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NIDA Releases 2014 Monitoring the Future Survey Results

On December 16, 2014, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) released findings from the 2014 Monitoring the Future survey. The report captures results about alcohol and other drug use and attitudes among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders in the United States. 

Results from this year’s survey indicate continuing decreases among all grades in current and binge drinking as well as in heavy drinking by 12th graders. According to Lloyd Johnston, the study's principal investigator, 41 percent of teens reported any alcohol use, which is a nearly a full third less than the peak rate of 61 percent reporting alcohol use in 1997. Possible factors contributing to the decreases are an increase in peer disapproval of binge drinking and a decrease in the percentage of youth who report that alcohol is easy to obtain. 

Visit the NIDA Monitoring the Future website for additional findings for this year and in comparison to prior years’ results. 

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Using Computer Technology To Reduce and Prevent College Drinking

A new book chapter, “The Use of Computer Technology To Reduce and Prevent College Drinking,” highlights the success of an online program provided to all college students at the University of Tennessee. The program assessed students’ alcohol use and offered a brief intervention to students at highest risk for unsafe alcohol behaviors or increased alcohol use during their first year of college. In the 3 years that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration funded program implementation, more than 54,000 students participated. Over the course of the program, on-campus binge drinking dropped 27 percent, and frequent binge drinking dropped 44 percent. The number of liquor law violations issued to 18- to 20-year-olds decreased from 542 to 158. According to the authors, this effort showed that computer technology can improve students’ thoughts and behaviors about alcohol use and binge drinking. In addition, a computer-based program can be low cost, comprehensive, and easy to deliver.

This study is published in E-Therapy for Substance Abuse and Co-Morbidity by Springer International Publishing.

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NIDA Hosts Dec. 16 Teleconference on 2014 Monitoring the Future Results

Join the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) on Tuesday, December 16, 2014, at 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. for a teleconference to discuss the 2014 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey results. This annual survey looks at use and attitudes about marijuana, prescription medications, alcohol, and tobacco among 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students. For the first time, MTF will also include data on the use of e-cigarettes among these ages.

Speakers will include Dr. Nora Volkow, NIDA Director; Michael Botticelli, Acting Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy; Dr. Lloyd D. Johnston, principal investigator, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan; and Dr. Richard A. Miech, research professor, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan.

To join the teleconference, please call 1 (888) 324–3620, participant passcode: 4802426.

Materials for the teleconference will be posted online on December 16, 2014.

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Limited Law Enforcement Efforts Target Adults Providing Alcohol to Youth

The study “Targeting Adults Who Provide Alcohol to Underage Youth: Results from a National Survey of Local Law Enforcement Agencies” looked at efforts by local law enforcement agencies to focus on adults who provide alcohol to underage youth. Adults over age 21, such as older friends, strangers, parents, and siblings, are a major source of alcohol for underage drinkers. The study found that less than half of all local law enforcement agencies conduct activities to target adults who provide alcohol to underage youth. Those agencies that do target adult providers are more likely to have a full-time officer for alcohol enforcement, a division for alcohol enforcement, social host laws, and the belief that underage drinking is very common. This study is published in the December 2014 issue of the Journal of Community Health. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism supported this research. 

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Corporate Sponsorships Attract Young People

The study “Vested Interests in Addiction Research and Policy. Alcohol Brand Sponsorship of Events, Organizations and Causes in the United States, 2010–2013” looked at the alcohol industry’s use of corporate sponsorship as a marketing strategy to reach underage drinkers. During a 3-year period, the study looked at events sponsored by the top 75 brands of alcohol among underage drinkers in the United States. The most popular brands among youth had a higher number of sponsorships and connected their brands with key parts of American culture that appeal to young people, such as sports, music, the arts, entertainment, and drinking. Less popular brands among underage drinkers were much less likely to associate with these aspects of American culture. Sponsorships by alcohol brands are a marketing strategy that creates strong connections between a specific brand and key aspects of American culture. This study is published in the December 2014 issue of Addiction. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism supported this research. 

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SAMHSA's Holiday Season Twitter Chat on Underage Drinking Prevention

Please join Frances M. Harding, Director, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, on Monday, December 15, from 1–2 p.m. ET, for a Twitter chat on underage drinking prevention (#NotBefore21). The discussion will include reasons why young people are more likely to start drinking during the holidays and steps that parents and other caring adults can take now and throughout the year to reduce the risk that adolescents and young adults might use alcohol.  Follow @samhsagov for updates.

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SAMHSA Newsletter Celebrates Prevention and Recovery Among Native Americans

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has posted the fall 2014 Prevention & Recovery newsletter on its Tribal Law and Order Act Implementation web page. The theme for this issue is Celebrating Recovery in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities. Prevention & Recovery is a quarterly multiagency publication highlighting prevention practices and success stories in Indian Country. It is designed to provide tools, resources, and information to prevent and address issues of alcohol and drug use disorders in tribal communities. Please download the newsletter, and share it with your colleagues and other stakeholders. 

According to SAMHSA’s 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 18 percent of American Indians or Alaska Natives ages 12 to 20 were current alcohol users, and 14 percent reported binge drinking. 

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SAMHSA Is Seeking Tomorrow’s Behavioral Health Leaders

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Project LIFT (Leadership Initiatives for Tomorrow) is seeking people ages 30 and younger to apply for its free behavioral health leadership development program. Applicants should be working in this field and be interested in enhancing their leadership competencies, understanding the Affordable Care Act, and helping to strengthen the behavioral health workforce. More information and an application form are available online. Applications are due by January 12, 2015.

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December Is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, which is designed to remind people of the dangers of driving while drunk, drugged, or distracted, especially during the hectic holiday season. In his proclamation for the 2014 observance, President Barack Obama stated “All Americans deserve to live long and full lives, and every child should have the chance to seize his or her future. But throughout our Nation, too many lives are tragically cut short in traffic crashes involving drunk, drugged, or distracted driving.... This month, and especially during the holiday season, we dedicate ourselves to driving safely and responsibly, and to promoting these behaviors among our family and friends."

 According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 10,322 people died in 2012 in crashes involving a driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher—or 31 percent of total traffic fatalities for the year. Of the impaired drivers with BAC of 0.08 or higher, 758 were between the ages of 16 and 20. 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that an estimated 3.8 percent of 16- or 17-year-olds and 10.8 percent of 18- to 20-year-olds reported driving under the influence of alcohol in the past year.

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Collegiate Depression and Binge Drinking Challenge Interventions

Although college is a time of increased risk for problematic alcohol use and depressed mood, few interventions for students with co-occurring problems are available. With a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, scientists evaluated a web-based personalized intervention for students who reported binge drinking and depression. Participants were randomized to one of four conditions (alcohol only, depressed mood only, integrated, and referral-only control). After the intervention, students in the alcohol-only group who had lower levels of depressed mood or alcohol-related problems at baseline showed greater reductions in alcohol-related problems. The study, “Brief Web-Based Intervention for College Students With Comorbid Risky Alcohol Use and Depressed Mood: Does It Work and for Whom?,” is published in the March 2015 issue of Addictive Behaviors.

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NIAAA Releases New Resource on Alcohol Abuse Treatment Options

Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help, a new resource from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), covers the latest research-based treatments and the factors to consider when choosing among them. The booklet provides detailed descriptions of the two types of professionally led treatments shown to benefit people with alcohol use disorders: (1) established behavioral treatments that focus on changing drinking behaviors and (2) medications, which are often coupled with behavioral treatment. It also includes information about mutual support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

According to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an average of 58 adolescents ages 12 to 17 entered a substance abuse treatment program every day during 2010 and 2011.

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Veterans Day Is November 11: Support Military Behavioral Health

November 11 is Veterans Day, a day to honor the service, sacrifice, and achievements of an estimated 23.4 million veterans in the United States. This also is a day to remember that the stresses of deployment and return from active duty can lead to higher levels of alcohol use among men and women in military service. Almost half of active duty service members reported binge drinking in 2008. Young adult veterans are particularly likely to have substance use or other mental health problems. Learn how to support the behavioral health of veterans by reviewing the 2012 report prepared for the U.S. Department of Defense by the Institute of Medicine. This report includes recommendations on addressing substance use in the military, such as increasing the use of evidence-based prevention and treatment interventions and expanding access to care.

 A U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ web page is devoted to mental health and related services and resources available to veterans. To find more information and access additional federal resources, visit the Veterans and Military Families page on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s website.

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CDC Holiday Cards Offer 12 Suggestions for Good Health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has posted musical e-cards that can be personalized and sent to friends and family during the holiday season. Among the disease prevention and health promotion messages in these lively cards are reminders to monitor children and refrain from drinking and driving. These are two of the six protective steps against substance abuse by children, as set forth by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Building Blocks for a Healthy Future of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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Underage Alcohol Use Associated With Depression in UK Cohort

Researchers report that higher adolescent alcohol use is associated with increased risk of depression later in life. In an article published in the September 2014 issue of Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, the authors examined the relationship between frequency of drinking during adolescence (ages 13–15 years) with problems of depression and anxiety at nearly 18 years of age. Among girls, there was a link between adolescent drinking and depression and anxiety. Among boys, there was a positive association with depression but not anxiety. This research was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.

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NIDA Releases Results of American Indian Youth Substance Abuse Study

A team of National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-funded prevention experts working at Colorado State University examined data from the American Drug and Alcohol Survey that was administered to American Indian students between 2009 and 2011. Among other findings, the NIDA study found that past-month alcohol consumption among eighth-grade American Indian students was nearly twice as high as that of eighth-grade students nationally. Dr. Nora Volkow, NIDA Director, called this study a wake-up call for American Indian communities. Given that American Indian youth are already using drugs and alcohol at high levels by the time they become teens, interventions at earlier ages need to be put in place, especially those tailored specifically for the American Indian community. A video available on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website explores the pressures faced by Native teens around alcohol use.

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November 12—SAMHSA Listening Session on Mental Health Services

On November 12, 2014, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will host a listening session on the improvement of mental health services. SAMHSA seeks public input on developing the criteria for Section 223 of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014. This section, Demonstration Programs To Improve Community Mental Health Services, is aiming to create certified community behavioral health clinics. The information about the session is posted on www.samhsa.gov

A key part of community mental health efforts is preventing suicide among youth. According to a SAMHSA Drug Abuse Warning Network DAWN Report, 6.3 percent of drug-related emergency department visits in 2008 by young adults ages 18 to 24 involved suicide attempts.

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Strong Social Host Laws Reduce Underage Drinking

The study “Relationships Between Social Host Laws and Underage Drinking: Findings From a Study of 50 California Cities notes that teens living in communities with strong social host laws are less likely to drink at parties. A growing number of communities and states are enacting these social host laws to prevent and reduce underage drinking in private settings. Laws that include strict liability and civil penalties were associated with reduced consumption of alcohol among adolescents in private settings, particularly among youth who had previously consumed alcohol. The researchers conducted their work among adolescents in 50 cities in California between 2009 and 2012. This study is published in the November 2014 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism supported this research. More information about social host laws is available in Social Host Policies From Theory to Practice, a May 2014 webinar hosted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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Advertisers Are Using “Drink Responsibly” Messages To Promote Products

The study “Defining Strategies for Promoting Product Through ‘Drink Responsibly’ Messages in Magazine Ads for Beer, Spirits and Alcopops” presents an analysis of responsibility statements placed in print alcohol ads to determine how responsible drinking is presented. The study’s authors concluded that the “drink responsibly” messages used in print alcohol ads were overwhelmingly used to promote the product rather than convey relevant public health information. A substantial portion of magazine ads for alcohol appear in magazines that youth are more likely to see than adults and potentially convey positive expectancies about the product. Young people are more likely to initiate or increase drinking after exposure to alcohol marketing and advertisement. Owing to the high rate of underage drinking among high school and college students, the authors suggest that drink responsibly messages be replaced with prominently placed, externally developed, and cognitively tested public health warnings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention supported this study, which was published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence

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Brand Loyalty Trumps Price for Underage Drinkers

According to a study of brand preferences and pricing, youth have preferences for certain brands, even if those brands cost more than competing brands. While lower brand-specific prices were significantly associated with higher levels of past 30-day consumption prevalence, youth were not choosing to consume the cheapest brands. These results are important because they suggest that young people are sensitive to alcohol branding and are affected by the combination of marketing and pricing. The journal Substance Use & Misuse published the study “The Relationship Between Alcohol Price and Brand Choice Among Underage Drinkers: Are the Most Popular Alcoholic Brands Consumed by Youth the Cheapest?” in the November 2014 online issue. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this study. 

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ONDCP Announces Drug-Free Communities Grants for 2014

Michael Botticelli, Acting Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), has announced 680 Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program grants for 2014. The DFC Support Program grants, which total $84 million, provide funding to local communities to prevent youth substance use and support the Administration's National Drug Control Strategy. Community coalitions are awarded grants up to $625,000 over 5 years to facilitate youth and adult participation at the local level in preventing alcohol and other drug use by youth.

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Fake ID Supplier and Other Laws Reduce Traffic Fatalities

According to “Effectiveness of Social Host and Fake Identification Laws on Reducing Underage Drinking Driver Fatal Crashes,” adoption by 24 states of laws against suppliers of fake identification (FID) to those under age 21 is saving an estimated 14 lives per year in prevented traffic fatalities. An additional 16 lives per year could be saved in prevented traffic fatalities if all remaining states adopted FID supplier laws. FID supplier laws prohibit the production of a FID or the transfer of an ID or FID to another person. Furthermore, if all states adopted all five minimum legal drinking age laws shown to be effective (illegal to possess, illegal to purchase, zero tolerance, use and lose, and FID supplier laws), up to 927 lives could be saved each year in preventing fatal crashes by drinking drivers under age 21. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this study, which was published in the October 11, 2014, online issue of Traffic Injury Prevention.

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Underage Drinking Is No Halloween Treat for Communities

Halloween should be an exciting day of fun for young people and their families, but it can turn tragic if underage drinking is involved. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a web page devoted to the prevention of Halloween drunk driving; a link to National Teen Driver Safety Week, October 19–25, 2014, is under the Campaigns tab. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 14- to 18-year-olds in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vital Signs: Teen Drinking and Driving factsheet, one in five teen drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2010 had some alcohol in their system. Most of these drivers (81 percent) had a blood alcohol content higher than the legal limit for adults. 

Use the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s online tool at http://www.underagedrinking.samhsa.gov for tips and suggestions for talking to teens about drinking and driving during the Halloween season and all year long.

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Environmental Factors Affect Adolescent Alcohol Use

 Effects of the Local Alcohol Environment on Adolescents’ Drinking Behaviors and Beliefs,” a study published in the journal Addiction, reports that alcohol control policies, enforcement, adult drinking, and bar density influence alcohol use and heavy drinking by adolescents. Rates of past-year alcohol use and heavy drinking among adolescents were higher in cities with higher levels of adult drinking. Bar density also was associated with higher levels of adolescent alcohol use, although the effects of bar density appeared to be mediated through perceived alcohol availability and perceived parental approval of alcohol use. This study was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.  

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Alcohol-Laced Energy Drinks Increase Odds of Later Problems, Accidents

A finding of “Use of Alcohol Mixed With Energy Drinks as a Predictor of Alcohol-Related Consequences Two Years Later” is that individuals’ frequent consumption of alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AmEDs) is associated with greater odds of their having an alcohol-related accident in the subsequent 2 years. The use of AmEDs also was associated with an elevated risk of serious alcohol problems. Study participants were first-year, full-time college students who had graduated from high school the previous spring and who were part of the web-based University Life Study. The research was supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs featured these findings in its September 2014 issue. 

Popular energy drinks are flavored and contain up to five times the amount of caffeine as a typical cup of coffee. A 2014 DAWN Report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration stated that 1 in 10 energy drink–related emergency room visits result in subsequent hospitalization. 

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SAMHSA’s Short Report Provides U.S. Behavioral Health Overview

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides an overview of key findings from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health in the NSDUH report Substance Use and Mental Health Estimates from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Overview of Findings. This report notes that “Knowing the percentage of people with substance use disorders and mental health issues in the United States is an important starting point for promoting the prevention of behavioral health problems and supporting recovery for those with behavioral health problems.”

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University of Albany Town Hall Meeting Recording Available

On October 7, 2014, the Counseling Center at the University at Albany, State University of New York; the New York Conference of Mayors; and the Capital District Regional College Consortium on Alcohol and Other Drugs hosted “Mobilizing Change through Collaboration: Strategies to Prevent Underage Drinking.” Speakers for this Town Hall Meeting included New York Congressman Paul Tonko; the Honorable Kathy Sheehan, Mayor of Albany; Frances M. Harding, Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; and a panel of regional stakeholders to stimulate public discussion. The panelists provided national, state, and regional perspectives on underage drinking and its effects on youth, communities, and institutions of higher education. Strategies and best practices to address this issue were described. A recording of this event is available at http://new.livestream.com/hvccstreaming/underage.

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Red Ribbon Week Begins October 23, 2014

The last week of October is recognized as Red Ribbon Week, part of an overall effort to encourage people to live a drug-free life. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) works with community coalitions and prevention groups to plan Red Ribbon activities, ranging from classroom events to stadium-sized rallies. Part of this effort is the prevention of underage drinking. DEA’s Growing Up Drug Free: A Parent's Guide to Prevention emphasizes the importance of communication with young people about the dangers of alcohol use. DEA’s web page offers ideas for participating in Red Ribbon Week, including events around the nation and a toolkit. 

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October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence (IPV), affects both women and men, and the number of reported cases is growing. Young people who use alcohol are at greater risk for perpetuating or experiencing IPV than those who do not. For example, according to “Acute Alcohol Use Temporally Increases the Odds of Male Perpetrated Dating Violence: A 90-Day Diary Analysis,” heavy drinking days and the number of drinks consumed by college males increased their odds of committing physical and sexual violence against their intimate partners. This study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. 

The National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH)—1 (800) 799–7233 or 1 (800) 787–3224 (TTY)—is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families. For more than 17 years, the NDVH has been the vital link to safety for women, men, children, and families affected by domestic violence. Much like the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the NDVH is an excellent source of help for concerned friends, family, coworkers, and others seeking information and guidance on how to help someone they know. 

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Mental Illness Awareness Week Begins October 5

Mental Illness Awareness Week will take place from Sunday, October 5, through Saturday, October 11, to help educate Americans on the needs of individuals with mental illnesses. National Depression Screening Day is Thursday, October 9. 

Underage drinking is linked to a range of negative consequences for young people, including their likelihood to experience health issues such as depression and anxiety disorders. According to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s annual survey report, Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings, 12- to 17-year-olds who had experienced a major depressive episode (MDE) during the past year were twice as likely as those who hadn’t had an MDE to be heavy alcohol users.

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October 8 Webinar on Suicide and Substance Abuse

The second webinar of a 2-part webinar series, Understanding the Connection Between Suicide and Substance Use, is scheduled for October 8, 2014, at 12:30–2:00 p.m. EDT. The webinar, titled Mobilizing Partnerships and Resources to Address Substance Abuse and Suicide, will be facilitated by Chuck Klevgaard, a Resource Team coordinator for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Application of Prevention Technologies. Presenters include Richard T. McKeon, Ph.D., M.P.H., Chief of SAMHSA’s Suicide Prevention Branch; Laurie Davidson, M.A., a program manager for SAMHSA’s Suicide Prevention Resource Center; and other subject-area experts. Click here to register for the webinar. Part 1 of the webinar series is also available. 

 Alcohol is a risk factor for suicide. According to a SAMHSA Drug Abuse Warning Network DAWN Report, 6.3 percent of drug-related emergency department visits in 2008 by young adults ages 18 to 24 involved suicide attempts. 

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Racial Differences Affect Alcohol Use by Young Adults

A study from University of Washington researchers found that race plays a role in alcohol use among young adults, with differences observed in frequency and quantity of alcohol use and related consequences between Black and White young adults. White young adults tended to drink more frequently and to be heavy drinkers, while Black heavy drinkers experienced fewer alcohol use consequences. The study, “Exploring Heavy Drinking Patterns Among Black and White Young Adults,” also examined family factors and parenting behaviors of the 10th-grade students to assess how these might may influence later drinking behaviors. Family dynamics existing when the study participants were adolescents were identified as important for the development of different drinking patterns, suggesting a key target for substance use prevention programs. This study was supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

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Teen Driver Safety Week Begins October 19

October 19–25, 2014, is designated as Teen Driver Safety Week by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to encourage parents to discuss safe driving with their teens. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 14- to 18-year-olds in the United States, but only 25 percent of parents have a serious discussion with their children about the key components of safe driving. During this week, NHTSA encourages parents to discuss with their teens one safety topic each day from its “5 to Drive” campaign:

1. No cell phone use or texting while driving;

2. No extra passengers;

3. No speeding;

4. No alcohol; and

5. No driving or riding without a seat belt.

NHTSA also is encouraging concerned individuals to share and post an infographic stating that 28 percent of drivers ages 15–20 who died in motor vehicle crashes in 2012 had alcohol in their system. For more information, please see the infographic about underage drinking and driving from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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SAMHSA Releases the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released its annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) on September 16, 2014. The key finding related to underage drinking is that prevalence rates are continuing their downward trend since 2002. In 2013, about 8.7 million 12- to 20-year-olds (22.7 percent of this age group) reported drinking alcohol in the past month. Approximately 5.4 million (14.2 percent) were binge drinkers, and 1.4 million (3.7 percent) were heavy drinkers. All three of these rates are lower than those reported in the 2012 NSDUH, which were 24.3, 15.3, and 4.3 percent, respectively. The survey also found that the level of 12- to 17-year-olds with substance dependence or abuse problems decreased from 8.9 percent to 5.2 percent between 2002 and 2013.  

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September Is Suicide Prevention Month

September is Suicide Prevention Month. Although prevention and awareness of suicide are critical year-round, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is encouraging everyone during September to become better educated and more involved and to promote mental health to avert suicide among military members. VA is offering a Suicide Prevention Month Toolkit, with “The Power of 1” as this year’s prevention theme. VA also is asking that individuals share information with veterans about the Veterans Crisis Line, a free, confidential resource available to veterans and their families and friends any day, any time.

 Alcohol is a risk factor for suicide. According to a DAWN Report, by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Drug Abuse Warning Network, 6.3 percent of drug-related emergency department visits in 2008 by young adults ages 18 to 24 involved suicide attempts. Of the 38,036 emergency department visits for drug-related suicide attempts that year, alcohol was involved in 38.5 percent of suicide attempts by males and 23 percent of attempts by females. 

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Underage Binge Drinking Rates Vary in United States

The prevalence of underage binge drinking fluctuated widely across regions in the United States, according to a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). For example, data from 2010 to 2012 indicates that the rates of binge drinking in substate regions “ranged from 9.2 percent in Shelby County, Tennessee, to 46.3 percent in the District of Columbia's Ward 2.” SAMHSA’s Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., has stated, “… binge drinking remains a widespread concern throughout the nation and dangerously impacts the immediate and developmental health of millions of adolescents and young adults.”

SAMHSA has many underage drinking prevention and reduction resources. SAMHSA’s “Talk. They Hear You.” underage drinking prevention campaign provides tips for parents to talk to children as young as age 9 about the dangers of alcohol consumption. “Talk. They Hear You.” resources are available on http://beta.samhsa.gov/underage-drinking/parent-resources.

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2014 National Wellness Week is September 15–21

Join the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for 2014 National Wellness Week, September 15–21. SAMHSA’s wellness initiative urges individuals, families, and organizations to engage in year-round activities that support and promote wellness within their communities. Practicing wellness is an essential part of good behavioral health. The activities for the 2014 National Wellness Week includes:

Monday, September 15: Overview of eight dimensions of wellness;

Tuesday, September 16: Physical dimension;

Wednesday, September 17: Intellectual dimension; 

Thursday, September 18: Spiritual dimension;

Friday, September 19: Social and emotional dimensions;

Saturday, September 20: Financial and occupational dimensions; and

Sunday, September 21: Environmental dimension.

SAMHSA encourages individuals to post messages, photos, and/or videos on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and/or Vine that describe or display their favorite wellness activities and to include the hashtag #ShareWellness.

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SAMHSA Hosts Webinar on Trauma, Substance Abuse Relationship

Communities are increasingly aware of the extent to which exposure to adverse circumstances (e.g., family conflict, economic deprivation, and unsafe school and community environments) can create risks for a host of negative outcomes in young people, including behavioral health problems. This webinar, hosted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), will offer an overview of the Communities That Care process and how communities can use the process to strengthen their capacity to mitigate youth exposure to adversity and enhance protective factors that support healthy youth development.

WHAT: Reducing Toxic Stress and Promoting Positive Behavioral Health in Young People: The "Communities That Care" Prevention Operating System

WHEN: Tuesday, September 23, 2014, from 2:00-3:30 p.m. EDT

Registration: Sign up for this free webinar at: https://nasmhpd.memberclicks.net/index.php?option=com_mc&view=mc&mcid=form_175841

WHO: J. David Hawkins, Ph.D., Endowed Professor of Prevention, University of Washington, and founder of the Social Development Research Group

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September 9: FASD Awareness Day

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has launched a new “Ask the Expert” column in the activities section of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Center for Excellence website. The column is intended to help promote the 15th annual FASD Awareness Day. August’s column features Emily Travis, a past member of SAMSHA’s FASD Center for Excellence, who has lived with an FASD.

International FASD Awareness Day, which takes place on September 9, 2014, encourages all to spread the message that:

  • FASD is 100 percent preventable;
  • Support to avoid alcohol during pregnancy is available; and
  • Services and resources are available to individuals and family affected by FASD.

To further promote International FASD Awareness Day, SAMHSA released a 2014 FASD Awareness Day flyer. Download the flyer from http://fasdcenter.samhsa.gov/documents/Awareness_Day_Flyer_2014.pdf.

In addition, a free webinar on the new Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Addressing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (TIP #58) will be on September 9, 2014, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. EDT. The TIP #58 webinar will cover:

  • The TIP series’ overview and creation process;
  • Details about TIP #58, such as fundamentals of FASD; and
  • Instructions on how to use the TIP as a staff development tool.

Registration is not required. To find out more information about this webinar, visit http://fasdcenter.samhsa.gov/webinars/TIPWebinar.aspx.

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Study Offers Tips to Parents About Preventing Underage Drinking

A review of studies supports the view that youth who had alcohol provided to them by parents and youth who had a place to consume alcohol were more likely to engage in heavy episodic drinking and experience more alcohol-related problems, according to “Providing Alcohol for Underage Youth: What Messages Should We Be Sending Parents?” The study offers the following tips to parents:

  • Do not allow your children to consume alcohol even when supervised;
  • Do not provide alcohol to your children; it increases the risk for future drinking;
  • Set clear rules about alcohol consumption, and talk to your children early about alcohol;
  • Do not provide a space for children to drink alcohol freely; and
  • Do not host social events for children with alcohol.

Researchers Övgü Kaynak, Ph.D.; Ken C. Winters, Ph.D.; John Cacciola, Ph.D.; Kimberly C. Kirby, Ph.D.; and Amelia M. Arria, Ph.D., reviewed previous studies on the role of parental alcohol provision in children’s alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems in an effort to provide evidence based guidance to parents/caregivers. The study’s findings appeared in the July 2014 issue of Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse funded this research.

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September 11 Webinar: Understanding the Connection Between Suicide and Substance Abuse, Part 1

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Mental Health Services presents a free two-part webinar series titled Understanding the Connection Between Suicide and Substance Abuse. This webinar series will provide resources for substance abuse prevention and mental health services grantees working to prevent substance abuse and/or suicide. Part 1 of this webinar series, titled Understanding the Connection Between Suicide and Substance Abuse: What the Research Tells Us, will be held on September 11, 2014, at 2:00 p.m. EDT/1:00 p.m. CDT/12:00 p.m. MDT/11:00 a.m. PDT and will last approximately 1.5 hours. This webinar will:

  • Discuss current research findings that examine the relationship between substance abuse and suicide; and
  • Emphasize unique factors that lead to both suicide and substance abuse and the coordination of treatment/prevention for both.

Register online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/suicide_sap.

Registration information for Part 2 of the webinar series will be e-mailed to registrants at a later date.

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Experimentation and Pleasure-Seeking Traits Linked With Alcohol-Related Problems

Individuals with a trait for experimenting and those with a natural preference for pleasurable activities were at a greater risk for alcohol-related problems, reports “Sweet-Liking Is Associated With Transformation of Heavy Drinking Into Alcohol-Related Problems in Young Adults With High Novelty Seeking.” Specifically, the frequency and amount of alcohol consumed correlated with the high-novelty-seeking phenotype and the sweet-liking phenotype. The term “novelty-seeking phenotype” refers to “a trait that promotes experimentation,” and the term “sweet-liking phenotype” refers to a pleasure-seeking trait. Researchers Alexey Kampov-Polevoy et al. analyzed data from a sample of 163 young adults (18 to 26 years old) to assess the extent to which a high-novelty-seeking phenotype and the sweet-liking phenotype contributed to alcohol-related problems in young adults. The journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research featured this study’s findings in its July 2014 issue. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this research. 

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August 28 Webinar: Responsible Beverage Service From Theory to Practice

Join the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration on August 28, from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. EDT, for a free webinar titled Responsible Beverage Service Training From Theory to Practice. Michael Sparks, M.A., alcohol policy specialist and President of SparksInitiatives; Ari Russell, Executive Director of GUIDE, Inc.; and Katherine Durbin, Division Chief of Licensure, Regulation and Education for the Montgomery County (MD) Department of Liquor Control will:

  • Discuss responsible beverage service (RBS) training as well as the theory and research base behind it;
  • Discuss opportunities and challenges experienced in real-life implementation of RBS training; and
  • Examine the benefits to underage drinking prevention when RBS is implemented as part of a comprehensive environmental prevention approach.

Downloadable speakers’ slides will be provided. A question-and-answer session will be included. For more information about this webinar, the speakers, and webinar registration, visit https://www.stopalcoholabuse.gov/TownHallMeetings/whatsnew/webinar_rbs.aspx.

Please contact us at info@stopalcoholabuse.net if you have any questions about the webinar.

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Robust Alcohol Policy Reduces Binge Drinking

Individuals residing in states with robust alcohol policy environments were less likely to engage in binge drinking, frequent binging, or high-intensity binge drinking, according to “The Alcohol Policy Environment and Policy Subgroups as Predictors of Binge Drinking Measures Among US Adults.” Specifically, the study reports that a 10-percentage-point increase in the strength of a state’s alcohol policy correlated with an 8-percent reduction in individuals engaging in all types of binge drinking in the previous month. The study, authored by a panel of alcohol policy experts, was published in the August 2014 issue of American Journal of Public Health. “This study shows that alcohol policies matter—and matter a lot—for reducing a person’s risk of binge drinking, which is a leading cause of premature death and disability in the U.S.,” said Ziming Xuan, Sc.D., S.M., M.A., the lead author. The National Institutes of Health funded this study.  

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NIAAA Releases Alcohol Alert, Number 87

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recently released Alcohol Alert, Number 87. This Alcohol Alert examines the local, national, and global impacts of alcohol on society, and it also addresses alcohol’s influence on different subpopulations, such as underage youths and college students. The topics covered in this alert include:

  • Alcohol consumption;
  • Alcohol-related mortality, globally;
  • Alcohol-related injuries;
  • Alcohol-related chronic diseases;
  • Alcohol’s economic burden; and
  • Alcohol use and consequences on subpopulations.

To read the full alert or previous alerts, visit http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/journals-and-reports/alcohol-alert.

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College Students Prefer Face-to-Face Alcohol Prevention Interventions

College students are interested in alcohol consumption interventions via mobile applications (apps), such as apps that feature blood alcohol concentration, alcohol and health facts, and alcoholic drink tracking capabilities, according to “Integrating mHealth Mobile Applications to Reduce High Risk Drinking Among Underage Students.” Despite the promise of apps’ value as an intervention tool, students currently still prefer face-to-face interventions. Authors Donna M. Kazemi, Allyson R. Cochran, John F. Kelly, Judith B. Cornelius, and Catherine Belk analyzed college students’ views toward using mobile technology as interventions to curb the rates of risky underage drinking. The Health Education Journal featured the study’s findings in its May 2014 issue. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration funded this research.

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SAMHSA’s Bullying Prevention App Is Available

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) now has a free bullying prevention mobile application (app) titled KnowBullyingfor Android™ and iPhone® devices. The app promotes bullying prevention conversations between parents and their children. KnowBullying contains:

  • Bullying prevention conversation starters for parents and their children;
  • Bullying prevention tips;
  • Warning signs to detect bullying;
  • Reminders about when best to talk to children about bullying;
  • Useful social media tactics and advice about bullying prevention; and
  • Methods to prevent bullying in the classroom.

To download the app, visit the Apple Store for iPhone devices and Google Play for Android devices. The app is supported by a SAMHSA and StopBullying.gov federal partnership.  

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High-Performing Schools Reduce Underage Drinking

Among low-income minority adolescents, exposure to high-performing public charter schools reduced the likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors such as alcohol consumption, gang involvement, and consumption of alcohol or other drugs before sex, according to “Successful Schools and Risky Behaviors Among Low-Income Adolescents.” Researchers Mitchell D. Wong, M.D., Ph.D., et al. examined the extent to which exposure to high-performing schools lowered the prevalence of risky behaviors among low-income minority adolescents. The study’s findings appear in the August 2014 issue of Pediatrics. The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences funded this project. 

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Suicide Prevention Toolkit Available at the SAMHSA Store

The toolkit Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools is now available at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) online store. This toolkit helps school administrators create and implement suicide prevention strategies and promote behavioral health. The toolkit will assist schools with:

  • Assessing their capability to prevent suicide within the student population and respond to potential suicides;
  • Grasping effective strategies to help students at risk for suicide;
  • Understanding how to respond to suicide; and
  • Incorporating suicide prevention into other activities that promote the school’s mission.

To order more than 10 copies, e-mail order.pubs.@samhsa.hhs.gov or call 877-SAMHSA-7.

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Substance Use Disorders Declining Among Young Adult Males

Since 2002, substance use disorders (SUDs) have steadily declined among young adult males, according to America’s Young Adults: Special Issue, 2014. The report, produced by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics (the Forum), notes that the prevalence of SUDs among males ages 18 to 24 decreased from 28 percent in 2002 to 23 percent in 2012. The prevalence of SUDs among females in the same age group was 16 percent in 2002 and 2012. Among all young adults in 2012, the prevalence of past-year SUDs was higher for White non-Hispanics (21 percent) than for Hispanics (17 percent) and Black non-Hispanics (16 percent). The Forum coordinates the collection and reporting of federal data on children and families. This year’s report focuses on the health status of youth as they transition to adulthood.

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August 18, 2014: Provide Feedback on SAMHSA’s Latest Strategic Initiatives

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) invites the public to provide comments on its latest strategic plan, titled Leading Change 2.0: Advancing the Behavioral Health of the Nation 2015–2018. SAMHSA’s latest strategic plan builds on achievements from the previous 4 years. It also addresses the need for SAMHSA to develop a behavioral health system that promotes individual and family wellness and its connection to physical and mental well-being. SAMHSA encourages the public to provide feedback on the following Strategic Initiatives:

1.       Prevention of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness;
2.       Health Care and Health Systems Integration;
3.       Trauma and Justice;
4.       Recovery Supports;
5.       Health Information Technology; and
6.       Workforce Development.

The deadline to provide comments is August 18, 2014. Provide feedback online at http://store.samhsa.gov/leadingchange/feedback.

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August 11: “Supporting Families With LGBTQ12-S Youth” Webisode

On August 11, 2014, at 2:00 p.m. EDT, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will launch a new webisode titled “Supporting Families With LGBTQ12-S Youth.” This webisode examines ways that communities, providers, and individuals can help support families with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, and/or two-spirit (LGBTQ12-S) youth. The webisode features:

·         Gary Blau, Ph.D., Child, Adolescent and Family Branch, SAMHSA (Moderator);

·         Diego Sanchez, Director of Policy, PFLAG National;

·         Sylvia Fisher, Office of Research and Evaluation, Health Resources and Services Administration; and

·         Jordan Geddes, Youth Outreach Specialist, Maryland Coalition of Families.

The live event will be available at http://bit.ly/1rKoF8Z; questions can be submitted via Twitter (hashtag #KSOC-TV), the KSOC-TV web portal, or telephone (1-800-527-1401).

SAMHSA’s webisode series provides viewers with the opportunity, over the next several months, to hear expert panels address questions about cutting-edge issues in the field of behavioral health; pose questions to the panel by Twitter, e-mail, or telephone; see related late-breaking news; learn about best practices in the field; and hear youth, young adults, and families tell their stories. 



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Substance Use During Adolescence Linked With Long-Term Health Risks

Youth who started using substances, such as alcohol and other drugs, during childhood or adolescence were more likely to require treatment later in life, according to a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s The TEDS Report. The report, Age of Substance Use Initiation among Treatment Admissions Aged 18 to 30, notes that “In 2011, the majority of substance abuse treatment admissions aged 18 to 30 with known age of initiation information (74.0 percent) began substance use at the age of 17 or younger; 10.2 percent initiated use at the age of 11 or younger.” This issue of The TEDS Report compares demographic data and other characteristics of substance abuse and misuse treatment admissions across five age-of-initiation groups.

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Alcohol and Drug Combinations Affect ED Visit Outcomes

The combination of alcohol and other drugs was more likely to result in greater harm than the consumption of alcohol alone in emergency department (ED) visits dealing with underage drinking, according to a new report from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN). According to The DAWN Report, “nearly 188,000 alcohol-related emergency department (ED) visits in 2011 involved patients aged 12 to 20.” The DAWN Report suggests that parents and adult caregivers play a significant role in preventing underage drinking. The Dawn Report monitors drug-related ED visits and drug-related deaths.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s underage drinking prevention campaign “Talk. They Hear You.” encourages parents and caregivers to start talking to their children early about the dangers associated with consuming alcohol. To find additional resources about talking to youth about underage drinking, visit http://www.samhsa.gov/underagedrinking/subpagea.aspx.

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Past Binging Affects Feeling of Intoxication

Among a sample of Mexican American and Native American young adults in California, a history of frequent binge drinking in adolescence correlated with decreases in self-reported levels of intoxication in young adulthood, according to “Associations Between a History of Binge Drinking During Adolescence and Self-Reported Responses to Alcohol in Young Adult Native and Mexican Americans.” Researchers used the expectation version of the Subjective High Assessment Scale (SHAS-E) to measure participants’ responses. SHAS-E measures how individuals might feel after consuming a standard dose of alcohol on the basis of their prior drinking experience of 12 intoxication items. Cindy L. Ehlers, Gina M. Stouffer, and David A. Gilder sought to determine the extent to which a history of binge drinking during adolescence correlated with current self-reported levels of individual responses to alcohol among a population of Native Americans and Mexican Americans. The study appeared online in the June 24, 2014, issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. The National Institutes of Health funded this study.

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False ID Laws Reduce Underage Drinking

False ID laws significantly reduced the amount of alcohol consumed by underage drinkers, according to “Can Technology Help To Reduce Underage Drinking? Evidence From the False ID Laws With Scanner Provision.” The study reports that, as a result of false ID laws, underage drinkers consumed 0.22 fewer drinks per day. The term “false ID laws” refers to laws that provide incentives to alcohol outlets to ensure that they are not selling alcohol to youth with false identification cards. Researcher Baris K. Yörük analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to examine the influence of the false ID laws on underage drinking. The study’s findings were reported online in the July 2014 issue of Journal of Health Economics. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this research.

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Youths Targeted More in Magazine Alcohol Advertising

Sixty-eight percent and 72 percent of the top 25 alcohol brands popular among male underage drinkers and female underage drinkers, respectively, were more likely to devote a higher percentage of their national magazine advertising money to magazines with a greater concentration of readers 18–20 years old, according to “Youth Alcohol Brand Consumption and Exposure to Brand Advertising in Magazines.” The study notes that these 25 popular brands “were more likely to have underage readers ages 18–20 in the group most heavily exposed to their advertising compared with the other 308 alcohol brands advertising in magazines.” Researchers Craig S. Ross, Ph.D., M.B.A., et al. analyzed data from the 2011 U.S. national magazine readership to examine the degree to which youth and adults are exposed to magazine advertising for the alcohol brands favored among underage drinkers. The study appears online in the July 2014 issue of Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided financial support for this research.

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July 31 Webinar: Developing Your Tribal Action Plan

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) invites tribal leaders; health care providers; and substance abuse, mental health, and social services professionals and community champions for change to register for a free webinar titled Developing Your Tribal Plan. This webinar, hosted by SAMHSA’s Office of Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse, will be held on July 31, 2014, from 2:00–3:00 p.m. EDT. Presenters Rod K. Robinson, M.A., M.A.C., LAT, LAC; Michael Koscinski, M.S., M.S.W.; and Marcy Ronyak, Ph.D., LICSW, CDP will discuss the following:

  • The Tribal Action Planning Process;
  • Values and proven outcomes of the Tribal Action Planning Process; and
  • Overall interagency efforts authorized under the Tribal Law and Order Act.

 Tribal Action Plans support tribes in coordinating resources and programs to achieve their goals for preventing and treating substance use disorders in their communities.

Register online at https://copper.adobeconnect.com/_a1025219898/r9lb87f2nwm.

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Environmental Context Linked With Youth Alcohol Consumption

Exposure to deviant peers, poor family functioning, and associations with drinking peers in adolescence were varying risk factors for adult alcohol use, according to Childhood and Adolescent Predictors of Heavy Episodic Drinking and Alcohol Use Disorder at Ages 21 and 33: A Domain-Specific Cumulative Risk Model.” At age 21 (transition to adulthood), family alcohol and peer alcohol environments experienced during adolescence were the strongest predictors of alcohol-related problems; by age 33 (beyond the normative peak age), poor family functioning during adolescence was the stronger predictor of alcohol problems. The study recommends interventions that address alcohol-specific risk factors and mechanisms to improve children’s peer and family environments. Authors Jungeun Olivia Lee, et al., analyzed data from the Seattle Social Development Project to assess the extent to which general or alcohol-specific influences in the family, peer, and school contexts predicted alcohol-related problems at ages 21 and 33. The study appears online in the July 2014 issue of Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol and the National Institute on Drug Abuse partially funded this project. 

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College Freshmen Who Date More Tend To Drink More

Romantic Relationship Status and Alcohol Use and Problems Across the First Year of College” reports that first-year college students who dated several people consumed more alcohol and experienced more alcohol-related problems when compared with singles or those in exclusive relationships at followup assessment. Additionally, the transition from being in an exclusive relationship to being single correlated with more alcohol-related problems among first-year college students. Researchers Jessica E. Salvatore, Kenneth S. Kendler, and Danielle M. Dick analyzed data from a longitudinal study of college students to assess relationships among relationship status, alcohol use, and alcohol-related problems during the first year of college. The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs featured the study’s findings in its July 2014 issue. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this study.

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Sports Participation Linked With Alcohol Initiation Among Youth

According to “Participation in Team Sports and Alcohol and Marijuana Use Initiation Trajectories,” “Participation in sport appears to be a protective factor against marijuana initiation, but it might increase early initiation of alcohol use in youth.” The study findings suggest that the competitive nature of athletes may contribute to them consuming more alcohol, although athletes may shy away from marijuana use due to the possibility of drug testing. Authors Nadra Erin Lisha, William D. Crano, and Kevin L. Delucchi analyzed data from 8,179 youth from the National Survey of Parents and Youth to examine the influence of sports participation on alcohol and marijuana use. The Journal of Drug Issues featured this study in its January 2014, issue. The National Institute on Drug Abuse supported this study. 

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Singles More Likely To Drink Before Sex

Sexually active drinkers who were single were three times more likely to consume alcohol frequently before sex when compared with individuals in a romantic relationship and six times more likely to consume alcohol before sex when compared with those without an alcohol use disorder (AUD). These were the conclusions reported in “Regularly Drinking Alcohol Before Sex in the United States: Effects of Relationship Status and Alcohol Use Disorders.” The study, which included legal-age and underage drinkers, recommends interventions that emphasize the dangers associated with consuming alcohol before having sex. Ronald G. Thompson, Jr., Nicholas R. Eaton, Mei-Chen Hu, Bridget F. Grant, and Deborah S. Hasin analyzed data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions to examine the frequency of consuming alcohol before having sex among individuals who were single, who were partnered, and who had an AUD. The findings were reported in the June 4, 2014, issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The National Institutes of Health partially funded this research. 

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Bar Density Linked With Underage Drinking

A study of 50 cities in California reveals that adolescent alcohol use and heavy drinking were higher in communities with greater levels of adult drinking and bar density over a 3-year period, according to “Effects of the Local Alcohol Environment on Adolescents’ Drinking Behaviors and Beliefs.” The study suggests that bar density serves as an indicator for alcohol availability and speaks to community norms about the acceptability of alcohol use. However, robust alcohol control policy and enforcement correlated with lower rates of alcohol use among adolescents. Authors Mallie J. Paschall, Sharon Lipperman-Kreda, and Joel W. Grube analyzed data from 1,478 adolescents and 8,553 adults to examine the relationship between the local alcohol environment and underage drinking. The term “local alcohol environment” refers to alcohol control policies, enforcement, adult drinking, and bar density. The study’s findings were reported in the March 2014, issue of Addiction. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this study. 

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Alcohol Outlets on School Routes Increase Students’ Drug Exposure

Youth who walked past alcohol outlets on their way to school were more likely to be offered alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (ATOD), reports “Risk for Exposure to Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs on the Route to and From School: The Role of Alcohol Outlets.” Additionally, the youth were more likely to see people selling and using drugs. Researchers from the University of California–Los Angeles and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health investigated the relationship between the existence of alcohol outlets on youth’s school routes and the subsequent exposure to ATOD. The study appeared online in the February 14, 2014, issue of Prevention Science. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this study. 

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White House Releases 2014 National Drug Control Strategy

In releasing the 2014 National Drug Control Strategy, President Barack Obama stated that “Illicit drug use and its consequences challenge our shared dream of building for our children a country that is healthier, safer, and more prosperous.” The 2014 Strategy recommends the following:

  •         A national prevention system that is grounded at the community level;
  •          Prevention efforts that encompass the range of settings in which young people grow up; and
  •          A method of developing and spreading information about youth drug, alcohol, and tobacco use.

The Strategy is designed to continue ongoing progress in reducing underage drinking. One of its specific objectives is to “Decrease the lifetime prevalence of 8th graders who have used drugs, alcohol, or tobacco by 15 percent.”

For more information on prevention resources, visit https://www.stopalcoholabuse.gov/resources/default.aspx.

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Underage Drinking Prevention Grant Available for Tribal Communities

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) announced in “OJJDP FY 2014 Tribal Healing to Wellness Court Responses to Underage Drinking Initiativea funding opportunity targeted at underage drinking prevention and reduction in selected tribal communities. Eligible applicants are federally recognized tribal governments that are operating juvenile, juvenile and family, and family tribal drug courts, which are regarded as vehicles to combat underage drinking in tribal communities. The deadline to submit an application is August 1, 2014. For more information about this funding opportunity, view the grant’s Frequently Asked Questions.

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American Indians Who Attended College or Are New Parents Drink Less Alcohol

In a survey of American Indians, respondents reported consuming less alcohol after becoming parents in the past year, according to “Adult Social Roles and Alcohol Use Among American Indians.” However, respondents with full-time jobs and single respondents were more likely to binge drink. The study also reports that respondents who attended college were less likely to drink than those who did not attend college. Authors Kaylin M. Greene, Tamela McNulty Eitle, and David Eitle analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to examine the extent to which adult roles contributed to alcohol consumption among American Indians. The study appeared online in the May 7, 2014, issue of Addictive Behaviors. The National Institutes of Health funded this research. 

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Excessive Alcohol Consumption Linked With Nearly 90,000 Adult Deaths Annually

“From 2006 through 2010, excessive alcohol consumption accounted for nearly 1 in 10 deaths and over 1 in 10 years of potential life lost (YPLL) among working-age (20–60 years old) adults in the United States,” reports “Contribution of Excessive Alcohol Consumption to Deaths and Years of Potential Life Lost in the United States.” The study reports that, from 2006 to 2010, an average of 87,798 deaths occurred annually because of alcohol use. The study also linked 2,560,290 YPLL to alcohol consumption. Researchers Mandy Stahre, Jim Roeber, Dafna Kanny, Robert D. Brewer, and Xingyou Zhang sought to assess, in part, the contribution of alcohol-attributable deaths and YPLL to the total deaths and YPLL among working-age adults as well as the number of deaths and YPLL among individuals under age 21. The study appears online in the June 26, 2014, issue of Preventing Chronic Disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funded this study.  

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July 15 Webinar: Early Adverse Experiences, Brain Development, & Risk

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is inviting individuals to register for a free webinar on Early Adverse Experiences and Brain Development: Implications For Prevention, Intervention, & Reducing Long Term Risk. This webinar, hosted by the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, will be held on July 15, 2014, from 2:00–3:30 p.m. EDT. Presenter Johanna Bick, Ph.D., from Harvard Medical School, will:

  • Discuss how prevention and early intervention efforts can support healthier, more normative neurodevelopmental trajectories in at-risk-individuals; and
  • Emphasize the implications for reducing the risk for long-term behavioral health difficulties (i.e., affective disorders and substance abuse problems).

Register online at https://nasmhpd.memberclicks.net/index.php?option=com_mc&view=mc&mcid=form_168474.

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Alcohol Use Higher Among Sexual Minority Youth

Young people of minority sexual orientation (e.g., bisexual, gay, or lesbian) reported more lifetime drinking and earlier alcohol use initiation than their heterosexual peers, according to “Exploring Alcohol-Use Behaviors Among Heterosexual and Sexual Minority Adolescents: Intersections With Sex, Age, and Race/Ethnicity.” The study also reports that sexual minority youth (SMY) reported more frequent drinking and heavy episodic drinking during the past 30 days than heterosexual youths. Alcohol-use disparities were largest for bisexual youth, younger SMY, and sexual-minority girls. Authors Amelia E. Talley, Tonda L. Hughes, Frances Aranda, Michelle Birkett, and Michael P. Marshal analyzed data from the 2005 and 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Surveys to assess the prevalence of alcohol use among SMY by gender, age, and race/ethnicity. The American Journal of Public Health featured this study in its February 2014, issue. The National Institutes of Health funded this project.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services publication Building Bridges: LGBT Populations: A Dialogue on Advancing Opportunities for Recovery from Addictions and Mental Health Problemsprovides additional insights about issues affecting substance abuse among sexual minority individuals.

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Living in a Highly Disadvantaged Neighborhood Influences Early Alcohol Use

Living in a highly disadvantaged neighborhood appears to have a cascading influence on risk factors for early alcohol use. According to “Early Adolescent Alcohol Use in Context: How Neighborhoods, Parents, and Peers Impact Youth,” youth living in disadvantaged neighborhoods were more likely to exhibit delinquent behaviors, leading to an increase in rulebreaking. Rulebreaking, in turn, predicted alcohol use among adolescents. Additionally, adolescent association with delinquent peers and alcohol use contributed to lower parental involvement rather than being a consequence of poor parenting. Researchers Elisa M. Trucco, Craig R. Colder, William F. Wieczorek, Liliana J. Lengua, and Larry W. Hawk, Jr., assessed the role of neighborhood, family, and peer contexts on early adolescent alcohol use. The study’s findings appeared online in the May 2014, issue of Development and Psychopathology. The National Institute on Drug Abuse funded this study.

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More Widespread and Effective Compliance Checks Needed

Approximately one-third (30 percent) of local law enforcement agencies and two-thirds (49 to 66 percent) of state agencies reported conducting compliance checks between 2010 and 2011, as reported in Current Use of Underage Alcohol Compliance Checks by Enforcement Agencies in the United States.” This finding suggests that substantial progress has not been made over the past decade to increase the number of agencies nationally conducting checks. In addition, the only 4 to 6 percent of agencies conducting checks reported the use of all optimal practices, which are to check all establishments in a jurisdiction, conduct checks at least 3 to 4 times/year, conduct follow-up checks within 3 months, and penalize the licensee as well as the server/clerk for infractions. Compliance checks refer to law enforcement agents’ supervision of underage youth who try to buy alcohol. Authors Darin J. Erickson et al. expanded previous studies to assess the prevalence of compliance checks in different communities and enforcement agencies. The study appears online in the June 2014, issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this research.

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Youth More LikelyTo Drink When Families Lose Socioeconomic Status

Adolescents in families who experienced a downward trend in income and socioeconomic status were more likely to have consumed alcohol within the past year than adolescents in families with low, but stable, income during their childhood, according to “Family Income Trajectory During Childhood Is Associated With Adolescent Cigarette Smoking and Alcohol Use.” Children from families with upwardly mobile trajectories were less likely to smoke than those who were disadvantaged. Researchers Insiya B. Poonawalla, Darla E. Kendzor, Margaret Tresch Owen and Margaret O. Caughy analyzed data from the 15-year longitudinal Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development to evaluate the effect of childhood family income trajectory on adolescent substance use. The study’s findings appeared online in the May 27, 2014, issue of Addictive Behaviors. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development funded this project. 

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Legal-Age College Students Commonly Provide Alcohol to Underage Students

In a survey of current or recent college students between ages 21 and 26, most had provided alcohol to minors at least once, according to “Providing Alcohol to Underage Youth: The View From Young Adulthood.” Providers of alcohol to minors perceived consuming alcohol as part of the college culture, and were more concerned about potential legal consequences to themselves than health consequences to minors. Additionally, providers were likely to have higher levels of alcohol involvement during and after their college years. The findings suggest that young adults might be an important target for preventing access to alcohol by minors on campus. Researchers Amelia M. Arria, Ph.D., et al. analyzed data from the College Life Study to examine the popularity and predictors of provision of alcohol to minors, especially among college students who had recently turned age 21. The study appears online in the June 2014, issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse funded this project. 

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U.S.-Born Hispanics Drink at Younger Age Than Do Foreign-Born Hispanics

Hispanics born in the United States initiate alcohol use at a younger age than foreign-born Hispanics, according to “Age at First Drink, Drinking, Binge Drinking, and DSM-5 Alcohol Use Disorder Among Hispanic National Groups in the United States.” Additionally, a younger age of alcohol use initiation was linked with binge drinking, number of drinks per week, and alcohol use disorders. However, no single national group exhibited more or less association between age at first use and the studied alcohol-related consequences. Authors Raul Caetano, Britain Mills, Patrice Vaeth, and Jennifer Reingle of the University of Texas School of Public Health analyzed data from two surveys for this study: the Hispanic Americans Baseline Alcohol Survey and a household probability sample of Mexican Americans living on U.S. counties that border Mexico. The study’s findings appear online in the May 2014, issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this project. 

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CDC Releases Latest Survey of Youth Risk Behaviors

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance (YBRS) — United States, 2013. Results from the 2013 data indicate that many high school students nationwide are engaging in health-risk behaviors associated with the four leading causes of death among 10- to 24-year-olds, which are motor vehicle crashes, unintentional injuries, homicide, and suicide. Among some of the findings related to underage drinking are that nearly one fifth (18.6 percent) of high school students had drunk more than a few sips of alcohol before age 13. More than one fifth (22.4 percent) of sexually active teens had drunk alcohol or used drugs before their last sexual intercourse. During the month preceding the YBRS survey, 10 percent of high students who drive had consumed alcohol before getting behind the wheel, and more than one fifth (21.9 percent) had ridden at least once with someone who had been drinking. 

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Alcohol Problems May Be a Path Between Childhood Abuse and Risky Sex

Victims of child abuse and those with higher levels of alcohol problems were more likely to engage in various types of sexual risk behaviors (SRB), according to “Pathway From Child Sexual and Physical Abuse to Risky Sex Among Emerging Adults: The Role of Trauma-Related Intrusions and Alcohol Problems.” Additionally, the study highlights the role of trauma in predicting alcohol-related problems. The study’s findings suggest that risk reduction interventions should emphasize an integrated focus on traumatic intrusions, alcohol problems, and SRB for people with child abuse histories. Authors Kate Walsh (Columbia University), Natasha Latzman (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and Robert Latzman (Georgia State University) analyzed data from 1,169 racially diverse college students to investigate the relationships among child physical or sexual abuse, trauma, and alcohol problems. The study appeared online in the April 2014, issue of Journal of Adolescent Health. The National Institute on Drug Abuse funded this project. 

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Youth Prefer Distilled Spirits When Binge Drinking

Distilled spirits, such as vodka, are the beverage of choice among youth who binge drink, reports “Beverage- and Brand-Specific Binge Alcohol Consumption Among Underage Youth in the U.S.” The study reports that “spirits accounted for 43.8 percent of binge episodes, whereas beer accounted for less than 31.4 percent of binge episodes.” Additionally, the study notes that binge drinking remains as the most common pattern of youth drinking in the United States and accounts for two-thirds of alcohol consumed by youth. Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health and the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health investigated alcoholic beverage preference among a sample of adolescents. The findings appear online in the June 2014, issue of Journal of Substance Abuse.

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Ability To Differentiate Between Emotions Affects Alcohol-Related Problems

College students who have difficulty in telling negative emotions apart may be more susceptible to impulsive behaviors and alcohol-related problems, according to “Emotion Differentiation and Alcohol-Related Problems: The Mediating Role of Urgency.” Authors Noah N. Emery, Jeffrey S. Simons, C. Joseph Clarke, and Raluca M. Gaher conjecture that, in contrast, the ability to assess different levels of negative emotions may foster adaptive coping and a better understanding of feelings, making them less threatening. The study also found that the ability to differentiate between positive emotions produced a significant direct effect on alcohol-related problems, possibly due to a higher sensitivity to positive reinforcement. Findings on the extent to which emotion differentiation contributed to alcohol-related problems are based on an analysis of data from 102 undergraduate college students with moderate to heavy alcohol use. The study appeared online in the May 27, 2014, issue of Addictive Behaviors. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this research. 

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Adolescent Drinking and Smoking Affects Long-Term Academics

Drinking and smoking during adolescence, especially at ages 12 and 14, predicted poor educational outcomes in young adulthood, according to “Drinking, Smoking, and Educational Achievement: Cross-Lagged Associations From Adolescence to Adulthood.” Conversely, at age 17, higher educational achievement predicted greater frequency of drinking in young adulthood. Researchers Antti Latvala et al. analyzed data from 4,761 participants to examine the extent to which alcohol consumption and smoking behavior influenced educational achievement from adolescence to young adulthood. Educational outcomes were measured by teacher-reported grade point averages for 12- and 14-year-olds and self-reports of student status and completion for 17-year-olds and older. The findings appeared online in the April 1, 2014, issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this research. 

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Alcohol-Related Words or Images Increased Aggression

Study participants who were exposed to alcohol-related words or images were more likely to retaliate aggressively compared with those who were not exposed to alcohol constructs when provoked, according to “Are You Insulting Me? Exposure to Alcohol Primes Increases Aggression Following Ambiguous Provocation.” The study is the first to illustrate that exposure to alcohol-related constructs increases physical aggression, even in the absence of alcohol consumption. Authors William C. Pedersen, Eduardo A. Vasquez, Bruce D. Bartholow, Marianne Grosvenor, and Ana Truong analyzed data from 182 undergraduate students to support previous studies that suggested exposure to alcohol-related content leads participants to perceive others’ vague behaviors as hostile. The study appeared in the May 22, 2014, issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this research.

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Study Findings Support Screening of Veterans for Co-Occurring Disorders

A pretreatment study of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with and without alcohol dependence (AD), found that those with co-occurring disorders had significantly higher incidence of psychopathology and reported more drinking-related symptoms. This finding un