Most people who are addicted to drugs started using drugs as teenagers

Nine in ten people who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol began to smoke, drink and/or use drugs before the age of 18, according to a report recently released by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.  The report goes on to state that the earlier teens use any substance, the greater the risk of addiction.

TIME spoke to Dr. Leslie Walker, Chief of Adolescent Medicine at Seattle Children's, about the report:  Adolescent health experts say that part of the reason for the upward trends has to do with the mixed messages that both parents and society send to adolescents about drug use. "One of the things you hear is that every teen is going to [try some addictive substance]," says Walker. "So what's the big deal, this is normative, and it's fine. But the data shows that no, we should not accept this as normative for adolescents to use and there's a reason they shouldn't be using, and there are things we can do about it."

Science-based fact sheets about marijuana

The University of Washington's Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute (ADAI) recently launched a new website that "is intended to serve the Washington public by providing up-to-date science-based information about marijuana." 

Currently, the site contains multiple science-based fact sheets that will be updated and added to by UW scientists.  Among the fact sheets are:

Free "Proud to be in control" poster available online

Earlier this month, SAMHSA released a new free poster that showcases a teenager's artwork and communicates a positive message.

Part of the Above the Influence campaign, this poster may be ordered online.

Teenology 101 for parents

The Adolescent Medicine Division at Seattle Children's launched a new blog this month called Teenology 101.  The blog provides useful advice for parents and caregivers of teenagers.  The two most recent entries provide guidance about ground rules and prom night. 

Research brief available about adult-supervised teenage drinking

The University of Washington's Social Development Research Group recently released a Research Brief: Adult-Supervised Drinking with Young Teens May Lead to More Unsupervised Alcohol Use and Harmful Consequences.  The key findings discussed in the brief include:

-- By 9th grade, teens who drank occasionally with an adult present were more likely to drink without adult supervision.

-- Teens who drank under adult supervision in 8th grade reported experiencing more harmful consequences of alcohol use, such as not being able to stop drinking, getting into fights, or having blackouts in 9th grade.

This study suggests that parents take a "zero tolerance" stance when it comes to underage drinking. 

Evaluation Committee to meet next week

Prevention WINS Evaluation Committee Meeting
Thursday, June 30, 2011
9:30 - 11 a.m.
Seattle Children's Administration Building
NE 70th & Sand Point Way NE

1. Evaluation Plan
    -- Prevention Strategies
    -- Coalition Functioning

2. 2010 NE Seattle HYS Results

All coalition meetings are open to anyone interested in preventing youth substance abuse in NE Seattle.  For more information please contact the coalition's coordinator. 

Video about alcohol deregulation wins innovation award

The Center for Alcohol Policy's educational video about the dangers of alcohol deregulation has been honored with a gold award in the category of "Media Innovation" by the Association Media & Publishing's 2011 EXCEL Awards.  This competition recognizes the best in association and non-profit media and publishing.

The video highlights the contrast between the deregulated system of alcohol controls in the United Kingdom with the more effective system of alcohol regulation in the United States.   

Youth substance abuse prevention part of national strategy

As part of the federal Affordable Care Act (health care reform), the first ever National Prevention Strategy was recently released.  The Strategy's goal is to increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life.

One of the Strategy's priorities is preventing drug abuse and excessive alcohol use.  Preventing underage drinking is included.  Among its recommendations under this priority are:

-- the implementation and enforcement of alcohol control policies.  "States with more stringent alcohol control policies tend to have lower levels of binge drinking among adults and college students.  Evidence-based policies that decrease excessive alcohol use and related harms include those that prohibit the sale of alcohol to minors and intoxicated persons; reduce days and hours of sale; and limit the number of places that legally sell alcohol."

-- create environments that help young people avoid drugs and alcohol.  This includes reducing youth exposure to alcohol marketing. 

-- identify drug and alcohol problems early and provide intervention, referral, and treatment.

-- reduce inappropriate access to prescription drugs. 

In the news

Here are a few stories related to youth substance abuse that recently appeared in the media . . .

Draw the line against underage drinking (Bellevue Reporter)

Washington's liquor-store battle is far from over (Crosscut)

Gregoire signs liquor distribution bill in full (Publicola)

Underage drinking is dangerous, even with parental guidance (KING5)

A general in the drug war about NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow (New York Times)

Retail Outreach Workgroup plans for alcohol purchase surveys

The Prevention WINS Retail Outreach Workgroup met yesterday and continued planning for upcoming alcohol purchase surveys with a reward & reminder component. 

As I blogged previously, the workgroup is looking for people who are 21 years old and older but appear younger to volunteer to conduct purchase surveys.  For more information please contact the coalition's coordinator. 

The next Retail Outreach Workgroup meeting will take place July 19, 10:30 a.m., at Seattle Children's Administration Building.  All coalition-related meetings are posted on the Prevention WINS website.

Youth substance abuse treatment admissions in Seattle-King County

Marijuana continues to be the primary reason that youth enter treatment, followed by alcohol, according to the recently released 2010 Drug Abuse Trends in Seattle-King County.

Among all people who are admitted for treatment for marijuana, most started using before the age of 15, with the largest number starting between ages of 12-13. 

Treatment admissions for prescription opiates increased across the board.

A story about these local drug abuse trends was aired on KPLU:

These figures were compiled from various sources by  Caleb Banta-Green, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute . . . "

He also told me [the reporter] that his biggest concern, looking forward, is what happens to the people who get addicted to painkillers, such as oxycodone.

"Prescription type opiates are pretty potent, but they're also quite expensive. Heroin is much cheaper. So, my concern is that as people run out of resources to afford prescription type drugs, they're going to need to move on to heroin."

Local physicians provide advice about parenting teenage children

Preventing youth substance abuse was among the many adolescent health-related topics discussed during last night's Children's HealthLink special

During Part 3 of the show, the three Seattle Children's physicians on the panel stated:

-- marijuana and alcohol are detrimental to the growing brain;

-- parents can teach their children drug/alcohol refusal skills -- role playing is especially effective;

-- parents play an important role in preventing youth substance abuse and should talk to their children early, when they are 11-13 years old, about not using drugs/alcohol.

Earlier in the day, Dr.'s Walker and Breuner appeared on New Day NW and talked about how to keep teenage children safe, healthy and motivated during summer  break. 

Secrets of the Teenage Mind

Children's HealthLink Special: Secrets of the Teenage Mind
June 8, 8:00 p.m.

This one-hour program features Seattle Children's Adolescent Medicine staff discussing a wide range of health topics including:
  • the teen brain and moods
  • teen social media habits
  • signs of severe depression and suicide
  • concussion signs and prevention tips
  • sleep habits and disorders
  • obesity and body image.
The program will include a Q&A session with parents of teenagers.

The show will also air:
  • June 9, 8:30 p.m. on NW Cable News 
  • June 12, 8:00 p.m. on KONG-TV

New prevention poster for liquor stores

The Washington State Liquor Control Board has hung these posters in all of their stores.  The statewide coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking will make these posters available to communities later this summer. 

Needed: volunteers who are 21 and older but look younger

The coalition's Retail Outreach Workgroup is planning to conduct alcohol purchase surveys (APS) later this summer and in the fall.  These surveys involve sending young adults who appear underage into stores to attempt to purchase alcohol.  As part of the Workgroup's APS activities, retailers who ask for ID will be rewarded and retailers who do not ask for ID will be reminded to do so. 

Volunteers who are 21 years old and older (but look younger) are needed to conduct these surveys in northeast Seattle.  For more information and a volunteer application, contact the Prevention WINS coordinator. 

Upcoming coalition meetings

Youth Engagement Committee Meeting
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
8-9:30 a.m.
Eckstein Middle School

Advocacy Workgroup Meeting
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
12-1:30 p.m.
Seattle Children's Hospital

A complete schedule of coalition meetings is available on the Prevention WINS website.  All coalition meetings are open to the public.  For more information, please contact the coalition's coordinator. 

Reports on drug use and health available online

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has many downloadable reports about drug use and health.  One that recently caught my eye was about State Estimates of Drunk and Drugged Driving.  According to the report, Washington has a relatively low rate of drunk driving that has decreased since 2006 but has a relatively high rate of drugged driving. 

Other reports include:

Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions Aged 12-14

A Day in the Life of American Adolescents: Substance Use Facts Update

SAMHSA News: Preventing Suicide on College Campuses