It’s Lock Up Your Meds Day: A Growing Danger for Youth

October 27, 2008

Who knew that fighting the war on drugs would begin in your own medicine cabinet.

 Unfortunately, that’s exactly where we are today because it is too easy for prescribed prescription drugs to fall into our kid’s hands.

The statistics speak for themselves.  All in all more than three million teens in the United States abuse prescription drugs. And the problem of drug use without a medical purpose among our youth is only growing worse: prescription drug abuse has risen in prevalence even as the abuse of illicit drugs has declined. 

 
Abuse of prescription drugs can be just as dangerous as illegal drugs – the big difference is that kids tend to think they are safe and are easier to get.  There is a direct link between perception of harm and use of a substance or drug.
Children don’t have to go to the streets or to a dealer to find prescription drugs; the biggest threat is an unsecured medicine cabinet in our own homes.  Gaining access to its contents typically calls for nothing more difficult than sliding open a mirrored door. 
Seventy percent of children who abuse prescription drugs admit to getting them from friends and family, often taken from the home medicine cabinet without that person’s knowledge.  A recent study from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) said that teens find it easier to get their hands on prescription drugs than it is to get their hands on beer.  The long-term prognosis can be bleak.  Kids who fool around with prescription drugs before age 16 face a higher risk of drug dependence later in life.   

We can all do more to prevent prescription drug abuse.  The first step is to become educated about the problem.  The second step is to get the community involved by inviting all to join us in spreading the word.
That’s what the National Family Partnership (NFP) and Oregon Partnership strongly believe.  As the country’s oldest and largest drug prevention program – and as the founder of Red Ribbon Week, which takes place every October 23-31 – the NFP has long dedicated itself to keeping children, families and communities drug-free.  Together with Alpharma Pharmaceuticals, it has designated October 27 as “Lock Your Meds” Day, to raise awareness and provide parents with action steps to prevent children’s prescription drug abuse.
  “Lock Your Meds Day” urges parents to take a five-part pledge, promising to: talk to your children about prescription drugs, set clear rules for behavior,  lock up your medicines, take inventory and keep track of your medicines, and encourage others to follow the exact same guidelines. 
 To help parents, the campaign website www.nfp.org/lockyourmeds includes easy-to-use resources such as a home medicine inventory card, the online pledge, and downloadable guidelines on how to properly dispose of old and unused prescription medicines.


Oregon Suicide Prevention Lines Getting More Calls

October 23, 2008

 

Oregon Partnership’s suicide prevention line, LifeLine,  is reflecting the souring economy with a 55% increase in phone calls from people in crisis and contemplating suicide.

The number of calls received by staff and volunteers on the suicide prevention line reached 1,270 in the month of September. That’s 454 more calls from people seeking help than the month before.

And with nine days remaining in October, the number of calls this month has already reached 955 and on track to surpass September’s total.

In September, Oregon Partnership began taking LifeLine calls originating from Washington, Idaho, and Alaska to act as a backup for suicide prevention lines in those states.

“We’ve been asked to serve as a resource for other Northwest states where it is obvious that more people are feeling a sense of hopelessness as a result of losing their job or experiencing a personal financial crisis,” said Leslie Storm, Director of Oregon Partnership’s Crisis Lines Program.  “And when so many of these folks are already facing serious alcohol and drug programs, it’s a double whammy.”

Storm notes that during the last couple of months, more callers have been mentioning job and money issues.

“It’s also interesting to note that we’ve been getting more calls from men on all our crisis lines,” said Storm. “In September, we received 951 calls from men, compared to 594 in August. This is an unusual increase.”

OP’s Suicide Prevention Line (1-800-273-TALK) is the state’s only suicide crisis hotline certified by the American Association of Suicidology and is part of the National LifeLine Network.

Oregon Partnership’s HelpLine  (1-800-923-HELP) provides crisis intervention, including confidential alcohol and drug crisis counseling and treatment referral. 

Operated by experienced staff and approximately 75 volunteers who undergo 56 hours of crisis line skills training, the four lines – including The YouthLine and Linea de Ayuda – are the lifeblood for those in crisis and feel they have nowhere else to turn.

Oregon Partnership’s crisis lines have been offering intervention and treatment referral to an increasing number of callers. For this past fiscal year, more than 25-thousand people received immediate assistance from this efficient and cost effective operation.
About Oregon Partnership:
Oregon Partnership is a statewide nonprofit that has worked to promote healthy kids and communities for well over a decade by raising awareness about drug and alcohol issues, providing prevention education in classrooms, and 24-hour crisis lines for people needing help. To learn more, visit www.orpartnership.org.


Suicide Prevention Line Experiencing an Increase in Calls

October 22, 2008

The economic upheaval is obviously resulting in more calls to Oregon Partnership’s suicide prevention line.

Already in October, OP’s LifeLine has handled 955 calls with ten days left in the month. That compares to the 1,270 calls the line received in the entire month of September and 816 calls in August.

“We’ve definitely seen more people in crisis as a result of the financial meltdown,” said Leslie Storm, Oregon Partnership’s Crisis Lines Director. “When you lose your job or your savings or both, depression can set in quickly.”

And now comes word that the suicide rate is going up for baby boomers:

TUESDAY, Oct. 21 (HealthDay News) — The suicide rate in the United States is increasing for the first time in a decade, particularly among middle-aged white women, a new study finds.

“This is a group we haven’t had as much focus on in terms of suicide, because the death rates were higher in elderly white males, and there has been a lot of attention to teenagers and young adults,” said lead researcher Susan P. Baker, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “This 40-to-64 age group has been neglected.”

The suicide rate declined over the same period for blacks and remained stable for Asians and Native Americans, the study found.

Baker said it’s not clear what might be causing the rising suicide rates among middle-aged whites. “We need to study the individual people who have committed suicide and see what were their living circumstances. Were they depressed, was this impulsive? A lot more specific information is needed,” she said.

One possible explanation is that doctors may not be paying enough attention to the mental health of their middle-aged white patients to spot the risk of suicide, Baker said.

The report was published online Oct. 21 in theAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine.

For the study, Baker and her colleagues used the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System. This site provides information on cause of deaths, broken down by age, race, sex and state. The statistics are culled from annual reports by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The researchers found that from 1999 to 2005, the overall suicide rate in the United States rose 0.7 percent. However, among middle-aged white women, the annual increase was 3.9 percent; among middle-aged white men it was 2.7 percent.

The most frequent method of suicide was using a firearm, although the rate of suicide by this method declined. Suicide by hanging and suffocation rose significantly, accounting for 22 percent of all suicides by 2005. Among men, hanging/suffocation rates increased 6.3 percent annually; among women, the yearly rise was 2.3 percent. Poisoning accounted for 18 percent of suicides, the study found.

Alan L. Berman, executive director of the American Association of Suicidology, noted that “suicide rates vary, and until you have a clear and dramatic difference, it’s awfully hard to know what’s going on.”

Berman pointed out that the suicide rate among older people is decreasing. “We don’t know any more about that than we do about the increase among middle-aged people,” he said. “We are always concerned about understanding these kinds of trends, but they need to go on for many years in order to truly define them as something significant and different.”

The best explanation, so far, for the increased suicide rate among middle-age men and women is the “baby boomer explanation,” Berman said. “You have a very large group of people, and we would expect to see increases in this geriatric group over the next several years,” he said.

As for the difference between suicides among whites and blacks, Berman said whites have always had higher suicide rates.

The goal should be to identify and treat people who are suicidal, Berman said. “We need to understand better those who are suicidal, irrespective of age or gender or race. We need to understand and observe warning signs, so that we can find and refer and treat these individuals before they become statistics,” he said.

In 2004, suicide was the eleventh leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for 32,439 deaths. There are an estimated eight to 25 attempted suicides for every suicide death, according the National Institute of Mental Health.


Home Furnishing Takes on Whole New Meaning

October 17, 2008

New Products Available From the “Face It, Parents” Campaign

 A new campaign to educate adults about the dangers of furnishing alcohol to minors is underway, thanks to a combined effort by Oregon Partnership and the Oregon Liquor Control Mission.

New products, materials and posters are available at various liquor stores around the state, in hopes that parents get the message loud and clear: That most teens who obtain hard liquor, get it from home.

Among the items are bottle hangers featuring peal-off stickers that parents can put on their home alcohol supply that say, “At your age, drinking is dangerous.  So are really angry parents.”

Posters are also being displayed, supporting the campaign theme, “Home Furnishing Takes on a Whole New Meaning.”  Other campaign posters featuring several messages are being developed, including alcohol’s impact on the adolescent brain.

Refrigerator magnets will also be distributed to local prevention and coalition coordinators around the state.  Among the magnet messages:

“Parental disapproval is the #1 reason kids don’t drink”
“Set clear rules against underage drinking”
“Know where your kids are and what they’re doing”
“Kids get alcohol from homes.  Lock your liquor cabinet”

“It’s a startling new trend that our kids now prefer hard liquor over beer as their drink of choice,” says Pam Erickson of Oregon Partnership.  “Often, kids get their alcohol from home. Parents should tell their children that underage drinking is not permitted in their home of elsewhere.”

According to Erickson, parents need to maintain control of alcohol in their home and talk to their children about “house rules” against underage drinking.

According to researchers, those who start drinking under the age of 15 have four times the chance of having problems with alcohol when they reach adulthood.

The most recent Oregon Healthy Teens Survey shows that about a third of 8th graders in the state have consumed alcohol in the past 30 days and about half of 11th graders. The Survey also shows that 31 percent of 8th grade drinkers and 37 percent of 11th grade drinkers prefer liquor.

 “Face it, Parents” is an Oregon Department of Human Services prevention campaign managed by Oregon Partnership and designed to reduce underage drinking by targeting parents. 

For more about “Face It, Parents,” visit www. faceitparents.com.


Overcoming Challenges for Our Returning Veterans

October 16, 2008

An awesome panel on treatment, assistance, and compassion for returning soldiers and veterans!

Wednesday, December 10, 12:00 – 2:00 p.m.
at Montgomery Park
2701 NW Vaughn Ave., Portland 97210
Only $50, Including Lunch!
Register Now! Parking is Free!
CEU’s Pending

For the men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, it is crucial that we recognize the symptoms and signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, depression, and substance abuse. Our expert panel will provide needed information and insight for providers, families and caring citizens.

Other Topics:

Addressing increased suicide among returning soldiers and veterans
Options for veterans and their families
Effects of multiple deployment
Effects on Families
Panelists:

James M. Sardo, PhD. – Program Co-Manager, Substance Abuse Treatment Program and the PTSD Clinical Team, Portland VA Medical Center
Robert Tell, LCSW – Suicide Prevention Coordinator, Portland VA Medical Center
Major Daniel Thompson – Chaplain, Oregon National Guard Reintegration Team.
To Register, email Danny Slifman or call 503-244-5211.

Brought to you by Oregon Partnership, a statewide non-profit working promoting healthy kids and communities by raising awareness about drug and alcohol issues, providing drug prevention education in classrooms, and 24-hour crisis lines for callers needing help.

To learn more, visit www.orpartnership.org.


Financial Crisis Creating More Calls to OP Crisis Lines

October 10, 2008

There is no question that the financial meltdown is creating added stress and anxiety for countless Americans, and Oregon Partnership is feeling it on its crisis lines.

“Often, people feel they’re in crisis when they lose their job or their house or are wallowing in financial chaos that’s out of their control,” said Leslie Storm, OP’s Crisis Lines Director.

In August OP received 2,204 calls on our HelpLine and Suicide Intervention Lines.

In September, we received 2,872 calls.

This is a huge increase to experience in one month. Another interesting fact worth mentioning is gender related…in August we had 594 male callers. In September we received 951 calls from men. This is also an unusual increase. Rarely do we see such a spike in calls from men.


Questions & Answers Regarding the Amethyst Initiative

October 7, 2008

WHAT IS IT?

The Amethyst Initiative, founded by John McCardell, President Emeritus of Middlebury College and founder of a group called Choose Responsibility, calls for a national debate on lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18 and has more than 100 college presidents signed on.  Presidents of Lewis & Clark, Pacific University, and Willamette University are among them.

McCardell has been an ardent supporter of lowering the drinking age, and although he calls for a “debate,” his views are clearly known.

The flawed rationale behind the initiative is that if the drinking age is lowered, fewer college students would drink, we wouldn’t have the problems with alcohol on college campuses, and that colleges would have more control over campus drinking.

The backers also say that lowering the drinking age would result in more students drinking in campus pubs as opposed to areas where there is no authority, such as dorm rooms and frat houses.
DO WE THINK THIS IS A GOOD IDEA?

No! It’s a terrible idea with horrendous implications.  Every one of their arguments is flawed.  There isn’t a shred of evidence that any of the arguments would achieve desired results!

Every national alcohol and drug prevention group – including MADD, CSPI, CADCA and others – strongly oppose the initiative, saying that the facts are clear:  The current drinking age is a good thing that saves thousands of lives a year. Lowering it would cause a myriad of problems, not the least of which include more teens drinking, more deaths on the highways, and more injuries and sexual assaults.
SO WHY WOULD ALL THESE COLLEGE PRESIDENT SIGN ON?

College presidents have largely been unsuccessful in controlling campus drinking and in particular, binge drinking, and some think that by lowering the drinking age, many of their problems would go away.

Although it is hardly ever mentioned by the presidents, it would stand to reason that they would solve a lot of their liability problems if the drinking age is raised.  Some colleges have been named in lawsuits by parents of students who have died or been injured as a result of alcohol.

DOES THIS PROPOSAL HAVE ANY CHANCE OF BECOMING REALITY?

The MADD leadership says it is doubtful because if states decided to lower the drinking age, they’d lose 10% of their federal highway funding. That’s a big bite in already shrinking state budgets.  The Minimum Age Drinking Law was passed in the mid-80’s, and a number of states that had a drinking age of 18 raised it to 21.

But it is vitally important that we use this “debate” as an opportunity to build awareness and to convince the public – not to mention college presidents – why lowering the drinking age would be a disaster.  We cannot allow this proposal to gather steam.

At the same time, we should be addressing all the ways that underage drinking CAN be addressed on college campuses, and in our communities.

PREVENTION HAS SEEN SUCCESSESFUL SINCE THE MINIMUM DRINKING AGE WAS RAISED TO 21 IN ALL 50 STATES.

*The 2007 “Monitoring the Future” survey shows that 28% of high school seniors have never used alcohol, compared to 8% in 1984 before states raised the drinking age to 21.

*According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,  approximately 25,000 lives have been saved because of fewer accidents involving young drivers who had been drinking.

*In the early 70s, a number of states lowered the drinking age and nighttime fatal crashes increased 17% in the 18-20 age group.
RESEARCHERS HAVE CONFIRMED THAT TEEN DRINKING HAS LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES.

*The adolescent brain is not fully developed until the early to mid-20s.  As a result, alcohol use prior to age 21 can hamper brain development and function.

*Youth who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four more times likely to develop alcohol dependence as an adult than those who wait until age 21.

*The National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol Related Conditions indicates that of adults diagnosed with alcohol dependence, 47% met the criteria before 21.

LOWERING THE DRINKING AGE WOULD TRANSFER THE PROBLEM TO OUR NATION’S HIGH SCHOOLS.

It would strengthen the perception among younger teens that if the drinking age is 18, it’s probably OK for them too.

WHAT ABOUT THE ARGUMENT THAT IF YOU’RE OLD ENOUGH TO FIGHT FOR YOUR COUNTRY, YOU’RE OLD ENOUGH TO DRINK?

*Lowering the drinking age is a health and safety issue.  Military leadership has seen the clear and dangerous effects of alcohol on morale, readiness, and combat effectiveness.

*Every branch of the military is focusing more and more attention on alcohol education and responsible drinking campaigns with impressive results.

*Instead of touting military service as a reason to drink younger, civilian leaders should turn to the military as role models on how to achieve significant results with the current age standards.

WHAT ABOUT THE ARGUMENT THAT IF YOU’RE OLD ENOUGH TO VOTE, YOU’RE OLD ENOUGH TO DRINK?

*Again, it’s a health and safety issue.  18-year olds can vote without endangering their health, their lives and the lives of others.

*Alcohol has harmful effects on adolescent brains.  Voting doesn’t.

IT IS OFTEN ARGUED THAT LOWERING THE DRINKING AGE WOULD HELP YOUNG PEOPLE TO LEARN TO DRINK RESPONSIBLY – LIKE THEY DO IN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES.

A common perception is that alcohol is a bigger problem with American young people compared with young people in European countries, which have more liberal drinking age laws. Studies show, however, that compared to the United States, a larger percentage of young people from nearly all European countries report drinking in the past 30 days. And a larger percentage of young people from most European countries report binge drinking, defined as five or more drinks in a row.

Great Britain is one of the countries currently suffering from an epidemic of severe alcohol-related problems.  Abuse of alcohol has grown drastically in the last few years, among underage drinkers as well as among adults of all age groups.  These problems can be traced directly to deregulation of both on-premise and off-premise sales of alcohol.

Other European countries are also taking measures to reduce the growing incidence of underage drinking, including Ireland and Norway.

 
SO WHAT SUGGESTIONS DO WE HAVE FOR COLLEGE PRESIDENTS?
*It’s time for real leadership in formulating campus alcohol policies, instead of administrators dreaming up ways to limit potential liability.

*College presidents should engage students in developing a set of principles designed to create a campus environment that de-emphasizes the role of heavy drinking in student life.

*Any such policy should include strengthening efforts to educate parents of incoming freshman, to provide confidential counseling and intervention services for students, and to bolster campus and community enforcement.

*Colleges must inform and educate students and their parents about the wide range of consequences of binge drinking. A very strong correlation exists between student drinking and physical and sexual assault, depression, anxiety, and school failure.  And as alarming, is alcohol poisoning from binge drinking that can result in death.

*College administrators need to communicate loud and clear the overriding message to students, parents, trustees, and alumni: that alcohol is off limits if you’re not 21.

* College students drink more that those in the same age group that are not in college.  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s program, A Matter of Degree, studied this issue for many years.  They found that the more actions taken by a community and the college, the lesser the drinking problems. 

NOTE: The above is very basic information.  Please check the following websites for more specifics on “Support 21.”
 MADD
 http://www.madd.org/Parents/UnderageDrinking.aspx
CADCA    http://www.cadca.org/CoalitionResources/publicpolicy/support21.asp
NIAAA http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/AboutNIAAA/NIAAASponsoredPrograms/drinkingage
NHTSA
http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/
CDC
http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/quickstats/mlda.htm