DUI driver crashes into pharmacy, then flees to bar next door & resumes drinking

By Mike Morris
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

An allegedly drunk driver crashed his car through the front of a northeast Atlanta pharmacy early Friday, then walked away from the wreckage to a nearby bar, where he continued drinking, police said. According to an Atlanta police incident report, Rashad Williams, 38, of Lithonia told arresting officers that he was driving down Cheshire Bridge Road just before 3:30 a.m., attempting to make a left turn, when he lost control of his car.

The 2012 Chrysler 200 careened across a parking lot, jumped a curb and crashed through the glass front of the Walgreens Community Pharmacy near the intersection of Piedmont Avenue and Cheshire Bridge, barely missing a DUI school adjacent to the pharmacy.

pharmacy wreck

Responding officers found no one inside the Chrysler, which was still sticking out of the building, but the witness who called 911 told them that the driver had walked next door to the Anchor Bar. When officers went to the bar, “the driver was sitting at the bar drinking a beer,” according to the incident report. “We then escorted the driver outside after he paid for his tab.”

Williams was arrested by the Georgia State Patrol and charged with driving under the influence. Store manager Hannah Strong said that while clean-up was continuing, the pharmacy was able to open for business Friday morning. She said the store is a specialty pharmacy servicing customers such as cancer and transplant patients who need medications not normally carried by some neighborhood pharmacies. “Sometimes, only certain pharmacies have the medications due to the high costs of them,” Strong said. “We have a cleaning crew in here and our own staff got here early, and we’ve been cleaning up and servicing patients,” she said.

Flesh Eating Heroin Hits Illinois!

A flesh eating disease has made its way from Russia to the U.S– and in a matter of a week it made its way from the west to the Midwest, more specifically Joliet. The flesh eating disease has surfaced in drug users. People think they are buying heroine on the streetsand they are getting something called ‘krokodil‘ instead. It is the Russian word for ‘crocodile’– named so because it first creates a green scaly wound on your skin before it begins to spread and eat away at your flesh, muscles, even tendons.

Dr. Abhin Singla is an addiction specialist with presence St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet. He has been reading about the effects of krokodil for 10 years. Last week it surfaced in Arizona and Utah. Sunday it walked into his hospital in the southwest suburbs. “All I smelled was rotten flesh. I knew exactly what that was,” Dr. Singla said.

Two women in their 20′s thought they were buying heroine and got krokodil instead. Within minutes of administering the injection, their symptoms resembled those of krokodil users, but the damage now is far more extensive. Krokodil is made of gasoline, paint thinner, butane and other harmful chemicals. And it’s made its way to Joliet of all places because, the doctor thinks– so many interstates pass by or go through Joliet.

According to Dr. Singla, krokodil hit near-epidemic proportions in Russia between 2000 and 2002. It is one third the cost of heroin and three times as potent. But the high doesn’t last as long. Overdose is common. In the end, if the addiction doesn’t kill the user, history shows the flesh eating disease typically does.

Copyright WGN News


Krokodil, the skin-eating drug, may have claimed its first U.S. victim.  The heroin-like drug, which originated in Russia began cropping up in the U.S. last month and has been found in Utah, Arizona and Illinois recently. The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics is investigating the deaths of two Oklahoma men who are linked to the drug, KSOW reported. One of those men is 33-year-old Justin McGree, who died last year. McGee’s friend Chelle Fancher said McGee had taken Krokodil. “(His) skin was missing,” she told KOCO Oklahoma City. “The doctors say it ate him from the inside out. It wasn’t until the next day that they told us that is was Krokodil meth.” The drug is an opiate, but like meth is made from crude materials that are readily available, such as gasoline. If the deaths are connected to Krokodil, the drug may have been in the U.S. earlier than authorities have suspected.

From TIME.com

Iowa Man Gets Arrested After Calling 911 on a Bad Drug Deal

Daniel Noehl Sr., of Iowa City, called police on Sunday morning at least three times after a friend of his failed to pay him for 230 pills he’s sold for $1.25 each. Noehl claimed he did not know it was illegal to sell prescription medication.

A dimwit called cops after getting stiffed on a drug deal and ended up being arrested himself.

Daniel P. Noehl Sr. was arrested after he called the cops to say he got stiffed on a drug deal in Iowa.

Daniel P. Noehl Sr., 57, contacted Iowa City police on Sunday morning to tell them a pal hadn’t yet paid for prescription medication he’d sold him. He’d sold three bottles packed with 230 pills at $1.25 per pill and his friend was holding out on handing over the cash.

As officers made their way over to Noehl’s Dolphin Lake Point home, he called at least three more times to ask why they were taking so long. On arriving at his house, he told them he needed the money to buy groceries and cigarettes, and claimed he didn’t know selling on his meds was illegal.

Noehl then allegedly admitted to smoking crack cocaine on Wednesday. He was arrested and charged with prohibited acts, a serious misdemeanor and a simple misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Children Dying from Opium Addiction

Impoverished mothers administer the opiates to their children to pacify them while they work.

Child deaths are tragically common in Afghanistan, where one in ten children doesn’t reach the age of five, usually due to preventable illnesses such as respiratory infections. But in at least one impoverished, mainly Turkmen area, Kunduz, children are reportedly dying from using drugs that are given to them by their own mothers as a means of pacifying them. “I fed my daughter a lot of drugs at one time. It killed her,” says Zarghoona, a woman who lives in the village and has been giving her children opium since they were born. “We didn’t have the money to take her to the hospital.” Opioid use is particularly common in the Qali a Zal district, where the majority of the women are carpet-weavers. Because of the strenuous nature of their jobs, and the long hours, the women resort to drugs to quiet their kids down. Out of a population of 800,000, Kunduz province has over 30,000 drug addicts—more than half come from the Qali a Zal district, and 40% of them are children.

“Unlike other districts, the most anguishing point is that the women are addicted,” says Abdul Basir Murshid, director of counternarcotics for the Afghan government in Kunduz. Drug abuse receives little notice in Afghanistan, and there is little help available for addicts. “When a baby is born, on the very first day they grease their navel with fluid of opium, so that the baby does not cry and sleeps well,” says Dr. Rahmatuliah, who heads the local government council here. “After a few months, they give it to them orally. I have told many of these people not to do this, but they say, ‘We have raised all our babies like this.'” Since 2005, the country has seen a 53% rise in the number of opium abusers; the country produces 90% of the world’s opium.

New Addiction Treatments

Over the next decade, new treatments are likely to include “cocktails” of two or three old drugs and possibly a treatment vaccine. Why is the drug pipeline for this major public health problem stuck at a trickle?

Recovery from substance abuse can sometimes seem like an endless talkfest: therapy sessions, support groups, 12-step meetings and the like.

Scientific advances, however, have put forward a medical model of addiction as a disease rooted less in the mind than in the brain. A new consensus is emerging that medical treatments will be the go-to for getting and staying sober, as is the case with depression in the age of Prozac. Sharing and caring in one meeting or another will remain significant supports, but combinations of psychoactive drugs or even treatment vaccines will do the heavy lifting to reclaim your “hijacked” brain from addiction.

The addiction drug pipeline has never looked so good; it has gone from a drip-drop to a trickle. But substance abusers can look forward to some new treatments over the next decade. None are likely to be a breakthrough on the order of Prozac. Like Vivitrol (naltrexone injections) for alcohol and opiate abuse, they will work well for some people but offer only modest benefits to most.

Addiction is the most neglected disease in drug development, even though it is one of the nation’s leading public health problems. Why the neglect? First, basic research into the brain mechanisms of addiction—neurotransmitters, pathways, etc.—is still full of unknowns. Second, Big Pharma, which alone has deep pockets to bring new drugs to market, has given addiction the cold shoulder, partly because many addicts are poor, uninsured, hard to reach and not especially health conscious. Nor is this highly regulated industry crazy about associating its brand with people who use illegal drugs. But at bottom the neglect stems from the pervasive social stigma of addiction, according to many top researchers.

The drug industry makes one exception: nicotine addiction. As proven by the $750 million annual sales of varenicline (Chantix), the only drug on the market to help smokers quit, drug companies are spending big bucks to back R&D for a global market made up of hundreds of millions of people. Cigarettes are, of course, legal. Dozens of experimental compounds are in clinical trials.

For all the buzz about addiction as a brain disease, treatment vaccines hold the most promise of a breakthrough—and they do not even target the brain. Like preventative vaccines that protect you against, say, the flu, treatment vaccines prime your body’s immune system to produce antibodies that recognize the invading pathogens, destroy it, and then “remember” it in the event of future exposures. But treatment vaccines, as the name suggests, help control a disease that you already have. When applied to addiction, vaccines aim to produce an immune response not to an infectious pathogen but to the substance of abuse. Treatment vaccines prevent you from getting high by preventing the molecule of cocaine, say, or heroin from reaching your brain, where it has its effects.

Vaccine research for substance abuse is appealing partly because vaccines are tried and true; they are pretty simple to make; and they do not muck around with brain processes. But there are plenty of challenges. Most drug molecules are too small for the immune system to recognize. So scientists attach other, harmless molecules to the vaccine agent (the drug molecule) in order to add bulk in order to spark an antibody response. For instance, Thomas Kostens, MD, psychiatry and neuroscience professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston—and a leading addiction treatment researcher—fused bits of deactivated cholera bacteria to cocaine molecules to get the attention of the immune system. Its antibodies are big fat proteins; once they glom onto the cocaine-cholera combo, the resulting conglomeration cannot pass through the blood-brain barrier. Blunting the effect of the coke would, in theory, support your effort to quit using. In 2009, Kosten’s vaccine provided the first evidence that this approach could work in people.

There are many experimental vaccines currently in test tubes and early studies of animals. Very few will make it to clinical trials in humans. So far, the most promising, like Kosten’s, have gone bust in human tests.

At the center of the addiction vaccine enterprise is the prestigious Scripps Research Institute, a private nonprofit in La Jolla, Calif. Its Committee on Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders (CNAD) has six of the nation’s top addiction scientists studying the intersection of the brain, emotion, stress and addiction; the same six are also members of Scripps’ Pearson Center for Alcoholism and Addiction Research, which “translates” CNAD’s lab discoveries into experimental treatments.

In the early 1980s, when a vaccine for addiction struck most researchers as absurd, “the stars of two research programs at Scripps aligned,” says George Koob, MD, the scientist who chairs CNAD. At the time, Koob’s lab was doing basic research, and Kim Janda, MD, was hunting for a chemical that might put a dent in cocaine addiction. When the two teams began collaborating, the synergy was “momentous.”

Since then, Janda has tried to develop vaccines against nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. His failures have blazed trails. Most recently, his experimental coke vaccine, created by cobbling together a cold virus particle and the cocaine molecule, got as far as Phase III clinical trials before failing. Yet the trial showed some success: Addicts who had the strongest immune response did not get high when they used and had a longer period of abstinence. But one-fourth of the subjects produced no antibodies to the vaccine.

Scripps presses on, producing a new vaccine candidate almost seasonally. In May, Koob’s lab announced that a heroin vaccine showed efficacy in rat studies. Each substance presents its own particular challenge to a vaccine approach. Heroin quickly breaks down in the body into two other chemicals: 6-acetylmorphine and morphine. An effective smack vaccine would have to target both at once, and the new Scripps candidate fits the bill.

Scripps is also making progress with a vaccine against methamphetamine. Meth’s particular challenge is that its active molecule’s structure is so generic that meth-primed antibodies can mistake many other molecules for it. Scripps’ Michael Taffe, PhD, and his team are testing MH6, one of six potential meth vaccines developed in Janda’s lab. In a soon-to-be-published rat study, MH6 decreased the critters’ symptoms of meth addiction.

Scripps doesn’t have a monopoly on addiction vaccine research. Baylor’s Kosten and S. Michael Owens, PhD, the head of the Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, are leaders in the field. Kosten has spearheaded research into the neuroscience of addiction and trauma for decades and has studied a wide range of treatments and would-be treatments, including a cocaine vaccine, immunotherapy for hallucinogens, buprenorphine (Suboxone) for opioid dependence and disulfiram (Antabuse) for cocaine abuse.

Owens is currently in the race for a methamphetamine vaccine, with one of his anti-meth shots already in human tests for safety. Owens’ innovative approach is very different from Taffe’s more traditional one, however. Owens is synthesizing methamphetamine-primed antibodies in the lab and then injecting them into patients. Rather than waiting to see if your body produces its own antibodies, “we can give you enough antibody and we can do it fast and at the right dose, just like any other medication,” Owen says.

A major problem with all addiction vaccines is that their effect is short-lived. A decent immune response typically requires a series of injections over a month or so, but the response may fade in a matter of weeks. But to overcome addiction, many people need long-term, even lifetime, treatment. The costs and complications of a vaccine that must be administered every few months would probably be prohibitive for both patients and health insurance companies.

Ironically, Scripps’ most significant contribution to addiction treatment is not a vaccine at all but a pill that has been around for years. Researchers have shown that gabapentin (Neurontin), originally approved to treat seizures, has modest effectiveness against alcoholism during acute withdrawal and early abstinence. While vaccines prevent the substance from entering the brain, conventional drugs like gabapentin are chemicals that “block the brain effect, not just the substance effect,” Koob says.

The Center for Studies of Addiction (CSA), at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine, may be our best hope for getting effective treatments into addicts’ bodies in the near term. Because CSA not only researches new treatment options but actually works with people with substance abuse problems, they have established a unique program of clinical trials of psychoactive drugs already approved for other conditions to see if they can help curb addiction. This is one of the most economical ways to bring an addiction treatment to market. Most of these drugs have been around for years, so their safety issues are well known; they can go directly into human trials.

No one expects any of these drugs to be a game-changer. Because each will likely offer, at best, only modest benefits, CSA is banking on the “cocktail” model of treatment: Use two or three partially effective drugs together to target different receptors and pathways at the same time.

CSA’s program includes testing two medications for alcohol abuse: naltrexone, an old anti-craving drug, and Seroquel, a bipolar treatment. Trials are up and running for the dual addiction of alcohol and cocaine with a combination of naltrexone and modafinil, a non-amphetamine stimulant that has not exactly won raves in previous anti-cocaine studies. Nonetheless, CSA is doing its own modafinil-for-coke-addiction trial, adding the anti-nicotine drug Chantix. The program has a certain throw-it-against-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks rationale, but some of these drugs will likely stick for some addicts.

Kyle Kampman, MD, medical director of CSA’s Addiction Treatment and Medication Development Division and principal investigator of a project in the Cocaine Medication Development Center, reports that his lab just completed a trial of a cocaine vaccine (the data are still being analyzed). Substance abuse vaccines fit the “cocktail” model perfectly. Because vaccines do not affect the brain, a cocaine addict could take both the vaccine and psychoactive drugs that do target the brain; a heroin addict could do a vaccine-Suboxone cocktail. Pile on the pills!

Progress in basic research and clinical trials is slow and expensive—witness the ongoing failures of Scripps’ many experimental vaccines. Both Scripps and CSA are funded mainly by the federal government and pharmaceutical companies. But money is tight. Scripps’ Kroob says that their promising heroin vaccine is in limbo until he finds financial backers to pay for more animal studies. “This kind of money would usually come from pharma companies,” he says. “But there’s a stigma associated with working with drug addiction.”

The drug industry has calculated that the market for addiction treatments, especially vaccines, is too small to be profitable. A large number of clinicians would have to prescribe the treatment. But only some 3,500 physicians in the US specialize in addiction. Many physicians do not see addiction as a legitimate medical condition and have no interest in treating addicts. Others look at the high failure rate of all addiction therapies and recoil.

Obamacare might somewhat improve the situation. Many poor and uninsured people with substance abuse will become eligible for Medicaid. The Affordable Care Act mandates that Medicaid and all health insurance for newly eligible adults starting in 2014 must include services for substance use disorders. Yet whether the coverage offered by Medicaid and the exchanges will prove adequate remains to be seen. Medicaid has a lifetime cap for methadone and Suboxone that covers only five months of treatment. Yet controlling substance abuse with long-term medication is cost-effective. “Look at any emergency room,” Koob says. “Half of the patients are there because of addiction-related issues.”

By default, the financial burden of addiction drug research has largely fallen to the federal government, especially the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “That’s why the NIH is so important,” says Donald Vereen, MD, the director of the University of Michigan Substance Abuse Research Center. Vereen served at the NIH during the Clinton and Bush II administrations; he was also deputy drug czar. The NIH, Vereen says, often partners with pharmaceutical companies to move promising compounds through trials and to market. Indeed, buprenorphine (Suboxone) owes its success to this collaboration. (The drugmaker gets all the profits, however.) The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) also has a medication development division—a sign, Vereen says, of private industry’s neglect of the field.

“Nobody wants to work on developing drugs for addicts,” he says, echoing the sentiments of other top researchers. Why? Because of social stigma and the criminalization of substance use. In the end, these are bigger deterrents to progress than the limits of neuroscience and the cost/benefit analyses of Big Pharma.

“The lack of treatment for addicts is ultimately a civil rights issue,” Vereen says. That is not a problem that gets solved by scientists in labs.

Dangerous Type of Heroin in NJ

An especially dangerous type of heroin is on the Camden streets and has caused five overdoses in 24 hours, authorities said. None of the overdoses reported between Monday and Tuesday were fatal, according to a release by the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office. But all the victims reported they’d bought the drug in Camden. Authorities would not reveal the exact location where the heroin was bought, out of fear addicts looking for “a more potent high” might go there, the release said. Investigators are seeking the source of the heroin and are warning that the particularly dangerous type is in the city.

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Anyone with information on the source is asked to contact the Prosecutor’s Office at 856-225-8444 or Camden County police at 856-757-7420.

How to Talk to Your Kids About Drugs

Tell your children that you love them and you want them to be happy and healthy. Say that you do not find alcohol and other illegal drug use acceptable. Many parents fail to state this simple fact. Explain that drug use hurts people. It can cause AIDS, impaired coordination, slowed growth, and emotional harm such as feelings of isolation or paranoia. It is also important to discuss the legal issues associated with drug and alcohol use because a conviction for a drug offense can lead to prison, loss of a job or college loan. Talk about positive, drug-free alternatives and explore them together. Some possibilities may include sports, reading, movies, bike rides, hikes, camping and games.

Approach your children calmly and openly and do not exaggerate. Talk face to face. Try to understand each other’s point of view. Be an active listener and let your child talk about fears and concerns while not interrupting or preaching. Establish an ongoing conversation rather than giving a one-time speech. It is also important that you set an example and avoid contradictions between your words and actions. To help your child deal with peer pressure, act out various situations in which one tries to convince the other to take drugs and come up with at least two ways to handle each situation.

As parents, be alert to changes in your child’s mood. Drug use may cause your child to become more irritable, secretive, withdrawn, overly sensitive, or inappropriately angry. In addition, your child may become less responsible by not going to school or coming home late. Watch for changes in friends or lifestyles. Physically, drugs may cause your child to concentrate less, lose coordination, weight and create an unhealthy appearance.

3 Dangerous Drug Habits in Teens

It’s well-known that teens experiment with illegal substances such as alcohol and marijuana. But recently, children and teens have turned their attention to substances found at home or local convenience stores. They’re abusing parents’ prescription painkillers, energy drinks and computer cleaners. Here are three new drug trends among kids:

Energy drinks in elementary school.
In recent years, drinks that combine alcohol with caffeine, such as Four Loko, have been blamed for the deaths of teens and college students. But a new epidemic involves younger children: elementary school students are drinking highly caffeinated energy drinks to catch a buzz. Even without alcohol, these drinks are dangerous to kids’ health. “Energy drinks are gateway for elementary school kids,” said Mike Gimbel, a national substance abuse educator. “They drink it like it’s water. Nurses have kids coming in with heart palpitations.” Gimbel said he has also observed a growing fascination among elementary school students with caffeinated gel strips that you place on the tongue, such as ones made by the brand Sheets. “One strip is equal to a cup of coffee, but kids are putting five or six in their mouth at once,” he said. “You can overdose on caffeine by taking three or four.” Overconsumption of caffeine, especially in young children who have smaller bodies, can cause seizures, strokes or even sudden death, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Huffing Dust-Off
Huffing, or inhaling household products, is not a new phenomenon. But experts have started to see an increase in teens huffing the computer cleaner called Dust-Off, a trend that started a few years ago. Dust-Off, sold at office supply stores, can be inhaled to produce a high lasting a few seconds to a few minutes. “One of the attractions is that it can be felt almost immediately,” said Harvey Weiss, executive director of the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition. “You don’t have to wait for something to happen.” Inhalants can cause nausea, nosebleeds, impaired coordination and, in some cases, death. According to a study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2010, about 2 million kids ages 12 to 17 had tried inhalants, the most popular being glue, shoe polish or toluene, a solvent. Weiss said that parents should look to see if their children have a “sudden drop in grades, a rash around mouth or nose, a change in friends, weight loss or an odor of products on their breath.” Thirty-seven states currently regulate the sale of inhalants to minors, but many of these products are easily accessible within the home, he said. “I hear from parents, especially those who have lost children, that they were aware of inhalants, but never imagined their kids would do them, so it wasn’t discussed,” Weiss said.

teenager, drug, pills, addiction, teen girl, children

Pharm parties
At age 14, Brittany Gaydosh, walked into a New Year’s Eve party at a friend’s house, drank a couple of shots of Bacardi 151 rum, and made her way to a Ziploc bag filled with pills.  “There were Ecstasy, Xanax, Percocets, Valium and other pills in the bag that night,” Gaydosh said. “I took four Ecstasy pills and a Xanax.” Throughout her teenage years, Gaydosh attended at least 20 parties like this, the now 23-year-old said. She would take handfuls of pills, wash some down with alcohol, and save the rest for later. And she’s not alone. According to experts, such parties, known as “Skittles parties” (because of the brightly colored pills) or “pharm parties,” have rapidly gained popularity among teens. “At a lot of the parties, they just throw the pills on the table,” Gaydosh said. “It’s like candy that you can take home with you.” Teens are taking painkillers, mainly highly addictive opioids such as OxyContin and Vicodin, from medicine cabinets in their own homes, said Dr. Petros Levounis, director of the Addiction Institute of New York in Manhattan. “They’re getting these prescription pills from parents or grandparents,” Levounis said. “Say I go to the dentist for a tooth extraction and I get 30 painkillers and maybe take one. My granddaughter could go into my medicine cabinet without me knowing and bring the rest of the pills to a party.” A recent report from researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that each year, more people die from prescription painkiller overdoses than from heroin and cocaine overdoses combined. “Addiction to prescription opioids has become the most important problem we face,” Levounis said.

Pass it on: Many teens are getting dangerous highs from drugs easily found in stores or homes.

7 Tips for Today’s Parents

Parents looking to talk to their children about drugs may recall the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) programs taught in schools. But after a generation of D.A.R.E. graduates, studies found that “just saying no” didn’t stop enough teens from doing drugs. A National Institute of Justice Research Brief in 1998 filed the D.A.R.E. program under drug prevention that “doesn’t work.”

Yet children still need a drug talk, so researchers and experts in drug abuse prevention and rehabilitation have some helpful tips for parents to help children avoid drugs, or stop using them. Here are seven tips:

drug prevention talks

Confront Problems Quickly
If a teen is caught with drugs, or even suspected of using them, addiction experts recommend parents don’t wait to act. Some people quit using drugs after their teen years, but research shows the younger people are when they try drugs, the more likely they are to end up as addicts. “Anyone who has concern about an addiction should get help early,” said Roxanne Kibben, vice president of the Phoenix House Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides drug abuse treatment services in 10 states. “If a teen starts smoking or drinking, they are at much higher risk to becoming addicted than if they wait until they’re 20.” Research from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 12.8 percent of people who first tried marijuana at age 14 or younger developed “illicit drug dependence or abuse,” but only 2.6 percent of people who tried marijuana at age 18 or older developed the same level of dependence. And while initial drug use may be a voluntary decision, it becomes less and less of a choice as addiction is etched into the brain, according to the Phoenix House Foundation 

drug prevention talks

Start Talking to Kids When They’re Young
Intervening earlier battles addiction better, and may even prevent it. The Phoenix House recommends parents talk with children before they have the opportunity to use drugs or alcohol. Studies show that could be long before a teen reaches high school. The 2011 annual Partnership Attitude Tracking Study found that 62 percent of teens who reported drinking alcohol said they had their first full drink by age 15 not including tasting or sipping alcohol. Tammy Granger, regional director of student assistance programs at Caron Treatment Centers, recommends parents start conversations about drugs with children around age 8 to 10, to get ahead of misinformation spread by their peers. “My philosophy is, you want to do that early. With a lot of prevention programming they parents and teachers wait too long and intervene in high school,” Granger said. She pointed out that, statistically, 11-year-olds on a middle school bus encounter others, or their older siblings, who are experimenting with drugs. “I think it’s important that they do have some factual information,” Granger said.

drug prevention talks

Set clear boundaries and expectations.
Most teens generally know their parents don’t want them to use drugs. In 2010, 89.6 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 reported that their parents would strongly disapprove of their trying marijuana once or twice, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Still, experts say many parents feel hesitant to start talking about drugs in detail if their child hasn’t yet been exposed. But don’t be vague: a clear and consistent message can help deter drug use. “Be clear what the rules are, and what’s going to happen if they break the rule,” Kibben said. If a teen lives in two different households, Kibben recommends all parents agree to the same rules about drugs, and make it official. “If you need to, with a tween or a teen, you may have those [rules] be written, and you have a pledge statement,” Kibben said. Parents may also unwittingly send confusing messages about prescription drugs by doling out medicine at home. “Some parents tend to freely give out medications. They may say, ‘Oh, you have a toothache, I have some Vicodin, here, use this,'” said Jennifer Fan, with the center for substance abuse prevention at the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “It contributes to the perception that the prescription is safe,” Fan said. Parents who want to avoid prescription drug abuse should themselves take medicine only as it is prescribed, and discard any leftover medicine. “Communication is not the only role that parents can play,” Fan said. “Parents, they act as role models.

drug prevention talks

Be positive.
Preventing drug use doesn’t always have to come in the form of dire warnings or consequences for kids. Granger said using a tween’s motivation to fit in can actually encourage against trying drugs. In fact, the majority of their peers aren’t doing drugs or using alcohol, according to the annual Monitoring the Future study, which surveys approximately 50,000 students in eighth, 10th and 12th grades. In 2011, 12.5 percent of eighth-grade students reported using marijuana in the past year, and 7.2 percent reported using marijuana in the previous month. A little over 10 percent of eighth-grade students reported using any illicit drugs, including inhalants, in the past 30 days. “Rather than focus on the negative, focus on the positive,” Granger said. “About 93 percent of eighth-grade students don’t smoke marijuana.

drug prevention talks

Build emotional ties and resiliency first. 
Drug abuse prevention can start without even mentioning drugs. Granger runs programs aimed at the roots of drug abuse: coping with stress. “We have prevention programs that we start in the second and third grade. It’s not talking about drugs and alcohol, but it’s about building resiliency and personal resolve,” Granger said. “Some kids may turn to drugs as a self-medication, or self-soothing.” Granger said children with mental health issues, or who have a difficult time managing their emotions, have higher rates of drug and alcohol use. Building emotional and family support early can stem problems with drug abuse in adolescence. Indeed, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found kids who have dinner with their families are less likely to use drugs or drink. A decade of research involving 1,000 teens and 452 of their parents found that, compared with teens who have family dinners five to seven nights per week, teens who have infrequent family dinners (fewer than three per week) were twice as likely to use tobacco or marijuana.


Point out real life examples of problems.
While parents try to set a good example, experts say don’t be afraid to point out the real-world consequences of addiction. “You talk about who they might know who might have had a problem, or who currently has a problem,” Kibben said. Depending on the child’s maturity level, Kibben said, the example may even be a family member. Families with a history of mental issues or addiction problems should communicate to children that they are at a higher risk of developing a substance abuse problem if they try drugs. “Explain it in a neutral way, you can say, ‘When a person does this, then they are at risk,'” Kibben said.

drug prevention talks

No shame. Frame talks as a health issue.
Tone matters when communicating with children, and experts say despite the tough language used to discourage drug use in the past, broaching addiction as a health issue may ultimately be more effective. “The important thing is to talk about it without shame or strong interrogation, in the same way you’d talk about the importance of exercise or diabetes. It is a health issue,” Kibben said. Granger said many parents try to connect avoiding drugs to protecting the child’s future. “But I’m not sure that teens can connect that future life, of college and beyond, to using drugs today,” she said. “It’s very hard to do drug prevention. This whole ‘scared-straight mentality’, I don’t think kids buy it,” Granger said. “I try to talk to parents about not making it a moral issue, but by saying, ‘We want you to be the best that you can be, we want you to live to your full potential.'”