Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Parents, Students: ‘Don’t Cut Anti-Bullying Program’

Westport Now (Westport, CT) April 28, 2014

"In the wake of a brief but painful cyber-bullying episode at Westport’s Staples High School last week caused by the phone app Yik Yak, more than a dozen parents and students begged the Board of Education tonight not to cut its anti-bullying program, Kool to Be Kind (K2BK).

Proponents of the four-year-old, empathy-based K2BK program run in third grade classrooms by parent volunteers and Staples students spoke after school administrators presented nearly an hour’s overview of their own School Climate Committee’s effectiveness. It was the second time in little more than a month that the board had heard emotional pleas about the program from students and parents." Read more

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Norwich has Leadership Role in Efforts to Stop Bullying in Schools

The Day, April 29, 2014

"The statewide reputation of the Greater Norwich Anti-Bullying Coalition will land the organization and three local high school students a leadership role in the state's effort to improve the social climate of schools. 

Steven Hernandez, director of public policy and research for the Commission on Children, met with eight Norwich school and youth services officials Monday to discuss problems and proposed changes in the state's 12-year-old anti-bullying law.

The new emphasis, he said, will be to change the perception of the law from one that defines bullying and puts the onus on schools to apply the definition to a law that seeks to address student behaviors and improve the learning environment." Read more

Deadly Addiction: Doctors Say Heroin Treatment is Available

The Day (New London, CT) April 28, 2014

"Addiction in region is worse than ever, they say.

After more than 20 years in psychiatry, Dr. Rajesh Parekh is witnessing a new and disturbing trend among patients who come for help with drug addiction. 'Twenty years ago I would see an adolescent a few times a year,' said Parekh, attending psychiatrist at the Care Plus outpatient program in Groton, part of Natchaug Hospital. 'Now it's a few times a month.'

The reason? Too many teenagers are abusing prescription opiate painkillers like Percocet, getting addicted, then turning to heroin." Read more

Monday, April 28, 2014

Deadly addiction: Heroin use, a tragic wrong turn for prescription drug abusers, on the rise in region

The Day, April 27, 2014

"Just 10 years ago, heroin made up a small fraction of the drug-related arrests in Norwich. These days, Detective Lt. Mark Rankowitz and fellow officers can recite any number of stories about the drug's ever-increasing impact.

There is the star high school athlete with national aspirations who injured her knee and became addicted to prescription painkillers before turning to the cheaper and more widely available alternative - heroin.

There was the man back in March who apparently drifted into unconsciousness before his car plowed into a parked box truck and a stair rail at St. Mary's Church on Central Avenue. Paramedics administered a dose of Narcan, a drug that reverses the effects of opiates like heroin. The man was asking for his keys moments later.

Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Commissioner Patricia Rehmer said this spring that on average one Connecticut resident a day dies of a drug overdose, which also is the leading cause of death for males ages 18 to 25." Read more

Teen Alcohol Use Linked To Long-Term Effects On Decision Making

Headlines and Global News, April 28, 2014 

"Teen drinking alters brain chemistry leading to impairment in decision making in adulthood, a new study finds.

The study was conducted by University of Washington researchers on a group of 30-50 days old rats, an age equivalent to that of a human teenager. The rats were given access to alcohol-laced "Jell-O shots" for 24 hours a day till they reached adulthood.

The rats were then given a test where they could choose between taking smaller risks to gain smaller treats or bigger risks for greater treats. Researchers found that the rats exposed to alcohol as teenagers were more inclined to opt for tasks with higher risks, even when they had the option of choosing lower risk tasks that would give them more treats overall. This behavior suggests that alcohol consumption during adolescence affects long-term decision making abilities." Read more

The Journey of Connecticut Heroin Addicts

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) April 26, 2014

"Devon Kennerson has been off heroin for a few months now.

The 30-year-old Litchfield resident said she had her first taste of the drug when she was 19. She didn’t know what it was then, Kennerson said, as her friend had told her it was cocaine."

"The drug culture is changing. According to the Coalition Against Drug Abuse, teenagers make up the largest group of drug users in the country. A national survey on drug use and health by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed the rate of current illicit drug use among persons aged 12 or older increased from 8.1 percent in 2008 to 9.2 percent in 2012. The number of heroin users almost doubled from 2007 (373,000) to 2012 (669,000).

Death from heroin overdoses has surpassed motor vehicle fatality in 2008 in the U.S., according to Connecticut’s state narcotic taskforce. Heroin or opiates have become the top drug threat to New England. State Police Lt. Kenneth Cain, of the Statewide Narcotics Task Force, said most people start their heroin addiction on prescription pills." Read more

Study: Bullying Rates Drop for U.S. Teens

Poughkeepsie Journal, April 27, 2014

"American teens are much less likely to engage in bullying than they were a decade ago, new research suggests.

Surveys completed by middle school and high school students between 1998 and 2010 suggest that instances of both verbal and physical bullying dropped by roughly half, with much of the decline seen specifically among boys.

Study author Jessamyn Perlus, a fellow in the division of intramural population health research with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, described her team's findings as 'encouraging.'" Read more

Binge Drinking Focus of 'HAZE'

Darien News, April 27, 2014

"'HAZE,' a documentary about underage binge drinking, will be screened at 7 p.m. Monday, April 28, at the Darien Library. 

The Youth Asset Team presents the film as part of Alcohol and Asset Awareness Month.

The documentary tells the story of Greenwich native Lynn Gordon Bailey Jr., who died after binge drinking in his freshman year of college. The film also weaves together a collection of interviews by many national experts on the subject of alcohol abuse." Read more

Friday, April 25, 2014

Talk To Your Kids about Underage Drinking for Prom, Graduation Season

WSAW-TV, April , 2014

"With prom and high school graduation right around the corner, it's the ideal time for parents to talk with their teens about underage drinking.

A new report reaffirms parents are the primary influence on teens' decisions about alcohol.

Educator and certified parent coach MJ Corcoran said since this topic is hard to talk about, she said it's important that parents talk to each other first before speaking with the teen.

Once you're ready -- she says instead of talking make sure you're listening to your kids when asking questions." Read more

University of New Haven Students, Barnard Middle-Schoolers Learn Value of Partnering

New Haven Register (West Haven, CT) April 23, 2014

"Peals of laughter and excited chatter bounced off the walls in the lobby of the University of New Haven fitness center Monday, as Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet School students enjoyed pizza as they awaited introductions to meet their college mentors for the day.

Tony Carter, a UNH professor of management, and Marjorie Drucker, a teacher at Barnard in New Haven, partnered up to create a mentoring program pairing middle school students with college students. The goal is to expose young people to the benefits of college and to encourage leadership in college students. 

'The goal of the university is to build a partnership with the local community and to expose the young people here really to the practical realities of today’s business world,' said Carter." Read more

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Op-Ed: Mentoring Students, and Closing the STEM Gap, Without Leaving the Office

U.S. News, April 22, 2014 (by Charlene Lake, Senior VP Public Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer for AT&T)

"About one in five students does not graduate from high school with their class, according to data from the National Center for Education, and of those that do, many are not fully prepared to succeed in college and careers.

But mentoring by a caring adult can make a tremendous difference. At-risk young adults who have a mentor are more likely to go to college than those who don’t. Unfortunately, 16 million people will reach the age of 19 without ever having had a mentor, according to a new report by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership." Read more

Marijuana Use Linked to Heart Problems

CNN Health, April 23, 2014:

"Young people who use marijuana may be at risk for heart attacks and other serious cardiovascular problems, a new study suggests.

Researchers reviewed records from the French Addictovigilance Network, a national system of centers in France that gather information about drug abuse and dependence. From 2006 to 2010, they found 35 reports of patients who had experienced cardiovascular complications following cannabis use. The study was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

About 85% of the patients were men and their average age was 34. In nine cases the patient died." Read more

Friday, April 18, 2014

Childhood bullying can cause problems decades later

USA Today, April 17, 2014:

"Chances are some people still remember the name of that bully who stole their lunch money or pushed them down the stairs 30 years ago.
While the psychological effects of bullying in adolescence are well documented, a new study published Thursday in The American Journal of Psychiatry shows harmful effects can extend decades after the initial bullying. Researchers found those bullied in childhood had lower levels of education, greater physical and cognitive health problems, and poor social functioning throughout their lives, compared to those who were not bullied.
For five decades, The National Child Development Study followed almost 8,000 participants of children born in England, Scotland and Wales. In 1958, they assessed children ages 7-11 and found 28% of the participants were occasionally bullied and 15% were frequently bullied. The researchers checked in with the participants at 23, 45 and 55 and assessed mental health problems, physical health and cognitive health. The study also found men who were bullied were more likely to be unemployed and earn less." Read More

Official: Recovering drug addicts should speak up

CT Post (New Haven, CT) April 17, 2014:

"The president's top adviser on drug policy urged those recovering from drug addiction to give hope to others by speaking out, saying that stigma and denial about substance abuse are obstacles to treatment.
Michael Botticelli, acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said Thursday that 23 million Americans are in recovery from substance abuse. Botticelli, who is in recovery from alcohol addiction, encouraged people to speak out about their experiences so others will understand help is available, saying only about one in nine people with a substance abuse problem get treatment.
'There's a tremendous amount of stigma and denial associated with substance use disorders,' Botticelli said at a forum in New Haven. 'We know that one of the biggest reasons people don't ask for help is shame and denial. We need to break that silence. We've done it with other diseases and we can do it with substance use and we can do it with recovery.'" Read More

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Survey: Teen binge drinking tied to brand references in music

Union Leader (Lebanon, New Hampshire) April 9, 2014:

"A new national survey links teen binge drinking to alcohol brand references in pop music, according to a study by the University of Pittsburgh and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Lebanon.
'They associate being a rock star or being a movie star with the behavior, and that’s a positive association,' said senior author of the study James D. Sargent, M.D., co-director of the Cancer Control Research Program at Norris Cotton Cancer Center and professor of pediatrics in the Geisel School of Medicine. 'It’s all related to the star power that’s endorsing the products.'
In the national randomized survey of more than 2,500 people ages 15 to 23, the researchers found that policy and educational interventions designed to limit the influence of alcohol brand references in popular music could be important in reducing alcohol consumption in teens and young adults. The findings have recently published online in the journal 'Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.'" Read More

Western fights bullying from within

Greenwich Time, April 7, 2014:

"The school district has enlisted an in-house group of consultants to promote an anti-bullying message.
If anyone knows the dangers that bullying, especially cyberbullying, presents, it's these guys.
They live in a world in which it's all around them. The experts are actually 15 Western Middle School students who are trying to combat the digital-world antagonists amongst them. In a multimedia presentation last week to their fellow students at Western, they used videos, interactive exercises, even a Jeopardy game, to denounce cyberbullying and offer ways in which students can support each other online.
'Especially in our age group, we all use social media, and cyberbullying is something that happens mainly in those places, so I thought it was cool that we were able to talk to them about it,' said eighth-grader Tenzin Palkyi." Read More

Connecticut rise in heroin use 'unlike anything'

The Register Citizen (New Haven, CT) April 5, 2014:

"Numerous states, including Connecticut, are reporting a rise in heroin use as many addicts shift from more costly and harder-to-get prescription opiates to this cheaper alternative. A look at what’s happening in Connecticut:
THE PROBLEM: The Connecticut medical examiner’s office says accidental deaths from heroin rose sharply between 2012 and 2013. Police in and around Hartford have started seeing a deadly form of heroin laced with the prescription painkiller fentanyl. And according to the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, heroin addiction currently ranks second behind alcohol as the reason people seek treatment. 'This dramatic increase of heroin use and abuse in Connecticut is unlike anything we’ve ever seen,' says U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, DMurphy, D-Conn.
THE NUMBERS: Connecticut’s heroin-related overdose deaths jumped 48 percent in two years. Connecticut reported 174 deaths in 2012 and 257 deaths in 2013, according to the medical examiner’s office." Read More

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Mixology Classes, Cash, and Other Creative Ways Colleges Combat Binge-Drinking

TIME, March 28, 2014:

"For many, higher ed and binge drinking go hand in hand. While the phenomenon may never go away, advocates say the public health campaign might be outdated, and the prevailing message that consuming too much alcohol is a sexual risk could be falling on deaf ears.
A new study from researchers at University at Buffalo, State University of New York, found that talking about the link between alcohol and cancer may be one of the better strategies to get college kids to reconsider their upcoming binge." Read More

Higher Teen Wages Pose Unacceptable Risk

The Courant, Editorial, March 26, 2014:

"Will raising the minimum wage lead to more drunken driving deaths for teenagers?
That's the surprising proposition reported in the latest issue of The Connecticut Economy, a quarterly publication of UConn. It's worth considering as Connecticut's minimum wage, now at $8.70 an hour, increases to $9 next year and, in 2017, to $10.10.
In hiking the minimum wage, the state may be inadvertently aggravating the problem of teen drinking and driving.
Many teenagers work at minimum-wage jobs. Teens with more money in their pockets may spend it 'on goods their parents are unlikely to purchase for them, such as alcohol,' the UConn report says." Read More