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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Announcing the 2013 Media $500 Contest!

2013 PSA

Media $500 Contest

Media $500 Contest

 

ASAM says that the problem is the brain

Jan 13, 2013 at 02:21 PM

American Society of Addiction Medicine says…

“…addiction is not about drugs, it’s about brains.  It is not the substances a person uses that make them an addict; it is not even the quantity or frequency of use.  Addiction is about what happens in a person’s brain when they are exposed to rewarding substances or rewarding behaviors, and it is more about reward circuitry in the brain and related brain structures than it is about the external chemicals or behavior that “turn on” that reward circuitry.”

Nora D. Volkow, MD, Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

“… addiction is not simply a disease of the brain, but it is a developmental disorder, and it begins early in life–during adolescence.”

The Myth of the 27 Club

Oct 16, 2012 at 12:57 PM in Addiction

The untimely overdose deaths of celebrities like Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, and most recently, Sage Stallone make headlines. The sad fact is that for every Michael, Amy, Whitney, and Sage there are thousands of others whose deaths don’t make the front page. Every day thousands of young people are struck down in their prime while under the influence of addictive substances. Because the results of toxicology tests are slow in coming if reported at all, the cause of many “accidental” deaths is ever known. In the case of minors, the cause of death is almost never revealed. If we are unwilling to acknowledge or speak about the real cause of death, others will surely suffer the same fate.

Wired for addiction

Addiction is most frequently contracted at a young age, before the human brain is fully developed. Metaphorically, it’s been said that teens are “all gas and no brakes”. The prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for good judgment, affect regulation, deductive reasoning, and discernment is usually not fully developed until age 26. Furthermore, the brain develops front to back, from the reptilian part of the brain toward the frontal lobe, where the executive functions occur. Executive functions include critical thinking, analysis, and postponing gratification; in other words, skills that help us make life-protecting decisions. Just as young brains are wired to learn, they are also wired for addiction. According to Bertha Madras PhD, Professor of Psychobiology and Chair of the Division of Neurochemistry at Harvard Medical School, “Exposed 14 year olds are six times as likely to acquire addiction”. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics “one out of every four exposed children under the age of 17 will develop a dependency”.

Addiction is a disease that doesn’t discriminate

As with many other diseases, some people are less susceptible, but there is currently no scientific way to predict who has immunity from addiction. Adding to the challenge, addiction is a disease, which carries an unfair stigma. This stigma reflects on family and friends, and often leads to avoidance of honest discussion and disclosure. This avoidance helps no one; in fact, it hurts us all. People suffering from addiction aren’t of lower moral character or intelligence; no one chooses addiction. Children of all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds are susceptible.

Twenty-three million addicts and rising… what are we doing wrong?

Many believe that teaching “harm reduction” is prevention. Nothing could be further from the truth.
This misguided approach might make sense if the disease wasn’t ready to randomly strike six out of t
ten exposed students. But, it is. Today’s collective wisdom purports that telling students to “make
good choices” is enough to protect them from addiction. It is not. Furthermore, another mistaken
notion is that supervised alcohol consumption or use of “soft drugs” by minors is acceptable. Too
many parents condone a certain amount of teen alcohol and drug experimentation in their
homes. While doing so protects intoxicated teens from causing auto accidents, it doesn’t protect their brains from the disease of addiction.

More treatment is needed, but treatment is not the solution.

It’s time for addiction to come out of the shadows. Addiction is preventable, but only if we have the will to confront it directly. Who among us doesn’t know someone with the disease of addiction? Silently ignoring them or their pain doesn’t help. Until we confront addiction where it usually begins, with students aged 10 to 15, we will continue to see lifelong suffering, and premature deaths. There is hope for people who seek recovery, but treatment comes with a very steep price tag. Unfortunately, the majority of people who need treatment either don’t seek it or can’t afford it. Estimates of untreated addiction are as high as 82%, and the best estimate for recovery without relapse, even after multiple attempts, is only 10%.

It’s time to shift strategy

Continuing to focus 98% of our national drug control resources on law enforcement, intervention, and treatment isn’t the answer. More than 3,000 Americans are still dying from unintentional overdose every month after a 38-year “War on Drugs”. It’s time to commit ourselves and our resources to prevent addiction. Trying to eliminate the supply of addictive intoxicants is a fool’s errand because as long as human beings seek altered states of consciousness, there will be a supply of intoxicants to achieve that end.

Let’s prevent student exposure to addictive substances

Addiction is 100% preventable. If preventing students from contracting a debilitating disease that often leads to premature death isn’t our top priority, why isn’t it?
To find out how you can help prevent addiction where it almost always begins…with students, contact SafeLaunch at  www.safelaunch.org.  Less Addiction.  More Achievement.