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?