Monday, December 20, 2010

Time Magazine: 4 Reasons Binge Drinking is a Public Health Problem

Read more:

The four reasons are:
- Car Crashes
- Assault and Violence
- Long-Term Illness and Death
-Unintended Pregnancy and STDs

Binge Drinking in America
By Meredith Melnick Wednesday, October 13, 2010, TIME Magazine

One out of 3 adults and 2 out of 3 high school students who drink alcohol binge drink, according to recent government surveys. Startlingly, the data suggest that 90% of the alcohol consumed by high-school kids and more than half the alcohol consumed by adults is downed during the course of binge drinking. What's with Americans' overindulgence? (More on If I'm Drunk, Then You Stepped On My Toes On Purpose)

"Binge drinking as a problem has been largely unrecognized," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in a press conference. "It may be because binge drinking hasn't been widely recognized as a problem that it has not decreased in the past 15 years in this country."

The CDC surveys defined binge drinking as having had five or more drinks in a couple of hours for men and teens, and four or more for women, at least once in the previous 30 days. But Frieden says the average binge drinker consumes a lot more alcohol than that — more like eight drinks in a sitting, about once a week. Worse, another recent study suggests that people aren't even fully admitting to their drinking behavior, finding that government survey data identifies only 22% to 32% of presumed alcohol consumption based on states' alcohol sales.

The short-term personal cost of excessive drinking is high — as anyone who's ever suffered a nasty hangover knows — but the public-health consequences are costly too. Dangerous driving, assault, risky sexual behavior and long-term illness are just some of the larger problems that result from binging on alcohol.

When drunk people get behind the wheel, they put countless others at risk. And binge drinkers are 14 times more likely than non–binge drinkers to drive while impaired, according to a 2003 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, contributing to the risk of fatal car crashes.

Interestingly, another study in 2010 concluded that cognitive deficits from chronic binge drinking actually impaired sober driving as well. Researchers found that binge drinkers — independent of income levels — exceeded speed limits more often and for longer, compared with high-income non–binge drinkers.

According to a 2008 CDC assessment, 32% of all traffic accidents were related to alcohol.

Among college students alone — 80% of whom drink, including 51% who binge drink — an estimated 700,000 are attacked by another student in alcohol-related incidents, according to a survey by the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Nearly 100,000 college women also report being sexually assaulted in attacks that involve drinking, although experts suggest that number is far higher in reality, since sexual assault is notoriously underreported. (More on Study: An Earlier 'Last Call' May Reduce Assaults)

Off campus, older adults suffer just as much: two-thirds of episodes of domestic violence involves alcohol, according to Bureau of Justice statistics. And 45% of men arrested for violent assault of any kind report drinking first.

Assault and accidents, which lead to death and injury, account for the acute problems of excessive drinking. But, over time, chronic binge drinking is also associated with a variety of long-term health problems. According to Dr. Bob Brewer of the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, those problems include cirrhosis of the liver, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, cancer and an increased risk of sexually transmitted disease. A study in the Medical Journal of Australia found that 42% of alcohol-related deaths could be attributed to chronic illness.
Chronic binge drinking can lead to cognitive deficits as well. A 2009 study in Psychological Bulletin found that young binge drinkers had verbal and auditory memory deficits, difficulty with spatial memory and problems with planning, compared with non–binge drinkers.

Overall, the new CDC study finds that from 2001 to 2005, binge drinking was responsible for more than half of the estimated 79,000 deaths and two-thirds of the estimated 2.3 million years of potential life lost each year as a result of excessive drinking.

Binge drinking leads to risky sexual behavior, including engaging in unprotected sex and sex with multiple partners. That in turn increases rates of unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. A 2008 study of sexual behavior and binge drinking found that rates of gonorrhea were nearly five times higher in female binge drinkers than in women who abstained from alcohol.

The risk of unintended pregnancy is also associated with binge drinking, particularly in young people. A large-scale study published in Pediatrics in 2003 looked at nearly 73,000 pregnancies that resulted in live birth in 14 states. Surveys of the mothers showed that 45% of the pregnancies were unintended, and that women with unintended pregnancy were much more likely to have engaged in binge drinking in the three months before becoming pregnant than women with intended pregnancy.

Overall, 14% of women reported preconception binge drinking, and the relationship between binge drinking and unintended pregnancy varied by race: white women who reported unplanned pregnancy were 63% more likely to have binge drank before getting pregnant than white women who planned their pregnancies; the same effect was not seen in black women, however.
Women who reported binge drinking in the three-month period before pregnancy were more likely to be white and unmarried. They were also more likely to smoke and be exposed to violence before conception, and to consume alcohol, binge drink and smoke during pregnancy.

Friday, December 10, 2010

What’s nutmeg good for? Parents, take note.

What’s nutmeg good for? Parents, take note.

How’s your nutmeg supply this holiday season? Wondering where the ground nutmeg is going, besides for your pumpkin pie and a topping for eggnog?

Parents take note: some teenagers are using the common spice nutmeg to get high. When nutmeg is snorted, smoked or eaten in large quantities, it can cause mild hallucinations. And several poison control centers are reporting teenage use of nutmeg to get high is a growing trend.

Nutmeg use is becoming a problem in Oklahoma, and has attracted the attention of law enforcement. Although they say there's nothing illegal about it, it's what happens down the road that has them concerned.

"What we want to stress to parents if you've got a kid that's looking nutmeg or some of these other products to get a high, you probably already have a kid getting high, and he's simply looking for a legal and easier way to do it," said Mark Woodward, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.

Doctors say smoking nutmeg does induce short hallucinogenic effects, but beyond that brief high it mainly causes unpleasant side effects including headaches, nausea/vomiting, dizziness and rapid heartbeat. Also that a nutmeg high is not likely to be fatal, but also not likely to be pleasant.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Understanding Teen Behavior

Adolescent Brain Development

Research shows that the brain goes through dynamic change and development during adolescence and into early adulthood. Alcohol can seriously damage long and short term growth process. The prefrontal area, (behind the forehead) undergoes the most change during adolescence. Adolescent alcohol use can cause severe changes in this area of the brain which may alter the formation of adult personality and behaviors. Immediate reactions to this area of the brain include impairments to impulse control, planning and decision making, and speech.

The hippocampus, an area located deep inside the brain which handles many types of memory and learning, suffers significantly from adolescent alcohol use. Teens who had been drinking longer and more (binge drinking) showed significantly (10%) smaller hippocampus.

American Medical Association’s Drinkers vs. Non-Drinkers: Research Findings

Adolescent drinkers scored worse than non-drinkers on vocabulary, general information, memory, memory retrieval and at least three other tests.

Verbal and nonverbal information recall was most heavily affected, with a 10% performance decrease in alcohol users.

Adolescent drinkers performed worse in school, are more likely to fall behind and have an increased risk of social problems, depression, suicidal thoughts and violence.

Alcohol affects the sleep cycle, resulting in impaired learning and memory as well as disrupted release of hormones necessary for growth and maturation.

Alcohol takes a greater toll on brain development of those under 21 than on any other age group. Findings indicate that adults would have to consume twice as many drinks to suffer the same damage as adolescents, and that even occasional heavy drinking injures young brains.

Risk Taking

Adolescents’ involvement in risky behaviors has often been attributed to their thinking of themselves as invulnerable-bad consequences will not happen to them. Studies show that teenagers see occasional or experimental involvement in health-threatening activities as less dangerous than do their parents.


As adolescents develop, drinking behavior becomes more influenced by peers

Studies have shown that youth who have a positive relationship with their parents are less likely to succumb to peer pressure. Glastonbury youth have reported that when parents do not set clear guidelines and expectations regarding behavior it is harder to say no to peers. When peers know that parents have not set rules it is much harder to avoid situations that may lead to unhealthy choices

Adolescent girls are more likely than boys to drink to fit in with their peers

Adolescents often turn to their peers for advice rather than parents or other adults

At this stage, adolescents crave peer acceptance at any cost and will not stand up to challenges from their peers. This often leads to poor decisions

Peer Acceptance

Peer selection rather than peer influence may be the more important factor for initiation of risky behaviors. Peer influence may be more important to maintenance of risky behaviors

Know your child’s peers and try to get to know their parents

Actions vs. Consequences

Teens perceive they must be exposed to a hazard numerous times before experiencing negative consequences

“Now” Oriented: Teens deal only with present, not looking ahead

Teens Don’t Feel Valued at Home, School, and Community

Attention tends to be placed on negative behaviors exhibited rather than the many positive activities and accomplishments by our youth.

Causes of teen stress

- Grades
- College/Perception that Getting Accepted into a Good
School =Lifetime Financial Success
- Sports/Activities/Groups
- Peer Acceptance
- Work

Symptoms of stress in young people include:

- Lack of energy or decreased energy
- Drop in grades
- Changes in appearance or personality
- Crying, moodiness or sulkiness
- Easily frustrated or angered

Untreated stress may lead to Depression/Anxiety

Resources: and www.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Safeguarding a Happy 2010 Prom Season

We’re coming to that special time of year again….PROM Season! A time to create cherished memories and show our young people how much we care about them in an evening of fun never to be forgotten! But let’s remember that one of the most important things we can do for youth at this time is to keep them safe and substance free. Let’s protect this time-honored tradition by taking steps to prevent the many possible tragedies than can and do accompany underage drinking every year.

The Social Host 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

How can people 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, in terms of intention, perhaps if you have taken precautions such as forbidding such a gathering, you child still can be. And you legally must 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 twelve hours, alerting families as an effective way to prevent this from happening again.

Let’s teach children by example to respect the law this prom season. Carefully consider your responsibility when you host a social event that includes anyone under age 21. Both your responsibility and liability are greater than most people think.

Large teen parties can escalate out of control quickly. Don’t take the car keys of young people at a party, that conveys the expectation and tolerance of underage drinking. Be a Safe Home - Pledge to not serve alcohol to minors in the first place. 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 designated driver. Remember, the designated driver is a bad idea with youth; it implies the expectation of a designated drinker.

Furnishing alcohol to anyone under 21 is a CRIME….It’s All about You. Want to know more about MA social host liability law? Check out and

Monday, March 22, 2010

Prevention Works! – Georgetown: A Community That Cares!

Wondering how a whole community can take practical steps to support its youth? How can we help our children to better navigate the challenges they will inevitably face regarding substance abuse, relating to others, achieving success in school, making thoughtful choices?

One of the best tools available to schools and communities to assess youth attitudes and promote healthy behaviors is a factor-based prevention system called Communities That Care (CTC). Communities That Care is an initiative of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which is a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

"What makes Communities That Care system unique is that it enables communities to identify their own special issues so they can hand pick the right prevention programs," said Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Using the results of the Communities That Care Youth Survey, prevention strategies to support youth are customized to fit a community’s needs. Based on the work of Dr. J. David Hawkins and Dr. Richard F. Catalano, this research-based survey is designed to identify the levels of risk factors related to problem behaviors such as alcohol, tobacco and other drug use—and to identify the levels of protective factors that help guard against those behaviors. The survey also measures the actual prevalence of drug use, violence and other antisocial behaviors among surveyed students.

Just as medical researchers have found risk factors for heart disease, such as high-fat diets and smoking, research has defined a set of risk factors for substance abuse. We know that the more risk factors for heart disease present in a person, the more likely it is that person will suffer a heart attack. This is also true with risk factors for substance abuse and addiction.

The Georgetown School District conducted its first administration of the Communities that Care Youth Survey to our eighth, tenth and twelfth graders in February. The Georgetown Health and Wellness Advisory Committee recommended the Communities That Care Youth Survey as a tool of prevention, not prosecution. Completion of the survey was anonymous and voluntary. The results will be used as a baseline from which to measure future prevention efforts and action plans, also to provide information for state and federal grants. An announcement of results will be made to the community later this Spring.

Testing materials and administration were obtained through Northeast Centers for Healthy Communities, an affiliate of the MA Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, MA Department of Public Health. Test results will be interpreted and analyzed by a professional research and consulting firm, and reported back to our school committee and administration.

Once the risk and protective factors in the lives of Georgetown’s young people have been identified, this information will be used by both our schools and other community organizations that support youth to guide prevention efforts, to help address existing problems, and to promote healthy and positive youth development. Typically, a school or community selects three or four of the top factors in need of attention to develop action plans around.

Action plans are aimed at building up protective factors and reducing risk factors. Action plans based on Communities That Care survey results have been shown to substantially reduce the initial age for alcohol use, tobacco use, binge drinking, and other delinquent behaviors nationally. Recent NIDA research shows that for each dollar invested in research-based prevention programs, a savings of up to $10 in treatment for alcohol or other substance abuse can be seen.

The best prevention efforts are driven by youth and community needs. In Georgetown we are fortunate to have a school administration that recognizes how much the Communities That Care Youth Survey can help us to understand our youth and support their social-emotional health with prevention initiatives specifically developed to meet the needs of our children.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Heroin: Get the Facts

Prevention Works!

March 9, 2010 – Georgetown Record Headline: Man charged with heroin possession (in Georgetown). In the article, Police Chief Mulligan says that “Heroin use here in Georgetown is not common; however, we are concerned it’s on the rise.” Let’s hope Chief Mulligan is right, that it is not common. But why would it be on rise? And how can we protect our children?

A few causes for concern include:
- Opioid prescription drug abuse, which is on the rise, is the precursor for heroin use. Many heroin users today started with Rx drugs, which became too expensive for them, so they switched to save money.
- The street prices have decreased substantially over the past years.
- The National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), a federal agency, has found that that Mexican drug cartels are targeting the North Eastern U.S. for market growth.
- The DEA is clear that heroin and cocaine are currently still the most widely used and distributed illicit drugs in Massachusetts, but since the introduction of OxyContin, the number of individuals addicted to heroin has continued to rise whereas the number of individuals dependent upon cocaine has dramatically decreased.

As concerned citizens, the first thing we want to do is become informed. The second thing is to talk, talk, talk to our children: Parents are our children’s most powerful teachers!

Heroin: Get the Facts
Knowledge is Power: The #1 deterrent of substance abuse in teens is PARENTS!
From GeorgetownCARES –
Did you know? Heroin is a highly addictive, dangerous, and illegal (Schedule 1 narcotic) drug.
* Today’s heroin is 90% pure, so users can smoke it or snort it, causing more kids under 18 to use it.
* Many users of heroin today have transitioned from prescription opioid abuse (Oxycontin-Oxy 80’s most popular, etc) to heroin because heroin is much cheaper ($5-15 a bag) and more easily available.
* Heroin is the top-ranking drug among drug-related deaths in 14 major metro areas, according to DAWN, the Drug Abuse Warning Network’s Annual Medical Examiner Data.
* According to Monitoring the Future (MTF), in 2008 among U.S. High School Seniors, 39% did not see “great risk” in using heroin once or twice, and 25% said heroin was “fairly or very easy” to get.

What is heroin? Heroin is processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seeds of the Asian poppy plant. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder. Darker pieces are called “black tar.” It may be combined with marijuana, cocaine, speed or other drugs.

Where does it come from? According to the NDTA (National Drug Threat Assessment), most heroin available in the US comes from Mexico or Columbia; heroin from southern Asia is rare here. Heroin trafficking and abuse are most prevalent in eastern states. The strong and lucrative heroin markets in these states are attracting Mexican criminal groups, who are looking to build markets in urban areas.

Signs of Use: Pupils contract, pupils not responsive to light, cold clammy skin, dreamy state with drooping eyelids, nausea/vomiting, dry mouth, face & arm itching, constipation, needle marks.

Narcotic use medical traits: decreased respiration and pulse rate, low body temperature & blood pressure

Short term effects: Heroin acts as a depressant. Mental functioning becomes clouded due to the depression of the central nervous system. A surge of euphoria (“rush”) appears soon after a single dose and disappears in a few hours. The user also experiences a warm flushing of the skin, a dry mouth, and heaviness in the extremities. Following this initial euphoria, the user goes “on the nod,” an alternately wakeful and drowsy state. Overdoses: Depending on drug interactions and numerous other factors, death from overdose can take anywhere from several minutes to several hours. An overdose is immediately reversible with an opioid antagonist injection. Heroin overdoses can occur accidentally due to an unexpected increase in the dose or purity. Many fatalities reported as overdoses are probably caused by interactions with other depressant drugs like alcohol. It should also be noted that since heroin can cause nausea and vomiting, a significant number of deaths attributed to heroin overdose are caused by aspiration of vomit by an unconscious victim.

Long term effects: Heroin is a highly addictive drug use is associated with serious health conditions, including fatal overdose, collapsed veins, clogged blood vessels, damaged heart valves, liver disease, pulmonary complications/depressing effects on respiration; infectious diseases from shared needles include HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. Regular use leads to tolerance. Use in pregnant women can result in miscarriage.

Current use: Although heroin use is stable, with close to 1.25% of US high school students having tried heroin in their lifetime, (MTF, 2008), it could increase as more prescription narcotics abusers switch to heroin. At this time, the average age at first use of heroin among recent initiates aged 12 to 49 was 23.4 years (MTF, 2008). Officials in treatment facilities throughout the country report that many abusers of prescription opiates such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin eventually begin abusing heroin because it is typically cheaper and easier to obtain, and it provides a more intense high. Treatment officials also report that once an individual switches from prescription opiates to heroin, he or she rarely switches back to exclusively abusing prescription opiates. According to NSDUH data, the rate of past year abuse for prescription narcotics for individuals aged 12 and older increased from 4.7 percent in 2002 to 5.0 percent in 2007; moreover a higher number of first-time abusers of drugs (2,147,000) abused opioid pain relievers than any other drug in 2007. As the number of prescription narcotics users rises, the number of individuals switching from prescription narcotics to heroin will likely rise as well. In some areas, such as Ohio, this trend is already apparent in treatment centers.

Sources:, ,,, www.casacolumbia.

Monday, March 8, 2010


March 2, 2010

Cause for Concern: National Study Shows Reversal in Decade-Long Declines in Teen Abuse of Drugs and Alcohol
After a decade of consistent declines in teen drug abuse, a new national study released today by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America® and MetLife Foundation points to marked upswings in use of drugs that teens are likely to encounter at parties and in other social situations.

According to the 2009 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS), sponsored by MetLife Foundation, the number of teens in grades 9-12 that used alcohol in the past month has grown by 11 percent (from 35 percent in 2008 to 39 percent in 2009), past year Ecstasy use shows a 67 percent increase (from 6 percent in 2008 to 10 percent in 2009) and past year marijuana use shows a 19 percent increase (from 32 percent in 2008 to 38 percent in 2009).

The PATS data mark a reversal in the remarkable, sustained declines in several drugs of abuse among teens: methamphetamine (meth) was down by over 60 percent and past month alcohol and marijuana use had decreased a full 30 percent over the past decade from 1998-2008.

More Teens Using Alcohol, Ecstasy and Marijuana Makes Early Parental Action Even More Critical

“These new PATS data should put all parents on notice that they have to pay closer attention to their kids’ behavior – especially their social interactions – and they must take action just as soon as they think their child may be using drugs or drinking,” said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Partnership.

The resurgence in teen drug and alcohol use comes at a time when pro-drug cues in popular culture – in film, television and online – abound, and when funding for federal prevention programs has been declining for several years. This places an even greater burden on parents.

Parents Not Acting Early Enough, Need to Take Immediate Action

Among the parents surveyed for the PATS study, 20 percent say their child (ages 10-19) has already used drugs or alcohol beyond an “experimental” level. Among parents of teens ages 14-19, that percentage jumps to 31 percent, nearly one third.

Disturbingly, among those parents of teens who have used, nearly half (47 percent) either waited to take action or took no action at all – which studies show put those children at greater risk of continued use and negative consequences.

Time To Act: Resource to Help Parents Take Immediate Action, Safeguarding Kids

The Partnership encourages parents of children who are using drugs or alcohol to take action as soon as they suspect or know their child is using and Time To Act provides parents with free, anonymous access to the most current, research-based information on how to help their child.

Time To Act, offers step-by-step advice and sympathetic guidance from substance abuse experts, family therapists, scientists and fellow parents to help guide families through the process of understanding drug and alcohol use, confronting a child, setting boundaries, and seeking outside help. Because research tells us that kids in grades 7-12 who learn a lot about the dangers of drugs from their parents are up to 50 percent less likely to ever use, parents are encouraged to have frequent ongoing conversations with their children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and take early action if they think their child is using or might have a problem.

To learn more about Time To Act and for more information on the full PATS study results, please visit

Thank you,

Stephen J. Pasierb
President & CEO

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The Partnership For A Drug-Free America | 405 Lexington Avenue | New York, NY 10174

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Steroids: Get the Facts

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

What are steriods? - Steriods, the popular name for anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), are synthetically produced variants of the naturally occurring male sex hormone, testosterone. “Anabolic” refers to muscle-building, and “androgenic” refers to increased male sexual characteristics. “Steroids” refers to the class of drugs related to male sex hormones that promote muscle growth, lower body fat, increase bone strength and promote the development of male sexual characteristics. Slang terms for steroids include arnolds, gym candy, juice, pumpers, stackers, weight trainers.
Are steriods legal? Steroids are Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act, which do have a legitimate medical function. They are legally available only with a prescription. Doctors prescribe steroids to treat delayed growth or puberty, some types of impotence, and body-wasting in patients suffering from cancer or AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Common steroid medicines include fluoxymesterone (such as Halotestin) and nandrolone (such as Durabolin). Illegal users often use 10 to 100 times more than the dose a doctor prescribes for medical problems.
What do steroids look like? - Steroids are available in tablet, liquid, gel, and cream form. The liquid can also be injected. The appearance of these products varies depending upon the type and the manufacturer.
Why are steroids abused? - Steroids are abused, often by athletes and body-builders, to enhance athletic performance and to improve physical appearance by bulking up muscles and losing fat. Teenage girls (at risk for eating disorders) seeking to lose weight may abuse steroids. Typically steroids are taken in cycles (“cycling”) of weeks or months rather than continuously; use is stopped and then restarted. In addition, users often combine several different types of steroids, attempting to maximize their effectiveness, a practice called “stacking.”
Steroids and mental health - Steroids can affect mood and behavior significantly, leading to aggression and oppositional behaviors. They do not trigger dopamine response in the brain, which is responsible for the high that often drives substance abuse. Although many users report feeling good about themselves while on steroids, extreme mood swings can also occur, including manic-like symptoms that could lead to violence. Researchers have also observed that users may suffer from paranoid jealousy, extreme irritability, delusions, and impaired judgment stemming from feelings of invincibility. Regular use or stopping use can also result in clinical depression and/or anxiety.
Other health dangers of steroid abuse – Steroid abuse can lead to liver damage and tumors, jaundice, fluid retention, high blood pressure, heart disease, increases in LDL (“bad” cholesterol); and decreases in HDL (“good” cholesterol). Other effects include stunted height, beard growth, acne, renal failure, severe acne, and trembling. In addition, there are some gender- and age-specific adverse effects:
 For men—shrinking of the testicles, reduced sperm count, infertility, baldness, development of breasts, increased risk for prostate cancer
 For women—growth of facial hair, male-pattern baldness, changes in or cessation of the menstrual cycle, clitoral enlargement, deepened voice
 For adolescents—stunted growth due to premature skeletal maturation and accelerated puberty changes; risk of not reaching expected height if steroids are taken before major growth spurt.
Use of dirty needles can also result in the user contracting hepatitis, AIDS, or various other diseases.
Addictive Potential - Steriods may lead to moderate to low physical dependence or high psychological dependence. Steroid abusers typically spend large amounts of time and money obtaining the drug, another indication of addiction. Withdrawal symptoms can include mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, reduced sex drive, and steroid cravings, all of which may contribute to continued abuse. One of the most dangerous withdrawal symptoms is depression, sometimes leading to suicide attempts. Research also indicates that some users might turn to other drugs (usually opioids) to alleviate the negative effects of steriods.
How widespread is steroid abuse? The CDC's 2007 survey found that nearly 4 percent of high school students in the United States had used anabolic steroid pills or shots without a prescription. Young people can find these drugs from users who are at gyms and sports-training centers, also on the Internet.
Successful prevention efforts such as The Adolescents Training and Learning to Avoid Steroids (ATLAS) program focus on education about the harmful effects of steroids. They also provide nutrition, exercise and weight-training alternatives to improve sports performance, body strength and body image.
Sources: , ,,,

Ecstasy: Get the Facts

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

What is Ecstasy? Ecstasy, chemically known as MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine), is a (psychoactive) stimulant hallucinogenic drug. It is usually sold in pill form ($40/per pill), but is also available in powder form. Because Ecstasy is illegal and, therefore, unregulated, it is impossible for the average user to know what is contained in a “dose.” Pills may contain varying levels of stimulants such as MDA (an amphetamine-speed) or caffeine, or anesthetics such as Ketamine or dextromethorphan. Ecstasy is produced synthetically in (mostly European) labs and smuggled to the US. There is no recognized medical use; it is a federally classified Schedule I drug.
What does Ecstasy look like? Tablets resemble to Smarties candies, coming in many colors, most imprinted with logos/headstamps of crowns, stars, birds, blue dolphins, dragons. Butterflies & Tinkerbells are international symbols for Ecstasy. Users wear T-shirts with the symbol onE, meaning “on Ecstasy.” Ecstasy also sometimes comes in geltabs.
Short term effects: The effects of Ecstasy are felt within 30-45 minutes, peaking after 60-90, and lasting 4-6 hours. The drug produces a massive serotonin (and dopamine) release, resulting in strong feelings of well-being, connectedness to others, and mild dreamy hallucinations. Increased heart rate and blood pressure can lead to seizures. The stimulant effects of the drug enable users to dance for extended periods, which often leads to severely dehydration. Users can experience hyperthermia or dramatic increases in body temperature. This further leads to muscle breakdown and kidney, liver and cardiovascular failure (death). Cardiovascular failure has been reported in some of the Ecstasy-related fatalities. After/hangover effects include sleep-problems, depression, anxiety, dullness and lethargy lasting 2 or more days. Tolerance builds after 10 uses; users “chase the magic.” Because repeat doses have stimulant but no mood effects, addictiveness level is relatively low. This is because serotonin levels take time to rebuild before they can be released again. Overdose signs include panic, vomiting, loss of consciousness, extreme overheating (can result in death), kidney failure, hyponatremia, intravascular coagulation (DIC).
Signs of use: Ecstasy users’ pupils dilate, often making them very sensitive to light. Jaw-clenching and tooth-grinding are also observable effects; users may chew gum or bite on something. Senses are heightened, and Ecstasy users often want to intensify the feeling by dancing, talking, and touching. Users often display overt signs of affection, which explains its nickname, the “hug drug.”.
Long term effects: - Repeated use of Ecstasy ultimately may damage the nerve cells that produce serotonin, which has an important role in the regulation of mood, appetite, pain, learning and memory. There already is research suggesting Ecstasy use can disrupt or interfere with memory and long-term cognitive capabilities. Driving accidents are 58% greater than non-drug users.
SLANG – “Club Drug” - Because Ecstasy is popular at Rave parties and dance clubs, enabling users to dance for long periods of time, it is called a “club drug.” Other names for Ecstasy include E, X, XTC, Adam, rolls, candy, enhancements, love drug, hug drug, vitamin E.
Rates of Use - Ecstasy is most popular among 18 to 25 year olds (used by 5% of that US population). High school/middle school data from Monitoring the Future 2009 National Survey re: Ecstasy use are as follows:
12th grade 10th grade 8th grade
% who used in last month 4.2 3.8 1.4
% seeing “great risk” in using once or twice 53 39 25
5 disapproving of using once or twice 86 76 61
% saying “fairly” or “very” easy to get 35 26 14