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Addiction Should be Treated as Public Health Issue: Kerlikowske

Addiction should be treated as a public health issue, National Drug Control Policy Director R. Gil Kerlikowske told participants of a conference on prescription drug abuse Thursday. Addiction is a brain disease, and should not be treated as a moral failure, he said.

Drug overdoses kill more Americans than traffic crashes or gunshot wounds, he told the group. He praised prescription drug take-back events for removing drugs from the home that might otherwise fall into the hands of young people and others who may abuse them, the Associated Press reports.

Kerlikowske touched on a range of issues, including medical marijuana, cocaine use and heroin use. He said the popularity of medical marijuana sends the wrong message to young people, and noted there has been a 40 percent drop in cocaine use since 2006.

There has been a decrease in the number of people abusing prescription drugs, from 7 million in 2010, to 6.1 million in 2011, he said. Kerlikowske expressed concern about the rise in heroin use.

Source: Join Together

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Parenting 101

February 2012

1. My son will be going into middle school in the fall and I’m concerned about alcohol and/or drugs. In the South Bay, what are kids using most often and what are the symptoms I should look for?


Alcohol and Marijuana are by far the most prevalent drugs of abuse for minors in the South Bay, but many other substances are around, as well, ranging from cocaine, mushrooms and heroin to “spice” and “bath salts.” With all substances of abuse be on the lookout for the following:

  • 1. Unusual odors on your child’s person or clothing or in an area they have recently been.
  • 2. Increased secrecy or attempts to keep you at a physical distance.
  • 3. Significant lethargy, drowsiness or excessive energy.
  • 4. Blood shot eyes or extremely small or large pupils.
  • 5. Narrowing of interests and social circle.
  • 6. Poor performance at school.

Space prohibits an exhaustive listing of all symptoms, but always remember an involved parent who firmly sets clear boundaries and has ongoing dialogue with their child regarding substance use, is by far the best preventative force around.

2. My 13yo daughter has been best friends with the same girl since 2nd grade, but now her friend is more interested in boys and make-up than school or soccer. My daughter isn’t quite there yet and seems to feel depressed and abandoned by her friend. How can I help her through this?

Unfortunately, your daughter is experiencing one of the ‘changes of life’ that is very normal and natural for this age. One of the natural parts of life is that friends change, their interest change, their focus’ change, which leaves us with the choice of changing along with them or finding different friends that more closely match our likes and dislikes. It is very likely, however, that not ‘all’ of her ‘old’ friends have deviated from your daughter’s interests. She is certainly not the only girl her age who is not ready for ‘young adult’ interests. As her mom, there is much you can do to help. Sit down with your daughter and using her interests, plan an event, celebration, or a project (i.e., a beach party, an outing to roller coasters, collect clothes for the homeless, plant trees in the park, pick up trash on the beach, collect toys for hospital children, etc.). Then help her carry out this event or project. Along the way, help seek out and collect other peers of hers that are interested in joining the cause or participating in the celebration.
You may also help find an organization, sports team, or social club through your church, school, or community recreation that your daughter is interested in and can join. There is great variety of places to get involved in that make life seem more important, especially when you are working as part of a team. Kids who just hang out and talk about doing things because it looks grown-up often miss out on great opportunities.

Responses to the above parent questions 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 www.thefutureiswatching.org or if you have questions you’d like our experts to respond to, contact: events@sbcoalition.com.

Tell Congress: FTC Should Stop the Four Loko Deal

Your U.S. Senators and Representatives need to tell the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to withdraw  its sweetheart deal with the makers of supersized alcopop Four Loko. If you are one of the many who have already sent an opposition message to the FTC – thank you! Now it’s time for the leaders of the Congressional FTC oversight committees to tell the FTC to stop the bad deal with Phusion. The sweetheart deal benefits the corporation at the expense of public health and safety. We dare to call the deal a “license to kill youth.” The FTC’s own investigation of supersized alcopop Four Loko identified deceptive marketing practices by Phusion Projects. However their proposed solution does nothing to reduce the dangerous size or alcohol content of the youth-oriented product.  It will merely change the label and add a cap to the can…none of which will remove the harmful product from the market. It’s still  a binge in a can, and youth will still be able to consume 24 ounce containers of 12% alcohol content. Please alert key oversight committee members and your own senators and representative, that they should tell the FTC to withdraw the bad deal and start over. Click the link below to log in and send your message: http://action.alcoholjustice.org/link/target/mi/5tz6zR69.aspx

Critics of School Zero-Tolerance Policies Say Principals Need More Flexibility

Critics of drug and alcohol “zero-tolerance” policies imposed by school districts say principals need more flexibility in dealing with students who break the rules. They argue students’ intent or history should be taken into account.

In Shreveport, Louisiana, 14-year-old Lindsey Tanner was punished for offering a Midol pill to a fellow student, according to USA Today. Lindsay, who had no prior discipline issues, had to attend a six-week drug and alcohol awareness program and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. She was also forced to attend an alternative school for the rest of eighth grade and part of ninth grade. She is one of thousands of students who are judged as harshly as more violent or regular offenders because of zero-tolerance policies, the newspaper reports.

These policies came about as the result of the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994, which required states that received federal funds to mandate that local school districts expel students who bring a weapon to school for a minimum of one year. School districts around the country have created their own interpretations of how to handle less severe offenses, ranging from bringing illegal drugs to school to possession of over-the-counter medication.

The newspaper notes 94 percent of American schools have zero-tolerance policies for weapons or firearms, 87 percent for alcohol, and 79 percent for violence or tobacco.

Source: drugfree.org

Parenting 101

January 2011

1. My son is 13yo and I’m concerned about the new friends he has made in middle school. They have much more freedom than I’m willing to give my son. I suspect some drug use, particularly since I’ve heard them talk about doing some graffiti, and their behavior is occasionally suspicious to me. How do I keep my son in check and keep him drug-free?

This is a far too common situation, where a child is given more freedom than they can handle. To your child, this looks like what should be the norm and he probably views your ‘checking up’ on him as too restrictive. The most common mistake in an adolescent’s thinking is that ‘freedom is free’ – perceived as a rite of passage and not something that is earned. One of the first things you need to pursue is communication with your son’s friend’s parents. Middle school children are rarely appreciative of this, but knowing these parents and what they allow, what boundaries they have and what the home environment is like is a parent’s responsibility when it comes to friends with whom your child is spending a lot of time. Next, have a talk with your child and tell him that his freedom must be earned by acting responsibly. Acting responsibly means making the right choice not to be using alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs. It also means obeying the laws of the city and the expectations of the family. Tell him he can earn more time to be with his friends only if he can demonstrate the ability to make his own decisions about what choices he should make and not copy friends who may be making poor choices because their parents are not paying close attention. Remind him that you will always be paying attention and will be on the lookout for poor decisions, which will have serious consequences, the least of which will be the loss of his freedom.

The issue of graffiti is a bad sign and if it is an ongoing activity for these kids, your son does not need to be spending time with them. Since we cannot follow him around every minute of every day, it makes no sense to forbid him from seeing these friends, but it makes perfect sense to follow up on where he will be and what activities he is involved with.

If you see any signs of substance use on your son’s part, get an assessment by a substance abuse professional and a drug test immediately. A lot of the boundaries and rules you will need to enforce will most likely not make you popular with your son. A teen with a good parent will often be unhappy about that parent’s choices. Your child’s welfare comes first…always.

2. I recently married into a family of smokers. I have 10 year old twins from a previous marriage and I’m concerned first, about all of the second-hand smoke, and second I don’t want them to get the idea that smoking is okay. How do I discuss this with them without making the new family sound like the bad guys?

It is not a question of “bad” but a question of “sick.” Tobacco addiction is a brutal disease, which is very difficult to arrest and most often leads to severe impairments to quality of life and eventually a lingering and suffering death. And there are no two ways about it, second hand smoke is lethal also. It may well at times offend or hurt your new family, but this issue needs to be addressed firmly and clearly with all aware of your stand. Your twins cannot be exposed to any second hand smoke, there is no safe level. If smoking is happening indoors, your twins should not be in that space, the same goes for cars and/or other vehicles. Your twins need to get thorough and repeated education on the harms caused by smoking (this is critical – without refresher education children easily forget at that age and well into adolescence). Hopefully, your new in-laws are supportive of your stand. A lot of smokers do not want children starting and are aware of how harmful it is (i.e., “I know I’m killing myself, but I can’t stop”). However, some smokers are very offended by anti-smoking measures and second hand smoke avoidance measures. If faced with the latter, your commitment to your children’s’ health must be unwavering no matter how anyone feels about it. No one’s good graces are worth a painful death for your twins. This is a very precarious situation. Remember, children learn in three ways: 1) by example, 2) by example and 3) by example.

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 http://www.sbcoalition.com or contact: events@sbcoalition.com

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, more parenting information, or more about the South Bay Coalition, visit our website: www.thefutureiswatching.org

Producers of Alcoholic Energy Drinks Cease Product Shipments

Four small brewing companies have heeded warnings by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and have agreed to stop shipping their seven alcoholic energy drinks.

The companies and their products are:

  • Charge Beverages Corp.: Core High Gravity HG, Core High Gravity HG Orange, and Lemon Lime Core Spiked
  • New Century Brewing Co., LLC: Moonshot
  • United Brands Company Inc.: Joose and Max
  • Phusion Projects, LLC (doing business as Drink Four Brewing Co.): Four Loko

Last month, the FDA deemed caffeine added to malt alcoholic beverages is an “unsafe food additive” and said that further action, including seizure of their products, was possible under federal law.

Many states, prompted by coalitions, have recently instituted bans, and others have taken or are considering similar steps. States are the primary regulators of alcoholic beverages and have full authority to ban alcoholic energy drinks whether by regulatory or legislative action, or through attorney general enforcement.

Mike Tobias, Michigan Alcohol Policy’s executive director, was one of the coalition leaders who recently banned alcoholic energy drinks in his state.

“Michigan Alcohol Policy is pleased that these companies are finally stopping shipments of their alcohol energy drinks. Although this took more years than we would’ve liked, we applaud the Food and Drug Administration’s recent ruling that caffeine is not a safe additive to alcohol.”

The announcement about halting shipping was announced the same week as the results of a University of Maryland School of Public Health study that suggests college students who routinely consume highly caffeinated energy drinks are at significantly higher risk for becoming alcohol-dependent.

Study author Amelia M. Arria and her colleagues looked at data collected from a survey of nearly 1,100 college students. “We do think that when you drink energy drinks you prolong your alcohol consumption and drink past the point of intoxication because you’re awake longer, which leads to bad consequences,” Arria said in a news release. The study will be published in the February issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Source: cadca.org

Parenting 101

November/December 2010

Q: I have two pre-teen sons (10 & 12) who argue about everything and/or nothing at all. We’ve tried taking away privileges, giving rewards, and grounding them – all of this seems to work but only temporarily. Is this a phase or are they just never going to get along?

A:
One of the most common complaints from parents who have more than one child is the constant arguing and conflicts that seem to upset the house constantly. Conflict between siblings is ‘normal’ and does more to upset parents and the peace of the house than anything else. It is most effective to handle each conflict situation separately. One of the more effective ways to handle this situation is to determine each conflict situation separately. Distinguish whether the current conflict is one they can settle among themselves or if they need a parent intervention. As parents we often step in too soon which interrupts their learning to solve conflicts on their own. Begin by using an adult intervention. This means taking 15 minutes to stop what you are doing. Sit both children down (they must be of speaking age) on chairs facing themselves. You position yourself between them and act only as a moderator. Below is the format to use to ‘talk’ out the conflict allowing them to process the words needed to say how they feel. Below is the format to use:

BASIC CONFLICT RESOLUTION

    A. Two people in conflict sit face to face
    B. One person talks at a time – when that person finishes, the other person repeats what they heard before they get their turn.
    C. Explain that the person listening may not speak, even if they hear something they don’t agree with.
    D. Mediate until conflict is negotiated

Questions: Take one question at a time – each person has their turn before moving to the next question.

    1. What did the other person do that upset you?
    2. Explain what you felt during the conflict? (I statements)
    3. What would you expect of the other person in the future? (negotiate)

Children will greatly benefit from this method, but will not like how much time it takes from their activities. This means they will want to avoid future conflict resolutions if possible. This is where the parent gains power. The next time your children argue, ask if they need a conflict resolution. If they say no, then let them work it out. But don’t forget to set the house rules – ‘inside voices’ and ‘no hitting’ or they automatically go to a conflict resolution.

Q: My 19yo son is causing real problems between my husband and me. He’s got a part-time job making minimum wage – he’s not going to school, he spends too much time playing video games and he does some drinking from time to time. My husband wants to give him a time frame to either get a real job or get back in school, or find another place to live. I feel like that’s setting him up to fail – the economy is in bad shape and I worry about his welfare if he’s not living at home. What should I do?

A: Your son is clearly taking advantage of the kindness of his parents. The most important life lesson you can give to your child (especially one over 18yrs old) is that there are no free rides. The current situation enables your son to avoid growing up. If the situation does not change, he may never. This is the most tragic thing we do to our children. Yes, these are tough times, but there are plenty of temporary jobs out there that, while they may not be the most desirable, pay money. And usually, the longer one works at these jobs the more motivated they become to either look for a better job or go back to school. School would help prepare him for better job opportunities at any time. Tell him if he chooses not to go to school, then he will be expected to pay rent. (You can work out a sliding scale for rent that increases slowly). Or, he can live on his own. This is the most loving thing you can do for your child.
You might also ask yourself why you are providing housing for someone engaging in illegal behavior. 19 is not the legal drinking age. A good therapist can help you and your husband work together to set appropriate boundaries and provide the right resources for your son to grow and mature. Yes, you will worry about his welfare if he is out of the house. If your choice comes down to taking care of your anxiety or helping him grow and have a happy, healthy and productive life, what will your choice be? It may sound easy, but it’s not…a good family therapist can be of tremendous help.

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, more parenting information, or more about the South Bay Coalition, visit our website: www.thefutureiswatching.org

FDA warning issued to 4 makers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages

These beverages present a public health concern.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today warned four companies that the caffeine added to their malt alcoholic beverages is an “unsafe food additive” and said that further action, including seizure of their products, is possible under federal law.

The companies receiving Warning Letters and their products are:

• Charge Beverages Corp.: Core High Gravity HG, Core High Gravity HG Orange, and Lemon Lime Core Spiked

• New Century Brewing Co., LLC: Moonshot

• Phusion Projects, LLC (doing business as Drink Four Brewing Co.): Four Loko

• United Brands Company Inc.: Joose and Max

“FDA does not find support for the claim that the addition of caffeine to these alcoholic beverages is ‘generally recognized as safe,’ which is the legal standard,” said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Principal Deputy Commissioner. “To the contrary, there is evidence that the combinations of caffeine and alcohol in these products pose a public health concern.”

Experts have raised concerns that caffeine can mask some of the sensory cues individuals might normally rely on to determine their level of intoxication. The FDA said peer-reviewed studies suggest that the consumption of beverages containing added caffeine and alcohol is associated with risky behaviors that may lead to hazardous and life-threatening situations.

The agency said the products named in the Warning Letters are being marketed in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the FFDCA). Each Warning Letter requests that the recipient inform the FDA in writing within 15 days of the specific steps that will be taken to remedy the violation and prevent its recurrence. If a company does not believe its products are in violation of the FFDCA, it may present its reasoning and any supporting information as well.

FDA’s action today follows a November 2009 request to manufacturers to provide information on the safety of adding caffeine to their products.

FDA is aware that on November 16, Phusion Projects, LLC, the maker of Four Loko, announced its intention to remove caffeine and other stimulants from its drinks. FDA views this announcement as a positive step. FDA has not yet heard officially from the company about this announcement, including how quickly it will remove present product from circulation and how quickly it will reformulate its product. FDA intends to work with Phusion Projects, LLC and the other manufacturers to assure their products meet safety standards.

Caffeinated Alcoholic Beverages — FDA Web Page

12 Step Meetings For Young People

WEDNESDAY 8:00PM
Young People of NA
375 Palos Verdes Blvd. – Hollywood

Riviera United Methodist Church
Torrance, 90277

THURSDAY 7:30PM
Lets Get Real
243 S Broadway – Church
(Through gate from parking lot. Left at end)
Redondo Beach, 90277

FRIDAY 8:00PM
Rowell Street Meeting
1101 Rowell St –Trinity Lutheran Church
Manhattan Beach, 90266

FRIDAY 10:30PM
Friday Late Night
2000 Artesia Blvd.– Community Center
Redondo Beach, 90278

SATURDAY 10:00AM
Here to Love You
End of 2nd St on the Beach
Hermosa Beach, 90254

SATURDAY 8:00PM
Saturday Night Green Street
2000 Artesia Blvd.– Community Center
Redondo Beach, 90278

SATURDAY 10:30PM
Late Night Meditation
2000 Artesia Blvd.– Community Center
Redondo Beach, 90278

SUNDAY 10:00AM
Freedom by the Sea
End of 2nd St. on the Beach
Hermosa Beach, 9025