Guest commentary: Drug Awareness, Healthy Kids Colorado reminder to talk to our kids
Now, we’re in Drug Awareness Month, Red Ribbon Week and the Healthy Kids Colorado 2021 biannual survey year. Now, at this opportune time, parents and kids need to focus on the issues of vaping, street drugs and alcohol.
In 2020, drug overdose deaths increased 29% in Colorado, despite physician prescribing of opioids falling 44% in the past five years. Colorado has had 15,999 overdose deaths in the past 20 years. Each of you know of lives destroyed, ruined or ended. With addiction comes denial and the grim facts of a changed life.
It is common for adolescents and young adults to try vaping, mood-altering chemicals, nicotine, drugs of abuse and alcohol. It is important that this experimentation is not condoned, facilitated or trivialized. Even the first use of alcohol or another drug can result in tragic consequences such as unintentional injury or death, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement.
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is clear that the use of any e-cigarette or vaping products is not safe for children or adolescents. Products claimed to not have nicotine, after analysis, are commonly found to contain nicotine and other harmful chemicals. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development. Young people who vape are very likely to carry that addiction into adulthood.
Street drugs can be fentanyl lookalikes, fentanyl analogs, cocaine cut with levamisole, bath salts, vaping cut with nicotine analogs, meth cut with codeine or cocaine. Fentanyl in micrograms is 1,000 times or more potent than morphine or heroin in milligrams, and imported from China or Mexico where dose concentrations vary immensely and can be fatal. Naloxone nasally can be lifesaving.
Who is going to persuade you, encourage you, inspire you in life? Aspen Schools are sincerely stepping forward. Your teachers, your college counselors and counselors want you to succeed and achieve your goals.
Local drug awareness is being sponsored by the Aspen Elks with Colorado and nationwide weblinked programs. Youth programs are encouraged in Aspen.
The Aspen School District participates in the Healthy Kids Colorado 2021 and Smart Source survey that will be performed in November.
Each day is a gift to use wisely. Each of us is a student for life, a better life.
Tom Kurt, MD, MPH, is the chair of the Aspen Elks Drug Awareness committee; Tharyn Mulberry, MEd, is the assistant superintendent at the Aspen School District.
Drug Awareness, Colorado Elks: elks.org/dap/#
Healthy Kids Colorado: healthykidscolo.org
Adolescent Health Data dashboard: Cohealthdata.org
Just Think Twice: NIDA for Teens: teens.drugabuse.gov
Mind Springs Health: http://www.mindspringshealth.org/treatment=services/locations/aspen
Aspen Hope Center: aspenhopecenter.org
Aspen Strong: aspenstrong.org/2020/12/06/06/time-to-talk
A Way Out: awayout.org/about
Jaywalker Lodge (men): jaywalkerlodge.com
Momenta Recovery (women): momentarecovery.com
SAMSHA Substance Use Treatment Locator: findtreatment.gov
Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
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