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Join Today's Recovery Month Twitter Chat

Recovery Month is hosting a Twitter chat from 1 pm ET to 2 pm ET today, to spread the word that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover. Hosts Paolo Del Vecchio (Acting Director, Center for Mental Healh Services) and Catherine Nugent, LCPC (Senior Public Health Analyst, Center for Mental Health Services) will answer questions and share expertise about recovery-oriented services and support for people in or seeking recovery from substance abuse. 

From Recovery Month:

Join the Twitter chat by asking questions and contributing to the dialogue by using the designated hashtag #RecoveryChat to track and signify your participation in the conversation. We encourage you to share any insights or experiences you have that relate to recovery support.

If you are not available for the chat, tweet your questions to @RecoveryMonth in advance, using the hashtag #RecoveryChat. Also, if you aren’t on Twitter, but would like to participate, post your questions or thoughts on the Recovery Month Facebook Page or send questions in an email to

If you are new to Twitter chats, you can use the following steps to sign up and participate:

Take Action During National Prevention Week: Prevent Illicit Drug Use and Prescription Drug Abuse

Sometimes people cope with difficult life situations or seek new experiences in harmful ways, such as experimenting with drugs to try to overcome stress or feel something new. Others assume that if they’re not using an illegal drug, but a medication prescribed by a doctor, it’s safe to do so. However, illicit drug use and the misuse or abuse of prescription drugs are always dangerous and can lead to addiction, impaired decision-making, increased risk of psychosis, and severe physical consequences, including seizures, heart failure, and even death.

The goal of today’s National Prevention Week theme is to raise awareness about preventing drug use and abuse in the United States. In 2010, there were an estimated 23 million people aged 12 and older in the U.S. who were current illicit drug users, and 7 million Americans reported using prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes. With the right tools, facts, and resources, you can take action to prevent illicit drug use and prescription drug abuse in your own community:

  • If you’re a parent, get involved in your child’s day-to-day activities and discuss the risks of using illicit and prescription drugs;
  • If you’re a teacher, create positive learning environments by setting high expectations for positive social interactions and addressing inappropriate behavior; and
  • If you’re a community leader, learn about effective prevention programs, such as those listed through SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices, an online registry of more than 200 proven prevention interventions.
  • If you’re an interested community member, visit the National Prevention Week Events page to get involved in an event taking place in your area, or to get inspiration for event ideas for your community.

Study Finds Parents of a Teen’s Friends Influence Substance Use

Teens are notorious for rebelling against parents. However, when it comes to making decisions about substance use and abuse, a recently published study indicates that adolescents may still be significantly influenced by not only their own parents, but also the parents of their friends.

In the article “Do Peers' Parents Matter? A New Link Between Positive Parenting and Adolescent Substance Use” published in the The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, authors Michael J. Cleveland, Mark E. Feinberg, D. Wayne Osgood and James Moody drew on conceptions of shared parenting and the tenets of coercion theory to investigate the extent to which three domains of parenting behaviors (parental knowledge, inductive reasoning, and consistent discipline) influenced the alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use of not only their own adolescent children but also of members of their adolescents' friendship groups. In addition, the article discusses implications of the joint contribution of parents and peers for prevention and intervention.

Among the study’s findings:

National Prevention Week is May 20-26!

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has created a new annual health initiative called National Prevention Week. This year’s event will span May 20-26, with the theme: “We are the ones. How are you taking action?”

SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities. This national observance celebrates the work that community organizations and individuals do year-round to prevent substance abuse and promote mental, emotional, and behavioral wellbeing, while serving as an opportunity for community members to learn more about behavioral health issues and get involved in prevention efforts throughout the year.

The event’s dates were strategically selected to coincide with the beginning of summer, a season filled with celebrations and recreational activities that can potentially be linked to substance use and abuse (such as graduation parties, proms, weddings, boating and camping excursions); it is also timed to allow schools to take part in a prevention-themed event before the school year ends, raising awareness in students of all ages.

Using PhotoVoice to Understand Youth Perspectives on Substance Abuse Recovery

Just finishing up an IRB this morning to submit to PSU to get permission to proceed with a new research project I’ve been committed to doing for several years now. Most excited to jump into it this summer. Here is the brief required narrative from my proposal:

Substance abuse remains a formidable problem in the U.S. Until recently, adolescent substance abuse treatment frameworks and related research about them was under-developed. However in the last ten years, there has been significant development in both treatment models and research in the area (Carter Narendorf & McMillan, 2010). Simultaneously, there has been a movement in motion regarding the “recovery” process which is associated with, but tends to follow, formal treatment (Sheedy & Whitter, 2009). What happens when people leave treatment and begin a new life in “recovery?” This research will fill a gap in the addiction recovery literature by centering youth perspectives on their unique developmental view of the process of recovery from addiction as they experience it. Research questions include:

  • What does recovery mean to young people following cessation of alcohol and drug abuse?
  • What are examples of recovery in the lives of young people who are experiencing it?
  • What do young people wish people knew about the recovery process from their own points of view?
  • What risks and what reinforcements to recovery do young people experience in their lives?

60 Minutes: The Disease of Addiction

In case you missed it: last night's 60 Minutes included a segment on addiction, how drugs affect the brain and why it can be so difficult to quit. 

The segment follows Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and explores her work on treating addiction as a disease, not a character flaw. 

Bullying: A Root Cause We Can Uproot

Bully, a new documentary film by Lee Hirsch and Cynthia Lowen, is intimate, human, honest, and gorgeously scored—all the trappings of a good movie. But Bully’s passionate yet well-crafted social message – a plea to end bullying and improve millions of lives in the process – makes it truly great, and possibly the most important film of the year.

The movie portrays kids and families across the country whose lives have been irrevocably altered by bullying. A girl and her parents have been shunned and abused ever since she came out as a lesbian. A boy has convinced himself that the kids who punch, stab, and strangle him daily on the school bus do it because they are his “friends.” Another girl is charged with multiple felony counts after brandishing a gun in hopes of scaring off her tormentors. Two sets of parents try to cope after losing their sons, ages 17 and 11, to suicide. And there are millions more stories like these—13 million kids are bullied in the United States each year.

Teens Drinking Hand Sanitizer

This just in: According to the Los Angeles Times, teens are drinking hand sanitizer in order to get drunk. Six California teenagers have ended up in the emergency room over the past few months. 

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

From the article:

North Carolina Update: Screening for Adolescent Substance Abuse

The first step of the Reclaiming Futures model is to screen youth entering the juvenile justice system for substance abuse problems using a reputable screening tool. Each of the six sites in North Carolina have adopted the Global Appraisal for Individual Needs Short Screener (GAIN-SS).

From 2010-2011, 2,663 GAIN screeners were completed with 2,490 youth in Reclaiming Futures' North Carolina sites. Of these screenings, 22% scored at moderate to high risk on the substance disorder screener. This indicates that these youths may need substance abuse, dependence or substance use disorder treatment and therefore should be referred for further assessment. Approximately 18% of youth scored high risk on the overall screening with an additional 75% scoring moderate risk, indicating need for substance abuse and/or mental health assessment/treatment.

This tool has been made available to all counties through the North Carolina Juvenile Online Information Network (NC-JOIN). Since July 2011, 58 counties have used NC-JOIN to track results of the GAIN screening results. This data is then used to make appropriate referrals and in development of service plans for youths.

Addiction, Recovery and the Dangers Young People Face Today

Robotripping, dank, bath salts, spice, triple C’s, skittles, Roxies, Oxys, Xanibars, K2, if these names don’t sound familiar, the current trends in juvenile drug abuse are as surprising to you as they were to me.

A recovering addict myself, I was alarmed to learn what kinds of drugs are being used by our youth today. The drugs are mostly synthetic, increasingly lethal, tend to require medically supervised withdrawal, and, in many cases, are undetectable by drug test.

In 2010, SAMHSA reported 10.1 percent of youths aged 12 to 17 were current illicit drug users. That same year, the rate of current illicit drug use was higher among young adults aged 18 to 25, stood at 21.5 percent.

The rate of binge drinking in 2010 was 40.6 percent for young adults aged 18 to 25. Heavy alcohol use was reported by 13.6 percent of persons aged 18 to 25. According to the CDC about 90 percent of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is in the form of binge drinks. The National Institute on Alcohol and Drug Abuse reported 42 percent of college students report binge drinking in the previous two weeks.  Not all of them go on to become alcoholics. But enough of them do that support systems in our schools and colleges are implemented.