Friday, October 26, 2012

NIDA launches new tool for parents: Family Checkup: Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse

As part of of National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has launched Family Checkup: Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse, an online resource that equips parents with research-based skills to help keep their children drug-free. The research results from NIDA highlight the essential role parents play in teaching their families about the consequences of the use and abuse of substances including tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs.

Family Checkup, hosted on NIDA’s website (, poses questions for parents to consider as they interact with their children; highlighting parenting skills that are important in preventing the initiation and progression of drug use among youth. The resource incorporates video examples that show parents how-to and how-not-to emulate each of five skills beginning with communication, then encouragement, negotiation, setting limits, and supervision with their own children. Each question, developed by the Child and Family Center at the University of Oregon, presents the skill by first explaining its importance. The information is also available for download as a PDF.

This type of early intervention does a great deal to mitigate the potential for substance abuse and addiction among teens and young adults. By providing accurate information about the risks of substance abuse and addiction, and through practicing positive communication skills, parents can help prevent drug use during the critical teenage years.

If you are interested in a walk-through of the site please plan to attend Parent-Teacher Conferences at the Van Buren Community High School on Monday, November 5, 2012 or Tuesday, November 6, 2012 from 4:30 -8:00 pm. The SAFE Coalition will have computers to show you how to access the site and it’s features.

For more information, you can contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or by email at or the NIDA press office at or 301-443-6245.

Red Ribbon Week- Live Drug-Free

Red Ribbon Week, held annually during the last week in October, is a nationwide effort to celebrate healthy, drug-free living and to motivate youth across the country to choose to live drug-free. The week serves as a great opportunity to create dialogue with youth, to mobilize your community, and to honor law enforcement officers who work every day to keep communities safe from drugs and the associated consequences.

Several recent studies, including the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, indicate perceptions among youth about dangers of substance use are down, while substance use is up. The NSDUH study also showed that prevalence of substance use was lower among those youth who reported having seen or heard drug or alcohol prevention messages in the past year from sources outside of school than among those who reported having no such exposure (7.4 percent versus 10.5 percent, respectively).

This finding highlights the importance of drug prevention programs such as those operated by Drug Free Communities coalitions and the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, as well as the importance of leveraging Red Ribbon Week to engage youth in drug prevention activities. Hundreds of organizations across the country use Red Ribbon Week to bring drug prevention messaging to their communities through events and activities.

The Van Buren County Youth Leadership Council (YLC) Members engaged youth, parents, and leaders in this community during this year's Red Ribbon Week and brought awareness to the dangers and consequences of drug use since it is more important than ever. Activities the youth were involved in included: Red Ribbon week announcements, peer teaching in the elementary school and posters in their school and community.

Take time to talk to your teen about the dangers of drugs, alcohol and tobacco. For information on talking to your teens check out the website:

For more information on Red Ribbon Week you may contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or via email at

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

YLC Students Attend County Wide Training

On October 10, 2012 there was a Youth Leadership Council (YLC) training held at the Roberts Building. This training was for Van Buren and Harmony Community School District YLC Student Members in 7th – 12th grade. At this training they participated in various activities to help lead teens in the county in being above the influence of the negative things in their lives.

The youth participated in four different workshops that focused on teamwork, leadership, living above the influence and helping create a safer community. There was a workshop on team building. There were three different activities the YLC members participated in that helped them to work together as a team. An Above the Influence activity was held that allowed the members think about what keeps them above the influence of drugs and alcohol. They displayed their ideas on posters for all to see.
The members planned activities they would like to do in their communities to encourage others to be drug, alcohol and tobacco free as well. Each grade/school planned their activities for the rest of the year during this time.

Finally, the members were trained by their peers on how to be a youth leader in their schools and communities. Peer teachers for this session were Lydia Heald, Cassie Johnson, Drew Nolting and Abby Rider. These four students have all attended a national youth leadership training to prepare them to train and lead other students in their community.

All of the students had fun and learned new things. They were able to work together as a large group for the entire day, making it easy to get a lot accomplished! This type of training allows the students to come up with new ways to influence their peers to make good decisions! For more information on the YLC program or the training you may contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Today is the first ever National “Above the Influence” (ATI) Day. Taking place during National Substance Abuse Prevention Month in October, ATI Day is a time to celebrate youth living the “Above the Influence” lifestyle and to recognize the power of prevention efforts in local communities. This annual tradition will reinforce ATI as a central substance abuse prevention tool on the national level and among community partners, key stakeholders, and youth around the country.

200 groups across the nation are planning to hold at least one ATI activity or event during October. In addition, 85 communities plan to conduct ATI discussion forums on Oct. 18, providing opportunities for youth to discuss the influences they face at home, school, and in the community.

Director Kerlikowske and ONDCP’s three Deputy Directors will host ATI discussion forums in four communities around the country. The anchor event at the District of Columbia’s Newseum will feature a teen panel discussion and ATI-inspired performances by local teens.

Locally, Van Buren Youth Leadership Council (YLC) members are holding a variety of activities to support Above the Influence Day and show how students in our community are “Above the Influence”. At their Youth Leadership Training last week all students designed an above the influence logo to represent why they were above the influence. Alena Whitaker from Harmony High School had the winning design and will be featured in future ATI marketing materials (see photo).

The high school YLC members will be holding a poster/slogan contest for students in 7th and 8th grade at Van Buren Middle School. This contest will encourage students to think of a six word slogan that describes their life. They will design a poster related to their slogan that will be on display on ATI day and a winner will be selected. They will also be posting a variety of Above the Influence posters and youth designs around the school and community. Many of these posters show how students pledge to be above the influence.

A final activity for the week encourages students to draw the above the influence logo somewhere, take a picture of it and post it to the ATI Facebook page. This is a national activity that local youth are participating in to showcase their commitment to being above the influence of drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Announcements will be read at school and a radio show will be done to promote these events! Be watching for these activities and keep encouraging these students to live Above the Influence.

For more information on ATI Day you may contact the coalition at 319-293-6412 or visit the ATI webpage at

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Dose of Prevention: Protecting Our Teens from Medicine Abuse

As parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers, and other concerned adults, we spend a lot of time helping teens circumvent the challenges that could ground them for life. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges teens face is substance abuse. While we may talk to them about the hazards of alcohol use, drunk driving, and of abusing illegal drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine, we often forget about those drugs that are found right in our own medicine cabinets – prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

Nationally, prescription (Rx) drugs are the second most abused category of drugs after marijuana, with one in five young adults reporting that they have abused a prescription drug. In addition, according to the 2011 Monitoring the Future Survey, 5 percent of teens have abused over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines containing the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM) to get high over the past year. When abused in extreme excess—sometimes as much as 25 to 50 times the recommended dose—DXM can produce dangerous side effects, especially when combined with alcohol, illicit drugs, or certain prescription drugs.

So why is this happening? Surveys show that today’s teens find Rx medication abuse as an acceptable and safer alternative to illicit drug use. The thinking goes, “these drugs are prescribed by doctors and available at local drug stores so how bad can they be?” Easy access also plays a role. After all, Rx and OTC medicines are found right in our own medicine cabinets, at a friend or family member’s home, or at local drug stores.

That’s why it’s vital that caregivers be vigilant of the possible signs of abuse. If you see your child making frequent purchases of OTC cough medicines from the same or different stores, or from the Internet (for example, note the arrival of unexpected packages); or if you find empty bottles or packages of cough medicine in his/her bedroom, your internal alarm should go off. And if you notice that he/she is exhibiting odd behavior, excessive mood swings, has an increase or decrease in sleep, declining grades or a loss of interest in friends and activities then chances are something’s up and whether it’s due to prescription or over-the-counter medicine abuse, or something else, it’s worth talking to them about it.

So while you can’t protect your children and teens from everything that can hurt them, you CAN make a difference when it comes to prescription and over-the-counter medicine. Talk to them about the dangers of medicine abuse; safeguard your medicines; keep track of the medicines in your home and learn how to properly dispose of medications when they are no longer needed. And remember to model good behavior by not sharing your medications and only taking them according to your doctor’s orders or by following the instructions on the label.

Locally the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Reserve Officers and the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition have been sponsoring Prescription Drug Take Back Events. On September 29, 2012 one of these events was held in Farmington. During the event eight pounds of expired or unused prescription medications were collected. Lee’s Pharmacy in Keosauqua will accept and dispose of unused prescription and over the counter medications that you would like to dispose of safely. Lee Pharmacy cannot accept controlled substances, these need to be disposed of at the Prescription Drug Take Back Events. The next Prescription Drug Take Back Event will be held in April 2013.

For more information on prescription and over the counter medication abuse you can view the Prevent Rx Abuse site at or contact the SAFE Coalition by phone at 319-293-6412 or by email at or check out the SAFE Coalition website and blog at

Monday, October 1, 2012

Youth Leadership Council News

By: Meredith Miller

As the school year has started the YLC program has been thinking of new ways to help inform the community and school about the affects of drugs and alcohol abuse. So far we have had three meetings in those meetings we have been brainstorming ways to help create our "ideal" school and community. Some of the ideas that were tossed around included more interactive things for the youth to do throughout the community as well as creating a more stable learning environment in the schools.

Another event for the YLC program is an upcoming training held at the Roberts Memorial Building. The event will be held on October 10th. This will help inform new members and help returning members stay up to date on prevention. This training will also be a chance for the club to come up with new ideas for more specific awareness events throughout the year such as; Kick Butts Day, Alcohol Awareness Month, and Red Ribbon Week. As a group we are excited to get started and make changes in the community and we hope that the community members see all the positives changes!

YLC Members training their peers at the Youth Leadership
Training held on October 25, 2011
Any student in Van Buren County who is interested in joining YLC can contact coordinator, Heidi Bainbridge at For more information you can check out the YLC website or Facebook page located at or contact us by phone at 319-293-6412.