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Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Florida Teen’s Death Blamed on Synthetic Drug Overdose

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A Medical Examiner’s report has linked bath salts to the death of a 17-year-old boy, who was found unconscious in an Orange County home in February.

Orange-Osceola Chief Medical Examiner Jan Garavaglia  told WOGX-FOX 51 that she found traces of a hallucinogenic drug, which can be classified as a bath salt, on the $10 bill that Krystopher Sansone used for snorting drugs before passing out.

Sansone and four other teens were reportedly found unconscious in a home on Vista Del Lago Boulevard on Feb. 10. All of the teens were brought to a nearby hospital for treatment but Sansone was later pronounced dead, while three of the young adults were eventually released.

Garavaglia said the synthetic drug that the group had ingested “can cause psychosis, seizures and clearly death.” She also noted that several other people have died from bath salts in Orange County, and most of them are teenagers.

A spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said no one will be charged with Sansone’s death, but the agency is continuing its investigation on the incident.

Sansone’s mother earlier issued a statement, telling kids to stay away from synthetic drugs. “This was a good kid, from a good family, who made a bad choice that night,” Lucy Sansone said.

Like synthetic marijuana, bath salts are often sold in convenience stores and gasoline stations. The drug contains one or more synthetic chemicals related to cathinone that are known to produce a wide range of side effects, including euphoria, paranoia, agitation, increased sociability, and violent behavior. They are sometimes marketed as “plant food,” “jewelry cleaner,” or “phone screen cleaner” in a variety of names, such as “Bloom,” “Cloud Nine,” “Lunar Wave,” “Vanilla Sky,” “White Lightning,” and “Scarface.”

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Why Parents Shouldn’t Tell Their Kids About Their Own Substance Abuse Experience

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Talking to your kids about drug misuse and abuse is never easy. You must consider what needs to be discussed with them, and how you will share these drug facts with them. If you have used drugs at one point in your life, chances are you’ll also end up telling them about your own drug abuse stories.

However, a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign suggests it’s better if parents leave out their personal experience with drugs if they want their kids to really listen.

Jennifer A. Kam, an assistant professor of communication at the university and co-author of the study, told NPR that when it comes to addressing their past, parents shouldn’t lie — neither should they volunteer details of their drug use.

“There could be explanations for it,” said Kam. “Kids might be interpreting it as ‘Mom and Dad used, and they’re still here.'”

Kam and colleagues surveyed more than 500 sixth- to eight-grade students in Illinois to confirm previous studies that found teens were less likely to use illegal substances if their parents told them their past experiences with drugs.

The researchers instead found that kids of parents who disclosed their past drug use were more likely to report that using drugs wasn’t problematic.

So what should parents tell their kids about drug abuse then?

According to Kam, it is much better if parents talk about the dangers of using banned substances and how to avoid them rather than talking about their own use of alcohol, marijuana and cigarettes. Kam also recommends making the anti-drug message the topic of an ongoing conversation as opposed to having just one big talk about drugs.

“I would encourage parents to clearly tell their kids they don’t approve of using [and that] there are consequences,” Kam says. She recommends advising children on how to avoid offers of illicit substances, establishing family rules and talking about other people who got in trouble from using.

Substance Abuse

USC Professor to Study Substance Abuse in Child Welfare

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An assistant professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work will have an opportunity to explore the causes and consequences of substance abuse among those in the child welfare system.

Backed by a three-year $700,000 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dorian Traube will review data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being to determine the rates of substance use and abuse among those in the child welfare system. She will also explore factors that make some children more vulnerable to drug abuse, including family history of substance-related problems, race and ethnicity, type of maltreatment and whether they were placed in foster care or otherwise removed from their home. Furthermore, she will examine how substance use issues develop over the course of child development, the Health Canal reports.

“We think about 80 percent of children who are engaged by the child welfare system have some sort of family substance abuse in their profile,” Traube said. “They’ve been abused because their parent was intoxicated or they were neglected because their parent was out trying to score and left them home alone.”

Traube suspects that having parents with substance abuse problems is a major indicator of whether children in the system will struggle with similar issues. She hopes that the research will influence changes in the system of care in behavioral health services.

Substance Abuse

Connecticut Parents, Teens Come Together to Discuss Alcohol and Drugs

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Parents and teens came together to talk about drug and alcohol use at a Wilton Youth Council Community Conversation on Wednesday, April 25, in Wilton, Connecticut.

This was the third time that such a talk was organized by the Wilton Youth Council, which has conducted surveys on teens and their drug use since 1998. The event addressed teen substance abuse and reviews data from the most recent surveys for 2011, which were conducted online in November.

The surveys gathered data over a period of two days, and had 883 participants, consisting of students in grades 7 through 12. The number of participants represented the biggest test sample yet, according to Lory Rothstein, a member of the Board of Education and director of the Partnership for Success Grant at Positive Directions; it accounts for 45 percent of students in those grades.

The results of the survey indicated a decrease in the use of alcohol, marijuana, and cigarettes across the board, although the use of alcohol among 10th graders and above is still slightly above national average.

In addition, the survey results showed evidence that alcohol serves as a “gateway drug,” with 27.9 percent of students in the survey admitting that they both drank alcohol and smoked cigarettes. Of students who admitted to drinking alcohol, 35 percent also smoked marijuana, compared to 1.3 percent of those who did not drink.

Serving as guest speaker during the Wilton Youth Council Community Conversation is Chris Brown, a certified school psychologist and licensed professional counselor.

Substance Abuse

Brain Patterns in Teens Linked to Risk for Substance Abuse

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A study published online in Nature Neuroscience indicate that networks of neurons identified recently suggest that some teens are more likely to smoke, experiment with drugs, and binge drink.

The results of the study shed light into the question of whether certain brain patterns precede drug use, or are caused by it. Psychiatrist Prof. Hugh Garavan of the University of Vermont in New England shared: “The differences in these networks seem to precede drug use.”

The study, which involved studying magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of almost 2,000 14 year olds, associated experimentation with alcohol, cigarettes, and illegal drugs in early adolescence with reduced activity in a network involving an area called the orbitofrontal cortex, which is involved in decision-making.

Dr. Robert Whelman, co-author of the study, shared that “these networks are not working as well for some kids as for others,” making them more impulsive. He shared further: “This study was orders of magnitude bigger, which lets us overcome much of the randomness and noise – and find the brain regions that actually vary together.”

According to Prof. Garavan, a 14-year-old with a less functional impulse-generating network will be more likely to give in when given an opportunity to smoke or drink, while the one who does not will more likely turn it down.

Prof. Edythe London of the University of California – Los Angeles, an addiction expert who was not part of the study, described the research as “outstanding.” She said further that the research effort “substantially advances our understanding of the neural circuitry that governs inhibitory control in the adolescent brain.”

Substance Abuse

Drug and Alcohol Abuse Starts During the Teen Years

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A survey of more than ten thousand teens revealed that most have started using drugs and alcohol, and may be setting themselves up for a lifetime of addiction and substance abuse.

The results of the survey, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, indicated that almost four out of five teens have tried alcohol, and 15 percent were abusing it, by the time they reached the age of 18. In addition, 16 percent of teens were already abusing drugs by the time they are 18 years old.

Joel Swendsen, director of research at the National Center of Scientific Research in Bordeaux, France and lead author of the study, shared: “It’s in adolescence that the onset of substance abuse disorders occurs for most individuals… That’s where the roots take place.”

The study indicated further that 18 percent of adults meet standards for “lifetime abuse” of alcohol, while 11 percent meet the criteria for drug abuse. These statistics are indicative of an early start for at least some of these substance abusers.

The study participants consisted of teens aged between 13 and 18, of which approximately 3,700 are aged 13 to 14 years old. Of the teens aged 13 to 14, about 10 percent area already drinking alcohol regularly.

On the other hand, about 60 percent of the teens said that they have already tried using such illicit substances as marijuana, cocaine, tranquilizers, stimulants, and painkillers.

Susan Foster, vice president and director of policy research and analysis at the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University in New York, shared: “The reason we worry about it is that the earlier they use these substances the earlier they become addicted to it… There’s really a type of rewiring that goes on with continued use than can result in an increased interest in using and an inability to stop using.”

Substance Abuse

Relationships and Teen Substance Abuse Prevention

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There is growing concern about teen drug abuse across America – concerns that are certainly valid. And while it is but appropriate for communities to come together and initiate programs that aim to prevent substance abuse, it is that which is very basic that counts a lot when it comes to teen drug abuse prevention: personal relationships.

A study published in the Journal of Business Research shared that teens are less prone to give in to negative peer influence, particularly those involving the use of tobacco and alcohol, if they have a strong and nurturing relationship with their parents, and if their parents provide them with a strong sense of self.

And how does a parent provide their child with a strong sense of self? The Washington Times’ Rebecca Hagelin suggests “setting clear expectations, providing opportunities for the child to earn increasing independence, and projecting warmth, affirmation, love and forgiveness.”

Another relationship that influences teens is that which they have with their peers. An article in Child Development, by researchers from the University of Virginia, indicated that teens are “more likely to drink, smoke, or use drugs if their friends do.” This negative influence from peers becomes even stronger when the teen is missing a warm relationship with his or her parents.

Hagelin ends with the following advice to parents: “Work hard at building and maintaining a strong, warm relationship with your teen. But pay particular attention to your teen’s friends – substance-using friends are a GPS pointing your teen in the wrong direction.”

Substance Abuse

Students at Connecticut High School Show Positive Trend in Drug-Alcohol Surveys

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Students who were then freshmen in Lyme-Old Lyme High School were challenged by a local drug and alcohol coalition early last year to be the first class whose alcohol use will not increase once they reach the 10th grade.

The class, indeed, stayed true to their commitment, based on the results of a youth survey conducted in December 2011. The students, now sophomores, first took the survey as eighth graders in 2009.

The results of the 2011 survey indicated that there was no dramatic increase in alcohol use since the 2009 survey, according to Karen Fischer, a Child & Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut prevention coordinator for the Youth Service Bureau in Lyme.

In addition, a comparison between the 2009 and 2011 surveys also indicated a decrease in lifetime and recent alcohol use across all grade levels that were surveyed. One change that was noted was that while the 2009 survey indicated that rates of alcohol use among 10th graders at Lyme-Old Lyme were higher than those of their peers in the region as well as the nation, this no longer held true for the 2009 survey.

The anonymous, online substance abuse survey was developed by the Southeastern Regional Action Council (SERAC), which conducts student surveys in various towns in the region. Fisher shared further that the survey is funded by a grant, and is issued every two years for the purpose of evaluating the challenges and successes of substance abuse prevention in the region.

Key findings from the survey will be presented by the Lyme-Old Lyme Community Action for Substance Free Youth (CASFY) at a community forum on Wednesday, February 29.

Substance Abuse

Teen Substance Abuse in America: Public Health Problem No. 1

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A new report released by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, New York City, revealed the most pressing public health problem faced by our nation today: teen substance abuse.

teen drug abuseA feature on WebMD shared details included in the report, which indicated that a significant 46 percent – representing nearly half – of students in high school are either smoking, drinking alcohol, or using illicit substances. One in three of these teens, the report indicated further, are already addicted to these substances.

In addition, a quarter of those in the U.S. who began using drugs or drinking alcohol before the age of 18 eventually fell under the criteria for addiction to drugs or alcohol. The most common substance of choice, according to the report, is alcohol, followed by cigarettes and marijuana.

Susan E. Foster, vice president and director of policy research and analysis for CASA and study author, shared: “I was surprised at the prevalence of substance use disorders among young people… Do everything you can to get young people through their teen years without using drugs or alcohol… Every year they don’t use drugs or alcohol reduces their risk of negative consequences, such as addiction.”

The report is based on an analysis of the results of a survey conducted on 1,000 high school students, 1,000 parents of high school students, and 500 school officers, as well as expert interviews, focus groups, and a literature review of 2,000 scientific articles. The report also analyzed seven data sets.


New York Drug Screening


Substance Abuse

Keeping Teens Away from Alcohol Abuse

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Our readers have expressed more concern about the dangers of alcohol over that of illegal drugs, and we understand their sentiment all too well. Reader Joe, a parent who would “rather see (his kids) hanging out with Aunt Mary than Bloody Mary”, gives us another insight — about how we could be of more help to society if we focus on the dangers of alcohol abuse and offering safer alternatives to alcohol use.

spiritsThe good thing about alcohol is that, as a legal but controlled substance, there are laws and checks in place to help us regulate its use. It is just unfortunate that anything that has a law attached to it has a corresponding method of how to go around that law, and alcohol is no exception. When we place a restriction on the allowable age for alcohol purchase and consumption, this gave business to people manufacturing false identification – which can make all efforts go to waste.

Maybe the way out of this mess is not through strengthened laws or the setting up of rehabilitation programs — not that we don’t need these things at all. One way would probably be for each responsible adult to do his or her own part towards keeping teenagers away from alcohol and its dangers.

The most important thing that parents and caregivers can do is to set a good example. Children and teenagers should be taught at the outset that alcohol is not meant to be consumed in excessive amounts. And more importantly, adults should never condone the consumption of alcohol by minors; these should never be served to children in gatherings, even if it is just a tablespoon or two added to a bowl of fruit punch. How can we expect children to be responsible about alcohol consumption if they are around adults who are just as irresponsible? We have had reports of parents being arrested for allowing their children to have alcohol in parties at home.

The key is to create an environment where children and teenagers will not see the need to consume alcohol at all. And this will all have to be done microscopically, in each individual household where there is open communication and understanding.