom Experience, written by Pamela Erickson of Public Action Management, provides information about how the regulation of alcohol prevents underage drinking and other public health and safety problems and what we can learn from the liberalized alcohol laws in the UK.

The report stresses the need for multiple strategies to prevent alcohol-related problems: "There is no sliver bullet to curb alcohol problems. What works in the United States may not work for the United Kingdom and vice versa. But, the U.K. situation has highlighted the need for comprehensive regulation rather than deregulation and high taxes. . . . As we have seen, a good system to combat alcohol problems has several measures to ensure prices are not too low and availability is controlled. The system must also have age restrictions, anti-drunk driving measures and effective enforcement."

As the Prevention WINS coalition moves forward with our advocacy work, we will look at all policies that prevent underage drinking and drug use. Our advocacy work will complement our ongoing work with youth and parents and our focus on positive youth development.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Free online learning opportunities

How can we keep kids drug-free? These free online learning opportunities highlight a few prevention strategies.

Raising Drug-Free Kids
December 2, 2010
On Demand
-- See why the teenage brain is not just an adult brain with fewer miles on it
-- Learn which tactics work best to keep kids away from drugs
-- Find out what has worked for other coalitions and how this may help you
-- See how you can help guide your kids to make better decisions
-- Find out what resources are out there to help coalitions reach parents

More information is available on the CADCA website.

Get in the Game! Webinar Series
Part 1: Alcohol Marketing and Youth - Why it's a problem and what you can do
December 14, 2010
10:00 a.m. - noon

Part 2: Untrain Your Brain - Tools to unravel alcohol advertising and Expectancies
December 16, 2010
10:00 a.m. - noon

More information is available on the Drug Free Action Alliance website.

Energy drinks and alcohol

A few more links to information about energy drinks, both with and without alcohol:

College Students Who Use Energy Drinks More Than Twice as Likely to Initiate Non-medical Use of Prescription Stimulants and Analgesics in Subsequent Year

The Mix with Dangerous Risks: Energy Drinks and Alcohol.