Stopping the disease of addiction before it starts to ensure healthy futures for America's teens

Flights Above Addiction

Flights Above Addiction is a traveling teen art and aviation program that informs communities that addiction is a preventable chronic brain disease contracted in adolescence 90% of the time.

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Media $500 Contests

Media $500 Contests invite secondary students to produce compelling art and media illuminating the risk of early alcohol, tobacco, and other drug exposure.

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Science of Addiction

Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.

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Is the Teen Brain Just an Adult Brain with Fewer Miles?

The Brain Continues to Grow into Young Adulthood

Growing Brain Spect Image

Studies using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques, involving brain scans at regular intervals, show that the brain continues to grow and develop into young adulthood (at least to the mid-twenties). Right before puberty, adolescent brains experience a growth spurt that occurs mainly in the frontal lobe, which is the area that governs planning, impulse control, and reasoning. During the teenage years, the brain again goes through a process of pruning synapses—somewhat like the infant and toddler brain (National Institute of Mental Health, 2001).

As the teenager grows into young adulthood, the brain develops more myelin to insulate the nerve fibers and speed neural processing, and this myelination occurs last in the frontal lobe. MRI comparisons between the brains of teenagers and the brains of young adults have shown that most of the brain areas were the same—that is, the teenage brain had reached maturity in the areas that govern such abilities as speech and sensory capabilities. The major difference was the immaturity of the teenage brain in the frontal lobe and in the myelination of that area (National Institute of Mental Health, 2001).

Another change that happens during adolescence is the growth and transformation of the limbic system, which is responsible for our emotions. Teenagers may rely on their more primitive limbic system in interpreting emotions and reacting, since they lack the more mature cortex that can override the limbic response (Chamberlain, 2009).


Children Painted their Dreams on the SafeLaunch plane at the California Capital Airshow

SafeLaunch wrapped up its first major airshow with great media coverage and says thank you to the California Capital Airshow, sponsors and volunteers for their support!

September 5-7, 2014

The Capital Airshow wrapped up Sunday evening. Throughout the day, crowds lined the runway to watch the final planes taking off and landing.  Besides watching and touring the planes and jets, children had a chance to actually paint one of the planes.

“I had a lot of fun doing it.” Said Jeremy Demure.  The activity was organized by “SafeLaunch.”  The co-founder says the idea is for young people to paint their dreams.  We’re going fly the plane away with their dreams on it and launch their dreams safely, hopefully as they will be launched also,” said SafeLaunch co-founder Janet Rowse.  Rowse says the hope is that children will learn the importance of living a healthy lifestyle early on.

After the painted plane flies, the organization will wash it white again bring it to air shows in different cities across the country.

The message SafeLaunch flew to deliver is that the human brain is up to 600% more susceptible to becoming dependent on alcohol, tobacco, and drugs at age 14. As children grow up the risk goes down. This explains why 90% of people suffering with the disease of addiction contracted it as children, and why it’s so important to protect young people from exposure.

Growing Brain Spect Image

SafeLaunch Invites Sacramento Youth to Paint an Airplane at the California Capital Airshow

CCA Airshow

A public art event for artistic teens and aviation enthusiasts

SafeLaunch is bringing a “Flight Above Addiction” to the California Capital Airshow and everyone is invited! Beginning Saturday, September 6th at 0900 hours, local teens will paint a real airplane with real paint.

This will be the eighth SafeLaunch “Flight Above Addiction” event in California, where preteens and teens are invited to paint their dreams for a healthy future, free from the disease of addiction, onto retired Navy Commander Ron Cuff’s Cessna Skylane, N521DJ. The Cessna is a focal point for the primary addiction prevention organization SafeLaunch, co-founded by Ron Cuff and Janet Rowse.

SafeLaunch utilizes the creativity of youth to raise awareness about the threat of addiction to young brains. “A 14 year olds brain, if exposed to any addictive substance, is up to six times more susceptible to this incurable disease than is an adult’s, according to recent research from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University,” Cuff says.

“We invite youth to focus on the beauty of life and the many ways that they can achieve a “natural” high. SafeLaunch encourages everyone to learn the facts about addiction, and to do everything possible to stop addiction where it starts 90% of the time… with adolescent exposure to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs,” stated Co-Founder Janet Rowse. Youth from West Sacramento Early College Prep Charter School led by art teacher Carrie Markel will paint their design on one side of the plane from 9:00am to Noon on Saturday and the public (18 and under) is invited to paint the other side of the Cessna from 10:00am to 3:00pm on both Saturday and Sunday.

The public and press are invited to see the artists at work between 10:00am and 3:00pm on Saturday and Sunday. For information about SafeLaunch or to sponsor an air show event, email For CCA tickets go to