Be a Parent. Not a Peer.

Deb_HeadshotToday, an Athens man was arrested after officials said he forced his 15-year-old son to drink alcohol until he passed out. Several people at the home said the teen’s father, 35-year-old Mark Allen Hughes, forced his son to play a drinking game with him while watching the Tennessee football game on Saturday. Witnesses told police that Hughes made his son play the game after he caught the 15-year-old drinking. Some of the witnesses then left the home, but when they came back, the teen lying unresponsive on the kitchen floor.This father has been charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect as well as contributing to the delinquency of a child.

More information on this story

I think this incident should bring light to anyone over the age of 21 who has ever or even thought about supplying alcohol to a minor.

The legal drinking age was not just chosen at random. Research indicates that the human brain continues to develop into a person’s early twenties and that exposure of the developing brain to alcohol may have long-lasting effects on intellectual capabilities.

While many parents may think that allowing their teens and their teens’ friends to drink at home under adult supervision keeps kids safe and leads to healthier attitudes about drinking, the truth is that there are serious negative consequences for both parents and teens.

The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has broken down the underage drinking Myths.

Myth: Some parents think that providing alcohol to teens at home decreases the risk for continued drinking as teens get older, and subsequent drinking problems later in life. 

Truth: The opposite is true – parents should be aware that supplying alcohol to minors actually increases, rather than decreases the risk for continued drinking in the teenage years and leads to subsequent problem drinking later in life.

Myth: Young people from European cultures whose parents give them alcohol at an early age learn to drink more responsibly than their American counterparts. 

Truth: A greater percentage of European youth report drinking regularly (in the past 30 days) versus American youth, and for a majority of European countries, a greater percentage of young people report having been intoxicated before the age of 13 than is the case in the U.S. The World Health Organization cites global longitudinal studies that found the earlier young people start drinking, the more likely they are to experience alcohol-related injury and alcohol dependence later in life.

Myth: Some parents believe that being ‘too strict’ about adolescent drinking during high school will cause teens to drink more when they first leave the home and do not have as much parental oversight. 

 Truth: New research from The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) reveals that teens who perceive their parents to be more permissive about alcohol use are MORE likely to abuse alcohol and to use other drugs.[4]

Myth: Parents who serve alcohol to teenagers at home are under no legal jeopardy. 

Truth: A majority of states have civil and or criminal penalties for adults who serve alcohol to underage kids at home.

So the next time someone you know or yourself, even, has the thought of serving to minors, please think twice. It could cost the both of you.

Be a Parent. Not a Peer. 

DEA Will Allow Unused Narcotic Painkillers to be Returned to Pharmacies

Deb_HeadshotThe Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced Monday it will allow unused narcotic painkillers such as OxyContin to be returned to pharmacies. Until now, pharmacies were not allowed to accept unused opioid painkillers. The Controlled Substances Act required patients to dispose of the drugs themselves or give them to law enforcement during twice-yearly national “take-back” events.

Consumers will also be permitted to mail unused prescription medications to an authorized collector, in packages that will be available at pharmacies and locations including senior centers and libraries, The New York Times reports.

The new regulations are designed to curb the prescription drug abuse epidemic, the DEA said.  “These new regulations will expand the public’s options to safely and responsibly dispose of unused or unwanted medications,” DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart said in a news release.  “The new rules will allow for around-the-clock, simple solutions to this ongoing problem. Now everyone can easily play a part in reducing the availability of these potentially dangerous drugs.”

The regulations will take effect in one month, the article notes. In addition to OxyContin, the rule will include stimulants such as Adderall and depressants such as Ativan. The program will be voluntary for pharmacies. The DEA will require locations accepting drugs to permanently destroy them, but will not specify how they do it.

The “take-back” events removed 4.1 million pounds of prescription drugs from circulation in the past four years, according to the DEA. During that time, about 3.9 billion prescriptions were filled. “They only removed an infinitesimal fraction of the reservoir of unused drugs that are out there,” said Dr. Nathaniel Katz of Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, who studies opioid abuse. “It’s like trying to eliminate malaria in Africa by killing a dozen mosquitoes.”

Flushing drugs down the toilet, or throwing out prescriptions in the trash, are discouraged because they could harm the environment.

**Information from Partnership for Drug-Free Kids article***

CVS Stops Selling Tobacco

smallcvsCVS Caremark plans to stop selling tobacco products in all of its stores starting Wednesday — a move health experts hope will be followed by other major drugstore chains.

CVS announced in February that it planned to drop tobacco by Oct. 1 as the sales conflicted with its health care mission. To bolster its image as a health care company, CVS will announce a corporate name change to CVS Health. Retail stores will still be called CVS/Pharmacy.

CVS, which has 7,700 retail locations, is the second-largest drugstore chain in the USA, behind Walgreens. It manages the pharmacy benefits for 65 million members and has 900 walk-in medical clinics.

The Metropolitan Drug Commission would like to thank CVS for their decision to no longer sell tobacco products.

Since the Surgeon General’s warning was first issued on January 11, 1964, Luther L. Terry, M.D., Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service, released the first report of the Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health.

This report was on the basis of more than 7,000 articles relating to smoking and disease already available at that time in the biomedical literature. The Advisory Committee concluded that cigarette smoking is, “A cause of lung cancer and laryngeal cancer in men, a probable cause of lung cancer in women and the most important cause of chronic bronchitis.”

In the 50 years since this original report, science has advanced and we know much more now about the harmful physical effects of tobacco use, including secondhand smoke.

Although we have seen reductions in tobacco use in the past 50 years, we still continue to see young people initiating use at a very young age, with 5 percent of Knox County Middle School students reporting that they smoked a cigarette before age 11 years (2013 Knox County Youth Risk Behavior Survey). Survey results also show that 75 percent of high school students who reported smoking at least one day in the past 30 days are reporting that they are making grades that are mostly C’s, D’s and F’s.

By reducing access to tobacco products, we know that youth usage rates decline. We hope that other health-related businesses will follow the lead of CVS. Everyone would benefit from a having a healthy community.

For anyone that is ready to quit smoking, please call the Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or join the program online at

FDA finalizes new hydrocodone regulations

Deb_HeadshotOn August 22, 2014 the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) issued a final ruling on rescheduling Vicodin, Lortab, Norco and generic hydrocodone combination products from Schedule III to Schedule II. The Final Rule states, ” With the issuance of this final rule, the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration reschedules hydrocodone combination products from schedule III to schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act.”

Metropolitan Drug Commission sat down with WBIR last week to discuss the details of the new law going into effect in 44 days on October 6, 2014.


This is great news and puts more restrictions on the drug.  Essentially, Schedule II’s cannot be called into a pharmacy.  A patient must either have a written prescription or the doctor’s office can send the Rx electronically.  Patients cannot have automatic refills on schedule II’s-a new prescription has to be written every month.

Adderall and Ritalin are already schedule II, both used to treat ADD and ADHD. It will cause some inconvenience for those who have chronic conditions and are on long-term therapy. Not only will it prevent abuse and fraudulent prescription, but also provide greater safety and monitoring of these powerful narcotics.

Drug overdoses are the leading cause of unintentional deaths in Tennessee. We hope that this will prevent overdoes and save lives through more frequent physician over site.

It’s important for everyone to know that the DEA has yet to publish guidance for physicians and pharmacies on how to handle remaining refills for hydrocodone combination products that have already been prescribed.

To see the full ruling, please visit Rescheduling of Hydrocodone Combination Products From Schedule III to Schedule II. 



Popping Pills: What do teens see in it?


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The questions still remain today: Why are teens using prescription drugs? What makes them want to use?

Well a study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse has broken it down for us. The misuse and abuse of prescription medications in the United States remains high, but few people are aware of just how big the problem really is. In its candy-coated hues, this infographic shares the pill popping reality of the situation, from the numbers of abusers to the places they obtain their drugs and their reasons for abusing. With this infographic, their goal was to use the casual spin usually associated with prescription drug abuse – it’s not abuse, it’s just popping pills – to emphasize its seriousness–that prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in the United States today, one that demands our attention.

Here are the TOP 12 reasons why teens use prescription drugs.

  1. 62%: Easy to get from parent’s medicine cabinet
  2. 52%: Available Everywhere
  3. 51%: They are not illegal drugs
  4. 50%  Easy to get through other people’s prescriptions
  5. 49%: Can claim to have prescription if caught
  6. 43%: They are cheap
  7. 35%: Safer to sue than illegal drugs
  8. 33%: Less shame attached to using
  9. 32%: Easy to purchase over the internet
  10. 32%: Fewer side effects than street drugs
  11. 25%: Can be used as study aids
  12. 21%: Parents don’t care as much if caught


Robin Williams. An Icon. An Addict. A Person.


Yesterday, the world got a little less funny.

Robin Williams died Monday at the age of 63. Williams spent four decades making audiences laugh and cry. While he was comfortable in front of the camera, he was, at times, reluctant to talk about his past regarding his alcohol and substance abuse problems.

With this death it is bringing a new light onto depression and addiction. People are seeing that addiction does not discriminate. Williams had a talent the world always wanted more of, however he was suffering from a very serious disease. It is a progressive, lifelong and often fatal illness millions suffer with everyday.


Now that he’s gone, everyone is talking about the legacy he leaves. Will he be remembered as someone who “fell off the wagon”? Will his willpower be called into question? Or does his death reveal a more important truth about addition and depression?

People who deal with addiction and depression wear many different masks. They tend to hide the fact they have this issue and live life like everything is OK. If the media didn’t project Williams, a happy energetic soul from the outside, had depression and addiction issues, most people would not have thought twice about him being the way he was. I think this quote says it best.

I heard a joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life is harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. The great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor… I am Pagliacci.”

I hope that people remember the good of Robin Williams. The happiness he brought to each and every one of us and the smile he brought to our faces. Although he died tragically, everyone needs to remember addiction and depression are real and people need help.

If you or a loved one is experiencing substance abuse, addiction or depression, visit our Get Help page to find treatment resources in the area or call (865) 588-5550 and ask for Stan Grubb.

School Stress Takes a Toll on Health, Teens and Parents Say



It’s that time again…with Knox County schools starting back next week, (Monday to be exact) the frenzy of back to school activities and assignments will surely start piling on. It is no question that being a student is stressful, but did you know that chronic stress can affect our health?

Parents, take a look at this blog post or click above to hear about school and stress from NPR news. The post discusses the different stresses experienced by students and how chronic stress can take a toll on our health.

Take an interest in your child’s schoolwork load this year and help them manage their stress in order to ensure a successful and enjoyable school year!

Sports and Drugs. Let’s break down the facts.

Deb_Headshot Strength, Energy and Endurance.

According to Elizabeth Cohen, CNN Senior Medical Correspondent, this is what athletes are trying to get when they use these performance enhancements drugs.

But in today’s youth, it’s becoming more and more common.

A new survey released by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids suggested that teen reports of performance enhancing drugs have more than doubled in the last year. Sponsored by the MetLife Foundation, the study reported that 11 percent of teens who were surveyed said they’d ever used steroids or synthetic human growth hormone without a prescription – a huge increase from the 5 percent in 2012.

Parents, it’s important for you to talk with your kids about the dangers of steroid use. Pressure on student athletes is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s fast pace sport world, so many think it’s what they have to do for a better success story in the end.

This is not the case. True champions don’t use drugs. Steroids don’t make you a super athlete.

To see the dangers and effects steroids can have on your teen, click on the infographic below.


New Law Causes Confusion

Karen PershingAre you confused about Tennessee’s new law regarding pregnancy and substance use?  You are not alone!  On July 1, 2014, a new law went into effect stating that a woman who gives birth to a baby, who is harmed by her illegal use of a narcotic drug while pregnant, can result in assaultive offense charges.  If a pregnant woman enters into a treatment program and gets prenatal care, these positive actions can be used as an affirmative defense.

Sounds pretty simple, right?  If you have a legal background, maybe!  First of all, in the State of Tennessee, a baby is not considered a baby until the day of the birth; therefore, women who are pregnant and using drugs cannot be charged with a crime.  Once the baby is born and the baby has symptoms of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome or other harm as a result of the Mother’s drug use, the mother could be charged with misdemeanor assault.

In recent conversations with service providers, I was informed that both service providers as well as pregnant women with addiction issues are confused and think that if they are not “clean” at the time they access prenatal care that they will be arrested.  This is NOT true and should be corrected as soon as possible.  Medical professionals who are providing care are NOT required to report the drug use of a pregnant woman.  Again, that baby is not defined as a baby until the day the child is born.

Once the baby is born and the hospital confirms drug use of the mother and that harm to the baby has occurred as a result, the birthing facility is required to file a report with the Department of Children’s Services, who then opens a case and notifies local law enforcement.  If the birth mother can document that she is actively engaged in a treatment program AND received prenatal care, charges will NOT be filed.  If she cannot produce verification that she is in a treatment program, misdemeanor charges will then be filed and the Mother arrested.

It is critical for both the health of the mother and the baby to receive prenatal care as early in the pregnancy as possible.  For a woman struggling with the disease of addiction, this is even more paramount.  There have already been some women who have reported buying Methadone off the street and trying to detoxify themselves prior to seeking medical care.  This can be very dangerous for both the mother and the baby.  Detoxification of pregnant women should be medically managed and the tapering process should be gradual.

It is up to all of us to spread the word and make sure we are not making an already difficult situation worse for fear of criminal charges.  This law was put in place to encourage women to access treatment for their addiction and deliver the healthiest baby possible.

Note:  This law has a sunset provision and will expire on June 30, 2016.

Modern World Stress and Drinking

The following is a guest post by Saint Jude Retreats, an alternative to traditional substance use treatment. Saint Jude Retreats provides a program for people with substance use problems that concentrate on self-directed positive and permanent change. Through the program, we offer the opportunity for individuals to self-evaluate and explore avenues for life enhancement.



Stress. We all have in one form or another and we always will.  It’s just a part of life.  In the pioneer days, stress was much different than the stress we experience in the modern world.  For example, drought was a huge stress factor for the Jamestown colonists in the 1600’s.  It caused famine, poor water quality, hostility, disease, and even death.  While today, with all of our modern conveniences, we still have stress, albeit a different kind of stress. Some are stressed financially or maybe their job causes stress, and some people’s family lives causes them stress. Still, many of us will turn to alcohol to relieve stress.  But, does it? Do those who turn to alcohol to relieve stress actually accomplish the intended result?

More often than not, drinking to relieve stress doesn’t always have the desired outcome and is a very dangerous choice.  In fact, in many cases, the negative consequences associated with habitual or excessive drinking only adds to or amplifies the level of stress for people in these modern times.  People experience DUI, anger their family members, lose jobs and feel guilty when they turn to the bottle to relieve stress.  Certainly, there are strategies and other alternatives different than turning to alcohol that we can implement into our modern lives that can actually relieve stress.

  • Exercise:  Regular exercise helps us release tension and promotes an overall feeling of well being.  Exercise also releases endorphins which makes us feel happy and reduces the stress hormone, cortisol.  There are so many options when it comes to exercising such as hiking, walking, running, jogging, weight training, group fitness classes, yoga, dancing, boxing or karate.  Next time our modern life’s little annoyances and frustrations start to build up, take your mind off of it for a while with some exercise.
  • Hobbies:  Every now and then, it’s a good idea to “check out” and distract yourself from the things in your environment that are stressing you out.  A hobby can be a great way to accomplish this.  Drawing, painting and gardening are some good examples of activities that can relax your mind and are enjoyable things to do.  Even cleaning or organizing can help you to change your thoughts for a while and gives you the sense that you’ve accomplished something as well.  If you make time on a regular base for your hobbies and interest you will feel more balanced and less stressed.
  • Pampering Yourself:  Our modern lives are oftentimes very busy and taking care of yourself on a regular bases helps to manage stress.  Sometimes a massage or pedicure is all you need to lift your spirits, feel rejuvenated and more emotionally stable.  Massage also reduces the stress hormone, cortisol, and boosts the neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin.  Massage alleviates pain and lessens anxiety and depression.  If your schedule does not allow you to take some time to get a massage, purchase a massage chair for your home.  This way, you can put on some calming, soothing music, sit back and relax.
  • Positive Attitude:  Stress is subjective.  What stresses one person out, does not stress another.  Much of what we perceive as being stressful is due to our own negative thought process.  Always focusing on the negatives causes fear and anxiety.  In every situation, there are positive aspects we can focus on.  Training our minds to focus on the positive helps to have a positive outlook and attitude, which in turn be a less stressful way to live.

So, the next time your modern life is causing you stress, take a deep breath and remember these strategies before you go to the bar, the liquor cabinet or open a bottle of wine.

Why not do something that will promote and enhance your happiness and relieve stress in a positive way?

For more information on Saint Jude Retreats, please visit their website at