Friday, November 29, 2013

More about the predictors of youth marijuana use

In the previous post, I provided an overview of a recent presentation about how marijuana availability and norms are strong predictors of youth use of the drug.  The information was based on a presentation given during a recent symposium at the University of Washington.

The presentation ended with a closer look at how new state marijuana laws may affect levels of risk for marijuana use among teenagers.  UW researchers predict that both availability and norms will change.  They point out that parenting behaviors, including parent use, may change.

When looking at increased marijuana availability among youth, researchers not only point to stores and the likely commercialization of marijuana similar to the commercialization of other legal drugs and consumable goods.  They also predict that more adults who are parents will use marijuana, making the drug available in the home.  With the proliferation of non-smoked forms of marijuana, public use of these hard-to-detect products may result in increased availability among youth.  

Since marijuana-infused foods have become more available through the medical marijuana system, it is expected that they will become more available in the I-502 system, as well.  If adults in a household keep marijuana-infused ice-cream in the freezer, how will it be differentiated from regular ice-cream and away from kids?   

The presentation concluded with discussion about implications of increased availability and norms favorable to marijuana use and what can be done.  Strategies to reduce home and social access were discussed.  Communities will need to monitor norms around use.  Availability and norms may be increasingly important risk factors that those of us who work to prevent youth drug use will need to address in our communities.  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Availability & norms are strong predictors of youth marijuana use

Lately, I've been engaging in discussions about what youth substance use prevention is and what it is not.  The field changed significantly over the past twenty years as research about healthy youth development increased.

To start with, a great deal of youth substance use prevention is based at the local level and starts with communities assessing their risk factors that contribute to teen drug use.  During a recent symposium at the University of Washington, researchers from the Social Development Research Group in the School of Social Work provided an overview of risk and protective factors specific to underage marijuana use.  

This first slide from the presentation explains that risk factors may be present in multiple domains: the community, the family, schools, and among individuals and their peers.  Within the community domain, "availability of drugs" and "community laws and norms favorable toward drug use" are identified as risk factors for youth marijuana use.

In this second slide, protective factors are identified.  Community factors that contribute to the prevention of underage marijuana use include "clear and healthy standards for behavior" and "pro-social opportunities".  

During the symposium, researchers focused on risk factors that are the strongest predictors of youth marijuana use.  They include availability of marijuana, perception of risk from using marijuana, and pro-marijuana norms among parents, youth, and in the community.

All of the slides may be viewed by clicking here.  A video of the presentation is available on the symposium website.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

More about the risk factor "community laws & norms favorable toward drug use"

Yesterday, a pediatrician from Seattle Children's Hospital was interviewed about a marijuana party to take place on December 6 at Seattle Center during Winterfest, an event that attracts thousands of families with young children each year.

To learn more about the risk factor "community laws and norms favorable toward drug use", read a post from earlier this year. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Risk & protective factors for underage marijuana use

Earlier this month, the University of Washington's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute hosted a Symposium on Legal Marijuana.  Videos and slides of the presentations are now available online.

Of particular interest to those of us working to prevent underage marijuana use, researchers from the UW Social Development Research Group provided information about risk and protective factors that are particularly relevant to youth marijuana use.  Watch the video below to learn more.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Prevent underage drinking, prevent driving under the influence

Last week, the Ravenna Blog reported about the sentencing of the drunk driver who killed two people and seriously injured two others in our community last spring.

This deadly incident could have been prevented, and not just by enforcing the ignition interlock law and other laws targeting adults.  It may have been prevented by preventing underage drinking.

Ninety percent of people who are addicted to alcohol or other drugs started using these substances as teens.  The earlier teenagers start using alcohol, the higher the likelihood they will be addicted as adults.  It is unknown if Mark Mullen, the man who was convicted for this tragedy, started using as a teen, but he had a long history of substance abuse, according to media reports.

Not all people who drive drunk are addicted to alcohol.  But over-consumption and addiction do increase health and safety risks.  By preventing youth alcohol use, a great deal of addiction and over-consumption, along with negative safety consequences such as DUIs, may be avoided.

And it's not just adults.  As a video the Prevention WINS coalition produced last year illustrates, teenagers in our community drive under the influence, too.  About one quarter of NE Seattle high school seniors report recently riding in a car with a driver who has been drinking.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Adolescent medicine nurse provides advice about binge drinking and sexual assault

Over at the Teenology 101 blog, Jen Brown, RN, writes about binge drinking:

Recently there was some media buzz about women and alcohol, and how our society should approach the topic.
It all started when Emily Yoffe, a writer for Slate, wrote this column on college women, drinking, and sexual assault. If you don’t feel like reading the whole article, a headline pops up on the website which sums it up: “The Best Rape Prevention: Tell College Women to Stop Getting So Wasted”. (To be fair, the article is more nuanced than that, and I’m not convinced Ms. Yoffe wrote that tagline.)
The response to the article was swift. Some responded with rebuttals while others stronglyagreed. The New York Times ran a “Room for Debate” piece that had a number of interesting viewpoints. Basically, opinions seem to fall down two lines: one party thinks women imbibing alcohol become vulnerable to sexual assault, and they should be told not to drink in order to protect themselves. The other sees this as a victim-blaming piece of advice that support a status quo in which rape culture runs rampant, and young women are expected to prevent their own rape.
So, even though I’m late to the game, I thought I’d give my take on this (although I’ve covered a lot of it in my Teens and Sexual Assault series).
I have no problem with advising women not to binge drink. I have no problem with advising men not to binge drink, either. Binge drinking is unhealthydangerous, and unless you’re over 21, illegal. And yet as we all know, teens and young adults both above and below 21 are binge drinking. We can educate young people, try to lower the risks, support policies that discourage alcohol abuse, and hope that the problem will diminish. But despite our best efforts, some teens and young adults will continue to use alcohol, and most in the U.S. will attend a few drunken parties.
So what is wrong with advising young women to protect themselves from becoming vulnerable? Nothing, in my opinion, as long as it’s a small piece of a much larger picture we are presenting.
Read more by clicking here.

Monday, November 18, 2013

General coalition meeting tomorrow

Prevention WINS General Meeting
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
8-9:30 a.m.
Seattle Children's Hospital Division of Adolescent Medicine
4540 Sand Point Way NE, Suite 200

All are welcome!  For more information please contact the Prevention WINS coordinator.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Alcohol ads reaching too many young people

From HealthDay:

Too many young Americans are watching television ads for beer, wine and other alcoholic drinks, a new study contends.

The number and frequency of such ads exceeds the industry's own voluntary standard, said researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

Under that standard, which was adopted in 2003, alcohol companies agreed not to place any ads on TV programs when more than 30 percent of the audience was likely to be younger than 21.

If ads were curtailed to meet that standard, the "payoff in terms of reduced risk of underage drinking and harms related to it could be quite substantial," study author David Jernigan, director of the school's Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth, said in a Hopkins news release.

Add marijuana to the advertising mix
In Washington, marijuana advertising will soon be added to the mix.  Advertising for marijuana dispensaries already exists.  (When riding the bus last week, my teenager saw ads in the local paper being read by the person sitting next to her.)  While the new marijuana market rules recently adopted by the Liquor Control Board state that ads must not target children, they will none-the-less be exposed to ads.  Plus, there is little, if any, monitoring of electronic marketing, especially social media.

What can parents do?
When parents and their children see ads for alcohol, marijuana, or tobacco, talk about them.  SAMHSA provides some tips for talking to teens about what they see in the media.  Parents and their teenage children can discuss:
  • What's the purpose of the ad?  Who created it and why?
  • What words, images, or sounds are used to create the message?
  • How does the message make you feel?
  • What are the message makers trying to accomplish -- sell a product, promote a belief, etc.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Silk Road and teen access to drugs

Over at the Teenology 101 blog, Dr. Yolanda Evans writes:

The Silk Road sounds like a title of a romance novel, but in reality the story behind it is much more sinister. It is the name of an anonymous online market place for illicit drugs and has made headlines this week as the Federal Bureau of Investigations shut down the original version and arrested the person who started it. I first learned of the Silk Road last week at a symposium for pediatricians. A guest speaker at the conference, who is an expert on substance abuse, highlighted the fact that many teens are well aware of how to get drugs – illegal drugs – on the internet. I was dumbfounded (and so were nearly all of the other pediatricians in the room)! If something is illegal, shouldn’t it be a challenge to order and have delivered to your home? Apparently, it’s not that hard at all.

Read the whole post by clicking here.