Thursday, October 27, 2011

Teen dies after smoking synthetic pot

Teen dies after smoking synthetic pot
Thu Oct 27, 5:02 PM EDT

PITTSBURGH — A 13-year-old in the U.S. who became ill after smoking synthetic marijuana and had a double lung transplant has died.

Tonya Rice tells the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review newspaper that her 13-year-old son, Brandon, died Thursday morning at a hospital in Pennsylvania.

The boy smoked the fake marijuana out of a plastic candy dispenser and suffered chemical burns to both lungs. He was put on a respirator in June and had a double lung transplant in September.

The boy's mother says anti-rejection drugs he's taken since the transplants weakened his immune system and made him unable to fight off a recent infection.

Gov. Tom Corbett signed a law outlawing such substances a few days after the boy became ill. The ban took effect in August.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Alcohol Marketing to Minors

The Latest News Update 10/25/11 From Marilyn Belmonte of the Burlington Drug and Alcohol Task Force: re: Alcohol Marketing to Minors on Facebook:

Much of the alcohol-related content on Facebook is available to underage Facebook members, according to a study conducted by the Marin Institute. There are guidelines requiring age restrictions on Facebook but the study found that content promoting alcohol and binge drinking was accessible by underage members in advertisements, pages, applications, events, and groups.
Alcohol companies can buy ad space that allows them to access a user’s profile. The Marin study found that one out of every eight ads contained alcohol and all alcohol-related ads were displayed to under-21 users.
Facebook pages and groups allow members to become fans and therefore stay in touch with their discussions, photos and events. At the time of the study, the ten top beer brands had 93 pages with more than 1.1 million fans. But only 50% of these pages restricted access due to the member’s age. Once a member becomes a fan of these pages, they receive marketing messages on their own Facebook page. None of the Facebook groups about alcohol had age restrictions.
Facebook applications allow users to play games, take quizzes and send special messages to their friends. There are over 500 Facebook applications associated with alcohol. 66% of the alcohol applications are accessible to underage members. These applications allow underage members to send virtual “mixed drinks” or “shots” to other Facebook friends.
According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States Code of Responsible Practices for Beverage Alcohol Advertising and Marketing, Facebook violates the industry’s advertising guidelines. Responsible Placement Guideline #2 states “Beverage alcohol products should not be advertised or marketed in any manner directed or primarily appealing to persons below the legal purchase age”. Guideline #3 states “Beverage alcohol advertising and marketing should be placed in broadcast, cable, radio, print, and internet/digital communications only where at least 71.6 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be of legal purchase age”.
According to the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health, numerous studies prove that a greater exposure to alcohol advertising contributes to an increase in drinking among underage youth effect by influencing expectations, attitudes, and creating an environment that promotes underage drinking.
Parents can not assume that websites such as Facebook are going to follow guidelines designed to protect our children. We also can not monitor every step they take on the internet. But we can take the responsibility of talking with our teens about the problems related to underage drinking. Studies prove that parental guidance during adolescence has a major impact in reducing drinking. Parents can offset pro-drinking messages just by having thoughtful discussions with their teens.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Kudos to Family Circle…for great, real life articles for parents & teens! Aug 2011

If you are wondering about teens, underage drinking, tobacco and drug use, check out these articles with advice from the experts at

Q&A: My Usually Good Teen Was Caught with Drugs

My Teen Told Me His Friend Smokes Pot. Now What?

Hard Candy: New Ways Kids Get High

Q&A: Is My Teen Selling His Prescription Drugs?

How to Plan a Teen Party

What should I say to my child about “field parties,” that involve lots of drinking?

High Season: Teens and Marijuana Use

Video: Teens and the Dangers of Binge Drinking

Back from the Brink: One Teen’s Struggle with Alcoholism

Q&A: Is My Teenager’s Friend on Drugs?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Rethinking Addiction’s Roots, and Its Treatment
Published: July 10, 2011

There is an age-old debate over alcoholism: is the problem in the sufferer’s head — something that can be overcome through willpower, spirituality or talk therapy, perhaps — or is it a physical disease, one that needs continuing medical treatment in much the same way as, say, diabetes or epilepsy?
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Bryce Vickmark for The New York Times
Dr. Christine Pace helps Derek Anderson manage his heroin addiction at Boston University Medical Center. With the help of medication, Mr. Anderson has been clean for six years.
VIDEO: Nora Volkow
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Increasingly, the medical establishment is putting its weight behind the physical diagnosis. In the latest evidence, 10 medical institutions have just introduced the first accredited residency programs in addiction medicine, where doctors who have completed medical school and a primary residency will be able to spend a year studying the relationship between addiction and brain chemistry.

“This is a first step toward bringing recognition, respectability and rigor to addiction medicine,” said David Withers, who oversees the new residency program at the Marworth Alcohol and Chemical Dependency Treatment Center in Waverly, Pa.

The goal of the residency programs, which started July 1 with 20 students at the various institutions, is to establish addiction medicine as a standard specialty along the lines of pediatrics, oncology or dermatology. The residents will treat patients with a range of addictions — to alcohol, drugs, prescription medicines, nicotine and more — and study the brain chemistry involved, as well as the role of heredity.

“In the past, the specialty was very much targeted toward psychiatrists,” said Nora D. Volkow, the neuroscientist in charge of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “It’s a gap in our training program.” She called the lack of substance-abuse education among general practitioners “a very serious problem.”

Institutions offering the one-year residency are St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York, the University of Maryland Medical System, the University at Buffalo School of Medicine, the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, the University of Minnesota Medical School, the University of Florida College of Medicine, the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii, the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Marworth and Boston University Medical Center. Some, like Marworth, have been offering programs in addiction medicine for years, simply without accreditation.

The new accreditation comes courtesy of the American Board of Addiction Medicine, or ABAM, which was founded in 2007 to help promote the medical treatment of addiction.

The board aims to also get the program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, a step that requires, among other things, establishing the program at a minimum of 20 institutions. The recognition would mean that the addictions specialty would qualify as a “primary” residency, one that a newly minted doctor could enter right out of school.

Richard Blondell, the chairman of the training committee at ABAM, said the group expected to accredit an additional 10 to 15 institutions this year.

The rethinking of addiction as a medical disease rather than a strictly psychological one began about 15 years ago, when researchers discovered through high-resonance imaging that drug addiction resulted in actual physical changes to the brain.

Armed with that understanding, “the management of folks with addiction becomes very much like the management of other chronic diseases, such as asthma, hypertension or diabetes,” said Dr. Daniel Alford, who oversees the program at Boston University Medical Center. “It’s hard necessarily to cure people, but you can certainly manage the problem to the point where they are able to function” through a combination of pharmaceuticals and therapy.

Central to the understanding of addiction as a physical ailment is the belief that treatment must be continuing in order to avoid relapse. Just as no one expects a diabetes patient to be cured after six weeks of diet and insulin management, Dr. Alford said, it is unrealistic to expect most drug addicts to be cured after 28 days in a detoxification facility.

“It’s not surprising to us now that when you stop the treatment, people relapse,” Dr. Alford said. “It doesn’t mean that the treatment doesn’t work, it just means that you need to continue treatment.” Those physical changes in the brain could also explain why some smokers will still crave a cigarette 30 years after quitting, Dr. Alford said.

If the idea of addiction as a chronic disease has been slow to take hold in medical circles, it could be because doctors sometime struggle to grasp brain function, Dr. Volkow said. “While it is very simple to understand a disease of the heart — the heart is very simple, it’s just a muscle — it’s much more complex to understand the brain,” she said.

Increasing interest in addiction medicine is a handful of promising new pharmaceuticals, most notably buprenorphine (sold under names like Suboxone), which has proved to ease withdrawal symptoms in heroin addicts and subsequently block cravings, though it causes side effects of its own. Other drugs for treating opioid or alcohol dependence have shown promise as well.

Few addiction medicine specialists advocate a path to recovery that depends solely on pharmacology, however. “The more we learn about the treatment of addiction, the more we realize that one size does not fit all,” said Petros Levounis, who is in charge of the residency at the Addiction Institute of New York at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital.

Equally maligned is the idea that psychiatry or 12-step programs are adequate for curing a disease with physical roots. Many people who abuse substances do not have psychiatric problems, Dr. Alford noted, adding, “I think there’s absolutely a role for addiction psychiatrists.”

While each institution has developed its own curriculum, the basic competencies each seeks to impart are the same. Residents will learn to recognize and diagnose substance abuse, conduct brief interventions that spell out the treatment options and prescribe the proper medications. The doctors will also be expected to understand the legal and practical implications of substance abuse.

Christine Pace, a 31-year-old graduate of Harvard Medical School, is the first addiction resident at Boston University Medical Center. She got interested in the subject as a teenager, when she volunteered at an AIDS organization and overheard heroin addicts complaining about doctors who could not — or would not — help them.

This year, when she became the in-house doctor at a methadone clinic in Boston, she was dismayed to find that the complaints had not changed. “I saw physicians over and over again pushing it aside, just calling a social-work consult to deal with a patient who is struggling with addiction,” Dr. Pace said.

One of her patients is Derek Anderson, 53, who credits Suboxone — as well as a general practitioner who six years ago recognized his signs of addiction — with helping him kick his 35-year heroin habit.

“I used to go to detoxes and go back and forth and back and forth,” he said. But the Suboxone “got me to where I don’t have the dependency every day, consuming you, swallowing you like a fish in water. I’m able to work now, I’m able to take care of my daughter, I’m able to pay rent — all the things I couldn’t do when I was using.”

A version of this article appeared in print on July 11, 2011, on page A11 of the New York edition with the headline: Medicine Adds Slots for Study Of Addictions.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Burlington targets those who buy alcohol for teens


May 22, 2011|By John Laidler, Globe Correspondent

Burlington high schoolers designed the new…
The Burlington Drug and Alcohol Task Force is trying a new strategy to keep alcohol out of the hands of teenagers.

The group is undertaking a public education campaign this month targeting not teens or even their parents, but instead young adults who might be tempted to procure alcohol for underage siblings or friends.

The task force’s message to the 20-somethings, which is being conveyed through posters and flyers, is to refrain from that impulse.

“We have found that the most common way that high school students acquire alcohol is from older siblings and friends, so we wanted to reach that age group,’’ said Marilyn Belmonte, task force cochairwoman.

“Some of those in their 20s now may have had alcohol bought for them when they were in high school. So they might feel it’s the right thing to do the same for someone else,’’ she said.

Belmonte said the task force, a community organization that fights underage alcohol and illicit drug use, chose this month to deliver its message because this is the time of year when college students return home for the summer and when high schools hold their proms and graduations.

Designed by Burlington High School students, the posters are being placed in all of the town’s liquor stores and most of its pizza-serving restaurants, with the consent of those businesses.

Participating restaurants also agreed to attach the fliers — which are smaller versions of the poster — to their delivery boxes and place them in their take-out bags on Friday night and Saturday.

Belmonte got the idea for the initiative two years ago when she heard of a similar campaign that Weymouth’s substance abuse coalition was undertaking.

“I thought it was a great idea,’’ said Belmonte.

With the consent of the Weymouth coalition, the Burlington task force is employing the same slogan the South Shore group used: “Be the Designated Grown-up.’’ But Belmonte said that while the Weymouth campaign highlighted the criminal penalties young adults could incur procuring alcohol for a minor, the Burlington program is focused on the guilt they would feel if their younger sibling or friend became injured or got in trouble by consuming alcohol.

That theme came from an informal survey Belmonte conducted on Facebook last year in which she asked young adults what might deter them from buying alcohol for the underaged.

Strikingly, none said fear of criminal penalties would be a deterrent, Belmonte said.

“None of them felt that would ever happen,’’ she said of getting in trouble. “But each person said they would feel terrible if ‘something bad were to happen because I bought alcohol for my younger friend or younger brother or sister.’ ’’

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Adult-Supervised Drinking in Young Teens May Lead to More Alcohol Use, Consequences

Allowing adolescents to drink alcohol under adult supervision does not appear to teach responsible drinking as teens get older. In fact, such a "harm-minimization" approach may actually lead to more drinking and alcohol-related consequences, according to a new study in the May 2011 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

See more of this 4/28/11 article from at

Friday, April 1, 2011

Notes from APPLAUDD, Mar. 30, 2011, Underage Drinking & Effective Parenting Strategies

March 30, 2011 – Notes from APPLAUDD: A Prevention Program Learning About Underage Drinking & Drugs, Session #4, in addition to the powerpoint slide notes provided.

What is new about underage drinking these days? For one thing, we have lots of new research that our parents didn’t have about alcohol and its effects on adolescents.

Many adults think, “what’s the big deal? We did it, and we survived just fine!” The big deal is that we know more now than our parents did. Just like we do about cigarettes. So we need to do something about that – when you know better, you can do better.

We now know that alcohol impairs permanent memory in kids. While high school courses generally test students often, thus calling on their short term memory, college courses do not. In college, and on the SAT, it is permanent or long term memory that is required to do well. We also know that teens do not feel impairment as quickly as adults drinking the same amount, they do not feel the sedative effects that adults do, and their judgment around choices and consequences erodes more quickly after even small amounts of alcohol. The ability to choose to drink in moderation is much greater in adults than in teens.

The number of teens grade 9-12 who are drinking regularly increased by 11% from 2008 to 2009, research shows.

Effective prevention revolves around decreasing risk factors and increasing protective factors. As parents, we have done that since they were born, protecting our children from germs, falls, malnutrition. The desire to protect comes naturally, but we sometimes aren’t sure how best to do it.

Many parents find it hard to talk to their teens. Adolescents are trying to prove to themselves that they are all grown up. They want to take care of their own probems, so they put up barriers. So we figure, OK, it’s time we giv them more space. It’s easy for us to feel that there is nothing we can do to make a difference.

But, as soon as they know you’re not watching, teens have their ticket to ride. They are watching you very closely to see what boundaries you are going to set, how much they can get away with, what your expectations are. We need to see the barriers they set for what they are – developmentally necessary and normal, but not a sign that teens really can take care of all of their own problems, not an indication that they do not need involved and supportive parents to guide them. Teens are highly responsive to their perception of your disapproval. It is critical to clearly communicate your expectations to them.

It’s worthwhile to postpone drinking as long as possible, because of the high correlation of age of initiation (age when a child begins to drink) with the likelihood of becoming alcohol-dependent at some point, probably sooner rather than later in life.

Can children drink responsibly? Turkey is the only European country that has less of a problem with underage binge drinking than the US does, according to the World Health Organization (the UN of prevention). While the European approach to teaching kids to drink moderately may have worked in the 50’s, with today’s constant bombarding of children with media messages, marketing of fruit-flavored alcoholic beverages and pervasive glamorization of both social and binge drinking, today it has resulted in a generation of young Eur0peans who binge drink (ie, get drunk) more than American youth.

When the US raised the drinking age from 18 to 21, alcohol-related fatalities in that age group dropped 60%. It was originally dropped in response to the Vietnam War draft, which applied to all over 18. People thought, how can we send them to war but not let them drink? Also at that time, we didn’t have the research on brain development and how adolescents metabolize alcohol differently than adults to support the higher age that we do now.

There is an enormous amount of new brain development from adolescence to age 25. The brain develops back to front. The last part to finish developing is the part that helps us understand the consequences of our actions and how to plan ahead. The amygdala is the center of emotional development, and it controls our hormones during puberty.

Teenagers need 9 ½ to 10 hours of sleep. If your teen is getting a lot less or a lot more than that, look into why.

When a child has an increased risk for substance abuse or addiction, whether due to genetic predisposition or environmental factors, it means that the steps you take and things you do and say to help your child are even more important.

Social Host Liability - 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, in terms of intention, you child still can be. And you can be found vicariously 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 multi-million 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.

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.

Action Plan: Talk, talk, talk.
- Anti-Drug Messages
- Monitor whereabouts
- Be supportive
- Set rules & enforce
- Be flexible for special occasions
- Be good role models
- Have family dinners
- Medication disposal, monitor doses
- Short, frequent conversations
- Listen
- Be compassionate
- Build self-esteem
- Outlets for stress
- Increase developmental assets
- Online resources
- Join local coalition or parent organizations

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Notes from APPLAUDD on What's new with Marijuana, 3/23/11

March 23, 2011 – Notes from APPLAUDD: A Prevention Program Learning About Underage Drinking & Drugs, Session #3, in addition to the powerpoint slide notes provided.
Our Mission: What is new with marijuana? How can we prevent abuse of this drug? How do we recognize signs of drug bause: eye clues, physical symptoms, behavioral changes? How do we talk to our children about marijuana?

The current marijuana possession laws in MA took effect in January of 2009. MGL c.94C, s.32L allows for anyone in possession of one ounce or less of marijuana shall only be a civil offense, subjecting an offender who is eighteen years of age or older to a civil penalty of one hundred dollars and forfeiture of the marihuana, but not to any other form of criminal or civil punishment or disqualification. An offender under the age of eighteen shall be subject to the same forfeiture and civil penalty provisions, provided he or she completes a drug awareness program which meets the criteria set forth in Section 32M of this Chapter. The parents or legal guardian of any offender under the age of eighteen shall be notified in accordance with Section 32N of this Chapter of the offense and the availability of a drug awareness program and community service option. If an offender under the age of eighteen fails within one year of the offense to complete both a drug awareness program and the required community service, the civil penalty may be increased pursuant to Section 32N of this Chapter to one thousand dollars and the offender and his or her parents shall be jointly and severally liable to pay that amount. MGL c.94C derives from the Controlled substances act, and includes penalties for other drugs, trafficking or possession of more than one ounce of marijuana.

One of the big myths that kids have is that they think marijuana is legal, or has been legalized in other countries. Marijuana is illegal to consume, use, possess, cultivate, transfer or trade in most countries. While there are countries which have decriminalized marijuana, making it so that one can only be issued a citation of possession of an ounce or less, or legalized medicinal use of marijuana under a doctor’s prescription, there are NO countries in the world or states in which the use of marijuana is legal.

One ounce is actually a lot, and carries a street value of $600. It generally makes between 25 and 60 joints. So when you find a person with an ounce on them, they are most likely either a very heavy user or a dealer.

Both lifetime and current use of marijuana among youth are up from 2007 to 2009.

Communities can take action to make changes. State laws prohibit sales of drug paraphernalia, but stores or “head shops” get around that by calling it something else. Towns can pass by laws to ban the sale of specific products, such as flavored rolling papers, which are supposedly used to create cigars. Towns can also require people caught smoking pot in public to show their identification and not to smoke pot in public. A sample community bylaw restricting public consumption of marijuana can be found at

Smoking cigarettes is highly associated with binge and heavy drinking, and use of illegal drugs. A regular smoker is likely to have a more positive first experience with marijuana, their lungs and bodies being already accustomed to the smoking process. Smoking activates neurological addiction pathways, which various drugs share. So smoking makes both a drug and alcohol addiction more likely in the individual. Also, smokers are more likely to be approached by marijuana dealers.

Pot is stronger now, today’s product would have been called “superweed” years ago. The THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content used to vary between 2 and 7%; now it is between 9 & 295. THC is a hallucinogen, with analgesic/pain-relieving properties. PET scans show that THC depresses brain activity, producing a dreamy state in which ideas seem disconnected and uncontrollable.

Tell kids that smoking marijuana damages the part of your brain associated with hand/eye coordination, keeping your eye on the ball and movement reflexes, so it has detrimental effects particularly for athletes.

Impairment can last for days. Pot is fat soluble, so it stays in the body for a long time. Many other drugs are water soluble, so you expel them quickly in urine. But not pot.

We know that pot causes depression, which in turn can lead to suicide. Weekly use of marijuana more than doubles a teen’s risk of depression, which is already high compared to the general population. Also seen in regular teen users are increased levels of apathy, decreased attention, not setting or accomplishing goals, difficulty starting new tasks, and introversion.

The Drug & Alcohol Warning Network (DAWN) report clearly correlates rising THC levels with rising emergency room admissions. Marijuana causes more car accidents & fatalities than any other drug besides alcohol.

Tell kids, any time you are impaired with anything, you cannot drive. The new marijuana law in MA does not repeal or modify existing laws concerning the operation of motor vehicles. Adding pot with alcohol is especially dangerous. Pot makes the user lose depth, color, time and sound perception. With slower reflexes and muscle coordination, any use of pot greatly increases the likelihood of car accidents.

“Medical marijuana” is not approved by the FDA or the AMA. Where it is legal, it comes only in a pill form or a patch. It generally is used to treat nausea and loss of appetite, for which there are other medications available.

Remind kids that legal does not equal safe. Just because something is legal does not mean that it is a smart choice for them.

K2, or synthetic cannabis, which can be bought in certain shops, has only been around about a year. The DEA has called an emergency scheduling of it, as poison control centers and emergency rooms are starting to see cases of its abuse.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Notes from APPLAUDD on Rx Drugs, 3/16/11

March 16, 2011 – Notes from APPLAUDD: A Prevention Program Learning About Underage Drinking & Drugs, Session #2

Our Mission tonight: 1) Why is prescription drug abuse becoming popular? 2) How can we prevent this type of drug abuse?, 3) How do we recognize signs of drug abuse: eye clues, physical symptoms, behavioral changes, 4) How do we talk to our children about drugs?

Thank you, Marilyn, for providing such clear and easy-to-follow powerpoint handouts of your presentation! The handout basically covers most of the important points we discussed. In addition, I noted……

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America conducts annual Partnership Attitude Tracking (PATS) studies. This study shows that of those teens who do choose to abuse illegal drugs, 70% do so the deal with stress in school. Students are self-medicating to cope with the academic, social, and parental pressure they experience in relation to school.

Proper use of Rx medication occurs when your name is on the bottle and you follow doctor’s dosing directions. Otherwise, it is drug abuse, which is illegal.

Teens report that Rx drugs are more accessible to them than tobacco, alcohol or other illegal drugs. Also, one third of teens believe that there is nothing wrong with taking Rx drugs. 1 in 5 teens have abused Rx drugs. That’s good for the 4 out of 5, but very dangerous for those who use.

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).

It is not acceptable to self-medicate. If children are stressed or feel there is a problem that needs medicine, tell them that 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.

Talk to your children about what happens when people do drugs. Talk about the difference between proper use and abuse of medicines, Rx and over-the-counter. Teens do not understand dosage. They think that if 1 pill is safe, such as an Advil, so is 5. 2 in 5 teens believe that taking someone else’s prescription drugs is safer than using illegal drugs.

Sleepovers need to come to an end in the teen years. Too much potential for substance abuse. When a child calls from a party, and asks if his or her friend can sleep over at your house, it may be because the friend doesn’t want his own parents to notice his/her substance use.

Adolescents are more susceptible to addiction than adults.

For kids with ADD, the earlier they start on medications, the less likely they are to abuse drugs in their teen years. Treating ADHD reduces drug abuse by 84% in children with ADHD.

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 cause liver damage, stress the heart, and weaken blood vessels.

When anyone takes tranquilizers or depressants, it is very important not to drink alcohol. This is because alcohol is a depressant, and greatly multiplies the effects of the original drug.

Re: Inhalants. 33% of deaths occur on first use. Inhalants kill more people in the first use than any other drug. When you talk to children about inhalants, use words like fumes, toxins, poisons, pollutions as being very dangerous. Don’t give them specific ideas about substances or methods that you’ve heard “work.”

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.

New Study Mar 2011: Opposite-Gender Parent Monitoring Decreases Underage Drinking

Thank you, Marilyn Belmonte, for keeping us so up-to-date on new research findings from the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs (! Article titled: Parental Monitoring of Opposite-Gender Child May Decrease Problem Drinking in Young Adults.

Very interesting and practical information! :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

You are invited to APPLAUDD, Mar 16th, Wed, 7-9pm, PB Library!

Please come to our 2nd workshop in this 4-part parenting prevention series! We will be focusing on trends in Rx use and abuse, and how to talk to your children about these substances. Each session can be enjoyed as a stand-alone event! We hope you take this opportunity to learn more about how to support our youth in Georgetown!

Friday, March 11, 2011

APPLAUDD - Powerful Message - Session 1 - 3/9/11

APPLAUDD: A Prevention Program Learning About Underage Drinking & Drugs
Marilyn Grifoni Belmonte, Drug Abuse Recognition & Prevention Specialist
- Co-Chairperson for Burlington Drug and Alcohol Task Force, Burlington, MA
- Trained & presented to dozens of school districts and police departments
- Published “Screening Assessment for Students Impaired by Drugs,” in the Comprehensive School Health Manual, Dept. of Public Health
- “All Star Award” by the Consumer Health Care Products Association
- “Citizenship in Action” recognition certificate from Middlesex DA’s Office, completed advanced coursework through MA State Police Academy
- “Service To Science” grant by SAMHSA for evaluation of innovative, evidence-based community programs

The lack of federally approved, evidence-based prevention programs to train parents, who are the most powerful influence on our children, is a sad fact that Marilyn Belmonte is working hard to address. “This program is about empowering parents to prevent their children from underage drinking and other substance abuse. Studies show that kids who do not drink and drug choose not to because they don’t want to lose the respect and support of their parents. Teens do not think about the disasters that could befall them, or that someday they may get cancer or become addicted. They do not think those things will happen to them. Teens primarily want to please their parents. But this is something they will do anything to keep you from realizing. So teens are skilled at giving parents the impression that their words don’t matter to them. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. The words and conversations between teens and their parents matter a lot and can make a huge difference for our children.”

Many parents do not feel that they have any power to influence their adolescents because teens build barriers to keep their parents at a distance. APPLAUDD will focus on how parents can dialog with their children to effectively encourage critical healthy behavior choices, building trust between parents and teens. Researchers have found that specific attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, situations, and/or actions that parents can teach will reduce the likelihood that a young person will struggle with substance abuse and related problems even if that young person is exposed to a substantial number of risk factors. The protective factors explored appear to balance and buffer the negative impact of existing risk factors.

APPLAUDD will teach parents about what has changed in recent years regarding the actual substances themselves, what science now knows about the physiological effects on adolescents, recognizing signs substance abuse in teens, what to do about it, and the legal environment. Each presentation will have a unique focus, building on each other as part of one complete program that will underscore parent-child communication, but are also effective as stand-alone events. The presentation topics include 1) Parent Prevention Techniques, 2) Prescription Drugs, 3) Marijuana, and 4) Underage Drinking. Each session ends with small group discussion and a home assignment.

Monday, February 14, 2011

APPLAUDD for Parents of 5th - 12th graders-Please come!

APPLAUDD: A Prevention Program Learning About Underage Drinking & Drugs
for Parents of Children Grades 5 through 12: Let’s Raise Healthy Teens!
A Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) Grant Winner!
sponsored by GeorgetownCARES

This community education series is an innovative, 4-session prevention workshop that educates parents of children grades 5 through 12 to raise healthy teens! Marilyn Belmonte, a nationally known, dynamic speaker, will be presenting the program.

The APPLAUDD Program will be held in Georgetown on Wednesday evenings, March 9th, 16th, 23rd, & 30th, at the Penn Brook School Library, 7-9pm.

APPLAUDD supports healthy families in the community by addressing the critical substance abuse and related mental health needs of youth while strengthening the bond between parents and children.

A four-part program, APPLAUDD is designed to empower parents of students grades 5 through 12 with proven strategies that reduce risk of alcohol and drug abuse. Aiming to build parent-teen communication skills, specific evidence-based parenting strategies will be taught to promote strong protective factors that will create resilience in children. APPLAUDD will also help change and create more thoughtful social norms about underage drinking, drug use and parental social hosting.

Each presentation will have a unique focus, building on each other as part of one complete program that will underscore parent-child communication, but are also effective as stand-alone events. The presentation topics include 1) Parent Prevention Techniques, 2) Prescription Drugs, 3) Marijuana, and 4) Underage Drinking. Each session ends with small group discussion and a home assignment.

Many parents do not feel that they have any power to influence their adolescents because teens build barriers to keep their parents at a distance. APPLAUDD will focus on how parents can dialog with their children to effectively encourage critical healthy behavior choices, building trust between parents and teens. Researchers have found that specific attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, situations, and/or actions that parents can teach will reduce the likelihood that a young person will struggle with substance abuse and related problems even if that young person is exposed to a substantial number of risk factors. The protective factors explored appear to balance and buffer the negative impact of existing risk factors.

APPLAUDD has won the SAMHSA’s “National Service to Science” award in 2010 for being a unique and innovative program that educates parents on the effect of alcohol, marijuana and other drugs on adolescent brain development and academic potential. As part of this award, participants will be asked to help evaluate the program for its effectiveness through pre-program and post-program surveys. Participation in these surveys is voluntary and not a requirement of attendance.

Refreshments will be served and door prize gift certificates will be awarded at all four sessions. APPLAUDD is presented by GeorgetownCARES, and is open to the entire community. For more information, please contact Pam Lundquist at 978-352-5407. Find more information on the APPLAUDD program at

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The CDC's 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) Results are out!

Data and Statistics
YRBSS: Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System

The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) monitors priority health-risk behaviors and the prevalence of obesity and asthma among youth and young adults. The YRBSS includes a national school-based survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state, territorial, tribal, and district surveys conducted by state, territorial, and local education and health agencies and tribal governments.

To find out more, please check out:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Prescription Drug Abuse Sends More People to the Hospital

Prescription Drug Abuse Sends More People to the Hospital
Published: January 5, 2011

The number of emergency room visits resulting from misuse or abuse of prescription drugs has nearly doubled over the last five years, according to new federal data, even as the number of visits because of illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin has barely changed.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found there were about 1.2 million visits to emergency rooms involving pharmaceutical drugs in 2009, compared with 627,000 in 2004. The agency did not include visits due to adverse reactions to drugs taken as prescribed.

Emergency room visits resulting from prescription drugs have exceeded those related to illicit drugs for three consecutive years, said R. Gil Kerlikowske, President Obama’s top drug policy adviser.

“I would say that when you see a 98 percent increase,” Mr. Kerlikowske said, “and you think about the cost involved in lives and families, not to mention dollars, it’s pretty startling.”

In 2010, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that the number of people seeking treatment for addiction to painkillers jumped 400 percent from 1998 to 2008. And in a growing number of states, deaths from prescription drugs now exceed those from motor vehicle accidents, with opiate painkillers like Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin playing a leading role.

In September, the Drug Enforcement Administration organized the first national prescription drug take-back program, and thousands of people dropped off old or unused drugs at designated locations around the country. While the effort captured but a tiny fraction of the addictive drugs in the nation’s medicine cabinets, law enforcement officials said it helped people understand how deadly such drugs can be. Another collection day is being planned for April, Mr. Kerlikowske said.

“The most important thing that actually seems to be gaining a lot of traction,” he said, “is the recognition that the prescription drugs sitting in your medicine cabinet can be dangerous. That’s huge.”

A version of this article appeared in print on January 6, 2011, on page A18 of the New York edition.