This April marks the 32nd Annual Alcohol Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) since 1987. This year’s theme is: “Changing Attitudes: It’s not a ‘rite of passage’ .”
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.
Parents often forgive underage drinking as a “rite of passage.” They can sit back and hope their kids will “get through it,” or they can change their attitude and take an active role in learning about substances and help their kids do the same.
Alcohol-Free Weekend is traditionally observed the first weekend in April, which is March 30-April 1. Adults are encouraged to NOT drink alcohol for 72 hours to show our youth that alcohol is not necessary to have a good time. Anyone who has difficulty abstaining is urged to call the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc., at 585-593-6738, to learn more about alcoholism and its early symptoms.
For more information on parent resources and how to talk to your children, visit PPAC’s Parent Page. To learn more about Alcohol Awareness Month, go to ncadd.org. For more information on how to start the conversation with your children about alcohol visit Talk2Prevent or use the Conversation Starter.
Remember Prevention Works!
One in five students in America has used an inhalant to get high by the time he or she has reached eighth grade, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. More than 1,000 different products are commonly abused. Parents don’t know that inhalants, which are cheap, legal, and accessible, are as popular among middle school students as marijuana. Even fewer know the deadly effects the poisons in these products have on the brain and body when they are inhaled or “huffed”. The user can die the 1st, 10th, or 100th time a product is misused as an inhalant. In addition, kids who get high from inhalants often advance to other forms of substance abuse.
Prevention through education has proved to work against this popular form of substance abuse, which is why the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition developed NIPAW, an annual media-based, community-level program that takes place the third full week in March. The purpose of the campaign is to raise community awareness of the dangers and popularity of this deadly practice.
Signs of inhalant abuse include red or runny eyes or nose, spots or sores around the mouth, a drunk or dazed appearance, loss of appetite, chemical odor on breath or clothing, or paint or other stains on clothing or the body. Side effects include short-term memory loss, permanent brain damage, and liver and kidney damage.
For more information, call the Allegany Council’s Prevention Department at 585-593-1920, x 713, or contact the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition at 1-800-269-4237.
Remember Prevention Works!
Spurred 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 31 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.
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 www.AlleganyArc.org.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the adult smoking rate has fallen to the lowest in New York State’s recorded history as a result of the state’s wide-ranging tobacco cessation and prevention efforts. The statewide adult smoking rate is 14.2 percent as of 2016, a 22 percent decline from 2011 and below the national average of 15.5 percent.
“These record lows demonstrate that New York’s anti-smoking efforts are working,” said Governor Cuomo. “Reducing smoking — and the death and misery that come with it — is critical to protecting public health and we will continue our work to create a safer and healthier New York for all.”
Unfortunately, in Allegany County much has not changed with its adult smoking rate, which is still more than 28 percent. A high smoking rate has led to cancer as the chief cause of death in Allegany County, closely followed by heart disease, stroke, and lower respiratory disease. The one thing that all of these causes of death have in common is that they can all be associated with tobacco use. The Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc.(ACASA) at (585) 593-1920 x713, offers free cessation classes and nicotine replacement therapy products. Also, the New York State Smokers’ Quitline is a free service for smokers and can be reached at 1-866-697-8487. It is never too late for a person to quit smoking and take back his/her health from tobacco use.
Governor Cuomo previously announced that the high school student smoking rate fell to an historic low of 4.3 percent in 2016, down from 27.1 percent in 2000. More bad news for Allegany County as the high school student smoking rate of 8.2 percent is almost double the state average. However, the Department of Health also found that e-cigarette use by high school students increased from 10.5 percent in 2014 to 20.6 percent in 2016. More positive news is that Allegany County’s high school student use of e-cigarettes is13.9 percent, which is lower than the state average. This low rate could be connected to the existence of “only” two vape stores in Allegany County, but most convenience stores and chain stores, such as Dollar General, sell e-cigarette devices. In 2017, Governor Cuomo signed legislation banning the use of e-cigarettes on school grounds and adding e-cigarettes to New York’s Clean Indoor Air Act.
Overall, 24.5 percent of Allegany County high school students indicated that they used some form of tobacco product. The use of any tobacco product can lead to severe health issues in the future. Tobacco use is attributed to 40 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States. In order to combat the high tobacco use rated among the young people of Allegany County, the legislature is considering amending the current purchase age of tobacco products from eighteen to twenty-one.
Reasons for this consideration of amending the current law is:
If you are concerned about the amount of youth that use tobacco products in Allegany County, please contact your legislator and let her or him know, that this topic is important to you.
January 22 to January 28 is National Drug Facts Week. Organizations use this week to educate their communities on the dangers of different drugs. Partners for Prevention in Allegany County (PPAC) uses this week to highlight facts about certain drugs that people may not realize. Most people know that alcohol use can lead to loss of inhibitions, memory, decision-making skills, coordination, and physical controls which can all lead to harmful actions or even death. It is also known that when young people under the age of twenty-one drink, it increases their risk of being injured. In 2011, 188,000 people visited an emergency room due to alcohol related injuries1, physical or sexual assault, and annually 4,358 young people under the age of twenty-one lost their life due to alcohol related causes.1 But, did you know that alcohol use also raises the risk of getting cancer? Alcohol use has been linked to cancers of the: mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus, liver, colon and rectum, and breast.2
You are probably thinking the risk of cancer is all dependent on what type of alcohol you drink…….wrong. Most evidence suggests that it is the ethanol that increases the risk of cancer. Ethanol is the type of alcohol found in alcoholic drinks, whether they are wines, beers, liquors, or other drinks. Alcoholic drinks contain different percentages of ethanol, but in general, a standard drink of any type: 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof liquor, contains about the same amount of ethanol, which is approximately half an ounce. Obviously, the stronger or larger drinks can contain more ethanol than half an ounce. So, in conclusion, the amount someone drinks over time, not the type of alcoholic beverage, seems to be the most important factor in raising the risk of getting cancer.
In theory, the earlier a person begins drinking, the more alcohol he will consume in his lifetime, which raises his risk for cancer. In Allegany County the high school rate of underage drinking is 22%. Adults need to have a conversation with the young people in their lives about consequences of alcohol use at a young age and the adult’s expectation that underage drinking is inappropriate and illegal. Children whose parents talk to them regularly about the dangers of underage drinking were 42% less likely to drink alcohol. Conversation resources for parents can be found at TALK2Prevent to help with starting the conversation about underage drinking.
Remember Prevention Works!
According to the New York State Smokers’ Quitline, if you are concerned about a smoker you know, there are certain things you should understand. First, understand the addiction. For some users, the nicotine addiction is so powerful that it can seem almost impossible to quit. Even a few hours without nicotine can be painfully difficult and make it hard for a smoker to cope with routine situations and behave normally. Acting as both a stimulant and depressant for most people, nicotine does offer benefits to the smoker. Second, understand that quitting is a five stage process, and that you, as a support, have a role in each stage. (The following also applies to smokeless tobacco users.)
In stage one, the smoker is not thinking about quitting. Your role is to support and care for him whether he smokes or not. In stage two, the smoker is thinking about quitting, but is not ready to quit. Your role is to offer information about where to get help, but let the smoker decided when to quit. The smoker is getting ready to quit in stage three, at which time you can offer to give something up as a sign of support. Praise your friend for trying when he is quitting in stage four, and show him that you admire his determination when he has quit in stage five. Understand that your friend may shift back and forth between stages before quitting for good, and realize that, in addition to breaking the physical addiction, quitting tobacco requires lifestyle changes and altering daily routines. Your role is to encourage your friend to develop a plan for how to live without cigarettes by helping him identify what makes him want to smoke, and plan ahead for those situations. Third, understand how you can help by asking your friend what would be the most helpful thing for you to do. Listening, expressing health concerns, reminding him of the reasons for quitting, helping to research methods of quitting, and being sympathetic to physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms are a few of the positive supports you can offer. Lecturing, giving ultimatums, making him feel guilty for not quitting, complaining, smoking around your friend, or encouraging him to smoke again are not supportive behaviors. With this in mind, ask yourself if you are a source of positive support, or if you are causing more stress for the person you are attempting to help. If you truly want to help, remember to be sensitive and understand that your role is to support your friend, not force him to quit.
For more suggestions, contact your local resource at Allegany Council, 585-593-1920, ext. 713, or call the New York State Smokers’ Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487).
At the Western New York Chemical Dependency Consortium’s 28th Annual Holiday Award Luncheon on November 17, Jane Foster of Literacy West received a 2017 “Gold Key Individual Award” for her outstanding contributions to the cause of substance abuse prevention.
Jane Foster has been employed by Literacy West/C.O.R.E. as the Home to School Coordinator at Belfast Central School since January, 2012. In the school setting, Jane provides character education for Pre-K-6 in a variety of classrooms, is part of the New York State Mentoring Program for grades 4-8, and provides classroom assistance in the 7th grade health class for “Building Blocks of Emotional Health.” She is also involved in Rachel’s Club for bullying prevention in 3rd grade and up, high school writing labs for social and emotional health checks, and the backpack program that supplies food to students over the weekend.
In March of every year, during the school’s Open House, Jane organizes an interactive community health and resource fair for Belfast families. As prom approaches, Jane involves the students in the “Promises” campaign, launched under her direction a few years ago. In collaboration with the Drug-Free Communities Coalition PPAC (Partners for Prevention in Allegany County), the “Cherished, Not Lost, Treasured, Not Tossed” slogan evolved into a media campaign with T-shirts, wristbands, posters, and table tents to bolster public awareness. For the last few years, a substance-free post-prom party has been held, consisting of positive alternatives and breakfast foods and snacks prepared by Allegany County Sheriff Whitney and PPAC Coordinator Jon Chaffee.
During home visits, Jane shares local resources with the families and makes appropriate referrals. She assisted in establishing the Belfast P.T.O. (Parent Teacher Organization), which currently donates a minimum of $5,000.00 yearly to students, families, and community causes.
In October, Jane usually attends the local SADD conference and brings students to Allegany Council’s Bob Weigand Memorial Move-a-Thon. Last year, for Homecoming, Jane’s brainstorm was for elementary, middle, and high school levels to each decorate a particular section of the school with a substance abuse prevention message, with prizes available for the winner. She invited ACASA to judge the messages and the prizes were awarded at the assembly. School spirit and healthy competition were fostered, and Jane was able to motivate staff to encourage student participation. This same month, Jane was the contact for ACASA staff to present current trends to school staff, which was positively received.
Each November, Jane participates in a two-day Natural Helpers retreat with 6th grade students who are selected by their peers. Throughout the year, with assistance from ACASA staff, Jane conducts follow-up sessions with those students. The following May, students attend the PPAC meeting with her, and the students perform healthy lifestyle/prevention skits that they have created, which may include singing and dancing to enhance a prevention message.
As an active member of PPAC, Jane attends movie nights and other positive alternatives. Last year, it was Jane’s idea to interview community members to find out what resources people are aware of, and what the community is lacking. She is also involved with Family Matters, a subcommittee of PPAC which focuses on family rules and supervision.
Until recently, Jane worked part-time for Finger Lakes Parent Network and facilitated teen groups for youth with mental health and/or self-esteem concerns in Belfast and Friendship. At least twice a year, she invited ACASA staff to present substance use information to the groups. Jane also coordinated presentations for parents and continually encouraged them to stay involved.
At community level, Jane assisted in ongoing fundraising efforts until the faith-based Lifeway Youth Center became a reality a couple of years ago. As a Board member and Scholarship Chairperson of the Allegany County Area Foundation, she assists in developing scholarships for youth and awarding civic grants to local organizations.
Jane is an active member on the Allegany County Suicide Prevention Coalition. She attends annual training for Sources of Strength and was awarded the Sources of Strength Train the Trainer certificate in August, 2017. Additional training includes Trauma Informed Care, ASIST, CONNECT, QRP first aid training for suicide prevention and mental health first aid training for working with youth. If you see Jane, please say “Thank You for making our community a better place to live.”
Kudos to Jane for her tireless motivation to spread the message that PREVENTION WORKS!
‘Tis the season for sled riding; cookie baking; and Sunday afternoon football…
Thoughts of holiday activities bring a smile to your face, but did you know these cherished activities have a lasting positive impact on your children? Children from birth to adulthood need regular, interactive time and attention from their parents. The benefits of family time are clear.
Kids that spend high-quality time with their parents are happier and have higher self-esteem than their peers. They get along better at school and have better grades. They are less likely to have mental or behavioral health problems and they are less likely to abuse tobacco, alcohol, or marijuana. They have lower rates of depression, eating disorders, sexual activity, and suicide. In addition, when something bad does happen to them, they are more resilient and they recover more quickly than their peers.
This holiday season, let’s make a commitment to give all Allegany County kids the protective benefits of regular family time.
In December and January, share photographs of your family’s favorite activities on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with the hashtag #ACfamilytime for a chance to win dinner for four at Wellsville’s Famous Texas Hot ($40 value).
Have a wonderful holiday season and remember “Families Matter!”
Sponsored by PPAC, Family Matters, and Wellsville’s Famous Texas Hot Restaurant.
The impact poverty has on youth was the topic of ACCORD’s most recent community forum held October 24, 2017 at the David Howe Public Library. Three senior Teen Advisory Board members alongside a school district administrator Katie Ralston, a retired officer Bernie Reilly, and trauma specialist Justin Towers, spoke regarding personal experiences and research regarding the impact of rural poverty on youth. Students attending report the continued need to add the voice of their generation to large scale community issues such as poverty.
“In small communities we look out for one another,” noted a TAB member when describing her volunteer efforts at the mobile food pantry. In Allegany County one in four students is living below the poverty level.
“Growing up in a home with poverty increases the likelihood of trauma,” affirms Towers. This leads to a myriad of other issues discussed by the panel.
Tobacco-Free Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany (CCA) and Reality Check students at Fillmore Central School are encouraging members of our community to commit or recommit to healthier, tobacco-free lives by participating in the Great American Smokeout on November 16.
This year to celebrate Great American Smokeout, the Fillmore Reality Check group had their peers take selfies then shared them on social media to support raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 in Allegany County. The group also added the stat “90% of adult smokers started smoking by the age of 18” to their post. Most underage tobacco users get their tobacco products from peers in high schools that are 18 and currently legal to purchase tobacco products. By making the legal age to purchase tobacco products 21 it would cut off that ease of access that many youth have in their own high schools. The Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc’s school survey shows that over 27% of high school seniors in Allegany County use some form of tobacco product. Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, along with 8 other counties, and New York City have raised the age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21.
“Tobacco use continues to be a public health concern, for smokers and non-smokers alike,” says Jonathan Chaffee, youth coordinator at Tobacco-Free CCA. “Smoking is an addiction and quitting is definitely not easy. The annual Great American Smokeout is a great opportunity for community members who smoke to take that difficult first step to quit by asking for help. Even better, it’s a way we can send a message to our youth to not start smoking.”
Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. About half of all Americans who keep smoking will die because of the habit. Each year more than 480,000 people in the U.S. die from illnesses related to tobacco use. This means smoking causes 1 out of 5 deaths in the U.S. annually.
Yet, because tobacco is one of the strongest addictions one can have, about 40 million Americans adults still smoke, including 26.8% of adults in Allegany County. The reason: tobacco is addictive, and quitting is a process. It starts with a plan, often takes time and requires a lot of support.
“The most important thing current smokers can do to improve their health is to quit cigarettes and other forms of tobacco,” said Ada Sylvester. “And we want our generation, our classmates and friends, to be the one that says no to cigarettes and other tobacco use.”
About the Great American Smokeout
The American Cancer Society marks the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November each year by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. By quitting—even for one day—smokers will take an important step towards a healthier life – one that can lead to reducing cancer risk.