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Outreach Events

December 14, 2016

The Alcohol & Drug Abuse Center of Excellence (ADACE), an interdisciplinary research center of LSU Health, and Baker Donelson, a law firm of over 700 attorneys and professionals, invite you to join a full-day discussion of the scientific, clinical, and commercial aspects of medicinal cannabis legalization. Panels of subject matter experts will lead discussions about the biological and therapeutic effect of cannabis, clinical considerations & patient management, and commercialization & legislative issues related to medicinal cannabis.  

August 13, 2015

This week the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Center of Excellence (ADACE) at LSU Health Sciences Center held its first community outreach event. The event entitled “What Every Parent, Counselor, Teacher, and Healthcare Provider Should Know about Adolescent Alcohol Abuse” brought together distinguished scientists who are experts in the field of alcohol abuse in adolescents with teachers, parents, counselors, health care providers and case workers from our community with a genuine interest in protecting the health and wellbeing of our youth. The need for open and improved communication, not only between the experts in the field and the lay public, but between those responsible for guiding our youth, and the increasingly smart and inquisitive youth of our times was clearly identified at this event. Audience participation reflected a desire to know and understand more about what the science tells us about alcohol use and abuse during the adolescent period. Remarks from some of the youngest members of the audience reminded us of the challenge we face in imposing rules for our youth without respecting their intelligence and need for understanding the reasons for our rules and regulations.

Experts presented scientific evidence generated with state of the art technology that clearly demonstrates that the process of brain maturation is not complete until individuals reach 25 years of age. The legal drinking age of 21 is still within a period in which the brain has not fully developed and when excess alcohol can impair how the final events in brain maturation take place. Allowing adolescents to drink alcohol carries more risks than a DUI. Data were presented showing that delaying initiation of drinking significantly decreases the risk for developing alcohol use disorders including alcoholism. That is the reason for setting the legal age for drinking at least 21. Children and adolescents with a history of alcohol abuse in their family are at greater risk for developing problematic alcohol use. Similarly, we learned that not all children of alcoholics are sentenced to become alcoholics. Therefore, prevention in these vulnerable individuals should be a priority. One of the most striking findings discussed by scientists is that the adolescent brain does not handle alcohol the same way an adult brain does. Adolescent brains are more tolerant to the negative effects of alcohol. So many of the factors that help adults control the amount of alcohol they drink such as headaches, and hangovers, are less severe in adolescents. This gives adolescents the false sense that they are not consuming alcohol in excess and in fact makes it easier for them to increase their alcohol consumption to levels that can lead to severe consequences, including death by alcohol poisoning.

When analyzing the factors that are most frequently associated with adolescent alcohol abuse the following were identified as being important: getting offered sips of alcohol by adult family members or friends, peers who use alcohol and whose parents condone the use of alcohol, patterns of alcohol abuse in the home, and ease of access to alcohol. In the news this week we learned of establishments in the New Orleans area that sold alcohol to minors. While those should be important targets for law enforcement, we believe that the attitudes and norms at home and school should also be reflected upon. When raising, educating, and guiding a child through adolescence we should be more in tune to what science has taught us about brain development and learn about ways to protect the younger generation that has been entrusted to us. The scientists at the ADACE hope to lead in initiatives to improve the welfare of our community through education and dissemination activities that bridge the advances in scientific discovery with our community.

Phun Week 2015

The annual Physiology Understanding (PhUn) Week program is the American Physiological Society’s (APS) major outreach event to pre-college classrooms in a concerted effort. Dr. Patricia Molina, Professor and Head of the Physiology Department and APS president, together with LSUHSC APS members (faculty, staff, trainees, and students) have established and fostered relationships with teachers in the local communities where the Phun Week events take place. In these events teachers and physiologists work together and the students participate in hands-on learning activities, such as a group exercises on heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, muscle contractions, and the cardiovascular system. This year the Physiology Department Phun Week events were a huge success with more than 500 students reached at 8 event sites across New Orleans, Metairie, and the North Shore, being coordinated by 8 APS members (total of 45 hours invested) including Drs. Lauri Byerley,  Jason Gardner,  Lisa Harrison-Bernard, Flavia Souza-Smith, Liz Simon, Karina Villalba, and Annie Whitaker. They served as lead coordinators for a total of 11 scientists (100% of student participation), presenting and partnering with 17 classroom teachers and educators. The grade levels targeted at these events varied from K-12. The schools involved were Fontainebleau High School (grades 10-12th), Holy Name of Jesus School (K), Mandeville High School (grades 10-12th), John Quincy Adams School (6-7th), Ben Franklin High School (11th), St Angela Merici School (3rd), Florida Avenue Elementary School (4th), and Crocker College Prep (1st).