September 11, 2002
events of September 11, 2001 have shaped our lives forever
in ways that we could never have imagined. While NAAAPI does
not purport to be an expert in the area of stress or post-traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD), it is a leader in the field of advocacy
for substance abuse prevention. It is from this perspective
that this special edition of "Words to the Wise"
is being written. The information below is an "FYI"
(For Your Information). Comments are welcomed and can be submitted
to NAAAPI at email@example.com.
SUBSTANCE ABUSE INCREASES IN NEW YORK CITY IN AFTERMATH OF
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) conducted a survey
among residents of Manhattan during the five to eight weeks
after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. The
survey, funded by grants from NIDA, the United Way of New
York City and The New York Community Trust, found that smoking,
alcohol and marijuana use increased among the residents during
this time period. (The survey results appear in the June 1,
2002 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.)
investigators found survey participants by randomly dialing
New York City phone numbers and screened potential respondents
for Manhattan residents living in areas close to the World
Trade Center. Demographic information was collected on each
participant and the respondents were asked if they had experienced
other major life stresses and how they had been affected physically,
mentally and emotionally by the attacks.
were asked about their cigarette smoking, alcohol drinking
and marijuana use habits before and after September 11. During
the week prior to September 11, 22.6% reported smoking cigarettes,
59.1% drinking alcohol and 4.4% using marijuana. After September
11, 23% reported smoking cigarettes, 64.4% drinking alcohol
and 5.7% smoking marijuana. Among those who smoked, almost
10% reported smoking at least an extra pack of cigarettes
a week. Among those who drank alcohol, more than 20% reported
drinking at least one extra drink a day.
research team of Drs. David Vlahov and Sandra Galea of the
New York Academy of Medicine found that people who reported
an increase in substance abuse were more likely to suffer
from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and from depression.
People who reported an increase in cigarette smoking or marijuana
use were also more likely to have both PTSD and depression.
Those who reported an increase in alcohol use were more likely
to have depression only.
Vlahov says, "Increased use of cigarettes, alcohol and
other substances is a public health concern because these
patterns are more frequent among those who have post-traumatic
stress disorder and depression and also because continued
increased use has other medical consequences. Reversing these
trends is an important goal."
factors such as age, marital status and income seemed to play
a more critical role in determining if the events of September
11th led to an increase in substance use. For example, among
the demographic characteristics associated with increased
alcohol use were age (over 65 years old), household income
(less than $20,000/year) and marital status (divorced, separated
or widowed). (http://www.drugabuse.gov/MedAdv/02/NR5-28.html)
STRESS & SUBSTANCE ABUSE
"Community Drug Alert Bulletin" released by the
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) discusses Stress and
Substance Abuse. Glen R. Hanson, Ph.D., D.D.S., Acting Director
of NIDA prefaces the bulletin by saying, "Researchers
have long recognized the strong correlation between stress
and drug use, particularly relapse to drug use. In the wake
of recent tragic events, our awareness of the role that stress
can play in increasing one's vulnerability to drug use is
more than ever. Exposure to stress is among the most common
human experiences. It also is one of the most powerful triggers
for relapse to substance abuse in addicted individuals, even
after long periods of abstinence."
addressed in the bulletin include: Stress-What is it?, The
Body's Response to Stress, Stress and Drug Abuse, Stress,
Drugs and Vulnerable Populations, What is Post-Traumatic Stress
Disorder (PTSD), PTSD and Substance Abuse, and Helping Those
Who Suffer from PTSD and Drug Abuse. (http://www.drugabuse.gov/StressAlert/StressAlert.html).
Hanson concludes his preface by saying," We hope this
information will be useful to you as you continue to work
on drug abuse issues in your community. We all must focus
on restoring our emotional well-being, developing healthy
ways to manage stress and avoiding turning to drugs or other
substances to escape from the realities of the day."
is the plea of the NAAAPI to each of you as we remember September
The National Association of African Americans for Positive
1231 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
Jesse W. Brown, Jr., Executive Director
Alice Dixon, Director of Operations
Carmella Chandler, Use Prevention Specialist
Raquel Abrantes, Administrative Assistant
Communities to a Healthier Lifestyle"