Thursday, November 29, 2012

See Marilyn Belmonte Dec. 12th 6pm in Newburyport!

Want to see more of Marilyn Belmonte, the awesome presenter of APPLAUDD for our parents, the Prevention Program Learning About Underage Drinking and Drugs? She's been very busy launching her new nonprofit organization in order to bring the message of how we can encourage our youth to make healthy choices to more communities...but you can see her in person on Wednesday, December 12th, 6pm, at the Kelley School Youth Center, 149 High St., Newburyport 01950! The Newburyport High School Theatre Dept. is planning a production of “HAIR”. While the plot of “HAIR” is heavily influenced by drugs and drug use, The Beacon Coalition (Newburyport youth substance abuse prevention coalition) has worked with the cast in understanding the realities behind some of the substances. To compliment that, Marilyn will offer a follow-up conversation/brief presentation around the musical “HAIR” for parents and community members, and will take questions from parents about substance use and abuse in Newburyport relative to the play. Hope to see you there :)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Medical Marijuana

There are 3 billionaires in the United States funding the movement to legalize marijuana. They already have already succeeded in decriminalizing marijuana in Massachusetts and now, during a presidential election year when voter turnout will be high, they are pushing for "medical" marijuana on this November ballot in the state. Here are the facts: • The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has never cleared marijuana to be used as a medicine. Marijuana has never been tested for medicinal use unlike all of our prescription medicines and over-the-counter medications. • Teen marijuana use is higher in states with legal "medical" marijuana than states without it. Massachusetts teen marijuana use is already 30% higher than the national average. • Most people who buy "medical" marijuana are not cancer patients. In Colorado, where "medical" marijuana is legal, only 2% of "medical" marijuana users have cancer, glaucoma or HIV. In California only 3% of "medical" marijuana users have cancer of other serious illness. • Most doctors do not recommend their patients for "medical" marijuana. In Colorado, only 10 doctors make the majority of all the recommendations for "medical" marijuana. • The American Medical Association has officially stated that they recommend more research for marijuana-based medications. Once marijuana has passed the proper strict requirements that every other medicine has to pass, they will consider a non-smoked form of marijuana medication. But no form of inhaled smoke will ever be considered safe, healthy or medicine. If "medical" marijuana is made legal in Massachusetts, there will be 5 pot shops in each county in our state. These pot shops will sell marijuana, hash, bongs, pipes, grinders, pot-laced food, candy and drug paraphernalia. Do you want a pot shop in your neighborhood? If "medical" marijuana is made legal in Massachusetts, it will be the first time a drug has skipped over the strict medical safety standards set by the FDA and made into a medicine by voters in a poll booth. Do you want to open your family medicine cabinet and reach for a drug that has not been thoroughly tested? Below is a sample letter to send to your state senator and state representative. I am also sending a copy to the chairmen of the Public Health Committee at the State House. Here is the link to find emails for your senator and state representative: PASS THIS EMAIL ON! THANK YOU!!! Marilyn Marilyn G. Belmonte 781-572-1478 (cell) 781-229-2638 "If ignorance is bliss, education is power." April 6, 2012 Dear Representative or Senator, On behalf of the youth of Massachusetts, and as a Massachusetts citizen, I am writing to register my concern about House Bill 3885, which would allow the use of “medical marijuana” in Massachusetts. I believe that all drugs and medications should go through the rigorous testing for safety that the FDA requires. No medicine should ever be available to the public without proper scientific research. DO not allow marijuana to be the exception. This topic is not appropriate for a vote. Please consider your position on medical marijuana very carefully. It will change the lives of many generations to come. The 2009 Centers for Disease Control’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey reports that Massachusetts’ youth marijuana rates are nearly 30% higher than national rates. Massachusetts cannot afford to lessen the perception of harm among its youth by allowing the use of “medical marijuana” in the State. Approving the use of “medical marijuana” in Massachusetts would severely undermine drug prevention efforts across the State at a time when marijuana rates have already risen dramatically in the Commonwealth - and have been rising rapidly nationally for the past four years, after a decade of decline. “Medical marijuana” in Massachusetts would further normalize marijuana use and thereby lessen the perceptions of its dangers and negative effects on youth. It is merely a ploy to produce a commercial product that causes impairment. Legislation to pass “medical marijuana” in Massachusetts would drive youth marijuana use rates up higher than they already are, as it has in other states that have passed this type of legislation. Current research shows that “medical marijuana” programs like those outlined in HB 3885 increase youth accessibility to marijuana. SAMHSA’s (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association) 2008-2009 State Estimates of Drug Abuse show that four of the top five top states, and fourteen of the eighteen states with the highest percentage of past month marijuana users ages 12-17 are states with “medical marijuana” programs, and addiction rates among 12-17 year olds are also among the highest levels nationally in states that have “medical marijuana” programs. Additionally, the American Medical Association, National Institutes of Health, and Institute of Medicine all agree that smoked, inhaled, or ingested raw marijuana is not medicine, since it has not passed FDA standards of safety and efficacy. There is no way to control dosage or strength, and there are serious risks to smoking the whole marijuana plant since it contains thousands of unknown components, many of them carcinogens. For these reasons, I respectfully request that you vote against House Bill 3885. Sincerely,

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

APPLAUDD is now Evidence-Based :) per SAMHSA!

Congratulations to Marilyn G. Belmonte! The Results Are In! Thank you, Georgetown, for participating!

SAMHSA's Service To Science" study to measure the effectiveness of APPLAUDD, Drug Abuse Recognition & Prevention's 4-part parent workshop, is complete. The results are overwhelming positive!

Drug Abuse Recognition & Prevention programs have proven that they make measurable positive changes in parenting skills surrounding substance abuse prevention!

APPLAUDD was measured during 2011 in 7 communities and found to INCREASE PARENT CONFIDENCE in:
Talking to their teens about the risks of drugs and alcohol
Answering specific questions about drugs and alcohol
Setting and enforcing rules relating to drug and alcohol use
Recognizing signs of drug use
Talking to their teens if they are using drugs
Locating resources for their teens if they are using drugs
In every category listed above, parental confidence increased after attending APPLAUDD. And in every category, the Follow-Up Survey taken 6 weeks after the program ended showed that parental confidence actually increased more! So once parents began to actually use the strategies they learned in APPLAUDD, they were even more confident!

For example....

How Confident Are You Talking to Your Children About Drugs and Alcohol?

APPLAUDD also doubled the percentage of parents who have weekly discussions with their children about drugs and alcohol!

A full report will be available this spring. In the meantime, please include Drug Abuse Recognition & Prevention in your springtime wellness education efforts.

Marilyn G. Belmonte
Drug Abuse Recognition & Prevention
Burlington Drug & Alcohol Task Force, co-chair
781-572-1478 (cell)
"If ignorance is bliss, education is power."

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Marijuana nearly doubles risk of collisions

We hear a lot about the hazards of drunk driving, but here's something else to put on your radar: A study in the British Medical Journal found that marijuana nearly doubles the risk of vehicle collisions.

Researchers conducted a systematic review of nine studies on the subject of marijuana and driving accidents, which incorporated almost 50,000 participants.

Alcohol impairs drivers' speed and reaction time, while cannabis affects spatial location, said Mark Asbridge, associate professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Among impaired drivers, fatally injured drivers, and motor vehicle crash victims, marijuana is the most prevalent illegal drug that has been detected, according to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Drivers who have recently smoked marijuana may follow cars too closely, and swerve in and out of lanes, Asbridge said.

People who are impaired by alcohol often recognize that they're impaired by alcohol, but "people under the influence of cannabis often deny feeling impaired in any way," Asbridge noted.

It's not unusual for young people to go to a party and give the "designated driver" responsibility to the person who uses marijuana, Asbridge said.

"There clearly is a lot of misconception about the extent to which cannabis impairs performance," he said. "People just don't believe it."

As with alcohol, cannabis has different effects on different people. People metabolize cannabis in different ways. Some inhale more than others.

The effects of cannabis tend to wear off within three to four hours, whereas alcohol can mess your thinking up longer. Depending on how much you drank, you may not be able to drive for up to 12 hours after you finish drinking.

If the driver is 35 or younger, there's a higher likelihood of marijuana consumption leading to collisions, previous research has found.

There's not enough information known about the effects of marijuana doses on collisions - in other words, what level of cannabis in a person's system correlates most with crashes.

And Asbridge's conclusions are based on observational studies, meaning there were no controlled conditions imposed to look at the effects of marijuana.

One problem in some of the existing research is that there was no measurement of cannabis within two to three hours of driving. Inactive metabolites of THC, a chemical found in marijuana, can be present in urine for weeks or even a month after usage; marijuana usage so long ago would not affect driving performance or collisions. So Asbridge's group looked only at studies where there was a recent measurement. They also looked at studies that looked at both drivers who used marijuana and those who did not to compare the collision rate.

To deter marijuana usage just before driving, there is roadside testing for cannabis in Australia, western Europe and the United States, Wayne Hall of the University of Queensland in Australia said in an accompanying editorial.

Hall called for further research to evaluating the impact of roadside drug testing on preventing driver deaths connected to vehicle accidents and cannabis use.

Post by: Elizabeth Landau - Health Writer/Producer
Filed under: Drug Safety

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Protecting our children from underage drinking

From Marilyn Belmonte, of Burlington Drug and Alcohol Task Force &

Recently, a parent attending one of my substance abuse prevention workshops in a nearby community asked my opinion on allowing her 17 year-old daughter to drink alcohol at home. The mother stated that she was very concerned about her daughter going off to college and becoming very intoxicated for the first time without any parent supervision.

The mother hoped that under her watchful eyes, her daughter would learn that alcohol consumption in large quantities can make her very sick. Perhaps she could even teach her daughter to drink responsibly. Then when her daughter is a college freshman, she will not participate in typical binge drinking activities.

The question is, does this practice work as a deterrent? Does allowing your teenager to drink freely at home deter them from getting drunk outside of the home?

It is impossible to say whether this parenting practice is beneficial for any individual adolescent but the science tells us that it will not work for the majority of teens. Numerous research studies show us that maintaining strict rules and consequences about underage drinking is most protective against teen alcohol use. Parents who use harm-reducing strategies such as allowing their high school teens to drink under their supervision, have a higher risk of those teens getting drunk outside of the home without parental permission than teens who are not allowed to drink at home.

Also, allowing your teen to experience alcohol in high school with parent supervision does not reduce alcohol use at college. Studies of college freshman show that heavy drinking occurs with a majority of students regardless of whether they started drinking alcohol in high school.

So the next question is, why bother trying to prevent high school drinking if it has little effect on college drinking?

It is well documented that underage drinking increases risk of adult alcohol disorders. In fact, the younger a person starts drinking alcohol, the greater that risk. Therefore, postponing the initiation of drinking as long as possible is a worthwhile effort for parents. The more years we can postpone the start of drinking, the more protected our children are from a lifelong alcohol addiction.

The last question is, how do parents postpone the onset of drinking?

Parental communication about their disapproval of underage drinking has been proven to help reduce the risk. Studies show that parents who are “soft” on teen drinking, are more likely to have teens who drink heavily.

Another factor that has been shown to decrease college freshman drinking is internal or “Intrinsic Motivation”. This is self-motivation driven by interest and enjoyment rather than external pressure, threat of punishment, or reward such as good grades, a trophy or money. The stress and pressure from external forces can actually drive heavy drinking. But one’s internal desire to achieve helps us to make healthier choices.

So encourage your teens to do their best at the activities they enjoy. Help them find areas of study that they are passionate about. Guide them in making goals for the future that excite them because postponing underage drinking is a worthwhile effort.