Wednesday, September 19, 2012

September 29: National medicine return day

 On September 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Seattle Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public another opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.  Bring your medications for disposal to your local precinctThe service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

Last April, Americans turned in 552,161 pounds—276 tons—of prescription drugs at over 5,600 sites operated by the DEA and nearly 4,300 state and local law enforcement partners.  In its four previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners took in over 1.5 million pounds—nearly 775 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.
Four days after the first event, Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow an “ultimate user” of controlled substance medications to dispose of them by delivering them to entities authorized by the Attorney General to accept them.  DEA is drafting regulations to implement the Act.  Until new regulations are in place, local law enforcement agencies like the Seattle Police Department and the DEA will continue to hold prescription drug take-back events every few months.

Locally, the King County Board of Health's Subcommittee on Secure Medicine Return is exploring how it can support safe disposal of unused medicines.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dr. Nora Volkow talks about marijuana

In this video, Dr. Nora Volkow talks about drug abuse among teenagers.  She specifically talks about the negative affects of marijuana use on adolescent health and development.

Dr. Volkow recently posted information about youth marijuana use on her NIDA webpage.  It concludes by saying:

Unfortunately, the proportion of American teens who believe marijuana use is harmful has been declining for the past several years, which has corresponded to a steady rise in their use of the drug, as shown by NIDA’s annual Monitoring the Future survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders. Since it decreases IQ, regular marijuana use stands to jeopardize a young person’s chances of success in school. So as another school year begins, we all must step up our efforts to educate teens about the harms of marijuana so that we can realign their perceptions of this drug with the scientific evidence. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

General coalition meeting September 18

Prevention WINS General Meeting
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
8-9:30 a.m.
Eckstein Middle School

Learn about what the student prevention clubs at Eckstein Middle School and Nathan Hale High School accomplished last school-year and their hopes for the upcoming one.  

Anyone interested in preventing youth substance abuse in NE Seattle is welcome to attend.  Please contact the Prevention WINS Coordinator for more information.  

Friday, September 7, 2012

Preventing youth substance abuse: everyone has a role

Here is a great video that shows how everyone in the community has a role to play when it comes to preventing youth substance abuse.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Another free online training: Underage drinking research update

New Research Since the Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking
Thursday, September 20
Noon - 1:30 p.m.

To register, visit the CADCA website

Speaker: Dr. Ralph Hingson, Director of the Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcolism

For a community coalition to be most effective, its members and staff must be well equipped with research on the latest substance abuse trends. Coalitions are most likely to implement successful community interventions when they are informed and evidence-based.

This webinar will outline new research on trends in and consequences of underage drinking as well as interventions to prevent and reduce underage drinking that have emerged since the 2007 Call to Action.  The course will explore recent trends in injury deaths linked to underage drinking, binge drinking and driving under the influence, effects of underage drinking on the developing brain, blackouts, and academic performance. It will also examine research on interventions that are individually-oriented, policy/environmental, and community-based interventions.

Free online training: Managing alcohol outlet density to reduce youth access to alcohol

Upcoming National Electronic Seminar: Managing Alcohol Outlet Density to Reduce Youth Access to Alcohol

Date: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Time: Noon-1:15 p.m.
-- Michael Sparks, President of Sparks Initiatives
-- Diane Riibe, Executive Director of Project Extra Mile

Register through the UDETC website.

Alcohol outlet density regulation is a science-based environmental strategy used to reduce or limit alcohol outlet density through licensing or zoning processes.  Research has shown a strong correlational relationship between alcohol and violent crime. Research has also shown that when outlets are close together, more underage drinking occurs.  By controlling the location of outlets, sales to minors can be discouraged and youth safety can be improved.  

Presenters will share information about regulatory strategies utilized in communities to manage alcohol outlet density in order to limit youth access to alcohol and improve public health, safety, and well-being by impacting crime rates, victimization, personal injuries, and fatalities.  Presenters will also share information about useful resources to aid implementation of these types of efforts.

Loopholes allow drug industries to market to youth

Much of the current debate around drug policy includes the notion that regulations keep legal drugs -- alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs -- out of the hands of teenagers.  While regulations certainly can keep drugs out of the hands of youth, they often fall short -- sometimes because the drug industries finds loopholes in regulations.  The tobacco industry provides a perfect example.  From Sunday's New York Times:

Give the tobacco industry credit for ingenuity. Just when it looked as if federal regulators could block their ability to addict children and young adults, several companies that make cigars and pipe tobacco have sidestepped the barriers by taking advantage of loopholes in federal law.

One loophole involves a law enacted in 2009 that raised the federal tax on cigarettes, small cigars and roll-your-own tobacco, partly to deter smoking among young people and partly to help pay for a children’s health insurance program. Larger cigars and pipe tobacco, however, were taxed at a much lower rate.

Some manufacturers then relabeled “roll-your-own tobacco” as “pipe tobacco” to qualify for lower taxes. Similarly, some cigar makers made their small cigars slightly heavier to qualify for the lower rate. With just a small increase in weight, a small cigar can qualify as a large cigar, for tax purposes, even though it more nearly resembles a typical cigarette and can cost as little as seven cents a cigar.

It seems clear that the regulatory steps designed to keep tobacco products out of the hands of young people are not working as well as they could. This is no accident. A report issued on Aug. 27 by Representative Henry Waxman . . . cited internal documents from several manufacturers that revealed deliberate plans to manipulate existing products and create new ones to evade taxes and flavor bans.

As we continue our conversation about marijuana legalization, the role of regulations should be considered.  Not the theory of regulations, but the pragmatic realities of how regulations are implemented and enforced.