see it everywhere in the news, media, and entertainment, but is teen substance
use really inevitable? Join us for a community conversation on the landscape of
substance use in Northeast Seattle, what teens want and need from the community
to thrive, how parents can set rules, and how to build community protections.
students from University Prep & Nathan Hale High School and researchers
from the Seattle Children’s Research Institute & University of Washington
and numerous community resources.
Over the years, this blog has included posts about tax revenue earmarked for teen substance use prevention being diverted to the state general fund. Prior to the passage of Initiative 502 which created the legal commercial marijuana system in our state, prevention advocates warned that the initiative's dedicated funds for prevention could and would be moved to fund other things as soon as the legislature was legally able to. And legislators did.
The Seattle Times editorial board recently wrote about it after a Seattle 16 year-old died because he "likely jumped from a balcony in a panic after smoking pot for the first time."The editorial describes the broken promises that, not surprisingly, are similar to previous broken promises for tobacco and liquor revenue earmarks:
Based on the revenue coming in or forecast through 2018, the state
Department of Social and Health Services should have had $113 million
for programs “aimed at the prevention or reduction” of substance abuse
among middle and high schoolers — kids the age of Warsame. Instead, the
agency is budgeted to receive only about half that amount.
Similarly, the state Department of Health should have had $77 million
to operate a marijuana-education hotline and a statewide
public-education campaign regarding marijuana for youths and adults.
Instead, the Legislature earmarked less than one-third that amount — $24
million — and the marijuana-information hotline hasn’t materialized.
Source: Seattle Times, May 17, 2016
In communities, this means that while access to marijuana increases, as children are exposed to marijuana advertising, and marijuana use becomes normalized, young people aren't receiving messages to counteract marijuana marketing, not all middle schools are implementing tested and effective prevention programs, and not all parents are learning skills for supporting healthy decision making among their children. It means that, once again, legislators and those who promised Washingtonians that marijuana legalization would be good for substance use prevention are failing to do their part to help our teenagers stay drug free.
The annual National Prevention Network (NPN) meeting was held in Seattle last fall and the University of Washington's David Hawkins gave a keynote address about substance use prevention. As our state expands prevention programming, particularly activities for preventing youth marijuana use, his keynote address provides a good reminder about what works and what does not.
Before a great deal of prevention research was done, many substance use prevention programs were used that have since proven ineffective. The last thirty years of research have made a significant difference in understanding what is most effective.
For example, while it may seem intuitively correct that providing information about drugs would be a straight-forward way to prevent young people from starting to use drugs, such a strategy actually increased drug use in some studies.
Protective factors include the communication of clear standards in families, at schools, and in the community. When families, schools, and communities express clear standards against teenagers using drugs, youth are less likely to use drugs.
Individual prevention programs that encourage family bonding, teach skills that teenagers need to be able to avoid or refuse drugs, and provide parents with information about giving their children opportunities and recognition for pro-social behaviors have been found to be effective.
Communities have a role to play in prevention, too. Policies such as the minimum legal drinking age, taxes, and restrictions on where and when legal drugs are sold are proven methods for preventing youth drug use.
So, which prevention activities should be implemented in communities? Whichever ones address the problems specific to a community. Prevention activities are not one-size-fits-all. Know your community and what factors are putting teenagers at risk and what factors are protecting against drug use.
The entire keynote presentation may be viewed by clicking here.
On Saturday, April 30 from
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Seattle Police Department and the Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public its 11th opportunity in
six years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially
dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Bring your pills
for disposal to any of the city’s five precincts. You can find
the drop-off site in your neighborhood by visiting our precinct map.
The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.
Last September, Americans
turned in 350 tons (over 702,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at more than
5,000 sites operated by the DEA and more than 3,800 of its state and local law
enforcement partners. Overall, in its 10 previous Take Back events, DEA and its
partners have taken in over 5.5 million pounds—more than 2,750 tons—of pills.
This initiative addresses a
vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home
cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of
prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of
accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that
a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends,
including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now
advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing
them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety
and health hazards.