Archive for category Alcohol Abuse

Young Girls Who Drink Alcohol Have Higher Risk of Engaging in Unexpected Sexual Encounters

A large number of cases related to sexually transmitted diseases (STD) can be traced to unplanned sexual encounters, which many young females have unknowingly contracted. In light of this, a new study warns women against consuming alcohol, as this may increase the risk of them getting into unexpected sexual situations.

women drinking alcohol exposed to unexpected sexual encountersResearchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine based their study findings on interviews with young females who attended a clinic that specializes in STD cases. “The idea behind our study was to first unveil what women expect to happen, and then uncover what consequences really occur so that we can challenge unrealistic expectations and develop better interventions that lead to safer experiences,” said study co-author Dr. Geetanjali Chander in a news release.

The study, which was released in last month’s edition of Women’s Health Issues, involved in-depth interviews with 20 African-American females between the period of December 2009 and August 2010. The women admitted to either having sexual intercourse while being under the influence of alcohol or engaging in binge drinking sessions at one point in their life. Most of the women reported to have experienced the following sexual encounters:

  • Having intercourse with new partners
  • Trying out new things (i.e. rough sex, anal sex)
  • Having sex without protection
  • Having sex while unconscious or under the influence of alcohol
  • Being raped

When asked what could be done to protect themselves during a public drinking spree, many of the women find security in being with female friends. “Women feel safer when they travel in packs, and one way participants suggested staying safe is to never let anyone get separated from the pack,” said Dr. Heidi Hutton, who works at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine as psychiatry and behavioral sciences associate professor.

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Teen Trends: More Marijuana Use, Less Alcohol Consumption

Here’s a bit of good and bad news: today’s teenagers use alcohol and cigarettes less, but are found to use marijuana increasingly.

teen alcohol use drinkingThis is according to a study conducted by Penn State’s The Methodology Center. Although the recent findings point to a successful campaign against tobacco, this may have caused the interest of adolescents to shift towards marijuana. “Our analysis shows that public health campaigns are working — fewer teens are smoking cigarettes… However, we were surprised to find the very clear message that kids are choosing marijuana over cigarettes,” said study co-author Stephanie Lanza in a news release.

The study looked into data from the project entitled Monitoring the Future, where close to 600,000 high school seniors from 1976 to 2013 were asked to participate in a survey. The questions were targeted towards checking the students’ use of three substances: alcohol, marijuana and tobacco.

Results showed a significant decrease in use of cigarettes, most notably in white adolescents. Marijuana, on the other hand, was used more as years went by, especially in black teenagers. Meanwhile, alcohol consumption by teenagers has steadily dipped over the years, with white teens drinking more than their black counterparts. A correlation was also noticed between marijuana and cigarette use, citing that those who smoked cigarettes were more likely to use marijuana than teenagers who did not use tobacco products.

Details of the study were published July 20 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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Alcohol Affects Brain Development In Teens, Study Says

Teenagers are undergoing several physiological developments, but a recent study showed that incorrect habits may disrupt the normal changes in them.

teen alcohol abuseA comprehensive study by researchers of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) revealed how alcohol consumption can affect the brain development in adolescents. Study lead author Susan Tapert said that the team’s study is one of the largest of its kind to investigate the effect of alcohol on teenage development. “This study was a little bit larger than previous studies since it started out with 130 adolescents before they had tried any alcohol and followed them over several years,” Tapert said in a news item.

Effects of alcohol were imminent in the way teenage girls were doing in school. “For girls who had been engaging in heavy drinking during adolescence, it looks like they’re performing more poorly on tests of spatial functioning, which links to mathematics, engineering kinds of functions,” Tapert said. Meanwhile, male teens may find difficulty focusing on things when they drink alcohol. “For boys who engaged in binge drinking during adolescence, we see poor performance on tests of attention — so being able to focus on something that might be somewhat boring, for a sustained period of time,” Tapert added.

The reason behind this, according to the study proponents, is the ongoing set of changes in teenage bodies. “Adolescent brains are still developing even into their early 20s, and alcohol can harm how the brain develops,” the study lead author expressed.

Details of the study were published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

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Alcohol Abuse in Adulthood Traced To Binge Drinking in Teenage Years

Teenagers engaged in frequent binge drinking are highly likely to abuse alcohol when they reach adulthood, a study finds.

drinking alcoholThis was revealed by a group of researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine when they investigated the effects of teen binge drinking in the human body. According to a news release, the study involved administering alcohol to rats for two days without any other food except water. The schedule of administration was repeated over a course of 13 days, after which the animals were checked whether they preferred to drink alcohol or water.

Results revealed that the alcohol-receiving rodents exhibited anxiety and preferred alcohol over water. According to the researchers, this abnormal behavior in the test subjects was because of changes in the amygdala, a part of the brain that processes emotions and decision-making. Previous studies have confirmed that alcohol intoxication can cause damage in the said parts of the brain.

Although the study was conducted on lab rats, the same trend might be translated to humans, particularly on how histone proteins and DNA genes are affected by the malfunction of the amygdala. “Genes that lie within DNA that is tightly wrapped around the histones are less active than they are if the DNA is loosely wrapped… The looser the DNA is coiled, the more accessible are the genes to the cellular machinery that makes relevant proteins,” said study lead author Dr. Subhash C. Pandey, who also works as director of the university’s neuroscience alcoholism research center.

Study findings were published in the Neurobiology of Disease journal.

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More Than Half of Pregnant Teenagers Use Drugs and Alcohol

Pregnancy is a highly sensitive condition for many women, but a large proportion of teenage pregnancies are jeopardized by use of alcohol and drugs.

drinking and smoking pregnant womanThis was reported by a recent study by The University of Texas (UT) at Austin, in which Christopher Salas-Wright and a team of researchers investigated a possible link between teenage pregnancy and substance abuse. The research team discovered that 59 percent of pregnant teenagers have used drugs or alcohol for the past 12 months. It also revealed that 34 percent of pregnant adolescents aged 12 to 14 used controlled substances in the past 30 days prior to the survey. Details of the study were published in the Addictive Behaviors’ Spring 2015 edition.

The study used data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2002 to 2012, specifically on teenage girls 12 to 17 years old. Out of the representative sample of 97,850 female adolescents, 810 of them declared that they were with child. Questions from the survey included use of illicit substances such as cocaine, marijuana, opiates, methamphetamines, and alcohol.

According to a news release by UT, alcohol tops the most commonly used substances by pregnant teens, pegged at 16 percent. Cannabis and other illicit substances follow suit at 14 and 5 percent, respectively.

Salas-Wright, an assistant professor at UT, said that their study was the largest research on teenage pregnancy and substance use. The team emphasized the importance of information to prevent substance use by pregnant teens. “Mothers’ substance use during pregnancy can have important consequences for the health and development of newborn babies. Despite efforts to prevent substance use among pregnant teens, our findings suggest that we still have a lot of work to do,” said Salas-Wright.

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Risk of Teenage Binge Drinking Heightened by TV Alcohol Ads Exposure

A new study warns parents about exposing their adolescent kids to TV advertisements, because they might acquire a bad habit in the future.

exposure tv alcohol ads teenage binge drinkingThe 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.”

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