Daily Archives: March 22, 2017

Kids are using drugs less, because smartphones are more addictive. A mariachi band follows around a baseball player on the field. And Scotland gives vacation and pay for new puppy adoptees

So I think we’d all agree that a drop in drug use among teenagers is a good thing, right?

I mean, a little marijuana is fine in my book, but not when you’re a teenager and don’t know any better. So a report last week that drug use had declined is a good thing, right? Obviously the educational programs and “don’t use drugs” messages in the media and the rerun of that great “Saved By the Bell Episode” where the gang finds out their hero Johnny does “dope” is having an effect.

Yeah, no. None of that seems to be the reason drug use is down; the National Institute on Drug Abuse says pot use for 8th and 10th graders has declined, while cocaine, hallucinogens, ecstasy and crack usage are all lowering, too, along with heroin.

Why? Smartphones, of course. According to this New York Times story, experts in the field say that “the novel notion that ever-growing phone use may be more than coincidental is gaining some traction.

Dr. Volkow described interactive media as “an alternative reinforcer” to drugs, adding that “teens can get literally high when playing these games.”

Dr. Silvia Martins, a substance abuse expert at Columbia University who has already been exploring how to study the relationship of internet and drug use among teenagers, called the theory “highly plausible.”

“Playing video games, using social media, that fulfills the necessity of sensation seeking, their need to seek novel activity,” Dr. Martins said, but added of the theory: “It still needs to be proved.”

Wow. I mean… yes, of course it’s better if kids use Snapchat instead of hitting the crack pipe or plunge a needle with heroin in it into their arms. But as we have all seen, kids and phone addictions is also a serious problem. Listen to this quote from a high school senior:

“Alexandra Elliott, 17, a senior at George Washington High School in San Francisco, said using her phone for social media “really feels good” in a way consistent with a “chemical release.” A heavy phone user who smokes marijuana occasionally, Alexandra said she didn’t think the two were mutually exclusive.

However, she said, the phone provides a valuable tool for people at parties who don’t want to do drugs because “you can sit around and look like you’re doing something, even if you’re not doing something, like just surfing the web.”

“I’ve done that before,” she explained, “with a group sitting around a circle passing a bong or a joint. And I’ll sit away from the circle texting someone.”

Again … wow. This whole article kind of blew me away. Look, phones are certainly much, much better for your physical health than doing drugs. It’s just… a different kind of addiction, and we don’t know what the long-term effects will be.

**Next up today, I enjoyed this video so much, and the idea that spawned it. The Seattle Mariners baseball team is trying to have more fun this season, apparently, so manager Scott Servais and some players decided that in honor of outfielder Leonys Martin’s 29th birthday, they’d do something special:
No, they didn’t buy him a car or a plane or send him on an exotic trip: They hired a mariachi band to follow him around all day at spring training a few weeks ago.

Oh, and they gave him a sombrero.
This is so great. I only wish they’d been on the field during an actual game, so that when he made a nice catch or got a double into the gap, they could play a happy song.


**Finally today, you think people love their pets here in America? We’ve got nothing on Scotland, apparently. Or at least, nothing on a Scottish bar named BrewDog, which just started a new policy for employees.
Get this: If a BrewDog employee adopts a new puppy, they get a week’s paid leave to help with the house training process.

BrewDog actually has pubs (and pugs) around the world, so this policy applies to 1,000 employees. The owners of the original bar in Scotland love dogs and want to encourage everyone to become a dog owner.

Sounds a little crazy to me, but hey, since I’m not a dog owner, maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree here (sorry, I had to. I’ll see myself out. Tip your waiters).