Every Dollar Spent on Prevention Can Save up to $50 | Prevention Hub

April 17, 2014

A recent study by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy investigates the effectiveness of drug abuse and violence prevention programmes. Among the programmes the Botvin LifeSkills Training, which is used in 37 countries around the world, yielded the most promising results, saving $50 for every dollar spent. The school-based model proves that prevention programmes do not only provide enormous health benefits to young people, but also economic advantages for the communities they live in. Mentor USA uses the programme as part of their school-based prevention strategy.

Botvin LifeSkills Training equips students aged 5 to 18 with the relevant skills to deal with stressful situations and helps boost their self-esteem. By engaging with the programme, students learn about the negative consequences of substance abuse and become familiar with healthy alternatives.

via Every Dollar Spent on Prevention Can Save up to $50 | Prevention Hub.

Service Learning Grants Available

April 16, 2014

“The Youth Advisory Board grants funds for student-led service-learning projects in the United States and in the Alberta, New Brunswick and Ontario provinces of Canada. These grants address, in a structural way, the issues of environmental responsibility, community safety and natural disaster preparedness, financial education, societal health and wellness issues, and accessing higher education/closing the achievement gap.”

Funder: State Farm Youth Advisory Board 

Eligibility: To receive a grant from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board, organizations/institutions must be located in the United States or Canada. Primary applicant can be anyone involved with a public K-12, public charter, or higher education institution. Non-profit organizations are also eligible if they are able to demonstrate how they plan to actively interact with students in public K-12 schools. Applicants must also have a demonstrated capacity to effectively manage grant funds.

Amount: $25,000 – $100,000

via LifeSkills Training: Funding Opportunities.

Teens and Young Adults Exposed to Tobacco Marketing More Likely to Smoke

April 15, 2014

Teens and young adults who are exposed to marketing materials for tobacco products, such as coupons and websites, were far more likely to begin smoking or to be current smokers than those not exposed, finds a new study in the Journal of Adolescent Health. The findings were reported by Health Behavior News Service.

via Tobacco Promotions Still Reaching Youth | Center for Advancing Health.

Three Ohio Agencies Win Drug Prevention Grants

April 11, 2014

NEW PHILADELPHIA  Agencies in three area counties have received grants from the state to strengthen school-based alcohol and drug prevention programs.

The Building Youth Resiliency grants are a part of Start Talking!, Ohio’s new youth drug prevention initiative. The program is a partnership between the Office of the First Lady, the Governor’s Office of Faith-Base Initiatives and the departments of Aging, Job and Family Services and Mental Health and Addiction Services and targets at-risk students in grades five through nine.

In Tuscarawas County, Personal and Family Counseling Services is receiving a grant of $12,875 to provide the Botvin LifeSkills Training Program to 190 fifth- and sixth-grade students in Newcomerstown Exempted Village Schools and Conotton Valley Union Local Schools.

The program will begin in the 2014-15 school year.

Jodi Salvo, coordinator of the Taking It to the Schools program, said Botvin is the leading school-based prevention education program used in the U.S.

Facilitators from Personal and Family Counseling meet with students once a week for eight weeks. Each week, they discuss a different topic, such as self-esteem and assertiveness.

On the eighth week, parents or caregivers are invited to come to the school for a graduation ceremony, she said. “It gives us the opportunity to show the parents what we discussed.”

via LifeSkills Training: News Detail.

New Report Highlights the Economic Power of Prevention: LifeSkills Training Program Saves $50 for Every $1 Spent

April 10, 2014
Investing in prevention makes great economic sense, according to a new study. The report, part of a series of economic studies conducted by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP), determined that communities will reap substantial savings by using effective drug abuse and violence prevention programs. Among the most dramatic findings were those for a drug abuse and violence prevention program called Botvin LifeSkills Training (LST). Researchers found that the LST program produced a $50 benefit for every $1 invested–yielding the highest return on investment of any substance abuse prevention curriculum studied.

“We know that effective prevention programs can produce a powerful public health benefit by helping teens avoid the damaging effects of tobacco, alcohol, illicit drug abuse, and violence. This updated report proves that it has the added benefit of also making good economic sense,” said Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin, professor emeritus at Cornell University’s Weill Medical College and developer of the LST program. “A relatively small upfront investment in a proven prevention program such as LST can yield tremendous health and economic benefits in terms of both the positive health effects it provides students and the potential cost savings for communities and the larger society.”

Tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug abuse cost the United States over $500 billion a year. Therefore, the nationwide use of prevention programs that have been tested and proven effective offer considerable economic benefits at a time when health costs are spiraling higher each year. Unfortunately, surveys show that most schools are not using programs proven to work. And just as programs vary in effectiveness, they also vary in their costs, economic benefits, and potential return on investment.  Encouraging the use of tested and effective prevention programs shown to produce a high return on investment can produce substantial savings and help cut health costs throughout the country.

Washington State Institute for Public Policy provided the results of new analyses in their most recent report entitled “Return on Investment: Evidence-Based Options to Improve Statewide Outcomes.” The report, similar to an investment advisor’s “buy-sell” list, contains current recommendations on policy options that can give taxpayers a good return on their investment (“buys”), as well as those that apparently cannot (“sells”). Investing in LST represents a 50-to-1 return to communities in terms of reduced corrections costs, welfare and social services burdens, drug and mental health treatment, and increased employment and tax revenue. This 50-to-1 return is an increase over the last report in April 2012 of a 38-to-1 return.

About Botvin LifeSkills Training

Botvin LifeSkills Training (LST) is an evidence-based substance abuse and violence prevention program used in schools and communities throughout the U.S. and in 36 countries around the world. LST has been extensively tested and proven to reduce tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use by as much as 80%. It is effective when implemented using different delivery formats, when taught by different providers, and when delivered to different populations. It works with elementary school, middle school, and high school students. Long-term follow-up studies also show that it produces prevention effects that are durable and long-lasting. For more information call 800-293-4969 or visit www.lifeskillstraining.com.


Paulina Kalaj



via LifeSkills Training: Press Releases.

Coshocton Behavioral Health Awarded Grant to Teach LST

April 9, 2014

Ohio’s putting its money — $1.5 million across 19 counties — where its mouth is for the Start Talking! campaign, which encourages children to avoid drugs by overcoming peer pressure and stresses that often lead to addiction.

Coshocton Behavioral Health Choices will receive $62,256 to teach students in fifth through ninth grades at Coshocton City, Ridgewood Local and River View Local schools how to reduce the risks of alcohol and drug abuse, according to a Monday Start Talking!

The program, called Life­Skills Training, addresses the social and psychological factors that can lead to substance abuse. Parents also will receive information twice monthly about how they can help keep their children drug free.

via LifeSkills Training: News Detail.

Ohio Grants Target Anti-Drug Programs For Kids

April 8, 2014

A Licking County agency will receive $62,448 to provide the LifeSkills Training program to all 9th-grade students in Newark City Schools. Pathways of Central Ohio will also deliver the evidenced-based curriculum to students in six other Licking County schools.

Kristin McCloud, executive director of Pathways of Central Ohio says the curriculum focuses on relationships and self-esteem.

via LifeSkills Training: News Detail.

Get Involved in National Prevention Week

April 3, 2014

Get Involved in SAMHSA’s National Prevention Week 2014: May 18 to 24!

National Prevention Week is a SAMHSA-supported annual health observance dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues. This observance is powered by communities nationwide that host prevention-themed events to:

  • Increase the visibility of behavioral health and the benefits of prevention.
  • Provide a forum to educate the public.
  • Create opportunities for networking and collaboration.

via Road to Recovery: Get Involved in National Prevention Week.

ASCD and HHS/CDC Announce Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model

April 2, 2014

ASCD, a global community dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading, announced today the new Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model that is recommended as a strategy for improving students’ health and learning in our schools. Developed by ASCD and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with key leaders from education, public health, and school health fields, the new model combines and builds on elements of the traditional coordinated school health approach and the whole child framework to strengthen a unified and collaborative approach to learning and health.

A whole child approach, which ensures that each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged, sets the standard for comprehensive, sustainable school improvement and provides for long-term student success. The new WSCC model responds to the call for greater alignment, integration, and collaboration between education and health to improve each child’s cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development.

The model incorporates the components of an effective school health program and the tenets of the whole child approach to education to address the symbiotic relationship between learning and health. In doing so, the model continues the focus of the traditional coordinated school health approach but aligns it with the structure, framework, and objectives of education. This is showcased by the expanded components focusing additional attention on the social and emotional climate of the school and classroom environments and the pivotal role that community involvement plays in the growth and development of our youth.

The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model focuses its attention on the child, emphasizing a schoolwide approach and acknowledging learning, health, and the school as being a part and reflection of the local community. Because they have contact with 95 percent of U.S. children ages 5–17, schools are the primary institution responsible for childhood development, after the family. It is essential that schools have an effective and comprehensive school health model in place during these critical years of social, psychological, physical, and intellectual development.

Whereas the traditional coordinated school health model contained eight components, the WSCC contains 10, expanding Health and Safe School Environment and Family/Community Involvement into four distinct components:

-Social and Emotional Climate

-Physical Environment

-Family Engagement

-Community Involvement

This change marks the need for greater emphasis on both the psychosocial and physical environment as well as the ever-increasing roles that community agencies and families must play. Finally, this new model also addresses the need to engage students as active participants in their learning and health.

CDC will be integrating this new model into its school health initiatives, placing ASCD’s whole child framework at the center of health and education alignment in school settings. For more information about CDC’s school health initiatives, visit www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth.

For more information about ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, visit www.ascd.org/wholechild. To find out about ASCD’s focus on integrating learning and health visit www.ascd.org/learningandhealth. You can also find out more about ASCD’s other programs, products, services and memberships at www.ascd.org.

LifeSkills Training Works with Italian Youth

April 1, 2014

In the final part of this 5-part video series, Dr. Velasco describes her team’s evaluation methods and briefly summarizes one-year results showing that LifeSkills Training works with Italian youth. Visit http://www.lifeskillstraining.com for more information.

The series focuses on implementation of the Botvin Life Skills Training drug abuse prevention program with Italian youth.


What Parents and Teachers in Italy REALLY think of LifeSkills Training

March 31, 2014

In Part 4 of this 5-part series, Dr. Veronica Velasco talks about the positive reaction to the Botvin LifeSkills Training program by Italian parents and teachers. Visit http://www.lifeskillstraining.com for more information.

This 5-part series focuses on implementation of the Life Skills Training drug abuse prevention program with Italian youth.

Implementing LifeSkills Training in Milan

March 28, 2014

In Part 3 of this 5-part series, Dr. Veronica Velasco describes the implementation of Botvin LifeSkills Training with 100 classes from over 20 schools in Milan and the lessons learned by her project team. Visit http://www.lifeskillstraining.com for more information.

“Technical Difficulties”

March 27, 2014

Hi everyone!  Thanks for bearing with us as our website http://www.lifeskillstraining.com is experiencing technical difficulties.  We are working hard to get it back up.  In the meantime, if you have any questions about the program, please email us at lstinfo@nhpamail.com or you can call us at 800-293-4969.


LifeSkills Training Team :)

Translating and Adapting LifeSkills Training for Italian Youth

March 27, 2014

In Part 2 of this 5-part series, Dr. Veronica Velasco and Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin discuss the process of translating and adapting the LifeSkills Training program to the Italian culture. Visit http://www.lifeskillstraining.com for more information.

Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin and Dr. Veronica Velasco discuss LifeSkills Training in Italy

March 26, 2014

This 5-part series focuses on implementation of the Botvin Life Skills Training drug abuse prevention program with Italian youth. In Part 1, Dr. Gil Botvin, developer of the LST program, discusses advances in drug abuse prevention and the LST project in Italy. Dr. Veronica Velasco, one of the project leaders, describes the problem of drug abuse in Italy and why they chose LST. Visit http://www.lifeskillstraining.com for more information.

San Diego teachers learn how to teach LifeSkills Training Program

March 25, 2014

San Diego teachers learn how to teach LifeSkills Training Program

High School teachers in San Diego at a workshop last week learning how to implement the LifeSkills Training program.

Applications Now Being Accepted for 2014 National Exemplary Awards | CADCA

March 24, 2014

Did your organization implement an exceptional evidence-based strategy  or program to address substance abuse? Then, apply for the 2014 National Exemplary Awards for Innovative Substance Abuse Prevention Programs, Practices, and Policies  (2014 Exemplary Awards), sponsored by the National Association of State  Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors, Inc. (NASADAD) and the National  Prevention Network (NPN).

The 2014 Exemplary Awards recognize exceptional substance abuse efforts, to include programs, policies and practices (henceforth to be referred to as “programs”).  They are intended to showcase “grassroots,” evidence-based substance abuse prevention programs and strategies that have been evaluated and may be replicated by others. Organizations that have implemented programs resulting in specific changes or outcomes—at the individual, program, or community levels—are encouraged to respond to this Call for Applications.

The 2014 Exemplary Awards recipients will be recognized at the National Prevention Network’s annual Prevention Research Conference in Hartford, Connecticut, September 15-18, 2014.

via Applications Now Being Accepted for 2014 National Exemplary Awards | CADCA.

6 Lessons for Transitioning to a New Chapter in Life

March 20, 2014

Making the transition to college or even the workforce can be challenging. New places, new faces, and new opportunities can bring about some anxious or scary feelings of the unknown. LifeSkills Training Transitions helps people navigating the progression into a new chapter in their life. This 6-lesson program helps participants achieve competency in the skills that are key to success:

  1. Goal-settingTransitions-for-www
  2. Effective communication
  3. Managing stress
  4. Decision-making
  5. Managing time and money
  6. Building relationships

If you want to learn more about how to teach this program, register for our online training workshop on April 2nd. Email training@nhpamail.com for more info.

via Botvin LifeSkills Training: Transitions.

Convenience Store Group Encourages Members Not to Sell E-Cigs to Youth

March 19, 2014

The National Association of Convenience Stores is urging its members not to sell e-cigarettes to minors, the Associated Press reports. The group represents more than 151,280 convenience stores.

The group says e-cigarettes should be treated like other age-restricted tobacco products. In a statement, the group notes convenience stores are the largest retail channel for e-cigarette sales, with overall sales of almost $540 million last year.

via APNewsBreak: Retail Group Urges Youth E-Cig Ban – ABC News.

Attorneys General to Major Retailers: Stop Selling Tobacco Products

March 18, 2014

The attorneys general of 28 states and territories are urging major retailers to follow the lead of CVS Caremark and stop selling tobacco products. They sent letters to Rite Aid, Walgreens, Kroger, Safeway and Walmart, which are among the nation’s biggest pharmacy retailers.

via Attorneys General to Major Retailers: Stop Selling Tobacco Products | The Partnership at Drugfree.org.

Prevention: The Return on Investment

March 17, 2014

Investing in prevention is an economic no-brainer, according to recent study. A report released by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) determined that communities will reap dramatic savings by using drug abuse and violence programs proven to be effective. One such program, the top-rated Botvin LifeSkills Training (LST) program, was found to produce a $38 benefit for every dollar invested. The report presented the results of an extensive economic analysis of a number of different programs, carefully weighing the costs and benefits of the programs assessed. LST had the highest return on investment for the school-based prevention programs studied.

In April 2012, Washington State Institute for Public Policy updated their report entitled “Return on Investment: Evidence-Based Options to Improve Statewide Outcomes.”The report, similar to an investment advisor’s “buy-sell” list, contains current recommendations on policy options that can give taxpayers a good return on their investment (“buys”), as well as those that apparently cannot (“sells”). Investing in LST represents a 38-to-1 return to communities in terms of reduced corrections costs, welfare and social services burden, drug and mental health treatment; and increased employment and tax revenue.

via Cost-Benefit Studies.

LifeSkills Training: Funding Opportunities

March 14, 2014

The LifeSkills Training website provides a listing of funding opportunities that may be applicable to fund the program.  Please click on each title for detailed information on each funding opportunity.

via LifeSkills Training: Funding Opportunities.

Preparing grant applications can be challenging.  LifeSkills Training offers several grant application tools to help you in applying for local, state, and federal funding.
LifeSkills Training Grant Writing Resources
Grant Writing Aid
This document offers information, resources, and suggestions to sites that are applying funding to implement the LifeSkills Training program. Information in this document is not intended to be used as a template for writing a proposal. Rather, information should be viewed as suggestions and examples that can be used to construct a strong proposal.
LST Grant Writing Template
Incorporating key program information into your grant application is very important. This valuable template outlines key information on the LifeSkills Training program you will need to incorporate into your grant application.
Federal Grant Writing Resources
EPA Federal Grant Writing Tutorial

Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking 2013|SAMHSA

March 13, 2014

The 2013 Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking includes readily accessible reviews of the latest research on the extent of underage drinking and problems associated with it. According to the report, “Alcohol remains the most widely used substance of abuse among America’s youth,” which has “profound negative consequences for underage drinkers, their families, their communities, and society as a whole.”

via Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking 2013|SAMHSA.

Which prevention programmes work best for prescription drug misuse? | Prevention Hub

March 10, 2014

This six year study of 11,000 teenagers aimed to measure the success and cost-effectiveness of prescription drug abuse prevention efforts. Researchers at Duke and Pennsylvania State universities found huge differences in the effectiveness of different programmes. As Prevention Hub has reported in several other prevention stories, the best results came from pairing a school-based programme with a home-based intervention. Given the role of home in this problem, it is maybe unsurprising that school based programmes alone were generally ineffective, although the authors highlight success for the  LifeSkills Training program, which teaches social skills that build competence and encourage assertiveness. This program was also the most cost-effective…

via Which prevention programmes work best for prescription drug misuse? | Prevention Hub.

To Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse, Involve the School and Family

March 7, 2014

The illegal use of prescription drugs is on the rise, but efforts to stop prescription drug abuse through legislation and policing have proven ineffective. New research may offer some keys to solving this problem.

As more people misuse prescription drugs, the old paradigm of interdiction, or attempting to stop the importation of drugs, is becoming less relevant. We need new strategies in our society…

via To Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse, Involve the School and Family.

Addressing the Drug Problem in Carver, MA with Action

March 6, 2014

During a recent Mobilizing the Community meeting at Carver Middle High School in Massachusetts, about 95 parents and other residents discussed strengthening the school and community connection to prevent drug use.

Through a grant, eighth-graders are being introduced to the Botvin LifeSkills Training substance abuse and violence prevention curriculum program over 10 weeks, and teachers are learning the curriculum so they can teach the program to other teachers so it’s taught to all grades.

via LifeSkills Training: News Detail.

Town receives grant to fund gang prevention programs

March 5, 2014

The Board of State and Community Corrections recently awarded a grant to Apple Valley’s Juvenile Gang Prevention deputy to continue for at least two more years and to initiate or expand youth programs aimed at reducing juvenile gang crime.

The grant will benefit approximately 6,500 children in Apple Valley by funding programs such as Botvin LifeSkills Training.

via Town receives grant to fund gang prevention programs | valley, grant, prevention – Victorville Daily Press.

School Program Works to Battle Prescription Drug Abuse

March 3, 2014

New research shows that a school-based prevention program can help in the fight against prescription drug abuse among teens. A study from Duke and Penn State Universities found that while the effectiveness of school-based programs differ, one program was not only effective when used by itself but also among the most cost-effective programs studied. That program, Botvin LifeSkills Training (LST), has been extensirxvely tested and proven effective in preventing violence, and the use of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs. The LST program, implemented in schools all over the U.S. and in 36 countries around the world, fosters youth development by teaching personal coping skills, general social skills, and skills for resisting pressures to smoke, drink, use drugs, and engage in other risk behaviors.he study is among the first to measure the success and cost-effectiveness of prescription drug abuse prevention efforts.

Researchers studied 11,000 teenagers at 28 rural public school districts in Iowa and Pennsylvania for six years. The best results came from pairing a school program such as Botvin LifeSkills Training with a family intervention, resulting in a 10% decrease in abuse rates. The Botvin LifeSkills Training program was the only school program that was effective when used by itself and resulted in lower drug abuse rates among teens.

“It’s clear that effective prevention programs offer the potential for producing a powerful public health benefit by helping teens avoid the damaging effects of prescription drug abuse. This new report proves that it has the added benefit of making good economic sense,” said Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin, professor emeritus at Cornell University’s Weill Medical College and developer of the LST program. “A relatively small upfront investment can yield tremendous health and economic benefits in terms of both the immediate- and long-term positive effects our program has on the students who participate in it.”

The study notes that, by conservative estimates, prescription drug abusers cost society an average of $7,500 each year for treatment and other expenses. Botvin LifeSkills Training was also among the most cost-effective programs studied. Research shows that LST can save as much as $38 for every dollar spent.

CADCA Unveils New Online Toolkit to Help Coalitions Reduce Tobacco Use | CADCA

February 28, 2014

Tobacco use remains the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S., with 5.6 million of today’s young people projected to die prematurely from a smoking-related illness. To help communities address this problem, CADCA has developed a new online Tobacco Use Prevention Toolkit, which is designed to provide coalitions and drug prevention practitioners with strategies and ideas they can implement to prevent and reduce tobacco use in their communities.

The toolkit uses as its basis CADCA’s Seven Strategies for Effective Community Change, providing actions and strategies coalitions can use for each of the seven steps to achieve community change. The toolkit’s content is based on an environmental approach, with strategies aimed at changing or influencing community conditions, standards, institutions, structures, systems and policies.

via CADCA Unveils New Online Toolkit to Help Coalitions Reduce Tobacco Use | CADCA.

Study finds LifeSkills Training among the most cost-effective programs to battle teen Rx abuse

February 26, 2014

Programs that aim to curb teen prescription drug abuse have vastly differing effectiveness, ranging from big drops in drug abuse to no measurable effect, according to a new study of 11,000 teenagers by researchers at Duke and Pennsylvania State universities.

The best results came from pairing a school-based program with a home-based intervention, resulting in a 10 percent decrease in abuse rates. By contrast, most school-based programs were ineffective when used by themselves, with just one exception.

The study found that only one school-based program was effective when used by itself. The Botvin LifeSkills Training program resulted in 4 percent lower drug abuse rates, compared with a control group. The 18-session course teaches social skills that build competence and encourage assertiveness. LifeSkills Training was also among the most cost-effective programs studied, costing an average of $15 per child. By contrast, the study notes that prescription drug abusers cost society an average of $7,500 each for treatment and other expenses, by conservative estimates.

The six-year study is among the first to measure the success and cost-effectiveness of prescription drug abuse prevention efforts.

via LifeSkills Training: News Detail.

2014 Drug Free Communities RFP Has Been Revised | CADCA

February 25, 2014

Attention ALL Drug Free Communities 2014 Applicants! Please make note that the 2014 DFC RFP has been revised. There are 10 revisions to the original RFP

via 2014 Drug Free Communities RFP Has Been Revised | CADCA.

Coalitions in Action: Tribal Coalition Passes Policy Banning Packaged Alcohol Sales | CADCA

February 24, 2014

After local data showed that the Pueblo of Laguna tribal community was experiencing major problems with underage and binge drinking, the Laguna Prevention Coalition knew they had to take drastic measures to address the problem. So they worked with local leaders to ban packaged alcohol sales on the reservation.

When the New Mexico-based Laguna Prevention Coalition first formed, they never envisioned a prohibitionist type of policy for their reservation, which includes six villages: Laguna, Mesita, Paguate, Seama, Paraje and Encinal. However, local survey data showed that buying alcohol at the grocery store was causing overconsumption, especially by underage youth.

via Coalitions in Action: Tribal Coalition Passes Policy Banning Packaged Alcohol Sales | CADCA.

Community Advocacy Grants available from The Louisiana Campaign For Tobacco-Free Living | KATC.com | Acadiana-Lafayette, Louisiana

February 20, 2014

The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL) recently announced the availability of up to $600,000 in Community Advocacy Grants (CAGs) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014-2015.

TFL CAGs, along with other TFL program elements, play an important role in changing community norms around tobacco use and perceptions of the tobacco industry. In order to promote smoke-free policies and decrease other tobacco use in Louisiana, these grants have been designed to reach key priority populations while assisting in the implementation of effective and evidence-based practices in tobacco prevention and control.

via Community Advocacy Grants available from The Louisiana Campaign For Tobacco-Free Living | KATC.com | Acadiana-Lafayette, Louisiana.

A conference for anyone involved with evidence-based prevention and intervention programs

February 19, 2014

The Blueprints Conference,  at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel on April 14 – 16, 2014, provides information on cost-effective and proven programs that help young people reach their full potential. Get a head start on preparing children for success with top programs promoting education, behavior, emotional well-being, physical health and positive relationships. The conference will provide professionals who work to promote healthy youth development with support, guidance, and tools to help successfully implement these programs in their own communities.

Several model Blueprints programs, including Botvin LifeSkills Training, will host pre-conferenceson Monday, April 14th.

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from seasoned practitioners in the field and to network with others in the industry. Register today: http://www.blueprintsconference.com/about/

Teens Who Consume Energy Drinks May Be More Likely to Use Alcohol and Drugs

February 18, 2014

A new study suggests teens who consume high-caffeine energy drinks such as Monster or Red Bull may be more likely to use alcohol, drugs or cigarettes.

The study included almost 22,000 students in grades 8, 10 and 12, HealthDay reports. The researchers found 30 percent said they drank high-caffeine energy drinks or shots, while more than 40 percent drank regular soft drinks daily, and 20 percent drank diet soda daily. Teens who consumed energy drinks were two to three times more likely to admit recently using drugs, alcohol or cigarettes, compared with teens who didn’t consume energy drinks.

via Teens Who Consume Energy Drinks May Be More Likely to Use Alcohol and Drugs: Study | The Partnership at Drugfree.org.

Percentage of U.S. 12th Graders Who Perceive a Great Risk of Regular Marijuana Use At Lowest Level Since 1978

February 10, 2014

The percentage of 12th grade students who perceive regular marijuana use to be a great risk continues to decrease, according to the most recent data from the national Monitoring the Future (MTF) study. After peaking in the early 1990s, the perceived risk of physical or other harm from regular marijuana use decreased for a few years, then leveled off for a decade before beginning to decline again in 2007. In 2013, 40% of  12th graders thought that using marijuana regularly posed a great risk, the lowest level since the record low of 35% in 1978.

According to the study’s author, “Perceived risk—namely the risk to the user that teenagers associate with a drug—has been a lead indicator of use, both for marijuana and other drugs, and it has continued its sharp decline in 2013 among teens. This could foretell further increases in use in the future” (p. 2). In 2013, 23% of 12th graders reported using marijuana in the past month, the highest level since 1999, but still lower than the peak of 37% reached in 1978 (see CESAR FAX, Volume 23, Issue 3).

Adapted by CESAR from University of Michigan, “American Teens More Cautious About Using Synthetic Drugs,” Monitoring the Future National Press Release, December 18, 2013. Available online at http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/data/13data.html#2013data-drugs

Report Examines Effect of Mentoring on Youth

February 7, 2014

The Mentoring Effect: Young People’s Perspectives on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring | MENTOR

 The publication links mentoring to significant life outcomes for youth and highlights a substantial gap that exists in America: one in three young people will reach adulthood without having a mentor. A nationally representative survey of youth informs this report, which reveals that at-risk youth with mentors are much more likely to attend college, participate in extracurricular activities, take on leadership roles, and regularly volunteer in their communities. The publication outlines opportunities for the public, private, and philanthropic sectors to integrate mentoring as a key youth development strategy.

via The Mentoring Effect: Young People’s Perspectives on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring | MENTOR.

Why It’s Still a Big Deal If Your Teen Smokes Pot

January 28, 2014

Originally posted on Health & Family:

With each passing day, it seems, smoking pot becomes less and less stigmatized in our society.

In a much-buzzed-about piece in The New Yorker this week, President Obama suggested making pot legal in large part to correct the vast inequities that minorities face in terms of cannabis-related arrests and imprisonment. Besides, said the president, who was known to smoke his fair share of weed back in the day, “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol” for the individual user.

Even the straight-laced Bill Gatesrecently announced his support of legalization. And this year’s Super Bowl has been dubbed the “Super Doobie Bowl,” a reference to the fact that the teams vying for the NFL championship, the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, hail from the two states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Mainstream websites are circulating marijuana-laced game-day snack recipes. It won’t be long before Martha Stewart…

View original 614 more words

CADCA Responds to President Obama’s Comments On Marijuana

January 27, 2014

Comments made by President Obama about marijuana in a recent interview with The New Yorker made headlines earlier this week. In response, CADCA issued a statement from Gen. Arthur Dean, CADCA’s Chairman and CEO.

“CADCA is concerned that only a portion of what the President said during his interview has made headlines, when in fact the President expressed some serious concerns about marijuana legalization. CADCA believes that substance abuse is a public health concern and has wide-reaching negative effects on our young people and society. So we agree with President Obama’s comment that marijuana use is a ‘bad habit’, a ‘bad idea and a waste of time’. We also echo the President’s sentiment that the case for marijuana legalization is ‘overstated’ and will not solve the many social problems our society faces,” Gen. Dean said. “The President also noted that the marijuana legalization experiments in Colorado and Washington might create a ‘slippery slope’ where people begin suggesting that we legalize harder drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine. CADCA couldn’t agree more.”

“However, as an organization that represents community coalitions working to reduce drug use among our nation’s youth, CADCA is deeply concerned with the President’s comment that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol. The two leading causes of preventable death in the U.S. are alcohol and tobacco. Can adding another legal drug and creating another legal drug industry really be in our country’s best interest? We think not.”

Click here to view the full statement.

New York, Los Angeles and Chicago Consider Banning E-Cigarettes in Public Places

January 2, 2014


e-cigarette 10-30-13

New York, Los Angeles and Chicago are considering adding e-cigarettes to their public smoking bans. Public health officials in those cities say the devices are harmful and can be a gateway to smoking regular cigarettes, The Wall Street Journal reports.

New York’s City Council is scheduled to vote today on the e-cigarette ban. If passed, e-cigarettes would be prohibited in public places including restaurants, bars, stores and some parks. Legislators in Los Angeles and Chicago could vote on e-cigarette bans as early as January.

Supporters of e-cigarettes say they can help smokers quit, and that there is no evidence vapors produced by the devices are toxic. Many scientists say e-cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes.

Critics of the devices say secondhand vapor is a pollutant, and e-cigarettes can get more people addicted to nicotine. “There are reasonable concerns and reasons for folding them into the existing clean-air framework for cigarettes,” Tim McAfee, Director of the Office on Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the newspaper.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will propose rules on regulating e-cigarettes. The FDA is expected to consider e-cigarettes as tobacco products, which will allow the agency to provide the same federal oversight that applies to cigarettes, chewing tobacco, cigarette tobacco, and roll-your-own tobacco. E-cigarettes could be subjected to the same requirements for disclosure of ingredients, manufacturing quality and restrictions on sales to minors that apply to regular cigarettes. The article notes the FDA proposal is expected to be published in coming weeks.

study published earlier this week suggests people who use e-cigarettes indoors may be exposing the people around them to nicotine. The amount of secondhand nicotine exposure from e-cigarettes is much smaller than from traditional cigarettes, the researchers concluded.

China Eyes Smoking Ban

December 25, 2013

Chinese officials are exploring ways to curb smoking as deaths mount and medical costs rise, an effort that has generated one proposal to take apart the nation’s vast and politically connected government-run tobacco monopoly.

Within the next year, China’s legislators will accelerate efforts to enact a national regulation banning smoking in public places in China, said Yang Jie, deputy director of Tobacco Control Office for the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, at a news briefing on tobacco-related health problems in China. Mr. Yang said China’s State Council, the country’s cabinet, is currently planning the regulation and it is expected to be enacted next year.

“We can see what is happening in the rest of the world,” said Mr. Yang, suggesting that China is due to follow the smoking cessation trends of other countries.

The statement follows the release of a book by China’s Central Party School, an elite Chinese Communist Party think tank, in recent months urging officials to shake up China’s tobacco monopoly, which is responsible for tobacco production and sales and has the freedom to donate to schools and sell cigarette cartons without pictures of black lungs for warnings. Its authors call for higher tobacco taxes, halting government financing to tobacco companies and encouraging them to find alternative business models.
China’s State Tobacco Monopoly Administration wasn’t immediately available for comment. The tobacco industry pulled in 865 billion yuan ($142.5 billion) from taxes and profit in 2012, up 16% from a year earlier, according to the State Tobacco administration.

China is the world’s largest consumer and producer of tobacco, home to more than 300 million smokers and 43% of the world’s cigarette production, according to the American Cancer Society and the World Lung Foundation. Tobacco is also a leading cause of death in China, causing 1.2 million deaths annually and expected to cause 3.5 million deaths annually by 2030, the groups said.

Nearly nine out of 10 Chinese children aged 5 and 6 are able to identify at least one cigarette brand, according to a recent study by Johns Hopkins University on the effects of tobacco marketing on children in low- and middle-income countries. “Rather than thinking ‘I’m going to be Superman,’ young boys are aspiring to smoke,” said Bernhard Schwartländer, the World Health Organization’s representative in China.

The party-school book said the government should develop measures to deal with “conflicts of interest” between the tobacco industry and the government, that it should reform the tobacco industry and enforce lower production of tobacco.

Health experts say policy recommendations and potential legislation are promising signs of structural change.

But changing the current system won’t be easy. Beijing has said long said it is determined to tackle the country’s smoking problem, but so far has had little success. Cigarettes remain cheap, with many available for less than $1 a pack. The World Health Organization recommended last year that China triple its tobacco tax to 70% to discourage young would-be smokers from buying.

The country’s main tobacco companies are state-owned and feed revenue into state coffers, which activists have long said conflicts with the country’s efforts to address smoking’s harmful effects. The current deputy director of China’s State Tobacco Monopoly Administration is the brother of China’s premier, Li Keqiang.

Attempts in previous years to ban advertising for cigarettes on radio, television and newspapers have largely failed, experts say, adding that cigarette companies have found loopholes in the restrictions, placing their logo on advertisements for other companies’ products. The Ministry of Health issued a ban on smoking in 28 types of public places, such as hotels, restaurants and theaters, but it lacks the authority to enforce the ban.

Several major cities, such as Tianjin, Harbin and Guangzhou, have already passed smoke-free bans preventing smoking in public buildings. Beijing implemented a smoking ban several years ago to limit smoking and the effects of second-hand smoke in public buildings and restaurants.

Still, enforcement of laws even in cities that have them remains one of the largest obstacles in China, said Gregory Yingnien Tsang, a tobacco control specialist who advises the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau. “In Beijing, we have laws to ban smoking, but have you ever seen anyone not smoking?” Mr. Tsang said, adding that businesses that violate laws should be fined.

Early Marijuana Use Results in Abnormal Brain Structure, Poor Memory

December 24, 2013

Teens who were heavy marijuana users – smoking it daily for about three years – had abnormal changes in their brain structures related to working memory and performed poorly on memory tasks, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study.

A poor working memory predicts poor academic performance and everyday functioning.

The brain abnormalities and memory problems were observed during the individuals’ early twenties, two years after they stopped smoking marijuana, which could indicate the long-term effects of chronic use. Memory-related structures in their brains appeared to shrink and collapse inward, possibly reflecting a decrease in neurons.

The study also shows the marijuana-related brain abnormalities are correlated with a poor working memory performance and look similar to schizophrenia-related brain abnormalities. Over the past decade, Northwestern scientists, along with scientists at other institutions, have shown that changes in brain structure may lead to changes in the way the brain functions.

This is the first study to target key brain regions in the deep subcortical gray matter of chronic marijuana users with structural MRI and to correlate abnormalities in these regions with an impaired working memory. Working memory is the ability to remember and process information in the moment and – if needed – transfer it to long-term memory. Previous studies have evaluated the effects of marijuana on the cortex, and few have directly compared chronic marijuana use in otherwise healthy individuals and individuals with schizophrenia.

The younger the individuals were when they started chronically using marijuana, the more abnormally their brain regions were shaped, the study reports. The findings suggest that these regions related to memory may be more susceptible to the effects of the drug if abuse starts at an earlier age.

“The study links the chronic use of marijuana to these concerning brain abnormalities that appear to last for at least a few years after people stop using it,” said lead study author Matthew Smith, PhD, an assistant research professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “With the movement to decriminalize marijuana, we need more research to understand its effect on the brain.”

The paper was published Dec. 16 in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin.

In the U.S., marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug and young adults have the highest – and growing – prevalence of use. Decriminalization of the drug may lead to greater use.

Because the study results examined one point in time, a longitudinal study is needed to definitively show if marijuana is responsible for the brain changes and memory impairment. It is possible that the abnormal brain structures reveal a pre-existing vulnerability to marijuana abuse. But evidence that the younger a subject started using the drug the greater his brain abnormality indicates marijuana may be the cause, Smith said.

The groups in the study started using marijuana daily between 16 to 17 years of age for about three years. At the time of the study, they had been marijuana free for about two years. A total of 97 subjects participated, including matched groups of healthy controls, subjects with a marijuana use disorder, schizophrenia subjects with no history of substance use disorders, and schizophrenia subjects with a marijuana use disorder. The subjects who used marijuana did not abuse any other drugs.

Few studies have examined marijuana’s effect on the deep regions in the brain — the ‘subcortical gray matter’ below the noodle-shaped cortex. The study also is unique in that it looked at the shapes of the striatum, globus pallidus and thalamus, structures in the subcortex that are critical for motivation and working memory.

The Marijuana and Schizophrenia Connection

Chronic use of marijuana may contribute to changes in brain structure that are associated with having schizophrenia, the Northwestern research shows. Of the 15 marijuana smokers who had schizophrenia in the study, 90 percent started heavily using the drug before they developed the mental disorder. Marijuana abuse has been linked to developing schizophrenia in prior research.

“The abuse of popular street drugs, such as marijuana, may have dangerous implications for young people who are developing or have developed mental disorders,” said co-senior study author John Csernansky, MD, chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “This paper is among the first to reveal that the use of marijuana may contribute to the changes in brain structure that have been associated with having schizophrenia.”

Chronic marijuana use could augment the underlying disease process associated with schizophrenia, Smith noted. “If someone has a family history of schizophrenia, they are increasing their risk of developing schizophrenia if they abuse marijuana,” he said.

While chronic marijuana smokers and chronic marijuana smokers with schizophrenia both had brain changes related to the drug, subjects with the mental disorder had greater deterioration in the thalamus. That structure is the communication hub of the brain and is critical for learning, memory and communications between brain regions. The brain regions examined in this study also affect motivation, which is already notably impaired in people with schizophrenia.

“A tremendous amount of addiction research has focused on brain regions traditionally connected with reward/aversion function, and thus motivation,” noted co-senior study author Hans Breiter, MD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of the Warren Wright Adolescent Center at Feinberg and Northwestern Memorial. “This study very nicely extends the set of regions of concern to include those involved with working memory and higher level cognitive functions necessary for how well you organize your life and can work in society.”

“If you have schizophrenia and you frequently smoke marijuana, you may be at an increased risk for poor working memory, which predicts your everyday functioning,” Smith said.

The research was supported by grants R01 MH056584 and P50 MH071616 from the National Institute of Mental Health and grants P20 DA026002 and RO1 DA027804 from National Institute of Drug Abuse, all of the National Institutes of Health.

Why Family Dinners Won’t Stop Drug Abuse

December 23, 2013



Food-fueled family gatherings at Thanksgiving undoubtedly are a boon for turkey farmers, football broadcasters and airlines. Do they also keep teenagers from using drugs and alcohol?

The role of family dinners in preventing substance abuse has become a surprisingly fertile field of research. For a decade, an organization affiliated with Columbia University has reported on the result of asking teenagers about how often they eat dinner with their families, as well as their use of, and attitudes toward, drugs, tobacco and alcohol. The surveys’ consistent finding, that the most frequent family diners are the least frequent drug abusers, has been trumpeted in many news articles touting the benefits of family meals.

The finding was satisfying to family-values advocates and, in the view of many, consistent with common sense. The idea that family dinners protect teens “conjures up Norman Rockwell images of families seated around the table together,” said Daniel P. Miller, assistant professor of human behavior at the Boston University School of Social Work. “It plays into what we think a family ought to look like.”

Some researchers, however, including Dr. Miller, were skeptical, wondering if other factors, such as a family’s income or parents’ weekly work hours, accounted for both the frequency of family meals and drug use. Or maybe, these researchers said, the conclusion that such dinners suppress drug use mixes up cause and effect: Teens out misbehaving with their friends might not get home in time for dinner, for example.

“I wanted to see if some of the findings still held up if we took a more careful look at it,” said Dr. Miller.

Last year, he and some colleagues tapped into a data set that allowed them to isolate the role of family dinners more precisely. A federal survey tracked more than 21,000 American children, many for nearly a decade. While researchers didn’t directly measure drug use, they could check whether more family meals were linked with fewer behavioral problems after controlling for other factors—and which caused which. And they found that family-meal frequency had little or no effect on academic or behavioral results.

Another paper published last year more directly addressed the link with drug use. Using a different federal study of teenagers, Kelly Musick and Ann Meier found that changes in teens’ frequency of family dinners at one time didn’t predict changes in their substance abuse at a later time, after controlling for other changes in the family environment.

Prof. Musick, a sociologist at Cornell University, though cautious about the value of dinners in reducing drug use, did point to evidence from the study of other benefits, such as reducing teens’ depressive symptoms. “Something about dinners hangs in, albeit less than would be suggested by prior work,” she said.

Dr. Miller agreed that family meals are valuable even if they don’t by themselves curb drug abuse. “They might not be important in the way we typically talk about them, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have all sorts of benefits,” he said.

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, the Columbia-affiliated organization known as CASAColumbia that helped publicize family dinners’ potential to curb drug use with its first paper on the topic in 2003, has released eight reports in all, the most recent one last September. While that contained a statement from the group’s founder that “frequent family dinners make a big difference,” the rest of the report is more cautious, noting for the first time that “the data cannot be used to establish causality.”

“At the suggestion of advisers we spelled it out in clean, clear English,” said Emily Feinstein, senior policy analyst at CASA and author of last year’s report.

CASA is now exiting the field, Ms. Feinstein said, though it may continue to mark Family Day each year, a day when families have been encouraged to eat together since 2001. “We have been covering most of the points that could be covered, and have done it well,” she said. “We’re evolving.”

I first wrote about the CASA surveys in 2005, my first year writing this column. Since then, as CASA and the field has evolved, so has the Numbers Guy column: from online-only to twice-monthly in Marketplace, then to the A section, and most recently to its weekly home in U.S. News.

The column will continue to evolve, under a new byline: This is my last one before heading for a new data-driven project. I am deeply grateful to former WSJ.com managing editor Bill Grueskin for conceiving of the column, and to my many astute colleagues and readers—top-notch numbers people, all—who were indispensable to making it work with their wise ideas and feedback.

Photos: Students Complete Life Skills Program

December 20, 2013

CADA, along with prevention partners, DNDC and PRIDE, celebrated as a group ofBerkeley Institute students completed the Life Skills Program. Shadow Minister Michael Weeks handed out certificates to the 22 students at a special ceremony.


CADA spokesperson Anthony Santucci stated “Life Skills Training [LST] is a research-validated substance abuse prevention program, proven to reduce the risks of alcohol, tobacco, drug abuse and violence by targeting the major social and psychological factors that promote the initiation of substance use and other risky behaviors.

“This comprehensive and exciting program provides adolescents and young teens with the confidence and skills necessary to successfully handle challenging situations.”

Link to more photos

2013 Monitoring the Future Survey Finds Fewer Teens View Regular Marijuana Use As Harmful

December 20, 2013

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – More than 60 percent of high school seniors don’t view regular marijuana use as harmful, according to the 2013 Monitoring the Future Survey, an annual survey of eighth, 10th, and 12th-graders by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the University of Michigan.In addition, marijuana use over the past decade has continued to trend upwards among all three grades. Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), the nation’s leading substance abuse prevention organization, is concerned about these findings and calls for an increase in effective prevention efforts, such as the Drug-Free Communities program.

The survey found that only 39.5 percent of 12th graders view regular marijuana use as harmful, down from last year’s rate of 44.1 percent, and considerably lower than rates from the last two decades. The findings also show that marijuana use increased among 8th and 10th graders between 2012 and 2013. In 2013, the annual prevalence rate of marijuana use (the percent using once or more in the prior 12 months) increased from 11.4 percent to 12.7 percent among 8thgraders and from 28 percent to just under 30 percent among 10th graders, while among 12thgraders, use continued at 36.4 percent.

Equally concerning is that there were no declines in daily marijuana use, which has the most impact on a young person’s cognitive ability. Today, one in every 15 high school seniors (6.5 percent) is a daily or near-daily marijuana user. The comparable percentages among 8th and 10th graders are 1.1 percent and 4.0 percent, respectively.

“Whether youth perceive a drug to be harmful is a key indicator of future use so CADCA is extremely concerned that fewer teens view regular marijuana use as harmful. Not only are attitudes softening, but marijuana use is continuing to increase among our young people. These findings should concern parents, educators or anyone who cares about the ability of youth to succeed and thrive in our society,” said Gen. Arthur T. Dean, CADCA’s Chairman and CEO. “I would ask parents out there if they are comfortable with their kids using marijuana, which research shows lowers IQ and is addictive, especially in young people.  I have a feeling if more people understood what’s at stake, they would stand up on this issue.”

The study also explored whether states with medical marijuana laws had an impact on youthmarijuana use. According to the findings, of the 12th graders who say that they have used marijuana in the 12 months prior to the survey and who reside in states that passed such laws by the end of the year prior to the survey, a third (34 percent) say that one of their sources of marijuana is another person’s medical marijuana prescription. And 6 percent say they get it from their own prescription.

“This proves that states with medical marijuana laws have failed at preventing diversion to young people and are in fact offering teens yet another avenue of obtaining the drug,” CADCA’s Gen. Dean noted.

The report also showed positive trends. For example, for the first time, the percentage of students in all three grades combined who say they smoked tobacco in the past month is below 10 percent (9.6 percent) compared to 16.7 percent 10 years ago and 24.7 percent in 1993. Daily smoking of cigarettes is now at 8.5 percent for 12th-graders, 4.4 percent for 10th-graders, and 1.8 percent for eighth-graders. The use of alcohol by teens also continued to decline. For 12th-graders, alcohol usepeaked in 1997, with more than half (52.7 percent) reporting drinking alcohol in the past month. Only 39.2 percent of seniors reported past month use this year. Binge drinking (defined as having five or more drinks in a row at least once in the past two weeks) dropped considerably for 10th- graders (to 13.7 percent from 15.6 percent in 2012.)

“We’re incredibly pleased to see that alcohol and tobacco use are now at historic lows. That shows that when community coalitions push back on something, and we as a nation also push back in a systematic way, we see major results. However, with marijuana we’re doing the opposite by calling for the legalization of the drug and now we’re experiencing the results of those actions,” CADCA’s Gen. Dean said. “We need a greater investment in programs like the Drug-Free Communities programs, which funds community-based coalitions that have shown to be effective vehicles for reducing drug use rates among teens.”

CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America), is the national membership organization representing coalitions working to make America’s communities safe, healthy and drug-free. CADCA’s mission is to build and strengthen the capacity of community coalitions by providing technical assistance and training, public policy advocacy, media strategies and marketing programs, conferences, and special events.

For more information about CADCA, visit www.cadca.org.

Contact: Natalia Martinez Duncan 703-706-0560 ext. 256


Heavy Marijuana Use in Teen Years Linked to Damaged Brain Structures: Study

December 19, 2013

Heavy marijuana use in the teenage years could damage brain structures vital to memory and reasoning, a new study suggests.

The study found changes in the sub-cortical regions of the brain, which are part of the memory and reasoning circuits, NBC News reports. Young people who had changes in this region of the brain performed more poorly on memory tests than their peers who did not use marijuana. The heavy marijuana users in the study had not used the drug on average for more than two years before the memory testing occurred.

The results appear in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin.

“We see that adolescents are at a very vulnerable stage neurodevelopmentally,” said lead researcher Matthew Smith of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “And if you throw stuff into the brain that’s not supposed to be there, there are long-term implications for their development.”

The study included 10 people with a history of cannabis use disorder, 15 people with a history of cannabis use disorder and schizophrenia, and 28 with schizophrenia but no past regular marijuana use. The study also included 44 healthy people without a history of marijuana use. The participants who had used marijuana had been heavy users in their teen years. Their average age at the time of the study was mid-20s.

The participants’ brains were scanned using MRI. They were then given tests of working memory, such as remembering number sequences. People who had a history of heavy marijuana use, whether or not they had schizophrenia, performed more poorly on the tests. They also showed abnormalities in regions of the brain related to reward and motivation, cognition input and movement and memory.

“We saw poor performance in the marijuana groups…” Smith said. “And the younger somebody started using, the more abnormal they looked.” He noted the study does not prove using marijuana caused the results. He said it is possible the brain differences made heavy users more likely to smoke marijuana in the first place.


E-Cigarettes Used Indoors Could Expose Non-Users to Nicotine: Study

December 18, 2013

People who use e-cigarettes indoors may be exposing the people around them to nicotine, a new study suggests. The amount of secondhand nicotine exposure from e-cigarettes is much smaller than from traditional cigarettes, the researchers conclude.

The study evaluated vapor from three brands of e-cigarettes, using a smoking machine in controlled exposure conditions, MedicalXpress reports.

The researchers, from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, also compared secondhand smoke exposure from conventional cigarettes to secondhand exposure to e-cigarette vapor. They concluded using e-cigarettes in indoor environments may involuntarily expose nonusers to nicotine, but not to toxic tobacco-specific combustion products.

E-cigarettes are designed to produce nicotine vapor without the combustion of tobacco, the article notes. When a person takes a puff of an e-cigarette, the nicotine solution is heated, and the vapor goes into the lungs. No sidestream vapor is generated between puffs, but some of the mainstream vapor is exhaled by the e-cigarette user.

“Our data suggest that secondhand exposure to nicotine from e-cigarettes is on average 10 times less than from tobacco smoke,” lead researcher Maciej Goniewicz, PhD, PharmD, said in a news release. “However, more research is needed to evaluate the health consequences of secondhand exposure to nicotine from e-cigarettes, especially among vulnerable populations including children, pregnant women and people with cardiovascular conditions.”

The study appears in Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was expected to propose rules on regulating e-cigarettes by October, but the agency has yet to do so. The agency did send a proposed rule in mid-October to the federal Office of Management and Budget, which will review the rule before it is available for public comment.

The FDA is expected to consider e-cigarettes as tobacco products, which will allow the agency to provide the same federal oversight that applies to cigarettes, chewing tobacco, cigarette tobacco, and roll-your-own tobacco.


Fewer Teens See Great Risk From Being Regular Marijuana Users: Survey

December 18, 2013

drugs and booze at a house party

The percentage of teens who think there is a great risk from being a regular marijuana user has dropped, according to a new survey. The Monitoring the Future survey found 39.5 percent of 12th graders think regular marijuana use is harmful, down from 44.1 percent last year.

Monitoring the Future is an annual survey that measures drug use and attitudes among students in grades 8, 10 and 12. The survey found 6.5 percent of high school seniors smoke marijuana daily, compared with 6 percent in 2003, and 2.4 percent in 1993, CNNreports.

“This is not just an issue of increased daily use,” National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Nora D. Volkow, MD said in a news release. “It is important to remember that over the past two decades, levels of THC – the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana – have gone up a great deal, from 3.75 percent in 1995 to an average of 15 percent in today’s marijuana cigarettes. Daily use today can have stronger effects on a developing teen brain than it did 10 or 20 years ago.”

Almost 23 percent of seniors say they smoked marijuana in the month prior to the survey, and just over 36 percent say they smoked it during the past year.

The survey found use of synthetic marijuana, also known as K2 or Spice, decreased 3.4 percent among high school seniors. Less than 1 percent of all students surveyed said they used bath salts. “Synthetic drugs are particularly dangerous because their ingredients are unknown, they have not been tested for safety and their ever-changing ingredients can be unusually powerful,” said lead researcher Lloyd Johnston. “Users really don’t know what they are getting.”

The abuse of the painkiller Vicodin has decreased in the last 10 years, from 10.5 percent of high school seniors in 2003, to 5.3 percent this year. The survey also found 7.4 percent of seniors said they took the ADHD drug Adderall for non-medical purposes in the past year, while 2.3 percent reported abusing Ritalin.


Many PG-13 Movies Have Violent Characters Who Drink, Smoke and Have Sex

December 17, 2013

An analysis of almost 400 top-grossing movies from 1985 to 2010 shows about 90 percent included at least one moment of violence involving a main character. In 77 percent of those movies, the main character also smoked tobacco or drank alcohol or engaged in sexual behavior, HealthDay reports.

More than half of the most popular movies rated PG-13 featured a main character who acted violently and involved either drinking, smoking or sexual behavior within a five-minute segment, the researchers found. The study found almost no difference between the most popular PG-13 movies and R-rated movies in depicting main characters who engaged in violent and alcohol use, or violence and sexual behavior.

The study appears in the journal Pediatrics.

“We know that some teenagers imitate what they see on-screen,” study lead author Amy Bleakley of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, said in a news release. “What concerns us is that movies aimed at younger viewers are making a connection between violence and a variety of risky behaviors – sex, drinking and smoking.”


Only Two States Meet CDC Guidelines for Tobacco Prevention Spending: Report

December 16, 2013

Alaska and North Dakota are the only states that will meet 2014 recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for spending on programs to prevent youth from starting to smoke, and helping current smokers quit, according to a new reportby advocacy groups.

Most states will fail to meet the CDC guidelines despite billions of dollars received from tobacco taxes and settlements with tobacco manufacturers more than a decade ago, The New York Times reports.

The groups, including the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Lung Association, estimate that states will earn $25 billion in tobacco-related revenue next year, including $7 billion from settlements between tobacco companies and states. Of that total, states are expected to spend just $481 million on tobacco prevention programs. The CDC has recommended states spend $3.7 billion.

In 2002, states spent a total of $750 million on tobacco prevention efforts, the article notes.

States receiving tobacco company money have discretion about how to spend it, and many have chosen to use the funds for unrelated public policy initiatives. In 2014, more than 40 states and the District of Columbia will not spend even half of the amount recommended by the CDC for smoking cessation and prevention programs.

“It is public health malpractice that the states are spending so little on tobacco prevention programs despite having so much evidence that these programs work to save lives and save money,” Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in anews release. “To win the fight against tobacco, elected officials at all levels must step up efforts to implement proven solutions, including well-funded tobacco prevention programs.”



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