Are you thinking about participating in ‘Dry January’ - a month-long break from alcohol? We already know giving up alcohol for a month could leave you richer, slimmer and healthier – but if you’re in need of some more reasons to maintain your break with Pinot, check out some of the unexpected benefits of giving up alcohol:
Informed Families Blog
A New Year and A New Start
Welcome, 2020! Cheers to the start of a new year and a new decade.
We are encouraged by the recent findings from the annual Monitoring the Future survey. In the past year, the use of illicit drugs (other than marijuana) among 12th graders remains low. The misuse of prescription medicines and the use of alcohol and tobacco cigarettes continues to decline as well. However the number of youth vaping marijuana and nicotine is rising.
In the 1980s, we were fighting to keep our kids safe from cocaine, big tobacco and underage drinking. Today we are battling against opioids, vaping and binge drinking. The drug trends may change, but education and simple, clear communication remain key in keeping our youth healthy and drug free.
Informed Families has been fortunate to have such terrific partners help us spread our prevention messages. We are once again partnering with Publix to promote our Lock Your Meds campaign and messaging in all of their pharmacies this month. We are also working with the Florida Blue Foundation to increase awareness of the opioid epidemic and promote good mental health over the next three years.
Informed Families will continue to deliver on our mission to educate, enable and empower students, parents and communities to work together to keep children healthy in 2020. We are off to a great start!
Back to School Transitions Can Lead to Problems
Summer vacation is coming to an end, and your children will be returning to school soon. Some are preparing to transition into middle or high school; while others are heading off to college. These transitions will introduce new environments, new friends and new found freedoms. Research shows that dealing with transitions is often a time when kids get into trouble. If you haven’t done so already, now is a good time to have another talk with your kids about your family rules and boundaries regarding underage drinking and substance abuse.
You want to encourage your children’s growing independence, but set appropriate limits. Set clear rules, and then enforce the rules you set. Make sure your children understand what the consequences will be for breaking rules. But equally important, don’t forget to acknowledge the moments when your kids choose healthy behaviors over underage drinking or experimenting with drugs.
According to a recent report, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s (ONDCP) Drug-Free Communities (DFC) programs continue to yield consistently reduced youth substances use rates. There has been a decline in prescription drugs, marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol use among youth. So we know prevention programs and initiatives, like the ones Informed Families offer, work. We all must continue to play a role in creating communities that care about helping kids grow up safe, healthy and drug free.
Let's End the Stigma Associated With Drugs
The Surgeon General’s recent call to end the stigma associated with addiction is long overdue. The stigma surrounding alcohol and drug use and addiction often prevents us from talking openly about these issues with friends, family and most importantly our kids.
It’s much easier to avoid talking about tough topics, especially when we think “that could never happen to one of my loved ones.” No one wants to believe their child is sneaking pills from the medicine cabinet or drinking while out with friends. No one wants to believe their child is experimenting with or using drugs.
The sad truth is that children as young as nine years old already start viewing alcohol in a more positive way, and approximately 3,300 kids, as young as 12 years old, try marijuana each day. Additionally, about five in 10 kids, as young as age 12, obtain prescription pain relievers for non-medical purposes. Furthermore, the research shows that children who first smoke marijuana under the age of 14 are more than five times as likely to abuse drugs as adults than those who first use marijuana at age 18 (NIDA).
It is never too early to talk to your children about the risks of using alcohol and drugs. It may not always seem like it, but kids really do hear their parents say; talk they listen.
Summer Is A Good Time to Refocus On Prevention
Another busy school year is coming to a close and we are all looking forward to having some down time and reconnecting with family. The start of summer is a critical time to talk with your kids about risky behaviors. Teens and college students most often use substances for the first time during June or July, according to SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) data on adolescents – 2012 and NSDUH data on full-time college students – 2015.
Unfortunately it’s not as easy for parents to recognize that their child might be experimenting with alcohol or drugs. JUUL e-cigarettes that look like USB flash drives, flasks disguised as lotion containers, sunscreen or smart phone cases, and CBD gummies can be hidden in plain sight. These items can all be purchased online. Talk to your kids about the dangers of using drugs or alcohol and arm them with the knowledge they need to make healthy choices. If you need some talking points take a look at these 11 Tips For Talking To Your Kids About Drugs & Alcohol.
It might be hard to acknowledge if your child has a substance abuse problem. It’s also difficult to find help. Many parents often ask - what should I do if my child is dealing with an addiction or mental health issue? The good news is a newly proposed Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act 2019 would help provide the infrastructure and community building that is are critical to getting them the care they need.
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.
People make a lot of assumptions about what children and teens do or don't do when it comes to substance abuse. This can be based on the person's own experiences, what he or she sees on social media or in movies or what others may have experienced. Luckily, we don't have to assume, thanks to the Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey (FYSAS) report, which was just released for 2018.
The FYSAS was administered to almost 55,000 Florida students in 686 middle and high schools in February of 2018.
Here are some highlights from the report:
- Alcohol and cigarette use is declining. Between 2006 and 2018, past-month use of alcohol declined by 16.7 percent (11.7% for middle school students and 20.6% among high school students), binge drinking declined by 10 percent (5.3% for middle school students and 13.4% for high school students) and cigarette use declined by 8.1 percent (4.8% for middle school students and 10.6 percent reduction among high school students).
- Binge drinking is still an issue. One out of every 10 high school students reported binge drinking in the last 30 days and one out of seven reported blacking out from drinking.
You likely have seen the commercials from the Ad Council: “Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.” This campaign is aimed at educating people that buzzed is synonymous with impaired, and if you are impaired, you shouldn’t be getting behind the wheel. The goal, of course, is to convince drinkers that if they are tipsy, rather than falling-down drunk, they are, in the eyes of the law, still under the influence and a danger to themselves, their passengers and others on the road.
This message is often difficult to impart to adults, who may think they are fine to drive even after several drinks. For teens, the task is even more challenging; many high schoolers already feel invincible, and many have little experience with how alcohol physiologically affects them.
Super Bowl Sunday is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with your children and celebrate one of America's greatest treasures: football.
However, even before kick-off, kids are exposed to harmful alcohol advertising. Did you know that the alcohol industry spends over $5 billion a year on advertising? Why do they do it?
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.