Marijuana policy and youth

Within the last few weeks, several people have asked me if there has been anything published, from a medical point of view, about marijuana policy and its effect on young people.   Here is what I've been sharing, from the June 2004 edition of Pediatrics -- Legalization of Marijuana: Potential Impact on Youth

General coalition meeting next week

Prevention WINS General Meeting
Thursday, June 2, 2011
9-10:30 a.m.
Seattle Children's Hospital, W3747
4800 Sand Point Way NE

  • RADD Spring Forum presentation
  • Coalition capacity: enlarging our ability to create change and implement multiple strategies
  • 2010 Healthy Youth Survey results
  • Nominating Committee
  • Quarterly meeting schedule
All coalition meetings are open to the public . . . everyone interested in preventing youth substance abuse in NE Seattle is invited to participate.  A full schedule of meetings are listed on the coalition website

For more information, contact the coalition's coordinator. 

Depression and substance abuse linked to bullying

A coalition member forwarded this to me this morning . . .

According to a study completed at the University of Washington, girls who are bullied are at risk for substance abuse through depression.  Findings were published in the December 2010 issue of Prevention Science

"Both boys and girls who are victims of bullying, including bullying through e-mail and the internet, are at elevated risk for depression. However, according to a new study, adolescent girls may engage in substance use as a result of bullying-related depression . . . If your daughter is a victim of bullying, take it seriously, do all possible to prevent recurrence, and attend to possible depression and substance use."

Health communication tools

As I was preparing for tomorrow's Parenting Social Norms Workgroup meeting, I came across the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) webpage: Gateway to Health Communication & Social Marketing Practice.  As I browsed through the site, it struck me that many community organizations could use the information and tools provided through it to better communicate about health-related topics. 

Some of the tools I found especially helpful are:

-- Audience Insights, papers that provide analysis of certain populations to plan for effective communication strategies.  Audience Insights include reaching tweens and reaching teens

-- a Social Media Toolkit

Local high school marijuana use rates

From the 2010 Healthy Youth Survey results . . .

While youth marijuana use rates have increased statewide, they have not increased in NE Seattle.  Following are marijuana use rates among high school students in our community.  The charts show local (Hale and Roosevelt) results compared to Washington State averages.

Nathan Hale High School
2008 10th grade: 29.3%
2010 10th grade: 21.4%

2008 12th grade: 37.5%
2010 12th grade: 33%

Roosevelt High School
2008 10th grade: 19.8%
2010 10th grade: 22.7%

2008 12th grade: 33.8%
2010 12th grade: 27.5%
Full local results are posted on the Prevention WINS website.  Below are high school marijuana use rates for the state and the school district.
Washington State
2008 10th grade: 19%
2010 10th grade: 20%
2008 12th grade: 23%
2010 12th grade: 26%
Seattle Public Schools
2008 10th grade: 24.8%
2010 10th grade: 21.7%
2008 12th grade: 35.1%
2010 12th grade: 30.3%

NE Seattle underage drinking rates decline

Prevention works! 

Regular alcohol use among students in NE Seattle declined between 2008-2010.  Below are the data comparing 2006, 2008 and 2010 Healthy Youth Survey results regarding regular alcohol use among sophomores at Nathan Hale and Roosevelt High Schools. 

Nathan Hale High School 30-day (regular) alcohol use rates among 10th grade students
  • 2006: 38.6%
  • 2008: 35.7%
  • 2010: 20%
Roosevelt High School 30-day (regular) alcohol use rates among 10th grade students
  • 2006: 37.7%
  • 2008: 30.1%
  • 2010: 24.5%

More on NE Seattle 2010 HYS results to come . . .

2010 Healthy Youth Survey: NE Seattle high school underage drinking rates decrease

Seattle Public Schools released results of the 2010 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey (HYS) yesterday which delivered some good news: underage drinking rates are down since 2008. 

Below are charts summarizing the regular alcohol use rates among students at Eckstein Middle School, Nathan Hale High School and Roosevelt High School.  Dark green bars represent local (Eckstein, Hale or Roosevelt) rates compared to state average rates in light green.

Eckstein Middle School

Nathan Hale High School

Roosevelt High School

Full 2010 Healthy Youth Survey results for all three schools are posted on the Prevention WINS website.

Upcoming coalition meetings

Retail Outreach Workgroup Meeting
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
10-11:30 a.m.
Seattle Children's Hospital, T-3127

Parenting Social Norms Workgroup Meeting
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
7-8:30 p.m.
Seattle Children's Hospital, Giraffe Starbucks

Evaluation Committee Meeting
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
10-11;30 a.m.
Seattle Children's Hospital, SDR-1

For more information, please contact the coalition's coordinator.

Promoting healthy families

Federal health care reform (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) places significant emphasis on the role of community-based health promotion initiatives.  Community organizations are seen as critical partners for improving community well-being.

To help communities take advantage of these initiatives, RAND Health created a report that provides the content for a community health promotion toolkit. This includes key facts and figures about health topics, handouts for community groups, and web links for resources.  

Section 4 of the report deals with promoting healthy families.  The report states that, "Parenting quality makes a difference for children.  Children with positively engaged parents are more likely to do well in school, are less likely to use drugs or have sex early."

The report goes on to identify ways that community organizations can support positive parenting.  Among them are:
To support NE Seattle families, Prevention WINS is developing a campaign to promote parenting skills to reduce youth substance abuse.  Eckstein Middle School, in partnership with Seattle Children's, hosts series of the Strengthening Family Program.  In partnership with the University Family YMCA, the Eckstein Community Learning Center offers forums for parents to learn about healthy adolescent development.  These are just a few local examples of ways that community organizations can promote healthy families. 

School-based prevention programs shouldn't be the "lonely voices"

According to a story appearing in the Health Behavior News Service, "school prevention programs aimed at curbing alcohol misuse in children are somewhat helpful, enough so to deserve consideration for widespread use." 

It goes on to say that not all school-based substance abuse prevention programs are effective but, “School-based prevention programs that take a social skills-oriented approach or that focus on classroom behavior management can work to reduce alcohol problems in young people.”

The authors concluded that their evidence supported the use of certain generic prevention programs over alcohol-specific ones. They cited the Life Skills Training Program, the Unplugged Program and the Good Behavior Game as particularly effective interventions.

“Some interventions might be more effective in a rural setting with limited alcohol availability but not so effective in a big city with lots of alcohol and drug availability,” researchers said.

They emphasize that “school-based programs are so often expected to do the whole job of prevention, and this is an unfair expectation.” He describes school-based programs functioning as “lonely voices” in an environment saturated with marketing messages promoting youthful drinking. The amount of drinking in a youngster’s home and community and the price of alcohol are other major influences that need addressing, he said. Until then, “we can't expect large effects from school-based programs alone.”

Coalitions, such as Prevention WINS, consider youth substance abuse to be a community problem requiring a community solution.  While Prevention WINS successfully introduced Life Skills Training into Eckstein Middle School, we are currently working to reduce access to alcohol among young people and increase positive parenting skills that have proven to reduce youth substance abuse. 

HB 2014 would create some funding for school-based prevention-intervention services

Seattle high schools have little, if any, substance abuse prevention-intervention services. Federal dollars that used to fund Prevention-Intervention Specialists (PI) in our schools were eliminated a few years ago. Since then, high schools have had to rely on state funding which, in Seattle, now pays for two PIs for our entire district, and help from community agencies.

A bill (HB 2014) that was introduced to the Washington State legislature this spring would provide some additional funding for school-based prevention-intervention services and the state’s Community Mobilization program. HB 2014 (Concerning liquor license fees) is still pending a hearing in House Ways & Means. The bill would stop liquor license fees from expiring, increase the fees, and funnel that money toward youth substance abuse prevention and intervention activities in communities.

As legislators get down to budget business there will be added pressure to try and find new revenue that would help avert a number of harmful social service cuts. Now would be an excellent time to remind legislators about the June 30, 2011 sunset on various liquor license fees and the legislature’s ability to extend (and even modestly increase) those fees for prevention purposes! Absent a strong grass roots push for this bill there is not much political will to advance HB 2014 (given a general reluctance to pass fee legislation this session).

One of our NE Seattle representatives, Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney, is a member of the House Ways & Means Committee and you may email her about the need for substance abuse prevention-intervention services in our schools. (You will be able to email copies of your message to Rep. Frockt and Senator White, too.) If you do not live in NE Seattle, you may contact your Representative, instead.

Supporting information:

• Video of the powerful student testimony in support of the legislation may be viewed through the coalition’s blog.

• NE Seattle’s high school students use alcohol and marijuana at rates higher than the state average yet have little to no access to school-based drug/alcohol prevention-intervention services.

• Nathan Hale High School receives prevention-intervention services 1.5 days per week. Due to anticipated state funding changes, these services may be lost next school year.

• Roosevelt High School receives no prevention-intervention services.

• Prevention-intervention services provide students with the support they need to stop their drug use. Drug use is a barrier to learning. Parents also use school-based PI services for support and to access youth treatment services.

The lack of school-based drug and alcohol prevention-intervention services is becoming a nationwide problem

Alcohol advertising & teen drinking

From a recent article published in Medscape Medical News:

Alcohol marketing is effective. Although profitable for the manufacturers, the detrimental results seen in American adolescents — who are not the target audience — are increased frequencies of drinking and binge drinking, which could be a prelude to alcohol-related behavioral and health problems in later life.

Meanwhile, according to an article in the Economist, "People in rich countries are not drinking enough beer. By volume, sales in 2010 fell by 1.5% in America and 2.3% in western Europe . . "  This means that the "big four" brewers will be increasing their marketing campaigns in an effort to revive beer sales.  "Their dream is to sell beer like premium-priced detergent," according to the article.

This news comes on the heals of a study about youth exposure to alcohol ads:
Youth exposure to alcohol advertising on U.S. television increased 71 percent between 2001 and 2009, more than the exposure of either adults ages 21 and above or young adults ages 21 to 34, according to an analysis from the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Seattle Youth Town Hall on Sunday

From the Mayor's Office:

The Seattle Youth Commission will be hosting their annual Youth Town Hall with Mayor McGinn this Sunday morning at the Vera Project. Teenagers from across the city will have an opportunity to talk directly to the mayor about whatever topic is on their mind. There will be an information fair from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m., followed by open Q&A from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Please encourage any teenagers in your life to participate!

The counselor is . . . no longer in

An article in The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the ranks of school drug and alcohol counselors are thinning in Minnesota as grant funding to pay for these positions declines. The article states that some school administrators view drug and alcohol programs as luxuries that they can no longer afford.

This is not a problem unique to Minnesota -- it is true in our community, as well.  This school year, Nathan Hale High School has one drug and alcohol counselor for 1.5 days per week (he splits his time between 3 Seattle high schools) and Roosevelt High School has none.  Next year, Hale may also have none.  Considering the size of these schools (more than 1,000 students at Hale and 1,600 at Roosevelt) and the high underage drinking and marijuana use rates, many students are not getting the help that they need.

Fortunately, Eckstein Middle School, in partnership with Seattle Children's Hospital, has a full time mental health specialist thanks to a grant from King County.  The mental health specialist provides students and families with substance abuse prevention and intervention services.

Stable funding needed to maintain DFC program

Congress is currently working on the 2012 budget and in order for the Drug Free Communities (DFC) program to support approximately 70 new grants next year (which is roughly comparable to the number that is expected to be awarded in 2011) the funding level of $95 million needs to be maintained.  If less than $95 million is appropriated for 2012 the program will stall out and fund only a small fraction of those who apply. 

Learn how you can advocate for DFC funding at the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America's (CADCA) website.  Prevention WINS receives DFC funding. 

Next week's coalition meetings

Retail Outreach Workgroup Meeting
Monday, May 9, 2011
9-10:30 a.m.
Seattle Children's Hospital

Evaluation Committee Meeting
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
9 - 10:30 a.m.
Seattle Children's Hospital

All community members interested in preventing youth substance abuse in NE Seattle are welcome.  For more information please contact the coalition's coordinator.  Other upcoming coalition meetings are posted on our website.

SPD: 286 pounds of prescription drugs dropped off at precincts during one-day event

From the Seattle Police Department:

A big "thank you" to all the citizens who participated in National Drug Take Back Day and rid their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs.

Citizens dropped off 286.12 pounds of prescription drugs at the five Seattle Police drop-off points! The precinct totals are as follows:
  • North Precinct 54.55 pounds
  • East Precinct 37.35 pounds
  • West Precinct 19.45 pounds
  • South Precinct 94.29 pounds
  • Southwest Precinct 80.50 pounds

Thank you to all Prevention WINS coalition members who helped publicize this event!

The Take Back Your Meds campaign is working locally to institute a permanent medicine return program.  Learn more at their website.

KING 5: How to prevent teen prescription drug abuse

Saturday was Prescription Drug Take-Back Day and KING 5's HealthLink explains how such programs help prevent youth prescription drug abuse.

Prevention Summit theme needed: what are your ideas?

Every October, the Washington State Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR) and partners from around the state host a Prevention Summit in Yakima.  The 2011 Summit Planning Committee is seeking input for theme ideas and suggestions for speakers and presenters. 

Share your ideas and suggestions via SurveyMonkey by Tuesday, May 10 at noon.  The person who submits the winning theme will win a free registration to the 2011 Summit. 

Now for the small print . . . a theme must be a new idea and cannot be in use for other purposes such as national campaigns, local projects, or previous Summits.  The Planning Committee reserves the right to modify suggestions as needed.  Exact phrases may or may not be used in the final theme.  Theme ideas will be reviewed and selected at the discretion of the Planning Committee.