Opportunity for pro-social invovlement

One way to support positive youth development and prevent youth substance abuse is to provide opportunities for youth to participate in activities that promote attachment and commitment to their communities.  Here's a great opportunity:

Mayor Mike McGinn and the Seattle City Council are looking for applicants aged 13-19 interested in helping to represent the voices of the city’s youth to elected officials. The Youth Commission provides young people with the opportunity to participate meaningfully in local government and ensure that their interests are represented, and it also provides the City’s elected officials with the opportunity to work with and receive input from teenagers throughout the year. Serving on the Youth Commission represents a one-year commitment, from June of 2011 to June of 2012.

Listen to what one current member of the Commission says.

Seattle residents between the ages of 13 and 19 who are interested in applying or want more information may contact the Mayor’s Office. To be considered, visit the Youth Commission’s web site and submit an application by May 4, 2011.

Attorneys general advocate for tighter regulation of alcohol ads

Attorneys general from 24 states, including Washington, have asked the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to do more to shield teenagers from alcohol advertising. A letter, written by the Utah Attorney General and signed by colleagues from 23 other states, proposes a three-step plan to regulate teens’ exposure to alcohol ads.
The letter proposes that data collection from alcohol advertisers about how they advertise, sell and market alcohol be ongoing instead of intermittent. The attorneys general also recommend that advertising be barred when more than 15 percent of the audience is between the ages of 12 and 20, and that data about alcohol advertising be collected for digital and social media marketing, such as blogs and corporate-sponsored social media sites.

Underage drinking is a community problem that requires a community-wide solution.  The advocacy efforts of these attorneys general join a variety of activities being implemented in local communities and around the nation with the goal of preventing underage drinking.  Everyone has a role to play.

Kitsap youth group creates Take Back Your Meds PSA

The Kitsap County Reduce Underage Drinking Youth Council created a public service announcement for this Saturday’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day sponsored by the DEA and local law enforcement.

After the National Take-Back Day, Kitsap County plans to extend the life of the PSA by removing the final frame and replacing it with contact information so people who want to know more about prescription drug issues can connect with local efforts.

Adult supervision of adolescent alcohol use exacerbates problem

From today's PI -- UW Study: Teens don't need parents as 'drinking buddies'

The article summarizes a study, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, that indicates that the teenage children of parents who adopt a “no-use” standard regarding underage drinking are less likely to abuse alcohol.  These finding run counter to to argument that parental supervision of adolescent alcohol use will reduce the development of adolescent alcohol problems.  In fact, one of the conclusions of the study is that "policies should not encourage parents to drink with their children nor provide opportunities to supervise their use.  Even after adolescents begin to drink, adult supervision of alcohol use appears to exacerbate continued drinking and harms associated with drinking."

Next week's coalition meetings

Youth Engagement Committee Meeting
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
8-9:30 a.m.
Nathan Hale High School

Advocacy Workgroup Meeting
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
12-1:30 p.m.
Seattle Children's Hospital, A7932

Anyone interested in preventing youth substance abuse in NE Seattle is invited to participate!  For more information, contact the Prevention WINS coordinator. 

Call on Pabst to stop marketing alcopops to minors

This week, seventeen attorney's general, including Washington State's, asked Pabst Brewing Company to stop marketing Blast by Colt 45 to underage drinkers and to significantly reduce the number of alcohol servings in each can.  The drink, being promoted by rapper Snoop Dogg, comes in a colorful can containing 23.5 ounces, with an alcohol content of 12 percent—more than most cans of beer, CNN reports.

The Marin Institute is collecting signatures on a petition asking Pabst to stop peddling alcopops to urban youth and to stop using Snoop Dogg as their celebrity spokesperson.

Local drug-related emergency department visits

DAWN, the Drug Abuse Warning Network, recently released a report about drug-related emergency department (ED) visits in the Seattle metropolitan area.

According to the report, patients aged 18-24 had the highest rate of drug-related ED visits and the highest rate of ED visits related to illicit drugs and the nonmedical use of pharmaceuticals. 

Seattle's rate of ED visits involving drug misuse or abuse is higher than the national average.

Seattle's rate of ED visits involving nonmedical use of pharmaceuticals is higher than the national average.

When it comes to illicit drugs, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana are the top three drugs involved in drug-related ED visits.  Seattle's rates of ED visits due to heroin, stimulants, and meth are significantly higher than the national average.

Seattle's rates of ED visits related to underage drinking have decreased while national rates have increased.

In the news . . .

A teen's friends are a powerful influence (Los Angeles Times)

Teen study: 5 drinks a day, no bigee (KIRO)

Gregoire signs farmers market wine, beer tasting bill (Puget Sound Business Journal)

Feds threaten crackdown if medical-pot makeover becomes law (Seattle Times)

Kids who smoke more likely to toke (CBS)

Telling youth to 'just say no' not enough (UPI)

US predicts smoking bans in every state by 2020 (KIRO)

Free online learning opportunities

CADCA TV: Dispelling Drug Myths
April 28, 10-11:00 a.m. (Pacific)
Webcast live at CADCA.org

During this program, hear the facts about drugs from the experts. Listen to them dispel some of the big myths people hear and spread. Learn how to use facts to get the word out via social norms campaigns and other fact-based methods.

Because the need for correct information is so important, the National Institute on Drug Abuse is making it a priority to answer questions teens and others have by creating a drug facts week. We’ll visit a Virginia school that is being proactive and helping students learn what’s true so they can spread the word to others.

Menthol – Science, Policy, and Advocacy
May 5, 10-11:30 a.m (Pacific)
Registration is open.  The webinar will also be recorded and can be viewed online on the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center’s website beginning May 6

The issue of menthol in tobacco products is at the forefront of U.S. Food and Drug Administration deliberations. Join the webinar to learn about the science of menthol and its implications for policy and advocacy.

Social Norms Workgroup meets next week

Parenting Social Norms Workgroup Meeting
Tuesday, April 26, 7-8:30 p.m.
Seattle Children's Hospital

During our March meeting, the workgroup identified campaign goals:

-- To reduce youth substance abuse.
-- To decrease favorable attitudes about drugs.
-- To increase parenting behaviors that have been proven to prevent youth substance abuse:
  1. Talk to your children about drugs.
  2. Set specific consequences.
  3. Monitor your children.
All community members who are interested in developing and implementing a social norms campaign for parents in NE Seattle are welcome! For more information, contact the Prevention WINS coordinator.

What is a social norms campaign for parents?  Here is a social norms poster that the Mercer Island Communities That Care coalition developed.

National prescription drug abuse prevention plan released

Earlier this week, the White House released its Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan entitled "Epidemic: Responding to America's Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis".  The plan establishes a framework for reducing prescription drug abuse by:

-- educating prescribers, patients, and parents;

-- supporting prescription drug monitoring programs;

-- implementing safe and environmentally responsible disposal of unused or unwanted prescription drugs;

-- involving law enforcement in the reduction of "pill mills" and "doctor shopping" by those seeking to abuse drugs.  

Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug abuse problem in the country.  Below are two charts that were released along with the prevention plan.  Both illustrate the dramatic increase in deaths involving prescription drugs and, in particular, opioid analgesics. 

What can be done right now? 

-- Encourage your friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors to safely dispose of unwanted medications during the DEA's Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on April 30.  All Seattle Police Department precincts are participating in this one-day event.

-- Learn about the Take Back Your Meds campaign here in Washington State. 

Scared Straight programs are ineffective, possibly harmful

From the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's March/April 2011 newsletter:

Established in the 1970s, Scared Straight programs are used throughout the United States as a means of deterring juvenile crime. They usually entail visits by at-risk youth to adult prisons, where youth hear about the harsh reality of prison life from inmates . . . However well intentioned these prison-visit programs may be, decades of research have shown that this approach is not only ineffective, but possibly harmful to youth.

. . . [OJJDP staff] emphasized that the U.S. Department of Justice does not support Scared Straight-style programs, and instead focuses on programs that research has proven effective, such as mentoring programs, which use positive relationships to modify youth's behavior.

Scared Straight-type programs have proven ineffective for reducing youth substance abuse, as well.  Mentoring is an example of a prevention activity that is based on a strategy of promoting positive social development.  Effective youth-focused prevention activities help build interpersonal and social competency skills and provide youth with opportunities, skills, and recognition for pro-social involvement at home, at school, among friends, and in the community.

Tomorrow is 4/20: a possible teaching moment for parents

From Parents: The Anti Drug's April newsletter:

If you remember the 1970s, chances are you’re familiar with “4/20,” a day observed by pot smokers. You may be surprised to know that “4/20” is part of today’s teen popular culture. 

On April 20, some teens will observe this day as an opportunity to smoke marijuana. As a parent, you need to be aware of the significance of this day and be extra vigilant in monitoring for drug use.

The article goes on to describe how parents can monitor their children for drug use.  Parents can also use this opportunity to talk to their children about your household rules about drugs and alcohol, incentives for remaining drug-free, and the specific consequences you have established if they do not stay drug-free.

Liquor privatization debate still relevant

In case you missed it (I did) . . . last October, the Seattle Channel hosted a debate about the two liquor privatization initiatives that were eventually defeated in November's election.  Considering continued efforts by the state legislature and through the state's initiative process to privatize our state's liquor system, the debate is still relevant and informative. 

Thanks to advocacy efforts, DFC funding fully restored


When CADCA issued an alert earlier this year that the Drug Free Communities (DFC) program had been slated for a $9.5 million cut, the field responded in force, sending nearly 3,000 faxes to Capitol Hill to ask Congress to restore the funds. These efforts, along with the advocacy efforts of CADCA, paid off. Funding for the DFC program has been fully restored to $95 million for FY 2011.

Nearly 450 applications have been submitted for the current FY 2011 grant cycle. It is our understanding that a funding level of $95 million means that there should be enough funds to support approximately 75 new grants, rather than the 7 that would have been available if the program had been cut by $9.5 million. The fact that funding the DFC funding was restored is a major success for the field.

Another bill proposes privatizing WA's liquor system

Another bill that attempts to privatize our state's liquor system has been introduced in the state Senate.  SB 5933 would close state liquor stores and private companies could purchase the right to run liquor stores.

This bill was introduced on the heals of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) releasing a recommendation against liquor privatization.

Update: Who is behind privatization efforts?  Check out Liquor Battle Heats Up at The Washington Ledge blog. 

CDC recommends against further liquor store privatization

This morning, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Task Force on Community Prevention Services announced the decision and rationale for recommending against further privatization of alcohol sales.  The website states, "Based on its charge to identify effective disease and injury prevention measures, the Task Force on Community Preventive Services recommends against the further privatization of alcohol sales in settings with current government control of retail sales, based on strong evidence that privatization results in increased per capita alcohol consumption."

The Washington State legislature is currently considering legislation that would chip away at the state's liquor control system.

-- One House budget plan includes a proposal to privatize the wholesale distribution of liquor in the state.

-- SB 5917 would allow the co-location of liquor stores in up to ten urban grocery stores. 

Free training about adverse childhood experiences

Free training . . .

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Training
May 19, 7:30-9:30 a.m.
Community Performing Arts Theater, Everett Mall

Learn about the ACE Study which analyzes the relationship between multiple categories of childhood trauma and health and behavioral outcomes later in life.  For more information visit the ESD 189 website.

How do parents know if their child is abusing drugs?

A Prevention WINS coalition member from Sound Mental Health who works in schools wrote the following article for parents of high school students. 

Signs of possible drug abuse

Below is a list of possible signs that your son or daughter may be abusing drugs. It is common for adolescents to show mood swings, and impulsive behaviors especially when they are in distress. So it is important not to assume that their behavior is due to alcohol or drug use. It is important to address the issues to figure out the underlying issues. Have a discussion with your adolescent about your concerns. It is also recommended that you make an appointment with your family doctor or mental health professional to rule out possible illness or conditions. From their referrals can be made to chemical dependency professional for further assessment and treatments.

 Nausea, vomiting, or excessive sweating.

 Cold, sweaty palms, Shaky hands.

 He/she has blood shot eyes, or their nose is runny despite a cold

 Increase/or decrease in sleep patterns

 Needle marks on arms or legs.

 Changes in eating habits, unexplained weight loss or gain,

 Hyperactivity

 Smell of substance or breath

 He/she’s grades have gone down, and school attendance is irregular.

 He/she is uncooperative and or disrespectful to family members and other adults.

 He/she has lost interest in previously enjoyed activities.

 He/she is breaking curfews.

 He/she has an increase in having a difficult time concentrating.

 Increase secrecy about possessions or activities.

 He/she changes friends

 Evidence of inhalant use (such as aerosols, hairspray, correction fluid, gas, and other common household cleaners).

 He/she is borrowing/needing more money than usual.

 Missing prescription drugs

 Presence of pipes, rolling papers, cans (used to make pipes), and lighters.

Alcohol industry's self regulation of marketing to youth to be studied

The Federal Trade Commission plans to begin a study of the self-regulatory efforts of the alcoholic beverage industry. This will serve as the basis for the FTC’s fourth major report on the effectiveness of voluntary industry guidelines for reducing advertising and marketing to underage audiences by beer, wine, and distilled spirits manufacturers.

In response, the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) released a statement that included:

The FTC last looked at this issue in 2008. Since then, CAMY has released several reports showing the inadequacy of the industry’s current threshold for placing advertising that reaches underage audiences. Our most recent TV report found that youth exposure to alcohol advertising in that medium actually increased faster than either young adult (ages 21 to 34) or adult exposure since the adoption of the industry’s current standard. While monitoring industry’s compliance with their advertising codes is welcome, the current standards do not protect young people from overexposure to alcohol advertising.

Prevention Action features local prevention scientist and the early days of social development research

Most of the substance abuse prevention work we do today is based on the Social Development Strategy developed by Richard Catalano and David Hawkins, co-founders of the UW Social Development Research Group.  The most recent edition of Prevention Action, an online publication reporting internationally on programs for improving children's health and development, includes a story about Dr. Catalano and the research he started in the 1970's. 

When they first started working together . . . Catalano and Hawkins were both convinced that a lot more could be done to prevent drug-use and delinquency occurring in the first place, before it exacted its toll on young people’s social development, education and subsequent employment.

Catalano says: “We wanted to shift services from rehabilitation to habilitation; rather than fixing established problems we wanted to equip children with the skills and resources so that they don’t engage in drugs and delinquency behavior in the first place, and to help create family, school and community environments that support this.”

The full article, along with other prevention-related articles, may be read on the Prevention Action website.

MT coalitions work to repeal medical marijuana law

A bill to repeal Montana's medical marijuana program has been approved by their state legislature and is awaiting the signature of their governor. Fifteen states (including Washington) and the District of Columbia have passed laws in favor of medical marijuana. If the bill passes, Montana would be the first state to repeal medical marijuana.

Montana coalitions came together to push for the repeal.  A medical marijuana primer was produced to educate lawmakers and fellow health advocates.  They also:
  • visited lawmakers at the capital, Helena, early in the legislative session;
  • distributed flyers describing youth use and the effects of marijuana on the teen brain;
  • emailed, called and sent letters to policymakers;
  • pinpointed setbacks in the current medical marijuana law and made suggestions to policymakers as they drafted a reform bill;
  • collaborated with other group to create a united front, and a consistent argument;
  • sent information to the media;
  • responded to medical marijuana articles in a community forum on the newspaper blog;
  • presented evidence as a panelist on medical marijuana repeal;
  • began a statewide coalition to address policies related to drugs and alcohol.
Montana’s medical marijuana laws have created an environment favorable to drug use as marijuana becomes less taboo, coailtions testified. With dispensaries lining their streets and more than 28,000 cardholders in a state with a population of only 974,989, marijuana use among their youth is slowly rising. Coalitions also testified that youth are obtaining marijuana illegally from legal medical marijuana card holders. 

Though it is expected that the governor will veto the repeal, there is a reform bill on its heels.

Chipping away at strong alcohol regulations that discourage underage drinking

Alcohol sure seems to be a hot topic in the Washington legislature.  In addition to SB 5917 that I blogged about yesterday that would allow for sales of hard alcohol in some urban grocery stores, lawmakers are considering/passing other legislation that chip away at alcohol regulations.

Legislature says: Drink up!  (Seattle PI): The state Senate on Tuesday passed House Bill 1465, which modifies liquor laws to, among other things, allow people to purchase “growlers” of beer from beer and wine specialty shops. “Growlers” are containers people bring into a business to be filled right from the tap. The Senate also passed House Bill 1172, which would allow some beer and wine tasting at farmer’s markets. And the chamber passed House Bill 1227 , which allows restaurants to waive “corkage” fees, which customers pay to drink wine they bring in themselves.

Meanwhile, a new budget plan released by the House includes a proposal to privatize the wholesale distribution of liquor in the state, while retaining control of retail sales through liquor stores. 

From an underage drinking prevention standpoint, this is not good news.  Check out the Resource Brief that the University of Washington's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute developed during last year's debate about privatizing alcohol sales.  Findings from multiple studies show that:

-- Perceived availability of alcohol increases the probability of underage purchases and consumption of alcohol.

-- College students who attend schools in states with four or more alcohol control laws are less likely to drink than students in states with fewer laws. 

-- The more stringent the alcohol laws, especially laws affecting availability and marketing, the less likely young people are to drink and the higher the age of first use. 

While none of the legislation would fully privatize or deregulate alcohol, they certainly chip away at laws that help keep alcohol out of the hands of minors.

Parent guide to preventing underage drinking

Check out this Parent Guide to Preventing Underage Drinking from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.  It includes information on the affect of alcohol on the developing teenage brain.

Another attempt to allow the sale of liquor in grocery stores

Today, the Washington State Senate Ways & Means Committee is hearing comments about SB 5917 which would allow the Liquor Control Board to implement a pilot project appointing up to ten urban grocery stores to include state-run liquor sales.  In other words, this bill would allow hard alcohol to be sold in urban grocery stores that currently are only allowed to sell beer and wine. 

Even though two liquor privatization initiatives were rejected by Washingtonians in November, the issue is not going away any time soon.  This bill attempts to get the process of privatization started by allowing the sale of hard alcohol in grocery stores.

CDC task force on reducing excess alcohol consumption and underage drinking recommends several strategies including regulating how many places can sell alcohol and limiting the days and hours alcohol can be sold.  If hard alcohol is sold in grocery stores, many which are open 24/7, these proven ways of reducing excessive and underage alcohol consumption would be eliminated.

At the end of Prohibition, state regulations allowed for the sale of beer in grocery stores because it contained a relatively low amount of alcohol.  The sale of liquor was restricted to liquor stores as a way to reduce access to products with higher alcohol content.  More information about why alcohol regulation is good for public health is available at The Campaign for a Healthy Alcohol Marketplace.

Engaging youth in substance abuse prevention activities

The Prevention WINS Youth Engagement Committee met for the first time earlier today at Eckstein Middle School.  The committee agreed that its purpose is to:

1. Increase youth substance abuse prevention activities in NE Seattle;
2. Establish a youth voice in the coalition;
3. Networking and sharing among youth group students and adults.

Upcoming activities include:
  • Bringing at least a dozen NE Seattle students to the annual Washington State Prevention Summit in Yakima. 
  • Hosting a community-wide family event to promote positive youth development.
The Youth Engagement Committee will meet the first Tuesday of every month at 8 a.m.  The next meeting will take place on May 3, 8 a.m., at Nathan Hale High School.  Meetings are open to anyone interested in working with adolescents to prevent youth substance abuse.

Outreach to retailers

The Prevention WINS Retail Outreach Workgroup met for the first time yesterday, April 4. 

The workgroup decided to send letters to the 80 stores that sell alcohol in northeast Seattle about the high underage drinking rates in our community and asking them to place window clings (pictured at left) on their beer refrigerators.  Since most teenagers in our community report getting alcohol "at a party" or from older friends and siblings, the window clings remind people of possible legal consequences associated with buying alcohol for minors.

The window clings are part of the Let's Draw the Line campaign developed by RUaD -- the Washington State Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking. 

The next Retail Outreach Workgroup meeting will take place May 9, 10 a.m., at Seattle Children's.  More workgroup members are needed . . . anyone interested in reducing youth access to alcohol in northeast Seattle is invited to participate. 

Free prevention materials can be ordered online

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a new online publications store where you can order free behavioral health resources, including manuals, brochures, videos, and public service announcements.

One of my favorite publications is Navigating the Teen Years: A Parent's Handbook for Raising Healthy Teens.  Below is an Above the Influence poster that is available through the SAMHSA store:

April is Alcohol Awareness Month

This April marks the 25th anniversary of Alcohol Awareness Month.  This year's theme is "One Too Many”, highlighting the impact that alcohol, alcohol-related problems and alcoholism have on individuals, families and children, and in the workplace.  The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence has a free guide for schools, parents, students, religious organizations, and media for planning awareness activities.