Legal but Deadly: New Party Drug Making Headlines in Europe

Mephedrone, a psychoactive stimulant that is legally sold as “plant food not for human consumption” is being abused — sometimes with fatal results — by teens in Great Britain and other nations.

“Teen Gabi Price suffered a cardiac arrest and died at the city’s Royal Sussex County Hospital on Saturday,” Britain’s Sky News reported. “The schoolgirl took a suspected cocktail of drugs including [mephedrone] at a house party.”

Mephedrone is not a controlled substance in the UK (nor is it yet illegal in the United States), but the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is reviewing this position, Sky News reported.

Innovative Effort Uses Playwriting to Help Troubled Teens

Volunteers from the San Mateo County-based Each One, Reach one program visit kids in juvenile detention facilities to try and help them chose different paths. One of their methods for mentoring the kids is to help them write plays about their lives.

Cheryl Jennings of ABC7News.com reported on the effort in a Nov 24 article:

[Participants] in the program met with professional actors, performers and teaching artists for two hours a night for two weeks to learn how to write a two character play, using their life experiences as the backdrop. …

“They write them in metaphor, so the character is an animal or an object or an emotion; it allows them to really write auto-biographical material with a bit of a protective mask over them, to talk about some of their deepest thoughts, hurts, fears, concerns,’ [founder Robin] Sohnen said.”

Stuart Forrest, the chief of probation for San Mateo County Juvenile Hall, says mentoring programs like Each One, Reach One are not for entertainment; they are pro-social activities.

“If a kid in this environment gets interested in playwriting, writing, period and being creative and feels rewarded about it, when they go home, they’re more likely to find something that rewards them in a positive way,” Forrest said.

Author Questions Way Authorities Treat Parents of Runaways

An Oregon woman whose two teenage daughters ran away from home has written a book questioning the way legal authorities treat parents of runaway children.

“I am asking for more compassion for parents who are legitimately searching for their kids, more information, more support, and for the end of a facile vilification of people who may be flawed but are not evil,” said Debra Gwartney, author of Live Through This: A Mother’s Memoir of Runaway Daughters and Reclaimed Love.

Gwartney’s book recounts how her daughters, ages 14 and 16 years old, jumped on a freight train and disappeared, plunging her into a struggle with authorities who assumed she was an unfit mother. While Gwartney acknowledges the grim statistic that 43% of all runaway children are sexually, emotionally, or physically abused by their parents, she points out that social workers and police are likely to accept a teenager’s version of life at home and assume the worst of parents.

Gwartney’s eldest daughter came home after three months, and the younger one returned after a year. According to their mother, they have become healthy, happy and stable adults.

Live Through This has been nominated for the Book for A Better Life Award.

Anti-Psychotic Drugs for Kids Linked to Diabetes, Weight Gain

A study from British Columbia found that children and teens who are on anti-psychotic medicines are more likely to gain weight and develop diabetes.

The drugs in the two-year study — risperidone, quetiapine, olanzapine and clozapine — are used for mood and aggressive disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, bipolar disorder, and early onset schizophrenia.

The drugs increased the risk of diabetes by 300 percent, and doubled the risk for obesity.

The results do not necessarily mean that children should stop using these medications, said the study’s co-author, Dr. Jana Davidson of BC Children’s Hospital.

“On the one hand the medication has significant and worrisome effects,” she said. “On the other hand, in some of these cases, the kids being on medication is what allows them to function in their lives and allows them to stay in their families.

This study appeared in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.

Troubled Teen Credits Poetry with Improving Life

When Britain’s Becky Davies was in her teens, she started getting into trouble – a behavior pattern that resulted in four court appearances. Today, however, things are looking brighter. And as a Nov. 11 article in The Bolton News indicates, the formerly troubled teen credits poetry for helping her turn her life around:

Becky is a part of Bolton’s Women’s Supervision Centre, based in the town’s probation office, and works to reform and rehabilitate female offenders.

Creative writing and poetry sessions are used to encourage the women to think about their offences and lifestyles.

Becky — who is dyslexic which led to great frustration at school — said: “I started writing poetry with my mum and I love it. I am so pleased to have won this award and it’s an amazing feeling.

“I write about my thoughts and my problems with alcohol. Probation has really worked for me, my probation worker stopped me from getting into more trouble, and now I’m really addressing my problems. It has also been a great boost to my confidence to win this certificate.”

Davies won a prize in the annual Koestler Trust Arts by Offenders program, for her poem titled “Should Have, Could Have, Would Have.”