Friday, December 28, 2012

UPC Weekly Blog 12-28-12:Medical Marijuana

I'm going to spend a few weeks exploring medical marijuana. This is a hotly debated topic, so I'd like to explore the pros and cons with you, looking at what has happened in states with medical marijuana initiatives as well as social, legal and employment issues. 

The following information comes from David Evans of the Drug Free Schools Coalition:
In the next legislative session there will be a bill to approve crude marijuana as a “medicine.” The advocates of crude marijuana that is smoked or eaten as a “medicine” claim that physicians should decide if patients get "medical" marijuana. However, physicians have decided that "medical" marijuana is bad medicine. Several national organizations have diagnosed “medical” marijuana and they prescribe against it.
The physicians' groups opposed to crude “medical” marijuana include:
The American Medical Association
The American Cancer Society
The American Academy of Pediatrics
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society
American Academy of Opthamology
American Glaucoma Society
National Eye Institute
National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Recently, the Federal Institute of Medicine also conducted research on this issue and they see “little future in smoked marijuana as a medicine.”

Use of crude marijuana as a medicine bypasses the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) medicine approval process. There is no reason why marijuana should be exempt from the FDA process. Vulnerable patients need protection from unsafe medications. It is dangerous to by-pass our medicine approval process that has protected us for 100 years. 
The “medical” marijuana advocates claim that marijuana is good for many medical conditions. Before these claims are upheld, they must answer some fundamental questions:
1. What peer-reviewed FDA quality scientific research exists on marijuana use for those conditions that shows:
a. the effectiveness and safe use of marijuana use for the condition
b. the risks of marijuana use for that condition
c. the dosage of marijuana for adults and children for that condition
d. the interactions with other drugs and marijuana for that condition
f. the impact of marijuana use on other pre-existing conditions
g. the alternatives to marijuana use for that condition
2. What studies exist for all these medical conditions that show:
a. the frequency of administration
b. the duration of administration
c. the time of administration in relation to: meals, onset of symptoms, or other time factors
d. the route or method of administration of marijuana
These questions must be answered before a drug can be used for medicine. 
Cheryl DePaolo
Director of the Ulster Prevention Council

Friday, December 21, 2012

Ulster Prevention Council Weekly Blog 12-21-12: Fewer Teens See Occasional Marijuana Use as Harmful

Today’s blog post is an article from USA TODAY regarding new Monitoring the Future data. Our 2010 Ulster County Youth Development Survey data showed that only about 20% of high schools seniors thought that marijuana was harmful or very harmful. We anticipate releasing new Ulster County data in early 2013.
Starting next week we will begin to explore the implications of a medical marijuana initiative in New York State.

Happy Holidays!

Donna Leinwand Leger, USA TODAY1:02a.m. EST December 20, 2012

Fewer teens see occasional marijuana use as harmful, annual survey of youth finds.

As states increasingly adopt laws allowing medical marijuana, fewer teens see occasional marijuana use as harmful, the largest national survey of youth drug use has found. Nearly 80% of high school seniors don't consider occasional marijuana use harmful — the highest rate since 1983 — and one in 15 smoke nearly every day, according to the annual survey of eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders made public Wednesday.
More than one in five high school seniors said they smoked marijuana in the month before the survey, and 36% smoked marijuana during the previous year, according to Monitoring the Future survey of 45,449 students from 395 public and private schools. After four straight years of increasing marijuana use among teens, annual use among 10th and 12th graders stabilized and use by eighth graders declined slightly since 2010.
The survey has measured drug, alcohol and cigarette use since 1975.
"Whether this is more than a pause in the ongoing increase that we have seen in teen marijuana use in recent years is unclear at this point," the study principal investigator Lloyd Johnston said. Teens' growing belief that marijuana is not harmful suggests that marijuana smoking will increase, he said.
The growing number of state laws that allow marijuana for medical use contributes to teen perceptions that marijuana is not a harmful drug, said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Drug Abuse, which sponsors the study.
When teens perceive drugs as safe, drug use generally increases, Volkow said. Among eighth-graders, more than 50% don't see the harm of occasional marijuana use while 42% consider occasional use of marijuana harmful -- the lowest rate since the survey began tracking risk perception for this age group in 1991.
A study published this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that heavy marijuana use beginning as a teen and stretching into adulthood causes an average drop of 8 points in IQ scores.
"That's a very robust indication that (smoking marijuana) may have long-term effects," Volkow said.
The 2012 survey found 6.5% of high school seniors smoke marijuana daily, up from 5.1% five years ago. Almost 23% smoke marijuana regularly. Among 10th-graders, 3.5% smoke marijuana daily, the survey found
Among 12th-graders, 11% said they had used synthetic marijuana, known as K2 or Spice — about the same as last year, the first year the survey asked about it. Aside from alcohol and tobacco, synthetic marijuana is the second-most-widely used drug among 10th- and 12th-graders after marijuana. The federal government recently banned the drugs.
Marijuana use escalates dramatically after eighth grade, when 1.1% of the students report daily use.
"Marijuana use among teens remains at unacceptable levels," White House Office of National Drug Control Policy director Gil Kerlikowske said.
Most eighth-graders don't see the harm of occasional use, the survey found.
"I think that's the bad news in the survey -- the significant increases in the regular use of marijuana," Volkow said. "It's not just the occasional use. You have a very high rate of daily use. That's really a huge number."
Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which advocates for decriminalization of drug use, says teens' perceptions of harm from marijuana are becoming more consistent with science.
"Kids know the dangers of cigarettes. They have a growing wariness about prescription drugs. They are aware that daily marijuana use is a very bad idea," Nadelmann said. "But they are also aware that occasional use is not much much problem."
Use of other illegal drugs continued to show a slow but steady decline. Past-year use of all illegal drugs except for marijuana is at its lowest point since 1997, the survey found.
"These long-term declines in youth drug use in America are proof that positive social change is possible," Kerlikowske said.
The prescription stimulant Adderall showed some signs of increasing abuse among 12th-graders this year, the survey found. Abuse of other prescription drugs, such as prescription painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin, declined overall.
The survey for the first time measured use of an emerging stimulant drug known as "bath salts" and found low use among teenagers. Among 12th-graders, 1.3% said they had used the drugs, which can often be purchased on the internet or in drug paraphernalia stores.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Ulster Prevention Council Weekly Blog 12-14-12: Nearly One Third of College Students With Co-occurring Mental Disorders Abuse Prescription Drugs

December 14, 2012

Nearly One Third of College Student Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions with Co-occurring Mental Disorders Abuse Prescription Drugs 
 A recent study of college students identified links between nonmedical prescription drug use, depressive symptoms, and suicidality, and raised the possibility “that students may be inappropriately self-medicating psychological distress with prescription medications.”[1]
 The Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) is a compilation of data on admissions to substance use treatment that can be used to look at college students with mental disorders who have been admitted to treatment for drug abuse. Specifically, TEDS data for 2010 show that across college student substance abuse treatment admissions,[2] those with a co-occurring mental disorder were more than twice as likely as those without a co-occurring mental disorder to report abuse of prescription drugs[3] (31.6 vs. 15.0 percent), cocaine (14.4 vs. 5.5 percent), and heroin (14.3 vs. 5.8 percent) (Figure). They were also less likely to report abuse of alcohol (62.0 vs. 72.3 percent). 

Because college student admissions that have a co-occurring mental disorder are more likely to abuse prescription drugs, cocaine, and heroin, they may need to access special services, such as mental health care and pharmacotherapies that can treat and ease withdrawal symptoms from heroin and certain types of prescription drugs, including narcotic pain relievers, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and sedatives[4]. Whether they are at home or away at college, students who need to identify treatment facilities in their area that can address substance abuse and/or mental health problems can access the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s online treatment locator at:

[1] Zullig, K. J., & Divin, A. L. (2012). The association between non-medical prescription drug use, depressive symptoms, and suicidality among college students. Addictive Behaviors, 37(8), 890-899.
 [2] College student admissions are defined as individuals aged 18 to 24 who were not in the labor force due to being students and who had completed 13 or more years of school. Admissions of students with less than 13 years of education or admissions of individuals in this age group with missing employment/not in labor force information were excluded from the analysis.
 [3] In this report, prescription drug abuse at treatment admission includes reports of abusing drugs in any of the following categories: opiates and synthetics other than heroin and non-prescription methadone (e.g., narcotic pain relievers such as oxycodone or OxyContin®), benzodiazepines (e.g., diazepam or Valium®), other non-benzodiazepine tranquilizers (e.g., zolpidem or Ambien®), barbiturates, and other non-barbiturate sedatives or hypnotics.
 [4] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2009). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (2nd ed.; NIH Publication No. 09-4180). Retrieved from files/podat_0.pdf

Friday, December 7, 2012

UPC Weekly Blog 12-7-12:Helping Teens Avoid Alcohol Abuse During the Holidays

The following is a blog post from the Newport Academy, an adolescent treatment facility. Their blog can be found at


Helping Teens Avoid Alcohol Abuse During the Holidays

During the holiday season, accidents caused by alcohol consumption increase, and teen abuse of alcohol increases as well – if for no other reason than adult usage increases, which in turn increases teenagers access to the substance. Whether or not your teen has abused alcohol in the past, there are steps you can take to help protect him or her from the risks associated with drinking during the holidays. Here are just a few:
Don’t allow teen alcohol use in any amount. Some parents are permissive about alcohol use among teens all year but even parents who are stricter may relax and agree to either look the other way when teens drink or outright permit teen drinking. Don’t do it. Some teens may start behaviors that are permitted during the holidays, creating a year-round issue, and those who have a problem with the behavior already may be confused by the changing attitudes and movement of boundaries.
Provide supervision at family gatherings and neighborhood parties. Family functions and holiday parties are common during this time of year, and while adults hit the eggnog, kids may sneak a few drinks of their own. Make sure that you make your expectations of behavior clear to your teens, offer them alternative entertainment, and ensure that there is proper supervision whether or not you intend to drink at these events.
Talk to your teen about avoiding alcohol use. Discussing the behaviors you expect from your teen over the holiday season will set them up for success. Should they decide to break the rules, make sure that the consequences are clear – and follow through. Set the precedent now for the behavior that you expect for the rest of the year.
Set up a “bailout” plan for your teen. In some cases, your teen may find themselves in a situation where their designated driver is no longer in a condition to drive. It’s important that he or she feel safe enough to call you for a sober ride, even with the understanding that you don’t condone their drinking or the drinking of their friends. Make it clear that it’s not worth the risk for them to accept a ride with someone who is impaired for any reason and that you will make sure they get home safely without reprimand.

Cheryl DePaolo
Director of Ulster Prevention Council

Monday, December 3, 2012

Ulster Prevention Council Weekly Blog 12/3/12: 2012 Youth Development Survey

Do you know a student in Ulster County in grades 7-12? Ask them whether or not they have taken the 2012 Ulster County Youth Development Survey.

The Ulster Prevention Council, in collaboration with the Ulster County Departments of Health and Mental Health, is wrapping up our 2012 survey initiative. The survey provides trend data regarding youth behaviors and attitudes on a wide variety of topics and drives county-wide service planning.

The success of our survey efforts reflects the commitment of time and resources from 9 public school districts in Ulster County. Thank you!

Stay tuned for news of the results of the survey, which we anticipate being released in January.

Cheryl DePaolo
Director of Ulster Prevention Council

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

UPC Weekly Blog 11-27-12: National Runaway and Homeless Youth Awareness

Please support this important event on Friday!

November is National Runaway & Homeless Youth Awareness Month
During the month of November Family of Woodstock has organized activities throughout Ulster County designed to educate and raise awareness about the ever increasing numbers of runaway and homeless youth.  Jess Robie, Team Leader of Adolescent Services at Family of Woodstock indicated, “According to best estimates there are well over 300 homeless youth in the Kingston area alone; the scope of the crisis is often hidden from view because so many homeless youth are couch surfing and do not seek assistance.”  Nationally it is estimated that as many as 1.5 million youth are homeless and at least 1.6 million run away from home every year.
  • November 30, 6:30-8:30 pm Join us at Back Stage Productions, 323 Wall St., Kingston for a screening of “Invisible: The Diaries of NY’s Homeless Youth” followed by a panel discussion with some of Ulster County’s own homeless youth and the adults who are helping them.  Find out how you can help.
Updated information can be found on Facebook -

Contact: Jess Robie 845-331-7080

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ulster Prevention Council Weekly Blog 11/20/12:Drugged Driving a Concern in Washington and Colorado

Since the elections a lot of people have asked me about the "legalization" of marijuana in Washington and Colorado. The following article from the Communty Anti-drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) discusses one concern.
Drugged Driving a Concern in Washington and Colorado
Nov 15, 2012
While marijuana is still illegal under federal law, statewide legal recreational use in Washington and Colorado has caused the law enforcement sector additional concerns about drugged driving. 
“Given that marijuana is already the most prevalent illegal drug detected in impaired drivers, marijuana ballot initiatives serve to further compromise highway safety,” said CADCA’s Chairman and CEO Gen. Arthur Dean.

“Marijuana use doubles the risk that you will get in a crash,” Dr. Susan Weiss, Acting Director of the Office of Science Policy and Communications at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Colorado's measure doesn't make any changes to the state's driving-under-the-influence laws, despite the fact that the Colorado Department of Transportation found that drivers who tested positive for marijuana in fatal car crashed doubled between 2006 and 2010, leaving lawmakers and police to worry about its effect on road safety.

"We're going to have more impaired drivers," said John Jackson, police chief in the Denver suburb of Greenwood Village, to the Associated Press.

Washington's law includes DUI provisions that set a blood-test limit for marijuana, which some lawyers are already gearing up to challenge.
"We've had decades of studies and experience with alcohol," said Washington State Patrol spokesman Dan Coon. "Marijuana is new, so it's going to take some time to figure out how the courts and prosecutors are going to handle it. But the key is impairment: We will arrest drivers who drive impaired, whether it is drugs or alcohol."

And law enforcement has good reason to be concerned: Marijuana can cause dizziness and slowed reaction time, and drivers are more likely to drift and swerve while they're high. Unlike portable breath tests for alcohol, there's no easily available way to determine whether someone is impaired from recent pot use.

CADCA had previously reported in Coalitions Online that in Colorado, drugged driving cases were up even before the legalization vote. In 2009, the state toxicology lab obtained 791 THC-positive samples from suspected impaired drivers. Last year, it had 2,030 THC-positive samples.

CADCA hosted a webinar on this topic today. The webinar, sponsored by CADCA’s National Coalition Institute, featured Dr. Weiss, former Obama Administration drug policy advisor Dr. Kevin A. Sabet, Sue Thau, CADCA Public Policy Consultant; and Rhonda Ramsey Molina, Deputy Director of Dissemination and Coalition Relations for the CADCA Institute. View the webinar on demand at Friday.

CADCA also issued a legislative alert today, calling on key Administration officials to publicly and swiftly declare the marijuana ballot initiatives in Colorado and Washington State illegal. If you haven’t already, please visit to respond to this alert.

For more information about the facts on marijuana, please check out the following resources:www.nida.govwww.whitehouse/gov/ondcp/marijuanainfo, and CADCA also developed a toolkit for coalitions dealing with marijuana which CADCA members can access by contacting Membership Associate, Dana Landers, at or  703-706-0560, Ext. 257.
Cheryl DePaolo
Director of Ulster Prevention Council

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ulster Prevention Council Weekly Blog 11-9-12: Marijuana Initiative Results Across the Country

CBS News/ November 7, 2012

Justice Department: Drug laws "remain unchanged" following passage of marijuana ballot initiatives

The federal government said Wednesday that its enforcement of drug laws "remains unchanged" following voters' approval of ballot initiatives in two states allowing recreational marijuana use.

Wa. legalizes recreational use of marijuana

Voters in Colorado and Washington passed similar initiatives on Election Day legalizing marijuana as well as regulating and taxing it.
In response, Justice Department spokeswoman Nanda Chitre said in a statement: "The department's enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged. In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance. We are reviewing the ballot initiatives and have no additional comment at this time."
The Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. attorneys in Denver and Seattle issued identical statements.
Earlier, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who opposed the initiative in his state, also indicated that legalization was far from a reality.
"Federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug," he said, according to The Associated Press, "so don't break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly."

Oregon voters also considered a legalization initiative but rejected it.
The federal government said Wednesday that its enforcement of drug laws "remains unchanged" following voters' approval of ballot initiatives in two states allowing recreational marijuana use.

Voters in Colorado and Washington passed similar initiatives on Election Day legalizing marijuana as well as regulating and taxing it. In response, Justice Department spokeswoman Nanda Chitre said in a statement: "The department's enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged. In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance. We are reviewing the ballot initiatives and have no additional comment at this time."
The Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. attorneys in Denver and Seattle issued identical statements.
Earlier, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who opposed the initiative in his state, also indicated that legalization was far from a reality. "Federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug," he said, according to The Associated Press, "so don't break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly."

Oregon voters also considered a legalization initiative but rejected it.
2012 State Ballot Initiatives
•Arkansas “medical” Marijuana Question – sought to legalize marijuana under the guise of medicine and allow for the establishment of marijuana dispensaries licensed by the state. The question was sponsored by Arkansans for Compassionate Care. Defeated – 52 percent opposed 48 percent supported.
•Measure 80, Int. 9 Oregon Cannabis Tax Act Initiative - sought to legalize and regulate the cultivation, possession and sale of unlimited amounts of marijuana. The measure would also prohibit regulation and fees to grow hemp. Defeated – 56 percent opposed 44 percent supported.
•Initiative Referendum 124 - sought to reaffirm legislation passed in 2011 that replaced the state’s current ““medical”” marijuana law and replaced it with a more restrictive program. Passed – 66 percent voted to keep legislative changes to the “medical” marijuana program.
•Amendment 64 allows those 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate six marijuana plants. The initiative also allows for over-the-counter sale of marijuana, reduces penalties for larger possession charges and legalizes hemp farming. Passed- 55 percent supported 45 percent opposed.
•Question Three– legalizes marijuana under the guise of medicine and allows for the establishment of marijuana dispensaries. Passed – 63 percent supported 37 percent opposed.
•Initiative 502 – allows adults 21 and over to purchase marijuana from state-licensed and state-regulated businesses. Creates a regulatory system, much like the liquor control system, in which a board oversees licensing of marijuana producers, processors and retailers, and imposes an excise tax of 25 percent at each step. Passed – 56 percent supported 44 percent opposed.

Cheryl DePaolo
Director of the Ulster Prevention Council

Monday, November 5, 2012

UPC Weekly Blog 11-5-12: UPC New Updates

The Ulster Prevention Council has expanded, allowing us to provide more services.

Lori Rotolo is our new Community Prevention Specialist. She will be working to facilitate cross-sector collaboration to increase the capacity of communities to address local substance abuse issues. In plain English, that means that she will be getting folks together in areas don’t currently have prevention coalitions. She will also work with youth in schools and communities to develop relevant media messages.

We also welcomed Prevention Educator Mary Beth Carpino, who facilitates the PATHS® (Providing Alternative Thinking Strategies) program in two elementary schools in the Kingston school district. The PATHS® curriculum is designed to facilitate the development of self-control, emotional awareness, and interpersonal problem-solving skills with elementary school-aged children, as well as to facilitate educational processes in the classroom.

We started an Ulster County Prevention Providers group and had 16 attendees at our first quarterly meeting today.  

Some of our other goals for the next months are:
  • To hold community forums for youth and adults
  • To assist in the formation of a county-wide task force to develop a comprehensive plan to address the prescription drug epidemic
  • To assist schools in implementing best practices in substance abuse prevention and intervention
  • To implement a comprehensive media plan to reach all sectors of the community
For more information, or to become involved in any of these initiatives, please give us a call at 458-7406.

Friday, October 26, 2012

UPC Weekly Blog 10/26/12: Magic Mushrooms

Two events this week turned my attention to “Magic Mushrooms”. First, my 17 year old daughter reported that she had been offered “shrooms” by an acquaintance. Second, according to newspaper reports, police in Saugerties charged two residents with operating a marijuana farm and growing hallucinogenic mushrooms. According to newspaper reports, town and state police executed a search warrant at and discovered a large indoor cultivation operation. They seized more than 45 pounds of processed marijuana, 60 marijuana plants and a substantial quantity of mushrooms.
Youth often report the belief that both marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms are “natural” and therefore harmless for them. This can increase adolescent “experimentation” or “recreational” use. In Ulster County in 2010, 7.7% of high school seniors reported having used hallucinogens at some point in their lifetime (Ulster County Youth Development Survey).

According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research, there are more than 75 known species of hallucinogenic mushrooms, and psilocybin and psilocyn are the hallucinogenic components found in them. The potency of mushrooms varies. According to the DEA, while street prices fluctuate, psilocybin mushrooms generally cost $20-40 for 1/8 ounce and $100 to $150 for an ounce. Although psilocybin and psilocyn are scheduled under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 as Schedule I drugs, the mushrooms themselves are not scheduled.

Methods of Use
Fresh or dried psilocybin mushrooms can be ingested orally either whole (often prepared with a food item such as peanut butter or pizza to hide their bitter taste), sprinkled on top of food, or after being brewed to make a tea. Dried mushrooms can also be crushed into a powder and prepared in capsule form. Psilocybin can be consumed orally, sniffed, smoked, or injected.
Psilocybin affects the central nervous system by disturbing the normal interaction of nerve cells and the functioning of the neurotransmitter serotonin, to which it is structurally similar. Mushrooms can take 20 minutes to 2 hours to take effect, and will last for 3 to 6 hours.
Physical effects include:
·        Nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea
·        Muscle relaxation, weakness, and twitches
·        Yawning, drowsiness, dizziness, lightheadedness, and lack of coordination
·        Pupil dilation, tearing, dry mouth, and facial flushing
·        Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature
·        Sweating followed by chills and shivering
·        Numbness of tongue, lips, or mouth
·        Feelings of physical heaviness or lightness and feelings of floating
Psychological effects include:
·        Heightened sensory experiences and perceptual distortions (i.e. brighter colors, sharper visual definition, increased hearing acuity, more distinguished taste)
·        Auditory, tactile, and visual hallucinations
·        Synesthesia (melding of the senses: seeing music or hearing colors)
·        Difficulty focusing, maintaining attention, concentrating, and thinking
·        Impaired judgment and preoccupation with trivial thoughts, experiences, or objects
·        Sense of detachment from body and surroundings and loss of boundaries between the two
·        Altered perception of space and time
·        Inability to distinguish fantasy from reality
·        Melding of past experiences with present
·        Feelings of unity with the environment
·        Feelings of involvement with intense spiritual experiences
·        Tension, anxiety, and restlessness
·        Highly adverse reactions ("bad trip"), including frightening hallucinations, confusion, disorientation, paranoia, agitation, depression, panic, and/or terror
Tolerance, Dependence, & Withdrawal
With regular and repeated use of psilocybin mushrooms, tolerance to the effects will occur. In addition, cross-tolerance occurs with other drugs, including LSD and mescaline. For several days following the use of mushrooms, users may experience a period of psychological withdrawal and have difficulty discerning reality.
·  Nicknames for hallucinogenic mushrooms
Boomers, caps, cubes, gods flesh, liberty caps, little smoke, magic mushrooms, Mexican mushrooms, mushrooms, musk, sacred mushroom, sherm, shrooms, silly cybin, silly putty, simple simon

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

UPC Weekly Blog 10/24/12:October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, so I’d like to share the following with you:

Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused, or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical. Noticing and acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship is the first step to ending it. No one should live in fear of the person they love. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the following warning signs and descriptions of abuse, reach out. There is help available.
Recognizing the warning signs of domestic violence and abuse:
It's impossible to know with certainty what goes on behind closed doors, but there are some telltale signs and symptoms of emotional abuse and domestic violence. If you witness any warning signs of abuse in a friend, family member, or co-worker, take them very seriously.
People who are being abused may:
  • Seem afraid or anxious to please their partner.
  • Go along with everything their partner says and does.
  • Check in often with their partner to report where they are and what they’re doing.
  • Receive frequent, harassing phone calls from their partner.
  • Talk about their partner’s temper, jealousy, or possessiveness.

Warning signs of physical violence:

People who are being physically abused may:
  • Have frequent injuries, with the excuse of “accidents.”
  • Frequently miss work, school, or social occasions, without explanation.
  • Dress in clothing designed to hide bruises or scars (e.g. wearing long sleeves in the summer or sunglasses indoors).
Warning signs of isolation:
People who are being isolated by their abuser may:
  • Be restricted from seeing family and friends.
  • Rarely go out in public without their partner.
  • Have limited access to money, credit cards, or the car.
The psychological warning signs of abuse
People who are being abused may:
  • Have very low self-esteem, even if they used to be confident.
  • Show major personality changes (e.g. an outgoing person becomes withdrawn).
  • Be depressed, anxious, or suicidal.
Speak up if you suspect domestic violence or abuse
If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, speak up! If you’re hesitating—telling yourself that it’s none of your business, you might be wrong, or the person might not want to talk about it—keep in mind that expressing your concern will let the person know that you care and may even save his or her life.
  • Ask if something is wrong.
  • Express concern.
  • Listen and validate.
  • Offer help.
  • Support his or her decisions.
  • Wait for him or her to come to you.
  • Judge or blame.
  • Pressure him or her.
  • Give advice.
  • Place conditions on your support.

Remember, abusers are very good at controlling and manipulating their victims. People who have been emotionally abused or battered are depressed, drained, scared, ashamed, and confused. They need help to get out, yet they’ve often been isolated from their family and friends. By picking up on the warning signs and offering support, you can help them escape an abusive situation and begin healing.

Adapted from: NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

Cheryl DePaolo
Director, Ulster Prevention Council
85 Grand St.
Kingston, NY 12401
Voice: 845-458-7406
Fax: 845-458-7407
Cell: 845-392-4714

Friday, October 12, 2012

UPC Weekly Blog 10-12-12: Gov Cuomo Signs Bills to Protect NY Youth...

Governor Cuomo Signs Bills to Protect New York's Youth from Harmful Effects of Cigarettes

On September 5, 2012 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed two bills to protect New York's children and teenagers from the harmful effects of cigarettes.

The new laws include measures to prohibit smoking within 100 feet of the entrances or exits of any public or private schools (A.10141-B / S.6854-B), as well as prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes to individuals under the age of 18 (A.9044-B /S.2926-B).

"Cigarette smoking – as well as exposure to secondhand smoke – is dangerous, particularly for our children," Governor Cuomo said. "These two new laws will strengthen our state's protections to help our young people avoid nicotine addiction as well as the harmful effects of cigarette smoke. I thank the sponsors of both these bills for their efforts to protect the health of our youth."

Prohibiting Smoking Outside School Entrances

The new law expands the ban on smoking on school grounds to prohibit smoking within 100 feet of the entrances, exits or outdoor areas of public and private schools. Residences or residential property within the 100 foot perimeter would be excluded from the new law's smoking ban. This new law takes effect immediately.

Prohibiting Sale of Electronic Cigarettes to Minors

The majority of Americans who use tobacco products become addicted to the nicotine in those products before reaching the age of 18 years. Electronic cigarettes (often known as “e-cigarettes”) are battery-powered devices that allow users to inhale a vaporized liquid nicotine solution instead of tobacco smoke. E-cigarettes could serve as a pathway to nicotine addiction for children, leading them to smoke cigarettes and use other tobacco products. Moreover, e-cigarette refill cartridges, often sold without protective packaging, contain high concentrations of nicotine which could be fatal if accidentally ingested by young children. In addition, the FDA has warned that that e-cigarettes may contain ingredients that are known to be toxic to humans or that may otherwise be unsafe.

The new law prohibits the sale of electronic cigarettes to individuals who are less than 18 years of age. The bill passed the Assembly and Senate unanimously, and the new law takes effect on January 1, 2013.

Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal said, "I am pleased that Governor Cuomo has signed my bill to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors and to regulate them in the same way that other tobacco products are currently regulated. Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, though currently unregulated and potentially dangerous to human health, are manufactured in flavors meant to appeal to young people, such as bubblegum and chocolate. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, the highly addictive ingredient found in cigarettes and other tobacco products, which will hook yet another generation of young people on a deadly habit. We will be saving lives by preventing a generation of young people from sampling that first, addictive cigarette."

Monday, October 8, 2012

UPC Weekly blog 10/8/12: Single Serve Frozen Alcoholic Beverages

Recently my 19 year old daughter Liz pointed out a product in our neighborhood supermarket. Smack in the middle of the snack aisle, there was a basket full of what looked like kid’s juice pouches. Liz called my attention to the fact that the pouches were, in fact, single serve alcoholic beverages selling for $1.99 each. She stated that her first thought was that this was a highly “shopliftable” item for her peers. As we continued shopping, Liz pointed out several other locations where these items were placed, including next to the beer and in the “seasonal” aisle. Last week, I was in a convenience store in New Paltz and noted that these drink pouches were placed above the potato chip display in the middle of the center aisle.

I decided to find out more about these beverages through my good friend the internet. I found out that squeezable pouches are emerging as a big hit for alcohol marketers. Ad Age said sales of alcohol pouches jumped 153% to $154 million in the year ending June 23, according to Nielsen. Pouch drinks are making rapid distribution gains in grocery stores, and chains such as Walgreens and Walmart have begun stocking pouch brands in coolers at some stores.

Seagram’s website has an interactive map where you can find nearby outlets selling their Frozen Flavors line. Entering a Kingston zip code yielded 20 outlets within 5 miles. Seagram’s Escapes Frozen Flavors is a line of single-serve ready-to-drink frozen flavored malt beverages (FMBs). The lineup includes Margarita, Strawberry Daiquiri, PiƱa Colada and Sangria. With 5 percent alcohol by volume, the frozen FMBs can be consumed directly from the 10-ounce pouch. Seagram’s states that “the product can be merchandised in the beer and cooler section, snack and seasonal aisles and on feature displays”. Seagram’s Escaped Frozen Flavors has a suggested retail price of $1.99 for a single-serve 10-ounce pouch and $7.99 for a four-pack.

Parrot Bay  also sells a 10oz pouch for $1.99, and their products are also 5% alcohol by volume. Their site posts “Take all of the trouble out of making a good frozen drink! Parrot Bay tropical drinks are easy and great tasting. Just freeze, squeeze, and enjoy. Mixed perfectly every time. Great for outdoors.”

American Beverage Corp., manufacturer of the 8-ounce Little Hug Fruit Barrel drinks that have appeared in children’s lunch boxes since 1974, now manufactures Daily’s cocktails. “It’s the No. 1 brand (of frozen pouches), and we have about a 60 percent share of the market”. A blogger reviewing the pouches wrote “Daily's Ready to Drink pouches are an alcoholics dream. Booze (10 proof) premixed with the scrumptious flavor of your favorite mixed beverage. freeze, kneed, open, straw, YUM. Grab a handful! These pouches go right from the store to the freezer. The taste, consistency, and refreshment of a frozen blender drink…without the blender…the clean-up…the noise! You rip open the top and pour a slushy cocktail…into your glass, or right into your mouth.”

Daily’s also sells Daily's Single Serve Cocktails in bottles  “They're appealing enough to drink from, easy to pour and perfect for taking with you anywhere. Enjoy warm, chilled or frozen" their site says.

Cordina reports that the company was started by three enterprising young men who were on a quest to make big bucks.  “After seeing kids drink up Capri juices with straws at the beach they decided that alcoholic beverages in pouches would delight adult drinkers.” While many premixed cocktails are malt beverages (which use a malting process as opposed to fermentation or distillation), Cordina uses flavorless wine made from fermented orange juice. 
$1.99 each, their products include the "Mar-Go-rita," the strawberry "Daiq-Go-ri," and the "Pina-Go-lada". “Our product will be in Walmart and Walgreens very soon." The newest 2012 addition is the watermelon "Mar-Go-rita" and the latest mix is the "Choc-Go-lada". According to developers, the flexible pouch is squeezable, economical and safe.  “Throw the 'Go-ables' into a gym bag, purse or for thristy night owls, into a bra or undies to get through the velvet ropes undetected.”
Arbor Mist boasts that their products “don’t taste “alcoholic” at all". Arbor Mist launched its line in Walmart (in Merlot Blackberry, Pinot Grigio White Pear and White Zinfandel Strawberry flavors).  A blogger notes, “there’s nothing stopping you from popping one in yourself (except maybe your date of birth, but hey, that’s what Bigs and RAs are for). So just grab a few, freeze them overnight and get yo’ illegal classroom-drank on the next day—all without ever using a blender or fake ID.” "Squeezable Vessels Are Convenient, Appealing to Young Drinkers" boast marketers of the popular new pouches.

Another article states "Mixing nostalgia for childhood with the thrill of drinking-on-the-go, or just plain laziness, may explain a new trend in which adults are buying pre-mixed cocktails in baggies that resemble children's juice boxes. Alcohol companies such as Smirnoff, Arbor Mist, and Parrot Bay have already marketed their own brands of portable cocktails in brightly-colored pouches—for those who find regular liquor bottles too cumbersome (not to mention stigmatizing) to carry around, as well as for those who find mixing drinks too onerous and time-consuming. And the pouches are selling like hot cakes. The companies' intention to make the product appeal to a younger demographic seems to have been successful".

Cheryl DePaolo
Ulster Prevention Council, Director

Friday, September 28, 2012

UPC Weekly Blog 9-28-12: Presidential Proclamation - National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, September 2012

Presidential Proclamation - National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, September 2012

Every day, millions of Americans with substance use disorders commit to managing their health by maintaining their recovery from drug or alcohol addiction.  People in recovery are not strangers:  they are our family members, friends, colleagues, and neighbors.  During National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, we recognize their strength and resilience.  In partnership with Americans in recovery, let us rededicate ourselves to combating prejudice surrounding addiction, removing barriers to recovery, and standing with all those seeking lives free from substance use.

My Administration is committed to advancing evidence based recovery solutions.  Over the past 3 years, we have worked to strengthen substance abuse prevention and treatment programs, and to support Americans in recovery.  We have taken steps to identify and remove laws, policies, and practices that impede recovery.  And as part of our 2012 National Drug Control Strategy, we are promoting early intervention and taking action to break the cycle of drug abuse and incarceration.

Drug and alcohol abuse continue to take a tragic toll on millions of lives across our country.  Yet, while more remains to be done, men and women across our country are making great strides.  This month, let us encourage their progress, celebrate the transformative power of recovery, and thank the many Americans who, often strengthened by their own experiences, are working to improve the health and safety of our communities.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 2012 as National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month.  I call upon the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty first day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.


Cheryl DePaolo
Director of the Ulster Prevention Council

Friday, September 21, 2012

UPC Weekly Blog 9-21-12: Is driving under the influence of marijuana harmful?

A recent study conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive (SADD) reports that nearly 1 in 5 teens say they have gotten behind the wheel after smoking marijuana. Those responses were higher than in 2009 when 13 percent admitted to driving after smoking marijuana while 12 percent admitted driving after drinking alcohol. Of those teens that have driven after smoking marijuana, 36 percent say it presents no distraction when operating a vehicle.

Stephen Wallace, senior adviser for policy, research and education at SADD, stated "we hear from young people who believe that marijuana actually makes them a safer driver, that they concentrate harder, drive slower," Wallace says. “Those are all misconceptions”.

On the contrary, marijuana has serious harmful effects on the skills required to drive safely: alertness, the ability to concentrate and make good judgments, coordination, and the ability to react quickly. Marijuana use can make it difficult to judge distances and react to signals and sounds on the road. These effects can last up to 24 hours after smoking marijuana.

A roadside study of reckless drivers who were not impaired by alcohol showed that 45% tested positive for marijuana.   Research conducted by the University of Auckland, New Zealand, proves the link between marijuana use and car accidents. The research found that habitual cannabis users were 9.5 times more likely to be involved in crashes .

Kelly, Darke and Ross show similar results, with laboratory studies examining the effects of cannabis on skills utilized while driving showing impairments in tracking, attention, reaction time, short-term memory, hand-eye coordination, vigilance, time and distance perception, and decision making and concentration. In their review of driving simulator studies, they conclude that there is evidence of impairments in cannabis-affected drivers' ability to control a vehicle in the areas of steering, headway control, speed variability, car following, reaction time and lane positioning.

"Teens are faced with potentially destructive decisions every day and don't always make the best ones," said Dave Melton, a driving safety expert with Liberty Mutual Insurance and managing director of global safety. "It's our job as mentors, parents, role models or friends to effectively communicate with them to ensure they are armed with the right information and aware of the dangers of marijuana and other substances, especially while driving."

1.  "White House Drug Czar Launches Campaign to Stop Drugged Driving.” Office of National Drug Control Policy Press Release, November 2002.
2. Stephanie Blows, Rebecca Q. Ivers, Jennie Connor, Shanthi Ameratunga, Mark Woodward & Robyn Norton, "Marijuana Use and Car Crash Injury," Addiction, Vol 100, April 2005.
3.  Kelly, Erin; Darke, Shane; Ross, Joanne (2004). "A review of drug use and driving: epidemiology, impairment, risk factors and risk perceptions". Drug and Alcohol Review 23 (3): 319–44. doi:10.1080/
09595230412331289482. PMID 15370012.
Cheryl DePaolo
Director of Ulster Prevention Council

Friday, September 14, 2012

UPC Weekly Blog 9/14/12: Harmful Impacts of Marijuana

I’m going to continue to discuss what we currently know about the
harmful impact of marijuana, and how we can address perception of

Media literacy education is a framework for accessing, analyzing,
evaluating, creating and participating with media content, It assists
youth in developing critical thinking skills needed to make wise
decisions in the 21st century media culture.

Youth often state the belief that marijuana is “natural” and therefore
not harmful, and they may even believe that it has medicinal
properties. Often, they obtain their information from the internet.

A simple Google search yielded some of the following quotes from
pro-marijuana sites:
“Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically
active substances known to man”.
 “Marijuana smoking, at least at moderate levels, does not harm lungs
but actually improves airflow rates and lung capacity”.
“The medical benefits of marijuana are virtually unlimited”.
“The physical benefits of marijuana are far-reaching, widespread, and
long-term….its potential for health and healing are enormous, and have
been completely unrealized by Western Medicine….The simultaneous
opposing action of marijuana is akin to balancing our entire system.
Such balance can be understood as a charged equilibrium, which is
defined as “well-being” experienced as physiological expansion and
psychological contentment and responsible for health. The net effect
is a highly functioning, yet relaxed, system with better fuel.”

Such statements reminded me of some of the old cigarette ads I’ve
seen, including the following:
“After 10 months, the medical specialist reports that he observed no
adverse effects on the nose, throat and sinuses of the group from
smoking Chesterfield”.
 “Scientific studies show clearly the manner in which Camels aid digestion”
“Gives immediate relief in cases of Asthma, Cough Bronchitis,
Hay-Fever, Influenza, and Shortness of Breath”
"I recommend Thompson's Mell-O-Well cigars to any who are interested
in regaining or keeping physically fit."
“Luckies fine tobacco picks you up when you're low, calms you down
when you're tense”.

Most youth would scoff at the claims of the cigarette companies based
on what we know today about the harmful effects of smoking. However,
they often do not develop a critical distance from the messages that
they receive online.

We must help youth become more informed and discerning Internet users.
Media literacy education can help students gain perspective and
provide strategies for deciphering content.

How can an adolescent critically evaluate the information that is
available on the Internet? Criteria for evaluating content include
looking for verifiable documentation, use of reliable sources,
objectivity, and consistency.

By having youth make conscious, educated decisions about what they
find on the Internet, they also gain the higher-order thinking skills
necessary for lifetime learning in an information-rich society.

For more information on media literacy visit

Cheryl DePaolo
Director of Ulster Prevention 

Friday, September 7, 2012

UPC Weekly Blog 9/7/12: Is Marijuana Harmful?

Ulster Prevention Council blog: Is marijuana harmful?

The Ulster Prevention Council surveys youth in grades 7 through 12 biannually. One of the most striking pieces of data, for me, is youth perception of risk due to marijuana.  Perception of risk due to tobacco remains high and even increases from 87.7% to 91.9% of youth reporting that using cigarettes is a “great risk” or a “moderate risk”. However, only 63.9% of 7th graders and a shocking 21.9% of 12 graders report that using marijuana is a “great risk” or “moderate risk”.

Thanks to Cantor Bob Cohen for passing along the following article. Information egarding harm to the developing brain is important for both teens and parents.

Teen pot use linked to later declines in IQ

- Associated Press
NEW YORK -- Teens who routinely smoke marijuana risk a long-term drop in their IQ, a new study suggests.
The researchers didn't find the same IQ dip for people who became frequent users of pot after 18. Although experts said the new findings are not definitive, they do fit in with earlier signs that the drug is especially harmful to the developing brain.
"Parents should understand that their adolescents are particularly vulnerable,'" said lead researcher Madeline Meier of Duke University.
Study participants from New Zealand were tested for IQ at age 13, likely before any significant marijuana use, and again at age 38. The mental decline between those two ages was seen only in those who started regularly smoking pot before age 18.
Richie Poulton, a study co-author and professor at the University of Otago in New Zealand, said the message of the research is to stay away from marijuana until adulthood if possible. "For some it's a legal issue," he said, "but for me it's a health issue."
Pot is the most popular illegal drug in the world, with somewhere between 119 million and 224 million users between the ages of 15 and 64 as of 2010, the United Nations reported. Within the United States, 23 percent of high school students said they'd recently smoked marijuana, making it more popular than cigarettes, the federal government reported in June.
Young people "don't think it's risky," said Staci Gruber, a researcher at the Harvard-affiliated MacLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. Gruber, who didn't participate in the new work, said the idea that marijuana harms the adolescent brain is "something we believe is very likely," and the new finding of IQ declines warrants further investigation.
Experts said the new research is an advance because its methods avoid criticisms of some earlier work, which generally did not measure mental performance before marijuana use began.
"I think this is the cleanest study I've ever read" that looks for long-term harm from marijuana use, said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which helped fund the research.
Ken Winters, a psychiatry professor at the University of Minnesota and senior scientist at the Treatment Research Institute in Philadelphia, said the new findings aren't definitive, but they underscore the importance of studying how marijuana may harm young people. He had no role in the work.
Meier and colleagues reported their work online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It was funded with governmental grants from the United States and Britain, and a foundation in Zurich.
The study drew on survey data from more than 1,000 people in New Zealand, everybody born in the town of Dunedin during a year-long span ending in 1973. In addition to IQ tests, they were interviewed five times between ages 18 and 38, including questions related to their marijuana use.
At age 18, 52 participants indicated they had become dependent on marijuana, meaning that they continued to use it despite its causing significant health, social or legal problems. Ninety-two others reported dependence starting at a later age.
Researchers compared their IQ scores at age 13 to the score at age 38 and found a drop only in those who had become dependent by 18.
Those deemed dependent in three or more surveys had a drop averaging 8 points. For a person of average intelligence, an 8-point drop would mean ranking higher than only 29 percent of the population rather than 50 percent, the researchers said.
Among participants who'd been dependent at 18 and in at least one later survey, quitting didn't remove the problem. IQ declines showed up even if they'd largely or entirely quit using pot at age 38, analysis showed.
The researchers got similar overall results for IQ decline when they compared participants who reported having used marijuana at least once a week on average for the past year. The researchers had no data on how much was used on each occasion or how potent it was.
Dr. Duncan Clark, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh, said he's not convinced that mental decline is only in those who become dependent by age 18. He said the main lesson he sees in the overall study results is that to preserve one's IQ, it's best to avoid marijuana entirely, no matter what your age.
The researchers also surveyed people who knew the study participants well at age 38. They found that the more often participants were rated as marijuana-dependent in the surveys over their lifetimes, the more memory and attention problems were noticed by their acquaintances over the previous year.

Cheryl DePaolo
Director, Ulster Prevention Council
Family Services
Ulster Prevention Council
85 Grand Street, Kingston, NY 12401
phone-845-331-5641 x253

Friday, August 31, 2012

UPC Weekly Blog 8/31/12:Abuse of ADHD Medications

Abuse of ADHD Medications

As school starts, many students will return to school on ADHD
medications. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is not uncommon;
roughly 8% of children and teens aged 4 to 17 years have the
condition. Consequences of untreated symptoms can be substantial.  The
goal of all of ADHD therapies is to help patients focus more, and
therefore improve their symptoms. However, some students abuse these
drugs to concentrate, stay awake longer, finish their work faster, get
better grades, and to lose weight.

Drugs for ADHD fall into several categories. Many ADHD drugs act by
stimulating such chemical neurotransmitters in the brain as dopamine
and epinephrine. Some of the most familiar ADHD medicines, called
methylphenidates, fall into this category including Concerta, Ritalin,
Metadate, Daytrana and dexmethylphenidate (Focalin).

In 2008, Monitoring the Future (MTF) researchers determined that 2.9%
of 10th-graders and 3.4% of 12th-graders abused methylphenidate.1

Abuse is more commonly found in another stimulatory class of drugs:
amphetamine-based ADHD medications. These include dextroamphetamine
(Adderall, Dextrostat, Dexedrine) and lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse).
Amphetamine abuse rates are at least double those of methylphenidates.
According to the MTF, 6.4% of 10th-graders and 6.8% of 12th-graders
used prescription amphetamines nonmedically in 2008. Amphetamines
ranked third among 12th-graders for past-year illicit drug use.

Although it may seem illogical, stimulatory drugs like Ritalin and
Adderall (or “vitamin R” and “Addy,”) deliver a calming and focusing
effect on people with ADHD. The opposite is true for those who take
them without a physiologic need.
Amphetamine abuse continues to escalate well into the college years as
a means students use to perform better in school (Adderall is
sometimes referred to as “college crack” or “the Adderall advantage”
for this reason). As many as 20 percent of college students have used
Ritalin or Adderall to study, write papers and take exams, according
to recent surveys.

 In an April 20 blog post on Stanford University’s “Wellsphere”
website, a self-described recent college graduate identified as Amanda
T. provided a personal account of the perceived benefits of ADHD
medications among often overwhelmed students.

“Medications such as Adderall make an all-nighter seem easy. In fact,
in a world where the work load exceeds the amount of hours in a day,
such medications are often viewed as a miracle drug to many college
students,” she wrote. “You can cram for two exams all day and then are
still able to stay up all night and write that 50 page research paper
that you put off until the very last minute.”

Teens and young adults who take these drugs for their stimulatory
properties are at risk for serious side effects, including dangerously
high BP, irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, seizures and
tremors, and mood disorders. At consistently high levels or with
repeated use, stimulant-based ADHD drugs can cause stroke and such
cognition changes as confusion, hallucinations, delusions, and
paranoia. These drugs can be addictive, which means that sudden
abstinence can also lead to the onset of withdrawal symptoms. The
NSDUH also reports that teens abusing stimulants are twice as likely
to engage in delinquent behavior than teens of the same age who do not
use these drugs nonmedically.2

Some drugs used to treat ADHD are not stimulant-based. Examples
include atomoxetine (Strattera) and certain antidepressants, such as
bupropion (Wellbutrin). There is less potential for abuse with these
drugs, and they can be good options for treating children and teens
with known substance-abuse issues.

Some of the major symptoms of stimulant substance abuse include:
•       Behavioral changes
•       Problems in school, failure to complete homework
•       Change in activities or friends
•       Heightened attention, long periods of sleeplessness or not eating
•       Unusual behaviors, including secrecy and isolation, unexplained spending
•       Legal problems

Physical consequences include:
•       Memory lapses, fatigue, and depression
•       Heart problems and seizures
•       Psychological difficulties including confusion and delusions
•       Unusual behaviors, including secrecy and isolation
•       Aggressiveness, irritability, mood swings
•       Hyperactivity, euphoria
•       Weight loss
•       Dilated pupils, dry mouth and nose

Family members may notice money and other personal or household items
missing. Since teens can often buy stimulants from younger children
with legitimate prescriptions, parents should be instructed to keep a
mental note of friends and relatives with access to these medications.
It is also important to speak directly to youth about the need to make
sure all medications for personal use are taken only as prescribed.
Parents should be the sole party responsible for dispensing ADHD
medication outside of the school.

1. Johnston LD, O'Malley PM, Bachman JG, Schulenberg JE. Monitoring
the future national survey results on drug use, 1975-2006, volume 1,
secondary school students (NIH Publication No. 08–6418A). Bethesda,
Md.: National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2009: 450-453.
2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office
of Applied Studies. (February 28, 2008). The NSDUH Report—Nonmedical
Stimulant Use, Other Drug Use, Delinquent Behaviors, and Depression
among Adolescents. Rockville, Md.

Friday, August 24, 2012

UPC Weekly Blog 8-24-12: A Back to School Conversation You Need to Have

Ulster Prevention Council blog: A Back to School Conversation You Need to Have

An article from NIH News in Health:

As college students arrive on campus this fall, it's a time of new experiences, new friendships and making memories that will last a lifetime. Unfortunately for many, it can also be a time of excessive drinking and dealing with its aftermath - vandalism, violence, sexual aggression and even death. For those beginning their college experience, a rapid increase in heavy drinking over a relatively short period of time can cause serious problems with the transition to college. Alcohol abuse can also be a problem for high school students. Fall semester is a good time to sit down with your child to have a frank discussion about drinking.
We go through many changes in our teen years. Relationships change as our bodies and brains mature. Recent research has shown that the human brain continues to develop into a person's early 20's.
This period is also marked by taking risks. This can include risky drinking. And early drinking is associated with other risky behavior, such as academic failure, unsafe sexual behavior and drug use. Over the long-term, early drinking is associated with an increased risk of developing an alcohol use disorder at some time during the life span.
The consequences of excessive drinking by young people are more significant, more destructive and more costly than many parents realize. According to the College Drinking Task Force report to NIH's National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), drinking by 18- to 24-year old college students contributes to an estimated 1,700 student deaths, 599,000 injuries and 97,000 cases of sexual assault or date rape each year.
Students form their expectations about alcohol from their environment and from each other. As they face the insecurity and stresses of establishing themselves in a new social setting, environmental and peer influences combine to create a culture of drinking. This culture actively-or at least passively -promotes drinking through tolerance, or even unspoken approval, of college drinking as a rite of passage.
The transition to college can be difficult, with about 1 of 3 first-year students failing to enroll for their second year. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the first 6 weeks of the first semester are critical to a first-year student's academic success. Many students begin drinking heavily during these early days of college, and this can interfere with their successful adaptation to campus life.
But parents can still play a major role in preventing alcohol problems. The time to start is before your child leaves for college. As the fall semester begins, prepare your college-age children by talking with them about the consequences of drinking. Stay involved during the crucial early weeks of college. Inquire about campus alcohol policies, and ask your children about their roommates and living arrangements.
High school students can also come under pressure to drink from their peers at school. It's important to talk to your high school students about peer pressure and how to resist it. They need to know that alcohol can harm their judgment, coordination and reflexes. It can cause them to lose control, take chances and do things they never would do otherwise. In fact, alcohol is linked with an estimated 5,000 deaths in people under age 21 each year-more than all illegal drugs combined.
When you sit down to talk with your child about the consequences of drinking, discuss the penalties for underage drinking as well as how alcohol use can lead to date rape, violence and academic failure. Underage drinking has also been linked with deaths and injuries from burns, falls, alcohol poisoning and suicide.
Discuss drinking and driving. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in people aged 15 to 20. Deadly crashes involving alcohol are twice as common in teens compared with people 21 and older.
Now's the time to talk to your children about the dangers of alcohol. Help prevent them from doing something that they - and you - might regret for the rest of their life.

Friday, August 17, 2012

UPC weekly blog 8/17/12: Erowid

Are you aware of Erowid? Do you know what the word Erowid means? If not, ask the nearest teen or young adult.  They will probably be familiar with When youth are looking for information about drugs of abuse, they often start at Erowid.
I’m going to let the site speak for itself, and allow you to draw your own conclusions regarding Erowid.
Erowid was founded in October 1995 by two people who call themselves Fire and Earth Erowid. As of January 2008, operation of the site was taken over by the newly formed non-profit Erowid Center. The site states that the word Erowid is a created word based on indo-european roots meaning approximately "Earth Wisdom". states that it is “an online library of information about psychoactive plants, chemicals, and related topics”.
“Although the risks and problems of psychoactives are widely discussed, it's also clear that psychoactive plants and chemicals have played a positive role in many people's lives. Unfortunately, there is a serious lack of balance in the information provided by many resources. As our culture struggles with integrating the increasing variety and availability of these substances into its political and social structures, new educational models are clearly needed. Erowid is founded on the belief that a healthy relationship with psychoactives is one grounded in balance, where use is part of an active, intellectual, physical, and spiritual life. We believe that access to information is key to creating these healthier relationships with psychoactives.” states that it contains more than 50,000 documents related to psychoactives including images, research summaries & abstracts, media articles, experience reports, information on chemistry, dosage, effects, law, health, drug testing, and traditional & spiritual use. It takes over 37 gigabytes of disk space. Each day, Erowid receives an average of 3.8 million file hits (445,000 page hits). We get an average of 55,000 unique visitors a day, viewing about 8 pages each. They estimate that more than 12 million unique people visited during the past year.
Erowid states that it “contains thousands of unique documents and images created and collected by thousands of authors, photographers, and artists. The information found on the site spans the spectrum from solid peer reviewed research to fanciful creative writing. We work hard to provide accurate information, but we also archive things like historical documents, experience reports, fiction, and satire which may be valuable despite not being "accurate".

”The value of any specific piece is unique to that article and there is no way to make blanket statements about the "accuracy" of the site as a whole. Is a piece of poetry "accurate"? Is a historical document which describes the state of knowledge about a substance in 1750 "inaccurate"? As with all resources, the accuracy of each article or page needs to be considered on its own merits.”

”There are nearly 3000 experience reports in our Experience Vaults, most submitted anonymously. These vary in quality from extremely reliable & well written to the poorly written and the possibly fabricated.”

”Some of the information has never been published anywhere else (such as dosage information about uncommon illicit recreational drugs) and is based primarily on the testemony(sic) of those who have used a substance.”
Erowid does not violate any federal or state law. Some people are concerned that simply providing controversial and diverse information about controlled substances (aka 'illegal drugs') could be a violation of the law. The issues are more complicated that a simple yes-no answer can provide, but generally there are two major components: first, 'illegal drugs' are not 'illegal' in all cases, and second, it is legal to talk about them as long as one is not otherwise committing, facilitating or encouraging the commission of a specific criminal act.

” The main thing that we strive to avoid and try to train all our volunteers to avoid is providing specific advice to individuals that could be used in the commission of a crime.”