Monday, May 20, 2013

National Drug Facts Week 2014

NIDA: National Institute on Drug Abuse - NIH Turninging Discovery Into Health

January 27 - February 2, 2014 is National Drug Facts Week, sponsored by The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).  This week will be dedicated to informing teens about drugs and addiction by shattering myths and providing drug-free, healthy lifestyle alternatives.

Let's spread awareness, together! Last year, more than 500 events were held in all 50 states! With your participation, we can help even more teens learn the truth about drug abuse in 2014.  Get involved and start planning your event today by clicking here.

NIDA's website is a great resource.  There you can find information on the following topics:

  • Testing drug abuse knowledge with teens with NIDA activities
  • Easy-to-read drug abuse and addiction facts
  • Family check-up information for parents to share skills on keeping their children drug free
Mark you calendars for National Drug Facts Week, January 27th - February 2nd! 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is part of the National Institute of Health (NIH), the prncipal biomedical and behavioral research agency of the United States Government. NIH is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Visit their website for more information!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Forbes Article on the Reality of Snapchat Photos

Below is an article published by Forbes, written by Kashmir Hill, Forbes Staff. To view the original article, click here

"Snapchats Don't Disappear: Forensics Firm Has Pulled Dozens of Supposedly-Deleted Photos from Android Phones"

 A 24-year-old forensics examiner from Utah has made a discovery that may make some Snapchat users think twice before sending a photo that they think is going to quickly disappear. Richard Hickman of Decipher Forensics found that it’s possible to pull Snapchat photos from Android phones simply by downloading data from the phone using forensics software and removing a “.NoMedia” file extension that was keeping the photos from being viewed on the device. He published his findings online and local TV station KSL has a video showing how it’s done.

“I was surprised no one else had done it because of how easy it was,” said Hickman by phone. “It just took a couple of days to discover it.”

Hickman started the research while in a Mobile Forensics Class this spring. He says it’s come in useful at Decipher Forensics as clients have wanted Snapchat evidence from phones in divorce and missing teenager cases. He says they have grabbed 60 to 70 deleted Snapchats from phones so far, with at least 40 photos taken from just one phone.

Hickman says he’s now doing research on Snapchat recovery from the iPhone; a few months ago, Buzzfeed found at least one flaw that made that possible. At the time, Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel told Buzzfeed, “The people who most enjoy using Snapchat are those who embrace the spirit and intent of the service. There will always be ways to reverse engineer technology products — but that spoils the fun!”

If you don’t want to spoil the fun, don’t send photos to someone via Snapchat that could one day be used against you in a court of law.

Snapchat has not responded to a request for comment. I’m curious whether the Federal Trade Commission — which is the federal agency responsible for investigating companies for deceptive or misleading practices — will be taking a closer look at Snapchat and its claims to users that photos are deleted. This exploit seems like a rather simple one.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Vaccine Halts Heroin Addiction in Rats

By Shaunacy Ferro Posted 05.07.2013 at 3:45 pm

The treatment is now ready for human trials.

A vaccine to treat heroin addiction has proven effective in keeping drug-addicted rats from relapsing in a preclinical trial, according to a study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers from the Scripps Research Institute in California say the vaccine is now ready for human trials.
Initial research into the vaccine in 2011 found that it could effectively keep rats from becoming addicted to heroin without affecting the pain relief they experienced from other opiates. This study built on those results using rats that were already addicted, finding that the vaccine could keep them from resuming compulsive drug-taking behavior even after they experienced withdrawal.
Heroin addiction has proven challenging to treat with vaccines because in order to prevent heroin from working, a vaccine has to target not only the drug itself, but the chemicals it breaks down into once it enters the bloodstream. A few seconds after injection, heroin metabolizes into a compound called 6-acetylmorphine (6-AM) and then morphine, which then pass into the brain, binding to opiod receptors and producing psychoactive effects.
The vaccine generates antibodies that bind heroin and its metabolites in the bloodstream, preventing them from making their way to the brain. It essentially keeps the body from experiencing the fun parts of drug use, like euphoria and pain obstruction.
"They sit in the bloodstream like a sponge, they grab these molecules when they show up, and activate clearance or destruction of the molecules," senior author George Koob told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
In the study, rats were trained to press a lever three times to receive an injection of heroin. During 12-hour periods of self-administrated access to the drug, the addicted rats began taking heroin compulsively in greater and greater quantities. Then the researchers removed the heroin for 30 days and gave some of the rats the vaccine. After the period of abstention, they were re-exposed to freely accessible heroin. Rats that didn't receive the treatment resumed taking the drug in increasing quantities, while those that received the treatment didn't redevelop the compulsion.
If it passes through the human testing phase, the vaccine could help people going through addiction treatment from relapsing. According to data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse4.2 million Americans have used heroin at least once around their lives, and around 23 percent of heroin users develop a dependency. "Ideally for human patients, the vaccine would be given with other treatments," author Joel Schlosburg explained in a press statement.
Another heroin vaccine developed by a ground of Mexican scientists was patented early last year. Vaccines are also being developed to treat addiction to meth, cocaine and nicotine.
The Scripps researchers are currently seeking a pharmaceutical company to sponsor clinical trials, which can cost millions of dollars to run.
To view the full article, click here.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The $2,500 Six Pack

Penalties for Underage Drinking & Alcohol Possession

Alcohol + Minors = Penalties

Providing alcohol to an individual under the age of 21

PENALTIES: Maximum $2,500 fine and up to a year in jail for a misdemeanor offense. Felony offense can result in a prison sentence of a year or more and fines up to $25,000.

New Social Host Law!

It is a $500 minimum fine (maximum $2,500 fine and up to one year in jail) to knowingly allow underage drinking to occur at a private residence. If serious injury or death occurs because of this activity, individuals are subject to a Class 4 felony (up to three years in prison and fines up to $25,000).

Possession, consumption, purchase, or receipt of alcohol by an individual under the age of 21

PENALTIES: Three-month suspension of driving privileges for court supervision, six months for first conviction, one year for second conviction, and license revocation for subsequent convictions, and license revocation for subsequent convictions.

Illegal transportation of alcohol is an automobile by an individual under the age of 21

PENALTIES: Transporting alcohol is illegal, and anyone in the vehicle can be charged with a maximum $1,000 fine. For the driver, the penalty is mandatory driver's license suspension for one year on the first offense, and mandatory one-year revocation for subsequent offenses.  

Underage Drinking & Driving

"Use It and Lose It" - Zero Tolerance

(Blood Alcohol Content over 0.0 while driving a vehicle)
1st Offense: Three-month suspension of driving privileges; six-month suspension with refusal of alcohol testing.
2nd Offense (before age 21): One-year suspension of driver's license; two-year suspension with refusal of testing.

DUI Arrest Driving Sanctions

(BAC of at least .08%, a showing of other drugs, or refusing to submit to alcohol or drug testing)
1st Offense: Six-month suspension of driving privileges; one-year suspension with refusal of testing.

New Law! To obtain driving relief, you MUST be 18+ years old, serve 30 days of "hard" suspension, and drive a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) equipped vehicle.

Driving without a BAIID is a Class 4 felony. Penalties include a minimum of 30 days in jail (or 300 hours community service), up to three years in prison, and fines up to $25,000.
2nd Offense (within 5 years): One-year suspension of driving privileges; three-year suspension with refusal of testing. No driving relief possible

Underage DUI Convcitions

1st Conviction: Up to one year in jail and fines up to $2,500. Two-year minimum revocation of driver's license. Not eligible for driving relief until the second year.
2nd Conviction: Up to one year in jail and fines up to $2,500. Revocation of driver's license for minimum of five years or until age 21, whichever is longer. Mandatory minimum imprisonment of five days (or 240 hours of community service).

Aggravated DUI: 

Any DUI resulting in a felony charge, including a DUI resulting in great bodily harm or death; a third or subsequent DUI conviction; or committing a DUI without a valid license, permit, or insurance.

Penalties Include:

  • Imprisonment of up to 14 years for DUI resulting in the loss of life.
  • Imprisonment of up to 28 years for multiple fatalities.
  • Felony charges vary for offense from a Class 4 felony (one three years imprisonment) to a Class X felony (6-30 years).
  • Minimum revocation periods vary for offense from a minimum of one year to mandatory life.
This is a message from the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, Illinois Secretary of State (Printed Jan. 2013). To find out more, visit

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Look Back on The Town Hall Meeting

Youth Connect's Town Hall Meeting that took place over the weekend shared a powerful and important message to nearly 100 parents in attendance from the community.  The message was primarily aimed for parents with children in grades 4 - 9; the earlier parents become aware of the effects of alcohol and substance abuse, the better prepared they will be in addressing and safeguarding against an issue that deeply affects the lives of youth our community. 

The meeting included presentations from Dr. Duncan Clark, a leading expert in teen substance abuse disorder, as well as community members Jack Bennett and Debbie Kehoe from The Alliance Against Drugs.   The Alliance's Listen II documentary was also screened.  

A powerful presentation from Quaker Valley's High School Peer Advocacy Team, QV Voice, shared tips to parents from a personal, teen perspective:

  • Boundaries and expectations are okay. They show your kids that you care.
  • Be on top of it. Know where your kids are and what they are doing.
  • If your kids know that you are paying attention, they are less likely to get involved in risky situations.  
  • The pressure to experiment is so strong that kids will be tempted to follow their peers if they think that no one cares (the path of least resistance will win).
  • Talk to your kids about a plan for unsafe situations (safe word to text or say when they call from their cell phone).
  • Stay up to talk with your kids when they get home. 
  • Create a relationship of open communication. Kids need to feel like they can talk to you without being lectured. 
  • Reward your kids for making good choices. Acknowledge it and praise them for it. Let them know that you trust them.

Youth Connect committee members hope that this meeting marks only the beginning of conversations and efforts that parents will take with their children, and throughout the community, to address, be prepared for, and put an end to teen substance abuse.   

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

An Update on Sewickley's Village Theater!

The Sewickley community is closer now than ever before in seeing the return of a local family movie theater!  In light of its current capital campaign, the recently 501(c)3 certified Village Theater Company held a wonderfully successful Theater Odyssey event this weekend at the Weldge family barN, raising over $100,000 in one night!  The evening offered the sold out crowd a live dinner auction from delicious local bistros.  A silent auction also took place, thanks to participating Sewickley Village businesses.  A surprise donation was presented from the Wheat and Stevenson family in the form of two paintings of Comedy and Tragedy that hung for years in the original Sewickley Theater.   

These funds will be put toward the $1.5 million needed in pledged support for Village Theater Company to break ground in constructing a two-screen cinema that will host  community screenings, first-run independent and foreign films, classic films with educational programming, second-run films, live-streaming and lecture speaking engagements.   The Village Theater Company’s goal is to provide a community asset that will round out and strengthen the already flourishing Sewickley neighborhood and business district by attracting investments and increasing property value while simultaneously avoiding land acquisition cost, as the lot on Walnut is already vacant and up for grabs. 

A community theater will provide entertainment for all ages, while promoting education and public education of the arts.  The theater will also support local filmmakers and give the community access to various film festivals by teaming up with Pittsburgh Filmmakers, a well-established organization that will oversee the functioning of the future theater.  Local organizations and school districts will be able to take advantage of this venue space to enhance their programming.  Executive Director of Laughlin Children’s Center Doug Florey, explains how this theater will help his non-profit: “Laughlin is excited to host its ongoing speaker series here in The Village rather than at a convention hotel offsite, as we’ve done in the past.”

All donations are tax-deductible and can be made by visiting VTC’s website!  Village Theater Company’s capital campaign is close to reaching its successful halfway mark.  Join many others in establishing what will prove to be a Sewickley community legacy!

For pictures from the recent Theater Odyssey event at The BarN, visit VTC's facebook page!