33rd ALCOHOL AWARENESS MONTH

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This April marks the 33rd Annual Alcohol Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) since 1987.  This year’s theme is: “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow”.

No other substance is more widely used and abused by America’s youth than alcohol, making alcoholism and alcohol-related problems the number one public health problem in the United States.

Fostering healthy and responsible attitudes, talking openly and honestly, encouraging supportive relationships, and showing children that their opinions and decisions matter, are all ways to help prevent the use of alcohol and other drugs.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, research shows that drinking, binge drinking, and extreme binge drinking by women are all increasing.  While alcohol misuse by anyone presents serious public health concerns, women who drink have a higher risk of certain alcohol-related problems compared to men.  Women who regularly misuse alcohol are more likely to develop alcoholic hepatitis, a serious liver-related acute illness, than men who drink the same amount of alcohol.  This pattern of drinking can also lead to cirrhosis of the liver, which refers to liver scarring and shrinking.

While long-term alcohol misuse is a leading cause of heart disease, women are more susceptible to alcohol-related heart disease than men, even though they may consume less alcohol over their lifetime than men.

Research suggests that alcohol misuse produces brain damage more quickly in women than in men.  Also, because alcohol disrupts brain development during adolescence, teen girls who drink may be more vulnerable to brain damage than teen boys who drink.  Women may be more susceptible than men to alcohol-related blackouts, which are periods of memory loss during intoxication without loss of consciousness.

Women who consume a drink per day have a five to nine percent higher chance of developing breast cancer than those who do not drink.  Studies have shown that the risk increases for every additional drink they have per day.

There is no safe amount of alcohol for a woman to drink during pregnancy.  Drinking during pregnancy can increase the risk for pre-term labor and puts her fetus at risk for physical, cognitive, or behavioral problems that can last a lifetime.

According to a New York State survey, fifty-two percent of students in grades 7-12 reported that their parents had never talked to them about the dangers of underage drinking.  Let’s help keep kids safe from alcohol and other drugs by starting the conversation.  For tips on how to do this, log onto www.Talk2Prevent.NY.gov.  For additional information and resources, visit PPAC Central.  Let this be your call to action, and remember, PREVENTION WORKS!

Distracted Driving Awareness Month

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Distractive Driving is quickly becoming one of the country’s biggest health concerns.  As more and more drivers text while on the road, distracted driving crashes are steadily increasing year after year.  In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 9 people are killed every day in the U.S. as a result of crashes involving a distracted driver.

Distracted driving doesn’t just mean texting and driving.  You can be distracted by one of many activities including but not limited to: checking your GPS or map, taking a photo, talking to a passenger, checking email or posting to social media sites, eating, drinking, and putting on makeup or grooming yourself.  You are distracted any time your mind and/or eyes are off the road.

Tips to help lesson your distractions while driving:

  1. Fully focus on driving. Do not let anything divert your attention, actively scan the road, use your mirrors and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists.
  2. Store lose gear, possessions and other distractions, so you do not feel tempted to reach for them on the floor or the seat.
  3. Make adjustments before you get underway. Systems like your GPS, seats, mirrors, climate and controls before hitting the road.  Decide on you route and check traffic conditions ahead of time.
  4. Finish dressing and personal grooming at home- before you get on the road.
  5. Eat meals or snacks before or after your trip, not while driving.
  6. Secure children and pets before getting underway.
  7. Put aside your electronic distractions. Don’t use cell phones while driving- handheld or hands-free.
  8. If you have passengers, enlist their help so you can focus safely on driving.
  9. If another activity demands your attention, pull off the road and stop your vehicle in a safe place, to avoid temptation, power down or stow devices before heading out.
  10. If you cannot devote your full attention to driving because of some other activity, it’s a distraction. Take care of it before or after your trip, not while behind the wheel.

REMEMBER PREVENTION WORKS!

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April Sexual Assault Awareness/Alcohol Awareness Month

Alcohol has the ability to change our personalities, our desires, and our inhibitions. While some may use it as an excuse, it can even lead to some very dangerous situations. It is suggested that there is a correlation between alcohol consumption and sexual assault, but the truth is, alcohol is often the tool to target those in an incapacitated state, making them easier prey for the perpetrators to take advantage of their weakened state.

With an estimated 25% of American women having experienced sexual assault, and half of those reported cases involving alcohol either by the victim or the perpetrator, it is imperative to examine the risks before engaging in a potentially hazardous experience.  “Alcohol contributes to sexual assault through multiple pathways, often exacerbating existing risk factors. Beliefs about alcohol’s effects on sexual and aggressive behavior, stereotypes about drinking women, and alcohol’s effects on cognitive and motor skills contribute to alcohol-involved sexual assault” (NIH 2019).

Still Fooling Us

What do: Watermelon, Glazed Donuts, Strawberry Watermelon, Cinna Pop Deez, Berry Rush, Auntie Meringue, Blackberry Crumble, Lemon Tart, Apple Fritter all have in common? For one they all sound delicious, secondly they were some of the most popular e-juice flavors in 2018 per one online blog.

In 2018, 20.8 percent of high school students in the U.S. used e-cigarettes compared to 8.1 percent who used traditional cigarettes.1 The National Institute on Drug Abuse(NIDA) states that 66% of teens surveyed say they vape for the flavors, the next biggest reason is “I don’t know.”2 These are troubling answers to a product that contains one of the most addictive substances a person can put into the body, nicotine. Science has proven that nicotine changes how the adolescent brain develops, which happens up to age 25.

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Flavors and marketing attracting youth to products that contain nicotine is not a new concept.  Flavored cigarettes could be purchased until 2009, when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally banned flavors except menthol in traditional cigarettes because flavors were viewed as a way to attract young people, and surveys showed youth smokers were more likely to use flavored products.  E-cigarette companies are following the same playbook of tobacco industry by using catchy names, cool designs on their packaging, and even using celebrity endorsements and sponsoring sporting events and music festivals. Marketing of e-cigarettes is not regulated like the marketing of traditional cigarettes. When R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company released Joe Camel as their main advertiser, youth use of Camel cigarettes rose over 200 percent. Flavors, cool names, and bright packaging gives young people many misconceptions about a product.

Young people and adults say that vaping is less harmful than smoking, so what’s the big deal? Unfortunately, this statement is partially true. A study performed by the Department of Health Behavior at Roswell Park, confirmed that vaping exposes the body to less toxicants than smoking.3   The designation of “less harmful” is only true for current smokers who completely switch to use of e-cigarettes, not for people who have never smoked.3 The study also shows that for dual users of e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes the exposure to toxicants were similar or higher than for people who just smoke.3 The 2018 study mentioned prior to that states that 11.3 percent of high school students in the U.S. used two or more tobacco products.1 These studies that are being done are very important to know the health effects of vaping, but also to allow for adults to have educated conversations with the young people in their lives about the use of these products. Unfortunately, the long-term health effects of vaping will not be known for many years.

One of the biggest issues of vaping is that studies show that young people who vape are more likely to move on to traditional cigarette use.4 Some studies state that youth who vape can be as much as seven times more likely to move on to traditional cigarettes than young people who do not vape.5 For public health officials who have seen the teen smoking rates drop to all-time lows, with New York’s at less than 5 percent for youth, vaping potentially could reverse decades of work.

Smoking traditional cigarettes is still the leading cause of preventable death in the world: over 480,000 people die in the U.S. from their own smoking each year. Make sure that the young people in your life are not fooled by the same marketing tactics and flavors that hooked generations of smokers and ultimately led to their death. You or your children may be vaping now, but what could they be doing in the future? Talk to them about vaping and other tobacco products. Let them know how you feel about them using these products. For more information on vaping visit the CDC, FDA, or NIDA.

Remember Prevention Works!

Allegany County E-cigarette Handout

Allegany County E-cigarette Handout Insert

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/infographics/youth/index.htm#youth-tobacco
  2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/teens-e-cigarettes
  3. https://www.roswellpark.org/media/news/e-cigarette-users-have-lower-exposure-toxicants-long-they-dont-smoke-combustible
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/Quick-Facts-on-the-Risks-of-E-cigarettes-for-Kids-Teens-and-Young-Adults.html
  5. https://www.consumerreports.org/vaping/teens-who-vape-more-likely-to-turn-to-regular-cigarettes/

Youth Art Month

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To celebrate Youth Art Month the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc.(ACASA) and Partners for Prevention in Allegany County(PPAC) offered a poster contest to the middle and high school students of Allegany County. The theme of the contest was “Underage Drinking NOT a Minor Problem”. The contest is to get young people to think about the dangers of underage drinking and allow them to voice their thoughts through art.  The plan is for this to become an annual contest.

From hieroglyphs and cave paintings that document ancient cultures to functional objects & adornments in domestic spaces, to entertainment & the “Fine” arts; through the ages humanity has long relied on the Arts to improve our quality of life.

With a click and a swipe, these days we can access so many art forms that perhaps we forget that these are “art” at all. Perceived as a modern commodity, we may even be unaware of our dependence on this link to the creative realms outside our daily experiences. It is not uncommon to hear ourselves or others saying, “I don’t do/care about/need art at all. It’s a waste of time.”

Through our screens, we often escape into other worlds and imagine or seek new solutions to daily issues. Have you ever noticed how your own feelings change as you passively experience this creative content? During screen time, do you ever wonder how or why those images, performances, stories, and music are made? When you are cut off from “streaming content” is there a sense of loss? Ask yourself, “What is THAT about?”

“Without art the crudeness of reality would make life unbearable” ~George Bernard Shaw

If you experience any form of relief through passive observation or “streaming” the arts, imagine the benefits of in depth participation. The creative process taps into the inherent potential of the mind, body, and spirit while accessing and improving our existing individual abilities. When we are at a loss for words, the arts connect us to each other by communicating universal concepts which are bigger than our individual vocabulary. Unity strengthens our energy and heals our communities. On a cosmic scale, creative action builds our emotional intelligence in a process that is essential to the evolution of humanity.

At ground zero, we ask, “How does this apply to me?”

“Creativity is one of those intimidating words, like artist, musician, writer, and so on, which has been co-opted to mean something rarefied and unreachable. We think of ourselves as being a ‘creative type’ or not, as if it were a quality bestowed upon the chosen few. But if we decolonize the word and take it back to its true origins, we find the Latin root crescere, a word which means to come forth, spring up, grow, thrive, swell…Creativity is the living impulse in each of us which continually begins again…Our vitality is inexplicably bound up with our creativity.” ~ Turner on Creativity from, Belonging; Remembering Ourselves Home.

Before the “final product” happens or is shared with others, the engagement in the creative process initiates us into a state of communication with ourselves which otherwise may never occur. Art, in its many diverse manifestations, as described in How Art Becomes Medicine; “helps children (and adults) organize their experiences into a coherent story.” Self-awareness is key to personal balance. Personal balance is the key to wellness.

Wellness via the Arts; an Introduction to the Evidence

From military veterans with PTSD to cancer survivors and numerous other obstacles on the path to wellness; hundreds of scientific studies are in…and more results are on the way…about the benefits of the arts to human wellness.

According to the Foundation for Art and Healing, the World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being rather than merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Impacting our emotions, attitudes, and beliefs; the creative process is a path to discovery which provides each individual with experiential access to tools which support well-being and potentially prevent and/or remedy dis-ease.

“Engagement with creative activities has the potential to contribute toward reducing stress and depression and can serve as a vehicle for alleviating the burden of chronic disease.” ~ American Journal of Public Health, Feb 2010, vol 100 no.2

Cathy Malchiodi, PhD writes in Psychology Today, “Even engagement in the arts as a viewer can have an impact, but if you really want to benefit from the arts for wellness, studies continue to show that your active participation is the best bet (Bolwerk et al, 2014)… In brief, creativity is increasingly being validated as a potent mind-body approach as well as a cost-effective intervention to address a variety of challenges throughout the lifespan.”

“Research has proven the arts develop neural systems that produce a broad spectrum of benefits ranging from fine motor skills to creativity and improved emotional balance. Quite simply, the arts are invaluable to our proper functioning individually and as a society.” ~Renee Phillips Art Enhances Brain Function and Well-being from The Healing Power of Art and Artists

Creative Opportunities in Allegany County, NY

Ready to explore the arts or actively participate in the creative process but not sure where to begin? With a long history of talented creative residents in Allegany County, NY; our community continues to provide affordable opportunities for creators of all ages and abilities to learn, experience, observe, and engage in a diverse collection of creative opportunities. Here are some local resources to get you started.

Alfred Arts and Cultural Events

Alfred Art Walks

Alfred Box of Books Library ~ Spinner Challenge Lego Build March 27th at 4pm and other Tuesday art classes and creative activities for local youth.

Alfred Ceramic Art Museum, Alfred NY ~ Events and exhibitions.

 Alfred State College Graphic and Media Design

Alfred University School of Art and Design Events and Activities.

Allegany Arts Association ~ sponsors performances and cultural events and provides free creative programming for local youth during “Cabin Fever”, “Spring Fling”, and Summer Arts Festival activities.

Allegany County Area Artists and Crafters

The Allegany Artisans ~ local artisans with studios throughout Allegany County.

Almond 20th Century Club Library, Almond, NY ~ creative crafts and activities for youth and adults.

Andover House ~ featuring works by local artists and artisans.

The Angelica Players ~ local performing artists and their theatrical adventures for all.

Artists Among Us Belmont, NY ~ touring art exhibit featuring works by local artists.

BEATS Special Needs Dance Showcase Wellsville, NY ~ a safe place for dancers with special needs to come together and share their passion for dance.

Belfast Braids ~ local artisan teaching braided rug-making.

Belfast Public Library ~ art shows featuring works by local artists and artisans and creative activities for local youth and adults.

The Belfast Organization for Artists for creators in the Belfast, NY area.

Bolivar Free Library, Bolivar NY ~ crafts and creative activities for local youth and adults

Cuba Circulating Library ~ Craft Nights and Creative Youth Activities

The Cohen Gallery at Alfred University, Alfred NY ~featuring works by local artists

David A. Howe Library ~ Annual Teen Photo Show April 2019, DIY Kids, Howe Kids Art monthly Youth Art Activities featuring FREE process art activities for the littles, FREE Adult monthly Craft Classes.

Nancy Howe Auditorium ~ at David A. Howe Library ~live music, movies, theatre, dance, and other performances for all.

The Fassett Green Space Project by Art For Rural America, Wellsville, NY.

The Fountain Arts Center, Belmont, NY ~ art exhibits and creative activities and classes for youth and adults

Friendship Free Library ~Free Art Fridays, Lego Club and Maker Club for after school program participants.

Friends of the Essential Club Free Library, Canaseraga, NY, ~creative activities and events for local youth.

Inspire Crafts and Hobbies, Andover Road Wellsville, NY ~ Art and Craft Supplies

The Genesee Valley Chorus ~ contemporary and classic adult choral

Genesee Valley Plein Air Painters ~ plein air landscape painting for adults

Heidi Noel’s Performing Arts Center, Wellsville NY ~ performing arts classes for local youth.

Lifeway Youth Center, Belfast NY ~Chopped Cooking Competition, March 22nd for ages 11-19.

The Little Gallery Arts and Antiques ~ featuring works by local artists and artisans, sales benefit the Hart Comfort House.

Music On the Lawn, Wellsville NY ~ free Thursday evening live music series from June to August.

The Most Arts Festival, Alfred NY ~ classical music performed by world class musicians, the Young Pianist Competition, daily chamber series, evening concert series and the vibrant world of Alfred art.

The Ortlip Gallery at Houghton College.

The Palmer Opera House, Cuba, NY ~ entertainment and creative classes and activities for all ages.

Rise Above Holistic Wellness Center ~ kids yoga and martial arts.

The Rogue Carrot, Alfred NY ~ natural foods store also featuring works by local artists and artisans.

SheilaLynnK Art Studio, Wellsville, NY.

STEPS Dance Studio, Wellsville NY ~ dance classes for local youth Studio One Ten, Scio NY ~ art and craft classes and parties for all ages.

Stone Flower Pottery ~ local artisan making pottery and jewelry and teaching tin works and jewelry making classes.

STRUM ACCORD ~ an annual music festival highlighting music from ACCORD’s after school program students.

Studio One Ten, Scio NY ~ art and craft classes and parties for all ages.

Southern Tier Fiber Arts Guild, Wellsville, NY.

Tri-County Arts Council serving Allegany, Cattaraugus, and Chautauqua Counties.

Twin Tiers Makers Expo at Wellsville Central School Call for Makers

Wellsville Art Association ~ Free Public Exhibits featuring works by local artists.

Wellsville YMCA After School Program ~Creative Activities for Local Youth.

Wellsville Creative Arts Center ~ Live music, Open Mic, Visual Arts Exhibits by local artists, clay studio, and Art Classes for youth and adults.

The Wellsville Performing Arts Orchestra.

Wide Awake Club Library, Fillmore NY ~ Creative after school programming for local youth.

Whitesville Public Library, Whitesville, NY ~ Creative crafts and activities for local youth and adults.

REFERENCES FOR THIS ARTICLE AND OTHER CREATIVE WELLNESS RESOURCES

“How Art Becomes Medicine; One story of sickness, creativity, wellness, and grief.” ~Kids & Art, Healing Pediatric Cancer through the Arts.

“Belonging; Remembering Ourselves Home” ~Toko-pa Turner.

“Art and Well-Being; Toward a Culture of Health” ~ Arlene Goldbard, U.S. Department of Arts & Culture

“Can Art Be Medicine?” ~ The Foundation for Art & Healing

“Why Teens Need Live Theatre in the Age of Youtube” ~ By Christine Aucoin March5 , 2019 The Boston Globe

Kids and Art Foundation

United States Veteran’s Art Alliance

The Veteran Artist Program

The ArtWell ~ Philadelphia, PA

National Alliance for Art, Health, and Well-Being

National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

National.developmental.Disabilities.Awareness.MonthSpurred by advocacy, President Ronald Reagan declared March to be Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in 1987. The deinstitutionalization movement of the seventies and early eighties had laid the foundation for significant social change, and the presidential proclamation called upon Americans to provide the “encouragement and opportunities” necessary for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to reach their potential.

As those citizens began living within the general community in larger numbers, programs to provide career planning, job coaching and supported employment began to emerge. The idea that individuals with developmental disabilities could become productive members of the workforce was new to many people, and entrenched preconceptions had to be overcome.

With the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, workplace discrimination against people with disabilities became sanctionable. The expectations of young people with developmental disabilities and their parents began to shift. Productive, self-directed lives within the community increasingly became the goal, and (increasingly) an obtainable goal.

Now 32 years later, the month of March highlights the contributions and needs of the estimated four million Americans living with a developmental disability. The power of ability over disability is all around us as people with autism, cerebral palsy and other disabilities blaze new trails. Today, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are living and working in the community; pursuing higher education; developing their faith; falling in love and getting married; and making their voices heard in all aspects of life.

As people with intellectual and developmental disabilities across the nation become increasingly visible in our daily lives, Allegany Arc strives to build more welcoming communities through education and outreach. We hope you will join us this month as we celebrate the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Developmental disabilities awareness starts now.

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Learn how Allegany Arc’s supports and services are advancing the concerns and interests of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout Allegany County by visiting Allegany Arc.

 

Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AlleganyArc/

Black Balloon Day

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Day of Remembrance for Those Lost to Opioid Addiction and Their Loved Ones.

On March 6th The Allegany County Sheriff’s Office, Allegany County Health Department, Substance Use Disorder Sub-Committee, The Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc., and Local Law Enforcement agencies from Cuba, Wellsville, Andover and Belmont came together to remember and pay tribute to the individuals who have succumbed to opioid addiction in Allegany County.  The display of black balloons outside the Allegany County Sheriff’s office and other local law enforcement agencies pay silent tribute to the victims of opiate addiction.  The event’s objective is to increase awareness of the daily struggles faced by members of our community who suffered the loss of a loved one, and those who are still battling, working tirelessly to help their loved one manage their addiction.

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“We are truly saddened by the loss of members of our community to opioid addiction, “said Kay Middaugh, Substance Use Disorder Coordinator for Allegany County.  Their memories inspire us to work together to help others affected by opioid addiction overcome this challenge and prevent additional lives lost.

Black Balloon Day is a nationwide commemoration that originated in Peabody, Massachusetts by Lauren and Diane Hurley.   Our mission is to support, participate in advocacy efforts and to develop an integrated support network for family and friends dealing with the effects of addiction in a loved one.  It is hoped that if every person in America affected by this epidemic hung a black balloon outside their house, the widespread nature of addiction would be apparent and recognized in each community.

Help, Hope and Healing is Focus of New Assistance Effort

HOPE.Center2.19Help, Hope, Healing!

This is the focus of a new Allegany County community outreach to aid individuals and families who are struggling with a variety of life issues. The Hope Center, a ministry of the Mission Genesee Valley coalition of churches, other Christian organizations, and individuals opened in November at 4194 Bolivar Road – Suite 5 in Wellsville, across the driveway from the McDonald’s drive-through.

Since that time it has been recruiting and training volunteers, assisting children and adults particularly those with reading needs, and presenting educational workshops for individuals and churches. Although the major emphasis currently is on developing the reading assistance component, the overall goal is much broader, recognizing individual needs within each of 13 life stages the group has identified, from preconception to post-death, all of which can experience elements of trauma.

The ministry is available to individuals and families of any religious background. It includes a drop-in center where individuals can receive prayer for personal, family or other concerns, information and referral assistance, and connection to applicable resources for a variety of life issues. The center has a growing Christian lending library that also offers free books and videos, the reading assistance ministry, and educational seminars to help consumers learn about issues and resources that address various needs, and help churches to understand more about the issues parishioners are facing and how to come alongside those who may be struggling.

The center dubbed A Hub of Hope of Allegany County Churches, also is intended over time to assist churches in other population centers to develop similar ministries that reflect individual community needs.

The efforts are being taken methodically to help ensure the number of volunteers and those seeking services remain in balance. God has been providing a variety of assistance and resources, including color-coordinated furnishings from different donors, as He steadily refines the activities offered. The initiative started when local businessman Michael Raptis was led to donate space in a recently purchased set of storefronts at the Bolivar Road location. Further information is available at Hope Center Allegany County, bps461@msn.com or (484) 435-0503.

-Casey Jones, Hope Center Planning Group Chair

 

Children of Addiction Awareness Week

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CELEBRATING HOPE AND HEALING FOR A LIFETIME

COA Awareness Week 2019 * February 10 – 16

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES

During COA Awareness Week, you can be a part of NACoA’s annual international awareness and advocacy campaign, helping to spread the word that children living in families that struggle with addiction need the support of caring adults. Through awareness activities we can inspire adults to be there for the children who suffer silently, and together we can reach kids and teens with important information.

Children living with addiction need to know it’s not their fault when a parent struggles with addiction. They also need to understand that these parents have a disease, and learn how to separate the disease of addiction from the parent they love. During COA Awareness Week, do what you can to speak out, reach out, and raise awareness about the silent victims of addiction: the children. These children are often the first hurt and the last helped, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can make a difference with your support and attention during COA Awareness Week.

HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE DURING COA AWARENESS WEEK

  • Review the Social Media Toolkit and resources list to find ways to share information in your community. Share NACoA’s Social Media Toolkit with family and friends, pediatricians, educators, guidance counselors, therapists, social workers, faith community leaders, drug court professionals, coaches, boy scout leaders, dance instructors, daycare organizations, or anyone else you believe has the opportunity to impact the life of a kid or teen in a meaningful way.
  • Share information through social media. Follow NACoA on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and get more involved with COA Awareness Week. Through out platforms, you can find an share articles, infographics, images, and resources that can help raise awareness and offer strategies to families, professionals, and other caring adults in the community. By expanding that reach, we can continue to help more people understand the issues facing children of addiction and help them learn how they can help.
  • Speak out as an organization and as an individual. You, or an organization you’re part of, can advocate for the children and families affected by addiction. 1 in 7 individuals today will experience a substance use disorder during their lifetime, and many of them are parents. An estimated 25 percent of all children in the U.S. (about 18 million) are living in a home struggling with addiction. The needs of these kids and teens often go overlooked, and unaddressed. Taking part in COA Awareness Week, you and your organization can join the Voice for the Children and help make a difference for these silent victims of addiction.
  • Ask churches and other faith-based organizations to join in COA Awareness Week. Share NACoA’s pamphlets and resources and suggest they make them available to their congregations. Request that the topic of family recovery be discusses during homilies, or host a discussion after services to discuss the issue at great length. Create an afternoon or evening children’s workshop reflecting on gratitude or mindfulness, both great activities that build protective factors and resiliency in children living with addiction. Direct ministers to the Faith Community section of the NACoA website, which offers an array of resources to help them to better understand how to serve families needing faith recovery.
  • Distribute NACoA’s prepared materials. Recognize the week with a simple information distribution campaign. Using material already developed by NACoA, call and visit the offices of organizations whose work is like yours or otherwise well-suited to the messages of COA Awareness Week. Ask them to display the COA Awareness Week poster and other NACOA materials, such as posters or infographics, in their public areas. Contact your community’s health care professional associations (hospital associations, medical and dental societies, nurses’ associations) and managed care organizations, and share information about COA’s with them. Bring the COA Awareness Week flyer and other resources to your own pediatrician’s or doctor’s offices, and make a request for them to be share on the office’s notice board. You might also suggest creating a parent educational material table at any office who serves families. In today’s digital-savy environment, send emails to professionals and attach important resources with an invitation for them to include on their website or reference in an upcoming newsletter. Follow up with them by phone and see if they received your email and resources, and if they with to discuss what they can do to help.

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  • Sell the money-saving aspects of prevention to city and county managers. Use basic statistics about addiction and its impact on families to showcase the potential costs to your local government. Let the numbers show those in decision-making positions that it is cost effective, as well as compassionate, to speak up for and promote prevention programs such as youth mentoring, student assistance programs in schools, or addiction-support programs in health clinics. Savings will come in reductions in health care, human services, and criminal justice costs avoided through investments in prevention.

By doing one (or many!) of these COA Awareness Week activities, you can make a difference in the lives of children. And remember: It only takes one caring and supportive adult to take action and empower a child of addiction.

Whether in your home, your neighborhood, your school, your congregation, or in your family, you can let a child know that you care and you are available to listen. And, by modeling healthy behavior, you can also shine brightly in the darkness of fear and confusion that oftentimes can overwhelm them. Your compassion is powerful. Use it to help empower children, the silent victims of addiction. Visit the National Association for Children of Addiction’s for more information.

National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week

NDAFW.logo.19This January 22th marks the ninth National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, first launched in 2010 by the National Institute on Drug Abuse(NIDA).  The purpose of this week is to counteract the myths that youth get from the Internet, television, movies, music, or friends, and replace those myths with scientific facts about drug abuse and addiction.  The more informed our youth are about substances and the negative impact those substances can have on their lives, the less likely they are to engage in risky behaviors. “Shatter the Myths” is a free NIDA publication and video that parents can use to talk to their kids about substance abuse, and is free to download.  One of the myths that young people in Allegany County have is that their peers are all using alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs. The reality is much different; the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Inc.’s(ACASA) Risk and Protective Survey that is completed every two years in 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grades tells us the truth about substance use among our young people.

  • In 2017, 81.2% of Allegany County high school seniors did not drink alcohol in the past 30 days.
  • In 2017, 90.3% of Allegany County high school seniors did not smoke cigarettes in the past 30 days.
  • In 2017, 93.7% of Allegany County high school seniors did not smoke marijuana in the past 30 days.
  • In 2017, 97.2% of Allegany County high school seniors did not use heroin or misuse pain killers in the past 30 days.
  • In 2017, 96.4% of Allegany County high school seniors did not use other illicit drugs in the past 30 days.

All of these statistics are encouraging about how much our young people in Allegany County are using substances.

As a parent you might not think that your child listens to you when you speak to them about important topics, such as substance use, but they do! The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services(OASAS) has Talk2Prevent to help parents help them speak to their children about substances and give them the correct information about substances. Remember to “Talk Today, Tomorrow and Always – Don’t Ever Stop Talking” because they might not admit or act like it, but they are listening.

Here are five facts to use each day of this week to help start the conversation with your children about drugs and other substances.

Monday:  Young people who drink alcohol before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who abstain until age 21.  Brains develop until age 24, and young brains become damaged more quickly than adult brains.

Tuesday:  Marijuana can speed the heart rate up to 160 beats per minute, dilate the blood vessels so the whites of the eyes turn red, and cause feelings of panic that include sweating, dry mouth, and breathing difficulties.

Wednesday:  Inhalants can cause permanent damage to the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and bones.  Sudden Sniffing Death is death by suffocation, which occurs when inhaled fumes take the place of oxygen in the lungs and brain.

Thursday:  Withdrawal symptoms from prescription opioid abuse include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, sleep problems, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goosebumps, and involuntary leg movements.

Friday:  Anabolic steroids are bad for the heart, cause damage to the liver, and halt bone growth.  This means that a teenage steroid user may not grow to his/her full adult height.

Aggressive behavior may be triggered by steroid abuse and is known as “roid rage”.

Saturday: Tobacco use and secondhand smoke cause illnesses such as lung cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, and respiratory problems. One of every three cancer deaths is caused by smoking. Average smokers lose more than 10 years of life because they smoke.

Sunday: Vapor products may seem harmless because of their flavors and names, but most of them contain the highly addictive chemical nicotine and contain many of the same dangerous chemicals and carcinogens that are found in regular cigarettes. All JUUL pods contain nicotine.

NIDA’s “Family Checkup: Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse” report highlights five questions relevant to parenting skills that help prevent the initiation and progression of youth drug use.  The questions emphasize calm and clear communication about relationship issues, encouraging positive behaviors on a daily basis, negotiating emotional parent/teen conflicts and working toward a solution, ability to set limits when behavior ranges from defiant or disrespectful to more serious problem behavior, and monitoring teens to assure that they are not spending too much time unsupervised.  Visit the NIDA’s Family Checkup page for a copy of these questions and to view video clips that display positive and negative examples of the skills, as well as additional videos to help parents practice positive parenting skills.

ndafw_chatday_logoFor youth organizations, such as schools NIDA offers Chat Day on January 24. Chat Day is am annual live online chat held between high school students and NIDA scientists. Students from around the country ask the questions they most want the answers to about drugs and drug misuse, including drug effects, how to help friend or famiy that are abusing drugs, and what causes addiction. NIDA’s expert scientists give them the facts. Register for Chat Day here.

We can all do our part by supporting our youth, getting the facts, and remembering that PREVENTION WORKS!