Wednesday, May 26, 2010
During its 16 year existence, the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) has shown an unerring commitment to making our world safer for our youth. The collaborative network of more than 40 national organizations and federal agencies focuses on youth safety and health.
NOYS’ great work was recently recognized. As part of National Youth Traffic Safety Month, AT&T is honoring the more than 28,000 individuals who have already taken AT&T’s pledge to not text and drive by contributing $250,000 to safety organizations committed to distracted driving prevention. NOYS was the recipient of a $70,000 gift from AT&T honoring those who already pledged not to text and drive.
We would like to extend congratulations to NOYS and look forward to our continued work with them in helping to keep our youth safe.
Monday, May 24, 2010
ACE is also proud to announce the launch of our Strike Out Inhalant Abuse Super Hero Contest! You may not be the next Monet or Picasso, but we still want to see what happens when you put your pen to paper. In this contest, open to residents of Connecticut, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania creativity will count just as much as ability. Send any questions to email@example.com.
We look forward to seeing you on the fields as you support your local team. The games are:
Reading Phillies- Thursday, June 24th
Trenton Thunder- Saturday, June 26th
Akron Aeros- Wednesday, July 7th
New Britain- Thursday, July 22nd
Until next week,
We here at the Alliance for Consumer Education believe that education is the number one tool in combating inhalant abuse. Partnership for a Drug Free America’s PATS study consistently shows that if a parent talks to their child about inhalant abuse, that child is 50% less likely to ever try an inhalant. Your voice is critical here and could help save your child’s life.
Visit http://www.inhalant.org/ to learn more about inhalant abuse and get tips for talking to your kids about this issue. Download the Inhalant Toolkit and share it with a neighbor, school, or coach. Help us reach more families and communities with this preventative information so we don’t have to again hear those painful words “If I had only known about inhalant abuse, my son might be alive today.”
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
In my early teens, I went through my rebellious stage. I dabbled in drinking, smoking, and some light drug use, but I never got addicted to anything. My sister, however, never dabbled with anything. She was a straight A student, a member of all the “nerd” clubs (as my friends and I called them). She could pull an A with no struggle, while I had to work my tail off for a C. She was just naturally smart, and I always felt she was Mom’s favorite. I even ran away from home once, leaving our mother a note saying, “You still have the good child, you don’t need me anymore.”
Eventually, though, we were both on good paths. I had overcome my rebellion and actually wanted to graduate high school. My sister was in her first year of college, studying Early Childhood Education. Then things changed.
After only two semesters of college, my sister got pregnant. She quit school, and she and her boyfriend married. I really don’t know why she didn’t go back to college after her son was born; maybe she felt that it was more than she could handle. Instead, she worked in daycare centers and seemed to love it. Then things changed even more.
Her marriage was falling apart, and she started running around with a friend who had gotten into drugs. Looking back, I think at this point in my sister’s life she was both weak and curious. She started doing drugs with her friend, and it got really bad. She couldn’t get off the drugs, and it became very apparent that she had an addictive personality. She and her husband got divorced, and she almost lost her son. About that time, our mother went into a deep depression. I was just starting college and wanted to do well. I didn’t understand my mother’s struggles, and I didn’t understand why my sister couldn’t shake her addiction. I was angry with both of them.
A couple of years passed, and my sister met someone else and had another child, a daughter. She was still using drugs, and my mother was still depressed. I was doing great in college, and about to graduate.
Then came Friday, October 31, 1997. That morning I got ready to leave for my job at Gap Kids. My mother had not been to work all week because she was so depressed. I went into her room and woke her. I told her to get up and please feel better, and said, “I love you.” When I came home that evening, I found my mother in her car, in our garage, dead of carbon monoxide poisoning. I clearly remember the police asking me, “Do you have any idea why your mother would have done something like this?” “Yes,” I replied, “because of my sister.”
To this day I am thankful that my sister was not there and was not the one to find our mom. I was able to calm myself down before my sister arrived, and never once spoke of my feelings to her. I never let her know I wanted to blame her at the time. I knew it would destroy her. And later I learned that you can’t blame anyone for a suicide except the one who does it. We were both very angry with our mom for leaving us like that, and we both went through counseling. I thought this would be enough to get my sister to stop her drug abuse, but it wasn’t. She continued to use, and even tried to take her own life in the same manner our mother did.
What a dark time this was in our lives. I didn’t know how to help my sister; I never did. And she was showing all the signs of depression our mother had. Eventually my sister did go into rehab and got better. She married her daughter’s father and all seemed to be well. She even went back to school, this time for a paralegal degree. Then, just shy of her graduation, she had another relapse and was back in rehab. But again, she came out and seemed fine and graduated with honors. We were all so proud of her. A few years passed. I worked for a few years, then married and started my own family. We moved around the east a bit and then finally settled in Pennsylvania. In the midst of my own happiness, there was a part of me that felt bad for leaving my sister. Although I was the younger sister, I felt like I needed to keep an eye on her and make sure she was doing okay. I struggled with this for some time. But she seemed to be doing well, enjoying her husband and children, although I knew she still struggled with depression.
Then, one day in the summer of 2009, when she called I could tell something was wrong. I could hear it in her voice. She had spoken of some problems in her marriage before, but something within me knew this was different. I immediately booked a flight and flew home to see her. It was a good visit, but I sensed an awkwardness—nobody in the family was really talking about anything. She had told me before I came not mention anything to her husband about the issues in their marriage. And all my father really said to me was that my sister really needed me right now.
About two weeks later my sister called to tell me she was in rehab again. She finally told me she had used computer duster to get high. I was shocked. Why would she do something so stupid? Well, for a former drug user, this is an easy, cheap, and legal way to get high. However, at the time I didn’t really understand. I thought it was just another cry for help because she was depressed and unhappy in her marriage.
To be honest, I was tired of all her drama. I just wanted her to get better and be happy again. We had some family conference calls over the phone and she finally came to the decision that she was going to go back home, try to work on her marriage, seek Christian counseling, and she wouldn’t use this canned air stuff again. I was only aware of her using it one time, so I thought this was a reasonable solution. Slowly, my sister started healing. I could hear it in her voice. She was going to counseling, had starting attending church, and was even looking for a part-time job. It was tough for her for a little while, I could tell. But she was different. I could just feel it. And after several months she did find a part-time job in retail and seemed to be enjoying life.
I was so happy for her. And I could finally relax. I didn’t feel bad about moving so far away from her, and thought everything was going to be good again. I had my sister back.
On the Sunday after Christmas, December 27, 2009, we talked about my plans to come south in March to visit and celebrate my younger daughter’s second birthday. I told her that I wished she could fly up for a few days and visit and just be together like old times. She told me she wished she could, but with her new job, and money spent on Christmas, she just didn’t see how it could work out. I told her I understood, and at least I would see her in March. The next day would change my life forever.
On Monday afternoon, my girls were up from their naps and we were listening to music, keeping cozy and warm on that cold December day. About 4:30, my husband walked through the door. I remember thinking, Great, he is home early! He took me aside and said, “I have some bad news,” and went on to tell me that my sister had died of an overdose. I was completely in shock, and yet there was a small part of me that had thought this day would come. It was just a matter of when. My sister died of what is known as Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome. She had been inhaling duster, and the inhalant causes the heart to beat rapidly and results in cardiac arrest. I learned later that she had been caught by her family numerous times using the inhalant. No one had ever shared this with me. I only wish I had known the seriousness of it. I wish I had known she was using when I went home to visit her in the summer of 2009. I could have talked with her about it. But nobody shared her struggles, not even her.
About three months after her death I decided to research inhalant abuse. I found a Web site, www.inhalant.org. Then I remembered her telling me that she had met a friend through a support website about inhalants. And sure enough, as I read through old postings on the site, I found my sister. She signed herself simply “lostgirl.”
She wrote for the first time on May 28, 2009, seven months prior to her death: “I have been on various drugs and this is on the same level as crack if not worse because it is legal.”
Another post, “I think the show ‘Intervention’ about Allison gave a lot of people the idea of huffing the duster spray. I know it put it in the back of my head, and when I had nothing else and was feeling lonely, I bought it.” Two days later she wrote, “I was alone and wanted to get duster . . . I kept telling myself life is so much more worth it. And I kept picturing my husband and kids. The thing is I know where it is, heck, I know where cases of it are.” In her last post, just thirteen days before she would die, my sister wrote, “Please, reach out . . . it’s worth your life.”
I am reaching out for her, my lostgirl. It is too late for me to help her, but what I can do now is tell her story.
Please seek help if you are addicted to inhalants. Talk to your family. Seek help from an online or other support group. I lost my sister to something you can buy over the counter. I am still amazed how common this problem is, and it needs to be addressed. What you can do as a parent, teacher, relative, or friend is look for the warning signs. I couldn’t see them in my sister because I lived so far away, and because I had no idea what was going on. But knowing what I know now, I heard the signs through the phone. I spoke with her once and her speech was slurred; she had probably been using. She would tell me she fell a lot and had lots of bruises; she chalked it up to being clumsy. She also once told me she was going to the doctor because she slipped and fell and injured her lip. It had caused her to get blisters; I questioned this one, but she just said it had gotten infected.
All of these things are warning signs of inhaling computer dusting spray. There are many products out there that can be abused. Other warning signs of inhalant abuse can be glossed-over eyes, mood changes, and, for teenagers, a decreased interest in school. Also be aware of material lying around the house that may come up missing, such as paint-soaked rags, spray paint cans, or any other household products.
The best thing you can do for someone you think may be using is communicate with them. It could save their life. Some stores will require ID and that you be 18 years of age to purchase computer dusting spray. My sister was 37. How did that help her?
Sister of “Lostgirl”
Monday, May 17, 2010
ACE is a foundation dedicated to community health and well being and upon which we have built our programs. For example, encouraging an informed family dialogue about the dangers of inhalant abuse promotes good health. To learn more about how to start a conversation on this issue, please click here.
Dialogues about disease prevention also promote good health. The ACE disease prevention program promotes healthier environments in homes, businesses, and the community by providing information necessary to break the cycle of disease transmission. Have you visited our http://www.stopgerms.org/ site lately? Click here to explore our interactive house and see where germs and pests may lurk in your home and how to get rid of them. Also, click here to read the latest seasonal FAQ sheets. Have a happy and healthy week!
Until next time,
Friday, May 14, 2010
In addition to a mascot, we launched ACE Clean Trivia Challenge! Created as a joint partnership with the Consumer Specialty Products Association’s Cleaning Products Division, the “Jeopardy” styled online trivia game is designed to teach players about good health through cleanliness and proper hygiene practices.
The ACE Clean character and game were an instant hit with the Rock Cat baseball fans. To learn more about what happened that day, please click here and check out our video below:
Now it’s your turn to get involved! Try your hand at the Trivia Challenge by going to our website here. Let us know what you think about the game, by emailing us any feedback or leaving comments here.
Monday, May 10, 2010
February 2009, we had the pleasure of working with Allison to create four public service announcements (PSAs). These PSAs aired during a follow up show entitled, “Intervention In Depth: Huffing” episode. Ultimately, the second broadcast generated even more discussion and continued to enhance awareness about inhalant abuse.
Allison won her life back one day at a time and now enjoys a drug free existence. However she admits her amazing recovery did not happen all at once. Recently, ACE had the opportunity to ask Allison about her recovery.
“I didn’t have an ‘Aha’ moment…It was more of a process” she said. This progression started when Allison spent time in rehabilitation. While she was going through the motions, something clicked. As she read more about her addiction, she felt less alone, attended meetings, and partnered with a sponsor. Soon the guilt and shame disappeared, paving a clear path away from inhalant abuse.
“All those things are still working for me today, [I am] making smarter choices for myself because I realize that I am a life worth saving”.
She says, “When I look back two years ago or see parts of my episode, I can't believe the changes in my life, in the way that I handle situations and the happiness that I feel now”. Even in difficult times she holds on to hope: “I have faith now that no matter what comes my way, I always am exactly where I am supposed to be”.
As Allison savors this special moment, we wanted to thank her for giving back and her efforts to help others struggling with inhalant abuse.
If you know someone who is addicted to inhalants, contact local professionals for advice. You can find the closest help at http://dasis3.samhsa.gov and visit Inhalant.org to learn what signs may point toward inhalant abuse. Just want to talk? Our message board provides community for that purpose.
Motor vehicle fatality is the leading cause of death to teenagers, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. This is an alarming figure because it represents more than one-third of all deaths annually. With more people on the road, National Youth Traffic Safety Month serves greater importance every year. This trend means teen drivers should be more aware of safe driving practices.
With more people on the road, National Youth Traffic Safety Month serves greater importance every year. This trend means teen drivers should be that much more aware of safe driving practices.
Inhalant abuse is always a bad idea, but driving while under the influence of inhalants not only puts your life in danger, but the lives of others as well. To see how prevalent this issue is, check out stories of car crashes from our blog.
If you or someone you know is abusing please learn the facts about inhalant abuse and seek help today at http://dasis3.samhsa.gov/.
Until next week,
Monday, May 3, 2010
This Saturday, May 8th, ACE is going to Connecticut and introducing 2 never before seen Disease Prevention Program components! First up, we will be unveiling the ACE Clean mascot for the very first time. To see a life-sized version of ACE Clean take the field and interact with the crowd will be great.
This Saturday will also mark the launch of ACE Clean’s Trivia Challenge! Created as a joint partnership with Consumer Specialty Products Association’s Cleaning Products Division, the online game is designed to teach people of all ages about good health through cleanliness and proper hygiene practices. On May 8th, the Boys Scouts will do the honors of being the first to actually play it. Of course ACE Clean will also interact with the Scouts on the field as they compete troop against troop.
During the 7th inning stretch, the stadium will engage in an interactive hand washing activity. Lead by local Nurses, everyone in the stands will be asked to get into the action. If you are in the New Britain area we look forward to seeing you! Game starts at 6:35 pm ET, but make sure to get there early as we’re giving away exclusive ACE Clean- Rock Cats baseball cards to the first few thousands:
For more information on small steps you can take to stay healthy, please visit www.stopgerms.org and check out our “hints” section.
Until next week,
On April 30, I had the pleasure of attending the No Phone Zone event at the Washington, D.C. Newseum.
So how did I get here? ACE is a member of an amazing coalition called the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS). NOYS is a collaboration of national, youth-serving organizations, including non-profit organizations and government agencies, with the common goal of promoting safe and healthy behaviors among our nation's youth. NOYS, along with a number of government and advocacy organizations were involved with the event so that’s how I was able to attend.
So what was the event about? The No Phone Zone pledge asks drivers to resist the impulsive responses to text messages and phone calls while they drive. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, approximately 6,000 people die each year from distracted driving. Although the geography differs, many fatalities and injuries occur because drivers are not paying attention to the road.
While the event, replicated in five other cities, highlighted Oprah’s national campaign to curb dangerous driving habits, my best memory was manifest in a different form. Gayle King, radio personality and Oprah’s best friend, autographed my NPZ sign and briefly chatted after the event. Admittedly, I felt pretty special. However the interaction connected me to the statistics, and by extension, Ms. King’s conviction.
Currently, it is legal to operate your phone while driving in more than two dozen states. My home state of New York saw the light much earlier than I and outlawed it several years ago. That day I committed not to drive and text.
ACE also illuminates public dangers, such as inhaling and getting behind the wheel through its inhalant program. Events like the one today happen across the country throughout the year and it is important that we do our part to continue raising awareness about dangerous behavior. You may not be a world changer but you can certainly begin the change with you.