Marijuana: What's new?

October 12, 2016

Maureen Fitzgerald, Editor
ATTC Network Coordinating Office/NIATx

Marijuana continues to make headlines daily, and it can be hard to stay on top of the latest news about marijuana research, trends, and legalization. To help you stay in the know, we've collected some of the most recent and relevant resources and news items in one compact blog post.

1. "Does smoking marijuana make me stupid?" Short answer: Yes.
Find this infographic and more on the
ATTC Network's Marijuana Lit page! 
A recent Canadian study adds to the body of research showing that marijuana does affect IQ. This is one study to turn to when talking to teens and others who think that marijuana is harmless.

Read more about it in this brief from Science Daily:
Early marijuana use associated with abnormal brain function, lower IQ

2. But it really won't hurt me. That's the prevailing attitude about marijuana among 12-17 year-olds in the U.S. today. Find out more about efforts to change teens' attitudes:
CAPT webinar focuses on changing youth perceptions of marijuana risk. 
And here's a link to the webinar recording:
Preventing Youth Marijuana Use: Changing Perception of Risk

Dr. Kari Franson tells more about marijuana's affect on teens (and their IQs) in this video in the ATTC Network's Marijuana Lit series: Youth and Families

And it's not just kids who think that: That's based on an analysis of National Survey on Drug Use and Health data collected from 2002 to 2014. Read all about it: Increasing number of US adults using marijuana as few people perceive the drug as harmful

And Dr. Wilson Compton tells more about how marijuana affects people young and old in the Marijuana Lit video: Marijuana's Effects on the Body.

3. It's a lot more potent than it used to be. This higher potency may be contributing to the increase in marijuana-related emergency room visits. See: New Study Shows How Marijuana's Potency Has Changed Over Time.

4. And then there are those "synthetics." Beth Rutkowski of the Pacific Southwest ATTC lays out the facts in this blog post: Just what are synthetic cannabinoids, and why are they so dangerous?

5. Doctors caught in the middle:  Some states that have legalized medical marijuana are now offering physicians training on medical marijuana. See: As States OK Medical Marijuana Laws, Doctors Struggle with Knowledge Gap, from Kaiser Health News.

The Marijuana Lit video, Marijuana and Medical Use, featuring Dr. Tom Freese of the Pacific Southwest ATTC, could answer some of their questions.  

6. It'll  still land you in jail, especially if you're not white. A study published by the ACLU and Human Rights Watch shows that arrests for small amounts of marijuana are on the rise, and that more African Americans than whites face arrest for possession small amounts.
Read more: Marijuana arrests outnumber those for violent crimes.

7. Crossing state lines: Colorado's legalization of marijuana has increased marijuana use in its neighboring state, Kansas, where it remains illegal, according to a report released by the Kansas Attorney General.  Read all about it: Colorado's legalization of marijuana has changed the way the drug is used in Kansas, AG reports.

And speaking of legalization: 

8. Did you know? "Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia currently have laws legalizing marijuana in some form." Check out the State Marijuana Laws Map

9. But wait, there could be more: Five More States Could Legalize  Recreational Marijuana on Election Day

And  yes, there's an ATTC Network resource for that: 

10. Marijuana Lit: Consequences of Legalization: the latest video in our Marijuana Lit series features Dr. Rosalie Pacula, Director of the Bing Center for Health Economics at the Rand Corporation. Watch now!

11. More are for than against it. This just in from the Pew Research Center:  57% of U.S. adults favor legalization. Read all about it: Support increases for marijuana legalization

12. But what is it like to be a treatment provider in a state that has legalized marijuana? In the latest issue of The Bridge, editor-in-chief Dr. Paul Roman of the University of Georgia, interviews five addiction treatment professionals from the state of Washington.  If you don't currently receive The Bridge, subscribe now!

How has marijuana legalization affected your treatment agency or your practice? Share your story in the comment section below! 

Keeping it Simple: The NIATx Process Improvement Model Revisited

October 4, 2016

Scott Gatzke
NIATx Coach
Director, ElderTree Dissemination

The late Peter Drucker, an influential business thought leader and educator, once stated:

Almost all quality improvement comes via simplification of design and processes

Recently, I was reminded of the simple elegance of NIATx model.
A friend came to me and asked what I would do if faced with the following problem:

His organization struggled to make timely improvements to their operations.
When a change was finally implemented, it often reverted back to the old process after a few months.

Having guided change teams for years in organizations both large and small, I was all too familiar with the challenge he presented. 

My Brother's Keeper: Teaching fathers and reuniting families

September 27, 2016

Maureen Fitzgerald
ATTC Network Coordinating Office/NIATx

Before she joined Santa Maria Hostel in Houston as director of the Maternal Initiative for Reflective Recovery-Oriented Residential Services (MIRRORS) program, Fayetta Bland worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

“There was always a need for more Big Brothers,” says Fayetta. “We had little trouble finding Big Sisters, but Big Brothers were in short supply.” 

That’s what gave her the idea to create My Brother’s Keeper, a support group that offers positive male mentoring for the fathers involved with the women in the MIRRORs program.

MIRRORS, a grantee of SAMHSA’s Pregnant and Parenting Women (PPW) project, provides medical and behavioral health services for pregnant and postpartum women and their families.
“One of the main goal of the MIRRORS program is family reunification,” explains Fayetta. “Many of the women in our program will return to the men in their lives, who will have a strong influence on the family. And if the father is going to be in the lives of the mother and children, we need to start working with the family as a unit.”

Let's Celebrate Adolescent Recovery

September 20, 2016

Let’s Celebrate Adolescent Recovery
Mark Sanders, LCSW, CADC

In their book, Under the Influence: A Guide to the Myths and Realities of Alcoholism (2011), authors James Milam and Katherine Ketcham discuss worldwide research that suggests that the longer a society or culture has been exposed to alcohol, the greater the decrease in the rates of alcohol use disorders. The passage of time allows groups to develop cultural norms that support more responsible or ceremonial use of alcohol. The Jewish community is highlighted as an example of a group with a low rate of alcoholism compared with other groups, due to their long exposure to alcohol and clearly defined rituals around use (Kinny, 2014). 

In 1981, the same authors predicted that longer exposure to alcohol would increase rates of recovery among Native Americans, where alcohol had limited use among most tribes until arrival of the first European settlers. They were correct! At the time of this writing, groups like White Bison are helping tribes return to culture, dispel the myth that alcoholism is a part of their culture, and achieve recovery rates as high as 50-70%. The Alkali Lake Tribe in British Columbia, Canada went from 100% alcoholism to 95% recovery (Sanders, 2011). 

The United States, with just 240 years as a nation, has evolved from heavy, regular alcohol consumption during colonial times (see Colonial Americans Drank Roughly Three Times as Much as Americans Do Now)—to beginning to create sober rituals. During September, National Recovery Month, we celebrate recovery from substance abuse and mental health disorders with marches, rallies, parades, and other community events.

#Recovery: Let's make recovery go viral

September 13, 2016

Laurie Krom, MS
Director, ATTC Network Coordinating Office

Last week the East Liverpool, Ohio police department decided to fight the opioid use disorder epidemic by posting two images to their Facebook page. The images show a man and a woman passed out in the two front seats of their vehicle, with a young child in the back seat.

The child is looking at the camera.

The woman is turning blue.

The text associated with the post explained that the police department decided to share the images so that the public could see “the other side of this horrible drug.” They also mentioned that the man and woman both lived, after receiving lifesaving care from a medical team. The Facebook post went viral almost immediately and was picked up by many local and national news outlets. I am not included a link to that post here. I do not want to give it more legs.

Celebrate National Recovery Month 2016!

August 30, 2016

Maureen Fitzgerald
ATTC Network Coordinating Office/NIATx

National Recovery Month 2016:
Join the Voices for Recovery: Our families, our stories, our recovery

This year, SAMHSA observes the 27th year of National Recovery Month. With the theme “Join the Voices for Recovery: Our families, our stories, our recovery,” National Recovery Month 2016 acknowledges and celebrates the millions of Americans who are living in recovery from mental and substance use disorders.

Here’s a sampling of just some of the great resources the National Recovery Month website offers to help you organize and promote an event in your community, share stories, or broadcast the message that recovery in all its forms is possible:

Latinas in Recovery: Understanding the Evidence to Bridge Gaps in Service Disparities

August 23, 2016

Darice Orobitg, PhD
Training and TA Coordinator
National Hispanic and Latino ATTC

The National Hispanic and Latino ATTC symposium, Latinas in Recovery: Understanding the Evidence to Bridge Gaps in Service Disparities (September 14, 2016, Miami) will offer behavioral health professionals an opportunity to learn from experts while sharing their experiences in working with Latinas with substance use disorders.

The symposium will include presentations by researchers, clinicians, and Latinas in recovery. Their presentations will address the particular issues that may affect Latinas’ recovery processes. Presenters will also offer recommendations for professionals in the field.