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Study Debunks Notions About Native Americans, Alcohol

Native Americans are more likely to abstain from alcohol than whites are, and heavy drinking and binge drinking rates are about the same for both groups, according to a UA study. Read More

Anatomy Of Addiction: How Heroin And Opioids Hijack The Brain

When Jack O'Connor was 19, he was so desperate to beat his addictions to alcohol and opioids that he took a really rash step. He joined the Marines.

"This will fix me," O'Connor thought as he went to boot camp. "It better fix me or I'm screwed."

After 13 weeks of sobriety and exercise and discipline, O'Connor completed basic training, but he started using again immediately.

"Same thing," he says. "Percocet, like, off the street. Pills."

READ The Full Story


New Deterra system deactivates discarded medications


HOPKINTON — The small black bags on the counter at Wood River Health Services may not look special, but they are changing the way people dispose of their unused medications. When drugs are placed in a Deterra pouch with some water, they are completely neutralized so they can be safely thrown in the trash. The Deterra disposal system not only eliminates the risk of narcotics abuse for unused prescriptions, but solves the growing problem of discarded medicines polluting the environment, especially water.

The Chariho Task Force on Substance Abuse Prevention distributed Deterra bags to police stations and health centers throughout southern Rhode Island. Dan Nesmith, a task force member, said one of the group’s objectives is to keep discarded medications out of the wrong hands.

deterra-bag.jpg“One of our strategies has been to get rid of the excess drugs in households, and to keep them out of reach of children or other folks who might abuse them,” he said. “We had the drug collection boxes that we arranged to have placed in all the police departments, and we also had lock boxes that we made available through our partners in the community, but there was always that one part missing — the folks who couldn’t get out of the house who had stuff in their house that they wanted to get rid of.” Nesmith said he first saw Deterra at a national substance abuse prevention conference in Atlanta, Ga., and the task force decided to order them for distribution to the towns. “We felt that kind of filled a gap,” he said. “This allows folks to deactivate the drugs so they can be safely disposed of, and they’re environmentally safe.” The bags are easy to use. Drugs are placed the pouch with water, and the bag is sealed and placed in the trash. Depending on the quantity and type of the drugs, total deactivation takes a maximum of eight hours.

Wood River President Michael Lichtenstein said the center received its first Deterra bags about two weeks ago. “This is relatively new to us,” he said. “People are fascinated by it. We’re happy to participate and create more safety in our community by helping people more easily dispose of medicines that should be dumped appropriately.”

The Deterra bags are already popular with Wood River clients. “We put them out as soon as they came in,” Wood River Nurse Manager Bonnie Cooper said. “We put out 20 of them, and within an hour, they were all gone.” The bags are made by Verde Technologies of Minnetonka, Minn. They come in several sizes, but the task force has distributed the larger size, which accommodates 90 pills, 354 ml of liquid or 12 patches.

Verde Technologies’ Chief Commercial Officer, Christine Horton, said the company launched the product last February. Horton noted that what makes the system different is that it doesn’t just dispose of medications, it neutralizes them, using activated carbon. “There are hundreds of different types of activated carbon,” Horton said. “This carbon is specific for the molecular size that pharmaceutical compounds break down to. Once that pharmaceutical molecule is available, then the carbon encapsulates it so it encircles the entire molecule, and that’s what renders the drug irretrievable.” Horton said disposing of prescription drugs at home also kept prescription labels and other personal information private. “You don’t have to load up your medications with your name and all this information on them and take them somewhere else. Instead, you’re just going to put your drugs in there, throw them in your household trash, they’re going to be rendered inert. They’re going to go to the landfill, but the bags are going to be biodegradable, and you’re going to peel off those labels off those medicine bottles and you’re going to shred them,” she said.

Deterra also offers a promising solution to the problem of discarded medications polluting the environment. Even in rural areas of the country, drugs are being detected in ponds and streams, and are believed to be adversely affecting fish and wildlife. In addition to the line of home disposal systems, Verde makes larger Deterra systems for institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes, which, in many states, are permitted to pour unused medications down the drain.

In Charlestown, where drinking water contamination is a concern, the town’s Potable Water Working Group is preparing a brochure for distribution in the more densely-populated neighborhoods telling residents what measures they can take to keep their water safe. Town Council President Thomas Gentz said properly disposing of unwanted medications is a key element of the town’s water protection plan. “The town already has a box at the police station for pills and pill boxes to be disposed of that was donated, and now with this new system where they can take the envelopes home and dispose of them and put them in the trash at home is another plus for the town,” he said. “We’re thrilled that we have the donation from the substance abuse task force to provide these, so pharmaceuticals can be safely disposed of and not get into the ground water by people flushing them down their toilets into the septic system.”

Charlestown Police Chief Jeffrey Allen said he was glad to have a disposal system that also takes liquids. “We really don’t have a lot of inquiries about liquids, but we know they’re out there,” Allen said. “So you have to ask the question, what are they doing with it? They’re just pouring it down the toilet or throwing it on the ground, so for environmental reasons, I think this is even more important than law enforcement.”


Community News

Honored Members of the Hopkinton & Richmond Town Councils, 

The members of the CHARIHO Task Force on Substance Abuse Prevention wish to take this opportunity to thank you for your recent decision to defend public health in Rhode Island.  The community depends upon decision makers, such as yourself, to act with integrity when determining public policy, and to represent the community’s best interests at the statewide level, especially when they are considering public health policies. We were delighted to hear that Hopkinton and Rchmond have joined the many other towns and cities which had voiced their opposition to legalizing recreational use of marijuana in Rhode Island.

We wholeheartedly applaud your continued commitment to align yourself with our vision for a safe and substance abuse free community, and to use your power and influence to protect your constituency from the misuse of marijuana.

We look forward to a continued alliance, protecting our children from the temptations which may lead to abuse of, or addiction to, alcohol, tobacco and drugs.

With our deepest gratitude,
Karen Johnson,
Along with The Members & Staff of The CHARIHO Task Force on Substance Abuse Prevention

CTF_GotDrugs.jpgPrescription Drugs are NOT always SAFE in your cabinet.

- 63% of Teens believe that prescription drugs are easy to get from friends’ and family’s medicine cabinet.

- 40% of Teens believe that prescription drugs are "much safer" than illegal drugs… but prescription drugs, including opioids and antidepressants, are responsible for more overdose deaths than "street drugs" such as cocaine, heroin or amphetamines (The Center for Disease Control)

Dispose of unused or expired Rx and OTC meds in a secure box in the lobbies of these police stations- No Questions Asked:MedReturn_Box.jpg

Richmond Police Station
Hopkinton Police Station
Charlestown Police Station
Narragansett Tribal Police Station


TobaccoFreeKids.jpgDespite reductions in smoking prevalence achieved since the first Surgeon General’s report on the consequences of smoking in 1964, smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Smoking accounts for more than 400,000 deaths in the United States each year, and is a major risk factor for the four leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Native Americans, as a whole, have an especially high risk of suffering from tobacco-related death and disease because they have the highest prevalence of smoking and other tobacco use compared to any other population group in the United States. READ MORE

ProJo-CigarFlavors250.jpgMichael Fine: City's historic tobacco ban helps youth

By Michael Fine, Providence Journal
October 14, 2013

Rhode Island may be the smallest state but we do big things. We are trendsetters in the Tobacco Control Movement. Rhode Island has the second highest cigarette excise tax, the third lowest youth smoking rate and now, our capital city has put Rhode Island on the map once again.

Providence has made major history in the fight against the tobacco industry. Providence has put Rhode Island on the map. In a landmark decision handed down recently, the federal First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the City of Providence’s anti-tobacco laws prohibiting the sale of fruit-flavored tobacco products and eliminating the use of promotional discounting strategies usually aimed at kids, such as buy-one, get-one.


Published in the Chariho Times - August 2013


gateway-addict300.jpgNew gateways to addiction

WOOD RIVER JCT. — Astrid Meijer, a paid campaigner against nicotine addiction, faces some stiff competition in the battle for the hearts, minds and lungs of today’s teenager.

It comes in the form of products and marketing that package nicotine in candies, gum, and packets — a far cry from some of the harsh tobacco products that introduced the drug to earlier generations.


Buskings_Tobacco_Spanish.JPGHEALTH's New Cessation Campaign

In honor of the New Year, the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) is encouraging smokers to quit in 2013 with the launch of its new smoking cessation campaign, "Tobacco Made Me."


A Growing Trend: PHA's Go Smoke Free

The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) recently recognized 18 of the state's 25 public housing authorities for implementing smoking bans in their units — an important step in combating potential exposures to second-hand smoke that were highlighted in a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


Flavored Ban Takes Effect in Providence


A Providence ordinance banning the sale of certain flavored tobacco products were enacted earlier this month in an effort to prevent youth from smoking. The new law also prohibits retailers from accepting tobacco coupons and offering discounts on multipack tobacco products. Violators of the new law will be subject to fines.

Tobacco companies filed a lawsuit against the city in February of 2012, claiming it violated the First Amendment of free speech. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mary Lisi ruled in favor of Providence, claiming the ban did not prohibit tobacco companies from marketing tobacco products and therefore did not violate the first amendment. This ruling by the federal district court allows Providence to enforce the ordinances.

Policies Banning Tobacco Product Displays May Deter Youth Tobacco Purchases

Policies that ban tobacco product displays at the point of sale may help reduce youth smoking by deterring youth from purchasing tobacco products at retail stores, according to a new study by RTI International and Tarheel Technologies.

The study, which will be published in the January 2013 issue of Pediatrics, looked at the behaviors of more than 1,200 smokers and likely smokers aged 13 to 17 in a virtual convenience store in which tobacco products were either openly visible or hidden behind a cabinet. Tobacco ads were also either present or absent in the store.