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.