Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rural teens found more likely to abuse prescription drugs than urban teens

John Gever, senior editor of MedPage Today, wrote an article on Nov. 1 entitled "Rx Drug Abuse Heaviest in Rural Teens."

He cites the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which turned up some very interesting data. According to Gever, researchers found that while there is little difference in lifetime alcohol and illicit drug use between youth in urban, suburban/small metropolitan and rural communities, rural teens are more at risk for non-medical use of prescription medications.

Rx drug abuse among rural teens was found to be correlated with factors such as household income, school dropouts, etc. There is no conclusive evidence regarding causation, though, if my understanding of the study's conclusions are correct.

Jennifer Havens, PhD, MPH, of the University of Kentucky at Lexington, is quoted by Gever as having said that intervention "may be difficult for rural areas where (. . .) resources are in short supply or nonexistent."

Click here to read the full article.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Article: 'Gambling addiction linked to suicidal behavior in teens -- study'

An article was published this morning on http://www.themedguru.com/ covering a study on the links between gambling and various forms of problem behavior in young people. It's called "Gambling addiction linked to suicidal behavior in teens -- study," and was written by Neharika Sabharwal.

As it turns out, teens who develop gambling addictions run an appreciably higher risk not only for suicide, but also other problem behaviors such as stealing, drug selling, and destruction of property. According to Sabharwal's article, most of these behaviors seem to be geared toward obtaining money to feed gambling addictions.

I found the link to this article on the Western New York Prevention Resource Center website, which has been up and running for about a week now. Check it out!

Click here to read Sabharwal's article.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gruesome Cigarette Pack Images Make Smokers Want to Quit, Study Finds

MONDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed graphic new warning labels on cigarette packaging, to help curb smoking. But do these often gruesome images work to help smokers quit?

A new study suggests they do. Smokers shown grim images of a mouth with a swollen, blackened and generally horrifying cancerous growth covering much of the lip were more likely to say they wanted to quit than smokers shown less disturbing images.

Batavian poll question: If Genesee Justice is shut down will the county need to build a new jail?

This was placed on The Batavian at 8:50 a.m. The options are:

a) Yes, and that's one reason I want to keep Genesee Justice around

b) Yes, but it's a chance I'm willing to take

c) No, I don't believe that will happen

d) No opinion

I would encourage everyone here at GCASA to vote. To do so, click here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Genesee Justice gets overwhelming support at budget hearing

"It was standing room only" at the Genesee County budget hearing last night, according to Paul Mrozek's article, "Genesee Justice gets outpouring of support at budget hearing," which was published today in the Batavia Daily News. Citizens, public officials, and local organzations gathered in droves to send legislators an important message -- namely, that Genesee Justice, which is by virtually all accounts a very innovative and effective (both from a human and financial standpoint) program, must be kept alive.

Click here to read the Daily News article.

Please stay tuned to The Batavian, which will likely also be running an article on the hearing shortly.

UPDATE: The Batavian posted the article about 45 minutes ago. It is very informative and takes account of the depth of the issue. Click here to read.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

California venue bans rave-type events because of drug and alcohol-related illnesses, fatalities

Cow Palace, a Daly City, CA facility that hosts electronic music/dance parties, will be shut down for an unspecified period of time due to a high number of recent drug/alcohol overdoses.

About three weeks ago, according to the article "Cow Palace bans rave-type shows after drug-related deaths," which was written by Neil Gonzales and published on MercuryNews.com at 11:28 p.m. last night (Nov. 16), "more than a dozen people attending a show (. . .) fell ill because of suspected drug and alcohol use and were sent to hospitals, with two reportedly in critical condition."

Gonzales also reports two deaths having resulted from these drug/alcohol overdoses in the past year.

Click here to read the full article.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Aggravated vehicular homicide conviction leads to 2.5-year prison sentence

Here's a follow-up to my Tues., Sept. 1 post: "DWI in the News."

Genesee County's first aggravated vehicular homicide conviction was issued just recently, and yesterday met with a sentence of 2 1/2 years in state prison. The prosecution argued that the sentence was too lenient, given the result of the offender's actions. If I understand correctly, the levity of the sentence was due, in large part, to the fact that this was his first offense.

This information is from this morning's Daily News article. Click to read.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Webcast: 'Raising Drug-Free Kids'

Copied from an e-mail we received last week:

(Note: The program titled "Emerging Drug Trends" previously scheduled for 19 November has been postponed to February 24th 2011 due to production delays. If you were previously registered for this program, your registration will be carried over to the new date. Meanwhile, please register for this new December title and other upcoming titles if interested. Please also forward this message to others within your community, state, email and Facebook contact lists. Remember, only one person per organization need register for each program. Thanks in advance!)

"Raising Drug-Free Kids"

A FREE, Public Domain Video Program
Available as a C-Satellite Downlink and as an On-Demand Webcast

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010
1:00-2:00 PM ET

It's the ultimate goal of every parent to raise a safe, healthy, drug-free kid. For local coalitions who work at the community level, connecting with parents is a key strategy in reducing overall substance abuse rates. Many coalitions have come up with unique ways to engage and educate parents. See how their ideas could help strengthen your community and protect kids.
We know teenagers are different from adults, and so are their brains. Different parts of the brain mature at different rates. Although adolescence is often characterized by increased independence and a desire for knowledge and exploration, it also is a time when brain changes can result in high-risk behaviors, addiction vulnerability, and mental illness. Learn about the science of the adolescent brain so you can use the knowledge as another way to reach your teen with important prevention messages.
The parent-child relationship is more complex now than it has ever been. Do kids know how to make difficult decisions about life and drugs without consulting their parents? Are underage drinking and drug use simply a "rite of passage"for teens? Do all teens experiment? Why is keeping the partying at home a bad idea? During this encore airing of Raising Drug Free Kids we'll answer these questions and more.

Key Concepts:

- See why the teenage brain is not just an adult brain with fewer miles on it
- Learn which tactics work best to keep kids away from drugs
- Find out what has worked for other coalitions and how this may help you
- See how you can help guide your kids to learn to make better decisions
- Find out what resources are out there to help coalitions reach parents

Mary Elizabeth Elliott, Vice President, Communications & Membership, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA)

Content Providers:

Kat Allen, Communities That Care Coalition in Franklin County, Massachusetts

Kat Allen is one of the two Chairs of the Communities That Care Coalition in Franklin County, Massachusetts. She holds a masters degree in public health from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, specializing in Reproductive, Adolescent, and Child Health. She has spent the past ten years working in the field of adolescent health: she has worked in an alternative sentencing program for adjudicated youth, a peer education program for interpersonal violence prevention, a teen health clinic, a young men's clinic, school-based health clinics, a clinic for HIV positive youth, and a peer education program in the Dominican Republic. For the past three years Kat has served as the Coordinator of the Community Coalition for Teens, which co-hosts the Communities That Care Coalition. The Communities That Care Coalition was awarded the 2007 Coalition of the Year Award from Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA).

Gwen Schiada, Psy.D., Director, Technical Assistance and Research, Connect With Kids

Dr. Gwen Schiada is a licensed clinical psychologist with more than 15 years experience working with individuals in therapeutic settings and in systemic change roles at the local, state and federal levels. As a senior research analyst for the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C., she provided consultation and support to federal grantees implementing violence prevention initiatives. Dr. Schiada has held positions with the U.S.Department of Education - Safe and Drug Free Schools program and the Safe Schools/ Healthy Students Action Center. Additionally, Dr. Schiada was involved in conducting a large-scale mental health needs assessment for the District of Columbia following the attacks on September 11, 2001. She currently leads the professional development services for CWK Network, is involved in all aspects of research efforts and plays a key role in fostering relationships with government agencies, universities and other organizations that focus on children's health and wellness issues.

Dr. Wilkie Wilson, Researcher, Duke University

Dr. Wilkie Wilson is a Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke University Medical Center, a Senior Research Scientist for the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Director of BrainWorks at Duke. The mission of BrainWorks is to be both an international resource to communicate the science of brain function, and a research enterprise that studies how this information can be used effectively to improve the lives of young people and the adults who interact with them. He is a neuropharmacologist who studies the ways in which alcohol and other drugs interact with the central nervous system, with a particular interest in how the brain acquires and stores information. An author of numerous scientific publications, book chapters and books, he has trained more than twenty young scientists and physicians. He is a senior editor of Jasper's Basic Mechanisms of the Epilepsies, and an author of three books for the general public. Buzzed: The Straight Facts About The Most Used and Abused Drugs From Alcohol to Ecstasy, Pumped: Straight fact for athletes about drugs, supplements and training, and Just Say Know: Talking with kids about drugs and alcohol.

Target Audiences:
This pre-recorded program is targeted to parents, grandparents, teachers, and others who would like to better understand the influences and tactics that can keeps kids away from drugs. Coalition leaders, and members will find it especially useful as will law enforcement, community leaders, health professionals and others who want to create new strategies to combat substance abuse among teenagers within their communities. Public and general access television distribution is also encouraged.

This program is sponsored by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA). The broadcast is produced by the Multijurisdictional Counterdrug Task Force Training Program (MCTFT), a division of the Center for Public Safety Innovation at St. Petersburg College in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Availability:These programs are available via satellite over C band and the DOD/DETN satellite networks, private network carriers and selected community cable access stations. They are also available as an on-demand webcast via the Internet for those without satellite access. Only one Point-of-Contact need register for each viewing location. Final satellite coordinates and webcast links will be provided to all registered site co-ordinators 3-5 days prior to the broadcast date.

Click Here To Register For This Free Program

Also, Don't Forget:January 27th 2011: "Preventing Prescription Abuse"andFebruary 24th 2011: "Emerging Drug Trends"

Thursday, November 11, 2010

FDA and DHHS propose graphic new cigarette labels

NOTE: All information in this post is from "Feds propose graphic cigarette warning labels," an article by Michael Felberbaum, published on Yahoo! News at 7:13 p.m. on Wed., Nov. 10.

In an effort to reduce smoking rates -- which have "stalled" in recent years -- the Food and Drug Administration and the Health and Human Services Department are trying to have new labels placed on cigarette packs that depict infected lungs, cancer patients, tracheotomies, and other such graphic images that bring home the dangers of smoking.

Some argue that people will find these labels "offensive" and just ignore them. To give these people their due, there is social psychological research suggesting that hyping up the fear factor has a counterproductive effect, since people don't like to associate horrible and disturbing consequences with pleasurable activities (this is according to the ninth edition of Eliot Aronson's "The Social Animal"). I don't know how up-to-date this information is, though.

Stanton Glantz, a tobacco researcher at the University of California at San Francisco, claims that the aforementioned argument was "cooked up by cigarette companies" and that "[i]f that were true, the tobacco industry wouldn't be fighting them (the new labels) so hard" (this is Felberbaum's wording of Glantz' argument).

This sort of reminds me of a similar campaign depicted in the 2005 film, "Thank You For Smoking."

Click here to read the whole article.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Book review: 'A Christian Theology of Place' by John Inge (Part 2 of 2)

The link to Community Disorganization should be pretty obvious. As our own Daniel “Dr. Dan” Webb, PhD, tells us: “Research has shown that neighborhoods with high population density, lack of natural surveillance of public places, physical deterioration, and high rates of adult crime also have higher rates of juvenile crime and drug selling.”

I can’t help but be reminded of that when I read Inge’s commentary on modern cities, which appears on page 20:

“The problem is that places are turning from ‘places’ into dehumanizing
‘spaces’. This is more than anywhere else true in North America, where the
‘downtown’ areas of most cities have become no-go areas of deprivation, squalor
and crime . . . Once built, the buildings reinforce the prevailing norms. As
Winston Churchill put it: ‘first we shape our buildings and then our buildings
shape us.’ We ‘breathe in’ our surroundings as much as we observe them[.]”

After three interim chapters that focus on the importance of place in the Bible and in the history and traditions of Christianity, Inge ends the book with a chapter on the important role faith-based communities can play in the renewal of a sense of “place” in today’s world.

His point is that all churches should be regarded important insofar as their physicality is concerned; the building where people meet to worship becomes imbued with value and meaning because of the community of persons that meet there and because of the shared identity and sense of purpose that comes from their faith. If our church communities are vibrant and alive in the midst of a society that is either deadened or driven to extremes by the influence of modern conceptions of space and place, change on the municipal level is quite possible.

I invite all of our friends in the faith-based sector to read this book and see what they think. Depending on one’s particular beliefs and/or denominational affiliation, he/she may disagree with certain of Inge’s points. Personally, I myself took issue with his citation of a medieval bishop's statement that God can create an infinite amount of space as part of the cultural shift that gave rise to the devaluation of place in Western society. I'm not sure how one can argue that to be the case. For a more helpful view on this subject, I might recommend G.K. Chesterton's "Orthodoxy."

My endorsement the book is by no means an endorsement of every single statement Inge makes. But overall, I think people will find “A Christian Theology of Place” to be a helpful reflection on what place should mean to the faith experience and to the human experience; hopefully, they will see in it a catalyst for positive change.

Photo from http://www.librarything.com/

Book review: 'A Christian Theology of Place' by John Inge (Part 1 of 2)

I recently finished reading "A Christian Theology of Place," by John Inge, a bishop in the Church of England. This is an interesting book that demonstrates commendable scholarship and communicates important ideas without resorting to inaccessible language.

The book was published in 2003 by Ashgate Publishing, and is part of the "Explorations in Practical, Pastoral and Empirical Theology" series. Its aim, it seems to me, is to put the so-called "theoretical" and/or "scholarly" aspects of faith to work at the parish level and for the community.

Anything that strengthens our faith communities also has the ability to strengthen the overall community. Some of our partners in the Drug Free Communities (DFC) Coalition are from the faith-based community sector, and our survey data has shown religiosity and belief in the moral order to be significant preventative factors when it comes to problem behavior among youth – alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD) use in particular. So, we take very seriously the need to collaborate with the faith communities in our midst. Church leaders, furthermore, share with GCASA a concern for fostering communities with positive morals and values that discourage ATOD use.

Inge’s book is relevant to the DFC’s mission on two fronts. The first relates to the faith-based sector in general, as indicated above and to which I will return shortly. First, I would like to talk about the second front, which is our concern with Community Disorganization (for clarification, see Daily News article).

What Inge does is show how the "demise of place" in Western culture has affected society as a whole, and religious communities in particular (his focus is on Christian churches, but this could probably apply to other faiths as well). The first chapter is dedicated to his exploration of the effects of modernity on our idea of "place," and on how the importance of particular, concrete, physical locations as the loci of our histories and relations has been diminished. He traces this trend through Enlightenment Rationalism, industrialization, the increasing mobility of Western society, and the pervasion of technology in our everyday lives.

For part 2, click here.

Photo from http://www.librarything.com/

Monday, November 8, 2010

Documentary review: 'Devil's Playground'

Over the weekend I had the chance to watch “Devil’s Playground,” a 2002 documentary on the Old Order Amish community and the first to provide an in-depth look at life in this endlessly fascinating subculture. It’s available at the Richmond Memorial Library in the documentary section, catalog #3147.

Director Lucy Walker follows four teens during their Rumspringa, which is basically a rite-of-passage in Amish culture.

At the age of 16, Amish youth are released from the bonds of the Amish community and allowed to experience life among the “English” (which is what they call mainstream society). After spending time in the outside world, they decide if they want to take their vows to join the Amish Church, thereby officially becoming adults in the Amish community, or break their ties with the Amish community and enjoy the benefits of “the world,” like cars, electricity, etc.

As you might be able to tell by looking at the DVD cover, not all of what they discover outside of the shelter of Amish culture is good or healthy.

Think about this for a second: These young people grow up in a setting with very strict rules, staunch religiosity and virtually – if not absolutely – no use for any modern conveniences of any kind. Now, at an age at which their hormones are in an uproar, they are exposed all at once to the temptations and pleasures of parties, drinking, cigarettes and drugs. Now if this isn’t a recipe for disaster, I don’t know what is.

According to the film, over 90% of Amish teens return to their home communities and join the Amish Church – and, in fact, as of 2002 the Amish community had the highest retention rate since the order was founded (I don’t know how much that has changed since then, if at all). Some of these teens, on the other hand, choose to make lives for themselves within mainstream society. And then there are those of them who, unfortunately, get into some harmful stuff. If you watch this movie, you will see Amish teens smoking a lot, getting drunk, using drugs and, in one case, getting into the drug-dealing game.

I might not mention this if not for the fact that we have some Amish/Mennonite communities in this area – there are none in Genesee County, but I know that Orleans and Wyoming are home to such communities.The work of GCASA’s Prevention Resource Center, which helps to foster other community coalitions in the Western New York area, was also a factor in my decision to post this review on GCASA Cares.

One of the things the PRC folks are always trying to keep in mind is that different communities have different needs and that even if they are experiencing problems similar to those in our community, they may have their own unique risk and protective factors that require attention.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Alcohol more dangerous than illegal drugs, according to UK study

AP Medical Writer Maria Cheng wrote an article entitled "Study: Alcohol more lethal than heroin, cocaine," which was published on Yahoo! News on Monday, Nov. 1, at 7:54 a.m. ET (so I guess it's not really news at this point, but it's still important).

The article covers the results of a study that was published online in the medical journal, Lancet. Funded by Britain's Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, this study was designed to assess the dangerousness of various drugs/substances. Researchers determined final "scores" based on harm to individuals, environmental damage, how often families are broken up, and crime and health care costs.

On the whole, alcohol surpassed all other substances. Cheng noted that "[e]xperts said the study should prompt countries to reconsider how they classify drugs."

I haven't read the study itself, so I'm not sure if it was restricted to the U.K. or included other countries as well. If it was strictly a U.K. study, it may be that the enormity of the problem is due, at least in part, to Britain's deregulation of alcohol (see Oct. 15 post). Personally, I would not be too surprised if similar results were found in the U.S. -- but, to be fair, the differences between our countries in this area should be kept in mind.

For the whole article, click here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Current popular song contains a number of coded drug, drinking-and-driving, and other unsavory references

This song by Far East Movement is very popular among high school students right now. It made #2 on the charts recently, if I'm not mistaken.

See the Urban Dictionary for definitions of terms used in this video -- especially G6 (which has many very disturbing definitions -- in fact, I'll give you the direct link to that right here), 808 and sizzurp.

Monday, November 1, 2010

GCASA celebrates the Great American Smokeout

Psych professor and students to have paper published on "big pharma"

Here is a link to a piece on the research study that Brent D. Robbins, PhD, of Point Park University, recently did with two undergraduate students in the Point Park psychology department.

Dr. Robbins is actually a former professor of mine. I took his Social Psychology class as an undergraduate at Daemen College. He is a brilliant man with a lot to offer the field of psychology.

He and his students are dealing with the over-medication of children, which relates to our concerns with the abuse and/or overuse of over-the-counter and prescription medication.

Click here for more...

GCASA staff member makes the news with William Morgan thriller

As we all know, one of our own had a book published in August.

Tom Talbot, our grant writer and data evaluator, put his academic background in history and prolific writing experience to work in penning "The Craft: Freemasons, Secret Agents, and William Morgan," a historical thriller based on the disappearance of famed 19th-Century Batavia resident William Morgan.
Chad Zambito (Jen's husband) just recently sent out a press release to local media. The Daily News will likely be doing an article soon; in the meantime, Tom was gracious enough to consent to an interview for The Batavian.

Go to http://www.thecraftthebook.com/ to learn more about the book. You might also want to check out Tom's blog, Tom's Book Pages, where he writes book reviews.
Photo taken by Jen Zambito

Coalition member's nephew-in-law has high hopes for Attica teen center

There are many reasons for teen drug use, and we would be hard-pressed to trace so complex a problem to just one factor.

However, many times the motivation to use is very simple: “There’s nothing else to do.”

This tends to be a problem in poorer, urban communities, but also in rural areas such as those that surround Batavia. Take Attica, for example. How often have we heard youth lament the fact that there is just “nothing to do in this town?”

The Drug Free Communities (DFC) Coalition has, of course, worked hard to engage young people in positive activities towards which they can channel their energies and attention, and it is very important that we encourage any such effort in our region.

The reason I’m talking about this is that Attica resident Wittnes Smith, whose wife is the niece of Coalition member Mary Ellen Wilbur, is hard at work trying to get a Teen Center started in Attica. It’s called Club ALT – as in alternative (to negative behavior) – and will be open to 6th-12th-graders in Attica and all surrounding areas. This is a very ambitious project that would have something to offer just about every teen, regardless of his/her interests.

As a per Diem correspondent for The Batavian, I was recently asked to write an article on Wittnes’ efforts to raise funds for the project. I hope that we here at GCASA, and anyone else who is interested, can in some way help to support his mission.

Click here to read more about it.