He broke my heart. After that night I’d see him act the same bewildering way many more times. It was, I eventually learned, what too many beers did to him. But the first time my uncle hit me (I was 4 or 5 years old), all I knew was that something had changed. Not in him. No. Something had changed in me.
Reclaiming Futures’ six-step model for helping young people who are struggling with alcohol, drugs and crime is receiving an update. The program began in 10 communities in 2001 with a $21 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The mission was to reinvent how juvenile courts, police, and communities work together in the interests of young people. The six steps in the Reclaiming Futures model were “initial screening,” “initial assessment,” “service coordination,” “initiation,” “engagement” and “transition.” Previously, the final step in the program had been called “completion,” but according to Susan Richardson, Reclaiming Futures’ national executive director, the name wasn’t complete. Writing on the Reclaiming Futures website, Richardson said completion “is an incomplete and sometimes inaccurate term for the complex work of transitioning out of ‘systems’ and into successful community life.”
Transition, she writes, more accurately portrays the “representative and interactive phase of transitioning youth to life outside of the justice system.”
Currently, the Reclaiming Futures model is used in 29 communities across the country.
Reclaiming Futures will host a free webinar Wednesday, December 14 on the “Above the Influence” campaign that helps kids avoid negative peer pressure. The webinar kicks off at 2 p.m. EST and focuses on the “Above the Influence” toolkit. The program will be followed by a Q&A session featuring Mark Krawczyk of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and Sandy Olsen and Kay Crocket, both from the Coalition of Behavioral Health Services in Houston. The “Above the Influence” campaign was created by the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, a program of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, with the goal of helping teens stand up to the pressure to drink or do drugs.
Children of parents with a drinking problem are more likely to drink in stressful situations, according to a recent Swedish study. This new research by Anna Söderpalm Gordh furthers the already-supported idea that children of alcoholics drink more. It was published in the most recent issue of the journal Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behaviour. Her process involved dividing 58 healthy people into two groups based on whether their parents had a drinking problem. The groups were randomly assigned to two situations, one of which was more stressful.
Teens who spend time on social networking sites such as Facebook are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs, says a new survey by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA). The report says:
Compared to teens who do not spend time on a social networking site in a typical day, teens who do are:
Five times likelier to have used tobacco (10 percent vs. 2 percent);
Three times likelier to have used alcohol (26 percent vs. 9 percent);
Twice as likely to have used marijuana (13 percent vs. 7 percent).
Does it really matter if we screen and assess teens for alcohol and drug problems? Most adults, after all, started experimenting with alcohol or other drugs before they turned 21 — and if they didn’t, they almost certainly knew a lot of kids who did. And most of them (though not all) survived into adulthood. So what’s the big deal if we turn a blind eye to identify teen drinking or drugging? Federally-funded research shows why it’s a big deal from a public health standpoint:
(Click the image for a larger view.) It’s taken from an excellent presentation, “Characteristics, Needs and Strengths of Substance Using Youth by Level of Involvement in the Juvenile Justice System,” given by Dr. Michael Dennis, Senior Research Psychologist at Chestnut Health Systems, at the Reclaiming Futures Leadership Institute held in Miami last month. I’ll be posting more slides from his presentation soon – stay tuned! Here’s Dr. Dennis’ notes on the slide (emphasis added):
KENNESAW, Ga. – Convening policy-makers, law enforcement officials and representatives from the courts, The Cobb Alcohol Task Force on Monday hosted a conference to develop plans to reduce underage drinking. The daylong Justice System Response to Underage Drinking: Roadmap for Improvement held at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia, brought the “significant players to the table,” according to Alisa Bennett-Hart, Cobb Alcohol Taskforce’s public relations specialist. “Sometimes we have to get everybody together to listen to what they have to say,” Bennet-Hart said. “This [conference] is us listening.”
The morning began with presentations and an hour-long roundtable panel discussion by a mixture of experts from law enforcement, the courts and advocates. After lunch, participants split into smaller breakout sessions where they could discuss potential strategies. Each session included a mixture of law enforcement, judicial representatives and policy makers.
Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws Assessment, Strategic Planning, and Implementation Initiative Grant is being offered by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) This grant hopes to reduce alcohol availability to under aged kids. The Grant Aims to accomplish this through assessment, strategic planning and program implementation. Grantees will conduct an independent assessment of both state and local underage drinking and develop a long-term plan based on that assessment. This should also help reduce traffic injuries or fatalities due to underage drinking.
More than half of teens arrested in San Diego County, CA last year tested positive for at least one drug, and 94 percent admitted using drugs or alcohol at some point, according to research from the San Diego Association of Governments. Marijuana was the most common drug, with 51 percent testing positive at the time of arrest. 47 percent of these kids said their parents abused alcohol or drugs, too. Half said a parent had been previously arrested and jailed. Read more in the San Diego Union-Tribune