Childhood Obesity, Drug Abuse Top Health Concerns Adults Have About Children

Childhood obesity and drug abuse are now the top health concerns for kids rated by adults, according to a new poll by University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. The fifth annual survey of the top 10 health concerns for kids asked more than 2,000 adults of different races and ethnicities to rate 23 different health concerns for children living in their communities. Most of the top concerns pertain to long-recognized risky behaviors for youth: drug, alcohol and tobacco use, as well as teen pregnancy. The recent results also suggest that parents are paying attention to new safety risks associated with the Internet and other technologies, including sexting. “The perception of drug abuse as a big problem matches recent national data showing increasing use of marijuana and other drugs by U.S. teens,” Matthew Davis, M.D., director of the National Poll on Children’s Health, said in an article on the University health system website.

Social Networking Teens More Likely to Drink or Use Drugs, Study Finds

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).

Jessica Williams: One Parent’s Advice for the Juvenile Justice System

Sharon Smith’s daughter Angela died in 1998 of a heroin overdose. She was 18 years old. For four years before her death, Angie was in and out of 11 treatment centers, stood before a half dozen judges, and lived at one juvenile detention center. Sharon  formed MOMSTELL in 2000 to advocate for more effective, accessible drug treatment and greater family involvement across the continuum of care and in the policy-making process. “Because no family should have to face the disease of addiction alone,” MOMSTELL is committed to identifying and removing barriers to treatment, many of which Sharon encountered when trying to find help for her daughter. Sharon was one of the organizers of the “national dialogue” sponsored in 2009 by SAMHSA for Families of Youth with Substance Use Disorders. Here, she illustrates some of those barriers specific to juvenile justice. When Angie started to use drugs, were there adults in her life who tried to help her?

Grant To Study Drug Interactions with Neurons

The Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health, and components of participating National Institute on Drug Abuse are sponsoring the Science Drug Abuse Partnership Award. The goal is to enhance understanding of how the mechanisms of a neuron interact or react to drug abuse and addiction among K-12 students. This is an educational grant that aims for its intended audience to learn the scientific reasoning behind what happens when someone uses drugs. This is to help garner understanding of drug abuse to help prevent it. The deadline for this grant is May 25, 2012.

Marijuana Use Speeds Onset of Schizophrenia, Study Says

For those at risk, marijuana use hastens the onset of schizophrenia, according to a new study.  Researchers found those with a genetic predisposition for psychosis would begin to experience symptoms an average of 2.7 years earlier if they smoked marijuana, and that can mean a greater disruption to their life. “We’ve known for many years that people who develop schizophrenia earlier have a number of poorer outcomes,” Michael Compton, co-author of the report, told the magazine  Miller-McCune. Schizophrenia typically begins between the ages of 18 and 28.  According to the researchers, developing symptoms earlier makes it harder for schizophrenics to succeed later in life because it impacts their ability to graduate high school or finish college. Even though the disease is genetic 80 to 85 percent of the time, many at risk have no family members who suffer from schizophrenia.

Kids Who Abuse Drugs Are More Likely to Commit Serious Crimes

Most young people who land in juvenile court have been using drugs, which may shed light on why some kids commit moreserious crimes and continue getting into trouble. Kids involved in criminal activity are much more likely than other juvenile offenders to abuse drugs and alcohol, according to a study commissioned by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The Pathways to Desistance study, called Substance Use and Delinquent Behavior Among Serious Adolescent Offenders, looked at more than 1,300 young offenders over 7 years. The study shows kids involved with drugs need income and they have trouble coping and making decisions. They get into trouble and fail to take responsibility for their actions.