Addiction, Recovery and the Dangers Young People Face Today

Robotripping, dank, bath salts, spice, triple C’s, skittles, Roxies, Oxys, Xanibars, K2, if these names don’t sound familiar, the current trends in juvenile drug abuse are as surprising to you as they were to me. A recovering addict myself, I was alarmed to learn what kinds of drugs are being used by our youth today.  The drugs are mostly synthetic, increasingly lethal, tend to require medically supervised withdrawal, and, in many cases, are undetectable by drug test. In 2010, SAMHSA reported 10.1 percent of youths aged 12 to 17 were current illicit drug users.   That same year, the rate of current illicit drug use was higher among young adults aged 18 to 25, stood at 21.5 percent. The rate of binge drinking in 2010 was 40.6 percent for young adults aged 18 to 25. Heavy alcohol use was reported by 13.6 percent of persons aged 18 to 25.  According to the CDC about 90 percent of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is in the form of binge drinks.

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.

SAMHSA Twitter Chat to be Held Today

Get your questions about recovery from addiction and treatment answered by experts during a Twitter chat held today from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. ET and hosted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This event will create a dialogue with experts in the recovery, treatment and prevention fields, to allow the public to ask questions and learn more information. They hope to spread the message that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover. This September #RecoveryChat will celebrate Recovery Month and will be co-hosted by Dr. Westley Clark, director of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and Kathryn Power, director of SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. You can participate by following and tweeting with the #RecoveryChat hashtag on Twitter.

Helping Kids with Substance Abuse Grant

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Mental Health Services is offering grants for Expansion of the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and their Families. The grants’ purpose is development of a comprehensive strategic plan to improve and expand services provided by systems of care for kids. These systems will address substance abuse problems, serious emotional disturbances and families undergoing this pressure. The aim of this grant is to help reduce suicide attempts, enhance contact with police and to improve school attendance. The deadline for this grant is June 2, 2011.

Traumatic Stress Grant

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services announces a one-year grant to continue and expand grant activities funded under the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative, Treatment and Service Adaption Centers, Category II and Community Treatment and Services Centers – Category III. This grant is to increase activity and services of the nation’s child welfare system, juvenile justice/dependency court systems as well as to fund child mental health systems. The goal is to create a national network of grantees known as the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) that works to develop and promote effective trauma treatment, services and other resources, such as child-serving community service systems, for kids exposed to trauma. The deadline for this is June 3, 2011.  

Laura Searcy: Underage Drinking Over Winter Holidays on the Rise: Incidents and Issues

The Kennesaw Police Department’s response to a citizen complaint, which resulted in the arrest of 32 people involved in an underage drinking party on December 29, is to be applauded. As law enforcement officers entrusted with maintaining the peace and protecting public safety, the KPD fulfilled their duty by enforcing the law. But recent coverage (in the Marietta Daily Journal) of this incident does not tell the whole story. “According to estimates from SAMHSA  [the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration] Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), on New Year’s Day 2009, an estimated 1,980 ED [emergency department] visits involved underage drinking, compared with 546 such visits on an average day that year; this represents nearly 4 times the average number of visits….The number of ED visits involving underage drinking was also generally higher on New Year’s Day than on an average day during either the Memorial Day weekend or the Fourth of July weekend.” The report cites “greater access to alcohol, less parental oversight and mixed messages from parents” as influencing this uptick in underage drinking and increased ED visits. The findings are in line with other research showing more alcohol-related problems over the winter holidays.

Child Welfare Agencies urged to Test Parents for Drugs

Studies show a majority of kids involved in child welfare services are affected by parents who abuse drugs, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SAMHSA released a new publication, Substance Abuse Specialists in Child Welfare Agencies and Dependency Courts. It recommends a collaboration between child welfare agencies, drug abuse counselors and parents. “The purpose of co-locating substance abuse specialists is to ensure that parents are assessed as quickly as possible, to improve parent engagement and retention in treatment, to streamline entry into treatment, and to provide consultation to child welfare and dependency court workers,” the publication explains. SAMHSA has also released Drug Testing in Child Welfare: Practice and Policy Considerations, which urges child welfare agency policymakers to use drug testing in child welfare practices.

Teens Drinking Less in Georgia: Feds Credit Community Teamwork

Underage drinking has declined in Georgia, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SAMHSA has released a video on the many ways the state of Georgia has successfully fought underage drinking. “I’m happy to say that Georgia has the lowest reported binge drinking rates of all the states and I firmly believe that this is the result of a concerted effort,” said Brenda J.D. Rowe, Ph.D., Director of Substance Abuse Prevention & Behavioral Development for Georgia’s Department of Human Resources. The Cobb County Alcohol Taskforce is one of the groups on the frontlines. Coordinator Cathy Fink also sees great progress.

FDA Panel Rejects Plan to Curb Teen RoboTripping

Cough medicines containing dextromethorphan will continue to be sold over-the-counter, despite concerns that some young people are using it to get high.  A panel of Food and Drug Administration experts has voted against a proposal that would require a doctor’s prescription to buy Robitussin and 140 other cough medicines. Medical News Today reports some panel members were concerned the move would create too much paperwork for pharmacists and clinics. When taken in high doses, cough medicines can cause euphoria and hallucinations. Teens abuse it because it’s cheap and easy to get.  But sometimes the trip goes bad, with nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat and numbness. How big is the abuse problem?