Many Schools Try to Prevent Opioid Abuse Through Education Campaigns

Many schools around the country are trying to prevent opioid use through education campaigns. The Wall Street Journal reports that last year, CVS pharmacists made almost 3,000 presentations to school children about the dangers of misusing prescription painkillers.

Some schools are using a substance abuse prevention program aimed at students as young as fourth grade. Others are offering a texting tool that quickly connects students to a licensed therapist. The tool, called Text a Tip, hides teens’ phone numbers so they can ask questions anonymously.

Full story of schools trying to prevent opioid abuse at drugfree.org

ADHD Medications Don’t Appear to Help Children With Homework: Study

Giving children stimulant medication meant to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has no significant effect on homework completion or accuracy, a new small study suggests.

The study, published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, included 75 children with ADHD who were attending a summer school program. The children received either behavioral treatment with daily report cards and parent coaching, or a long-acting stimulant, Reuters reports.

Full story of ADHD and children’s homework studies at drugfree.org

Study Points to Differences in High-School Crack, Powder Cocaine Use

The use of crack and powder cocaine both varies and overlaps among high school seniors, researchers at New York University and NYU Langone Medical Center have found. Their findings, which appear in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, point to the need to take into account both common and different at-risk factors in developing programming and messaging to stem cocaine use.

“Powder cocaine and crack are commonly collapsed into a single ‘cocaine use’ category in research, despite different contexts of use, reasons for use and rates of dependence, and adverse outcomes associated with use,” explains Danielle Ompad, a faculty member in NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and one of the study’s co-authors.

“While powder and crack cocaine do have many similar determinants, this study helped delineate overlapping, but different risk profiles associated with use,” adds Joseph Palamar, an assistant professor at NYU Langone Medical Center, Departments of Population Health and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Rates of powder cocaine and crack use have fluctuated among adolescents in recent decades, yet little attention has been paid to differences between users of powder cocaine and crack — two forms of the substance that are commonly reported together as “cocaine” use, despite having different effects and rates of negative consequences. For example, even in light of recent changes to sentencing guidelines, disparities between crack and powder cocaine remain high — possessing 500 grams of powder cocaine results in a five-year sentence while just 28 grams of crack brings on the same prison term.

Full story of crack cocaine in high school at Science Daily

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

Study Finds Random Drug Testing Doesn’t Deter High School Students’ Substance Use

Random drug testing in schools does not reduce students’ substance use, a national survey of high school students concludes. The study found students who attend schools where they feel treated with respect are less likely to start smoking cigarettes or marijuana.

Students who attend schools where they feel respected, who have already started smoking, escalate their smoking at a slower rate than their peers at schools with less positive atmospheres, the study also found.

Neither random drug testing nor a positive school climate was associated with a reduction in alcohol use, according to researcher Dan Romer, PhD, Director of the Adolescent Communication Institute of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. He and lead author Dr. Sharon Sznitman, currently at the School of Public Health at Haifa University in Israel, spoke about the findings at the recent American Sociological Association annual meeting.

The researchers interviewed 361 high school students twice, one year apart. They asked them about their use of cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana. If they had not started using these substances at the beginning of the year, the researchers asked whether they had started to do so a year later. If they already had started using any of these substances, the students were asked whether they increased their use.

Students were asked whether their school had a random drug testing program and what the social climate was in their school. “We measured this by whether students think the rules in their school are fairly administered, whether they feel they have a say in how the rules are developed and if they feel they are treated with respect,” Romer said.

Full story of random drug testing for high school at DrugFree.org

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

Commentary: Leadership Education and a New Approach to Positive Youth Development

Parents often feel helpless when it comes to teen drugs and alcohol use. But prevention research over the past two decades has shown that by encouraging their kids to get involved in the community – either through school, church, sports, etc. – parents can change their kids’ ability to turn down drugs and alcohol. That’s powerful, and as a kid who’s seen it all, it’s my firm belief that parents are still the dominant force when it comes to kids’ decisions, especially in those crucial middle school years.

In the early 1990’s, two research teams, (Donavon, Jessor, & Cost and Hawkins, Catalano, & Miller) published research that supports what I’ve witnessed from my own experience as a teenager: we need to focus on the positive potential of kids, not on the negative potential of using drugs. If we empower teens and tweens to become comfortable in their own skin, to feel connected with their communities and to realize that their locus of control is internal, they’ll have the power to overcome many obstacles. Many researchers have termed this new approach to prevention “Positive Youth Development” because, rather than focusing on problem behaviors, it focuses on the amazing potential of young people.

There are countless opportunities to prevent risky adolescent behaviors by encouraging positive engagement instead. For example, creative and artistic students may contribute to a school literary magazine, fostering a sense of confidence about their abilities, and also making a contribution to the school community. Encouraging kids to appreciate diversity could help them to feel more “at ease” with themselves and gain a greater understanding of their larger global communities. Independent research projects and afterschool study groups can show kids that they have the power to change what and how well they learn. All of these are proven to work, and to kids like me, they sound more appealing than DARE.

Full story of leadership and youth development at DrugFree.org

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education