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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'Power of You(th)' - resource for young people on teen drinking

We have previously publicised a parental resource created by Mother Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Here is another resource from the same organisation. This aims to give facts about under-age drinking, explore the impact of alcohol on a teen’s health, safety, social life, school performance, and relationships with friends and family. Its purpose is to empower young people to make smart choices and take a stand against teen drinking.


Parent handbook for talking with teens about alcohol

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) created a parent handbook in order to help parents talk with teens about alcohol. The purpose of this resource is to give guidelines to parents on how to help their children avoid the dangers of drinking under the age of 21 or of riding in a car with a drunk driver. The authors also hope that the handbook will help in the overall improvement of how parents and their children relate to each other.


'Rigorous study' highlights cost-effectiveness of school-based prevention programmes

Many prevention programmes are based on the influence of peers on adolescent behaviour. Some commentators have questioned whether peer influence might actually be an illusion due to other factors like pupils sharing similar environments or choosing like-minded friends. Mike Ashton draws our attention to an 'unusually rigorous US analysis' which aimed to take account of such factors. The study found that despite potential exaggeration, peer effects remain important determinants of adolescent drinking. For example, the chances of a given child drinking rise by 4% for every 10% more of their school year-mates who drink. Indeed, the authors suggest that public health interventions at the school level might be more cost-effective than previously estimated, since health-promoting behaviour in one pupil may spread to others. Among other influences, easy access to alcohol at home was almost as important as peer influence. The authors also recognise the value of environmental prevention such as restricting alcohol sales and minimum age drinking laws.


Faculty of Public Health Annual Conference

The 2013 Faculty of Public Health (FPH) Annual Conference will be held at the University of Warwick, Coventry on 3 July. Topics covered will include: public health leadership, sustainability and health, sexual health, education and training, mental health, behaviour change and promoting capacity and best practice in public health. Registration for the event is required (fee: £95-250).


Do we overgeneralise observations from neuroscience on the adolescent brain?

This article from Science Daily is not directly linked with drug prevention, but it includes an interesting overview of risk taking and decision making processes in the adolescent brain from the unusual standpoint of legal responsibility. Anthony Wagner, a cognitive neuroscientist at Stanford University, reminds us that research applies to adolescents as a group rather than to any one individual or situation. B.J. Casey at Cornell University suggests that we may overgeneralise the lack of self control among adolescents. 'It is not that teens can't make decisions, they can and they can do so efficiently,' says Casey. 'It is when they must make decisions in the heat of the moment, in presence of potential or perceived threats, among peers, that the court should consider diminished responsibility of teens while still holding them accountable for their behavior.'


Disturbing findings from US study on teen prescription drug abuse

This latest survey by The Partnership at and MetLife Foundation found that one in four teens has misused or abused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime - a 33% increase over the past five years. Equally disturbing is that nearly one-third of parents say they believe stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall, normally prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), can improve a teen’s academic performance even if the teen does not have ADHD. Teens report very widespread access to medicine cabinets at home or at friends' homes. The full report covers other major issues and a wide range of other substances.


New York plans to raise age for buying tobacco to 21

The New York Administration continues to push for smoking restrictions. This latest proposal would raise the age for tobacco purchase to 21 years, in line with alcohol. Another measure would force sellers to hide tobacco products from view. Previous measures have included smoking bans for restaurants and bars, parks, beaches, plazas and other public places. Opponents to the proposal point to existing rights at 18 such as voting and driving. Young smokers could also legally obtain cigarettes from older friends. Christine Quinn, City Council speaker and a mayoral candidate, said there was “clear data” that 80% of smokers started before age 21. Officials hope for a 55% reduction in 18-20 year-old smoking and a 66% reduction at age 14-17 years.


Australian drinking attitudes and behaviours: worrying poll results

The Foundation for Alcohol Research & Education (FARE) has launched their fourth Annual Alcohol Poll: Attitudes and Behaviours. The survey found two in five Australian drinkers consume alcohol with the intention of getting drunk and more than half of drinkers 'preload' by drinking at home before going to a bar or pub. The poll also shows that Australians overwhelmingly support the introduction of health information labels on alcohol products (61%) as well as a ban on alcohol advertising on weekends and weekdays before 8.30pm (64%). Interestingly, fewer than one in five people realise alcohol can be linked to breast cancer. 'This data is clearly worrying', said Mr Todd Harper, CEO of The Cancer Council Victoria, as 'the risk of cancer increases with every drink'.


Drug Action Week

Drug Action Week (DAW) 2013 is an initiative of the Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA) that aims to raise awareness about alcohol and other drugs issues in Australia. The DAW 2013 daily themes will focus on:

New Canadian strategy to tackle prescription drug abuse crisis

Prescription drug abuse has been rising rapidly in Canada, and the country is now second only to the USA in consumption of prescription opioids. This new ten year strategy aims to draw together many separate groups and initiatives. Entitled, 'First Do No Harm: Responding to Canada’s Prescription Drug Crisis', the strategy was was released by The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA), in partnership with the National Advisory Council (NAC). The strategy covers prevention, education, treatment, monitoring and enforcement.



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