Will Your Teen’s Prom Become a Statistic?

As we welcome April with open arms, enjoying the sunshine and warmer weather, many young people across America are also welcoming end-of-the-school-year celebrations that are right around the corner! Popular events like prom are exciting times for young people when many fond memories are made. Sadly, as years pass, we find that prom has a dark side: alcohol related accidents and deaths. According to the NCADD, “alcohol is the number one drug of choice for America’s youth and is more likely to kill young people than all illegal drugs combined.” The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration reported that in 2001, 1,012 children under 21 died of alcohol-related traffic incidents in the months of April, May and June alone. Although young people turn to alcohol for any number of reasons, now is a crucial time to raise awareness on underage drinking to ensure that your child is safe during the upcoming prom season. The combination of prom and alcohol is often seen as a rite of passage for teens. For many of them it is their first opportunity to experiment with alcohol and parents feel as though their children are safe drinking, as long as they are not driving. However, underage alcohol consumption can still be lethal even if they are not driving. Many adolescents are unaware of the consequences of drinking. Drinking a large amount of alcohol can cause loss of consciousness and all control over what happens to his or her body. Drinking too much too fast can cause alcohol poisoning, which could in turn lead to death. Alcohol consumption at a young age could also set...

“Drive With Reason” This Holiday Season

Who’s responsibility is it to be sure people are driving safely and are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Yours! And mine! Statistics from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System show that although the number of people killed in the US in car accidents has declined, the number of accidents involving drugs, both legally prescribed medications and illegal drugs, has increased 6 percent over the past 6 years. Whether this is due to an increase in the use of prescription and over the counter medications or illegal drugs, including marijuana and cocaine, isn’t clear.  What is clear is that many of us don’t think that being impaired by drugs will affect our driving. Did you know that some antihistamines can impact your driving? Especially if you have a drink or two on top of taking the medication. Some people think that smoking a joint won’t affect your ability to drive. It’s not as bad as drunk driving, right? Wrong! It is well known that some drugs can impair your motor coordination, reaction time and visual perception. One in four fatally injured drivers under the age of 25 tested positive for marijuana! If you are a parent, lay down the law and let your teenage or young adult driver know that it’s not OK to drive while under the influence of anything that can impair your judgement, not even a little bit. If you need to, have your teen drug tested to be sure they are following your rules. A “Trust, But Verify” policy can save your child’s life or the lives of others on the road. If you are...

Decriminalizing Marijuana: Is This the Right Direction?

Another state, Connecticut, is considering decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, less than 1 ounce.  The Governor’s intent is to reduce the prison population and save the state money.  This would also map to similar laws in their neighboring states of New York and Massachusetts.  Is this really a legitmate way to save money?  Many legislators don’t agree and this could open the door to marijuana use becoming more prevalent.  The proposed law doesn’t stipulate an age limit or how many times it is okay to be in possession. Was the current prison population in the state that was convicted of marijuana possession also charged with another offense?  Detractors say that rarely is possession of a small amount of pot the only offense and that there are usually aggravating factors.  Of the 31 cases of possession as the primary offense up for trial now all of them are for 4 ounces or more and include other charges in addition to the possession charge or are part of a plea bargain that reduced the charges to only marijuana possession.  Drug tests are frequently used to determine whether someone has been driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and these would still be prosecuted as they have been.  Proponents of the bill say that in 2009 there were 8,118 arrests statewide for possession of marijuana. In 2,700 of those cases, possession of marijuana was the only charge and 75 percent of those involved less than one ounce of the substance.  Based on these statistics, it looks like this might save the state money, but will this increase drug use and arrests in...

Fake Pot Banned by DEA

Up until today it has been legal in most states to purchase  and possess “fake pot”, also known as Spice and K2, among other names.  For those looking for a legal high, this seemed like a perfect solution.  The war on drugs has been the mother of invention and encouraged  people to seek other ways to get what they want.   Unfortunately for them, the synthetic marijuana has sent hundreds of people to emergency rooms nationwide with seizures, rapid heart rate, and hallucinations.  This newer, more dangerous drug prompted the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to step in and ban the chemicals JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497 and cannabicyclohexanol for at least a year while it looks into whether to ban  them permanently.  Although the drug was meant to mimic marijuana’s effects in laboratory animals for research purposes and never meant to be consumed by humans, humans got a hold of the recipe and it’s been sold as “incense” in head shops.  Many states had already begun the process of making synthetic marijuana illegal and laws were passed in 15 states .  The DEA used its emergency powers and after a waiting period of 30 days possession of the substance will be a federal crime.  Tests are available to determine if someone has been using it but weren’t readily available.  With the DEA’s action today, the test will become more widely available as the federal agency tries to crack down on the designer drug and prevent what it considers a health and safety crisis.  Most studies don’t show that real marijuana is any more dangerous or addictive than alcohol.  The fact that it’s illegal is what gets most pot smokers...

Early Psychosis Linked to Marijuana Usage: Do You Know Where Your Children Are?

If you are the parent of a teenager, you are probably already worried about the possibility that they are using or trying drugs.  If you’re not, you should be!  Not only are there the inherent risks of drug use from driving under the influence to unprotected sex, but now marijuana use has been tied to early psychosis, especially schizophrenia.  A causal relationship wasn’t established, therefore the researchers of the study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry online last week, can’t say that marijuana use causes psychosis, but they certainly suspect that it’s possible. Several theories about what the link between marijuana and early onset of psychosis means have been floated.  It could be that people who already have some mental problems are using marijuana to self-medicate or are drawn to getting high.  It could also be that those who will develop early psychosis (before the age of 25) tend to smoke marijuana for some reason while those who will develop it later aren’t drawn to it as strongly or at all. While these alternative reasons to a theory that marijuana use causes early psychosis are valid and may be the right answers, it can’t be ruled out that pot smoking is the cause.  Instilling the fear of drugs and their side effects in our youth is more important than ever.  Why take a chance that your child will be the one to develop a psychosis that never would have surfaced without marijuana use?  Confidential tests are available that can keep you informed about your teen’s extracurricular activities.  I wouldn’t take the risk of letting my child ruin their life, and...