Prevention Wins In 2010 Election

November 3, 2010

I was heartened to see the outcome of several ballot measures that could have had a serious negative impact on teen substance abuse.

In Oregon, voters rejected Ballot Measure 74, which would have created a system of unlimited dispensaries for medical marijuana. Proponents said it would help patients get their marijuana. Opponents said it would raise the prices for patients significantly, exempt dispensary operators and their staff from any prosecution, create major money generating operations, all the while it would increase the availability to vulnerable youth.

California voters on Tuesday rejected a ballot measure that would have made it the first state to legalize the personal use and possession of marijuana.

In Washington state, the voters look to have turned down two initiatives that would privatize liquor sales and overhaul beer- and wine-distribution rules. Had they passed, the number of alcohol outlets in the state would have increased ten-fold.  Again, the issue is ready availability to youth as well as problem drinkers.

A defeat for those measures is a win for our youth and a win for prevention.

– Tom


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.



May 14, 2010

 A town hall comprised of teens, parents, and community members will address local attitudes, challenges, and solutions surrounding the issue of underage drinking and drug abuse.

The event is part of the Multnomah County Underage Drinking Pilot Project and is a collaborative effort among Multnomah County, Oregon Partnership and Wilson and Marshall High Schools.

A student team at Wilson High School has been meeting every week since December of last year, collecting data from fellow students and researching local alcohol and drug issues.  

The students will be sharing their survey results at the town hall and joined by community members from local schools, neighborhoods and businesses.
WHERE: St Barnabas Episcopal Church
                 2201 S.W. Vermont Street
                 Portland, Oregon 97219

WHEN: 7-9 p.m. Monday, May 17, 2010

*To develop a youth-led media campaign to create policies that maintain a healthy and safe environment.

*To create partnerships in the community to raise public awareness.

*Assess minor-in-possession policy and enforcement and recommend positive changes.

*Collect data about underage drinking and substance abuse using community surveys, focus groups and the Student Wellness Survey.

Founded in 1993, Oregon Partnership is a 501-3c non-profit organization whose mission is to end substance abuse and suicide.
OP is the state’s leading non-profit organization that promotes healthy communities through drug and alcohol awareness, drug prevention programs, and 24-hour crisis lines for treatment referral, crisis counseling, and suicide intervention.

OP’s crisis lines are now receiving more than 30-thousand calls annually, including an increasing number of calls for help from veterans and returning soldiers.  As a result, OP has recently begun offering more outreach and assistance to the military community in Oregon.

To learn more, visit

OP Launches “New Face It, Parents” Effort

January 8, 2010

Oregon Partnership’s Youth Advisory Council was busy during the Christmas break recording a public service announcement focusing on one important way parents can prevent teen drinking: By listening to their kids.

The PSA written and recorded by teens will air throughout the state on as many as 100 radio stations thanks to a program for non-profits sponsored by the Oregon Association of Broadcasters.

The spots are being produced free of charge by Entercom Radio of Portland, a longtime supporter of Oregon Partnership and the “Face It, Parents” campaign.

The message about listening and then following up on red flags (such as teen parties where adults aren’t present) is essential to preventing underage drinking.

Parents who listen to their teens and talk early and often about the dangers of alcohol and drugs have been proven to be largely successful in keeping their kids safe and healthy.

Drug prevention works, and if there’s any doubt, parents have the biggest influence on their kids.  So listen and communicate.

Underage Drinking, Teen Drug Use Down in Oregon

December 22, 2009

There’s a positive trend happening in Oregon involving high schoolers and middle schoolers.  And  in very large part, it has to do with parents taking a larger role in preventing underage drinking and teen drug abuse.
And for that, parents should be congratulated!
According to the Oregon Health Teens Survey, alcohol use among 11th graders and 8th graders (the classes surveyed) continues to go down.  The same is true for illegal drugs, except for marijuana and the illegal use of prescription drugs.
The survey reports that the percentage of 11th graders who used alcohol in the month before they were asked the question, came in at 38 percent, compared to 44 percent in 2007.
The Oregon Department of Human Services tells us that for 8th graders, the downward trend started showing up in 2005.  And there’s more good news: Illegal drugs use and smoking by teens continue to drop almost every year.
Drug prevention experts here at Oregon Partnership say this isn’t by accident. The biggest factor has to do with parents taking a much more active role in talking to their kids early and often about the dangers and effects of alcohol, drugs and tobacco.
There’s a reason why most public service announcements you see and hear about underage drinking and illegal drug use among teens are aimed at PARENTS.  Parents, after all, have the most influence on their children.
Unfortunately, more Oregon teens smoke marijuana than smoke cigarettes, and here in Oregon and nationally too, more teens are abusing prescription drugs. 

 Those are trends that anti-drug coalitions around the country will be targeting in the coming months, initiating “lock your meds” campaigns, among other strategies.

New Ore. Survey Shows Decline in Underage Drinking

December 3, 2009

Some encouraging results from the latest Oregon Healthy Teens Survey regarding underage drinking.

Among 8th graders surveyed, 23.2 percent said they had consumed alcohol in the past 30 days, down from 25.8 percent in ’07. So, good news there.

In addition, 8th-grade girls are drinking less compared with ’07.

Among 11th-graders in ’09, 38.4 percent said they had at least one drink of alcohol in the past 30 days. That’s down from 43.9 percent in ’07.

Since 2005, there’s been a decrease in 8th graders who say they have used alcohol and drugs in the past 30 days.

Drug Prevention efforts appear to paying off.  Let’s keep it going because as has been proven, prevention works.

Old Navy T-Shirt Story Gets Mucho Media Coverage

October 9, 2009

When Oregon Partnership complained about Old Navy stores selling alcohol-related t-shirts to teen customers, the media noticed.

Four Portland TV stations, a Eugene TV station, and several Portland radio stations aired extensive coverage, and the reaction is pouring into Oregon Partnership.

Most of what we are hearing  is positive from our point of view but for those who believe parents are responsible for what their kids buy and that Old Navy shouldn’t be held accountable,  remember this:

 By selling t-shirts with messages such as “Beer Pressure, Give in to it,” Old Navy is telling parents that the company doesn’t care about them, their kids, or their community. So much for the “social responsibility” that Old Navy and its parent company GAP, Inc. talk about.

OP is asking that Old Navy prove that they don’t dispute what most parents are telling their teens about the dangers of underage drinking and stop selling those t-shirts that encourage underage drinking or at the very least, make light of it.