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September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month: The Impacts of Problem Gambling

According to the CDC (CDC, 2020) suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. This is a concerning statistic and many people struggle with their mental health every day. There are many factors that may lead someone to think that suicide is the only option, but have you ever thought about problem gambling as a source of emotional distress for someone?

There are many people who struggle with problem gambling in the United States. It is estimated that 2 million adults in the U.S. meet the criteria for gambling disorder, with another 4-6 million people in the U.S. struggling with problem gambling (National Council on Problem Gambling, 2020).

For many people, they can gamble and not have a problem. However, for some, gambling can cause problems in their lives.  Problem gambling is anytime gambling causes problems or negative consequences in someone’s life. Gambling disorder is a diagnosis by a qualified, trained professional determined by the criteria set forth in the DSM5.

 According to the DSM5, a diagnosis of gambling disorder requires at least four of the following during the past year:

  1. Need to gamble with increasing amount of money to achieve the desired excitement
  2. Restless or irritable when trying to cut down or stop gambling
  3. Repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back on or stop gambling
  4. Frequent thoughts about gambling (such as reliving past gambling experiences, planning the next gambling venture, thinking of ways to get money to gamble)
  5. Often gambling when feeling distressed
  6. After losing money gambling, often returning to get even (referred to as “chasing” one’s losses)
  7. Lying to conceal gambling activity
  8. Jeopardizing or losing a significant relationship, job or educational/career opportunity because of gambling
  9. Relying on others to help with money problems caused by gambling

It is important to remember that while all those with a gambling disorder are experiencing problem gambling, not all those struggling with problem gambling have a diagnosable gambling disorder. Whether someone is struggling with problem gambling or gambling disorder, they are at risk of having the negative consequences from gambling seep out into their everyday lives. These effects may not only impact the person struggling with gambling, but also impact their loved ones.

People who struggle with problem gambling are also at a higher risk for struggling with other mental health disorders. Two out of three gamblers reported that their mental health suffered as a result of their gambling problems.  In addition to struggling with gambling, they may be struggling with other mental health problems such as a mood disorders like depression, personality disorder, and anxiety. Someone struggling with their gambling may be cashing in retirement funds, college funds, or taking out additional credit cards and loans. These impacts can cause someone to feel hopeless, desperate, and alone.

These negative effects can take a toll on one’s mental health. Sadly, problem gambling has the highest suicide rate among all addictions. When we look at suicide in the United States, 3.9% of the adult population have suicidal ideations and 0.6% attempt suicide each year (CDC, 2015). While this statistic is alarming, we find that for problem gamblers, the concern continues to grow. It has been found that 37% of those struggling with problem gambling and 49% of those with a pathological Gambling Disorder have suicidal ideations. Statistics also show that 17% of problem gamblers and 18% of those with a Gambling Disorder attempt suicide. This rate is much higher than the general population, and we believe it’s important to raise awareness of this issue through educating community providers and clients.

Problem gambling is often referred to as “the hidden addiction” because there are no physical warning signs to “test for” problem gambling. It can be very difficult to spot, so it may be difficult to know if someone is struggling with this and may be having suicidal ideations. While there are no physical signs, there are still signs to look for if you think someone may be struggling with a gambling problem.  

Some things to look for are:

  • being absent from friend/family events because of gambling,
  • feeling stressed or anxious when not gambling,
  • low work performance due to absence or preoccupation with betting, and
  • lying to family and friends about how much money and time is spent on gambling.
  • relying on others to get out of debt, asking for loans or bailouts
  • using money needed for necessary expenses, such as food, rent, or medication for gambling

While we cannot physically test for problem gambling, there are screening and diagnostic tools that can be used to initiate a conversation about gambling. A common tool to use is the Brief Biosocial Gambling Screen, or the BBGS.

It is a simple three question screen that consists of yes or no answers.

  1. During the past 12 months, have you become restless, irritable or anxious when trying to cut down on gambling?
  2. During the past 12 months, have you tried to keep your family or friends from knowing how much you gambled?
  3. During the past 12 months, did you have such financial trouble as a result of your gambling that you had to get help with living expenses from family, friends or welfare?

If you, someone you know, or a client you work with answers yes to any of these questions, it may be time to start talking about problem gambling. Problem gambling can affect anyone at any point in their lives and can impact friends and families of those struggling with their gambling.  It can develop into a gambling disorder, which leads to damaged relationships with loved ones, difficulty at work, and financial problems. These problems can be detrimental to an individual’s mental health. It is important that we start to realize the importance of talking about problem gambling, and what impacts it may have on individuals. If we take the time to educate ourselves and start the conversation, we can help break the stigma and shame out of problem gambling and get those struggling the help that they need. If you or someone you know is struggling with problem gambling, they can visit Western New York Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC) or call 716-833-4274 to find out more and get connected to resources.

Submitted by: Jeffrey Wierzbicki

Authored by: Colleen Jones

Western Problem Gambling Resource Center

Featured

Be a Family Day STAR!

Monday, September 27th, marks the 21st anniversary of Family Day: Making Every Day Special, founded in 2001 by the Center on Addiction.  Research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University has consistently found that the more often children eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink, or use other drugs.  Conversations during mealtime are a way for parents to stay connected and involved with their children.  Including youth in meal prep and clean-up instills a sense of responsibility and they are likely to feel like part of a team.  In addition to family bonding, kids who eat with their families are more likely to learn healthy eating habits, eat smaller portions, do better in school, and are less likely to stress about food.  Depending on weather, a picnic with board games would be a fun way to enjoy nature and appreciate each other’s company.

Televisions, cell phones, and other mobile devices should be turned off during dinner so each person can share the day’s events without distractions.  Trips in the vehicle can also be used as teachable, quality bonding time, as parents have a “captive” audience.  The earlier parents start connecting with their kids, the better.  If kids aren’t used to talking to their parents about what’s going on in their lives when they are eight or ten, it will be more difficult to get them talking when they are older.    

Teens are at greater risk of substance abuse as they move from middle school to high school, so, parents need to be especially attentive during this transition period.

If parents are unsure of how to start an age-appropriate conversation, they can access tips in the Parent Toolkit on the CASA Family Day website.  Other valuable information can also be found in the toolkit, such as “connecting” with kids, preventing substance use, background facts on substance use, family activities and worksheets, and tips for talking to kids about substance use.  To follow Family Day on social media like Partnerships to End Addiction on Facebook, partnershiptoendaddiction on Instagram and @ToEndAddiction. Family photos can be shared on social media using #NationalFamilyDay and #MyFamilySelfie. 

This year’s sponsors are Quest Diagnostics, American Express, and ACOSTA.  Partners include CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America), Faith and Fabric, Fathers Incorporated, MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), National Military Family Association, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, Prevent Child Abuse America, SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), Super Healthy Kids, The Family Dinner Project, and The Moyer Foundation.

Celebrate with parents nationwide and pledge to commit to:

  • Spend time with your kids by playing games, taking a walk, or enjoying another family activity.
  • Talk to them about their friends, interests, and the dangers of using substances. 
  • Answer their questions and listen to what they say.
  • Recognize that parents have the power to keep their kids substance-free! A warm, supportive relationship between parents and their children is linked to better judgement, increased self-control, and resilience, which are strengths that help reduce the risk of future drug use.

Remember, parental engagement does make a difference, and prevention works!

Resources

Featured

Gambling Problems Don’t Make You a Terrible Person: September is Recovery Month

Often when problem gambling makes headlines, the focus is on the financial toll and the devastation experienced by spouses, children, and other loved ones. Although these are very impactful consequences of someone’s gambling problem, it can unfairly vilify the person without providing insight into their own struggle.

Problem gambling is the result of gambling causing problems in someone’s life, which may include poor mental health, conflicts with friends and family, financial trouble, and the like. For many, their problems can be the result of gambling disorder, a diagnosable behavioral disorder. As we have learned with issues related to alcohol or drug use, this behavior cannot be boiled down to a moral failing or lack of discipline.

Mental health issues could be the cause or effect of a gambling problem. Some people may have started gambling for fun but now experience a compulsion or need to keep gambling. Others may use gambling to escape worry, stress, or trauma in their lives. Either situation can lead to painful depression, anxiety, shame, thoughts of suicide, all of which can decrease the ability to make positive, rational decisions.

Certainly, there may be consequences for which a person with a gambling problem must take responsibility. However, to ensure that he or she can make amends for wrongdoing and avoid future problems, we must promote the individual’s and family’s health and wellness through support, treatment and recovery for problem gambling and gambling disorder.

The Western Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC) is here to support anyone being negatively impacted by problem gambling. If you’re dealing with problems related to your own gambling or someone else’s, call (716) 833-4274 or email WesternPGRC@nyproblemgambling.org to speak with a caring and knowledgeable PGRC staff who will connect you to the resources that will best meet your needs. Recovery and healing are possible.

Resources

Problem Gambling Palm Card

Underage Gambling Palm Card

32nd NATIONAL RECOVERY MONTH

This September marks the 32nd National Recovery Month, an observance held every September to educate Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with a mental and/or substance use disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life. 

Recovery Month celebrates the gains made by those in recovery, just as society celebrates health improvements made by those who are managing other health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease.  A major difference, however, is that the successes of the millions of Americans whose lives have been transformed through recovery often go unnoticed by the general population.  The observance reinforces the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover. 

Each year, Recovery Month selects a new focus and theme to spread the message and share the successes of treatment and recovery.  This year’s theme, “Recovery is For Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community,” is meant to remind people in recovery and those who support them that no one is alone in the journey through recovery. The observance will work to promote and support new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the emergence of a strong recovery community, and the dedication of service providers and community members who make recovery in all its forms possible.

As part of Recovery Month, National Addiction Professionals Day will be celebrated on September 20.  This day was established by NAADAC (National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors) to commemorate the dedicated work that these vital players of the health system and continuum of care do on a daily basis.

Previously, Recovery Month was sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  In June of 2020, SAMHSA announced its decision to retire its annual convening of Recovery Month stakeholders, the development of future themes and assets, and the management of the events calendar.  For more information visit Recovery Month, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.  NAADAC now “carries the torch” for Recovery Month.

Local counseling is available at the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc., at 585-593-6738. Together, we can stop the stigma surrounding mental and substance use disorders, and help more people find the path to hope, health, and overall wellness! 

Resources

Faces & Voices of Recovery

International Overdose Awareness Day

Tomorrow, August 31 marks the 21st International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD), started in Melbourne, Australia, in 2001.  Sally Finn, a manager of the Salvation Army syringe program, saw the sorrow that families experienced when they lost their loved ones to a drug overdose.  When she realized that the families were unable to express their grief due to the stigma of drug use, Sally arranged an event that would allow families to commemorate the memories of their departed loved ones.  Six thousand ribbons were distributed that day, and the awareness day has been supported every year since then.

According to the International Overdose Awareness Day website, there are several ways to make a difference on this global event day to celebrate, commemorate, or educate:

  • Hold a candlelight vigil or memorial service.
  • Plant a tree.
  • Have a barbecue.
  • Invite a speaker.
  • Have an open mic night.
  • Offer an educational program, such as one related to preventing opioid use, in partnership with a local organization.
  • Provide a safe space for telling the stories of overdose victims.
  • Offer a large canvas and washable paint so survivors can add a handprint in memory of their loved one.
  • Display empty hats or shoes to represent the number of lives lost in the community.
  • Use the IOAD’s Event Organizers’ Support Kit as a planning guide.
  • Access the IOAD’s Facebook page, Instagram page, and Twitter page to show support and share posts using the hashtag #OverdoseAware and #EndOverdose.
  • Change your Facebook or Twitter profile picture in support of IOAD on August 31.
  • Add the name of a loved one who died of an opioid overdose to the “Celebrating Lost Loved Ones” map.
  • Purchase or create purple wristbands, pins, shirts, or other items to be worn on August 31.Research state and federal legislation that addresses opioid overdose prevention, and write to your representative.
  • Support IOAD efforts by donating to end the opioid crisis by making a gift in honor of a loved one.

Resources

Covid-19 Stops with me! Get the facts to protect yourself! National Immunization Awareness Month

Can you get infected with Covid-19 from the vaccine?

No, a person cannot get infected with COVID-19 from the vaccine as it does not contain the live virus. Instead, it teaches our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus. Sometimes this process can cause mild fever, headache or tiredness, pain and swelling at the injection site. This Indicates the body is building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19.

Are COVID-19 vaccine side effects worse than being infected with coronavirus?

Although COVID-19 vaccine side effects can be uncomfortable, Covid-19 itself can be life threatening, cause more extreme and long-lasting symptoms, and can plague a person throughout their life. Remember, you should get the 2nd shot even if you get side effects from the 1st shot.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine unsafe because it was developed too quickly?

Although Covid-19 vaccines were developed in record time, no compromises were made. The vaccines have undergone the same rigorous Food and Drug Administration process as other vaccines and are distributed under Emergency Use Authorizations. Both pre-clinical and clinical data show that the vaccines are safe and effective at preventing COVID-19 and reducing the risk of spreading the virus.

Can COVID-19 vaccine can cause infertility?

There is no scientific evidence that the Covid-19 vaccine will cause infertility. Remember, any information you find online should be verified.

Is COVID-19 the government’s way of controlling citizen’s lives, should Allegany County be worried?

The federal, state, and local government leaders are working hard to protect our communities from the devastating impact of COVID-19. The government is not using the spread of the coronavirus to curb personal freedoms.

Where can someone go if they need a Covid-19 test for a trip, camp, or back to school or if they have symptoms?

If you need a COVID-19 test there are pharmacies and Urgent Care Facilities in Western New York offering a rapid or PCR test. You should call the Allegany County Department of Health (ACDOH) at 585-269-9250 for assistance in finding the type of COVID-19 test you need and the closet location to you.

What types of COVID-19 vaccine are available in Allegany County and where can residents get their vaccine?

Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are available in Allegany County and surrounding counties. You can check the Allegany County website to see availability at: https://www.alleganyco.com/news/community/upcoming-covid-19-vaccination-dates/ .

You can also go to www.vaccine.gov and narrow down your search by the type of vaccine and zip code. It is important to call ahead to make sure the vaccine is on hand. If you have questions about COVID-19 vaccines or need assistance registering for an appointment, call the ACDOH at 585-268-9250.

Get Vaccinated!

Problem Gambling & Pride Month

Happy Pride Month!  June is established to recognize the impact that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals have had on the world. LGBTQIA+ groups celebrate this special time with pride parades, picnics, parties, memorials for those lost to hate crimes and HIV/AIDS, and other group gatherings.  It’s also important to recognize that the LGBTQIA+ community has been impacted by various mental health issues, including problem gambling.  Problem gambling is anytime someone’s life is negatively impacted by their gambling habits.  This could be financial struggles, relationship or partner issues, conflicts with work and school, and even translating to criminal behavior.

Unfortunately, there is limited research on the prevalence of gambling addiction among the LGBTQIA+ community.  However, the information that is available does suggest that there is a correlation between problem gambling and those who identify as gay, bisexual, and transgender. A 2006 U.S. study reports that 21% of 105 men seeking treatment for problem gambling identified as gay or bisexual. That percentage is 7x higher than the (reported) rate of gay and bisexual men in the general population (21% as opposed to 3%) raising the possibility that gay/bi men might be at increased risk for problem gambling (Grant, JE, and Potenza, MN, 2006).  Additionally, a 2015 Australian study reports that 20.2% of 69 LGBT participants met DSM V criteria for gambling disorder.  Pub/slot games (58%) and scratch offs (43%) were most common about LGBTI populations. The amount spent ranged from $1 – $3K per month. Reasons were “because it is fun” and “because I like the feeling.”

The most important takeaway from these limited studies is that it’s important to have a comprehensive screening system in place for all individuals receiving treatment for problem gambling, especially screening specifically for LGBTQIA+ folks who are already in care or seeking treatment for mental health or chemical dependency needs.   First and foremost, establishing a safe environment for clients should be a normalized step within all counseling and therapy-related practices.  Secondly, help is available for problem gambling no matter how you identify. The Western Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC) is excited to promote our clinicians who are experienced in treating LGBTQIA+ individuals, as well as have training in cultural humility.  Below are some barrier-free options the Western PGRC offers our community:

  • In person or teletherapy counseling (individual or couples therapy)
  • Connection to Gambler’s Anonymous or Gam-Anon
  • Online family support group
  • Guidance through the NYS Casino Self-Exclusion Program
  • Online tools and resources, including self-assessment screening
  • Connection to statewide inpatient and outpatient treatment services

To get started, call the Western PGRC at (716) 833-4274 or email WesternPGRC@nyproblemgambling.org.

For more information, visit https://nyproblemgamblinghelp.org/.

National Prevention Week: Preventing Suicide

This May for Mental Health Awareness Month, we are working with Partners for Prevention and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to send the message that no one’s mental health is fully supported until everyone’s mental health is supported. We are encouraging everyone to get involved by taking one simple action to encourage their friends, family, and community to take care of their mental health. Everyone has different experiences with their own mental health, and their own preferred methods of care and support. It is important that we all remain open and ready to listen to others’ points of view and perspectives, especially during this challenging time.

Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being, and mental illnesses are common and treatable. While 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness during their lifetime, everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their mental health. The past year forced many to accept tough situations that they had little to no control over. The pandemic forced us to cope with situations we never even imagined, causing a lot of us to struggle with our mental health as a result and challenging our resiliency. It is critical to reduce the stigma around mental health struggles that commonly prevent individuals from seeking help slow down their journey to recovery.

How YOU can support Mental Health for All:

For Yourself

  • Open up to someone close to you about something that you have been coping with
  • Identify 3 simple self-care activities that work for YOU, like meditating, journaling, or exercising.
  • Schedule a check-up to talk to a doctor about your mental health, as well as your physical health
  • Add crisis resource numbers to your phone and encourage a loved one to do the same.

For the People in Your Life

  • Let people in your life know you are a safe person to talk to about mental health
  • Actively listen and engage when someone comes to you for help
  • Connect people in your life who have shared interests, such as music, arts, sports and more!

For Your Community

  • Advocate for mental health policies that ensure that everyone in your community has access to:
    • mental health care.
    • suicide prevention training.
    • funding for local crisis resources.
  • Get involved with your local Suicide Prevention Coalition efforts, local American Foundation for Suicide Prevention chapter, or support outreach events.
  • Help transform your community into one that is smart about mental health, where everyone has support when they need it.
  • Bring mental health education, research or support programs to your school, workplace, or community center.

To ensure mental health for all and prevent suicide, we need your help to reduce stigma, build awareness, and support those at-risk for suicide. You have the strength and power to reach out and save a life. Knowledge, awareness, advocacy, and empathy are the tools you may already have. Below are even more resources to empower you to confidently tear down the stigma surrounding mental health and save someone’s life.

Together We Can Prevent Suicide…Prevention Works.

WHAT TO DO

  • If your life or someone you know is in imminent danger, CALL 911.
  • Offer help and support; listen.
  • Assess the environment for your safety and theirs – Remove any objects that may be used for harm.
  • Stay with the person until assistance arrives.
  • For additional help call:
    • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-5233 (TALK).
    • Allegany County Crisis Hotline at 1-888-448-3367.
    • Text the word “hello” to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

Join the Allegany County Suicide Prevention Coalition at any of our upcoming workshops; including SafeTalk, Talk Saves Lives, ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training), and Youth Mental Health First Aid, or share your time and support as a member of the Coalition.

Are you a survivor of suicide loss? We can help connect you to local support groups.

To learn more, like us on Facebook or call Jose Soto at 585-610-9765.

Or visit these great online resources:

National Prevention Week 585 Prevention Podcast with ACASA’s Community Educator Ann Weaver.

National Prevention Week: Preventing Youth Tobacco Use (E-cigarettes and Vaping)

Thursday, May 13 theme is focused on preventing youth tobacco use, especially looking at e-cigarette use and vaping, which in the past two years there have been some big swings in policy change federally and at the state level. Beginning in 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) passed regulations to ban the sale of flavored pods excluding menthol and tobacco flavors. This ban affected products like JUUL, Vuse, and, Blu which can all be found in our local stores and really jump started the use of e-cigarettes among young people. There are various reasons for this; the two biggest were the product being easily concealable by young people and secondly, flavors that young people like. This ban on flavored pods, seemed like a good response; unfortunately, it was limited to only pod systems and the industry reacted by creating disposable e-cigarettes like Puff Bar and Hyde, which were a one-time use product that, once people were done vaping, would be discarded. In May 2021, New York banned all flavored e-juice in all vaping products excluding tobacco and non-flavored e-juice. This ban closed the loophole in the FDA regulation and should have an overall positive effect on limiting young people from vaping. Unfortunately, in our area young people still have access to flavored e-juice by going to stores in Pennsylvania and the Seneca Territory.  Even though the legal age to purchase tobacco products is 21, some stores will not check identification or decide to risk punishment to sell to underage youth. Once young people know which stores will sell tobacco products to them, the word travels quickly.

It is important for adults in young people’s lives to talk to them about e-cigarettes and vaping and all substances. Adults can educate themselves on what to look for to help them identify different types of e-cigarettes and known risks to help with the conversation.

Most people have argued, ”Well if young people are vaping, at least they are not using traditional cigarettes”. Vaping has scientifically been shown to be less harmful for adults, NOT youth. Studies have shown that the earlier young people start using an addictive product it is harder for them to quit and primes the adolescent brain to develop addiction to substances. Also, young people who vape are more likely to transition to smoking traditional cigarettes as they get older. We also do not know the long-term health risks of vaping, like we do with traditional cigarettes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that smoking is still the #1 cause of preventable death, killing over 480,000 Americans each year, and another 16 million Americans live with a smoking related disease. After looking at these stats and knowing that young people who vape are more likely to start smoking traditional cigarettes, vaping at a young age is an important issue.

In Allegany County, if you have a young person who is using tobacco products and would like to quit, contact the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc.’s (ACASA) Ann Weaver for cessation services at (585) 593-1920, ext. 713. There are also online cessation resources below.

If you like to learn more about what communities can do to protect young people from becoming new daily smokers or encourage current smokers to quit visit Tobacco Free Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany.

Resources

National Prevention Week 585 Prevention Podcast with ACASA’s Community Educator Ann Weaver.

E-cigarettes: Talk to Youth About the Risks

Truth Initiative’s This is Quitting.

BecomeandEx.org

National Prevention Week: Preventing Illicit Drug Use and Youth Marijuana Use

On March 31, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed into law the Marijuana and Regulation Tax Act (MRTA), which legalizes 21+ adult use of cannabis.  According to the MRTA, adults can have three mature and three immature cannabis plants within their private residence, with a limit of six mature and six immature plants per private residence.  In addition, adults can possess up to three ounces of dried cannabis and twenty-four ounces of cannabis concentrate outside their home, and possess up to five pounds of marijuana in their home.  These plants and products must be kept in a secured place so they are not accessible to anyone under the age of twenty-one.  Currently, home growth is not legal and will not be authorized until eighteen months after the opening of the first adult-use dispensaries.  Certified medical cannabis patients over twenty-one and their caregivers may cultivate cannabis for personal use six months after the effective legislation date.

The MRTA allows towns, cities, and villages the opportunity to opt-out of allowing retail dispensaries and/or on-site consumption licenses by passing a local law by December 31, 2021, or nine months after the effective date of this legislation, whichever is later.

 According to information gathered by “Parents Opposed to Pot”, which is a 501c3 educational nonprofit based in northern Virginia, home grow dangers include the following:

  1. Access to children increases and it is impossible to keep away from those under twenty-one.
  2. Child and dog poisonings are occurring in the home, or at school when youth take the drug or edibles to school.
  3. Property crimes, such as breaking and entering and personal injury/homicide crimes increase.  Thieves consistently target home grows.
  4. Nuisance to neighbors is a problem, such as odor, people coming and going at all hours, and drive-by shootings.
  5. Squatter grows in rented units may make it more difficult to sell the home once growers leave.
  6. Landlords will be saddled with huge utility bills and drywall damage, due to odor permeating the drywall, which requires expensive remediation/renovation.
  7. Hash oil manufacturing can cause explosions and claimed the lives of a child in Colorado and one in California.  (Amateurs who make highly concentrated THC at home attempt to undercut the regulated marijuana market.)
  8. Home growers are potential drug dealers, as, in states where recreational marijuana is legal, the home can become a black market home-based drug dealing establishment.
  9. Energy use is many times the normal household electricity consumption when growing indoors, due to the extra lighting required.

In April, 2021, a study in Alexandria, Virginia, found that secondhand marijuana smoke could be more health hazardous than secondhand cigarette smoke.  The study compared emissions of fine particles, or particulate matter (PM 2.5) from tobacco smoke and marijuana smoke, and found that the PM 2.5 emission rate of pre-rolled marijuana joints was 3.5 times higher than the average PM 2.5 emission rate of Marlboro cigarettes.  In addition, indoor smoking of marijuana produced much more secondhand smoke emissions than indoor cigarette smoking.  This study follows previous research findings that marijuana users had higher levels of smoke-related toxins in their blood and urine than nonsmokers.  These toxins are associated with cancer, anemia, and liver and mental health damage.

Dr. Kevin Sabet, president and co-founder of SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana), and former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration, stated, “With the recent declaration that the use of marijuana in public areas will be allowed under the new legalization in New York State, this new research solidifies the need for further public health guardrails to be put in place, not only in New York, but also in other states where the public use of marijuana proliferates.  The risks to health cannot be ignored.”

Visit ppaccentral.org for more resources and information.  For specifics on the topic of marijuana, go to the “Addictions” tab and drop down to “Marijuana”.

Resources

National Prevention Week 585 Prevention Podcast with ACASA’s Community Educator Ann Weaver.