Understanding that the Teenage/Adolescent Brain is Under Significant Construction until age 25 is key
Recognize the Vulnerability of the Developing Brain to Addiction (aka Substance Use Disorders)
Why Kids Use Substances
Tools for Parents to Keep/Delay Children from Using Substances
Straightforward Understanding of the Problem and what You can Do to Help!
I hold a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Texas Medical Branch focusing on neuroscience. I worked in sales, medical affairs, and training for a pharmaceutical company before becoming a full-time mom. As the words "opioid epidemic" started showing up in newspaper headlines, I wanted to understand more. I researched as much as I could. I read books such as my old pharmacology textbook from grad school, The Oxford Handbook of Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders as well as Dreamland, Scar Tissue, and Mum Can You Lend Me Twenty Quid? I scoured the websites of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association), NIDA (National Institute for Drug Abuse), the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), Partnership for Drug Free Kids, etc. I attended the reveal of the Surgeon General's Report "Facing Addiction in America" in Los Angeles.
I was absolutely fascinated by how the epidemic came to be and flabbergasted that not enough was being done to educate the most important people who have the most critical role in preventing the disease - PARENTS!
The problem is horrific. Imagine an airplane crashing every day - that's about how many people die every day from an overdose. 197 a DAY in 2017 - up from 172 a day in 2016.!
Laws are being passed, doctors are being mandated to take opioid prescribing courses, first responders are being supplied with Narcan to reverse victims of overdose, schools are including more in their curriculum, etc. - all in an effort to stop this epidemic!
Yet, the number of deaths continue to climb; there is no plateau and most certainly no decline!
Through all of this research, attending of conferences, and speaking with community organizations, it became clear to me that I must do all that I can to educate parents about the link between vaping, underage drinking, medicines in their home from a surgery years ago and the "heroin epidemic" headlines. Additionally noteworthy to me, was that most parents I spoke with had no idea, for example, that the tramadol or Tylenol 3 or Vicodin that was sitting in their medicine cabinets was in any way related to those headlines.
Thus, I founded The Honey Bee Foundation with a mission to educate parents as to the science of the developing brain, its vulnerability to substance use, and tools and techniques that can prevent substance use disorder.
My name, Melissa, means honey bee in Greek so I have always been attracted to bees, honey, and honeycombs. Likewise, I feel that what I do, that is constantly learning, researching, delivering presentations, organizing workshops, advocating to protect our children from substance - all to help educate parents - is analogous to the work of a honey bee: going from flower to flower pollinating my community with the knowledge and tools to help our children and teens.
Because: 90% of people who develop addiction will tell you that "it all started" during their adolescent/teenage years when they started smoking and/or drinking and/or using marijuana..
And, being a scientist and researcher, the most important aspect of what I do is to provide parenting tools and techniques that are grounded in science and have been shown through evidence-based methods to actually work.
New Jersey, United States