Above the Influence Day!
The ONDCP is sponsoring events across the country to celebrate youth who avoide pressure to use drugs and alcohol. How are you promoting healthy behaviors in your community?
Addressing Underage Drinking at the Local Level
The Brighton Park Drug Free Community Coalition (Families Against Drugs in Area 58), based in Chicago, just completed our 7th year as a grantee in ONDCP’s Drug Free Communities Support Program. With National Substance Abuse Prevention month upon us, we recognize the importance of being unified across communities to influence a change in the cycle of substance abuse. Recently, our coalition has focused our efforts on the issue of underage drinking. Described below is one of our most recent – and most rewarding – youth events:
An alcohol-free ‘Quinceañera’
For young girls in the Latino community, turning 15 is a special occasion and one meant to symbolize their passage into womanhood. To celebrate this transition, families throw a "quinceañera" for the teen of honor. Once a proud tradition focusing on a girl's faith and values, quinceañeras today have become lavish parties with no shortage of alcohol.
The Relationship Between Substance Abuse and Teen Crime
Consistent and substantial evidence exists that supports the relationship between substance abuse and criminal behaviors in youth. Youthful offenders demonstrate elevated rates of substance abuse in comparison to non-offending youth.  Substance abuse often increases recidivism and reflects a deeper involvement in the juvenile justice system. Drug and alcohol use also increases the likelihood that a youthful offender will have prolonged interaction with the juvenile justice system.  In addition, substance abuse produces antisocial behavior in youth. Severe substance abuse is associated with increased rates of offending and more serious offenses. Furthermore, the younger the child is at the onset of substance use usually reflects greater probabilities for severe and chronic offending.
For example, in 2010, the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission found that twenty-five percent of all the juveniles referred were “frequent drug users.” In 2009, forty-seven percent of children committed to the Texas Youth Commission were chemically dependent. Less than half of these chemically dependent children received any type of substance abuse treatment.  The development of effective substance abuse treatment programs for juvenile offenders should be considered a “vital component” for overall rehabilitation efforts.
Report: Frequent Family Dinners Make a Big Difference in Teens’ Substance Use
A new white paper from CASAColumbia reports that family dinners make a big difference in teens’ use of illegal substances. The Importance of Family Dinners VIII found that teens who have frequent family dinners (five to seven per week) are more likely to report excellent relationships with their parents and therefore are less likely to use marijuana, alcohol or tobacco than teens who have infrequent family dinners (two or less per week).
CASAColumbia surveyed teenagers 12 to 17 years old in order to arm parents with the information they need to help their children develop life skills and choose a substance free lifestyle. The findings presented are from The National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVII: Teens.
In 2012, 57 percent of teens reported having family dinners at least five times a week. The results show frequent family dinners increased the amount of parental knowledge about their kids’ lives. On average, teens with frequent family dinners were three times less likely to use drugs, drink or smoke compared to teens that have infrequent family dinners.
What Do Bullying and Youth Substance Use Have in Common? More Than You Might Think
October is Bullying Prevention Month and National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, a busy and important time for prevention efforts. On the surface, bullying and youth substance use may seem like separate problems. However, from research, we know that youth who use substances are at risk for other problem behaviors during their teen years. In fact, new findings suggest that middle and high school students who bully their peers are more likely to use alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana.
Bullying and substance use among children and teenagers have shared risk and protective factors. Effective prevention efforts minimize these risk factors and maximize protective factors in a child’s life. If a problem has already surfaced, learn to recognize the warning signs of bullying and being bullied, underage alcohol use, and drug use to intervene before the problem becomes worse.
But let’s rewind: how do you know which risk and protective factors to focus on? Read on!
Bath Salts: The Drug That Never Lets Go
PBS Newshour has an in-depth piece out on bath salts: their origins, growing popularity and (adverse) effects. It's particularly interesting to learn how bath salts actually affect the brain. From the article:
Taking bath salts, it seemed, was similar to taking amphetamine and cocaine at the same time. Except for one thing: MDPV is as much as 10 times stronger than cocaine.
Imagine the space between the nerve cells as a kitchen sink and the water as dopamine. In the brain's natural state, the faucet, or nerve cell endings, are always leaking some dopamine, and the drain is always slightly open, vacuuming some of the chemical back into the cell. Methamphetamine turns the faucet on high. Cocaine closes the drain. Bath salts, researchers discovered, do both at the same time. With the faucet on and the drain closed, the water overflows. In other words, the drug was flooding the brain.
Taking a Stand Against Teen Medicine Abuse
With prescription medicines now the most commonly abused drugs among 12 and 13 year olds, The Partnership at Drugree.org is highlighting the need to bring attention to this public health crisis.
Last week marked the launch of The Medicine Abuse Project, a multi-year effort aimed at preventing half a million teens from abusing medicine within the next five years. And, on its heels, The Partnership has released an infographic that summarizes the popularity and dangers of medicine abuse, along with the clear disconnect between parents and teens on the matter. According to the graphic, 1 in 6 teens has used a prescription drug to get high or alter moods, and 65 percent of teens who abuse pain relievers get them from home or friends.
The unprecedented accessibility of prescription drugs means it’s more important than ever for parents to safeguard medicines at home and administer them appropriately; however, the infographic also illustrates that parents are not often on the same page with teens when it comes to taking prescription medication: Only 3 percent of parents admit to giving their teenager a medicine not prescribed to them, but 22 percent of teens say their parents have done so.
Popular Teens Pressured to Smoke Cigarettes
The more friends a student has, the more likely s/he is to smoke cigarettes. Findings from a recent report show that popular teens are succumbing to peer pressure to smoke cigarettes at a younger age.
Researchers from the Journal of Adolescent Health surveyed 1,950 ninth and 10th grade students to determine their personal thoughts about smoking and their thoughts about peers smoking. Report data show that a student’s risk of smoking is increased by the level of popularity s/he holds among peers. Popularity was measured by the number of times a student’s name was mentioned as a friend. An egocentric measure of behavior also proved that having friends who smoke leads to a strong association of individual smoking habits. Survey results found friend selection to be a major factor behind behavior habits; teens with friends who smoked were more susceptible to becoming a smoker themselves.
Continual evidence shows that popular kids choosing to light up are using their popularity to pressure other students to do the same. Peer pressure is a large indicator in adolescent behavior and “we haven’t done enough to make smoking un-cool” said study author Thomas Valente. Studies show that students will try what the majority is doing in order to be liked, and smoking is a popular, but negative, product of that behavior. If teens think smoking is the popular behavior among their peers, they will be more likely to try smoking.
Back to School Survey: Teens' Take on Drugs, Alcohol in Schools
A survey of over 1000 12 to 17-year-olds across the United States revealed the drastically high rate at which schools are becoming increasingly “drug infected” as well as the easy accessibility that teens have to drugs. The “Back to School Survey”, published by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA Columbia), also covers teens’ perspectives on their attitudes toward drugs and alcohol and their parents’ opinions on drug and alcohol use, as well as the impact that drug and alcohol related images have on their peers.
The 2012 report stated that 60% of students reported that their schools are drug infected, meaning that drugs are used, kept or sold on school premises. Nearly 97% percent of students say that they have friends who use drugs or alcohol and nearly all students questioned said that they knew students who used while at school. Students estimated about 1 in 5 of their classmates are using drugs or alcohol while at school. This trend of drug infected schools isn’t specific to public schools. The gap between drug infected public and private schools has continually narrowed since the survey began in the early 1990s. In 2012, 54%, an increase of 50% from 2011, of students who attend private schools reported that their schools were drug infected.
Contest: Calling All Young Musicians
The GRAMMY Foundation, Partnership at DrugFree.org and MusiCares are looking for young musicians (ages 14-18) to write an original song or create a music video that promotes and celebrates a healthy lifestyle and appropriately depicts a story about drug abuse. Songs should raise awareness about addiction and recovery.
The first, second and third place winners will each receive:
- A trip to Los Angeles to attend the 55th annual GRAMMY Awards Backstage Experience, a unique backstage tour taking place as artists rehearse live for the GRAMMY awards;
- Placement and exposure of their musical entries on the GRAMMY365 website, MTV Act Blog, and the Above the Influence campaign website;
- An iPad, equipped with the GarageBand app;
- The opportunity to release a record with Iron Ridge Road Recordings, courtesy of Clarity Way of Hanover, PA; and
- A certificate from the GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares in acknowledgment of each winner’s activism in disseminating of health information on substance abuse.