Archive for the ‘Cannabis’ Category

Marijuana use up in teens – Alcohol use down

December 21, 2010

alcohol students binge drinking underage drinking laws Mothers Against Drunk Drive MADD survey positive influence substance abuse Cleared2Drive system prevent impaired driving under the influence DUI DWI arrest college scholarshipsAccording to the 2010 “Monitoring the Future” survey released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) the numbers are rising on marijuana use among young teens. Sixteen percent of surveyed eighth grade students in the U.S. reported using marijuana in 2010, compared to just over 14 percent last year. It appears that high school students are smoking more marijuana than cigarettes.

What accounts for the increase? Principal investigator Dr. Lloyd D. Johnston, research professor at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research believes many teens no longer see marijuana as dangerous. “The most visible influence in today’s culture that would explain such a change in perceived risk among teens is the extended national discussion about the desirability of medical marijuana use combined with the more recent discussion of legalizing it in California,” Johnston says.

And, marijuana use isn’t the only thing that’s up.  Increasingly more teens are also using Ecstasy. “I think it has been so long since the main Ecstasy epidemic, which peaked in 1991, that a lot of today’s teens never heard about some of the adverse consequences that were widely reported back then,” Johnston explains. He says NIDA has been warning for years that use of the drug could go back up, as young people become less aware of the dangers.

There is some good news in the survey, however. Alcohol use among teens is down substantially. Johnston points out that in 1999, 31% of 12th-grade students reported binge drinking. In 2010, that number decreased to 23%. Johnston thinks the decline is due in part to retailers doing a better job of cooperating with underage drinking laws.  He also believes that the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) ad campaigns, and the increase in minimum driving age has helped curb teen access to and interest in alcohol.

Some 56,000 8th, 10th, and 12th graders participated in this latest NIDA survey.

The declining numbers in alcohol abuse attest to the fact that parents and society can have a positive influence on curbing substance abuse among teens. Johnston urges parents to be proactive in communicating to kids the dangers of drug use. “Be sure that you indicate that you would be disappointed if they used drugs,” Johnston advises. “That’s a major deterrent to kids becoming involved with drugs.”  For parents that are concerned that their child might be susceptible to using either drugs or alcohol and then attempt to drive, they can install a Cleared2Drive system in their vehicle as Cleared2Drive does more than just prevent impaired driving, it also works as monitor for parents.  If their child can start their car one day but not the next – maybe after a night out with friends – then it could because they are under the influence.  Cleared2Drive’s Impairment Detection Technology also protects against a child getting a DUI or DWI arrest or into a car accident which can ruin their chances for college scholarships.

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How to Keep Teens from Alcohol and Drugs

December 6, 2010

cleared2drive how to keep from teenagers drinking and driving how to stop impaired driving how to stop teenagers from using alcoholFor parents trying to keep their children away from alcohol and drugs during their formative years, there is good news — research shows that parents can have considerable influence on the decisions their teens make regarding substance abuse.

As part of  Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month we at Cleared2Drive are devoting this entire week to providing useful information to parents concerned about what they can do to keep their teenager from using drugs.  The following are the best tips for parents from the latest scientific research into why teens do and do not decide to drink alcohol or do drugs during adolescence.

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that 45% of teenagers drink alcohol, and of those who drink, 64% admit to binge drinking. Not only is consuming five or more drinks in a row a dangerous practice itself, the CDC found that teen binge drinking is strongly associated with other risky behaviors, such as sexual activity and violence.

Parents Do Have Influence

As a result of the CDC report, New York University Child Study Center developed five tips for parents to use to curb teen binge drinking by maximizing the influence they have over their children’s decision-making.  “Contrary to popular belief, parents remain the greatest influence over their children’s behavior,” said Richard Gallagher, Ph.D., Director of the Parenting Institute and the Thriving Teens Project at the NYU Child Study Center, in a news release. “Though media and peers play a role, parental influence is critical and there are ways parents can maximize that influence to reduce the likelihood that their children will engage in binge drinking.”

Tips for Parents

Dr. Gallagher suggests these five tips to help parents curb teen binge drinking:

  • Clearly state what actions you expect your teen to take when confronted with substance use. Teens who know what their parents expect from them are much less likely to use substances, including alcohol.
  • Talk about the alcohol use that your children observe. Parents need to make it clear how they want their children to handle substances, such as alcohol and tobacco. Children need to have controlled exposure to learn the rules of acceptable use.
  • Help your teen find leisure activities and places for leisure activities that are substance-free. Then, keep track of where, with whom, and what your teen is doing after school and during other free times.
  • Limit the access your children have to substances. Teens use substances that are available. They report that they sneak alcohol from home stocks, take cigarettes from relatives, and obtain marijuana from people that they know well.
  • Inform teens about the honest dangers that are associated with alcohol use and abuse. Although teens are not highly influenced by such information, some discussion of negative consequences has some impact on the decisions they make. Especially emphasize how alcohol clouds one’s judgment and makes one more likely to be harmed in other ways.

According to the CDC, binge drinking is associated with unintentional injuries (such as car crashes, falls and burns), intentional injuries (firearm injuries and sexual assault), alcohol poisoning, sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancy, among other health problems.

Sources:
Child Study Center, New York University School of Medicine, NYU Child Study Center Expert Recommends 5 Tips To Help Curb Teenage Binge Drinking . AboutOurKids.org. Accessed January 2007.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Quick Stats: Binge Drinking.” June 2006.

Survey Again Raises Alarm About Teen Drug Use

November 26, 2010

Cleared2Drive 2009 PRIDE Survey Monitoring the Future survey 2009 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS), released March 2 by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA) and MetLife Foundation teenagers substance abuse illicit drugs parents teenage drivers illegal drugs underage drivers drunk driving impaired driving teen drug use

 

Cleared2Drive wants once again to report the findings of another new report this one showing that more kids say they are using alcohol and other drugs, but many parents are unable or unwilling to deal with the issue — a bad combination when declining support for prevention and cultural apathy about the issue leave parents as the last and sometimes only line of defense against adolescent drug use.

The 2009 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS), released March 2 by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA) and MetLife Foundation, reported rather dramatic year-over-year spikes in past-month alcohol use (up 11 percent) and past-year use of marijuana (up 19 percent) and ecstasy (up 67 percent) among U.S. students in grades 9-12.

PDFA chairman and CEO Steve Pasierb noted that all three are “social drugs,” and the survey of more than 3,200 students, conducted by Roper Public Affairs, found “a growing belief in the benefits and acceptability of drug use and drinking.” For example, the percentage of teens agreeing that “being high feels good” increased from 45 percent in 2008 to 51 percent in 2009, and those who said “friends usually get high at parties” increased from 69 percent to 75 percent. Thirty percent of students surveyed strongly agreed that they “don’t want to hang around drug users,” down from 35 percent in 2008.

“The resurgence in teen drug and alcohol use comes at a time when pro-drug cues in popular culture – in film, television and online – abound, and when funding for federal prevention programs has been declining for several years,” according to a PDFA press release on the survey.

The reported spike in alcohol and other drug use and attitudinal shifts are startling enough to warrant skepticism about the validity of the findings. However, Pasierb notes that the PATS survey has been conducted using the same methodology for the past 21 years. The most recent Monitoring the Future survey, released in December, also found that use of illicit drugs has leveled off or increased after years of steady declines, and that youth attitudes about drug use appear to be softening. The 2009 PRIDE Survey of 6th- to 9th-graders reported small increases in current drug use, as well.

The PATS survey found that kids are almost as likely to get information on drugs from the Internet and websites like Youtube as from their parents, school, or media ads. “The preponderance of information that kids get online about drugs is pro-use, and to teens it’s more credible,” Pasierb told Join Together.

Perhaps the most surprising survey result is the reported increase in use of ecstasy — a drug that, unlike alcohol and marijuana, has seemed to largely disappear from public consciousness since the mid-2000s. If the survey results are to be believed, more teens are now using ecstasy on a monthly (6 percent) or annual (10 percent) basis than at any point since 2004, and reported lifetime use is higher than ever reported since 1998.

Pasierb said that federal data shows that availability of ecstasy has not declined since 2001-02, and that prices for the drug have fallen. “There was just more news coverage then,” he said.

“I don’t buy the argument that drug use is cyclical,” said Pasierb. “I think it’s generational, and based on what we talk to our kids about.” Drug-use trends among youth are “very malleable,” he added, and what is considered cool or popular can change rapidly from the time a kid enters high school to when they graduate.

Parents Waging a Lonely Battle — Or Not

About 20 percent of the parents surveyed by PATS believed that their children had gone beyond the experimental phase in use of alcohol or other drugs. However, almost half of these parents either did not take any action (25 percent) or waited for between a month and a year to address the perceived problem (22 percent).

Parents of children engaging in non-experimental drug use were less confident in their ability to influence their kids’ drug-use decisions, according to the survey, and were more likely to believe that all teens will experiment with drugs and that occasional use of alcohol or marijuana is tolerable.

“Parents with drug-using kids have never been served by our field,” said Pasierb. “They’re the outliers, and they should be the focus.” PDFA has developed a program called Time to Act that is designed to improve parental knowledge about teen alcohol and other drug use, set rules and boundaries, intervene when necessary, and seek outside help when needed.

“Government prevention programs have all been defunded, and society is not on our side. It’s all on the parents now,” said Pasierb. “Parents are convinced that their kids are getting all this (drug prevention) in school, and it’s just not true. The doctor, school, or football coach is not going to step in.”

One of the things we at Cleared2Drive typically hear the parents that call us say, “We can’t be with them all the time.  I think they are using something but really don’t know.  I just don’t want my kid hurt.”  Which is exactly why we created the Cleared2Drive System.

How to Keep Your Teen From Abusing Prescription Drugs

November 22, 2010

drugs opioid opium pain-killers Oxycontin Vicodin muscle relaxants anti-anxiety drugs Valium Xanax stimulants Ritalin abuse Cleared2Drive Good2GoThere is a new drug pusher in town. He does not hang out down the alley or on the street corner and he resides in your very own home! He is not pushing heroin or crack. The drugs are what most people would call medicines and more teens abuse them than all other types of illicit drugs combined, excepting only marijuana.

Online drug stores are offering all the prescription drugs that are available in your local pharmacy. They are happy to dispense any controlled drug at a price much higher than one would pay at a regular drug store-often more than double that price- and an estimated 85% of these sites require no prescriptions or positive identification.

Drugs such as opioid (opium-like) pain-killers, (Oxycontin, Vicodin) muscle relaxants and anti-anxiety drugs, (Valium, Xanax) and stimulants such as Ritalin are the most often abused.

Often it is not even necessary to order them online. Left-over pills in the medicine cabinet can become a windfall for a young person looking to make a little extra cash at school.

According to national surveys, more teens abuse prescription drugs than any illicit drug except marijuana. The usual attitude is one of, “If it is made by drug companies and prescribed to people everyday, it has to be safe.” Many teens who would not otherwise touch illicit drugs might abuse prescription drugs because they seem to be a safe way to get high and they are so readily available.

But this is only the perception. The truth is that while these medications might be taken as prescribed and for short periods when needed with relative safety, the amounts being taken to “cop a buzz” are way beyond the approved dosages.

Everyday in the United States more than 50 people die from unintentional drug overdoses. Most of these are the result of prescription drugs such as those named above.

Teens are also abusing some over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, primarily cough and cold remedies that contain dextromethorphan (DXM), a cough suppressant, to get high. Products with DXM are NyQuil, Coricidin, and Robitussin, among others. This is of particular concern as there are other drugs in these OTC medicines. DXM, which acts as a dissociative-anesthetic has particularly dangerous side-effects. In 2006, according to a 2007 SAMHSA survey (Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Association) about 3.1 million people aged 12 to 25 had ever used an OTC cough and cold medication to get high, and nearly one million had done so in the past year.

In the end, the user will either stop abusing the drug on his or her own or will require treatment to overcome dependence or addiction to whatever medication they are using.

Parents can make a difference by

  1. Talking with youngsters about the dangers of these medications
  2. Keeping all medications out of plain sight and keeping those most likely to be abused out of reach and discard unused medicines properly and immediately.
  3. Keep an accurate account of drugs to make sure they do not “disappear”.
  4. Most importantly, Be Engaged. Absentee parents are the most likely to discover their teen has a prescription or any other drug problem.

In school, it is vital that we educate our students as to the very real dangers of prescription drug abuse.

We CAN make this better. It is possible to make a difference in a person’s life by helping them understand the truth about prescription drugs and the dangers of overdose, accidents and addiction.  If you are concerned that your child is abusing prescription drugs, occasionally or on a regular basis, and is driving, you need to seriously consider installing a Cleared2Drive System on their vehicle.  As we know it only takes once to forever change the direction of our, and their, lives.

More Iraqi Security Personnel Using Drugs, Alcohol on Duty

November 18, 2010

Cleared2Drive New York Times American Troops leave Iraq economic hardship heroin hash marijuana stolen prescription medications commanders use of drugs and alcohol public officials politicians pharmacists drug dealers security personnel soldiers military humveeCleared2Drive has discovered that an increasing numbers of Iraqi military and police personnel are using drugs and alcohol while on duty, raising questions about their ability to maintain order once American troops leave in 2011.

The New York Times report a  story on based on interviews with “dozens” of security personnel, public officials, politicians, pharmacists, and drug dealers, and said the trend had grown worse over the past year. The Iraqi police refused to comment, and the military said that the problem was uncommon.

According to the Times’ sources, in high-risk areas of the country, as many as 50 percent of soldiers and police, including their commanders, use drugs and alcohol to cope with fear, stress, and boredom.

“Pills are cheaper than cigarettes and they make you more comfortable and relaxed,” said Nazhan al-Jibouri, a police officer. “They help us forget that we are hungry, and they make it easier to deal with people. They encourage us during moments when we are facing death.”

Iraqi health officials pointed out that 30 years of war and economic hardship had fed abuse of drugs and alcohol, and not just in the security forces. Illegal drugs — from heroin, hash, and marijuana to stolen prescription medications — are now easy to obtain on the street. Security officials working on the Iranian border believe that drug smuggling funds the insurgents they are fighting.

A soldier in southern Iraq said that lack of treatment contributed to the problem. “The percentage of the addicted among the police and army has increased because there’s no medical staff to help and there are no drug tests,” said Col. Muthana Mohammed.

Maj. Gen. Mohammed al-Askari, a spokesman for the Iraqi Defense Ministry, said that drug use was unusual in the army. “We have great intelligence systems in which one of our main duties is to follow the military’s rule breakers,” he said. “We have medical staff concerned with the matter of drug users, and if medical tests prove drug use, we will take the harshest punishment against them.”

Other security personnel said that the police and the military were reluctant to discipline drug users because, according to the Times, they were “among their most fearless fighters.”  Cleared2Drive was not just created for parents of teens but for anyone that loves someone with a substance abuse problem.  What we all should  learn from the story about Col. Denn being relieved from his command post at Cherry Hill after being charged with DUI, is that substance abuse hits people from all walks of life in all phases of life.  We know that the abuser is not going to voluntarily purchase a Cleared2Drive unit and have it installed on their vehicle, but the loved ones of these individuals are going to need to step up to the plate and demand that a Cleared2Drive unit be installed.

Teens and Parents Under Report Illicit Drug Use

November 15, 2010

Cleared2Drive pediatrics HealthDay Teens Parents Under Report Illicit Drug Use cocaine alcohol University of Texas San Marcos psychology professorParent after parent, generation after generation has at some point come to the conclusion that the parent is the last to know and is especially true for parents of substance abusing teens.  We hear it everyday from parents who call requesting a Cleared2Drive System because they discovered that their child has been using or abusing substances for quite some time.  However, even when the parents do find out, as this newest study indicates, they typically don’t tell the truth when asked about their child’s use of cocaine and opiates, even if they are told they will be drug-tested and their responses kept confidential, HealthDay reported Oct. 25.

The study, led by Virginia Delaney-Black, M.D., a pediatrics professor at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, compared survey responses collected from over 200 teens and over 200 adult caregivers (mostly mothers) with the results of hair tests for drug use. Participation in the study was limited to African-American families who had received care at one urban antenatal clinic.

Hair tests on the teens showed that 30 percent had used cocaine, whereas only one percent reported it. Hair tests from parents showed that 28 percent had used cocaine, but only about six percent said they had. Results for opiates were similar.

Other studies have shown that adults under report their own substance use, but very few comparable studies have been done on teens who are not in the court system or in treatment. Estimates of national prevalence rates of teen use outside of the court system or clinical settings are based on data collected anonymously and on what teens report about their use; the new study suggests that the estimates may be too low.

Delaney-Black said that the results of the study should be useful for pediatricians. “If you think it’s important to know whether a kid is doing drugs — specifically heroin, prescription pain killers or cocaine — then don’t rely on what the teens report,” she said.

The research “generally reinforces what we know from work in adults, which is that people are usually less honest about substance use than we hope,” said Ty S. Schepis, a psychology professor at Texas State University at San Marcos and our staff at Cleared2Drive knows this all too well.   Admitting that your loved one is out of control, for some people is just too hard.

The study, “‘Just Say “I Don’t’: Lack of Concordance Between Teen Report and Biological Measures of Drug Use,” appeared online Oct. 25 in Pediatrics and will appear in the November 2010 print issue.

Is Anyone Surprised?

November 5, 2010

Is anyone surprised by the new research that found that adolescents who abused marijuana and alcohol scored lower on a battery of intellectual aptitude tests than their drug-free peers, HealthDay News reported Oct. 19?

University of New Mexico (UNM) investigators asked 48 teens aged 12 to 18 to undergo a battery of tests to assess the effects of chronic substance abuse on their intellectual function. The tests measured a range of neuropsychological skills, including verbal reasoning, executive function, visuospatial ability, memory, and processing speed. Nineteen of the participants had a diagnosis of substance abuse or dependence, 14 were abstinent but had a parent who abused alcohol, and 15 were abstinent controls with no family history of alcohol abuse.

The researchers found that teens reporting the highest substance use had lower test scores across the board. In particular, teens who abused alcohol scored substantially lower on the test measuring executive function, while teens who abused pot scored lower on measures of memory performance.

Interestingly, teens who were abstinent but had a parent who abused alcohol were also affected, scoring lower on the test for visuospatial ability.

This is one of the reasons the results should be interpreted with caution, noted Ramani Durvasula, PhD, associate professor of psychology at California State University in Los Angeles. According to Durvasula, the authors failed to take into account socioeconomic and educational factors that influence intellectual development or to assess for problems at home. “Kids who abuse drugs and alcohol are different from those who don’t,” she said. “Let’s face it, when kids are drinking 13 drinks a day (the study average), there’s not a lot of parental supervision going on.”

Robert Thoma, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry at UNM and lead author of the study, agrees the results raise a “chicken and egg problem.”

“Which came first,” said Thoma. “The low executive function, which could lead to drinking more, or the heavy drinking, which leads to poor executive function?” Large longitudinal studies are needed to definitively answer to that question, he concluded.

The study was published online Oct. 19 in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.