Officials fight binge drinking through 'That Guy' campaign

9/22/2008 - WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- Now in its third year, a campaign managed by officials with the Military Health Systems and the Tricare military health plan continues the effort of Defense Department leaders to reduce excessive and binge drinking among 18 to 24 year olds serving in the armed forces.

The "That Guy" campaign has two goals: to reduce alcohol abuse and to raise awareness of the negative short-term social consequences of excessive drinking.

It was developed in response to findings of the DOD's survey of health-related behaviors, said Chuck Watkins, the "That Guy" campaign program manager. The "That Guy" campaign tells cautionary tales of excessive drinking and its consequences in a way to which young servicemembers can relate.

Mr. Watkins, who has been involved for the past three years on the harm-reduction campaign, said its style is unlike that of other health-promotion campaigns.

Its use of edgy humor and peer-to-peer mentoring captures the essence of who "That Guy" is and ways to prevent abusing alcohol and becoming the subject of ridicule, he said.

"Most recently, the survey detected there has been an uptick in binge drinking among junior enlisted of about 2 percent, and now about 56 percent of junior enlisted said they have engaged in binge drinking at least once in the past month," Mr. Watkins said.
"'That Guy' is anyone who, after drinking an excessive amount of alcohol, loses their self control," he said. "This frequently has humiliating or embarrassing results, and some of us may be older (than) 18 to 24 and have been 'That Guy' perhaps in our distant past."

DOD surveys have found that while men are more likely to engage in binge drinking, it can apply to anyone who, because of excessive drinking, "behaves in a manner where your friends just don't want to be around you or copy you," Mr. Watkins said.

Early data shows that attitudes are changing, he noted.

"That early data does indicate that attitudes ... toward excessive drinking have begun to shift in a positive direction," Mr. Watkins said.

Offering support, particularly for servicemembers who recently have returned from combat, is part of educating them on the negative health consequences of excessive drinking, he said.

"Deployment is definitely a risk factor for disorders such as anxiety and binge drinking, and each of the four armed services have several programs that address these programs both through prevention and treatment," he said.

Small and large military installations around the world actively participate in the "That Guy" program.

"We have nearly 150 installations that are involved that range from the giant installations to the smallest," Mr. Watkins said.

The campaign is based on social marketing research concerning changing behaviors, Watkins emphasized, and is not an abstinence campaign. He added that officials want people to think before they take their next drink and to avoid becoming "That Guy."

"The aim is to raise awareness, and ultimately change drinking behavior among the targeted audience," he said. "An example is while most people agree that drinking and driving is unacceptable, maybe they don't feel that same way about getting just totally wasted, as long as they don't harm anyone other than themselves. But what we are trying to do is point that out and promote peer disapproval about out-of-control behavior."
source: Air Force Link,


Local leaders celebrate expanded halfway house

“A miracle has happened in this part of Southern Indiana.”

Help available for men recovering from drug and alcohol addiction in the area will increase, as Serenity House cut the ribbon on the first phase of its recovery complex Friday afternoon.

The new building, near Interstate 65 and Stansifer Avenue on Homestead Lane, ups the halfway house’s capacity from 24 beds to 48 beds. Local officials and contributors celebrated the expansion during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“It’s a wonderful facility,” said Judge Vicki Carmichael, who presides over Clark County Superior Court No. 1. “And Serenity House has always done a great job.”

“The countless lives that will be touched by this facility is just unreal,” said Herb Bass, president of Serenity House’s board.

He noted that when the halfway home opened more than 30 years ago, it served only eight people. But through the years, those who have gone through the program have become productive members of society.

“By doubling capacity, we hope to be having the same type of success that we’ve had,” he said.

Mayor Tom Galligan acknowledged that some people don’t like having such places in the community, but he believes it to be an asset for the city.

“Without them, our community wouldn’t be as good as it is,” he said. “Every time we help somebody, we help our community.”

The 24 residents at its old location, on Sunset Drive, have already moved to the new facility. Bass believes the rest of the beds will fill quickly and that a waiting list will likely develop.

Serenity House requires its residents to hold full-time jobs. They also have to abide by a curfew and rules have to be adhered to in order to continue living there, said Executive Director Mick McFarland.

The complex shows them basic ways to live and how to have fun without drinking and drugs, he said. Most come to the recovery complex through the court system or other treatment programs.

Rent is $71 per week, which includes meals and extras such as laundry detergent. The project has taken at least six years to come to fruition.

Financing has been the largest hurdle, along with problems getting the state to release land it owned in the area.

About $2.5 million was raised for construction. Another wing is being planned, which will serve as a meeting house for those living at the facility and those who have graduated from the program.

Another $1.5 million is needed for that part of the complex.
source: News and Tribune,


AA hosts convention to celebrate 20 years in Torrevieja

The English-speaking group of Alcoholics Anonymous in Torrevieja celebrated its 20th birthday on September 6.

A number of visitors, primarily from the UK and Ireland, together with other English-speaking AA members from the rest of Spain, joined local members to celebrate this special anniversary.

The group in Torrevieja started in 1988, initially with meetings at an urbanisation on the outskirts of the town, La Siesta. The founding member, then in her early months of sobriety, often sat alone waiting for others to come along, which they eventually did, usually visitors from the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia.

She still lives on the Costa Blanca, although not in Torrevieja, and remains in AA to this day. Her continuing sobriety is just one example of how the programme of AA works for those with a genuine desire to stop drinking and who are willing to work its universal 12-step programme of recovery.

Continuing the traditions of the fellowship founded in the USA in 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous in Torrevieja and on the Costa Blanca has expanded dramatically over the last six years. In the last 20 years, many already sober alcoholics have moved permanently to the area, bringing with them their AA experience of living life without the need to drink, one day at a time, and sharing this with newcomers – that is how AA works. They have been joined by a growing number who have found freedom from their obsession with alcohol for the first time by attending AA meetings and working the famous 12-step programme. Members’ stories, periodically published in The Euro Weekly News, reveal the varying depths to which alcoholics sink before surrendering and seeking help. There is no need for an alcoholic to end their drinking ‘career’ alone, destitute or institutionalised, but it can happen, unless they recognise earlier that they have become, or are clearly becoming, a slave to drink.

In this year alone, local newspapers have reported the deaths of two expats evidently as a result of prolonged alcohol abuse – further evidence of the need for a strong AA presence within the English-speaking community in the area.

Many members first come to AA as a result of persistent pressure from their partners, family or friends. Perhaps this is not the best motive for going to an AA meeting, but, by identifying with all or part of the stories they hear from members, they continue to attend for their own well-being and, by doing so, improve the quality of their home life. By 2001, global membership of AA was, conservatively, estimated at two million people attending meetings organised by 100,800 groups in 150 countries. It is a fully self-supporting organisation, actively declining donations or assistance from outside its own membership.
source: Euro Weekly News


Getting over addiction

Addiction to drugs and alcohol is a devastating problem in the U.S., and overcoming it is no easy task.

Now, Central New Yorkers in recovery have another resource to rely on.
Friends of Recovery is an organization founded to provide an outlet and networking opportunities to those recovering from addiction. Formed in 2007, the local affiliate of the national organization states as its mission to “provide social, recreational and educational activities to support people in recovery as well as their families and friends.”

“There are people in recovery in all walks of life,” said Kimberly Sacco, executive director of the Syracuse-Onondaga Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission, one of the partners in Friends of Recovery. “We want to provide as many resources as we can in the community.”

Friends of Recovery is the result of a collaboration between numerous community organizations, including the Syracuse-Onondaga Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission, the Prevention Network, Crouse Hospital, Syracuse Teen Challenge, Tully Hill Chemical Dependency Treatment Center, Rescue Mission, Altamont Treatment and the Center for Community Alternatives.

“It’s really a community collaboration,” Sacco said. “A lot of different groups work together to make it happen.”

The group, which is free, is open to everyone, whether they are recovering from addiction, have a family member or friend in recovery or just want to help out with events, mailings and other activities.
“It’s open to anybody who wants to be a part of that support system,” Sacco said, “and anybody who feels like they need support.”

Sacco said no particular recovery program is advocated by Friends of Recovery.
“Nothing is pushed,” she said. “We recognize faith-based programs, 12-step programs – we’re sort of non-denominational. Anything that works for people.”
The local organization was founded last September, Sacco said.

“In recognition of National Recovery Month, OASAS [New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services] sponsored a luncheon at LeMoyne Manor in Liverpool,” she said. “The state wanted to expand their programs. Previously, the focus had been on treatment, then on prevention. The state wanted to focus on recovery and complete that triad.”

In order to come up with a program to address recovery services, people from across Onondaga County met for a brainstorming session.
“The goal was to set up places and organizations around the state for people in recovery to get services,” Sacco said.

Friends of Recovery was established as just such a resource. With an $11,000 grant from the Onondaga County Department of Mental Health, the group has been able to hold events, like their first, a family bowling night in November of 2007 that attracted some 500 people. They also host an annual Recovery Day celebration at the Inner Harbor; this year’s event took place on Saturday Sept. 13.

Friends of Recovery holds meetings on the second Wednesday of every month at which they discuss various programs and welcome addiction professionals as speakers. The meetings alternate between afternoons – 12 to 1:30 p.m. – and evenings – 5:30 to 7 p.m. – in order to accommodate anyone interested in coming. All meetings and events take place at the Salvation Army building, 667 South Salina St., Syracuse.
In addition to its regular meetings, Friends of Recovery has begun holding coffee hours at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of every month.

“It’s just an opportunity for a cup of coffee and some networking and fellowship with other people,” Sacco said. “You can come and just sit and drink coffee, or you can meet other people. There’s no agenda.”
The organization also offers family movie nights on the last Friday of the month.
“It’s a family event,” Sacco said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

The goal of the group is to not only provide support for those in recovery and their families, but also to remove the stigma attached to addiction.
“Addiction is recognized as a disease,” Sacco said. “Recovery from addiction is just like recovery from cancer or heart disease. You’re just as much a survivor for coming through that.”
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The nine personality types of heavy drinkers revealed

London, Sept 17 : If you think that alcohol drinkers are of only two kinds, that is, normal and alcoholics, then here's a piece of information: Britain's health bosses have identified nine different personality types.

The Brit government researchers have analysed people's social and psychological characteristics who regularly drink twice the recommended guidelines of alcohol.

They found that the personality types ranged from depressives who drink at home alone, to macho exhibitionists who spend almost every evening in the pub.

The information will be used to devise public health campaigns to target those who are putting themselves at risk of alcohol-related illnesses that cost the NHS in England about 2.7billion pounds a year.

"This will be a tough one to crack. Research found many positive associations with alcohol among the general public - even more so among those drinking at higher-risk levels," Telegraph quoted a DoH spokesman, as saying.

"For these people alcohol is embedded in their identity and lifestyle: so much so that challenging this behaviour results in high levels of defensiveness, rejection or even outright denial," the rep added.

The nine personality types of heavy drinkers are:

1 "De-stress drinkers" use alcohol to regain control of life and calm down.

2 "Conformist drinkers" are driven by the need to belong and seek a structure to their lives.

3"Boredom drinkers" consume alcohol to pass the time, seeking stimulation to relieve the monotony of life.

4 "Depressed drinkers" may be of any age, gender or socioeconomic group.

5 "Re-bonding drinkers" are driven by a need to keep in touch with people who are close to them.

6 "Community drinkers" are motivated by the need to belong.

7 "Hedonistic drinkers" crave stimulation and want to abandon control. They are often divorced people with grown-up children, who want to stand out from the crowd.

8 "Macho drinkers" spend most of their spare time in pubs.

9 "Border dependents" regard the pub as a home from home.


New alcopops sneak around tax

THE maker of leading alcopop brands such as Vodka Cruiser and Pulse has found a way around the tax on premixed drinks: using alcohol derived from lower-taxed beer to attract younger drinkers back to the sweet stuff.

The arrival of the first Australian "malternative", as they are dubbed overseas, comes as nationwide alcohol consumption figures obtained by the Herald show the tax rise on ready-to-drink beverages in April is having a massive impact on sales and the broader consumption of alcohol.

The number of standard drinks consumed each week has fallen by 3 million since the alcopop tax rise, says a confidential report sent this week to key players in the alcohol industry by the research group Nielsen.

Leading suppliers in the once booming premixed category have been stunned by the collapse in sales since May, a trend confirmed in Nielsen's figures this week, which show there were 7 million fewer premixed standard drinks consumed between May and July compared with the same time last year.

While the figures show spirit and beer consumption is up, they have not offset the overall decline in alcohol consumption led by the stampede away from premixes.

"The total number of packaged liquor standard drinks has declined at a faster rate since the introduction of the [ready-to-drink] tax increase," Nielsen says.

The Federal Opposition has said it will block the tax in the Senate.

While premixed drink sales are down 26.2 per cent, spirits are up by 2.9 million standard drinks a week over the same period and beer is up by 1.1 million standard drinks a week.

But Nielsen's figures show the increase in beer and spirits consumption is still 3 million standard drinks less than the same time last year.

And it is why some in the spirits industry are very worried about disappearing profits.

One of the biggest players, Independent Distillers, told the Herald yesterday that it was about to launch Bolt, a "malternative" in three sweet flavours - raspberry, passionfruit and blueberry - designed to appeal to younger drinkers.

Bolt will be up to $25 a carton cheaper than spirits premixes because it is made with alcohol derived from beer - with all the beer taste characteristics stripped out during production.

A spokesman for Independent Distillers said it was not using a loophole in the new tax regime to launch a cheaper type of premixed beverage, but said it highlighted the problems of taxing spirits at a higher rate than beer.

Packaged beer is taxed at $39.40 a litre of pure alcohol while ready-to-drink beverages carry an impost of $66.70 a litre of pure alcohol.

Critics, however, said the "malternatives" and spirit premixes were developed to exploit the sweeter taste preferences of younger people and needed higher taxes to deal with social issues such as binge drinking.

Since the alcopops tax increase:

- Sales in bottle shops have dropped by 7 million standard drinks a week, or 26.2 per cent

- Spirit sales have risen by 2.9 million standard drinks a week

- Packaged beer sales have risen by 1.1 million standard drinks a week

- Total liquor sales have fallen by 3 million standard drinks a week.
Source: Nielsen

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Florida colleges target binge drinking

On any given night, a University of Central Florida student can drink without a lot of money, difficulty or limits.

Bars on the outskirts of campus offer “Two-dollar Tuesdays,” “Wasted Wednesdays,” “Bombs Away Fridays” or even specials challenging students to slam down 60 shots of beer in 60 minutes.

“We’re out four times a week, at least,” said Alex Bozinta, 21, who ordered three drinks at a popular bar recently so she wouldn’t have to fight the crowd as often. “We drink and drink. As long as you get drunk, it’s fun.”

As classes and football games began for a new season, UCF and universities throughout Florida have been creating more stringent rules that attempt to curb underage drinking, as well as its dangerous counterpart: binge drinking.
“The problem isn’t when you start drinking, it’s how much you start drinking,” said Tom Hall, UCF’s director of alcohol and other drug-prevention programming. “When you have a culture that supports excessive alcohol use, you have a problem.”

College campuses around the country are challenged as studies and experience show students above and below the legal age guzzling unprecedented amounts of alcohol.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that 1,700 college students between ages 18 and 24 die of alcohol-related causes each year, while about 600,000 suffer from alcohol-related injuries.

Nearly 25 percent of all college students report academic consequences of drinking, including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers and receiving lower grades overall, the study found.

For UCF’s part, the school banned alcoholic beverages at Knights football games. Anyone caught drinking can be ejected from the stadium, and underage drinkers may be arrested. Tailgate drinking, however, is permitted in parking lots from 7 a.m. until game time.

But college leaders agree campuses can’t be the only place students are punished for alcohol abuse. Universities are pushing parents, students, vendors and community groups to help young drinkers understand their limits.

“There are so many sources and so many places where students get ideas about alcohol,” said Chris Franzetti, assistant director of health promotion for Florida State University. “Whether it’s easy access, inconsistent laws and policies or behaviors learned from home, we all have a part in it.”

At the University of Florida in Gainesville, named the nation’s No. 1 party school, the problem might be at its worst.

Trustees there are poised to approve a ban on drinking games, kegs and “beer balls,” which hold the equivalent of 55 beer cans. Other Florida universities have similar policies.

UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said the school had four or five alcohol-related deaths several years ago, which prompted the school to revise the student code with changes that likely will take effect this fall.

“That was a wakeup call that we need to do something,” Sikes said.

One new policy bans activities that encourage alcohol abuse: Drinking games, kegs and the beer balls would be prohibited.

Last week, University of South Florida officials banned daytime drinking at a new on-campus bar and grill. Students and employees were found drinking between classes and during lunch.

In July, more than 100 university presidents — including leaders at Duke, Johns Hopkins and Ohio State — signed a proposal to support lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18.

“A culture of dangerous, clandestine ’binge-drinking’ often conducted off campus has developed,” the open letter said. It asks the national university system to begin a public debate on the drinking age.

“Alcohol education that mandates abstinence as the only legal option has not resulted in significant constructive behavioral change among our students,” the letter also said.

The initiative has caused a roar of controversy from opposing groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which counters that lowering the drinking age won’t solve problems on campuses. Many experts agreed that lowering the legal age won’t fix a college culture that accepts binge drinking as the norm.

The majority of students believe binge drinking is a rite of passage, UCF’s Hall said. But his research at the school found that 20 percent of students aren’t drinking.

Those students, however, believe they’re among an even smaller minority, about 5 percent.

“That’s one of the myths about college drinking,” Hall said. “Nationally, about 23 percent of students are the extreme drinkers, so the notion that ’everyone is doing it’ isn’t accurate. But 23 percent is still too big of a number.”

Students gathered in loose lines outside a bar near UCF, waiting for muscled bouncers to place wristbands on the legal drinkers. For a $10 cover, they would be drinking without limit until midnight.

They headed to the bar where plastic cups were filled with cheap beer and liquor mixed in various concoctions.

Some students played “beer pong” on a side table. Other students moved against one another on a makeshift dance floor.

Richard Devoss, 21, lit a cigarette and leaned back on his barstool while talking with a handful of buddies from the Orlando-based Marine Mechanics Institute.
He sipped vodka mixed with water and lime juice.

“We went out last night, and we came out tonight,” Devoss said. “When I leave, I’ll be stumbling.”

Devoss estimated that by closing time at 2 a.m., he would have 12 drinks. His friends vowed to drink about the same, some as many as 15 in one sitting.

Calvin Serviss, 22, a fifth-year UCF senior, said he wouldn’t be out so often if it weren’t for the specials.

“They make the bars much more popular,” Serviss said as he sipped from a beer. “Obviously, I wouldn’t be here if they didn’t have them. I couldn’t afford it.”

Some believe bars near campus, which offer all-you-can-drink specials every night of the week, are a big part of the problem.

But in many cities, businesses have signed “responsible retailing” pacts designed to curb underage and excessive use by limiting or ending the daily specials.

Orange County is attempting to create a similar agreement using a task force of students, law enforcement and retailers. Teams are focusing on education, health and retailer responsibility.

“We’ve always done this from an enforcement side, but now we need help from community partners,” Hall from UCF said. “The biggest thing is targeting advertisements.”

Carol Burkett, who sits on the task force and directs Orange County’s Coalition for a Drug Free Community, said binge drinking is more accepted and younger students are drinking more.

“In the ’70s, you didn’t have high-risk drink promotions,” she said. “Now, media advertisements tell students that drinking is acceptable, sexy, fun: It looks like the place to be.”

But Mike McCoy, Orange County public safety director and co-chairman of the underage drinking task force, said attitudes about what’s unsafe could change. At one time, for example, many people refused to wear seat belts.

“Back then, we thought we couldn’t do anything, but I think we will pass beyond that,” he said. “You will see the generation saying it’s so senseless, and we can do things about it.”
source: Pensacola News Journal


This is why we get addicted to alcohol

Researchers at the University of Sussex have provided the perfect excuse for downing a drink or two - alcohol helps in remembering the good things and forget the bad - and therefore is addictive.

According to the research team, alcohol is addictive because it erases the worst memories of being drunk.

The study has found that alcohol affects memory in a selective manner - making it easier to remember the good things about a party but harder to recall the bad things that happen after having too much.

Studies into the memories of people engaged in heavy drinking have shown that it is the inability to remember the worst excesses of a night out - while remembering the happy things that led up to them - is one of the main causes of repeated binge drinking.

"The effects of alcohol on mood are known contributors to its use and abuse. It is less known how its effects on memory and inhibitory control add to alcohol being and addictive drug," the Independent quoted Professor Theodora Duka of Sussex University, as saying.

"Material acquired in an intoxicated state is less effectively retrieved in a sober state. Thus people who abuse alcohol forget the consequences of intoxication during periods of abstinence," Professor Duka said.

Professor Duka, who was speaking at the British Association for the Advancement of Science Festival, explained that the effect of alcohol on memory is one of the least-understood aspects of alcohol abuse, yet it could be one of the most important in terms of explaining why the drug is o powerfully addictive.

"The effect of alcohol to weaken control processes intuitively appears to be the most important contributor to the development of alcohol addiction, since alcohol addiction is perceived to be an inability to control drinking," she said.

"Alcohol facilitates memories for emotional events experienced before intoxication - mostly positive - and impairs memories for emotional events experienced after intoxication - often negative - biasing memory to positive effects of alcohol, and support [for] further drinking," she added.

Memory tests on volunteers who were shown emotion-laden images before, during and after a bout of drinking found there was a clear degradation in memory as the alcohol began to build up in their bodies.

"Alcohol facilitated memory for material seen after its administration. More importantly, under the influence of alcohol, emotional images seen before alcohol consumption were recalled more whereas emotional images seen after alcohol consumption were recalled less," she said.
source: The London News


September marks Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month

For the thousands of families and individuals affected by substance abuse and addiction, asking for help and finding treatment is essential to getting back to a healthy, fulfilling life through recovery.

Recovery Month is a nationwide celebration of people in long-term recovery from substance use disorders, and is supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 2008 theme is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Real People, Real Recovery” and celebrates those in recovery and their families, as well as the treatment and recovery support providers who help them achieve and sustain lasting sobriety.

The Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services (ODADAS) is proud to join Ohio Governor Ted Strickland in supporting September as “National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month” in Ohio. The Governor recently signed a resolution marking the national recognition of the month in Ohio.

“By assisting those in need of treatment onto a path of recovery, we not only aid them in regaining their lives, but also can help their families on a path of their own recovery from addiction’s impact, which benefits the entire state,” ODADAS Director Angela Cornelius Dawson said.

Highlights of Ongoing Treatment Efforts

ODADAS strives year round for access to treatment for Ohioans. The Department oversees 50 county boards responsible for alcohol and drug addiction or mental health services, more than 600 treatment sites, 150 prevention providers, and outreach and intervention programs throughout the state. In FY07, ODADAS served more than 99,300 men, women and youth in our alcohol and other drug treatment agencies.

In the past six months, ODADAS has applied for six federal grants totaling approximately $17 million that would benefit 14 counties in Ohio.

Deaf Off Drugs

Wright State University will be working for the next couple of years with ODADAS to administer a first of its kind grant in the country for substance abusing individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. The three year $1.5 million grant is called, “Deaf off Drugs and Alcohol” (DODA). These grant funds for treatment and recovery provide “e-therapy,” group and individual counseling and case management via video conferencing and videophone technology.

Access to Recovery

ODADAS is in its first year of a $13.9 million three year grant aimed at providing substance abuse treatment and other recovery support services for former prisoners heading back into their communities. The federal grant “Access to Recovery” currently serves four counties in Ohio: Mahoning, Cuyahoga, Stark and Summit. It began in February 2008, and to date has impacted approximately 780 Ohioans. Participants can choose from faith-based and community-based providers through a voucher system which allows them to choose from a host of treatment and recovery services including transportation and childcare assistance, literacy and education programs, job training and housing options.

Think Outside the Stigma Public Awareness Campaign

In May 2008, ODADAS and the Ohio Department of Mental Health received bipartisan Congressional recognition for its Think Outside the Stigma public awareness campaign.

There are a few core messages that are a part of the campaign which is aimed at chipping away at the stigma around the issue of addiction and mental illnesses and who is impacted by the diseases.

The four key Think Outside the Stigma elements of the campaign are:

• Alcohol and other drug addictions and mental illnesses are brain diseases.

• Alcohol and other drug addictions and mental illnesses can affect anyone.

• Alcohol and other drug addictions and mental illnesses are treatable.

• Individuals with brain diseases should not be discriminated against.

ODADAS maintains that treatment services are available to all Ohioans and that treatment helps individuals accept responsibility for their actions and begin a successful path of recovery.

“Treatment for substance use disorders is effective and necessary to sustain a healthy and productive society,” said Director Dawson. “Addiction exacts an enormous toll on our state and it is time that we support those who need our help. Real people in our state are affected by substance use disorders. The renewed hope that springs from long-term recovery truly can make a difference in helping more families get healthy. We want Ohioans to know that we are here to help.”
source: Wilmington News Journal


What Teens Are Hearing About Drugs

Here's a multiple-choice question for parents of tweens and teens.

You're monitoring your child's cellphone and come across a text message encouraging her to try a prescription drug. Could the message be coming from:

A. a drugmaker trolling for a new customer.

B. an adolescent friend urging a raid on your medicine cabinet for a "pharm" party.

C. a trusted physician, offering a reminder to the 25 percent of teenagers who take a daily prescription for conditions ranging from allergies to cancer.

D. any one of the above.

The answer? D. These days, messages aimed at drawing teens' attention to drugs are being televised, e-mailed, texted and even downloaded with music every day.

"These new media choices create a buzz and certainly a perception of a rising trend toward targeting teens," says Jim Joseph, executive vice president of Saatchi & Saatchi Consumer Health+Wellness, a Manhattan advertising agency.

The challenge for teens, and for adults who care for them, is to figure out "how to wade through the clutter of messages they're getting about drugs -- both prescription and nonprescription ones -- in order to make safe and appropriate choices," says Wayne Snodgrass, a professor of pediatrics and pharmacology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs.

"There's been a demystification of prescription medications for teenagers," says Sharon Levy, director of the adolescent substance abuse program at Children's Hospital Boston. According to a survey published last month by the National Center for Addictions and Substance Abuse, a growing number of teenagers say it's easier to illegally obtain prescription drugs than to buy beer.

Experts blame a cavalier attitude toward drugs for a growing incidence of prescription drug abuse by teens. Every day, 2,500 kids ages 12 to 17 abuse a prescription painkiller for the first time, according to John Walters, head of the White House's Office on National Drug Control Policy; the number of teen patients treated for prescription painkiller abuse grew threefold between 1995 and 2005.

"Teens are abusing prescription drugs because many believe . . . these drugs provide a 'safe' high," Walters says.

At the same time, many teens fail to stick with a prescribed drug regimen for a chronic condition such as asthma, depression or diabetes. "Parents have a crucial role to play in all this," Snodgrass says, "by making it clear that drugs are only safe and effective when they're specifically prescribed, and when taken appropriately."
Drug Ads Just for Teens

When it comes to direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs, permitted by the Food and Drug Administration since 1997, there are no specific rules for marketing to kids and teens, says Robert Temple, director of the Office of Medical Policy at the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

"Appropriate situations for drug companies to specifically address teens include those where the teen could benefit from a medication but might not necessarily start the conversation with an adult," says Meredith Ressi, vice president of research at Manhattan Research, a health-care market research firm in New York. She cites drugs for acne or birth control as examples.

Acne, Ressi says, is a very good example because "a parent might not bring up treatment for fear of making their child feel bad but would likely be delighted to have the teen start the conversation and then be able to help."

Tazorac, an acne drug made by Allergan, is the subject of a back-to-school ad campaign featuring situations such as high school graduation and the prom in which teens might feel particularly self-conscious about their acne. Incentives to register on the site and learn more about the drug (teens 13 to 18 need a parent's permission) include a $5 Starbucks card and a chance at winning a Nintendo Wii console, a video camcorder or a laptop computer.

Ads meant to get a teen's attention typically feature cool clothes, hip music and other teen draws. Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Yaz, a birth control pill, hired the Veronicas, a group popular with teen girls, to record a song for one of the drug's commercials. The Web site of Galderma, the maker of Differin, another acne drug, offers teens a quiz called "The Truth About Zits."

"When marketing directly to teens, you need to be able to speak to and otherwise engage them very differently from adults," says Elizabeth Izard Apelles, CEO of digital marketing agency Greater Than One, whose clients include Novartis, which makes ADHD drug Focalin XR. "Otherwise, they won't pay a lick of attention."

Other advertising execs agree.

"We use a combination of media, trying to reach" teens, says Kathy Magnuson, executive vice president of Brand Pharm, whose clients include Galderma. In June, Galderma launched a Differin ad on ABC Family and MTV and has also bought space for the ad at movie theaters and on the Internet.

Drugmaker Sanofi Aventis used a low-tech but novel approach to reach teen girls. The company placed a full-page ad (plus another page of FDA-required consumer information) for acne drug Benzaclin in the fall catalogue of Delia's, a teen-girl clothing chain.
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Merck is moving beyond TV ads for Gardasil, which protects against human papillomavirus infection and is recommended for adolescent girls. Because the vaccine is given in three doses, each months apart, Merck is sending out reminders by mail, e-mail and text message -- "REMIND" to "GARSL" -- telling those who got the first shot to come back for shots two and three.

Kathy Woodward, a pediatrician at the adolescent health clinic at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, worries that ads aimed at adolescents often create an inappropriate sense of fun, fostering the idea that there's a pill for every ill. Woodward believes taking drugs might seem hip, for example, when Antonio Banderas, whose voice is well known from the "Shrek" movies, narrates TV commercials for the allergy drug Nasonex.

Woodward says she has been overwhelmed by the number of teenage boys who come in asking for a prescription for Lamisil, an antifungal drug. TV ads that stopped airing about a year ago said dark-colored toenails might be a fungal infection that the drug can clear up.

"It's only an infection 10 percent of the time," says Woodward, "and leaving the nail as it is poses no health risk." What's more, because of a slight risk of liver damage, Woodward notes, anybody who takes the drug needs monitoring.

"When teenage boys make [a drug they've seen advertised] the focus of their yearly office visit," she explains, "it takes away time I need to talk about crucial health issues including safe driving, alcohol and prescription drug abuse."
source: The Washington Post


Greater Risk Of Injuries Among Neighborhood Children When There Are More Off-Premise Alcohol Outlets

Childhood injuries constitute a serious issue in the United States. In 2001, there were 12,249 deaths among children ages one to 14: injuries were the leading cause, accounting for 33.2 percent of all deaths for children ages one to four, and 39.4 percent of all deaths for children ages five to 14. A new study has found that numerous off-premise alcohol outlets in neighborhoods can reduce overall guardianship of children's activities, leading to increased injuries.

Results will be published in the November issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

"Neighborhood areas with high levels of social disorganization can make the children who live there more vulnerable to injury in a number of ways," explained Bridget Freisthler, assistant professor in the department of social welfare at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and affiliated research scientist at the Prevention Research Center, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PRC/PIRE). This research was a joint project between UCLA and PRC/PIRE.

"Impoverished and disorganized neighborhoods may present more physically dangerous environments," said Freisthler. "Limited social capital restricts their ability to respond to social problems that might endanger children's health and well being. Reduced levels of social control may facilitate risky behaviors, such as playing in dangerous streets or vacant buildings. And, areas that have fewer adults available to monitor and supervise children's activities may further exacerbate problem behaviors."

"One's neighborhood environment determines the number and type of risks a resident of a particular neighborhood will be exposed to," agreed Richard Scribner, D'Angelo Professor of Alcohol Research at the Louisiana State University School of Public Health. "This study supports the conceptual model that views the neighborhood environment as an essential component in contributing to population health."

Freisthler and her colleagues analyzed aggregate data collected for the year 2000 on populations and environments in 1,646 California zip code areas, examining connections with numbers of hospital discharges for childhood injuries from accidents and assaults, and injuries related to child abuse.

They found that neighborhoods with a higher density of off-premise alcohol outlets - such as liquor stores and grocery stores that sell alcohol - had more injuries among children.

"Those neighborhoods with an already weakened structure may have a limited ability to deal with the negative effects related to high densities of alcohol outlets in their community," explained Freisthler. "First, greater densities of off-premise alcohol outlets may increase the frequency of drinking among parents at home, undermining their ability to adequately supervise their children's activities. Second, greater densities may increase the number of people who travel in and out of the neighborhood to shop or dine at restaurants, making it more difficult for residents to know who lives in the area and who is just conducting business there. Thus, other adults in the area may be less likely to intervene when they see unsupervised children playing."

"The most surprising outcome was the association with percent [of African-American residents,]" added Scribner. "It is also the most difficult to interpret. There is increasing interest in the role of black residential segregation in terms of neighborhood risk because a white and a black neighborhood with similar measured socioeconomic conditions may be very different due to environmental risks."

"This study shows that the effects of high concentrations of alcohol outlets are more far reaching than previously thought," said Freisthler. "Specific findings indicate that costs associated with injuries among children could be reduced if outlet densities were more carefully controlled. It is important to emphasize that these injuries are only one measurable outcome of the kind of lack of supervision and support that seems to occur in these disordered neighborhoods with high alcohol-outlet densities."

"Given the difficulty in [implementing] policies to modify neighborhood environments in an effort to address population health, it is a sad fact that outcomes like child abuse and child assault are more likely to get the attention of policymakers," noted Scribner. "Children are perceived as innocent and therefore it is unjust for them to be exposed to greater risk. In this vein, the study may [encourage] policymakers to experiment with targeting the neighborhood environment to address problems like child abuse, accidents, and assault."

Freisthler certainly hopes her findings will lead in that direction. "Decisions about licensing and location of alcohol outlets have important ramifications," she said. "They affect the quality of life, the relationships among neighbors, levels of crime, and the safety of all of us. Obviously, we want policy makers to pay attention to these findings. But they are also important for average citizens to understand."

"This research clearly suggests it [really] does take a village to keep our children safe," added Scribner. "So, get involved in your neighborhood. Develop informal social ties with neighbors. Make sure [that businesses] like alcohol outlets are accountable to the residents. Keep your eyes on the street. Sit on the front porch or take walks and get to know your neighborhood."
source: Medical News Today


From Binge to Extreme Drinking

Most in the substance abuse prevention field are familiar with the term "binge drinking". Defined by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), binge drinking is a minimum of 4 drinks for women or 5 drinks for men per occasion.

However, in more recent years, the term "extreme drinking" has been used to describe the drinking habits of some high school and college-aged youth. Extreme drinking goes way beyond the minimum threshold for binge drinking, notes Dr. Aaron White from Duke University Medical Center. He adds that extreme drinking doubles or even triples the usual minimum amounts of binge drinking we are familiar with.

Experts are also currently working to determine whether this type of extreme drinking, also referred to as heavy episodic binge drinking, is a kind of alcoholism.

"We think of alcoholism as chronic drunken behaviour," says Thomas Brown, an addictions specialist and professor at McGill University's Faculty of Medicine. "But the idea of this sporadic, very heavy drinking is something we're becoming increasingly concerned about".

The Addiction Services of Nova Scotia have found extreme drinking a problem area with those ages 19-29. They define extreme drinking as drinking more than your body can handle, which can put you at risk of passing out, memory loss, impaired judgment, blackouts, vomiting, injury, and alcohol overdose. With the tagline: The amount of alcohol it takes for you to pass out is dangerously close to the amount it takes to kill you, the Addiction Services of Nova Scotia released a marketing and educational campaign touting the dangers of extreme drinking along with suggested safety strategies.

In conjunction with the amount of alcohol consumed, the type of party, and who is in attendance will affect the amount of booze a person drinks. Researchers from the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland showed that students who attended a party where alcohol was available were more likely to report getting drunk than those attending parties where alcohol was not available (10.5% vs. 0.5%). Other party factors related to being drunk included the size of the party (larger parties), the location of the party (tailgating, fraternity house, off-campus near the university), and the number of friends the student attended the party with (larger number of friends).

It should be noted here that extreme and binge drinking isn’t just for the male population anymore. Past thinking generally held young males at a greater risk of binge drinking than females, however reports from CAMH (2007) have shown that there is no significant difference between males and females in regards to binge drinking (27%; 25%); drunkenness (25%; 24%); or hazardous drinking (19%; 18%).

Similarly, acording to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, four in 10 women ages 18 and 19 consume five or more alcoholic beverages in a typical drinking session, compared to about five in 10 men of the same age. Among females aged 15 to 24, one in 10 engages in weekly binge boozing versus about two in 10 males in that same demographic.

"We're encouraging girls to make their mark in what was traditionally seen as more male-specific behavioural patterns, including heavy drinking," says Thomas Brown of McGill University.

As the 2008-2009 school year is now upon us, it would be a good time for schools to look at their policies in regards to alcohol availability and discipline related to misuse, along with how prevention efforts are geared towards their female population. Policy-makers in schools need to implement decisions to deter excessive drinking through rules or policies. This can be accomplished, in part, through:

* repeated mandatory educational sessions on alcohol during school orientation in both secondary and undergraduate schooling;
* mandated server training in university-run pubs;
* health and safety training of Residence Leaders and Campus Security;
* curbing campus alcohol advertising;

along with implementing and advertising policies related to alcohol control, where to go for help, and how violations to the policy will be enforced.

Over the summer months, Alberta invoked minimum alcoholic beverage prices at bars in an effort to curb consumption by drinkers. The new rules follow similar anti-binge-drinking legislation in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and act as a good start in how governments can address the issue.
source: Alcohol Policy Network,


Martin Sheen: A costly, dangerous drug treatment initiative

I was disappointed to read Peter Schrag's comments regarding Proposition 5 in his Sept. 2 column, although I can understand how well-meaning and thoughtful people can be misled by this deceptive initiative.

I agree with Schrag's concern for those who are drug dependent, but I oppose Proposition 5 because I believe it will do so much harm to so many people.

Fighting drug addiction is an issue that is very close to my heart. I believe in rehabilitation and not incarceration. But successful rehabilitation needs accountability and so often demands direct intervention in the life of someone who is addicted to drugs, rather than waiting for them to seek treatment "when they are ready."

Too many addicts are never ready or don't live long enough to become ready. That's why drug courts and judicial involvement in pushing offenders into treatment and keeping them there is vital to making rehabilitation work for so many drug- dependent individuals.

Proposition 5 promises rehabilitation – but actually prevents it. Instead of helping break the addict's cycle of self-destruction, it actually feeds the cycle by allowing addicts to continue using drugs while in treatment, without any consequence.

Proposition 5 would cripple successful rehabilitation programs and dramatically limit the power of drug-court judges to help those who need it most. It will take limited resources away from proven programs and waste them on mandated programs that have already been shown to be failures.

Proposition 5 will cost billions; if it could deliver on its promises that would be a price worth paying, but it won't deliver because it can't. It is fatally flawed at its foundations because it rewards those who continue to take drugs while in treatment, instead of requiring accountability.

While virtually all of California's sheriffs, district attorneys, police chiefs and probation officers oppose Proposition 5, it would be a mistake to suggest that their opposition is no more than a knee-jerk response. Enlightened law enforcement leaders are among the strongest supporters of drug-treatment programs and consider such programs a vital part of the solution.

Sadly, Proposition 5 shifts funding away from programs that demand accountability and into "harm reduction" programs whose goals are to make drug users better-informed consumers. Highly effective programs like Delancey Street or Narcotics Anonymous require those enrolled in treatment to quit using drugs, which means they wouldn't qualify under Proposition 5's "harm reduction" theory. Under Proposition 5, those in "treatment" could continue using drugs and even commit additional felonies, without fear of consequences. That alone should cause serious-minded people to question Proposition 5.

Yes, Proposition 5 does shorten parole from three years to just six months for drug dealers caught with up to $50,000 of methamphetamine, and, yes, Proposition 5 could allow those arrested for auto theft, identity theft and a host of other crimes involving victims to escape real consequences if they continued to violate the law.

We all need to look beyond the simplistic and the cliché and recognize that truly effective drug treatment programs with real accountability are in our best interests. The real problem with Proposition 5 is that it is not about stopping drug use. If it were, it would mandate funding for ongoing drug testing instead of prohibiting that funding, and it would not give drug sellers a reward for the harm they do to so many.

This poorly designed and dangerous initiative will deliver more drug addiction and more pain for thousands of addicts, their families and our state's communities. It is opposed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the League of Latin American Citizens and prominent treatment professionals. It is opposed by former Gov. Gray Davis and by Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully and Sheriff John McGinnis. I strongly urge that this dangerous and misguided measure be given the scrutiny it deserves.
source: The Sacramento Bee,