Informed Families Catalyst

From The Front Lines: The Latest Drug Trends Of 2016

Posted by David Vittoria, MSW, CAP, CPP, ICADC, NCAC II, Assistant Vice President, South Miami Hospital Addiction Treatment & Recovery Center on September 21, 2016 at 11:19 AM

As an Informed Families board member and the Director of South Miami Hospital’s Addiction Treatment & Recovery Center (ATRC), I’m grateful to share my experience and observations about drug trends from the “front lines” at Baptist Health South Florida. Boy, we really do see it all. On a regular basis, I see many people at their lowest point, struggling with the disease of addiction. For many who attend our programs, I get to witness a wonderful transformation back into good health. However, I am dedicated to doing whatever I can to prevent children and families from getting into drugs in the first place.  

Leading up to the start of each school year, we focus our energy on preparing kids for a success, whether by purchasing the necessary school supplies, meeting with new teachers and mapping out our fall schedule. One thing we hope to never worry about is our kids falling into the wrong crowd and adopting new negative and dangerous behaviors, such as using drugs. But, hoping isn’t enough sometimes. As parents, we need to educate ourselves and take action to protect our children. By staying involved with our children, contributing to their self-esteem, setting healthy boundaries, monitoring behavior, getting to know their teachers, knowing their friends, despite any pushback we might get from them, we are truly making a difference and reducing the likelihood that they will get into trouble.  

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Topics: prescription drug abuse, David Vittoria, recovery, heroin, prescription drugs, prevention, opioids, fentanyl

Drugs in Schools: Prevention in 2016-17

Posted by Informed Families on September 16, 2016 at 7:00 AM

Another school year has begun, and with it, the hope that students will thrive over the next nine months and make it to next summer safe and successful. For principals and superintendents concerned about drugs in schools, there is a ray of optimism: Usage rates among teens are generally remaining steady or slightly declining. However, this news shouldn’t be cause for celebration, but rather, a mandate that prevention initiatives are still important and effective. Too many teens are still engaging in risky behaviors, which rightfully concerns educators, parents and communities who want to keep children protected and drug-free.

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Topics: prescription drugs, drugs

President's Message - March 2016

Posted by Peggy B. Sapp, President & CEO on March 18, 2016 at 12:20 PM

There Is Nothing New Under The Sun

First Lady Nancy Reagan, who passed away last week, tirelessly dedicated her time and energy, during her husband’s presidency in the 1980’s, to shine a light on the nation’s drug problem.

Her “Just Say No” message originated during an event in Atlanta where a child asked her what to do if someone offered her drugs. Reagan replied with the now famous response and the media picked it up. While we can all agree that it’s not easy to say “no” and the latest prevention science provides us with more comprehensive and effective ways to educate and inspire children to make healthy choices, the message was clear: our children have a right to grow up safe, healthy and drug free – and we have the responsibility to make that happen.   

At the time, some people heard the message, some people didn’t hear the message and others didn’t like the message. The same is true today. There is nothing new under the sun. Scientists continue to identify dangers of marijuana use, states who have legalized it are seeing a rapid increase in use among youth – and yet, the legalization trend is not slowing down. Prescription drug use and heroin use are epidemics we can no longer ignore.

Below is a formal statement from Informed Families and the National Family Partnership mourning the loss of our friend Nancy Reagan. We appreciate all of her support over the years. We also appreciate and thank each of you, our readers and supporters, for your dedication to helping kids grow up safe, healthy and drug free.


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Topics: President's Message, prescription drugs, prevention, just say no, nancy reagan

President's Message - February 2016

Posted by Peggy B. Sapp, President & CEO on February 26, 2016 at 1:11 PM

Informed Families Is About Drug Prevention, Not Drug Abuse

Please repeat this 7 times and then ask, “What’s the difference?” “How do I learn Prevention?”

After several phone calls from friends and family telling me to make sure I watched “Chasing Heroin” on Frontline, I tuned in and now I’m asking you to please watch “Chasing Heroin” on Frontline.  It will definitely debunk a lot of myths that society has created about who uses drugs, why they use drugs and how people get out of addiction.

Actually, Informed Families could have written the show; several of the speakers are professional colleagues and good friends. I’ve served on both The White House Office of Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and National Institute of Drug Abuse at NIH.  I have tremendous respect for Dr. Tom McLellan, a great researcher and former head of Demand Reduction at The White House ONDCP.  Tom is great person and parent when he levels and admits that all the researchers still don’t know where to send a kid when he/she has a drug problem. Tom lost a son to drugs.  Hats off to the brilliant Dr. Nora Volkow, head of NIDA, when she says, “no one has all the answers about the brain.”

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Topics: President's Message, heroin, prescription drugs, prevention, nida, ondcp

From The Front Lines: Rx for Heroin Addiction

Posted by David Vittoria, MSW, CAP, CPP, ICADC, NCAC II, Assistant Vice President, South Miami Hospital Addiction Treatment & Recovery Center on February 24, 2016 at 2:44 PM

Eric, a teenager, started taking Oxycontin from his uncle’s medicine cabinet and using it at parties with his friends.

Harold, a 45-year-old father and construction worker, suffers from chronic back pain and was prescribed Percocet by a primary care physician lacking training in pain management.

Both are now heroin addicts.

How did this happen?

According to the CDC, between 1999 and 2014, unintentional overdoses on Opioid prescription medications, such as Oxycontin and Percocet, have quadrupled. There are a number of reasons for this:

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Topics: prescription drug abuse, David Vittoria, recovery, heroin, prescription drugs, prevention, oxycontin, opioids

Latest National Survey Shows Alcohol and Teen Rx Drug Use Declines; Marijuana Use Steady, Increase In Depression 

Posted by Informed Families on September 17, 2015 at 12:08 PM

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report shows progress in reducing some forms of substance use – especially among adolescents. Substance use levels in many areas, however have remained relatively constant. Mental illness levels have also remained constant over time, but adolescents are experiencing higher levels of depression than in past years.

SAMHSA issued its 2014 NSDUH report on mental and substance use disorders as part of the kick off for the 26th annual observance of National Recovery Month. Recovery Month broadens public awareness to the fact that behavioral health is essential to health, prevention works, treatment for substance use and mental disorders is effective, and people can and do recover from these disorders.

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Topics: marijuana, prescription drugs, study

How to Tell if Someone You Know is Hooked on Prescription Drugs

Posted by Richard Dimarco Barea on February 25, 2015 at 12:35 PM

We live in a country where the availability of prescription drugs has increased dramatically in our neighborhoods, schools and even in our homes. Both adults and children are susceptible to improperly using prescription drugs, which can be a problem because of the discreet side effects and behaviors that these individuals can hide for months or years, if not seen with a trained eye.

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

7 Important Facts About Prescription Drug Abuse

Posted by Richard Dimarco Barea on January 30, 2015 at 3:20 PM

While the news headlines are dominated by illicit drugs like Cocaine, Meth and Heroin, the sleeping giant of prescription drug abuse has cased more overdose deaths than all of these combined.

Here are 7 important facts about Prescription Drug Abuse:

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

What is Prescription Drug Abuse?

Posted by Richard Dimarco Barea on January 27, 2015 at 12:00 PM

What is Prescription Drug Abuse?

While most people think that pills inside of little orange bottles are safer when compared to street drugs like cocaine and heroin, it is still illegal and highly risky to use unprescribed drugs. In many cases the effects of prescription drug abuse can result in more addictive characteristics. The availability of prescription drugs tends to make these more easily abused in households with children in middle and high school. However, abuse can happen at any age and you may have experienced borderline abuses yourself if you have engaged in any of the following behaviors:

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

5 Tools To Start The New Year Off Right

Posted by Richard Dimarco Barea on December 29, 2014 at 8:00 AM

A new year...a new you. While you are considering your New Years resolutions, consider this: Prescription drug abuse is one of the biggest epidemics in the 21st century. Home medicine cabinets are filling up faster than ever, putting young children and teenagers in harm's way. Start the new year off right and resolve to make a difference in your home or community by starting the new year off right with these five tools.

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Topics: ambassadors, prescription drug abuse, lock your meds, prescription drugs, prevention

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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