It’s a New Year, are you ready to help make a difference in the health and safety of our local youth? If so, WE NEED YOUR HELP! HCC would like to invite you to become a volunteer member! As our coalition continues to grow we look for volunteers from all sectors of the community to join us in our mission to reduce youth substance use in Cattaraugus County. We know that it takes an entire community to prevent underage alcohol and substance use. While parents are the biggest influence and protective factor for youth not to use substances, positive peer relationships, an engaging and rewarding school environment, and a community that recognizes and rewards youth are also important. If you are interested in learning more about Healthy Cattaraugus County: a drug free coalition please contact Tara Estright, Community Coalition Coordinator email@example.com for more information..
Three years ago I left work at 6 p.m. in my radiant yellow Dodge Neon with a fin on the back and 5 on the floor. Picking up speed on the state road of 394 it had been dark for a good hour following the Fall time change. Shifting into 5th gear and reaching the speed limit of 55mph I came to a dead stop as I plowed into a manure tanker with no lights or marking farmers triangle. Both airbags deployed, peeling back the passenger side half of the car I broke my right hand, cracked 3 ribs and suffered a pretty significant head injury – not to mention the loss of my lovely yellow hotrod. For the next several months I couldn’t bring myself to drive and I hated traveling that section of 394. I know, most of you already recognize the onset of Trauma – a point at which the brain floods the body with Cortisol and Adrenaline causing an eventual toxic stress response. Now while we can acknowledge the trauma of an accident or know of PTSD from those who have served our country or gone to war in some capacity, do we know about Trauma from the past? Specifically the trauma that comes from Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s)? Ryan North, a national trauma expert says “Our brains are wired for connection, but trauma rewires them for connection. That is why healthy relationships are difficult for wounded people.”
Since 1990 there had been a public health movement toward understanding ACEs and the toxic stress responses that show up in young adult and adulthood as health issues and/or social problems. The research is astounding about the connection between traumatic experiences as a child and how the mind may have locked it away, but the body keeps score and remembers. We know that those who have experienced trauma in early childhood are the ones most prone to experiment and eventually find smoking, drugs or alcohol as a means of reducing that stress or anxiety their body feels as a teenager or young adult. There have been many campaigns over the years that create an awareness of the disease and social problems related to alcohol and substance abuse. But did you ever wonder WHY? Perhaps it’s time for us to look at (and it sounds crazy to say) but what if alcohol and substance abuse is actually a “solution” to the trauma experienced as a child?
Might that explain why knowing about the health risks from those behaviors isn’t enough to cause people to quit? I do think it’s time for us as a county and a nation to relook at how people cope with such trauma, and if we can raise the level of compassion for people we might be able to hear ourselves say maybe it’s less about what’s wrong with that person and in fact ask ourselves a different question, “I wonder what happened to them?” If we choose to make that shift, I believe it can offer a more trauma informed approach with care and concern for our fellow human beings and realize that we all have stories. My story isn’t better or worse than yours it’s just different. And when we choose to address the trauma from our childhoods, maybe then we can actually build resilience rather than just cope – we can learn to thrive rather than just survive?
AL Meyers (NEAR science Certified National Trainer)
You’d think growing up in a small town called Friendship would have some form of safe places, security in relationships, and fond memories of loving the land. But as many already know, growing up in a rather small to medium town or city doesn’t shelter one from the reality of dysfunction, abuse and addictions. In fact, when there is a place where everyone knows your business and you get pegged and labeled at an early age the odds are stacked against you to have positive life outcomes where intellectual, emotional, relational and maybe even the spiritual is up and to the right? What I have discovered in counties and towns like this, is the propensity to create an image, put on a façade, and keep up with the Jones’ all the while resisting any type of vulnerability or transparency! The funny thing is those prior motivations for “keeping up appearances” actually have a way of repelling others, while the characteristics of transparency actually draws us towards one another. For the last couple years I have had the privilege of traveling (and zooming 😊) with many people regarding the topic of the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC). What you say?!? That doesn’t happen in our county! I can tell you that it most certainly does, especially with the onslaught of various Apps and social media outlets that have surfaced over the last few years.
Think about it, online predators are willing to take their time in grooming young, impressionable, and innocent boys and girls (tweenagers and teenagers alike!). Young people who want nothing more than to “get outta this one horse town” with a desire to move upward and onward to bigger and better things. With things like poverty, tension with parents, looking for value and affirmation and acceptance from anyone anywhere – why wouldn’t those from a small town be a great target? As we continue to travel and talk about the coercion, force and fraud of human trafficking I wonder – ARE YOU AWARE OF THE POTENTIAL WOLVES IN YOUR LIFE? Exploitation often happens from those we know, that are already in the sphere of our relational influence. While force is certainly a tactic used in domesticating young persons, there is an incredible rise in coercicn and frauding some as young as 7 or 8 years old who get introduced into “The Life.” For many of us who care about our youth and the substances they abuse as a way to medicate or escape from the pain and hurt they have experienced, we must take a more active role in becoming more Aware and knowledgeable about this underbelly of our county. Perhaps taking more steps to be Trauma Informed, and then also learn how to support Survivors of such a crime. Together we are better as we learn to build resiliency in our communities. Isn’t it time to set aside the created image, deconstruct the façade, and desist with the comparison trap? I hope and pray that you are with me in this!
Al Meyers (I am Little Red/CSEC facilitator through CCA)
The Oxford dictionary defines peer pressure as influence from members of one's peer group. This influence can lead us to positive behaviors, like eating well, pushing just a little harder during a workout, or making responsible financial decisions. However, more often than not, peer pressure is discussed in the context of pressure to make poor decisions. Even as an adult, I still find myself occasionally trying to fend off the persuasive efforts of friends. More surprisingly, the things that I find my peers pressuring me into are no different than when I was younger. At get-togethers, it can look like, "Here, have another drink!" or "Try this. You'll love the way it makes you feel." It doesn't even have to be exclusively about substance use either. Peer pressure can be applied intentionally or inadvertently to just about any behavior.
I find it helpful to make sure that I have a plan ready to combat peer pressure if I find myself in the hot seat. My favorite method is to have an excuse ready (one rooted in the truth to make sure my reason is believable and easy for me to share), though there are many different ways to deflect. Your reason could also be as absurd and silly as you want. "Sorry, I can't get high with you. I have to fly my dragon on the way home." When someone you're close with is the one trying to manipulate your actions, have an honest conversation about how that makes you feel. Make sure that the people you spend time with are like-minded people who share your values, as this alone will significantly reduce the likelihood of being exposed to peer pressure in the first place. Another great option is to turn the pressure around on them, perhaps with a bit of a guilt trip attached, like "If you were a genuine friend, you wouldn't ask me to do that." If all else fails, Nancy Regan's Just Say No campaign from the '80s is still a great option.
It's worth noting that even the best thought-out plans may not be entirely effective in preventing or deflecting peer pressure. Stick with the idea you're the most comfortable with, and have a second in your back pocket, just in case. Stay true to yourself and your goals.
By Amanda Hulbert
It's summer - people are firing up the poolside grill, soaking up the sun and heading out to the beaches, lakes, and rivers.
Summer brings countless water activities including boating, jet skiing, swimming...and sometimes drinking alcohol.
Whether we like to admit it or not, many people make drinking a part of these activities, and are unaware of the increased risks. Even one drink can make a difference. Alcohol doesn't follow the normal digestive route; instead it is directly absorbed into the blood stream, altering brain chemistry. This causes impairment in judgment, reaction time, balance, and vision. These critical skills are required for safety in any water activity. After consuming just one standard alcoholic drink--12 ounces of beer, 4 to 5 ounces of wine, or 1 1/2 ounces of liquor--your risks of injury or death increase dramatically. Exposure to noise, vibration, sun, glare and wind can intensify the risks.
Boating or operating any water vessel requires coordination, concentration and attention to detail, just like driving a motor vehicle. In New York, it's illegal to operate a watercraft under the influence of alcohol in public waters.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, "Alcohol is a major factor in approximately 23 percent of all recreational boating fatalities nationwide." In 2019, 100 deaths occurred in boating accidents that directly involved alcohol. Boat operators are not the only ones at increased risk when alcohol is involved, also consider their passengers.
About two-thirds of annual drowning victims never intended to go into the water. The Centers for Disease Control estimates 3,153 injuries are associated with swimming. Diving is a risky activity itself and mixing it with alcohol is a dangerous combination. Diving accidents result in 5,000 deaths and 8,000 paralyzing spinal cord injuries annually.
During the Critical Days of Summer, it's very important to keep safety in mind. Following these safety tips can reduce the risks of injuries or death:
Reference: Staff Sgt. Cecillia Cardenas, 81st Medical Operations Squadron, Mississippi, U.S. Coast Guard, CDC
By: Liz Threehouse
Idea Girl Company and HCC Social Media & Marketing
Summer is here, and – this year more than ever – our children and teens will most certainly be eager to get out of the house and have some fun. As such, we as adults and parents need to be increasingly aware of the potential pitfalls that can suddenly turn summertime fun into tragedy. While we make sure our young children are hydrated, sunscreened, lifeguarded, etc., perhaps we should work in something about our teens and tweens being safe around alcohol.
According to a report issued by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, on any given summer day, an average of over 11,000 teenagers drink alcohol for the first time, with the months of June and July having the highest start rates during the calendar year.
This can lead to numerous long- and short-term consequences. Initiating substance use during childhood or adolescence is linked to substantial long-term health risks. Early (aged 12 to 14) to late (aged 15 to 17) adolescence is generally regarded as a critical risk period for the initiation of alcohol use, with multiple studies showing associations between age at first alcohol use and the occurrence of alcohol abuse or dependence. The overwhelming majority of substance abuse treatment admissions aged 18 to 30 with known age of initiation information (74.0 percent) began substance use at the age of 17 or younger; amazingly 10.2 percent initiated use at the age of 11 or younger.
While many youth, unfortunately, tend to pay little attention to long-term consequences, the potential short-term consequences are more immediate and can be just as serious. According to teen drinking and driving statistics published by the Centers for Disease Control:
Even without a crash resulting in serious injury or fatality, the potential negative consequences for alcohol-impaired teen drivers (and their parents) can be serious. According to STOP DWI New York, the cost of a Driving While Intoxicated offense – including attorney fees, court costs, fines, mandatory ignition interlock fees, vehicle towing and storage costs, mandatory alcohol abuse assessment and treatment and/or drinking driver program, and DMV fees and penalties (not to mention increased auto insurance rates) can easily reach over $10,000. This can very seriously dampen any fun summer vacation plans. Parents can have their insurance rates raised, or policy cancelled altogether, due to the DWI offense of a child living in their household. Also, youth face lower thresholds, and additional penalties, for drinking and driving. Any youth under the age of 21 found to be driving with a BAC of just .02 - .07 of 1% (lower than the legal limit for adults), faces a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to six months to a year in jail, a fine of between $500 and $1,000, and an automatic license or permit suspension of six months.
So what steps should parents take to minimize the risk of their teen children consuming alcohol during the summer? Here are some suggestions, from Next Generation Village, teen alcohol and drug abuse center in Sebring, Florida:
Enjoy a safe and happy summer!
Michael Sharbaugh, Director
Cattaraugus County Probation
Summer is the perfect time to take a stroll through the park, have a family picnic or just enjoy the serenity of the beautiful parks our County has to offer. This summer, the CAReS Prevention Team is working with local parks throughout Cattaraugus County to promote awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding substance use disorder.
The Prevention Team has placed the first set of a series of informational yard signs in the parks. The Prevention Team has worked closely with the Mayors and leaders of the communities to get this project up and running. These signs were created by the Western Regional Addiction Resource Collaborative.
By: Erica Sebastian, Prevention Specialist
On April 29, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that they will start the process to regulate menthol out of traditional cigarettes. Menthol was the last flavor left in traditional cigarettes. In 2009, the FDA restricted all other flavors in cigarettes citing that young people were more apt to smoke cigarettes with flavors. By not including menthol in the 2009 ban, many young people became new daily smokers, people were unsuccessful in their quit attempts, which lead to them having to live with a smoking related disease or even lose their life from a smoking related illness.
The banning of menthol will help stop young people from becoming new daily smokers and help current smokers to be successful in quitting. The Centers for Disease and Prevention Control states that, “while fewer people now smoke cigarettes than in years past, the percentage of people who smoke menthol cigarettes is going down more slowly than for non-menthol cigarettes.”1 From 2008-2010 to 2012-2014, the percentage of adult smokers who currently smoke menthol cigarettes increased.1 Furthermore, from 2011-2015, menthol cigarette sales increased while overall cigarette sales decreased.1
Menthol is a chemical compound found naturally in peppermint but can also be produced in a lab. Even though many brands of cigarettes are marketed as “menthol cigarettes,” almost all cigarettes sold in the U.S. contain at least some natural or lab-created menthol. Menthol in cigarettes creates a cooling sensation in the throat and lungs when the user inhales, making cigarette smoke feel less harsh. However, menthol cigarettes are not less harmful than other cigarettes. The truth is smoking any kind of cigarette, including menthol cigarettes, is harmful.
Menthol has always been thought of as a “Black” product, because that is who the tobacco industry targeted their marketing at or if you saw a menthol advertisement most of the time you saw them with African American/Black men or women in them. Even when I was in college in the early 2000’s, my friends who smoked menthol cigarettes were always mentioned as having or growing up with Black friends simply because they smoked menthol cigarettes. This was interesting to me, as I grew up with a father who only smoked Kool cigarettes, but that was the brand he received every month while serving in Vietnam. Looking at the following statistics you will see that menthol is now the most popular cigarette for all ages, ethnic backgrounds, and genders.
To help bring awareness to No Menthol Sunday and the issue of menthol the Advancing Tobacco Free Communities grants released their It’s Not Just campaign. The campaign highlights how menthol has had a horrible impact on different populations, first focusing on the African American population and moving to LGBTQAI+, Latino, and youth populations. For more information on It’s Not Just visit notjustmenthol.org. For questions or more information about menthol and our local communities you can find Tobacco Free Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TFCCACoalition and Twitter @TobaccoFreeCCA or contact Community Engagement Coordinator Ken Dahlgren at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Tobacco-Free CCA Reality Check Coordinator
Could DUI’s be eliminated by 2024?
Now this is interesting…, I just read an article on the Car and Driver website that says we might be able to end Drunk Driving as soon as 2024. How you ask? Well to put it simply, there’s new technology that is being developed that will prevent your car from starting if your BAC level is 0.08 or higher. Click here to read article . There are several technologies that are being developed that are specific to the driver of the car. The technology is not perfected yet but they are getting close.
The Ride Act is bipartisan legislation that is going to require all new cars to have this technology installed by 2024. It was recently introduced in April. The RIDE Act is endorsed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the National Safety Council, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), and Responsibility.org.
Isn’t it amazing how technology could be the answer to a problem that has caused tragedy for many years. Alcohol-impaired driving is responsible for one third of all highway fatalities in the U.S. every year. The Institute for Highway Safety found that more than 9,400 drunk driving deaths could be prevented each year if drunk driving prevention technology is made standard on every new vehicle. You can read the full text of the legislation here.
So, things are moving forward in the prevention of impaired driving and this new technology may play a big part of that advancement. Being an HCC member for several years now, I’m glad to see this seemingly bright light and the end of a long tunnel. I’m sure there will be bumps along the way, but this is the kind of technology that could really save lives and for that I’m encouraged.
Preventing substance use of underage youth is the goal of HCC and it is a long-standing mission. Technology like this can only advance our cause, and save lives for that matter. So, who knows what other type of technology may be developed in the future to detect and prevent impaired driving. Until then we will be sending out our messages of prevention and trying to educate and reach families and the youth of our county.
By: Liz Threehouse
Idea Girl Company and HCC Social Media and Marketing
March 17th is almost here, a day that many people will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. While the day is named after the Irish Saint Patrick and the celebration of Ireland’s culture and the arrival of Christianity, it has now evolved into a different type of celebration over the years (Bellum, 2012).
Today, many honor St. Patrick’s Day by wearing green, decorating with shamrocks, and drinking green alcoholic beverages. St. Patrick’s Day is also regarded as one of the biggest drinking days of the year, and with that many adults who imbibe do so at dangerous rate by binge drinking.
When a person binge drinks, their Blood Alcohol Content or BAC is raised at a level above 0.08 grams (Watson, 2015). For women, having about four drinks in two hours is considered binge drinking while it is five or more drinks for men (Watson, 2015). One statistic found that in the United States, “one in six adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about eight drinks per binge” (Watson, 2015). In younger populations such as college-age students, binge drinking rates are alarming. In 2019, it was reported that 52.5% of college students age 18-22 drank alcohol in the past 30 days (College Drinking Prevention). Further information from the report indicated that in 2019, 33% of 18-22 year old college students were binge drinking in the past month (College Drinking Prevention). Binge drinking has also led to more motor vehicle accidents and deaths. In fact, drunken driving causes over 1,800 deaths of college students each year (Watson, 2015).
During this St. Patrick’s Day, please remember that it is illegal to supply alcohol to anyone under the age of 21. If you have a college student at home please discuss the dangers of binge drinking with them such as the risk of alcohol poisoning and overdose as well as never driving under the influence of alcohol and other substances. It is also important to know that the brain is not fully developed until age 25, and that even one instance of binge drinking can create lasting damage to the brain (Bellum, 2012).
Please stay safe and well!
Tara Estright, Community Coalition Coordinator
Bellum, S. (2012, March 15). St. Patrick’s Day: Leprechauns, shamrocks, and…
binge drinking? Message posted to https://archives.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/st-patricks-day-leprechauns-
Watson, R. (2015, March 14). St. Patrick’s Day drinking: Facts, hangovers, and
advice. Message posted to https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/love-and-gratitude/201503/st-