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Family Foundations of Health

The Free Press WV

The family provides a foundation for children’s and adolescents’ health and well-being. The unique and frequent interactions between children and their families can create protective factors that may promote and support health now and into adulthood. The Lancet Commission’s report on adolescent health notes that during adolescence, peers and other people in a teen’s life also influence health, but the family remains a central influence.

Family members can influence an adolescent’s health by:


1.       Promoting delayed sexual activity.

In 2012, nearly nine in ten teens said that it would be easier for teens to postpone sexual activity if they could have an honest conversation with their parents, and about 40 percent of teens cited parents as the biggest influence regarding their decisions about sex. Research also shows that when parents talk to their teens about sex, teens are more likely to delay sex, use contraception if they do have sex, and communicate more effectively with their partners. Talking about sex with adolescents can be intimidating. Family members can use conversation tools to stay calm and talk honestly. Advocates for Youth also provides a collection of guidance and resources in the Parents Sex Ed Center for parents who may not know exactly what to say or how to say it.


2.       Protecting against substance use.

Teens whose parents establish clear rules and talk about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs are less likely to use these substances. Parents and other caring adults should monitor parties to prevent underage drinking and protect against unhealthy relationships with alcohol in the future. Similarly, parents can establish and enforce clear driving rules to prevent teens from drunk or risky driving.

Families can encourage teens of all ages to stay drug-free by clearly communicating the consequences of drug use, talking about what they’re learning at school, and commenting on the positive aspects of the teen’s life and character. Avoiding alcohol consumption or limiting drinking also are good behaviors to model for adolescents. If you believe a teen is already drinking or using drugs, there are ways to help them stop.


3.       Preventing unhealthy relationships.

Open communication and closeness with parents can help prevent dating violence and promote healthy relationships. For example, parents and other family members who get to know their teen’s friends and romantic partners can more effectively monitor those relationships and encourage positive decision-making. In addition, family members can talk about and model healthy relationships to their teen. For instance, using conflict resolution skills can show adolescents how to set boundaries and compromise even when they feel angry or uncomfortable.

Since relationships aren’t black-and-white and exist on a spectrum from healthy to abusive, adults may need to evaluate the health of their own relationships. Adults can see where their relationships land on the spectrum and learn ways to improve them. If you think that you or your adolescent is in an abusive relationship or needs help, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.7233.


4.       Building connectedness.

Parental supervision combined with high levels of support increases family connectedness. When families are connected, teens may be less likely to become violent. Family connectedness also helps adolescents build resilience so they can withstand setbacks. Sharing a meal can promote family connectedness, stability, and healthy eating habits. To make the most of family mealtimes, unplug from phones and have make-your-own meals that get everyone involved. Other activities from ParentFurther can help families strengthen their bonds even as adolescents become more independent. Disconnection or withdrawal from social interactions, along with other warning signs, may indicate a mental health issue. In times of emotional distress or crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK.


5.       Shaping lifelong habits.

Life at home can help teens establish healthy habits. Talking with teens about how to manage different aspects of their lives builds self-sufficiency and provides them with skills they will use in adulthood. Younger children and adolescents can be involved in tasks like grocery shopping and meal planning to ensure healthy food habits throughout life. Similarly, a friendly competition with family can encourage adolescents to be physically active, a habit that helps prevent chronic conditions in the future.

Families also can educate teens on good money management skills. Teach teens the five principles of money management and how to factor them into decision-making. Money as You Grow helps adults guide children as they begin earning money and making financial decisions. Financial education curriculum and other resources help educators and community leaders connect youth and families to financial services and support lifelong decision-making skills.

Addressing Public Health Crises: Suicide and Opioid Addiction are Preventable

Both opioid addiction and suicide are serious preventable and treatable public health problems, and everyone has a role to play.

The Free Press WV

During National Public Health Week , April 03-09, we celebrate the progress we’ve made helping people live healthier lives and those public health professionals who have helped us make that progress. But one hallmark of public health is life expectancy, and the United States just experienced a drop in overall life expectancy for the first time since 1993. This was due in part to increases in two of the nation’s most heart-breaking and yet preventable public health issues facing us: the increasing rate of suicide and the increasing misuse of opioid drugs.

In 2015, nearly 44,200 deaths were due to suicide in the United States, or about one suicide every 12 minutes. According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 600,000 U.S. residents died by suicide from 1999 to 2015. The suicide rate has steadily climbed, resulting in a 2015 rate that is 28 percent higher than in 2000.

Suicide rates in less urban areas have been higher than those in more urban areas. During this time period, the gap in suicide rates increased between less urban and more urban areas. This gap began to widen more quickly in 2007-2008, possibly reflecting the impact and financial hardship of the recession, which hit rural areas harder.

Geographic disparities may also be associated with limited access to mental health care and greater social isolation, as well as the “opioid overdose epidemic,” according to the CDC report.

According to the CDC report: “Communities can benefit from implementing policies, programs and practices based on the best available evidence regarding suicide prevention and key risk factors.” And the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline , 1.800.273.TALK (8255), supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is always available for anyone in need of help or information about suicide prevention.

Opioids include both prescription medications, such as hydrocodone, oxydone, morphine and methadone, which are approved to manage pain, as well as illicit drugs, such as heroin.

Suicide and opioid misuse and abuse risk factors can overlap, including pain, other addictions, mental disorders and disruptions in social support. Whether opioid overdose is unintentional or intentional, more than 300,000 Americans have died since 2000, including more than 33,000 deaths involving prescription and illicit opioids in 2015 alone. 

To address this crisis, President Trump recently established a Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, which has been tasked to make recommendations to the President for improving the federal response to the opioid crisis. The commission includes heads of key Cabinet departments, including HHS Secretary Tom Price.

The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and the Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health provide roadmaps for comprehensive public health approaches to suicide and substance abuse prevention. The emotional and economic impact on individuals as well as on families and communities demand a continued proactive and coordinated response.

Both opioid addiction and suicide are serious preventable and treatable public health problems, and everyone has a role to play. Learn about some of the available resources for treatment options, mental health and behavioral health issues and related concerns:

Why Western Medicine is Failing to Fix Our Addiction Crisis

According to board-certified medical doctor Mylaine Riobe, MD, addiction is a physiological metabolism disorder and requires specialized treatment.

The Free Press WV

Dr. Riobe studied pre-med at Columbia, went to NY Medical College for her MD, and completed an OB-GYN residency. She then “went out into the real world,” only to find that what she’d learned wasn’t enough for many problems patients came to her for.

“Most of my patients were tired all the time, couldn’t sleep, were gaining weight, and experiencing anxiety and depression. While I could prescribe sleeping pills, anxiety meds, and antidepressants, [my patients] seemed to return with other problems or even the same problems again later.”

Thus began her quest for answers. She credited her grandmother for introducing her to natural medicines. That, plus Dr. Riobe’s interest in Buddhist principles, led her to study Chinese medicine for five years. “I also studied with mentors for two years by seeing patients with them in their offices.”

In the United States, she explained, medical doctors don’t need to formally study Chinese medicine. “They can get away with a six-month course and begin practicing. This leads to a misunderstanding of Chinese medicine because it’s simply not enough time to learn it.”

The doctor then implemented Chinese medicine into her practice “with great results” and was able to help her patients in new ways. Still not completely satisfied, she continued to seek solutions by then studying functional medicine. “That introduced me to a sophisticated method of testing called cellular-based testing.”

After her extensive education, Dr. Riobe founded the Riobe Institute of Integrative Medicine in Stuart, Florida where she treats patients with her own medical recipe: a fusion of Western, Chinese and Functional medicines. Riobe is also the author of The Tao of Integrative Medicine: The Path to Prevention and The Answer to Cancer: The Ending of An Epidemic. She is also certified in office-based opioid addiction management.

“In conventional medicine,” said Riobe, “the term prevention isn’t used accurately. An annual checkup is looking for an early diagnosis of any existing diseases. If something is wrong, both the doctor and patient hope to catch it early. The goal is to prevent death, not prevent disease.”

She said, “Similarly, when an addict goes to detox, the focus is on removing the substance from the body. A ‘good’ doctor will try to make the addict more comfortable by prescribing a drug to ease withdrawal, anxiety, and depression.”

After days or weeks in rehab, the addict’s body has rid itself of the drug, and after-care programs may offer meditation, exercise, and psychiatric help. That all sounds good, right? Yes, said Riobe, but with that approach, we are failing to look at the bigger picture.

“We’re leaving the patient with the same underlying physiological causes of addiction, which is why our current methods have up to a 95% failure rate.”

She referred to a 2016 study released by the University of Beijing that focused on addiction as a physiological metabolism disorder. She is certain it all comes down to a problem with metabolism.

“Metabolism is the reactions the body uses to make its energy so it can perform its functions,” said Riobe. “As we take in foods containing proteins and fats, and breathe oxygen, they are broken down and converted into energy. If this process doesn’t take properly, we get lactic acid instead. These metabolic problems stem from nutrient deficits, hormone imbalances, and an accumulation of toxins,” she said. “Without proper evaluation and testing, it’s extremely difficult to determine the causes.”

After looking at the study, I still needed to understand what the authors—and Riobe—were getting at. In layman’s terms, lactic acid is a chemical compound that comes from blood cells and muscle. It can become problematic when a buildup occurs, which can happen as a side effect of toxin buildup from drug use or poor nutrition. Riobe explained, “The Beijing study showed that the release of lactic acid by glia cells in the brain triggers cocaine-addiction memories and fuels addiction in rodents.”

Okay, so then I had to understand what glia cells are: they are nervous system cells in your brain and spinal cord. Your brain’s neurons do the thinking while glia cells make sure the brain is working properly so the neurons can do their thing. The study found that if production of lactic acid is blocked, cravings for cocaine diminish. I’d say that’s an important discovery toward treating coke addicts, eh?

Riobe then talked about the glaring problem with our current treatment for opioid addicts. Based solely on western medicine, the patient is medicated with a “safer” version of the addictive drug, such as Suboxone.

“This satisfies the craving and drastically reduces the risk of death from drug overdose,” said Riobe. “But it leaves the underlying cause of addiction untreated, which explains why weaning addicts off of [Suboxone] is so difficult. The disease is still present, as are its underlying causes.”

The fatal flaw in this system, according to Riobe, is this focus on preventing death. “We look at the craving as the disease and mask it with prescription drugs,” she said. “We need to look for the cause of the craving.”

That’s where Riobe’s intensive studies and integration of Chinese medicine and functional medicine comes in. Her three-fold approach is to focus on preventing disease. She explained that western medicine is not equipped to look at disease from the perspective of metabolism, but traditional Chinese medicine and functional medicine are. “Their very premise is to correct ‘metabolic dysfunction,‘“ said Riobe.

Once again, I had to slow things down to understand all of this. I felt like it was going over my head. Let’s break it down in terms of treating addiction:

  • Western medicine is focused on diagnosing the disease and preventing death. A doctor looks at symptoms, makes a determination, and prescribes a solution. He/She might treat all patients with similar symptoms in the same way. Often, treatment includes pharmaceuticals. This can work in the short-term but it is only masking symptoms. The problem is that addiction is a chronic illness with underlying causes that are not just mental.
  • Chinese medicine looks at the whole person. Each patient is considered unique and the examination is based on “life force energy” or qi (pronounced chee). The doctor will look for why the balance in the body’s metabolism has been thrown off and what is causing the cravings. Treatment will be based on restoring the body’s natural balance. This focuses on long-term wellness. Riobe explained: “Chinese medicine is scientific. It is related to quantum physics as opposed to Newtonian physics like our conventional [western] and functional medicine models.”
  • Functional medicine, like Chinese medicine, does not merely mask symptoms, doesn’t rely on “one size fits all” answers, and looks to bring the body back to a healthy state. However, functional medicine shares western medicine’s problem-solving through advanced laboratory testing in order to determine why the body is malfunctioning.

Riobe’s practice combines these three strategies to wean patients off of addictive substances for a much better chance at long-lasting sobriety. She is in the process of opening an inpatient drug rehabilitation facility to implement her specialized three-fold medical model. In addition, Riobe is currently seeking grants for a study that will enroll addicted patients to prove the value in her integrative model to treat drug cravings.

“If drug dependence is treated naturally from a root cause perspective,” Riobe said, “we can see a momentum shift in the U.S. and bring this epidemic under control.”

~~  Dr. Riobe studied Chinese medicine for five years.  ~~

DHHR Launches Statewide Naloxone Distribution Project to Fight Opioid Overdose Deaths in WV

The Free Press WV

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) today announced the first statewide naloxone distribution project aimed at preventing opioid overdose deaths and increasing access to the medication.

“Naloxone is a lifesaving antidote that, if administered in a timely manner, can effectively reverse respiratory depression caused by opioid and opiate overdose and revive victims,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, State Health Officer and Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health.  “This collaboration represents an essential step toward turning around West Virginia’s staggering overdose statistics.”

The state-level naloxone distribution project is a partnership of DHHR’s Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities (BBHHF) and Bureau for Public Health (BPH).  It is predominantly funded through the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment $1.07 million block grant managed by the BBHHF, and is being administered by the BPH as part of its statewide harm reduction efforts.  The project will be jointly overseen by the BPH and the BBHHF to focus on reduction in the number of overdose deaths.

“The partnership forged between the bureaus to move this project forward marks the first concerted, statewide effort to make this medication more widely available to all who can potentially save a life,” said Kimberly Walsh, BBHHF Deputy Commissioner.  “This initiative will significantly enhance the state’s ability to ensure that non-EMS first responders, as well as others with existing programs or those who have interest in establishing programs, have access to naloxone.”

DHHR has contracted with the West Virginia University Injury Control Research Center (WVU ICRC) to implement and evaluate the program through a census of existing naloxone programs.

The WVU ICRC will use the data collected from its recent survey to compile a priority list of programs for the naloxone distribution.  Priority is based on the organization’s risk level (calculated from number and rate of overdose deaths in the county where the program is located) and estimated number of naloxone doses needed (based on survey responses).

The WVU ICRC has acquired more than 16,000 doses of medication, which will enable the distribution of more than 8,000, two-dose naloxone rescue kits to new and existing programs across the state.

Medical Marijuana May Reduce Opioid Abuse

The Free Press WV

Medical marijuana may reduce opioid painkiller use and abuse, three separate studies suggest.

Tara Holmes studied the issue this summer for the West Virginia Center On Budget and Policy. She said one of the studies that noted the clear benefits of medical marijuana was the 2015 National Bureau of Economic Research report.

“Providing broader access to medical marijuana may have the potential benefit of reducing abuse of highly-addictive painkillers,” Holmes concluded.

Separate research found fewer overdoses, and that older patients took fewer opioid painkillers in states that have approved medical marijuana use, she said. The West Virginia Legislature discussed legalizing cannabis for medical use last year, but some expressed concern that the move could increase abuse of what has sometimes been described as a “gateway drug.“

Several neighboring states are now in the process of implementing medical marijuana laws. West Virginia’s Legislature seems likely to consider the issue again in the next session, in part because marijuana could be a source of badly-needed revenue. And according to Holmes, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found a significant health benefit.

“The 2014 study done by JAMA suggests that statewide legalization of marijuana is linked with lower state-level opioid overdoses,” she said.

The Free Press WV


Medical Marijuana patients often take a pharmaceutical grade extraction - and defenders say that shouldn’t be confused with the joints that might be sold by a street dealer. In fact, Holmes said a third study looked at the prescription habits of Medicare Part D patients. She said even though all were over 65, they took fewer opioid painkillers when medical marijuana was available; healthier, she said, and cheaper.

“They would choose that over an opioid-based painkiller. Also, on the flip side of that, the state wouldn’t be paying for these prescription drugs, and these people wouldn’t be paying for it out-of-pocket.“

West Virginia has a high rate of both chronic pain and opioid prescriptions. The state also has more than twice the national average rate of overdose deaths.

More information on Holmes’s finding is available here.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

Baby Names Parents Say They Regret Giving Their Kids

The Free Press WV

Charlotte

You would think the baby name Charlotte would be high on parents’ “love” lists, but as it stands, it’s actually the baby name parents surveyed regret the most. That’s so interesting considering how timeless and regal a name like Charlotte is. At least Prince William and Kate enjoy this baby name.


Amelia

One baby name you might be surprised to see on this list is Amelia. Sweet and serene, Amelia seems to be a popular baby name many parents surveyed regret giving their daughters—which is a shame considering how pretty it sounds.


Anne

Aww, who doesn’t have love for Anne? It’s endearing, uncomplicated, and a name bestowed on some of the most memorable authors and poets—not to mention a pretty long list of royal ladies.


Daniel

Come on, who doesn’t love the name Daniel? It gives us so many nicknames—like Dan, Danny, Danny-O—which makes this baby name too good to pass up. Sadly, this popular Hebrew name for little gents-in-training earns a spot on the list of baby names parents regret.


Jacob

If you happen to be #TeamJacob, we’re sorry to say this name made the list of baby names parents regret. Jacob is very charming but is also a pretty popular baby name that could make some parents feel like it’s not distinctive enough.


James

A certain British character—who dresses up in amazing tuxedos and drinks martinis shaken and not stirred—might make the name James sound cool, but that alone is not enough to keep this baby name off the list. (We still love you, Bond.)


Thomas

Sadly, lovable Thomas finds a place on the list of baby names parents regret giving their children. What’s interesting to note is that this popular biblical name also carries the nickname “Doubting Thomas.“ It’s pretty safe to say that moms and dads who chose this name are experiencing doubt. Talk about an omen.


Alex

Alex?! Sure, this name is a bit ordinary, but it could be a short name—a nickname even—for so many awesome baby names. There’s Alejandro, Alessandro, Alexandria, Alexis, Alexander, and a long list of other wickedly awesome baby names.


Anthony

Playfully known as “another Tony,“ Anthony finds its way onto the list of regretted baby names. Maybe if they knew Anthony is Latin for “priceless,“ that would cheer up some parents!


David

It pains us to see David made this list of regrettable baby names. Was no one else a fan of Beverly Hills, 90210? Did Brian Austin Green not give you life growing up as David Silver? Even if his character wasn’t inspiration for this baby name, David is still a pretty rocking choice.


Emily

Aww, who could ever regret such a darling baby name like Emily? It’s such a delightful choice that offers a fun play on the classic Amelia.


Frederick

Freddy. Fred. Fred Man. We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it appears a good number of moms and dads just aren’t feeling the name Frederick anymore.


Jack

No matter how many famous Jacks we know—including Jack Nicholson, Jack Black, Jackie Chan (hey, there’s a Jack in there), and the late Jack Lemmon—the numbers don’t seem to matter. Jack is one of the baby names parents surveyed regret the most.


Jay

Who knew that a three-letter pet name would cause such disappointment? As sugary (you know, extra sweet) as the baby name Jay is, it doesn’t seem to strike a chord with new parents. In fact, some wish they chose another name for their kids.


Joseph

Little Joseph might be a cutie, but his baby name is one that parents surveyed say they regret. Maybe they know one too many Joeys? In the words of Joey Tribbiani, “These are just feelings. They’ll go away.“


Jane

Jane might be a usual name to some, but it’s such a classic. Jane Eyre. Jane Austen novels. The name Jane has given us tons of amazing literary works and inspiration to last a lifetime!


Lily

As fragrant as a floral-inspired baby name might be, some are more sweet-smelling to parents than others. Finding a spot on the list of most regrettable baby names is Lily, which might surprise some moms and dads. Perhaps parents who now dislike their choice no longer enjoy these trumpet-shaped blooms?


Louise

Are traditional baby names no longer in style? Louise was quite the popular name in the early 1900s, but has since lost demand. Now it appears to be a baby name moms and dads surveyed wish they didn’t give their daughters.


May

Mayday, mayday! It would appear parents who participated in the Mumsnet survey now wish they wouldn’t have named their little girls May. A pet name thought to unite Mary and Margaret, this name is one we think is super sweet.


Meghan

How many people do you know who have the name Meghan? It’s a well-liked baby name that so many parents love to use. Maybe this is one of the reasons why some moms and dads surveyed now wish they chose another option.


Oscar

Aww. Please tell us this isn’t true! Sadly, the baby name Oscar is a choice parents regret—which makes us a bit glum considering how adorable it is.


Ruby

As great as you might think this precious stone is, some parents feel Ruby, as a baby name, isn’t that lustrous. Who knows why this red gem made the list of most regrettable baby names. All we know is it’s here and moms and dads are second-guessing their decision.


Sally

Last but certainly not least is Sally. A precious pet name for Sarah, this baby name just doesn’t seem to inspire moms and dads surveyed on Mumsnet anymore. Who knows if this baby name will reignite cheer again.

West Virginia Feed to Achieve Program Aims to End Childhood Hunger

The Free Press WV

West Virginia Feed to Achieve (WVFTA), an initiative of the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Children Nutrition, officially launched today during a special event on the Capitol lawn.

State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano served as keynote speaker and addressed the importance of working together to end childhood hunger in West Virginia.

“Hunger among children has a major impact not only on health care costs later in life, but also educational achievement, worker productivity and eventually the ability of the region and nation to compete in a global economy,” Martirano said. “Feed to Achieve will be a tremendous asset to our state. It will also help build the foundation for other states to develop and carry out similar programs for children.”

West Virginia Feed to Achieve is a nonprofit, donation-based program that aims to end childhood hunger in West Virginia by providing grants to programs that are feeding children outside of the school day such as backpack feeding programs, school-based food pantries, community-based food pantries, and church-based feeding programs.

“In West Virginia there are nearly 1 in 4 children that live in a household that does not have sufficient access to food,” said Samantha Snuffer-Reeves, West Virginia Department of Education Office of Child Nutrition Coordinator. “Feed to Achieve’s main goal is to feed children when they’re most at risk: after school hours, holidays, weekends, snow days and during the summer months.”

The inspiration for WVFTA occurred when West Virginia Senator John Unger was visiting an elementary school in Martinsburg. He asked what students would change about their school and one boy said he would like to receive two lunches so there would be enough food left over for his parents and siblings. “That was a huge wakeup call for our department- something had to be done about childhood hunger in our state, and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Martirano said.

West Virginia Feed to Achieve is solely dependent on donations from individuals, businesses and corporations. All donations received directly fund grants that are distributed to eligible social service organizations statewide twice a year.

Grant applications will be received in September in preparation for winter and in April 2017 in preparation for next summer. Funds will then be awarded in November 2016 and June 2017. The West Virginia Feed to Achieve Selection Committee will review grant applications and award funding. Funding amounts will be dependent on the amount of money in the state West Virginia Feed to Achieve fund.

Since West Virginia Feed to Achieve programs are strictly donation based, interested corporate or individual donors are encouraged to visit and make donations on the West Virginia Feed to Achieve website at www.wvfeedtoachieve.com.


09.16.2016
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Rising Level Of Child Poverty “Ignored” By Candidates

The Free Press WV

Given how little attention it’s getting from candidates, children in poverty is a hidden crisis, say advocates.

According to the most recent complete numbers from Kids Count, more children in West Virginia and across the nation are growing up in poverty now than during the Great Recession.

But Bruce Lesley, president of the children’s advocacy group First Focus, says in the first 10 Democratic and Republican presidential debates, only one question out of 500 was specific to the lives children in this country now live.

“Someone will say I care about terrorism and we need to do it for our children,” he relates. “That may be true but there are huge issues facing our children directly. So where’s the big debate?“

About 20 percent of U.S. children live below the poverty line, a rate sharply higher than adults.

The number of West Virginia children in poverty rose by about 7 percent between 2007 and 2014.

Folks working on children’s issues say they have trouble drawing attention to the topic during political fights and budget battles.

Lesley says even though childhood poverty is increasing, federal spending devoted to fighting it has fallen in recent years.

“If they would engage in the conversation, I think they would find a very receptive audience among the public but because kids don’t vote, they don’t have PACs, they’re not donating to campaigns, they’re not on top of mind, and so it’s a huge problem that we face,“ Lesley says.

Although the issue doesn’t always draw a lot of attention, Julia Isaacs, a senior fellow with the Urban Institute, says it can be hugely important.

“Children growing up in poverty tend not to do as well in school, which means that then when they’re adults they may be in poverty,” she points out. “And so one reason we try to break the cycle of poverty is so we don’t have inter-generational poverty. “


07.26.2016
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Families With Kids Still Recovering From Recession

New data from the KIDS COUNT Data Book suggests that families with children have not fully recovered from the Great Recession. Most economic indicators are still below prerecession levels, and the nation’s child poverty rate remains stuck at 22%.

The Free Press WV


In this year’s ranking of states on the economic well-being of kids, Wyoming moved into the top spot, and Louisiana dropped to last.

Heroin, Painkiller Overdose Antidote Getting Easier To Buy

The Free Press WV

It is becoming easier for friends and family of heroin users or patients taking strong painkillers to buy an antidote that can reverse the effect of an overdose, as policymakers look for ways to fight a growing epidemic.

Naloxone, which is known by the brand-name Narcan, can quickly revive someone who has stopped breathing after overdosing on so-called opioids, highly addictive drugs that include prescription painkillers like Vicodin as well as illegal narcotics like heroin. In the past, naloxone has been available mostly through clinics, hospitals or first responders like paramedics.

Now, nearly every state has passed laws that allow people to buy naloxone without requiring a prescription from their doctor, and drugstores and other retailers around the country are making it easier to buy the drug.

“This saves lives, doesn’t seem to have any negative impact that we can identify, therefore it should be available,“ said Dr. Corey Waller of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, Target and Wal-Mart have joined independent drugstores in either relaxing access to naloxone through their pharmacies in dozens of states, or are making plans to do so. The grocer Kroger is also selling it without requiring a prescription in a few states.

Deaths linked to opioids soared to more than 28,000 in 2014, the highest number on record. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 78 American die every day from an opioid overdose.

Autopsy results released Thursday show that the musician Prince died in April from an accidental overdose of fentanyl, an opioid painkiller that is up to 50 times more potent than heroin. Prince, 57, died less than a week after his plane made an emergency stop for medical treatment as he was returning from an Atlanta concert, where first responders gave him a shot of naxalone.

Naloxone can restore a person’s breathing after it is injected or sprayed in the nostrils, bringing overdose victims back from near-death inside a few minutes.

Increased access to it through drugstores and other retailers comes with some limitations. The drug can cost around $80 per dose or more, which might make it unaffordable for someone with little disposable income and no insurance coverage. Customers also have to ask a pharmacist for it.

“You can’t treat it like an over-the-counter decongestant,“ said John Beckner, a pharmacist with the National Community Pharmacists Association, a trade group for independent pharmacies. “It’s a powerful drug product that’s going to require some instruction on how to use it.“

Beckner said pharmacists can teach the average customer how to recognize signs of an overdose and administer the drug and about what side effects to expect.

Only five states — Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri, Montana and Wyoming — have yet to pass a law improving naloxone access, according to The Network for Public Health Law, a nonprofit that helps government agencies.

Legislatures in two of those states, Hawaii and Missouri, have passed bills that await governor signatures, and Montana regulators have worked out an agreement with CVS to allow for wider access at its stores.

Opponents of this push, like Maine Gov. Paul LePage, have noted that naloxone doesn’t treat addiction and have said it discourages people from seeking treatment by essentially offering a safety net if they do overdose.

Waller doesn’t buy that argument. He said research shows that greater access to naloxone doesn’t draw people to illegal drug use or foster an addiction. He said naloxone is a drug that simply keeps someone from dying from their disease. He compared it to an EpiPen, which is used for the emergency treatment of allergic reactions.

“If you have an EpiPen, it’s not going to make you go out and seek out your allergy more often,“ he said.

CommunityConcerns™: Gilmer County’s Summer Energy Express Program

WVDOE Withholds Summer Feeding and Reading Program
From Gilmer County’s Disadvantaged Children

The Free Press WV

Citizens are outraged about the failure of the WVDOE to ensure that our disadvantaged children will be fed and given the opportunity to improve their reading skills during the summer. In previous years the County participated in the Energy Express’ program. The highly successful program is administered by WVU’s extension service. Its purpose is to feed disadvantaged children and to improve their reading skills.

Everyone in Gilmer County knows that some of our children are vulnerable because of poor nutrition. In information related to Energy Express’ program it is stated “When the school bell rings for the final time each June it signals the beginning of summer months. But, for many West Virginia children, it also signals the end of the security of having two meals served to them each weekday.” There is no acceptable excuse for failing to feed the County’s hungry children when Energy Express is available to them.

Reading is something else.  Although the State is prone to keep the information secret from citizens, 50% or more of our children are not proficient in reading.  Reading is the gateway to success in high school and college, learning a trade in our high tech world, and being prepared for life in general. If a child lags in reading at an early age chances for escaping poverty are glum. Without access to Energy Express’ summer program for which reading improvement, in addition to a nutrition program, is emphasized the County’s disadvantaged children have become innocent victims.

The Free Press WV

What caused cancellation of Energy Express’ program in the County? It is understood that the State’s excuse was that a facility for the program was unavailable this year. Who in their right mind believes the truthfulness of that claim? Some checking exposed the State’s flimsy position that because deteriorated steps at the high school will be repaired when the program would have been offered, that facility could not be used for Energy Express. That was insulting nonsense because children could have entered back and side doors to avoid need to use the front steps. Besides, there would have been space at other facilities owned by the County’s school system, something could have been worked out at the recreation center or the College, or the I. L. Morris family, known for its long history of generous caring for the County’s children, would have prevented the disaster.

The reprehensible failure to feed and to help enhance reading skills of Gilmer County’s disadvantaged children is another example of broken State government. In particular it represents a shameful failure of Dr. Martirano’s WVDOE and Mr. Green’s WVBOE to provide effective oversight for how the County’s school system has functioned during intervention. The State’s administrative failure occurred because of its dictatorial elimination of all checks and balances by the County’s elected school board.

Incompetence, waste, and mismanagement from five years of the WVBOE’s intervention are horrible enough, but abuse of the County’s disadvantaged children by eliminating their access to Energy Express demonstrates a much higher degree of broken State government.

What can be done to deal with this latest atrocity? The answer is that citizens must begin to speak out to officials they elect to send to Charleston. If citizens fail to speak out nothing will be done to help our disadvantaged children and they will continue to suffer because of Gilmer County’s enabling complacency.

The Free Press WV

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