I am convinced that the citizens of our county can save lives by following some advice from clinical findings about substance abuse. You don't have to be a psychologist or a medical doctor to read the research, contemplate the implications, and implement pertinent, significant strategies that act as tools to reduce the dangers associated with drugs, particularly prescription drugs.
When will the madness of abuse stop?
I believe research-based education can significantly reduce the numbers of those killed and maimed due to the reckless consumption of drugs. The drug epidemic must be met with a sound, united effort from all sources of instruction.
It is time that all schools (K-12),
all health institutions,
all support groups,
all law enforcement,
all civic groups, and
all parents and relatives
face the problem and
offer sound educational opportunities
coordinated with the same proven messages.
The youth who die in the health epidemic of drug abuse are senseless sacrifices resulting from a myriad (and often a mixture) of causes. The stories of most of youth deaths begin so innocently from various pressures or misunderstandings (peer influence, stress, feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, isolation, family problems, wrong misinformation, etc.), then lead to substance introduction, progress with increased experimentation, develop into dependencies, and end in the disease of full-blown addiction.
We can no longer afford to let this cycle continue -- to read the obituaries, to pray for the families and friends, to preach and mourn over mistakes and misfortune, to turn the sod over once-vibrant bodies, and to return to our homes content to let the forces of evil continue unchecked as they rip the lifeblood from our communities.
An educated, tight-knit community that takes responsibility for all people -- all colors, all creeds, all social statuses, all ages, all dirty and ugly stereotypes -- betters itself in every way. All problems are our responsibility. All who fall are our casualties. All advances and improvements are depend upon the actions of all of us. Here are some findings to consider:
1. The adolescent needs a strong bond to school.
Notice the wording - school activities and outcomes are not necessarily peer activities and outcomes.An adolescent with a strong bond to school is invested in conventional activities and outcomes; substance use jeopardizes such aspirations, both present and future. Furthermore, it appears that the bond to school is a more robust correlate of nonmedical prescription drug use than the bond to parents. A strong bond to school makes substance use less likely by establishing a stake in conformity. (Ford 2009)
2. The large number of adolescents treated for long-term ADD provides a source that increases the number of prescriptions in circulation, thus increasing opportunities for others to obtain stimulant medication for nonmedical use.
Abuse of prescription stimulants has become common among students ever since these drugs were introduced for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
The conceptualization of this condition as a lifelong disorder has increased the duration of treatment with methylphenidate and also increased the number of prescriptions in circulation. The Drug Enforcement Agency reported a 600% increase in methylphenidate prescriptions from 1990 to 1995. Nonmedical use of stimulant medication is most common among college‐aged students (18–24 years). A survey of students taking methylphenidate for attention‐deficit/hyperactivity disorder found that 16% of the respondents had been asked by other students to trade, sell, or give them their stimulant medication (Hernandez and Nelson 2010)
3. The adolescent must understand that the nonmedical use of prescription drugs is NOT safer or more responsible than the use of illegal drugs.
Young people often perceive taking nonmedical prescription drugs as avoiding the high‐risk lifestyle and stigma associated with the use of illegal drugs,
An Internet survey of >3,000 undergraduate students asked respondents about their nonmedical use of prescription drugs and their perceptions about nonmedical use of drugs by their peers and found that the majority of the students overestimated the prevalence of this practice. (Hernandez and Nelson 2010)
Teenagers said that whereas they used illicit drugs only for recreation, they often used prescription drugs for “practical” effects: hypnotic drugs for sleep, stimulants to enhance their school performance, and tranquilizers such as benzodiazepines to decrease stress. They often characterized their use of prescription drugs as “responsible,” “controlled,” or “safe.” (Friedman 2006)
4. Young adults or adolescents living at home require higher levels of parental involvement against past-year misuse of prescription opioids.
These groups were found to be significantly less likely to have engaged in prescription opioid misuse in the past year:
(a) Youths who had perceived strong disapproval of marijuana use from their parents,
(b) Youths whose parents often checked their homework,
(c) Youths who had frequently been commended by their parents
(Sung, Richter, Vaughan, Johnson, & Thom, 2005).
Common correlates of or risk factors for illicit drug abuse, such as low parental involvement and positive youth attitudes toward drugs, are also predictive of prescription opioid misuse (Sung et al, 2005). Research shows a reduction of paternal care perception in marijuana users and an even lower perception of care among poly‐drug users when compared to an abstinent population. Reported maternal care perception was also significantly reduced in ‘‘alcohol abusers’’ and poly‐drug users. (Gerra et al, 2004)
5. Using prescription stimulants nonmedically may result in involvement in fewer criminal behaviors than using illegal substances, but the payback is prescription drugs still exhibit a great number of serious risk factors, including accessing mental health treatment, sensation seeking behaviors, and high family conflict.
(Herman‐Stahl, Krebs, Kroutil, & Heller, 2006).
6. Adolescents who develop strong bonds with their parents who closely monitor their children's behavior make substance abuse less likely.
Adolescents believe deviant behavior is more likely to be recognized and punished when parents closely monitor their activities. Close monitoring by parents also limits free time spent socializing with peers in unstructured settings, which reduces opportunities for deviance. (Ford 2009)
7. The adolescent must realize that taking prescription drugs is NOT an integral and routine aspect of an everyday life.
What might explain the growing confidence in the safety of prescription drugs? Nowadays, it is nearly impossible to open a newspaper, turn on the television, or search the Internet without encountering an advertisement for a prescription medication. One effect has been to foster an image of prescription drugs as commonplace in everyday life. Any adverse effects are relegated to the fine print of an advertisement or dispatched in a few seconds of rapid‐fire speech (Friedman, 2006).
Expectation of drug effects may be a key ingredient in the addictive potential of prescription drugs. A drug taken for a bona fide medical condition may be inherently less reinforcing than the same drug taken with the express purpose of intoxication or psychic enhancement. The increases in marketing of medications through media (especially television) may be related to changed attitudes toward ingestion of psychotherapeutic agents.
8. Adolescents should understand that "medications" endorsed and administered by physicians are not necessarily safe.
The fact that these drugs are considered “medication” and are endorsed by physicians may give a false sense of safety. It should also be noted that a key difference of the prescription drugs from other drugs of abuse is the explicit or implicit medical context of administration (Compton & Volkow, 2006). Beliefs about one’s own control in the world and perceived future opportunities are also associated with drug use. Perceived harmfulness of drugs is also associated with low drug use. (Félix‐Ortiz et al, 1999).
Not only is nonmedical use of prescription drugs perceived as avoiding the high‐risk lifestyle and stigma associated with the use of illegal drugs, but it is perceived as being safer overall. Prescription drugs are prepared by pharmaceutical companies and prescribed by physicians, and therefore the components and dosages are more predictable. Survey data indicate that ~50% of schoolchildren in grades 7–12 do not believe that there is a great risk in abusing prescription medicine, and ~30% believe that prescription pain relievers are not addictive.
When these drugs are used to enhance mental or physical performance, the potential adverse effects may be ignored. (Hernandez and Nelson 2010)
Read the entire article here: http://www.ct.gov/dmhas/lib/dmhas/prevention/RxDrugRiskFactors.pdf
We can no longer be dumb, stupid, or unknowing people. Without a commitment to educating yourself about drug abuse, you are likely to be counterproductive to any efforts to improved conditions. When you hear of the next drug death, you may do one of the following:
1. Cry tears in circles.
You will mourn the loss of life and the devastation of families because of a drug death; then, you will walk away from the problem instead of confronting it and taking action. And soon, when the next inevitable drug death occurs, you will shed some tears again and continue to hope someone else will stop the deaths.
2. Walk the straight and narrow.
You will mourn the loss of life and the devastation of families because of a drug death as you mentally insulate yourself and your loved ones from a similar fate by assuring those close to you that such "bad behavior" could never lead to tragedy in your "good" family. As you reinforce proper behaviors, you will blame the "bad group" for the tragedy and vow to continue to act "good" with the rest of the "good people."
3. Kill 'em all; sort 'em out later.
You will not mourn a drug death, but you will shake your head in disbelief and say, "The stinking addict had it coming. He/She knew exactly what he/she was doing. Nobody made him/her take those drugs. I hate fucking druggies; someone ought to euthanize them all." Then, you will tell all your friends about the idiots who "keep acting this way."
4. Roll on down the road.
You will be indifferent to a drug death because you are convinced improper actions affirm bad fate. Believing the tragedy has no effect on you, you will continue to prefer isolation. Very simply, you will prefer not to think about it. You are very busy, too busy to concern yourself with "such matters."
5. Just live another day.
You will mourn the loss of life and the devastation of a particular family because of a drug death involving someone you knew and liked well. You will view the passing as a risk that ended tragically. After the funeral, you will go home and not do much differently. You'll smoke some cigarettes, burn a joint or two, consume a 12-pack of beer, play several hours of Mortal Combat, tell Junior that "good grades ain't everything," cuss out the "old lady" for not having dinner ready (after all, she knew you would be grieving), tell your sixteen year old daughter she can only stay out with Billy Joe until 1:00 A.M. because tomorrow's a school day, and hit the hay because tomorrow is the first of the month and check day.
Compton, W. M., & Volkow, N. D. (2006). Abuse of prescription drugs and the risk of addiction. Drug & Alcohol Dependence, 83(1), S4‐S7.
Dawkins, M. P. (1996). The social context of substance use among African American youth: Rural, urban and suburban comparisons. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 41(3), 68‐85.
Félix‐Ortiz, M. and M. D. Newcomb. (1999). Vulnerability for drug use among Latino adolescents. Journal of Community Psychology, 27(3), 257‐280.
Ford, J. (2009). Nonmedical Prescription Drug Use Among Adolescents : The Influence of Bonds to Family and School. Youth Society 40: 336.
Friedman, R. A. (2006). The changing face of teenage drug abuse‐‐the trend toward prescription drugs. New England Journal of Medicine, 354(14), 1448‐1450.
Gerra, G., L. Angioni, et al. (2004). Substance use among high‐school students: Relationships with temperament, personality traits, and parental care perception. Substance Use & Misuse, 39(2), 345‐367.
Herman‐Stahl, M., Krebs, C., Kroutil, L., & Heller, D. (2006). Risk and protective factors for nonmedical use of prescription stimulants and methamphetamine among adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 39(3), 374‐380.
Hernandez, S.H. and Nelson, L.S. (2010). Prescription Drug Abuse: Insight Into the Epidemic. Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics. Vol. 88 No. 3.
Sung, H.‐E., Richter, L., Vaughan, R., Johnson, P. B., & Thom, B. (2005). Nonmedical use of prescription opioids among teenagers in the United States: Trends and correlates. The Journal Of Adolescent Health: Official Publication Of The Society For Adolescent Medicine, 37(1), 44‐51.