Kids and Drugs: A New Theory

Author and reporter Maia Szalavitz, who writes about substance use and related issues recently spoke with Youth Today and JJIE about her experience and her newest book: “Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction,” released in April. Here’s Szalavitz’s take on addiction and its complexities, from her own experience and in her own words.

Mothers & Fathers; Sons & Daughters

Two mothers and a father talk about what it's like to be the parent of a substance user in this affecting piece about frustration and loss.

Pennsylvania Won’t Disclose Names of Doctors Prescribing in Youth Corrections

The state defied an Office of Open Records ruling and took the matter to court to conceal the names of doctors prescribing to kids confined in its six correctional facilities.
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services insisted the physicians who care for and prescribe to the state’s most chronic or violent youth offenders would be endangered if their names were made public.

ACLU Report Says Marijuana Laws Discriminate Against Blacks

A report released by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) earlier this week found that in 2010, African-Americans were approximately four times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession -- this, despite that fact that national data indicates the two populations use marijuana at nearly the same rates. Furthermore, in several states, including Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota, the ACLU said African-Americans were busted for pot at rates from 7.5 to 8 times higher than whites. Regardless of region, the ACLU reports that these discrepancies in arrest rate by race remain consistent. “In over 96 percent of counties with more than 30,000 people in which at least 2 percent of the residents are black,” the report reads, “blacks are arrested at higher rates than whites for marijuana possession.”

Overall, New York, Texas, California, Florida and Illinois were found to have the highest rates of marijuana possession arrests. In almost half of all states, the ACLU found that possession offenses accounted for more than 90 percent of marijuana arrests.

Growing Up to Be Stickup Kids

NEW YORK --By the early 1990s, the crack era that devoured New York City in the 1980s was on the decline and crime rates were similarly falling. But Randol Contreras saw something different on the streets in the South Bronx neighborhood where he grew up. His drug dealer friends, no longer making the same money selling crack, were turning to robbing drug dealers for an increasingly dwindling share of the market. One vice traded for another, more violent one. His book "Stickup Kids: Race, Drugs, Violence and the American Dream," published by the University of California Press last month, chronicles the downfall of the drug trade and the young Dominican men from his childhood neighborhood that tried to make an often dangerous living in it.

Traveling The Silk Road to the Deep Web’s Darkest Corner

Via a popular online service, cocaine, prescription pills and heroin may just be a mouse click away from reaching your child

There is a scene in Steven Soderbergh’s 2000 film Traffic in which a teenage girl says something that has become, for the most part, a generally recognized truth about high school. “For someone my age,” the character says, “it’s a lot easier to get drugs than it is to get alcohol.”

Indeed, typing the term “easier to get drugs than alcohol” into a Google search box returns more than 12,000 pages, with thousands upon thousands of Internet users stating what many parents fear - that for their children, obtaining illegal drugs is anything but a challenge. What most parents are unaware of, however, is how the Internet is potentially making it even easier for youth to obtain drugs. In the 21st century, teens do not necessarily have to seek out dealers to procure marijuana or cocaine; in fact, scoring illicit substances these days could be as simple as turning on a monitor and making a few mouse clicks. At first glance, the Silk Road - a popular online marketplace - looks like any other website; just passing by, one likely wouldn’t be able to distinguish the service from eBay, Craigslist or any of the myriad other electronic bazaars on the Internet.

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Frequent Marijuana Use Among Teens is Up

Heavy marijuana use among teens has increased drastically in recent years, with nearly one in 10 sparking up 20 times or more each month, according to a new survey of young Americans released this morning. The findings represent nearly an 80 percent increase in past-month heavy marijuana use among high school aged youth since 2008. Overall, the rate of marijuana use among teens has increased. Past month marijuana users, or teens that have used marijuana in the month prior to the survey, increased 42 percent, to 27 percent of teens, compared to 2008 findings. Past-year and lifetime use also increased, but not as drastically, at 26 percent and 21 percent respectively.

SAMHSA, MacArthur Foundation to Promote Diversion Programs for Youth With Mental Health Issues

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation have teamed up for a new $1 million project to divert youth with behavioral health conditions away from the juvenile justice system and into community-based programs and services. According to SAMHSA, 60-70 percent of youth in the juvenile justice system have a mental disorder and more than 60 percent suffer from a substance abuse disorder. Many of these youth, SAMHSA says, wind up in the juvenile justice system rather than receiving treatment for their underlying disorders. Up to eight states will be selected competitively to participate in the new collaborative initiative. If selected, states would receive support to develop and initiate policies and programs to divert youth away from the juvenile justice system early.

Experts Speak About Addiction Recovery for Young Adults

At the National Collegiate Recovery Conference Wednesday at Kennesaw State University, Michael Fishman, Director of the Young Adult Program at Talbott Recovery Campus in Atlanta, neatly summed up everything he had learned in 22 years of treating addiction in young adults. The recurring theme of his keynote address: It’s complicated. “Most young adults are generally poly-substance abusers,” he said. They aren’t just using marijuana; they’re also drinking, Fishman says. It’s not just opioids, it’s opioids and anti-depressants or any other combination.

For One Former Inmate, A New Life

NEW YORK -- Getting shot was probably a critical turning point in Ray Tebout’s life, he says. It was 1990. Tebout had just turned 16 and was living on the streets of the South Bronx, selling drugs and doing his best to survive. And then some guy had to go and shoot him in the foot. The day of the shooting Tebout was on the corner selling drugs when “a guy wanted something from me,” he said.