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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 Parents’ 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 underscores the importance of screening for comorbidity in clinical treatment settings. “Characteristics and Drinking Patterns of Veterans With Alcohol Dependence With and Without Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” appeared in the February 2014 issue of Addictive Behaviors. The Department of Veterans Affairs VISN (Veterans Integrated Service Network) Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center; the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; and the Department of Defense funded this research.

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“Talk. They Hear You.” Avatar Guides Parents in Talking About Alcohol

“Talk. They Hear You.”, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s national underage drinking prevention media campaign, offers Start the Talk as a way for parents to improve their skills in talking with their children about the dangers of alcohol use. Start the Talk is similar to a video game:  Using avatars, parents practice bringing up the topic of alcohol, learn the questions to ask, and get ideas for keeping the conversation going.

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Among College Males, Driving More Likely After Marijuana Than Alcohol Use

The prevalence of underage male college students who drove after using marijuana was two times more than the number of underage male college students who drove after consuming alcohol, according to “Marijuana-Using Drivers, Alcohol-Using Drivers, and Their Passengers: Prevalence and Risk Factors Among Underage College Students.” This finding is consistent with previous studies indicating that driving after marijuana use is perceived as safer than after alcohol use and is done more frequently. Additionally, driving after drinking increased the risk of driving after marijuana use. Jennifer M. Whitehill, Ph.D., Frederick P. Rivara, M.D., M.P.H., and Megan A. Moreno, M.D., M.S.Ed., M.P.H., analyzed data from 315 first-year college students to measure the prevalence of substance-impaired driving among college students. The study appears online in the May 12, 2014, issue of JAMA Pediatrics. The National Institutes of Health funded this project. 

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Single Binge Drinking Episode Can Disrupt Immune System Health

One binge drinking episode can negatively affect the health status of healthy individuals, reports “Acute Binge Drinking Increases Serum Endotoxin and Bacterial DNA Levels in Healthy Individuals.” Scientists report that binge drinking can lead to toxic bacterial release from the gut and can contribute to toxins in the bloodstream. Authors Shashi Bala and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Medical School examined binge drinking’s effects on various body organs and immune system responses in healthy adults. The study’s conclusions appear online in the May 14, 2014, issue of PLOS ONE. The National Institutes of Health funded this research. According to Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, “Rates of binge alcohol use in 2012 were 0.9 percent among 12 or 13 year olds, 5.4 percent among 14 or 15 year olds, 15.0 percent among 16 or 17 year olds, and 30.5 percent among persons aged 18 to 20.”

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SAMHSA Launches Webisode Series, June 3, 2:00 p.m. EDT

On June 3, at 2:00 p.m. EDT, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will launch a new webisode series with “Supporting Young Veterans and Young Parents.” This webisode addresses the unique behavioral health needs of young veterans and young parents ages 18 to 25, and features Capt. Wanda Finch of Real Warriors and Aidan Bohlander of ZERO TO THREE. The live event will be available at http://bit.ly/RP7Ex0; questions can be submitted via Twitter (hashtag #KSOC-TV), the KSOC-TV Web portal, or telephone (1–800–527–1401). 

SAMHSA’s webisode series will provide viewers with an 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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Response to Alcohol Predicts Alcohol Use Disorder Symptoms

Young adult heavy social drinkers, including underage drinkers, who were highly sensitive to the stimulating and rewarding effects of alcohol reported more alcohol use disorder symptoms over time compared to those who reported fewer positive effects of alcohol, according to “Alcohol Challenge Responses Predict Future Alcohol Use Disorder Symptoms: A 6-Year Prospective Study.” The study’s findings are inconsistent with previous research that suggests that tolerance to alcohol leads to alcoholism. The University of Chicago’s researchers analyzed data from 190 non-alcohol-dependent social drinkers to examine the extent to which an individual’s response to alcohol predicted future drinking problems. The study recommended that prevention and intervention efforts should focus on natural brain reward pathways and processes. The findings appeared online in the May 15, 2014, issue of Biological Psychiatry. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism partially funded this project.

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Using Social Media for Your Town Hall Meeting Webinar Now Online

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration webinar Using Social Media for Your Town Hall Meetings is now available for on-demand viewing. This webinar describes social media terminology, types, and benefits as well as ways that organizations can use social media to promote, capture, share, and evaluate their Town Hall Meetings to prevent underage drinking. A question-and-answer summary and PDFs of slides from the webinar also are available.

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Resource for Preventing, Identifying Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

A recent resource about fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) is available from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s online store. A Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP): Addressing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), or TIP 58, assists providers and administrators with providing FASD-informed services. The TIP reviews alcohol screening tools and interventions designed to prevent FASD among pregnant women and women of childbearing age and also offers techniques to identify individuals with FASD and suggests customized treatment plans. FASD refers to a group of disorders caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. TIP 58 reports that “the prevalence of the full spectrum of FASD in the general population is estimated at 9.1 per 1,000 live births, though a review of in-school screening and diagnosis studies suggest that the national rate could potentially be closer to 50 per 1,000.” According to data from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center, FASD in babies born to mothers ages 15–20 costs the United States $1.3 billion a year.

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May 19 Webinar: Social Host Policies From Theory to Practice

Join Michael Sparks, M.A., Alcohol Policy Specialist and President of SparksInitiatives; Jim Kooler, Dr.P.H., Administrator of the California Friday Night Live Partnership; and Carol Mullen, Coordinator of the Carroll County (Maryland) Coalition Against Underage Drinking and Maryland’s Strategic Prevention Framework grant for the webinar Social Host Policies From Theory to Practice. Panelists will discuss ways that organizations might develop, promote passage of, and encourage public compliance with social host legislation. The effectiveness of social host state laws and local ordinances also will be described, as well as challenges to their passage and enforcement. A question-and-answer session will be included. For more information about the speakers and to register, visit www.stopalcoholabuse.gov/townhallmeetings/whatsnew/webinar_socialhosting.aspx.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is conducting this free webinar as part of National Prevention Week, which is from May 18 to 24, 2014.  The observance is distinguished by its daily health themes.  The health theme for May 19, 2014, is prevention of underage drinking.

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Underage Drinking Linked With Popularity Among White Adolescents

Alcohol consumption increased the popularity of white adolescents among their peers, reports “Alcohol Consumption and Social Network Ties Among Adolescents: Evidence From Add Health.” Additionally, white male adolescents appeared most at risk of using alcohol to gain popularity. Alcohol consumption did not correlate to increased popularity among Hispanic and African-American adolescents. Researchers suggest that effective underage drinking prevention interventions should focus on understanding what factors motivate adolescents to drink. Authors Mir M. Ali et al. analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescents Health to assess the extent to which underage drinking increased popularity among adolescents. The findings appear online in the May 2014 issue of Addictive Behaviors. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration funded this project.

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May 22: UDETC Webinar on Leveraging Data Sources for Prevention

The Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center (UDETC) will host a webinar on May 22, 2014, from 3:00–4:00 p.m., titled The Digital Age: Leveraging Data Sources to Address Underage Drinking. Sandeep Kasat, senior scientist at Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, and Pamela Sagness, Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws state coordinator, North Dakota, will:

  • Discuss how to use social networking platforms to collect data and how to use the data to create strategies to reduce youth access to alcohol;
  • Discuss relevant data that can help participants identify trends and develop effective environmental strategies for underage drinking prevention; and
  • Explore examples of what states and organizations are doing to educate the public about recent data and trends in underage drinking prevention.

Register online at www.udetc.org/audioconfregistration.asp. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention funds UDETC. 

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Racial Discrimination Linked With Alcohol-Related Problems

Discrimination predicted alcohol-related problems but not the level of alcohol consumption among a sample of male and female African-American students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), according to “A Mediational Model of Racial Discrimination and Alcohol-Related Problems Among African American College Students.” Additionally, the study suggests that discrimination may tamper with African-American students’ capacity for emotional and behavioral self-control, which may lead to more alcohol-related problems. Researchers from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and Howard University analyzed data from 741 undergraduate HBCU students to study the relationship among lifetime discrimination, alcohol use, and drinking problems. The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs featured this study in its March 2014 issue. The National Institutes of Health funded this research. 

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New Spanish Materials for National Prevention Week

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) introduces new Spanish-language web pages for National Prevention Week (NPW) 2014. NPW, which is from May 18 to 24, is “dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues.” The material is geared to encourage more Hispanic participation in NPW. The new Spanish-language web pages include promotional materials, directions for participating in SAMHSA’s “Yo elijo” (“I choose”) Project, web badges, and a 15-second NPW overview video in Spanish. NPW’s 2014 theme is Our Lives. Our Health. Our Future, which emphasizes the significant role that each of us plays in sustaining a healthy life and ensuring a productive future. Themes for each day of NPW follow:

  • Sunday, May 18: Prevention and Cessation of Tobacco Use;
  • Monday, May 19: Prevention of Underage Drinking;
  • Tuesday, May 20: Prevention of Prescription Drug Abuse and Marijuana Use;
  • Wednesday, May 21: Prevention of Alcohol Abuse;
  • Thursday, May 22: Prevention of Suicide; and
  • Friday, May 23: Promotion of Mental Health.

To learn more about NPW, visit http://www.samhsa.gov/semana-de-prevencion (Spanish) and http://www.samhsa.gov/prevention-week (English), or contact David Wilson at (240) 276-2588 or david.wilson@samhsa.hhs.gov.

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Binge Drinking Linked With Risks for Diabetes

Binge drinking during adolescence increased the risk of diabetes in young adulthood among a sample of 2,850 adolescents, according to “Alcohol Consumption During Adolescence and Risk of Diabetes in Young Adulthood.” Adolescents who consumed an average of five or more drinks per setting had a greater risk of diabetes compared to those who abstained from alcohol. Authors Wenbin Liang and Tanya Chikritzhs examined the relationship between alcohol consumption during adolescence and the risk of diabetes in young adulthood. The findings appeared online in the March 17, 2014, issue of BioMed Research International. The National Institutes of Health partially funded this study.

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Webinar on Sustaining OJJDP Tribal Youth Programs

On May 21, 2014, at 2 p.m. ET, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s (OJJDP) Tribal Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center will present “Using the Legacy Wheel Online Tool to Plan for Sustainability.” This 90-minute webinar will provide OJJDP’s tribal grantees with strategies on how to sustain their tribal youth programs once federal funding ends. Presenters will highlight the Legacy Wheel online model for sustainability, share a grantee example of applying the model, and explain how to implement the tool as a resource in planning how to sustain tribal youth programs over the long term. OJJDP awards youth program grants to federally recognized tribes to develop and implement culturally sensitive programs related to the prevention of delinquent behavior and behavioral health problems, including alcohol and substance abuse.  

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NASN Radio Interview Connects School Nurses With Prevention Tools

The National Association of School Nurses (NASN) has posted a radio interview with Frances Harding, Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, and Elizabeth Light, RN, M.S.N., NCSN, of the Sussex Technical High School in Georgetown, Delaware, to discuss underage drinking among students. Titled the Hidden Underage Drinking Problem: What School Nurses Can Do, this 12-minute interview explores the extent of the problem, effects of alcohol use on academic and social growth, and tools available to school nurses in addressing student alcohol use. Donna Mazyck, RN, M.S., NCSN, Executive Director of NASN, conducted the interview. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, 73,697 registered nurses work as school nurses, which gives some indication of the impact that school nurses can have on school-based prevention efforts.

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A Sad Song for Teens: Alcohol Brands in Pop Music

Drinking and binge drinking were more common among young people who liked or owned popular songs mentioning alcohol brand names, according to a new study reported in “Receptivity to and Recall of Alcohol Brand Appearances in U.S. Popular Music and Alcohol-Related Behaviors.” These mentions may serve as an alternate form of advertisement even if they are not sanctioned by alcohol industry businesses, notes Brian A. Primack, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh and corresponding author for the study. In their analysis of data obtained from 2,541 subjects, ages 15 to 23, Dr. Primack and his associates found an average exposure of 2.5 hours of music per day, with three to four brand mentions each hour, and they acknowledge that some teens may have greater or lesser exposure to such messages. The project was supported by the National Cancer Institute, and findings were published online on April 9, 2014, in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

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Resilience Can Help Children in Military Families Avoid Underage Drinking

Children in military families may have experiences that increase their risks for underage drinking; other substance abuse; and mental health problems, such as separation from parents due to deployment, the frequent moves that military life often involves, and the return of parents with physical or mental wounds. “Working Effectively With Military Families: 10 Key Concepts All Providers Should Know,” points out that most military families find resilience through a strong sense of purpose and deep loyalty to their loved ones, the military, and country and that they may be helped to sustain their resilience. The new factsheet was developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration–supported National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) and offers website addresses for resources relating to each of these 10 concepts. The Adolescence and Substance Abuse page of resources at NCTSN’s website has factsheets and other materials for and about this population.

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April Is Alcohol Awareness Month: Host a Town Hall Meeting

An April 7, 2014, news release from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism promoting April as Alcohol Awareness Month “encourages the public to dedicate this month to understanding how excessive drinking can affect health, to evaluating their own drinking habits, and to discovering the latest developments in treatments for alcohol use disorders.” The release notes also that about 7 percent of adolescents, ages 12 to 17, consumed five or more alcoholic drinks on the same occasion on at least one day in the past month. Reducing and preventing underage drinking is the focus of Town Hall Meetings sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, with events in many communities taking place in conjunction with the annual April observance. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) introduced Alcohol Awareness Month in 1987 as a yearly national observance held each April, and NCADD offers a 2014 Organizer’s Guide for participating communities.

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SAMHSA Administrator, Surgeon General To Launch 2014 Town Hall Meetings

On Friday, April 11, 2014, Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), will join Acting Surgeon General Rear Admiral Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H., and Amelia M. Arria, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland School of Public Health and The Maryland Collaborative to Reduce College Drinking and Related Problems, in an official launch of SAMHSA’s 2014 round of underage drinking prevention Town Hall Meetings. The event is being hosted by the university at its College Park, Maryland, campus for an invited audience of national, state, and local officials; faculty, staff, and students; and members of community-based prevention coalitions. Initiated in 2006, more than 8,000 Town Hall Meetings will have been held across the United States and in its territories by the end of 2014. These events:

  • Educate community members about underage drinking consequences;
  • Empower communities to use evidence-based approaches, including environmental prevention, to reduce underage drinking, and
  • Mobilize communities around underage drinking prevention initiatives at the local, state, and national levels.

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April 24 Webinar: Social Media in Underage Drinking Prevention

The basics of using social media as part of a community-based organization’s underage drinking prevention strategic plan will be reviewed in a free webinar on April 24, 2014, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. EDT. Examples of the use of social media to help prevent underage drinking and to support environmental strategies will be presented in Incorporating Social Media into Your Strategic Plan, to be hosted by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center. Preregistration is available online; to register by phone, call 1‐877‐335‐1287 toll free and follow the prompts. On March 12, 2014, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration presented a webinar on a related topic, Using Social Media for Your Town Hall Meetings; an archived version is expected to become available during April.

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New Coast Guard Regulations Address Underage Drinking

“I have concluded that there is a direct correlation between alcohol consumption by Coast Guardsmen under 21 years of age and readiness and proficiency of the force,” said U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp, in a March 14, 2014, announcement of new, standardized rules on the drinking age, alcohol consumption, and consequences for alcohol-related incidents. Setting 21 as the minimum legal drinking age for all active-duty members of the U.S. Coast Guard is included among a new slate of regulations introduced to increase accountability in the service and to reduce problems related to drinking and illegal drug use. ADM Papp has also led efforts to prevent sexual assault in the Coast Guard. On February 26, 2014, ADM Papp delivered a State of the Coast Guard address, stating, “We must succeed in preventing sexual assaults. And if we are truly going to succeed, we can no longer ignore the insidious link between the abuse of alcohol and sexual assault.”

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Energy Drinks + Alcohol Increasing Emergency Department Visits

As concern mounts over the increasing popularity of energy drinks among adolescents and young adults, as well as their using such products in combination with alcohol, a new report finds that emergency department visits by persons ages 12 and older involving energy drinks doubled between 2007 and 2011 (from 10,068 to 20,783). On March 13, 2014, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released “1 in 10 Energy Drink-Related Emergency Department Visits Results in Hospitalization.” Citing data from SAMHSA’s Drug Abuse Warning Network, the new report says that 8,652 of these 20,783 hospital visits in 2011 involved energy drinks in combination with alcohol or other drugs, with 8 percent serious enough to require hospital admission. In the February 2014 issue of the Journal of Addiction Medicine, “Energy Drinks, Soft Drinks, and Substance Use Among United States Secondary School Students reported a study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, finding that energy drink consumption among 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students was “strongly and positively associated with past 30-day alcohol, cigarette, and illicit drug use.”

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Role of Alcohol in Injury Deaths Significantly Underreported

Death certificates greatly underreported the role of alcohol in traffic deaths between 1999 and 2009 among all age groups, when compared with data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) database maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This is one of the findings reported in “State Variation in Underreporting of Alcohol Involvement on Death Certificates: Motor Vehicle Traffic Crash Fatalities as an Example.” The authors noted wide variation among states, but found that, across all states, more than 3 percent of death certificates listed alcohol as a contributing cause, while FARS figures indicated that 21.1 percent of those decedents had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more. An author of the study, Ralph W. Hingson, Sc.D., Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), believes that similar underreporting occurs with other types of accidental deaths, such as falls, drug poisoning/overdoses, and drowning, for which there are no mandatory blood alcohol testing or other reporting systems. The study was funded by an NIAAA contract. The findings appeared in the March 2014 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

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Underage Drinkers Differ From Adults in Alcohol Brand Preferences

Some alcohol brands are more popular among underage drinkers than with adults, suggesting that teens do not just mimic adult drinkers, but are influenced by other factors. The first study to compare brand-specific consumption of alcohol between underage youth and adults is described in “Differences in Alcohol Brand Consumption Between Underage Youth and Adults-United States—2012,” which was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Those who assume that underage drinking is little more than teens trying a beer or two may be surprised by the list of the 15 most popular alcohol brands favored by drinkers ages 13 to 20: Smirnoff malt beverages, Jack Daniel’s whiskeys, Mike’s malt beverages, Absolut vodkas, Heineken, Bacardi malt beverages, Grey Goose vodkas, Malibu rums, Keystone Light, Patron tequilas, Corona Extra Light, Jack Daniel’s cocktails, Burnett’s vodkas, Bud Ice, and Natural Ice beer. “Future research is urgently needed to understand to what extent other factors such as price, taste and marketing play a role in young people’s choices of these particular brands,” said study co-author David Jernigan, Director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The article describing study findings appeared online on January 31, 2014, in the journal Substance Abuse.

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Riding With an Intoxicated Driver Predicts Teen DWI

A new study of thousands of students in grades 10–12 finds that (1) many of them had ridden with an intoxicated driver in the past year and (2) those who had done so were “especially more likely” to drive while intoxicated (DWI) themselves in their senior year of high school. In their sample, researchers found that (1) 23 to 38 percent said they had ridden with a driver who was intoxicated within the past year and (2) 12 to 14 percent said they had driven while intoxicated from drugs or alcohol at least once within the past month. Results are reported in “Association Between Riding With an Impaired Driver and Driving While Impaired.” One of the authors, Bruce Simons-Morton, Ed.D., M.P.H., a senior investigator with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, commented, “It shouldn't be a surprise that you’re more likely to drink and drive if you've been around others who drink and drive and you ride with them.… But it's just wildly associated with the risk of driving while intoxicated.” The institute was joined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and others in support of the study. The article was published online on March 17, 2014, in the journal Pediatrics.

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Alcohol, Marijuana, Cigarettes Before Age 16 = Higher Disorder Rates

About one fourth of young adults ages 24 to 32 who had used alcohol, marijuana, and cigarettes before age 16 met the DSM-IV [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition] criteria for a substance use disorder, compared with only about 16 percent of young adults with such disorders who had used these same substances after age 16. These are among the findings reported in “Early Adolescent Patterns of Alcohol, Cigarettes, and Marijuana Polysubstance Use and Young Adult Substance Use Outcomes in a Nationally Representative Sample,” in the March 2014 issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism used data from Waves I (1994–1995) and IV (2008) of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to estimate the prevalence of various patterns of early adolescent use of alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana, individually and in combination. The researchers concluded that prevention programs should aim to encourage youth to delay use of all three problematic substances—alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana—since early combined use increased the likelihood of subsequent alcohol and other substance use disorders.

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29.8 Percent of Male Probationers 18 to 49 Had Alcohol Use Disorder

More than one quarter (29.8 percent) of male probationers ages 18 to 49 in 2012 had an alcohol use disorder, according to The NSDUH Report: Trends in Substance Use Disorders among Males Aged 18 to 49 on Probation or Parole, a March 6, 2014, report published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The report is based on data from SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Alcohol is a major factor in crimes leading to incarceration among adolescents as well as adults. For example, the Bureau of Justice Statistics cites 2002 figures indicating that 37.6 percent of prisoners convicted of violent crimes reported using alcohol at the time of the offense. The new SAMHSA NSDUH report cautions that failure to address alcohol and other substance abuse problems during incarceration may lead to rearrest and reincarceration.

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Young Sailors Are Target of New Navy Alcohol Campaign

Sailors involved in alcohol-related incidents face serious consequences, including:

  • Loss of rank, rate, or pay;
  • Separation from the U.S. Navy; and
  • Civilian consequences, such as fines and jail time.

This caution is included in Tips For Sailors, a component of the Navy’s new Keep What You’ve Earnedcampaign targeting sailors ages 17 to 24. Campaign materials include posters, separate factsheets for five target audiences (e.g., for sailors, commanders, and local communities), an implementation guide, a social media calendar, and video public serve announcements. The campaign seeks to encourage responsible drinking among sailors by celebrating the achievements in their Navy careers and aims to:

  • Inform sailors on what drinking responsibly means;
  • Educate sailors about the consequences of poor decisions regarding alcohol;
  • Promote and encourage alternatives to drinking;
  • Enable leadership to assist with sailor education; and
  • Create partnerships with Navy and civilian programs focused on the well-being of sailors.

Community-based organizations participating in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 2014 underage drinking prevention Town Hall Meetings are encouraged to partner with military programs and facilities in areas they serve.

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Early Onset Substance Abuse = Suicide Risk for Soldiers

Almost 85 percent of U.S. Army personnel who self-identified as having had a mental health disorder reported that the problem began prior to their joining the Army. For some of the disorders—including substance use disorder—an early age of onset occurred more among soldiers than among civilians. This discovery is among findings reported in one of three articles about risks for suicide and death in The Army Study To Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS), funded by the U.S. Army and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Army STARRS is the largest study of mental health risk and resilience ever conducted among U.S. military personnel. NIMH lists increased alcohol use as a risk factor for suicide, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has reported high levels of excessive drinking among military personnel. For example, according to NIAAA, 32.8 percent of U.S. Army personnel are heavy drinkers. The Army STARRS articles were published on March 3, 2014, in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

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Adolescent Alcohol Risks: Nurture vs. Nature

A recent study of more than 600 adoptive and biological sibling pairs concludes that environmental factors outweigh genetics as an influence on adolescent alcohol use. These findings are summarized in a brief News From the Field article in the February 2014 issue of NIAAA Spectrum, published online by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Analysis conducted by NIAAA grantees working on the Sibling Interaction and Behavior Study at the University of Minnesota focused on two major risk factors for adolescent drinking: (1) having friends who drink and otherwise get into trouble and (2) having positive expectations about drinking, such as hoping to feel more outgoing. Results showed that, overall, environmental factors had a greater effect than genetics on the associations among adolescents’ choice of peers, their expectations about alcohol, and their alcohol use. Details were reported in “Peer Deviance, Alcohol Expectancies, and Adolescent Alcohol Use: Explaining Shared and Nonshared Environmental Effects Using an Adoptive Sibling Pair Design,” published in the July 2013 issue of the journal Behavior Genetics.

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Family Support Helps LGBT Youth Avoid Alcohol, Harmful Behaviors

On February 18, 2014, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced the release of A Practitioner’s Resource Guide: Helping Families to Support Their LGBT Children. The purpose of the guide is to encourage practitioners to be proactive in meeting parents, families, and caregivers “where they are” to build an alliance to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) children and advance their health and well-being. The SAMHSA resource guide can help health care and social service practitioners provide greater insight to families on how they can support their children who are coming out or identifying themselves as LGBT. Included are positive steps that can be taken to support children and ways of avoiding or modifying behaviors that may be perceived as negative or harmful by LGBT youth. According to research cited by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2020, LGBT populations have the highest rates of tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use. Two other recent SAMHSA publications address underage drinking and other behavioral health concerns among LGBTs: LGBT Populations: A Dialogue on Advancing Opportunities for Recovery from Addictions and Mental Health Problems, published in December 2013, and Top Health Issues for LGBT Populations Information & Resource Kit (March 2012).

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College Drinking Unchanged Over 30 Years

Aaron White, Ph.D., Program Director ofCollege and Underage Drinking Prevention Research, andRalph Hingson, Sc.D., Director of the Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research, both at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), have written the article “The Burden of Alcohol Use: Excessive Alcohol Consumption and Related Consequences Among College Students.” Their work is a comprehensive review of recent findings, primarily relating to alcohol use and its consequences among college students ages 18 and older. In summary, they write, “Surprisingly, drinking levels have remained relatively stable on and around college campuses over the last 30 years, with roughly two out of five male and female students engaging in excessive, or binge, drinking. Excessive drinking results in a wide range of consequences, including injuries, assaults, car crashes, memory blackouts, lower grades, sexual assaults, overdoses and death. Further, secondhand effects from excessive drinking place non–binge-drinking students at higher risk of injury, sexual assaults, and having their studying disrupted.” The article is included in Volume 35, Number 2 of NIAAA’s journal, Alcohol Research: Current Reviews.

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Evidence Supports Age 21 Minimum Legal Drinking Age

The minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) of 21 is effective in lowering alcohol-related traffic crashes and alcohol use among youth concludes “Case Closed: Research Evidence on the Positive Public Health Impact of the Age 21 Minimum Legal Drinking Age in the United States.” The article addresses recommendations to lower the legal drinking age promoted by The Amethyst Initiative. Boston University researchers William DeJong, Ph.D., and Jason Blanchette, M.P.H., analyzed peer-reviewed journal articles written about the age 21 MLDA’s effectiveness and its impact on the nation’s public health. They found that the age 21 MLDA protected against alcohol and other drug use dependence, negative birth outcomes, and deaths due to suicides and homicides later in life, in addition to reducing alcohol-impaired crashes involving young drivers. Said DeJong, “Some people assume that students are so hell-bent on drinking, nothing can stop them. But it really is the case that enforcement works.” On the basis of their review, DeJong and Blanchette urge college and university leaders to accept that the age 21 MLDA saves lives and is unlikely to be overturned. The findings appear online in the 2014 issue of Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

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February 26 Webinar on Suicide Prevention in Vulnerable Populations

On February 26, 2014, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. ET, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s National Center for Youth in Custody will present the webinarReducing the Risk of Suicide with Vulnerable Populations. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth ages 10–18 and the leading cause of death for youth in confinement. Risk factors for suicidal thinking and behavior—including psychiatric disorders, underage drinking and other substance abuse disorders, physical abuse, neglect, and trauma—are much more common for youth in the juvenile justice system. A May 13, 2010, report, from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Drug Abuse Warning Network, found that alcohol was involved in 11.4 percent of emergency department visits for drug-related suicide attempts among youth ages 12 to 17 during 2008. The February 26 webinar will identify risks for suicide among youth in custody and effective prevention and intervention strategies for responding to suicidal behaviors. Registration is free.

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Webinar Series Looks at Behavioral Health Among Girls

On February 25, 2014, Growing Up Girl: Adolescent Development and the Unique Issues Facing Girls will take place from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. ET, as the first in a six-part Girls Matter! webinar series examining girls’ behavioral health issues. The gap between the rates of adolescent girls and boys who drink alcohol appears to be closing. The Girls Matter! webinars are being presented by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SAMHSA has announced the following 2014 dates and titles for the sessions in the webinar series:

February 25Growing Up Girl: Adolescent Development and the Unique Issues Facing Girls;
March 13Girl in the Mirror: Behavioral Health Challenges of Adolescent Girls;
April 22Girls and Substance Use: Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities;
May 20Digital Girls: Confession, Connection, and Disconnection;
June 10Sanctuary and Supports for Girls in Crisis; and
July 24The Power of Youth Development and Recovery Supports.

The 2013 Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking notes that drinking rates of female youth are converging with those of male youth and finds that younger girls (e.g., eighth graders) now exhibit rates of drinking, binge drinking, and getting drunk similar to rates for adolescent males (Monitoring the Future National Survey Results on Drug Use, 1975–2011: Volume I, Secondary School Students). Registration for the February 25, 2014, SAMHSA webinar is free.

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Guides to Evidence-Based Underage Drinking Prevention Programs

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has relaunched its Model Programs Guide (MPG), an online resource of more than 180 evidence-based prevention, intervention, and re-entry programs for juvenile justice practitioners, policymakers, and communities. Many programs appearing in the Substance Abuse Programs list target underage drinking specifically; others are designed to prevent a broad range of behavioral problems often associated with the use of alcohol among children and adolescents. The OJJDP resource has information on program implementation, literature reviews, and resource links. Some of the programs in the OJJDP’s MPG may be found in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices, as well.

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2013 Alcohol Prevention Policies, Practices Status Reports Available

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has posted 2013 Prevention Status Reports (PSRs) for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. These reports present the status of public health policies and practices designed to prevent or reduce important public health problems, including excessive alcohol use and other topics related to the well-being of underage drinkers. Similar information is publicly available in other locations, but is widely dispersed and can be hard for decisionmakers to find and understand. The PSRs pull together this information in a simple, easy-to-use format. Policies and practices reported in the PSRs were selected because they were:

  • Supported by systematic review(s) of scientific evidence of effectiveness (e.g., The Guide to Community Preventive Services);
  • Explicitly cited in a national strategy or national action plan (e.g., Healthy People 2020); or
  • Recommended by a recognized expert body, panel, organization, study, or report with an evidence-based focus (e.g., Institute of Medicine).

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Protective Behavioral Strategies Reduce Future Alcohol Use, Consequences

An increased use of manner of drinking (MOD) strategies decreased the likelihood of future alcohol use and alcohol-related consequences among college students, according to A Cross-Lagged Panel Model Examining Protective Behavioral Strategies: Are Types of Strategies Differentially Related to Alcohol Use and Consequences? MOD is one type of protective behavioral strategies (PBS), which are methods that can be used to lower the risk of alcohol-related consequences. MOD changes the way that a person drinks. However, not all of the three types of PBS were effective at lowering alcohol risk among college students. Although the use of serious harm reduction strategies predicted fewer alcohol-related consequences, stopping/limiting drinking strategies did not predict future reported drinking or alcohol-related consequences. Researchers―Lucy E. Napper and colleagues at Loyola Marymount University―analyzed data from 338 college students to examine the extent to which increased use of PBS correlated to decreases in alcohol consumption and alcohol-related consequences. The findings appear online in the February 2014 issue of Addictive Behaviors. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this project.

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Poor Sleep Quality Linked With Alcohol Use Among College Students

Poor mental health predicted inadequate sleep quality, and inadequate sleep quality predicted alcohol use and alcohol-related consequences among college students. These were the conclusions reported in Mental Health, Sleep Quality, Drinking Motives, and Alcohol-Related Consequences: A Path-Analytic Model by Shannon R. Kenney, Ph.D., and colleagues at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California. Consistent with previous research, this study found no direct relationship between mental health and alcohol use among college students. However, poor mental health predicted factors (poor sleep quality and motivations to drink) that contributed to alcohol consumption among college students. The study examined the relationship among poor mental health, sleep problems, drinking motivations, and risky drinking among college students. The authors endorsed protective behavioral strategies, which are methods that can lower the risk of alcohol-related consequences, as an effective intervention to combat alcohol use among college students. The findings appeared in the November 2013 issue of Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this research.

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Mentoring Can Reduce Underage Drinking, Increase Youth Skills

Less use of alcohol and drugs is one of several benefits ascribed to mentoring in The Mentoring Effect: Young People’s Perspectives on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring. The new report, prepared by the nonprofit organization MENTOR, notes other benefits of mentoring, such as better school attendance, improved social skills and interactions with peers, more trusting relations and better communications with parents, and an increased chance of continuing on to higher education. The report was announced by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) in a recent OJJDP E-News, its news service e-mails. OJJDP provides an online listing of mentoring resources. Many community-based organizations participating in the 2014 underage drinking prevention Town Hall Meetings taking place nationwide with support from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offer mentoring programs. For example, several chapters of the California Friday Night Live Partnership, which trains and mentors young people to support underage drinking prevention efforts, have agreed to host youth-led Town Hall Meetings in their communities.

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February 26 Webinar: Healthy People 2020 Behavioral Health Progress

Frances M. Harding, Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, will be a panelist in a February 26, 2014, webinar to review the progress made in achieving the mental health and substance abuse objectives of Healthy People 2020. Underage drinking prevention is addressed in the substance abuse objectives for Healthy People 2020, a multiagency federal government project that set 10-year national health objectives for the United States and benchmarks for gauging progress in reaching them over time. Other panelists participating in Substance Use and Mental Disorders: Early Detection, Prevention, and Treatment – A Healthy People 2020 Progress Review Webinar are:

  • Howard Koh, M.D., M.P.H., Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services;
  • Rebecca Hines, M.H.S., Chief, Health Promotion Statistics Branch, National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
  • Philip Wang, M.D, Dr.P.H., Deputy Director, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health;
  • Jack Stein, Ph.D., Director, Office of Science Policy and Communications, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health; and
  • Connie Smith, Prevention Branch Manager, Substance Abuse Prevention Program
    Division of Behavioral Health, Kentucky Department for Behavioral Health.

Registrationfor the February 26 webinar is free. 

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New Behavioral Health Barometer of National, State Trends

Between 2008 and 2013, nearly two thirds (60.3 percent) of youth between the ages of 12 and 17 perceived no great risk from having five or more drinks once or twice a week. This finding is one of several related to underage drinking in Behavioral Health Barometer: United States, 2013 (Barometer), a new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The document provides data on various behavioral health topics, including rates of serious mental illness, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, and underage drinking and the percentages of persons seeking treatment for these disorders. The Barometer reports these data at the national level and for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia; its point-in-time and trend data reflect the status of and progress in improving key behavioral health indicators. “The Barometer is a dynamic new tool providing important insight into the ‘real world’ implications of behavioral health issues in communities across our nation,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., in a January 31, 2014, news release.

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White House Report Links Alcohol, Rape, and Sexual Assault

Alcohol’s frequent role in such sex crimes is included in the January 2014 report Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action from the White House Council on Women and Girls and the Office of the Vice President. The report summarizes recent data about rape and sexual assault in the United States, risks of being victims of these crimes, the cost of this violence (both to survivors and to our communities), and the limited response of the criminal justice system. Progress in combatting rape and sexual assault is discussed, and recommended additional actions are included. Data cited in the 2013 Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking find that approximately half of all reported and unreported sexual assaults among college students involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, victim, or both. Annually, an estimated 97,000 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.

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Pregaming More Common Among First-Year College Students

“About three out of four freshman and sophomore drinkers reported pregaming, and about one third of drinking days included pregaming,” reports Predictors and Consequences of Pregaming Using Day and Week-Level Measurements. Sometimes referred to as predrinking, or preloading, pregaming is the practice of consuming alcohol prior to a sporting event or social activity. Students pregamed more during the first week of the school year and on Fridays. The study also reports that among women, first-year students, and ethnic/racial minority students, pregaming was more likely to occur on drinking days. Researchers at Brown University—Nancy P. Barnett, Ph.D.; Lindsay M. Orchowski, Ph.D.; and Christopher W. Kahler, Ph.D.—and a researcher from State University of New York, Buffalo—Jennifer P. Read, Ph.D.—examined the practice of pregaming among college students during an academic year using a large scale longitudinal design. The authors recommend interventions that focus on first-semester freshmen, the group with the highest rates of pregaming incidences. The findings are discussed in the December 2013 issue of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. The research was supported in part by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

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Study Adds Support for Age 21 Minimum Legal Drinking Age

The current age 21 minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) in the United States has reduced alcohol consumption and related consequences. In contrast, lowering the MLDA may lead to increased rates of drinking and alcohol-related consequences: For example, after New Zealand lowered its MLDA from age 20 to age 18, drinking and alcohol-related consequences increased. These are among the conclusions of a study reported in A Comparison of the Responsible Drinking Dimensions Among Underage and Legal Drinkers: Examining Differences in Beliefs, Motives, Self-Efficacy, Barriers and Intentions. Adam E. Barry, Ph.D., and his associates set out to determine whether underage and legal drinkers, in a random sample, differed with regard to their alcohol-related behaviors, responsible drinking behaviors, and responsible drinking beliefs. They found that, compared to legal drinkers, underage drinkers reported (a) significantly less confidence to perform responsible drinking behaviors during their next drinking episode, (b) significantly more perceived barriers to responsible drinking, and (c) significantly lower behavioral intentions to perform responsible drinking behaviors the next time they consumed alcohol. The National Institutes of Health provided partial support for the study. The findings are discussed in the online Open Access article published on January 22, 2014, in the journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy.

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Drinker Self-Estimation Linked With Alcohol-Related Consequences

College students whose self-assessments of their alcohol use patterns were inaccurate reported experiencing more alcohol-related consequences compared to those who correctly estimated their type of drinking. These are some of the conclusions of a study reported in How Estimation of Drinking Influences Alcohol-Related Consequences Across the First Year of College by Brittney A. Hultgren, M.S., and colleagues at The Pennsylvania State University’s Prevention Research Center . Drinker type refers to how drinkers are characterized—light, social, nonproblem, or heavy drinker. The study suggests that those who underestimated their drinker type engaged in more risky drinking behavior, but were not aware of the associated consequences. Additionally, students who used protective drinking behavior methods were more likely to underestimate their drinker type. The Pennsylvania State University researchers analyzed data from 1,895 students to examine the extent to which estimation of drinker type is associated with the risk of experiencing alcohol-related consequences. The findings appear in the January 2014 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism supported this research.

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Recession Linked With Increased Drinking Among Americans

The recession in 2008–2009 was associated with heavy drinking among women and men, which included underage drinkers, according to Economic Loss and Alcohol Consumption and Problems During the 2008 to 2009 U.S. Recession. For the 18- to 29-year age group, consequences of the recession, such as job loss or trouble paying rent, were linked with negative drinking consequences. The report also notes that the recession was linked with monthly drunkenness, negative drinking consequences, and alcohol dependence among middle-age Americans. Researchers Nina Mulia et al. analyzed data from the 2009–2010 U.S. National Alcohol Survey to examine the relationship between the 2008–2009 recession and alcohol-related outcomes, such as volume of consumption, drinking to drunkenness, negative drinking consequences, and alcohol dependence. The findings were reported in the November 2013 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. This study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

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Updated Website for 2014 Underage Drinking Prevention Town Hall Meetings

The updated 2014 Town Hall Meetings website employs responsive design, which allows visitors to access content on any device that has a browser—a convenience for people on the go. During 2014, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is supporting a fifth round of Town Hall Meetings on underage drinking prevention and anticipating that more than 2,000 community-based organizations, including tribal organizations and college campuses, will participate. Thanks to the website’s responsive design, Town Hall Meeting planners and participants can interact with the website from their mobile devices as easily as from their desktop computers. The 2014 Meeting Locator Map uses Google Maps to pinpoint a user’s location and then display the locations of the nearest registered events.  An interactive map of state resources connects to state profiles, videos, and other information. Participating organizations can conveniently submit information and upload their Town Hall Meeting promotional materials and copies of their media coverage. SAMHSA’s 2014 theme for Town Hall Meetings is Our Town. Our Health. Our Future.

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New Study Finds No Safe Combination of Drinking and Driving

“There appears to be no safe combination of drinking and driving—even minimally ‘buzzed’ drivers pose increased risk to themselves and to others” is one of the conclusions of new research reported in Official Blame for Drivers With Very Low Blood Alcohol Content: There Is No Safe Combination of Drinking and Driving. The study’s authors urge U.S. legislators to reduce the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit, perhaps to 0.05, which is a measure they believe would be likely to reduce injuries and save lives. Using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatal Analysis Reporting System, David Phillips and his colleagues at the University of California, San Diego found that drivers with a BAC of 0.01, well under the current legal limit of 0.08, were 46 percent more likely to be officially and solely blamed for a crash than were the sober drivers with whom they collided. The findings appeared online in the January 7, 2014, issue of Injury Prevention. In 2012, alcohol-impaired driving contributed to 31 percent of the 33,561 deaths from car crashes, reports 2012 Motor Vehicle Crashes: Overview, a November 2013 Traffic Safety Facts Research Note issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Virtual Threats—Real-World Underage Drinkers

A December 2013 report issued by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, Real Crimes in Virtual Worlds, addresses threatening behaviors exhibited by youth in online video games, virtual worlds, and social networks that pose real-world threats to children and teens. These online behaviors include bullying, threats, harassment, stalking, and abuse. The report identifies strategies for detecting and preventing online threats and provides resources. “Bullying is linked to many negative outcomes including impacts on mental health, substance use, and suicide,” according to the government’s StopBullying.gov web portal on bullying prevention. Such outcomes may be shared by both the victims of bullying and the bullies themselves: “Kids who bully are more likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs in adolescence and as adults,” StopBullying.gov states.

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NIDA Releases New Guide to Adolescent Alcohol, Drug Treatment

Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Research-Based Guide was released on January 23, 2014, in conjunction with the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA) National Drug Facts Week, January 27 to February 2, 2014. The new NIDA guide offers help for parents, health care providers, and substance abuse treatment specialists who treat teens with substance abuse problems. A National Institutes of Health news release about the new publication notes that “Teens abuse different substances, experience different consequences, and are less likely to seek treatment on their own because they may not want or think they need help.” The introduction to the new publication notes that almost 70 percent of high school students have tried alcohol, 50 percent have taken an illegal drug, nearly 40 percent have smoked a cigarette, and more than 20 percent have used prescription drugs for a nonmedical purpose; these figures are based on results from NIDA’s 2013 Monitoring the Future Survey.

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Low-Cost Interventions Can Reduce College Underage Drinking

Colleges should consider assessing alcohol risk among all new freshmen and providing multifaceted interventions for those who report drinking, say authors of a new systematic review of more than 40 studies documenting 62 interventions. According to the study’s lead author, Brown University psychiatry and human behavior professor Lori Scott-Sheldon, Ph.D., “… small effect sizes mean that any given person may change just a little as a result of an intervention, but when we expand the effects to the whole freshman class we would expect prevention programs like those we reviewed to have a public health impact.” Dr. Scott-Sheldon and her team conclude that the broad efficacy of interventions, combined with the relative low cost and ease of delivering them, mean that colleges have worthwhile resources at their disposal to make a greater impact on freshman drinking. Their review findings are reported in Efficacy of Alcohol Interventions for First-Year College Students: A Meta-Analytic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials, published online on January 20, 2014, in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. The project was supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

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Parent’s No Alcohol Rule Can Make Teen Parties Fun and Safe

Parental responsibility is the key to a fun and safe party, according to A Parent’s Guide to Teen Parties, highlighted in a January 14, 2014, MedlinePlus e-mail. The guide presents facts about alcohol, criminal and civil liabilities of adults in underage drinking cases, and key points for planning an alcohol-free social gathering for adolescents. One key point is for parents to set party rules, as well as their expectations, and then discuss them with their teen before the party. Rules should include the following:

  • No tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs are allowed;
  • No one can leave the party and then return;
  • Lights are left on at all times; and
  • Certain rooms of the house are off-limits.

A Parent’s Guide to Teen Parties was issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2010 and updated in 2013. MedlinePlus is a service of the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. More tips to help parents and other caregivers prevent underage drinking are available from “Talk. They Hear You.”, a campaign sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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Surgeon General’s Call to Action Linked With Underage Drinking Declines

Strategies recommended by the U.S. Surgeon General to reduce underage drinking have shown promise when put into practice, according to New Research Findings Since the 2007 Surgeon General’s Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking: A Review. Reductions in underage drinking rates and traffic-related deaths have continued since the 2007 release of The Surgeon General’s Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking.The new study notes that we now know more about the effects of early-onset alcohol use, parents providing alcohol to children, and effects of alcohol on the brain. Additionally, environmental strategies, such as use/lose laws, social host liability, internal possession laws, graduated driver licensing, and night-driving restrictions, have lowered traffic deaths among teens. Researchers Ralph Hingson, Sc.D., and Aaron White, Ph.D., analyzed trends in underage drinking, related traffic fatalities, consequences, social norms, and interventions designed to combat underage drinking since publication of the Surgeon General’s report. The findings appear online in the January 2014 issue of Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this project.

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2013 Report to Congress on Underage Drinking, With State Reports