Talking About Teens on Drugs -- and More: Weekly Roundup

adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_old-TVTeens on Drugs - How We Talk About it Matters

  • Hat tip to Outreach for this piece on heroin use by teens in the suburbs from Robbie Woliver, the journalist who broke the story a year ago: "These kids just don't think it's a big deal one way or another -- there is no stigma any longer, nor is it a badge of honor. It doesn't make them 'cool.' It's just what everybody does. No big deal."
  • This is scary stuff, no doubt, but the coverage is troubling. Woliver wants everyone to wake up because suburban teens are using heroin -- teens who are not just "the lowest-life dregs of society in skid rows and downtrodden ghettos in the worst parts of urban areas," but who "have the same family values." Which makes me wonder what Woliver would think of the teens in the justice system, where substance abuse and addiction has been a common problem for years. Maybe what's needed isn't just alarm about middle-class white kids dying from heroin, tragic though that is. Maybe we need to start caring about all our kids. 

  • Want to know what works when it comes to talking to the public about teens with drug and alcohol issues who are in trouble with the law? Check out the recommendations in Solutions Storytelling: Messaging to Mobilize Support for Children's Issues. (Hat tip to sparkaction.)

Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment - News

  • Teen girls are more likely than teen boys to believe that drug and alcohol use has benefits, according to a new study conducted by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA). At the same time, there were significant increases in the percentage of teen boys who agreed that “drugs help you relax socially” (52%) and who agreed that “parties are more fun with drugs” (41%). The Partnership's Time To Act site has excellent tools for parents to help them determine if their child is using, and what to do if he or she is. (Hat tip to the Partnership and to Christa Myers, Project Director of Reclaiming Futures Hocking County.)
  • While pregnant teens were admitted to substance abuse treatment at roughly the same rates overall in 2007 as they were in 1992, significant shifts have occurred in terms of race, ethnicity, and drug of choice.  A national report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows, for example, that admissions of Latino girls are way up, while non-Hispanic Black girls have dropped, and that "the proportion of pregnant teen admissions for methamphetamine use has more than quadrupled, from 4.3 percent in 1992 to18.8 percent in 2007." (Hat tip to Recovery Month.)
  • If you're lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (LGBT), you're more likely to need addiction treatment than the general population, but you're less likely to get treatment specialized for your needs, a new study from SAMHSA says. According to the Join Together summary, "Privately run, for-profit treatment programs were more likely to offer a gay and lesbian track than public programs or those operated by nonprofit organizations." 

Juvenile Justice Reform: Four Resources for Getting the Job Done

First, the good news: several states are shuttering juvenile prisons because there's not enough new kids entering the system to fill the beds -- and because more youth are being managed in their own communities. But there's more to be done. Here's three different resources that might help:

  • The best way to reform the juvenile justice system is to learn from other efforts that have been successful, right? Wrong, say Greg Berman and Aubrey Fox, authors of a new book from Urban Institute Press, called Trial and Error in Criminal Justice Reform: Learning from Failure. They argue instead that programs and reforms that fall short are a key step to success.  (Hat tip to the Center for Court Innovation.) 
  • Families and allies working on juvenile justice reform: the Campaign for Youth Justice will host a call on July 6th, 2010 at 5:00 EST / 4:00 CST/ 2:00 PST to provide legislative training on "how to change bad laws and create good ones." To join, dial 866-524-0621 and punch in the code 7831935097.
  • Want to find out how to improve the juvenile justice system in your area? Try having youth ask their peers for ideas. Follow the link for an example of a simliar project done in Colorado, and some tips for involving youth.
  • Family members are some of the best resources for instigating reform, but it can be tricky to get them involved. Here are some tips for engaging families in juvenile justice system reform.

Engaging Families in Their Children's School

  • Since family involvement is a key factor in their children's school success, you might want to check out this excellent (and to the point) collection of 12 programs aimed at increasing family engagement and improving student outcomes. Produced by the National Family, School, and Community Engagement Working Group at Harvard, it contains brief, one-page synopses of the programs, along with information on the research evidence behind them, outcomes, and scalability. Not all programs are aimed at teens or even at-risk youth, but there should be ideas here for everyone. (Hat tip to sparkaction.) 
  • You might also find useful a manual from the national Parent Teacher Association (PTA) laying out state laws relating to schools and family engagement. In particular, check out the section that begins on page 189, called "Family Engagement Targeting Youth in High-Risk Situations." (Hat tip to the Campaign for Youth Justice and Lela Spielberg, Education Policy Analyst for the National PTA.)

Implementing What Works From Addiction Science

  • I know most agencies don't have the money to send staff to conferences across town, much less to Italy, but if your boss won't pay for it, you might want to consider paying for this one yourself: the International Society of Addiction Medicine (ISAM) will hold its 12th annual conference, “Bridging the Gap between Science and Clinical Practice in the Addiction Field,” at the University of Milano-Bicocca in Milan, Italy, October 4-7, 2010.

    From the press release: "The conference will focus on the latest scientific developments in addiction medicine and addiction psychiatry. The meeting is structured to encourage international interaction between clinicians from multiple disciplines, schools of thought, and settings. Conference events include plenary lectures, symposia, workshops, and poster sessions showcasing new research in the field. The official language of the Congress will be English. Simultaneous translation into Italian will be provided for plenary lectures, and selected symposia."


Updated: February 08 2018