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where there's smoke: A building under construction next to the Logan Police Station caught fire from a welder's spark. Damage was estimated at $50,000. / Photo by Gideon Oakes

Today's word on journalism

August 27, 2008

On protests at political conventions:

"The citizens of Denver and St. Paul, and Americans everywhere, should hope officials in those cities already have considered both the constitutional and monetary costs of silencing voices that have a right to be heard. . . . Well-expressed or wacky. Irritating or illuminating. Respectful or raucous. There's nothing in the 45 words of the First Amendment that sets out any such qualifications or limits on protests. Time and again in our history, from women's suffrage to civil rights to tax protests, to name just some, voices first raised in the streets -- to the disgust or disappointment of some -- have led to significant, positive changes in law and American life."

--Gene Policinski, executive director, First Amendment Center, 2008

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Cache Valley not immune to substance abuse, mother learns the hard way

By Stephanie Hebert

May 12, 2008 | "I thought, 'I can stay three steps ahead of him, there's no wiggle room here. I know what he is up to.' My knowledge about what my son was doing barely scratched the surface. Barely scratched the surface," a Cache Valley mother, whom we will call Jane, said about her teenage son's substance abuse problem.

"I'm pretty educated I would say about drug abuse, and substance abuse, and alcoholism. I thought I was on top of it," said Jane.

"Cache Valley is not sheltered. It's only sheltered in the minds of those that aren't antisocial personality disorder, the ones that don't know how to party, the ones that are upstanding citizens and go to church every weekend and there are many of those," said Jane. Acid and marijuana were Cache Valley's drugs of choice in the '70s, and then cocaine became very popular in the '80s with the disco, explained Jane, "Cache Valley has always had a drug culture."

This Cache Valley teenager, whom we will call Dan, was lucky. After having some trouble with the law he was sentenced to a rehabilitation program, and he has been sober for seven months.

"The times I want to use the most is when I'm bored, just sitting here. It's a lot easier to stay clean when you have things to do," said Dan.

The Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health of the Utah Department of Human Services estimates that 4.7 percent or about 82,000 people in Utah over 18, are in need of treatment for some addiction. Unfortunately only 15,198 get the treatment that they need.

The number of people who are estimated to be in need of treatment for an addiction under the age of 18 is 5.1 percent or 12,391 children and teenagers in Utah. However, there are only 1,271 available beds for underage addicts in treatment facilities in Utah. That means that roughly only 10 percent of those that need treatment, receive treatment.

According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA), one-third of teens attend parties in which adults are present and teens are drinking, smoking marijuana, using cocaine, Ecstasy or prescription drugs. By the time teenagers reach 17, 70 percent will have been offered illegal drugs reports CASA.

Addiction as defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse(NIDA) is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences to the individual who is addicted and to those around him/her.

Dan describes addition as a series of thinking error- for example, thinking that you have your addiction under control, can stop anytime you want or glorifying drug use.

Some of the risk factors of addiction, according to a documentary that HBO put together with some of the leading scientists studying in the field of addiction, are:

* Genes-more than 60 percent of alcoholics have family histories with alcohol
* Mental illness-especially anxiety disorders, depression or mood illnesses
* Early use of drugs-the earlier a person first uses a substance the more likely they are to have a problem with that substance in the future
* Social Environment-people who are exposed to substance abuse in their daily settings are more likely to abuse substances
* Childhood Trauma-abuse or neglect of a child, persistent conflict within the home, sexual abuse or other traumatic childhood experience can leave a person vulnerable to addiction later in life

Dan had a few of those risk factors stacked against him. He has a history of family addiction problems. His mother, uncle, and grandfather have all had addiction problems. However, like her son, Jane, has been sober following a relapse seven months ago.

Relapse is part of addiction, explains Dr. Anna Rosa Childress on the HBO Web site about addiction. There are some common factors in relapse such as drug-related reminders cues, negative moods and states, positive moods or celebrations, and sampling the substance itself.

"Once an addict, always and addict," said Jane. "Addiction is a disease."

Addiction is something that a person has to deal with every day, Jane explained, while her son agreed by nodding his head yes. During the rough times of her addiction Jane attended Alcoholic's Anonymous (AA) meeting three times a week. She explained that a good support system is essential to recovering addicts.

When asked if he had any lasting effects from his drug use Dan said he did, "Legal issues, I'm 18 years old, I don't have a car, I'm living at home still, I lost my license for a year, and everyone else is out there having fun and driving around and doing all that stuff and I'm stuck at home."

Dan did graduate from high school while in rehabilitation and is hoping to attend Utah State University in the fall to study forestry.

For more information about addiction, HBO put all its information on a Web site that is very informative www.hbo.com/addiction. Addiction is not just a disease that an effects only one person, it affects anyone close to the addicted individual. If you know someone who has an addiction problem and would like to get them help a good place to start is the local AA chapter. The phone number of the local AA chapter is 435-755-7772.

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