Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Thinking of New Year Resolutions? How about....

Seven Ways to Protect Your Teen from Alcohol and Other DrugsFrom the Bureau of Substance Abuse Service, Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health
Copies of this as a booklet (#SA1011) can be ordered by calling 1-800-952-6637

#1 Be a Role Model. Fact: Children imitate adults.
Actions: How to be a role model:
- If you drink, do so in moderation.
- Never drive after drinking.
- Do not use illegal drugs.
- Be conscious of your use of prescription drugs.
- Dispose properly of unused prescription drugs, mixed with coffee grinds or kitty litter in a zip-lock baggie into the garbage, not down the toilet. Or to a Rx drop box in your community, most likely at a police station.
- Use household products in a ventilated area, according to directions.

#2 Be Clear About Your Expectations.
Fact: The most common reason young people give for not using alcohol and drugs is not wanting to harm their relationship with the adults in their lives.
Actions: Say: It is not okay for you to drink, use inhalants or do drugs because….
- It is against the law.
- You’re still growing and your brain is still developing. Alcohol and other substances can cause brain damage that may be permanent.
- If you start when you are young, you are much more likely to become addicted and that will get in the way of your dreams.
- Inhalants are extremely dangerous and can cause permanent brain damage or death, even the first time they are used.
Actions: When your kids get older, be more explicit about the dangers of alcohol and other drugs:
- Drinking affects your decision-making. You are more likely to make a bad decision and end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time is not necessarily a matter of luck.
- Kids who drink are more likely to drive drunk, or get in a car where the driver is drunk.
- Kids who drink are more likely to try other drugs.
- Using Ecstasy can permanently alter your b rain.
- Heroin is highly addictive.

#3 Set Limits and Follow Through.
Fact: Parents’ permissiveness is a bigger factor in teenage drug use than peer pressure.
Actions: Establish rules.
- Discuss rules in advance.
- Follow through with consequences. Uphold limits set in school or in the community. For example, if your child is suspended for violating a rule, investigate, and help him learn from the consequences.
- Allow your teen to build trust. Reward good behavior. Tighten the reins when rules are broken.

#4 Be Involved In Your Kid’s Life. Fact: Teens are much less likely to use drugs when parents are involved in their lives.
Actions: Ways to stay involved:
- Listen with empathy. Don’t judge.
- Initiate conversation with an observation like, “you seem sad,” or “you seem stressed.”
- Have dinner together at least four times a week.
- Get to know your teen’s friends and their parents.
- When your kids are going to someone’s house, check to see if an adult will be home.
- Encourage them to call you if they ever feel at risk.

#5 Help Your Teen Become Well-Rounded. Fact: Teens who participate in community service and extracurricular activities are less likely to be involved in drugs and alcohol.
Actions: Encourage your child to spend several hours a week on a combination of
- Community Service AND
- Sports
- Art, music, drama AND
- Clubs, etc.

#6 Encourage Your Teen to Try Hard in School. Fact: Teens who perform well in school are less likely to become involved with alcohol and drugs.
- Limit screen time.
- Encourage effort over grades.
- Praise every improvement.
- If a child thinks or says, “School is boring,” consider ways to fix that. Talk with his or her teachers.
- Find ways to help your child do something in school well, even if they don’t get A’s.

#7 Reach Out. Fact: Teens with supportive adults in their lives as less likely to use alcohol and other drugs.
Action: Seek and give ongoing support.
- Spend time with close family members.
- Join activities in your community.
- Talk to parents in similar situations.
- Stay connected with neighbors and friends.

People who can help guide your child or help you find community resources:
- Pediatrician or health care provider
- Guidance counselor
- Social Worker
- Teacher
- Religious Leader

CHECKLIST: Does your teen….._ Have strong family support?
_ Understand the limits you have set?
_ Have high expectations for his or her future?
_ Have a safe environment at home and school?
_ Participate in a supportive, caring community?
_ Pursue extracurricular activities like sports, art, music, theater, or clubs?
_ Learn about values through regular volunteer work, being in a community group and/or religious programs?
_ Have dinner with you and your family at least four times a week?
_ Hang out with friends who act responsibly?
_ Feel he or she can come to you with a serious problems?

Every item on the list contributes to your teen’s healthy future and reduces chances or drug and alcohol abuse.

Tools in the Toolbox: Five Types of Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Strategies

Goals, based on the Four Core Measures used by Federal Drug Free Community Grants:
1) To raise the average age of first use,
2) To lower the past 30 day use
3) To increase perception of risk/harm
4) To increase perception of parental disapproval

1) Community Based Prevention – Changing norms and laws favorable to substance abuse
Bylaws/Selectmen –
- Social Host bylaws to restrict underage drinking parties, fining parents (warning, $150, $300)
- Youth Diversion Program – 1st offense, child would not get arrested; would be fined $0-300, attend
educational program, do 10 hours community service (in Melrose, Waltham considering).
- A Youth Curfew, as being considered Malden, requiring unsupervised youth to be at home by 11:00pm (or could make it later). Infractions could require a fine; cannot be a criminal offense (Supreme Court).
- Economic Interventions(Raising Taxes, fines, eg, for marijuana possession, unresponsive to summons)
- Restriction of Advertising, Promotions & Retail Displays
- Tobacco-Free Environment Policies & Bylaws
Retailer-Directed (Restaurants + Grocery/Convenience/Liquor Stores)
- Responsible Alcohol Beverage Service Training
- Sticker Shock Campaigns – Placing stickers on multi or 6-packs of beer and wine to remind adults not to serve minors
- Designated Driver Program for restaurants, While out with friends, any diner who declares that they are the designated driver will receive free sodas for the duration of the meal.
- Changing Hours and Days of Sale/Conditions of Availability + Store Displays & Signs
Other Community Members
- Build Community Coalition that partners with various community sectors, such as the schools, police, PTA, faith community, medical/public health officials, parents, non-profit groups.
- Public Relations/Counter-Advertising/Newspaper editorials, etc., supporting youth SA prevention.
- Build neighborhood attachment, parents talking about how to support & keep safe every child.
- A Safe Homes of Georgetown Pledge Campaign, a Parent Team where parents meet regularly and
pledge to not allow underage drinking or drug use in their homes.
- Social Norms Marketing – Promoting messages that contain statistics about the
nonproblem behavior of a majority of people in order to encourage that behavior in others.

2) Police Policies, Practices & Programs
- Prescription Drug Drop Box – At police station to collect old & excess prescriptions.
- Website Prevention and Legal Information
- Compliance Checks – Ensuring that retailers are not selling to underage people.
- Shoulder Tap Surveys – Ensuring that adults are not buying for underage people.
- The New DARE Education Programs
- Zero-Tolerance Law enforcement/Highly Visible Community Policing

3) School-Based Prevention - Policies & Curriculum Practices
- Provide caring environment to ensure academic success &school engagement for every child.
- Build, Assess and Monitor Data by conducting Youth Risk Behavior Surveys. Use results.
- Health & Wellness curriculum, with youth risk behavior reduction as a goal/mission.
• Research-based, highly interactive, multi-modal, reflecting state frameworks,
• Comprehensive/fully coordinated K-12.
- Youth Action/Peer Group Teams – Involving older peer groups doing research projects, including focus groups, to present to younger student audiences.
- Substance Abuse Discipline Policies and zero-tolerance expectations simplified and clearly communicated, on website (as at Pentucket). Norwood has just instituted a 30 day social suspension.
- Expanded MIAA sports rule to include full calendar year of suspension from offense date.
- SADD – Students Against Destructive Decisions - . "The goal is to bring together people who want to make better decisions." Mission statement: "To provide students with the best prevention and intervention tools possible to deal with the issues of underage drinking, other drug use, impaired driving and other destructive decisions." Could produce a SADD newsletter to students, featuring safety & prevention ideas, scientific research, special events, social norms marketing, etc.
- One-TimePresentations, such as
- MADD presentations, such as one (Backstage) focusing on media images/consumer perceptions.
- By outside groups/presenters (ie, Marilyn Belmonte)
- Police, using DA or SAMSHA presentations
- School Resource Officer as a teacher & preventative presence
- Best Prom Practices:
- 1) Pre-prom educational presentations on social host liability, how to help friends, etc.
- 2) Pre-prom contract signed by parents and students regarding behavioral expectations.
- 3) An all-night after-prom party, promoted early, strongly encourage all students to attend. 2)
- 4) free transportation to & from after-prom party
- 5) Chaperones watching the door, prepared to intake kids quickly; dismiss to parents; have listing of parent tel & cell #’s. See .

4) Parent Education
- Social Host Liability, Underage Drinking, Drug Recognition and Other Workshops
- Key Informant Interviews/Presentations
- Teen Parenting Workshops, such as Staying Connected to Your Teen.
- Parent Surveys re: perceptions around youth substance abuse & hosting underage drinking events, which prevention practices they would support to help youth.

5) Family-Based Prevention re: Underage Drinking, Drugs & Strategies
- Participate/stay up to date with community coalitions, continuous education re trends, research & relevant legal issues.
- Face to face contact when children come home from an event.
- Setting clear family rules, expectations and consequences.
- Supervising/monitoring substances (alcohol, Rx, cigarettes) at home.
- Clear communication of family values, caring, honesty, responsibility, restraint, justice.
- Positive family communications/respectful conflict resolution style
- Parent involvement in schooling/encouragement of reading for pleasure
- Effective promotion of school engagement/achievement motivation
- Constructive use of time/creative, civic, social & sports youth activities
- Discussion around social planning & decision making, resistance skills/positive peer influence
- Promotion of Positive Identity: sense of purpose/personal power/self-esteem/future story
- Encouraging youth empowerment: service to others, demonstrate appreciation of youth strengths.
- Spiritual/religious direction/activities; help youth translate values into action.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

GeorgetownCARES considers Substance Abuse Prevention Strategies

PRESS RELEASE: to the Georgetown Record, re: GeorgetownCARES Meeting 12/15/09, printed 12/24/09

GeorgetownCARES, a community-based youth substance abuse prevention group, had their 4th meeting on Tuesday, December 15th. The group, open to anyone interested in the community, works to build awareness of how we can support youth and their families to make healthy, legal choices that will keep them safe and reduce substance abuse. By bringing community sectors and parents together to discuss and learn about the relevant issues, the group hopes to reduce underage drinking, illegal drug use, and cigarette smoking among our youth.

Pam Lundquist, a Georgetown parent certified in community prevention, is founder and Coordinator. Honorary advisors include Superintendent Carol Jacobs and Police Chief James Mulligan.

On Tuesday night, Ms. Lundquist spoke with attendees about how we, as a community, can reach young people by applying best practices in substance abuse prevention that other local towns have found success with. The goal of the evening discussion was to consider practical and effective strategies for reducing youth substance abuse that parents or organizations might be able to implement someday in Georgetown.

Towns or school districts whose best practices were looked at included Beverly, Burlington, Danvers, Franklin County, Gloucester, Malden, Melrose, MASCO, Newburyport, Pentucket, Reading, Revere, and Tewksbury. Ms. Lundquist spoke with representatives from most of these towns to verify information and the effectiveness of the practices discussed.

A few of the innovative strategies discussed included:
- Innovative Bylaws: social host liability, first offence youth diversion, youth curfews.
- Community/Parent surveys to gauge interest, perceptions and practices
- A Prescription Drug Drop-Box for outdated or extra drug disposal
- Safe Homes Parent Team that takes a pledge to not to serve alcohol to minors
- Prom best practices/pre-prom forums/supervised all night post-prom parties
- School-based Youth Action Teams or Crews to carry out research projects and peer-based initiatives
- Environmental mapping projects by youth to reduce crime in “hot spot” areas
- School drug and alcohol policies clarified and promoted
- DARE Education Programs
- Continuous improvement/enrichment of health educational curriculum
- Parent education workshops/forums, for example, on social host liability.
- Designative Driver programs for restaurants
- Police website with prevention tips, illegal substance and law-related information.

Lundquist commended both the Georgetown School District and the Georgetown Police Department for their proactive preventative stance toward youth substance abuse prevention.

She noted that in Georgetown we can be very grateful for a proactive, progressive school system that has an extensive health care curriculum with substance abuse prevention in it for grades K-12, with the exception of grades 2-5. In grades 2-5, the Responsive Classroom nicely supports the kind of social-emotional student development that will lead to emotional resiliency, self-esteem, resistance skills and respectful treatment of others, in other words protective factors, that will prevent substance abuse later on.

The Georgetown schools also have an active SADD group, a Community Service Program that can be used to explore, research and prevent youth substance abuse issues. The Middle School Adding the Zero PTA-sponsored Program, run by 6th grade Teacher Team Leader Diane Weldon, which promote healthy anti-substance abuse messages over the loud speaker in the morning as well as conducts poster contests to communicate substance abuse prevention messages. The winner of the poster contest gets their poster featured on the next year’s agenda book.

The Police Department has also been highly supportive of youth substance abuse prevention, conducting retailer compliance checks, sobriety check-points, and participating in GeorgetownCARES Coalition meetings. The department’s general philosophy of Highly Visible Community Policing also supports a clear message to youth that illegal substance abuse will not be tolerated and will be consistently responded to for the protection and safety of all Georgetown citizens.

Monday, December 14, 2009

More Teens Are Smoking Pot

12/14/09-TIME-"While use of drugs such as cocaine or methamphetamine has declined among US teens, more adolescents are smoking marijuana, according to the results of an annual survey funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Researchers at the University of Michigan surveyed some 47,000 eigth-graders, high school sophomores and high school seniors, and found that across all three groups, marijuana use was up. In the 2009 study, 11.8% of eighth-graders reported smoking pot, compared with 10.9% the year before, 26.7% of tenth-graders said they smoked pot, compared with 23.9% in 2008, and 32.8% of 12-graders, compared with 32.4% the previous year.

White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske attributes the uptick in mariujuana use to less education about the dangers of smoking pot, and said that the alarming trend underscores the need for parents and authorities to increase anti-drug efforts.

Even as kids are smoking more pot, they seem to be smoking slightly fewer cigarettes. According to the 2009 study results, 11.2% of high school seniors said they smoked cigarettes every day, down from 11.4% in 2008....Thirteen years ago, 49% of eighth graders said they'd tried smoking; this year, just 20% reported trying cigarettes.

Yet as teens' attitudes about cigarettes and marijuana have changed, so too has their access to, and abuse of, prescription drugs. Nearly 5% of 12th graders reported using OxyContin for non-medical reasons this year, a slightly higher proportion than last year, and nearly 10% of high school seniors reported using the painkiller Vicodin for non-medical reasons as well, a figure that is consistent with rates from 2008 and suggests that the problem continues, researchers say. Meanwhile, teen use of cocaine and methamphetamine had dropped somewhat: 3.4% of 12th graders reported using cocaine in 2009, down from 4.4 in 2008."
*quoted/summarized from TIME on line, article by Tiffany O'Callahan 12/14/2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Seven Myths About Teens, Alcohol and Other Drugs

By the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health

1. Myth: My kids are good kids. They won’t get into alcohol or other drugs.
Fact: Good kids can make really bad decisions because their brains are not yet fully developed.
Act: Be patient with your teen. Remember that critical areas of the brain are still forming.

2. Myth: They’ll grow out of it, and be OK.
Fact: The younger kids start drinking, the more likely they are to become addicted.
Act: Tell your kids that drinking when you’re young can make them more likely to be dependent on alcohol later.

3. Myth: We live in the suburbs. Drugs are a city problem.
Fact: In Massachusetts, urban and suburban youth use drugs in about the same numbers.
Act: If your child takes Ritalin, or another drug that could be abused, monitor its use. Don’t let kids take prescription bottles to school. You or the school nurse should administer any medications that could be abused.

4. Myth: I’m teaching them to drink responsibly.
Fact: Alcohol can damage the developing teenage brain.
Act: Don’t serve alcohol to minors under 21-years old.

5. Myth: I can’t stop my kids from doing the same things I did at their age.
Fact: Yes you can. Here’s why you should: Teenagers who drink are far more likely to drive drunk, have sex, fight and experiment with other drugs.
Act: If asked about your past, tell the truth. Don’t go into detail. You can say:
“When I was younger, we didn’t know what we do now about the harmful effects of marijuana or alcohol. I stopped because I realized how harmful it was and because it was illegal. What I am worried about now is you and your safety.”

6. Myth: Weed isn’t that harmful.
Fact: Marijuana use causes memory problems, decreases motivation and increases the risk of developing a serious mental illness, such as depression and anxiety.
Act: Share new information about marijuana use with your teen.

7: Myth: If I set limits, my kids won’t be popular.
Fact: Kids whose parents are involved in their lives are less likely to use alcohol and other drugs.
Act: Get to know your teen’s friends and their parents.
Alcohol, Energy Drinks, and Youth: A Dangerous Mix

Alcohol companies are finding increasingly dangerous ways to hook the nation's youth and fuel the underage drinking epidemic. That is the conclusion of this new report by Marin Institute. The report examines the alcohol industry's youth-oriented marketing tactics promoting the consumption of alcoholic energy drinks, such as Bud Extra, Tilt, Sparks, and Rockstar 21.

Please visit the Marin Institute's Alcohol Energy Drink Report or see the PDF below for the full report.


Treatment Resources

Pathways to help with substance abuse or addiction issues
Knowledge is Power: The #1 deterrent of substance abuse in teens is PARENTS!
From GeorgetownCARES @

Addiction Treatment Resources & Information Sources – AA – Alcoholics Anonymous - Find local meetings – Alcoholics Anonymous World Services – Al-Anon & Alateen – Marijuana Anonymous World Services – Marijuana Anonymous Online – Treatment referral line – American Medical Association - North Shore Recovery High School Parental Stress Line 1-800-632-8188 or 508-801-3247 regarding heroin & oxycontin addiction, by parents for parents, Learn to Cope North Shore (LTCNS), free meets every Thurs. at North Shore Children’s Hospital; NSMC North Shore Children’s Hospital Family Support Programs – Directory of hotlines for various issues, treatment resources – Directory for rehab and treatment centers

Outpatient Addictions Treatment – A mental health network (by zip code) – A unique therapist directory – a therapist directory – A healthy living community, therapist directory North Shore Recovery Services – Catholic Charities, CAB Health and Recovery Services, Danvers, MA – Lynch & Matlack Clinical Services, Amesbury, MA – Family Counseling & Guidance Center, Danvers Clinic 978-774-6820, Catholic Charities; substance abuse assessment, counseling, treatment.

Inpatient, Partial Hospitalization and Outpatient Addictions Treatment - CAB Health & Recovery Services, provides treatment for substance abuse, 111 Middleton Road, Danvers, MA 978-777-2121 – Adcare Hospital in Worcester, MA 1-800-ALCOHOL – treatment & rehab centers in MA 800-559-9503 – Harvard-affliate rehab services, Belmont, MA – Rhode Island – The Life Process Program-St. Gregory Retreat Center England - New England – reknowned book/materials resource + treatment centers
Baldpate Hospital, 83 Baldpate Road, Georgetown, MA 01833 978-352-2131 – A guide (800#) to MA drug and alcohol recovery centers

Tobacco Cessation/Information on How to Quit - Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation & Prevention Program - CDC Tobacco Information and Prevention Source (TIPS) – Nicotine Anonymous – Quit Smoking All Together – Online Community
Drug deaths outpace car crashes in more states (MSNBC.COM)Sept. 2009
According to new government data, drug-related deaths outnumber those from motor vehicle accidents in 16 states, including Massachusetts. This illustrates a shift in the top cause of deaths after disease and illness.

From 1999 to 2006, death rates for opioid analgesics increased for every age group. Deaths from methadone alone increased sevenfold, the US CDC reported.

Based on death certificate data, CDC researchers counted more than 45,000 US deaths from motor-vehicle crashes in 2006 (40% alcohol related), and about 39,000 from drug-induced causes. No data have yet been finalized for 2007.

Declines in motor vehicle fatalities "are considered on of the great public health triumphs" of the last few decades, said Margaret Warner, an epidemiologist who co-authored the new CDC report. "But (drug) poisonings are definitely going up," she added. summarized from an article copyrighted 2009 The Associated Press.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Access to Alcohol

There is a new national campaign to reduce underage drinking by focusing on the social sources that may provide teens with access to alcohol. Check out !

Explore to read press accounts that tell not only what happens when adults serve alcohol to teens, but also how some communities are responding to illegal drinking among teens.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Social Host Liability: Get the Facts

Furnishing alcohol to anyone under 21 is a CRIME….It’s All about You.
From GeorgetownCARES

The law in Massachusetts is clear: …whoever furnishes alcohol for a person under 21 years of age shall be punished by: 1) a fine of up to $2000, 2) imprisonment for up to a year, or 3) both.

“Furnish” shall mean to knowingly of intentionally supply, give, provide to, or allow to possess alcoholic beverages on premises of property owned or controlled by the person charged.
Massachusetts General Law, chapter 138, section 34.

A Social Host is anyone, adult or juvenile, who is in control of the premises, who serves or allows alcohol to be served. Social Host Liability is the legal and financial responsibility of a person who furnishes liquor to a guest, which increases exponentially if and when the guest incurs property damage, kills or hurts themselves or a third party on or after leaving your premises. Host Liability is the legal term for the criminal and civil responsibili
ty of a person who furnishes liquor to a guest.
How can parents protect themselves from social host liability? Don’t serve alcohol to anyone under 21. Don’t allow anyone under 21 to possess or consume alcohol on your property. Make your rules and expectations clear to all guests.

Even if your child has a party while you are away that you do not know about, you can pay the consequences. Because the law applies to those under 21, as well. So while you may not be found liable, especially if you have taken precautions such as explicitly forbidding such a gathering, you child still can be. And you are responsible to pay for all damages incurred that your children are found responsible for under age 21.

If a social host is found guilty criminally, the door opens very fast for large-dollar civil suits, which are easy to prosecute once criminal guilt has been established. The amount of these suits may often exceed the extent of your home insurance, and ultimately, your ability to pay.

What happens if you give a party that you intend to be alcohol & drug free, and then you find kids drinking or drugging on your property? You should not let a kid who has taken drugs or alcohol leave. You must either call his or her parents, or call the police.

Calling the police is appropriate when anyone on your property appears drunk, impaired or not well. If there is a medical emergency, police will call EMTs to bring a person to a hospital for medical care. Also, the police can place the impaired persons in protective custody for 12 hours, alerting families in an effective way to prevent this from happening again.

Carefully consider your responsibility when you host a social event that includes anyone under age 21. It is greater than most people think. Be a Safe Home - Pledge to not serve alcohol to minors. Let your kids go only to the houses of other families who have done the same.

Hosting an adult party? Remind your guests to plan ahead, always offer alcohol-free beverages during the event, and make sure all of your guests leave with a sober driver.

Want to know more about MA social host liability law? Check out

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Unmasking Safety

Mixed in with the costumes, ghost stories, and haunted attractions this
Halloween, teens may be more likely to engage in other risky behaviors as part
of the holiday festivities -- including more partying, excessive drinking, and
impaired decision-making. Parents can keep safety a priority by
1) checking in with teens about their plans,
2) reminding them of the rules and consequences concerning drug use, and
3) checking in regularly by phone and text while they are
out celebrating with the other ghosts and goblins.

Read more tips on safeguarding and monitoring your teen:

Road Safety Reminders

As the holiday season rings in more parties and reasons to celebrate, it is
important to reinforce the rules of the road with your teen. Too often teens
are driving while under the influence of alcohol and drugs. In a comprehensive
study on unsafe driving by high school students, 30 percent of seniors reported
driving after drinking heavily or using drugs, or riding in a car whose driver
had been drinking heavily or using drugs.[1] Remind your teens that driving is a
privilege and if they are caught driving under the influence of drugs or
alcohol, their driving privileges can be revoked at any time.

A few simple reminders for everyone to enjoy a safer holiday season:

•Don’t even think about getting behind the wheel of your vehicle if you’ve been out drinking;
•If you are impaired, call a taxi – use mass transit – or get a sober friend or family member to come and get you;
•Or just stay where you are and sleep it off until you are sober;
•And remember – Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. Take the keys and never let a friend leave your sight if you think they are about to drive while impaired.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New MADD Website:

MADD's Power of Parents: It's your influence.

Dear Pamela,

Today, MADD is launching a program to help parents of high school
students prevent underage drinking in their homes and
communities. It’s called The Power of Parents, It’s
Your Influence by MADD and its made possible through the generous
support of Nationwide Insurance and people like you.

There are two parts to the program: a website that provides parents
proven techniques and helpful tips to preventing underage drinking and
workshops about the most effective solutions in the home.

The website is up at or We are having two conference calls to
introduce the program if you would like to learn more. One is
today (Tuesday) at 7 PM Central and the other is noon Central tomorrow
(Wednesday). You can call 866-368-3302 and use access code
469-420-4402 to get on to the call. The call will feature Vicki
Knox, MADD’s Vice President of Programs.

We hope to hear you on the call or see you on the website!


Laura Dean-Mooney
MADD National President

PS. If you know any parents of high school students, please forward
this to them – we’d love to have them as well.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Marijuana: Get the Facts

Knowledge is Power: The #1 deterrent of substance abuse in teens is PARENTS!
From GeorgetownCARES
Main active ingredient: THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) from the plant, cannabis sativa. THC is a hallucinogen, with analgesic/pain-relieving properties. Depending on the source of the marijuana, it may have added chemicals in it such as pesticides, other drugs or fungus. Hashish is a preparation of cannabis composed of the compressed stalked resin glands called trichomes, The effects are the same.
Short term effects: Causes hazy euphoria; alters time, depth, color and sound perception. Can cause anxiety, paranoia, distrust, panic, fatigue and depression. Stimulates appetite. Cognitive impairments include memory loss, increased distractibility, decreased learning retention/ability. Also causes restlessness, irritability, and sleep disturbance. Respiratory problems may develop, including a persistent cough, decreased immunity to colds, flu and lung infections.
Long term effects: Increased risk of lung cancer; regular users face a 70% increase in testicular cancer (NECN). Chronic marijuana smokers are vulnerable to chest colds, bronchitis, emphysema and bronchial asthma. In June 2009, the University of Leicester in England released study results that found carcinogens in marijuana smoke in amounts 50% greater than those found in cigarette smoke. They noted that occasional or recreational marijuana users are also at risk because most cannabis smokers inhale deeper and hold the smoke longer than cigarette users, reporting that smoking 3 to 4 joints (marijuana cigarettes) a day is associated with the same degree of damage to bronchial mucus membrane as smoking 20 cigarettes a day. Amotivational syndrome is common amongst long term marijuana smokers; symptoms of this include: increased levels of apathy, difficulty in starting new tasks, not accomplishing or not setting goals, decreased concentration, and a tendency toward introversion. In a 2008 study at University of Melbourne, the part of the brain believed to regulate emotion and memory, known as the hippocampus, was on average 12 per cent smaller in marijuana users compared to non-marijuana users. The amygdala, which regulates fear and aggression, was on average just more than 7 per cent smaller.
Adolescent Mental Health (from Weekly or more frequent use of marijuana doubles a teen’s risk of depression and anxiety. Depressed teens are more than twice as likely as their peers to abuse or become dependent on marijuana. Several studies have documented marijuana’s link with symptoms of schizophrenia and report that cannabis is an independent risk factor for schizophrenia. Heavy users of marijuana at age 18 increased their risk of schizophrenia later in life by six times. In addition, youth with a personal or family history of schizophrenia are at an even greater risk of marijuana-induced psychosis.10
Gateway effect: Teens who use pot weekly double the risk of depression, are 3X more likely to commit suicide, and are 80% more likely to use harder drugs by age 21. Teens who use marijuana monthly are about 38% more likely to use harder drugs by age 21. Results reported by the Rand Drug Policy Research Ctr. 2003
Addictive Nature: Can be addictive; users may become dependent upon it to feel good, deal with life, or handle stress. Frequent users develop tolerance, needing to smoke more to achieve the same effect. 20% of Drug Treatment admissions are for marijuana addiction.
Physical signs of use: red or bloodshot eyes, pupil dilation, droopy eye lids, tremor in eyelids or hands, slow speech, smell, dry mouth, excessive giggling, hunger (muchies) or thirst, impaired reaction time.
Paraphernalia: pipes (mostly homemade now, such as with soda cans), rolling papers, room deodorizers (and Febreze), Visine/eyedrops.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Youth and Tobacco Use: Get the Facts

Knowledge is Power: The #1 deterrent of substance abuse in teens is PARENTS!
From GeorgetownCARES

Did you know?
- Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
- Cigarette smoking is a causal factor in about 1 of every 5 deaths, each year.2,3
- More than 450,000 people die of tobacco-related illnesses in the US every year, more than from AIDS, car crashes, alcohol, suicides, homicides, fire and illegal drugs combined.
- About 90% of all tobacco users start before age 18.
- In MA, in 2007, 17.7% of high school students smoked a cigarette in the last 30 days.
- 52% of daily smokers have used illicit drugs (CASA).
- Teens who smoke are four times as likely to develop depressive symptoms as their nonsmoking peers, nine times more likely to abuse alcohol, 13 times more likely to use marijuana than teens who don't smoke. (2007 CASA study) Panic attacks and anxiety-related disorders have been linked to teen smoking, also.

What’s in cigarette tobacco? There are over 63+ chemical pyrolytic carcinogens (such as benzopyrene, acrolein, nitrosamines, tar components) in tobacco smoke. Other chemicals in tobacco include: Arsenic, Cyanide, Formaldehyde (used to embalm bodies), Ammonia Bromide (a toilet cleaner). Smoking tobacco increases risk for heart attacks, strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, and cancer (particularly lung cancer, cancers of the larynx and mouth, and pancreatic cancer). Damage to the protective epithelial tissues from smoking only increases the prolonged retention of insoluble polonium 210 compounds produced from burning tobacco in the lungs.

Addictive Nature: Tobacco contains nicotine, a stimulant and vaso-constrictor, the highly addictive element which easily induces psychological and physical dependence, particularly in young smokers. It increases heartbeat and blood pressure by its adrenaline release, produces mild euphoria, rush, stress relief, and decreases appetite. Another substance, harman (a stimulant alkaloid, an MAIO inhibitor), formed from the acetaldehyde in cigarette smoke, facilitates dopamine release in response to the nicotine, raising nicotine’s addictive power.

Short term effects: Shortness of breath, coughing, increase in phlegm production, decrease in immunity, yellow teeth. Causes bad breath, tartar build-up. Nicotine makes addiction to other substances more likely because is shown to create new addictive neural pathways in the brain.

Long term effects: Increases risk for heart disease, blood clots, cancer, strokes, bronchitis, emphysema, bad circulation, ulcers. Causes older looking, wrinkled skin.

Cigars - Most of the same cancer-causing chemicals that are found in cigarettes are present in cigars too. Deaths from all types of cancer are 34 percent higher than among nonsmokers.

Smokeless Tobacco/Chewing or Snuff – A growing concern…
- From 2005 to 2007, the MA YRBS found that the percentage of students who used chewing
tobacco, snuff or dip in the last 30 days rose from 4.4% to 6.7%.
- The CDC breaks it down: 20% of HS boys and 2% of HS girls. 1/3 of users are under 21.
- Many people mistakenly believe that smokeless tobacco (snuff & chew) is safer than smoking.
But it causes several cancers (all difficult to treat), including oral, stomach, bladder & other gastrointestinal cancers. It also causes heart problems, stroke, and receding gums, in addition to nicotine addiction. Users develop yellow-brown teeth, cracked/bleeding lips/gums, mouth sores.
- Companies are now developing tobacco lozenges like Ariva and Stonewall, as well as snus, flavored chewing tobacco that you don’t have to spit out, targeted at….who else? Our kids.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Prescription Drug Abuse: Get the Facts
Knowledge is Power: The #1 deterrent of substance abuse in teens is PARENTS!
From GeorgetownCARES
Prescription Drug Abuse – On the rise….
- Teens report that Rx drugs are more accessible to them than tobacco, alcohol or other illegal drugs.
- Most frequently abused prescriptions include
1) painkillers (Percocet, Vicodin, Demerol, Codeine products, Oxycontin),
2) anti-anxiety/tranquilizers/depressants/benzodiazepines
(Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, Atavan)
3) stimulants (Adderall, Concerta, Metadate, Ritalin).
- One third of teens believe that there is nothing wrong with taking Rx drugs.
- 2 in 5 teens believe that taking someone else’s prescription drugs is safer than using illegal drugs.
- From 1992 to 2005, the number of teens who abuse Rx drugs has tripled (CASA).
- By the time they have graduated from high school, 1 in 5 teens will have abused prescription drugs across the US.

What Can I tell my children?
Teaching respect for the medications in our homes is an important lesson for children. Both over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs prompt good opportunities to teach your children the difference between use and abuse. Use means following the recommendations and directions of your prescribing doctor, or directions as printed on a container. Abuse means ignoring them. Make sure children understand about following the correct dosage on all medicines; supervise the administration of any medicine, including vitamins. Remember to keep your conversations short and frequent. Children have short attention spans and learn best by repetition. Tell them…
- Prescription drugs are only safe for the person the prescription was written for.
- Over-the-counter medication, such as cough syrup and cold medicines can cause great danger if abused, if not taken as directed for conditions the medicine is meant to help.
- Taking more than the prescribed/recommended dose can damage your body or be fatal.
- If someone requires numerous medications, explain why each one is needed and that by following doctor’s orders & directions, the person prescribed the medicine will stay safe.
- It is not acceptable to self-medicate. If children are stressed or feel there is a problem that needs medicine, they must come to you first and together you will find the right doctor to get help.
- There are strict laws against abusing prescription drugs, either taking someone else’s or taking your own in ways not prescribed by your doctor.
- Tell girls especially that eating properly and exercising is the best way to lose weight. Taking diet pills or other stimulant drugs to lose weight is extremely dangerous because they stress the heart and blood vessels which can lead to permanent heart damage or death.

Be sure to dispose of old or extra medications safely. That means either 1) in a police-supervised “safe deposit box,” if one exists in your community, or 2) in the trash, out of the bottle, in a baggie with coffee grinds or kitty litter. Do not flush down the toilet; do not through away in original containers; do not keep around longer than necessary.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Show me the facts, please! A great source....

Wondering where to find solid facts these days on youth substance abuse? I have found some of the most up-to-date at: – “Your Source for the latest research news” News & Articles in Science, Health, Environment & Technology – This is an excellent site to find relevant, current research on exactly how potentially dangerous substances affect us and our children.

Type in subjects like…addiction, teen smoking, teen health, controlled substances, steroids, crystal meth (or whatever substance…Oxycontin, Ritalin, etc), substance abuse, to the search window, and GET THE FACTS!

Two articles on youth drinking to check out are……

When 'Just Say No' Isn't Enough: Try ScienceDecember 3, 2008 — Teens are fascinated by their brains, the way they work, change, and even "freeze" sometimes. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) recommends that parents, teachers and ...

Young Age At First Drink May Affect Genes And Risk For Alcoholism
The age at which a person takes a first drink may influence genes linked to alcoholism, making the youngest drinkers the most susceptible to severe problems.

Another on why certain Rx prescriptions that may be appropriate for adults are not for adolescents….

Abuse Of Painkillers Can Predispose Adolescents To Lifelong Addiction September 11, 2008 — Researchers reveal that adolescent mice exposed to the painkiller Oxycontin can sustain lifelong and permanent changes in their reward system -- changes that increase the drug's euphoric properties ... > full story

Happy Learning! Please let us know if you have any favorite research sites, or if you learn anything new and surprising that might help others! Thank you!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Alcohol and Underage Drinking: Get the Facts

Knowledge is Power: The #1 deterrent of substance abuse in teens is PARENTS!

Did you know?
* Adolescents use alcohol more frequently and more heavily than all other substances combined, and alcohol kills more young people than any other drug.
* When youth drink, they tend to drink intensively, often consuming four to five drinks at one time. 75%-90% of all teen drinking is binge drinking, compared to 10-20% of adult drinking.
* Monitoring The Future (MTF) data show that 11% of 8th graders, 22% of 10th graders, and 29% of 12th graders had engaged in heavy episodic—or binge—drinking within the past 2 weeks.
* Parents tend to underestimate underage drinking, particularly their own children’s drinking.9 Teens tend to overestimate dramatically the drinking of their peers. Children and teens also overestimate the amount of alcohol they see their parents drink and its effect on them.
* Every year 1700 college students die from alcohol-related injuries
* 40% of college students binge drink on a regular basis.

Drug type: Depressant, depresses central nervous system, affects motor coordination, reflexes, sensory perceptions and emotions.

Short term effects: Relaxes the drinker; reduces social inhibitions and anxiety in some. Impairs judgment, impulse-control, reaction time, motor coordination; slurs speech. Large amounts result in vomiting, short-term memory loss, alcohol poisoning leading to hangovers, “passing out,” or death. Can produce respiratory depression (to death), sensory depression, confusion, irritability (the violent drunk).

Long term effects: Drinking alcohol in excessive quantities damages nearly every organ and system in the body, especially the central and peripheral nervous systems. Regular, heavy drinking of alcohol increases the risk of developing alcohol dependence or alcoholism, cirrhosis/hepatitis/alcoholic liver disease (the liver detoxifies you body), osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, chronic pancreatitis, oropharyngeal cancer, cancers of the digestive system, liver, breast, ovaries, and pancreatitis. Also with neurologic deficits/brain damage (e.g., impairments of working memory, emotions, executive functions, visual-spatial abilities and gait and balance), dementia and brain shrinkage.

Special effects on adolescents: Alcohol is also especially dangerous for young people. Adolescents are less sensitive to the sedative and motor impairment effects of alcohol, and more sensitive to the social disinhibition induced by alcohol. Teens need more alcohol to feel the impairment. Thus judgment is impaired with less alcohol. Alcohol reduces their ability to register new information into permanent, long-term memory. This particularly affects college work, when you learn throughout the year, and grades are based on one test at the end. Versus high school, where short term memory is more important; frequent testing draws on short-term memory. Recent brain imaging studies in teens and young adults who drank heavily have shown shrinkage in the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain that is responsible for memory and learning. Teenagers who drink to the point of “passing out” are closer to death than adults who do the same. Heavy drinking in adolescents is associated with depressive mood disorders, anxiety, and suicide. Alcohol can also prevent teens from growing to full-size, interfering with muscle and bone growth. In addition, people who drink as teenagers have a greater chance of osteoporosis later in life

Addictive Nature: Can induce psychological and physical dependence. Approximately 10%of the general population becomes alcohol dependent at some point in life. Adolescents who drink before age 15 are 5 times more likely to develop alcohol dependence; children of alcoholics are 4 times more likely to develop alcohol dependence in response to regular or heavy drinking.

Alcohol/teen marketing: Company advertising sends messages of drinking being cool or sexy; products such as wine coolers, cherry, vanilla, watermelon, other fruit flavored drinks such as alcopops, Smirnoff Ice, Zippers (prepackaged Jello-shots) and Mike’s hard lemonade target teenagers’ sweet-tooth.

Sources:,, www.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A few more useful websites.....

Government - National Council for Alcohol and Drug Dependence (NCADD) – National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a part of National Institutes of Health – Surgeon General’s website (Centers for Disease Control, CDC) – National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) US Dept. of Health & Human Services: Alcohol and Drug Information
(pamphlets) by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Assocation (SAMHSA) - MA Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) results – Information & events from The Beacon Coalition of Newburyport, MA

Alcohol & Drug Facts/Statistical Information – Office of National Drug Control Policy (Drug-Free Comm Grants) – Studies & surveys, funded by NIDA, conducted at U. of Michigan – Narconon Treatment Centers, lots of drug & alcohol information – Partnership for a Drug-Free America – The Drug Policy Alliance, Saftety First, drug facts – Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
– Demand Reduction, Street Smart Prevention, drug facts – listing of all Rx drugs, with detailed information

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Create it.

What a great pleasure it was to see so many Georgetown parents at the GMHS Open Houses stop by at our GeorgetownCARES table to look over our materials on substance abuse prevention!

Thank you very much to those of you who filled out the parental interest survey, you gave us some great input and topic ideas for future workshops!

In speaking with those I could, I was struck by how many showed great understanding of that fact that any child can be at risk, but that a community of caring parents and professionals working together can make a difference, can help keep our kids safe and supported.

What are some of the best ways to protect our children against substance abuse?

The good news is that there are several different community prevention approaches that have already been shown to work very well, among them 1) Building Youth Assets (the Search Institute), 2) Communities That Care (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration--SAMHSA), 3) Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), and 4) The Call to Action (Centers for Disease Control/Surgeon General).

As a community coalition, our goal is to come together to consider how to implement any or all of them. Once we have enough measurable evidence of success and member participation, GeorgetownCARES could someday apply for a (federal) Drug Free Communities Grant. This grant and others like it are generally aimed at enabling a community to use strategies that will make progress on the four core measures, which are:
1) (raise) average age of first use,
2) (lower) past 30 day use,
3) (increase) perception of risk,
4) (increase) perception of parental disapproval.

One approach that has just (again) been proven to be extremely effective is The Communities That Cares (CTC) Program, a risk and protective factor-based program. Results of a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) study were published in the 9/7/2009 issue of Pediatrics and Adolescent Magazine.

“By the eighth grade, students in the CTC communities were 32% less likely to begin using alcohol, 33% less likely to begin smoking, and 33% less likely to begin using smokeless tobacco than their peers in the control communities. Students from the CTC communities were also 25% less likely to initiate delinquent behavior, itself a risk factor for future substance use and an important target for prevention.”

The National Institutes of Health’s article, entitled, Innovative Community-Based Prevention System Reduces Risky Behavior in 10-14 Year Olds, from which the above paragraph is quoted, can be found at

Monday, September 21, 2009

A few useful websites......

For Parents/Alcohol&Drugs (great family and parenting information!) – drug information and parenting advice - National Office of Drug Control Policy – Mothers Against Drunk Driving – Lisa Frederickson – monthly substance abuse prevention articles/blog – Children’s health, by Nemours, a non-profit division of Dupont – parenting tips re adolescents etc. from The Search Institute, Minneapolis, MN - The National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia Univ. – A public service of Nickalodean & The Century Council

For Kids/Alcohol & Drugs - Partnership for a Drug-Free America – Website for youth – self-quizzes, stories, choice-games-great! – a place for young teens re alcohol & resisting peer pressure, NIAAA – good for teens to get drug facts on. (goes to – facts about the effects and dangers of prescription drug use – Take It Back, a national youth-directed movement to reduce alcohol problems. – Students Against Destructive Decisions – good information about various dangerous substances – NIDA for teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse

Smoking/Tobacco Prevention - Information from the Centers for Disease Control (federal). - National Inst. Drug Abuse, Nat. Institute of Health – Research reports & legislative updates from NIDA – Movement led by Massachusetts youth to fight tobacco addition & tobacco industry

Sunday, September 20, 2009

GeorgetownCARES - Who Are We?

Who are we?.....We are a coalition of interested parents and other community members working together to prevent youth substance abuse.

What are our goals?
1. Reduce lifetime ATOD (alcohol, tobacco and other drugs) use among youth.
2. Develop a community prevention approach to meet data-determined needs.
3. Build protective factors and developmental assets for youth.

What do we do?
- Provide a support and educational network for parents.
- Hold GeorgetownCARES meetings, bringing informational speakers to the community.
- Collaborate with community sectors to work together towards our goals.

Quick Substance Abuse Facts:
- While most teens do not drink, drug or smoke, most have been offered these substances.
- 70% of teens say losing parents’ respect is the #1 reason they do not use drugs.
- Teens who hear anti-drug messages are 42% less likely to use drugs. Prevention works.

What can you do?.....Teach teens the 3 R’s of staying substance-free:
1) Risks (know them)
2) Resist (peer pressure)
3) Reach Out (for help)

Friday, September 18, 2009

GeorgetownCARES-A community supporting youth

This is the official blog for GeorgetownCARES, a substance abuse prevention coalition of concerned citizens and community sectors in Georgetown, MA working together to support youth and reduce youth substance abuse.

Together, we can be the voice of support, awareness, prevention for our children. A parent's voice, a school administrator's voice, a police officer's voice...all can make a huge difference for young people in Georgetown.

I'm hoping that we can build a shared vision of how our community can better support our youth struggling with substnace questions and issues. Beginning by raising awareness, we can combat substance abuse in a proactive/preventative way. We can encourage teen decisions to stay away from alcohol and drugs. We can help young people to have fun and enjoy their lives substance-free.

I am the devoted parent of three boys, all attending the Georgetown Public Schools. I want them, as well as every other child in Georgetown, to have what they deserve--the benefit of living in a community that supports youth with a high quality substance abuse prevention approach. Because no child in this culture is immune to the risks and temptations posed by substance abuse.
I am excited by the opportunity GeorgetownCARES, as a coalition of community members, can afford Georgetown's young people.

I will update this blog regularly with new information, links, fact sheets, book excerpts and articles both by myself and others regarding youth substance abuse prevention. I invite any parent with questions or comments to read and participate in this blog. I want this blog to serve as a resource for anyone with concerns or questions who wants to help build youth assets and protective factors.

I will also use this blog to announce GeorgetownCARES events.

The dangerous substances in question include tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, Rx drugs, and other drugs, including inhalants (listed in the order that Joseph Califano noted for approximate frequency of youth use). Another way to refer to them is STOD--Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs.

In case you are wondering, WHY NOW? It is BECAUSE NOW, when our children are still living under our roofs, is the time to PREVENT what lies ahead: studies show that approximately 40% of college students binge drink on a regular basis. This and other substance-abuse behaviors create many dangers to the safety of our children and those around them. They also raise the question: How much of the value of a college education is wasted due to subtance abuse?

Remember, "Before graduating high school every American child will be offered the opportunity to smoke, drink, get drunk and get high on inhalants, marijuana or other illegal or prescription drugs. Most girls and boys will get such offers many times, from classmates, friends, or older siblings, usually beginning in middle school." p. 38, High Society, by Joseph Califano.

Why do college students drink, drug and smoke so much? Because of attitudes and beliefs built in younger, pre-college years. Because of kids either left to figure it all out on their own, or of the bad information they get. Will our college-bound kids have the power or desire to say no to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs in their new environment? Will they care more about convincing their peers how cool they are, or about taking good care of themselves? What will our kids be adding to their carts from the internet? What's in their future?

We, as parents, as a community, have a say here. We can change things. Starting now.

Many college students have been well-prepared, academically, socially and emotionally for the challenges they will face. In fact, the (slim) majority of them will be making positive choices. Their well-informed beliefs and attitudes will add up to smart decisions.

Why do college students make the good, healthy choices they do--choosing not to binge drink, not to abuse drugs, not to smoke cigarettes? Is it because those 50-60% of college students have experienced caring, involved, informed parents PLUS a community that stands behind them with quality substance abuse prevention? Because they have learned why they should always say no to tobacco? Because they have learned to turn to their doctors with problems requiring medication instead of self-medicating? Because their teachers understand that we can teach underage children about safe choices for themselves after are 21: to either drink responsibly or to abstain?

So let's get started....what can we as parents, school administrators, police, our faith community, and local businesses do now to help our youth in Georgetown?