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National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week
National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week
March 30 - April 5, 2020 is National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week. The County of Sussex Division of Community and Youth Services is always working to present the facts about drugs and alcohol and solutions to problems they can cause.
FACT: Substance use changes the brain, taking a person's normal needs and desires and replacing them with the urge to seek and use drugs. These changes in the brain weaken the ability to control impulses that can lead to addiction, where a person cannot stop using a drug despite negative consequences. This is why addiction is a disease that requires treatment to overcome. Sussex County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Coordinator Nick Loizzi can guide people to find the treatment they need for themselves and their families. He also manages programs that can assist people who cannot afford treatment. To help combat the current opioid crisis Mr. Loizzi started an Overdose Fatality Review Team in Sussex County based on a model from Ocean County. The team is made up of members from the behavioral health, criminal justice, healthcare, medical examiner, EMS, public health, social services and treatment/prevention communities who have had contact with an overdose victim. They work together to determine if anything could have been handled differently and try to implement what they learn to prevent future deaths.
FACT: Vaping puts the children and adults who use it at risk of addiction and other diseases. Most health concerns related to traditional tobacco cigarettes — addiction, lung disease, and effects on prenatal development — apply to vaping as well. Despite some promising signs that traditional tobacco cigarette use is decreasing among teenagers, unacceptably high numbers of youth are vaping nicotine. The 2019 Monitoring the Future Survey of eighth, 10th, and 12th graders conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) shows alarmingly high rates of e-cigarette use compared to just a year ago.
Reported past month nicotine vaping among teens in 2019:
- 1 in 10 8th graders
- 1 in 5 10th graders
- 1 in 4 12th graders
The most popular e-cigarette devices among young people resemble flash drives. Parents and teachers are often unaware their teens are using these devices because they are so small and do not leave behind a strong smell, like tobacco cigarettes.
We must be vigilant about educating teens on the health effects of tobacco and nicotine in all forms. Some research suggests that teens using e-cigarettes are likely to start smoking tobacco within the following year, since nicotine in vaping devices is highly addictive. In addition, there have been reports of serious lung illnesses and dozens of deaths from vaping. Most of the vaping products contained THC, the ingredient in marijuana that causes the high, but some contained only nicotine. The illnesses could possibly be related to oil some manufacturers have added to the vaping liquid. The Sussex County Youth Services Commission, led by Kristen Turtur, hosted a free education training session about vaping in 2019 for Sussex County schools and police departments. Attendees learned about the trends, law, and policies and were given tools and resources. It is important to note that vaping is more than a discipline problem in the schools. It is a major health concern that impacts a growing number of children and adults.
FACT: Driving impaired by any substance - alcohol or drugs, whether legal or illegal - is against the law in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Many substances can impair driving, including alcohol, marijuana, some over-the-counter and prescription drugs and illegal drugs. Using two or more drugs at the same time, including alcohol, can amplify the impairing effects of each drug a person has consumed. Read and follow all warning labels before driving and note that warnings against "operating heavy machinery" include driving a vehicle. Impaired drivers cannot accurately assess their own impairment - which is why no one should drive after using any substances that may affect their ability to drive. Law enforcement officers are trained to observe drivers' behavior and to identify impaired drivers. Even in states where marijuana laws have changed, it is still illegal to drive under the influence of the drug. Sussex County Intoxicated Driver Resource Center reminds you: If you feel different, you drive different. Do not put yourself or others at risk with impaired driving.
FACT: People may self-medicate with legal or illegal drugs thinking it will help when there is a mental health issue such as anxiety or depression that is not being treated. It is important to get the right kind of treatment to prevent substance misuse in this situation. To this end, the County of Sussex and the Sussex County Mental Health Board/Local Advisory Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse have embraced the Change Direction Campaign. The campaign is a national initiative to change the culture of mental health in America so that all in need receive the care and support they deserve. The campaign encourages all people to pay attention to their emotional well-being and reminds us that our emotional well-being is just as important as our physical well-being. The campaign strives to educate the community on knowing the five signs that might mean someone (or you) needs assistance and to reduce the stigma often associated with mental health so that people are as comfortable talking about mental health as they are about physical health. Considering statistics that suggest as many as one in four individuals will experience a mental health event at some time in their life, we all need to know the five signs, how to offer help, and where to get help. Since its adoption in 2017 by the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Sussex County Division of Community and Youth Services has worked with many community partners to promote the Change Direction Campaign, a mental health education and awareness message, at various events in the county. If you are interested in learning more about the Change Direction Campaign, you can find more information at www.sussex.nj.us/changedirection or call Cindy Armstrong at 973-940-5200, ext. 1371.
Substance use disorder has many causes and many consequences. It is important to protect your own mental health and not put yourself in situations where drugs are being used. If you have a friend or family member who needs help with substance use, encourage them to speak to a trusted adult or a licensed drug and alcohol counselor. If you need guidance or assistance with any of these issues, please contact one of the following people at the Sussex County Division of Community and Youth Services:
- Nick Loizzi, Sussex County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Coordinator - 973-940-5200, ext. 1383
- Kristen Turtur, Sussex County Youth Services Coordinator - 973-940-5200, ext. 1379
- Cindy Armstrong, Sussex County Mental Health Administrator/Intoxicated Driver Program Director - 973-940-5200, ext. 1371