Social Hosting Forum, April 25

Planning on hosting a prom party?
Will your child be attending a friend’s party? Are you a student hosting or invited to a party?

Please join us for a public forum on New York State’s

Social Hosting Law

What you should know

Hear from and ask questions of experts in the legal, social, law enforcement and insurance professions on this important subject

Thursday April 25 at 7pm RHS Auditorium
The CC4RY is offering a $10 discount on prom tickets to every RHS student who attends
(Students must sign in by 6:45pm)

Community Coalition For Rhinebeck Youth

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Almost One in Five High School Age Boys in US Receive ADHD Dx

By  | April 2, 2013 | Leave a comment | Filed in Mental HealthPrescription DrugsTreatment & Youth

Almost one in five boys of high school age, and 11 percent of school-age children overall, have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the United States, according to new government data.

Many doctors are concerned that ADHD diagnoses and medication are overused in children, The New York Times reports.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found an estimated 6.4 million children ages 4 to 17 had received an ADHD diagnosis at some point. This represents a 16 percent increase since 2007, and a 53 percent increase in the past 10 years.

The findings come from a CDC study of children’s health issues, which included interviews with more than 76,000 parents nationwide.

About two-thirds of those diagnosed with ADHD receive prescriptions for stimulant drugs such as Adderall or Ritalin. These drugs, while they can be very effective in treating the disorder, also have the potential for addiction, anxiety and even psychosis, the article notes.

The American Psychiatric Association is soon expected to change the definition of ADHD, in order to allow more people to receive the diagnosis and treatment, according to the newspaper.

A growing number of high school students are using ADHD drugs tohelp them get better grades. Teens get them from friends, buy them from student dealers, or pretend to have ADHD in order to get prescriptions. Abusing these drugs can lead to mood swings and depression, heart irregularities and extreme exhaustion or even psychosis during withdrawal, according to medical experts. There is little evidence about the long-term effects of young people abusing these stimulants.

CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden told the newspaper, “We need to ensure balance. The right medications for ADHD, given to the right people, can make a huge difference. Unfortunately, misuse appears to be growing at an alarming rate.”

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Prevention Programs in Middle School May Reduce Later Prescription Drug Use

By Join Together Staff | February 19, 2013 | Leave a comment | Filed in Drugs,Prescription DrugsPrevention & Youth

Substance abuse prevention programs that begin in middle school may help deter prescription drug abuse in later years, new research suggests.

Scientists analyzed findings from three studies of family- and school-based prevention programs designed for rural and small-town middle school students. They found students who went through substance abuse prevention programs were 20 percent to 65 percent less likely to abuse prescription drugs and opioids when they were between 17 and 25 years old, compared with students who did not participate in the programs.

The programs focused on general risk and protective factors of substance abuse. “Brief universal interventions have potential for public health impact by reducing prescription drug misuse among adolescents and young adults,” the researchers wrote in theAmerican Journal of Public Health.

“The intervention effects were comparable or even stronger for participants who had started misusing substances prior to the middle school interventions, suggesting that these programs also can be successful in higher-risk groups,” lead author Richard Spoth, PhD, from the Partnerships in Prevention Science Institute at Iowa State University in Ames, said in a news release.

Nora Volkow, MD, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, noted that prescription medications can be helpful when they are prescribed to treat pain, anxiety, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. “However, their abuse can have serious consequences. We are especially concerned about prescription drug abuse among teens, who are developmentally at an increased risk for addiction,” she said.

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Informational Resources

Dear Anne,

One person dies every 19 minutes from a drug overdose in the United States and that trend is being driven by prescription (Rx) painkillers. 

But we have the power to stop the epidemic of teen medicine abuse.

As both a school nurse and a mom, I’m in a unique position to see, first hand, the issues and temptations that kids face every day. It’s my job to talk about difficult topics with my students and their parents, and this is one of them. And I know how profoundly medicine abuse can wreak havoc on the lives and families of teens.

That’s why I joined The Partnership at Drugfree.org last September to help launch The Medicine Abuse Project, where there are free tools to help both you and your school curb teen medicine abuse.

These ready-to-use resources inform parents, students and educators about the serious risks of teen prescription drug and over-the-counter cough medicine abuse and provide steps on how to take action to help teens avoid this dangerous behavior.

with the educators in your life.

I’ve made the committment to do my part: educate myself, my kids and the students and families I work with day in and day out. Join me, and together, lets cut teen medicine abuse in half by 2017.

Peggy McKibbin
Nurse and Mom
The Partnership at Drugfree.org

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Doctors Often Don’t Ask Teen Patients About Drinking

By Join Together Staff | February 5, 2013 | Leave a comment | Filed inAlcoholHealthcarePrevention & Youth

Listening to patient

Many doctors don’t ask their teenage patients about their drinking, a new study finds. A survey of 10th graders found that while more than 80 percent had seen a doctor in the past year, only 54 percent of them were asked about drinking, and 40 percent were advised about the dangers of alcohol.

The survey of more than 2,500 teenagers was conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA),MedicalXpress reports. Researchers found 34 percent of the teens said they drank alcohol in the past month. In the journal Pediatrics, lead author Ralph W. Hingson, ScD, MPH, reported 26 percent said they had binged, defined as five or more drinks in one sitting for males, and four or more for females.

“Alcohol is by far the drug of choice among youth,” NIAAA Acting Director Kenneth R. Warren, PhD, said in a news release. “The findings reported by Dr. Hingson and his colleagues indicate that we must redouble our efforts to help clinicians make alcohol screening a routine part of patient care for young people in the United States.”

In 2011, NIAAA and the American Academy of Pediatrics released atwo-question alcohol screening tool designed to help pediatricians spot children and adolescents at risk for alcohol-related problems. The doctor asks about the patient’s own drinking, as well as his or her friends’ alcohol use. The tool walks the doctor through the steps to take when patients say they or their friends drink, and helps them assess the level of risk for current and future alcohol problems.

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Many Parents Not Concerned About Children’s Misuse of Narcotics

By Join Together Staff | January 28, 2013 | Leave a comment | Filed in Parenting, Prescription Drugs & Youth

A survey of parents finds just one-third are very concerned about the misuse of prescribed narcotic pain medicine by children and teens in their community, according to HealthDay. Only one-fifth are very concerned about the misuse of these drugs in their own families. The national survey of more than 1,300 parents with children ages 15 to 17 was conducted by the University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital. According to the findings, 38 percent of black parents, 26 percent of Hispanic parents, and 13 percent of white parents are very concerned about the misuse of narcotic painkillers in their own families. Misuse of these medicines has been shown to be three times higher among white teens than black or Hispanic teens, according to the researchers. They found 41 percent of parents favor a policy that would require a doctor’s visit to obtain refills on these medications. About half said they do not support a requirement that unused pain medicines be returned to a doctor or pharmacy. According to the survey, 66 percent of respondents strongly support requiring parents to show identification when they pick up narcotic painkillers for their children, and 57 percent strongly support policies that would ban obtaining prescriptions for the medicines from more than one doctor. “Recent estimates are that one in four high school seniors have ever used a narcotic pain medicine. However, parents may downplay the risks of narcotic pain medicine because they are prescribed by a doctor,” Sarah Clark, Associate Director of the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the University of Michigan, said in a news release. “However, people who misuse narcotic pain medicine are often using drugs prescribed to themselves, a friend or a relative. That ‘safe’ prescription may serve as a readily accessible supply of potentially lethal drugs for children or teens.”

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Seeking “Higher” Ground: The Dangers of Designer Drugs

By Harry Leider | January 22, 2013 |  Comments2n Scientific American.Com

 

Since ancient times, humans have been fascinated with ways to alter consciousness, and have gone to great lengths to reach a “higher” ground.  From naturally occurring substances such as opium and betel nuts, to synthetic drugs like LSD, people have long experimented with mind-altering substances. This long history of experimentation with psychoactive substances even pre-dates the existence of the word “drug.”

For example, Native Americans’ use of mescaline, extracted from peyote cacti, began as long as 5,700 years ago. Use of the Betel nut – the seed of a palm tree fruit – to alter consciousness may not be well-known in the U.S., but this practice has existed for thousands of years. In fact, it is estimated that among intoxicants, only nicotine, alcohol and caffeine are more popular globally than chewing Betel nut extract.

But the latest wave of man-made drugs, or “designer drugs,” carries new and very real dangers.  For both the individuals using them and the general public, so-called designer drugs like “bath salts,” “K2” or “spice” quickly have become a public health crisis, and their use is on the rise.  Their danger is related to the potent effect these drugs can have on the human nervous system.  For example,  “bath salts” (chemically known as synthetic cathinones) combine the dangerous properties of both a potent stimulant and a hallucinogen.  “K2” is a type of synthetic marijuana (the active compound is THC) and is dangerous because it can be more potent than the naturally occurring plant.

These new designer drugs are proliferating because in many states they are sold “legally.” This is possible because they are deliberately designed with an alteration to the molecular structure of an existing drug — to avoid classification as an illicit drug.

Despite their recent proliferation, “designer drugs”  are not really new – the term was coined by law enforcement in the 1980s, and widely recognized drugs like LSD, ecstasy and methamphetamines fall into this category.  The latest generation of designer drugs includes synthetic cathinones (commonly labeled with harmless-sounding monikers like “bath salts” or “plant food”), which are structurally and pharmacologically similar to cocaine, methamphetamines and ecstasy (MDMA). Synthetic cannabinoids, often branded as “Spice”  or “K2,” are chemically engineered to mimic marijuana.  There are many other potent designer drugs with names like Europa and Smiles that are increasing in use. Many of these designer drugs are available legally in drug paraphernalia stores, convenience stores or even via the Internet.  That’s right, legally. Like many cyber sales, delivered to your door with free shipping.

Law enforcement officials are increasing efforts to monitor for and curtail the use of these dangerous drugs.   For example, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) now includes three synthetic cathinones on its Schedule 1 list of controlled substances and several of the chemicals found in synthetic cannabinoids are banned under the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act of 2012. But many similar compounds are not yet classified as illegal and in some cases they have not even been identified. This is because the “chemists” who produce designer drugs make incremental alterations to the drugs’ chemical make-up, dodging Schedule 1 or illegal classification on a technicality, and thereby claiming to provide a “legal” high.

For law enforcement officials and regulators, keeping up with these chemists is a game of cat-and-mouse, with potentially deadly consequences. Bath salts carry a high risk of overdose and addiction, chest pains, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia, and delusions1.  Reported side effects of K2 and Spice include paranoia, panic attacks, giddiness and psychotic episodes.2 Despite these risks, their use is on the rise at an alarming rate.  In 2011, the National Poison Control Centers received more than 6,000 calls about synthetic cathinones (including bath salts), compared to only 300 in 20103.  The American Association of Poison Control Calls reported a 58 percent increase in the number of calls related to synthetic marijuana and/or K2/Spice in just one year – from 2,906 calls in 2010 to 6,959 calls in 2011.4

To make matters worse, the popularity of these drugs is fueled by the frequent claim that standard urine drug screens will not detect their presence. Luckily, there is a new solution that can detect these substances.

Sophisticated laboratory technologies using mass spectrometry assays of urine specimens can identify the vast majority of legal and illegal drugs ingested, since most small molecules have metabolites (i.e., break down products) that are excreted by the kidneys and into the urine. Mass spectrometry assays currently used to detect and monitor use of powerful pain medications (e.g. opioids) can be mobilized to help physicians and regulators, such as the DEA, detect these new designer drugs.

Specialty laboratories are using these advanced technologies to anticipate new chemical formulations and launch new tests to detect dangerous substances.  For example, long before bath salts were a problem in the U.S., the United Kingdom was struggling with increasing rates of overdose and death due to synthetic cathinones.  Reports from British physicians, and the laboratory scientists, prompted U.S.-based scientists to develop new tests that would detect multiple synthetic cathinones – even variations that were not yet classified by DEA as Schedule 1 substances.

Because physicians are on the front lines –  typically seeing the effects of designer drugs in the emergency room, office examination room, or hospital – drug monitoring using mass spectrometry is a critical tool to identify and prevent the use of designer drugs.  Consequently, physicians are increasingly relying on specialty laboratories to help identify the compounds present in patients who are taking controlled medications who are at risk for drug misuse or abuse.

Tackling the threat to public health posed by the proliferation of designer drugs will require efforts from multiple stakeholders.   Policymakers are beginning to take important action.  In addition to the national ban on several types of synthetic drugs signed this summer by President Obama, both New Jersey and Washington, D.C., have enacted similar bans in recent weeks.5,6 But the new laws will not save lives without additional action and support.

Regulators and the DEA could make better use of advanced drug detection technologies to more quickly classify new designer drugs as illegal.  Insurance companies must be encouraged to support these efforts by ensuring reimbursement for specialty labs, so that doctors have access to the best technology available to detect and identify designer drug compounds. Data about drug use trends must be provided to the DEA and physicians to educate clinicians on any new dangerous drugs – and physicians must be vigilant in testing patients who are at risk for drug abuse and misuse.  Finally, the public must be educated about this dangerous category of drugs – especially because users commonly assume that if a drug is not technically “illegal,” it is safe to use.

In summary, we have a new major public health threat that represents just the latest step in man’s creative pursuit of new ways to get high.  History tells us that we can’t completely eliminate this threat, but by pooling our knowledge and streamlining legal and regulatory processes, we can succeed in reducing the threat of designer drugs and enhancing public safety. It is the collective responsibility of public agencies, specialty labs, physicians, regulators, and health insurers to pool their knowledge and resources to help improve individuals’ safety and the safety of the communities they live in.

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NYPD Use Decoy Pill Bottles to Track Pain-Pill Thieves

By Join Together Staff | January 16, 2013 | Leave a comment | Filed inCommunity RelatedPrescription Drugs & Prevention
Pharmacist 1-16-13

The New York Police Department has announced it will put decoy pill bottles with tracking devices on pharmacy shelves, in an effort to track stolen painkillers. The fake bottles will appear to contain oxycodone, The New York Times reports.

The bottles will not actually contain painkillers, but will have a GPS device. “We would anticipate the burglar and robber will take numerous bottles, and among them will be the bait bottle,” said the department’s chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne.

The fake bottles rattle when they are shaken, as if they contained pills. They sit on a special base. When the bottle is lifted from the base, it starts to send out a tracking signal.

The department hopes to have the program in place by March, and is asking all of the city’s 1,800 pharmacies to participate.

Purdue Pharma, which makes OxyContin, developed the bottles. They are already being used in some pharmacies around the country. Around the nation, pharmacies have been robbed by armed criminals looking for narcotics, anti-anxiety drugs and other controlled medications. Some are addicted to the drugs themselves, while others sell the pills.

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NYC Restricts Some Painkillers in Public Hospital ERs

By Join Together Staff | January 11, 2013 | Leave a comment | Filed inCommunity RelatedHealthcarePrescription Drugs & Prevention

New York City public hospitals will restrict prescriptions of some powerful painkillers in their emergency rooms, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Thursday. The new policy is designed to cut down on prescription drug abuse.

Most patients in public hospitals will no longer be able to obtain more than three days’ worth of narcotic painkillers such as Vicodin and Percocet, and will not be able to get OxyContin, Fentanyl or methadone at all. Patients will not be able to refill prescriptions that have been lost, stolen or destroyed, The New York Timesreports.

The rate of opioid painkiller-related emergency department visits nearly tripled in New York City between 2004 and 2010, according to a news release from the Mayor’s office.

“Changing practice by front line providers is key to changing the course of this epidemic,” said Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs. “While prosecutors and the law enforcement community rightly focus on those who illegally prescribe, dispense or procure painkillers, health leaders need to focus on encouraging well-meaning doctors and pharmacists to prescribe and dispense these medications safely and judiciously. Our work will proceed on all fronts to curtail the harms that come from painkiller misuse.”

Mayor Bloomberg said more than 250,000 New Yorkers over age 12 are abusing prescription painkillers.

Some critics of the new plan say it takes away the flexibility of doctors in the public health system to respond to the needs of poor and uninsured patients. “Here is my problem with legislative medicine,” Dr. Alex Rosenau, President-Elect of the American College of Emergency Physicians told the newspaper. “It prevents me from being a professional and using my judgment.” While some patients may fake pain to get a prescription, he said, others may have legitimate complaints of pain that require more than three days’ worth of painkillers.

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Synthetic Marijuana Ban Made Permanent in NJ

By Join Together Staff | November 27, 2012 | Leave a comment | Filed inCommunity RelatedDrugsLegislation & Prevention

New Jersey has made its temporary ban on synthetic marijuana permanent, state Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced Monday.

The state’s Division of Consumer Affairs banned the drug in February, for 270 days pending public input, The Star-Ledger reports. Synthetic marijuana was sold under brand names including K2, Spice and Kush, at convenience stores, gas stations and shops that sell smoking paraphernalia. The state has already permanently banned bath salts, another popular synthetic drug.

Short term effects of synthetic marijuana include loss of control, lack of pain response, increased agitation, pale skin, seizures, vomiting, profuse sweating, uncontrolled or spastic body movements, elevated blood pressure, heart rate and palpitations. The drug can also cause severe paranoia, delusions, hallucinations and increased agitation.

“These synthetic poisons, once offered as a so-called ‘legal high’ by shady retailers, are now permanently off the market in New Jersey – and the numbers indicate our ongoing ban has led to a decline in their reported use,” Attorney General Chiesa said in a news release. “These drugs have grown in popularity nationwide, despite their alarming and catastrophic side effects. Today they are permanently on record as being just as illegal as cocaine or heroin.”

In July, President Obama signed legislation that bans synthetic drugs. The law bans harmful chemicals in synthetic drugs such as those used to make synthetic marijuana and bath salts.

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