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