was in high school in the late 1960s when the news began to report on soldiers from the war in Vietnam coming home addicted to heroin. Now, most troops didn't take heroin but there was enough to make it something to talk about. This may have been the beginning of America's modern day awareness of heroin addiction. I remember those days and how the drug seemed so awful, especially because it was associated with injection, crime, and a lifestyle that most of us can't relate to in the least. Then Hollywood took over and showed us a sometimes realistic and sometimes exaggerated view of heroin use. I'd say we had a very negative view of heroin and everything related to it. I'd also say that I was afraid of the drug and would never have tried it. My reaction then was kind of like the reaction of many kids today with methamphetamine. I saw it as a "dirty" drug.
Everyone has a story about a person in their life who has a drinking or drug problem but can never seem to get better, despite the best efforts of those around them. Unfortunately, this person's story is often used to prove that treatment for substance use disorders doesn't work and that recovery from said disorders rarely happens.
We, as a society, have a very ambivalent attitude about alcohol in general, toward abusive drinking, and even toward underage drinking. Even though the science has shown us that underage drinking (under age 21) and heavy drinking over a certain amount at any age is bad for your health and puts you at greater risk for addiction, we still have that attitude of "kids will be kids," "let them sow their wild oats (they'll get over it soon enough)," or "a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do" (or a woman, for that matter).
What would you say if I told you that 90% of babies with asthma don't get the medical care that they need? What would you say if I told you that 90% of children with cancer don't get treated? What would you say if I told you that 90% of women with breast cancer can't find a doctor to see them until they have progressed to a more serious stage of the disease. OK, take a deep breath. None of that is true. But what would you say if I told you that 90% of the 23 million people with substance use disorders in America don't receive treatment? That statistic is true but it may not upset you or make you feel so uncomfortable as untreated babies with breathing problems.
On Saturday, JTNN along with the Reno PD and a number of other partners are hosting the second Prescription Drug Round Up in which we invite people to bring their unused and unwanted prescription and over the counter drugs. A law enforcement officer and volunteers will collect and catalog the items that people bring in. Then the Reno PD will incinerate the drugs. These are drugs that will no longer be in circulation and that will no longer have the ability to be used in a way that they weren't intended.
Extreme drinking games -- when I was 16 that might have sounded kind of fun. There are games such as Beer Pong, Drink 'Til You Pee, Dicey, Fuzzy Duck and maybe hundreds more. There's even a drinking game related to the family card game Uno. In fact, when I Googled "extreme drinking games," I got hundreds of links and web sites. I'll let you do your own research on extreme drinking games, but basically they are designed for the participants to drink as much as they can in as short of time as possible. What's the goal? Extreme intoxication, of course.
I remember when I was about 10 years old, I tried to buy some airplane glue from a local hobby shop in Sacramento, where I grew up. "You have to have your mom or dad's permission," said the clerk. I couldn't figure out what that was all about. It wasn't like I was trying to buy cigarettes or beer. But it turns out that even back in 1964 we knew that there were some things that don't seem like drugs that could have dangerous effects when not used as intended.
What does substance abuse prevention really mean? What are we trying to prevent? The most obvious answer is that we are trying to prevent first use of a chemical substance. In fact, that's a great goal. But then does that mean we forget about the kids that have already tried something? And why do we care about preventing some 14 year old kid from trying beer or marijuana? After all you might say, "I did that and I turned out just fine."
Since the 1940s, our knowledge about what is safe and unsafe for anunborn child has increased exponentially. We've known for a long time that pregnant women shouldn't smoke cigarettes at all. And the standard for drinking is, "There are no safe levels of alcohol during pregnancy."
What do you think it's like growing up in a home in which one or both parents have an alcohol or other drug problem? These are homes that may look fine from an outsider's perspective but for those children living in it that home can be a living inferno.