Volume 1 Edition 2
MaY- Mental Health Matters
TEAM wants to thank Colorado State Representative Jeni Arndt for her work on House Bill 18-1362! This bill has passed through the legislature and has been sent to the Governor’s desk for signing.
As part of our Colorado Office of Behavioral Health Persistent Drunk Driving- Law Enforcement Assistance Funds effort. TEAM’s Executive Director, Gordon Coombes, has been actively participating in the Colorado Task Force on Drunk & Impaired Driving. In participating in this task force, TEAM was engaged in an effort to ensure that needed representation was included on the existing task force. After some quick work, TEAM approached Rep. Arndt about the potential of introducing a late bill to 2018 Legislative session that would expand the task force to include a community representative of the substance use disorder prevention field, a member of the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED), and a local owner or manager of a retail or medical marijuana dispensary.
The idea of including a community representative from the substance use disorder prevention field was in ensure that there is a community voice at the task force that can speak to prevention efforts that impact communities in Colorado. The MED and the owner/manager of a dispensary representatives were and effort to mirror current alcohol industry and alcohol regulatory agency seats on the task force.
This effort was made possible through the hard and fast work of Rep. Arndt. We are proud to have such a responsive and hardworking legislator representing the Fort Collins community in the State House. It was such a pleasure to work with her and her staff on this project. This small change to the makeup of the Colorado Task Force on Drunk and Impaired Driving will have an impact on the overall safety of our roadways and the motoring public in Colorado.
Thank you Rep. Arndt!
By Sarah Allison- Evaluation Director
Our Define Youth program has served over 115 local youth and is demonstrating awesome results! We love celebrating the successes of the youth in our community, so today let’s take a moment to talk about the improvement these kiddos have achieved through the Define program.
First, let’s take a look at the statistically significant (p<.05) improvements we’re seeing in our youth. We are seeing these positive changes in our Define Youth graduates’ abilities to:
· Use higher-level thinking skills
· Use their Wizard Brains over their Lizard Brains
· Recognize red flag warnings
· Consider the consequences of their actions now and later
· Set goals and form action plans
· Identify their choices
Next, let’s take a look at some more fun facts from our data!
· 61% of kids improved their self-efficacy
· 73% improved their ability to identify their choices
· 83.6% improved their ability to consider short- and long-term consequences
· 68% improved their ability to set goals and make action plans
· 68% improved in recognizing red flag warnings
· 69% improved overall higher level thinking
We cannot get enough of effecting positive changes in Larimer County!
by Adam Musielewicz- Coalition Director
When it comes to modeling the kind of lifestyle and choices that we hope for our children, we know that ideally begins at home. Parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents - all have the unique ability to impact the positive development of young people. The Southern Larimer Prevention Partnership (SLPP) aims to do just that; working to engage and support parents in having fruitful conversations with their children about substance use and abuse.
Specifically, the coalition is working on implementing the SpeakNow! campaign; a social marketing strategy to promote positive conversations about drug use. Why such as strategy? Trusting conversations are important - 54.6% of Larimer County HS reported their parents addressed the dangers of substance use with them in the last 12months (Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, 2015). We have a great opportunity to support parents in building opens lines of communication in their families about drug use. The SpeakNow! campaign with both social marketing and train the trainer components, intends to promote consistent and positive communication between parents/guardians and their children.
Do you talk with your young people about substance use?
By Meg Keigley- Program Specialist
I am pleasantly surprised by the number of youth who tell me that their parents have had conversations with them about substance use. I know many parents do because I always make it a point to ask about this when giving presentations in schools. So now I am curious as to how you all are talking about this topic.
Remember D.A.R.E.? Turns out that D.A.R.E. did the exact opposite of what it set out to accomplish. By teaching young people about specific drugs and the dangers that come from using those drugs D.A.R.E. was actually increasing the likelihood that youth would try these drugs out. Why? Because the program highlighted the risks associated with substance use. During adolescence, youth and risk taking might as well be moths and flames.
Developmentally, youth are primed to take risks. Their brains are designed to reward them for taking risks. It’s the cerebral push they need to become independent. It’s also the driving force behind a lot of poor decisions young people make from driving too fast to testing out marijuana for the first time.
We now know that talking about the risks associated with substance use is not always the most effective way of approaching this conversation. So what is the best way to talk with youth about substance use?
Here at Team we like to approach this conversation from a perspective of “concern and hope”. I learned this term a few years ago at a conference and like how it can capture the true risks associated with substance use while focusing on the positives aspects in young people’s lives.
I still think it is important to educate youth about the risks of substance use. But I do this through a scientific lens. Instead of comparing a brain on drugs to a fried egg in a skillet (something that most youth will laugh at anyways) I talk about the science of addiction. I talk with teens about where their brains are developmentally and how introducing substances can drastically change that development, sometimes permanently. Then, we talk about why people are compelled to use substances and how we can meet those needs, whether it be to cope with stress, fit in with friends, or take a risk, in a healthy way.
Youth who talk with their parents about substances are less likely to initiate use. This is an important conversation to have but an easy one!
By Jane Wilson- Parent Engagement Specialist
The key to fewer problems in life? Use your Wizard Brain over Your Lizard Brain.
In order to understand why we sometimes act with our emotions rather than respond rationally, we have to understand our brain’s connection to our emotions and thinking.
Just like thoughts, emotions are centered around the brain. Our five senses (taste, touch, sight, smell and sound) act as the body’s defense system and send signals to the brain to protect it from harm.
When your senses send a signal to the brain, it sends it to the thalamus. The thalamus acts as the relay center and sends urgent messages from your senses to the limbic system, triggering survival responses.
The limbic system is located just below the thalamus. There are two sections of the limbic system: the hypothalamus and the amygdala. The hypothalamus is your “fight, flight or freeze” instinct. Even reptiles have this survival response so that is why BrainWise calls the limbic system the Lizard Brain. The amygdala is the source of emotions.
Everyone is born with the Lizard Brain’s survival system. When you touch a hot flame, your hand pulls back automatically. When a siren goes off, you seek safety. There is no stop and think time about the warning signal – you just react. Of course, this response is key to survival and was essential a thousand years ago when society was less civilized.
In today’s world, we rarely encounter life-threatening events, but our Lizard Brain has not changed. It is still interpreting all intense emotions as threats, which triggers numerous “fight or flight” responses in your body every day.
Everyone is born with their senses hardwired to send signals to the thalamus and on to the Lizard Brain. No one is born with the ability to analyze our senses and intense emotions or analyze whether reacting impulsively is a good response.
Analysis occurs in another part of the brain – the prefrontal cortex. BrainWise refers to the prefrontal cortex as our Wizard Brain.
Ultimately, people who experience fewer problems have been able to use thinking skills to bypass Lizard Brain reactions. Stay tuned next month to learn how.
For more information on Engaging Families and the BrainWise program, email email@example.com.
In Northern Colorado, we have several cannabis dispensaries, cannabis infused-product manufacturing companies, cannabis related businesses and thousands of recreational and medical users, as well as a growing number of tourists coming to “Experience Colorado”. TEAM Wellness & Prevention is proud to announce the official approval, from the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED), of TenderWise, our Responsible Vendor Program that we have created for the Cannabis Industry members of the Responsible Association of Retailers (RAR) program. One of Team’s missions is to promote community responsibility in the recreational use of alcohol and cannabis within our communities through its RAR program. TenderWise is a program that will promote and train our local cannabis industry members in the best ways to sell their products in a safe and responsible way, while keeping it out of the hands of children and doing their best to protect the best interest of their patrons and neighbors. A good example of a way in which we do this already for our alcohol members is by the training we use for the sale and service of alcohol, called TIPs Training. The TIPS training program trains people in the responsible service, sale, and consumption of alcohol, as well as teaches a skills-based program that is meant to prevent intoxication, underage drinking, and drunk driving. There have been programs for of alcohol training for years, however with cannabis it is a different story, and there is a need for such programs in this new industry. TenderWise was created so that we might do the exact same things for our cannabis members.
The cannabis industry, and legalization of cannabis in our state, is something that is still very recent. There are hundreds of laws and regulations that are ever changing, which makes it a difficult landscape for the average owner, manager, seller or producer of cannabis and cannabis infused products to tread, while trying to remain as law-abiding and responsible as possible. There is no “standard” or “universal” training officially set for use in the cannabis industry, as there are established trainings already for the alcohol industry. Therefore, we have taken it upon ourselves, under the curriculum and guidance set forth by the Colorado Medical Enforcement Division (MED) and the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE), to write and produce our own Cannabis training program. We had approached a few of the first approved programs in Colorado to cooperate with them and bring them into our community, but we were not able to find a good fit or curriculum. Finally, we decided it was best to do this on our own and really put an emphasis on the prevention and responsibility aspects of what we thought the training should be. For the TIPS program, we have an in-house trainer and we will continue this with our TenderWise program. Colorado state law requires that both alcohol and cannabis trainings be in-house. We have found that with the TIPS training being in-house that we have a higher success rate of passing the training, as well as a higher level of interaction between our RAR program and its alcohol members. We are sure that this will continue with having an in-house trainer for the TenderWise program.
We will be officially launching the first-ever TenderWise training on May 24th, from 1 pm to 5 pm. If you are interested in becoming responsibly trained in cannabis sales, please follow the link at the bottom of this story to sign-up now. We as well have an online sign up for our regularly scheduled TIPs training classes, as well; follow the link below this story.
By Gordon Coombes- Executive Director
Two point four mile swim, one hundred and twelve mile bike ride, followed by a twenty six point two mile marathon. All of which, must be completed in under 17 hours. That is Ironman. What, or more importantly why, the heck would any middle age man, who at this point in life can barely run 10 kilometers, want to sign up for this kind of punishment?
In April of 2017, I made a decision to enter my first triathlon, a sprint distance triathlon. As the name implies, it is a much shorter and quicker event that starts with a 750 meter swim, followed by a 12.5 mile bike and a 5k run. I, not unlike many Americans, had let myself go. Poor eating habits and lack of physical exercise had me ballooning up to nearly 240 pounds. And my physique??? well… let’s just say that I had become more plump. Most importantly though, I did not feel good. In fact, I felt bad. I had low energy. I wasn’t sleeping well at night due to acid reflux, indigestion, and mild sleep apnea. I knew that something had to change. At that point, I thought, what the heck, I will try this whole triathlon thing. Hoping that it would be a catalyst to getting into shape. I started biking more frequently, I even bought a wetsuit and began swimming at Horsetooth Reservoir. I even began running. Unfortunately, my progress was slow and painful and I nearly succumbed to the belief that this is just what happens when you start aging.
The real change happened in July. While on a family trip to Mexico, I downloaded an audiobook to entertain myself on the trip. I looked up books about triathlon and stumbled upon “Finding Ultra” by Rich Roll. Finding Ultra is Rich Roll’s story of transformation. The story of a middle age man, who changed his lifestyle and within the span of just over a year, was competing at the highest level in Ultraman endurance triathlons. He was later named on or Men’s Journal 25 Fittest Men in the world. While listening to his journey from overweight to ultra-athlete, I found myself looking around the pool deck of the all-inclusive resort that we were staying in. There were a lot of men just like me, two hundred plus bronzed, or often burned red bodies, lounging around with a gluttony of food and alcohol. Aesthetics are one thing, but I understood how most of these men felt both physically, emotionally and mentally. I couldn’t help but think to myself, “I don’t want to live my life this way.”
I decided on that trip to make a change. I took Rich Roll’s lead and started a dramatic transformation. It started with a change to what I put into my body to fuel it. I elected to go “plant powered” by cutting all animal protein and dairy products from my diet. I also cut processed food from my diet. Most people would call that vegan, but I hate that word and the political connotation that comes with it. I have no moral or ethical reason for my decision. Nor do I have a political viewpoint that caused this decision. Simply put, I have discovered that my body operates best with little to no animal protein and little to no dairy fueling it. Within a week of my dietary change, my acid reflux and indigestion stopped and I started to feel better and had energy again. In fact, that 5k run that I struggled to complete before our trip, was easy and I quickly was running 7 to 10 miles at a time.
I completed my first sprint triathlon one month after starting my transformation. I finished in 2:00:25, just twenty five seconds over my goal. I competed in my second sprint triathlon one more month later and finished in 1:27:26. My improvement has been dramatic. My health transformation has been dramatic. The greatest improvements happened immediately following my change in diet as did my overall health and wellness
On June 10, 2018 I will compete in Ironman Boulder, a feat that I never would have believed possible. I am choosing to endure the punishment of completing an Ironman because at 45 years old, I am the fittest I have ever been.