Addiction Should be Treated as Public Health Issue: Kerlikowske

Addiction should be treated as a public health issue, National Drug Control Policy Director R. Gil Kerlikowske told participants of a conference on prescription drug abuse Thursday. Addiction is a brain disease, and should not be treated as a moral failure, he said.

Drug overdoses kill more Americans than traffic crashes or gunshot wounds, he told the group. He praised prescription drug take-back events for removing drugs from the home that might otherwise fall into the hands of young people and others who may abuse them, the Associated Press reports.

Kerlikowske touched on a range of issues, including medical marijuana, cocaine use and heroin use. He said the popularity of medical marijuana sends the wrong message to young people, and noted there has been a 40 percent drop in cocaine use since 2006.

There has been a decrease in the number of people abusing prescription drugs, from 7 million in 2010, to 6.1 million in 2011, he said. Kerlikowske expressed concern about the rise in heroin use.

Source: Join Together


Parenting 101

April 2013

1) Our 15 year old son is causing us some concern because he seems to be more interested in “short cuts” than doing the work, whether it’s in his school work, chores at home, or in sports.  He’s pretty smart so his grades aren’t suffering, but we’re worried about what this says about his character.  We’re just looking for some insight as to how we can help him to be more motivated.

Finding a “short cut” in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing.  However, If that short cut involves dishonesty, breach of trust or his work is being left for someone else to do, that is, indeed, a character issue, and he needs to be taught about the importance of these values (and make no mistake parents bear prime responsibility for teaching them) in a didactic fashion where his input is heard. If the short cut is only his having found a way to accomplish the same end result he is responsible for with less time and effort, then his ability to find and implement such solutions is a tremendous asset to his future. To adults like ourselves, who are surviving in the world where there are few ‘shortcuts’ to life, a child like this may seem to be setting himself up for failure.  It is important that we take a moment to see how it looks from his world.  He is undoubtedly a very bright young man who can see many of the different angles to complete his work and school, and has purposely chosen the fastest, and maybe the easiest, paths to satisfying his school work responsibilities.  While we understand that school work doesn’t always portray everyday life, school work is not only his orientation, it is the only one he could possibly know.   Since his ‘grades aren’t suffering’ it sounds like it is working for him.  So trying to convince him that his methods are flawed won’t make sense to him.  Until he encounters new situations where his old approaches will not work, he most likely won’t change.  Unless his work is not meeting the expectations of his teachers, I would sit on this for now.  So, save both of you wasted time with lectures or ‘what-if’s’. Instead, compliment and encourage him to use his ‘creative’ intelligence to approach and solve the challenges in his life, so that when he does meet with challenges that confuse or stump him (ones where his shortcut methods are ineffective), he will have the belief in himself that he is intelligent enough to find a way.  The quest for a better, easier, more efficient, cheaper or quicker way to do something has driven much of mankind’s progress. When a short cut can be found that does not compromise morals/ethics or decrease the quality of the end product it is a great find. The key here is to provide him with the confidence to adapt and change with each new challenge that meets him.  Your attitude and belief systems will be the groundwork for his motivation.

2.  I’m a single mom of a 12 year old son and I’m concerned about his inability to control his emotions – especially during sports.  He hates to lose – and I mean hates it.  He really almost comes completely unglued and I just don’t know how to help him.  His dad has a pretty bad temper, too, and I don’t want him continuing that cycle.  Any tips or suggestions will be much appreciated.

Your son may be suffering from an all too common syndrome of expecting himself to be perfect.  If so, this means any reminder, like missing a basket or not hitting a home run is interpreted as failure.  Failure feels like you are inferior or flawed.  Individuals who must see themselves and have others see them as perfect, constantly set themselves up for failure.  They are almost always very hard on themselves.  They internally criticize and judge their actions to the point that they get emotionally crippled every time their faults are presented to them.

First, look at the environment that your son is exposed to at home and school.  Are there key individuals in his life who are very critical or judgmental?  If so, look to see if you have any power to change this exposure.  Either way, your son needs help to see how this false belief system is hurting him and the people around him.  This can be done by a skilled friend, or family member who can clearly see the situation, or by a therapist.  He will need to learn how to change his perspective of himself as well as see the good things that he can do.  If anger management problems are not new to the family, and his outbursts are inappropriate, professional counseling should be strongly considered.

Responses to the above parent questions have been provided by members of the South Bay Coalition whose expertise and experience lies in parenting, counseling, and/or substance abuse prevention.  The South Bay Coalition is a non-profit partnership of agencies working to prevent substance abuse among our community’s youth.  For local resources or more information, please visit our website or if you have questions you’d like our experts to respond to, contact:

Lecture: Pain and Addiction: Challenges & Controversies

Past Lecture: Frontiers in Addiction Lectures Series

Presented by Thelma McMillen Center

Pain and Addiction: Challenges & Controversies

May 19, 2015

Hoffman Health Conference Center, 3315 Medical Center Drive, Torrance, CA

8:30 AM Breakfast

9:00 – 11:30 AM Lecture


Mel Pohl, M.D. Medical Director
Las Vegas Central Recovery
Las Vegas, Nevada

Attendees Will:

  • List examples of the complicated co-occurring diagnoses of chronic pain and addiction when they both occur in an individual
  • List implications for treatment interventions with chronic pain with specific discussion of central pain syndromes
  • Describe and show brain mechanisms for the experience of pain and suffering

FREE Continental Breakfast Provided

RSVP not required.
Call (310)-257-5758 for further information.

Torrance Memorial’s Health Conference Center
3315 Medical Center Dr. Torrance, Calif. 90505 (off Skypark Dr; between Hawthorne & Crenshaw)

(off Lomita on Hospital & Technology Dr.), near the Emergency area. SHUTTLE AVAILABLE.

Target Audience: MDs and Psychologists (*), RN (BRN Provider #300), LCSW & MFT (PCE #1881), CAADAC (2S-02-489-0716), CAADE (CP20955C0816) and allied health professionals.

Torrance Memorial Medical Center is accredited by the Institute for Medical Quality/California Medical Association (IMQ/CMA) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Torrance Memorial Medical Center designates this live activity for a maximum of 2.5 AMA PRA Category I credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

This credit may also be applied to the CMA Certification in Continuing Medical Education.

Click here for Torrance Memorial Medical Center events.

Marijuana Legalization Expected to Lead to More Teen Use: Survey

A survey of high school seniors suggests marijuana legalization will lead to increased use of the drug among teens. The survey found 10 percent of seniors who said they don’t currently use marijuana said they would try it if the drug were legal.

Researchers at New York University’s Center for Drug Use and HIV Research surveyed almost 10,000 high school seniors about their attitudes toward marijuana, UPI reports. The findings appear in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

“What I personally find interesting is the reasonably high percentage of students who are very religious, non-cigarette smokers, non-drinkers, and those who have friends who disapprove of marijuana use — who said they intended to try marijuana if it was legal,” lead researcher Dr. Joseph J. Palamar said in a news release. “This suggests that many people may be solely avoiding use because it is illegal, not because it is ‘bad’ for you, or ‘wrong’ to use.”

Source: Join Together

Legalizing Drugs Won’t Make Organized Crime Disappear: Kerlikowske

U.S. National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske told an international meeting this week that legalizing drugs will not be a “silver bullet” that will make organized crime disappear.

Instead of arresting more users and building prisons for them, Kerlikowske said governments should focus on “a science-based approach to drug addiction as a disease of the brain that can be prevented, treated and from which people can recover,” Reuters reports.

Kerlikowske told the meeting that the U.S. federal government now spends more on drug prevention and treatment than domestic law enforcement. However, the United States is continuing its efforts to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations around the world, he added.

Some Latin American countries are considering relaxing penalties for personal drug use. Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina favors legalization as a way to reduce crime and violence. Uruguay has considered a proposal to legalize marijuana.

On Wednesday, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director Yury Fedotov said the agency’s new drug report found a decline in the use of traditional drugs such as heroin and cocaine in some parts of the world, and an increase in the use of prescription drugs and new psychoactive substances.

Source: Join Together

Parenting 101

March 2013

1.  As a single dad (sober 17years) to two teen-age sons I’m concerned about the move to legalize marijuana.  I’ve been honest with my kids about my own use, but how do I continue my “hard line” when everywhere I look and everything I hear about marijuana makes it seem as if it’s harmless.

Assuming that your use is in the past (if not, then stopping your own use is the most impactful thing you can do to keep them Marijuana free),  it is good to keep an ongoing dialogue with them about the dangers of Marijuana. One focus needs to be the facts known about Marijuana and the other the fact that something being legal does not make it harmless, alcohol being a great example.  The following link provides some excellent information regarding  the public health consequences associated with legalization:   Assuming that you stopped for some very specific reasons, it would be good to share with your sons any and all the negative effects, both physical and psychological, that contributed to your decision to stop.  You may also want to point out, that ‘if’ marijuana is legalized, it will most likely be restricted to persons over 21, like alcohol.  The simple reason is that individuals under 21 are not in a stage of life where they can completely understand the risks and impacts of substance use that could very well change the course of their lives.   Also,  research has repeatedly shown that parents can be the strongest influence on adolescents’ attitudes towards drug use.  Being a good example, sending a consistent message (one talk does not do it), and being  a good listener will help them find the truth.

2.  I just found out that my 17yo daughter is pregnant.  And if that’s not bad enough, she’s been smoking and drinking with her friends and, in general, been pretty much out of control for over a year.  She hasn’t been to a full day of school in ages and now I’m worried sick about the child she’s carrying.   I don’t know where to turn or what to do.

You are right to be concerned about the child your daughter  is carrying. Alcohol, Marijuana and Tobacco are all capable of having devastating negative impacts on that child. There is nothing sadder than permanent harm done to a complete innocent. There is help available for your daughter. There are a number of publicly funded treatment centers that specialize in pregnant or parenting women, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Substance Abuse Prevention and Control division can help you find one near you.  It is important to note that when a child is born and tests positive or shows clear signs of drug exposure, medical staff are mandated to report to DCFS and they will open a file.  If your daughter is unwilling to seek help you are faced with some hard choices.  There are a number of options you will want to explore to protect your unborn grandchild involving interventions with your daughter, boundaries on your support for her continued harmful behaviors, and involvement of the authorities. None of these are black and white or cut and dried. A good first step would be to engage a counselor or therapist knowledgeable about addiction to help you  find the right decisions for you.

Responses to the above parent questions have been provided by members of the South Bay Coalition whose expertise and experience lies in parenting, counseling, and/or substance abuse prevention.  The South Bay Coalition is a non-profit partnership of agencies working to prevent substance abuse among our community’s youth.  For local resources or more information, please visit our website or if you have questions you’d like our experts to respond to, contact:

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