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Marlboro Mild

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HOME > NEWSLETTER > SEPTEMBER 11, 2002

Special Edition
September 11, 2002

The 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 info@naaapi.org.

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SUBSTANCE ABUSE INCREASES IN NEW YORK CITY IN AFTERMATH OF SEPTEMBER 11TH

The 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.)

The 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.

Participants 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.

The 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.

Dr. 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."

Demographic 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)

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STRESS & SUBSTANCE ABUSE

A "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."

Topics 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).

Dr. 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."

This is the plea of the NAAAPI to each of you as we remember September 11, 2001.

The National Association of African Americans for Positive Imagery
1231 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
215-235-6488-phone
215-235-6491-fax
info@naaapi.org

Reverend Jesse W. Brown, Jr., Executive Director
Alice Dixon, Director of Operations
Carmella Chandler, Use Prevention Specialist
Raquel Abrantes, Administrative Assistant

"Mobilizing Communities to a Healthier Lifestyle"



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National Association of African Americans for Positive Imagery
1231 N Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19122 P: 215-235-6488 F: 215-235-6491 E: info@naaapi.org