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

Keep up-to-date by becoming a friend of the Partnership on Facebook!

Find us @drugnews on Twitter for the latest news about drugs and alcohol. Donate Contact Us

To prevent mailbox filters from deleting mailings from, add to your address book.
The Partnership For A Drug-Free America | 405 Lexington Avenue | New York, NY 10174