Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Make Your New Year’s Resolution to be Tobacco-Free in 2018!

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 

How Are You Getting Home this New Year’s Eve? We Urge Drivers: Make a Sober Plan

Drunk driving has become a national epidemic. Each year, drunk-driving crashes kill more than 10,000 people in America. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office and SAFE Coalition are working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) this holiday season, to reach out to all drivers with an important message about this deadly, preventable crime because Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.

Let’s say you go to a New Year’s party, you stay a few hours and have a few drinks. When it’s time to go, you think to yourself, “I’m fine to drive. I’ve only had a few drinks, and I barely feel buzzed.” You get in your car and drive toward home.  This act places you at risk of facing the consequences of drunk driving.  Buzzed driving places you and others on the road in danger of a crash; or worse, death.   Designate a sober driver.

Unfortunately, this scenario is all too realistic. Many people wrongly believe there’s a magic number of drinks or hours that determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC).  But it’s different for every person. Many factors go into the effect alcohol has on your body. Everywhere in our country, it’s illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher. A major misconception is that you have to be stumbling around drunk to be over that limit. For many people, it doesn’t take much alcohol to be too impaired for driving. NHTSA and the SAFE Coalition are hoping to change the way people think about drinking and driving, and help everyone realize that there’s no safe amount of alcohol for any driver.

Drivers convicted of DUI have many excuses, but the reality they all have in common is this: they didn’t plan ahead.  Designating a sober driver ahead of time is the only fool-proof way to avoid the dangers of drunk driving. If you wait until you’ve been drinking to gauge your level of impairment, it’s already too late.  You might tell yourself and others that you’re “okay to drive” when you’re not. Even one drink can impair your judgment and reaction time enough to cause you to overestimate your own abilities as a driver.

So next time you’re going to drink, do us all a favor and make a plan. Some simple ideas: leave your keys at home or give them to a friend; designate a sober driver who isn’t drinking at all; tell others your intentions about driving and stick to the plan; and most importantly—once you’ve had anything to drink, do not drive. Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving, so make the choice: are you drinking tonight or are you driving?

Drunk driving is never the right choice, no matter what. Even if you didn’t plan ahead, there’s always another way home. You could call a friend or family member to pick you up; and if you’re worried about leaving your car somewhere overnight, think about the alternative: a DUI costs about $10,000.

Please remember to stay safe by driving sober or by designating a sober driver this New Year’s Eve.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Social Hosting: Is it really worth it to host a teen party?

Raychelle Cassada Lohmann, M.S., LPC
Teen Angst/Psychology Today

Kayla looked at herself one more time in the mirror before racing down the stairs to meet her prom date. She was psyched about going to the prom with Calvin. Even more exciting was the party afterward. Calvin’s parents had agreed to throw a big bash after the prom and everyone was going! Calvin’s parents were super cool, way cooler than the other lame parents, who’d rather their kids go somewhere else to party. Sure, there’d be alcohol, but at least they’d be safe at Calvin’s with his parents around.

Following the prom everyone flooded to the party. Calvin’s parents held the belief that teens were going to be teens and if they were going to drink after prom at least let them be safe in their home. As his parents greeted the guests at the door they had the teens drop their keys into a bucket. They were being responsible parents because no one was going to leave a party they hosted and drive; especially if he/she had been drinking. As the keys dropped in the bucket, little did the parents know one of those teen:
·         took medication for epileptic seizures
·         had weed in the inside of his tux pocket
·         would have to be taken to the hospital that night for alcohol poisoning

Throughout my career I have been asked my thoughts on “social hosting.” Specifically, I’ve been asked, “If my teen has friends over and I collect the keys, isn’t it safer to let them drink in my home than to risk being out there on the road?” You know teens are going to drink anyway, “So why not teach them responsibility?” I just shake my head in awe at the lack of logic behind that thought process. Being a social host and condoning the use of alcohol with minors is just not a good idea.

Although the definition of a Social Host varies across states, generally it is a person who:
·         furnishes alcohol with no motive of monetary gain
·         has no special relationship, such as an employer, with the guest
·         serves alcohol or condones the consumption of alcohol on property that the host controls
·         may be either an adult or a minor

Most states have social hosting laws. For the majority of states parents can be held accountable if they host and are aware that minors are drinking.  Social host liability laws are needed to help deter parents and other individuals from hosting underage parties and purchasing or providing alcohol to underage youth. Plus, they send out a strong message that hosting alcoholic events for minors isn’t acceptable. According to the University of Minnesota's Alcohol Epidemiology Program, Social Host Liability laws are effective.

Surveys show that the most common sources of alcohol are in the youth’s home or from persons over the age of 21 who purchase alcohol for them.  Research supports social host liability laws.  In an analysis of all 50 states, social host laws were associated with reductions in drinking-driving and heavy drinking.  Three key points to ask yourself if you’re entertaining the idea of being a social host:
·         What values are you trying to teach your teen? Providing an illegal haven for teens to drink in the comfort of your home is not a viable option. If you want to teach your teen to be a law abiding citizen then you are the role model. Teaching teens to sneak around the law or that they don't have to abide by it, isn’t a good value to instill.
·         How would you like it if another parent stepped into your role and decided to allow your child to do something that you didn’t condone? Respect other parent’s wishes especially if you have assumed the responsibility for their child by allowing them into your home.
·         If points one and two aren’t convincing, what about a potential law suit? Can you imagine the legal liability of allowing a minor or another person’s child to drink at your home? Is it really worth the risk?

Bottom Line: Creating an underage pub for teens is not a good idea and moreover it’s illegal.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

It’s Not Worth the Risk: Stay Safe this Holiday Season and Remember: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving

Many Americans have known someone killed in a vehicle crash. Family members, friends, friends of friends—with more than 30,000 people killed each year, it’s likely you and your family may have been touched by these tragic numbers.

More tragically is that one-third of those killed each year are involved in drunk-driving-related crashes. These crashes are 100% preventable. It’s simple: Do not drink and drive. Technology has brought us so far in how we are able to access transportation, and it is easy to designate a sober friend to get us home safe and sound after a night out.

This holiday season, the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office and SAFE Coalition are teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to remind all drivers about the dangers of drinking and driving. With the holiday festivities and extra office parties taking place, it’s essential to plan a sober ride home before ever leaving for the good time. This holiday, as you head out for a night of merrymaking, remember: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. If you plan to be someone else’s designated driver, stick to that commitment. Your friends are relying on you, and you could save a life.

According to NHTSA, 37,461 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2016, and 28% (10,497) of those fatalities occurred in a crash during which a driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit of .08. The holidays prove to be extra dangerous to drivers: From 2012 to 2016, 3,995 of all people who lost their lives in a traffic crash during the month of December died in crashes that involved a driver with a BAC of .08 or higher.

The holidays should be a time for celebrations and making memories, not a time of nightmares for families. Unfortunately, alcohol at many holiday events contributes to the number of impaired drivers on our roadways. Help us spread the message: Even one drink is one drink too many. If you feel buzzed, you are already drunk.  Too many people take to the roadways after consuming alcohol because they think they are “okay to drive.” They may think they’ve had enough to eat, enough water to drink, or that their weight may factor into the equation. But these are inaccurate ways of measuring whether you are safe to drive. If you feel buzzed, you are already drunk. We want to keep our roads safe this holiday season and help people understand that the only time they should be behind the wheel is when they are sober. Alcohol affects people differently, and you do not have to be feeling or acting drunk to be too impaired to drive. This holiday season, the Sheriff’s Office, SAFE Coalition, and NHTSA urge you to designate a sober driver before you start drinking. If you plan on drinking at all, plan on not driving.

Remember these tips for a safe night on the roads:
·         Plan ahead. You know whether you’ll attend a party. If you plan to drink, plan for a sober driver to take you home. Is it your turn to be the designated driver? Take that role seriously—your friends are relying on you.
·         Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve only had one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver to get home safely.
·         Download NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, available on Google Play for Android devices and Apple’s iTunes Store for iOS devices. SaferRide allows users to call a predetermined friend, and identifies the user’s location so they can be picked up.
·         If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office.
·         See someone who is about to drive after drinking? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get them home safely. Don’t worry about offending someone—they’ll thank you later.

Remember to play it safe this holiday season and always plan your sober ride before the festivities begin. If you are buzzed, do not drive. Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. For more information, visit or contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-3334 ext. 1017 or