State of Addiction: Breaking the Cycle in Washington County

Please take a moment to see what Washington County is doing to help break the cycle. This recent interview will give you all the details, take time to see it at WTAE .

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MAT – Medication Assisted Treatment

“I wish that all families would at least consider investigating medication-assisted treatment and reading about what’s out there,” says Alicia Murray, DO, Board Certified Addiction Psychiatrist. “I think, unfortunately, there is still stigma about medications. But what we want people to see is that we’re actually changing the functioning of the patient.”

Essentially, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can help get a patient back on track to meeting the demands of life, getting into a healthy routine, showing up for work and being the sibling, spouse or parent that they once were. “If we can change that with medication-assisted treatment and with counseling,” says Murray, “that’s so valuable.”

The opioid epidemic is terrifying, especially so for a parent of someone already struggling with prescription pills or heroin use. It’s so important to consider any and all options for helping your child recover from their opioid dependence.

Part of the reason it’s so hard to overcome an opioid addiction is because it rewires your brain to focus almost exclusively on the drug over anything else, and produces extreme cravings and withdrawal symptoms as a result. By helping to reduce those feelings of cravings and withdrawal, medication-assisted treatment can help your son or daughter’s brain stop thinking constantly about the drug and focus on returning to a healthier life.

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National Prevention Week – Suicide

Unfortunately our most recent Pennsylvania Youth Survey  (PAYS) shows that youth in our area are suffering from depression,  38 % of the students said they felt depressed or sad most days in the last twelve months and 23.9% felt life was not worth it.  Unfortunately, the most recent series “13 Reasons Why” may glamorize suicide and can give the wrong impression to our youth.

First we need to recognize the signs. Are they withdrawing from activities, giving away cherished items, isolating themselves, make comments such you would be better off without me?   We need to know how to acknowledge and respond to someone who shares their thoughts of emotional distress or suicide. We need to be there for them and support them.  If someone tells you they are suicidal, take them seriously and get help. Don’t judge them or their thoughts, or blow it off as just talk. Listen to them, be caring and kind, offer to stay with them.  Offer to go with them to get help or to contact a crisis line. While not everyone will know what to say or have a helpful reaction, there are people who do. If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the Lifeline (USA) at 1-800-273-8255 OR Text SIGNS to 741741 for 24/7, anonymous, free crisis counseling.

Additional resources include:

If they do follow through with suicide, recognize that sometimes you can’t prevent it but you certainly didn’t cause it.  There are resources and support groups for suicide loss survivors; seek help for yourself.

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Today’s National Prevention Week Topic – Marijuana. Test your knowledge.

Marijuana use is increasing according to the most recent PAYS survey and our area is above the states average.  Test your knowledge below.  According to the 2015 survey 71.8% of high school students answered that they use marijuana regularly and only 14.3% said that they felt adults would think it was wrong to use marijuana.  When you think of marijuana most people think of a joint, however marijuana use today can be different types and ways of use.  Let’s test your knowledge.

  1. Some types of marijuana can have a 40-80% THC level?   True or False
  2. 710 is a code for a type of marijuana?   True or False
  3. Marijuana is harmless, just helps you relax?  True or False
  4. Can marijuana decrease a person’s IQ?  True or False
  5. All marijuana is the same, right?  True or False
  6. Because marijuana is being legalized that means it’s safe.  True or False
  7. Marijuana can be used around you and you would never know it?  True or False
  8. Concentrated marijuana can be a deadly process to make it?  True or False

    See how you did…

1. True, marijuana concentrates can have ranges from 40 – 80% THC.

2. True, It is actually OIL upside down slang for marijuana concentrate.

3. False, it causes a rapid heart rate, increase in blood pressure, paranoia, anxiety, panic attacks and hallucinations.  Users may also experience withdrawal.

4.  True, research shows that with regular marijuana use by teens that it reduces their IQ levels and test scores.

5. False, not all marijuana is the same.  Depending on the process and type, the levels of THC can range from 20% to 80%.

6. False, just because it is legalized does not mean it is safe.  Alcohol is legal and everyday people die of alcohol poisoning.

7.  True, concentrates are now being used in electronic cigarettes and are odorless.

8.  True, because of the process to make the concentrate it is highly combustible and can result in violent explosions.

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Operation Prevention Video Contest – Vote for your favorite!

Vote Now!

And the Operation Prevention People’s Choice Award Goes To…

You decide! Check out the finalist videos.  Then click the Vote button to cast a vote for the one that you think does the best job of portraying the dangers of prescription opioid misuse and heroin use. Your votes will determine which teen finalist will win a trip to Quantico, VA for an exclusive tour of DEA training. Go to:  The voting is closed now (5-18-17), please check back for the results.

To help your favorite move to the top, come back and vote daily through May 17th.

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Underage Drinking

Alcohol use by youth is sometimes thought of as a rite of passage.  The fact is that it is illegal under the age of 21. Research shows that when drinking starts before the age of 15, youth are more likely to become dependent on alcohol. Because their brains do not fully mature until their mid-20’s, alcohol can alter development, which could lead to cognitive and learning problems.  Some adults feel well if it’s in my house then its o.k.  The law says, you cannot give alcohol to anyone under the age of 21 under any circumstances, even with the parent’s permission. There is a mandatory fine of $1,000 for their first offense and $2,500 for each following offense. Not to mention the fact, that law enforcement can seize any alcohol, money, or property used in committing the offense.  Still 29% of students reported in the Pennsylvania Youth Survey (PAYS) that parent’s provided the alcohol for them.  

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Youth Tobacco Use

When you think of tobacco use, you may think of just cigarettes but today’s youth is getting their nicotine in another way; vaping and E-cigarettes.  Vapes and E-cigarettes are devices that people use to inhale nicotine instead of burning tobacco.  Vapes heat liquid nicotine to make “vapor”.  Of course the companies that sell this claim that it is safe, is it?  Take the quiz below and get the facts.


  1. Is the vapor just water?  True or False

  2. Can vaping help people quit smoking?  True or False

  3. Does the liquid contain formaldehyde?  True or False

  4. Are the flavors targeted to the younger population?  True or False

  5. Are all vape pens used strictly for flavored nicotine liquids?  True or False

  6. Can vaporing while pregnant harm your baby?  True or False

  7. Can using an E-cigarette or vaping pen lead to health risks like smoking?  True or False




See how well you did:

  1. False, the vapor can contain toxic chemicals,  heavy metals along with the nicotine and water.

  2. False, most are trading one habit for another. If it were true it would be an approved smoking aid.

  3. True, as well as other chemicals which some are know to cause cancer.

  4. True, they make it sound harmless and appealing to younger audiences with the flavorings.

  5. False, sometimes they are being used to deliver drugs such as marijuana oil.

  6. True, the chemicals inhaled are dangerous to your baby.  The nicotine can harm your baby’s brain development and slow down the growth of your child and their lungs.  Early use is know to cause stillbirths and early labor.

  7. True, it can cause asthma attacks, lung and throat irritation, and popcorn lung that is a lung disease.

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National Prevention Week – May 15-20, 2017

National Prevention Week is held every year the third week in May.  Why May you might be asking;  SAMHSA’s National survey on Drug Use and Health shows that most adolescents and full time college students most often use substances for the first time during June and July.  May was chosen to raise awareness about this important issues.  Each day we will highlight a different subject in our posts for the day.  Please check back each day and pass the important information on to someone else.

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Partnership for Drug Free Kids To Host a Pilot Live Chat for Parents

Live Chat Now Available for Parents, sponsored by Partnership for Drug Free Kids.

Sometimes you want to reach out for help, but you’re unable to talk in a quiet setting and/or worried that you’ll be overheard. Our new Live Chat program offers this additional privacy.

Chat is an extension of our Helpline and is staffed by caring, master’s-level counselors. They are ready to respond and help if your child is struggling with drug or alcohol use.

In a pilot program now and through the end of April, you can get one-on-one support via chat. Our chat hours are Monday-Friday, 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m ET.

Learn More

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The Elderly and Gambling

Some elderly look forward to an outing at the casino and it’s a form of entertainment.  Most can go and have fun with a set a limit of money and stick to it, however some cannot.  For them it can be an addiction.  Be on the lookout for the warning signs.  Do they like to go to the casino by themselves; are their accounts are running low, getting past due bills or not being paid at all; maybe they aren’t taking their medicines as directed, or they may be skipping meals to have money to gamble. Recognize the signs; Visit the tab: Do you know someone with a gambling addiction?  Then have a conversation with them, there is help. We have a list of local counselors on our website under the same tab.

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