Thursday, January 17, 2013

National Drug Facts Week 2013

 What is National Drug Facts Week (NDFW)?
National Drug Facts Week is a health observance week for teens—an initiative of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The goal of NDFW is to shatter the myths about drugs and drug abuse.  It will be celebrated this year the week of January 28th to February 3rd, 2013. 

Who created National Drug Facts Week?
National Drug Facts Week was launched by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health. NIDA scientists want to give teens the opportunity to learn what science has taught us about drug abuse and addiction amid the noise and clutter of drug myths they get from the internet, TV, movies, music, or from friends.

How did NDFW start?
In 2008, NIDA began hosting its annual Drug Facts Chat Day for teens, during which thousands of teens asked questions about drugs via a Web chat. Every year teens ask many more questions than the scientists can answer in a day. In response to this demonstrated interest NIDA developed NDFW, asking teens, schools and community groups all over America to hold their own "Q and A" events with local scientific experts.

What happens on NDFW?
Community-based "question and answer" teen-focused events, nationally televised messages and shows on drug facts and events on the web are the major happenings during NDFW.

What are NDFW Community-Based Events?
NDFW Community-Based Events are about shattering drug myths and getting the scientific facts about drugs and drug abuse. In Van Buren Community Schools the Youth Leadership Council (YLC) Members will be holding a variety of events, they include:
·    Posters/Facts:  The Middle School YLC members will be hanging posters around the school with a “Did you know” fact.  These facts help shatter the myths about drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
·    Flash Mob: The High School YLC members will perform a flash mob some time during the week to peek the other student’s interest in National Drug Facts Week!
·    TAG It Activity: The High School YLC members will do a Tag It activity (this is where the students take pictures of things that help them to be above the influence of drugs) the week before National Drug Facts Week and will share their findings with the student body during the week in a display they will set up in the gym lobby. 
·    Distributing Shatter the Myths Booklets: The High School YLC members will be distributing the booklets to all of the Middle School students during lunch one day to help them become aware of the dangers of drugs.
·    Distributing Buttons: The Middle School YLC members will be passing out NDFW buttons to their fellow classmates during lunch one day to help their peers become aware of the dangers of drugs and NDFW!
Color Days: The High School YLC Members will be asking their peers to wear different colors of shirts for each day.  They will make an announcement with a drug fact for each day of the week.  The following are the colors and their meanings for the week:  Monday- White = Purity, Tuesday- Blue = Alcohol Free, Wednesday- Red = Drugs are dangerous, Thursday- Orange = Healthy/ Drug Free and Friday- Black = Death.
Why participate in NDFW?
A third of high school seniors report using an illicit drug sometime in the past year, and more than ten percent report non medical use of a prescription painkiller. This data shows that some teens are not aware of the risks of drug abuse. Even for those teens who do not abuse drugs, they may have friends or family who do, and may be looking for ways to help them. NDFW events’ encourage teens to get the scientific facts about drugs so they will make healthy decisions for themselves and share this information with others.

For more information on National Drug Facts Week call 301-443-1124 or visit the Web site  You can also contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or at 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Harmony School District Bully Prevention Work

By Jayne Wells
Effectively addressing bully prevention in a school requires help from everyone in the community.   The Harmony School District, with help from many businesses, is actively taking a stand against bully behavior.  If you visit the Harmony Elementary School you will see posters in every hall and most classrooms with bully prevention rules.  “Don’t Bully Me!” has become a theme for the Harmony Elementary School as everyone there has united to take a stand against bully behavior.   In the fall of 2011, the staff attended four training sessions and formed a coordinating committee.  This committee came up with four rules to help students know what to do when they experience bully behavior in any way.  The committee then prepared an assembly for the elementary where students wrote and performed a song to help explain how to help both bullies and targets of bullying.  Teachers made it even more fun by joining the performance.  Weekly class meetings were then started where students learn the difference between conflict and bully behavior.  They also have a chance to role play how to respond when there is bullying. 

Creating a school where bully behavior is not accepted and where students help instead of hurting others takes time.  The junior and senior high school staff at Harmony has been working on that climate.  They will be involved in training in January to become even more aware of how to recognize bullying and how to effectively respond.  The goal is to help the bully, the bullied, and the bystanders, since all groups suffer from bully behavior.   

If you would like more information about the program used in the Harmony Schools, go to .  Harmony administrators and staff are working hard to insure this school is a place where all students feel safe and ready to learn.  The SAFE coalition is working in cooperation with the schools on the bullying prevention project; for more information on this or any other coalition activity you may contact the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or  You can also find information on coalition activities at, on the coalition blog at, or on the coalition Facebook page Van Buren County SAFE Coalition

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Make Your New Year’s Resolution to be Tobacco-Free in 2013!

Tobacco use is the most common preventable cause of death. About half of the people who don't quit smoking will die of smoking-related problems. Quitting smoking is important for your health and provides many benefits. Soon after you quit, your circulation begins to improve, and your blood pressure starts to return to normal. Your sense of smell and taste return and breathing starts to become easier. In the long term, giving up tobacco can help you live longer. Your risk of getting cancer decreases with each year you stay smoke-free.

There are many ways to quit smoking. There are also resources to help you. Family members, friends, and co-workers may be supportive. But to be successful, you must really want to quit. Most people who have quit smoking were unsuccessful at least once in the past. Try not to view past attempts to quit as failures. See them as learning experiences. It is hard to stop smoking or using smokeless tobacco. But anyone can do it. Use these ideas to help you stay committed to quitting:
  • Avoid temptation. Stay away from people and places that tempt you to smoke. Later on you’ll be able to handle these with more confidence.
  • Change your habits. Switch to juices or water instead of alcohol or coffee. Take a different route to work. Take a brisk walk instead of a coffee break.
  • Choose other things for your mouth: Use substitutes you can put in your mouth such as sugarless gum or hard candy, raw vegetables such as carrot sticks, or sunflower seeds.
  • Get active with your hands: Do something to reduce your stress. Exercise or do something that keeps your hands busy, such as needlework or woodworking.
  • Breathe deeply: When you were smoking, you breathed deeply as you inhaled the smoke. When the urge strikes now, breathe deeply and picture your lungs filling with fresh, clean air.
  • Delay: If you feel that you are about to light up, hold off. Tell yourself you must wait at least 10 minutes. Often this simple trick will allow you to move beyond the strong urge to smoke.

Reward yourself. What you’re doing is not easy, so you deserve a reward. Put the money you would have spent on tobacco in a jar every day and then buy yourself a weekly treat or save the money for a major purchase.

Quitline Iowa has trained coaches that are here to listen and give you the support you need.  The Quitline Iowa coach will help you set a quit date and create a quit plan that works for you!

You may also refer a friend, a student, or family member to this service.

Quitline Iowa: 1-800-Quit-Now (1-800-784-8669)

The Question of Medical Marijuana in the State of Iowa

Multiple efforts to legalize marijuana as medicine continue to be introduced to the Iowa Legislature, and to governmental bodies throughout the United States. Some states, specifically Colorado and Washington, have legalized marijuana possession during this last election cycle through ballot initiatives. Marijuana continues to be categorized as a Schedule 1 substance under federal law, which indicates that it has no currently accepted medial use in the United States.

Multiple leading organizations in the field of medicine, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the American Medical Association (AMA), National Institutes of Health, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society-do not support smoked marijuana as medicine. The AMA’s official position is to encourage the federal government to reconsider the placement of marijuana on Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), part of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970.
  • The AMA, in November 2009 reported "Our AMA urges that marijuana's status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate delivery methods.”
  •  “This should not be viewed as an endorsement of state-based medical cannabis programs, the legalization of marijuana, or that scientific evidence on the therapeutic use of cannabis meets the current standards for a prescription drug product."

Current standards for prescription drug products are set by the federal government. The standards set by the FDA require years of scientific testing and meticulous data review by healthcare professionals and scientist to determine both the effectiveness and safety of a drug.  Safety protocols for dispersal only begin at this point.

The FDA, and public safety protocols that have been set in place, protect the health and well-being of all citizens using evidenced based research, scientific determination of dose and method of medicine delivery, and has the ability to withdraw medication from the market should substantiation of potential negative health outcomes surface. Circumventing this system and the public safety provided through evidence based research, increases the risk of the general public being exposed and victimized by potential dangerous products. 

In an attempt to build additional momentum for the legalization of marijuana, potential legislation continues to be thrust in front of our elected representatives. The perspective highlighted during these attempts is for the comfort and care of citizens that are suffering from medical issues that impact their quality of life and have been phrased as “being compassionate to those in agony and need”. Our elected officials and the general populous, when faced with questions of compassion, have little recourse or ability to negate or discount the suffering of fellow Iowans.  This argument, for the care and well being of others, created the situation that lies before our state and our citizens. On one side of the divide are feelings of sympathy and fear of the potential vision that individuals or loved ones may experience similar pain. The other side is the potential harm of citizens being exposed to dangerous substances with no protective safe guards for public well-fare, severely limited scientific research to determine the safety of a product, and the question of why would a federally illegal substance be introduced to legislators outside of scientific systems and procedures that are in place for public safety.

There are alternatives to medical marijuana on the horizon available through prescription from doctors. With these other substances soon to be available in the U.S., it begs the question of why, as a state, are our representatives being pressured to support legislation on a substance that negatively impacts public health, youth and family development, and has the potential to negatively impact the economy through loss of business productivity and health care costs.

As the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition, we are asking our state leaders and elected officials to support our state and all citizens by being aware of the cloud of smoke that is covering the truth of medical marijuana.  For more information about medical marijuana please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or at

Don’t Let Holiday Celebrations End Tragically Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving

The holidays are a wonderful time of year, filled with celebrations, time with loved ones and good cheer. But, for the 775 families whose loved ones were killed during December 2010 in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes, the joyous celebrations ended in disaster. 

That’s why the SAFE Coalition is joining with highway safety partners and law enforcement organizations across the country this December to remind people that during the holidays and throughout the year, drinking alcohol and driving do not mix and that Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.

Drinking and driving is never a good combination, and it’s just not worth the risk.  Driving a vehicle or riding a motorcycle while intoxicated jeopardizes your safety and the safety of others on our roads.  If you are going to drink, plan another way home before the celebration begins, and encourage your friends and family to do the same. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 32,885 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes during 2010 and 31 percent (10,228) of those fatalities involved alcohol-impaired drivers.

The holiday season is particularly dangerous. During December 2010, 2,597 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes, and 775 of those were killed in crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers.

This tragic loss of life can be reduced if we get impaired drivers off our roadways. That’s why we are working hard to remind everyone to never drink and drive.

This holiday season, the SAFE Coalition is encouraging people to take three simple steps to ensure their holiday celebrations don’t end in tragedy. 

1.       Plan ahead; be sure to designate a sober driver before the party begins.
2.       If you will be drinking, do not plan on driving.  Even one drink too many increases the risk of a crash while driving a motor vehicle. If you are impaired, find another way home.  Call a sober friend or family member.
3.       Be responsible.  If someone you know is drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel.  If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement.  Your actions may save someone’s life, and inaction could cost a life. 

The holidays should be a time for celebration, not tragedy.  Please help us make Van Buren County’s roadways safe by never driving after drinking. Remember, Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving, so never drink and drive.

For more information, please visit  You may also contact the Van Buren SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or at  The coalition also has resources and information available on the coalition’s website at; on it’s blog at; or on their Face Book page at Van Buren County SAFE Coalition.