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Surgeon General Calls
for Action on Underage
'Drunkorexia' prevalent among college students, study finds
Drinking Motivations Differ Among U.S. 12th Graders
Misguided approach to teen drinking
A Kid's Guide to the Effects of Alcohol
Should Parents Let Teens Drink At Home?
Teen Drinking at Home: Helpful or Harmful?
Do I have a Drug or Alcohol Problem?
Using a Developmentally Sensitive Approach to Prevent Teen Drinking
"We Dont Serve Teens"
What Colleges Need to Know Now: An Update on College Drinking Research
Study Says Bingeing Worse at Colleges with Big Drinking Culture, Lax Rules
Drunkeness Triples College Kids' Auto Injury Risk
Drunk Driving Statistics & Facts
Related topic Are You an Alcoholic?, Teen Alcohol, Teen Drinking Prevention
Youth Drinking Higher Where Alcohol Outlets
The Los Angeles Times reported Dec. 29 that drinking rates were higher among 12- to 17-year-olds who lived within a half-mile of an alcohol outlet, and that minority neighborhoods tended to have a higher density of alcohol outlets than predominantly white communities.
How do alcohol outlets affect communities?
"Our study suggests that living in close proximity to alcohol outlets is a risk factor for youth," according to the researchers. "In California, retail licenses are not typically approved within 100 feet of a residence or within 600 feet of schools, public playgrounds and nonprofit youth facilities, but proximity by itself is not sufficient to deny a license ... More attention on the proximity rule is needed and environmental interventions need to curb opportunities for youth to get alcohol from commercial sources."
The research was published online ahead of publication in the
American Journal of Public Health.
Drinking Motivations Differ Among U.S.
The most common reason for drinking cited by both male and female 12th graders was to have a good time, followed by to experiment and to relax.
A statistical analysis of these motivations resulted in four profiles of drinking motivations: 1) experimenters; 2) thrill-seekers (drink to have a good time and to get high); 3) relaxers; and 4) multi-reasoners (drink for a combination of escape and pleasure-seeking motivations).
Youths with the lowest levels of risky drinking behaviors were more likely to be classified as experimenters while those with the highest levels of such behaviors were more likely to be classified as multi-reasoners.
The authors conclude that "targeted interventions that tailor program content to the distinct drinking motivation profiles may prove to be effective in reducing risky drinking behavior among high school seniors."
For details, including data charts, source information and caveats, download the PDF.
Reprinted from CESAR Fax, a weekly, one-page overview of timely
substance abuse trends or issues, from the Center for Substance Abuse
Research (CESAR) at the University of Maryland.
Misguided approach to teen drinking
Consider the Kinahans, who were recently charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The incident occurred when police, responding to a noise complaint, discovered some teenagers drinking in their back yard during their son's birthday party. Before the party, these parents had talked with their child and his friends about rules and expectations. They stayed home to be available as an adult presence. They greeted guests at the door.
Even Lynne Johnston, a vocal member of Pratt-Wilson's committee, acknowledged that "These were not negligent parents. They are, in fact, very conscientious ones the teenage host asked [those who brought the alcohol] to leave and wouldn't let them inside the house. The uninvited trespassers would not leave and the parents had no idea there was an uninvited party outside."
The Kinahans hardly seem complacent. Their actions seem normal enough, if not the "norm." But Pratt-Wilson said she was "pleased" with police action in the case.
Read Pratt-Wilson's guest column of last Nov. 11 and her recent comments in the papers and you will find that her primary concern is with law enforcement and punishment. The police have increased their efforts at parental notification. Pratt-Wilson wants to see criminal charges.
But I doubt most Chapel Hillians are ready to throw the book at drinking teenagers and their parents (or, as in charging the Kinahans, someone else's parents). Community activist Will Raymond spoke for many when he wondered "if saddling a 13- or 14-year old with a court record, possibly forcing them into the juvenile system, is the best course of action?"
This perspective was articulated quite well in a Dec. 1 letter to the editor from George Entenman.
"I'm not going to endorse this committee's conclusions until I feel that they are truly interested in preparing our teens for adulthood. Like it or not, adults use alcohol and drugs. Yes, some of us choose not to drink or use drugs at all. Others succeed in using them in moderation."
Last Tuesday, one local paper ran an article headlined "Alcohol oversight tightens" and another announcing that "Downtown events may include alcohol." Teenagers may not read the news, but such contradictions are not lost on them.
Adult actions give minors a mixed message about drugs and alcohol of both the legal and illegal varieties: that they can be an accepted tool for coping, that they are a not-so-forbidden pleasure, and that they are a dangerous pitfall lurking at the edge of the playground. Teen awareness of parental drug use and abuse goes back at least as far as the Rolling Stones' 1960s hit "Mother's Little Helper."
Increasingly, parents respond to their own pressures by medicating their children. According to the CDC, there is a bull market for prescriptions for stimulants and antidepressants for children. By 1996, the UN's International Narcotics Control Board had seen enough and expressed concern over the extent of Ritalin use by American boys.
George Entenman asks, "Why doesn't [Pratt-Wilson's] committee search for ways to make the lives of our teens less stressful? Should we add a police 'crackdown' to the pressures on kids who had better get into an Ivy League school or else?
"We need a committee that doesn't seek to widen the social gap between children and adults. Let us find ways for young people and adults to include each other in conversations, meals, work and social activities.
"Let us learn to listen to and respect each other. Expecting our police, judges and prisons to solve our problems is even less realistic than expecting our teachers to."
Entenman has formulated a compelling argument for our community. It avoids the simplistic morality of the law-and-order approach. Instead, it recognizes the complex nature of human affairs, particularly our love-hate relationship with drugs and alcohol. It challenges us to incorporate a human dimension into our thinking about the challenges facing those on the cusp of adulthood.
Surely among the many attendees of the recent meeting of the
Committee for Alcohol and Drug Free Teen-agers, there are some who
share Ent-enman's perspective. It is up to them to broaden the
leadership of their group and not leave it primarily in the hands of
a law-and-order vigilante.
Surgeon General Calls for Action on
"We can no longer ignore what alcohol is doing to our children," said Moritsugu in issuing the first Surgeon General's policy aimed at the issue of underage drinking. The "Call to Action" was developed in cooperation with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
"Too many Americans consider underage drinking a rite of passage to adulthood," said Moritsugu. "Research shows that young people who start drinking before the age of 15 are five times more likely to have alcohol-related problems later in life. New research also indicates that alcohol may harm the developing adolescent brain. The availability of this research provides more reasons than ever before for parents and other adults to protect the health and safety of our nation's children."
The Call to Action puts great emphasis on changing public attitudes toward youth alcohol use, while also giving a nod to some of the other factors that influence youth decisions to drink, including the "normal maturational changes that all adolescents experience; genetic, psychological, and social factors specific to each adolescent; and the various social and cultural environments that surround adolescents, including their families, schools, and communities."
"These factors -- some of which protect adolescents from alcohol use and some of which put them at risk -- change during the course of adolescence," Moritsugu noted in his introduction to the Call to Action. "Because environmental factors play such a significant role, responsibility for the prevention and reduction of underage drinking extends beyond the parents of adolescents, their schools, and communities. It is the collective responsibility of the nation as a whole and of each of us individually."
"This is a health crisis that has been fueled by denial, inaction and acceptance. The new Call to Action can help turn that around," said Hawaii lieutenant governor James R. Aiona, Jr., co-chair of the group Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free, a public-private coalition that includes a number of state governors' spouses.
The goals of the Call to Action include:
The Surgeon General did not list the alcohol industry -- often accused by critics of marketing to underage youth -- in its list of primary target audiences, nor was alcohol advertising mentioned as one of the environmental factors affecting youth decisionmaking about alcohol. "The industry got off very easy in this pronouncement," said Kim Miller, manager of federal relations for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "The industry's conflict of interest as a credible prevention player was not questioned, and there was only oblique reference to evidence-based policy approaches the industry most adamantly opposes -- taxation being top among them."
However, the Call to Action does say that the industry "has a public responsibility relating to the marketing of its product, since its use is illegal for more than 80 million underage Americans." The document states that the industry can fulfill its responsibilities by ensuring that:
Center on Alcohol Marketing to Youth director David Jernigan noted that the Call to Action "states that alcohol companies have a responsibility to see that youth are not disproportionately exposed to alcohol marketing, and that ongoing, independent monitoring of the placement of alcohol advertising is the surest way to enforce this standard."
"To reduce the appeal of alcohol to young people, the alcohol industry should heed the recommendations of the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine [to limit alcohol ads to outlets with underage viewer/readership of less than 15 percent] and the Surgeon General," said Jernigan.
Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona signaled his intention to issue the statement on underage drinking in 2005, but resigned last year without doing so.
"The Surgeon General's Call to Action places a heightened national
focus on the public health crisis of underage drinking in our
country," said Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), the lead
sponsor of the STOP Underage Drinking Act, which calls for research
on alcohol use by youth and establishes a national media campaign on
underage drinking. "I commend this initiative as a way to bring more
attention and explore promising solutions to the problem. I'm
especially pleased that the broad-based effort complements the
objectives and major elements in The STOP Underage Drinking Act which
was signed into law last year."
"We Don't Serve Teens" is a national campaign to prevent underage
drinking brought to you by the Federal Trade Commission, the nation's
consumer protection agency.
Colleges Need to Know Now: An Update on College Drinking Research
Statistics and recommendations first introduced in this report are now routinely used by policymakers, legal experts, and organizations that provide college programming assistance to modify their efforts regarding college drinking.
College drinking research remains a high priority for the NIAAA, and ongoing projects continue to yield important new information. This bulletin summarizes these recent findings with updated statistics, analysis, and recommendations.
The full bulletin (12 pages) is available as a PDF to download at
no cost. at www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/1College_Bulletin-508_361C4E.pdf
Should Parents Let
Teens Drink At Home?
As many as 700,000 kids ages 12 to 14 -- or 6 percent of those in that age group -- said they drank in the past month in a recent report conducted by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Of the 45 percent who said they got the alcohol for free at home, 16 percent said it came from a parent or guardian. The poll didn't ask for details about how much alcohol they consumed or in what situation they had a drink.
One father, Terry Moran, said he won't let his kids drink alcohol until they're legal, according to the "Today" show.
"Because kids start thinking that, 'Hey, if my parents think it's OK, then I can just go experiment, hang out with my friends and drink.' I see it happen all the time," Moran told NBC.
One teen who spoke to NBC said his parents sometimes give him small amounts of alcohol at dinner.
"They would give me alcohol at home first, small doses -- a glass of wine here, maybe a glass of beer with dinner," he said. "It taught me responsibility, for the most part."
Psychologist Elaine Moore says that many teenagers are going to experiment with drinking no matter what, and they're typically not mature enough to handle it well. Mothers and fathers can help, but declined to speculate on whether giving alcohol to teen children at home is the solution.
"I don't think there's a right answer," Moore told NBC. "I think it's really, really important for parents to teach their kids to drink responsibly."
Peter Delany, the director of SAMHSA's Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, said the earlier that teens start drinking, the more likely they are to become alcoholics.
"When kids under age 15 start drinking and drinking heavily, they are about six times more likely to end up with alcohol problems," he told the Wall Street Journal. "This report isn't designed to say, 'Bad parents!' It's designed to say, 'Here's an issue you should pay attention to.'"
In fact, according to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 50 percent of young people in America are binge drinking by they time they're 21 and 86 percent of them have consumed alcohol.
"Twenty-five percent of 'Seventeen' readers say their parents let them drink at home," the magazine's editor-in-chief Ann Shoket told "Today." "But what they're learning is not necessarily how to drink. What they're learning is trust."
The research to date is inconclusive on the potential perils of letting your kids drink at home. But no matter what, psychiatrist Janet Taylor believes parents should at least be talking to their children about drinking, especially about the hazards of binge drinking.
"It gets back to the quality of the relationship and how much communication is happening at home," Taylor told the show.
Drinking at Home: Helpful or Harmful?
Study Says Bingeing Worse at
Colleges with Big Drinking Culture, Lax Rules
Science Daily reported July 11 that the conclusions from the Harvard School of Public Health's College Alcohol Study were based on surveys of more than 50,000 students at 120 schools.
"Binge drinking among college students varies widely from college to college," said Toben Nelson of the University of Minnesota, assistant director of the study. "At some colleges almost no students binge drink, while at others nearly four in every five students do. Interestingly, we found that the levels of binge drinking, and the problems related to it, remain very stable at the same colleges over time ... That suggests there is something about certain college environments that promote binge drinking,"
Researchers found that schools that emphasize intercollegiate athletics and Greek life had higher levels of binge drinking, while there were fewer drinkers at schools that ban alcohol on campus and offer substance-free dorms.
"A 'wet' college environment, one that has many stores where students can buy alcohol, and may be influenced to do so by heavy marketing, low prices and special promotions, creates the conditions for heavy drinking," said study director Henry Wechsler of Harvard. "If colleges can change those conditions, they can reduce binge drinking among their students."
The study was published in the July 2008 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
This article summarizes an external report or press release on research published in a scientific journal. When available, links to the sources are provided above.
Booze is the answer. I don't remember the question.