Four Loko – “Blackout in a can”

October 28, 2010

"Blackout in a can"The alcoholic energy drink Four Loko has achieved “Cult” status among underage drinkers, especially high school students.

Nine students at Central Washington University were hospitalized on October 8  after consuming four Loko.  Some of them had blood alcohol levels above .300 – considered lethal. In September, 23 students at Ramapo College in northern New Jersey were laid to waste drinking Four Loko.

Four Loko is a sweet, 12 percent alcohol, highly-caffeinated and carbonated beverage in a soda pop-styled 23.5 oz can. It’s the nuclear bomb of alcoholic energy drinks (AEDs).

The result: A wide-awake drunk. Until acute alcohol poisoning finally causes passing out. Or worse. If a 120 pound person were to consume two in just one hour, they would have a potentially fatal blood alcohol level.

There are several Facebook pages dedicated to Four Loko and its side effects. Check out some of the comments from Facebook pages “The last thing I remember was opening the 4 loko” and “Save Four Loko“:

“The first time i drank 4loko. I gave a girl two tattos…i never tatted before that night.”

“It’s the only drink that everyone in my town likes i gess (sic) well just have to do drugs now since its cocaine anyways.”

“I got tackled by the cops during a 4 hr blackout, and lost my brand new droid all in the same night.”

“Drank 2 of them in record time and was on ambien… I could’ve sworn we were getting chased by zombies, and i missed my college exam the next morning.”

“Drank two in about 45 minutes not thinking much, I get in my car… and as I’m driving it hits super hard. I guess I was swerving all over the road, and I made it to this party. Walk in… sit down…pass out.”

“Didnt believe my friends when they said they were blackouts in a can….beer bonged two and I was a sloppy mess.”

Combining caffeine with alcohol is dangerous because caffeine masks the intoxicating effects of alcohol, allowing the user to feel like they are not getting drunk as quickly, enabling them to drink more with potentially lethal results. A person drinking an AED is more likely to drive while intoxicated.

Openly discuss this with those in your circle. Educate them on the risks they could be taking with their lives and those of their friends.

This is not “cool”. This is not a simple” rite of passage”.

It’s flirting with death.


It gets better

October 23, 2010

Bullied? The President says \"It gets better\"

Change in the Season – Recognizing Seasonal Affective Disorder

October 22, 2010

The air is crisper, the night comes earlier, the World Series is in full swing, and before we know it we fall back into Standard time. The change of the season brings fall colors, Halloween, comfort food dinners, and a fire in the fireplace.

The change of season can also bring depression, isolation and “the blues”.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly called SAD, tends to occur during late fall and winter months. However, most people with the “winter blahs” or “cabin fever” do not have SAD. For many people symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include tiredness, fatigue, depression, crying spells, irritability, trouble concentrating, body aches, loss of sex drive, poor sleep, decreased activity level, and overeating. Statistics on seasonal affective disorder in the United States include that this disorder occurs in about 5% of adults, with up to 20% of people having some symptoms of the condition.

Some people don’t know why they feel out of sorts, they don’t know what to do or how to ask for help. Although there is no specific diagnostic test for the illness, Seasonal Affective Disorder seems to develop from inadequate bright light during the winter months.

Key in the prevention of seasonal affective disorder is regular exposure to light that is bright, particularly fluorescent lights, significantly improves depression in people with this disorder when it presents during the fall and winter. The light treatment is used daily in the morning and evening for best results. Temporarily changing locations to a climate that is characterized by bright light (such as the Caribbean) can achieve similar results. Light treatment has also been called phototherapy. Individuals who suffer from seasonal affective disorder will also likely benefit from increased social support during vulnerable times of the year.

Twenty four years ago this November, my father died of suicide.

After the shock, anger and grief, I learned that he had always felt “depressed” at the beginning of the fall season. It was not a subject my dad ever truly talked openly about. In the note he left behind, he described the overwhelming sense of sadness that came upon him, the need to isolate and the awful thoughts that ran through his mind. At the time he died, SAD and bi-polar were two types of depression that were unique and very misunderstood.

Knowing now what I didn’t know then, I attempt to learn as much as possible about these two debilitating forms of depression. In the 24 years since my father’s death, much more is known about the signs and symptoms of SAD. I wrote the following poem in an attempt to help my 2 sons know and learn about their possible legacy:

My Father’s Mask
I am my father’s son
I wear his pain deep inside
His father’s father handed down the legacy
-Men are strong, men don’t cry-
-We don’t ask for help-
My father battled his demons in silence
Until the inside voices won the war
Even in death the mask he wore was skin-tight
His pain wears me like an old sweater
Now stretched beyond yarn’s memory
Legacy’s gift handed down though time’s lineage
I am my father’s son,
Seeking to break the pathways of the past
Hoping my sons will not wear their father’s mask

– David D.

Astonishing Connections

October 20, 2010

Our Crisis Line Program operates with a blend of master’s level supervisors and well-trained volunteers. I think of our team as being like a kaleidoscope – beautiful in the diversity of colors and patterns of interaction. With 100 volunteers, we represent an incredible range of experiences and perspectives.

We are united by our training and our common goal – to further Oregon Partnership’s mission in drug prevention and to end substance abuse and suicide by responding to callers with compassion and insight, knowledge and respect. Our life experiences and personalities make up the colorful array of the kaleidoscope.

We are constantly amazed by the way callers seem to magically be connected to the volunteer who somehow has the ability to offer exactly what the caller needed that day. Sometimes the volunteer just sees things from an angle that the caller never considered before, and that makes all the difference. Sometimes the volunteer has something in common with the caller that paves the way for an especially helpful connection. I think of the elderly grandmother who was losing her will to live, reaching a volunteer whose strong connection with her own grandparents motivated her to engage courageously with the caller in a way that helped to rebuild a connection to life. The caller going through a painful break-up reaches the volunteer who found his way to the other side of a similar crisis a few years back. The veteran caller reaches the veteran volunteer who can truly understand and make a needed, life-sustaining connection. The caller in the early stages of recovery from addiction reaches the volunteer with several years of sobriety under her belt.

Our volunteers commit to a full year of service, giving 4 hours of their time each week. When these uncanny connections occur, and we know we helped, it makes it all worthwhile.


Oregon Pharmacy Board Bans K2, Spice and other “Synthetic Marijuana” products

October 15, 2010

In a major win for all of us, The Oregon Board of Pharmacy has voted to ban sale and possession of dangerous synthetic cannabis known on the market as “spice,” or “K2”.

Manufacturers of synthetic cannabis market the products as incense, not intended for human consumption.

In August I received a call from a desperate mother who had spent the night in Salem General’s emergency room with her 16 year-old son who had smoked a K2-like substance. He was hallucinating, had a skyrocketing pulse and blood pressure and extreme difficulty breathing. He was begging his mom “Please don’t let me die!”

Rarely have we had a chance to get ahead of an emerging drug problem and this is a slam dunk. We had been trying to get traction with the legislature to put a ban on these dangerous drugs ahead of their next meeting in February, but this action takes care of the issue once and for all.

This is a very good day in the field of drug prevention. I am so grateful.


Asking for Help

October 13, 2010

In one of the early Harry Potter books, Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, tells his students, “Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.” It’s a very simple but powerful statement. There are two parts to the equation. The person in need has to take the risk of asking for help, and there has to be someone listening who can respond. Both the helper and the person needing help must have some willingness to engage and be changed by the interaction.

In J.K. Rowling’s novels, Harry grows up with an emotionally abusive aunt and uncle. Like many who grow up in such circumstances, he is stubbornly independent. He has learned to rely on himself, because his painful experiences at home have shaken his trust in others. Harry’s difficulty in asking for or accepting help is a recurring theme throughout the 7-book narrative. At many points in the story, his decision to take the risk of reaching out marks a turning point. His friendships falter at times, but ultimately, they sustain him. He triumphs, and grows to healthy adulthood.

At Oregon Partnership’s Crisis Line Program, help will always be given to those who ask for it. For those who have the courage to pick up the phone and call, there will always be a compassionate, well-trained crisis worker who answers, ready to help.

We help by listening and caring, brainstorming coping skills, exploring suicidal thoughts, building safety plans and identifying resources. We will walk into the dark and look together for the light. We’ve been helped along the way and now we want to give back. We are changed and enriched by the experience of helping.

We hope our callers will feel supported and strengthened in their journey toward health.

– Debbie

Suicide – A Surviving Son’s Story

October 12, 2010

(Editor’s note: 23 years ago Nick’s father chose to kill himself. That decision has left permanent heartache and trouble for all those left behind. Here is Nick’s story)

When I was almost 3, my father killed himself. Although I have come a long way since then, his loss has been a constant uphill battle that unfortunately will always be part of my life.

When I was younger, I was never really able to deal with my emotions of anger, sadness, and loneliness in a healthy way. I grew up an angry kid; I would get into fights and punch holes in walls and although my mom constantly tried to get me help, I was never able to really deal with the true pain I felt inside. Even to this day I could never truly understand how a father could leave behind three boys, my two half- brothers and me, all of whom were talented, funny, and bright. Besides relying on one another, we all turned to sports as a way of coping and to this day it infuriates me that my dad never once saw me play ball.

Another situation that used to bother me was spending time at my friends’ homes and watching their interactions with their fathers and realizing that this would never be me. One situation that has stayed with me was a time when I was interviewing for application to a private school; during the interview I totally disengaged. On the way home my mother asked what happened and I told her that every kid there had their mother and father to support them and I didn’t feel like I fit in.

I truly never understood how a person could take his own life until I was 15 and all my feelings of anger, frustration, and abandonment resulted in my own attempt at suicide. Fortunately, my mom got me the help I needed and I was able to move on in a positive manner.

Growing up without a father was never easy and there were times in my life that I felt so much pain I couldn’t bear it. This situation has forced me to become an extremely strong person. I’m independent and have worked hard to accomplish goals in my life.

Although I have a great relationship with my mother and brothers, it will never compensate for the pain I have experienced growing up without a dad.

– Nick