Welcome to UMatter

Only you can make the decision not to use tobacco, alcohol or drugs. This Web site is designed to give you the facts about tobacco, alcohol and drug use in Columbia. It will also provide you with resources to find factual information about the effects of alcohol and drugs, real stories from teenagers like yourself and answer any questions you might have.

Recent Posts:

Parents Talking with Teens about Sex: Promoting Open and Honest Discussion

Talking with teens about sex-related topics, including healthy relationships and the prevention of HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and pregnancy, is a positive parenting practice that has been widely researched. There are many practical actions parents can take to help strengthen their efforts to foster positive relationships with their youth and have meaningful conversations with them about sex. In addition, a number of programs in a variety of settings (e.g., schools, parents’ worksites) have been shown to increase the amount and quality of communication between parents and their teens.


Talking with Your Teens about Sex: Going Beyond “the Talk”  - Fact sheet providing steps parents can take to improve communication with their teen about sex-related topics

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More Teens Than Ever Dealing With Online Bullying

Most parents say they’re not concerned about online bullying when it comes to their kids, but more students are reporting online abuse and feeling more alone than ever.

Recent studies found 33 percent of teenagers say they deal with feeling alone and bullying, but only seven percent of parents say they’re worried about cyberbullying.

Drew Martinez, 17, says he was very focused when he entered high school and quickly got involved in a lot of activities. But by junior year, he realized the stress led to isolation, which led to bullying from other students. Drew says by junior year, the online bullying was so intense he was having anxiety attacks and had to leave his school for good.

“Negative criticism, you have to be careful with it because it’s a very powerful tool, especially on a young person’s mind,” Martinez said. “We take everything very seriously, we take it to heart. At least I do personally. So if you’re not careful with the words you use, with the things you say to someone it can really take a toll on them, push them over the edge.”

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What Brain Studies Reveal About the Risk of Adolescent Alcohol Use and Abuse

Neuroscientists at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) are zeroing in on brain factors and behaviors that put teens at risk of alcohol use and abuse even before they start drinking.

Four abstracts from the Adolescent Development Study exploring these factors will be presented at Neuroscience 2014, the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting in Washington. The Adolescent Development Study, a collaboration between the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) and GUMC funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is a wide-ranging effort to understand how a teen brain “still under construction,” as the NIH puts it, can lead to risky behaviors such as  and drug use.

One abstract provides new evidence that adolescents at higher risk of alcoholism have reduced connections in key brain networks; another links impaired brain connections to impulsivity; and two abstracts examine impulsivity in relation to sugar intake and intake of DHA, an essential .

“What this study is attempting to do is identify the differences in the brains of adolescents who go on to misuse alcohol and other drugs,” says VanMeter. “If we know what is different, we may be able to develop strategies that can prevent the behavior.”

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