Our Mission: Prevention and Early Intervention of Teenage Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Role of Alcohol in Traffic Deaths Substantially Underreported: Study- The Partnership At Drugfree.Org

March 26th, 2014

A new study concludes the role of alcohol in traffic deaths in the United States may be significantly underreported on death certificates.

Researchers found that just over 3 percent of the 450,000 death certificates for people who died in traffic accidents between 1999 to 2009 listed alcohol as a contributing cause. Based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the researchers found 21 percent of those deaths involved people who were legally drunk, according to MedicalXpress.

The findings are published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

It is important to have a clear idea of alcohol’s role in young people’s deaths, according to researcher Ralph Hingson of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Knowing how many people die in alcohol-related crashes will help researchers study the effects of policies designed to reduce alcohol-related deaths, he said. “You want to know how big the problem is, and if we can track it,” Hingson said in a news release. “Is it going up, or going down? And what policy measures are working?”  Read more

Hard drugs demand solid understanding: Column

March 24th, 2014

Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death has prompted a lot of discussion about heroin in recent weeks. Heroin statistics from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) have fueled the debate, but they may be leading us astray.

The NSDUH, a federally-funded general population survey of approximately 70,000 people, is a wonderful tool for understanding tobacco, alcohol and marijuana use. It can also provide useful information about how many people used other drugs in the past year.

However, it is patently ill-suited for tracking heroin use, let alone abuse or dependence on heroin and other hard drugs like crack and methamphetamine. Unfortunately, due to budget concerns the federal government just shut down a critical data source that provides insights into these problems: The Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program or ADAM.

ADAM goes where serious substance abuse is concentrated — among those entangled with the criminal justice system, specifically arrestees in booking facilities. And it doesn’t just ask “Please tell us about your illegal drug use, even though we are the government;” it checks responses with urinalysis tests.  Read more

Commentary: Eliminating Barriers IS Smart Drug and Crime Policy

March 17th, 2014

Smart drug policy is inextricably linked to smart crime policy. When treatment of substance use disorders (SUD) is the primary response to criminal behavior tied to untreated addiction and use, it has a profound impact on reducing not only costs to the public safety system but also to the health care system. However, crime and drug policy do not end there. Ensuring the successful reintegration of justice-involved individuals into the community is equally important to ensuring that people get the care and supports they need. Yet many people in recovery face an overwhelming array of discriminatory barriers as a result of their addiction and/or criminal histories, which make it difficult to obtain employment, housing, education, public benefits, and other necessities of life.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the nation engaged in a “war on drugs” that led to the United States having the largest incarcerated population in the world. Legislators enacted policies that erected collateral consequences or extended punishment for people with drug convictions beyond completion of their sentences. These policies stripped away from millions of people, including many in recovery, rights and eligibility for vital services. While in most cases, states were permitted to opt out of these bans, the message across the country was clear1.  Read more

Commentary: A Boon but No Silver Bullet: The ACA and Substance Abuse Treatment

March 13th, 2014

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) are tremendous steps toward ensuring that all individuals can access substance abuse treatment. But the laws are not silver bullets that will close the treatment gap or help every individual who needs treatment. Provider preparation and client outreach will ultimately determine how these laws truly affect behavioral health.

Known as “Obamacare,” the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the ACA will cover 25 million previously uninsured individuals by 2024.1 Unfortunately, recent surveys find that the law’s provisions are poorly understood. Coupled with the individual mandate, the ACA will create insurance marketplaces and subsidize coverage purchased through those marketplaces for people earning 100 percent to 400 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). In addition, states may expand their Medicaid programs to cover all adults earning up to 138 percent of the FPL — a population many already believed were covered.2  So far, about half the states have agreed to expand.3

By 2020, the ACA and MHPAEA will enhance behavioral health coverage for 62.5 million people.4 Together, the laws will allow 32.1 million individuals to access substance abuse benefits for the first time and expand coverage for 30.4 million individuals with existing behavioral health benefits. The ACA ensures that newly covered individuals will receive substance abuse benefits through Essential Health Benefits, which affect newly eligible Medicaid enrollees and most individual and small group plans. However, not all low-income Americans are eligible for ACA assistance.

An estimated 4.8 million uninsured individuals in 25 states fall into the ACA “coverage gap.”Because the law cannot provide marketplace subsidies for individuals earning less than the FPL, the poorest residents in states that do not expand Medicaid will remain ineligible for Medicaid and federal subsidies. These individuals are simply beyond ACA’s reach. Yet the coverage gap is not the only challenge.  Read more

Losing my son to drugs – Salon

March 12th, 2014

A reporter called to interview me about my son’s death and my subsequent advocacy for overdose prevention. She asked the usual questions: How old was he when he died, when did he start to use, would Naloxone have saved his life. And then she asked a question no one had ever asked before. What is it like to lose a child to overdose?

I thought for a minute. On the surface, losing a child to overdose is no different than losing a child to disease, violence or an accident. I don’t think the loss itself is any more or less painful. The level of grief over losing a child is only linked to the immeasurable love you had for them in life.

When you lose a child, nothing is ever the same again. Parents are not supposed to outlive their children. Every facet of your life has a memory of your child. Every room in the house, every trip in the car, a song, a picture, a book, a walk in the park. There is a hole in your heart that will never be filled. You search and search for answers that just aren’t there. Holidays, birthdays are never the same.

You dial their phone number to tell them something and then it hits you that the phone is in your purse — but you still let it ring so that you can hear his voice: “Hello, this is Michael. I’m sorry I missed your call but leave a message and I’ll call you back.” You don’t know why you carry it and keep it charged, but it is comforting to know it is there. That message will be the only connection ever to what his voice sounded like.

You save his clothing unwashed in a plastic bag so that you can open it and still smell his smell lest you forget. You close your eyes, breathe deep and for just a minute he is there with you. You beg, you bargain, you plead to wake up and make it all not true. You find that tears are healing. You walk up the sidewalk from the car to the cemetery and put flowers and balloons and mementos on a plot of grass, because that is the place that has his name on it, the last place you saw the box that held his body.

You hear and smell and feel things that can’t possibly be there. And you talk – you talk to the dead.  You work on your religion, because you have to believe that there is a better place, another place where angels sing and there is no more pain. Losing a child is a pain like no other. It creeps up on you. You go to the grocery store and as you walk past a box of Cap’n Crunch cereal, tears begin to roll down your cheeks.  When you feel so much pain, it seems impossible that people can just pass by with their shopping carts, why they go on with their lives like nothing has happened. You wonder why they can’t tell that someone important is missing.  Read more

For many Arizonans, drug abuse starts with a prescription, not a syringe- ExplorerNews.com

March 7th, 2014

PHOENIX – For Doris Goodale’s grown daughter, drug addiction didn’t begin with a party and a syringe. It was a doctor and a pill.

When Stephanie Goodale suffered from severe kidney issues, the doctor gave her an extended prescription to opioid pain pills, leading to addiction, said Goodale, a Republican state representative from Kingman.

When the prescription ended, Stephanie started using heroin as a cheaper alternative, her mother said. Soon after, authorities arrested her in May 2012, resulting in a prison term for heroin trafficking.

“When their treatment is over, their broken arm is fixed and they don’t need the pain pills any more; they’re addicted and the doctor sends them home,” Doris Goodale said. “And the next thing you know, they’re addicted so they go out and they become a street criminal because they’re out trying to buy drugs.”  Read more

What I Wish I Had Done Differently with My Addicted Son – intervene.drugfree.org

March 5th, 2014

A while back, I received an e-mail from a concerned mother. In it, she described her son’s addiction. She spoke about several experiences that were similar to my own. She told me about how she had done this and that trying to help. She was scared she was going to lose her son.

She then asked me a simple question: “What do you wish you had done differently?”

It was a tricky question. Some may even say it was a trick question. Looking for the silver bullet has been the quest of every parent who I’ve spoken to. In fact, it was even my quest for several years.

For a while after she wrote, the woman’s question remained in the back of my mind. It caused me great anxiety. I simply didn’t have an adequate answer.

What do I wish I had done differently? At first, I thought of all of the little mistakes I made. Perhaps, if added up, they would have made a difference. Maybe some of the small changes might even have prevented this nightmare…or maybe not. Yet, this response did not satisfy me. After a few weeks of deliberation, I finally discovered a better answer.

I would have learned to listen.  Read more


Drug Abuse & Addiction

March 3rd, 2014

Some people are able to use recreational or prescription drugs without ever experiencing negative consequences or addiction. For many others, substance use can cause problems at work, home, school, and in relationships, leaving you feeling isolated, helpless, or ashamed.

If you’re worried about your own or a friend or family member’s drug use, it’s important to know that help is available. Learning about the nature of drug abuse and addiction—how it develops, what it looks like, and why it can have such a powerful hold—will give you a better understanding of the problem and how to best deal with it.  Read more

I Thought I Knew.- YouTube video by the Partnership at Drugfree.Org

February 28th, 2014

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Caring for Yourself in Order to Care for Someone Else- Intervene.drugfree.org

February 26th, 2014

Many parents who have a child struggling with substance abuse notice that these concerns start to consume huge amounts of time and energy.  As you’ve probably experienced, under the best of circumstances with kids, it’s hard to carve out space to focus on yourself. When your child and your family is dealing with something as complicated and anxiety-provoking as substance abuse, it can feel impossible to have room for anything other than trying to help, reacting to the latest crisis, and dealing with  all the “have tos” minute to minute, day to day.

In this environment, taking care of yourself falls to the bottom of the list, if it makes the list at all! However, even though it might be the furthest thing from your mind (e.g. how can I go to the movies when I’m worried my child might be out getting high again?), finding some room to focus on self-care is really vital if you are going to be and remain helpful to your child and the rest of your family. This is about resisting your instincts to put your life aside by going into emergency/panic mode.

This is a long-term project; a marathon, not a sprint. Similar to running a marathon, you need to keep your energy reserves up and pace yourself for the long and sometimes bumpy road ahead. We are not being touchy-feely psychologists when we say this. We are trying to help you be tactical in the midst of a difficult struggle, and it matters. Try to keep in mind what they say on planes before takeoff: if the oxygen masks are needed, resist the urge to put it on others before you put it on yourself. Many people have the impulse to help their loved ones BEFORE they help themselves. But the oxygen recommendation is not that you alone use it; it’s to make sure you are getting at least some oxygen, and don’t entirely ignore yourself. Without attention to this, the “helpers” (that’s you) get lost along the way (”lack of oxygen”), and can’t guide, direct, think, and help anymore.  Read more