Prevention Update

A unique update on what is happening in the world of drug abuse prevention.

Welcome to Prevention Update, Mentor International's daily summary of and comment on latest news, research, statistics, policy updates, information on resources and events. It is relevant in particular to practitioners and policy makers but equally valuable and interesting to all who form the drug prevention community.

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US colleges move against abuse of ADHD drugs for better grades

We have covered a number of studies showing an increase in the number of students abusing stimulants for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in bid for better grades. New York Times reports that a number of colleges around the country are instituting stricter rules for diagnosing and medicating ADHD. These include require students who are prescribed ADHD medications to sign a contract stating they will not misuse or share pills or does not allow its doctors to make a diagnosis of ADHD. Such college policies may be discriminatory, however, as they are not applied to other medical or psychiatric conditions. According to Ruth Hughes, Chief Executive of the advocacy group Children and Adults With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, if students are required to sign a contract for stimulants, they should also do so for commonly abused opioid painkillers.


'Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws', Preventing Underage Drinking webinar

'Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws: Accountability and the Role of the Justice System' webinar is part of the 'Preventing Underage Drinking' webinar series sponsored by the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking (ICCPUD). The webinar will take place on the 14 May 2020 and will focus on the importance of justice system involvement in preventing under-age drinking and alcohol’s negative impact on American youth and public health and safety. Registration is required.

Ghana: concerns over excessive alcohol marketing

Concerns have been raised in Ghana over excessive alcohol ads on TV and radio that may encourage alcohol consumption amongst young people. Rev. Joseph Bosomah, of the Central Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, appealed to the government to come out with a strategic plan that could check alcohol ads to ensure the safety of the youth. These concerns are supported by the Monitoring Alcohol Marketing in Africa MAMPA Project, commissioned by the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa. The findings show that alcohol marketing styles in Ghana appeal to young people as they are often connected to sports as well as to social and sexual success. The Project, conducted in Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana and Gambia, underlines the need for countries to strengthen policy and legislation to restrict alcohol marketing.


EUCAM first online conference on Digital Alcohol Marketing

European Centre for Monitoring Alcohol Marketing (EUCAM) is organising its first on-line conference on the subject of digital alcohol marketing. The event will take place on 31 October and will address the following issues: tactics and methods in on-line alcohol marketing, the effects it has on youth and how to improve regulations. The conference will result in the publication of the EUCAM Manifesto on Digital Alcohol Marketing. NGOs, policy officials and scientists are welcome to participate (fee: $30 / €23.20).

First International Conference on Health, Pleasure and Communities

NIGHTS 2013 - the first International Conference on Health, Pleasure and Communities will aim to promote a safer night-life by implementing a variety of health promotion, community empowerment and harm/risk reduction strategies. It derives from the 'Nightlife Empowerment and Well-Being Implementation Project' supported by the Executive Agency for Health and Consumers. The event will take place on 25-27 September 2013 in Padova, Italy. Call for contributions ends 15 May. Registration fees apply (early bird registration ends 30 June).


Worrying picture of drug use by young London club goers post mephedrone ban

This recent article follows up earlier UK legislation banning the legal-high, mephedrone. Young club goers in London were found to be moving into more extensive 'poly-drug use', with mephedrone appearing alongside ecstasy and cocaine in their drug mix. This is particularly worrying as some observers see the club scene as a good indicator of future wider drug use patterns. Highlighting the limited extent of evidence about 'legal-highs' and their combination with other drugs, Dr Karenza Moore of Lancaster University commentated that our growing understanding of the issues, '...can help to build a picture which allows local decision-makers to target interventions more effectively.' Other surveys have noted a rise in the number of users injecting mephedrone and the drug's popularity with younger and less experienced users.


Obama Administration announces 2013 National Drug Control Strategy

Earlier this month the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) released the Obama Administration’s 2013 National Drug Control Strategy - a primary blueprint for drug control policy in the United States. In line with previous announcements the strategy remains committed to prevention. It summarises a series of evidence-based reforms that recognise drug problems as a public health issue in the United States, and not just a criminal justice issue. 'Preventing drug use before it begins – particularly among young people – is the most cost-effective way to reduce drug use and its consequences in America.' Furthermore, the report also presents evidence from a social and health perspective within neuroscience to support prevention programmes by revealing addiction to be, 'a chronic disease of the brain, one that can be prevented and successfully treated.' The policy also details a 'smart on crime' approach to enforcement.


Binge drinking youth at increased risk of heart disease

Binge drinking between the ages of 18 and 25 may permanently increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, a new study found. Researchers from the University of Illinois studied a small sample of non-drinking and binge drinking students, none of whom smoked. They found that the latter group had impaired function in the two main cell types that control blood flow which can lead to hardening of the arteries, heart attack and stroke. Interestingly, binge drinkers were not found to have increased blood pressure or cholesterol which are also well-established risk factors for heart disease. 'It is important that young adults understand that binge drinking patterns are an extreme form of unhealthy or at-risk drinking and are associated with serious social and medical consequences,' said study co-author Mariann Piano. The study will appear in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.


Namibia: plans for a new alcohol policy

The Government of Namibia is planning to develop a policy geared towards the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of people affected by alcohol abuse. According to the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi, in order to make the policy effective, it will have to incorporate measures to educate the public on the dangers of alcohol abuse, and also look at interventions that focus on treating or punishing those who may be putting at risk their own and other people's health and safety. The policy should be adopted during 2013.


Hookah smoking no safer than cigarettes, just differently dangerous

Some young people see hookah smoking as fashionable, exotic, less harmful and less addictive than cigarettes. This small study compares the two practices finding that water pipe smoking led to half the amount of nicotine in blood samples, but 2.5 times the amount of carbon monoxide in smokers' breath. Furthermore, the two types of smoking expose smokers to different ranges of carcinogens, and so different risks, but these all remain dangerous. For example, hookah smoking is linked to leukemia and contrary to much popular belief, water does not filter out harmful substances. The subjects smoked an average of 11 cigarettes or 3 water-pipe sessions per day for four days, then switched substances a week later. In earlier articles we have noted a range of hookah smoking rates around the world, including 40% of US college students and 25% of adolescent Lebanese school children having tried it.



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