Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Driving Under the Influence

The statistics don’t lie.  Driving under the influence is a serious issue that takes lives.  Last year in Delaware, more than 5,500 people were arrested for DUI, and 24% of the state's traffic deaths were alcohol related.  According to the state of DE’s statistics, 62% of alcohol-related accidents and fatalities occurred between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m., with males age 21 – 34 being the most likely to be involved in an alcohol-related crash.

Now, new reports show that there may be a way for parents to decrease the chances that their children drive under the influence – stop doing it themselves.  Reports show that adolescents are far more likely to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs if they live with a parent that drives under the influence.

According to SAMHSA’s latest report, 18.3 percent of 16 and 17 year olds living with a mother who drove under the influence of drugs or alcohol also drove under the influence – as opposed to 10.9 percent of the adolescents who lived with a mother who had not driven under the influence. The difference was even more pronounced for fathers - 21.4 percent of adolescents living with a father who drove under the influence also drove under the influence, as opposed to 8.4 percent of adolescents living with a father who did not drive under the influence.

SAMHSA has developed an online tool at to help parents create an action plan to talk with their children about the dangers of underage drinking.

Friday, December 23, 2011

SAMHSA Announced New Definition for Recovery

SAMHSA recently announced a new working definition of recovery from mental disorders and substance use disorders. The definition is the product of a year-long effort by SAMHSA and a wide range of partners in the behavioral health care community and other fields to develop a working definition of recovery that captures the essential, common experiences of those recovering from mental disorders and substance use disorders. The new working definition of Recovery From Mental Disorders and Substance Use Disorders is as follows:

A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.
Through the Recovery Support Strategic Initiative, SAMHSA also has delineated four major dimensions that support a life in recovery:

  • Health: Overcoming or managing one's disease(s) as well as living in a physically and emotionally healthy way.
  • Home: A stable and safe place to live.
  • Purpose: Meaningful daily activities, such as a job, school, volunteerism, family care taking, or creative endeavors, and the independence, income, and resources to participate in society.
  • Community: Relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Power of Peer Support

Today’s  New York Times cover story, “After Drugs and Dark Times, Helping Others to Stand Back Up,” focused on peer support and its power to help people pull through recovery and get their lives back on track.

The mental health care system has long made use of former patients as counselors and the practice has been controversial, in part because doctors and caseworkers have questioned their effectiveness.  But recent research suggests that peer support can reduce costs, and in 2007, federal health officials ruled that states could bill for the services under Medicaid — if the state had a system in place to train and certify peer providers.

In the years since, “peer support has just exploded; I have been in this field for 25 years, and I have never seen anything happen so quickly,” said Larry Davidson, a mental health researcher at Yale. “Peers are living, breathing proof that recovery is possible, that it is real.”

To read the full NY Times article, click here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

AIDS Awareness

Today, we know that HIV/AIDS does not discriminate. Anyone can become infected with HIV when engaging in high risk behaviors. HIV/AIDS can and does impact all of our lives. Stigma, discrimination, and countless myths continue to surround HIV/AIDS as it continues to spread at alarming rates, perhaps because some individuals believe they are exempt from impact of the disease.

New infections are surging among teens and young people both in the United States and worldwide. In the United States, one-half of all new infections occur in people younger than age 24 years, mostly among heterosexual women and girls. In developing countries, young women face even higher risk for contracting HIV—they become infected up to six times as often as young men in those areas.

But, HIV/AIDS has come a long way. We may still be many miles away from a cure, yet the medical advances that have been made to treat this virus are monumental. HIV/AIDS is now considered to be a chronic illness. People are living long, vibrant, healthy lives with HIV. With the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and other treatments during the last two decades, people with HIV/AIDS in the United States are living longer.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Today is World AIDS Day

Today, December 1, is World AIDS Day.   This day has been observed for 23 years, and began as a way to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS and those affected by the disease.  World AIDS Day helps fight the stigma for people living with HIV by providing education and steps for prevention.  The World Health Organization’s theme for the day, which runs from 2011 through 2015 is “Getting to Zero – zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS related deaths.”

The disease, first discovered in 1981, affects nearly 1.2 million people in the United States.  The United States has made tremendous progress against HIV, preventing hundreds of thousands of new infections and helping people live longer, healthier, more productive lives with effective treatments. Testing is the only way to identify the nearly 250,000 Americans currently living with HIV who do not know they're infected – that's 1 in 5 of all Americans with HIV.  HIV testing and diagnosis are the first steps toward connecting people to life-extending treatment, as well as helping to prevent the spread of HIV to partners.