Category Archives: Parents

Population Health Summit: A review

Yesterday, June 5th, 2018, was the 3rd Annual Population Health Summit in Bridgewater, New Jersey. The topic was focusing in on utilizing an integrated approach to address the opioid epidemic/crisis. In 2016, there were a total of 64,070 fatal overdoses in the United States, 2,200 of those being in New Jersey, 35 in Morris County. Though the number of overdoses in on the rise, there has been little action to limit the number of prescribing doctors. In New Jersey, we have 1,332 licensed prescribers but only 38 Medication Assistance Treatment (MAT). These numbers do not make sense. New Jersey increases the number of those able to prescribe, yet does not increase the number of treatment facilities that use prescriptions.

Dr. Nash, key note speaker, stated that we need to “shut off the faucet instead of mopping up the mess.” It is important to provide the prevention measures so that we can cut the opioid epidemic off at the source, and prevent people from even starting to use drugs. Dr. Nash also noted that 50% of all opioid users are unemployed and 25% are permanently disabled. This shows that the opioid epidemic needs to be looked at from the very beginning. If we provide resources from the beginning, keeping people healthy all around, it could limit the amount of people getting involved in drugs. Furthermore, it is important to address the institutional racism that has caused minorities and lower income persons to be pushed further and further away from medical care access.

The key component of the summit was to note that prevention and intervention is not a one person job. It is important for the law makers, family services, treatment centers, insurance companies, and caregivers to work together. Addressing the epidemic is a team sport, and is something that influences the entire population.

Underage Drinking in New Jersey: The Scary Truth

Underage drinking is something people often overlook, frequently being viewed as a “rite of passage” or something “all kids do”. People generally think that it will happen regardless of laws, or techniques, which results in parents allowing their children to drink in their own home. Having this mindset leads to underage children not thinking about the repercussions or seeing the hazards of underage drinking. This mindset not only diminishes the perception of risk, but it increases the danger.

Of all alcohol related fatal car accidents, 22.2% were caused by underage drunk drivers, in New Jersey. Of all under 21 driving fatalities, 12.2% were due to alcohol. Due to the relaxed view of underage drinking, children are not thinking about the consequences of driving after. Of all underage persons (age 12-20), 13.1% reported binge drinking in the past 30 days. Binge drinking is finishing 4 drinks in one sitting for females, and 5 drinks in one sitting for males in more than 5 days per month. These percentages seem to really correlate and ultimately, it goes back to parents allowing their children to drink or not stressing the dangers of underage drinking.

There are also a lot of other hazards, besides drinking, with underage drinking. Though underage people do not drink as frequently as adults do, when they do drink, they tend to binge drink. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 90% of alcohol consumed by underage people, is through binge drinking. With binge drinking comes poor decision making, which is likely why people do get in their cars. It also increases the risk of needing additional medical treatment. It has been found that underage drinking costs 1.6billion dollars yearly.

It is not a rite of passage, underage drinking is a hazard and it is up to parents to educate.

Did you know?

May is National Mental Health Awareness month.  Regardless of age, people often use alcohol and other drugs to self-medicate for other mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. Nelba Chavez, Ph.D.,  SAMHSA administrator stated that, “Parents need to know that alcohol use can also be a warning sign or a cry for help that something is seriously wrong in a child’s life” (verywellmind.com, 2018). Though illegal, it is easy for underage persons to obtain alcohol either from asking family members, older friends, or even strangers to buy alcohol for them. Understanding the prevalence of underage drinking, the commonalities of it, and the underlying causes can help prevent alcohol abuse and provide needed mental health treatment.