August Newsletter
Case #1

A pre-kindergarten teacher called because the class was having a snow cone party and a year old complained that their snow cone didn’t taste good after having one bite. The teacher smelled it and it had a strong hand sanitizer scent. It turned out that the hand sanitizer was left near the bottles of snow cone flavors and both had a squirt bottle top. The size and shape of the two was also similar. The poison center specialist recommended that the teacher give the child something to eat and drink. It was also recommended that they observe the child for an upset stomach and signs of intoxication. The poison center called back in an hour to follow up and the child was fine.

Case #2

A school nurse called regarding a 15 year old teenager who was complaining of an upset stomach after taking a prescription medication that her friend gave her for menstrual cramps. The medicine that her friend gave her had ibuprofen in it. It turns out that the student had already taken an over-the-counter medication containing ibuprofen at home prior to coming to school which means she had taken more than twice the recommended dose. The poison center recommended that the student be watched at home and to call her pediatrician if symptoms worsened. The student's symptoms resolved after some time and returned to school the next day.

Its back to school time! This year, schools may see an increase of students learning on campus which means disinfecting & cleaning will be a big part of every district's return plan. The increase in use of these products can put students, especially young children at risk for accidental poisonings.
Follow these tips to keep your home & classroom safe:
  • Read & follow instruction on product labels.
  • Use gloves & eye protection when indicated on a label.
  • Let cleaners & disinfectants dry before touching surfaces.
  • Properly ventilate (use a fan & open windows when possible).
  • Do not mix cleaners & disinfectants unless it is indicated that it is safe to do so.
  • Do not use cleaners or disinfectants on food and do not apply directly to the skin.
  • Store cleaners & disinfectants in a safe place up & out of reach of small children.
  • Supervise hand sanitizer use & only use when hand washing isn't an option.
  • Do not give small children hand sanitizer to carry on their backpack
  • Keep products in their original containers. For example, don't put hand sanitizer in a water bottle.
Many adolescents face a variety of life challenges that can affect their mental health. Some face bullying, peer pressure and additional stressors that can make them more susceptible to substance misuse. Additionally, the transition into middle & high school can be difficult and can make some youths more vulnerable. In this newsletter, we want to review on how substance use affects young people differently than it affects adults.
Adolescents are more likely to make risky decisions, making it even more important to understand brain development. The adolescent’s brain develops gradually with some parts maturing earlier than others. The first parts of the brain to develop are the ones that control physical activity, emotional expression and motivation. The prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for the higher functions that include impulse control, decision making, problem solving, emotional regulation and planning develops much later in life. Most experts agree that the prefrontal cortex isn’t fully developed until the age of 25. This helps explain why adolescents are more vulnerable to the temptations of substance abuse where they may see a short term benefit from getting high but not understand the long term consequences. 
It is important to understand that addiction is a disease of the brain, just as diabetes is a disease of the body. It is a result of changes to the structure and chemistry of the brain that can become permanent. The nucleus accumbens is a part of our brain’s reward system that sends signals to our body when something is good or pleasurable. For example, when you have something delicious to eat, your brain sends a “feel good” signal that makes us want more. Drugs like nicotine, heroin, and amphetamines overwhelm our brain with those “feel good” signals, mediated through dopamine, and interfere with our natural healthy reward system. Over time, the brain loses its ability to feel good with natural rewards and only the substance of abuse will suffice. For some people, the natural reward system can return normal after some time but for others it can lead to addiction. While it is true that not everyone becomes addicted to alcohol & drugs, adolescents are especially susceptible because of their maturing brain and social pressures they face. 

For additional resources & treatment information, click here.

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