Mother Presses for Answers on Son’s Overdose Death

A mother in Orinda, California, has experienced the unthinkable and wants answers. In May, Marianne Payne’s son died from what appeared to be an overdose of alcohol and drugs. What makes the case especially troubling is that the drug found in her son’s system hasn’t been used for years.

Autopsy results show that 16-year-old Joseph Loudon died on May 23 after consuming only a small amount of alcohol and a substantial amount of a prescription medication called Papaverine, a vaso-dilator that has similarities to Viagra. ‘It’s been at least 25 years since I’ve seen this,’ said Orinda pharmacist Alan Wong. (Source: KGO-TV San Francisco)

Papaverine is so old that it’s listed in computer systems as being obsolete, and Wong told KGO-TV that he doubts if any pharmacy still carries it. Loudon’s mother sent a letter to the Contra Costa County District Attorney, but the DA’s office has yet to respond.

Severe Depression Symptoms Found in Seven-Year-Olds

Children as young as seven may need to be screened for depression, according to a University of Washington study.

Professor James Mazza and his colleagues followed 1,000 children from second to the eighth grade, and found that in some children, symptoms of depression can start as young as second grade.
Dr. Mazza said that his findings indicate that early signs of depression in boys are behavior and attention problems.
However, for girls, anxiety was an early risk factor.

“Children who are experiencing depression symptoms early on may be at great risk for mental health concerns during adolescence,” Dr. Mazza said in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence. “We want to reassure parents that everyone, including children, may feel sad or depressed once in a while, but that doesn’t mean they will go on to develop depression. We are trying to understand how depression starts and evolves in childhood.”

Dr. Mazza’s study of childhood depression was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Teens Care What Parents, Peers Think about Them

This may come as a surprise to some parents, but teenagers care what Mom, Dad and their peers think about them — and researchers from the University of Oregon have the brain scans to prove it.

Dr. Jennifer Pfeifer and her colleagues used brain-mapping technology to study the reactions of 12 teenagers ages 11 to 13 years old and 12 young adults ages 22 to 30 years old.
The researchers asked the participants whether they agreed with short sentences such as, “I am popular.”
The younger participants were more likely to have self-images that depended on what others thought about them.
Certain people were more influential in certain areas of their lives. For example, they cared more about what their mothers thought about their academic abilities and what their best friends thought about their popularity.

“These findings provide a novel form of evidence confirming the sensitivity of adolescence to what they believe others think of them, especially parents and peers,” said Dr. Pfeifer.

This study appeared in the journal Child Development.

Binge Drinking Linked to Teen Brain Damage

A recent California study has highlighted the dangers that binge drinking poses to adolescents and teenagers.

According to the study, which was published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, adolescents who binge drink may suffer brain damage as a result.

Binge drinking for males is defined as having five drinks or more in a row in one sitting. For most females, it can be four drinks or more in a row in a sitting.
About 25 percent of all high school seniors binge drink at least twice a month.
Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine found that binge drinking might damage the brain’s white matter, which is critical for the relay of information.

“Because the brain is still developing during adolescence, there has been concern that it may be more vulnerable to high doses of alcohol,” said Dr. Susan Tapert. “This study shows that teenagers with histories of binge drinking episodes have lower coherence of white matter fibers in a variety of brain regions.”

Is Your Teen Leading a Secret Life?

Terri Fifer spent a painful week wondering where her 13-year-old son had gone. After a rough year both at school and at home, he just disappeared.

In a July 15 article in the Ahwatukee Foothills News, writer Doug Murphy reported that although Fifer’s experience had a happy ending (her son was found unharmed), it forced her to acknowledge how much she didn’t know about her own child:

“You don’t know until your kid goes missing. I learned the hard way what my kid’s secret life was,” Fifer said last week after her son was found, thanks to tips from friends.

But in the seven days he was on his own in Ahwatukee Foothills, she learned that she really didn’t know who his friends were, who their parents were, that many of the middle school students he hung with would either ignore her frantic calls asking for help in finding him, or outright lied about where her son was.

And there is more she has yet to learn because she can’t log onto his MySpace page, and thanks to the electronic social world, it is often in the electronic world that children open up to their peers and discuss what they are doing.

Modern technology, especially the Internet and text messaging, make secret lives easier — and should remind parents that they need to be especially vigilant regarding their child’s comings and goings (both online and in the “real world”).

Changes in friends, behavior or school performance could be signs that your child is hiding something. Maintain an active positive presence in your child’s life, and don’t be afraid to exert your right as a parent to know where he’s going, what he’s doing, and who he’s associating with.