Monitoring the Future 2015

monitoring-the-futureEvery year, researchers at the University of Michigan conduct the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, funded by research grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The MTF is a long term epidemiological study that that looks at legal and illicit drug use and perceived risk of use among American adolescents and adults. The research has been ongoing since 1975. The MTF, among other things, provides experts with a window into people’s beliefs regarding drugs and alcohol use, allowing them to make informed decisions in the development of intervention techniques.

Monitoring the Future 2015

As the year comes to a close, we have a chance to see the progress we have made and the setbacks we have experienced as a nation. This year’s survey shows that overall; teens are reducing their use of:

  • Cigarettes
  • Alcohol (including binge drinking)
  • Prescription Opioids
  • Synthetic Marijuana

“These are some of the lowest numbers we have ever seen,” NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow told CBS News. “Notable is cigarette smoking — it is lower than we’ve ever seen it. Heroin is at the lowest it’s ever been. For prescription opiates, it’s the lowest we have ever seen. Overall this is very good news.”

Less Fire, More Smoke

While the aforementioned findings are promising, there is still work to be done – especially when it comes to marijuana. The researchers found that marijuana use has not declined among teenagers, CBS News reports. In fact, for the first time more high school seniors smoke marijuana than regular cigarettes on a daily basis.

In recent years, the nation has seen a growing tolerance for marijuana. Currently, there are 23 states and DC with medical marijuana programs, and four of the states have passed recreational use legalization for adults. The perceived dangers of marijuana use are fairly low among teenagers and young adults.

The researchers found that teens view marijuana as less risky this year, compared to last year, according to the report. Last year, 36.1 percent of 12th graders said that regular marijuana use could be harmful, compared to 31.9 percent this year.

Developing Brains

While marijuana use may not be as bad for the mind and body as, let’s say alcohol or heroin, marijuana use has been found to have negative effects on the brain – especially the developing brains of teenagers and young adults.

“Among teens, several studies provide evidence showing marijuana’s effects are deleterious,” said Volkow.

AMCC National Day of Awareness and Safe Disposal

American-Medicine-Chest-ChallengeFar too often, prescription drugs end up in the wrong and/or unintended hands. People prescribed opioids will take the drugs until the pain subsides and then leave the unfinished pill bottles in the medicine cabinet to collect dust. A practice which may be relatively harmless when you are a living alone. However, it is a different story when it comes to families.

Many teenagers and young adults come across prescription opioids for the first time in the family medicine cabinet. Those who decide to take the unused medications, such as oxycodone or hydrocodone, are at risk for addiction or worse – overdose. The CDC reports that 44 people lose their life to prescription opioid overdoses every day in America. Naturally, mitigating the harm that can accompany non-prescribed painkiller use is crucial in the fight against the opioid epidemic that has been crippling families for over a decade.

American Medicine Chest Challenge

One way to keep prescription opioids out of the wrong hands is to safely dispose of unused or unwanted medication. Throughout the year, there are times when people can dispose of the medications at predetermined sites, giving Americans an opportunity to have an active role in the fight against the nation’s worst epidemic in modern times.

This month, the American Medicine Chest Challenge (AMCC), a community-based public health initiative, will hold the sixth-annual National Day of Awareness and Safe Disposal, according to a news release. On November 14th, families are encouraged to safely dispose of their unwanted medications at more than 1500 collection sites across the country. Both families and individuals can find a list of disposal sites at or by downloading the free app AMCC Rx Drop.

The Challenge

Families are encouraged to take the American Medicine Chest Challenge, an opportunity to not only take stock of the potentially dangerous drugs in their home, but also learn more about prescription drug abuse in order to better inform children as to the dangers.

“The American Medicine Chest Challenge can help save the lives of our children,” said Angelo M. Valente, CEO of AMCC. “On November 14th we encourage all Americans to take the 5-Step American Medicine Chest Challenge and find a location to safely dispose of your unused, unwanted and expired medicine.”

The five-step challenge encourages families to:

  • Take inventory of their prescription and over-the-counter medicine
  • Secure their medicine.
  • Dispose of unused, unwanted, and expired medicine in their home or at an AMCC disposal site.
  • Take their medicine(s) exactly as prescribed.
  • Talk to their children about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.


Please contact Next Step Intervention if you are struggling with prescription drugs. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you start your journey of recovery.

The Impact of Medical Marijuana Advertisements

medical-marijuanaThe Impact of Marijuana Advertising

In 1996, it became legal for people to get a recommendation from a doctor to use marijuana for medical purposes in California. As the state gears up for a vote on the legality of recreational use in 2016, there are a number of factors that need to be considered including weighing the impact that medical marijuana has had on teenagers. New research suggests that middle school students who saw medical marijuana ads were twice as likely to have used the drug or plan to use it in the future, HealthDay reports.

Medical Marijuana Ads Spur Teenage Use

More than 8,200 middle school students in Southern California were included in the study, teens in sixth through eighth grade. After the first year of the research, 22 percent of the students reported seeing at least one advertisement for medical marijuana in the past three months, according to the article. A year later, that figure had risen to 30 percent.

Since the state passed medical marijuana, the number of advertisements for the drug has grown due to the exponential growth of the industry with every year that passes. The researchers point out that it is not uncommon for medical marijuana ads to appear on and in: television, newspapers, billboards and dispensary storefronts.

“Given that advertising typically tells only one side of the story, prevention efforts must begin to better educate youth about how medical marijuana is used, while also emphasizing the negative effects that marijuana can have on the brain and performance,” said study author, Elizabeth D’Amico of the nonprofit research organization RAND, in a news release.

Using Alcohol As A Guide

“As prohibitions on marijuana ease and sales of marijuana become more visible, it’s important to think about how we need to change the way we talk to young people about the risks posed by the drug,” said D’Amico. “The lessons we have learned from alcohol — a substance that is legal, but not necessarily safe — may provide guidance about approaches we need to take toward marijuana.”

The findings are published in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

If you are struggling with marijuana addiction, please do not hesitate to contact Next Step Intervention. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you be free from addiction.

April 4-6, 2014 Is “Alcohol Free Weekend” ~ Will you participate?

Are you willing to participate in Alcohol Free Weekend?

To many people this question may seem very benign. That is, not indulging in alcohol for a weekend is a very simple goal to accomplish. It could be they never drink or they seldom drink. But for many adults, young and old alike, as well as a growing number of teenagers drinking every weekend is what they do when they get together with their friends and family or it could be what they do when they are isolated from friends and family.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD):

  • Annually, over 6,500 people under the age of 21 die from alcohol-related accidents and thousands more are injured.
  • Alcohol is the number one drug of choice for America’s young people, and is more likely to kill young people than all illegal drugs combined.
  • Each day, 7,000 kids in the United States under the age of 16 take their first drink.
  • Those who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who begin at age 21.
  • More than 1,700 college students in the U.S. are killed each year—about 4.65 a day—as a result of alcohol-related injuries.
  • 25% of U.S. children are exposed to alcohol-use disorders in their family.
  • Underage alcohol use costs the nation an estimated $62 billion annually.

So, again, are you willing to not drink alcohol starting today April 4 through April 6, 2014?

Alcohol Free Weekend is a part of Alcohol Awareness Month


28 years ago the NCADD started the tradition of April being Alcohol Awareness Month. It was designed to increase public awareness as well as understanding of the stigma of alcoholism and to encourage local communities to turn a lens on alcoholism and alcohol related issues.

Throughout the month of April 2014 there will be events going on across the nation that will highlight the public health issue of alcoholism in general and specifically the problems associated with underage drinking.

You should know that many communities have local NCADD Affiliates; these affiliates can serve as a valuable resource for individuals, families, employers, schools, and the like.

“Help for Today. Hope for Tomorrow”

Again this year’s theme “Help for Today. Hope for Tomorrow” encapsulates the vision and goal that every family wants to experience when dealing with a loved one who is suffering from the disease of alcoholism. Typically a family will look for help for today from other family members, their doctors, co-workers, an employee assistance program (EAP) or a friend, but help may need to come in the form of arranging for an intervention.

Greg Muth, the chairperson of the NCADD Board of Directors discusses the focus on underage drinkers:

“Underage drinking is a complex issue one that can only be solved through a sustained and cooperative effort. As a nation, we need to wake up to the reality that for some, alcoholism and addiction develop at a young age and that intervention, treatment, and recovery support are essential for them and their families. We can’t afford to wait any longer.”

A successful intervention can, and often does, provide the hope for tomorrow.

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Teens: Is It Depression Or Behavior Problems That More Likely Affect Grades?

Parenting is not about letting go…

Raising teenagers


“Even as kids reach adolescence, they need more than ever for us to watch over them. Adolescence is not about letting go. It’s about hanging on during a very bumpy ride.” Ron Taffel, Ph.D.

For sure, being the parent of a teenager is hard work. We worry everyday when they leave for school, we worry about their grades, their involvement in sports, their friends, we worry about their ability to go on to college and we also try to keep a close eye on their behaviors. These behaviors include experimenting with drugs and alcohol and more frequently we try to be aware of any signs of depression.  It can be, as Dr. Taffel says, a very bumpy ride.

New study looks at depression, behavior problems and lower grades

Many parents are taken aback when their children reach high school and they witness a sudden or subtle slip in their teenager’s grade point average (GPA). Parents begin to wonder if the grade school teachers were too easy in their grading requirements or if their child really just isn’t as smart as they had thought or hoped. Parents search for answers. Parents observe their teenagers looking for signs of depression which could lead to the report card being less than stellar. But often parents will ignore behaviors that more likely can cause the slip in school performance. These behaviors could include attention deficit, substance abuse and/or delinquency – all behaviors that no parent wants to consider.

The December 2012 issue of The Journal of Health and Social Behavior published a study led by Jane D. McLeod, Indiana University, Department of Sociology. The full report Adolescent Mental Health, Behavior Problems, and Academic Achievement  states that “prior research on the association of mental health and behavior problems with academic achievement is limited because it does not consider multiple problems simultaneously, take co-occurring problem into account, and control for academic aptitude.”

An overview of the study…

The researchers examined data provided by the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. This data was gathered by following youth from middle and high school years through the transition to early adulthood.

  • Researchers used a stratified sample of 80 high schools and 52 middle schools.
  • 7th through 12th grade youth who attended these schools were invited to participate in an in-school survey. The number of participants was 90,118.

According to HealthDay News the study found:

  • Unlike students with depression, those with behavior problems such as attention issues, delinquency or substance use had lower GPAs than others.
  • Delinquency and substance use were associated with receiving lesser educational degrees, while depression was not.
  • Students with two of these problems typically earned lower GPAs and lesser degrees than those with one problem, and some combinations of problems had more harmful effects than others.
  • Substance use worsened the educational risks associated with depression, attention issues and delinquency.
  • Having depression did not, however, increase the educational risks associated with attention issues, delinquency or substance use.

Quoting Jane McLeod:

“There’s a fairly sizable literature that links depression in high school to diminished academic achievement. The argument we make in our study is what’s really happening is that youths who are depressed also have other problems, and it’s those other problems that are adversely affecting their achievement.”

Parenting teens and considering an intervention

The holiday season is here. Thanksgiving has come and gone. Now families across the United States are making plans for the December holidays of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Years. It is a time of year that school semesters are drawing to a close and our teenagers and college students will be receiving their term grades. And while we all look forward to happy holidays spent with our children, this may be the time to question the grade point averages that just don’t make sense. If the report card is sending the parent a message, take the time to ask questions and to be observant of your child’s behavior patterns. If you suspect that substance abuse may be a problem and you need help with an intervention, then by all means reach out for that help.

An intervention at this point in your child’s life may be the best holiday present you can provide…a gift that can last long into adulthood.

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