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Your Teen

Smoking and Drinking Rates Among Teens Dropping

1:30

There’s good news to report on teens’ use of alcohol and cigarettes. According to new government data, smoking and drinking among teenagers fell to new lows in 2015.

According to the data gathered, just 9.6 percent of adolescents, ages 12 to 17, reported using alcohol in 2015, down from 17.6 percent in 2002.

Far fewer adolescents smoke every day: about 20 percent in 2015, down from 32 percent in 2002.

The numbers came from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a federal agency that tracks addiction and mental health issues in the United States.

It appears that today’s teens are choosing not to follow in their parent’s footsteps, which had much higher rates of smoking and drinking when they were adolescents.

Kana Enomoto, principal deputy administrator at the agency, said the new numbers showed that rigorous public health efforts to reduce smoking and drinking among teenagers were paying off.

The survey also tracked prescription drug use and abuse, as well as the use of illegal drugs like heroin. While the trend is still down, the difference was not statistically significant from 2014, but headed in the right direction. Heroin deaths have been increasing rapidly across the country, health experts are hoping the data showing a decline in use could be an early indicator that the trend is reversing.

Prescription drug abuse is still very high in the United States. The survey found that about 119 million Americans 12 and older, or about 44 percent of that population, used prescription psychotherapeutic drugs in the past year. Of those, the vast majority — about 98 million — used pain relievers.

In all, about 19 million people age 12 and older, or about 7 percent of that population, misused prescription drugs in the past year, including about 12.5 million people who misused pain relievers.

Government funded treatment programs for drug abuse continue to lack congressional approval, frustrating mental health and drug abuse service providers.

“There’s no other condition for which we would accept the fact that less than 10 percent of people are treated,” Ms. Enomoto said.

A decrease in the numbers of teens drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes is really a welcomed change. Smoking is the largest cause of preventable death in the United States, with illnesses linked to it taking more than 480,000 lives a year.

Research indicates that alcohol use during the teenage years could interfere with normal adolescent brain development and increase the risk of developing an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD.) In addition, underage drinking contributes to a range of acute consequences, including injuries, sexual assaults, and even deaths—including those from car crashes.

No one wants to see his or her son or daughter become one more sad statistic.  Family support and treatment availability are key in helping our young people live healthier and happier lives.

Story source: Sabrina Tavernise,

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/09/science/smoking-and-drinking-rates-among-us-teenagers-fall-to-new-lows.html

https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-facts-and-statistics

 

Your Teen

Teens: Smoking Cigarettes Down, Pot Use Up

2:00

New statistics reveal that the number of American teenagers that smoke cigarettes has dropped by 64 percent in recent years. The same report also shows that the number of teens who are smoking pot has doubled.

Unfortunately, just because the percentage of kids who smoke cigarettes has dropped considerably, plenty are still lighting up. A full 30 percent of white, black and Hispanic teens smoked cigarettes, cigars or marijuana in 2013, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report. The researchers tracked teen smoking rates from 1997 to 2013.

"The nation's remarkable progress in reducing youth smoking since 1997 is great news, but the battle is far from over," said Vince Willmore, vice president for communications at Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

"This study reminds us that we know exactly what to do to further reduce smoking: increase tobacco taxes, enact smoke-free laws, fund effective prevention programs and implement hard-hitting mass media campaigns. These proven strategies must be continued and strengthened," Willmore added.

Researchers called for more targeted prevention programs and policies to get the word to adolescents out on the dangers of smoking.

Overall, the number of teens who smoked cigarettes or cigars dropped from 20.5 percent to slightly more than 7 percent, while marijuana use went from 4 percent to 10 percent, the report found.

Notably, marijuana use jumped from 51 percent to 62 percent among those teens who smoked cigarettes or cigars, the findings showed.

Marijuana use has increased as states make it either legal or more acceptable with reduced penalties.

Dr. Tim McAfee, director of CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, believes that more acceptance of marijuana as a harmless drug is driving its increased use among teens.

"Over the last 10 or 15 years, there has been a change in public perception of marijuana," he said. "There is the idea that marijuana is not something you need to worry about."

Marijuana use in teens hasn’t been researched much over the years, because it’s been illegal. Marijuana studies in adults have been going on for some time and especially during the last couple of decades. Health concerns about pot use and teens are beginning to emerge.

McAfee noted there is research showing that pot has a negative effect on developing brains and that some kids can become dependent on it.

“Nothing is being done” McAfee said, in terms of a tobacco-like campaign telling kids not to use marijuana or with information about the possible side effects.

The report was published in the October edition of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

In 2014, a study was released looking at the research done over the past 20 years on marijuana use, highlighting the drug’s adverse effects, both acute and chronic.

The study maps out exactly what marijuana does and does not do to the body and brain, both in the short and long terms. What’s clear is that marijuana has a number of adverse effects over years of use – in certain people, anyway. What’s not so clear is how policy should be informed by the science.

The acute effects show that driving while high on marijuana does seem to double the risk of a car crash, which is of course heightened if there is also alcohol in the system. Marijuana has been linked to low birth weight when it is used during pregnancy.

Otherwise, acute effects mainly include anxiety, paranoia (especially among new users), dysphoria, cognitive impairment, and psychotic symptoms (especially in people with a family history of psychosis).

Many of these particular side effects seem to have risen over the last 20 years, which may be due to the fact that the THC content in marijuana has also risen over that time.

THC is the chemical in marijuana that is most responsible for the drug’s psychological effects.

The chronic or long-term effects are much more troubling than the acute.

As in the case of nearly all-scientific studies, causation is difficult to prove – but a correlation is evident.

Here’s what the study by Wayne Hall, Director and Inaugural Chair at the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research at The University of Queensland, Australia, reveals.

  • Marijuana can be addictive. But only for some people. About 10% of all users seem to develop dependence syndrome, and for those who start in adolescence, the number is more like 1 in 6. Withdrawal syndrome is also a real phenomenon, with depression, anxiety, insomnia, and appetite disturbance being the main symptoms, which can often be severe enough to have an effect on daily life.
  • Marijuana use is linked to adverse cognitive effects. In particular, the drug is linked to reduced learning, memory, and attention. It hasn’t been entirely clear whether these effects persist after a person stops using the drug, but there’s some evidence that it does. One study found a reduction in IQ of 8 points in long-time users, the greatest decline being in people who’d started using as teenagers and continued daily into adulthood. For people who began in adulthood and eventually stopped using, a reduction in IQ was not seen a year later.
  • Marijuana may change brain structure and function.  There’s been an ongoing debate about whether marijuana actually changes the brain, but recent evidence has suggested that it is linked to changes in the hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex. It’s unclear, however, how long these effects last, whether they’re linked to behavioral changes, and whether they reverse after a person stops using the drug.
  • Regular use is linked to an increased risk of psychotic symptoms. That marijuana is linked to increased psychotic symptoms (e.g., delusions, hallucinations, disordered thinking) is fairly clear. But again, it’s been a chicken-and-egg problem, since it’s hard to show whether causation is at play, and which way the connection goes. However, it’s likely that the relationship actually goes both ways: Marijuana may lead to  psychotic symptoms, and early psychotic symptoms may  increase the likelihood that a person will smoke marijuana (particularly if there’s a family history of psychotic disorders).
  • Marijuana is linked to lower educational attainment. When pot smoking begins in adolescence, people tend to go less far in school – but again, a causal relationship hasn’t been demonstrated.
  •  Marijuana  may (or may not be) be a gateway drug. Regular teenage marijuana users are more likely to use other drugs in the future – but again, researchers don’t know whether the link is causal.
  • Marijuana is probably – but modestly – linked to schizophrenia. The study found that marijuana is connected to a doubled risk of a schizophrenia diagnosis in the future. Many previous studies have suggested this connection, but, as always, showing causality is hard. The new study cites a number of well-executed studies that suggest a causal relationship between marijuana and schizophrenia. The authors estimate that marijuana use may double the risk of schizophrenia from 7 in 1000 non-users to 14 in 1000 marijuana users. On the upside, they point out that users who quit using the drug after a first psychotic episode have fewer psychotic symptoms and better social functioning moving forward, compared to people who have a psychotic episode but continue using.
  • Marijuana may be linked to testicular cancer. Its connection to other forms of cancer is not very consistent, but there’s some evidence of an increased risk of testicular cancer in long-term marijuana users.
  • Regular users may have cardiopulmonary issues. Regular marijuana users have a higher risk of developing chronic bronchitis. Marijuana “probably” increases the risk of heart attack in middle age, but it’s hard to know for sure, since many users also smoke cigarettes.

The authors of this particular study were careful not to argue for or against the legalization of marijuana except to say that its legalization should be done with safeties in place.

This 2014 study was published in the journal Addiction.

Sources: Steven Reinberg, http://consumer.healthday.com/public-health-information-30/marijuana-news-759/fewer-teens-smoking-cigarettes-but-twice-as-many-now-smoke-pot-cdc-704275.html

Alice G. Walton, http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2014/10/07/what-20-years-of-research-has-taught-us-about-the-chronic-effects-of-marijuana/

 

 

Your Teen

Painkillers May be Gateway to Heroin Use in Teens

2:00

Heroin use is increasing among U.S. adults and adolescents at an alarming rate.  The reason appears to be linked to the high cost of prescription painkillers, their addictive properties, as well as tough laws established for prescribing and purchasing opioids. Heroin is easy to get and much cheaper and it is becoming a huge problem not only for adults but teens as well.

Three-quarters of U.S. high school students who use heroin first tried narcotic painkillers, a new survey reveals.

Survey results from nearly 68,000 high school seniors provide some clues to heroin's recent deadly path from the inner city into affluent suburbs and rural communities.

"The more times a teen uses non-prescribed painkiller pills, the greater the risk he or she is at for becoming dependent on the drug," said lead researcher Joseph Palamar, an assistant professor of population health at New York University.

"People who become dependent on painkiller pills often wind up resorting to heroin use because it's cheaper and more available than these pills," Palamar explained.

Researchers say that white students appear more likely than black or Hispanic students to start with painkillers and then move on to heroin.

Recent and frequent nonmedical painkiller use increased the odds that kids had tried heroin: More than 77 percent of teens who reported using heroin had also used narcotic painkillers, also called opioids, Palamar said.

And almost one-quarter of kids who said they'd taken narcotic painkillers more than 40 times also reported heroin use.

Palamar believes updating drug education programs will help. But kids need to get the message that these drugs put them at risk for addiction and overdose death, he said.

"The biggest problem is that many teens don't trust drug education in schools or information provided by the government," Palamar said.

Adolescents are particularly difficult to persuade that drug use can get out of control quickly. For decades, the government has taught that marijuana is just as dangerous as heroin.  Many Americans now believe that marijuana use is not dangerous and four states have legalized recreational use with others considering it.

Palamar notes that narcotic painkillers present an especially complicated situation.

"Most other drugs are illegal in all contexts, yet these drugs -- the most dangerous drugs -- are prescribed by doctors and are often sitting there in parents' medicine cabinets," Palamar said. "If teens don't believe warnings about street drugs, then why would they be afraid to use government-approved, pharmaceutical-grade pills?"

Palamar's recommendation: "We need to educate our educators, and then we need to start giving more honest and accurate information to our teens because what we're doing now isn't working."

Drug education teachers are sometimes less informed than their students "who might have learned from experience or from friends who use," he said.

The study data came from the 2009-2013 Monitoring the Future surveys. These annual questionnaires assess the behaviors, attitudes and values of students in 130 public and private U.S. high schools.

The report appeared recently in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Source: Steve Reinberg, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20151229/painkillers-often-gateway-to-heroin-for-us-teens-survey

 

 

 

 

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