Sue Birkenshaw

Sue Birkenshaw has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers during this time. Sue is currently the Deputy Executive Director for Narconon Ojai.

What Can we Learn from the World Drug Report 2017?

World Drug Report 2017 on cannabis

Every June, the United Nations issues its World Drug Report on all the substance abuse trends around the world. This year’s report has just been issued and expresses serious concerns about opioids, illnesses associated with injecting drug use, growth in the abuse of stimulants, and crime related to drug trafficking. In short, drug abuse is a serious social and health problem that will not stop wreaking havoc on human beings any time soon. How Many Drug Users are There in the World? Cannabis: 183 million Stimulants like methamphetamine and prescription stimulants (Adderall, Ritalin, Desoxyn): 37 million Opioids (partly or fully…

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One New Jersey Drug Seizure Illustrates How Deadly Fentanyl is

vials showing deadly doses of heroin and fentanyl

In March 2017, a drug operation by the New Jersey State Police and U.S. Homeland Security resulted in a seizure of fourteen kilograms of fentanyl. After a one-month investigation, these two agencies coordinated their efforts to take down a drug dealer and seize his incredibly powerful fentanyl supply – a move that could save a huge number of lives. At one time, fentanyl was just a powerful prescription drug distributed by legitimate health services companies. But then drug traffickers saw an opportunity for huge profits if they began trafficking in this drug that has similar effects to heroin. After all,…

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2017 Super Bowl: 100 Million Reached with Drug Prevention Messages

NCADA anti drug banner

In 2016, more Americans than ever before had their lives shattered by the effects of prescription drugs and heroin. And while you might think the whole country would now be on red alert about this problem, many families still don’t realize the threat that lies both right outside their doors and even in their own homes. Two public service announcements took on the job of relaying this message. The first PSA showed a dad talking about his daughter and how he trained his kids on gun safety from an early age. He obviously loves his daughter very much and is…

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How Iceland Actually Reduced Teen Drug and Alcohol Use

Twenty years ago, Iceland had one of the worst teenage drinking problems in the world. Each month, 42% of all 15 and 16-year olds got drunk. Friday nights in Reykjavik were hazardous because of all the rowdy, drunk teens in the streets. But an updated analysis shows that things have calmed down dramatically. Instead of 42% of those teens getting drunk, now only 5% do. The number using marijuana or smoking tobacco has likewise plummeted: Marijuana use is down from 17% to 7%; daily cigarette use dropped from 23% to 3%. How did they accomplish this goal? Could another country…

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What Drug Threats Will Your Loved Ones Face this Year?

different drugs on a table

Do you have a loved one struggling with drug abuse or now walking a sober line in life? Are you engaged in guiding a teen or young adult through all the threats on the marketplace? Every year, the threats to sobriety and even to life itself shift and move as traffickers and manufacturers seek to increase their profits at the expense of our families and communities. Here’s the way current threats from the illicit drug industry shape up. Prescription drugs: Despite all the media coverage of this threat, the misuse of prescription drugs is still taking more lives than any…

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Getting Everyone Home Safe on New Year’s Eve

people toasting with drinks

We’ve now made it through Thanksgiving and Christmas, and now our next hurdle is New Year’s Eve. This year, as every year, more than 140 families will lose someone close to their hearts because someone took to the road after drinking. It’s such an unnecessary loss of life – an alcohol-related death is 100% preventable. We all know someone who tends to drink too much at parties. And many of us have known the concern of watching someone we care about drive away after drinking at a party or bar. And some of us know the grief of losing that…

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Colleges and Alcohol: Preventing Alcohol-Related Catastrophes on Campus

man guzzling glass of alcohol

When families send their beloved children away to universities and colleges, it is with pride and the greatest hopes. This is the beginning of their children’s adult lives, the foundation for future careers and success. With a few tears in their eyes, these parents wave goodbye while envisioning bright futures. But for more than 1,800 of them, each school year brings the horrific news that their child has died in an incident involving alcohol. Of course, an alcohol-related death is a preventable death. Is it be possible to convince young adults leaving for college of the true, mortal danger of…

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Heroin Epidemic Devastates Children’s Lives Across the Country

It’s easy to understand how heroin addiction devastates the addicted person’s life. But if you take a look at recent news stories, you’ll see that it is just a devastating for an addicted person’s children – perhaps even more. Here’s some hard facts. New York, October 2016: A woman was arrested for shooting up in her car as her five-year-old daughter sat in the back seat. She said she had been in rehab and had just relapsed. Pennsylvania, October 2016: At 3 a.m., a mother was found passed out in the front seat of a car, with a one-year-old baby…

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Lessons Learned from Prince’s Drug Overdose Death


As most people now know, the celebrated musician Prince died of a drug overdose in April, 2016, at his home in Minnesota. Conjectures and partially-accurate news stories swirled for days after his death as his fans and the general public tried to make sense of this loss. Early on, there were reports from those close to him that he had never used drugs but when the toxicology report was complete weeks later, we learned that he died from an overdose of fentanyl. In the next few months, more pieces of the puzzle became public, until finally, we had a sense…

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The Positive Note of the Surgeon General’s Message

Facing Addiction in America

On Thursday, November 17, a variety of government officials and agencies came together to shine a bright light on the devastating problem of addiction. While there were serious moments when the speakers grieved over the lives lost, the overall message focused on the future and the solutions. This event was called Facing Addiction in America, A National Summit. The point was made many times that prevention must be a large part of the solution and that prevention should not be left to schools. Parents and the whole community must be on the same page with a message of sobriety and…

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