Monday, December 9, 2013

Ulster Prevention Council Blog 12-9-13: SAMHSA News Release: Ecstasy-related emergency department visits

SAMHSA News Release: Over a six-year period, Ecstasy-related emergency department visits rose 128 percent for those younger than 21                                                                                       
Date: 12/3/2013 12:05 AM 
Media Contact: SAMHSA Press Office
Telephone: 240-276-2130
Hospital emergency department visits related to the dangerous hallucinogenic drug Ecstasy, sometimes known as “Molly,” increased 128 percent between 2005 and 2011 (from 4,460 visits in 2005 to 10,176 visits in 2011) for visits among patients younger than 21 years old, according to a new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Overall in 2011, there were approximately 1.25 million emergency department visits related to the use of illicit drugs.

Ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine) has both stimulant and hallucinogenic properties, and produces feelings of increased energy and euphoria among users. Abuse of Ecstasy can produce a variety of undesirable health effects such as anxiety and confusion, which can last one week or longer after using the drug. Other serious health risks associated with the use of Ecstasy include becoming dangerously overheated, high blood pressure, and kidney and heart failure.

Recently there have been several deaths associated with Molly, a variant of Ecstasy, among young people taking it at concerts and raves.

Another key finding shows that a substantial proportion of hospital emergency departments visits associated with Ecstasy during the six year period also involved underage drinking. In each year from 2005 to 2011, an average of 33 percent of emergency department visits among those younger than age 21 involved Ecstasy and involved alcohol. This unsafe combination causes a longer-lasting euphoria than Ecstasy or alcohol use alone and may increase the risk for potential abuse.

“These findings raise concerns about the increase in popularity of this potentially harmful drug, especially in young people,” said Dr. Peter Delany, Director of SAMHSA’s Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. “Ecstasy is a street drug that can include other substances that can render it even more potentially harmful. We need to increase awareness about this drug’s dangers and take other measures to help prevent its use.”
The report, titled Ecstasy-Related Emergency Department Visits by Young People Increased between 2005 and 2011; Alcohol Involvement Remains a Concern, is based on 2005 to 2011 findings from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN). DAWN is a public health surveillance system that monitors drug-related hospital emergency department visits and drug-related deaths to track the impact of drug use, misuse and abuse in the United States. The complete survey findings are available on the SAMHSA website at:

For more information about SAMHSA, visit:

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Cheryl DePaolo
Director of Ulster Prevention Council

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Ulster Prevention Council Blog 11-26-13: Marijuana Part 4

As we continue this series about marijuana, national data regarding emergency room visits and treatment admissions linked to use of marijuana are helpful in exploring the risks.

The amount of THC in marijuana samples confiscated by police has been increasing steadily over the past few decades. In 2012, THC concentrations in marijuana averaged nearly 15 percent, compared to around 4 percent in the 1980s. For a new user, this may mean exposure to higher concentrations of THC, with a greater chance of an adverse or unpredictable reaction. Increases in potency may account for the rise in emergency department visits involving marijuana use. For experienced users, it may mean a greater risk for addiction if they are exposing themselves to high doses on a regular basis. However, the full range of consequences associated with marijuana's higher potency is not well understood.

While overdoses of cannabis are not themselves acutely life-threatening to healthy individuals, high doses of sativa or other THC-rich strains can induce temporary symptoms of paranoia or panic in some people, with accompanying rise in blood pressure and heart rate. Very high doses of any strain can also cause temporary loss of consciousness(“greening out”). Clearly, either of these effects could have serious consequences based on other factors, such as a pre-existing heart condition or simply falling and hitting your head.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Drug Early Warning Network (Dawn), marijuana-related Emergency Room visits totaled 455,268 in 2011. The average patient age for marijuana-related visits was 30 years. 58 percent of marijuana-related visits involved patients aged 12 to 29, with 12 percent in the 12 to 17 age group. 66 percent were males, and 31 percent of visits in involved combining marijuana with other drugs.

SAMHSA's Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS)  is a national data system of annual admissions to substance abuse treatment facilities, and can be used to identify differences between treatment admissions involving persons who started using marijuana at age 17 or younger and those that initiated as adults. TEDS involves actual counts rather than estimates.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), estimates from research suggest that about 9 percent of users become addicted to marijuana; this number increases among those who start young (to about 17 percent, or 1 in 6) and among daily users (to 25-50 percent).

TEDS data shows that in 2010 there were 687,531 substance abuse treatment admissions aged 18 to 30. Of these, 340,212 reported marijuana abuse at treatment intake. The majority of marijuana admissions reported early initiation. 86.8 percent started using marijuana at age 17 or younger and the remaining 13.2 percent reported adult initiation (started using marijuana at age 18 or older). 12.1 percent began using at age 11 or younger. These proportions remained relatively constant between 2000 and 2010.  Among adult initiates, 95.9 percent reported initiating marijuana use between the ages of 18 and 24.

Next we'll look at some recent research regarding the potential for sustained, and possibly permanent, cognitive problems because of early age at initiation and long periods of use.

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Cheryl DePaolo
Director of Ulster Prevention Council

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ulster Prevention Council Blog 11-4-13: Marijuana Part 3

Adolescent brains are just learning how to think logically, but they strive to make decisions for themselves. They are less likely than adults to be fully wired to notice errors in decision-making.  Some skills have to be taught.  A crucial skill for adolescents and adults is evaluating the source of their information.

Youth often fail to question the accuracy of information received from friends, relatives or acquaintances. They are likely to be adept at finding information through Google searches, Wikipedia, Erowid (an online library containing  information about psychoactive drugs, plants, and chemicals) and other sources, but fail to evaluate the reliability of the source.

However, when watching educational materials regarding marijuana featuring research scientists or doctors, they sometimes state that they "don't trust" the information presented. Perhaps it's their version of "Don't trust anyone over 30"! Discussing their mistrust can be crucial to having a true dialog with them.

Let's consider the following paragraph from the NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) website:

Research clearly demonstrates that marijuana has the potential to cause problems in daily life or make a person's existing problems worse.

The above "Research clearly demonstrates" should prompt both adults and adolescents to ask what research? when? where? what problems? worse in what way?

Over the next few weeks as we look at research regarding marijuana, keep in mind the importance of evaluating source materials, presenting accurate information, considering all sides, and providing adolescents with the information and tools that they need to make informed decisions.  This assists us is working with adolescent development. not against it.

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Cheryl DePaolo
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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Ulster Prevention Council Blog 10/9/13: Marijuana Part 2

Ulster Prevention Council blog: Marijuana Part 2

In my last blog I stated that unless we, the adults, are clear about the harm from marijuana, we will be sending mixed messages to youth. Let's talk about our approach.

In discussing potential harm, it is very important to work with adolescent development and not against it. I spent many years in the substance abuse treatment world, but it took a while to find a way to work with adolescents and not feel like I was banging my head, or theirs, against the wall. No wonder! I entered the field when confrontation and "breaking denial" were the biggest tools in the treatment arsenal. A key task of adolescence is struggling for autonomy. Arguing with youth generally leaves them even more entrenched in their original position. 

 So how do we work with adolescent brain development? We come alongside them, as a problem solving partner. We slow down and build trust, demonstrating that we respect them, can look at the issue from all sides and are willing to consider new information. We must actively undo their expectation that we intend to argue them out of their beliefs and behaviors. This process can't be rushed. At the same time, we continue to establish and maintain firm boundaries for safe behaviors.
  In addition, new research regarding adolescent brain research is very exciting and serves as a great starting point for discussions.

 The prefrontal cortex is a section of the brain that weighs outcomes, forms judgments and controls impulses and emotions. This area is the last to develop and, in fact, isn't fully developed until the early 20s. Use of mood altering substances during this period can be very damaging. An area of the teenager's brain that is fairly well-developed early on, though, is the nucleus accumbens,  the area of the brain that seeks pleasure and reward. 

 For most adults, climbing hotel balconies of skateboarding off roofs of houses sound like awful ideas. Their prefrontal cortex curbs any impulse to do so, because the possible negative outcomes outweigh any potential thrill. But teenagers may try these things because they're seeking a buzz to satisfy that reward center, while their prefrontal cortex can't register all the risks these actions entail.
 It's the combination of the developing prefrontal cortex and the heightened need for reward that leads to behavior that has adults asking "Why in the world did you do that?" and adolescents truthfully answering "I don't know!" 

Cheryl DePaolo
Director of Ulster Prevention Council

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Ulster Prevention Council Blog 9-18-13: Marijuana Part 1

Most students should be settling back into a school routine nicely by now. However, for those whose use of marijuana increased in frequency and amount over the summer, the transition may not be going so smoothly. Sometimes students who intended to stop smoking marijuana once September rolled around have trouble sticking to that decision. Research shows that approximately 9 percent, or about 1 in 11, of those who use marijuana at least once will become addicted. This rate increases to 16 percent, or about 1 in 6, if you start in your teens, and goes up to 25-50 percent among daily users. Among young people in drug abuse treatment, marijuana accounts for the largest percentage of admissions: 61 percent of those under age 15 and 56 percent of those 15-19.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) provides standard criteria for the classification of disorders. Criteria for Substance Use Disorders include taking the substance in larger amounts or for longer than you meant to, wanting to cut down or stop using the substance but not managing to, cravings and urges to use the substance, and not managing to do what you should at work, home or school because of substance use.
For heavy users who are trying to go curtail using marijuana, they are likely to experience quite a bit of discomfort. The DSM-5 includes new diagnostic criteria for Cannabis Withdrawal, caused by cessation of cannabis use that has been heavy and prolonged, and results in significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning, and is characterized by at least three of these symptoms: irritability, anger or aggression; nervousness or anxiety; sleep difficulties; decreased appetite or weight loss; restlessness; depressed mood; and or physical symptoms such as stomach pain, shakiness or tremors, sweating, fever, chills, and headache.
What can we do for youth? First, take marijuana use seriously. It's not a harmless rite of passage. Second, know what interventions are available and effective in addressing marijuana use disorders. Over the next few weeks we'll explore the ins and outs of marijuana and discuss what the most current research shows about the short term and long term consequences of marijuana use. Unless we're clear about the harm, we will certainly be sending mixed messages to youth.

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Cheryl DePaolo
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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ulster Prevention Council Blog 8-27-13: Dancing with Miley? or Molly?

For the last several weeks I've addressed drug references in song lyrics. This week Miley Cyrus is in the news for a decidedly raunchy performance at the MTV Video Music Awards. However, I was already planning to write about the lyrics to her song "We Can't Stop". While at first she claimed that the lyrics were "dancing with Miley", she eventually conceded that she was referring to the drug Molly, which is often billed as a "pure" form of the club drug ecstasy.
So la da di da di, we like to party
Dancing with Molly
Doing whatever we want
This is our house
This is our rules
And we can’t stop
And we won’t stop
Can’t you see it’s we who own the night
Can’t you see it we who bout’ that life

Miley Cyrus is not the only performer to openly refer to using Molly. Madonna named her 2012 album MDNA and, on stage at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami that same year, she asked the crowd: "Has anyone seen Molly?"

Molly has also became popular with hip-hop artists and rappers as well. NBA star LeBron James was caught on camera rapping "popped a Molly, I'm sweatin'" from Trinidad James "All Gold Everything" during a warmup. The video went viral.  "The impact that that song had is what really turned things around for it," said Devron Kelly, one of the hosts of  "Hip-Hop Flavors" on WMNF. "Basically, it's just a new drug, so you're going to have kids experimenting with whatever they hear the latest rappers talking about."  2 Chainz, Nicki Minaj and Kanye West also sing about Molly.
Musical references to "Molly" misrepresent its dangers. It is often billed as a safe high with no side effects. Ecstasy normally comes in a tablet form and is mixed with caffeine or even other illegal drugs. Molly is the same basic drug (MDMA) but without any other ingredients mixed in. The illusion of "purity" gives users a false sense of security. With demand starting to drive up the price of Molly, dealers sometimes are tampering with the pure MDMA, cutting it with other things before selling it. As with other illegal drugs, users never really know the amount taken, and high levels can cause extreme hallucinations, heart trouble and organ failure.
Molly gives people a sense of euphoria. Users report a false sense of calm, lowered anxiety levels, and a skewed view of the world around them. This false sense of well-being can easily be a user's worst enemy by causing them to overlook dangers, leading to injury to themselves and others.
Physical symptoms include high blood pressure, sweating, insomnia, nausea, and uncontrolled teeth-grinding. Teeth grinding contributes to the fad of using pacifiers when out clubbing; lollipops and gum are also often used.
MDMA causes long-lasting damage to the serotonin system, which regulates processing of information and emotions. Use may result in permanent damage to one's ability to learn, pay attention and remember, difficulty sleeping and ongoing depression.
Molly is a Schedule 1 drug, meaning that it is absolutely illegal to sell, distribute, buy, ingest, or own.

Cheryl DePaolo
Director of Ulster Prevention Council

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ulster Prevention Council Blog: 8-20-13

The red Solo cup is arguably the cup of choice for youth and young adults. Can you sing along with the following chorus from the Toby Keith song?
Red Solo cup, I fill you up
Let's have a party, let's have a party
I love you red Solo cup, I lift you up
Proceed to party, proceed to party

To view today's blog, please head on over to our Facebook page at Ulster Prevention Council and check out some visuals for reducing alcohol intake by counting standard drinks, including one using the red Solo cup.

While you are there, please "Like" us on Facebook, take the drink count quiz and check out some of our media messages.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Ulster Prevention Council Blog 8-12-13: Purple Drank

I have two young adults at home and they are almost always in charge of the music selection in the car. Although they listen to a wide variety of genres I confess that just like my own parents, much of the time I can't decipher the words. Sometimes when I can, I don't understand the meaning behind the words. To their dismay, I usually sing along anyway.
Today I've been doing some research into current drug trends, and as I wandered around the internet I began to look at song lyrics about drug use written by some well known artists.  Of course there have been plenty of drug references in lyrics for decades.  My thought about these particular songs, though, is that they are contributing to the spread of a dangerous regional drug trend that might otherwise have been contained: Purple Drank.
Mixing soda, prescription cough syrup and candy, often Jolly Ranchers, with crushed ice in a white styrofoam cup to make "Purple Drank" started in Houston, Texas, now known as the “City of Syrup”. Drinking it makes you "lean"- unsteady on your feet. While use dates back several decades, Purple Drank has recently gone mainstream in tracks by Eminem, Paul Wall, Kanye West, Ludacris, 2 Chainz, Drake, Nicki Manaj and scores of others.
Let's take a look at Lil' Wayne's song Me and My Drank. He references codeine (a narcotic), promethazine (an antihistamine) and Sprite as ingredients that he has in his cup in the studio. Lil' Wayne's lyrics acknowledge several artists who have died due to using Purple Drank including Big Moe, Pimp C, and DJ Screw.  Here are some lyrics from the song:

[Short Dawg:]
I usually don't do this but...
Yea T you gotta feel me
Sippin on some drink the color purple like silly
Really they say I should chill before it kills me
But so will a car crash or a nine milli
And I aint even mention cigarettes or airplanes
So grab a sprite heres a pint we can share Wayne
Yea Mayne...tastes so sweet and I aint gonna have a seat
Cuz I don't wanna fall asleep
So just pour it in my drink and ima sip until I lean hard
Drink got me moving slower than a retard
So press record and hear these hot raps
Im in the booth cup on me like a jock-strap
And I will not nap until the bottles empty
Then I pour a little more for past Screw and Pimp C
And I would stop but believe it I cant
So till Short is gone its just me and my drink
Up in the studio me and my drank, me and my drank, me and my drank
Uh uh Up in the studio me and my drank, me and my drank, me me and my drank

On March 15, 2013, it was reported that Wayne had been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit in Los Angeles after being discovered shaking uncontrollably and unconscious. Doctors found a high amount of codeine in his system and his stomach had to be pumped three times. He was released from the hospital three days later.
Two NFL players have been arrested for possessing codeine based syrups without a prescription, and Terrence Kiel, a San Diego Chargers player, was arrested during practice for possession with intent to sell prescription cough syrup for use in making the drink.
Several legal commercial products loosely based on "purple drank" are marketed in the United States including "Drank", "Purple Stuff", "Sippin Syrup", and "Lean".

What's so bad about Purple Drank? Codeine can make people feel a sense of euphoria, but can also cause hypoventilation, a potentially fatal inability to breathe properly. Abuse of codeine can lead to physical dependence and significant withdrawal symptoms. Promethazine is an antihistamine that is typically used to fight nausea and to induce sedation. In low doses, promethazine can enhance the effects of codeine, causing more euphoric feelings than codeine alone. However, high doses of promethazine can also cause potentially deadly central nervous system depression and hypoventilation, extreme weakness and drowsiness. Using these substances at higher amounts than those prescribed for legitimate medical purposes can be very dangerous. Add alcohol or other substances to the mix, and they are even more dangerous.
So what does this mean for the Hudson Valley?  Purple Drank is now part of pop culture, and simple instructions for mixing it are as close as the internet. Adolescents are likely to be curious about it and perhaps give it a try. Let's ask them if they've heard of it, what they think about it, and if they know anyone who has tried it. Adolescents often experience danger as exciting rather than as a deterrent to experimenting. If unable to procure prescription syrup, youth are likely to try mixing other syrups with soda, including over the counter cough and cold syrups that are also dangerous when abused. So, when remembering to lock up your meds, include any liquid medications, and dispose of unused prescription and over the counter syrups.

Cheryl DePaolo
Director of Ulster Prevention Council

Friday, July 19, 2013

Ulster Prevention Council Weekly Blog 7-19-13: Mourning Another Loss

When we use "icebreaker" activities with a group, one of my favorite exercises is sharing something that no one in the group knows about you. Today I have two things to share.

First, I am a Gleek.  A Gleek is a fan of the Fox TV show Glee. Cory Monteith, 31, was one of the stars of this musical comedy, playing football quarterback and glee club member Finn Hudson. Cory died this week from an overdose of heroin and alcohol, after sharing his struggle with addiction when he entered treatment this spring. You may be a bit more surprised to learn that I was also a fan of Amy Winehouse, the British singer and songwriter who tied the record for Grammy Award wins in a single night. The BBC called her "the pre-eminent vocal talent of her generation". However, her struggles with addiction were well publicized, as evidenced by her hit single "Rehab". By summer 2011, she had fallen into a pattern of abstaining for a few weeks and then relapsing. One such relapse led to her death by alcohol intoxication. Her blood alcohol content was 0.416% at the time of her death.
While your "favs" may differ from mine, today I decided to stop and reflect on some of the celebrities we have lost to overdoses and the brain disease of chemical dependency. This list is not at all exhaustive, but it speaks for itself.
Marilyn Monroe – American actress, model, singer, sex symbol, 36. Her death, due to an overdose of barbiturate sleeping pills, was ruled as a “possible” suicide, 1962.
Janis Joplin - American musician, 27, heroin overdose, 1970.
Jimi Hendrix - American musician and singer-songwriter, 27. Respiratory arrest, asphyxia due to alcohol and barbiturate overdose; vomit inhalation, 1970.
 Bruce Lee - Martial artist, actor, film director, Prescription drug overdose at 32 in 1973.
John Belushi – Actor, comedian, musician. Died in 1982 at age 33 after injecting a mixture of cocaine and heroin.
River Phoenix – American actor. Died at 23 of a heroin an cocaine overdose while in the presence of his younger brother Joaquin in front of the trendy Viper Room, 1993.
Heath Ledger – 28. Died of an accidental overdose of oxycodone, hydrocodone, alprazolam, diazepam, temazepam and doxylamine, 2008.
Mary Anissa Jones –Buffy from “Family Affair.” Drugs found in her system include Seconal, PCP, methaqualone and cocaine.
Lani O’Grady –Mary on “Eight is Enough,” died in 2001 at the age of 46.  Found in her system at the time of her death were Vicodin and Prozac.
Chris Farley – Overdosed in 1997; combination of morphine and cocaine; complicated by heart disease.
Judy Garland – American actress and singer.  Died in 1969 at the age of 47 of an overdose of barbiturates (Seconal). Possible suicide.
Anna Nicole Smith – American model, Playboy playmate, actress, 40. Died in 2007 of “combined drug toxicity" due to chloral hydrate and benzodiazepines.
Elvis Presley – Found dead in his bathroom at 42. Heart arrhythmia, possibly aggravated by multiple prescriptions (methaqualone, codeine, barbiturates, cocaine), 1977.
Nick Cantor – The Dirty Dancing actor died after injecting a shot of pure heroin in 1991.
Robert Pastorelli – The Murphy Brown actor died of a heroin overdose in 2004 at the age of 50.
Brad Renfro – American actor, 25. Died of a heroin overdose in 2008.
Christopher Bowman - American figure skater, 40, Mixed alcohol, cocaine, diazepam and cannabis, 2008.
Christopher Wiley Antley - Jockey; 2-time Kentucky Derby winner. Overdose of clobenzorex, paroxetine, methamphetamine, carbamazepine and trauma (accidental),  age 34, 2000.
Darrel Porter - Professional baseball player, cocaine overdose, 2002, age 50.
Derek Boogaard - left wing, New York Rangers, 28, alcohol and oxycodone overdose, 2011.
Douglas Glenn Colvin, aka Dee Dee Ramone - American songwriter and musician (The Ramones), 50.  Heroin overdose (accidental), 2005.
Edward Fatu “Umaga” - Samoan-American professional wrestler, 36. Overdose of hydrocodone, carisoprodol, diazepam, 2009.
Michael Carl Baze - Horse jockey, 24. Overdose of cocaine and oxymorphone, 2011.
Michael Jackson - American Pop Singer and icon, 50. Cardiac arrest, acute propofol intoxication; midazolam, lidocaine, diazepam, lorazepam also noted in autopsy report, 2009.
Whitney Houston - American singer, actress, 48. Drowning; complications of cocaine and heart disease; Flexeril, marijuana, Xanax and Benadryl also found in body but did not contribute to death, 2012.
Chris Kelly - of the 90s hip-hop group Kriss Kross, died at the age of 34 of an overdose that included heroin and cocaine, 2013.

Cheryl DePaolo
Director of Ulster Prevention Council

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ulster Prevention Council Weekly Blog 6-25-13: Will I See You in September?

With summer in and school out, unsupervised youth may be in danger of accessing and/or consuming alcohol in their homes and in the homes of their friends.  These dangers are real and possibly deadly.
Through the 2012 Ulster County Youth Development Survey, we asked youth in grades 7-12 how they obtained alcohol and where they drank it. While 56.8% reported not drinking at all in the past year, 25.4% reported drinking in their own home, and 26.1%  reported drinking in the home of a friend.  
In almost every case involving underage drinking, somewhere along the way an adult broke the law. 35% of Ulster County youth reported obtaining alcohol with the aid of an adult. The Ulster County Social Host law holds parents accountable for drinking parties involving under-age participants in their home.  However, many adults still believe that allowing youth to drink in the home is "safer" and that they can teach youth to drink "responsibly". 10.3% of Ulster County youth reported drinking with parental permission.
Although many still view underage drinking as a rite of passage, it is a dangerous practice that should be discouraged. Every three minutes someone under the legal drinking age in the US has to go to the emergency room because they drank underage.
Youth ages 15 and younger who drink alcohol are 4 times more likely to become dependent on alcohol and 5 times more likely to abuse alcohol later in life than those who wait until they are 21 or older. Alcohol use can interfere with adolescent brain development. Adolescent brains do not discriminate between alcohol used without permission and alcohol used with permission.
In addition, adolescents may make the poor choice of getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking. It is no coincidence that during June, July and August the greatest number of teenagers perish in car crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
This summer and all year, adults should monitor and secure alcohol at home in order to help prevent underage drinking. Parents are urged to have a frank discussion with teens about the dangers of underage drinking and set rules, including not getting into a car with someone who has been drinking.
If you have had the talk with your teen about drugs, but not alcohol, now’s the time to have it. 

Cheryl DePaolo
Director of Ulster Prevention Council

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ulster Prevention Council Weekly Blog 6-4-13: Ulster youth produce award winning messages

At our annual Ulster Prevention Council Conference last week we recognized outstanding Ulster County youth who participated in our 2013 Media Contest and received Innovations in Substance Abuse Prevention Awards.
These awards honor the memory of Phil Terpening, former chairman of the Ulster Prevention Council Board.  Prizes were awarded for poster, radio and video projects that communicated messages regarding the risks associated with the misuse of prescription medications; alternatives to drug use; awareness of the harmful effects of marijuana on youth brain development; and our Be Aware, Don’t Share and Lock Your Meds campaigns.
 Over 40 poster submissions were received. Ellenville High School students Willie Bruce and Logan Rotolo tied for first place in the poster contest, and Hunter Odell received an honorable mention.
 Tessa Albert from Ellenville High School submitted the winning radio PSA, and Paris Smith from Saugerties High School submitted the winning video PSA. Nick Natale from Saugerties High School received an honorable mention for his video PSA.
 Under the guidance of teachers Scott Wickham at Saugerties High School and Tim Lukaszewski and Alan Buckler and Ellenville High Schools, the students were able to produce original, creative and powerful media messages that UPC will use to provide education and awareness throughout Ulster County and beyond.
 All of our PSA's are available for distribution to schools, waiting rooms, public access stations and other community venues to get the word out regarding these priority topics. Please contact UPC at 458-7406 for information.
 To view some of our winners, please visit our Facebook page and remember to like Ulster Prevention Council us while you are there!

Cheryl DePaolo
Director of Ulster Prevention Council

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ulster Prevention Council Weekly Blog 5-21-13: Letter from D.A. D. Holley Carnwright

This week I'd like to share with you this letter from Ulster County District Attorney D. Holley Carnwright regarding prom and graduation safety and the Ulster County Social Host Law.                                      
                                                    BE SMART BE SAFE
April 16, 2013
 It is that time of year when students in our county will be taking part in proms and graduations.  Although it is justifiably a time of joy and celebration, it is equally one for caution and restraint.  I am writing to enlist your assistance in helping to prevent the potentially tragic consequences of drinking and driving.
Alcohol is by far the most widely used drug among our youth and is directly associated with risk-taking behavior and other disinhibiting effects that increase the chance of unsafe conduct on their part.  Unfortunately, in recent years, our county has experienced its tragic results.
On February 19, 2008, in an effort to combat drunk driving Ulster County passed “Local Law Number 2 of 2008,” *which, in pertinent part, provides that “no person having any control of any premises shall allow an open house party to take place at said residence if such person knows or has reason to know that any alcoholic beverage or drug is being unlawfully possessed, served to or consumed by a minor (under 21) at said residence.”  It defines “open house party” as “a social gathering at a residence or other private property with minors present.”
In addition, the Social Host Liability Act of the State of New York imposes civil liability upon any individual who knowingly serves or permits alcohol to be served to a minor if that minor causes injury to another as a result of his or her intoxication.
Furthermore, Section 260.20 of the Penal Law of the State of New York authorizes the prosecution of any individual who gives or sells or causes to be given or sold any alcoholic beverage to a person less than 21 years old.
I ask that if you permit the use of your home for a prom pr graduation event, you monitor the situation carefully to insure that minors in attendance do not imbibe alcoholic beverages.
Please help to make this graduation season a time of celebration.  Help keep our children, our loved ones, and our county safe.
D. Holley Carnright
District Attorney

Cheryl DePaolo
Director of Ulster Prevention Council

Monday, May 13, 2013

Ulster Prevention Council Weekly Blog 5/13/13: Upcoming Events

It's a busy time of year, and I thought I'd share with you about some upcoming meetings and events.
This Wednesday, the Ellenville Wawarsing Prevention Coalition meets at the Ellenville Middle School at 8:30 AM. This group is working at a fast pace to address the needs of local youth and families.
On Thursday, the Prescription Drug Task Force of Ulster County will meet at the Ulster County Department of Mental Health at 10:30. This is a time change, and we'll also be in a different room - Room 138. New attendees are always welcome as it will take every sector of the community working together to decrease prescription drug misuse.
On Friday, the Ulster County Prevention Providers meeting will take place at the New Paltz Village Hall at 9:30 AM. Phoenix Kawamoto will provide an overview of Community Partnership activities in New Paltz, Jessie Moore will discuss teen pregnancy prevention issues, and a Media Literacy Training will be provided by the Prevention Resource Center. Breakfast will be served.
Last but definitely not least, please save the date for the annual UPC Conference: Emerging Issues, Community Solutions to be held on Wednesday May 29 at SUNY Ulster. We will dig deep into the 2012 Ulster County Youth Development Survey data, learn about addressing the prescription drug epidemic, and showcase youth media projects from throughout the county.

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, May 3, 2013

UPC Weekly Blog 5-3-13:Stop Urban Outfitters From Selling Products that Promote Prescription Drug Abuse

From: The Partnership at
By Candice Besson | May 1, 2013

Urban Outfitters, the national retail store popular with teens, is currently selling pint glasses, flasks and shot glasses made to look like prescription pill bottles. These products make light of prescription drug misuse and abuse, a dangerous behavior that is responsible for more deaths in the United States each year than heroin and cocaine combined.

Medicine abuse has increased 33 percent over the past five years with one in four teens having misused or abused a prescription drug in their lifetime. Combined with alcohol, the misuse and abuse of prescription medications can be especially dangerous, making the Urban Outfitter Rx pint and shot glasses and flasks even more disturbing.

As recent research from The Partnership at shows, teens and parents alike do not understand the health risks associated with the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs. In fact, more than a quarter of teens mistakenly believe that misusing and abusing prescription drugs is safer than using street drugs.
Tongue-in-cheek products that normalize and promote prescription drug abuse only serve to reinforce the misperception about the dangers associated with abusing medicine and put more teens at risk.

Ask Urban Outfitters to remove these products from their stores and website immediately. Feel free to use the information above to help make your point.
Send an e-mail to:
Richard A. Hayne; CEO & Chairman

Write a letter:
Urban Outfitters, Inc.
5000 South Broad St
Philadelphia, PA 19112-1495
Sign this Facebook Causes petition:
Join us and make your voice heard!

Cheryl DePaolo
Director of Ulster Prevention Council

Friday, April 26, 2013

Ulster Prevention Council Weekly Blog 4/26/13 : Free Training for School Personnel

On Wednesday, May 1, the Ulster Prevention Council is offering a training for school personnel:

Current Drug Trends Among Youth in Your Community
Providing Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment

Wednesday, May 1
Free Brunch Provided
Ellenville Public Library
Community Room
40 Center St.
Ellenville, NY

Learn about current drug trends and the signs and symptoms of substance abuse. The SBIRT tool helps school counselors, health and school personnel and mental health professionals learn how to ask the right questions to engage youth in an open conversation about drug and alcohol use and abuse.

Motivational interviewing techniques, active listening and non-confrontational questions will be learned through experiential role-play scenarios.
This brief questioning tool provides a way not only to screen for problem alcohol/drug use, but also to learn how to initiate a brief intervention and possible referral when indicated.

(845)458-7408 ext. 231

Cheryl DePaolo
Director of Ulster Prevention Council

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ulster Prevention Council Weekly Blog 4/23/13: National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Saturday, April 27

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled another National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day which will take place on Saturday, April 27, 2013, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  This is a great opportunity for those who have accumulated unwanted, unused prescription and over-the-counter drugs to safely dispose of those medications.
In the five previous Take-Back events, the DEA in conjunction with state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners have collected more than 2 million pounds (1,018 tons) of prescription medications that were removed from circulation.
The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposal, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of these medications.
Drug Take-Back Day is also an effort to keep trace drugs out of our lakes and streams (waste water treatment plants cannot remove many compounds found in medications; so when flushed or put in a landfill, drugs are discharged into our surface and ground water and consumed by fish and wildlife). 
Visit for take-back locations in New Paltz and Kingston. There is also a permanent 24 hour MedReturn drop off box in the lobby at the Saugerties Police Department.

Monday, April 15, 2013

UPC Weekly Blog 4-15-13: Prepare to discuss 4/20 with youth

April 20 is almost here.  Does this date hold any significance for you? If not, ask the nearest teen or young adult about 4/20.  The blog will wait...go ask them...or "Google it" if you don't have access to youth. We need to know about 4/20 and be prepared to discuss its significance.
Our Ulster County Youth Development Survey indicates that youth perceive their parents as somewhat accepting of marijuana use.  I find that many adults are truly ambivalent when it comes to marijuana. Perhaps you smoked it in your younger years and feel that no harm came of it. You may have heard that marijuana is the only thing that has helped cancer or glaucoma patients. We must be clear about these issues ourselves and prepared to have intelligent conversations with youth.
I recommend that you start by visiting the National Institute on Drug Abuse at for accurate information.
Here are some talking points gleaned from the site:
  • More teenagers are now current (past-month) smokers of marijuana than of cigarettes
  • marijuana users generally report lower life satisfaction, poorer mental and physical health, relationship problems, and less academic and career success compared to their peers 
  • In 2009, THC concentrations in marijuana averaged close to 10 percent, compared to around 4 percent in the 1980s
  • marijuana's adverse impact on learning and memory persists after the acute effects of the drug wear off
  • regular marijuana use by young people can have long-lasting negative impact on the structure and function of their brains
  • a large prospective study (following individuals across time) showed that people who began smoking marijuana heavily in their teens lost as much as 8 points in IQ between age 13 and age 38
  • marijuana users have a 4.8-fold increase in the risk of heart attack in the first hour after smoking 
  • frequent marijuana smokers can have many of the same respiratory problems experienced by tobacco smokers, such as daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illness, and a heightened risk of lung infections
  • a series of large prospective studies showed a link between marijuana use and later development of psychosis
 About so-called medical marijuana:
  • there have not been enough clinical trials showing that marijuana’s benefits outweigh its health risks in patients with the symptoms it is meant to treat
  • to be considered a legitimate medicine, a substance must have well-defined and measureable ingredients that are consistent from one unit (such as a pill or injection) to the next
  • THC-based drugs to treat pain and nausea are already FDA approved and prescribed, and scientists continue to investigate the medicinal properties of cannabinoids
  • Estimates from research suggest that about 9 percent of users become addicted to marijuana; this number increases among those who start young (to about 17 percent, or 1 in 6) and among daily users (to 25-50 percent)
  • Long-term marijuana users trying to quit report withdrawal symptoms including irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety, and drug craving 
Cheryl DePaolo
Director of Ulster Prevention Council

Monday, April 8, 2013

2013 Media Contest Deadline Extended!

Ulster Prevention Council has extended the 2013 Media Contest Submission Deadline! 

This contest is open to all Ulster County Students!

Help us get these important messages out to Ulster County communities:

• The dangerous health risks associated with the misuse of prescription medications
• Alternatives to drug use: getting involved in social & recreational activities in your community
• Awareness of the harmful effects of marijuana on youth brain development & I.Q.
Be Aware, Don’t Share prescription drugs and Lock Your Meds to keep kids safe


• Best Video Message- $250 Gift Card
• Best Radio Message- $150 Gift Card
• Best Poster- $75 Gift Card


Winners to be selected on MAY 29th

Contact: Lori @ Ulster Prevention Council

Phone: (845) 458-7406 ext.231


Monday, April 1, 2013

UPC Weekly Blog April 1, 2013:Stimulants

The following information is from NIDA - the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
As the name suggests, stimulants increase alertness, attention, and energy, as well as elevate blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration. Stimulants historically were used to treat asthma and other respiratory problems, obesity, neurological disorders, and a variety of other ailments. But as their potential for abuse and addiction became apparent, the medical use of stimulants began to wane. Now, stimulants are prescribed to treat only a few health conditions, including ADHD, narcolepsy, and occasionally depression—in those who have not responded to other treatments.
Stimulants, such as dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine and Adderall) and methylphenidate (Ritalin and Concerta), act in the brain similarly to a family of key brain neurotransmitters called monoamines, which include norepinephrine and dopamine. Stimulants enhance the effects of these chemicals in the brain. The associated increase in dopamine can induce a feeling of euphoria when stimulants are taken nonmedically. Stimulants also increase blood pressure and heart rate, constrict blood vessels, increase blood glucose, and open up breathing passages.

The dramatic increases in stimulant prescriptions over the last 2 decades have led to their greater environmental availability and increased risk for diversion and abuse. For those who take these medications to improve properly diagnosed conditions, they can be transforming, greatly enhancing a person's quality of life. However, because they are perceived by many to be generally safe and effective, prescription stimulants, such as Concerta or Adderall, are increasingly being abused to address nonmedical conditions or situations. Indeed, reports suggest that the practice is occurring among some academic professionals, athletes, performers, older people, and both high school and college students. Such nonmedical cognitive enhancement poses potential health risks, including addiction, cardiovascular events, and psychosis.
As with other drugs of abuse, it is possible for individuals to become dependent upon or addicted to stimulants. Withdrawal symptoms associated with discontinuing stimulant use include fatigue, depression, and disturbance of sleep patterns. Repeated abuse of some stimulants (sometimes within a short period) can lead to feelings of hostility or paranoia, even psychosis. Further, taking high doses of a stimulant may result in dangerously high body temperature and an irregular heartbeat. There is also the potential for cardiovascular failure or seizures.
Stimulants should not be used with other medications unless authorized by a physician. Patients also should be aware of the dangers associated with mixing stimulants and OTC cold medicines that contain decongestants, as combining these substances may cause blood pressure to become dangerously high or lead to irregular heart rhythms.

Cheryl DePaolo
Director of Ulster Prevention Council

Ulster Co. Prescription Drug Task Force Launched

Ulster Co. Prescription Drug Task Force Launched
March 21 Kick Off Meeting Draws 40 from All Community Sectors
STONE RIDGE—The Prescription Drug Task Force of Ulster County held a kick off meeting on Thursday, March 21 at SUNY Ulster, drawing more than 40 people interested in supporting the task force’s goal of mobilizing all sectors of the community to reduce the epidemic of prescription drug abuse. Participants included doctors, pharmacists, school personnel, nonprofit agencies, mental health providers, law enforcement and local youth.
"The Centers for Disease Control declared prescription drug abuse a silent epidemic that is stealing thousands of lives and tearing apart communities and families across America" said Cheryl DePaolo, Director of the Ulster Prevention Council. "Ulster County is mobilizing the community to take action against this national health crisis".
According to a 2009 study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, 16 million Americans ages 12 and older had taken a prescription pain reliever, tranquilizer, stimulant, or sedative for nonmedical purposes at least once in the year prior to being surveyed.
In a survey administered by the Ulster Prevention Council in 2012, 2.9 percent of the county’s 8th graders, 11.7 percent of 10th graders and 18.5 percent of 12th graders reported having abused prescription painkillers in their lifetime and 3.6% of students grade 7-12 had abused prescription painkillers in the previous 30 days.
The Prescription Drug Task Force is a joint initiative of the Ulster County Departments of Health and Mental Health and the Ulster Prevention Council. The next meeting will take place on April 18, 2013 at 10:00 AM at the Ulster County Department of Mental Health at 239 Golden Hill Dr. in Kingston.

For more information on the Prescription Drug Task Force of Ulster County call 845-458-7406.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Ulster Prevention Council Weekly Blog 3-18-13: Study Finds Prior Marijuana Use Increases Addictive Power of Nicotine

Study Finds Prior Marijuana Use Increases Addictive Power of Nicotine:

Exposure to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, can increase the addictive properties of nicotine, according to a study in rats published online this week in Neuropsychopharmacology.
The study suggests that previous marijuana use may potentially increase the risk of nicotine dependence and tobacco-related diseases.
There has been a reduction in the prevalence of cigarette smoking in the United States, but it is still a leading cause of preventable death. Although tobacco is often considered a “gateway” to other drugs, there is now evidence to show that the reverse can be true — the use of other drugs can lead to nicotine dependence.
Steven Goldberg and colleagues tested whether exposing rats to THC would increase the likelihood that they would self-administer nicotine. For three days, one group was given twice-daily injections of THC and a control group received an equivalent injection of an inactive placebo. Starting one week after the final THC or placebo injection, the rats were trained to work for intravenous injections of nicotine. Rats that were previously exposed to THC were far more likely than control rats to self-administer nicotine, the researchers found. In addition, the THC-exposed rats worked much harder to obtain nicotine than the control group, suggesting that the value of nicotine was far greater after THC exposure.
Although there are many factors that may contribute to a progression from marijuana use to tobacco dependence, the research suggests that lasting effects of THC may make marijuana users more susceptible to the addictive effects of tobacco. 

Cheryl DePaolo
Director of the Ulster Prevention Council

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ulster Prevention Council Weekly Blog 3-12-13: Announcing Our Youth Media Contest!

The Ulster Prevention Council is pleased to announce our Spring 2013 Youth Media Contest:
Open to all Ulster County Students 
• Posters
• Radio
• Video Projects 
Help us get these important messages out to Ulster County communities:
·         The dangerous health risks associated with the misuse of prescription medications
·         Alternatives to drug use: getting involved in social & recreational activities in your community
·         Awareness of the harmful effects of marijuana on youth brain development & I.Q.
·         Be Aware, Don’t Share prescription drugs and Lock Your Meds to keep kids safe
• Best Video Message- $250 Gift Card
• Best Radio Message- $150 Gift Card
• Best Poster- $75 Gift Card

Winners to be selected on MAY 10th

Contact: Lori @ Ulster Prevention Council

The Youth Media Contest is held in honor of Phil Terpening, former chairman of our board and outstanding citizen, legislator, and friend. We have created the Innovations in Substance Abuse Prevention Awards to honor his memory.

Student Application

Name _______________________________________________   Grade:__________


Name _________________________________________________Grade:__________

Name _________________________________________________Grade:__________
Name _________________________________________________Grade:__________

Name _________________________________________________Grade:__________

Name _________________________________________________Grade:   ________             

School ________________________________________________________________

Category        Poster          Radio PSA         Video PSA

Project Title __________________________________________________________

Return to: 
Ulster Prevention Council
85 Grand Street
Kingston, NY 12401
Attn:  Contest !

Or email:



Monday, March 4, 2013

Ulster Prevention Council Weekly Blog 3-4-13: Ask Your Doctor

ASK YOUR DOCTOR – The Institute for Family Health’s new TV series on Ellenville Public Access Channel 20
The first in a series of health-focused TV shows aired on Thursday, Feb. 28th, with Institute Physicians Dr. Maya Hambright, Medical Director at Ellenville Family Health Center and Dr. Ray Harvey, Medical Director at Kingston Hospital and Controlled Substance Director for IFH, along with resident physician Amy Soussan, MD. 
The focus of this show was on Prescription Drug use and misuse, which has become a health crisis/epidemic facing our nation, and specifically, our communities.  Students from the Ellenville Radio/TV production class developed questions on the topic and conducted the interview with the doctors.  Questions included:  How did the prescribing of medications become a health crisis?  What are the dangers of sharing pills prescribed for you with someone else?  What should people do if they have prescriptions at home that they no longer use or need?  What prescriptions are most addictive?  How do you know if someone is drug-seeking? What is being done by the medical community to address this issue? 
DVDs of the “Ask Your Doctor” series, along with other shows from the Spotlight on Wawarsing series (which highlights a different human service program or agency each week), will be available for those interested in showing them in waiting room areas and at community events.  Contact Lori at UPC 458-7406 ext. 231.

Cheryl DePaolo
Director of Ulster Prevention Council

Monday, February 25, 2013

Ulster Prevention Council Weekly Blog 2-25-13: Press Release

Saugerties Police Department establishes permanent drug drop box
Those looking to get rid of their unused, unwanted, or expired medications can now visit the permanent drop box location at the Saugerties Police Department.  The location is part of Ulster County’s program to reduce prescription drug abuse.
“The Ulster Prevention Council has been working closely with the Saugerties Police Department to give residents an easy way to keep their medicine cabinets clean,” said Cheryl DePaolo, Director of the Ulster Prevention Council. 
“According to the 2012 Ulster County Youth Development Survey, one in ten Ulster County youth in grades 7-12 reported abusing prescription drugs, so it is important to do as much as we can to make these substances less available” said DePaolo.
Proper disposal of medications has long been a difficult problem for New Yorkers.  Flushing them pollutes the water supply.  Throwing them in the trash make than an easy target, not only for thieves, but for pets and wildlife. “Many communities around the country have held one-day or limited time collection efforts, but very few easy public access to a safe and secure permanent collection system” said DePaolo.
Drugs can be dropped off twenty-four hours per day, and there is no paperwork required. The police department will store the collected medications in a secure area, and then turn them over to federal authorities for disposal.
Through the implementation of a permanent drug collection unit, community members have the opportunity to help keep excess prescription and over the counter medication out of the hands of youth and substance abusers through safe and secure disposal.  
Police will accept all prescription medications and samples, all over-the-counter medications, vitamins, pet medications, medicated ointments, and liquid medication in leak-proof containers.

Items that cannot be discarded at the drop box include thermometers, syringes, IV bags, bloody or infectious waste, hydrogen peroxide, and aerosol cans or inhalers.