Archive for the ‘Illicit Drugs’ Category

15-Year Old Recovering Addict Working Wonders with Other Teens

November 27, 2010


All of us here at Cleared2Drive wants to salute Hallie Odom of Nashville TN.   Read and see why.

They come from the poorest and wealthiest of neighborhoods. They wouldn’t hang out if it weren’t for what they have in common. And none of them can talk about what is said.  All of the 10 teens in the group have parents who battle drug and alcohol addictions. Most of them have at least one parent in prison. And most have developed alcohol or drug addictions themselves.  Their leader is Hallie Odom, the 15-year-old daughter of a psychiatrist mother and a recovering alcoholic physician father.

The group is Alateen. Hallie’s is one of two of its kind in Nashville and one of 2,300 worldwide, according to Alcoholics Anonymous, the group’s umbrella organization. There are an estimated 18 million alcoholics nationwide. These are their children.  “The group offers the kids a place to heal,” said Ann Charvat, interim director of Reconciliation Ministries, where the meetings are held. “Compassion becomes an option to self-loathing.”

For Hallie, a St. Cecilia Academy sophomore, alcoholism wasn’t about beer and wine. Her father had quit drinking before she was born. But he had a short temper. He didn’t know how to deal with not drinking, she said.  Hallie, who was adopted as an infant, isn’t sure why she started drinking, using drugs and partying.  But, at the age of 12, her parents already didn’t know how to handle her, she said.

Sent to treatment

She was first sent to treatment when she was in seventh grade. Everyone thought she was pregnant. She wasn’t. Her parents, who have since divorced, sent her to a 9-month wilderness program in Utah.

She slept outside. Ate with sticks. Went to the bathroom in the woods. She was forced to write her life story. It ended up being 36 pages. “I had to live in my own head for once,” she said. “I was forced to realize all the pain I had caused my parents.”

She was next sent to a horse camp in Northern Utah. She was gone for a total of 15 months. When she came back, she and her family went to hours of therapy each week with two therapists. She’s still learning about herself, her parents and why she does what she does. But she wants to help others.

Over the summer, she started the local Alateen group in West Nashville. She attends the other Nashville group, as well. Alcoholics Anonymous sent her a packet, complete with its famed serenity prayer and 12 steps. Her role is not to counsel these teens, but to share her struggles and, most importantly, to listen.

“Hallie offers a unique perspective because she’s had more training than most adults who lead groups.  She’s been there. She’s experienced the solution. She’s more than competent to share it. She illustrates that these kinds of problems don’t discriminate. They affect all kinds of people,” Charvat said.

The group’s mission is to help teens turn their focus on themselves and away from the people and things in their lives that can’t be controlled.  “It’s more just me pushing them to talk,” Hallie said. “There’s such a strong tendency to hold everything in.”

‘We are not powerless’

Hallie talks like a therapist. She knows exactly how to eloquently express her feelings and is quick to analyze why she feels the way she does. She’s not ashamed of her story, only hopes that others see her as an inspiration.

She whispers, though, when she is asked about the teens in her group. “I don’t think they have any idea how much I really get out of talking and listening to them,” she said. Because all the expensive far-away camps and the clinical jargon of the hours upon hours of therapy can’t compare with the simple lesson that she learns in Alateen:  She is not alone. “We are not powerless over our lives,” she said. “We are not powerless.”

No,  she definitely is not.  Kudos to Hallie!

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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.

Rural vs. Urban Teen Drug Use

November 24, 2010

Cleared2Drive National Survey on Drug Use and Health University of Kentucky College of Medicine JAMA Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine teen substance abuse illicit drug use impaired drivingWe at Cleared2Drive recently came across some slightly surprising new data suggests that where a teen lives may influence whether or not they abuse prescription drugs. The 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health that was just released November 1, 2010 showed that teens living in rural areas are 26% more likely to use prescription drugs for non-medical uses than are urban teens. This report was summarized by the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in the JAMA Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

All of us at Cleared2Drive know that prescription drug abuse has skyrocketed in our country in the last 15 years, increasing 212% among teens from 1992 to 2003 as we hear it everyday from our customers. With prescription drugs being prescribed more and more by doctors, teens find it easy to gain access to their choice of drugs in family members’ medicine cabinets, or buying them from friends which is why families are turning to Cleared2Drive as a solution to keeping their kids from driving under the influence of anything – not just alcohol.

The interesting finding in the study is that teens in rural areas are significantly more likely to abuse prescription drugs than urban teens, while illicit drug abuse rates are the same for both urban and rural youth. There will need to be more research on the habits of rural youth to determine why the prescription abuse is more prevalent among them. Maybe these teens have more time on their hands, or are less educated on the risks of prescription drug abuse, or feel they are less likely to get caught by law enforcement.

Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drugs that are used non-medically are often considered gateway drugs. Teens that experiment with prescription drugs, even occasionally, are statistically more likely to use illicit drugs as they get older. They are also more likely to smoke, drink, and get caught up with gambling and other impulsive activities.

Just because a teen lives in a rural area, however, doesn’t mean that they are necessarily going to use prescription drugs. There are some factors that the study found that greatly decrease even rural teens’ likelihood of using drugs. First of all, living in a two parent household reduces the risk by 32%. Attending school, effectively treating health and mental health problems, and having parental involvement also decreases the risk of substance abuse among these teens. In fact, all teens and pre-teens benefit greatly from positive parental interactions. Parents don’t often take their role seriously enough, but parents still hold a lot of power in their teens’ lives, attitudes, and behaviors. Families that spend quality time together, wherever they live, have teens that are less likely to do drugs, smoke, or drink. That’s why things like eating dinner together at least a few nights a week makes a world of difference for teens, but unfortunately to have true Peace of Mind, the only way for parents to be confidential that their child is ALWAYS driving sober, is to a Cleared2Drive System installed.

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.

Ignition Interlock Summit Helps States in the Fight Against Drunk Driving

November 16, 2010

Last year, 10,839 people died because of alcohol-related car crashes.

Although this number declined 7.4 percent from 2008 to 2009, none of these deaths ever should have happened. And even a single death due to drunk driving is one too many.

Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Centers for Disease Control met with members of the Governors Highway Safety Association for a National Ignition Interlock Summit. This was a full-day work session to help state safety professionals figure out how to get a handle on drunk driving.

Impaired driving is involved in 32 percent of all crashes on American roads. But an ignition interlock system that blocks a convicted drunk driver’s vehicle from starting when that driver is impaired can prevent many of those crashes and save lives.

In 2006, MADD launched a Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, calling for increased use of ignition interlocks for impaired driving offenders. The Department of Transportation has been a strong supporter of this campaign, and in the last four years, interlock use has more than doubled from approximately 100,000 in 2006 to 212,000 in 2010.

But that covers only a small percentage of the 1.4 million drunk drivers arrested last year in the US.

Today, all states except Alabama and South Dakota have laws that authorize ignition interlock use for at least some offenders. Yet we know that one-third of those 1.4 million arrests involve repeat offenders, and we know that many fatal drunk driving crashes also involve repeat offenders.

 

MADD DOT NHTSA CDC Ignition interlock system impaired driving alcohol-related car crashes US Department of Transportation

Alcohol Related Traffic Fatalities per State

That’s why 13 states have passed mandatory ignition interlock laws for all drunk drivers–including first offenders.

And that’s why DOT is providing technical assistance and support to help states move toward increasing their interlock use and strengthening their laws and interlock programs.

As I said in September, when I announced the drop in drunk driving deaths, our roads are the safest they’ve ever been. But, to make America’s roads even safer, we are committed to continuing our vigorous fight against drunk driving. Ignition interlock systems are a critical part of that fight, and I urge states to make the best use of this valuable tool.

Reprinted from the US Department of Transportation

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 the State of New York Becoming A Drug Dealer?

November 7, 2010

This is one of the worst ideas I have heard of in a very long time. . .

Cleared2Drive suboxone for Everyone

Suboxone for Everyone!

The state of New York plans to give some state prisoners the opiate-treatment drug Suboxone to help them stay off heroin upon release, the New York Daily News reported Oct. 24.

Suboxone was created to treat opioid dependence, and is the first such drug that physicians can prescribe. It contains buprenorphine — an opioid — and naloxone, which blocks the opioid high. Used correctly, Suboxone can cut patients’ drug cravings without getting them high. However, it can be addictive and is sold illegally on the street.

The state of New York created the “Medication Support Recovery Project” to help released inmates stay off heroin. Inmates who have been drug-free since their arrest may be included.

“Research shows if you’re off opiates, the brain still causes cravings,” said Jennifer Farrell of the state Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services. “Inmates who are opiate-dependent are more at risk of overdosing. When they’re released, the brain is craving it, but they no longer have the tolerance for the amount they used to take.”

The Suboxone program will be piloted in one state prison to opiate-dependent inmates identified by a “controlled screening process,” Farrell said. Treatment would start three months before they were scheduled to leave prison. Upon release, they would be given a renewable prescription.

Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan opposed the plan. “Hooking inmates on an addictive opiate drug as they’re about to be released from prison sounds like a poorly thought-out policy,” she said. “It’s asking for trouble to put a drug that people want to buy into the hands of prisoners reentering society.”

An anonymous treatment counselor interviewed by the Daily News agreed with Brennan. He said released prisoners would risk re-arrest because “they will be selling some of their prescription” and I wholeheartedly concur.

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.

New Study Reveals Alcohol More Dangerous Than Drugs

November 3, 2010
alcohol more dangerous than drugs

New Study Reveals Alcohol More Dangerous Than Drugs

LONDON—According to a new study by Britain’s Centre for Crime and Justice and published in the medical journal, Lancet,  alcohol is more dangerous than illegal drugs like heroin and crack cocaine.  It is believed that the reason alcohol scored so high is because it is so widely used and has devastating consequences not only for drinkers but for those around them.

The study evaluated substances including alcohol, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and marijuana, ranking them based on both how destructive they are to the individual who takes them and to society as a whole.

Researchers analyzed how addictive a drug is and how it harms the human body, in addition to other criteria like environmental damage caused by the drug, its role in breaking up families and its economic costs, such as health care, social services, and prison.

Heroin, crack cocaine and methamphetamine, or crystal meth, were the most lethal to individuals. When considering their wider social effects, alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine were the considered the deadliest. However, alcohol outranked all other substances overall, followed by heroin and crack cocaine.  Scoring far lower were Marijuana, ecstasy and LSD.

When drunk in excess, alcohol damages nearly all organ systems. It is also connected to higher death rates and is involved in a greater percentage of crime than most other drugs, including heroin.   But experts said it would be impractical and incorrect to outlaw alcohol as history has already proven.

“Drugs that are legal cause at least as much damage, if not more, than drugs that are illicit,”  said Wim van den Brink, a professor of psychiatry and addiction at the University of Amsterdam. He was not linked to the study but co-authored a commentary in the Lancet.