A new study examines teen substance abuse for hashish, and the study has identified certain factors that may increase the risks that a teen will use this drug. According to Joseph Palamar, an assistant professor at NYU Langone Medical Center and a researcher who has an affiliation with New York University’s Center for Drug Use and HIV Research, “Nearly one out of 10 teens reported ever using hashish and it was used by a quarter of lifetime marijuana users.” Hashish is a drug related to marijuana only it is much more powerful. Many of the risk factors for marijuana are also risk factors for hashish. Palamar also reported that “Another key finding was that other drug use was a robust risk factor for hashish use. Other illicit drug use, regular cigarette smoking, and frequent alcohol use each increased the risk for hashish use; however, a main finding was that as frequency of other marijuana use increased, so too did risk for recent hashish use.”
The teen substance abuse study on hashish also showed that teenaged females were at a high risk for marijuana use but not for hashish use. This corroborates other findings that have shown males are more likely to use hard drugs than females. Since hashish has a much higher amount of THC it can be more dangerous, and have more severe side effects when these are experienced. Palamar also noted “Interestingly, our research found that students using marijuana because they identified as being ‘hooked’ on it nearly doubled the odds for hashish use. Since it is the more frequent marijuana users and those who feel they are hooked who are more likely to use hashish, in some instances hashish use can be used as an indicator of severity of marijuana use.”
Stimulant abuse by employees is becoming more common in North America, and according to the experts there is no available data about just how prevalent this practice is but what is known is that the number of people who abuse stimulant drugs and who use performance enhancing drugs in the workplace is on the rise. In confidential interviews and surveys many people admitted to the use of stimulants used to treat ADHD in order to get more work done. These drugs include Concerta, Vyvanse, Ritalin, and Adderall as well as generic names like methylphenidate. This form of substance abuse can be found in almost every sector and industry an it is becoming a growing problem. Many employers and professional organizations ban the use of these drugs unless an individual has a legitimate medical diagnosis of ADHD.
Performance enhancing drugs in the workplace is nothing new, especially in the world of professional sports and in sectors where workers must be alerts and put in long hours. Wall street traders and high powered finance professionals have admitted to stimulant abuse in order to put in more hours and get more done each day. According to Timberline Knolls medical director Dr. Kimberly Dennis “You’d see addiction in students, but it was pretty rare to see it in an adult. We are definitely seeing more than one year ago, more than two years ago, especially in the age range of 25 to 45.” Medical professionals are alarmed because stimulant abuse can have a number of health problems associated with it. These health problems include mental issues like anxiety, depression and paranoia, as well as physical problems from the effects of these drugs.
1. What are Naloxene rescue kits? These kits have everything needed to start reversing an overdose so that the individual who took the drug has a better chance of surviving the event without permanent damage. The kit contains a drug called naloxene which reverses opioids in the system and can prevent further absorption of the narcotic.
2. How are these kits used? The rescue kit is only intended to be used if an opioid overdose occurs. The opiod that was taken could be a prescription painkiller like morphine or hydrocodone or it could be an illegal street drug like heroin which has no medical use. When the overdose occurs the drug is given as soon as possible, usually as an injection, to prevent further damage and complications including death.
3. How can you get a Naloxene rescue kit? These kits must be prescribed by a medical professional, and in many areas only the individual with the addiction can be named as the patient on the prescription. When the prescription is filled the kit is kept in the home just in case it is ever needed. Many overdose deaths could have been prevented if family or friends had access to a rescue kit when the overdose occurred.
4. Why not just call 911 and let the professionals handle the opioid overdose? When an overdose of opioids occurs the body starts to shut down and the brain will not get enough oxygen. After even a few minutes the lack of oxygen can cause permanent brain damage, but it may take emergency personnel much longer to reach the patient and start life saving measures.
Random drug testing in schools in order to identify student substance abuse is a controversial topic, with some parents and government officials advocating for this step while others are vehemently against it and argue that it is a violation of the rights that students have to be free from being searched without good cause. There is strong scientific evidence that shows this step may seem like a good deterrent but it is ineffective. Schools which have used random drug screening with students did not really show lower student substance abuse rates, and the cost can be high. This can take away from limited resources that could be better used somewhere else. Pediatricians in the USA have come out against a policy change, and argue that this move would not detect the sporadic use of drugs or frequent alcohol abuse. Students in schools with a drug testing policy on a random basis were not less likely to drink or do drugs, so the policy does not act as the deterrent that may be believed.
Researcher and University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center Adolescent Communication Institute Director Daniel Romer discussed random drug testing in order to identify student substance abuse. Romer explained “Random drug testing has no impact on kids’ beliefs about drugs. The question remains, how do you create a positive climate? The idea of drug testing sounds good. The reality is different.” Other issues include false positive results caused by medications for certain disorders or from certain food products.
Research has shown that teen substance abuse can be minimized when the risks of prescription drug abuse are discussed. Legally prescribed drugs cause more deaths than cocaine and heroin abuse combined, yet many teenagers believe that these drugs are safe because they were prescribed by a doctor. New research which was published in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing which shows that many teens and their parents are still not fully aware of the dangers that prescription drug abuse can have. Just because a drug is legally prescribed this does not make it safe for everyone, and many prescription drugs have serious risks but the benefits offered for certain conditions may outweigh these risks for a small percentage of the population. In the year 2013 alone 22,676 people died from causes related to the use or abuse of pharmaceutical substances. This was more than 50% of the total for all overdose deaths in this year.
Prescription drug abuse and teen substance abuse are both serious problems that pose dangers to society as a whole, and to the individuals who have the drug problem. A release from the CDC states “The CDC has classified the situation as an epidemic. Prescription drugs are seen as blessed by a trusted institution, the FDA, while increasingly aggressive advertising by drug companies simultaneously floods parents and children with messages that these substances are safe, popular, and beneficial.” The release continued with “Teens need help before they reach these tipping points for prescription drug abuse. Adults spotting teens with very high levels of anxiety and at least moderate use of other restricted substances should realize that these are students with a high likelihood of prescription drug abuse. Male teens with a high need to be popular and teens in general appear to be at exceptional risk. Campaigns must target parents as well, since they clearly underestimate both the physical risks of prescription drugs and the likelihood that their children will abuse these drugs.”
A recent study shows that adult memory may be damaged by teen marijuana use. Adolescents who use marijuana on a regular basis, and who are considered heavy users, tend to have a brain structure which is abnormal and they tend to perform very poorly on tests designed to evaluate memory. The study was undertaken by researchers at Northwestern University, and it indicated that heavy marijuana users who smoked each day for just 3 years had a hippocampus which was abnormally shaped. This part of the brain helps to regulate long term memory, and an abnormal shape means that the hippocampus is probably not functioning properly or storing memories correctly. These indicators were noticed a full two years after the individuals ha stopped using marijuana.
Heavy teen marijuana use may damage adult memory because the brain is still developing during the adolescent years, and chronic use of marijuana may interfere with the normal development that occurs during this stage in life. Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine psychiatry and behavioral sciences chair and professor Dr. John Csernansky explained “The memory processes that appear to be affected by cannabis are ones that we use every day to solve common problems and to sustain our relationships with friends and family.” Feinberg School of Medicine assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences Matthew Smith, the lead study author, commented “Both our recent studies link the chronic use of marijuana during adolescence to these differences in the shape of brain regions that are critical to memory and that appear to last for at least a few years after people stop using it.”
Trauma in childhood may lead to substance abuse in adults, although this is not cut and dried and each individual may react to the same trauma in different ways. In general the younger a child is and the more traumatic an experience is the higher the risk will be that the child engages in substance abuse in the teen and adult years, but there are some factors that should be evaluated as well. There are risk factors and protective factors in play with each individual, and one person may experience a devastating trauma in early childhood yet never engage in substance abuse while another individual had a slightly traumatic experience and can not get over it.
Some of the protective factors which may affect substance abuse after a trauma in childhood include things like:
A strong support system
Good mental and emotional health
Feeling connected to others
Strong family bonds
Achievement in academics and education
Problem solving skills
Some of the risk factors that may increase the risk of substance abuse after trauma in childhood include:
Lack of coping skills
Lack of problem solving skills
Poor educational performance
Previous substance abuse
Lack of gainful employment
Mental illness or poor mental health
Low socioeconomic status
A lack of support
Low self esteem
Exposure to domestic violence
Growing up in a volatile household where substance abuse and/or violence frequently occurs
A new research study on substance abuse among pregnant teens has shown some alarming results. Approximately 3 out of every 5 pregnant teens has engaged in substance abuse with either drugs or alcohol during a pregnancy. There are many public messages being broadcast about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, especially during pregnancy when the unborn fetus can be harmed by these substances. The latest study was performed by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, and the results show that teens may hear the public health messages but that these may not be getting through. What surprised researchers the most was that pregnant teens engaged in substance abuse at a rate much higher than what is seen in teens who are not pregnant.
According to University of Texas Austin’s School of Social Work assistant professor Christopher Salas-Wright, Ph.D., the latest trend involving pregnant teens and substance abuse is disturbing. “Mothers’ substance use during pregnancy can have important consequences for the health and development of newborn babies. Despite efforts to prevent substance use among pregnant teens, our findings suggest that we still have a lot of work to do. To our knowledge, this is the largest study to date on the relationship between substance use and teen pregnancy.” According to Saint Louis University’s School of Social Work professor and co-author of the study Michael G. Vaughn, Ph.D., “We found that the odds of substance use were roughly 50 percent lower among pregnant teens reporting consistent parental support and limit-setting, as well as those who expressed strong positive feelings about going to school. This suggests that it makes sense to engage both parents and teachers in efforts to address substance use among pregnant teens.”
Teen substance abuse is a growing problem, and research studies on the sleep patterns of teens show that most adolescents get less sleep now than they did 20 years ago. A lack of quality sleep can interfere with good judgment and decision making that teens engage in on a daily basis, and the fact that this age group is catching fewer zzs than ever is alarming. The research study showed that the groups of adolescents who get the least sleep include students who come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, females, and minorities. This is the first study that covers sleep patterns of teens by both age and time period. Many teens reported getting enough sleep, but when the actual time spent sleeping each week was examined these adolescents were actually coming up short.
When asked about the teen sleep patterns study, and the growing rate of teen substance abuse, Mailman School of Public Health epidemiology assistant professor Katherine W. Keyes, Ph.D., who was the lead study author, stated “This finding implies that minority and low socioeconomic status adolescents are less accurately judging the adequacy of the sleep they are getting.” The age group affected the most seemed to be 15 year olds, and this group showed the biggest decrease by percentage when compared to the same age group two decades ago. Keyes continued with “Although the underlying reasons for the decreases in hours of sleep are unknown, there has been speculation that increased Internet and social media use and pressures due to the heightened competitiveness of the college admissions process are adding to the problem. Declines in self-reported adolescent sleep across the last 20 years are concerning and suggest that there is potentially a significant public health concern that warrants health education and literacy approaches.”