Monthly Archives: February 2011

Many Kids Who Drink Get Liquor from Home

A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that 709,000 youth ages 12 to 14 in the United States are drinking beer, liquor and other alcoholic beverages.

And the surprise is that many of these underage drinkers aren’t just getting a friend to buy a six pack for them or smuggling alcohol out of the family liquor cabinet. Some are getting the alcohol directly from a parent, guardian or another adult relative.

In the past month alone, more than 200,000 kids were given alcohol by a parent or other adult family member. About 45 percent got alcohol from a parent or other family member or they took it from their home without permission.

About 15 percent of these kids just took the liquor, but 15.7 percent got it directly from that parent or guardian and another 14 percent got it from another relative, according to the study.

“SAMHSA Data Spotlight: Young Alcohol Users Often Get Alcohol from Family or Home” is based on the combined data from SAMHSA’s 2006 to 2009 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and involves responses from more than 44,000 respondents ages 12 to 14. NSDUH is a primary source of information on national use of tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs (including non-medical use of prescription drugs) and mental health in the United States. The survey is part of the agency’s strategic initiative on behavioral health data, quality and outcomes.

“People who begin drinking alcohol before the age of 15 are six times more likely than those who start at age 21 and older to develop alcohol problems. Parents and other adults need to be aware that providing alcohol to children can expose them to an increased risk for alcohol abuse and set them on a path with increased potential for addiction,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde, in the report.

David Jernigan, an associate professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, has told CADCA in previous interviews that parents need to play a larger role in preventing their children from drinking, but he places much of the blame on the alcohol industry for marketing to youth.

“The primary messages kids get about alcohol on television are from alcohol product ads that not surprisingly promote their use and enjoyment,” Jernigan has told CADCA.

Youth see about one alcohol ad per day and many coalitions have been working tirelessly to counter-act these messages in a variety of ways. From making recommendations to the Federal Communications Commission to the Ohio’s Drug-Free Action Alliance’s recent Big Bowl Vote 2011 survey and California’s Marin Institute’s Super Bowl counter ads, coalitions have been trying to raise awareness and change policies regarding alcohol advertising. CADCA also has a Strategizer available to address the topic: Strategizer 32 – Alcohol Advertising: Its Impact on Communities, and What Coalitions Can Do to Lessen that Impact.


Bath Salts on Their Way Down the Drain

Officials in 25 states are growing concerned about alarming numbers of adolescents and others ending up in emergency rooms and mental hospitals after intentionally snorting, injecting or smoking “fake cocaine,” a powder legally sold as “bath salts,” and are proposing bans.

R. Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy, this week released a statement following recent reports indicating the emerging threat of these synthetic stimulants.

Sold under such names as Ivory Wave, Red Dove, Bliss and Vanilla Sky, law enforcement officials and poison control center staff say the effects of the stimulants the powders often contain (mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, also known as MDPV) are a central nervous system stimulant that is not approved for medical purposes in the United States, and provide for users a cocaine-like high.

The chemicals in these bath salts can cause hallucinations, paranoia, rapid and irregular heartbeats and suicidal thoughts, authorities say. The chemicals are in products sold legally at convenience stores and on the internet as bath salts and even plant foods. A small packet of the chemicals typically costs around $20.

The Director’s statement reads: “I am deeply concerned about the distribution, sale, and use of synthetic stimulants – especially those that are marketed as legal substances. Although we lack sufficient data to understand exactly how prevalent the use of these stimulants are, we know they pose a serious threat to the health and well-being of young people and anyone who may use them. At a time when drug use in America is increasing, the marketing and sale of these poisons as “bath salts” is both unacceptable and dangerous. As public health officials work to address this emerging threat, I ask that parents and other adult influencers act immediately to discuss with young people the severe harm that can be caused by the use of both legal and illegal drugs and to prevent drug use before it starts.”

Several state leaders have introduced legislation to ban these products, including New York Democrat, Sen. Charles Schumer who plans to announce a bill Sunday that would add those chemicals to the list of federally controlled substances. Other states working on a ban include Hawaii, Michigan, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi and North Dakota. Several counties, cities, and local municipalities have also taken action to remove these products from store shelves.

Drug Enforcement Agent Gary Boggs will give us the latest information on bath salts on the next CADCA TV show Feb. 24. Watch it from 1-2 p.m. EST or anytime after Feb. 24 .Viewing is available via satellite downlink or by webcast.


parenting 101

February 2011

1. My 15yo daughter is out of control – skipping school, smoking and drinking, hanging out with older kids – needless to say my house is a battle zone. I’ve tried counseling and tough love, but unfortunately the peace doesn’t last. Her father is out of the picture and I’m dealing with this all alone. I need help.

There could be many reasons for your situation, but often it boils down to either of two different core issues: 1) a possibly undiagnosed learning or behavioral disorder that prevents a child from feeling successful as a learner and thus turns solely to the social outlets in her life to feel her value. Mix this with some self-esteem issues and you have a life full of disappointments and poor choices. Or, 2) it has more to do with a child who has not been held accountable for their behavior and actions, and/or with the parent’s confidence in their own abilities. If your own self concept is low and you feel inadequate as a parent, it may be impossible for you to set and follow through with boundaries. An enabled child (one without accountability) is unable to take independent control of their lives and often engage in many destructive activities.

In your case, it sounds like things have progressed to the point where regaining stability will require firm resolve and unwavering commitment to your child’s welfare. We would recommend your first step is to get your daughter an assessment by a professional. There are many counselors in the area who will do a consultation or evaluation for free. Thelma McMillen Center in Torrance, for example, offers free assessments. Depending on results of the assessment, residential treatment may need to be explored. Check with your health insurance carrier, if you have benefits for residential treatment, they can explain how to access those benefits. If you do not have such benefits, you may be able to access treatment under the California Access to Recovery Effort (CARE) program. Find information about this at: Another option is to involve law enforcement. Skipping school, smoking, and drinking are not legal activities for your 15 year old to engage in. While many parents struggle with the idea of calling the police on their own child, you must consider the risks of not doing so. Skipping school will obviously lead to difficulties for both you and your daughter, and the smoking and drinking can lead to far worse consequences. Additionally, the implied message (that the legality of behavior does not matter) is likely already having a negative impact on your daughter’s attitude and belief system, which you are trying to change. Gather information from as many sources as you can, speak to the school counselor, the counselor you saw for outpatient, call a local treatment program for adolescents, go to an Alanon or Narcanon meeting. If it is suggested that you drastically change the way you parent your teen and you feel overwhelmed or inadequate to make these changes, look for help anywhere you can. The key is to do something. Inactivity or repeating efforts that have proven ineffective are guaranteed to help the situation disintegrate further.

2. How do I convince my teens that posting personal information on Facebook or Twitter is potentially a very dangerous thing to do?

Many teens are not capable of reasoning on an adult level because they lack the experiences we have had as adults. This is normal and is most likely no different than we were at their age. The hidden danger for adolescents is that they are old enough to think they understand the world, which, in reality, they cannot possibly fully comprehend. So arguing, lecturing and persuading is often wasted energy. You must set the boundaries for using any social network and consistently follow through on established consequences if they are not adhering to your rules. Today, internet safety is one of the most important roles for a parent who wants to protect their child from a multitude of hidden dangers. Personal information such as full name, phone number, address, name of school, name of your city, or social security number should never be given to anyone on a social network. Be sure to explain all the possible consequences to reputation, college admission, future employment etc. The internet is a worldwide public domain. No information is protected unless visiting a secured site. Even then, information can be viewed by others. Also, note that everything, every keystroke, every erased message, is kept by the social networking companies for three years and is made available to anyone with a legal letterhead. One part of your job as a parent is to teach your children, another part is to maintain the boundaries and provide safety where they are not ready to do it for themselves. It is a lot to monitor and enforce, but preserving your child’s future possibilities is worth it. Protect your children.

The questions above are from parents who live in the South Bay. The responses have been provided by members of the South Bay Coalition whose expertise and experience lies in parenting, counseling, and/or substance abuse prevention. The South Bay Coalition is a non-profit partnership of agencies working to prevent substance abuse among our community’s youth. For local resources or more information, please visit our website or contact: