Vaping: The New Gateway Drug for Teens?

Posted by MST Services

vapeOriginally created with the intention of aiding adults in quitting traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes have been finding their way into the hands of teenagers in recent years with an ever-increasing frequency. In 2011, less than five percent of teenagers reported using e-cigarettes; by 2018, that number had jumped to more than 37 percent. Despite being touted as a “safe” and even “healthy” alternative to traditional tar-and-chemical-laden cigarettes, most e-cigarettes still contain nicotine, which has long been known as an addictive substance. And that’s at the heart of the issue of teen e-cigarette use, says Nora D. Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “It is urgent that teens understand the possible effects of vaping on overall health, the development of the teen brain and the potential for addiction.”

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform, Substance Abuse

The Crossover Between Teen Mental Health & Substance Abuse

Posted by MST Services

recidivismsGrowing up is a difficult process for many teens across the U.S, as developing a positive self-image can be a daunting task in the face of society's ever-changing landscape. Teens feel pressure from many different areas of their lives: from their parents, their school, their job, their friends, and even from interactions on social media. It is no wonder, then, that so many teens suffer from mental health issues like depression and anxiety. But when teenagers are struggling with a mental health problem and have no healthy outlet to deal with painful or difficult emotions, they can instead end up turning to alcohol or drug use as a form of self-medication. It is a scenario many are familiar with in adults, but with teenagers the risks are much higher because their brains are still developing. At this critical point in their development, drug and alcohol use can be far more problematic.

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Topics: Substance Abuse

Student Drug Testing: Helpful or Harmful?

Posted by MST Services

AdobeStock_185014259Providing students with a safe and healthy learning environment is the goal of school administrators across the nation, and in the last few decades this goal has grown to include preventing students from using tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. One of the first programs to address this issue was D.A.R.E., which began in Los Angeles in the early 1980s. Studies on the program’s efficacy, however, have shown the results to be mixed at best, and in some cases, the prevalence of drug use in teens increased. In response to this, school administrators began looking elsewhere to find solutions to this issue. Some administrators drew inspiration from workplace drug testing policies, the result of which has been the implementation of random drug testing programs for students in schools across the nation. Such policies have left both parents and students alike uneasy about the process, and experts unconvinced of such a policy’s effectiveness to curb youth substance use. 

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform, Substance Abuse

Alcohol Abuse Among Teens

Posted by MST Services

Teen Alcohol AbuseAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol is still the most commonly used and abused drug of choice for youth under the age of 21. In fact, the CDC estimates that 11 percent of alcohol consumed in the United States each year is consumed by youths between 12 and 20 years of age, and 90 percent of that occurs in the form of binge drinking. Despite being viewed as not carrying a great risk by roughly 50 percent of teenagers, the ramifications of underage drinking can lead to lifelong mental and physical issues. From sexual assaults to car accidents, stories of the negative impact drinking can have on youth are frequent in the news and pose a serious public health concern across the country.

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Topics: Substance Abuse, Troubled Youth

The Opioid Epidemic's Effect on Children

Posted by MST Services

addiction-antibiotic-capsules-159211Elizabeth’s baby was due in June, and that’s exactly when she came— on the very morning of her due date, a new little girl entered the world. Elizabeth was ecstatic to become a mother, sharing the special moment with her partner, but as the newborn was examined, doctors came back with bad news: the baby was unnaturally stiff and had difficulty breathing. Elizabeth’s heart sank as she heard the diagnosis: neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS. After years of opioid addiction, beginning with prescription painkillers like Percocet and culminating with heroin usage, her worst fears had come to fruition: Elizabeth’s baby girl had been born with an opioid addiction.

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Topics: Substance Abuse, Child Welfare

Alcohol, Drugs, Youth, and Arrests.

Posted by MST Services

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Drug and alcohol use can cause tragedy across all members of society. Perhaps one of the most vulnerable groups is that of juveniles.

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Topics: Substance Abuse

Are Juvenile Drug Courts a Good Alternative to Incarceration?

Posted by MST Services

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Life can just be plain tough sometimes. But for some adolescents who feel anxious, angry, depressed, oppressed, stressed or even bored, drugs are a glamorous escape. Drugs represent a way to avoid life and offer relief from the pain of abuse, a “bad day,” or poor self-esteem.

Natalie*, just 15 years old, snuck out and was inclined to take just one “hit” to forget the disappointment of being denied a night out by her parents. She quickly learned that drugs made it possible for her to forget that she had homework, housework, and a commitment to her family she felt was unwarranted. She had a feeling of pure escape that transcended the circumstances Natalie felt were wrong in her life. She wasn’t a bad kid, just susceptible—which eventually led her to a local juvenile drug court.

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Topics: Substance Abuse

The Opioid Epidemic: A National Emergency Infographic

Posted by Dr. Scott Henggeler

Are we in danger of losing a generation of children from the opioid crisis

Our family lives on a picturesque island off the coast of Maine. Yet, painkillers prescribed by physicians resulting in opioid addiction and the ready availability of heroin have damaged the lives of many families in our extended social network – children of our friends, friends of our friends, work colleagues of our friends, families of our children’s friends, and acquaintances in our community.

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Topics: Substance Abuse

Opioid Epidemic Hits Pennsylvania Hard

Posted by L Moore and LA Cook

EPISCenter responds to the growing opioid epidemic in the state of Pennsylvania

Imagine an 18-year-old former high-school football star, now a shell of his previous self. His decline started when a knee injury left him in a lot of pain. No one knew it, but he became addicted to the pills that were prescribed by his doctor to help him recover. He says he later started using heroin because it is cheaper and easier to get on his college campus than painkillers. 

Or consider the young teen who was suspended from school because she was found "under the influence of something." Later, her parents found out their daughter bought pills from one of her classmates who took the pills from his mother’s medicine cabinet.

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Topics: Substance Abuse

Do Girls in the Juvenile Justice System Commit More Drug Crimes?

Posted by Sue Dee

Proportion of females arrested for drug crimes higher than males

There has been some good news and statistics in the juvenile-justice world recently. One is that juvenile-drug arrests fell to about 112,100 in 2014, down from 200,000 14 years earlier.

However, examining this stat more closely finds something disturbing. Call them girls, young women, females, whatever you prefer, they are now accounting for a larger percentage of juvenile drug arrests than their male counterparts. Also worrisome is, writes Jeffrey A. Butts of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in a recent brief, “the growing proportion of females among juvenile drug arrests was seen among arrests for drug manufacturing and sales as well as arrests for simple drug possession.”

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Topics: Substance Abuse