Informed Families Blog
We’ve all seen the headlines:
“Underage drinking, drugs leads to nearly 1,000 arrests on Gulf Coast beaches”
“Sheriff's Office cracks down on underage drinking in Destin”
“Police being extra vigilant on drunk driving during spring break
"Spring Break 2019 sees drunk students descend on beach to guzzle booze, twerk and pass out in outrageous parties”
If you are the parent of a college-age student preparing to head off to a spring break destination soon, you are likely concerned about whether or not they will engage in underage or binge-drinking and wind up in lots of trouble.
While the Media Was Focused on Opioids Look What Happened
While the media has been focused on the opioid crisis, the number of alcohol-related deaths more than doubled from 35,914 in 1999 to 72,558 in 2017. Women have been impacted the most.
According Dr. George F. Koob, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Director, “alcohol is a growing women’s health issue. The rapid increase in deaths involving alcohol among women is troubling and parallels the increases in alcohol consumption among women over the past few decades.”
Trends like Mommy wine culture, which normalizes the idea of drinking alcohol as a way to cope with stress, and sipping while shopping have become commonplace. We should always keep in mind that our kids are watching our behaviors. Do we want them to turn to alcohol as a way to escape from everyday stress or as the only way to relax and unwind?
They are bombarded with images promoting alcohol in that way already. A new report from the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs says alcohol ads are leading teens to drink. A study in the Preventive Medicine journal found that social media could be sending out positive messaging about alcohol use as well.
Sign the Safe Homes Smart Parents pledge, and let’s work together to stem the tide of alcohol-related deaths by discouraging underage and binge drinking.
Communicating Across Generations
I recently read that some families now have five living generations. Imagine that. Each generation has a totally different world view and processes information in a different way. However simply engaging with others remains the key to communicating effectively.
Imagine the life of a child of an alcoholic or drug addict. The lack of stability, nurturing, support and the presence of trauma and stress can cause great harm to children's development and future. While the issue is very real, given the right support, research shows that these children can change the trajectory of their lives and achieve great success. That's what National Children of Alcohol's Awareness Week is all about.
The annual observance of Children of Alcoholics Awareness Week 2017 took place in February and was led by Sis Wenger, President and CEO of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics. Sis also serves on the board of the National Family Partnership. This international awareness campaign was honored by NACoA affiliate organizations, child supporting agencies, faith communities, treatment programs, schools and local communities across the country.
AAP Warns of the Dangers of Binge Drinking in Adolescents8/31/2015
Despite recent declines, two out of every three students (66 percent) have consumed more than just a few sips of alcohol by the end of high school, and over a quarter have done so by eighth grade. In 2014, half of twelfth graders and one in nine eighth graders reported having been drunk at least once in their life.
In a new clinical report, " Binge Drinking," in the September 2015 Pediatrics (published online Aug. 31), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges pediatricians and parents to discuss the dangers of alcohol use with children before they take their first sip.
Alcohol is the substance most frequently abused by children and adolescents in the United States, and its use is associated with the leading causes of death and serious injury at this age, including motor vehicle accidents, homicides, and suicides. Eighty percent of adolescents say their parents are the biggest influence on their decision to drink or not.
"We must approach drinking in children, particularly binge drinking, differently than we do in adults," said pediatrician Lorena Siqueira, MD, MSPH, FAAP, member of the AAP Committee on Substance Abuse and co-author of the clinical report.
"Given their lack of experience with alcohol and smaller bodies, children and adolescents can have serious consequences -- including death -- with their first episode of binge drinking," Dr. Siqueira said. "Studies have indicated that continued alcohol use during this growth period can interfere with important aspects of brain development that can lead to cognitive impairment, alcohol-induced brain damage and substance use disorders later in life. Because alcohol use is so common, it is necessary for pediatricians to screen every adolescent for alcohol use during office visits, and along with preventive messages, to help identify youth at risk for alcohol-related problems."
Drinking alcohol is associated with numerous adverse outcomes in underage drinkers, and binge drinking significantly increases these risks.
In adults, binge drinking is defined as consuming five or more alcoholic drinks in a two-hour period by men, or four or more drinks by women. Because teens typically weigh less than adults, they are likely to reach an unsafe blood alcohol concentration more quickly, and lower cutoff points have been proposed. For girls ages 9 to 17, three or more drinks in a two-hour period is considered binge drinking. For boys ages 9 to 13, the cutoff is three or more drinks; for boys ages 14 to 15 it's four or more drinks; and for boys ages 16 to 17, it's five or more drinks.
During high school, drinking rates increase dramatically among teens. Between 36 percent and 50 percent of high school students drink alcohol, and 28 percent to 60 percent report binge drinking. Among high school students, boys are more likely than girls to participate in binge drinking, and is far more common among white boys than among blacks or Hispanics.
The new 2015 clinical report also found:
- Among youth who drink, the proportion who drink heavily is higher than among adult drinkers.
- Children start to think positively about alcohol between 9 and 13 years of age.
- Binge drinking can be associated with early sexual activity and higher rates of teen pregnancy.
- A third of all fatal auto crashes involving alcohol happen among 15- to 20-year-olds.
- Encouraging parents to talk with their children about alcohol use early is very important.
- Programs and resources are available on how to use teachable moments to discuss alcohol use with children.