Click here: Caring About Kids and Communities March 2014 for the latest edition of our newsletter.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) sponsors Alcohol Awareness Month every April to encourage everyone to follow some simple guidelines:

·         Only drink alcohol in moderation.

·         Do not drink if you are under the legal drinking age.

·         If you are pregnant, or may become pregnant, do not drink alcohol at all. There is no known safe amount or type of alcohol to drink during pregnancy.

 

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Talk. They Hear You. Research supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse has shown the important role that parents play in preventing their children from starting to use drugs. Check out NIDA to learn more and participate in a “family checkup.”

The Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is offering encouragement and support to parents to talk about alcohol through its “Talk. They Hear You” campaign.

Parents, “Safe Homes Parent Network” is a way for you to connect, support one another, and keep kids safe and substance free across Franklin County.   We’re inviting parents to “sign on” to the following:

  • I will actively supervise all gatherings of youth in our home or on our property, or ask another responsible adult for help to do so.
  • I will not allow the possession of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs by youth in our home or on our property.
  • I will set expectations for my children by knowing where they are going, whom they are with, what they are doing, and when they are to return home.

Are you interested in joining the Safe Home Parent Network? Click here for more information, or contact  beth@fcccp.org to get on board.

Check out ParentUp for tips on recognizing substance use in teens, talking to your kids and teens about underage drinking and other drug use, and preparing them for safe, fun, substance free parties and events.

Looking to get more involved in County-wide prevention and positive youth development? Consider becoming a mentor, getting involved in “Communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol,” or joining our board. We all benefit when our members take an active role in guiding our coalition’s prevention initiatives.  Contact Beth 527-5049 x 1 or beth@fcccp.org for more information.

Caring Communities is a proud supporter of Front Porch Forum, a web-based community network., which is now available to all towns in Vermont.   Check it out and join the conversation.

And, if you’d like to support Caring Communities and Watershed Mentoring financially, you can now donate online! Please click on the button to the right to be taken to a secure donation website.

Thanks for your interest and remember, we are ALL Caring Communities.

Beth Crane

 

 

 

From FCD e-journal:
Our Students’ First Teacher: Advertising

Advertising is memorable – and everywhere. One substance use prevention commercial features a young boy, wandering through a convenience store casually viewing alcohol and tobacco advertising. The ad ends with a resonant voiceover stating, “If you’re not talking to your kids about drugs, who is?”

Prevention is all about communication, including non-verbal cues and modeling. Advertisers do a terrific job of “modeling” the use of the product they are trying to sell by pairing it with “normal” people and associating good feelings with its use. Impressionable children and maturing adolescents are perfect targets for this marketing. “Feeling unsure of yourself? Clearly typical, happy people use this product! If you are not currently satisfied, successful or popular, you can use this product, too, and you soon will be!”


Prescription Drugs

Pharmaceutical companies spend more than twice as much money on marketing as they do on research and development.  For these companies, however, this is money well spent.

The audio-visual input that young people experience during these commercials shows patients – people with the advertised condition – as vibrant, thriving, and accepted among their peers. These images and ideas are often displayed without the context of the medical condition from which those pictured are actually suffering. Additionally, the advertisers downplay the risks and potential side effects of the substance marketed. The use of medication to feel better is normalized, and interest in the drug increases.

What is the result in society? A recent survey of physicians revealed that 92% of patients had requested information about a drug they had seen advertised. What is the result among our students? When young people view commercials for medications, they can become increasingly accustomed to living in a culture that embraces “a pill for every ill.” They may begin to feel that at the first sign of life’s discomforts, a substance is the preferred way to escape.

Tobacco and Alcohol

Effective advertising is memorable, and no one does it better than the tobacco and alcohol industries.

Tobacco companies spend an estimated 15 billion dollars per year on advertising; alcohol, 6 billion. Research repeatedly shows that advertisers appeal to youth through sexualized images and the association of substances with active lifestyles. Enticing young people to use products remains the base of industry revenue. Once individuals get hooked on an addictive substance, chances are good that they will remain a customer for life.

If direct advertising teaches young people about the world, product placement, “adult themes” and substance use in movies advance that knowledge. Teenagers make up about 26% of movie-goers. Numerous studies have confirmed that exposure to smoking on television and in movies is a key factor in prompting children and teens to begin smoking. It is estimated that this type of exposure accounts for approximately half of teenage smoking.

According to a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, greater exposure to alcohol advertising contributes to increases in alcohol use among youth. This same study revealed that, after viewing several dozen alcohol ads a month, a young person is 1% more likely to consume alcohol for every additional ad he or she views.

The Impact of Technology

Even though advertising and point-of-sale laws have tightened over the last decade, students in search of forbidden products can purchase them on the internet with relative ease. Additionally, online they may be introduced to new and risky products with their accompanying marketing materials. Technology of all kinds has increased exposure to a variety of substances to individuals all around the world.

The Overall Media Impact

Commercial marketing paints a pretty and inviting picture for the express purpose of leading us to become highly loyal to products and services. However, when a product is marketed to our youth, and it has the potential to alter their brain chemistry and cause addiction, there are key dangers associated with its promotion. Prevention becomes about taming the potential influence of mass media with the voices of many caring, healthy adults.

When Should Prevention Begin?

Prevention of substance abuse should begin before exposure to the promotion of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs starts occurring in our children’s lives. Or, because this promotion of use is a constant, prevention should begin right now, in as much of an ongoing manner as substance use promotion occurs.

 

Advertisers, movie makers, spokespeople, celebrities, sales people: they are talking to kids about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. They do it often, they do it well, and they do it everywhere. Prevention includes everything we do to make sure our guidance, opinions and facts are heard alongside these messages.

Knowing how much children are influenced by TV, movies and other media can cause frustration for educators. We hear you say, “But I only see the students a few hours a day! What can I do to help prevent substance abuse?” Do not fret; you are already doing many of these things.


The Primary Years

For some, it may seem a bit too soon to start talking to our students about drugs as early as six or seven years old. The good news is that we do not necessarily need to introduce those topics now. The focus at this age can be on healthy decision making, learning how to resolve conflicts in a productive manner, and, the obvious one, encouraging academic success. Lower school strategies for prevention can be simple and fun:

 

Focus on healthy choices. Develop age-appropriate lessons that teach healthy decision making regarding food, exercise, TV and video games. It is not a very far leap from there to making healthy decisions about tobacco and alcohol.

Talk about friends. Center activities on students’ understanding of what a healthy friendship looks like, who we choose as friends and why, what it means to be a good friend to others, and how to say “no” to friends.


Work things out with conflict resolution.
 Studies show that a major risk factor for substance abuse is poor social skills. Enhanced coping skills in family and peer relationships help to strengthen a young student’s self-esteem and therefore the ability to make healthy choices about substances in the future.

Keep it academic. It may go without saying that a child who struggles academically is more at risk for disengagement and eventual drop out – both significant risk factors for substance abuse. As you focus on a child’s academic success, you can rest assured that you are also focusing on his or her health, too.


The Middle Years

Research shows that the middle years are the time when children start to form solid ideas about using substances like tobacco and alcohol. In fact, studies show that the peak years for first use of cigarettes are the sixth and seventh grades. This is a perfect time to expand the discussion about healthy habits and choices to include more common drugs like tobacco, alcohol and possibly marijuana through the following methods:

 

Science. Make sure that your Science, Health and Physical Education curricula contain some information about the developing adolescent brain and how that development is compromised by chemicals.

 

More media. As you talk through healthy choices regarding TV, video games and social media with preteens, include a discussion about media messages as they relate to alcohol and other drugs. Talk through how substances are advertised and what it is that ads are actually selling. Make sure you are correcting any misconceptions about what is safe and moderate use for adults.

 

Getting them involved. Strengthen students’ connection to the school through extra-curricular activities. Is the school providing many and varied opportunities for students to feel like a part of the institution outside of class time? A sense of belonging and connection to the school is a protective factor and can help prevent a child from choosing substances as a way of fitting in.


The Upper School Years and Beyond  

 

At this point, depending upon your geographic location, you may feel like students have already made up their mind about substances, and may already be able to use them legally. Never give up! Age- and developmentally-appropriate prevention programs can, and should, be repeated regularly. Anybody who works with children knows that most students need to hear things many times before they are fully absorbed. Solidify the expectation that students can continue to make healthy choices now and as they go forward:

 

Correct false perceptions. Students at this age often view more mature movies, TV and video games. They may hear stories about their peers’ wild parties on weekends. It can become easy for students to feel like “everybody” is using substances, and they may start to feel left out. Deconstruct these ideas when you hear them expressed. Posing a simple question like, “Doeseveryone really get drunk at the parties on the weekends?” can begin a very fruitful discussion.

 

Stage hallway interventions. Get skilled at overhearing conversations about what the students are doing in their off time. When you hear students discussing unhealthy or dangerous behavior, make your voice a part of the conversation. You can simply state that a behavior sounds particularly dangerous or unhealthy to you, or get into a more detailed conversation about why you may be concerned. When students know that the adults in their lives disapprove of unhealthy behavior, it means a lot.

Keep students involved. As academic and social demands become more significant, students may be tempted to drop any “just for fun” extra-curricular activities. Encourage young people to stay involved and connected – to their school, their recreational and stress-relieving activities, and to the trusted adult coaches and advisors in their lives. Involved kids oftenhave more successful outcomes.


Be clear about school expectations.
 Even when they do not show it, students want and need the adults in their lives to set and keep clear boundaries. When enforcement of a school’s substance use policy is tantamount to asking students to skim over a handbook statement, the message is less than clear. Do your students know exactly what the school’s expectations are regarding substance use on campus and during school-sponsored events? Are the adolescents you teach clear about what the punishment will be if they break the rules, or is it possible that they feel can get away with use within the school environment? Some schools are very clear about what happens if a student fails academically but not always so clear about their substance policy. Make it your commitment to clarify these school rules in ongoing ways as a show of care, concern and adult responsibility for your students.

At Any Age   
Research shows that every year a student delays his or her first use of alcohol, he or she can reduce the risk of a later problem with substances by significant margins. You can teach your students to value their health and their future by encouraging them, whenever possible, to delay their use of any substance as long as possible.

Valued Adults     
Week after week students remind us that they value the opinions of the adults in their lives. They tell us that their number one reason for avoiding alcohol, tobacco and other drugs is not wanting to disappoint the adults around them. Yes – the children in your life care deeply about what you think of the choices they make. They want you to be proud of them. They are proud of you! We know this because they often quote you, and offer up a trusted adult’s opinions as their own. Continue to influence them by preventing the risks of substance abuse at every age.
References and Resources

American Academy of Pediatrics. “Policy Statement – Children, Adolescents, Substance Abuse, and the Media.” (2010). Available Online: <http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/126/4/791.full.pdf+html??>

 

The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth. Available Online: <http://www.camy.org/>
Authors

 

Deirdre Flynn, a mother of two adolescent sons, joined FCD as a Prevention Specialist in 2012. She holds a Teaching Certificate for the State of New Jersey and has worked as a substitute teacher in grades kindergarten through 12, as well as an exercise instructor for adults. She is active in the Parents’ Association of the international school where her sons attend and has been an athletic coach. Deirdre holds a BA in History from Rutgers University and is fluent in German.

A Senior Prevention Specialist, Stephanie Haines has taught thousands of students at hundreds of schools across five continents. Before joining FCD in 1999, Stephanie was a licensed occupational therapist working with students ages four through 12. Stephanie holds a BS in Behavioral Science from Granite State College and an MEd in Health Education from Plymouth State University.

Wonder how to interact with your teens in a way to reduce the chance that they’ll engage in risky behaviors like underage drinking and other drug use? View this media clip from a presentation by Michael Nerney, renowned prevention expert, and learn how youth process information and emotions, and how you as a caring adult can influence their decisions.

Nearly 18 percent of pregnant women drink alcohol in early stages of pregnancy

Levels of alcohol use drop in later stages of pregnancy
Approximately 18 percent of women in their first trimester of pregnancy used alcohol within the past month according to a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The report showed that 6.6 percent of women in their first trimester of pregnancy engaged in binge drinking (i.e., drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion at least once in the past 30 days).

Women who drink alcohol while pregnant increase their infants’ risk of developing a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), a group of conditions that can cause physical, behavioral and learning problems – some of which may have lifelong repercussions. Although there is no safe amount of alcohol for pregnant women to drink, they can lower the risk for their infants when they stop drinking alcohol immediately after finding out they are pregnant.

The report indicates that the level of alcohol use dropped sharply among pregnant woman in their second and third trimesters. The rate of past month alcohol use (i.e., at least one drink in the past 30 days) for women in the second trimester of pregnancy fell to 4.2 percent and among women in the third trimester dipped to 3.7 percent.  By comparison, 55.5 percent of non-pregnant women aged 15 to 44 consumed alcohol in the past month.

“Although most women understand the risks of using alcohol while pregnant, much more needs to be done to reach out to women during the earliest stages of pregnancy,” said Frances Harding, director of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. “All prospective parents, health care practitioners, and all women of childbearing-age, need to be aware of the importance of not drinking alcohol if a woman is pregnant or considering becoming pregnant.”

SAMHSA’s Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Center for Excellence web site, targeted at consumers and health practitioners, provides the latest scientific information and resources about the prevention and treatment of FASD. It is available at http://www.fascenter.samhsa.gov/.

SAMHSA’s Data Spotlight report, 18 Percent of Pregnant Women Drink Alcohol during Early Pregnancy, is based on the 2011 and 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) data. NSDUH is a scientifically conducted annual survey of approximately 67,500 people throughout the country, aged 12 and older.

The complete survey findings will be available starting at 9 am September 9, 2013 on the SAMHSA web site at:http://www.samhsa.gov/data/spotlight/spot123-pregnancy-alcohol-2013.pdf

Talk-Logo-WhiteThe Chance That Children Will Use Alcohol Increases as They Get Older.
About 10 percent of 12-year-olds say they have tried alcohol, but by age 15, that number jumps to 50 percent. The sooner you talk to your children about alcohol, the greater chance you have of influencing their decisions about drinking.(1)

Parents Play a Critical Role in Children’s Decisions to Experiment With Alcohol.
Studies have shown that parents have a significant influence on young people’s
decisions about alcohol consumption,(2) especially when parents create supportive and nurturing environments in which their children can make their own decisions.(3) In fact, more than 80 percent of children say parents are the leading influence in their decision to drink or not.(4)

The Conversation Is Often More Effective Before Children Start Drinking.
If you talk to your kids directly and honestly, they are more likely to respect your rules and advice about alcohol use. When parents know about underage alcohol use, they can protect their children from many of the high-risk behaviors associated with it.

Some Children May Try Alcohol as Early as 9 Years Old.
Most 6-year-olds know that alcohol is only for adults. Between the ages of 9 and 13, children start to view alcohol more positively. Many children begin to think underage drinking is OK. Some even start to experiment. It is never too early to talk to your children about alcohol.(5)

If You Do Not Talk About It, You Are Still Saying Something.
What you say to your children about alcohol is up to you. But remember, parents who do
not discourage underage drinking may have an indirect influence on their children’s
alcohol use.(6)

References
1, 5 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage
Drinking: A Guide to Action for Educators. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General, 2007.
2 Nash, S.G., McQueen, A., and Bray, J.H. (2005). Pathways to adolescent alcohol use: Family environment, peer influence, and
parental expectations. Journal of Adolescent Health, 37(1), 19–28.
3 Barnes, G.M., Reifman, A.S., Farrell, M.P., and Dintcheff, B.A. (2000). The effects of parenting on the development of
adolescent alcohol misuse: A six-wave latent growth model. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62(1), 175–186.
4 The Century Council. (n.d.). What youth say about alcohol. From
http://www.centurycouncil.org/underage-drinking/what-youth-say-about-alcohol (accessed May 3, 2012).
6 Sieving, R.E., Maruyama, G., Williams, C.L., and Perry, C.L. (2000). Pathways to adolescent alcohol use: Potential mechanisms
of parent influence. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 10(4), 489–514.

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