Informed Families Catalyst

President's Message - July 2017

Posted by Peggy B. Sapp, President & CEO on July 19, 2017 at 5:03 PM

Visible & Invisible "Human Chains" Save Lives

To save a desperate, drowning family, 80 Florida citizens made a human chain on Panama City Beach in early July. What a beautiful reminder that by working together, we all have the power to keep children and families safe. News reports spoke of the dozens of beachgoers lining up in response to the desperate mother’s cries, organizing themselves by skill level, with the stronger swimmers in the deeper water and others standing closer to the shore.

A tragedy was prevented and the story spread like wildfire. Why? Because the story warmed our hearts. Who doesn’t love a story about a large group of complete strangers coming together to save children in danger?

That’s what Informed Families’ supporters do each year…they build a network of people to help kids grow up safe, healthy and drug free.  Donors, volunteer Ambassadors, educators, counselors, parents, schools, law enforcement and community organizations form networks to take our four campaigns and prevention messages to schools, building safety nets for children across Florida.

Read More

Topics: President's Message, drug abuse, drug prevention, parents, summer

President's Message - June 2017

Posted by Peggy B. Sapp, President & CEO on June 20, 2017 at 11:33 AM

Unplug To Connect With Your Children This Summer

Summer offers a sense of freedom for kids. With school out of session, children gain a great deal of free time. As parents you take on more responsibility; it’s your responsibility to keep children active physically and mentally and to not leave them to their own devices. While some boredom is good for the teen brain, excessive free time can increase their risk to get involved in harmful behaviors.

Did you know that summer is the riskiest time of the year for teens and drugs? Research shows that more teens try marijuana and other drugs for the first time in June and July than any other time of the year. 

As your first priority, plan time to just have fun together, connecting as a family. Turn off the Media madness (that means you too!) and play a game. You’ll be surprised how much fun it is. Plus, it will reduce your stress and increase bonding, as you learn more about each person in the family. Spending time together walking, swimming or hiking outdoors is also a great chance to stay fit and connected. If one activity turns disasterous, try another one. Don't give up on connecting with your children.  

Communicate with your kids about the things they want to do this summer. Open them up to positive activities such as a sport, community serivce or have them take additional summer classes to keep their minds sharp and vibrant. Don’t allow their minds to become addicted to screens. And monitor what they are consuming when they are watching screens. Common Sense Media is a wonderful, time-saving tool.

If you have two minutes to spare, we'd love to get your feedback on issues that matter to you, as we are always striving to offer you the best research-based support to help your kids grow up safe, healthy and drug free.

I want to take a moment to express my gratitude for all the wonderful dads out there. I hope you had a great Father's Day. 

Until next time,



Read More

Topics: President's Message, marijuana, drug abuse, parents, summer

Why Do Kids Use Drugs?

Posted by Informed Families on June 7, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Anti-drug messages aimed at kids are nothing new—most of today’s parents were children themselves when the first wave of “Just Say No” campaigns were launched in the 1980s. And in the last three decades or so, the efforts of parents, educators, communities and organizations such as Informed Families have made a noticeable and welcome dent in the problem of teen drug use. 

Still, much work still needs to be done to keep our kids safe and inspire them to make smart choices. The fact that teen drug use remains a problem might lead many to ask why, after all the campaigns, warnings and anti-drug efforts, do kids still choose to use drugs. The tempting answer might be, “They’re teens and don’t know better.” However, it’s not that simple. Below, we detail a variety of reasons why some kids use drugs in 2017.

Read More

Topics: drug abuse, drug prevention

Teen Drug Facts: The Dangers of OTC Drug Abuse

Posted by Informed Families on May 17, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Parents, schools and communities often are hyper-focused on alcohol and illegal drug use, and rightfully so—these substances, when abused, can cause great harm to teenagers. Yet, this emphasis often causes parents to overlook another problem: over-the-counter (OTC) drug abuse.

When not able to secure booze or harder drugs such as marijuana or prescription pills, teens might turn to OTC medications to attempt a high. Or, kids might try chugging cough syrup or taking motion sickness pills thinking neither can hurt them; after all, these are medicines you can buy at the store.

Read More

Topics: drug abuse

Prescription Drug Abuse Facts For Teachers

Posted by Informed Families on February 22, 2017 at 7:30 AM

Another successful Lock Your Meds campaign is coming to a close. This initiative is aimed at providing prescription drugs abuse facts to parents, students and educators, as well as encouraging parents to keep powerful medicine locked up and away from teens who might steal and improperly use the pills.

Yet, the effort to curb prescription drug abuse can’t end simply because our 2017 campaign is ending. Pills remain a big problem in Florida schools and teachers are an important ally in keeping kids safe. Here are several prescription drug abuse facts teachers should know:

Read More

Topics: prescription drug abuse, prescription drugs, drug abuse

Volunteer Spotlight: Melanie Williams of Orlando

Posted by Informed Families on April 25, 2016 at 4:33 PM

Melanie Williams, a mother of four and an active PTSA volunteer in Orlando, wants to do everything she can to protect her children and others in the community from the devastating consequences associated with drug abuse and addiction.

“Drug prevention is so important because drug abuse is so silently dangerous,” said Williams. “It’s easy for kids to get involved with drugs and it’s so damaging to the body; it destroys lives.”

Williams, a mother of four boys ages 10, 13, 15 and 16, became involved with Informed Families after being invited by a school guidance counselor to attend an Informed Families Parent Peer Group Leader training in Orange County last November.  

“The material at the training was mind boggling,” said Melanie. “I learned so much. I’m an involved parent with kids in three different schools. And yet some of the stuff from the training, I really had no clue about. I asked my 16-year-old son, ‘do you know about this?’ He said, ‘yes.’ Attending the training was truly transformative for me. I realized that I need to pay more attention to what my children are learning and what they are exposed to.”

Read More

Topics: addiction, orlando, volunteer, drug abuse, parent peer group, parents

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


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:

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.

Read More

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

Drug Overdose Leads Injury-Related Deaths Nationwide

Posted by Informed Families on June 1, 2015 at 4:50 PM

According to a recent report from the Trust for America's Health Drug overdoses are the leading cause of injury deaths in the United States, at nearly 44,000 per year. Overdose deaths, half of which are related to prescription drugs, have more than doubled in the past 14 years.  Overdose deaths now exceed motor vehicle-related deaths in 36 states and Washington, D.C. And, in the past four years, drug overdose death rates have significantly increased in 26 states and Washington, D.C. and decreased in six.

Related: How To Tell If Someone You Know Is Hooked On Prescription Drugs

Read More

Topics: addiction, prescription drug abuse, drug abuse, overdose

Instagram Study Sheds Light On Drug Use At Summer Music Festivals

Posted by Informed Families on May 1, 2015 at 11:59 AM

An analysis of Instagram posts in March shed light on anticipated drug use at this year's Summer Music Festivals. reviewed over 3.6 million Instagram posts mentioning 14 different Music Festivals to determine the percentage of posts that contain language about alcohol and drugs, including 61 popular terms associated with those substances.

The study shows that alcohol is  the most prevalence drug at concerts and festivals, followed by "Molly," Marijuana and Cocaine. 

Related: How To Tell If Someone You Know Is Hooked On Prescription Drugs

Read More

Topics: addiction, prescription drug abuse, drug abuse, overdose

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 .

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts