The Dangers of Drugged Driving

using marijuana and driving

A new review of teen survey responses to the annual Monitoring the Future survey provides urgent reasons that parents should pay very close attention to their children’s drug or alcohol use. A recent report published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse reveals how many teens say they drink and drive or smoke pot and then drive. This review shows that some of these numbers have been falling, others have been climbing steeply in the last several years.

Overall, the number of high school seniors who drove after drinking have been falling, dropping from their high of 16% in 2008 to 8.7% in 2011.

But in 2008/2009, this dropping line crossed the ascending line representing those who drove after smoking marijuana. That number increased from 10.4% in 2008 to 12.4% in the 2011 survey.

Drugged driving statistic

The same line-crossing occurred in the graph of those who either drove after smoking or drinking or got in a car with a driver who had been doing so. This graph shows the rates of driving or being driven after alcohol, marijuana or other illicit drug were used by the driver. Continue reading

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The Subtle Effects of Peer Pressure

teen peer pressureThere’s a lot of talk about peer pressure and its role in causing people – especially young people – to start using drugs or alcohol. And it’s true – one’s peers can influence one to reach for that first drink, joint or pill. But peer pressure doesn’t have to mean that a person’s friends and associates twist his arm to participate in the substance abuse. It can be far more subtle than that.

Peer pressure can simply consist of walking into a room where everyone is drinking or smoking pot and not feeling like it’s possible to turn around and walk out. Or it can be just wanting to join in because it looks like everyone is having so much fun. And it seems like they are not coming to any harm – at least, not at the moment. Continue reading

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Marijuana as a Gateway Drug

Is marijuana really a gateway drug? That depends on who you ask. If you ask NORML, the pro-marijuana advocacy group, they’ll say no. Asking NORML is one thing. Asking those who ended up going to rehab for intensely destructive drugs like heroin and cocaine might get you a different answer.

We had occasion to ask this question of some of our rehab program graduates. Here’s what they told us.

Narconon graduate“In high school, I started smoking marijuana with my friends. They told me there was nothing wrong with it, that it was kind of normal and everybody was doing it. So I just kind of joined in and started smoking marijuana. Using marijuana opened the door to other drugs, other people, I stopped caring about life. I stopped going to school. I didn’t have goals any more. I got introduced to heroin, cocaine, And I started using that.”

“I started smoking pot to fit in with everybody. And it looked like everybody was having a good time. And they told me ‘Nobody’s died from smoking pot.’ So I did it and it progressed into cocaine and heroin and my life was just downhill.  Once I was smoking pot, I was around people who were doing other drugs. so it made it easier to just do those other drugs. I was like, well, these people are doing it and they seem fine. So I did it.” Continue reading

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Why a New Culture of Sobriety is Needed and Makes Sense

couple living sober lifeThere’s so many ways to help people overcome problems with alcohol or drugs. Perhaps the most important right now are drug prevention and education for youth and drug rehabilitation. These are, as you may know, the services that Narconon centers around the world offer. But there are additional changes that need to occur if we are, as a culture, to overcome the losses being incurred by abuse of and addiction to substances like alcohol, heroin and pills.

Just to comment on these losses for a moment, the primary among these is the terrible loss of life. Around the world, more than two million lives are lost due to alcohol consumption, according to the World Health Organization. And more than two hundred thousand lives are lost each year to drug abuse. These lives are lost both due to direct overdoses and indirect causes such as illnesses like pneumonia, cancer or liver failure that result from drug or alcohol use. Continue reading

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Marijuana: What Are Users Really Smoking

marijuana userThe names “weed” and “skunk” do little to make marijuana sound appealing, but most people who smoke pot don’t care what the name is, as long as it gets them high. Do you think, however, that these men and women who support marijuana would be concerned to know that their drugs have been contaminated? Some will be now, following a report released recently by a biotech researcher who has been looking into the chemical composition of the marijuana she has been able to get her hands on. Continue reading

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Recovery-Friendly and Sobriety-Friendly Communities

There’s a lot of talk about the need to make communities “recovery-friendly.” This term means that if a person is in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, the community makes it easier for that person to maintain their sobriety.

What makes a community friendly to those in recovery? There’s several factors.

1. Access to treatment facilities. The city, county or state makes it relatively easy for a person to find a rehab program. The city and county can reach out to encourage churches and community groups to offer support and help, even offer financial support or at least tax advantages to those who help.

2. There are drug and alcohol-free entertainments. This could include stadiums with no-drinking sections and drug-free concerts in the park. What also helps is a limit on the number of alcohol-selling establishments in the town.

3. Discouraging stigma: If a community takes a “head-in-the-sand” attitude toward addiction, then it’s quite possible for old addiction-related stigmas to remain in place. A local politician who goes to rehab may be slammed in the local media for “being a drunk” instead of that media supporting him and encouraging others to find help.

4. Law enforcement and drug courts: By focusing on prosecuting drug dealers and channeling users to drug courts or rehabs, the community endorses sobriety but can still take a hard line toward those who bring drugs into the community.

5. Leadership: Community leaders can certainly promote the benefits of being sober and tolerant toward those who are in recovery. These messages do trickle their way down through the community. Some people will always maintain their fixed opinions – that’s never going to change. Others will get the message, however.

These factors are mostly being discussed with reference to those in recovery but in fact, many of these actions also influence young people and their ability to grow up sober. Young people need to have drug- and alcohol-free events and influences if they are to make it all the way to adulthood sober. And according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, if a young person can make it to 21 without using drugs and alcohol, he’s (or she’s) almost certain never to do so.

This is the most compelling reason I know to make a community sobriety-friendly as well as recovery-friendly. In addition to the above, what else can communities do to make their environments sobriety-friendly for young people?

support for recoveryAthletic leagues, art lessons, swim clubs, field trips, museums and libraries with public classes, health and career fairs, leadership that’s sober and open about the benefits of being so, good drug prevention classes in schools, after-school programs to help with homework and sports, and a million other ideas. And of course, insisting on drug-free schools. Our kids have the right to attend schools without drug and alcohol criminality on all sides, just like healthy adults expect to be able to work in drug-free workplaces.

Every parent can spread the message in PTA, school board, town hall, city council and city planning meetings. By taking a stand for zero-tolerance toward drugs and a high support for recovery and sobriety, parents can make a difference for every member of their families.

To learn about the drug education programs offered by Narconon International, visit our website here:

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Survey Says High School Athletes More At Risk for Prescription Abuse Problems

empty school roomAmerica is waking up to the fact that our nation has a serious problem with prescription drug abuse. Painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin, powerful medications once reserved to provide relief for cancer patients and those with terminal illnesses, are now among the most commonly prescribed drugs. These shockingly addictive drugs are now killing more people every year through overdose than both heroin and cocaine combined. In addition to the approximately 17,000 Americans who now die annually from painkiller overdose, several hundred thousand more are suffering from problems with abuse and addiction to the medications. Continue reading

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True Stories About the Effects of Marijuana

teens smoking marijuanaWhile the media carries plenty of news about the medical benefits of marijuana’s different ingredients, there are not many stories about the adverse effects of this drug on young peoples’ lives. The few that show up in the headlines are the ones that are too drastic to be missed. Like the story of young Levy Thamba, who died after experiencing a marijuana-induced panic attack that drove him to jump off a hotel balcony. Continue reading

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More on Young Athletes, Painkillers and Addiction

young athleteWe recently published an article about the path some young people take to addiction. It’s not necessarily through use of drugs like alcohol or pot – although that is the typical route for many. For these others, addiction starts with prescription medications that are given to them by doctors. The young patient may not be properly instructed on their use and the doctor may not be fully educated on how to prevent dependence on those drugs. After a few twists and turns, the young person winds up addicted even though recreational use was not part of the equation.

The Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) just published an article on a closely related topic: how prescription drug abuse has been rising among high school athletes. Their information came from the 2009 Monitoring the Future Report, an annual survey completed on high school students. Students participating in baseball, softball, basketball, soccer, swimming, track and field, football and volleyball were interviewed.

These interviews showed that athletes use illicit substances more often than non-athletes. And the proportion of these young people using painkillers was also higher than usual for teens: “12 percent of males surveyed and 8 percent of females reported using painkillers in the past year.” These numbers were increases over past years’ surveys. Continue reading

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Will the Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act Give Patients More Access to Rehab

keyA group of U.S. Senators have been in the news recently in connection with a new bill which is aimed at opening doors to treatment for more Americans suffering from drug addiction. Specifically, the bill is intended to address what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has described as America’s “deadly epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse.” Around 17,000 people in the United States now die every year from overdosing on painkillers such as hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (OxyContin), and nearly 500,000 people are being admitted to emergency rooms for complications involving these drugs. The bill is intended to strike a blow against this looming public health threat by expanding the access to treatment for addiction to opioid painkillers, in light of the fact that less than half of those who need treatment are currently getting it. In 2012, around 2.5 million people in the U.S. abused or were addicted to opioid medications, and fewer than 1 million received treatment. Senators Markey, Feinstein, Rockefeller, Brown and Hirono introduced the Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act in the second session of the current meeting of Congress, using the acronym “TREAT Act.” Continue reading

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