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Monday, May 14, 2012

ATOD News Recap - Week ending May 11, 2012

Most States Don’t Address Youth Exposure to Alcohol Marketing: Report
Most states do not address youth exposure to alcohol marketing, according to a new report. Researchers at the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore say this represents a missed opportunity to improve public health. Only 11 states use more than one of eight recommended strategies to reduce youth exposure to alcohol, the report found. These strategies include prohibiting false or misleading advertising; banning alcohol ads that target minors; restricting alcohol ads on alcohol retail outlet windows and outside areas, and restricting alcohol sponsorship of civic events. Other strategies including prohibiting alcohol ads on college campuses, restricting outdoor alcohol ads in areas where children are likely to be present, and establishing jurisdiction over in-state TV and radio ads, UPI reports.

No states used more than five of these strategies, the report found.

“We know quite a bit about how to reduce youth exposure to alcohol marketing and advertising,” CAMY Director David Jernigan said in a statement. “Unfortunately, this report shows states have a long way to go towards using that knowledge to reduce youth exposure.”
Ankle monitors keeping teens sober

For a little more than a year, Great Falls teenagers in trouble have had extra incentive to stay away from alcohol. A new ankle monitor measures the amount of alcohol in the sweat of the person wearing it and transmits results to authorities. "It has been very effective," said Paul Jara, who attaches the monitors. "We've had some good success stories of clients on it who have stayed with it. It's kept them sober and changed their lives."

The technology came to Great Falls in late 2010, and has gotten a workout lately. After an unauthorized February party at a dentist office in which police cited 28 with being minors in possession of alcohol, Jara fitted seven offenders with monitors. "The judge determines who is going to be on it," he said. Jara works for a Missoula company, Compliance Monitoring System. They use the SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor), which includes an ankle  bracelet, worn 24/7, that tests twice every hour for alcohol in perspiration. Even one beer shows up. "It's tough to bypass," he said.

The company reports that the rate of people picking up another alcohol-related offense after wearing the monitor for 90 days is "incredibly low." The compliance rate with the SCRAM program is about 72 percent, which is partly because it's picking up more offenses than a twice-a-day breath test does and partly because any noncompliance counts against the rate. About 320 people in Montana are wearing them now.

In Cascade County, 15 to 20 percent of the people on SCRAM are teenagers, a higher-than-normal rate reflecting the local court philosophy. They're generally worn by repeat offenders. Many agencies in Great Falls can put teenagers on monitors, Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Tim Callahan said. His agency, city court, juvenile probation court and the department of corrections all may use monitors of different types.

"It really depends on the kid and the level of supervision required," he said. "If we do alcohol, that's usually the primary thing, though you may have other house arrest windows built in. You could wear a GPS monitor and an alcohol monitor." Callahan has used the alcohol monitor for cases in the past but didn't have anyone on it when he was interviewed.

"We would use it when we get a case referred to us, and they haven't gotten a kid to comply. If we have a kid on probation we're supervising and we feel there are issues with alcohol use that would help with supervision," he said.

Parents have requested monitors when they suspect an alcohol problem.

"We've even had some kids ask for it because they know it will help them do what they're supposed to do. It's easier to tell friends they can't when they're hooked up to the monitor," he said. "It's always nice when that happens." At the Cascade County Juvenile Detention Center, compliance officer Ron Brinkman has two monitors he may strap onto an offender's ankle as young as 10 or as old as 18. The most commonly used, "old-school" type involves a transmitter around an ankle and a box connected to a phone line. The system can be set for a range of 35 feet for an apartment dweller and up to 150 feet for a home with a backyard. Beyond that round, the system sends an alert. Brinkman sets windows where one is able to be away from home. "I'll tell them you have from 7:30-5:30," for school, he says.

He gets an email if the person's transmitter isn't registering them as being at home after that window. "Then I'm calling and trying to find out where they are," he said. "It's a good thing for those for whom detention is not warranted but who need a little supervision."

The system tells Brinkman only if they are home, not where they're at otherwise "and that's the downfall of the old style," he said. "Once they leave home, who knows? But for the most part, it's still good. It shows some accountability." The GPS ankle monitor has a much higher level of supervision, basically a constant radio monitoring of every spot that person has been.

Brinkman pulled up a map on his computer that tracked one teen wearing a monitor. A dotted line marking where he was every 15 seconds traced his not-quite-direct route from home to school as though he were a child in a Family Circus cartoon. Programming no-go zones is simple, with a red box on the map where the teen is not supposed to go — such as a bar or a store from which he or she is banned. Brinkman is alerted when those are violated, and so is the person wearing the much larger monitor. The GPS system barks at the wearer an order to leave and continues talking until he or she acknowledges the message by putting a finger over the piece. Likewise, green inclusion zones are drawn around places the teen is supposed to be.

"With this GPS, you can set anything, where they should be, where they shouldn't be. If done right, this system here will monitor itself," Brinkman said. "It's a wonderful system." At 9:20 a.m., he sees the teen he's tracking is at school, right where he's supposed to be. The system doesn't leave much room for argument. The band and transmitter are $800, paid for with a grant years ago. He has 11 boxes and only eight transmitters. Three are missing.

"A lot of them cut the band off," he said. "I tell them, if you cut, keep it in the house. If you cut it and lose it, you're not going back on it. You're going to jail." The teens are on the hook for restitution for equipment they damage or destroy. Bad enough with the old system, but the GPS units cost thousands of dollars.

The monitoring costs $12 a day or $20 a day for GPS — much less expensive than $230 a day for a jail stay. When interviewed, Brinkman had two GPS and one radio frequency monitor active. In
January, he had 10 transmitters, three of them GPS. Sometimes all 11 radio transmitters have been in use. Those assigned to wear them may have them on as little as two weeks or for months. Brinkman wore a transmitter for three hours, just to see what it's like. The transmitter — which weighs less than a pound and is loose enough to allow a sock to be put on — never stopped bugging him.

"But I would as soon be on house arrest as in jail, though given the choice, neither," he said. "The youth — some do not take it seriously — but I will come to their school and arrest them if they're not following.  They're learning, like we all do." Girls sometimes add glitter or stickers to their ankle bracelets, which Brinkman allows as long as it comes back clean. However, image is important to a teenager, and the monitors don't have the wicked  cache of a stay in jail or much aesthetic appeal.

"I would say a lot are more embarrassed they have to wear this big thing on their ankle," he said. "It's not very attractive."

New Type of “Bath Salts” Reported in Virginia

A new type of “bath salts” called “Amped” is being used in Virginia, poison control officials there report. The drug, sold as a ladybug attractant, is likely also being used in other parts of the country, according to ABC News.

Dr. Rutherford Rose, Director of the Virginia Poison Center, said at least six cases of people ingesting Amped have been reported in the state. Amped and other bath salts have amphetamine-like qualities. Common effects are teeth grinding, jerking eye movements, profuse sweating, high blood pressure, high body temperature, fast heart rate, anorexia, diminished thirst, paranoia, hallucinations, seizures, significant violent outbursts, self-injurious behaviors and suicidal thoughts and acts. Deaths have been reported as the direct result of the abuse of these drugs. “Despite laws that have outlawed certain chemicals within these drugs, chemists easily change a chemical or molecule within the compound to give it a similar or more potent property, and, because it is a different chemical entity, it is no longer illegal,” Dr. Rose said. “These drugs are a time bomb. It’s like playing Russian Roulette.” The drugs carry labels warning against human consumption. The American Association of Poison Control Centers reports that in 2011, there were 6,138 calls regarding bath salts, up from 304 in 2010. As of March 31, poison control centers received 722 calls about bath salts so far this year.
Minors Can Easily Avoid Age Requirements When Buying Alcohol Online, Study Suggests
Minors are often able to buy alcohol online, because many Internet alcohol sellers and shipping companies do not verify the buyer’s age, a new study suggests.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recruited eight participants, ages 18 to 20, to try to buy wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages online. They were told to lie about their age when filling out order forms. If they were asked to verify their age by a delivery person, they were instructed to say they were not yet 21, the Los Angeles Times reports. Participants placed orders at 100 Internet sites, and most deliveries were made by FedEx or United Parcel Service. Of those orders, 45 were successfully made and received. Just 28 orders were rejected because the person placing the order was found to be a minor. The rest of the orders did not go through because there were technical difficulties, or because no one was home at the time of attempted delivery. The study found 60 percent of online alcohol sellers used weak, if any, age verification. Of the 45 successful orders, half of the sites used no age verification. Age verification at time of delivery was inconsistent, they noted.

“With just a few clicks on their computer or smartphone, kids can order alcohol delivered to their home,” lead researcher Rebecca Williams, PhD, said in a news release. “We were amazed at how easy it was for minors to buy alcohol online. Using their real ID and a prepaid Visa card, they could place an order for alcohol in just a few minutes and often have it delivered to their door in a matter of days without anyone ever trying to verify their age.”

The study appears in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
13 Percent of High School Seniors Have Used Prescription Opioids for Non-Medical Reasons
A new study finds 13 percent of high school seniors have used prescription opioids for non-medical reasons. Overall, nearly one in every four high school seniors in the United States has had some exposure to prescription painkillers, either for medical or non-medical reasons. The study of 7,374 high school seniors by researchers at the University of Michigan found about 80 percent of teens who used prescription opioids for non-medical reasons after having initially used the drugs for medical purposes, had obtained the drugs from an old prescription.

Teens who used painkillers for non-medical reasons were more likely to smoke marijuana or cigarettes, or to binge drink, compared with teens who had only taken painkillers under a doctor’s supervision, or did not take the drugs at all, Reuters reports. The study appears in the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

The recently released 23rd annual Partnership Attitude Tracking Study found that teen lifetime abuse of medicines is plateauing and holding steady at 17 percent for prescription drugs, and 12 percent for over-the-counter cough and cold medicines. Among teens, past year abuse of the prescription pain relievers Vicodin and OxyContin has plateaued at about 10 percent, the study found.

New Designer Spray Delivers a Spritz of Alcohol for a Quick Buzz

Let's say you have a presentation to give. You need a quick hit of liquid courage but can't reasonably pull out a flask. This is the type of situation where you could use WAHH Quantum Sensations, a chapstick-sized aerosol can of flavored alcohol. A single spritz into the mouth immediately delivers a light-headedness similar to that experienced while drinking. The feeling fades almost as quickly as it arrives, so you're not going to be slurring your presentation or getting arrested.

WAHH, which started selling at Laboratoire in Paris on May 2, was developed over the last year by Harvard professor and scientist David Edwards and designer Philippe Starck, who created the sleek canister. The two recently formed Quantum Sensations, a Cambridge, Mass., joint venture, to produce and commercialize the product. A canister with two vials, each offering 20 to 25 sprays equal to 1/1,000 of a shot of alcohol, costs $26. Hundreds were sold in the first few days after launch, says Edwards, though it is not yet available in the U.S.

While good old alcohol is far more effective for those seeking genuine inebriation, the spray is intended as a culinary-design exploration and cultural exploration. WAHH was given its name by Starck to evoke the "blessed sigh that you have when this has entered into your mouth," Edwards explains. It currently comes in two flavors: Flash, which tastes like vodka, and Demon, which tastes like Tabasco and is intended for use on food.

"It's relief, a little heaven in an intense, high-expectation environment," says Edwards. And it won't leave you with a hangover.

Other flavors, which won't all be alcohol-based, will be added as the product expands distribution to major design stores, starting late in the summer. The mass-market opportunity lies in creating flavors that users can add to their spice racks, Edwards says.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek
Facebook Can Negatively Affect Teens’ Substance Use Treatment, Study Suggests
Using Facebook and other social networking sites can negatively affect teenagers’ treatment for substance use disorders, a new study suggests.

Researchers administered a 20-question survey to 37 teens who were receiving substance abuse treatment at a behavioral health center in Los Angeles. Most reported marijuana as their drug of choice, followed by Ecstasy and methamphetamine, Psychiatric Times reports. Almost all of the teens engaged in online social networking, with the majority using Facebook. While 44 percent of the teens said they posted drug-related content on the sites, 94 percent said their friends did, and 97 percent said their social networking friends used drugs. Lead researcher David Tran at University of California, Los Angeles said 66 percent reported that drug-related content on Facebook, Twitter or MySpace made them want to use drugs. “While these are preliminary data, they indicate that online social network sites may negatively influence treatment outcomes for adolescents,” he said at a news briefing at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting, where he presented the findings. Only 22 percent of the teens posted or accessed recovery-related content through social networking sites, the study found. “Our next step is to implement an intervention at the substance abuse treatment center to use along with their treatment plan,” Tran said. “We are planning to establish a Facebook group as an intervention. In this way, we can engage youth and enable them to access educational information anytime and anywhere.”

He said he does not recommend blocking teens’ access to social networking sites, since they will most likely find a way to use them.
Parents of Teens’ Friends Can Influence Substance Use
The parents of teenagers’ friends can have as much effect on teens’ decisions about substance use as their own parents, a new study suggests. If the parents of a teenager’s friends are not aware of their own child’s alcohol or drug use, or condone it, then it is more likely the teen will drink or smoke, the study found.
“Among friendship groups with ‘good parents’ there’s a synergistic effect — if your parents are consistent and aware of your whereabouts, and your friends’ parents are also consistent and aware of their (children’s) whereabouts, then you are less likely to use substances,” study author Michael Cleveland at Penn State University, said in a news release. “But if you belong to a friendship group whose parents are inconsistent, and your parents are consistent, you’re still more likely to use alcohol.”

The study included 9,000 ninth graders, who were asked about their closest friends, their parents’ discipline, and whether their parents knew who their friends were, HealthDay reports. The researchers broke the teens down into about 900 groups of friends. A year later, the teens were surveyed about their substance use. The researchers found substance use in tenth grade was significantly related to parenting behavior of friends’ parents. This was true even after taking into account the effects of the teenagers’ own parents’ behaviors, and their friends’ substance use.

“I think that it empowers parents to know that not only can they have an influence on their own children, but they can also have a positive influence on their children’s friends as well,” said Cleveland. “And that by acting together — the notion of ‘it takes a village’ — can actually result in better outcomes for adolescents.”

The study appears in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
U.S. Cocaine, Meth Use on the Decline
Use of drugs, particularly cocaine and methamphetamine, is on the decline in the United States, according to U.S. National Drug Control Policy Director R. Gil Kerlikowske. He spoke this week at the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission. Kerlikowske said American drug use has already dropped by one-third since its peak in the 1970s. Cocaine use has declined 40 percent, and methamphetamine use by 50 percent, in the past five years, he added. He said the Obama Administration is focusing on placing criminals driven by an underlying substance use disorder into supervised treatment, in order to break the cycle of drug use and crime, UPI reports. He noted 120,000 people in the United States are diverted into treatment, instead of incarceration, each year. Kerlikowske discussed other public health initiatives to reduce drug use, including Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment, which helps health institutions recognize the signs and symptoms of drug addiction early.

“The Affordable Care Act is also revolutionary, because for the first time, it makes drug treatment a required benefit for all Americans who suffer from substance abuse disorders – nothing short of a revolution in how we deal with substance use in the U.S.,” he said in a statement.

The administration is also focusing on major drug trafficking groups operating within the United States, he said. In 2011, U.S. law enforcement agencies disrupted or dismantled 612 drug trafficking organizations on the Attorney General’s Consolidated Priority Organization Target list, which centers on the major drug trafficking and violent criminal groups in the United States.

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