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Alcohol Is Prime Drug in Vehicle-Related Emergency Department Visits

Alcohol contributes to more emergency department visits resulting from motor vehicle crashes than any other drug used by individuals ages 21 and under. A new study compared the number of emergency department visits for injuries from alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes with the number of deaths from alcohol-related crashes. Using data on underage-drinking-related motor vehicle crashes from 2004 to 2011, the study found that the number of emergency department visits for injuries was greater than the number of deaths. These visits offer important opportunities to teach patients about the dangers of underage drinking and driving.

The study, “Emergency Department Visits Vs. Fatalities Among Substance-Impaired Underage Youths Involved in Motor Vehicle Crashes,” is published in the June 2015 issue of the Journal of Safety Research. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration supported this research.

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May Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center Resource Alert Now Online

The May 2015 edition of the Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center Resource Alert is now available online. The alert includes updates from the field and new resources. 

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College Students Drink Less When Parents Advocate Alcohol Abstinence

Parents’ communication about alcohol can influence their college students’ drinking behaviors. A new study, “Alcohol Abstinence or Harm Reduction? Parental Messages for College-Bound Light Drinkers,” explores the effect of different types of parental messages about alcohol use on college-bound high school seniors. The study focused on students who identified as light drinkers. Students who received messages from their parents about abstaining from alcohol reported less frequent alcohol use, lower peak alcohol use, and greater use of protective strategies to reduce alcohol use compared with students who received messages from their parents about reducing the harms of drinking. This study highlights the importance of abstinence messages from parents.

The study is published in the July 2015 issue of Addictive Behaviors. It received grant funding from the National Institutes of Health. 

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Mixing Alcohol With Energy Drinks Leads to Alcohol Use Problems

Alcohol mixed with energy drinks can lead to a range of health problems among young adults. An online survey of 757 college students found that students who mixed alcohol with energy drinks showed more impulsivity and less anxiety sensitivity than students who drank alcohol only. Students who mixed alcohol with energy drinks were also more likely to be dependent on alcohol than students who drank only alcohol.

The study, “Alcohol Mixed With Energy Drinks Are Robustly Associated With Patterns of Problematic Alcohol Consumption Among Young Adult College Students,” was published in the February 2015 issue of Addictive Behaviors. The study received grant funding from the National Institutes of Health.

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Underage Drinking Costs Each American Nearly $2,000 Annually

In 2013, underage drinking cost each American an estimated $1,903 for each youth who uses alcohol underage, or $3.75 per drink consumed. The estimated national cost of underage drinking was $56.9 million. These updated estimates are posted on the Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center, a resource of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). The Underage Drinking Costs page breaks down national costs by seven categories, from youth violence ($32,637,400) to youth alcohol treatment ($1,826,400). The site also offers two-page fact sheets for each state, including underage drinking costs, youth alcohol consumption figures, and the newest data for key types of harm associated with underage drinking. 

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ACF Programs Address Risk Factors for Underage Drinking

The Family & Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) of the Administration for Children & Families (ACF) has published an April 8, 2015, fact sheet about its programs for Runaway and Homeless Youth; Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention; and, Family Violence Prevention and Services. All three issues are frequently associated with underage drinking and other youth substance abuse. For example, the December 2012 Report of the Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence states: “When their trauma goes unrecognized and untreated, these children are at significantly greater risk than their peers for aggressive, disruptive behaviors; school failure; posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); anxiety and depressive disorders; alcohol and drug abuse; risky sexual behavior; delinquency; and repeated victimization.” The new FYSB fact sheet summarizes programs the Bureau sponsors in each of the three areas, including family violence prevention grants, and a link to the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth. 

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Alcohol Availability at School Tied to Bullying and Cyber-Bullying

Student perceptions of alcohol availability at school appear to significantly affect the number of reported cases of bullying and cyberbullying. When students ages 12 to 18 reported that it was possible to obtain alcohol at schools, the rate of being bullied was nearly double (23 vs. 13 percent) and the rate of being cyber-bullied was nearly triple (38 vs. 13 percent) that of reported incidents among students who said that alcohol was not available at school. These data are included in an April Web Tables report from the National Center for Education Statistics, a service of the U.S. Department of Education.  Bullying and cyber-bullying prevention information is included in the federal stopbullying.gov web portal.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers KnowBullying, a free bullying prevention mobile application for parents and educators. 

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Campus Traditions Influence Student Drinking

The ways in which college campuses celebrate specific events, such as holidays, can impact students’ drinking behavior during these events. A study of 570 college students from two college campuses surveyed students before and after two events, which were celebrated differently on each campus. The first campus had campuswide traditions for St. Patrick’s Day; the second campus had campuswide traditions for Mardi Gras. Students from both campuses reported greater intent to drink and actual drinking for the specific celebration with campuswide traditions. These findings suggest