Get the Facts: Start Talking Now

What are the risks of underage use of alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs?

Early use of alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs puts teens at greater risk for addiction and other health problems, failing in school, and career choices limited by arrests and lack of education.

Alcohol, marijuana, and other drug use:

  •  Can begin as early as the 6th grade.
  •  Can cause more harm to the developing teen brain. Alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs can impair the areas of the brain that control motor coordination, impulse control, memory, learning and judgment. Because the teen brain is still developing, it is more vulnerable than an adult’s brain to the effects of alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs. This can lead to school failure and dropout.
  •  Is associated with the top three causes of teen deaths: accidents (including traffic fatalities and drowning), homicide, and suicide. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over 1,800 college students die each year as a result of underage drinking.
  •  Increases the risk of STDs and pregnancy. Teens who drink and use other drugs are more likely to engage in sex and to have sex with four or more partners than teen who don’t use.  Such behavior can result in AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy.
  •  Can lead to addiction. Kids who drink before age 15 are 4 times more likely to develop alcohol problems as adults (2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health).
  •  Is not safer at home under your supervision. Teens can consume toxic levels of alcohol and marijuana just as easily at home.  You and your teen can be held legally liable for property damage, assault, injuries, and deaths that result from underage use on your property.  If you allow your teen to drink at home, they are more likely to think it’s ok to drink or use when they are with their friends.  Learn more about Washington’s Social Host law. It is not legal to provide marijuana to minors.
  •  Can be prevented!  You are the #1 influence on your kids. The key reason kids give for not using alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs is that they don’t want to disappoint their parents (Monitoring the Future survey).  Tips for preventing drug use:
    •  Don’t accept use as a rite of passage to adulthood
    •  Set clear rules against using alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs
    •  Help your children deal with peer pressure and stress.
    •  Be a good role model – show kids you don’t need a drink to relax or celebrate
    •  Talk with them early and often about the ways alcohol and marijuana can harm them, ask questions and be a good listener
    •  Stay involved in their lives
    •  Know who their friends are, and where they are going
    •  Get help fast if your teen is already using.  Call the Washington Recovery Help Line for 24-hour emotional support, referrals and information: 1-866-789-1511
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Under the Influence…Of You

Under the Influence…of You

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has re-launch its Under the Influence…of You campaign. The campaign encourages parents and other influential adults to talk with teens about the risks and consequences of using marijuana.


Research shows adults are the number one influence in teens’ lives. Teens watch and listen to the adults they know and respect. When influential adults are present and engaged, teens are happier, healthier, and make better choices.

However, parents and other adults often struggle to talk with teens about marijuana. This is especially true now that marijuana is legal for anyone 21 and older. Adults may not know the facts or understand the serious risks that using marijuana can have for teens.

Under the Influence…of You

The Under the Influence…of You campaign reminds parents and other trusted adults about the influence they have on the teens in their lives, encourages them to talk with teens about the risks and consequences of marijuana, and provides tips on how to have effective conversations.


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Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids-The Flavor Trap: How Tobacco Companies are Luring Kids with Candy-Flavored E-Cig and Cigars

“In recent years, there has been an explosion of sweet-flavored tobacco products, especially e-cigarettes and cigars.

These products are available in a wide assortment of flavors that seem like they belong in a candy store or ice cream parlor – like gummy bear, cotton candy, peanut butter cup, cookies ‘n cream and pop rocks for e-cigarettes and chocolate, wild berry, watermelon, lemonade and cherry dynamite for cigars. A 2014 study identified more than 7,700 unique e-cigarette flavors, with an average of more than 240 new flavors being added per month. Sales of flavored cigars have increased by nearly 50 percent since 2008, and flavored cigars made up more than half (52.1 percent) of the U.S. cigar market in 2015, according to Nielsen convenience store market scanner data. Further, the number of unique cigar flavor names more than doubled from 2008 to 2015, from 108 to 250.

These sweet products have fueled the popularity of e-cigarettes and cigars among youth.

While there has been a steep drop in youth use of traditional cigarettes, overall youth use of any tobacco product has remained steady in recent years due to the popularity of tobacco products like cigars and e-cigarettes – products that are predominantly flavored. From 2011 to 2015, current use of e-cigarettes among high school students increased more than ten-fold – from 1.5 percent to 16 percent – according to the National Youth Tobacco Survey (while the 2016 Monitoring the Future survey shows the first evidence of a decline in youth use of e-cigarettes, it also shows that e-cigarettes continue to be the most popular tobacco products among kids). In addition, more high school boys now smoke cigars than cigarettes – 14 percent vs. 11.8 percent.

Studies show that flavors play a major role in youth use of tobacco products such as e-cigarettes and cigars.

A government study found that 81 percent of kids who have ever used tobacco products started with a flavored product, including 81 percent who have ever tried e-cigarettes and 65 percent who have ever tried cigars. Youth also cite flavors as a major reason for their current use of non-cigarette tobacco products, with 81.5 percent of youth e-cigarette users and 73.8 percent of youth cigar users saying they used the product “because they come in flavors I like.”

Tobacco companies have a long history of developing and marketing flavored tobacco products as “starter” products that attract kids.

Flavors improve the taste and reduce the harshness of tobacco products, making them more appealing and easier for beginners – often kids – to try the product and ultimately become addicted. Since most tobacco users start before age 18, flavored tobacco products play a critical role in the industry’s marketing playbook. Flavors can also create the impression that a product is less harmful than it really is.

Strong FDA regulation is needed to protect kids from flavored tobacco products.

After years of delay, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2016 issued new rules for previously unregulated tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and cigars. Despite the strong evidence that flavored tobacco products are attracting and addicting a new generation of kids, legislation has been introduced in Congress that would greatly weaken FDA oversight of e-cigarettes and cigars, including the many candy-flavored products on the market. Congress should reject these proposals. In fact, the FDA should strengthen its rules by banning all flavored tobacco products.”

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

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The Science…Smart Approaches to Marijuana, Preventing another Big Tobacco (SAM)

Big Marijuana Claims

Scientific Facts

Legalization is about getting rid of the “War on Drugs” Legalization is about one thing: making a small number of business people rich. If it were about ending the War on Drugs, recent law changes would be limited to decriminalization. Rather, a host of business interests are getting involved with the legal marijuana trade in Colorado and elsewhere. They have set up private equity firms and fundraising organizations to attract investors and promote items such as marijuana food items, oils, and other products.We also know these industries target the poor and disenfranchised[i] – and we can expect the marijuana industry to do the same in order to increase profits.
Marijuana is not addictive. Science has proven – and all major scientific and medical organizations agree – that marijuana is both addictive and harmful to the human brain, especially when used as an adolescent. One in every six 16 year-olds (and one in every eleven adults) who try marijuana will become addicted to it.[ii]
Marijuana MIGHT be psychologically addictive, but its addiction doesn’t produce physical symptoms. To your brain, addiction is addiction. Different addictions have different symptoms, but whether its food, sex, marijuana, or heroin – your brain knows it wants more of that feeling of pleasure. Just as with alcohol and tobacco, most chronic marijuana users who attempt to stop “cold turkey” will experience an array of withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, restlessness, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and/or cravings.[iii] This signals that marijuana can be addictive. Science has shown that 1 in 6 kids who ever try marijuana, according to the National Institutes of Health, will become addicted to the drug. Today’s marijuana is not your “Woodstock weed” – it can be 5-10 times stronger than marijuana of the past.[iv]
Lots of smart, successful people have smoked marijuana. It doesn’t make you dumb. Just because some smart people have done some dumb things, it doesn’t mean that everyone gets away with it. In fact, research shows that adolescents who smoke marijuana once a week over a two-year period are almost six times more likely than nonsmokers to drop out of school and over three times less likely to enter college.[v] In a study of over 1,000 people in 2012, scientists found that using marijuana regularly before the age of 18 resulted in an average IQ of six to eight fewer points at age 38 versus to those who did not use the drug before 18.[vi] These results still held for those who used regularly as teens, but stopped after 18. Researchers controlled for alcohol and other drug use as well in this study. So yes, some people may get away with using it, but not everyone.
No one goes to treatment for marijuana addiction. More young people are in treatment for marijuana abuse or dependence than for the use of alcohol and all other drugs.[vii]
Marijuana can’t kill or hurt you. Marijuana may not produce direct overdoses, but tobacco rarely, if ever, does either. But we would not say tobacco can’t kill or hurt you, and we would not say marijuana cannot do these things either. Emergency room admissions for marijuana use now exceed those for heroin and are continuing to rise.[viii] The link between suicide and marijuana is strong, as are car accidents – too many of which result in death.
Marijuana does not affect the workplace. Marijuana use impairs the ability to function effectively and safely on the job and increases work-related absences, tardiness, accidents, compensation claims, and job turnover.[ix]
Marijuana simply makes you happier over the long term. Regular marijuana use is associated with lower satisfaction with intimate romantic relationships, work, family, friends, leisure pursuits, and life in general.[x]
Marijuana users are clogging our prisons. We shouldn’t give marijuana users criminal records nor deprive them of a second chance, but it’s far from the truth to say they are clogging our prisons. A survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics showed that 0.7% of all state inmates were behind bars for marijuana possession only (with many of them pleading down from more serious crimes). In total, one tenth of one percent (0.1 percent) of all state prisoners were marijuana-possession offenders with no prior sentences. Other independent research has shown that the risk of arrest for each “joint,” or marijuana cigarette, smoked is about 1 arrest for every 12,000 joints.[xi]
Marijuana is medicine. Marijuana may contain medical components, like opium does. But we don’t smoke opium to get the effects of morphine. Similarly we don’t need to smoke marijuana to get its potential medical benefit.[xii]We need more research.
The sick and dying need medical marijuana programs to stay alive. Research shows that very few of those seeking a recommendation for medical marijuana have cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, or multiple sclerosis;[xiii] and in most states that permits the use of medical marijuana, less than 2-3% of users report having cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, MS, or other life-threatening diseases.[xiv]
Marijuana should be rescheduled to facilitate its medical and legitimate use. Rescheduling is a source of major confusion. Marijuana meets the technical definition of Schedule I because it is not an individual product with a defined dose. You can’t dose anything that is smoked or used in a crude form. However, components of marijuana can be scheduled for medical use, and that research is fully legitimate. That is very different than saying a joint is medicine and should be rescheduled.[xv]It is important to note, too, that rescheduling does not generally correspond with criminalization or penalization. So if your target is to reduce penalties for use, focusing on rescheduling is the wrong target.
I smoked marijuana and I am fine, why should I worry about today’s kids using it? Today’s marijuana is not your Woodstock Weed. The psychoactive ingredient in marijuana—THC—has increased almost six-fold in average potency during the past thirty years.[xvi]
Marijuana doesn’t cause lung cancer. The evidence on lung cancer and marijuana is mixed – just like it was 100 years ago for smoking – but marijuana contains 50% more carcinogens than tobacco smoke[xvii] and marijuana smokers report serious symptoms of chronic bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses.[xviii] True, there is no definitive evidence right now to claim that marijuana causes lung cancer.
Marijuana is not a “gateway” drug. We know that most people who use pot WON’T go onto other drugs; but 99% of people who are addicted to other drugs STARTED with alcohol and marijuana. So, indeed, marijuana use makes addiction to other drugs more likely.[xix]
Marijuana does not cause mental illness. Actually, beginning in the 1980s, scientists have uncovered a direct link between marijuana use and mental illness. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, daily use among adolescent girls is associated with a fivefold increase in the risk of depression and anxiety.[xx] Youth who begin smoking marijuana at an earlier age are more likely to have an impaired ability to experience normal emotional responses.[xxi]The link between marijuana use and mental health extends beyond anxiety and depression. Marijuana users have a six times higher risk of schizophrenia[xxii], are significantly more likely to development other psychotic illnesses.
Marijuana makes you a better driver, especially when compared to alcohol. Just because you may go 35 MPH in a 65 MPH zone versus 85 MPH if you are drunk, it does not mean you are driving safely! In fact, marijuana intoxication doubles your risk of a car crash according to the most exhaustive research reviews ever conducted on the subject.[xxiii]
Smoking or vaporizing is the only way to get the medical benefits of marijuana. No modern medicine is smoked. And we already have a pill on the market available to people with the active ingredient of marijuana (THC) in it – Marinol. That is available at pharmacies today. Other drugs are also in development, including Sativex (for MS and cancer pain) and Epidiolex (for epilepsy). Both of these drugs are available today through research programs.[xxiv]
Medical marijuana has not increased marijuana use in the general population. Studies are mixed on this, but it appears that if a state has medical “dispensaries” (stores) and home cultivation, then the potency of marijuana and the use and problems among youth are higher than in states without such programs, according to research by RAND scientists.[xxv] This confirms research in 2012 from five epidemiological researchers at Columbia University. Using results from several large national surveys, they concluded, “residents of states with medical marijuana laws had higher odds of marijuana use and marijuana abuse/dependence than residents of states without such laws.[xxvi]
Legalization is inevitable – the vast majority of the country wants it, and states keep legalizing in succession. The increase in support for legalization reflects the tens of millions of dollars poured into the legalization movement over the past 30 years. Legalization is not inevitable and there is evidence to show that support has stalled since 2013.
Alcohol is legal, why shouldn’t marijuana also be legal? Our currently legal drugs – alcohol and tobacco – provide a good example, since both youth and adults use them far more frequently than illegal drugs. According to recent surveys, alcohol use is used by 52% of Americans and tobacco is used by 27% of Americans, but marijuana is used by only 8% of Americans.[xxvii]




Colorado has been a good experiment in legalization. Colorado has already seen problems with this policy. For example, according to the Associated Press: “Two Denver Deaths Linked to Recreational Marijuana Use”. One includes the under-aged college student who jumped to his death after ingesting a marijuana cookie.The number of parents calling the poison-control hotline to report their kids had consumed marijuana has risen significantly in Colorado.Marijuana edibles and marijuana vaporizers have been found in middle and high schools.[xxviii]
We can get tax revenue if we legalize marijuana. With increased use, public health costs will also rise, likely outweighing any tax revenues from legal marijuana. For every dollar gained in alcohol and tobacco taxes, ten dollars are lost in legal, health, social, and regulatory costs.[xxix] And so far in Colorado, tax revenue has fallen short of expectations.
I just want to get high. The government shouldn’t be able to tell me that I can’t. Legalization is not about just “getting high.” By legalizing marijuana, the United States would be ushering in a new, for-profit industry – not different from Big Tobacco. Already, private holding groups and financiers have raised millions of start-up dollars to promote businesses that will sell marijuana and marijuana-related merchandise. Cannabis food and candy is being marketed to children and are already responsible for a growing number of marijuana-related ER visits.[xxx]Edibles with names such as “Ring Pots” and “Pot Tarts” are inspired by favorite candies of children and dessert products such as “Ring Pops” and “Pop Tarts.” Moreover, a large vaporization industry is now emerging and targeting youth, allowing young people and minors to use marijuana more easily in public places without being detected.[xxxi]


Legalization would remove the black market and stop enriching gangs. Criminal enterprises do not receive the majority of their funding from marijuana. Furthermore, with legal marijuana taxed and only available to adults, a black market will continue to thrive. The black market and illegal drug dealers will continue to function – and even flourish[xxxii] – under legalization, as people seek cheaper, untaxed marijuana.



[i] See for example, Jones-Webb R, McKee P, Hannan P, Wall M, Pham L, Erickson D, Wagenaar A. Alcohol and malt liquor availability and promotion and homicide in inner cities. Substance Use & Misuse. 2008;43:159–177. Jones-Webb R, Snowden LR, Herd D, Short B, Hannan P. Alcohol-related problems among black, Hispanic and white men: The contribution of neighborhood poverty. Journal of Studies on Alcohol.1997;58:539–545.  Karriker-Jaffe KJ. Areas of disadvantage: A systematic review of effects of area-level socioeconomic status on substance use outcomes. Drug and Alcohol Review. 2011;30:84–95. Karriker-Jaffe KJ, Kaskutas LA. Neighborhood socioeconomic context of alcohol use: A measurement validation study [Abstract 720] Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 33, Supplement.2009;S1:190A.

[ii]Anthony, J.C., Warner, L.A., & Kessler, R.C. (1994). Comparative epidemiology of dependence on tobacco, alcohol, controlled substances, and inhalants: Basic findings from the National Comorbidity Survey. Experiential and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 2

[iii] Budney, A.J., et al. (2008). Comparison of cannabis and tobacco withdrawal: Severity and Contribution to Relapse. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 35(4).

[iv] ElSohly M.A., Ross S.A., Mehmedic Z., Arafat R., Yi B., & Banahan B.F. 3rd. (2004). Potency trends of delta9-THC and other cannabinoids in confiscated marijuana from 1980–1997.Journal of Forensic Sciences 45(1), 24-30; Mehmedic, Z., Pharm, M., Suman, C., Slade, D., Denham, H. Foster, S., et al. (2010). Potency trends of D9-THC and other cannabinoids in confiscated cannabis preparations from 1993 to 2008.Journal of Forensic Sciences 55(5), 1209–1217.

[v] Fergusson, D.M., et al. (2003). Cannabis and Educational Achievements. Addiction, 98(12).

[vi] Meier, M.H. (2012). Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

[vii] SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (2010), Substance abuse treatment admissions by primary substance of abuse according to sex, age group, race, and ethnicity, United States [Data table from Quick Statistics from the Drug and Alcohol Services Information System]. Available at; See also

[viii] SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2011). Drug abuse warning network, 2008: National estimates of drug-related emergency department visits (HHS Publication No. SMA 11-4618). Rockville, MD: Author.

[ix] NIDA (2012). Marijuanna abuse. NIDA Research Report Series (NIH Publication No. 12-3859), p. 8.

[x] Fergusson, D.M., & Boden, J.M. (2008). Cannabis use and later life outcomes. Addiction, 103, 969–976.

[xi] “Substance Abuse and Treatment, State and Federal Prisoners, 1997.” BJS Special Report, January 1999, NCJ 172871. and Bureau of Justice Statistics (2004). The Survey of Inmates in State Correctional Facilities and the Survey of Inmates in Federal Correctional Facilities Questionnaire. Available

[xii] See American Medical Association Also see IOM, Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Scientific Base.

[xiii] Nunberg, H., Kilmer, B., Pacula, R.L., & Burgdorf, J.R. (2011) An analysis of applicants presenting to a medical marijuana specialty practice in California. Journal of Drug Policy Analysis, 4(1), 1–16.

[xiv] Colorado Department of Public Health. (2012). Medical marijuanna registry program update (as of September 30, 2012). Retrieved January 2013 from

[xv] See Sabet, K. Should Marijuana Be Rescheduled?

[xvi] ElSohly M.A., Ross S.A., Mehmedic Z., Arafat R., Yi B., & Banahan B.F. 3rd. (2004). Potency trends of delta9-THC and other cannabinoids in confiscated marijuana from 1980–1997.Journal of Forensic Sciences 45(1), 24-30; Mehmedic, Z., Pharm, M., Suman, C., Slade, D., Denham, H. Foster, S., et al. (2010). Potency trends of D9-THC and other cannabinoids in confiscated cannabis preparations from 1993 to 2008.Journal of Forensic Sciences 55(5), 1209–1217.

[xvii] British Lung Foundation. (2012). The impact of cannabis on your lungs. London: Author. Retrieved January 2013 from

[xviii] Tetrault, J.M., Crothers, K., Moore, B.A., Mehra, R., Concato, J., & Fiellin, D.A. (2007). Effects of marijuana smoking on pulmonary function and respiratory complications: A systematic review. Archives of Internal Medicine, 167, 221–228.

[xix] Schweinsburg A.D., Brown, S.A., & Tapert, S.F. (2008). The influence of marijuana use on neurocognitive functioning in adolescents. Current Drug Abuse Review, 1(1), 99–111.

[xx] Patton, G.C., et al. (2002). Cannabis use and mental health in young people: cohort study. British Medical Journal, 325(7374).

[xxi] Limonero, J.T., et al. (2006). Perceived emotional intelligence and its relation to tobacco and cannabis use among university students. Psicothema, 18.

[xxii] Andréasson S, et al. (1987). Cannabis and Schizophrenia: A longitudinal study of Swedish conscripts. Lancet, 2(8574).

[xxiii] M. Asbridge, J. A. Hayden, J. L. Cartwright. Acute cannabis consumption and motor vehicle collision risk: systematic review of observational studies and meta-analysis. BMJ, 2012; 344 (feb09 2): e536 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.e536

[xxiv] See IOM, Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Scientific Base.

[xxv] Pacula, Rosalie L., David Powell, Paul Heaton, and Eric L. Sevigny. (2014). Assessing the Effects of Medical Marijuana Laws on Marijuana Use: The Devil is in the Details. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. DOI: 10.1002/pam.21804

[xxvi] Cerda, M. et al. (2011). Medical marijuana laws in 50 states: investigating the relationship between statelegalization of medical marijuana and marijuana use, abuse and dependence.

Drug and Alcohol  Dependence Found at ; Wall, M. et al (2011).Adolescent Marijuana Use from 2002 to 2008: Higher in States with Medical Marijuana Laws, Cause Still Unclear, Annals of epidemiology, Vol 21 issue 9 Pages 714-716.

[xxvii] NSDUH, Summary of National Findings 2012. Accessed

[xxviii] See SAM 420 Report here: Also see New York Times, Healy, J. After 5 Months of Sales, Colorado Sees Downside of a Legal High

[xxix] Updating estimates of the economic costs of alcohol abuse in the United States: Estimates, update methods, and data.

Report prepared for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Accessed; Urban Institute and Brookings Institution (2012, October 15). State and local alcoholic beverage tax revenue, selected years 1977-2010. Tax Policy Center. Accessed displayafact.cfm?Docid=399; Saul, S. (2008, August 30). Government gets hooked on tobacco tax billions. The New York Times. Accessed html?em&_r=0; for Federal estimates, see Urban Institute and Brookings Institution (2012, October 15). State and local tobacco tax revenue, selected years 1977-2010. Tax Policy Center.

Accessed http://www.; Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (n.d.). Toll of tobacco in the United States of America. Accessed

[xxx] Alface, I. (2013, May 27). Children Poisoned by Candy-looking Marijuana Products. Nature World News. Accessed; Jaslow, R. (2013, 28 May). Laxer marijuana laws linked to increase in kids’ accidental poisonings CBS News. Accessed

[xxxi] See for example Bryan, M. (2014, 18 April). Pot Smoke And Mirrors: Vaporizer Pens Hide Marijuana Use. NPR 90.9 WBUR. Accessed

[xxxii] Baca, R. (2014, 26 February). Drug dealer says legal pot helps his business (video). The Cannabist. Accessed:; Gurman, S. (2014, April 4). Legal pot in Colorado hasn’t stopped black market. Associated Press. Accessed

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Haunted House Fundraiser for SJIPC Youth Leadership Trainings

Come support our youth at this fundraising opportunity, THANKS to Friday Harbor Jolly Trolley and the San Juan County Fair & Fairgrounds…We are thrilled to be involved! Hope to see you there! The WEEKEND BEFORE Halloween-Friday, Oct. 27 and Saturday, October 28. Times are listed below. Thanks for your support! It’s sure to be a Howling Good time!

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Youth Mental Health First Aid Course


Course Description:  Youth Mental Health First Aid is a public education program that introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental illnesses, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common supports.  This 8-hour course uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to offer initial help in a mental health crisis and connect persons to the appropriate professional, peer, social, and self-help care.  The program also teaches the common risk factors and warning signs of specific types of illnesses, like anxiety, depression, substance use, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and schizophrenia.

 Participants will learn how to:

  • Assess for risk of suicide and harm
  • Listen non-judgmentally
  • Give reassurance and information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies

Target Audience:  Teachers, Coaches, Counselors, School Administrators, Volunteers and Youth Workers who work with Middle School/High School-aged students, Parents and General Public

 Sponsored by Project Aware grant with the Northwest Education Services District (NWESD).

San Juan Island Prevention Coalition thanks the NWESD for bringing this training to San Juan Island as a key component to SJIPC’s Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention efforts through our Community Prevention and Wellness Initiative (CPWI) support system with the Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR)!


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Chemicals Found when using Vapes and E-cigs…


What it’s used for:
Formaldehyde is used in all sorts of products such as cabinets, carpets, furniture, glue, hair straighteners, and concrete. But, mostly, it’s known for embalming dead people.

How it affects the body:
Inhaling formaldehyde can make you feel sick, causing symptoms like sore throat, cough, scratchy eyes, and nosebleeds. It’s also known to cause cancer, particularly of the nose and throat.


What it’s used for:
As a liquid, diacetyl gives food products a buttery taste. Enjoy buttered microwave popcorn? That may be diacetyl you’re tasting. In vape juice, it’s used to make a wide variety of flavors such as piña colada, chocolate cake, and vanilla. In a recent study, researchers found diacetyl in more than 75% of the vape liquid they tested.

How it affects the body:
No joke: While it’s been shown that it’s okay to EAT small amounts of diacetyl, inhaling it can cause “popcorn lung,” a serious disease that first affected a group of microwave popcorn factory workers. The disease causes scarring of the tiny air sacs in the lungs, resulting in wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.


What it’s used for:
You probably use aluminum every day. It’s in foil, soda cans, door frames, hair spray cans, screens, siding, engines, vacuum cleaners, toasters, kitchen utensils…need we go on?

How it affects the body:
Inhaling aluminum has been shown to cause chemical pneumonia—an inflammation of the lungs caused by inhaling toxins or poisons. In kids, toxic levels of aluminum have been shown to cause slowed growth and deformed bones


What it’s used for:
Nicotine is found in all forms of tobacco including regular cigarettes, vape liquid, chewing tobacco, and more. It is highly addictive.

How it affects the body:
While other chemicals primarily affect the body, nicotine affects the brain. When you use nicotine products, it’s quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, reaching your brain within seconds.


What it’s used for:
Since ancient times, arsenic has been used as a poison. These days, it’s commonly found in rat poison, pesticide, and treated wood.

How it affects the body:
It’s basic: arsenic is toxic. Low doses can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Larger doses can cause abnormal heart beat, damage to blood vessels, skin warts, a feeling of “pins and needles” on the hands and feet, and death. Inhaling arsenic can lead to lung cancer.


What it’s used for:
Benzene is produced by volcanoes and forest fires and is a byproduct of crude oil production. It’s been used in paints, varnishes, and gasoline, as well as an ingredient in vet medicines that kill parasites2. Tobacco smoke is also a major source of benzene

How it affects the body:
Inhaling benzene can cause dizziness, tremors, confusion, and rapid or irregular heartbeat. Long-term exposure to benzene can cause your body’s cells to not work correctly, damaging things like bone marrow and your immune system. It’s also a carcinogen, which means that it’s known to cause cancer


What it’s used for:

How it affects the body:
Low levels of cadmium can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (FUN!). Inhaled, cadmium dust causes dryness of the throat, choking, headache, and pneumonia-like symptoms. A cadmium poisoning disease called itai-itai, Japanese for “ouch-ouch,” causes aches and pains in the bones and joints.


What it’s used for:
Lead’s been used to make things like pipes, roofing, and paint. It’s also in the heavy apron used to shield people from extra radiation during an x-ray.

How it affects the body:
Two words: Lead poisoning. Lead is known to cause both immediate and long-term health problems, especially in kids. It’s toxic when swallowed, eaten, or inhaled, and can lead to nerve damage, issues with your digestive system, and death1. In young people, significant exposure has been shown to cause a drop in IQ level.


What it’s used for:
You’re probably most familiar with the form of fluorine as the part of toothpaste that helps prevent tooth decay (yay fluoride!). In the chemical world, the gas form of fluorine is known to be extremely reactive. That’s why it’s been used to melt glass and make rocket fuel

How it affects the body:
When inhaled in small amounts, fluorine can cause severe irritation to the respiratory system (nose, throat, and lungs). In large amounts, it can cause death.


What it’s used for:
Manganese has been used since ancient times. Cave artists in France used the black ore to paint over 30,000 years ago. Today, the mineral is used to make soda cans, rifle barrels, railroad tracks, and prison bars.

How it affects the body:
Manganese is unsafe when inhaled by people over long periods of time. Excess manganese in the body can cause all sorts of symptoms including hallucinations, forgetfulness, nerve damage, tremors, headaches, and insomnia. It’s also been linked to Parkinson’s disease, impotence in men, and schizophrenia.


What it’s used for:
Wires and plumbing.

How it affects the body:
Real talk: humans need a very small amount of copper in their body to be healthy. But when excess copper enters the body, it can damage major organs like the brain, liver, and kidneys.


What it’s used for:
Silver is used in photography, mirrors, medical equipment—and don’t forget jewelry!

How it affects the body:
Inhaling silver dust can cause breathing problems, lung and throat irritation, and stomach pain. Prolonged exposure to silver dust can cause permanent blue-gray staining of the eyes, nose, mouth, throat, and skin. 

What is Vaping?

Vaping is the act of inhaling vapor from a device, sometimes called a vape pen or an e-cigarette. The device is filled with vape liquid, it heats up, the liquid is vaporized into millions of tiny droplets, and then inhaled.

What’s in the liquid?

Vape companies call it “juice,” which sounds harmless. They even use fake flavors to make it taste like candy, cakes, and fruit. But it’s not flavored air. And it’s not just water. Vape liquid is a mixture of highly addictive nicotine, potentially harmful chemicals, and other additives that can damage your body.

What’s in the vapor?

The weird thing about vaping is that the vapor almost always contains chemicals that weren’t originally added into the liquid. How can that be? It’s because heating the vape liquid produces dangerous byproducts, including heavy metals like lead, aluminum, and nickel. It’s chemistry at work. And it means that you can’t avoid those chemicals by mixing your own liquid or buying local or organic versions.

But someone’s in charge of vaping to make sure it’s safe, right?

Although the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authority over the manufacturing of vape products that contain nicotine, there is nobody watching what goes into the products that claim to be non-nicotine.  It may be years before the FDA considers regulating chemicals used in vape products.

Wait, what?!  

Just ask the chemicals that have been found in vape liquid and vapor.
We call them The Chemical Crew.

They’re all hardworking with jobs that make sense. But when they find out they’re sometimes getting inhaled via vape liquid, they get upset. Which they should, since they can seriously harm your body. Find out what they’re doing to Escape the Vape!


How to Stop Vaping

Help—I already vape (or smoke)! What should I do?

Don’t stress, it’s never too late to quit.
Quitting smoking or vaping can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Get connected with tools, resources, and encouragement, to help you successfully quit.

I know someone who started vaping to quit smoking—Isn’t vaping better than smoking?

Lots of studies show smoking is harmful. When it comes to vaping, manufacturers don’t yet have to disclose what they put in the liquid, so we don’t know the long-term effects. What we do know is that most vape liquid contains chemicals that can lead to addiction, and may cause cancer and lots of other dangerous—and sometimes weird—symptoms. Bottom line: there are healthier ways to quit.


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Closing Tobacco Tax Loopholes to Help Prevent More Youth from Taking to Tobacco

Sen. Durbin’s Bill to Close Tobacco Tax Loopholes Will Improve Health and Increase Federal Revenues

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Sep. 21 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids strongly supports the legislation introduced this week by U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) to close loopholes and equalize tax rates on all tobacco products. This bill will reduce tobacco use, especially among youth, and increase federal revenues. Since 2009, unequal tax rates and tax loopholes have kept some tobacco products taxed at lower rates than cigarettes, making them more affordable for youth and creating incentives for tax avoidance.

The Tobacco Tax Equity Act proposes to tax all tobacco products – including pipe tobacco, cigars, smokeless tobacco and tobacco products not currently taxed under the federal tax code – at similar rates as cigarettes. We applaud Sen. Durbin for taking action to help the government recover lost tax revenue while improving health and saving lives. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jack Reed (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Edward Markey (D-MA) and Al Franken (D-MN) joined Sen. Durbin in introducing the legislation.

The evidence is clear that raising tobacco prices through higher taxes is one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use, especially among children. Creating a more equitable tax system, without loopholes, will prevent young people from starting to use tobacco products and help current users quit.

The current system for taxing tobacco products is neither simple nor equitable. Large cigars, smokeless tobacco and pipe tobacco are taxed at lower rates than cigarettes. These disparities have created opportunities for tobacco manufacturers to change the way they make or label their products so that they qualify for lower tax rates. In particular, roll-your-own tobacco has falsely been labeled as pipe tobacco, and some cigarette and small cigar manufacturers have modified their products so that they can be considered large cigars.

These loopholes allow these products to remain on the market at lower prices, discouraging tobacco users from quitting and encouraging youth to start using them. And the inequities in the tobacco tax system are costly: the Government Accountability Office estimates that, from April 2009 to February 2014, federal revenue losses due to these loopholes range from $2.6 billion to $3.7 billion.

Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 480,000 Americans each year and costing $170 billion in health care expenditures annually. Sen. Durbin and his colleagues have taken an important step to reduce tobacco’s terrible toll on our nation.

Thank you Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids for all your work to keep youth healthy!

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National Survey Shows Soaring Marijuana Use Among All Americans 12 and Older; Heavy Use Also on the Rise by SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana)

FIRST LOOK: National Survey Shows Soaring Marijuana Use Among All Americans 12 and Older; 
Heavy Use Also on the Rise
National survey highlights jump in pot use among young adults in era of marijuana legalization; 
Almost twice as many adolescents regularly use marijuana than cigarettes 
(Alexandria, Va., September 7, 2017) – Every day, 7,000 new people try marijuana for the first time — a figure far greater than trends seen in the early 2000s, according to the most comprehensive survey on drug use released today by the federal government.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) also found the number of daily or near-daily users of marijuana in 2016 doubled compared to the number of heavy users about a decade ago. Use rose significantly among age groups 12 and up, 18 and up, and 26 and up. Almost twice as many 12-17-year-olds are using pot as compared to cigarettes on a past-month basis. And among those 18 and over, there has been a significant jump in the percent of marijuana users who are unemployed as compared to 2015.
“Big Marijuana – just like Big Tobacco years ago – continues to glorify marijuana as a cure-all that can do little or no harm,” said Kevin A. Sabet, Ph.D., President of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and a former White House drug policy adviser. “If it wasn’t for marijuana, overall drug use in this country would be going down. Rising mental health issues, drugged driving crashes, and an increasingly stoned workforce won’t help us get ahead. We should put the brakes on marijuana legalization and start a national science-based marijuana awareness campaign similar to successful anti-tobacco campaigns.”
White House Office of National Drug Policy Acting Director Baum announced that NSDUH state-level data, which shows the gulf between use in states with legalized pot versus those with no legalization laws, is expected later this year and not included in this report. The last state estimate report showed Colorado is the #1 state in the country for youth marijuana use.
According to a recent report by SAM, the three states with the most established retail marijuana markets – Colorado, Oregon, and Washington – have seen negative public health and safety consequences, including increased marijuana use and car crashes related to marijuana.
“We shouldn’t incarcerate people for marijuana use, but legalization is promoting a commercial industry driving heavy pot use among young people. We need a smarter approach that focuses on prevention, awareness, and recovery,” said Sabet.
NSDUH also reported a non-significant reduction in marijuana use among 12-17 year-olds versus 2015 and a non-significant increase among 18-25 year-olds versus 2015. However, use is up significantly among young adults 18-25 compared with earlier years. Research has found that marijuana affects the developing brain negatively, and that most people’s brains develop well into their 20s.
SAM will be updating info about NSDUH as we receive the full report.
For more information, please visit
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Tobacco and Youth

Youth use of tobacco in any form is unsafe.

If smoking continues at the current rate among youth in this country, 5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 will die early from a smoking-related illness. That’s about 1 of every 13 Americans aged 17 years or younger alive today.1

Preventing tobacco use among youth is critical to ending the tobacco epidemic in the United States.

  • Tobacco use is started and established primarily during adolescence.2,3
    • Nearly 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers first tried smoking by age 18, and 99% first tried smoking by age 26.1,3
    • Each day in the United States, more than 3,200 youth aged 18 years or younger smoke their first cigarette, and an additional 2,100 youth and young adults become daily cigarette smokers.3
  • Flavorings in tobacco products can make them more appealing to youth.4
    • In 2014, 73% of high school students and 56% of middle school students who used tobacco products in the past 30 days reported using a flavored tobacco product during that time.
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