Thursday, May 23, 2013

New video shows consequences of underage drinking and provides prevention tips for parents

In April, Prevention WINS and Seattle Children's Hospital Division of Adolescent Medicine hosted a movie night featuring a new video produced by Prevention WINS coalition members.  The video is now posted to the Prevention WINS website for all to see:

The primary purpose of the video is to raise awareness among NE Seattle parents about the problem of underage drinking and potential consequences, such as drinking and driving.  The video also provides parents with tips for how to prevent underage drinking. 

While parents can have the most influence on the choices their teenage children make, the most effective way to prevent underage drinking and youth substance use is for the whole community to be involved.  Schools, law enforcement, healthcare organizations, youth-serving organizations, religious organizations, businesses, and youth themselves are just some of the community members that have roles to play.  Learn more at the Prevention WINS website

Monday, May 20, 2013

Liquor Control Board seeks comments about draft marijuana market rules

Produced in Washington logo
The Liquor Control Board (LCB) released the initial draft rules for I-502 implementation. These rules reflect the Board’s stated goal of developing a tightly regulated and controlled market, and also demonstrate the agency’s initial thinking on what Washington’s system of growing, processing and retailing will look like. The Board is concerned with out-of-state diversion of product, traceability of products, responsible business practices, youth access and other public and consumer safety issues.

Initial draft rules may be downloaded at:

By releasing these initial draft rules before filing the formal draft rules the LCB is soliciting public comment before starting the official draft rule process in mid-June. Vetting these rules with stakeholders allows the LCB to adapt and improve them. These draft rules will benefit from community input, alternatives and adjustments so please review closely and send suggestions to the below contact points no later than June 10, 2013.

The best way to provide your input is via email at:

Rules Coordinator
Liquor Control Board
P.O. Box 43080
Olympia, WA 98504-3080

Fax: 360-664-9689

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Preventing prescription drug abuse among teens

This week is National Prevention Week and today's focus is on preventing prescription drug abuse. 

Prescription drug abuse is the nation's fastest growing drug problem and it's no different here in NE Seattle.  According to the Washington State Healthy Youth Survey, current use of prescription painkillers for non-medical purposes has steadily increased among NE Seattle middle and high school students over the past few years.

Complete NE Seattle Healthy Youth Survey results are available on the Prevention WINS website.

Like alcohol and marijuana, NE Seattle high school students who abuse prescription painkillers get them socially. Overwhelmingly they say that they get painkillers they abuse "from a friend." One original source is likely someone's medicine cabinet. Everyone should be encouraged to lock up their medications and safely dispose of left-over medications to reduce youth access to them.

The White House Prescription Drug Prevention Plan recommends four strategies:
  1. Education. A crucial first step in tackling the problem of prescription drug abuse is to educate parents and youth about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs. This includes education about proper storage and disposal of prescription drugs. Substance abuse prevention activities conducted in schools and communities throughout King County are doing this.
  2. Monitoring. Implement prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) to reduce “doctor shopping” and diversion. Washington State has a PDMP in place.
  3. Enforcement. Provide law enforcement with the tools necessary to eliminate pill mills, diversion of prescription drugs, and organized crime selling prescription drugs. Law enforcement agencies around the county are doing this.
  4. Proper Medication Disposal. Develop convenient and environmentally responsible prescription drug disposal programs to help decrease the supply of unused prescription drugs in the home. While some local jurisdictions and pharmacies are doing this, a county-wide program that is convenient for all citizens is needed.
King County Board of Health proposal for a medicine return program
A permanent, convenient secure medicine return program that is well-promoted is one way that King County can prevent medicine abuse. Like all substance abuse and poisoning prevention programs, everyone has a role to play to be most effective. Businesses that produce medicines comprise one sector that can play a significant role by paying for and implementing a county-wide, permanent medicine return program.

The King County Board of Health is accepting comments from the public about the need for such a program. People may submit comments in writing or in person during Thursday's Board of Health public hearing on the issue.

Monday, May 13, 2013

New underage drinking prevention campaign provides parents & community with multiple resources

"Talk, they hear you" is a new underage drinking prevention campaign from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  The campaign provides parents of children ages 9 to 15 with the tools and information they need to start talking with their children early about the dangers of alcohol. SAMHSA provides communities with a suite of materials that helps reinforce the underage drinking prevention campaign’s messages.  Materials include TV, radio, and print PSA's, web banners and buttons that anyone can add to their website, and customizable posters. 

Here is one of the television public service announcements that is available on YoutTube:

Here are two of the print PSA's:

The Parent Resources section includes flyers such as:
Since youth substance use, including alcohol use, is a community problem that requires a community-wide solution, the campaign includes resources for partners.  Partner Toolkit  includes a sample proclamation, sample social media posts, newsletter articles, and talking points. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Substance abuse prevention can prevent school failure

From a recent JoinTogether commentary:

Although the association between substance use and academic performance has been on the radar of researchers for quite some time, what is under-recognized by researchers and policy makers alike is the contribution of substance use to poor academic performance.

This distinction is important because it tells us that doing something about substance use is a viable option for improving academic performance. Because we know that almost one-quarter of students will eventually drop out of high school, we need to add drug prevention and intervention to the list of things we can do to solve the nation’s dropout crisis.

Earlier this year, the Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc. released a report about the connection between adolescent substance use and the risk for dropout in the U.S.  The following conclusions were made:

• There is compelling evidence that the association of academic difficulties and substance use is bidirectional. In some individuals, academic difficulties precede the onset of substance use, and in those cases, a vicious cycle can ensue—leading to even more severe academic difficulties and eventual dropout. In other cases, even controlling for individual background characteristics, substance use precedes and contributes to academic failure and dropout, especially when substance use is frequent and severe.

• There is general agreement about the biological, social, and environmental mechanisms that explain the link between substance use, academic failure, and dropout.

• Adolescents who are at risk for academic failure or have dropped out of school are likely to have substance use problems in combination with an array of other problem behaviors that, if not addressed, place them at extremely high risk for costly long-term adversity, including unemployment, crime, and poor health.

• Little is being done to screen for substance use in pediatric and educational settings, and even less is being done to address escalating substance use problems among adolescents at risk for dropout or those who have already dropped out of high school.

• Of all the problems that contribute to dropping out, substance use is one of the easiest to identify and one of the most easily stopped by interventions including treatment.

• Research evidence shows that when adolescents stop substance use, academic performance improves.

The report is available at:

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Youth marijuana use rates up in North Seattle

On April 26 I posted information about a man who was arrested for selling pot brownies to Ballard middle and high school students.  Yesterday, Q13-FOX reported that marijuana use rates are up at Ballard High School and are above the state average.

Like Ballard, youth marijuana use rates increased in NE Seattle and 10th grade use rates at Nathan Hale and Roosevelt High Schools are also above the state average.

Complete NE Seattle results are available on the Prevention WINS website.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Next week is National Prevention Week

Next week is National Prevention Week and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is sharing a National Prevention Week 2013 Toolkit, free from the their online store. This new Toolkit highlights the 2013 theme – Your voice. Your choice. Make a difference. – and contains resources to help organizations plan and host events in their communities. While this Toolkit is customized for National Prevention Week 2013, it may be used as a resource to support prevention efforts throughout the year.

SAMHSA also launched a new social media page, which features messages that can be posted on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platforms, and a promotional materials page which includes downloadable graphics to be used in social media posts and event materials.

Why is a medicine return program needed in King County?

First some background information about the problem of prescription drug abuse.

Hospitalizations continue to increase
According to the Washington State Department of Health, hospitalizations for prescription painkiller overdoses continue to rise in our state

CDC says the problem is epidemic
This is a national problem, as well.  According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP):

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified prescription drug abuse as an epidemic. While there has been a marked decrease in the use of some illegal drugs like cocaine, data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) show that nearly one-third of people aged 12 and over who used drugs for the first time in 2009 began by using a prescription drug non-medically.

Some individuals who misuse prescription drugs, particularly teens, believe these substances are safer than illicit drugs because they are prescribed by a healthcare professional and dispensed by a pharmacist. Addressing the prescription drug abuse epidemic is not only a top priority for public health, it will also help build stronger communities and allow those with substance abuse disorders to lead healthier, more productive lives.

ONDCP's Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan
The national 2011 Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan includes action in four major areas to reduce prescription drug abuse:

1. Education. A crucial first step in tackling the problem of prescription drug abuse is to educate parents, youth, and patients about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs, while requiring prescribers to receive education on the appropriate and safe use, and proper storage and disposal of prescription drugs.

2. Monitoring. Implement prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) in every state to reduce “doctor shopping” and diversion, and enhance PDMPs to make sure they can share data across states and are used by healthcare providers.

3. Enforcement. Provide law enforcement with the tools necessary to eliminate improper prescribing practices and stop pill mills.

4. Proper Medication Disposal. Develop convenient and environmentally responsible prescription drug disposal programs to help decrease the supply of unused prescription drugs in the home.

Are these things going on locally?
In King County, the first three strategies are in place either through local community activities or the implementation of the prescription monitoring program in our state.

What’s missing?

An ongoing medication disposal program. But King County can change that. 

On May 16, the King County Board of Health is holding a public hearing about proposed policy to start a permanent medicine return program countywide.  See yesterday's post for more information. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

King County Board of Health to hold public hearing on proposed medicine return policy

Your voice is needed!

Public Hearing:
Establishing a King County Medicine Return Program

King County Board of Health Meeting
Thursday, May 16, 1:30 p.m.
King County Courthouse, 10th Floor
516 Third Avenue, Seattle

In 2012, the King County Board of Health established a subcommittee to explore how it can support the safe disposal of unused and unwanted medications. With prescription drug abuse and accidental poisonings on the rise in King County, an ongoing, county-wide medicine return program funded by producers is part of a comprehensive prevention strategy.

What is being proposed?
The Board of Health subcommittee is proposing that the producers of medicines fund and implement a county-wide secure medicine return program at pharmacies and law enforcement agencies using a product stewardship model. A product stewardship model recognizes that everyone involved in the lifespan of medications has a responsibility to reduce its health and safety impacts. For producers, this includes planning and paying for the disposal of medicines at the end of their useful life.

What is this public hearing all about?
During the May 16, 2013 Board of Health meeting, individuals are encouraged to provide 2-minute testimony about the subcommittee’s proposal to establish a permanent medicine return program. The hearing will provide Board of Health members with information about why such a program is important for reducing youth prescription drug abuse and accidental poisonings.

How can I testify?
Show up at the Board of Health meeting on May 16 and sign in as a speaker. Individuals and organizations in favor of the proposed policy are coordinating so that we may take full advantage of the limited time each speaker has.

Can’t make the hearing?
Contact the Board of Health and tell them you support the establishment of a medicine return program. Comments should be submitted to the Board of Health, Attn: Maria Wood at

Why is a take-back program needed?
Visit the King County Take Back Your Meds coalition webpage for information about the prescription drug abuse problem and the need for a comprehensive prevention strategy including a permanent medicine take back program.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Free webinar: The role of the justice system in preventing underage drinking

Free WebinarEnforcing the Underage Drinking Laws: Accountability and the Role of the Justice System

When: Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 11:00 a.m. to Noon

What: In this webinar, national experts will discuss the importance of justice system involvement in preventing underage drinking and alcohol’s negative impact on our nation’s youth and public health and safety in general; the crucial role enforcement agencies play in preventing underage drinking; and the role of media and policy advocacy in ensuring that collaborative efforts are successful in moving effective strategies forward. Following their presentations, panelists will engage with participants in a live question-and-answer period.

To find more information and to register, please visit

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Marijuana and alcohol theft not uncommon in Seattle

Pot cookies, like these,
stolen from NE Seattle
marijuana dispensary.
On Friday, I posted information about North Seattle crime related to marijuana, including the sale of pot brownies to middle and high school students.  Yesterday, the Seattle Police Department shared information about recent robberies at North Seattle marijuana dispensaries.  Apparently, during one of the robberies in NE Seattle pot cookies were among the items stolen.

Marijuana is not the only drug targeted by thieves.  Theft of hard alcohol has been a problem since the approval of I-1183, the initiative that privatized the sale of hard alcohol, the Prevention WINS coalition learned during a recent general meeting.  Unless the items stolen value at least $1,000, the King County Prosecutor's Office generally does not prosecute offenders.  Both the Seattle Weekly and the West Seattle Herald reported on alcohol thefts recently. 

As the Seattle Weekly notes, youth who are caught with alcohol (minor in possession) generally are not charged with a crime but are referred to the King County diversion program