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Family Focus: The Sundt Family

Posted by Informed Families on September 27, 2018 at 3:04 PM

Sundt brothers

Jon Sundt tragically lost both of his brothers, Steve & Eric, to drug addiction.

“Steve and Eric had dreams,” said Sundt, a businessman and founder of alternative investment company Altegris. “They were athletes, they loved the outdoors and they loved the ocean. They were on a good path, enjoying life. [They] got sidetracked, listened to some friends who turned out to be not very good friends.”

Both became addicted to drugs in high school, thinking that they could just “experiment” and everything would turn out ok.

“They thought drugs were cool and would lead to something they [didn’t] have,” said Sundt. “They tried to fit in and kick it up a notch by doing drugs.”

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Topics: suicide, mental health, healthy kids, drug use, drug prevention

How Many Florida Children & Teens Drink Or Use Drugs?

Posted by Informed Families on September 25, 2018 at 2:17 PM

People make a lot of assumptions about what children and teens do or don't do when it comes to substance abuse. This can be based on the person's own experiences, what he or she sees on social media or in movies or what others may have experienced. Luckily, we don't have to assume, thanks to the Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey (FYSAS) report, which was just released for 2018.

The FYSAS was administered to almost 55,000 Florida students in 686 middle and high schools in February of 2018.

Here are some highlights from the report:

  • Alcohol and cigarette use is declining. Between 2006 and 2018, past-month use of alcohol declined by 16.7 percent (11.7% for middle school students and 20.6% among high school students), binge drinking declined by 10 percent (5.3% for middle school students and 13.4% for high school students) and cigarette use declined by 8.1 percent (4.8% for middle school students and 10.6 percent reduction among high school students).
  • Binge drinking is still an issue. One out of every 10 high school students reported binge drinking in the last 30 days and one out of seven reported blacking out from drinking.
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Topics: drug abuse, teens, children, alcohol use

President's Message - September 2018

Posted by Peggy B. Sapp, President & CEO on September 21, 2018 at 10:23 AM

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR CHILDREN'S HEATLH & WELL-BEING? 

For so many issues that we face as a society, and certainly drug addiction, there’s an abundance of denial and blame.

This reminds me of a little riddle about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

(For example, creating a healthy environment for our children.)

Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.

(We are all so busy, after all!)

Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job.

(“Don’t put it all on me!”)

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Topics: President's Message, children, drug prevention, family dinner, Family Day, red ribbon, red ribbon week

Family Focus: Melissa & Demetrius Branca

Posted by Informed Families on August 30, 2018 at 4:26 PM

Family Focus: Melissa & Demetrius Branca

Four years ago, Melissa Branca received a call that would change her life forever. Her stepson Anthony was struck and killed by a distracted driver on his way to work. He was hit in his vehicle while waiting to make a left turn. The truck driver, who was going 40 miles per hour when he hit Anthony, received a $1,100 fine and a 6-month license suspension for careless driving. Anthony died one month before his 20th birthday.

“When you experience a loss of this magnitude, everything changes…you turn into a completely different person,” said Branca. “I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason. This shouldn’t have happened. It was preventable. Distracted driving is an underserved problem, legislatively and otherwise.”

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Topics: parents, driving, impaired driving, distracted driving, Florida

President's Message - August 2018

Posted by Peggy B. Sapp, President & CEO on August 29, 2018 at 2:49 PM

DOES BACK TO SCHOOL MAKE YOU FRANTIC? 

It’s back to school time. Parents are out there frantically getting their children new clothes, new school supplies, new backpacks, etc.

Why not start with some new habits that will last a life time?! Here are three starters for healthier families:

1. Regular family dinner.

Family Day (September 24) is just around the corner. It’s the day we celebrate family dinners as a way to keep children safe, healthy and drug free. Children who eat dinner with their family five or more times a week are more likely to make healthy decisions around drugs and alcohol.

Thanks to feedback from Ambassador Tracy Bowen of Collier County, we’ll be offering tips for families throughout the month of September to make the most of mealtime and keep the conversation going strong.

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Topics: President's Message, children, drug prevention, back to school

Last Year Was The Worst Year In US History For Drug Overdoses

Posted by Informed Families on August 26, 2018 at 5:31 PM

prescription-drug-USDrug overdose was responsible for the loss of nearly 72,000 Americans in 2017, according to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention. That’s just under 200 people each day for the entire year - and 8,000 more deaths than the previous year, also a record year. At least 2/3 of those deaths were due to opioid abuse. Here are two trends that are contributing to this awful epidemic.

From Pills To Heroin

Patients receiving prescription drugs for pain as a result of an injury or recovering from surgery are often given significantly more than they need. While opioids are effective in managing pain, their addictive properties make them dangerous for long-term use.

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Topics: drug abuse, prescription drugs, prescription drug abuse, opioids, lock your meds

President's Message - July 2018

Posted by Peggy B. Sapp, President & CEO on July 25, 2018 at 11:16 AM

OPIOIDS. OPIOIDS. OPIOIDS. 

Do I have your attention? I’ve noticed that when I use the term “drug prevention,” people sometimes tune out…but when they hear “Opioids,” they appear to perk up. Opioids, they understand.

Many people, sadly, aren’t entirely sold on the importance or relevance of drug prevention to their daily lives. “Not my child. Not my family.” Even Ginger Katz, a mom who lost her son to a drug overdose and who we feature on our blog this month, shared the same feeling before it happened to her. Ginger’s story is both heartbreaking and inspiring, but if we don’t show stories like Ginger’s, the public is going to continue to sweep the problem under the rug. And as Ginger so aptly said when we interviewed her, “we shove it under the rug until our heads hit the ceiling.”

We understand that drug prevention isn’t a “sexy” hot topic. On top of that, we are all needing a brain vacation and many of us only have enough time and energy to deal with what’s in front of us.

I am coining 2 new mental conditions:

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Topics: President's Message, children, mental health, drug prevention, opioids

Family Focus: Ginger Katz of the Courage To Speak Foundation

Posted by Informed Families on July 11, 2018 at 11:57 AM

When Ginger Katz’s 20-year-old son Ian died of a drug overdose, the doctors suggested she tell people that he died of a heart attack or brain aneurysm. Katz said that the night before the funeral, she couldn’t sleep, feeling “physically, spiritually and intellectually” unable to attend the next day’s events.

“I felt that [for me to attend the funeral] they’d have to carry me,” said Katz. “Then, I’m not sure where it came from but at some point that night, I visualized speaking out. I was not one for public speaking but I woke my husband up and told him that I wanted to speak out. I said, ‘if this is happening to us, it’s happening to other families and no one is talking about it.’”

Twenty-two years later, Ginger and her husband Larry Katz are still talking about their experience through the non-profit organization they ultimately founded: the Courage to Speak Foundation. They make presentations to children, parents, educators, clergy, professionals and others in 40 states. Knowing that their story alone could only take families so far, Ginger and Larry worked with a team of experts to develop curriculum evaluated and recommended by the Yale School of Medicine. Their elementary, middle and high school curriculum is implemented across the country. Additionally, they offer a multi-session program for parents called Courage to Speak -Courageous Parenting 101®.

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Topics: parents, overdose, drug prevention, opioids

President's Message - June 2018

Posted by Peggy B. Sapp, President & CEO on June 22, 2018 at 9:04 PM

A VACATION FOR THE BRAIN

A brain vacation. Doesn’t that sound so divine?

Busy, busy, busy. We are all so busy. How did this happen?  Suddenly we feel at least 50% busier than we used to feel.

Moments that used to be prime opportunities for mental breaks, such as stopping at a red light, riding in an elevator, walking down the street, sitting in a waiting room, eating a meal, relaxing on a chair outside or going to the beach, are now perfect opportunities to quickly check your phone, make plans, respond to texts or read the 24/7/365 crazy-making news. No wonder we all feel so busy.

Whether we are legitimately busy or we just feel that way doesn’t matter. Our brains respond the same way to stress. According to the CDC, suicides have increased by over 30% since 1999. This stress is one of the reasons why.

We talk about what screens do to our children, but we need to start thinking about what they are doing to us, too. It’s time for a brain vacation.

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Topics: President's Message, mental health, children, suicide, summer

Orlando Schools Earn National Recognition & Red Ribbon Certification

Posted by Informed Families on June 22, 2018 at 3:35 PM

Three Orange County schools, Robinswood Middle, Wedgefield K-8 and Winegard Elementary, will be raising a new flag next year: a Red Ribbon Certified Schools flag, given to them for their outstanding, year-round substance abuse prevention efforts. The schools were among only four across the nation to receive the coveted title of Red Ribbon Certified Schools.

Red Ribbon Certified Schools, an Informed Families program, recognizes schools that improve academic performance by keeping kids drug and alcohol free, while engaging parents and the community. When families are looking for a safe school with a healthy environment, Red Ribbon Certified Schools are a good place to start. It's like the Good Housekeeping seal of approval for prevention.

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Topics: red ribbon week, prevention, red ribbon certified schools

About Us

We teach people how to say no to drugs and how to make healthy choices. To reduce the demand for drugs, Informed Families has focused its efforts on educating and mobilizing the community, parents and young people in order to change attitudes. In this way we counteract the pressures in society that condone and promote drug and alcohol use and abuse. The organization educates thousands of families annually about how to stay drug and alcohol free through networking and a variety of programs and services .

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