News For Your Classroom Podcast Episode #2

Hi and welcome to the podcast where we simplify a complex subject while giving you News for your classroom.

Each day we simplify current scientific news reports and studies about drugs, drug abuse and prevention on our twitter news page.

Several times per month we will provide you with these drug fact updates as an audio podcast and blog which will be available on our website as well as itunes and podbean.

The Am. Academy of Pediatricians recommends doctors screen all young patients for alcohol use due to delicate nature of brain development.

Canadian study shows high percentages of Hookah smokers also use marijuana & binge drink coupled w/ mistaken belief of safety.

Large Finnish study-substantial connection between prenatal smoking & child use of psychotropic drugs esp. ADHD, antidepressants & addiction treatment.

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How To Use News For Your Classroom

Hi and welcome to the podcast where we simplify a complex subject while giving you news for your classroom.

Each day we simplify current scientific news reports and studies about drugs, drug abuse and prevention on our twitter news page.

Several times per month we will provide you with these drug fact updates as an audio podcast and blog which will be available on our website as well as itunes and podbean.

When you log onto this page you can view our daily tweets that we call daily drug fact updates. Use these real articles and studies as topics of discussion for your classroom, advisors’ groups, mentors’ activities, health class, debate team, homeroom discussions, science, biology, human development, psychology, home school discussions, family conversations, faculty meetings, etc.

On our website you can subscribe to itunes, podbean, twitter and our blog sites to have it sent directly to your email box or your ipod.

In addition to these free subscriptions an MP3 player will be available on our website located on the twitter news page.

All you need to do is click and listen to get your news for discussions in your classroom.

Our expanded subscription service includes everything you just heard plus extra questions, expanded discussion from Kelly and Jonathan about the subject. Also, tweets that are not included in our free service. It’s like getting a mini lecture for your classroom. You can sign up for it on our web site’s twitter news page at

Be sure to send us an email to let us know how you use this service

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There is NO Tobacco in Tabasco!

This is dedicated to Art Linkletter and Bill Cosby:

After 14 years of teaching drug education, I’m tempted to think I’ve heard it all. I’m used to getting questions from out of left field, but I always attempt to answer my student’s questions honestly, scientifically and without laughing. I NEVER want to make them feel bad for asking. My class is a safe haven for 4th – 6th graders to ask drug questions, and it is my job is to simplify a complex subject by teaching a class called “Myths Around The World,” which is the history of drugs played in a geographic game. Our goal is to dispel myths, discuss slang vs. scientific terminology, and talk about how many of the drugs of abuse began as medicines. It’s a fun way to learn the beginning levels of drug prevention education and jumpstart this life-long discussion. The history of drugs is naturally funny without me or my students adding anything extra. After all, hundreds of years ago, they actually thought tobacco could cure lung cancer!

The usual questions come up in every class: “my uncle smokes, how do I make him stop?” “What do drugs taste like?” “Why do people do drugs?” These are simple, honest and expected questions.

There is one question, though, since I hear it so frequently and because it points out the kind of hilarious confusion drug education can inspire, that I feel I must address once and for all –
I want to officially say that there is NO TOBACCO IN TABASCO.

Honestly, this makes me smile every time I hear it. It is a simple case of misunderstanding the language, and it is my job to clear up the confusion. After I get the question, the class comes to a complete halt. I carefully take a few minutes reiterating my answer in several ways just to be clear.

Tabasco is a hot sauce. Tobacco is a plant that cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco and snuff are made from. Nicotine is the stimulant drug in tobacco. There is no nicotine in Tabasco. In my class, I use the example, “My husband loves Tabasco hot sauce on his tacos, but as a former tobacco smoker, he is very careful to never use tobacco products.” I promise you that there is not now, nor has there ever been, tobacco products, leaves, ingredients or additives in Tabasco. Some kids giggle, but after I answer the question I always get the same exuberant sigh of relief, and some kid always shouts out, “I love Tabasco!!! I’m so relieved I can still use it.”

Being a traveling drug educator has the potential to be a very depressing, but my husband and I have found a way to make this job fun. We never expected questions that are so innocent and naturally funny. I couldn’t write funnier questions than some that I get repeatedly from my students. The number one cutest question I get is, “How high do people float when they get high?” The number one award for literal thinkers is, “When a person barfs their brains out, how do the brains come out of their head?” And for those readers wondering what is the number one most common question I get? The winner is, “Which one is worse, pot or weed?”

Most adults remember drug education as gloom and doom coupled with scare tactics (that is if they had any drug education at all.) But in my class, scattered among the myriad questions about drug abuse, are the questions that bring a smile to my face. It’s these questions that remind me that kids are still innocent and that it is my responsibility to guide them, because I may be the first person to ever talk to them about this subject. How I choose my words can make an impact for the rest of their life, and at the very least I will have made this small difference – they’ll never be scared of Tabasco again.

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Miles To Go Drug Prevention Lecture Series Website Update 2009

We haven’t been blogging lately; not because we don’t have anything to say, but we have been working on our twitter, webinar and Drug Fact Update programs.

The Drug Fact Updates (DFU) are articles that can be used for home and classroom discussions. Monthly DFU’s can be found on our website’s Drug Fact Update page. You can sign up on our website to receive the DFU in your personal email.

Daily DFU’s can be found on our twitter page at as well as our website, where we will update posts weekly. Our Twitter name is MilesToGoDrugEd. These daily discussions are excellent start points for research projects and discussions for advisors and mentors groups.

We have been working hard on our webinar series. If you missed the live presentation at your school, you can order and view our parent meeting webcast on our webinar page.

Our new handbook, “Not All Kids Do Drugs” is still in editing, but it is coming!

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Post your comments, Reply to this article, Share your thoughts; A growing trend in NON-factual information!

An ongoing trend in internet research is for websites to allow comments, replies and shares which allow the reader to create a discussion about the subject matter. Unfortunately, in the field of drug education, comments translate into inaccurate information that is later passed on as factual science and news. Lately, we’ve seen an increase in the volume of “online” opinions being reported back to us in the classroom. It is a high tech telephone game of misinformation. Referencing comments about articles is not factual or scientific; nor is it a consensus – it is simply the echo of opinion.

Over the course of a year we review thousands of articles, news reports, science journals and case studies which have comments attached. People who comment on drugs articles represent a wide range of roles and careers such as doctors, nurses, family members of addicts, teachers, and counselors who all have real life experience and something to add to the conversation. Unfortunately, not everyone has something helpful to say; some are terribly misinformed know-it-alls. Others are teenagers who have so little life experience that they’ve never seen any damage from drugs, so they assume there are no dangers involved. Pro-drug advocates often seem to have the loudest voice and will comment on anything and everything.

For years, we’ve warned teachers, librarians and parents about using the internet for research due to the proliferation of pro-drug websites. Today, we want to warn you about using comments. They are usually nothing more than a finger on the pulse of one group of people who are interested in the subject at hand. People who portray replies to an article as factual perpetuate rumors and ignorance. We all need to work together to watch where our students get their information for debates, classroom discussions and reports.

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Do Role Models Have a Bad Day? Part 2, Looking in the Mirror.

In our parent meetings (both “Not All Kids Do Drugs” and “A Mother’s Checklist of Drug Prevention”) we talk about how our kids mimic our behavior when it comes to drugs and alcohol; but the truth is that they mimic our behavior with everything in life. As we are all trying to adjust to getting back to school, many of us are juggling work, home, family, personal goals, exercise…. Eeeeekkkkk!!! how do we fit it all in? Well, I’m no different – I’m trying to make sure I attend the PTO meeting, the spring benefit planning meeting, and back to school night all while I kick off the 14th year of our lecture series, try to finish my Ph.D, add several pages to our website, develop all our new webinars all while putting the finishing touches on our first handbook! On top of all that I’m running to gymnastics and tap lessons and celebrating family birthdays. Then, just when it seemed it couldn’t get any busier, my daughter got spider bites all over her arms and experienced an allergic reaction. Yep, I’m busy.

In between all of that, my principal stood up to welcome everyone to the first PTO meeting and reminded us to please walk our children in the cross walks through the parking lot at school. I sunk in my chair, expecting a big spot light to hit me as he said, “Let’s teach our children the correct way to walk through the parking lot and be safe.” This poor man is terrified every morning that someone is going to be hit by a car.

Here I am trying so hard to model healthy eating and living, moderate caffeine use, no road rage, healthy body image and kind, un-colorful language. With all that, there I am cutting through the parking lot when we’re in a hurry. Leading by example, that’s me! I’m leading my child right through the parking lot as she yells at me, “Safety violation, MOM!”

I work so hard to teach other parents how to be careful about their children mimicking their own behavior. Today was the day for me to look in the mirror and add one more thing to my checklist of prevention. Thanks for the gentle reminder, Mr. Principal.

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Do Role Models Have a Bad Day?

As many of you know, we are big on goal setting and role modeling here at Miles To Go. This past weekend at the US Open one of our favorite role models, Serena Williams, had what appeared to be an amygdala hijacking when she yelled at a lines woman. She received a point penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct (on match point) and was then defaulted from the game and the US Open, where she had been expected to win the singles championship. An amygdala hijacking, made famous by Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence, is when a person receives a visual or auditory stimulus that is followed by an explosive, unexpected reaction. When we see a person over-react to a situation, first we have to ask, “What information does that person have or not have that I don’t know or understand?” Sometimes we are the ones who don’t have all the information. When an amygdale hijacking occurs, the brain’s neurochemistry allows the thalamus to bypass the cortex and immediately activate the amygdala, which results in an extreme emotional reaction that is based solely on previously stored information. When this happens, we observe a person who explodes in an outburst that seems shocking, out of place, or wildly excessive to the observer.

Life is all about how we process information and what we do with that information. Since there were millions of people watching when Serena lost control, she immediately became fair game for everybody’s opinion. One writer proposed that she ruined her career as a role model; another said she was smug, with a big smile across her face; another said that she should apologize and get back out there on the court. People usually use their knowledge bas and personal experiences when they attempt to assign meaning to events. My personal impression as I watched Serena was that of a professional athlete who faced a challenge that night. She did not look smug or smiling to me, she looked sad and disappointed. Something happened to upset her, and she reacted without forthought or consideration. The reaction was unsportsmanlike and against the rules, but it was the exhibition of behavior that we’ve never seen from her before that surprised us all. Did she have a bad day? Did she hear something that we did not? Do we all lose our tempers occasionally? Until we’ve played a few sets in Serena’s tennis shoes, we can’t answer any of these questions.

I suggest that we consider all the people who have been given a second chance and proved themselves worthy. Are you one of these people? Have you ever said anything in the heat of the moment? Imagine the pressure and stress when millions of dollars and championship points are on the line! We give addicts who relapse a second chance to get back on the wagon. We give smokers as many chances as they need to stop smoking. I’m not saying that Serena is addicted to yelling at lines people, but we need to recognize that everyone has a bad day occasionally. Serena has already paid dearly for her outburst, and will probably continue to do so as an investigation into her behavior unfolds. In the light of day, she apologized for her behavior and regretted her actions.

For me, no discussion of sports role models is complete without Michael Phelps, a role model on the world’s stage who has been caught several times using drugs and alcohol. Certainly his actions have been immature and disappointing, but we have hope for him too. These role models are humans who make mistakes, but one or two mistakes do not define a person’s character. It is repetitive mistakes, where the person never seems to learn a lesson, that we worry about. Hope stirs, though when a person learns from their mistakes and shows growth, a higher emotional intelligence, and self awareness. One bad day doesn’t mean the end of a positive role model.

In the end, Serena’s quote says it all: “I need to make it clear to all young people that I handled myself inappropriately and it’s not the way to act — win or lose, good call or bad call in any sport, in any manner” she said. “I like to lead by example. We all learn from experiences both good and bad, I will learn and grow from this, and be a better person as a result.”

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Michael Jackson: Child Star Makes Us Think About Our Own Childhood

As you may have suspected, many people have been asking us about Michael Jackson. Since we didn’t know him, I try not to speculate on what happened until we know the official and final toxicology report from the coroner says. I’ve listened to a lot of ideas and suspicions and until today I felt like there was nothing for me to discuss. Today I heard a woman who called in to the Gayle King show that airs on Oprah Radio on XM radio (a show that I absolutely love!) She said that she didn’t realize until she watched the memorial about Michael Jackson what a great childhood she had while growing up. Now that is worth talking about.

No matter how you feel about MJ, his music, his legacy, his dancing, his lawsuits, his lifestyle or his death, what we do know is that he started working at a young age and continued for his entire life. Child stars have a lifestyle that changes them in ways that most of us cannot imagine. As most of you know, I worked on a TV show with child stars in the 90’s and have since worked with several others from the 60’s & 70’s. As teachers we have had many parents who were once child stars and now we have child stars in our classrooms. Every one is very different, but each and every one of them is changed by the world watching them. It is not all the glamour and glitz that we see on the red carpet.

Every time a kid tells me they just want to be a star, my question is, “What do you think that means?” Most of them reply, “Lots of money and cool stuff”. What they don’t see is how hard it is to go to the grocery store or eat a meal without getting your picture taken and then have a blogger write about what you put in your mouth and how you wiped your mouth after you ate. They don’t know what it’s like to have people go through their trash or have to pay extra for security everywhere you go. The show Hannah Montana deals with the issue of stardom in a very humorous way by living normally and working in disguise.

A child star becomes a new creation based on the reaction of the audience, and that is what happened to Michael Jackson. He became someone that was created, and had a very difficult time living life the way most of us do. While so many of us complain about our childhood, we have two choices about what to do with that upbringing: we can complain and stay victimized by it or we can move forward and live a proactive life. How much negative energy goes into lamenting the past? How much positive energy can go into moving forward? Can we overcome those challenges instead of being incapacitated by them? How much negative energy from your past do you project onto other people and your family? I’m asking everyone, good childhood or bad, to keep moving forward. Regardless of what we think of Mr. Jackson, we did get a chance to reflect on our own upbringing and compare it to his. This may be the best lesson learned: how to live life to the fullest; because when you stand in someone else’s shoes, your life may be better than you realize.

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Goal Setting Role Models

We spend a lot of time talking about goal setting and role models as major tools of drug prevention. This weekend we saw examples of some of the best role models take the world’s stage with the conclusion of Wimbledon and the beginning of the Tour de France. The Williams sister won the singles and doubles women’s tennis championship and Roger Federer won a remarkable 15th men’s Grand Slam Title on the center court of Wimbledon in London, England. The winners of these events are not the only focused athletes performing at their best, which was proved hit after hit by Andy Roddick who came in a very close second place in the men’s tennis.

As the tennis came to a close, the Tour de France began, with some of the fittest cyclist in the world coming together to prove they are the fastest sprinters, the best mountain climbers, and the most focused riders over a grueling 3 weeks of racing. Lance Armstrong is back on his bike, surrounded by an amazing team including Levi Leipheimer, Alberto Contador and many other amazing athletes.

Not only have most of them found their element that they excel in, but they have expanded past their primary focus. The Williams sisters have gone to school to make sure that they have expanded their personal interests in fashion, languages and business. Roger Federer speaks several languages fluently and will soon become a new father. They all have foundations they have created and causes they believe in, but the most famous is the 7 time Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong, who has a goal of raising awareness about cancer eradication with his foundation called Livestrong ( We have both participated in Livestrong events several times! Also, all the aforementioned athletes have competed in the Olympics, and most went home with medals.

Each of these competitors has trained since they were very young to achieve a single goal of being the best they can be in their chosen field. They didn’t just train their bodies, they trained their brains to be disciplined enough to follow a path. All of these athletes have been accused of drug use (called doping) more times than they can count and passed many, many drug tests to get here. Does this mean that they will never have an incident of drug use or never become an addict? Nobody can predict what choices these people will make for themselves in the future, but what is obvious is that they have worked extremely hard to make it happen and to be drug free.

These examples of success are people who found something they loved, set a goal, made a plan, and executed that plan. It’s that simple! Anyone can do it, they just have to find one thing that they love and make it happen. You don’t have to achieve greatness on the world stage, you just have to set a goal and make it happen. I have several goals: to make a great chocolate chip cookie, to finish my Ph.D, to be an active parent and to go on another big Disney Cruise. I calculate and recalculate over and over how to meet these goals with charts, plans and dates while trying to jump over all of life’s obstacles that are thrown at me each day. My daughter has a “dream board,” with pictures of snapping her fingers, doing a cartwheel, and whistling. Jonathan will ride a 125 mile bike ride on his “Tour of Southern California” goal this summer. You can do it, and you can teach your children and students how to do it, just set one little goal today and then take that first step down the path to unlimited achievement.

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California Has An Opportunity To Reduce Teen Smoking, Let’s Not Waste It.

The other day I was writing about the upcoming bill in the CA legislature that will raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes by $1.50 per pack. One of the more important effects that will result is the expected lowering of the number of teen smokers. The majority of studies indicate that teens are the most price conscious of all smokers—the higher the price, the fewer teen smokers there are. I know, it doesn’t make sense, since anyone under the age of 18 can’t legally buy tobacco, so why would price matter at all to them? And yet, there it is in study after study—when the cost of a pack goes up, teen smoking rates go down. When you consider that about 90% of all smokers start by the age of 19, it’s not too hard to see that less teen smokers directly results in fewer adult addicts.

Teens aren’t the only group that smokes less when the price per pack goes up—all groups smoke less as a result—so in addition to creating fewer addicts the increase in price also convinces current addicts to stop. One report, commissioned by the state of Indiana, concluded that every 10% increase in the cost of a pack of cigarettes resulted in a 7% drop in teen smoking and a 4% reduction in adult smoking. One bullet point went so far as to say, “Raising state cigarettes taxes always reduces smoking rates and always increases state revenue.”

That last point flies in the face of CA Sen. Tony Strickland (R-Thousand Oaks and the Senate Health Committee vice chairman), who said in the LA Times article on May 25 I referenced the other day that he doesn’t think it makes sense to fund state programs with revenues that will decline as smoking rates go down. Most of what I read says the opposite—smoking rates will go down, but gross revenue will go up. Even if revenue held steady or dropped, though, we would experience a net gain due to the lowered health costs associated with lowered smoking rates. The Times also saw fit to note that Strickland received $16,000 from tobacco companies in 2008 and that the CA Republican party, which spent $1.5 million promoting Strickland, took in $440,000 in tobacco donations last year. I’d probably feel obliged to speak out against an increase in tobacco taxes if I’d taken that much support from tobacco companies.

Please take a moment to contact the 11 senators on the Senate Health Committee and encourage them to support this upcoming cigarette tax bill. How can a reduction in smoking rate, no matter what motivates it, be a bad thing?

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