Friday, December 3, 2010

Have you become your teen's drug dealer? What's in your medicine cabinet?

This presentation was created by Ronni Katz and Amanda Edgar for the 11/29/10 CADCA town hall.
Have you become your teen's drug dealer? What's in your medicine cabinet?
View more presentations from Amanda Edgar.
Please visit us on Slideshare to view 2 other presentations from 11/29/10: 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Community Forum on Rx Drug Abuse: 11/29/10

On Monday November 29, 2010 from 6:30-8:00 at King Middle School, we will gather with members of the Portland community to discuss the risks of prescription drug abuse among teens.  This event is sponsored by Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) and King Pharmaceuticals as well as the City of Portland's Public Health Division (HHSD) and the Portland Public Schools (PPS).

With support from panelists Ronni Katz (City of Portland's Substance Abuse Prevention Program Coordinator), Kevin Cashman (Maine DEA) and Karen Simone (Director, Northern New England Poison Center), parents and concerned adults will be able to learn about current trends, tips for talking with teens, Rx abuse warning signs and proper disposal methods.

Here are some highlights regarding the importance of this community discussion:
*Nationally, as many as one in five teens say they have taken a prescription drug without having a prescription for it. Every day, almost 2, 500 teens abuse an Rx medication for the 1st time.
*Last year in Cumberland County, nearly 11% of high-schoolers reporting using an Rx drug without a doctor's prescription.
(Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey, MIYHS)
*More than 70% of teens who abuse Rx drugs report they got them from a friend or family member (SAMHSA).
*40% of teens report that, even if not prescribed by a doctor., Rx drugs are safer to use than illegal drugs (CADCA).
*Parents/adults CAN reduce risk by keeping track of their meds/safely disposing of unused meds, talking to their teens and knowing the warning signs of Rx drug abuse  - all of which will be addressed @ the forum.

We thank CADCA & King Pharmaceuticals for being a part of this national initiative to reduce prescription drug abuse among teens.  To learn more about CADCA's efforts, visit:

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Public Health in the Correctional Setting: Challenges & Opportunities

Presentation from the 2010 Maine Public Health Association's annual meeting (

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Release from Prison & the Risk of Overdose: New Research

When we do our educational groups at the Cumberland County Jail and the Maine Correctional Center in Windham, we stress the importance of learning about tolerance and the risks associated with lowered tolerance upon release.

Drug and alcohol tolerance is typically lowered upon release from facilities such as prison or detox (see "Loss of tolerance and overdose mortality after inpatient opiate detoxification: follow up study") but there is research citing that release from prison/jail puts a person at highest risk for overdose. Below is the most recent published research, followed by prior publications/articles.

"Meta-analysis of drug-related deaths soon after release from prison" 
(ABSTRACT, Addiction, June 23, 2010)
"Release from Prison - A High Risk of Death for Former Inmates"
(NE J of Medicine, 2007)
"Heroin users released from methadone detox or jail may be at higher risk for overdose, according to UCSF researchers"
(UCSF, 2001)
"Preventing Fatal Overdose"- Powerpoint slideshow
(NY State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services)
"Mortality from overdose among injecting drug users recently released from prison: database linkage study"
 (British Medical Journal, 1998)

While the information is alarming, it is important to note that there are things people can do to reduce their risk of overdose upon release.  Here are a few things we share with incarcerated individuals during our groups:
  • Do a little less if you haven’t used lately. Even if it’s only been a few days, your body may react to the drug like it did when you first began to use. If your health has worsened or you’ve lost weight since your last use, consider that too when measuring your dose
  • Take the drug in a way that gets you high more slowly—snorting heroin or cocaine rather than injecting it, for example
  • Try to use with someone who knows what to do in case you go out. If you must use alone, let a friend know so they can check in on you
  • Try to find out as much as you can about the stuff you plan to use: it may have gotten stronger since the last time you tried it
  • Be careful if you’re using a new drug, as it will be hard to know how much to do. Try to use with someone who has some experience with the drug you’re doing, and with new users.
  • Taken from:
For more detailed information about our project, visit our website; if you'd like to learn more about the Harm Reduction Coalition (a leader in overdose prevention education), visit

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Intersection Between Partner Violence & Substance Abuse: Reports & Awareness

There has been a lot of chatter among our "friends" and "followers" about the connection between alcohol/substance use and domestic/intimate partner violence over the past couple of weeks.  Since February has been declared National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, I thought it important to highlight some of the research as well as some of the resources.

It seems, surprising or not, that there is a direct link between DV and substance use.  Does this mean substance abuse CAUSES domestic violence?  Is it the other way around?  Does this give abusers an "excuse" to abuse?  Please feel free to discuss (AND SHARE OTHER RESOURCES) here.

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month -

National Sexual Violence Resource Center -

"Effect of co-occurring disorders and intimate partner violence on substance abuse treatment outcomes" J of Substance Abuse Treatment Volume 38, Issue 2, Pages 97-202 (March 2010)

"Does Alcohol Involvement Increase the Severity of Intimate Partner Violence?" (Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, Volume 34, Issue 2, February 2010)

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: DV and Substance Abuse -

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Socioeconomic status & health risks

This blog post stems from an article that was posted this morning by @LaDonna Coy from a ScienceDaily article entitled "Low Socioeconomic Status Affects Cortisol Levels in Children Over Time" (January 21, 2010).  When we think of the challenges children face, it's important to keep in mind the influence of environmental factors but to still explore how we can build assets and have meaningful relationships with children despite - or maybe because - of their situations. 

While reading this particular article, I was reminded of the PBS Series "Unnatural Causes" which addressed themes of racism, infant mortality, poverty, diabetes and the impact of chronic stress on the health of our nation.  If you have some time, I encourage you to read the article and view the trailer of this film.  In addition, I encourage you to think of ways YOU can (and/or continue to) build assets in your community so that youth - and communities -  can thrive!

Learn more about the 40 Development Assets  and Thriving & Sparks from Search Institute

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Chronic Pain: Risk Management

Over the course of the last hour I came across three separate yet related articles that address the issues regarding the treatment and management of chronic pain.  Below you'll find links to each article so please feel free to offer your perspective about what patients chronic pain patients might need to function, what doctors are up against and the addiction & overdose risks attached to these particular drugs (Oxycontin, methadone, Vicodin, etc).

Pain Management Fails Due to Rx Drug Abuse Fears 
(, January 8, 2010)
"Millions of Americans with significant acute or chronic pain are being undertreated as physicians fail to provide comprehensive pain treatment, according to recent reviews. The failure is due to inadequate training of physicians, personal biases and, increasingly, fears of prescription analgesic drug abuse." Read On...

Managing the Emotional Aspects of Pain 
(Crossroads for Women blog, January 15, 2010)
"A recent article found on talked about how living with chronic pain can hurt personal relationships. Michael E. Geisser, a professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Michigan, states in the article, “It has been shown that relationships in which one partner has chronic pain tend to be more strained, have more marital distress, more conflict, and a greater likelihood for divorce.” Read On...

Even Legitimate Opioid Use May Cause Overdose 
(Reuters Health, January 19, 2010)
"Perhaps it's not surprising, but people who take high doses of opioid painkillers even for legitimate medical reasons are at risk of overdosing, new research shows." Read On...

For local and national treatment options, please visit SAMHSA's Treatment Locator at: .  In Maine you can also dial 211 or visit