Tag Archives: teens

Straight Talk with Teens for Drug Abuse Prevention

drug prevention groupHeroin use among 18-25 year olds has more than doubled since 2002, but remains low still for younger teenagers, thankfully. However, given the national trend, we must place extra attention on prevention efforts to keep our youth safe so that they not only remain drug-free in high school, but are better prepared for their time afterward.

Instead of incorporating heroin education in catchy slogans, or scare tactics, many people are educating students simply by talking to them and sharing open, honest and real information. This straight-talk version of drug education may be seeing better results than any other campaign. For instances, some high schools have implemented clubs that are centered around drug abstinence and positive peer influence.

Clubs that focus on staying healthy and revolve around education and engaging in activities that are drug-free are not a new concept. In fact, some form of these clubs have been around for decades. Some of the more recent activity has been focused on the heroin problem and the decisions that many teens have to face regarding it and other drugs.

“All of our students have a story of somebody in their family who is an addict or a friend of a family member or something of that nature,” explained Erin Parsons, a history teacher and co-founder of the Marshall Country Drug Free Club.

Perhaps one of the most influential aspects to drug-free clubs is the power of peer influence. Heroin experimentation is arguably a peer-driven activity, and clubs like the one in Marshall County are looking to use that same phenomenon for positivity. The more agreement that can take place among young people to stay away from heroin, painkillers and other drugs, the more they can have an impact on the behaviors of their peers and avoid the pitfalls of millions of young adults who wind up needing treatment for their substance abuse.

Playing High Contact Sports Could Put Teens at Risk for Using Drugs and Alcohol

adolescentsportsinjuriesTeens who play high contact sports like football, wrestling, hockey or lacrosse are more likely to drink alcohol or smoke than those teen athletes who play non contact sports. A new University of Michigan study’s findings show that participating in high contact sports was associated with substance use within the last 30 days.

The study also found that teens who play competitive, high contact sports were more likely to have an early onset of getting drunk between 4th and 8th grades when compared to teens not participating in sports.

Results showed that teens playing contact sports tended to be willing to take a gamble with their bodies, even if the gamble led to injury and permanent damage. This trait could be a reason why teens who play high contact sports are more likely to make decisions to drink or use drugs. The opposite can be said for those teens participating in non contact sports like tennis, swimming and track. Those students would be least likely to initiate drug or alcohol use because they are focused on maintaining their bodies for competition.

“Competitive sports participation can either inhibit or amplify substance use,” said Phillp Veliz, assistant research professor at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender. He pointed out that it just depends on the type of sports the adolescents play.

Data from Monitoring the Future, a national survey of 8th, 10th and 12th grade students, was used by the researchers for the University of Michigan study. Students were asked questions on substance abuse, how they feel they are doing academically and whether or not they participate in sports. Their sample included more than 21,000 teens who were asked about drug and alcohol use within a 30-day window.

Veliz said that the findings cast doubt on previous perceptions that any type of participation in organized sports deters teens from risky behaviors like substance abuse.

Study Examines Link Between Witnessing Drug Sales and Future Drug Use

witnessdealingPerhaps not surprisingly, researchers have found a link between youth who witness drug sales in their neighborhood and those who wind up abusing drugs. Generally, people focus on the influence that family or peers have on a child, but one study is looking at the larger environmental factors when it comes to influence. The study shows that children who observe the sale of drugs are more likely to abuse harder drugs and in greater quantities as well.

“Those who reported seeing neighborhood sales ‘almost every day’ were eleven times more likely to report thirty-day use of more than one illicit drug compared to those who reported never seeing neighborhood drug sales and reported no thirty-day use of illicit drugs,” explained Dr. Dustin T. Duncan, an assistant professor of Population Health at NYU and researcher on the study.

Researchers understood that peer disapproval of drug use is one of the biggest deterrents to abuse, and they examined the link between peer disapproval and the frequency of neighborhood drug sales. For those who witnessed drug sales almost every day, peers were less likely to report this information to their friends who strongly disagreed with marijuana abuse. Since children were avoiding the involvement of a disapproving peer, researchers point out that they were more likely to abuse drugs as well. Seeing drug sales almost everyday normalizes the activity and makes it more acceptable to children.

As the data was further examined, it was pointed out that there is a fine line between utilizing disapproving peers as a tool against drug use and having those disapproving peers push their friends towards drug use. If the disapproval is too great many youth will not seek out those friends to discuss drug use or drug popularity in their neighborhood, thus preventing those friends from dissuading the use.

Prescription Drugs: Rampant Availability

Though prescription drugs have endured a recent popularity with users of younger and younger ages, the problem with abuse of these drugs spans from ages as young as 10 to elderly octogenarians. What makes the fight against prescription drug abuse so much different than other illicit drugs, is the fact that these drugs are not manufactured in a war-torn country by heavily armed drug-lords, these drugs are manufactured in the United States, regulated by the FDA, and can be found in any city around the country.

Prescription drugs that are widely abused (i.e Oxycontin, Hydrocodone, Xanax, Percocet, etc.) are in any Walgreens, CVS, or other brands of pharmacies, but this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to describing how close these drugs are to the public at any given time. RX drugs are also just beneath the public’s noses via the internet as well.

Law enforcement, DEA, and other institutions are beginning to see an alarming number of sales and purchases through social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram, as well as advertisements for the drugs on sites like Craigslist and other public forums and communities.

Recently, a group of students attending NYU in New York were arrested for running an illegal drug trade of pills on Craigslist. The advertisement that led authorities to the students read: “Friendly NYU Student – Pain and Anxiety Relief — **Perc, Roxy** J.” The ad was referring to the prescription drugs Percocet and Roxycodone. Surprisingly, this one ad is not unique, ads just like this can be found in any of the Craigslist city or state pages. In-short, there is a veritable black market burgeoning on the web, a location that is readily available to anyone with a phone or internet connection.

Drug dealers peddling their goods on public sites like craigslist often sell to a larger market, often to people they have never met before, but the drug trade on sites like Facebook have a much deeper and interpersonal network reach. Facebook is a private site and has its own encoded private messaging system. Popular amongst teens especially, smaller networks can be made by Facebook users. Using codes, double meanings, and sometimes even pictures of the drugs to act as an ad, or a call to buy. Through private messages, buyer and seller negotiate their prices and work out a location to make the trade.

The availability of these drugs is very real. Staking-out the drug deals set up over some of these online outlets, law enforcement officials watched these exchanges take place in public parks, street corners, even in libraries and coffee shops. They note that unlike certain drugs like crack-cocaine, meth, or heroin, these drug deals didn’t occur in a dark alley or a run-down meth lab, they took place in Starbucks and the public library. This shows just how rampant the accessibility of prescription drugs is. With these drugs not having to be smuggled across any borders, no cartel murders occurring over the manufacturing and no clear way to separate legitimate users from abusers, Prescription drugs will likely continue to remain as attainable in the future as well.