A new study warns parents about exposing their adolescent kids to TV advertisements, because they might acquire a bad habit in the future.
The study, conducted by researchers from the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, involved a survey through telephone and online channels between 2011 and 2013. More than 2,500 participants between the ages of 15 and 23 were asked to recall a television advertisement of any alcohol product from 2010 to 2011. The survey data were cross-referenced with the drinking habits of the participants.
Results showed that teenagers and young adults who were exposed to alcohol ads on TV were more likely to engage in binge drinking and other forms of dangerous alcohol consumption. The percentage of survey participants who had seen TV alcohol ads were 23.4% for ages 15-17, 22.7% for 18-20 age, and 25.6% for those aged 21-23. Binge drinking for all age groups accounted for 29 percent of the survey population.
Because of the results arising from the study, the researchers believe that the current efforts to hinder underage drinking and lawless alcohol intake are not effective. “Our study found that familiarity with and response to images of television alcohol marketing was associated with the subsequent onset of drinking across a range of outcomes of varying severity among adolescents and young adults, adding to studies suggesting that alcohol advertising is one cause of youth drinking,” said the study proponents as published in a news report. “Current self-regulatory standards for televised alcohol advertising appear to inadequately protect underage youth from exposure to televised alcohol advertising and its probable effect on behavior.”
It’s only a matter of time before scientists discover the cure for addictions to illicit drugs like cocaine.
A team of researchers from the University of Copenhagen’s Neuroscience and Pharmacology department claims to have stumbled upon the mechanisms surrounding dopamine, an amino acid found in the brain associated with processing motivation and addiction. Claus Juul Loland, one of the department’s associate professors and study co-author, said that this discovery could pave the way to eliminate addiction to cocaine. “If we have a better understanding of the dopamine transporter function we will become more proficient in developing an antidote against cocaine addiction,” said Loland in a news item.The research team investigated the dopamine transporter — which has the ability to control the mechanism of dopamine — and has found a way to manipulate the metabolism between dopamine and the transporter. Loland believes that by creating a mutated form of the transporter, the dopamine molecule can be “tricked” into binding with an inhibitor instead of cocaine. As a result, cocaine in the human body will not be processed and may subsequently prevent addiction to the drug. “Our objective here is that cocaine will not then work anymore as the antidote will inhibit the stimulatory response of taking this drug,” Loland added.
The study was recently published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
The latest report by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) reveals both good and bad news in terms of substance use by teenagers.
According to the annual teen tracking report by the government agency, teenage use of illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin has dropped this year. “Probably that relates to very aggressive campaigns for prevention,” said NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow in a news release.
In addition, the rate of teenage smoking using traditional cigarettes has also dropped significantly, as well as the rate of teenage binge drinking. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about e-cigarette use. What’s troubling for the agency is that the dangers of e-cigarettes have not yet been exposed completely. “One of the arguments has been that when you’re vaping nicotine you are not inhaling all the combustion products from tobacco leaves that you get from a regular cigarette… The problem has to do with the fact that if these e-cigarettes are improperly manufactured, then they can deliver toxins from leakage from paint or other materials that are used in their production,” Volkow said.
Illicit use of Adderall and other similar prescription stimulant drugs is also on the rise, according to the NIDA study. “The problem of using stimulant medication to study for tests is that stimulant drugs are addictive and actually they can be highly addictive,” the NIDA director added.
Despite several studies that serve as warnings, as well as alerts from health agencies, the use of electronic cigarettes by teenagers continues to rise.
This finding was revealed by a study by researchers from the University of Hawaii Cancer Center led by Dr. Thomas Wills. According to the study as published in a news release, 30 percent of students in Hawaii between 14 and 15 years of age were reported to be using e-cigarettes. This figure is quite alarming, considering that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in 2012 that 10 percent of teenagers use the alternative electronic sticks.
What’s troubling about this scenario is that e-cigarettes were advertised to lead people away from more harmful tobacco products, but researches have shown the exact opposite: e-cigarettes may promote smoking tobacco products. “The fact that e-cigarette only users were intermediate in risk status between non-users and dual users raises the possibility that e-cigarettes are recruiting medium-risk adolescents, who otherwise would be less susceptible to tobacco product use,” the researchers said.
The study involved a survey of close to 2,000 pupils who were asked about their use of tobacco cigarettes and the electronic variants, as well as marijuana and alcohol.
Wills emphasized the real issue of addiction to smoking, which is not easy to turn away from. “A lot of teens think it is easy to quit smoking but it isn’t true. It’s hard for anybody to quit,” Wills added.
It’s unfortunate to have a young person die from drug overdose before people listen to the warnings, but an anti-substance abuse advocate is using this recent incident to highlight the dangers of drug abuse.
Carolyn Anderson, who serves as executive director of the Gulf Coast Substance Abuse Task Force in Mississippi, has long urged the general population to be aware of the present situation on substance abuse. “Teens, parents, teachers and anyone in the community, you need to step up. Make them feel special. Make them feel love. Make them feel life is worth living, and push them towards their potential,” Anderson said in a news release, referring to teenage deaths associated with drug overdose.
The latest incident involved a teenage boy, age 13, who was declared dead due to overdose on opioids and benzodiazepine. “This is a horrible thing to think. Someone at 13 is gone because of an overdose,” said Anderson.
The agency director is a strong advocate of early intervention by people whom the teens look up to. “I want teens that are upset, depressed or being bullied. I want them to find an adult they can confide in, whether it’s a coach, teacher, Sunday school teacher… Talk to someone. Don’t experiment,” Anderson expressed. She also urges parents to use locked medicine boxes to prevent access by young kids. “Make sure it’s put away so they don’t find them,” she stated further.
Be watchful when your children suffer a concussion, because the likelihood of them engaging in drugs and alcohol may have increased.
This finding was discovered by a group of Canadian researchers whose study was based on a nationwide health survey on children from Grades 9 to 12. Results of the study suggested that high school students who suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or concussion were up to four times more likely to use illicit drugs such as marijuana and cocaine than those who were spared from any head trauma. The group of students who had TBI also had higher likelihood of alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking.
Study co-author Dr. Michael Cusimano, who works as neurosurgeon in Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital, expressed his astonishment in the findings. “It’s a really toxic combination when you have the two together… And it’s alarming how early this is occurring. This is Grade 9 to Grade 12,” said Cusimano in a news item.
What’s worse is that the drug and alcohol abuse can be aggravating for people who are recovering from TBI. “They can’t participate as well in the rehab, and they don’t recover their original abilities as well as people who have not been using drugs and alcohol,” he stated.
Although only about 5 percent of kids will probably experience getting hit on the head — and majority of them through sports activities — the health effects of a head trauma are devastating, according to study co-lead Dr. Robert Mann of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. “What we found in this research is that these injuries are more common than we would have thought… and that also there does appear to be a cluster with these injuries of problematic behaviour, substance abuse and mental health concerns,” Mann said.
The researchers hope that the study will be a reminder for parents to check on their children who underwent TBI, and ask if they’re using alcohol or drugs.