Is the Current Opioid Epidemic New Though?

Is the Current Opioid Epidemic New Though?

It’s hard to turn on the news now-a-days without hearing shocking stories or statistics about the opioid crisis and how it is affecting the country. However, opioids aren’t new. If you have a headache, you take an aspirin, right? Sprained your ankle badly? The doctor will probably recommend ice and ibuprofen. Running a fever? Tylenol or Advil please. Having surgery? Well then, you’ll need some powerful painkillers for your post-surgery pain. The issue isn’t as much with the opioid itself as much as it is with how doctors began prescribing the more powerful opiates to help their patients with chronic pain.

Opioids have been around for hundreds of years. Strangely enough, this is not the first U.S. crisis that the powerful drugs have been associated with. During the Revolutionary war, an estimated 400,000 soldiers treated their pain with morphine and it is believed that this was the biggest cause for the sharp rise in opioid addiction during the early 1800’s. Similarly, over the past 20-30 years, the opioid epidemic has come roaring back and has devastated lives and communities across the country.
While it is easy to point fingers, and there is plenty of blame to go around, it is important to understand that the opioid epidemic did not begin solely because drug companies got greedy, or because doctors turned into reckless pill prescribers overnight. Just like during the Revolutionary War, it began with empathetic doctors who were just trying to alleviate the suffering of people dealing with chronic, and sometimes terminal, pain. However, what started off with good intentions quickly turned into a wild fire of unintentional abuse and overprescribing by physicians.

Back in the day, the more popular opiates like heroin and morphine had unhygienic stigmas attached to them. People were scared to inject themselves with needles and/or share intravenous drugs with other people for fear of diseases or aesthetic blemishes. During the past 30 years or so though, that’s changed. Some of the most powerful opiates are now produced in pill form and that has led to a decreased stigma behind their use. Drugs like Fentanyl (which is almost as much as 50 times more powerful than pure heroin, and the same drug that killed the artist formerly known as Prince) and Oxycodone have replaced heroin and morphine as the drugs of choice among the users that can afford it. Those who can’t afford it, or whose insurance will no longer cover their pain prescriptions, are relegated to shooting heroin or morphine intravenously to get their fix.

 

The New York Times recently reported that the number of drug overdose deaths exceeded 59,000 in 2016. The incredible rise in the death toll from 2015 represents the largest annual jump ever recorded in the United States (19%) and is just one of the major consequences of an escalating opioid epidemic that is now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50. If Congress and Senate leadership don’t do something soon, these numbers will continue to rise explosively and the opiate crisis will soon turn into a plague.

Are Teens Replacing Drugs with Technology

Are Teens Replacing Drugs with Technology?

Despite being in the midst of an opioid epidemic, the increase in popularity of deadly synthetic drugs and the almost nationwide legalization of marijuana, something interesting has begun to take place over the course of the past ten years. Teenagers across the U.S. are becoming less and less likely to try and regularly use drugs and alcohol. Researchers have noticed this trend building for about a decade now, but have no clear answer as to why. Most attribute the decline in cigarette smoking as the primary reason. Citing that since cigarette smoking is a gateway to other drugs, and less kids are smoking cigarettes, less kids are entering the gateway to using alcohol and illegal drugs. Others believe that years of antidrug youth education campaigns have finally begun to work. However, there are some who have an entirely different theory.

Could it be that teens are spending so much time plugged into their smartphones, either texting, playing games, or on social media, that there’s no time left for drugs or alcohol? It’s not as farfetched of an idea as you might initially think given that the use of smartphones and tablets have exploded during the same period that teen drug use has declined. This doesn’t necessarily mean that one behavior is the specific cause of the other, but scientists say that interactive media appears to have replaced drug experimentation by providing similar impulses, including sensation-seeking and the desire for independence. It could just be that our interactive gadgets take up a lot of the time that could be used for other activities, including partying and doing drugs or alcohol. Researchers have found that the use of marijuana among 8th and 10th graders is down over the past decade despite its social acceptability being up, and though marijuana use has risen among 12th graders, the use of cocaine, hallucinogens, and ecstasy are all down

On the surface, this sounds like good news. However, some social media critics believe that drug and alcohol use haven’t declined because kids today are behaving better, or are more cautious than they used to be, but because they’re simply spending less time hanging out with their peers, developing their social skills and learning about each other. Instead, teens today are spending more time alone staring at their phones than ever before and are growing more and more socially-isolated. Is social media is serving teens with a dose of interactive methadone? Social media is too new for us really have a grasp on its long-term effects, but several studies over the past few years have shown that it’s abuse has already been linked to depression and insomnia

Have we now reached a point where teenagers have replaced alcohol and illegal drugs with Snapchat and Instagram?

 

BTRU2U.ORG Featured on NBC & CBS

BTRU2U.ORG Featured on CBS Miami & NBC

We were fortunate to partner this morning with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the State Attorney’s Office to hold a press conference about our BTRU2U Prevention Campaign.  BTRU2U is a countywide campaign that aims to prevent alcohol and substance abuse and impaired driving. This new partnership provides innovative and evidence based substance abuse prevention programs and strategies that are the foundation of a sustained public health and wellness community model.  Please see the CBSMiami.com article and the NBC News press conference link below.

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – With Spring Break for Miami-Dade school students just around the corner, Mothers Against Drunk Driving has launched a new campaign to stress the dangers of drinking and driving.

The BTru2U campaign is a collaboration between MADD, the State Attorney’s Office, and The Miami Coalition for a Safe and Drug-Free Community.

Jenny Reyes, 22, knows the deadly results of drinking and driving first hand.

On the morning of January 21st, 2015, her father, Walter Reyes, was cycling on the Rickenbacker Causeway, training for the Dolphins Cancer Challenge, when he was struck and killed by a drunk driver. Alejandro Alvarez, 21, was reportedly returning home after a night of drinking on Miami Beach when the accident happened.

“Wednesday morning at this time I was understanding my life had just changed, all the plans we had after 25 years of marriage, all gone that day because of a 21-year-old who should have known better,” said Reyes’ widow Maribel.
“I have forgotten what my father’s laugh sounds like,” said Jenny Reyes, ” he had such a deep, contagious laugh.”
MADD says parents, not peers, are the biggest influence on a young person’s decision to not drink and drive or ride with someone who has been drinking.

“Please remember this, one in three young people admit to getting in a car with a drinking driver,” said MADD’s Helen Witty.

Jenny Reyes and her mother said they share their heartbreaking story to prevent tragedies like there’s from happening.
“We open the wound over and over again because what we are trying to do is to make sure that people understand and realize this is not a video game, there is no do over, you don’t get another life once the choices are made, that is it,” said Jenny Reyes.

One of the big events during this year’s campaign will be PowerTalk 21 Day, April 21st, which is the group’s national day for parents to begin conversations with their kids about alcohol.

Seventy-four percent of kids (8-17) said their parents are the leading influence on their decisions about drinking.

MADD adds that parents must not only talk about the dangers of underage drinking but set a good example by not doing it themselves or with their kids.

A nationwide survey by MADD in 2016 found that 80 percent of parents said they had talked to their children about the dangers of riding with a drinking driver. However, 43 percent of parents admitted to having a drink or two at dinner and then driving their children home in the past year, and one in four parents admitted to riding with a drinking driver in the past year.

A study by Pennsylvania State University’s Department of Biobehavioral Health found that students are more willing to ride with a drinking driver if they see their parents do so.

7 Tips to Help Teens Prevent Underage Alcohol & Drug Abuse

Prevent underage alcohol and drug use

7 Tips to Help Teens

7 Tips to Help Teens Prevent Underage Alcohol & Drug Abuse

Even though it may seem like it, not everyone is “doing it.” A recent nationwide survey conducted by “Monitoring the Future” (MTF), found that just about 53.3% of high school seniors have never tried alcohol or illegal drugs.
Here are 7 tips to help teens to deal with the challenges associated with underage drinking and drug use:

Step 1: Birds of a Feather – The people that we spend our time with can heavily influence our decisions, and you may be at increased risk if you hang around others who routinely drink alcohol, smoke marijuana, abuse prescription drugs or use illegal drugs.

Step 2: Think Ahead – Don’t become a victim of someone else’s alcohol or drug abuse. Make sure that there is someone you can call, day or night, if you need them to pick you up. Also, create a plan in advance for attending parties, or going out with your friends and inform your parents about them so that you are on the same page.

Step 3: Don’t Be Afraid, Say “No” – The fear of a negative reaction from one of our friends, or someone we’ve recently met, keeps us from thinking clearly and doing what we know is right sometimes. Don’t let someone else force a decision that they have made for their life onto yours. Say NO!

Step 4: Talk to Mom & Dad…or an Aunt or Uncle – Having people close to you that you can rely on creates a support system that can help you make tough decisions about alcohol and drugs. The opportunity to benefit from someone else’s life experiences can be invaluable and will only help you to put things into perspective.

Step 5: Educate Yourself –  Don’t rely on the myths and misconceptions that are floating around amongst your friends, or the internet. Educating yourself increases your ability to make the right decisions, at the right time. As you learn, share what you’ve learned with your friends and your family so that they too can be empowered. See educational resources here.

Step 6: Speak Up, Speak Out & Take Control –  Take responsibility of your life, your health and your safety.  Speak up about what alcohol and drugs are doing to your friends and your community, and encourage others to do the same. If you, or someone you know, is having trouble with alcohol or drugs, get help now. Don’t wait!

Step 7: Don’t Include Alcohol or Drugs – Learn how to enjoy life without incorporating alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and drugs can change who you are and limit your life’s potential. If you find that you have extra time that you may be spending unwisely, get involved in school and community activities such as music, sports, arts, or even volunteering.

These 7 tips to help teens will not only limit the amount of exposure to situations associated with drugs and/or alcohol, but they will also help to empower you so that you can help others to do the same. If you think that you, or a friend, may have a problem with alcohol or drug abuse, please don’t hesitate to contact us for help right now. (305) 273-3744 Ext. 7232

6 Tips for Parents to Help Prevent Underage Alcohol & Drug Abuse

Parentinng Tips | Keep your kids off drugs

6 Tips for Parents to Help Prevent Underage Alcohol & Drug Abuse

It is difficult as parents to consistently monitor what our teens are doing throughout the day, every day. And it has definitely gotten increasingly more difficult to expect kids to refrain from underage abuse of alcohol and drugs without being properly armed with the right social tools. As parents, we are always trying to insulate our kids from these evils, but it is definitely an uphill battle.
Here are a 6 tips for parents to help create a plan that will help prevent underage drinking and/or drug abuse in their household.

Step 1: Discuss Expectations – It is important that you constantly speak with your children about what your expectations are regarding their behavior toward drugs and alcohol, and then work as closely with them to help meet those expectations.

Step 2: Be Open, or Be Shutout – Although it is much easier said than done, keep your communication open about alcohol use. An overreaction to bad news about alcohol use by your, or other, teens in your community, and you’re likely not to get the full story the next time a similar subject is brought up. The more your teen is willing to talk with you about alcohol, the better the chances that he or she will not drink.

Step 3: Self Esteem is Critical – Helping your children develop a strong sense of self-esteem, as well as the necessary social skills to withstand peer pressure, will help them avoid situations where they feel compelled to drink. Always let them know they are loved and valued.

Step 4: Spend Time with Your Children – Spend as much time with your children as you can. Let them know that you are aware of alcohol use within the school community, and that you know that they may be encouraged to drink alcohol by their peers. However, always be encouraging and implore them to make smart decisions.

Step 5: Make a Pledge – Make an alcohol-free pledge with your children throughout the duration of their high school years and constantly remind them about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse, including the lethal effect of binge drinking. Suggest other ways for them to deal with stress and emotional problems and provide support for them throughout their challenges.

Step 6: Set Consequences – It’s important that kids understand that every decision they make has consequences. Don’t allow them to think they that are “getting away” with behavior that your family has deemed as unacceptable.

 

6 Tips for Parents

According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, more than 6 million young people reported that they have engaged in binge drinking. It is not hard to see why, when you see how teenagers are bombarded with advertising and subliminal messaging. When a teenager sees a beer ad, where the men and women are dancing and having a great time – and then the screen pans to a shot of their beers prominently displayed, and being consumed by these people who are having the times of their lives, it is difficult for them to forget that and focus on how bad alcohol is “supposed” to be for their health.

So, it is our job to consistently use the tools like the 6 tips for parents above to help our teenagers to abstain from alcohol and drug abuse.

If you think that your teen may have a problem with alcohol or drug abuse, please don’t hesitate to contact us for help right now. (305) 273-3744 Ext. 7232