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.