Posts Tagged underage drinking
Underage drinking is a major public health concern in the United States. The 2011 Monitoring the Future Survey reported that 33 percent of 8th graders and 70 percent of 12th graders had tried alcohol. Among the consequences of underage drinking include physical and sexual assault, alcohol-related car crashes, abuse of other banned substances, school problems, physical hangovers or illnesses, and death from alcohol poisoning — to name a few.
In 2010, there were more than 185,000 emergency rooms visits by persons under age 21 for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol. In the passing of years, this figure may either increase or drop, but to say that underage drinking will totally never going to occur anymore is perhaps next to impossible. Still, preventive measures are there to reduce the problem.
On the national, state and local levels, some of the prevention strategies being enforced to curb underage drinking include increasing alcohol excise taxes, reducing youth exposure to alcohol advertising, and development of comprehensive community-based programs.
At home, what parents can do is to talk to their kids about alcohol abuse.
According to a recent study by researchers from Penn State University, discussing alcohol drinking with teenagers before they start college can both reduce the risk that light drinkers will become heavy drinkers, and increase the likelihood that heavy drinkers will slow down or stop the habit.
“Over 90 percent of teens try alcohol outside the home before they graduate from high school,” Robert Turrisi, professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State, said in a university news release. “It is well known that fewer problems develop for every year that heavy drinking is delayed. Our research over the past decade shows that parents can play a powerful role in minimizing their teens’ drinking during college when they talk to their teens about alcohol before they enter college.”
Turrisi and colleagues studied 1,900 randomly selected incoming freshmen — each of them was identified as belonging to one of four groups: nondrinkers, weekend light drinkers, weekend heavy drinkers and heavy drinkers.
Parents of the student participants were provided with a handbook containing information that included an overview of college student drinking, strategies and techniques for communicating effectively, ways to help teens develop assertiveness and resist peer pressure and in-depth information on how alcohol affects the body.
The researchers found that teens remain in the non-drinking or light-drinking groups when their parents followed the recommendations in the handbook and talked to their teens before they enter college. Similarly, teens transition out of a heavy-drinking group (if they were already heavy drinkers) when their parents talked to them about drinking before they set foot on campus.
Turrisi said talking to teens in the fall of the first year of college may not work as well; for many families it had no effect on students’ drinking behaviors. Similarly, adding extra parent materials in the fall seemed to have no additional benefit.
A survey of more than 2,500 10th grade students found that doctors often miss underage drinking problems due to lack of proper alcohol screening.
According to a MedicalXpress report, researchers from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Health and Human Development found that 34 percent of the surveyed students had drunk alcohol in the past month; 26 percent said they had engaged in binge drinking — defined as 5 or more drinks per occasion for males, and 4 or more for females. However, not all of those students who had seen a doctor reported being asked about their drinking habits, neither getting advice about the dangers of alcohol.
“While more than 80 percent of 10th graders said they had seen a doctor in the past year, just 54 percent of that group were asked about drinking, and 40 percent were advised about alcohol harms,” says lead author Ralph W. Hingson, Sc.D., M.P.H., director of NIAAA’s division of epidemiology and prevention research.
Hingson added that among students who visited a doctor in the past year and who reported drinking in the past month, only 23 percent said they were advised to reduce or stop drinking.
The researchers also reported in the February issue of Pediatrics that students who said they had been asked about their drinking were more likely to be advised about alcohol.
Studies link underage drinking to various problems, including academic failure, legal troubles, drug use, and alcohol poisoning which may lead to death. The habit could also interfere with an adolescent’s ability to judge risk and make sound decisions. In addition, underage drinkers are believed to have greater risk of becoming heavy drinkers later in life.
In preventing and reducing underage drinking, everyone’s role counts. Aside from families, friends and media, health care providers have a strong influence in promoting significant and lasting reductions in drinking levels and alcohol-related problems among adults.
A new report issued on Nov. 20 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) revealed that underage drinking is still a serious problem across all states.
“Underage drinking should not be a normal part of growing up. It’s a serious and persistent public health problem that puts our young people and our communities in danger,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “Even though drinking is often glamorized, the truth is that underage drinking can lead to poor academic performance, sexual assault, injury, and even death.”
Although efforts aimed at reducing the extent of underage drinking in recent years has shown progress, particularly among those aged 17 and younger, the rates of underage drinking are still unacceptably high. Combined 2008 to 2010 data indicate that 26.6 percent of people aged 12 to 20 drank alcohol in the past month, and approximately 8.7 percent of past month drinkers purchased their own alcohol the last time they drank.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report shows that the rates of underage drinking in the past month were highest in Vermont (37.0 percent) and lowest in Utah (14.3 percent). States with the lowest incidence of underage youth illegally purchasing their own alcohol included New Mexico (2.5 percent), Idaho (2.6 percent), and Oregon (2.6 percent).
Southern states that had some of the lowest rates of underage drinking include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. Whereas, some of the highest rates of underage youth illegally purchasing their own alcohol include Alabama, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina.
More and more students at the Flagstaff Unified School District are saying no to alcohol. In a recent study done that focused on the results of surveys made in the last eight years, teen drinking has been observed to be decreasing in the area.
It was also noted that most students are now informed about the dangers of alcohol, and reports of adolescent drinking have gone down significantly.
The news is very encouraging especially to law enforcement officials and anti-alcohol advocates that are all pushing for the approval of a new program that will replace DARE. One of the provisions of the new program is the assignment of two police officers at the FUSD middle school and high schools.
The direct cause why kids have lessen their interests on alcohol is still not certain, but for Citizens Against Substance Abuse executive director Connie Leto, it could be that more parents are opening their channel of communication to their children. “I think we have more parents that are speaking up to their kids about alcohol.”
According to records of the Flagstaff police, the department tallied 1501 incidents of underage drinking in 2009, but this number decreased by a little less than 50% in 2011 at 894 cases.
Leto added that more students are influenced by their parents’ views on alcohol. When kids know their parents don’t approve of alcohol and warn them of its dangers, they too will avoid the substance and turn away from underage drinking.
The Flagstaff City Council gave their approval to the new program of the police department that will take DARE’s place just last week.
Project Alert will now be the latest initiative from the authorities that will monitor drug and alcohol activities of students. The program will focus on eighth and ninth graders as these levels are found to be the most vulnerable to substance abuse.
A Hillsboro County, Florida civil trial jury unanimously approved $716.5 million penalty to a convenience store owner that allowed a minor to buy alcohol.
A very hefty amount to pay, but the said underage customer of the store ended up killing a 32-year-old man when he drove under the influence of the alcoholic drink he bought from the retailer. The store owner gained a wrongful death violation and was ordered to pay the family of the victim amounting to hundreds of millions.
In the course of the trial, testimonies from witnesses strengthened the evidences against the convenience store which has long been known for selling beer, wine and liquor to minors. As a result of their negligence, a family lost a son. To show the whole community that selling alcohol to individuals below 21 years old is a serious offense, the jury decided to make the store owners accountable for the unfortunate death and pay the earlier said amount to the family as compensation for their loss.
Florida is one of the states that have adopted an ordinance that allows victims of intoxicated drivers the freedom to hold sellers of alcohol responsible for their loss. The “dram shop law” makes stores, party hosts, bars, and even homeowners liable when accidents occur as a result of their neglect in tolerating underage drinking or letting people they know to drink continuously despite obvious signs of heavy intoxication.
The decision in the Florida case should be noted especially by establishments who violate laws against underage drinking. Authorities hope that with the implementation of the dram shop law, stores and their staff and concerned individuals will become more responsible when it comes to selling alcoholic beverages to avoid unnecessary consequences on their part.
Fontana authorities are making it their mission to strongly implement laws governing underage drinking. Last week, a forum was held at the Fontana City Hall attended by law enforcement groups and parents.
According to Police Chief Rod Jones, alcohol is the leading drug of choice among kids in the United States and it has been the leading cause of death for teen drivers. Fontana has had its share of problems pertaining to drunk driving which has claimed the lives of 10 community members in the past year.
San Bernardino County Sheriff Rod Hoops said that teen drinking leads to the path of violence, sexual assault, and other crimes. Hoops continued by reminding parents of their responsibility especially now that graduation and prom season is about to arrive.
To address the anticipated problem of underage drinking during the “party season,” Fontana has recently adopted an ordinance that will hold events hosts responsible for any alcohol served to minors during their hosted gatherings. It has been noted that house parties are the main sources of alcohol for kids, thus with the social host ordinance, adults can be implicated should they allow kids to drink in their events.
In San Bernardino County alone, the average age for children having their first encounters with alcohol is at 12 years old and that 48% of minors arrested for DUI admit to drinking at parties and gatherings held at home.