Commentary: New Project Aims to Address Adolescent Substance Use Through Technology

Teenagers spend a massive amount of time interacting with modern technology tools – and for good reason! Technology these days holds the key to not just instant entertainment, but to new found experiences, education and perspective on the world around us. If anyone knows technology best, it’s teens, and their powerful ability to interact with social media, video games and the Internet operates faster than many of us can keep up.

Technology is the driving force behind the Treatment Research Institute’s (TRI) latest project being funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Through a $3 million grant and clinical partnership with Phoenix House Foundation, TRI is preparing to implement and evaluate Screening, Briefing Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) in New York high schools later this year. SBIRT is an evidence-based practice that consists of screening for risky substance use, followed by a brief motivational intervention, and when necessary, referral to treatment. Decades of research in medical settings has shown that this practice can significantly delay onset and reduce use of alcohol and other drugs.

Full commentary on adolescent substance use at

Adderall Abuse Increases Among High School Students

The University of Michigan’s Monitoring The Future (MTF), an annual survey tracking teen drug abuse among eighth-, 10th- and 12th- graders, shows an increase in the abuse of the prescription medicine Adderall among high school seniors in the U.S. over the past few years. Adderall is a prescribed stimulant that is commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD.

According to MTF, the past-year non-medical use of Adderall among American high school seniors has been steadily increasing since 2009 when abuse rates were 5.4 percent. In 2010 and 2011, past year Adderall abuse increased to 6.5 percent among 12th-graders, continued increasing to 7.6 percent in 2012 and is now at 7.4 percent in 2013.

Full story of increased adderall use in high school at

What Do You Say to Your Kids about Justin Bieber?

In the wake of Justin Bieber recent DUI arrest, reports are now surfacing that the 19-year-old pop star may have been under the influence of marijuana, beer and prescription drugs, and that he could have been given the prescription medicine by his mother.

Our hope is that parents, who are in a position to prevent medicine abuse before it starts, will take this news and reflect on their own examples, while using Justin’s story as a teachable moment to start an honest conversation with their kids about medicine abuse. Small steps – like monitoring and safeguarding the medicine in your home, educating yourself about the issue and talking to your kids early and often about the dangers of medicine abuse – can make a huge difference.

Full story of communicating with your kids about drugs at

NIDA Releases New Guide on Treating Teen Substance Abuse

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is releasing new resources to help parents, health care providers and substance abuse treatment specialists treat teens who are struggling with drug abuse. The resources also provide advice on identifying and interacting with teens who may be at risk.

The resources are being released in advance of National Drug Facts Week, January 27 to February 2, when communities and schools around the country will host events to allow teens to learn how drugs affect the brain, body and behavior.

Full story of new guide at

More students think marijuana is OK

Most teens may be “Above the Influence” when it comes to cocaine and cigarettes, but marijuana use is growing among students.

Sixty percent of U.S. high school seniors do not see regular marijuana use as harmful to their health, according to this year’s Monitoring the Future survey from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. More than a third of the seniors surveyed reported smoking marijuana in the past 12 months.

Each year, the Monitoring the Future survey asks eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders about their drug and alcohol use and their attitudes toward illegal substances. For 2013, more than 41,000 students from 389 U.S. public and private schools participated.

Only 2.4% of high school seniors reported using marijuana daily in 1993; this year that percentage nearly tripled  to 6.5 %. And it’s not just the older students  more than 12% of the eighth-graders surveyed said they had used marijuana.

“It is important to remember that over the past two decades, levels of THC  the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana  have gone up a great deal,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in a statement. “Daily use today can have stronger effects on a developing teen brain than it did 10 or 20 years ago. … The children whose experimentation leads to regular use are setting themselves up for declines in IQ and diminished ability for success in life.”

Full story of teens being okay with marijuana at CNN Health

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education