Monday, November 29, 2010

A Little Holiday Cheer Can Go a Long Way On Our Roads This Holiday Season Remember: Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving

As party-goers celebrate the holidays with friends and family, Van Buren County SAFE Coalition reminds everyone to keep the party off the road. Remember, Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.

After hearing about the dangers of drinking and driving time after time, most people have gotten the message if they’re planning on drinking they should always plan a safe way home. But sadly, millions of Americans still think they are invincible and regularly choose to get behind the wheel after having a few drinks.

Parents should take note that young males were at particularly high risk, with nearly one-quarter admitting to riding with someone who should not have been behind the wheel in the past year.

We know that the holiday season can be one of the deadliest and most dangerous times on America’s roadways due to an increase in drunk driving. Don’t let your 2010 end in an arrest or worse death. Remember, whether you’ve had way too many or just one too many, it’s not worth the risk!

During the month of December 2009, 753 people were killed in crashes that involved a driver or motorcycle rider (operator) with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.

The SAFE Coalition recommends these simple tips for a safe holiday season:
 Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin;
 Before drinking,
designate a sober driver;
 If you’re impaired call a sober friend or family
 If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to
contact your local law enforcement;
 And remember, Friends Don’t Let
Friends Drive Drunk. If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while
impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where
they are going safely.

For more information, please visit

If you would like additional local assistance you may contact the SAFE Coalition at , by phone at 319-293-6412 or online at

Monday, November 22, 2010


Give Yourself Something To Be Thankful For This Thanksgiving.

The seasons are turning from warm summer days to cool crisp mornings and vibrant fall colors. The season for thanksgiving is upon us and this is a time to give thanks for all things important to you. While there are many things you may be thankful for in your life some may be dealing with the abuse of drugs and alcohol. The SAFE Coalition wants to take this opportunity to provide you with resources to assist you in your decision to become free of Substance Abuse.
It takes courage and strength to face up to drug addiction. When you’re bogged down in drug abuse and drug addiction, sobriety can seem like an impossible goal. But recovery is never out of reach, no matter how hopeless your current situation seems.

Change is possible with the right treatment and support, and by making lifestyle changes that address the root cause of your addiction. Don’t give up, even if you’ve tried and failed before. There are many different roads to recovery, but almost all involve bumps, pitfalls, and setbacks. But by examining the problem and thinking about making the necessary changes, you’re already on your way. These seven steps will help you on your road.

1. Decide to make a change.
For many people struggling with addiction, the biggest and toughest step toward recovery is the very first one: deciding to make a change. It’s normal to feel conflicted about giving up your drug of choice, even when you realize it’s causing problems in your life. Change is never easy.

2. Explore your treatment options
Once you’ve made the decision to challenge your drug addiction, it’s time to explore your treatment choices. Options can be found online, by talking to your doctor or calling 1-800-662-HELP(4357)

3. Reach out for support
Don’t try to go it alone. Whatever treatment approach you choose, having a solid support system is essential. The more positive influences you have in your life, the better your chances for recovery. Recovering from drug addiction isn’t easy, but with people you can turn to for encouragement, guidance, and a listening ear, it’s a little less tough.

4. Learn healthy ways to cope with stress
Even once you’ve recovered from drug addiction, you’ll still have to face the problems that led to your drug problems in the first place. Did you start using drugs to numb painful emotions, calm yourself down after an argument, unwind after a bad day, or forget about your problems? After you become sober, the negative feelings that you used to dampen with drugs will resurface. For treatment to be successful, and to remain sober in the long term, you’ll need to resolve these underlying issues as well.

5. Keep triggers and cravings in check
While getting sober from drugs is an important first step, it’s only the beginning of the recovery process. Once sober, the brain needs time to recover and rebuild connections that have changed while addicted. During this time, drug cravings can be intense. You can support your continued sobriety by making a conscious effort to avoid people, places, and situations that trigger the urge to use.

6. Build a meaningful drug free life
You can support your drug treatment and protect yourself from relapse by having activities and interests that provide meaning to your life. It’s important to be involved in things that you enjoy and make you feel needed. When your life is filled with rewarding activities and a sense of purpose, your addiction will lose its appeal.

7. Don’t let relapse keep you down
Relapse is a common part of the recovery process from drug addiction. While relapse is understandably frustrating and discouraging, it can also be an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and correct your treatment course.

By taking the above steps to become free of addiction next thanksgiving you could be giving thanks to a sober life.

Information provided by Helpguide. Additional information can be found on their website at If you would like additional local assistance you may contact the SAFE Coalition at , by phone at 319-293-6412 or online at

Caffeinated alcoholic drink sickened students at party

ELLENSBURG, Wash. - High-alcohol caffeinated drink, not drugs, sickened Central Washington students at party.

CWU officials, along with state Attorney General Rob McKenna, this morning announced the results of an investigation into the Oct. 8 party in Roslyn.

They reported that the students were drinking a caffeinated malt beverage called "Four Loko," which is 12 percent alcohol. One equals four to five beers and several shots of espresso.

Many of the young people that attended the party were students at Central Washington University. Nine CWU students were sent to the hospital for treatment. One student almost died.

CWU President James L. Gaudino said the blood alcohol levels of hospitalized students ranged from .123 to .35. A blood alcohol concentration of .3 is considered lethal. Each student had consumed “Four Loko” and some had used it with other alcohol.

Professor Ken Briggs, chair of CWU’s Department of Physical Education, School and Public Health, said Four Loko, also known as “black out in a can” or “liquid cocaine,” is one of the most popular of the 25 or more alcoholic energy drinks on the market.

Briggs says the caffeine makes AEDs “a binge-drinkers dream” because the caffeine and other stimulants allow a drinker to ingest larger volumes of alcohol without passing out.

“Being able to feel the effects of tiredness, loss of coordination and even passing out or vomiting are the body’s defenses against consuming doses of alcohol that will kill you,” said Briggs, adding that drinkers like to chug AEDs as quickly as possible and chase them with vodka or rum. “Regardless, once the blood alcohol level reaches a certain level you can drop like a box of rocks.”

McKenna says the drink is cheap and is marketed to young people. It's flavored to mask the taste of the alcohol.

CWU announced that alcoholic energy drinks would be banned at CWU pending a thorough review of drug and alcohol education programs and policies and a study of the dangers associated with the drinks.

McKenna, who will be president-elect of the National Association of Attorneys General next year, announced he would renew a push for a national restriction on the sale of caffeinated malt liquor and, barring action by the federal government, for a ban of the beverage in Washington state.

“They’re marketed to kids by using fruit flavors that mask the taste of alcohol and they have such high levels of stimulants that people have no idea how inebriated they really are. They’re packaged just like non-alcoholic drinks, but include a dangerous dose of malt liquor," he said.

CWU said the investigation is not closed. Detectives are still trying to find out where students, all of whom were younger than 21, obtained the alcoholic beverages. School officials said 40 of the students interviewed by detectives will be interviewed by student conduct officers.

by KING 5 News
Posted on October 25, 2010 at 11:44 AM

Updated Monday, Oct 25 at 2:28 PM

For more information you may contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412

FDA, FTC Target Alcoholic Energy Drinks

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) simultaneously notified makers of popular caffeinated alcoholic beverages that such products are unsafe, unapproved, and misleadingly marketed, The Washington Post reported Nov. 17.

Large brewers like Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors stopped selling similar caffeinated alcoholic beverages in 2008, after several states’ attorneys general argued that they were unsafe and were inappropriately marketed to young people.

Smaller companies stepped into the breach, marketing drinks such as Core High Gravity, Moonshot, Four Loko, Joose, and Max. The drinks have become popular with young people, especially on college campuses, where they have been dubbed “blackout in a can.”

In Nov. 2009, the FDA sent a letter to about 30 manufacturers of these drinks, stating that the addition of caffeine to alcoholic drinks had not been approved and that it would evaluate its safety. It asked the drink makers to submit information on the safety of caffeine as a food additive.

On Nov. 17, 2010, the FDA notified four companies -- Charge Beverages Corporation, New Century Brewing, Phusion Projects Inc., and United Brands Company, Inc. -- that the addition of caffeine to their alcohol drinks was unapproved and unsafe, effectively making the manufacture and distribution of caffeinated alcoholic beverages illegal.

"There is evidence that the combinations of caffeine and alcohol in these products pose a public health concern," said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, deputy commissioner at the FDA.

The FDA's letters cited recent scientific studies showing that when combined, alcohol and caffeine posed an elevated risk to the health and safety of consumers, especially younger drinkers. In response to criticisms of that research made by United Brands and Phusion Projects, FDA officials wrote that, "[T]here are currently no studies or other information that refute the safety concerns or otherwise affirmatively establish the safety of caffeine directly added to alcoholic beverages."

Simultaneously, the Federal Trade Commission warned the four companies that their marketing practices for the drinks were potentially deceptive.

"Consumers might mistakenly assume that these beverages are safe because they are widely sold," said the FTC's Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, David Vladeck. "In fact, there is good reason to believe that these caffeinated alcohol drinks pose significant risks to consumer health and safety. Consumers -- particularly young, inexperienced drinkers -- may not realize how much alcohol they have consumed because caffeine can mask the sense of intoxication."

The FDA's letters made no mention of recent incidents in four states where young adults were hospitalized or died after consuming caffeinated alcoholic beverages. The FTC letter explicitly cited the incidents as a factor in its decision.

Manufacturers were given 15 days to act, or face seizure of their products or even a court order barring them from selling it.

A day ahead of the FDA and FTC's announcements, on Nov. 16, Phusion Projects Inc. said that it would remove all additives, including caffeine, from its product Four Loko, according to The Boston Globe.

The founders of Phusion Projects stated in a press release that they "still believe, as do many people throughout the country – that the combination of alcohol and caffeine is safe," citing commonly-consumed drinks like rum and cola, or Irish coffee. The press release did not mention the hospitalization incidents that have been linked to the consumption of caffeinated alcoholic beverages.

Phusion Projects' founders added, "[I]f our products were unsafe, we would not have expected the federal agency responsible for approving alcoholic beverage formulas – the Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) – to have approved them."

The FDA acknowledged the TTB approvals in its Nov. 17 letters to all four companies, but stated that the matter was unrelated to the need to have food additives approved by the FDA under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

For more information you may contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or visit

Monday, November 15, 2010

Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse

Think about your home. What prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs do you have? Where are they kept? Would you know if some were missing? The good news is that you can take steps immediately to limit access to these drugs and help keep your teen drug-free:

1. Safeguard all drugs at home. Monitor quantities and control access. Take note of how many pills are in a bottle or pill packet, and keep track of refills. This goes for your own medication, as well as for your teen and other members of your household. If you find you have to refill medication more often than expected, there could be a real problem—someone may be taking your medication without your knowledge. If your teen has been prescribed a drug, be sure you control the medication, and monitor dosages and refills.

2. Set clear rules for teens about all drug use, including not sharing medicine and always following the medical provider's advice and dosages. Make sure your teen uses prescription drugs only as directed by a medical provider and follows instructions for OTC products carefully. This includes taking the proper dosage and not using with other substances without a medical provider's approval. Teens should never take prescription or OTC drugs with street drugs or alcohol. If you have any questions about how to take a drug, call your family physician or pharmacist.

3. Be a good role model by following these same rules with your own medicines. Examine your own behavior to ensure you set a good example. If you misuse your prescription drugs, such as share them with your kids, or abuse them, your teen will take notice. Avoid sharing your drugs and always follow your medical provider's instructions.

4. Properly conceal and dispose of old or unneeded medicines in the trash. Unneeded prescription drugs should be hidden and thrown away in the trash. So that teens or others don't take them out of the trash, you can mix them with an undesirable substance (like used coffee grounds or kitty litter) and put the mixture in an empty can or bag. Unless the directions say otherwise, do NOT flush medications down the drain or toilet because the chemicals can pollute the water supply. Also, remove any personal, identifiable information from prescription bottles or pill packages before you throw them away.

5. Ask friends and family to safeguard their prescription drugs as well. Make sure your friends and relatives, especially grandparents, know about the risks, too, and encourage them to regularly monitor their own medicine cabinets. If there are other households your teen has access to, talk to those families as well about the importance of safeguarding medications. If you don't know the parents of your child's friends, then make an effort to get to know them, and get on the same page about rules and expectations for use of all drugs, including alcohol and illicit drugs. Follow up with your teen's school administration to find out what they are doing to address issues of prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse in schools.

Talk to your teen about the dangers of abusing prescription and over-the-counter drugs. These are powerful drugs that, when abused, can be just as dangerous as street drugs. Tell your teen the risks far outweigh any "benefits."

For more information you may contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or visit

Monday, November 8, 2010

Its National Drug Facts Week

Making things Worse… Depressed Teens use Marijuana to Self Medicate

This week is National Drug Facts Week, a week dedicated to giving students the opportunity to ask questions and get real answers about the use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco. There are many events happening at Van Buren High School this week where students can talk. Videos are being shown, quizzes are being given and fact walls are going up around the school. A different drug is being highlighted each day. On Monday the drug was Marijuana so the SAFE coalition wanted to share some information with the community about Marijuana…….

Millions of teens report feeling hopeless and losing interest in everyday activities for weeks at a time. Many of these teens are making a bad situation worse by using marijuana and other drugs in an effort to make themselves feel better.

· Over the course of a year, two million teens report feeling depressed.1

· Depressed teens are more than twice as likely to use marijuana as non-depressed teens. Twenty-five percent of depressed teens used marijuana during the same period they report feeling depressed.

· Depressed teens are more than twice as likely as their peers to use or become dependent on marijuana.

· The odds of developing symptoms of depression are more than five times higher for girls who smoke marijuana daily than for girls who do not.

Research shows that using marijuana can worsen depression and lead to more serious mental health problems. In fact, teens who used marijuana at least once a month in the past year are three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts than teens who don’t use marijuana.

If you see a change in your teen’s behavior, do not dismiss it as a “phase.” Your teen could be depressed, using drugs – or both. Now is the time to take action:

· Talk to your teen. Young people who learn about the risks of drugs at home are up to 50 percent less likely to try drugs than those who don’t hear from their parents.

· Set clear rules and consequences for breaking them.

· Recognize signs and symptoms of marijuana use, including depression, withdrawal, and hostility.

· Get help. Depression is one of the most common emotional problems for teens and the most treatable.

· Find out more about how to keep your teen healthy and drug-free at

To join the National Drug Facts week event you may check it out on Facebook or Google! You may reach out to the SAFE coalition as a local resource if you know someone who may be experiencing a problem with drugs alcohol or tobacco. Their number is 319-293-6412 or via email at

Van Buren High School JEL Members Have Been Busy!

VB High School JEL members have been active in a variety of activities since the start of the school year. They have participated in three events to bring awareness to the dangers of drugs, alcohol and tobacco. They include a Fall Festival Street Marketing event, a Hall or Horrors Display in their school and a Red Ribbon Week presentation for Elementary Students.

The members of the Van Buren High School JEL/YLC program provided information to the public at the Fall Festival in Keosauqua on Saturday October 9th. These members dressed in various costumes that represented the dangerous tactics used by Big Tobacco to get youth to use their products. Costumes included; a rat, an M&M, a toilet, a baby, and a cow. These characters were then placed throughout the down town area. Spectators were encouraged to visit each of the characters, listen to their fact and when they had collected all facts return to the main booth for a prize. All participants received a prize and a grand prize drawing was held for everyone who was involved. Congratulations to Abbie Johnson for winning the grand prize! The students had a great time with this activity and were able to educate the community and visitors about the dangers of the use of tobacco.

During the week of Halloween the students developed a display titled Hall of Horrors in a Hallway in their school. On the wall were photos of the top 10 serial killers in the world. Their photos listed their names and the number of people they had killed. Each day a few more killers were added to the wall. On the final day the students displayed the killer who was responsible for the most deaths; Big Tobacco. This entity is responsible for 1200 deaths A DAY more than any of the other serial killers listed. This was a great visual for the students in the school to see how dangerous the use of tobacco can be. JEL members received many comments on their wall during this week.

Finally for Red Ribbon Week members of the JEL program put together a presentation for elementary students about the dangers of drugs, alcohol and tobacco. They used a spider web to talk about how using these substances can get you caught in a trap and sometimes it might be hard to see. At the end of their presentation the JEL members asked the students to sign a Pledge Wall that they would choose to be drug, alcohol and tobacco free! All students received a trick or treat bag reminding them of the presentation with the JEL members.

The high school JEL members have many other events planned throughout the year including activities for National Drug Facts Week November 8-11. Harmony and Van Buren Middle School JEL members are preparing events for the Great American Smokeout on November 18th, Alcohol Awareness Month in April and Kick Butts Day in the spring.

JEL (or Just Eliminate Lies) is a statewide program dedicated to fighting big tobacco across Iowa. Started in 2000, they have had many successes, including a dollar cigarette tax, and the statewide smoking ban. They hold many street marketing events and are actively involved with PSA's and preventing teen tobacco use.

For more information on the JEL program you may call the office at 319-293-6412.

Monday, November 1, 2010

National Drug Facts Week

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is launching National Drug Facts Week, a new national awareness week to bring together teens and scientific experts to discuss the facts about drug abuse. NIDA is a component of the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"What we learned through our annual Web chat is that teens have many questions about drug use and are eager for objective, factual answers," said NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow. "So we wanted to build a series of events where teens could ask scientists their questions directly."

The week, which starts on Monday, November 8, encourages community-based question and answer events between teens and scientists. Locally Van Buren County SAFE Coalition and the JEL/YLC members are teaming up to provide information each day during the week about Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, and Prescription Drugs. Students are being asked to submit questions anonymously the week before the event. All questions will be answered on a fact wall or by a scientist coming into the school for the event. JEL/YLC members will be interviewing the scientist and providing a question and answer session that will be aired on Channel 1 each day of the week.

"Knowledge is the most powerful tool we can provide our teens with to help them make good, healthy, responsible decisions," said ONDCP Director R. Gil Kerlikowske. "By empowering teens to think critically about drug use and its consequences, we can improve the health and safety of a generation."

The Drug Enforcement Administration will post special scientific information on its teen site, Just Think Twice. "Keeping America's teens informed about drugs is as important a mission to the DEA as is keeping drug dealers out of our communities and off the Internet," said Michele Leonhart, the DEA Acting Administrator. "Knowledge is a powerful weapon against those who would exploit our kids, and DEA enthusiastically partners with NIDA and other agencies to put on National Drug Facts Week."

The week will also include the launch of the first annual "National Drug IQ Challenge," a 20-question multiple choice quiz that teens and adults can take to test their science based knowledge about drugs. The quiz can be found on the National Drug Facts Week Web site and will also be provided to all Van Buren High School Students to win prizes during the week. High scorers on the site will be rewarded with five additional Brainiac questions that focus on the brain. The quiz and other information on National Drug Facts Week can be found at You may also follow them on Face book or Twitter for up to date information!

If you have questions about the local event you may contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or on the web at