Friday, February 27, 2015

MOLLY ~ "Once More With Feeling"

English: Olin Library, Wesleyan University Mid...
English: Olin Library, Wesleyan University Middletown CT. The view from Foss Hill. From left to right: Judd Hall, Harriman Hall (which houses the Public Affairs Center and CSS), and Olin Memorial Library. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let us introduce you to MOLLY, again

Over the past week the news items about the drug MOLLY have once again come to the forefront. We've posted about MOLLY in the past, but again it seems we should take time today to feature MOLLY and its dangers. So let's do it again..."Once more with feeling!"

"It makes you feel the music better..."

In the summer 2013 NBC Nightly News' Ron Mott reported on the deadly consequences of MOLLY. Take a couple of minutes and watch this video.

Having trouble viewing the video? You can see it here.

If you're wondering why we chose this video to share with our readers, it is because we were taken by the rather cavalier response provided by one of the young women who was interviewed as to why she chose to experiment with MOLLY: "It makes you feel the music better!"

MOLLY seems to have been used at Wesleyan University

It was reported on February 23, 2015, that a dozen college age people were hospitalized with suspected overdoses from MOLLY.  Ten of the dozen are students at Wesleyan University and two were visiting the campus on the weekend of February 21st and 22nd. As of yesterday, February 26, one of the twelve is still hospitalized. (It should be noted that the police counted only 11 who were hospitalized.)

By Tuesday evening the Middleton, CT, police department had arrested four Wesleyan University students: three men and one woman, three of whom are neuroscience majors. According to NBC Connecticut, the charges are:

  • Lonergan has been charged with possession of a controlled substance and 16 counts of illegally obtaining or supplying drugs. His bond was set at $100,000. 
  • Olson was charged with two counts of possession of a hallucinogen, sale of a hallucinogen, possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia. Olson's bond was set at a total of $175,000. He was released after posting bond and is due in court in March. 
  • Kramer was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a regulated substance and possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana. Bond was set at $75,000. 
  • Al Nakib has been charged with three counts of possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bond was set at $100,000.
The doctors treating the overdose victims emphasized that it was important to discover the source of the illicit drugs, as MOLLY is almost always not just pure methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA), but can also includes a mixture of several designer drug chemicals. Not knowing that exact compound makes treating the overdose victims problematic.

Sadly this incident on the Wesleyan University campus is not the first time that multiple students were hospitalized after taking MOLLY. Another incident occurred in September 2014.

Once more...

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Good Samaritan Laws Prevent Deaths And More

How much do you know about Good Samaritan Laws?

We tend to reference Good Samaritan laws when we talk about being witness to an accident or happening upon someone who is having a medical emergency. Our natural instinct is to want to assist the person or to call for assistance. Historically, Good Samaritan laws were written to protect the "helper" from being sued for wrongful death or unintentional injury. While basic Good Samaritan laws exist in every state in the union, the laws do vary from state to state.

In 2007 the State of New Mexico changed the Good Samaritan playing field by granting limited immunity from being prosecuted for possession of a controlled substance when seeking or obtaining medical assistance for any (including yourself) person experiencing a drug overdose. Now 21 states have similar laws and according to the Students for Sensible Drug Policy at least 240 American colleges and/or universities have a 911 Good Samaritan Policy.

More states consider new Good Samaritan Laws

In the past month both Arizona and Missouri considered new legislation for Good Samaritan laws.


The Arizona Senate Bill 1190 is sponsored by Senator Kelli Ward (R) and is referred to as Saving Lives, Saving Futures. According to Cronkite News Senator Ward offered: "We don't want people to drop off their friends in the emergency department with a Post-it note on them and run away because they're afraid they'll get in trouble." Her bill focuses specifically on people under 21 to dial 911 and ask for help from the police or emergency personnel and would not face being cited for underage drinking or for supplying alcohol to a person under the legal drinking age.

A number of college students attended the hearing and testified to their own stories and experiences. The measure was advanced by the Senate Judiciary Committee with a vote of 6 - 1.  To underscore the issue Stephanie Habib of Cronkite News designed an Infographic: How does underage drinking affect our kids?
Click to enlarge


The citizenry of Missouri is dealing with a heroin epidemic and lawmakers have proposed a 911 Good Samaritan Law. This law would grant immunity for drug possession for the person who places the call for emergency aid to assist their self or another who is overdosing on heroin or another drug.

KMOV News 4 in St. Louis Missouri reports on the 911 Good Samaritan Law.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Some final thoughts...

You may remember last September we published a post that talked about a number of alcohol related deaths on numerous colleges campuses and we focused on the then missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham. The last time anyone had seen Hannah she appeared intoxicated. She texted her friends that she was lost. No one answered and sadly the remains of Hannah's body were discovered in late October; her death was ruled a homicide resulting from violence of "undetermined etiology."

Some of what we have covered today is graphic: Post-it notes on bodies, body dumping...unanswered texts. Many of us cannot imagine not helping someone in need...but at the same time those who are afraid of being arrested for using illicit drugs or underage drinking, being cited for being a minor in possession (MIP) will take all measures not to call for help. It is a parent's worst nightmare that their child will be in distress from alcohol poisoning or a drug overdose only to become a "drag out" statistic.

See an interactive map here to learn more about Good Samaritan Laws in your state. Start the conversation, before it is too late.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Sibling Bullying May Blur Perceptions

Take a few minutes and think back to your own childhood...

As we mature our perceptions of our "growing up" years are distinctly our own. Try a little test the next time you are with your sibling(s). Ask what they remember about a specific event that you all attended during your childhood years. You might be amazed at how different each one's "story of life" is recalled.

Of course one's memory may be affected by their age at the time of the event or other things that occurred on that day. For example, if you are trying to recall a particular birthday celebration and it wasn't your birthday and coincidentally during the party you cut your hand and needed stitches ...there is a pretty good chance you might remember the cut more than who attended the party.

It seems we grow up hoping, believing and sometimes convincing ourselves that we are part of a normal family and how we interact with our family members is normal behavior. The truth is it is your normal!

Now, what if you consider sibling bullying normal behavior?

New study examined how sibling aggression is perceived

In the January 2015 issue of the Journal of Family Violence research conducted at the University of Nebraska Lincoln was published -  All in the Family: Retrospective Study Comparing Sibling Bullying and Peer Bullying. The researchers were Lori Hoetger, Katherine Hazen and Eve Brank. They surveyed 392 undergraduate students wanting to learn how sibling aggression is perceived. The researchers were surprised to learn that most of the survey respondents considered sibling aggression normal. And they didn't want think of it as bullying. Brank offered: "We had theorized and discussed a little bit that maybe this is happening between people that presumably love each other and care about each other, so I think everyone just accepts it as normal behavior."

According to HEALTHCANAL's reporting:
Normalization of sibling aggression also played a role in the finding that surprised the researchers most: "The most striking result to us was that people who reported experiencing more sibling bullying when they were younger were less likely to report (peer-to-peer) bullying if they saw it," Hoetger said. "There seemed to be this sense that they were so used to it when they were younger, they might not see it as a big deal or that it was worthy of reporting." This has implications for peer-to-peer bullying interventions that are being developed, she said. It can be difficult to ask children to report bullying if they consider it "normal."
More research needs to be conducted, but these findings call into question current national statistics regarding bullying, both inside and outside the family.

Parents can be proactive, as well as reactive...

As a parent watching our children argue or pick on each other can be pure torture. You struggle with trying to let them work out their own little battles or always intervening by ordering "time-outs" or distracting them with another activity. There are certainly times when as parents we don't even realize that the sibling bickering has quietly turned into bullying.

Today when researching this topic we came across an interesting article written by Melissa Martin, PhD., a child therapist, consultant and educator in Wheelersburg, Ohio. Dr. Martin provided sound advice:
  • First, parents need to be proactive and prevent sibling bullying by teaching and role-modeling empathy, kindness, and fairness. The prevention of sibling bullying begins with the mother’s pregnancy; birth of the sister or brother; and continues during childhood. Some hospitals offer special programs to help siblings welcome the new baby to curb jealousy. Being aware of sibling rivalry, competition, and bullying is imperative. 
  • A bully in the family can stress out the entire family unit. A child learns to control the family by throwing anger fits in public places and parents may stop vacations and outings. The bullying child tries to consistently control the TV, video games, and the computer by crying, threatening, or breaking the items. 
  • Parents need to calmly and firmly say, “There is no bullying in our house. No punching, slapping, kicking, pinching, throwing things at each other, or purposely breaking possessions.” 
  • Monitor activities in bedrooms when siblings are playing out of your sight. Does a sister threaten to harm her brother if he tells? Does a sibling threaten to not play unless she is in control of all games and play activities? Parents need to say, “Calling hurtful names and making cruel comments is not allowed in our house.”

All good advice, don't you think?

Keep informed...

While this most recent study asked good questions and added to the conversation it is important to realize that research is happening at a number of universities. At the University of Oxford researchers found that children bullied by their siblings by the age of 12 were twice as likely by age 18 to report depression or anxiety. The University of New Hampshire last year released results of a study that indicated 32% of children who said they had been a victim sibling bullying also had higher rated of mental health issues.

If you are professional in the field and looking for a good resource book on this subject check out the second edition of John V. Caffaro's SIBLING ABUSE TRAUMA (Published 2013).

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Including Mindfulness In Social And Emotional Learning

Weather (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Parenting through the winter break...

National news stories for the past month have featured the winter snow storms (blizzards) that just keep coming. The northeast in particular has been impacted, but the Midwest has had record storms and low temperatures and now even the southeast is in the midst of some brutal weather.

You may wonder why we are highlighting the weather today; well, it's because when the weather prevents families from moving through their days in a normal fashion many parents find themselves in the midst of a crisis trying to juggle childcare, work, and routine tasks. Children look forward to snow days, but not when the temperatures dictate staying indoors. Cabin fever will soon set in as parents and children alike search for relief. 

What if mindfulness exercises could bring relief?

New study examines mindfulness training for children ages 9 and up

Yes, you read correctly researchers want to know how mindfulness training works for young school aged children. In January 2015 the journal Developmental Psychology published "Enhancing cognitive and social-emotional development through a simple-to-administer mindfulness-based school program for elementary school children: A randomized controlled trial." 

The researchers used 99 4th and 5th graders in British Columbia to conduct this trial. They randomly assigned the children to two groups. One group would receive their regular social and emotional learning (SEL) program enhanced with mindfulness training, while the other group received the standard social responsibility program. The study examined stress physiology, self reports of well being, peer acceptance, math grades and executive functions.

So what did the results show us?

In the January 26, 2015, online edition of TIME Magazine Mandy Oaklander reported the following:

The results were dramatic. “I really did not anticipate that we would have so many positive findings across all the multiple levels we looked at,” says study co-author Kimberly A. Schonert-Reichl, a developmental psychologist at the University of British Columbia. “I was very surprised,” she says—especially considering that the intervention took place at the end of the year, notoriously the worst time for students’ self-control.

Compared to the kids in the social responsibility program, children with the mindful intervention had 15% better math scores, showed 24% more social behaviors, were 24% less aggressive and perceived themselves as 20% more prosocial. They outperformed their peers in cognitive control, stress levels, emotional control, optimism, empathy, mindfulness and aggression.
In the February 16, 2015, hard copy of TIME Magazine Mandy Oaklander offers a quick overview of the above study and some others, see Wellness: Mini Meditators, page 54.

Some closing thoughts...

A number of our staff are skilled in mindfulness training to treat mood disorders, chemical dependency and trauma. Over the past couple of years we have published posts about mindfulness and we often write about parenting and family issues.

If you are a parent then most likely you are eager to learn about new ways to aid your child or children to engage with others in a healthy way and to succeed in school with less angst. Parenting is a journey that often comes with detours, hopefully each detour is a healthy learning experience. The conversation has started and mindfulness is now a serious part of that conversation.  

Friday, February 13, 2015

David Carr: He Reported On His Addiction And His Recovery

“The stories that we tell about ourselves are designed to sort of reveal a part
of ourselves to the world. It’s the part we want to show. What I learned from two years of reporting, investigation and writing is that you can’t know the whole truth. But if there is one, it lies in the space between people.”  David Carr

Learning more about David Carr
The New York Times logo
The New York Times logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday David Carr passed away. He was 58 years old. You may be familiar with his body of work as a journalist, most particularly since 2002 as the New York Times media columnist. In that role he would often be called upon by television and online news outlets to comment about current news stories and how those are impacted by social media platforms like FACEBOOK, TWITTER, GOOGLE + and various blogs.

In writing about Mr. Carr today, the New York Times offered:
David’s public contribution to the profession — his columns and feature stories, his interviews and investigations — is part of the record, and part of the glory of this newspaper. Until his death on Thursday, he covered every corner of the media business (including, sometimes, his own employer) with analytical acumen, ethical rigor and gumshoe tenacity.

David Carr authored and researched his memoir

In the quote above by David Carr when he states that he spent two years reporting, investigating and writing he is speaking about his own memoir The Night of the Gun: A reporter investigates the darkest story of his life. His own. 

The Night of the Gun is Mr. Carr's memoir of his struggle with his addictions including cocaine and how he began his recovery in late 1988. He was 32 years old and the father of twin girls. Many people have written memoirs of their life, the disease of addiction and ultimately their life of sobriety, but very few took Mr. Carr's approach. He literally investigated his own story like he would any other news story: interviewing family members, counselors, friends, attorneys, co-workers and reviewing police reports to make sure he had his facts straight. More often than not he found his memory was sorely lacking important factual details.

In July 2008, The New York Times Magazine published an article "Me and My Girls," an excerpt from his book.
"To be an addict is to be something of a cognitive acrobat. You spread versions of yourself around, giving each person the truth he or she needs — you need, actually — to keep them at a remove. Let’s stipulate that I do not have a good memory, having recklessly sautéed my brain in fistfuls of pharmaceutical spices. Beyond impairment, there may be no more unreliable narrator than an addict. Recovered or not, I am someone who used my mouth to constantly create one more opportunity to get high.
Here is what I deserved: hepatitis C, federal prison time, H.I.V., a cold park bench, an early, addled death.
Here is what I got: the smart, pretty wife, the three lovely children, the job that impresses.
Here is what I remember about how That Guy became This Guy: not much. But my version of events is worth knowing, if for no other reason than I was there."

Some final thoughts...

Here at Cottonwood Tucson we offer a Family Program.  The goal of Family Program is to help families relearn behavioral interaction so that healthy behaviors become logical. Interpersonal change that can be sustained after treatment requires a movement from following direction (first order change) to internalizing new ways of interacting (second order change). Families shift from obsessive worry and controlling behaviors to acknowledging that which is outside of their control and learn to focus on their own personal needs and boundaries. They learn to detach from the pain, and not from the person.

Many family members inquire as to books or articles they might read to learn more about the disease of addiction and the miracle of recovery. The truth is parents, siblings, spouses and friends are looking for hope.

There is a good chance Mr. Carr's memoir may just fit the bill.