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citysceneWatch Cindy Schaider discuss the importance of Casa Grande Alliance on TV 11's City Scene television program.

We appreciate the article run in the Casa Grande Dispatch on September 15, 2010 about cough medicine abuse and the call for placement of these medicines behind the pharmacy counter.  According to the article, cough medicines with detromethorphan (DXM) were purchased by more than 40 million households last year.  Some of this was for legitimate use; some was purchased by teens and young adults specifically to get high.

My staff and I went to the ‘meet your teacher’ night at CGUHS this year and initiated dialogue with more than 60 parents and 70 students, discussing with them the current drug trends.  About 75% of the students with whom we spoke reported that cough medicine abuse is common among high school age youth.  Conversely, only about 10% of the parents knew of this new drug threat.

According to the 2008  bi-annual Arizona Youth Survey, one out of ten teens in our community abuses over-the-counter medicines, most of which are cold and cough remedies.  This survey is taken by 8th, 10th and 12th graders.  This rate is higher than the state average.  Central Arizona College resident students also report that abuse of cough medicine is common at drinking parties.  It is such a pop culture phenomenon that even rappers sing about it!

The most common way for underage youth to consume cough medicine is either straight from the bottle, or to mix it with Sprite or another soda, producing what the kids call ‘lean’.  There are reports that youth can drink ‘lean’ at home, in the classroom, or community, in front of adults, confident that they are concealing their drug abuse by disguising it as just soda.  When someone is high on DXM, their symptoms mimic drunkenness including staggering, increased heart rate, slurred speech, and confused thinking.  Parents could easily pass off these behaviors as underage drinking, but mixing alcohol with DXM is quite dangerous.

Some teens, and adults, think that because these medicines are legal and easily available they must be safer than street drugs.  Nothing could be father from the truth.  Overdose and addiction do not only occur with street drugs – a sad fact proved by celebrity deaths such as pop star Michael Jackson’s caused by prescription medicines.

Adults must continue to monitor what youth are doing, who they are hanging out with, and where they go.  PLEASE check your child’s room and backpack and car for empty cough medicine bottles.  Educate yourself more on cough medicine abuse by going to or and have a heart-to-heart talk with your child about staying safe.  Cough medicine abuse is real, is here, and is dangerous.
Going back to school signifies a time of new beginnings – new friends, more difficult classes and exciting experiences. It can also be a challenging time, with added peer pressure when it comes to teen drug and alcohol use.  

Young people in grades 6-9 are especially at risk for first-time drug and alcohol use.  Local research has shown that most youth start drinking beverage alcohol around age 12, which is grade 6 or 7.  Middle school is a challenging time of change for children, both physically and socially.

In the middle-school years, young brains are growing at a fast rate.  Children are easily distracted, easily bored and over-stimulated at this time because of what is going on with their brain growth.  This excitement can lead to impulsiveness in both good and bad ways.

Middle schoolers find life interesting and often want to join clubs, social activities, sports, and engage in artistic endeavors…all at the same time!  Without sufficient adult involvement and guidance, these energies and sense of boredom can become redirected into negative activities such as using alcohol and other drugs.  
Research tells us that kids who start using alcohol prior to the age of 15 are five times more likely to become alcoholic!

High School Freshmen are also considered high-risk for drug use.  The transition into high school is a challenging one, and some youth turn to drug and alcohol use to relieve their stress or to ‘fit in’ with their peers.

What you can do: talk with your kids frequently about the stresses in their lives and how they are managing those stressors.  Help your child find healthy and appropriate ways to deal with stress and boredom.  Make clear family rules about underage alcohol use, and drug use for all family members, and enforce them vigorously.  Monitor where your children spend their time, and with whom.  Hanging out with older siblings and older kids is especially risky for middle school students.

Last, learn to communicate with your child the way your child prefers.  Some kids talk best when they are riding in the car (gotta take those earphones out, first!).  This generation depends upon electronics and the world wide web to get their information.  Text them with a message of encouragement or reminder to make good choices.  Send them an email to tell them how special they are to your family.  Send them a link to a drug information site, like  Find creative ways to keep in their loop!
We are living a war zone.  An army of armed assailants has invaded the land west of Stanfield, Arizona and is willing to shoot anyone who dares to offer resistance to the ground they have claimed as their own.  They will kill or capture competitors, and even those among their own ranks, to remain in power.  They are threatening or attempting to murder our own peace keepers in order to assure their free movement into and across our county.  Their motivation: preservation of a trade route for their products.  Their products: marijuana, other drugs, and human beings.

This is truly the drug war.  Not the war on drugs – whatever that is – but the drug war.  Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu has made it clear that the drug cartels are in control of the region south of Interstate 8 on the border of Pinal and Maricopa Counties.  He is requiring his Deputies to patrol the area in pairs rather than alone.  The Bureau of Land Management has posted signs warning hikers and other visitors to stay out; that the area is dangerous because of these armed smugglers.

I hate this situation.  To think that my safety is at absolute risk if I happen to have a flat tire on that stretch of road, right here in my own county, is completely unacceptable. But I am NOT powerless to change what is going on!

Donovan Kramer, Jr., Casa Grande Valley Newspapers Editor, was on the mark in his editorial this week when he said, “This problem, of course, is closely related to a demand for drugs in the United States, and the importance of prevention efforts cannot be underestimated.

The answer to the drug war includes three strategies: preventing addiction and drug use in the first place, reducing demand for drugs among those who use them, and law enforcement to eliminate the dangers associated with the traffickers.  

I cannot (or will not) arm myself and go out in the desert and fight back against this army of smugglers.  I am neither trained nor prepared to do that.  As a culture, we have hired and trained law enforcement officers for that task.  I fear for their safety from the shear number of traffickers present and their ferocity.  

What I CAN do is fight back my own way – by relentlessly working to prevent drug use and promoting recovery from addiction.  If the drug war going on right here, right now in our own backyard makes you as mad and uncomfortable as it does me, come and help us!  

Actively fight this drug war in your own home, church and community by becoming a Prevention Freedom Fighter.  We can give you “training” about drug prevention, “arm” you with the information and skills you need, and send you back into the community as a prevention “commando” ready to fight back and save lives.  Call 520-836-5022 or click here to join up!
Every culture has its own vocabulary or secret language, and the drug using subculture is no exception.  Those of us on the ‘outside’ of the drug subculture need to know about an important date coming up next week: April 20.  

In the drug culture, the number 4:20 has a special meaning.  It means “let’s go get high” and similar sentiments.  It began way back in the 1970’s because kids got out of school at 4:20 and they would gather and smoke pot after school.  Over time, it became more generic and now represents a general support for drug using, as well as a way to communicate one’s interest or availability for getting high.

Parents would be wise to monitor their child’s communications where this symbol might appear: text messages, written on backpacks or books or shoes, written or tattooed onto the body, listed on their webpage or facebook page, written on posters or pictures in their room, etc.  Know where your student is spending their before and after-school time on April 20th.  That day has become a BIG party day for those who choose to use marijuana, and your child might be invited to one of these events.

One last note: even the most fervent supporters of marijuana legalization agree that marijuana use by children is unhealthy and unwise for the developing teenage brain.  If you would like additional information on the impact of drug and alcohol use on children’s brains, please contact us or go to our website
The violence associated with drug trafficking in Mexico and Arizona is escalating.  Last week an Arizona rancher was murdered.  Every week another person in a Mexican border town is murdered, including new threats to Mexican police and military.  It is frightening to us as nearby neighbors, and even more so for those who live closer to the border – in either Country.

Law enforcement and Homeland Security representatives are working to eliminate the threat through protection and interdiction.  But their work is simply not enough.
The only sure way of stopping drug trafficking violence is to stop drug abuse.  The way to stop drug abuse is two-fold: recovery for those already addicted, and prevention for those who are not yet addicted.
When we talk about prevention, most people presume we are talking about educating children about the risks of drug abuse.  And a portion of what preventionists do IS aimed at children.  Adolescents and pre-adolescents are quite vulnerable to the enticement of risky behaviors like experimenting with drugs.  All adults need to clearly describe the risks to young bodies, brains and lives if they choose to try drugs.
But the larger portion of what the Casa Grande Alliance does is aimed at adults.  Adults maintain and control the environments where children come in contact with both legal and illegal drugs.  Adults role model behavior for children, including their own ‘recreational’ use of drugs. Adults show and tell children what is appropriate through their conversations, music and the television shows they watch.
So if you hate the drug-related violence we see in the newspaper, web, and t.v. news every day; if you have loved ones in Mexico and you worry for their safety; do something about it.  First, we must purge the drug use from our own homes by setting high standards of sobriety for family members and ourselves.  Next, we must help addicts get into recovery programs.  Next, we must regain control of our streets and neighborhoods by reporting dealers.  And last, but certainly not least, we must support drug prevention education efforts in our communities with our time, our talents and our finances.
If we eliminate the demand for drugs, we eliminate the need for drug dealers.

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