February 8, 2016 -“The Happiest of Days”

Spending time with our little ones gives me such joy.  This was an interesting 10 days down in the Washington DC area.  Started off really well. Arrived on the Friday afternoon and Saturday we went to Silver Spring and the girls and I went and painted pottery and the parents went ice skating.  We went from there to have something to eat at an Irish Pub.  It was great fun.

Sunday Ian and I and the kids went to the Farmers Market while Mom went to her skating lesson.  I left in the afternoon by Metro to go to the conference at the Gaylord. Met some of my buds and we went to dinner out of the hotel.

Early day on Monday.  National Prevention Day where we heard from some of our national leaders from various agencies.  The day was so good. I went to several very good workshops, one about the latest substance use data especially with the states where they have legalized pot vs states where it is still illegal.  Then I went to one about building relationships with the faith community. It was more targeting members of the faith community who want to join with coalitions but still learned a lot.

Again that evening we went somewhere to have something to eat. After a good visit went to bed and got a good nights sleep.

Tuesday we heard from heads of National Agencies.  Michael Botticelli who is head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy talked about changing the vocabulary around addiction and finding more ways to divert people into treatment rather than incarceration.   He was followed by Chuck Rosenberg the new head of the DEA.  He was great. He has reinstated the National Drug Take Back Day.  He also announced a new program called 360 which will attempt to work with communities.  The goal will be to try and cut off the sources of drugs but then also find ways to divert youth away from drug related activities into healthy activties.

The last speaker that morning was amazing.  Dr. Bertha Madras from Harvard talked about brain science.  “Addiction is the only brain disease which is preventable” We all know this but then she went on to talk about what happened to the brain when young people smoke pot.  It was interesting to hear her say you can not predict who will become addicted to Pot but some do. After long term use nerve cells have fewer receptors  and that effects memory and learning. The earlier one uses the greater the damage.  Those who start before age 15 are more likely to suffer from psychosis or schizophrenia.  One of the most interesting things she said was that more Pot users end up in the ER than those using alcohol.  One really scary thing was that in a European long term study they have found out that the children of mothers who smoked pot while pregnant were more likely to be drawn to using opiates later on.  It is transferred through changes to the DNA. I find this kind of research so interesting where they follow thousands of individuals for 30 or 40 years and eventually can see the patterns that develop.

The good news for parents is that if they talk to their children about why they don’t want them drinking or using other drugs and make clear what the consequences will be… those young people will respond well to these conversations and they use at much lower rates than parents who don’t talk with their children.  The conversation needs to start early and not just be a one time thing.  Also role modeling that one can have a good social time without alcohol is a good thing.

Not to preach but you know back when I was working and we did surveys of youth one of the strongest pieces of data to show  parents of 6th and 8th grade students was the response to the question – Have you ever riden in a car with a driver who had been drinking?  Nothing about drunk in there.  The scores for the middle school age youth was always higher than for the high school students.  Parents would initially find this confusing until one parent would get it and say it.   The young kids when out with their parents see the parents drinking – maybe even just one drink but then driving home.  No one thinks about what the kids are observing and when they get older it breaks down their ability to say no to riding in a car with a friend who has been drinking.  Another time to have a conversation.

After that I attending a wonderful workshop on diversity.  It was so good.  A fun exercise he wanted us to do. We had to identify something about ourselves and then tell the folks what we thought they should know about it.  I picked outgoing or one of the words that means that……  what I wanted them to know that it is not an easy personality type because we cannot turn it off and sometimes we would just like to be quiet and withdrawn but it is impossible. And then I added and you don’t want to be around me when I have been drinking coffee.  It was interesting.

That evening we went to dinner with a whole group and really enjoyed it.  I was tired and and was in bed by 10.  Well, it would appear either I had food poisoning or a stomach bug – one in the same I think.  Starting at about 5 am I was upchucking over and over. Even when my stomach was empty I just gagged.  Then the other end started and went on until the next day.  It was a nightmare.  We were going to visit our congressman that afternoon and our senators.  No way was I going anywhere.  I have never called room service in my life but I had to get something to eat and they brought me saltines and ginger ale.  Thursday I had to get up and going at some point since I had to check out of the hotel so Weds evening when I figured I could run downstairs for no more than 15 minutes I went down and bought a little bottle of Pepto Bismal.  Yes, I started drinking that stuff like it was my best friend.  Thursday a nice woman gave me a late check out and I got back to Ian’s around 4ish.

So what was a great conference ended very early for me.  The rest of the weekend went well. Friday I was going to spend the day recouperating but the two little girls both decided they should be sick and stay home with grandma. We had a great time together. Saturday I did take the day off and they all went to the Smithsonian’s new Museum of Native American History?  It was a school event.  Then they all went skating up in Silver Springs.  Great time for them.  We went out to dinner when they got home at Poets and ? Sunday we went to the Farmers Market and then later to a school fund raiser at a book store and the kids got a whole bunch of new books.

Today I traveled home.  Am tired but happy to be here.  Came home to a great dinner made by my honey.  All things I like and could eat since my stomach still isn’t right. Tomorrow I am going to make sure I am back on all my meds.

So I had a great week for the most part and today am happy to be home. And I am already looking forward to spring break with my little girls.  Going to be a fun time.

Tomorrow we will see some of Charles Diary. I have to remember where we were.

Thanks for listening.  Glad to be back and just to let you know I got some good ideas of some things I want to write about. So hopefully it will all work out.



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