Do healthy kids really learn better?

Washington State Department of Health Adolescent Health Conference Call
June 18, 2009
10:00 - 11:30 a.m.

A review of health and academic achievement among youth and interventions to improve them.

Guest speaker: Julia Dilley, Senior Research/Epidemiologist, Multnomah County Health Dept. and Oregon Dept. of Human Services

To register, contact Jennifer Hansen at 360-586-7868 or The conference call number and meeting code will be given to those who register. Jennifer will need the following information from registrants: name; organization; email; phone; and fax number.

Underage drinking during prom & graduation

A May 25 National Public Radio segment addressed underage drinking during prom and graduation. The segment includes tips from adults and teens on ways to talk to teens about alcohol use. NPR's description of the segment:

Kids look forward to the prom — but some parents dread it. The temptation to hit the booze at the after-parties may be strong for teens, but some studies say that science may be the way to convince them to say "no." When it comes to teen drinking, a new set of talking points can help parents.

May newsletter

The coalition's May 2009 newsletter came out today. It includes articles about the police response to large underage drinking parties in parks and about the prevention group at Nathan Hale High School (RADD).

Impact of substance abuse on state budget

A new report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University shows that state governments spend, on average, 15 percent of their entire budgets on substance abuse and addiction and its consequences. The report indicates that for every dollar spent on the problem, 94 cents goes to deal with the consequences in public programs such as health care, criminal justice, education, child welfare, and mental health. Only about 2 cents go to prevention, treatment and research to reduce the problem, according to the report.

Here is the breakdown CASA did about substance abuse related spending in Washington. To view the full report, click here.

Guiding Good Choices workshops starting up again in the fall

At the University Family YMCA
Five Tuesdays: October 6 - November 3, 2009
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Free dinner & childcare available!

At Seattle Children's Hospital
Five Wednesdays: October 14 - November 11, 2009
6:15 - 8:15 p.m.

Visit the coalition's website for more information.

Safe & Drug Free Schools & Communities Program in jeopardy

In his Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Request, President Obama recommends eliminating the State Grants portion of the Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities (SDFSC) program. The SDFSC program funds a significant portion of Seattle Public Schools' Prevention Intervention Program and many prevention programs around the state.

As part of a toolkit for prevention advocates, the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) developed two fact sheets about SDFSC:

Eliminating the State Grants Portion of the SDFSC Program Is Not a Sound Proposal and

The State Grants Portion of the SDFSC Program Must Be Maintained.

President Obama proposed the elimination of this program because he says it has been deemed ineffective. Pride Surveys has prepared a SDFSC Briefing Paper repudiating his assertion.

Statewide prevention activities highlighted in May edition of FOCUS

Check out the May edition of FOCUS, the Division of Alcohol & Substance Abuse's newsletter. It includes articles about:

2009-11 Budget, Policy, and Organizational Changes;

Youth See Fewer Alcohol Ads During Final Four;

Naches Valley Students Challenge Alcohol Service at Mat Classic;

Reducing Youth Exposure to Alcohol Marketing;

Prevention Posters Appear in Liquor Stores.

UK delegation learns about Washington prevention programs

Earlier this month, a delegation from the UK visited Seattle to learn about implementing tested and effective prevention programs . They spent the week visiting different programs and learning from local experts in the field.

One of the programs they learned about is the Olweus bullying prevention program implemented in Seattle Public Schools. They visited Washington Middle School and interviewed Celia Arriaga, the district's bullying prevention expert.

Members of the Prevention WINS coalition (NE Seattle) and the coordinator of the Quincy Communities That Care coalition provided the delegation with a first-hand look at how coalitions are implementing underage drinking prevention programs.

The delegation blogged about their experiences and for their last two days they blogged about lessons learned about the Communities That Care (CTC) operating system from the Social Development Research Group. CTC is very similar to the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) that coalitions such as Prevention WINS use to guide decisions. Their comments include:

First, it is possible to combine rigorous prevention science with community engagement and a passion for change.

“I’ve seen how science and community engagement can be linked. I didn’t think there was a model for this.”

“CTC makes me reflect on my community development days – building capacity to get communities to engage.”

“I’ve seen passion and rigour and integrity. It has been interesting to see a new take on community development. It’s re-invented what I saw 30 years ago.”

Adolescents suffering from depression more likely to start drinking alcohol

A new report released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reveals that 8.2% of children aged 12 to 17 experienced at least one major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year. Only 39% of these adolescents received treatment during this period.

An MDE is defined as a period of 2 weeks or longer during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure and at least 4 other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, including problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, and self-image.

Among treated adolescents:
-- 58.8% saw or spoke to with a counselor;
-- 36.8% saw or spoke with a psychologist;
-- 27.3% saw or spoke with a psychiatrist or psychotherapist;
-- 26.6% saw or spoke with a general practitioner or family doctor.

When it comes to underage drinking . . .

Among youth who had previously not used alcohol, 29% of those with a MDE initiated alcohol use compared with 14% who had not experienced a MDE within the past year.

Port Angeles coalition to launch social norms marketing campaign

The SPF-SIG coalition in Port Angeles is launching a social norms marketing campaign. Above is their "warm up message". They are going to use it as a window cling and then in their parent newsletter and in places that 7th/8th grade parents frequent.

The coalition plans to develop and add on messages using their community survey results to guide them. One message will be, " . . . because Port Angeles parents ask their kids where they are and who they are with." These messages will be done mostly through posters.

Legal drinking age electronic seminar

Free national electronic seminar . . .

Topic: Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA) Liabilities: College Perspectives

Thursday, May 28
Noon Pacific Time

Lowering the MLDA law from age 21 to 18 continues to be a hot topic. Some college presidents believe that lowering the drinking age will help eliminate hazardous behaviors by their students, including binge drinking. Research clearly contradicts this premise, however.

This electronic seminar will include an expert panel of presenters who will discuss various liability issues, including social, economic, and legal effects of lowering the drinking age. In addition, participants will learn about resources that will support efforts to keep the drinking age of 21.

To register visit:

Update: SP Mart liquor license

On April 15 I blogged about the Seattle Police Department's (SPD) letter to the Liquor Control Board (LCB) requesting that the liquor license not be renewed for SP Mart, a mini-mart a few blocks west of Eckstein Middle School.

Since then, the owner of SP Mart has tried to sell the business and the SPD sent another letter to the LCB asking that the liquor license be removed from the site of the store, not just the owner. SP Mart has been owned by different people over the past few years and each one of them has sold alcohol to minors. Teenagers know that they can buy alcohol at the store, regardless of who owns it. Reading SPD's second letter makes that readily apparent.

Reducing minor's access to alcohol plays an important role in reducing underage drinking rates in northeast Seattle. Especially since it is part of community-wide prevention activities being implemented by the coalition.

Assault at Golden Gardens

On May 9, a Roosevelt High School student was assaulted at Golden Garden Park. The teenager's friend was stabbed and the RHS student was "also assaulted but did not require medical attention" according to the police report. The assault occurred after "a verbal argument ensued over what (was) described as an issue at school." A car was also damaged during the assault.

What is not mentioned in the police report is that underage drinking was involved. Our parks are havens for underage drinking parties and, increasingly, teenagers are injured or assaulted and property, including cars, is damaged or destroyed during these parties. While it's important to stop underage drinking because it is illegal and has negative health consequences, it's just as important to stop underage drinking to keep our kids and our parks safe.

Idaho tabloid about underage drinking

Idaho's Office of Drug Policy is working with their media markets to distribute this 12-page tabloid about underage drinking.

Data support keeping drinking age at 21

To inform the debate on the impact of the minimum legal drinking age law (MLDA), the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) compiled an overview of research and findings indicated that the MLDA law had positive effects on health and safety. It states:

Solving the problem of underage drinking will require a broad-based, long-term commitment. As we move forward, we need to pay attention to what history and research have taught us and build on this knowledge base including what we know about the relationship between minimum legal drinking age laws and underage drinking and is consequences.

Recently, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation compiled a brief that offers additional information about the positive effects of the law. It states:

There is no evidence that lowering the MLDA will reduce the underage drinking problem. Conversely, there is strong evidence that lowering the drinking age will increase youthful alcohol consumption and alcohol-related injuries and fatalities.

Mental health resources

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has many publications about mental health-related topics available through their National Mental Health Information Center. Publications available include:

Family Guide to Systems of Care for Children with Mental Health Needs;

Building Bridges: Mental Health Consumers and Members of Faith-Based and Community Organizations in Dialogue;

Clinical Preventive Services in Substance Abuse and Mental Health Update: From Science to Services.

Upcoming prevention conferences and trainings

Build your community's capacity to prevent underage drinking and participate in a conference or training. Here are a list of conferences happening this summer and in the fall.

Registration closed! Institute is full!

2009 Montana Summer Institute for Social Norms Practitioners

July 9-11, 2009

Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana

Conference website:

Northwest Alcohol Conference

July 16 – 17, 2008

The Grove Hotel & Conference Center, Boise, Idaho

Conference website:

Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) Mid-Year Training Institute

July 27 – 30, 2009

Louisville Marriott Downtown, Louisville, Kentucky

Conference website:

Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center (UDETC) National Leadership Conference

August 12-14, 2009

Dallas, Texas


Presentations from the 2008 conference are available at:

National Prevention Network (NPN) Research Conference

September 15-18, 2009

Hyatt Regency Orange County, Anaheim, California

Conference website:

Presentations from the 2008 conference are available at:

Washington State Prevention Summit

October 30-31, 2009

Yakima Convention Center, Yakima, Washington

Conference website:

The website contains information and handouts from previous conferences.

What other coalitions are up to -- part 2

The SPF-SIG coalition coordinator from Wenatchee recently shared the following:

As I'm sure you all know, Apple Blossom Festival is a big thing here in Wenatchee. It kicked off last weekend with the Youth Parade and Youth Day in the Park.

Our coalition had an exciting Youth Day booth in the park -- they estimate 5,000 people attended that day. We had 2400 -- YES 2400 -- bottles of water to hand out. We had 1200 with our new parent message, "Congratulations Wenatchee Parents, 9 out of 10 have rules AGAINST underage drinking" and 1200 had our youth message, "MOST teens DON"T drink alcohol". We also had little bubbles for the little kids. We gave out ALL of the water bottles minus 2 cases of 24 bottles each. It was really fun talking to all of the parents and youth about the message. Students and staff helped put labels on all the bottles and Pepsi donated half of them.

What other coalitions are up to -- part 1

The Franklin Pierce Youth First Coalition (a SPF-SIG coalition in the Tacoma area) recently hosted a Fun Run and Discovery Health Fair. About 85 people, including students, participated in the fun run and about 150 others were there to volunteer, see vendors at the fair, or participate with children in field games.

DrugPubs - Research Dissemination System

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recently announced a new Research Dissemination Center called DrugPubs.

The Research Dissemination Center is designed to distribute FREE materials to health professionals; teachers; advocacy groups; youth; and the general public.

Losing funding for school-based drug/alcohol counselors

As education and health and human services budgets are cut, many school districts are losing funding for their drug and alcohol counselors (Prevention-Intervention Specialists). Seattle Public Schools has been struggling with this issue for several years. Here is an article about how Anacortes is struggling with the issue.

Strong family bonds prevent underage drinking

Teenagers who have a strong relationship with their parents may start drinking at a later age -- which may, in turn, lessen their risk of developing alcohol problems, a new study suggests. The findings, published in the May issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, underscore the important role parents play in the risk of problem drinking.

For the purposes of the study, a high quality relationship was one where teenagers felt they could discuss their problems with their parents and that their parents respected their feelings.

Guiding Good Choices provides parents with tools to create and sustain strong bonds with their children. The coalition will be offering more Guiding Good Choices workshops in the fall -- check this blog later this summer to view a fall schedule.