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Family Focus: The Strunck Family

Posted by Informed Families on November 16, 2018 at 10:51 AM

Written by: Nikki Strunck, mother

The sixth overdose was fatal. My only child Brendan died at the age of 24.

He and some friends started messing around with pot when he was 13. By the age of 14, he got oxycodone pills from a friend, and by 16, he was addicted to heroin.

I grieved for my son for years before he died. As difficult as talking about this is, if I can help one person not die, this is worth it.

I think when Brendan was small, I thought he would try drinking and smoking pot. I was not prepared for opioid abuse.

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Topics: drug use, drug prevention, opioids, parents

Family Focus: The Mendell Family

Posted by Informed Families on October 27, 2018 at 5:02 PM

Brian Mendell was a child who loved the outdoors and had an infectious smile.  In elementary school, Brian started to experience difficulties and was diagnosed with ADD. He was also later diagnosed with anxiety, depression and traits of Asperger's.  

Brian started smoking marijuana at the age of 13 with some of his friends. He, unlike some of his friends, became addicted to marijuana and ultimately became addicted to opioids. He went through numerous treatment programs, struggled immensely, relapsed frequently and ultimately took his own life after a long battle with addiction in the fall of 2011.  

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Topics: suicide, drug use, drug prevention, opioids

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

Florida Middle Schools Prescription Drug Abuse Facts

Posted by Informed Families on October 21, 2016 at 6:01 AM

Red Ribbon Week is approaching, and middle schools across Florida will be raising awareness and facilitating communication about kids making healthy choices. The red ribbons that teachers and students will wear aren’t just for decoration—they signify a commitment to staying safe and resisting the dangers of teenage drug and alcohol use. Such a campaign would seem naturally geared toward high schoolers, but the message is just effective for middle schoolers and even earlier. In fact, the years when kids are 11-14 might be the most important time to deliver these messages.

As much as we want to believe middle schoolers aren’t old enough to be abusing drugs and alcohol, the reality is junior high kids are just as vulnerable as high schoolers, perhaps even more so. The parts of the young adolescent brain that deal with stress are still maturing, and the coping mechanisms they learn now can become ingrained for the rest of their lives. If middle schoolers turn to drugs this early, they can be setting themselves up for a lifetime of struggle.

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Topics: drug use, middle school

Predicting Future Drug Use Among Children

Posted by Informed Families on April 24, 2016 at 5:52 PM

AAP Warns of the Dangers of Binge Drinking in Adolescents

8/31/2015

Despite recent declines, two out of every three students (66 percent) have consumed more than just a few sips of alcohol by the end of high school, and over a quarter have done so by eighth grade. In 2014, half of twelfth graders and one in nine eighth graders reported having been drunk at least once in their life.

In a new clinical report, " Binge Drinking," in the September 2015 Pediatrics (published online Aug. 31), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges pediatricians and parents to discuss the dangers of alcohol use with children before they take their first sip.

Alcohol is the substance most frequently abused by children and adolescents in the United States, and its use is associated with the leading causes of death and serious injury at this age, including motor vehicle accidents, homicides, and suicides. Eighty percent of adolescents say their parents are the biggest influence on their decision to drink or not.

"We must approach drinking in children, particularly binge drinking, differently than we do in adults," said pediatrician Lorena Siqueira, MD, MSPH, FAAP, member of the AAP Committee on Substance Abuse and co-author of the clinical report.

"Given their lack of experience with alcohol and smaller bodies, children and adolescents can have serious consequences -- including death -- with their first episode of binge drinking," Dr. Siqueira said. "Studies have indicated that continued alcohol use during this growth period can interfere with important aspects of brain development that can lead to cognitive impairment, alcohol-induced brain damage and substance use disorders later in life. Because alcohol use is so common, it is necessary for pediatricians to screen every adolescent for alcohol use during office visits, and along with preventive messages, to help identify youth at risk for alcohol-related problems."

Drinking alcohol is associated with numerous adverse outcomes in underage drinkers, and binge drinking significantly increases these risks.

In adults, binge drinking is defined as consuming five or more alcoholic drinks in a two-hour period by men, or four or more drinks by women. Because teens typically weigh less than adults, they are likely to reach an unsafe blood alcohol concentration more quickly, and lower cutoff points have been proposed. For girls ages 9 to 17, three or more drinks in a two-hour period is considered binge drinking. For boys ages 9 to 13, the cutoff is three or more drinks; for boys ages 14 to 15 it's four or more drinks; and for boys ages 16 to 17, it's five or more drinks.

During high school, drinking rates increase dramatically among teens. Between 36 percent and 50 percent of high school students drink alcohol, and 28 percent to 60 percent report binge drinking. Among high school students, boys are more likely than girls to participate in binge drinking, and is far more common among white boys than among blacks or Hispanics.

The new 2015 clinical report also found:

  • Among youth who drink, the proportion who drink heavily is higher than among adult drinkers.
  • Children start to think positively about alcohol between 9 and 13 years of age.
  • Binge drinking can be associated with early sexual activity and higher rates of teen pregnancy.
  • A third of all fatal auto crashes involving alcohol happen among 15- to 20-year-olds.
  • Encouraging parents to talk with their children about alcohol use early is very important.
  • Programs and resources are available on how to use teachable moments to discuss alcohol use with children.
"Teenagers and young adults who are curious and trying to fit in can easily be influenced by their peers,” said Dr. Siqueira. “Teens who binge drink are more likely to exhibit impaired judgment and engage in risky behaviors such as drunk driving, ride in a car with an impaired driver and have higher rates of suicide. As with most high-risk behaviors, early prevention proves to be more effective than later intervention"
- See more at: https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/AAP-Warns-of-the-Dangers-of-Binge-Drinking-in-Adolescents.aspx#sthash.cLHHNOj1.dpuf

What determines whether a child will ultimately become addicted to alcohol or other drugs? According to the National Insititute on Drug Abuse, many factors can add to a person’s risk for drug abuse. Risk factors can increase a person’s chances for drug abuse, while protective factors can reduce the risk. It sounds pretty logical, but what does that mean for your child? 

First, it is important to note that there is no crystal ball implied here. Just because a child is at risk for using drugs, does not guarantee that he/she will use drugs. In fact, research shows that most people at risk do not use drugs. Also, risk factors can be different for different individuals. That said, NIDA's research from the last two decades leads us to believe that more risk factors and fewer protective factors present is a formula for increased drug use.

Risk and protective factors are often categorized under different domains: individuals, family, peers, work/school, community and society as a whole. Check out the chart below.

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Topics: addiction, drug abuse, nida, risk factors, drug use, protective factors

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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