Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Prescription Drug Awareness - Blog #3

Currently, as many as 1 in 4 teenagers have abused prescription drugs.  As the issue of young adults abusing prescription medications continues to grow within our nation, many parents are left wondering what they can do to ensure the safety of their children.  Smart Moves, Smart Choices is a campaign to help both teenagers and parents become aware of this growing issue and how to help stop it.   

First and foremost, if you as a parent are concerned that your child or another child you know is abusing prescription pain medications, start by talking to the teenager.  Most importantly, be open and nonjudgmental.  Usually, abuse of prescription medication is indicative of an underlying issue, and teenagers need to be heard and know that help is available and that he or she is cared for.  Be supportive.  Share the facts with your teenagers; those who openly talk to their parents about the risks of drug abuse are 50 percent less likely to use drugs in the first place, and many times teenagers are misguided about the risks of prescription drugs.  More than 40 percent of teenagers believe they are safer to use than street drugs.  Lastly, get the child help.  Talk to a guidance counselor, a nurse, a principal, a doctor.  Do not try to hide it or fix it by yourself.  Teenagers who are abusing prescription medication need support and help. 

Of note, parents need to be aware of the signs that their child may be abusing prescription medication.  The effects of prescription drugs is related to what kind of prescription drug the child is taking. 

He or she may be drowsy with an inability to concentrate and smaller pupils.  He or she may be flushed or be constipated.  Most dangerously, he or she may be experiencing a slower rate of breathing. 

Your child may have enlarged pupils with slurred speech, loss of motor coordination, and fatigue.  His or her blood pressure may be low, and the rate of breathing may be slowed.  Inhibitions may be lowered.  He or she may experience poor concentration, impaired judgment, and confusion. 

He or she may have increased appetite, heart rate, respiration rate, and blood pressure.  His or her pupils may be enlarged, and he or she may experience dizziness, tremors, headache, flushed skin, and sweating.  Parents may see restlessness, anxiety, aggression, panic, or paranoia. 

Parents also need to be aware of how to store prescription medications within their home.  Often times, homes are the easiest place for teenagers to gain access to prescription drugs.  Smart Moves, Smart Choices recommends two easy solutions.  Do not store prescription drugs in medicine cabinets where they are easily accessible.  Instead, store them in a secure area that children do not know about and consider placing the medications within a locked compartment.  Next, it is important to know what is within the home.  It is recommended that the amounts of medication within each bottle are monitored.  This way, if pills mysteriously disappear or the bottle needs to be refilled more frequently than usual, the issue can be identified quickly.  It is also recommended that relatives and parents of other teenagers be educated on storing prescription drugs in safe places.  The more who are aware of this issue and how to avoid it, the better!

For parents who have medications that have expired or are sitting unused, it is important they know the proper way to dispose of these medications so they do not become abuse potential.  First, it is vital that medications are not flushed down the toilet; these medications will then be in the water system for people to ingest.  When it comes time to dispose of prescription medications, make sure labels are removed so that no one else can attempt to refill the bottle.  Smart Moves, Smart Choices also advocates that the medication be removed from the bottle and mixed with another “undesirable” substance to discourage teenagers or others from taking the pills from the trash.  Additionally, parents should check with their local police department on ways to safely dispose of prescription medications.  Within Chatham County, there are anonymous safe drop boxes at all police stations where anyone can drop off unlabeled pills into a secure box with no questions asked. 

For more details, please see the Smart Moves, Smart Choices website.


Prescription Drug Awareness - Blog #2

The myth that many young adults understandably believe is that abusing prescription drugs is safer than using illegal drugs, such as heroin or cocaine.  This is not the case! 

Let’s start with the basics.  Prescription drugs are prescribed by a physician or nurse practitioner or someone of the like to a specific person for a specific cause.  This means that the patient has something wrong in their body that the medicine is trying to help.  It also means that the medicine is prescribed in a specific dose over a certain amount of time.  That alone is complicated and should hint that no one else should be taking these medications. 

When a person other than the patient takes the medicine to feel good, you are messing with your body.  The medicine is supposed to be taken when something is needing fixed; if a healthy person takes the drugs, you are messing around with the healthy pathways of your body.  Also, a big concern is having an bad reaction!  If you take too much or if you are unknowingly allergic to the medicine, very bad things could happen.  Allergic responses involve swelling, which could potentially quickly shut your throat and kill you.  It happens quickly, and if people do not know what you have taken, they have no way of helping.

There are three types of commonly abused prescription drugs:

  1. Opioids – these are pain relievers, such as oxycodone, fentanyl, hydrocodone, etc. 
  2. Depressants – these are relaxers for people with high tension or anxiety.  Examples are Xanax and Valium. 
  3. Stimulants – these are medications for people who may have trouble concentrating, such as Adderall and Ritalin. 

Let’s talk about the dangers. 

With opioids, there is a risk of decreased ability to think, which obviously results in a lot of secondary dangers because the person has poor decision making ability.  They may choose to drive and crash, hurting themselves or others.  They may choose to fool around and climb something high, or try a skateboarding trick, or do something and fall, hurting themselves badly.  The list goes on and on.  The biggest danger with opioids though is that they decrease a person’s breathing rate!  When a person has taken opioids, they do not recognize this is happening.  They fall asleep, their breathing slows down, not enough oxygen gets to their brain, and brain tissue starts to die.  This results in a coma, and sometimes death.  Sometimes the person stops breathing all together.  It only takes minutes of not breathing for a person to be brain dead. 

Depressants.  Sedatives.  Tranquilizers.  These are all the same drugs.  The danger with these medications is that taken unsafely, they can also slow breathing.  But they can also slow a person’s heart rate, meaning blood is not getting to important organs, like the brain.  This can cause death.  Also, if a person stops taking the medication too suddenly, such as after a heavy partying weekend, they can have seizures because the body gets too high strung after being used to being relaxed.  Seizures can also lead to coma and death.    

On to stimulants.  Stimulants are energizing the body, which is great for a person with a medical condition who is prescribed them.  But for a healthy person, it is jump starting their nervous system.  It causes dangerously high body temperature.   Basically a fever; high body temperature can lead to seizures and brain damage.  If stimulants are being abused, seizures can occur without a fever – they happen because the body is just over energized.  Stimulants also affect the heart, causing irregular heartbeats, which affect blood flow through the body.  Lastly, stimulants cause a person to be aggressive and paranoid, which can lead to secondary dangers, such as attacking another person. 

ALL of these side effects can happen THE FIRST TIME A PERSON TRIES A PRESCRIPTION DRUG.  Do not think it is safe to try it just once.  It is not. 

ALL of these side effects have a higher chance of happening IF ALCOHOL OR OTHER DRUGS ARE MIXED.  Mixing drugs with other drugs or drugs with alcohol is extremely dangerous.  The risk is not worth it.   

If these facts sound morbid, it is because they are.  Taking medication that is not prescribed to you is dangerous and deadly.  Let’s talk about how not to do it.    

Friday, March 1, 2013

Prescription Drug Awareness - Blog #1

Have you ever taken a prescription drug that wasn’t prescribed for you? Or maybe you know someone who has? As UNC Chapel Hill Nursing School students, we’ve come to Chatham County to help raise awareness about the misuse of prescription drugs, and the different types of consequences that can result. To accomplish this goal, we are working with the school nurses to organize assemblies at local high schools, providing information and educating the community through various media outlets.

Let’s be honest, life is stressful. With school, homework, tests, deadlines, jobs, family, etc., it can all feel a little bit overwhelming, and finding appropriate ways to handle the stress can be tough. In these stressful situations our ability to make good decisions can be altered. Our tendency is to lean toward less healthy coping strategies such as prescription drug abuse.

But what is prescription drug abuse? Prescription drug abuse is taking a medication that was not prescribed to you, or using it for reasons other than its intended purposes. This can include taking a friend’s medication for any reason, taking a family member’s leftover medication, or taking more than the prescribed dose. Whether your intention is to help a friend who has the same infection you just recovered from, to get high, to stay up to study, or to make money – all of these are abuse and the consequences can be devastating and far-reaching.

Stay tuned for additional posts on tips and tricks on how tackle this sensitive subject, and understanding the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Backstage on Broadway

(Dr. Lori Major Carlin is the Theatre Arts teacher at Northwood High School. She has been teaching in Chatham County for 15 years. With the assistance of professional development grants from the Chatham Education Foundation and the Northwood Arts Education Foundation, Lori is attending the Broadway Teacher’s Workshop in NYC.)

This will be my final post about the phenomenal experiences I’ve had these last few days. It will be hard to summarize all that I will be taking back with me personally and professionally. In many ways, I’m not sure that I can identify all of the sparks of ideas, show titles, directing choices, and lesson plans that will result from the Broadway Teacher’s Workshop. All I can tell you is that “I have been changed for good” (shameless Wicked quote), and I am so grateful to both CEF and NHSAEF for helping me get here!

I will begin with the shows. Peter and the Starcatcher is just utterly magical. I laughed (very hard) and I cried (just a smidge). It is my new favorite straight play and I feel certain that it will be one of those shows to gain more & more respect as people see it & experience the magic it has to offer. Also, Disney is now attached so look for the ride in a theme park near you. See it if you can. The show will be replicated but the directing choices in this one make it an absolutely must see in New York.

I must admit that I wasn’t super jazzed about seeing Porgy and Bess. Go ahead & throw your stones. It was that much more surprising then to find that I was completely captivated by the story, of course, but more so by the sheer demand of the starring roles. This was the first performance that the full Tony Award winning cast was present for since they won. Audra McDonald had been out for some time for vocal rest and I cannot imagine how she was able to do both a matinee and an evening show. The physicality demanded of all actors but especially these two leads is tremendous.

Finally, the dream came full circle with our Saturday evening viewing of Once. Before the show begins, there is a full beverage service area on the stage. I had heard the rumor and got in early enough to go up. I was there when the cast came out and danced a little Irish jig with the actor who plays Guy’s father. Then, he turned and introduced me to Guy (Steve Kazee – Tony Award winner for lead actor this year). He presented me as a “bonnie lass”, Guy took my hand, and I fell completely stupid. The show was everything I expected and I enjoyed it very much.

After each show, we were privileged to have a “talk back” session with some of the actors. Sometimes chorus members & a few minor characters would come out and other times (Once & Peter and the Starcatcher) the whole cast would come speak to us. They were always so nice and so normal and so appreciative of their own teachers. David Allan Grier shared an interesting statistic with us during the Porgy session – apparently only 1% of those working performers fortunate enough to earn an Actor’s Equity card earn over $5,000 a year. That statement blew me away.

It was remarkable how accessible all of these people have been. From the co-directors of our workshop to every presenter (including the hero flier for Spiderman – we got to see the tech call for the matinee performance) and every actor – they are just like you and me. They love their craft and they work very, very, very hard. Each of them said that if you can do something else for a profession – do it. But if you can’t, if you have the passion and the drive and if you are willing to work very hard and sacrifice a lot of pride, you too can dance an Irish gig on the Broadway stage, or design lighting for Spiderman: More Ridiculous than Ever Part 7, or scrounge through thrift stores looking for the perfect vest for Peter Pan.

Now these aren’t formal lessons, but I can infer from what I’ve seen this week that there are other key factors in finding success on Broadway (and elsewhere perhaps).

-Be on time. One of our performers was late to a presentation and everyone was visibly disapproving. Don’t assume that your time is worth more than someone else’s and honor your call times. (I’m working on it, Mr. Blice!)
-Stay well. 8 shows a week. 8 new audiences and 8 chances to change a life. Take care of your instrument. Your health is vital to your success so take personal responsibility for it.
-Learn. Not one single performer or technician was a star chorus member straight out of high school. No one is coming to your freshman production of Godspell to whisk you away to Broadway. It is incumbent upon YOU to get the education and training required to play in the big leagues. Education is NEVER a bad thing.
-Finally, Be Nice. This week I got to work with Tony Award winners, Broadway legends, agents, technicians, and more. They are all working in the industry that they love and it shows. It shows in the way that they valued me as your teacher and it showed in how incredibly excited they are to meet you.

Your turn. Go on pigeons, live YOUR dream!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Bright Lights, Big Ideas!

(Dr. Lori Major Carlin is the Theatre Arts teacher at Northwood High School. She has been teaching in Chatham County for 15 years. With the assistance of professional development grants from the Chatham Education Foundation and the Northwood Arts Education Foundation, Lori is attending the Broadway Teacher’s Workshop in NYC.)

Happy Friday the 13th! Other than seeing a man covered in rats – things have been calm here in the big city. I should note that he wasn’t covered in rats on accident or via misfortune (well, that is debatable).

Thoroughly enjoyed War Horse last night though I AM glad that we skipped it when I took students to London & Paris last year. It is coming to DPAC and I highly recommend seeing it there. (For the record, we saw 39 Steps in London instead & it was absolutely hilarious!). I did fall madly in love with the lead as per usual, only this time the lead was a horse. Beautiful, beautiful horse!

The workshops today were more technical in nature and I was struck by how very many, many, many jobs there are in the arts. I heard from obvious positions like playwrights and costume designers (the 2012 Tony Award winning costume designer that is!), but ALSO heard from some computer/musician nerds who are making a very nice living providing software to fill in orchestral holes in a production, stage craft designers who specialize in found/up-cycled materials, and a projection designer who was so low-key and funny that you’d never know he is in demand all over the world.

I have to say that the Projection Design for Everyone seminar with Zachary Borovay was my favorite of the day. We are very fortunate to have district oversight that not only encourages use, but actually makes technology available to teachers and students. As a director who has struggled with set design (as my esteemed colleague and the most talented artist I know, Leslie Burwell, will tell you) my entire career – I was delighted to see that there are new ways that I can tell stories without needing to build/borrow/staple & duct tape a set together. I am really enthusiastic about the prospect of using projection for some of our sets this year. We can still use student art – only now we can include film, photography, and so forth. Good things!

Costume & Set Design with some of the crew from Peter and the Starcatcher was really interesting. They have achieved so much success from a show that began with virtually no budget. In fact, they created an entire proscenium, costumes, and props using their brains before their wallets. It was a refreshing session when confronted by the grandeur and excess of traditional Broadway shows.

The Playwriting workshop was a lot of the very same information that I use with my Acting I class. In fact, I spoke (shock and awe) and told them about how my students write scenes, we read & vote on the best, and then they produce them. Everyone loved the idea and many plan to take it back to their programs. It was also nice to hear from a playwright who struggled with many of the same issues I encountered when writing Mirrors last year. Who knows, with some (major) adjustments, I may try to get it published one day.

Finally, there was a presentation from MTI – the ginormous licensing company that all theatre teachers work with at some point. They answered questions and tried valiantly to justify the costs associated with their materials. ;)

Tonight we get to see Peter and the Starcatcher. I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am for this production!  I’ve finished up with workshops early enough that I am going to take myself out for a nice dinner. See you tomorrow!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Holy tired, Batman!

(Dr. Lori Major Carlin is the Theatre Arts teacher at Northwood High School. She has been teaching in Chatham County for 15 years. With the assistance of professional development grants from the Chatham Education Foundation and the Northwood Arts Education Foundation, Lori is attending the Broadway Teacher’s Workshop in NYC.)

Broadway Teacher’s Workshop got off to a bang this morning! We are in several of the rehearsal rooms of the Foxwood’s Theatre, home to Spiderman: Turn off the Dark. Rehearsal rooms with folding chairs, amazing sound (and floors), and TODAY (in July, in NYC, with over 100 people in the room) without air conditioning. Needless to say……we got to know each other pretty well. There are people here from Pakistan, Spain, Bermuda, and a very nice lady from up the street in Hillsborough, NC. Also, randomly, my doppelganger teaches high school theatre in South Korea. Freaky, I tell you.

The co-directors of the program introduced themselves today and it turns out they met and became friends in high school. Both remained in the industry and after achieving some success, decided to give back to those who provided them with their early success and education. Ahem.

We began the workshop portions by dividing into grade level groups to discuss show recommendations (I have some good ones, pigeons!), production challenges & potential solutions, casting issues, software & applications for stagecraft and rehearsal. I was surprised by the lack of discussion regarding curriculum but that came later. Our first presenters were David Loud (Musical Director for Porgy and Bess, and a million other things), Heidi Blickenstaff (Duke grad, amazing performer), and James Clow (Broadway & tv credits). The session was Kander & Ebb – Extreme Song Interpretation. Just phenomenal!

After lunch, we had a session with Broadway legend Charles Strouse. He told stories – some of which I may be able to share with students, others not so much. He discussed his writing and his approach and the series of theatre miracles that led to his tremendous success with shows like Bye, Bye, Birdie and Annie. The man is 84 years old and still writing new material every day.

My final session was Advanced Directing with Sheryl Kaller. She was recently nominated for a Tony Award for Next Fall (one of only 20 women nominated for directing - ever – wow). She was incredibly dynamic and I can say that the workshop that I thought would change my directing will have a much greater impact on the work done in my classroom. This session made me feel both completely humbled and tremendously proud of the work that we are able to accomplish in our little corner of the world.

This evening, we will be going uptown to the Lincoln Center to see War Horse. Though I have studiously avoided seeing the show until now – I anticipate that my eyes will be swollen shut by the time I return to my hotel. For now, I am exhausted and have blisters on my blisters but I am so blessed in my work and in this life! See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hello NYC!

(Dr. Lori Major Carlin is the Theatre Arts teacher at Northwood High School. She has been teaching in Chatham County for 15 years. With the assistance of professional development grants from the Chatham Education Foundation and the Northwood Arts Education Foundation, Lori is attending the Broadway Teacher’s Workshop in NYC.)

I arrived in NYC! Drove in, along with an average of 60,000 other cars (thanks for the trivia, Mom), early this afternoon and checked into my hotel. Today was my “navigation” day. Put me almost anywhere in London and I can find my way around. New York, well, I think all the crowds interfere with my sense of direction. Anyway, I was able to make my way to SoHo to my favorite paper store (you ARE reading a Teacher Blog – school supplies make me happy) and I had a lovely lunch in Little Italy. Raced back up to Rockefeller Center to do some shopping & visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Then, I found the location for the Broadway Teacher’s Workshop tomorrow and proceeded back to the hotel (I have blisters on my blisters, time for flats).

The workshop begins tomorrow morning with a time for getting to know the other theatre teachers from across the nation who will be coming together for this amazing experience. Many of the teachers have been to the workshop before & have tremendously positive things to say about it. I’ve notice that there will be teachers from San Francisco, New Orleans, and at least one from out of the country. Once we get to know one another (a prospect that terrifies me – I am not your normal theatre teacher – I am shy to the point of hermitage), we will discuss our goals for the workshop and develop some plans for taking home what we learn. Many of the teachers have already posted lesson plans & theatre exercises & evaluations to the web site for the workshop. I am looking forward to adapting those within my own classroom and making them work with our new Essential Standards. We have several choices for electives & I will report on those at the end of each day.

Time to change my shoes & go see about some cheesecake……I mean dinner. See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Headed to Broadway!

(Dr. Lori Major Carlin is the Theatre Arts teacher at Northwood High School. She has been teaching in Chatham County for 15 years. With the assistance of professional development grants from the Chatham Education Foundation and the Northwood Arts Education Foundation, Lori is attending the Broadway Teacher’s Workshop in NYC.)

This is really a dream come true! Stories go that I was performing before I understood the concept of applause (see: Littlest Angel in, yep, The Littlest Angel). For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved being on stage and at one time thought I’d make a career of it. Oh, wait, I have – I teach! Once I learned that my TRUE calling is to be an educator, it became my joyful responsibility to engender a love of performing (or building, or rigging, or amplifying) in my students. I never expected that I would, one day, have the opportunity to STUDY ON BROADWAY! For the next several days, I will be sleeping a block away from Times Square, studying with artists and master teachers (on the Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark stage!), seeing recent Tony Award winning shows, eating bagels, networking with other theatre teachers, watching tech calls, LEARNING, and generally geeking out entirely. Let’s stroll down the Great White Way (Broadway) together!