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Jan. 23 Webinar Launches SAMHSA’s YMSM/LGBT Center

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is hosting a webinar on January 23, 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET, to kick off its new Center of Excellence (CoE) on Behavioral Health for Racial/Ethnic Minority Young Men Who Have Sex with Men (YMSM) and other Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) populations (YMSM+LGBT CoE). The Center is part of the SAMHSA Addiction Technology Transfer Center network. Register online for the free event.

LGBT individuals are at higher risk of alcohol and other drug abuse. Top Health Issues for LGBT Populations and Information Resource Kit, from SAMHSA, presents scientific findings on specific health issues facing LGBT populations. The kit contains information on LGBT terminology and gender identity, a guide to web-based resources, and a PowerPoint presentation that can be used to explain LGBT health issues to a variety of audiences.

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Intervening During Middle School Reduces Young Adult Problem Drinking

A study of alcohol preventive interventions implemented during early adolescence found that such programs can potentially lower rates of alcohol use and related problems into young adulthood. In this study, the participants were ages 10–14. One group of participants engaged in the Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth, which focused on reducing youth substance misuse and improving parental skills. This group also received LifeSkills Training to promote skills and knowledge to avoid substance misuse. The second group of participants received LifeSkills Training only. A third control group did not participate in the program or the training. The students and their families from rural Iowa participated in the study during the fall and spring of the 7th grade and again every fall of the 8th through 12th grade. This study is published in the December 2014 issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. The National Institute on Drug Abuse supported this research.

More information about the Strengthening Families Program, LifeSkills Training, and other interventions is available through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices

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Communities That Care System Helps Prevent Substance Abuse

A recent study tested the effects of Communities That Care (CTC), a community-based system to prevent adolescent problem behaviors. Approximately 4,400 public school students from 24 small towns in seven states participated in the study and completed surveys, as they went from the 5th to the 12th grade. The students were randomly assigned to either the CTC intervention group or a group that did not receive the intervention. The study found that when students reached the spring of their 12th-grade year, students who received the CTC intervention were 30 percent more likely to have never used any substance, including alcohol, over the last 8 years, compared with students who did not receive the CTC intervention.

A summary of the study can be found on the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) website’s NIDA Notes. NIDA supported this research.

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NIDA Seeks Event Hosts for National Drug Facts Week: Jan. 26–Feb. 1

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) invites local organizations to participate in the fifth annual National Drug Facts Week (NDFW), a health observance that provides teens with an opportunity to learn the facts about drugs and addiction from scientists and other experts. NDFW will take place from January 26 through February 1, 2015. 

Plan Your Event—Five Steps to Hosting an NDFW Event outlines the basics of holding a successful event. NIDA staff is available to help event hosts order science-based materials to complement their event, brainstorm activity ideas, and partner with other organizations. For national recognition, organizations can enter their events in NIDA’s interactive online map. During past observances, events have been held by a variety of organizations, including middle and high schools, local nonprofits, state and local health departments, faith-based organizations, and afterschool clubs.

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CDC Hosts Teleconference on Alcohol Poisoning: Jan. 13, 2-3 p.m. ET

Join Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) subject-matter experts and other public health professionals on Tuesday, January 13, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET for a town hall teleconference on Alcohol Poisoning Deaths: A Deadly Consequence of Binge Drinking.  According to the CDC, about 2,200 individuals die from alcohol poisoning in the United States each year. To participate in the teleconference, call 1-800-857-0764, passcode 7954413. The CDC Office for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support is hosting this event.

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Hold a National Drug Facts Week Event: January 26–February 1

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is inviting local organizations to participate in the 5th annual National Drug Facts Week, a weeklong health observance that provides teens with an opportunity to learn the facts about drugs and addiction from scientists and other experts. National Drug Facts Week will take place during the week of January 26–February 1, 2015.  

Plan Your Event—Five Steps to Hosting outlines the basics of hosting a successful event. NIDA staff is available to help event hosts order science-based materials to complement their event, brainstorm activity ideas, and partner with other organizations. For national recognition, organizations can enter their events in NIDA’s interactive online map.  Past events have been held by a variety of organizations, including middle and high schools, local nonprofits, state and local health departments, faith-based organizations, and after-school clubs.

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Registration Now Open for NIDA's Annual Drug Fact Chat Day

On January 30, 2015, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) will host its annual Drug Facts Chat Day. During this live, online chat, high school students can ask scientists from the National Institutes of Health about the effects of alcohol and other drugs, addiction, and how to help friends or family address issues related to substance use. Drug Facts Chat Day, part of National Drug Facts Week, can be viewed live. 

To register for Drug Facts Chat Day, visit www.nidachat.org/register.aspx. Space is limited to 100 classrooms, so be sure to register early!

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Some Mental Health Issues Increase Adolescent Risk of Alcohol Use

A new study explored the link between the conditions of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and conduct disorder (CD) and the use of tobacco and alcohol among young adolescents. The study included 2,517 youth ages 12–15 years old, using a representative sample of the U.S. population from the 2000–2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

ADHD and CD diagnoses and symptoms are linked to a higher risk for alcohol use among young adolescents. Among study participants, adolescents with ADHD and CD were three to five times more likely to use alcohol, and to have started alcohol use at a younger age, than adolescents who did not have ADHD and CD.

 This study is published in the December 2014 issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The National Institutes of Health supported this research. 

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Brief Motivational Intervention Reduces Alcohol Use by College Freshmen

Heavy drinking among first-year college students can lead to range of problems including illness, high-risk behaviors, arrests, and mortality. This new study compared the effectiveness of a brief motivational intervention (MI) between two groups of freshman college students. The first group of heavy-drinking students was required to participate in the MI, while the second group volunteered. The MI was conducted by an advanced practice nurse.

A total of 900 students participated in the study, with 190 freshmen required to participate and 710 volunteers, to compare the students’ readiness to change their drinking behaviors. Across both groups, alcohol use and consequences went down during the 12 months of the study. These findings highlight the importance of MI, conducted by advance practice nurses, as an intervention with college students.

 The study is published online in the November 2014 issue of Nursing Outlook. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration supported this research.

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NIDA Invites Public Input on Strategic Plan for 2016–2020

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is revitalizing its Strategic Plan for 2016–2020, which NIDA will use as a guiding framework for supporting new research during the next 5 years. Since the current NIDA Strategic Plan was published in 2010, many major advances have been made in the science of drug abuse and addiction. An updated strategic plan will allow NIDA to harness the latest research technologies and apply them to the ever-changing substance abuse landscape.

 NIDA seeks input on research priorities from researchers in academia and industry, health care professionals, patient advocates and advocacy organizations, scientific or professional organizations, federal agencies, and other interested members of the public. To provide input, please send an e-mail to NIDAOSPCPlanning@mail.nih.gov by January 30, 2015.

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NHTSA's Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign Underway

State highway officials are warning drivers to stay off the roads if they’ve been drinking this holiday season. More than 800 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes each December, making this month a risky time to be on the road. Teens are especially at risk for alcohol-related crashes, even though they are younger than the minimum legal drinking age in all states. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 28 percent of 15- to 20-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2012 had been drinking.

 NHTSA’s annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, held from December 12 through January 1, seeks to remind people of the dangers of drinking and driving, reduce the number of fatal crashes, and create safer roads.

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NHTSA Buzzed Driving Twitter Chat: Dec. 30, 3:00 p.m.

Every 52 minutes in America, someone dies in an alcohol-related driving crash. For every preventable death—10,076 in 2013 alone—exponentially more lives are forever changed by the loss of a parent, child, friend, or loved one. On December 30, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. ET, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will hold a Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving Twitter Chat during which participants can question experts, spread the word to followers, and encourage others to take the pledge not to drive while buzzed. Use hashtag #buzzedriving to join in the conversation; mention @NHTSAGov in a tweeted question or comment and NHTSA will try to respond. NHTSA also is offering videos, banners, and other tools to help spread this lifesaving message.

According to NHTSA, teens are at far greater risk of death in an alcohol-related crash than the overall population, even though they are below the minimum legal drinking age in every state. Among 16- to 20-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2012, nearly one out of five has a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher. 

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Motivational Interviewing in Groups May Help Adolescents Change Alcohol Use

Group motivational interviewing (MI) is an intervention that uses group-level talk about change as a way to reduce alcohol and drug use. A new study, “Group Motivational Interviewing for Adolescents: Change Talk and Alcohol and Marijuana Outcomes,” explored the effectiveness of this type of MI by analyzing 129 audio recordings from MI sessions with 110 youth. 


During the sessions, a facilitator asked open-ended questions that led group members to increase their talk about changing alcohol and drug use behavior. A 3-month follow-up found that group change talk helped participants reduce alcohol intentions, alcohol use, and heavy drinking. Change talk positively affected individual outcomes across the entire group. The group facilitator was an important part of this process. 

This study is published in the November 2014 issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. The National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism supported this research. 

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Mixed-Sex Friendships and Alcohol Use During Adolescence

This study, “Emergence of Mixed-Sex Friendship Groups During Adolescence: Developmental Associations With Substance Use and Delinquency,” looked at mixed-sex friendships in early adolescence and patterns of alcohol use, cigarette use, and delinquency. 


More than 14,000 youth living in 28 communities in the rural United States completed a survey about friendships at five points during the 4-year study. Mixed-sex friendship groups in early adolescence were more likely to have low socioeconomic status, single-parent homes, poor family relations, no religious attendance, and poor performance in school. These factors are related to substance use and delinquency. 

This study is published in the November 2014 issue of Developmental Psychology. The National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism supported this research.

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Guided Self-Change Intervention Reduces Drug Use and Aggression

Adolescent alcohol and other drug use is strongly related to interpersonal aggression. A study, “A Randomized Controlled Trial of Guided Self-Change With Minority Adolescents,” explored the efficacy of guided self-change (GSC) for drug use and aggression among minority youth. GSC is an intervention that combines brief motivational interventions and cognitive behavioral therapies. 


The study included a school-based randomized, controlled trial of 514 high school students, predominantly minority, who reported using substances and perpetrating aggression. Adolescents who received GSC intervention were compared with adolescents who received standard care including education, assessment, and referral only. Those adolescents who received GSC demonstrated significantly fewer alcohol use days, fewer drug use days, and less aggressive behavior than adolescents who received standard care, suggesting that GSC holds promise as an intervention for schools. 

The study is published in the December 2014 issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism supported this research. 

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Gender, Depression Affect Alcohol Abuse Intervention Outcomes

Brief motivational interventions (BMIs) have successfully reduced problematic drinking among some, but not all, college students. A study, “Gender and Depression Moderate Response to Brief Motivational Intervention for Alcohol Misuse Among College Students,” explored factors that may influence the usefulness of BMIs in reducing drinking among college students. In the study, 330 heavy drinking students were assigned randomly to a BMI and to a control group, with 165 students in each grouping. The findings were compared by gender and depression (low vs. high). 


Men responded differently from women in the study. Women with low levels of depression at baseline reduced their drinking after a BMI, while women with high levels of depression did not drink less after a BMI. In contrast, men with low levels of depression did not reduce their drinking after a BMI, while men with high levels of depression at baseline significantly reduced their weekly drinking after a BMI. The findings indicate that BMIs are most effective for heavy driving, depressed men. 

This study is published in the December 2014 issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism supported this research. 

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SAMHSA Releases Report of Accomplishments From 2011 to 2014

SAMHSA Releases Report of Accomplishments From 2011 to 2014

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released Leading Change: A Plan for SAMHSA's Roles and Actions 2011–2014: Accomplishments Report. This publication summarizes agency progress in achieving the behavioral health goals it set for itself for this 3-year period. SAMHSA’s Strategic Initiative 1 is the prevention of substance abuse and mental illness. Various efforts, such as its “Talk. They Hear You.” national media campaign and 2012 and 2014 Town Hall Meetings to prevent underage drinking, enabled SAMHSA to meet the measure of reducing the percentage of young people ages 12 to 20 reporting past 30-day substance abuse, including alcohol use.

To learn about SAMHSA’s behavioral health goals and objectives for the next 3 years, download Leading Change 2.0: Advancing the Behavioral Health of the Nation 2015–2018.

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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.