“Talk. They Hear You.” Mom’s Thoughts

View the YouTube PSA below >

When Mom receives a text from her 10-year-old daughter, Luci, asking to go to a friend’s house for a sleepover, she realizes she needs to talk to her about the dangers of underage drinking. But where does she begin? Listening to Mom’s thoughts, we catch a glimpse of the sometimes difficult and awkward process most parents go through when trying to initiate a conversation about drinking. Mom finally seizes the moment to talk with Luci on the stairs of their home and advises her to say “no thanks, not my thing” if a friend ever offers her alcohol. Although it seems as if Luci is not listening, like most children, she really does hear what Mom is saying.

SAMHSA’s “Talk. They Hear You.” Underage Drinking Prevention National Media Campaign aims to reduce underage drinking among youth ages 9 to 15 by providing parents and caregivers with information and resources they need to start addressing the issue of alcohol with their children early. “Talk. They Hear You.” features a series of TV, radio, and print PSAs in English and Spanish. The PSAs show parents “seizing the moment” to talk with their children about alcohol. By modeling behaviors through these PSAs, parents can see the many “natural” opportunities for initiating the conversation about alcohol with their children. To learn more, visit http://1.usa.gov/13n1N4g.

Mom’s Thoughts…. 30 seconds

Help Your Teen Throw Fun (and Safe) High School Parties

Article from Informed Families on March 10, 2017 at 8:00 AM

The idea of high school parties often conjures images of outrageous bashes you remember from John Hughes movies or other teen flicks from the ’80s and ’90s. Or, perhaps you recall parties from your own youth and the chaos that may have accompanied them. These memories may scare you into never trusting your teens to throw a party themselves—even one that’s supervised.

Make no mistake: Unsupervised high school parties are a terrible idea, often descending into Sixteen Candles- or American Pie-type anarchy and destruction. However, when properly planned and supervised, with clear rules in place, your teens can throw a party for their friends that is both fun and safe. Here are some tips on how to help them make that happen:
Set Parameters

The first and most important rule you must set for a party of teens: absolutely no alcohol or drugs—period. Some parents believe if they supervise a party, they should allow drinking because they can ensure all the partygoers stay safe, but from a legal, liability, safety and ethical standpoint, this is wrong. Some other parameters you should set include:

  • Party size: The smaller the party, the easier it will be for you to manage.
  • By invitation only: Insist that only invited guests will be allowed into the party. Your teens can set the guest list and send the invitations, but they give that list to you before any invite is sent.
  • A firm finish time: Set a time that the party will end and stick to it. Curfew considerations may come into play, and if guests’ parents are picking them up, they don’t want to be showing up too late.
  • No leaving and returning: Your teen’s guests are your responsibility from the minute they enter the party until they return home. While some kids may have completely innocent intentions for wanting to leave the party for a while, there is no way for you to know.

Empower Your Teens

Once you set the parameters, hand over the reins to planning the party to your teens. They probably have strong opinions on the party’s theme, food to serve, music to play, decorations and so on. Let your teens take over, with their understanding that they must follow your rules and not disturb the neighbors (i.e., no loud music, especially in the evening).

Communicate with Other Parents

Once your kids have given you the guest list, don’t hesitate to contact other parents to explain your rules and assure them that no alcohol will be served. Also, include your phone number on the invitation so that if parents have any questions or concerns, you can be immediately reached. Besides reinforcing to partygoers that breaking your rules will not be tolerated, communicating with other parents creates an added level of safety—everyone knows where their kids will be and what time the party will end.

Supervise, Don’t Hover

This high school party is your teens’ deal, so you want them to enjoy it without you constantly overseeing them. However, you shouldn’t let the party go unchecked. Strike a balance between smart supervision and not hovering. That said, don’t altogether ignore the party—don’t fall asleep, don’t get caught up in a Netflix binge and forget about the teens in the basement and definitely, don’t leave. Moreover, if you suspect something, take action, even if it’s just pulling your teen aside and asking what’s going on.

Pool (or Lake) Party Concerns

Florida backyards are more likely to have a pool than perhaps any other state, and we get plenty of use out of them almost year-round. (In Minnesota, applies to lakes and cabins.) Naturally, your teens might want to throw a pool party, which can be great fun but also comes with an additional set of safety concerns. More supervision might be needed (depending on how many kids are invited—this is good reason to keep the guest list small), and the energy level of teens, especially boys, can ramp up during a pool party. These aren’t reasons to nix a pool party, but some extra precautions should be taken:

  • Consider asking other parents to help chaperone. More eyes and ears mean any unsafe behavior will be caught before it gets out of hand.
  • For younger teens, consider hiring a certified lifeguard (a college student would be perfect for this role).
  • No glass allowed on the pool deck.
  • No horseplay allowed. For starters, no throwing others into the pool—if someone isn’t wearing a swimsuit, they should stay dry. Also, no crazy dives, and no jumping from any place other than the side of the pool or the diving board.
  • Absolutely no booze. One study found that alcohol was found in the system off 44 percent of unintentional drowning victims. Risk of injury also increases—an inebriated teen may think he or she is invincible and try jumping off the garage … into the shallow end, for example.

High school parties can be memorable for teens and their friends, but safety must be the top priority. Our Safe Homes Smart Parties campaign offers helpful resources for parents who want to ensure parties are supervised, in control and fun.


Are Teenagers Replacing Drugs with Smartphones?

Amid an opioid epidemic, the rise of deadly synthetic drugs and the widening legalization of marijuana, a curious bright spot has emerged in the youth drug culture: American teenagers are growing less likely to try or regularly use drugs, including alcohol.

With minor fits and starts, the trend has been building for a decade, with no clear understanding as to why. Some experts theorize that falling cigarette-smoking rates are cutting into a key gateway to drugs, or that antidrug education campaigns, long a largely failed enterprise, have finally taken hold.

But researchers are starting to ponder an intriguing question: Are teenagers using drugs less in part because they are constantly stimulated and entertained by their computers and phones?

The possibility is worth exploring, they say, because use of smartphones and tablets has exploded over the same period that drug use has declined. This correlation does not mean that one phenomenon is causing the other, but scientists say interactive media appears to play to similar impulses as drug experimentation, including sensation-seeking and the desire for independence.

Or it might be that gadgets simply absorb a lot of time that could be used for other pursuits, including partying.

Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, says s
plans to begin research on the topic in the next few months, and will convene a group of scholars in April to discuss it. The possibility that smartphones were contributing to a decline in drug use by teenagers, Dr. Volkow said, was the first question she asked when she saw the agency’s most recent survey results. The survey, “Monitoring the Future,” an annual government-funded report measuring drug use by teenagers, found that past-year use of illicit drugs other than marijuana was at the lowest level in the 40-year history of the project for eighth, 10th and 12th graders.

Use of marijuana is down over the past decade for eighth and 10th graders even as social acceptability is up, the study found. Though marijuana use has risen among 12th graders, the use of cocaine, hallucinogens, ecstasy and crack are all down, too, while LSD use has remained steady.

Even as heroin use has become an epidemic among adults in some communities, it has fallen among high schoolers over the past decade, the study found.

Those findings are consistent with other studies showing steady declines over the past decade in drug use by teenagers after years of ebbs and flows. Dr. Volkow said this period was also notable because declining use patterns were cutting across groups — “boys and girls, public and private school, not driven by one particular demographic,” she said.

“Something is going on,” Dr. Volkow added.

With experts in the field exploring reasons for what they describe as a clear trend, the novel notion that ever-growing phone use may be more than coincidental is gaining some traction.

Dr. Volkow described interactive media as “an alternative reinforcer” to drugs, adding that “teens can get literally high when playing these games.”

Dr. Silvia Martins, a substance abuse expert at Columbia University who has already been exploring how to study the relationship of internet and drug use among teenagers, called the theory “highly plausible.”

“Playing video games, using social media, that fulfills the necessity of sensation seeking, their need to seek novel activity,” Dr. Martins said, but added of the theory: “It still needs to be proved.”

Indeed, there are competing theories and some confounding data. While drug use has fallen among youths ages 12 to 17, it hasn’t declined among college students, said Dr. Sion Kim Harris, co-director of the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Melanie Clarke, 18, says she is rarely without her phone. “When I’m home, my first instinct is to go for the phone,” she said.CreditKayana Szymczak for The New York Times

Dr. Harris said she had not considered technology’s role and would not rule it out given the appeal of the devices, but said she was “hopeful” drug use by teenagers had decreased because public-education and prevention campaigns were working. Dr. Joseph Lee, a psychiatrist in Minneapolis who treats teenage addicts at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, said he suspected that drug use and experimentation had changed because the opioid epidemic had exposed many more people and communities to the deadly risks of drugs, creating a broader deterrent.

Explanations aside, researchers unanimously expressed hope that the trends would persist. They noted it was crucial to continue efforts to understand the reasons for the decline, as well as to discourage drug use.

Though smartphones seem ubiquitous in daily life, they are actually so new that researchers are just beginning to understand what the devices may do to the brain. Researchers say phones and social media not only serve a primitive need for connection but can also create powerful feedback loops.

 “People are carrying around a portable dopamine pump, and kids have basically been carrying it around for the last 10 years,” said David Greenfield, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and founder of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction.

Alexandra Elliott, 17, a senior at George Washington High School in San Francisco, said using her phone for social media “really feels good” in a way consistent with a “chemical release.” A heavy phone user who smokes marijuana occasionally, Alexandra said she didn’t think the two were mutually exclusive.

However, she said, the phone provides a valuable tool for people at parties who don’t want to do drugs because “you can sit around and look like you’re doing something, even if you’re not doing something, like just surfing the web.”

“I’ve done that before,” she explained, “with a group sitting around a circle passing a bong or a joint. And I’ll sit away from the circle texting someone.”

Melanie Clarke, an 18-year-old taking a gap year and working in a Starbucks in Cape Cod, Mass., said she had virtually no interest in drugs, despite having been around her. “Personally, I think it is a substitution,” Ms. Clarke said of her phone, which she said she was rarely without. Ms. Clarke also said she thought the habits depended on the person. “When I’m home alone, my first instinct is to go for the phone. Some kids will break out the bowls,” referring to a marijuana-smoking device.

“There is very little hard, definitive evidence on the subject,” said James Anthony, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Michigan State University and an expert on drug-use behavior. Still, he said, he has begun wondering about the role of technology on youth drug use: “You’d have to be an idiot not to think about it.”

To see declines in drug use, Mr. Anthony said, “it would not take much in the way of displacement of adolescent time and experience in the direction of nondrug ‘reinforcers’ that have become increasingly available.”

The statistics about drug and technology use depict a decade of changing habits.

In 2015, 4.2 percent of teenagers ages 12 to 17 reported smoking a cigarette in the last month, down from 10.8 percent in 2005, according to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Its survey also found that past-month alcohol use among 12- to 17-year-olds had fallen to 9.6 percent from 16.5 percent, while rising slightly for young adults ages 18 to 25.

The survey found smaller but still statistically significant decreases in cocaine use by youths ages 12 to 17. Marijuana use was flat over the same decade: In 2015, 7 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds said they had smoked the drug, roughly the same number in 2005. But that was down from 8.2 percent in 2002 and it contrasted with the trend for the population as a whole — such use was up to 8.3 percent in 2015, compared with 6 percent a decade ago.

At the same time, gadgets are consuming a growing portion of young people’s time. A 2015 survey published by Common Sense Media, a children’s advocacy and media ratings group in San Francisco, found that American teenagers ages 13 to 18 averaged six and a half hours of screen media time per day on social media and other activities like video games.

A 2015 report from the Pew Research Center found that 24 percent of teenagers ages 13 to 17 reported being online “almost constantly,” and that 73 percent had a smartphone or access to one. In 2004, a similar Pew study found that 45 percent of teenagers had a cellphone. (The first iPhone, which fueled smartphone adoption, was introduced in 2007.)

Smartphones and computers are a growing source of concern, said Eric Elliott, Alexandra’s father, who is a psychologist at her school. Mr. Elliott, who has counseled young people for 19 years, said he had seen a decrease in drug and alcohol use among students in recent years. He said he was “more likely to have a challenge with a student who has a video game addiction than I am a student who is addicted to drugs; I can’t say that for the beginning of my career.”

In the case of his own daughter, he worried more about the device than the drugs.

“I see her at this point and time as not being a person who is controlled in any way by smoking pot,” he said. But “her phone is something she sleeps with.”

<View Source>

New Look!

In case you haven’t noticed the SACK website is sportin’ a new and improved look! 

Many thanks to our coalition co-chair and marketing guru extraordinaire, Sandy Juettner for her help and guidance. 



The Luck of the Irish: The Drinking Culture on St. Patrick’s Day

Every year on March 17, people from all over the world celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. In the United States, 127 million people – or 53 percent of the country – plan to celebrate. In 2015, millions of people spent $4.6 billion on St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, in the form of decorations and green garb.

Every year, St. Patrick’s Day celebrates the Roman Catholic feast day of Ireland’s patron saint. The holiday brings forth fun staples, such as the three-leaf clover to explain the Trinity or the practice of dyeing the Chicago River green, which started in 1962 and the parades hosted in cities across America.

While “kiss me, I’m Irish” and pinching people who forget to wear green are St. Patrick’s Day traditions, so is the drinking culture. St. Patrick’s Day is the fourth most popular drinking holiday, following New Year’s Eve, Christmas and the Fourth of July. Thirteen million pints of Guinness will be consumed worldwide. In the US, beer consumption per capita in 2011 ranked the nation 15th in the world with 76.6. liters. Thirty-seven million Americans will celebrate at a bar or restaurant and spend an average of $36.52.

Even when binge drinking occurs infrequently, such as on holidays, it can have long-term health effects. Binge drinking, the most common pattern of excess drinking, is defined as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or higher, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). For men, this consists of five drinks or more in two hours; for women, four drinks or more within two hours.

Every 46 minutes an alcohol-related accident claims a life on St. Patrick’s Day. Approximately 276 people died in drunk-driving accidents on St. Patrick’s weekends between 2009 – 2013. During the holiday, 75 percent of fatal car crashes involve a driver two times over the legal drinking limit.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and may your holiday be full of Irish culture with parades, special foods, music, dancing, and a whole lot of green.


<View Source>