Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Odyssey magazine focuses on addiction

The September edition of Odyssey, a science magazine for middle school students, focuses on addiction.  Among the many articles are:

-- Facing Up to Underage Drinking

-- Bad Bet with the Brain: The Neuroscience of Addiction

-- Are Cell Phones Addictive?

-- Pain Pills?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Youth drug abuse a "big problem" according to adults

Adults rate drug abuse and obesity as the top health concerns for children, according to a recent study

After drug abuse and obesity, tobacco use is ranked third and alcohol abuse is ranked eighth. 

The report goes on to state, "Drug abuse rises to the top of the list of child health concerns in 2011, with one-third of adults overall rating drug abuse as a big problem . . . Whether this increased concern translates to greater support for drug prevention and/or drug treatment programs remains to be seen."

Friday, August 19, 2011

Prevention news from around the state

The latest edition of FOCUS, the Washington State Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery's e-newsletter, is now available online.  It includes stories about:

-- Washington teenagers advocating for prevention,

-- student prevention groups and their activities,

-- 2010 Healthy Youth Survey results,

-- local campaigns to limit alcohol advertising targeting young people. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Volunteers needed for 2011 Prevention Summit

Volunteer for the Washington State Prevention Summit and take advantage of the following perks:

• Free conference registration (valued at more than $200)

• Conference meals and beverages (valued at more than $75)

• Participation with colleagues and community leaders

• Access to more than 25 workshops and keynote presentations

To receive free registration, individuals must volunteer for ten or more hours. 

Volunteer applications are due by September 1.  The 2011 Summit will take place October 27-29 at the Yakima Convention Center. 

Prescription drug take-back campaign notes

The local Take Back Your Meds campaign holds monthly coordinating conference calls and here are my notes from today's call --

-- The DEA is hosting another prescription drug take-back event on October 29.  This will probably be the last or second-to-last nationwide event, with the last one possibly to be held in early 2012, since new federal legislation will allow for take-back programs without DEA involvement. 

-- "Extended producer responsibility", including the responsibility of pharmaceutical companies to be stewards of their products after they are sold, was the topic of a panel discussion during the National Conference of State Legislators earlier this month.  The only non-industry panelist was from the Product Policy Institute and he blogged about his experience

Liquor privatization: public health costs

While the Seattle Times "cheers Initiative 1183" because it would generate additional revenue for state and local governments, the Washington State Budget & Policy Center questions whether the additional revenue would offset costs associated with increased public health, safety, and economic implications. 

In a recent post to their Schmudget blog, the Budget & Policy Center states that the Washington State Office of Financial Management's (OFM) analysis "does not account for future costs associated with greater consumption of hard liquor.  They estimate that hard liquor sales (consumption) would increase by about five percent under I-1183.  However, a 2010 report from the State Auditor's Office estimated that consumption of hard liquor could increase by as much as 15 percent under a privatized liquor system similar to that proposed by I-1183.  Either way, our state could face increased public health and safety costs under the initiative -- due to higher rates of drunk driving and other alcohol-related crimes." 

An increase in underage drinking is one of those public health and safety costs.  Increased availability of alcohol through stores means increased problems with underage drinking, according to many research articles (which may be found in the ADAI Library Resource Brief about Privatization of Alcohol Sales, page 4).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"Let's Draw the Line" materials still available for free

The Washington State Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking (RUaD) still has free materials available for community's that want to continue activities in support of the Let's Draw the Line campaign.  Free materials include window clings like the ones shown below.  (Wrist bands are no longer available.)  Order forms are available on the campaign website.   

Wine & beer at farmers markets

From the Washington State Liquor Control Board --

The agency on July 27 selected the 10 farmers markets that are invited to participate in a pilot program that allows wine and beer tastings at farmers markets.

As directed in Substitute House Bill 1172, which created the pilot, the markets were selected in a manner to ensure geographic representation.

The pilot runs from Sept. 1, 2011 to Nov. 1, 2012.

The following list (of Seattle markets that will host tastings) is tentative, pending verification that the markets are able to meet the pilot requirements. A confirmed list will be posted on the WSLCB website.

-- West Seattle Farmers Market, 4400 S.W. Alaska St. in Seattle

-- Magnolia Farmers Market, 2550 34th Ave. W. in Seattle

-- Pike Place Market; Street Farmers Market, Pike Place, between Pine and Steward Streets, in Seattle

The Washington Association for Substance Abuse & Violence Prevention opposed the legislation that allows for beer and wine tastings at farmers markets:  Consuming beer and wine while running errands (such as grocery shopping) sets a bad example for children as parents and other adults model the causal use of alcohol.  If the legislature does not draw the line at this form of three-dimensional advertising, the negative effects are likely to compound over time . . .  we wonder what venues will be next. 

There are many ways the alcohol industry can promote its products.  The open use of alcohol in public markets does not need to be one of them.   

Counselor Camp 2011

From a Prevention WINS coalition member --

Counselor Camp is back and here to stay! Join us this fall at Cispus Learning Center in Randle, WA for an inspiring weekend of seminars and activities for professionals that work with Adolescent Prevention, Intervention, Counseling and Treatment Systems. 

This event (September 16-18) is designed to offer the best evidence-based theory and time-tested practice from a variety of professionals from our own backyard.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Opiate use in Washington State

Washington State, like much of the United States, has seen a tremendous increase in the use and negative consequences of prescription-type opiates over the last 10-15 years, according to a Research Brief released this month by the University of Washington's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute.  The brief goes on to state: Prescription-type opiates appear to be a pathway to heroin for many users . . .

The maps below are from the brief and show the increases in the Washington State opiate problem between 2000-2009.  (Rx = prescription)

Marijuana laws: a prevention perspective


Attitudes about marijuana are changing. Fewer 8th and 10th graders believe smoking marijuana is dangerous. These declines in the perception of harm invariably precede increases in substance use. Despite that, several states have medical marijuana laws on the books and more states are considering putting these types of initiatives on the ballot. During the next CADCA TV program, “The Blunt Truth: Communities Dealing with Marijuana,” representatives from various states will discuss how medical marijuana laws and marijuana legalization efforts are impacting their communities, and what they’re doing to tackle this issue.  The show airs August 25.

Locally, the Mercer Island Communities That Care Coalition is hosting a viewing of this national webcast from 10 a.m. to noon on August  25 at the Mercer Island Community Center.  After viewing, there will be an hour-long discussion about how the prevention community in Washington is addressing the marijuana issue, options for collaboration, and strategies to educate the public.  For more information and to RSVP, please contact the coalition's Project Director. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

More about parties in neighborhood parks . . .

From a post on today's Laurelhurst Blog:

I wanted to let you know that the kids were partying at the play-field on 45th near Laurelhurst Elementary again tonight. The noise was exceptionally loud this evening and peaked around 10:30pm.

My neighbor called 911 and apparently there was already a noise complaint called in. They were sending a police officer out to the park.

As a neighborhood, what can we do to try and deter this behavior? It is so loud and has woken me up on more than one occasion.

This is posted a day after I was told about a recent drunk-driving accident near Golden Gardens that involved a neighborhood high school student. 

Online resources for teenagers

Earlier this week, KING5 broadcast a story called Teens go online to get answers on health

Dr. Leslie Walker, Chief of Adolescent Medicine at Seattle Children's, said parents might not realize their teens are searching online for health answers. 

"Out of every ten kids, three of them are saying they're going to the Internet for health information. And that's a lot of kids," she emphasized.

She said for kids who want to know more about topics ranging from diet to fitness to sexual health, there are helpful sites, such as the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. Another is the award winning KidsHealth.org, with it's own teen health section.

Following are a few links for teens looking for information specifically about drugs and alcohol:

Above the Influence

NIDA for Teens

The Cool Spot

Friday, August 5, 2011

State by state analysis of adolescent drug use

When it comes to adolescent substance abuse, how does Washington stack up compared to other states?  Below are a bunch of maps showing rates of use among young people ages 12-17.  States in red have the highest rates of use and the states in white have the lowest. 

Source: State Estimates of Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders from 2008-2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Local communities coming together to promote health

King County launched a new health education campaign, Let's Do This, earlier this week. The campaign focuses on the relationship between neighborhood and health and inspires residents to become involved. The campaign features Mia, an eleven year old King County resident who wants to be a healthy kid and notices aspects of her neighborhood that make it difficult to be healthy.

The campaign is part of King County's Communities Putting Prevention to Work program.

ER doctors report on effects of caffeinated alcoholic beverages on minors

A team of emergency room doctors in New York City describes 11 cases of young people who wound up in the ER after drinking Four Loko in a report published in the latest Annals of Emergency Medicine.  The median age of the teenagers was 16.4 years.  The report starts with:

Premixed caffeinated alcoholic beverages such as Four Loko are promoted for their ability to mask alcohol’s effects and intensify the intoxication. Their brightly colored packaging, low cost, and retail placement mean that they are marketed like a sports or energy drink, appealing to a young consumer. These young drinkers may engage in high-risk behaviors that place them or others in danger, resulting in severe societal consequences. 

Four Loko is a top-selling caffeinated alcoholic beverage in the United States. Its popularity followed the surge in energy drink sales during the last several years, largely because of consumer marketing of caffeine’s stimulant and recreational effects. Since early 2011, caffeine has been removed as an ingredient of Four Loko because of governmental warnings.  Retail and Internet supplies of the original formulation exist, although manufacturing and distribution have halted . . . The combined use of caffeine and alcohol is increasing, especially among adolescents and college students, leading to increased alcohol related injury.

The report goes on to describe the 11 cases of adolescents who were brought the the ER under the influence of Four Loko and then concludes with a discussion that includes:

Adolescents and young adults who are naive to the effects of alcohol and caffeine may be at higher risk from these combination beverages . . . More than 35% of our patients had blood alcohol levels greater than twice the legal limit. This population is inherently immature, and intoxication with caffeine and alcohol can increase risk-taking behavior. Alcohol and caffeine combinations have been associated with higher rates of alcohol-related consequences, such as medical treatment, sexual assault, drunk driving, and injury.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

2011 Prevention Summit update

The 2011 Washington State Prevention Summit website is now up and running.  Information about registration and scholarships is available and further updates will be made soon. 

The Summit will take place October 27-29 in Yakima.   The goal of the Summit is to provide an enriching and culturally competent training and networking opportunity for youth, volunteers and professionals working toward prevention of substance abuse, violence and other destructive behaviors.

This year, youth groups from Eckstein Middle School and Nathan Hale High School will join other youth groups from around the state and participate in the Summit.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Prescription drug abuse leading to heroin abuse

Yesterday, KING5 broadcast a story about a teenager who recently died from a heroin overdose

Dean Shumway died of a heroin overdose just before his 19th birthday. He did not fit the stereotype of a heroin addict, down on his luck and homeless--but perhaps Dean does represent what's becoming the new face of heroin addiction: white middle class teenager.

Frank Couch, a counselor with Science and Management of Addictions (SAMA), says Dean is not an isolated case.

"It's a huge problem out there. It's a huge problem with young folks and adolescents,” said Couch.

Couch says these kids used to smoke Oxycontin, but now that the prescription painkiller has been reformulated, they're turning to heroin.

"It's cheaper, it's more readily available so the trend is moving back to heroin use again," he explained.

Washington Recovery Help Line: a resource for everyone affected by substance abuse

Yesterday, I posted information about a national hotline for parents who are concerned about their child's substance abuse.  A more local resource is the Washington Recovery Help Line which provides round-the-clock help for substance abuse problems. The Helpline phone number is: 866-789-1511.

In addition to providing resources for individuals struggling with substance abuse, the helpline provides support to people who are looking for help for a friend or family member, but unsure of how to help them or what resources are available.

Prevention fellowship program accepting applications

Washington State has been chosen by the federal Center for Substance Abuse Prevention to receive a two year Prevention Fellow for 2011-13. Specific recruitment information is availble online.  Applications must be in by August 31, 2011, with a start date of September 26, 2011.

The Fellow will be stationed in Olympia and work with the Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery's Prevention Services Team.

The goal of the Prevention Fellowship Program is to build a workforce of substance abuse professionals. During the 2‐year fellowship program, which combines Web‐based and in-person trainings, fellows improve their skills and their knowledge of prevention practices.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Robberies at WA pharmacies increased seven-fold since 2003

To follow up with my post from earlier today, below is a chart regarding the rising number of pharmacy robberies in Washington State.  According to the report, "Most are for prescription-type opiates, especially OxyContin, and are often committed by organized groups engaging in drug distribution."

Source: Tobacco, Alcohol, & Other Drug Abuse Trends, 2010 Report, Washington State Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery.

In the news: drug-related robberies on the rise

In July, the Seattle Times ran an opinion piece about the increase in pharmacy robberies that states that between 2008-March 2011, one in six Washington pharmacies was robbed.  It goes on to say, "Money is not the target. Addictive prescription narcotics such as Vicodin, amphetamines and OxyContin sell for as much as $80 a pill . . ."

Last week, federal, state, and local law enforcement officials and representatives from the pharmacy community met in Washington, DC to discuss the threat to public safety posed by pharmacy robberies and burglaries.

Also last month, Q13 Fox reported that robberies are escalating at local medical marijuana dispensaries.

August 8 Update

New parent helpline provides support for teen substance abuse

From the Join Together Newsroom:

When parents find out their teen is abusing drugs or alcohol, the family’s immediate focus is generally on getting help for the teen. But parents are often in great need of help themselves. They may need advice on what to say to their teen, how to evaluate whether he or she needs professional treatment and where to find the appropriate substance abuse treatment program if one is needed. A new toll-free telephone helpline is providing that assistance.

The Parents Toll-Free Helpline, 1-855-DRUGFREE (1-855-378-4373), is staffed by clinical social workers with practical experience in substance abuse prevention and treatment. The helpline will offer bilingual support (English/Spanish) beginning in mid-August.

“When a child has substance abuse issues, the whole family needs support,” says Ken Winters, PhD, Director of the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research, Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Minnesota and member of The Partnership at Drugfree.org Science Advisory Board. “Parents may need a counselor to walk them through exactly what they will say to their teenager when they suspect substance abuse. If they have not already done so, parents need to establish rules about alcohol and other drugs, and consequences for breaking those rules. They may also need help figuring out whether their adolescent should get a professional assessment. These are some of the things that a counselor on the helpline can assist them with.”