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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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April 14 Webinar: Suicide Prevention in Indigenous Communities

April 14 Webinar: Suicide Prevention in Indigenous Communities

 

Underage drinking is a common risk factor for suicide, the second leading cause of mortality among rural indigenous youth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Injury Control Research Center for Suicide Prevention (ICRC-S) will host a free webinar addressing suicide prevention challenges in this population. Presenters will also identify some evidence-based interventions and describe promising approaches being developed in a rural Alaska region that build on indigenous community-level support systems and service-system infrastructure. The ICRC-S webinar will be presented on Monday, April 14, 2014, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. PDT. Registration is now open; registrants will receive a copy of webinar slides following the event and information for accessing an archived copy of the presentation.

 

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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 Earned campaign 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 of College and Underage Drinking Prevention Research, and Ralph 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 webinar Reducing 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.

Registration for 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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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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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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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

Youth ages 12 to 17 reported significant declines in both past-30-day alcohol consumption and binge drinking between 2004 and 2011. However, in 2011, 36.6 percent of 20-year-olds reported binge drinking, and the rates of male and female underage drinking are converging. These are among the key findings in the new 2013 Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking, released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in December. Included are reports on the prevalence and nature of underage drinking; national efforts and best practices to address the problem, including enforcement activities; and prevention programs. Additional features of the online report are a dropdown menu of policy summaries and a map providing access to state-specific reports.

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January 29 Webinar: Alcohol Abuse and Suicide

The Intersection of Suicide Research and Public Health Practice: Alcohol Abuse and Suicide, the first webinar in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Injury Control Research Center for Suicide Prevention’s 2014 webinar series, will take place on Wednesday, January 29, from 2:00–3:00 p.m. ET. A 30-minute online discussion forum will be held immediately after the webinar. The webinar and discussion forum, designed for researchers and state or local practitioners in injury or suicide prevention, will include information on:

• Acute use of alcohol (AUA) immediately before suicidal behavior;

• More chronic alcohol use disorder (AUD) and suicidal behavior;

• A brief summary of what is known about AUA and AUD and suicidal behavior; and

• A discussion of research that is needed to inform intervention efforts.

Free registration is now open. A May 13, 2010, report, from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Drug Abuse Warning Network, named suicide as the third leading cause of death among adolescents, ages 12 to 17. This report also found that alcohol was involved in 11.4 percent of emergency department visits for drug-related suicide attempts in this age group during 2008.

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College Study: Aggressive Personalities Linked With Alcohol Problems

College students who have traits for aggressive personalities and an inability to cope with stressors were more likely to engage in problematic drinking, reports Trait Aggression and Problematic Alcohol Use Among College Students: The Moderating Effect of Distress Tolerance. The study suggests that having negative emotions alone did not contribute to problematic drinking but rather that the inability to cope with negative emotions contributes to problematic drinking. Authors Bina Ali et al. suggest that students may use alcohol to cope with their negative emotions. The study analyzed data from 646 college students to examine the extent to which trait aggression, which is the inclination toward violence/aggression, and distress tolerance, which is the ability to withstand stressors, contributed to problematic drinking among college students. The study’s findings appeared online in the December 2013 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. The National Institutes of Health funded this project.

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Perceptions & Drinking of African-American Men Who Have Sex With Men

Perceptions that peers were not only drinking but also drinking in high quantities were linked with increased and excessive alcohol consumption among underage and adult African-American (AA) men who have sex with men (MSM), according to An Examination of Associations Between Social Norms and Risky Alcohol Use Among African American Men Who Have Sex With Men. The findings suggest that correcting and changing perceptions about problematic alcohol consumption among AA MSM would be an effective intervention to reduce drinking prevalence in this population. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health studied perceptions about peer alcohol use and their correlation to problematic drinking among a sample of AA MSM in Baltimore, Maryland. The findings appear online in the January 1, 2014, issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The National Institutes of Health funded this project.

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New Distance Learning Course: Underage Drinking Source Investigations

Source investigations (a law enforcement procedure that identifies how and from whom minors obtain alcoholic beverages) are the subject of a new 2-hour distance learning training offered by the Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center, a service supported by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Participants will:

  • Learn the scope and problem of underage drinking;
  • Realize the scope and problem of over-service of alcohol to adults who are of age;
  • Know why it’s important to conduct source investigations;
  • Understand the necessary and logical steps involved in conducting source investigations; and
  • Recognize the outcomes of a good source investigation.

Source investigations support efforts to hold adults who violate underage drinking laws accountable and help law enforcement and community organizations select and implement strategies to further reduce youth access to alcohol. OJJDP is a member of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking and hosted an archived May 14, 2013, webinar about the role of the justice system in underage drinking prevention.

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38 Million 18 and Over Drink Too Much, But Don’t Tell Doctors

 Thirty-eight million Americans, ages 18 and over, including numerous underage drinkers, drink too much, but few of them discuss alcohol with their doctors or other health care professionals. Most do not have alcoholism, but their drinking practices put them and others at risk for harm. According to Vital Signs: Communication Between Health Professionals and Their Patients About Alcohol Use—44 States and the District of Columbia, 2011, released on January 7, 2014, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 15.7 percent of those ages 18 and older have ever talked with a health care professional about their drinking. More young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 (27.9 percent) have discussed alcohol use with a health care professional, but only 15.9 percent of them have done so in the past year. The study’s findings were announced by Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of CDC, during a press briefing. Dr. Frieden pointed out that alcohol screening is quick, simple, and effective and that just 15 minutes of counseling (or even less in some cases) can lead to significant reductions in problem drinking. He said that under the Affordable Care Act, most Americans are now eligible for alcohol screening and brief intervention (SBIRT) without a copayment; he urged both consumers and health care professionals to make wider use of SBIRT. For health care professionals working with youth between the ages of 9 and 18, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has developed Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention for Youth: A Practitioner’s Guide. This free, empirically based screen consists of just two questions, which health care professionals can easily incorporate into practice across the care spectrum.

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Alcohol Plays Strong Role in Girls’ Delinquent Behavior

“Many girls involved in other delinquent behaviors also used alcohol and/or drugs” is one conclusion of a December 2013 report, Developmental Sequences of Girls’ Delinquent Behavior. This report was issued by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention as the latest in its Girls Study Group: Understanding and Responding to Girls’ Delinquency series of bulletins. Underage drinking was by far the most prevalent among 11 types of delinquent behavior reported in one of the report’s two data sources, the Denver Youth Survey, a longitudinal study of problem and prosocial behavior in youth ages 7 to 17. The multisite Fast Track Project, the other data source, examined antisocial behavior of children in grades 4–11 and ranked alcohol use among the top three most prevalent delinquent behaviors among girls. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health finds 24 percent of girls between the ages of 12 and 20 reporting current alcohol use, with 14 percent engaging in binge drinking and 3.4 percent classified as heavy drinkers.

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Binge Drinking Linked With College Dating Violence

Binge drinking increased the likelihood of college male students committing all three types of intimate partner violence (physical, psychological, and sexual), according to the article Acute Alcohol Use Temporally Increases the Odds of Male Perpetrated Dating Violence: A 90-Day Diary Analysis. Consistent with previous studies, heavy drinking days and the number of drinks consumed increased the odds of physical and sexual violence against intimate partners. Ryan C. Shorey and colleagues analyzed data from college male students who consumed alcohol within the last month and were currently dating. The authors investigated the correlation among alcohol use, marijuana use, and college men’s likelihood to commit dating violence. The findings appear in the January 2014 issue of Addictive Behaviors. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this research.

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Most Underage Drinkers Get Alcohol From Friends, Family

“What many do not realize is that most teens who drink get the alcohol from older friends and family, or by taking it from a home without permission,” according to Jessica Rich, Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection. “So, reducing easy teen access to alcohol from social sources is critical.” Rich’s statement was included in a December 5, 2013, FTC press release announcing that FTC’s underage drinking prevention website, www.WeDon’tServeTeens, had been updated in time for the 2013 holiday season. The website provides information, in English and Spanish, on teen drinking and on what to say to friends and neighbors about serving alcohol to teens, links to state laws, and tips on enlisting the support of others to fight underage alcohol use. It features free downloadable materials, including posters and transit art, radio public service announcements, and web banners and buttons. The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, prepared for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, reported that parents, guardians, or other adult family members provided the last alcohol to 23.0 percent of nonpaying underage drinkers.

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January 23, 2014, Webinar—Underage Drinking Laws

Underage Drinking Laws: How are we doing and where are we going? is the title of a 1-hour webinar to be hosted by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center (UDETC) on Thursday, January 23, 2014, beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET. Presenters will provide an overview of national efforts to address underage drinking using the alcohol regulation system(s). They will also share effective strategies and discuss how law enforcement agencies are adapting and expanding efforts to reach the broadest possible audience while building upon past enforcement practices. A Register Now button at the bottom of the UDETC announcement of the webinar opens a form for free registration.

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Underage Drinking Snowballs During December

On an average December day, nearly 11,500 young people between the ages of 12 and 17 years old start drinking alcohol, according to a new holiday-themed infographic posted in the Resources pages of the StopAlcoholAbuse.gov web portal maintained on behalf of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking. The statistic was included in a July 2012 report issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), based on an analysis of data from SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, that found that initiation of alcohol use among those younger than 18 occurred at the highest levels in December, June, and July.

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Low Self-Esteem, Self-Regulation Linked With Early Alcohol Initiation

Low scores on self-esteem and self-regulation indicators and greater exposure to favorable alcohol use socialization increased the likelihood of middle school students sipping alcohol, according to “Attributes That Differentiate Children Who Sip Alcohol From Abstinent Peers.” Additionally, higher scores on self-esteem indicators reduced the likelihood of their sipping alcohol by 50 percent. Christine Jackson and colleagues analyzed data from 1,050 mothers and their third-grade children to examine the extent to which children’s competencies regarding self-esteem and self-regulation influenced sipping behavior. The study’s results appeared in the November 2013 issue of Journal of Youth and Adolescence. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this project.

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Bipolar Teens at Risk for Underage Drinking, Drug Abuse

Approximately one in three teens with bipolar disorder developed substance abuse for the first time, during 4 years of followup among 167 youth, ages 12–17 years, in the Course and Outcome of Bipolar Youth (COBY) study. Repeated experimentation with alcohol by the youth at the start of the study was the strongest predictor of later substance abuse, according to a group of researchers led by Benjamin Goldstein, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Toronto and the University of Pittsburgh. The team found that 32 percent of adolescents in the COBY study sample developed abuse of or dependence on alcohol or drugs, on average 2.7 years from the start of the study. Other factors present at the start of the study also predicted later alcohol or drug problems: oppositional defiant disorder, panic disorder, family history of substance abuse, low family cohesiveness, and absence of antidepressant treatment. Over half (54.7 percent) of teens with three or more risk factors developed substance abuse, compared to only 14.1 percent of teens with zero to two risk factors. The study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and is reported in Predictors of First-Onset Substance Use Disorders During the Prospective Course of Bipolar Spectrum Disorders in Adolescents, published in the October 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

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Energy Drinks Contribute to Bingeing Among College Students

College students who consumed energy drinks were more likely to binge drink and experience more alcohol-related consequences, reports “Energy Drinks and Alcohol:  Links to Alcohol Behaviors and Consequences Across 56 Days.” Additionally, students consumed alcohol on 31.6 percent of the days when they used energy drinks. Those who consumed energy drinks also spent more hours drinking and had higher estimated blood alcohol content. Authors Megan E. Patrick, Ph.D., and Jennifer L. Maggs, Ph.D., analyzed survey data from 508 college students to study the short-term alcohol-related consequences coupled with energy drink use. The findings appear online in the December 2013 issue of Journal of Adolescent Health. The study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

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National Survey Reports Historic Declines in Underage Drinking

“Alcohol use and binge drinking are continuing their long term declines in 2013, reaching their lowest points in the history of the study.… The 30-day prevalence of alcohol use declines in all three grades in 2013, dropping 0.8, 1.9 and 2.3 percentage points in grades 8, 10 and 12. The 12th-grade decline is statistically significant as is the decline for the three grades combined,” states a University of Michigan press release announcing results of the 2013 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, conducted on behalf of the National Institute on Drug Abuse since 1975. The new MTF survey results were reported during a December 18, 2013, teleconference and are based on responses from 45,449 students from 395 participating public and private schools. Other key alcohol findings show continuing prevention gains. For example, the 2-week prevalence rates for binge drinking are now at 5.1 percent for grade 8, 13.7 percent for grade 10, and 22.1 percent for grade 12—down from peak levels by about six tenths, four tenths, and three tenths, respectively. On a cautionary note, the 2013 MTF does show that the perceived risk of binge drinking has actually fallen slightly in all three grades in 2013, even as disapproval of this behavior continues a gradual increase in the upper grades and the perceived availability of alcohol continues to decline.

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State Alcohol Policies Prevent Binge Alcohol Use

An evaluation of 29 alcohol policies reveal that policies that scored high on a newly developed Alcohol Policy Scale (APS) protected against binge drinking in the United States, according to A New Scale of the U.S. Alcohol Policy Environment and Its Relationship to Binge Drinking. The APS measures the effectiveness of state-level alcohol policies, and the study correlated APS scores to state-level adult binge drinking prevalence in different states. Researchers Timothy S. Naimi, M.D., M.P.H., et al. analyzed binge drinking prevalence data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System surveys to examine the extent to which APS scores predicted binge drinking prevalence. Much of adult bingeing may be rooted in underage drinking: According to the Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, “adults aged 21 or older who had first used alcohol at age 14 or younger were more than 7 times as likely to be classified with alcohol dependence or abuse than adults who had their first drink at age 21 or older.” The findings appear online in the January 2014 issue of American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The National Institutes of Health funded this project.

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Communities That Care Effective in Preventing Alcohol Initiation

The Communities That Care (CTC) prevention system is effective in preventing alcohol and tobacco use, delinquency, and violence from 5th through 12th grades, reports Youth Problem Behaviors 8 Years After Implementing the Communities That Care Prevention System: A Community-Randomized Trial. However, the CTC system was not effective in preventing current alcohol and tobacco use, delinquent behavior, or violence in the 12th grade. The CTC system is grounded in proven prevention science that promotes healthy youth development. Researchers J. David Hawkins, Ph.D., et al. analyzed data from a panel of 4,407 5th graders surveyed through the 12th grade. The study’s findings appear online in the December 9, 2013, issue of JAMA Pediatrics. The National Institute on Drug Abuse funded this project.

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Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities Increased in 2012

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 (NHTSA). Additionally, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities increased by 4.6 percent. NHTSA reported in Traffic Safety Facts: Alcohol Impaired Driving that, in 2011, 20 percent of drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher were between the ages of 16 and 20. On the No Alcohol page at Parents Central, NHTSA says, “Underage drinking is a serious health problem for teens. What's more, climbing behind the wheel of a car after drinking alcohol increases the chances your teen will crash.”

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December 19 Webinar—Talking to Kids About Alcohol, Drug Risks

Learn more about intervention research and intervention strategies featured in the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA) Family Checkup:  Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse at a free upcoming webinar. This online resource, which helps parents develop research-based skills to keep their children alcohol and drug free, will be discussed during the webinar on Thursday, December 19, 2013, from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. (ET). Tom Dishion, Ph.D., of Arizona State University, will provide an interactive overview of his intervention research and intervention strategies significant to youth development. To register, click here. Once registered, you will receive an e-mail confirming your registration with the information you will need to join the webinar. The webinar is being cohosted by NIDA and the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy.

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New Activity Guide To Stop Underage Alcohol/Drug-Impaired Driving

Noting that alcohol use continues to be widespread among teens, with more than half (54 percent) of 12th graders reporting having been drunk at least once, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has released a new Teen Drugged Driving: Parent, Coalition and Community Group Activity Guide for this December’s National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. In his fourth annual proclamation about the observance, President Barack Obama stated, “During National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, we dedicate ourselves to saving lives and eliminating drunk, drugged, and distracted driving.” Also referred to by ONDCP as the Drugged Driving Toolkit, the 16-page activity guide has comprehensive information about the effects of alcohol and both illicit and prescription drugs on adolescent drivers. Sample promotional materials and step-by-step instructions for conducting a Drugged Driving Prevention Night event and a Drugged Driving Prevention Poster Contest are included. Recent research about alcohol- and drug-impaired driving is summarized on ONDCP’s Drug Driving page.

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New Infographics Web Page Highlights Underage Drinking Data

“Students who binge drink (5+ drinks/occasion) are 3 times more likely than those who don’t to get mostly Ds and Fs on their report cards.” This is one of the facts from the federal data sources highlighted in a new Underage Drinking Can Detour Academic Success infographic developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The SAMHSA infographic is available on a new Infographics page added to the StopAlcoholAbuse.gov web portal for information and resources, established by the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking (ICCPUD). Infographics illustrating underage drinking data that were created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute on Drug Abuse also are featured; additions from ICCPUD member agencies will be added as they become available.

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Avatars Prepare Parents To Talk With Children About Alcohol

A new 15-minute interactive tool for parents has been added to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) 2013 “Talk. They Hear You.” Campaign to prevent underage drinking. The Mom, The Son, The Neighbor, and Your Coach are four avatars appearing in segments of the Start the Talk: A Parent Learning Tool, which provides users with options for how each of the brief scenarios develops. The interactive tool allows parents to practice having discussions about alcohol with their children, respond to typical questions that kids bring up when grownups talk to them about alcohol, and learn ways for keeping the dialogue going. “Talk. They Hear You.” was launched on May 13, 2013, and one of the original materials for parents stated: “If you talk to your kids directly and honestly, they are more likely to respect your rules and advice about alcohol use. When parents know about underage alcohol use, they can protect their children from many of the high-risk behaviors associated with it.” The SAMHSA Campaign also offers a Partner Toolkit of resources to facilitate local support and participation.

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Drinking Leads to Less Condom Use Among Female College Students

First-year college women who consumed alcohol prior to engaging in sexual intercourse were less likely to use condoms, according to a recent study. Additionally, the study, Do Alcohol and Marijuana Use Decrease the Probability of Condom Use for College Women?, noted that women who smoked marijuana were also less likely to use condoms. Authors Jennifer Walsh, Ph.D., et al., analyzed data from 1,856 sexual intercourse events reported by 297 first-year female college students to examine the effect of alcohol and marijuana use on condom use. The findings were reported online in the October 28, 2013, issue of Journal of Sex Research. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this project. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, “Among full-time college students in 2012, 60.3 percent were current drinkers, 40.1 percent were binge drinkers, and 14.4 percent were heavy drinkers.”

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Compliance Checks Cut Alcohol Sales to Minors by 60 Percent

Compliance checks reduced the likelihood of stores selling alcohol to minors by 60 percent, reports the new study Do Alcohol Compliance Checks Decrease Underage Sales at Neighboring Establishments? The study also noted that compliance checks had a protective effect on neighboring establishments: These establishments reduced their sales to minors by more than 30 percent. Additionally, the positive effects of compliance checks include lessening the odds of stores selling alcohol to minors in both higher and lower alcohol establishment density areas. Darin J. Erickson, Ph.D., and colleagues investigated the effects of law enforcement compliance checks on the sale of alcohol to minors in neighboring establishments. The findings were reported in the November 2013 issue of Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this project. Alcohol compliance checks are a type of evidence-based environmental prevention that has been shown to prevent underage and excessive drinking.

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Tool To Help Parents Introduce Teens to Safe and Sober Driving

“In 2011, motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of death for 14–18 year olds in the U.S. That year, 2,015 teen drivers were involved in fatal crashes. Almost half (45%) of those teen drivers died in the crash.” These facts are given on one of the pages in Parents Central, a website created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to help parents introduce their teens to safe and sober driving. On the No Alcohol page at Parents Central, NHTSA says, “Underage drinking is a serious health problem for teens. What's more, climbing behind the wheel of a car after drinking alcohol increases the chances your teen will crash.” NHTSA urges Parents Central users to tell teens that underage drinking is illegal and can ruin lives, to never provide alcohol to teens, and to make the consequences of underage drinking clear to young people. Benefits of graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws, are explained in another area of Parents Central where a graphic illustrates this quote from a NHTSA evaluation of GDL: “Strong GDL programs can reduce the likelihood of a traffic crash for young drivers.” For 2011, NHTSA found that 20 percent of drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher were between the ages of 16 and 20.

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Competitiveness Linked With Increased Drinking Among Male College Athletes

The desire to win and be better than others contributed to increased alcohol consumption among male college athletes, according to a new study titled Sport-Related Achievement Motivation and Alcohol Outcomes: An Athlete-Specific Risk Factor Among Intercollegiate Athletes. The correlation between competiveness and alcohol was stronger during the off-season for male athletes. The study notes that an athlete’s competitive spirit shifted from participation in sports to activities such as drinking games during the off-season. Additionally, male athletes, as opposed to females, were more likely to view alcohol consumption as a competitive activity. Hence, competiveness was not a risk factor for female college students’ drinking; rather, it served as a protective factor. Authors Cameron C. Weaver et al. studied the sports-related achievement motivation and alcohol-related outcomes. The findings appear online in the December 2013 issue of Addictive Behaviors. The project was partially-funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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Caffeinated Alcoholic Beverages Popular Among Teens

Caffeinated alcoholic beverage (CAB) use is widespread among underage drinkers ages 13 to 18, as reported in The Use of Caffeinated Alcoholic Beverages Among Underage Drinkers: Results of a National Study. Among adolescent drinkers ages 13 to 15, 48.4 percent reported use of CABs, and 45.3 percent of those ages 16 to 18 used CABs in the past month; prevalence increased to 58.4 percent among 19- and 20-year-olds. As a result of CAB use, adolescent drinkers were more likely to consume larger quantities of alcohol, have more drinking days, and engage in binge drinking. Boston University and Johns Hopkins University researchers studied the prevalence of CAB use among precollegiate adolescent drinkers. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this project. The findings were published in the October 8, 2013, issue of Addictive Behaviors. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health,In 2012, about 9.3 million persons aged 12 to 20 (24.3 percent of this age group) reported drinking alcohol in the past month.”

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Body Image Linked With Binge Drinking Among Boys

A recent study found that boys who were extremely concerned with their physiques and used muscle-enhancing supplements to improve their physiques were more likely than their peers to use drugs and engage in frequent binge drinking. Additionally, boys who were preoccupied with their physiques but did not use supplements were also at an increased risk for binge drinking and drug use. Researchers Allison E. Field, Sc.D., et al. analyzed data from 5,000 teenage boys to assess the extent to which concerns about physique and male eating disorder symptoms contributed to risky behaviors, which included binge drinking and drug use. The findings were reported in Prospective Associations of Concerns About Physique and the Development of Obesity, Binge Drinking, and Drug Use Among Adolescent Boys and Young Adult Men, which appeared online in the November 4, 2013, issue of JAMA Pediatrics. The National Institutes of Health funded this research.

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Online Intervention Helps Parents Talk to Collegians About Alcohol

A pilot study showed that brief web-based normative feedback intervention is effective in encouraging parents to talk to their college-aged children about alcohol. Normative feedback, based on social norming theory, is a method to prevent alcohol misuse. Additionally, web-based normative feedback seemed to be effective in changing parents’ views about student drinking and other parents’ attitudes about alcohol consumption. Researchers Joseph W. LaBrie, Lucy E. Napper, and Justin F. Hummer analyzed data from 144 parents of college students to assess the impact of web-based social norms intervention on parents’ willingness to talk to their college-aged children about alcohol. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism provided financial support for this project. The study, Normative feedback for parents of college students: Piloting a parent based intervention to correct misperceptions of students' alcohol use and other parents' approval of drinking, appeared online in the September 11, 2013, issue of Addictive Behaviors.

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Higher State Cigarette Taxes Reduce Alcohol Consumption

Male smokers, including underage drinkers, who lived in states that increased statewide cigarette taxes consumed less alcohol and were less likely to binge drink, according to Increased cigarette tax is associated with reductions in alcohol consumption in a longitudinal U.S. sample. The study notes an 11 percent decrease in drinks per occasion and a 22 percent decrease in binge drinking frequency per year among male smokers. Statewide cigarette taxes also effectively reduced the amount of alcohol consumed among persons 50 and older. Researchers Kelly C. Young-Wolff et al. analyzed surveys conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), including the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, to examine the linkage between cigarette taxes and alcohol consumption. NIAAA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse funded this project. The findings appeared in the August 9, 2013, issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

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Mom’s Attitude Influences Latino College Student Drinking

Latino college students who have mothers with an accepting attitude toward alcohol use and who were exposed to favorable peer norms about alcohol consumption were more likely to drink and experience alcohol-related consequences. These findings were reported in Maternal and Peer Influences on Drinking Among Latino College Students. Researchers Lindsey Varvil-Weld et al. analyzed responses from 362 Latino college freshmen to examine the maternal impact on alcohol consumption and whether maternal influence curbed the effects of peers. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, “Among full-time college students in 2012, 60.3 percent were current drinkers, 40.1 percent were binge drinkers, and 14.4 percent were heavy drinkers.” The National Center for Education Statistics says that the percentage of Hispanic students enrolled in degree-granting institutions rose from 3 percent in 1976 to 13 percent in 2010. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded the new research. The findings appeared online in the October 9, 2013, issue of Addictive Behaviors.

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Verbal Development Linked With Teen Problem Drinking

In twins, earlier verbal development was linked with problem drinking during adolescence, as reported in Childhood Verbal Development and Drinking Behaviors from Adolescence to Young Adulthood: A Discordant Twin-Pair Analysis. The twin who developed faster verbally and whose parents believed to be advanced in language during elementary school was more likely to report problem drinking during adolescence. Additionally, the twin who learned to read first was more likely to consume more alcohol in young adulthood. Researchers Antti Latvala et al. analyzed data from two longitudinal population-based samples of families with twins to assess the extent to which childhood verbal development correlated with drinking behaviors in adolescence. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this project. The study’s results appeared online in the September 13, 2013, issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

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New Training To Prevent Teen Dating Abuse, Underage Drinking

Underage drinking puts teens at risk for dating abuse. Also, adolescents who are subjected to dating violence are more likely to engage in underage drinking than their peers who had not been involved in such incidents. Nearly 10 percent of U.S. adolescents are estimated to experience teen dating abuse annually. A new training toolkit, Preventing, Assessing, and Intervening in Teenage Dating Abuse—A Training for Specialized Instructional Support Personnel, has been developed with funding from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Healthy Students by the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments. The toolkit reviews characteristics of healthy and unhealthy dating, strategies for identifying and intervening in dating abuse, and guidance on norms and policies for schools. The training takes about 4.5 hours, and the toolkit includes a trainer’s guide, PowerPoint presentation, handouts, and a trainer feedback form.

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Eleven Percent of Teens Meet Alcohol/Drug Disorder Criteria

“About 11 percent of 13- to 18-year-olds have met the criteria for a lifetime alcohol or illicit drug use disorder,” including 4 percent of these teens between the ages of 13 and 14, according to Behavioral Health, United States, 2012. The publication is the latest in a series issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) every other year since 1980. The full report includes 3 analytic chapters and 172 tables. Table 32, for example, indicates that during 2001–2004, 4.6 percent of youth ages 13 to 18 had alcohol use disorders, while 9.2 percent of these teens had both an alcohol use disorder and a mental disorder. Based on 40 data sources, the new SAMHSA report offers comprehensive national-level statistical information on trends in private and public sector behavioral health services, costs, and clients. State-level data are included, along with information for special populations such as children, military personnel, nursing home residents, and incarcerated individuals.

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Fake IDs Linked With Student Alcohol Use Disorders

Students with fake identification (ID) cards, often using them to obtain alcohol, drank more over time and increased their risk for alcohol use disorder (AUD), as reported in False Identification Use Among College Students Increases the Risk for Alcohol Use Disorder: Results of a Longitudinal Study. Additionally, these students were more likely to increase the frequency and amount of alcohol consumed over time. Authors Amelia M. Arria et al. noted that 66.1 percent of the study’s participants used a fake ID at least once to get alcohol during college. The authors examined the association between the use of fake IDs to obtain alcohol and AUD. The results of the study appeared online in the October 17, 2013, issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse funded this project. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that, in 2012, among full-time college students ages 18 to 22, 60.3 percent were current drinkers, 40.1 percent were binge drinkers, and 14.4 percent were heavy drinkers.

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Alcohol References on Facebook Increase Among College Freshmen

The display of alcohol contents/references on Facebook increased significantly during the first year of college among incoming freshmen, according to Emergence and predictors of alcohol reference displays on Facebook during the first year of college. The study further reports that the freshmen who referred to alcohol on Facebook before enrolling in college were more likely to report drinking initiation prior to college. Researchers Megan A. Moreno et al. examined the display of alcohol content on Facebook during the first year of college at two major universities. The study appears in the January 2014 issue of Computers in Human Behavior. The National Institutes of Health funded this project.

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Motivational Interviewing Reduces Drinking Among College Freshmen

A recent study reports that, consistent with previous research, motivational interviewing is effective in reducing alcohol consumption, blackout rates, and frequency of drug use among college freshmen. Results included reductions in the number of drinks per week, hours spent drinking, and drinking days. Additionally, the frequency of drug use decreased from 27.1 percent at baseline to 23.4 percent at 6 months, and blackout rates decreased greatly at 6 months for 72 percent of study participants who had reported blackouts at baseline. Authors Donna M. Kazemi, Ph.D., RN, et al. report their findings in Effects of Motivational Interviewing Intervention on Blackouts Among College Freshmen, in the September 2013 issue of Journal of Nursing Scholarship. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) funded this project. According to SAMHSA’s 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 40.1 percent of young adults between the ages of 18 and 22 who were enrolled full time in college were binge drinkers, and 14.4 percent were heavy drinkers.

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New Collaboration Continuum Links Substance Abuse–Suicide Prevention

To help suicide prevention programs build and strengthen connections with their substance abuse prevention and treatment counterparts, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC), a service supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), has developed the Substance Abuse and Suicide Prevention Collaboration Continuum. The continuum offers practical tools and resources to help partners be effective and strategic in their work together. SPRC says that suicide is the third leading cause of death among people between the ages of 15 and 24, and it lists underage drinking and other substance abuse as major risk factors for suicide. A May 13, 2010, report from SAMHSA’s Drug Abuse Warning Network named suicide as the third leading cause of death among adolescents, ages 12 to 17, and found that alcohol was the major substance of abuse in 11.4 percent of emergency department visits for drug-related suicide attempts in this age group during 2008.

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Binge Drinking Risk/Protective Factors Literature Review Available

A literature review of risk and protective factors associated with binge drinking among U.S. and international samples of adolescents and young adults (including college students) has been released. The document, Risk and Protective Factors Associated with Binge Drinking in Adolescents and Young Adults: A Review of Literature (2007–2012), is intended to help communities determine what risk and protective factors they need to target in order to reduce and prevent binge drinking among these age groups. The new literature review was developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies. SAMHSA will also release a companion Strategies/Interventions for Reducing Binge Drinking: A Review of Literature 2007–2012, which will match risk and protective factors with appropriate interventions. According to SAMHSA’s 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, between 2002 and 2012, past-month binge drinking among underage youth declined from 19.3 to 15.3 percent, and heavy drinking declined from 6.2 to 4.3 percent. Among young adults, ages 18 to 25, the 2012 binge drinking rate was 39.5 percent.

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Highway Death 13 Times Likelier for Alcohol-Impaired Drivers

Alcohol-impaired drivers were 13 times more likely to be involved in a fatal highway crash than drivers who had not been drinking, according to an analysis of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 2007 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers and NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System. The likelihood of such an outcome for drivers who tested positive for alcohol and one or more drugs was found to be 23 times greater than for drivers testing negative for alcohol and drugs. Elevated blood alcohol levels were found in 57.0 percent of the cases and 8.8 percent of the controls examined by Guohua Li, M.D., Dr.P.H., and associates at Columbia University. NHTSA supported the study and has noted previously that, mile for mile, teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers. The new NHTSA data analysis is reported in Drug use and fatal motor vehicle crashes: A case-control study, published in the November 2013 issue of the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention.

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Parent Socialization and Children’s Alcohol Use

Parental Socialization and Children's Susceptibility to Alcohol Use Initiation  concludes that children’s predisposition to alcohol initiation is partly due to how parents socialize or educate their children about alcohol. Mother–child communication and family guidelines about alcohol consumption were linked with lower child vulnerability to alcohol use. Additionally, mothers’ disapproval of child alcohol use was the greatest correlate of children’s proneness to alcohol use. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studied the extent to which parents’ beliefs, attitudes, and practices about alcohol influence children’s susceptibility to initiate alcohol use. The team used data from 1,050 pairs of mothers/mother surrogates and their third-grade children. The study, funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, appeared online in the September 2013 issue of Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. “Talk. They Hear You. , a new national media campaign of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, provides parents of children ages 9 to 15 with the knowledge, tools, and skills to talk with their children early about the consequences of alcohol use.

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Effective Events Management Can Prevent Underage Alcohol Sales

Techniques for Managing Special Events is a new 2-hour online distance learning course available from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center (UDETC). According to UDETC, effective planning, proper management, policy application, and enforcement at special events can reduce youth access to alcohol. Similarly, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration encouraged community-based organizations that conducted underage drinking prevention Town Hall Meetings during 2012 to promote policies that would restrict sales of alcohol at public events as an effective form of environmental prevention. A 2005 study found that 50 percent of pseudo-underage drinkers (i.e., buyers who were age 21 or older but appeared to be under age 21) were able to purchase alcohol at 43 community festivals.

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Friends Who Drink Influence Early Teen Alcohol Use

A Model to Determine the Likely Age of an Adolescent’s First Drink of Alcohol, a study supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, points to friends who drink as the most significant risk factor in a teen’s decision about taking that first drink, ahead of other risks such as family history and social behavior. Samuel Kuperman, M.D., discussed a study he and his colleagues conducted that came to this conclusion in the September 30, 2013, edition of HHS HealthBeat and observed that early drinking is associated with negative consequences, such as illegal activity. “Children oftentimes do things they wouldn’t do if they weren’t drunk. So, driving, getting into sexual activity, using other drugs, are all risks that might happen when somebody’s drunk versus not drinking,” Kuperman told HHS HealthBeat’s Nicholas Garlow. Dr. Kuperman urged parents to talk with their children about the consequences of underage drinking. The study appeared online in the January 6, 2013, issue of Pediatrics. HHS HealthBeat is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

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Alcohol Abuse Develops in Nearly One Third of Bipolar Teens

Thirty-two percent of adolescents with bipolar disorders developed abuse or dependence of alcohol or drugs on average 2.7 years from the start of a study designed to measure the frequency and possible predictors of first-onset substance abuse in teens, ages 12 to 17, who met criteria for a bipolar diagnosis. Researchers, supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, interviewed the study’s subjects an average of seven times in 4 years. The team, led by Benjamin I. Goldstein, M.D., Ph.D., identified factors present at the start of the study that also predicted later substance abuse: oppositional defiant disorder, panic disorder, family history of substance abuse, low family cohesiveness, and absence of antidepressant treatment. Predictors of First-Onset Substance Use Disorders During the Prospective Course of Bipolar Spectrum Disorders in Adolescents appears in the October 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

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College More Likely To Inherit Than Create Underage Drinking

Although the environment of colleges and universities may “nurture” underage drinking among college freshmen, they are more likely to inherit the problem rather than create it. So says the program director for College and Underage Drinking Prevention Research at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), Aaron White., Ph.D. As noted in NIAAA’s College Drinking factsheet, revised July 2013, “Many students come to college with established drinking habits, and the college environment can exacerbate the problem.” White discussed the challenge in an October 5, 2013, article in the Carroll County Times (Maryland). He was also a featured presenter in NIAAA’s March 7, 2013, underage drinking prevention webinar, now available in an archived format as part of a series presented by the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking.

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Underage Students Who Endorse Alcohol Laws Report Fewer Problems

A new study among underage students at two universities has found that those who endorsed a personal responsibility to obey minimum legal drinking laws were less likely to drink, drank less, engaged in less high-risk behavior (e.g., heavy/binge drinking), and experienced fewer harms (e.g., physical injury) than those who did not endorse these laws. Students in the study samples who were members of ethnic/racial minority groups were more likely to endorse the laws than their White counterparts. With support from the National Institutes of Health, Valerie F. Reyna, Ph.D., at Cornell University, and her colleagues set out to investigate whether, as some college and university presidents have argued, these laws promote disrespect for laws in general, and do not prevent drinking or related negative consequences. Reyna, et al. conclude that an internalized social norm adhering to drinking laws offers benefits to students and society. Endorsement of a Personal Responsibility to Adhere to the Minimum Drinking Age Law Predicts Consumption, Risky Behaviors, and Alcohol-Related Harms appeared in the August 2013 issue of the journal Psychology, Public Policy, and Law.

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Young Adult Drivers “Forget” Sober Knowledge After Drinking

Results of a new study provide further evidence that sober persons’ knowledge about drinking and driving cannot be depended upon to translate into responsible judgment after drinking. While sober, young adult drivers, ages 18 to 25, reported their perceptions of the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol. On a different occasion, the same subjects drank a moderate amount of alcohol (0.72 grams/kilogram for men, 0.65 grams/kilogram for women) and indicated their willingness to drive when they were at different breath alcohol concentration points. When drinking, they were inclined to believe that it was safer to drive than they thought was true when they were sober. Those who gave this response were also more willing to drive after drinking, and researchers saw some evidence that they may have already done so. Observed Denis M. McCarthy, Ph.D., corresponding author for the study, “… it seems that people have gotten the message drinking and driving is dangerous, and most people, when they are sober, honestly think it is too dangerous to do. However, those same individuals may not apply this judgment when it counts the most—when they are currently intoxicated and need to decide whether it is safe for them to drive in that moment.” Perceived Danger While Intoxicated Uniquely Contributes to Driving After Drinking appeared online as an early view article in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research on September 13, 2013. A grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism supported the study.

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Fraternity/Sorority Members Experience More Alcohol-Related Injuries

Members of Greek-letter fraternities and sororities, on college campuses, were more likely to experience alcohol-related injuries in comparison to students in the general student body population, according to Alcohol-related injury among Greek-letter college students: Defining a target population for secondary prevention. Among conclusions of the study: Greek-letter members experienced more alcohol-related injuries that required medical attention; they were more likely to experience a fall that required medical attention; female members were more likely to be sexually assaulted; and both male and female members were more likely to be stabbed or shot. Researchers Mary Claire O’Brien et al. assessed the extent to which dangerous drinking behaviors contributed to alcohol-related injuries among a sample of college students in Greek-letter fraternities and sororities. The study appeared in the April 2013 issue of Journal of Health Psychology. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this project.

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Parental Drinking, Drinking Stories Increase Teen Alcohol Risk

Adolescents with mothers who drank and disclosed personal experiences with alcohol use had a greater chance of initiating alcohol use. This finding is reported in Alcohol-Specific Parenting as a Mechanism of Parental Drinking and Alcohol Use Disorder Risk on Adolescent Alcohol Use Onset. The study also found that adolescents perceived their parents’ drinking stories as normalizing alcohol use rather than serving to warn teens about potential negative consequences of drinking. Researchers Elizabeth D. Handley, Ph.D., and Laurie Chassin, Ph.D., examined the influence of parental disclosure about personal drinking experience on adolescent drinking initiation. The findings appear online in the September 2013 issue of Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this project.

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Scariest Halloween Activity: Drinking and Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says 52 percent of all national fatalities on Halloween night from 2007 to 2011 involved a drunk driver. For Halloween night in 2011, NHTSA data show that 38 percent of fatalities occurred in a crash involving a driver or a motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. In addition, NHTSA points out that drinking and driving is one of the reasons why teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers. To make 2013’s Halloween festivities safer for everyone, NHTSA offers marketing tools that can be used by states, communities, and organizations to meet local prevention needs and objectives and can also be used by them in partnership with other states, communities, and organizations to support this Halloween impaired driving prevention initiative.

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Sexual Assault Follows and Predates Alcohol Abuse Among Females

Alcohol abuse preceded sexual assault in 26.3 percent of cases with victims ages 14 or older who reported previous alcohol abuse and previous assault, according to findings reported in Prior Substance Abuse and Related Treatment History Reported by Recent Victims of Sexual Assault. Authors Heidi S. Resnick et al., at the Medical University of South Carolina, found that 73 percent of females who came to the emergency room for a rape-related medical exam reported using substances (alcohol and/or illicit drugs) within 6 weeks of the sexual assault or at the time of the assault.  The study also found that, among those with prior histories of substance abuse and assault, assault preceded substance abuse onset in the majority of cases. The study appeared in the April 2013 issue of Addictive Behaviors. The National Institute on Drug Abuse funded this project.

The 2012 Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking notes that “Underage drinking by both victim and assailant also increases the risk of physical and sexual assault” and states that “About 97,000 college students are victims of sexual assault or date rape related to alcohol use each year.”

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Many Young Adults Who Died by Suicide Had High Blood Alcohol Levels

An analysis of data from the 2005–2010 National Violent Death Reporting System database finds that among 18- to 24-year olds who died from suicide and were tested for alcohol, 37.4 percent had been drinking. The researchers also note that those who had been drinking had high alcohol levels, with the mean exceeding a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08. The 0.08 BAC level is used as a measure for legal intoxication in most states. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, which funded the new study, also refers to the 0.08 BAC level as a marker for binge drinking. According to Kenneth R. Conner, Psy.D., M.P.H., and his associates, there is growing evidence that public health campaigns targeting reductions in alcohol availability and consumption may reduce rates of suicide. Their report, Acute Use of Alcohol and Methods of Suicide in a US National Sample, was published online by the American Journal of Public Health on May 16, 2013.

 

 

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One Fifth of H.S. Seniors Drove After Heavy Drinking in 2011

Despite progress in reducing youthful impaired driving, 20 percent of high school students reported driving after heavy drinking in 2011. Using data from the Monitoring the Future project of annual surveys conducted on behalf of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Patrick M. OMalley, Ph.D., and Lloyd D. Johnston, Ph.D., found that 28 percent of the high school graduating class of 2011 had ridden with a driver who had had five or more drinks or used marijuana or another illicit drug. A comparison of 2011 figures with those from 2001 did show encouraging declines: In 2011, for example, 6.3 percent of high school seniors said they had gotten behind the wheel after consuming five or more drinks, down from the 9.4 percent who reported doing so a decade earlier. Students who engaged in more than an average amount of truancy, spent more evenings out for fun and recreation, worked more hours per week, or drove more miles were all more likely than average to report driving after using drugs or alcohol. O’Malley and Johnston concluded that “… substantial numbers of Americas high school seniors continue to put themselves and others at risk for harm.” Driving After Drug or Alcohol Use by US High School Seniors, 2001–2011 was published online ahead of print on September 12, 2013, by the American Journal of Public Health.

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Positive Relationships May Help Maltreated Children Avoid Underage Drinking

Several studies have shown that children who are physically abused are more likely to engage in underage drinking and other high-risk behaviors, to be diagnosed with mental health problems, and to have physical health problems earlier in their lives, according to the authors of a new article, Tests of the Mitigating Effects of Caring and Supportive Relationships in the Study of Abusive Disciplining Over Two Generations. The article is one of eight supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a special October 2013 supplement to the Journal of Adolescent Health. The articles examine the role of safe, stable, nurturing relationships (SSNRs) and social contexts in the cycle of child maltreatment across generations. CDC announced the SSNR-related articles in a September 20, 2013, media advisory providing links to other CDC resources on the topic of child maltreatment. One of these resources analyzes the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, which places alcohol abuse and alcoholism high on the list of negative health consequences for children who have had traumatic experiences, including abuse and neglect.

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Electronic Screening and Brief Intervention Can Reduce Underage Drinking

Electronic screening and brief intervention (e-SBI) to reduce excessive alcohol consumption is recommended by the Community Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force), an independent, nonfederal, unpaid panel whose members are appointed by the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Task Force has found that e-SBI is an effective intervention to reduce excessive alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems, based on strong evidence of effectiveness. CDC has reported that excessive alcohol consumption, including underage drinking, is responsible for 80,000 deaths each year and cost the U.S. economy $223.5 billion in 2006. Task Force recommendations and other findings are available at The Community Guide website.

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Higher Self-Esteem Linked With Increased Drinking by White College Students

A comparison study showed that Asian-American college students consumed less alcohol than White students and that greater global self-esteem correlated with increased drinking for just White students.  Global self-esteem is one’s perception of his or her self-worth. The Rosenberg Self-Esteem scale was used to measure global self-esteem in this study. Additionally, consistent with previous studies, students with greater self-esteem were more likely to be in social settings where drinking may be encouraged, and that was more common among White students. Researchers Eric R. Pedersen et al. analyzed data from 326 college students to assess the extent to which global self-esteem correlated with drinking among Asian-American and White college students. Exploring relationships between facets of self-esteem and drinking behavior among diverse groups of young adults appears in the October 2013 online issue of Addictive Behaviors. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this project.

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Norms, Mental Health Linked With Teen Alcohol-Related Consequences

Better mental health, coupled with favorable peer attitudes toward drinking, contributed to more negative social consequences from alcohol consumption among a sample of White and Hispanic at-risk adolescents, reports a new study. Additionally, consistent with prior studies, favorable attitudes toward drinking correlated with current heavy drinking and consequences as well as future heavy drinking and consequences. However, inconsistent with prior research, mental health symptoms alone did not contribute to alcohol consumption. Researchers Eric R. Pedersen, Ph.D., et al. analyzed data from a sample of 193 at-risk Hispanic and White youths with a first-time alcohol and other drug offense in order to study the linkage of mental health symptoms and perceived peer attitudes toward drinking with alcohol use and consequences. This study was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and is reported in Perceived Norms Moderate the Association Between Mental Health Symptoms and Drinking Outcomes Among At-Risk Adolescents, published online in the September 2013 issue of Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

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Student Pregaming Increases Alcohol-Related Consequences

Pregaming was linked with increases in the number of alcohol-related consequences among college students, as reported in Is the Pregame to Blame? Event-Level Associations Between Pregaming and Alcohol-Related Consequences. Pregaming refers to a person drinking before he or she arrives at an event. Researchers Jennifer E. Merrill, Ph.D. et al. also found that, although males drank more, females were at a greater risk for consequences associated with pregaming in comparison to men. The authors used data from 44 college students, who reported past-month pregaming, to examine the alcohol-related consequences of pregaming and the amount of drinking across the day. The study’s findings appear online in the September 2013 issue of Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism sponsored this project.

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Tech-Based Products To Prevent High-Risk Drinking Win SAMHSA Awards

Syracuse University’s BE Wise website won the first prize of $60,000 in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Technology-based Products to Prevent High-risk Drinking among College Students Challenge, according to a September 18, 2013 SAMHSA bulletin. BE Wise is an interactive website designed to reduce the occurrence and negative outcomes of excessive drinking by educating students about alcohol poisoning. The second-place prize of $30,000 went to the University of Central Florida’s Expectancy Challenge Alcohol Literacy Curriculum mobile application. The third-place prize of $10,000 was awarded to the University of Tennessee’s Alcohol and You, an online module that educates first-year students about alcohol, their choice to use alcohol, and the impact that choosing to use alcohol can have on their academic success. Twenty-nine eligible entries were reviewed by a panel of federal government experts who evaluated the entries on their quality-of-product design, quality-of-product performance, and quality-of-project personnel. Each of the three finalists participated in a proof-of-concept meeting with the judges to clarify any concerns or questions raised by the review.

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Obesity, Mental Health Program Reduces Underage Drinking

High school students, ages 14 to 17, who received a teacher-delivered intervention program promoting healthy lifestyles were much less likely to drink alcohol than teens not receiving the intervention (13 percent vs. 20 percent, respectively). In a randomized trial, those who received the COPE (Creating Opportunities for Personal Empowerment) Healthy Lifestyles TEEN (Thinking, Emotions, Exercise, Nutrition) Program reported the lower levels of alcohol consumption. They also reported significantly higher levels of physical activity and lower body mass index. In addition, COPE TEEN students scored higher averages on a social skills scale measuring cooperation, assertion, and academic competence, and they earned higher grades in the health course in which the intervention was given, according to an article posted on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) website. The study was supported by NIH’s National Institute of Nursing Research and is reported in Promoting Healthy Lifestyles in High School Adolescents: A Randomized Controlled Trial, published online on September 10, 2013, in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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Bingeing and Extreme Bingeing Common Among High School Seniors

“Binge drinking at the traditionally defined 5+ drinking level was common among high school seniors representative of all 12th graders in the contiguous United States. A significant segment of students also reported extreme binge drinking at levels 2 and 3 times higher.” These are among the conclusions of a new study of a nonclinical, nationally representative sample of high school seniors in the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s annual Monitoring the Future study between 2005 and 2011. High school seniors responding to the survey reported the following rates drinking during the preceding 2 weeks:

·         20.2 percent consumed 5 to 9 drinks in a single setting (binge drinking);

·         10.5 percent consumed 10 to 14 drinks in a single setting (extreme binge drinking); and

·         5.6 percent consumed 15 or more drinks in a single setting (extreme binge drinking).

 

Authors of the study noted that the rates of 5+ binge drinking and 10+ extreme binge drinking have declined since 2005, but rates of 15+ extreme binge drinking have not significantly declined. “These findings might help explain why some consequences of underage drinking, such as hospitalizations for overdoses, are on the rise, despite general declines in binge drinking,” wrote Ralph W. Hingson, Sc.D., M.P.H, and Aaron White, Ph.D., from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, in an editorial accompanying the publication of Extreme Binge Drinking Among 12th-Grade Students in the United States: Prevalence and Predictorsan online article published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics on September 16, 2013.

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Friends’ Online Photos of Alcohol Use Increase Underage Drinking Risk

Exposure to online posts of friendsrisky behavior significantly contributed to adolescent smoking and drinking, as found by a new study of several hundred students whose average age was 15. Teens who saw pictures on social media sites of their friends drinking alcohol or smoking were more likely to drink or smoke themselves. The investigators noted that while adolescents with friends who drink were at an elevated risk for drinking, exposure to photos of risky behavior online appeared to pose a higher risk for teens with close friends who were nondrinkers. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Cancer Institute supported the study. Results are reported in Peer Influences: The Impact of Online and Offline Friendship Networks on Adolescent Smoking and Alcohol Use, by Grace C. Huang, Ph.D., and her colleagues at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. The study is in press at the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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Alcohol and Marijuana Use Among High Schools Seniors

According to a recent study, 23 percent of high school seniors in 2011 reported using alcohol and marijuana simultaneously. Simultaneous use of alcohol and marijuana was more prevalent among girls, heavy-drinking adolescents, and adolescents with higher truancy records. The University of Michigan researchers, Yvonne M. Terry-McElrath et al., used nationally representative cross-sectional samples of high school seniors surveyed in the Monitoring the Future project from 1976 to 2011 to examine the prevalence of simultaneous alcohol and marijuana use and the association between use frequency of alcohol and marijuana at that grade level. Simultaneous alcohol and marijuana use among US high school seniors from 1976 to 2011: Trends, reasons, and situations was published online in the June 24, 2013, issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The National Institute on Drug Abuse sponsored this project.

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PTSD Increases Drinking Rates Among College Women

Alcohol use is greater among college women with trauma exposure and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to Drinking motives for self and others predict alcohol use and consequences among college women: The moderating effects of PTSD. College women with PTSD reported drinking more to cope with depression and anxiety and drinking for social and conformity reasons. Additionally, PTSD was linked with supporting more motives for drinking. Survivors of sexual assault may experience PTSD; the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) estimates that more than 97,000 alcohol-related sexual assaults occur annually among students between the ages of 18 and 24. A of team researchers at the University of Washington examined the effects of trauma exposure and PTSD on the relationship between drinking motives and drinking behavior. The study was supported by NIAAA, and findings appeared online in the March 2013 issue of Addictive Behaviors.

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Drinking Identity Linked With College Alcohol-Related Problems

Associating one’s identity with drinking alcohol, as measured by implicit association tests (IATs), was a strong predictor of alcohol consumption, alcohol problems, and alcohol cravings among a sample of college students. IATs measure the strengths of associations between concepts. Drinking Identity IAT associations were the most consistent predictors of drinking outcomes. Drinking Identity IAT comes from the theory of planned behavior, which says that attitudes, norms, and perceived control contribute to intentions and behaviors. Additionally, Drinking Identity IAT has been found to predict alcohol use after controlling for other implicit associations. Researcher Kristen P. Lindgren et al. examined alcohol-related implicit measures to assess Drinking Identity IAT’s impact on alcohol-related outcomes among college students.  Implicit drinking identity: Drinker + me associations predict college student drinking consistentlyappeared in the May 2013 issue of Addictive Behaviors. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this project.

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Four Alcohol Brands Mentioned Most Often in Popular Songs

More than 50 percent of songs that mentioned alcohol use in Billboard Magazine’s most popular songs list from 2009 to 2011 referenced four alcohol brands: Patrón tequila, Hennessy cognac, Grey Goose vodka, and Jack Daniel’s whisky, according to Alcohol Brand References in U.S. Popular Music, 2009–2011. Nearly all of these references were positive or neutral. Of the 720 songs reviewed, 23.2 percent mentioned alcohol and 6.4 percent mentioned specific alcohol brands. Researchers at Boston University School of Public Health and the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health analyzed the lyrics of the most popular songs from four genres of music—urban, pop, country, and rock—to examine alcohol references, alcohol brand references, and the context for each mention. “Given the heavy exposure of youth to popular music, these results suggest popular music may serve as a major source of promotion of alcohol use among youth,” said study coauthor David Jernigan, Ph.D., director of CAMY. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse funded this project.  This study was published online in the August 23, 2013, issue of Substance Use & Misuse

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September 25 Webinar: Suicide Prevention in High Schools

A Strategic Approach to Suicide Prevention in High Schools is a webinar scheduled for Wednesday, September 25, 2013, from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. EDT, hosted by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC), a service supported by a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SAMHSA’s 2012 Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools, one of many sources identifying underage drinking as a risk factor for teen suicide, will be a resource featured during the webinar. The webinar will provide an overview of the research on school-based suicide prevention programs, identify resources, and offer examples of how two states developed programs to prevent suicide in a variety of school systems, including those serving ethnically diverse students. The webinar will focus on high schools, but some of the information may be applicable to any grade level. Registration for the SPRC webinar is free.

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Underage Drinking Costs States a Median $361.4 Million

The national study estimated that underage drinking was responsible for $24.6 billion (11.0%) of the total cost of excessive alcohol consumption in the U.S. in 2006,” notes a new analysis of the 2006 data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reveals the large economic burden of excessive drinking on the states and the District of Columbia. Across all states, the median cost of underage drinking was $361.4 million, with the highest cost assigned to California, at $3.5 billion, and the lowest, at $53.6 million, to the District of Columbia. The median costs of excessive drinking (among all age groups) was $2.9 billion, with California again assigned the highest costs ($31.9 billion) and the lowest in North Dakota ($419.6 million). The authors, Jeffery J. Sacks, M.D., M.P.H.; Jim Roeber, M.S.P.H.; Ellen E. Bouchery, M.S.; Katherine Gonzales, M.P.H.; Frank J. Chaloupka, Ph.D.; and Robert D. Brewer, M.D., M.S.P.H., examined the economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in states. They concluded, “Excessive alcohol consumption has a substantial, but largely under-recognized, economic impact on all states in the U.S.” State Costs of Excessive Alcohol Consumption, 2006 is available online and will be published in the October 2013 digital issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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Majority of Underage College Students Drank Alcohol in Past Month

“Alcohol has always been the most common drug abused on campus,” said Jennifer Goree, director of the Healthy Campus at South Carolina’s Clemson University, discussing results of the 2011 Core Alcohol and Drug Survey. Key findings reported by the survey include the following:

 

·         81.4 percent of the students consumed alcohol in the past year (“annual prevalence”);

·         69.0 percent of the students consumed alcohol in the past 30 days (“30-day prevalence”);

·         63.4 percent of underage students (younger than 21) consumed alcohol in the previous 30 days; and

·         44.8 percent of students reported binge drinking in the previous 2 weeks.

 

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education (DoEd), the Core Alcohol and Drug Survey measures alcohol and other drug usage, attitudes, and perceptions among college students at 2- and 4-year institutions. As a member of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking, DoEd will host a September 18, 2013, webinar to promote the use of evidence-based prevention strategies in secondary and postsecondary education.

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Alcohol-Related Problems Linked With Smoking Frequency

As reported in “Alcohol problems as a signal for sensitivity to nicotine dependence and future smoking,” alcohol-related problems appear to be a greater risk factor for future smoking among novice adolescent smokers than alcohol use or smoking per se. By signaling sensitivity to nicotine dependence symptoms, alcohol related problems represent a measureable risk factor that can be used to identify and intervene with adolescents before more chronic smoking behaviors emerge. Authors Lisa Dierker et al. analyzed data from the longitudinal Social and Emotional Contexts of Adolescent Smoking Patterns Study to examine the extent to which alcohol problems were associated with early emerging nicotine dependence symptoms and whether alcohol problems directly/indirectly predict smoking frequency 48 months later. The study appeared online in the May 2013 issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The National Cancer Institute and the National Institute on Drug Abuse provided funding for this project.

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September Is Recovery Month--Celebrate the Role of Recovery in Prevention

On September 4, 2013, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) launched this year’s Recovery Month campaign in conjunction with the release of SAMHSA’s 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report. According to Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “This year’s theme ‘Join the Voices for Recovery: Together on Pathways to Wellness’ reflects the many ways people can prevent behavioral health issues, seek treatment, and sustain recovery as part of a commitment to living a mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy life.” Between 2001 and 2011, adolescent admissions to treatment for alcohol problems declined by 14 percent, according to SAMHSA’s Treatment Episode Data, and the 2012 NSDUH report showed that current alcohol use among 12- to 20-year-olds decreased from 28.8 percent in 2002 to 24.3 percent in 2012. But 9.3 million adolescents reported past-month drinking, and 1.7 million of them were classified as heavy drinkers, making them primary candidates for underage drinking prevention, treatment, and recovery.

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September 25 Webinar: A Model for Empowering Youth To Make Change

On Wednesday, September 25, 2013, from 3:00 to 4:15 p.m. EDT, a youth-taught workshop presented by New Hampshire’s Dover Youth to Youth will use the “Knowledge > Skills > Action” model to show how the model can be used to change policy and community norms. The Partner or Window-Dressing: A Model for Empowering Youth to Make Change webinar will examine the “Refrigerator Campaign,” a strategy to reduce youth access to alcohol by motivating parents to control access to alcohol in their homes, in order to demonstrate how the model’s principles can be applied. The webinar will be hosted by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center (UDETC). According to the UDETC announcement, this webinar is ideal for youth who are interested in advocacy as well as adults, coalitions, or organizations that would like to work effectively with youth advocates, have greater youth involvement, and broaden their existing youth advocacy efforts. Registration is free at www.udetc.org/audioconfregistration.asp.

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September 9, 2013, Webinar: Preventing Alcohol Use during Pregnancy

Preventing Alcohol Use during Pregnancy: Applying New Solutions to Ongoing Needs is a September 9, 2013, webinar, taking place from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. EDT. The webinar will be hosted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders) Center for Excellence. Dr. Susan Astley, University of Washington, who was the keynote speaker for the 2013 National Prevention Network Research Conference, will facilitate the webinar. She will be joined by Dr. Margaret Ellen Mattson, SAMHSA’s Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality; Paulette Romashko, ARC Community Services; Helen Weinstein, the Erie County Council for the Prevention of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, Inc.; Laura Nagle, Kentucky FASD state coordinator; and Jamie Reinebold, Memorial Hospital of South Bend (Indiana). Although teen pregnancy has declined in recent years, a factsheet issued by the FASD Center for Excellence states that in 2004, 8.8 percent of pregnant young women, ages 15 to 17, reported binge drinking during pregnancy. September 9 is International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Awareness Day; the FASD Center for Excellence offers a flyer announcing the observance.

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Federal Survey Reports Continuing Progress in Reducing Underage Drinking

“Rates of current, binge, and heavy alcohol use among underage persons declined between 2002 and 2012. The rate of current alcohol use among 12 to 20 year olds decreased from 28.8 percent in 2002 to 24.3 percent in 2012. The binge drinking rate declined from 19.3 to 15.3 percent, and the rate of heavy drinking declined from 6.2 to 4.3 percent,” according to Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The scientifically conducted annual survey of approximately 70,000 people throughout the country, ages 12 and older is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The new report also found that the percentage of people ages 12 and older who drove under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year was 11.2 percent, significantly lower than the level in 2002 (14.2 percent) but similar to the rate in 2011 (11.1 percent). In a SAMHSA news release announcing key findings from the latest NSDUH,  SAMHSA administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., said, “These findings show that while we have made progress in preventing some aspects of substance abuse, we must redouble our efforts to reduce and eliminate all forms of it throughout our nation.”

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Web Course Trains Health Professionals To Screen for Underage Drinking

A free online course teaches health care professionals how to perform efficient, evidence-based alcohol screening, referral to treatment, and brief intervention with youth ages 9 to 18. The training course has three interactive scenarios about youth at different risk levels for alcohol-related consequences. These scenarios are drawn from a 4-step clinical process discussed in the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism‘s (NIAAA) Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention for Youth: A Practitioner’s Guide. An NIAAA study, reported in January 2013, found that out of approximately 981,000 16-year-old binge drinkers who saw a physician during 2010, about 746,000 were not advised by their doctors to stop, or even reduce, their drinking. This finding points to a need for increased physician education. The new online training is jointly produced by NIAAA and Medscape. A certificate granting learning credits may be obtained by participants who pass an online test at the end of the course.

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Reducing Alcohol Access Is Theme of National Teen Driver Safety Week

Reducing teens’ access to alcohol is the focus of National Teen Driver Safety Week, October 20–26, 2013, and an objective of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Teen Drivers website’s landing page. NHTSA points out that teens are at far greater risk of death in an alcohol-related crash than the overall population, despite the fact that they cannot legally purchase or publicly possess alcohol in any state. For example, during 2006, 31 percent of the drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 who were killed had been drinking, according to NHTSA data. For the annual teen driver safety observance, the agency offers a Parental Responsibility Toolkit. In addition, NHTSA supports implementation of graduated driver licensing (GDL) nationwide. During 2013, many community-based organizations promoted GDL and other evidence-based types of environmental prevention of underage drinking at local Town Hall Meetings on the issue.

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Almost Half a Million Teens Drank on an Average Day in 2011

On an average day in 2011, 457,672 teenagers, ages 12 to 17, consumed alcohol, according to a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Additionally, 7,639 teenagers, ages 12 to 17, consumed alcohol for the first time on a typical day.. “This data about adolescents sheds new light on how deeply substance use pervades the lives of many young people and their families,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. “While other studies indicate that significant progress has been made in lowering the levels of some forms of substance use among adolescents in the past decade, this report shows that far too many young people are still at risk.” In SAMHSA’s 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the rate of current alcohol use among 12- to 20-year-olds went from 28.8 percent in 2002 to 25.1 percent in 2011; NSDUH 2012 findings are expected to be release on September 4, 2013, in conjunction with the launch of SAMHSA’s annual National Recovery Month initiative.

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Underage Drinkers More Likely To Abuse Prescription Opioids

Individuals, including underage drinkers, who previously used alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana were two to three times more likely to abuse prescription opioids, according to a recent study. Additionally, 57 percent of participants who reported previous alcohol use were two to three times more likely to report prescription opioid abuse. Alcohol use was linked with prescription opioid abuse only in young men, not young women. Researchers Lynn E. Fiellin, M.D. et al. investigated the relationship between previous alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use and the subsequent abuse of prescription drugs among persons ages 18 to 25. The study’s findings appeared online in the February 2013 issue of Journal of Adolescent Health. The National Institute on Drug Abuse funded this project.

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School Contexts and Parental Support Linked to Alcohol Consumption

Levels of parental support and school characteristics link to alcohol consumption trajectories among adolescent students, according to a new study, Can the school context moderate the protective effect of parental support on adolescents’ alcohol trajectories in urban Chicago? Students with high levels of parental support and students who attended public schools were less likely to consume alcohol. Students with low levels of parental support and students who attended private schools were more likely to consume alcohol. Author Fernando H. Andrade analyzed longitudinal and multilevel data from the Project of Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods and the Common Core of Data to examine the effect of family support and school characteristics on adolescents’ alcohol use trajectories in Chicago. The findings appeared online in the July 2013 issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The National Institutes of Health funded this study.

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Performance-Enhancing Substances Linked With Bingeing by College Athletes

As reported in A national study of substance use behaviors among NCAA male athletes who use banned performance enhancing substances, athletes who used performance-enhancing substances (PESs) were more likely to binge drink and consume large quantities of alcohol. The study also noted that the student athletes were more likely to use all other classes of drugs (cigarettes, marijuana, and cocaine) mentioned in the study. Authors Jennifer F. Buckman, Samantha G. Farris, and David A. Yusko analyzed a large national dataset from the National Collegiate Athletic Association to compare substance use behaviors of male college student athletes who reported using PESs to those who did not use PESs. The findings appeared online in the July 1, 2013, issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the National Cancer Institute funded this project.

 

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Drug-Free Communities Support Programs Are Effective

A new evaluation of the Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program shows that, from 2002 to 2012, rates of past 30-day alcohol use declined by 2.8 percent among middle school students and 3.8 percent among high school students. Overall, DFC-funded coalitions were effective in reducing drug and alcohol use in their communities. The evaluation’s findings indicated a substantial drop in rates of past 30-day use of alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco. The DFC program is funded and directed by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, with support from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Many of the hundreds of community groups that hosted SAMHSA–sponsored 2012 Town Hall Meetings on underage drinking are current DFC grantee organizations.

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Erosion of Commercial Host Liability: A Public Health Failure

Although strong evidence shows that holding alcohol retailers liable for alcohol-attributable harm resulting from illegal alcohol sales to patrons who are intoxicated or underage at the time of service is an effective prevention approach, legislation in several states protects retailers from such liability. “The erosion of commercial host liability in recent decades is a public health failure that directly contributes to the exorbitant human and economic costs of excessive drinking,” says James F. Mosher, J.D., who discussed effective state policies for preventing underage alcohol use during a June 26, 2013, webinar. This webinar was hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of a series sponsored by the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking. Mosher is the lead author of a study of state alcohol retailer liability policies that found also that only six states have adopted responsible beverage service practices, such as conducting effective ID checks, training staff on identifying signs of intoxication, and discontinuing marketing practices that encourage intoxication. CDC funded the study and supports the Center for Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In conjunction with the report from Mosher and his colleagues, CAMY has created online maps illustrating the decline of state support for these policies. Commercial Host (Dram Shop) Liability: Current Status and Trends was published online on July 30, 2013, in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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September 19 Webinar—Social Host Laws

Free registration is now open for a September 19, 2013, webinar to review how cities, counties, and states have used laws to hold responsible those who provide alcohol to minors or enable underage drinking. The Social Host Laws: The Good, the Bad and the Changes webinar will take place from 3:00 to 4:15 p.m. EDT, hosted by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Underage Enforcement Training Center. The session will consider laws that have survived, as well as those that have been struck down by the courts, and discuss where these laws are headed and the challenges that proponents of social host legislation face in the future. During 2012, many of the more than 1,500 local underage drinking prevention Town Hall Meetings sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration promoted use of social host liability laws as an element in their comprehensive plans to stop underage drinking.

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Young Drivers Are Curbing Pre- and During-Event Drinking

Young adult drivers, including underage drinkers, appear to be avoiding alcohol-impaired driving when visiting drinking locations such as bars and nightclubs, according to Alcohol and drug use among young adults driving to a drinking location. Drivers are consuming less alcohol than their passengers do prior to arriving at drinking locations and while they are in such settings. The findings suggest that interventions for curbing incidents of alcohol-impaired drinking among young adults should include interventions geared toward transportation planning and entry into drinking locations. Researchers Robert B. Voas, Mark B. Johnson, and Brenda A. Miller surveyed 175 drivers and 272 passengers coming to and leaving electronic music dance events in San Francisco to examine driving-related actions designed to reduce alcohol-impaired driving. The findings from this study were reported online in the February 14, 2013, issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse funded this project. NIAAA hosts the Rethinking Drinking website to help adult drinkers understand the effect of their drinking habits on their health and safety.

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Problem Drinking Rates Higher Among Reservation-Dwelling Youth

The rate of problem drinking reached its peak at age 16 for youth living on a reservation, reports a new study. Additionally, problem drinking rates for indigenous youth exceeded peak rates for youth in the general population. Authors Melissa Walls, Kelley J. Sittner Hartshorn, and Les B. Whitbeck also note that girls reported higher rates of substance use than boys prior to age 15. Walls et al. examined the surge in problem drinking and monthly marijuana consumption from late childhood into late adolescence/early adulthood among North American indigenous adolescents from the Upper Midwest and Canada. The findings were reported online in the May 2013 issue of Addictive Behaviors. The National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Mental Health funded this project. To help tribal communities address such issues, Native teens describe the pressures they face to drink, their reasons for declining to do so, and the aspects of their cultural heritage that help promote their well-being in a 10-minute video, Critical Dialogue with Native Youth about Underage Drinking: Our Culture is Prevention.

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Drinking During Spring Break Based on Perceived Pleasure, Not Risks

Students’ specific motives for drinking during spring break predict high-risk drinking and may be used in creating effective event-specific interventions, according to a new study. University of Michigan researchers report that during spring break, college students are more susceptible to pleasurable and social motives for drinking and less concerned about the potential negative consequences of drinking and driving. Students who usually drink to relax were more prone to use serious harm reduction protective strategies. Megan E. Patrick et al. compared motives for alcohol consumption among college students during spring break and the regular semester; the authors examined whether spring break drinking motives predicted spring break drinking behavior, protective behavioral strategies, and negative consequences. Results of the study were reported in Semester and event-specific motives for alcohol use during Spring Break: associated protective strategies and negative consequences, published in the April 2013 issue of Addictive Behaviors. This study was supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

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Alcohol-Inspired Teen Friendships Are Unstable

Drinking among like-minded adolescents increases the chance that friendships will form; however, those friendships are situational and short lived, according to The differential contributions of teen drinking homophily to new and existing friendships: An empirical assessment of assortative and proximity selection mechanisms. Researchers Jacob E. Cheadle, Michael Stevens, Deadric T. Williams, and Bridget J. Goosby analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health to assess the influence of drinking on adolescent friendships. The authors focused on the creation of new friendships and the maintenance of those newly formed friendships. The project, funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, appears online in the September 2013 issue of Social Science Research.

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Teen Binge Drinking Impairs Brain Communication

Binge drinking and alcohol use disorder (AUD) during adolescence is connected with impaired functioning of cerebral white matter, a part of the brain that facilitates communication between regions of the brain, according to a review of studies. Researchers Jonathan Elofson, Win Gongvatana, and Kate B. Carey provided reviews of diffusion tensor imaging studies that examined the correlation between alcohol use and white matter functioning in adolescents. The study also noted that a history of AUD was linked with reduction in white matter functioning and neuropsychological impairments among adults. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this research. The findings appeared online in the July 2013 issue of Addictive Behaviors.

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Teen Conduct Problems Linked With Early, Frequent Drinking

Heavy drinking during the early to mid-teens and dangerous/harmful drinking at age 16 were linked with “early onset persistent” and “adolescent onset” conduct problems, according to a new study, Conduct problem trajectories and alcohol use and misuse in mid to late adolescence. Further, the study notes a stronger correlation between conduct problems and high-frequency drinking among boys than girls ages 13–15. The authors, Jon Heron et al., analyzed data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children to examine the association between types of conduct problems in early life and pattern of alcohol use during adolescence. The National Institutes of Health provided partial support for this project. The findings from this study were reported online in the June 2013 issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

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Neighborhood Characteristics Linked With Binge Drinking

Certain neighborhood characteristics influenced the initiation of binge drinking and marijuana use in adolescents, according to a new study. The findings showed that adolescents who felt safe in their neighborhoods were at a greater risk to initiate binge drinking than those who did not feel safe. Additionally, adolescents who lived in neighborhoods with higher unemployment rates were more likely to initiate marijuana use. Researchers Joan S. Tucker et al. investigated the extent to which census-based signs of neighborhood disorganization and adolescents’ perception of their neighborhood predicted initiation of marijuana and binge drinking over a 1-year period. The National Institutes of Health–supported study was reported in the February 2013 issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

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Young Adult Binge Drinking Linked With Sleep Problems

Binge drinking is strongly linked with sleep problems among young adults, including underage drinkers, according to a new study. The study further noted that the severity of these sleep problems is connected with the frequency of binge drinking. Authors Ioana Popovici and Michael T. French examined the relationships between alcohol use and sleep problems by analyzing a large, nationally representative dataset of young adults. As part of their research, they controlled for sociodemographic factors, psychiatric disorders, physical health, and other types of substance use to reach their conclusion. The National Institute on Drug Abuse sponsored this project, which appeared online in the March 2, 2013, issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the rate of binge drinking was 39.8 percent for young adults ages 18 to 25. For the 18-to-20 age group, NSDUH reported that the binge drinking rate at 31.2 percent.

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Off-Premise Alcohol Outlet Density Linked With Intimate Partner Violence

A new study, Alcohol Outlet Density and Young Women’s Perpetration of Violence Toward Male Intimate Partners, reports that young women, including underage drinkers, who lived in areas with a greater concentration of off-premise alcohol outlets, were more likely than others to have committed physical-only Intimate partner violence (IPV) in the past year. Additionally, alcohol use correlated with IPV perpetration. The study noted that the current findings are consistent with environmental studies that connected off-premise alcohol outlets with domestic violence police calls and domestic violence rates. The study by Bonita J. Iritani et al. analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to examine the extent to which on-premise and off-premise alcohol outlet concentration and alcohol use predicted the likelihood of young women engaging in IPV. The findings were reported online in the July 2013 issue of Journal of Family Violence. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this project. Controls on alcohol outlet locations and density is an evidence-based environmental approach shown to be effective in reducing and preventing underage drinking and was promoted at Town Hall Meetings in 2012.

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Discrimination Linked With Substance Use Among Latina Youth

A new study, Discrimination, drugs, and alcohol among Latina/os in Brooklyn, New York: Differences by gender, finds that discrimination increases the risk for alcohol, marijuana, and illicit drug use among a sample of young Latina women, which included underage drinkers. Additionally, Latinas who reported discrimination were more likely to use alcohol and marijuana. The study by Angie Denisse Otiniano Verissimo et al. examined the relationship between discrimination and substance use among Hispanics and the moderating role of gender. The findings were reported online in the July 2013 issue of International Journal of Drug Policy. The National Institutes of Health provided funding for this project.

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Popularity Linked With Alcohol Use Among Middle School Students

Temporal associations of popularity and alcohol use among middle school students reports that being popular in middle school is a risk factor for alcohol use. Students who were perceived as popular by their peers were more likely to consume alcohol than students who self-identified as being popular. Researchers Joan S. Tucker et al. analyzed data from a sample of 1,835 sixth, seventh, and eighth graders to examine the connection between popularity and alcohol use among middle school students. Students were asked to report on their background characteristics, past-month alcohol use, and perceived popularity. The findings were reported online in the January 2013 issue of Journal of Adolescent Health. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this project.

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“Booster Brochures” for Parents Decrease Underage College Drinking

The effectiveness of parent-based interventions (PBIs) to prevent drinking among college freshman increases when parents receive “booster brochures” Researchers assigned 443 students to three groups: PBI, PBI plus booster brochure (PBI-B), and a control group. Four months post-intervention, the students assigned to PBI-B reported significantly less drinking to intoxication and peak drinking in comparison to the PBI-only group and the control group. “A randomized trial evaluating a parent based intervention to reduce college drinking,” authored by Diana M. Doumas, Ph.D.; Rob Turrisi, Ph.D.; Anne E. Ray, Ph.D.; Susan M. Esp, Ph.D.; and Amy K. Curtis-Schaeffer, appears online in the July 2013 issue of Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment and is based on a study funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Dr. Turrisi was the lead author of an earlier journal article detailing the study’s finding that PBIs can prevent excessive drinking among first-year college students when delivered prior to the beginning of freshman year. Use of PBIs also is recommended in a handbook, also by Dr. Turrisi, reducing drinking among college students.

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TV Alcohol Ads Linked to Increased Underage Drinking

As reported in a new study, exposure to alcohol advertising and/or positive responses to those advertisements on television in the 7th grade encouraged underage drinking and the development of alcohol-related problems in the 10th grade. Additionally, regularly watching popular television shows and liking such ads were linked with increased alcohol use from the 7th through 9th grades. Researchers Jerry L. Grenard, Ph.D., Clyde W. Dent, Ph.D., and Alan W. Stacy, Ph.D., analyzed data from 3,890 students in 7th through 10th grade to assess the effects of alcohol advertising on underage drinking and alcohol-related problems. The study appeared online in the January 28, 2013, issue of Pediatrics. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse funded this project. Too Smart To Start, a program of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, provides media literacy tools for parents to help their children deconstruct and resist pro-drinking media messages.

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Child Maltreatment Increases Heavy Episodic Drinking by Youth

Childhood neglect and physical abuse increased the rates of heavy episodic drinking (HED) during adolescence, young adulthood, and beyond, as reported in Preventing Child Maltreatment and Promoting Well-Being: A Network for Action 2012 Resource Guide. The frequency of neglect and physical abuse elevated rates of HED during adolescence and persistently increased rates of HED over time. Researchers Sunny H. Shin, Daniel P. Miller, and Martin H. Teicher analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to assess the effects of child maltreatment on adolescent HED. The project received cooperative funding from 23 federal agencies and foundations and was reported online in the January 2013 issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The new study is available for downloading on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website supported by the Administration for Children & Families, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Parental Monitoring Curbs Underage Drinking

High parental monitoring during high school was effective in lowering the risk for alcohol dependence during freshman year in college, but parental monitoring failed to curb the risk for marijuana dependence, reports a new study. Additionally, extreme levels of sensation seeking correlated with an elevated risk for alcohol and marijuana dependence. Researchers Övgü Kaynak et al. studied the influence of sensation seeking and parental monitoring on alcohol and marijuana dependence among college students. Relationships among parental monitoring and sensation seeking on the development of substance use disorder among college students was reported online in the January 2013 issue of Addictive Behaviors, was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse

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Anxiety and Underage Drinking Among Youth

A new study reports that socially anxious adolescent females were more likely to consume alcohol or smoke cigarettes when they believed that peer support of alcohol/cigarette use was high. Additionally, socially anxious adolescent females were protected from alcohol use when they perceived that peer support of alcohol/cigarette use was low. In contrast, the study further reports that anxiety did not correlate with early alcohol and cigarette use among adolescent males. The study, authored by Jennifer M. Zehe et al., examined the role of social and generalized anxiety symptoms in relation to the development of early adolescent alcohol/cigarette use and how perceived peer approval of substance use and gender differences may moderate the connection. Social and generalized anxiety symptoms and alcohol and cigarette use in early adolescence: The moderating role of perceived peer norms was published in the April 2013 issue of Addictive Behaviors. The National Institute on Drug Abuse funded this project.

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Students’ Perception of Parenting Behaviors Linked to College Drinking

Findings in a new study suggest that student-reported data about parenting behaviors are more reliably connected with college student drinking than parent-reported data about parenting behaviors. Parents and students were asked to report on the following: parents’ monitoring, levels of drinking approval, and appropriate limits pertaining to alcohol consumption. Authors Lindsey Varvil-Weld, Rob Turrisi, Nichole Scaglione, Kimberly A. Mallett, and Ann E. Ray examined the degree to which parents’ and students’ perceptions of parenting behaviors were linked with college student drinking and consequences. This study, which appeared online in the March 2013 issue of Addictive Behaviors, was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

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College Linked With Heavy Drinking Patterns for White Students

College education is more likely to shape patterns of heavy drinking for Caucasians in comparison to African-Americans, as reported in Longitudinal relationships between college education and patterns of heavy drinking: A comparison between Caucasians and African-Americans. College education did not influence heavy drinking patterns in African-Americans over time. The study further reports that social factors are not as significant in molding drinking behaviors among minority groups. Authors Pan Chen, Ph.D., and Kristen C. Jacobsen, Ph.D. examined the correlation between college education and patterns of heavy drinking for both groups by reviewing data from 9,988 non-Hispanic Caucasians and African-Americans. The National Institutes of Health partially supported this study, which was published online in the May 23, 2013, issue of Journal of Adolescent Health.

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Drinking Games Common Among High School Students

Drinking games are popular among high school students, reports a new study. In a sample of 595 high school students, 30 percent reported playing drinking games at least once in the past month, and 12 percent reported playing twice or more in the past week. The authors, Brian Borsari and colleagues, analyzed the demographic and alcohol-related behavioral traits of current high school students who reported participating in drinking games. The study also notes that engagement in drinking games is connected to higher alcohol consumption, favorable anticipation of alcohol use, and increased motivation to drink, as was previously noted in studies about drinking games among college students. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s partially funded study appeared online in the May 21, 2013, issue of Addictive Behaviors.

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Perception of Drinking Contributes to Abstinence Among College Students

A recent study reports that disapproval of or lack of interest in drinking was associated with abstinence in a sample of 423 nondrinking and light-drinking college freshmen and sophomores. Dipali Venkataraman Rinker and Clayton Neighbors authored the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism-funded study, which appeared online in the July 2013 issue of Addictive Behaviors. Reasons for not drinking and perceived injunctive norms as predictors of alcohol abstinence among college students identifies subscales of reasons for not drinking, and only the disapproval of or lack of interest subscale was linked with 6-month abstinence. The study further reports that those students who do not drink in college may be less vulnerable to the social influences of their peers.

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Temperament Before Age 5 Predicts Underage Drinking

Childhood temperament prior to age 5 predicts adolescent alcohol use and problems at age 15.5 years, concludes a new study that set out to identify the origins of personality differences in adolescents or adults who do and do not have drinking problems. “… we can identify childhood temperamental styles that emerge prior to age five that predict alcohol use and problems in mid-adolescence,” says  Danielle M. Dick, Ph.D., Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University, the study’s corresponding author. She added, “… kids who show consistent emotional and behavioral problems early on are at elevated risk and kids who are consistently sociable at a very early age are also at risk. This indicates very different pathways to alcohol involvement/patterns, that emerge early on, which have important implications for prevention efforts.” Adolescent Alcohol Use is Predicted by Childhood Temperament Factors Before Age 5, with Mediation Through Personality and Peers was published online on July 10, 2013, as an Early View article by the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. Dr. Dick and her colleagues received partial support for their research from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Parents, caregivers, and teachers of children ages 3 to 5 are offered information and materials to help them support healthy development during early childhood by Building Blocks for a Healthy Future, a program of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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Alcohol Use Linked With Youth Dating Violence

Alcohol consumption is associated with physical dating violence among high-risk urban youth ages 14 to 24, according to A daily calendar analysis of substance use and dating violence among high risk urban youth. Use of cocaine and sedative/opiate drugs is also associated with physical dating victimization. Researchers Quyen M. Epstein-Ngo et al. note that the findings show that youth treated in the emergency room department who consume substances may be at a greater risk for domestic violence. The team compared emergency department data between youth treated for violent injuries and nonviolently injured youth who used substances within the past 6 months. The project, which was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, was published online in the June 2013 issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence. A 2012 factsheet, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, identifies underage drinking as both a risk factor for teen dating violence and a negative outcome of such experiences and cites data showing that 9 percent of high school students report having experienced dating violence.

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Bingeing Stunts Growth of Teen Brain Regions

Extreme adolescent binge drinking is likely to stunt the growth of regions of the brain responsible for balance and coordination, emotion regulation, and decisionmaking, reports a new study. The study found smaller cerebellar volumes in adolescents who engaged in binge drinking in the past 3 months. Authors Krista M. Lisdahl et al. examined the effects of recent binge drinking on the cerebellar volumes of 106 adolescents without comorbid psychiatric disorders. The project, which was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), was reported online in the January 2013 issue of Psychiatry Research. On March 7, 2013, NIAAA experts reviewed recent research on the effects of underage drinking on the adolescent brain during Brain Research and Underage Screening – Getting Informed, Preparing to Act, a webinar offered as part of a series being presented by the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking. 

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Alcohol-Laced Energy Drinks and Unprotected Sex at College

Consuming alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AmED) is common among college students, including underage drinkers, according to Alcohol mixed with energy drinks: Are there associated negative consequences beyond hazardous drinking in college students? Researchers Lisa Berger, Michael Fendrich, and Daniel Fuhrmann also found that students who consume excessive amounts of AmED may be at a greater risk for having unprotected sex. The team examined the popularity of AmED prior to the Food and Drug Administration’s ban and the connection among AmED, dangerous drinking, and alcohol-related negative consequences by analyzing data from 606 undergraduate students ages 18 to 25. The findings appeared online in the September 2013 issue of Addictive Behaviors. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) funded this research. NIAAA reports that annually about 400,000 students, ages 18 to 24, have unprotected sex and more than 100,000 students in this age group report having been too intoxicated to know if they consented to having sex.

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Religiosity Protects Against Alcohol Problems in Asian-American Students

Religiosity was found to be protective against substance abuse for Asian-American college students, but not for White students, in a recent study comparing the two groups. The study, titled Religiosity and substance use among Asian American college students: Moderated effects of race and acculturation, further notes that religiosity served as a protective factor against alcohol problems and marijuana use only among more acculturated Asian-Americans. Authors Jeremy W. Luk, Rebecca L. Emery, Kenny A. Karyadi, Julie A. Patock-Peckham, and Kevin M. King examined the extent to which being religious served as a buffer against substance use among Asian-American college students. The team collected and analyzed data from 550 White and 289 Asian-American college students and replicated their findings with a sample of340 other Asian–American students. The study appeared online in the June 1, 2013, issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this study.

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Mix of Environmental Prevention Strategies Lowers Alcohol Sales to Minors

A new study funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that the Reducing Youth Access to Alcohol (RYAA) intervention lowers the chances that retail clerks will sell alcohol to minors. The RYAA, initiated in collaboration with the Addictions and Mental Health Division of Oregon’s Department of Health and Human Services, included a mix of law enforcement and other community-based activities. Authors Robert L. Flewelling and his colleagues conducted randomized trials in 36 communities to examine the effectiveness of five environmentally focused intervention strategies designed to curb sales of alcohol to minors. Reducing youth access to alcohol: Findings from a community-based randomized trial,” appeared online in the March 2013 issue of the American Journal of Community Psychology. For its latest round of underage drinking prevention Town Hall Meetings, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provided information to encourage community-based implementation of evidence-based environmental prevention.

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New Tools To Prevent Binge Drinking Among Youth and Adults

Adult and underage binge drinkers are more likely to experience a number of serious short- and longer term consequences than drinkers who do not engage in binge alcohol use, and two new tools have been developed to help programs and communities address the issue. Binge Drinking: Terminology and Patterns of Use provides (1) a brief background on the various ways that binge drinking has been defined (currently and historically) and (2) a summary of binge drinking patterns in the United States. Overview of Factors that Impact Binge Drinking, by Context/Domain summarizes factors related to binge drinking among adolescents, young adults, and college populations according to context and domain. The new prevention training and technical assistance documents were developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Collaborative for the Application of Prevention Technologies. In SAMHSA’s 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 15.8 percent of persons between the ages of 12 and 20 (6.1 million) engaged in binge drinking during the past 30 days.

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Higher Alcohol-Related Consequences Among Employed Youths

As reported in “The effects of employment among adolescents at-risk for future substance use,” at-risk youths who worked more hours had higher alcohol related-consequences and increased exposure to co-workers who participated in risky behaviors. In addition, working teens were more likely to list alcohol instead of marijuana as their primary drug of choice compared to non-working teens.  The study by Karen Chan Osilla, Sarah B. Hunter, Brett A. Ewing, Rajeev Ramchand, et al. analyzed the connection between work intensity, alcohol, and/or other drugs (AOD) use and consequences, and exposure to teens and co-workers who use AOD.  The team’s project, which was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, appeared online in the March 2013 issue of Addictive Behaviors.

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July 25 Webinar: Youth Taking Action … on Underage Drinking

Youth Taking Action for Sustainable Changes on Underage Drinking is the title of a free webinar scheduled for Thursday, July 25, 2013, from 3:00 to 4:15 p.m. EDT. The program is being presented by the Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center, a service of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The webinar will focus on two campaigns in support of environmental changes to prevent youth access to alcohol. One campaign involves strategies for blocking youth access to “alcopops”—alcohol-laced, fruit-flavored beverages. The second looks at effective measures for eliminating underage access to alcohol in private residences. Online registration is available now.

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Alcohol Exposure Alters Brain Connections Among Freshmen

A new study reports that increased exposure to alcohol and alcohol-related cues may alter connections among brain regions responsible for emotion-processing and cognitive control.  The longitudinal study of 11 first-year college students found that connectivity increased between the summer months before college and first semester, and then decreased between the first and second semesters, when alcohol exposure peaked.  (The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported on July 12, 2012 that the first-time use of most substances [including alcohol) peaks during June and July, when school is out and young people have more free time and less supervision]).  A team of researchers from Pennsylvania State University conducted the research with funding from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.  Changes in alcohol-related brain networks across the first year of college: a prospective pilot study using fMRI effective connectivity mappingappeared online in the April 2013 issue of Addictive Behaviors.

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Secret Texting Code With Parents Can Help Teens Say No to Alcohol

In a July 2, 2013, interview for HHS HealthBeat, George L. Askew, M.D., F.A.A.P., chief medical officer for the Administration for Children & Families, urges parents to work out a secret texting code with their teens, so that adolescents have an easy way to signal for help when they are being pressured to engage in underage drinking.  It gives you a way out that says, `Well, my mom just called. I was supposed to do something, I have to go run and do that, but I will catch up with you guys later,” he explains.  Dr. Askew also directs parents and other caregiving adults to Healthfinder.gov for more information to help parents and children stay connected and advice for talking with young people about alcohol.  These Healthfinder tips echo and reinforce “Talk. They Hear You.” a nationwide media campaign sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.   HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Self-Concept Linked With Future Teen Drinking Behaviors

Low behavioral self-concept may predict future youth drinking behaviors according to a recent study.  Findings suggest that behavioral self-concept may help identify teens at high risk for participating in both general and high-risk alcohol use.  The study used longitudinal data from one school year to reach its conclusion.  A total of 291 students from a Latino majority public high school completed a computerized confidential survey during the fall and spring of their ninth grade year that measured frequency of alcohol use, binge drinking, and at-school alcohol use within the previous 30 days.  Rebecca N. Dudovitz, M.D., M.S.; Ning Li, Ph.D.; and Paul J. Chung, M.D., M.S. authored this study, which was partially funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  “Behavioral self-concept as predictor of teen drinking behaviors” appeared online in the May 2013 issue of Academic Pediatrics.

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July 9 Webinar: Working With Children of Incarcerated Parents

On July 9, 2013, beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET, a 90-minute webinar will highlight the impacts on the health and safety of youth at risk for delinquency when parents are incarcerated. The webinar will provide resources for leaders to make a positive difference in the lives of youth and their communities. Faith in Action: Working With Children of Incarcerated Parents is being presented by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the U.S. Department of Justice Center for Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships. Having an incarcerated household member has been identified as a risk factor for the early onset of alcohol use, , substance abuse, and other negative health outcomes in the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, co-sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente’s Health Appraisal Clinic in San Diego. Online registration for the July 9 webinar is free.

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Online Suicide Prevention Course Available

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center, a service of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is offering a suicide prevention training course, “Counseling on Access to Lethal Means (CALM): An Online Suicide Prevention Course.”  CALM teaches effective ways to ask people about their access to deadly means to commit suicide and works with patients and their families to restrict any access.  According to the 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, alcohol and drug abuse rank second behind mood disorders as common risk factors for suicide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies underage drinking as a risk factor for suicidal behavior and reports that suicide is the third leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 24.  Further information and registration for CALM are now available.

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By Age 11 Half Had Sipped Alcohol, of Concern to Researchers

By age 11 years, half of the children in a new study had sipped alcohol, an experience the researchers found concerning because their earlier work suggests an association between sipping and early-onset drinking. According to University of Pittsburgh researchers John E. Donovan, Ph.D., and Brooke S.G. Molina, Ph.D., 25 percent of their sample had consumed a full drink by age 14.5, but intoxication was rare before middle adolescence. By age 18, fully 38 percent of these teens reported getting drunk. The study’s authors recommend that clinicians dissuade parents from letting their children sip alcohol and point out that a recent authoritative alcoholism screening guide states that any drinking by children places them at risk for involvement in other problem behaviors. That guide to clinicians was published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). NIAAA also provided support for the new study analyzing data on 452 children and adolescents in Allegheny County, PA. Types of Alcohol Use Experience From Childhood Through Adolescence, reporting the study’s findings, was published online on June 13, 2013, in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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Review Finds Tax Increase To Be Best Policy To Prevent Underage Drinking

Efficacy and the Strength of Evidence of U.S. Alcohol Control Policies, a study funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, reports that state and local policies that increase the price of alcohol through taxes have been found to have the greatest impact in reducing underage drinking and excessive alcohol consumption among adults. The study authored by a panel of alcohol policy experts, which includes Toben F. Nelson, Sc.D., Ziming Xuan, Sc.D., Thomas F. Babor, Ph.D.,  Robert Brewer, M.D.  et al., was published online in the July 2013 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The team evaluated the effectiveness of 47 alcohol control policies, ranked the comparative usefulness of each policy for curbing binge drinking and alcohol-impaired driving among both youth and adults, and ranked the evidence for each policy. The study found that the most effective policies for curbing binge drinking by youth were among the most effective policies for reducing binge drinking in the general population.

Two other authors of the new study, Timothy S. Naimi, M.D., M.P.H., and James F. Mosher, J.D., discussed key findings during a June 26, 2013, webinar, hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as part of a series being presented by the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking. An archived copy of the June 26th program is expected to become available by mid-July.

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Expert Warns Parents About Teen Drinking in Summer

In a June 25, 2013, interview for HHS HealthBeat, Dr. George Askew, of the Administration on Children and Families (ACF), points out that teens are more likely to take their first drink in the summer and tells parents, “Make sure that they know that you’re there to answer their questions and that there’s no question that’s inappropriate.” According to a 2012 report based on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, on an average day in June, July, or December, more than 11,000 youth used alcohol for the first time; in other months, the daily average ranged from about 5,000 to 8,000 new users per day. ACF is a member of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking.  HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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June 26 Underage Drinking Prevention Webinar: Role of Public Health

The Role of Public Health in Preventing Underage Drinking and Excessive Drinking by Adults is a free webinar scheduled for Wednesday, June 26, 2013, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. EDT. The fifth in the 2013 series of webinars being presented by the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking (ICCPUD), the June 26 program will be hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and will feature a distinguished panel:

  • Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., Director, CDC;
  • Dafna Kanny, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Alcohol Program, Division of Population Health (DPH), National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP), CDC;
  • Robert D. Brewer, M.D., M.S.P.H., Alcohol Program Leader, DPH, NCCDPHP, CDC;
  • Timothy S. Naimi, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Professor, Boston University School of Medicine and Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts;
  • James F. Mosher, J.D., President, Alcohol Policy Consultations and Senior Policy Advisor, The CDM Group, Inc., Felton, California; and
  • Michael Sparks, M.A., President, Sparks Initiatives, Maui, Hawaii.

Additional information about the ICCPUD series is available at http://www.stopalcoholabuse.gov.

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Surgeon General Leads June 27 Online Event on Suicide Prevention

On June 27, 2013, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will host a National Suicide Prevention event, “Everyone Plays a Role in Suicide Prevention: Turning Strategy Into Action” at Northwestern University’s Thorne Auditorium, 375 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL. There will be an option to participate via echo sites for those who cannot attend in person. Surgeon General VADM Regina Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A. will head up an expert panel representing vulnerable populations. Participants will learn about evidence-based practices and will have an opportunity to create specific action plans to address suicide in their communities. According to the 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, among the most common risk factors for suicide, alcohol and drug abuse ranked second behind mood disorders. Underage drinking is a risk factor for suicidal behavior, and suicide is one of the top three causes of death among persons 15–24 years of age. The event on June 27 will launch “75 Days of Action,” an action-oriented campaign to curb suicides by National Suicide Awareness Day on September 10, 2013.

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“Made by Me” Challenge Asks Teens To Produce Alcohol, Drug PSA

Teens between the ages of 13 and 18 have until July 10, 2013, to submit 60-second video entries of their ideas for a television public serve announcement (PSA) commercial targeting their peers with underage drinking and other drug use prevention messages and information. The “Made by Me” challenge is being sponsored by "Above the Influence" (ATI), the national youth antidrug campaign supported by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Submissions to the challenge’s Facebook page will be posted on the contest page from July 13 to August 9, 2013, so that all teens across the country can vote on their favorite commercial idea. The winning teen will work with a professional director to turn his or her idea into an official ATI commercial. The produced commercial will premiere on National “Above the Influence” Day, October 17, 2013. ATI has also posted the “Made by Me” challenge as a YouTube video.

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June 26/27 Webinar: Safer Campuses and Communities Alcohol Prevention

Robert F. Saltz, Ph.D., senior research scientist at the Prevention Research Center, Berkeley, California, will introduce new materials, tools, and procedures to help campuses and communities prevent underage and excessive drinking among college students during an upcoming webinar. The 90-minute webinar, Safer Campuses and Communities, will first be shown on June 26, 2013, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. EDT, and repeated on June 27, 2013, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EDT. Online registration is free for the webinar, which is sponsored by the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments, a service of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students. The new Safer Campuses and Communities resources are based on a translational research project supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Dr. Saltz was a presenter during the April 17, 2013, underage drinking prevention webinar, Shape of the Solution, sponsored by the federal Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking.

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Study: 40 Percent of Designated Drivers 18 and Over Were Drinking

“Often people choose designated drivers because they’re the ones who’ve drunk the least. The most practical recommendation is that if you drive, you shouldn’t drink at all,” Adam E. Barry, an assistant professor of health education at the University of Florida and lead author of a new study that found many designated drivers drinking told The New York Times. The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, sampled 1,071 bar patrons, including self-identified designated drivers, ages 18 and over in a southeastern college community who were interviewed as they exited these establishments. Subjects submitted to an alcohol breath test to determine their breath alcohol concentrations (BrACs); results revealed that nearly 40 percent of the designated drivers had consumed alcohol and 18 percent registered BrAC levels of 0.05 or higher. Among the conclusions Barry and his colleagues found were that “… these findings identify the need for consensus across researcher, layperson, and communication campaigns that a DD [designated driver] must be someone who has abstained from drinking entirely.” Breath Alcohol Concentrations of Designated Drivers appears in the July 2013 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs

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Talk About Underage Drinking AND Mental Health

Drinking is an early warning sign of a mental health problem, according to MentalHealth.gov, a new federal website launched by President Obama on June 3, 2013, during the National Conference on Mental Health sponsored by the White House. In his remarks announcing the new website, the President observed that most suicides each year involve someone with a mental health or substance abuse disorder. Youthful suicide has been associated with underage drinking in several studies.

 

The intent of the new MentalHealth.gov website is to encourage Americans to discuss mental health as often and openly as they do other health issues; the site’s tag line is Let’s talk about it.” Based on this theme, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a partner in the development of MentalHealth.gov, has published Community Conversations About Mental Health: Information Brief. The new SAMHSA tool notes that half of adult mental health problems begin before age 14 and three quarters begin before age 24. By preventing a child from becoming dependent on alcohol, the information brief points out that we can save approximately $700,000 over the course of the child’s lifetime.

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Parents Urged To Talk to Graduates Before the Party Starts

“Graduation is a time to celebrate. But before the party starts, take the time to talk with your graduates about alcohol—it just may save a life.” These remarks begin Parents—Help Your Teens Party Right At Graduation, a new website page aimed at the parents of teens who are preparing to graduate. The page is offered by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) to provide adult family members with important quick and easy tips to prevent alcohol-related tragedies at social events meant to celebrate an important transition in the lives of most adolescents, school graduation. NIAAA has also tweeted an image urging graduates to have a safe and sober graduation week, for forwarding via social media and posting on websites. Talking with your graduate about alcohol now could help prevent a life-changing mistake,” says NIAAA, echoing the message of the latest nationwide public education campaign on underage drinking, “Talk. They Hear You.”, launched on May 13, 2013, by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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Daily Drinking Among 12th Graders Falls, But Binge Drinking Increases

Daily drinking among 12th graders, after reaching a recent peak of 3.9 percent in 1997 and 1998, declined by about a third, to 2.7 percent by 2010. In 2011 daily drinking decreased significantly to 2.1 percent, but in 2012 there was a nonsignificant increase to 2.5 percent, according to the newly published full report of the 2012 results of the Monitoring the Future (MTF) surveys of American secondary school students conducted on behalf of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

 

However, the report also notes that among 12th graders, 30-day prevalence of self-reported drunkenness, or binge drinking, increased to 28 percent in 2012 from 25 percent in 2011. This rate had showed declines between 1991 and 1993 (from 32 percent to 29 percent), followed by gradual increases through 1997 before reaching 25 percent in 2011, the lowest rate since the question was added. The survey’s principal investigator, University of Michigan professor Lloyd Johnston, remarked, “This possible turnaround in alcohol consumption among the older teens is somewhat unexpected and certainly not a welcome development.”

 

In addition to the full report, a special Occasional Paper graphically charts trends for many key demographic subgroups defined by gender, college plans, region, population density, socioeconomic status, and race/ethnicity. It also contains links to all figures in the List of Figures, which allows readers to move to the drug of interest and the subgroup of interest with a single click. Findings from the 2012 MTF were announced on December 19, 2012, in Washington, DC.

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In 2011, Emergency Departments Treated 188,706 Underage Drinkers

In 2011, 188,706, or 43.2 percent, of all drug abuse–related emergency department (ED) visits by persons age 20 or younger involved alcohol, according to the new report Drug Abuse Warning Network, 2011: National Estimates of Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits, from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Of these ED visits, 71,991 were by patients ages 12 to 17, and 115,841 involved people between the ages of 18 and 20. Among the younger group, the rate of medical emergencies involving underage drinking comes to 286.7 visits per 100,000 population, while for those ages 18 to 20 that rate jumped to 857.6 per 100,000. About two thirds of ED visits by 18- to-20-year-olds involved alcohol only. For those ages 12 to 17, ED visits were split fairly evenly between visits involving alcohol only and visits involving alcohol in combination with other drugs. The new SAMHSA report notes that intervention during ED visits may be an efficient way to reach youth at high risk for alcohol abuse.

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June 12, 13 Webinar: Assessing Bullying, Violence, and Substance Abuse

The National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments, supported by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students, will present the webinar Effective Strategies for Assessing Bullying, Violence, and Substance Abuse twice, on:

·         Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 4:00 p.m.—5:30 p.m., EDT; and

·         Thursday, June 13, 2013, 11:00 a.m.—12:30 p.m., EDT.

 

This webinar will review strategies to design and conduct surveys to measure bullying, violence, and substance abuse. Presenters will be Lina Guzman, a survey specialist for Child Trends; and Gregory Austin, an external survey developer for Safe and Supportive Schools grantee states, from WestEd. Links to resources and examples of such assessments will be provided. Free registration for either date is now available.

 

Nearly 72 million Americans (57 million adults and 15 million children) are affected by mental illness or substance use disorders in any given year. To address this issue, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 2012 State Policy Academy on Preventing Mental and Substance Use Disorders in Children and Youth is working with participating states to build their statewide prevention infrastructure for children, youth, and young adults. The resulting infrastructure will support the systematic advancement of prevention-focused social policies and programs for these particular groups. The June 12/June 13 webinar is designed for members of participating State Policy Academy teams and others interested in quality assessment.

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June 27 Webcast on Suicide Prevention

On Thursday, June 27, 2013, Surgeon General Vice Admiral Regina Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A., will keynote the interactive Everyone Plays a Role in Suicide Prevention: Turning Strategy Into Action event, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. CT, at the Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago, according to an announcement from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Participation via webcast will be available from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. CT. Following presentations by Dr. Benjamin and an expert panel, participants will engage in action sessions to learn about evidence-based practices and make action plans specific to their organizations and communities. The event will kick off “75 Days of Action” to implement plans in anticipation of National Suicide Awareness Day on September 10, 2013. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol use interacts with conditions such as depression and stress to contribute to suicide, the third leading cause of death among people between the ages of 14 and 25. In one study, 37 percent of eighth-grade females who drank heavily reported attempting suicide, compared with 11 percent who did not drink

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ADHD Medications Do Not Increase Risks for Underage Drinking, Drugs

A study involving analysis of 15 long-term studies, including data from three as yet unpublished studies, concludes that children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who take medications, such as Ritalin and Adderall, are at no greater risk of using alcohol or drugs later on than are children with ADHD who do not take these medications. The studies followed 2,565 individuals with ADHD from childhood, through adolescence, and into young adulthood, and results are discussed in an Online First article, Stimulant Medication and Substance Use Outcomes: A Meta-analysis, published on May 29, 2013, by the journal JAMA Psychiatry. Said the study’s lead author, Kathryn L. Humphreys, M.A., Ed.M., Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, “For parents whose major concern about Ritalin and Adderall is about the future risk for substance abuse, this study may be helpful ….” But she and her colleagues stressed the importance of parents consulting with their prescribing physicians. Partial support for the new study came from the National Institutes of Health. Earlier studies by these researchers and others have found that children with ADHD histories were much more likely to drink, smoke, and engage in substance abuse than peers who had no history of ADHD.

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Declines in Teen Drinking, Impaired Driving Reflected in New Federal Data

Alcohol use, binge drinking, and heavy drinking among 12- to 17-year-old youths declined between 2002 and 2010, according to data included in Health, United States, 2012, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on May 30, 2013. Binge drinking in this age group, for example, fell from 10.7 percent in 2002 to 7.8 percent in 2010. However, among those often referred to as “young adults,” between the ages of 18 and 25 and thus including many underage drinkers, the news is mixed. Alcohol use actually rose slightly (from 60.5 percent in 2002 to 61.5 percent in 2010), and there were only fractional decreases in binge and heavy drinking.

 

In addition, the new report of the nation’s trends in health statistics provides evidence for the effectiveness of efforts to curb youthful drinking and driving. From 1991 to 2011, the percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported driving while drinking fell more than half, from 16.7 percent (1991) to 8.2 percent (2011).

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Now in Theaters: Alcohol Brand Placements in Youth Movies

Alcohol brand placement in movies for youth increased significantly between 1996 and 2009, in spite of growing evidence of an association between children’s exposure to movie imagery of alcohol and early onset of drinking, heavy drinking, and alcohol abuse. Over the same period, movie placement of tobacco brands declined dramatically, following the 1998 implementation of the Master Settlement Agreement. As tobacco brand appearances fell by 7 percent per year, appearances of alcohol brand products in youth-rated movies increased by 5.2 percent per year. A new study that reviewed the top 100 U.S. box office hits from 1996 through 2009 concludes, “… alcohol brand placements, subject only to self-regulation, increased significantly in movies rated acceptable for youth audiences, a trend that could have implications for teen drinking.” Results are reported in Trends in Tobacco and Alcohol Brand Placements in Popular US Movies, 1996 Through 2009, published online on May 27, 2013, in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. Funding for the study was provided by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

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Challenge: Help Prevent High-Risk Drinking Among College Students

Underage and excessive drinking is highly prevalent among college students in the United States. To encourage innovative solutions to the problem, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is sponsoring a challenge competition for the development of web or mobile applications, SMS (Short Message Service), podcasts, or other technology or online products aimed at reducing and preventing high-risk drinking among college students. SAMHSA will award a $60,000 first-place prize for the winning entry and second- and third-place prizes of $30,000 and $10,000, respectively. The submission deadline is 11:00 p.m. EDT on July 7, 2013, and submission rules and information are provided on a special website.

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Many Parents Unaware of Their Influence on Underage Drinking

According to the 2004 to 2011 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUHs), sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 22.3 percent of parents of teens ages 12 to 17 think that they have little influence on whether their child uses alcohol or drugs. Nearly 1 in 10 parents of teens (9.1 percent) say they have not discussed the dangers of underage drinking with their children in the past year. A May 21, 2013, NSDUH Report, 1 in 5 Parents Think What They Say Has Little Influence on Their Child’s Substance Use summarizes the findings. In a related news release, SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., notes, “Surveys of teens repeatedly show that parents can make an enormous difference in influencing their children’s perceptions of tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drug use.” To help parents recognize their potential for keeping their children from using alcohol and equip them with information to help them do so, SAMHSA recently released “Talk. They Hear You.”, a national media campaign encouraging parents of children ages 9 to 15 to talk with them about alcohol.

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Internal Possession Laws are Reducing Underage Drinking

Internal possession (IP) laws are reducing underage drinking, particularly among younger adolescents, and the effect of these IP laws appears to be strongest among male teens, who tend to drink more than do their female peers. These are among the conclusions of a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)-supported study reported in The Effect of Internal Possession Laws on Underage Drinking Among High School Students: A 12-State Analysis in the June 2013 issue of the American Journal of Public Health. The existence of an IP law resulted in an overall 10 percent reduction in underage drinking; the biggest reduction (15 percent) was among students ages 14 and under. In addition, the presence of IP laws correlated with a greater reduction among adolescent males (27 percent) than females (15 percent). To obtain their results, Lynn D. Disney, Ph.D., and colleagues examined Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) data from 12 states with IP laws, comparing YRBS data before and after each of the state’s laws was implemented. The NIAAA Alcohol Policy Information System defines IP as “A minor-in-possession charge that requires evidence of alcohol in the minor's body, as determined by a blood, breath or urine test, but that does not otherwise require any specific evidence of possession or consumption (for example through witness observation or an admission on the part of the minor).” IP laws were introduced to help law enforcement cite teens with violations at underage drinking parties.

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States Urged To Lower BAC for All Drivers To Save Lives

“Establish a per se blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of 0.05 or lower for all drivers who are not already required to adhere to lower BAC limits” is a key recommendation to states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia in Reaching Zero: Actions to Eliminate Alcohol-Impaired Driving. This report, adopted by the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) on May 14, 2013, notes that 0.05 is currently the BAC limit for drivers in most industrialized countries. “The research clearly shows that drivers with a BAC above 0.05 are impaired and at a significantly greater risk of being involved in a crash where someone is killed or injured,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah A. P. Hersman. To achieve substantial reductions in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, the new NTSB report calls for stronger laws, improved enforcement strategies, innovative adjudication programs, and accelerated development of new in-vehicle alcohol detection technologies. The report also urges states to identify specific and measurable goals for reducing impaired driving fatalities and injuries and to evaluate the effectiveness of implemented countermeasures on an ongoing basis. According to Ms. Hersman, “Most Americans think that we’ve solved the problem of impaired driving, but in fact, it’s still a national epidemic. On average, every hour one person is killed and 20 more are injured.”

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Risk of Underage Binge Drinking Increased by Dating Violence

“Nearly 10 percent of teenagers experience some form of violence in their dating relationships,” is a finding by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in "When Teen Dating Turns Abusive and Violent," a May 2013  article published on MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. MedlinePlus also refers to a study reported in the January issue of Pediatrics that revealed that teens subjected to dating violence were more likely to binge drink, smoke, have depression symptoms, consider suicide, and experience other incidents of intimate partner violence than their peers who did not experience dating violence. Experts interviewed for the May 10 article urge parents to talk to teens about the issue of dating violence and stress that protection starts with knowing the person their teen is dating.

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College Females More Likely Than Males To Exceed Alcohol Intake Guidelines

“Female college students are more likely to exceed weekly alcohol intake limits than men. Furthermore, trends over time suggest that college students may be maturing out of heavy episodic drinking, but women may not mature out of harmful levels of weekly drinking.” These are among conclusions of a new study, jointly supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. NIAAA recommends no more than 7 drinks per week for women and no more than 14 drinks per week for men.

 

Bettina B. Hoeppner, Ph.D., of Harvard Medical School’s Center for Addiction Medicine, and her colleagues found that college women more frequently than college men exceeded NIAAA’s recommendation of weekly limits for alcohol consumption (15 percent of weeks and 12 percent of weeks, respectively). They also found that the female subjects were less likely than their male counterparts to mature out of harmful levels of weekly drinking. “Recommended drinking limits are lower for women than for men because research to date has found that women experience alcohol-related problems at lower levels of alcohol consumption than men,” Dr. Hoeppner told U.S. News & World Report. Sex Differences in College Student Adherence to NIAAA Drinking Guidelines was published online on May 17, 2013, in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

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More Than One Third of “Young Adults” Report Binge Drinking

“About one in four U.S. adults had five or more drinks in 1 day at least once in the past year—that is, engaged in at-risk drinking,” according to the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, the CDC report defines persons between the ages of 18 and 24 as “young adults,” a group that includes many underage drinkers. In this age group, 35.1 percent engaged in this high-risk behavior, one of the findings in Health Behaviors of Adults: United States, 2008–2010, a May 2013 report. Of concern to the public health field is CDC’s finding that “Since the last report, the percentage of adults who had five or more drinks in 1 day at least once in the past year increased from 20.5% (2005–2007) to 23.6% (2008–2010)—with increases in every age group except adults aged 75 and over.” But the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, found that binge drinking among youth between the ages of 12 and 20 declined from 16.9 percent in 2010 to 15.8 percent in 2011.

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Alcohol Abuse/Dependence Is Major Childhood Mental Health Issue

The summary of a May 17, 2013, article in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), notes that 4.2 percent of adolescents ages 12 to 17 had an alcohol use disorder during the past year, according to a review of federal surveillance systems from 2005 to 2011. The article, Mental Health Surveillance Among Children—United States, 2005–2011, cites recent criteria that place underage drinking and other substance abuse within a mental health frame and states, “Recently the term mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders has been used to refer to diagnosed mental or substance use disorders.” Other disorders that fall within this definition, such as anxiety, depression, illicit drug use, smoking, and suicide, may be associated with underage drinking, as well. For example, the MMWR article cites a history of alcohol and substance abuse as a risk factor for youth suicide. According to CDC’s 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 38.7 percent of students reported drinking alcohol during the past month. The new article emphasizes that “Mental disorders among children are an important public health issue because of their prevalence, early onset, and impact on the child, family, and community.”

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May 30 Webinar: Alternative Sentencing for Underage Drinking

On Thursday, May 30, 2013, from 3:00 to 4:15 p.m. EDT, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s (OJJDP) Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center will host a free webinar: Idaho’s Community Based Sentencing Programs—A Viable Alternative for Underage Offenders. The presentation will review processes and programs developed in several Idaho communities to implement a more community-based approach to underage drinking court cases, as well as cases involving underage tobacco sales and status offenders. Free online registration is available now. OJJDP is a member of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking.

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“Talk. They Hear You.”, SAMHSA’s New Prevention Campaign for Parents

“Talk. They Hear You.” is a new national media campaign from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that empowers parents to talk to children as young as 9 years old about the dangers of underage drinking. SAMHSA officially launched the campaign on May 13, in conjunction with its 2013 National Prevention Week—an annual health observance dedicated to increasing awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues. 

 

“Talk. They Hear You.”features a series of public service announcements (PSAs) in English and Spanish that show parents talking with their children about alcohol during such natural, every-day opportunities as preparing dinner or doing chores.  Visit www.samhsa.gov/underagedrinking for more information about the campaign and to access free, customizable radio, television, and print PSAs; social media tools; and fact sheets, talking points, and other print materials to share with parents and caregivers.

 

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Pregnant Teens Need Access to Alcohol Prevention

“It is critical that pregnant women of all ages have access to prevention, support, and recovery services that meet their specialized needs,” said Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). She added, “These specialized needs are even more acute for our pregnant teens,” in a May 9, 2013, news release announcing a new report, Characteristics of Pregnant Teen Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions. The report summarizes topic findings from SAMHSA’s Treatment Episode Data Set and finds that 4.0 percent of females between the ages of 12 and 19 who received substance abuse treatment between 2007 and 2010 were pregnant. Among these pregnant adolescents, 45.7 percent were underage drinkers who reported consuming alcohol during the month prior to their treatment. Teen pregnancy has declined in recent years, but a fact sheet issued by SAMHSA’s Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Center for Excellence states that in 2004, 8.8 percent of pregnant young women, ages 15 to 17, reported binge drinking during pregnancy.

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New Report: Underage Drinking Falls Among Program Participants

Underage drinking, other substance abuse, mental health problems, and other serious challenges decline at significant rates among participants in the Children’s Mental Health Initiative, the Emerging Adults Initiative, and the Pregnant and Postpartum Women Program, all funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), according to a report released on May 7, 2013. The report, Promoting Recovery and Independence for Older Adolescents and Young Adults Who Experience Serious Mental Health Challenges, states, “The good news is that, after receiving services through SAMHSA programs, older adolescents and young adults, aged 16–21, made substantial gains.” Those who received help from SAMHSA-funded programs showed improvements, such as:

·         Reduced behavioral and emotional problems;

·         Increased rates of employment and enrollment in school;

·         Reduced rates of homelessness and improved housing stability;

·         Improved daily life skills; and

·         Fewer substance use issues.

The new SAMHSA report was unveiled during a press briefing to launch National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, SAMHSA’s annual celebration highlighting the importance of caring for every child’s mental health.

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Teens Among Millions Now Eligible for Free Alcohol Screening

Through the Affordable Care Act, more than 71 million Americans can now get free preventive services including screenings for alcohol abuse and depression, a May 2, 2013, news release issued on behalf of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius notes. The release launches Mental Health Month, observed during May for more than 50 years.

Screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment is an effective early intervention for those at risk for developing substance abuse problems, including underage drinking. Among those who could benefit from this approach are about 9.7 million youth, ages 12 to 20, who acknowledged past-month drinking in 2011. To reach them before their drinking progresses into chronic dependence, Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention for Youth: A Practitioner's Guide has been developed. Secretary Sibelius and Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, have joined forces to call attention to this year’s National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, taking place on May 9 as a highlight of Mental Health Month.

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Brain’s Response to Rewards Might Predict Underage Drinking, Drug Use

When adolescent research subjects who abstained from alcohol and other drugs were offered money, elevated activity in the reward regions (e.g., the striatum) of some of the subjects’ brains predicted that they were likely to begin drinking and/or using drugs. Paradoxically, the brains of adolescents with even a limited history of substance abuse showed less responsivity to the promise of monetary reward. “The implications are that the more individuals use psychoactive substances, the less responsive they will be to rewarding experiences, meaning that they may derive less reinforcement from other pursuits, such as interpersonal relationships, hobbies, and school work,” said Eric Stice, Ph.D., senior scientist at the Oregon Research Institute. He and his colleagues used functional magnetic resource imaging (fMRI) to measure neural responses to money and food in 162 adolescents, whose substance abuse and body fat were measured at the time of the fMRI and again 1 year later. Dr. Stice hypothesized that the lower level of neural response among those who had already engaged in underage drinking and other substance abuse might contribute to the escalating spiral of drug use among young people who develop addictions. The National Institutes of Health funded the new study, which is reported in Elevated Reward Region Responsivity Predicts Future Substance Use Onset But Not Overweight/Obesity Onset scheduled to appear in the May 1, 2013, issue of Biological Psychiatry.

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Warning to the Young: Roadside Walking and Drinking Don't Mix

In 2010, 33 percent of the more than 4,200 pedestrians killed in traffic crashes were legally drunk, and teen and young adult pedestrians (ages 15 to 29) were most likely to seek treatment from hospital emergency departments for crash-related injuries. These facts are included in a new online article, Walk This Way! Taking Steps for Pedestrian Safety, available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Walking is good for your health, and it’s good for the environment too,” CDC notes, but points out also that “Pedestrians—people who travel by foot, wheelchair, stroller, or similar means—are among the most vulnerable users of the road.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported 4,280 pedestrian deaths during 2010, plus 70,000 injuries. NHTSA also found that alcohol was involved—on the part of either the driver or the pedestrian—in 47 percent of the fatalities, 14 percent of which involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher.

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Connecting With Their Culture Helps Native Youth Avoid Alcohol

“Our Native culture is prevention,” says a teenager in Critical Dialogue with Native Youth about Underage Drinking: Our Culture is Prevention (Our Culture is Prevention). This new video features informal comments by several American Indian young people and two tribal elders about the consequences of underage drinking, reasons why teens interviewed choose to not drink today, and how Native culture promotes resilience and helps prevent substance use. The short (less than 10 minutes) Native American underage drinking prevention video is currently featured on the homepage of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) website and is available on the SAMHSA YouTube channel. Our Culture is Prevention is the product of a collaboration between SAMHSA’s Underage Drinking Prevention Education Initiatives, which is producing videos on underage drinking prevention for states and territories, and SAMHSA’s Native American Center for Excellence

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May 7 Award to Demi Lovato, New Report of Effective Strategies

On May 7, 2013, singer, songwriter, and actress Demi Lovato, who has used her recovery from problems relating to underage drinking, drug use, and mental health to help others, will be honored for her work as a mentor to young adults facing substance abuse and mental health challenges. The award will be presented by Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, joined by Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, at a press briefing. The briefing will launch events for National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, being observed across the country on Thursday, May 9, 2013. During the briefing, announcements will be made about upcoming federal initiatives on children’s mental health and about a new report’s findings on the efficacy of community-based programs in improving the lives of older adolescents and young adults with mental health and substance use challenges. 

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Undergraduate Bingeing May Lead to Postgraduate Heart Problems

Researchers who looked at two groups of healthy, nonsmoking college students report that frequent binge drinking by students ages 18 to 25 can cause changes in circulation that increase an otherwise healthy young adult’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease later in life. One group in the study had a history of binge drinking; the other was made of up of students who abstained from alcohol. Vascular changes found among the binge drinking group can predict the development of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, and other cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke. “Binge drinking is neurotoxic and our data support that there may be serious cardiovascular consequences [of frequent binge drinking] in young adults,” said the senior author of the study, Shane A. Phillips, PT, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Grants from the National Institutes of Health and its National Center for Research Resources supported the study, and details are reported in Binge Drinking Impairs Vascular Function in Young Adults, published online on April 23, 2013, in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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Runaway, Homeless Youth Report High Rates of Underage Drinking

When runaway or homeless young people live on the streets, they are at high risk of developing serious, lifelong health, behavioral, and emotional problems. They report high rates of depression, underage drinking and other substance abuse, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Many of them have experienced physical and sexual abuse. The longer they remain homeless, the greater their chances of falling victim to sexual exploitation. These concerns are reviewed in the Report to Congress on the Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011, released on April 16, 2013, by the Family and Youth Services Bureau of the Administration for Children & Families. Based on youth worker observations, the report estimates that one quarter of youth who enter Basic Center Programs—federally supported emergency shelters for people age 18 and under—have problems with alcohol and drugs. In 2004, a short report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that 55 percent of female runaways, ages 12 to 17, reported drinking, and 46 percent of male runaways in the same age group were using alcohol.

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Lowest Alcohol Prices in 60 Years Hinders Prevention

A daily drink of a low-priced beer now requires 1.37 percent of per capita disposable income. In 1950, the same beer would have cost fıve times that share of income. Over the same period, wine and distilled spirits have become increasingly affordable to American drinkers, as well. One reason why alcohol consumption is a bargain now is because disposable per capita income has increased since the 1950s. Another reason is that declining real federal and state taxes on alcoholic beverages are contributing to decreasing real prices for these products. These are among the findings reported by William C. Kerr, Ph.D., of the Alcohol Research Group in Emeryville, California, and his colleagues. They analyzed the percentage of mean disposable income required to purchase one drink per day of the cheapest spirits, as well as popular brands of beer and wine, in 2011 and compared the results with similar price and income data for 1950. They concluded that alcoholic beverages are highly affordable in the United States today and that this affordability weakens one of the barriers to underage and excessive drinking. Other studies have confirmed that increasing taxes on the sale of alcoholic beverages is an effective strategy for preventing underage and excessive drinking. Details of the new study, which was supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, are reported in U.S. Alcohol Affordability and Real Tax Rates, 1950–2011, appearing in the May 2013 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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Building Blocks Program Promotes Behavioral Health of Young Children

Positive mental health is essential to a child's healthy development from birth, according to an announcement of the May 9, 2013, National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The 2013 observance is intended to increase awareness of trauma in the lives of children and their resilience. The SAMHSA Building Blocks prevention program puts research-based tools into the hands of parents, caregivers, and educators of children ages 3 to 6 so that they can strengthen resilience in children, promote their mental health, help them overcome trauma, and equip them to avoid underage drinking and other forms of substance abuse. Building Blocks articles, such as Traumatic Events in a Child’s World, address specific childhood issues, and the program includes activities for children and adults to share. For National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, SAMHSA also offers a list of more than a dozen free publications.

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Parent-Based Interventions Prevent Underage Drinking

Additional information about the effectiveness of parent-based interventions (PBIs) in preventing underage and excessive alcohol use among first-year college students has been reported by researchers at the Prevention Resource Center at Pennsylvania State University. The study found that PBIs can reduce underage drinking during transitions in a teenager’s life and that a PBI delivered prior to college enrollment, sometimes with booster information provided during the first year of college, is more likely to work than one provided after the adolescent starts college. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism supported the study, and the latest article reporting results, Moderation of a Parent-Based Intervention on Transitions in Drinking: Examining the Role of Normative Perceptions and Attitudes Among High- and Low-Risk First-Year College Students, was published online on April 2, 2013, in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. Previously, the study was described in an article in the January 2013 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

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White House: Every Dollar Spent on Alcohol/Drug Prevention Saves $18

On Wednesday, April 24, 2013, President Barack Obama released the 2013 National Drug Control Strategy through the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. The new federal plan for addressing the nation’s substance abuse problems states, “Policies, programs, and messages that help youth abstain from drugs and alcohol are needed at home, in school, among peers, at workplaces, and throughout the community. Recent research has concluded that every dollar invested in school-based substance use prevention programs has the potential to save up to $18 in costs related to substance use disorders.” Among the goals that the new document lists are those to be achieved by 2014, including Goal 1b, which reads, “Decrease the lifetime prevalence of 8th graders who have used drugs, alcohol, or tobacco by 15 percent.” According to the 2012 Monitoring the Future Survey conducted on behalf of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the prevalence of lifetime alcohol use by eighth graders was 29.5 percent.

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May 14 Webinar: Justice System Perspective on Underage Drinking

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and its Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center (UDETC) will host the fourth in the 2013 series of webinars being offered by members of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking. The OJJDP/UDETC program will be presented live on Tuesday, May 14, 2013, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. EDT. Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws: Accountability and the Role of the Justice System will feature OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee, J.D., and an expert panel. They will discuss the importance of justice system involvement in preventing underage drinking, alcohol’s negative impact on our nation’s youth and public health and safety in general, the crucial role enforcement agencies play in preventing underage drinking, and the role of media and policy advocacy in ensuring that collaborative efforts are successful in moving effective strategies forward. Following their presentations, panelists will engage with participants in a live question-and-answer period.  Registration for the webinar is free.

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Majority of Underage Drinking Deaths Are Not on Highways

A new analysis of 2010 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that 68 percent of deaths of people ages 15 to 20 associated with underage drinking were not traffic related. Applying methodology from an earlier study, the analysis of the 2010 data concluded that these deaths consisted of homicides (30 percent, or 1,082); suicides (14.0 percent, or 501); and nontraffic unintentional injuries, such as poisonings, drowning, burns, and falls (24 percent, or 848). The analysis was conducted on behalf of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) by Rob Turrisi, Ph.D., of the Prevention Resource Center at Pennsylvania State University. Alcohol-impaired driving by underage drinkers has been the focus of a great deal of public education and prevention effort and remains a serious public health concern. For example, the new MADD information shows that there were 1,155 underage drinking traffic deaths in 2010, making up 32 percent of the year’s underage drinking death toll. In addition, while noting encouraging declines in this dangerous behavior, CDC reported in October of 2012 that 1 in 10 high school students reported driving after drinking during 2011

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Alcohol Can Add to Problems After Mass Violence

“Incidents of mass violence can disturb our collective sense of order and safety, and therefore the ‘circle of impact’ can extend to even those who live far outside of the impacted area with no personal connections to the event,” according to Incidents of Mass Violence, an online article included in the Disaster Distress Helpline website pages provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Underage or excessive drinking may be a sign of the stress and anxiety that young people and adults may experience following a natural or human-caused violent event. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website offers a Coping With Stress page to help people of all ages chose safe and healthy ways to deal with their reaction to such traumatic events. CDC warns them to avoid alcohol and drugs: “They may seem to be a temporary fix to feel better, but in the long run they can create more problems and add to your stress—instead of take it away.” The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration also offer resources on Coping with Violence and Traumatic Events.

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Steps To Reducing Alcohol Outlet Density and Underage Drinking

Coalitions can collaborate with state and local public health agencies to reduce underage drinking and other excessive drinking through regulating alcohol outlet density. There are nine specific steps, based on successful public health initiatives, that community coalitions and public health departments can take to educate and inform policymakers. These conclusions are discussed in Using Public Health and Community Partnerships to Reduce Density of Alcohol Outlets, published on April 11, 2013, in Preventing Chronic Disease, the journal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The article reviews the research on density of alcohol outlets and public health. The authors also reference Regulating Alcohol Outlet Density: An Action Guide, jointly developed by the CDC-supported Center for Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA); this guide is part of the Strategizer series of CADCA technical assistance publications.

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Teen Opioid Abusers Often Combine Alcohol and Drugs

Among teens who use prescription (Rx) opioids for nonmedical purposes, 15 percent say that they “usually or always” do so while engaging in underage drinking, substantially increasing their risks for overdose. Seven out of 10 adolescents who engage in the nonmedical use of Rx opioids combine these medications with other substances, with alcohol the second most commonly co-ingested substance (52.1 percent), after marijuana (58.5 percent). Also, teens who mix Rx opioids with other drugs are four times as likely as nonusers to report frequently getting drunk. These facts are included in an April 2013 National Institute on Drug Abuse infographic, Teens Mix Prescription Opioids with Other Substances, using data from the annual Monitoring the Future survey for the years 2002–2006. The 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, concluded that the nonmedical use of Rx drugs among youth ages 12 to 17 was the second most prevalent category of illicit drug use, with pain relievers ranking highest among all misused Rx medications.

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Study: Importance of Implementation in Underage Drinking Prevention

New evidence of the important role of implementation in effective underage drinking prevention comes from a study, supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, that showed impressive results. Researchers reported a 5 percent reduction in underage drinking among a sample of 11th-grade students who participated in both a family program and a school program, compared to those who participated in only the school program. In addition, those who took part in only the family program, but reported high attendance, showed a 7 percent reduction in underage drinking. To find these results, D. Max Crowley, Ph.D., of Duke University, and his colleagues measured the impact of enrollment and attendance in a family program, over and above the impact of a school-based program, within PROSPER (PROmoting School-community-university Partnerships to Enhance Resilience). Details of the study conducted by Dr. Crowley and his colleagues are in Evaluating the Impact of Implementation Factors on Family-Based Prevention Programming: Methods for Strengthening Causal Inference, published in the February 2013 issue of Prevention Science.

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Office of Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse Offers Technical Assistance

The Office of Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse (OIASA) has been created by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in accordance with the Tribal Law and Order Act. OIASA Director Rod Robinson, an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe in Montana, is coordinating technical assistance to help tribal governments develop Tribal Action Plans for the delivery of alcohol and other substance abuse prevention, intervention, and treatment. At 11.6 percent, the rate of heavy alcohol use by American Indians or Alaska Natives age 12 or older is the highest among ethnic/racial groups. The rate of overall substance abuse dependence for members of this population who are age 12 or older is 16.8 percent, or more than double the rate for Whites and substantially higher than for any other ethnic/racial population. These findings are included in Addressing Substance Abuse in Tribal Communities, an article in a spring 2013 newsletter coproduced by OIASA and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior. A separate article about sexual assault in the newsletter states that “… alcohol and drug abuse plays a role in teen dating violence and sexual assault in Native communities,” one more reminder of the impact underage drinking can have in this population.

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Underage Drinking Might Be a Possible Warning Sign for Suicide

Teens who suddenly start using alcohol might be thinking about suicide, warns a new factsheet, The Role of Teens in Preventing Suicide. Depression is identified in the online publication as another possible warning sign, with underage drinking listed as one of the indicators of depression in teens. The factsheet is one of 11 new customized information sheets to help members of particular groups who may come in contact with individuals who may be at risk for suicide. The series is available from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). On its About Suicide web page, the center notes that suicide is the third leading cause of death among people between the ages of 15 and 24. In 2010, a SAMHSA report based on 2008 data found that alcohol, sometimes combined with other drugs, was involved in about 1 in 10 (11.4 percent) of adolescent emergency department visits for drug-related suicide attempts.

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May 16 Webinar: Underage Drinking Data Sources, Uses

Data—Where to get it, what it shows, and how to use it to support enforcement efforts is the title of a May 16, 2013, webinar hosted by the Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center, as a service of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). The May 16 webinar will take place from 3:00 to 4:15 p.m. EDT and will offer an overview of key underage drinking data sources, indicators, and latest trends. An example of a logic model for using data and selected evidence-based environmental strategies for preventing underage drinking (e.g., compliance check, shoulder tap operations) will be included. Free online registration is available now.

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Underage Drinking Prevention Increasing Highway Safety

 

From 2008 to 2011, there was a 14 percent decline in the number of teen passengers in vehicles with a driver who had been drinking, according to Miles to Go: Focusing on Risks for Teen Driver Crashes, a report released on April 4, 2013. The report measured an overall decrease of 47 percent in teen driver–related fatalities over the past 6 years, but it cautioned that highway crashes are still the leading cause of adolescent death in the United States. The bad news is the percentage of teens with blood alcohol levels of greater than 0.01 dying in crashes increased from 38 percent to 41 percent between 2008 and 2011. The new report used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. It is the third report in an annual series jointly developed by The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm® and provides evidence to support stronger graduated driver licensing programs, which allow teens to gain experience under lower risk conditions.

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“High-Wire Act” With Peers Can Shield Youth From Underage Drinking

To avoid problems with alcohol and substance abuse, teens need to not only build strong, positive connections with their peers but also establish their independence from negative peer influences. Those who succeed in performing such “a high-wire act with their peers,” as described by an author of a new study, are likely to have strong friendships and avoid substance abuse well into adult life. Joseph P. Allen, Ph.D., of the University of Virginia, and his colleagues followed about 150 youth, beginning when the youth were age 13, for 10 years to measure the long-term effects of problems in peer relationships during early adolescence. “The findings make it clear that establishing social competence in adolescence and early adulthood is not a straightforward process, but involves negotiating challenging and at times conflicting goals between peer acceptance and autonomy with regard to negative peer influences,” Professor Allen said. The Adolescent Relational Dialectic and the Peer Roots of Adult Social Functioning was published online on March 27, 2013, in the journal Child Development, with support from the National Institutes of Health.

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Support Can Help Military Children on the Move Avoid Alcohol

During the Month of the Military Child, which is observed during April, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is encouraging adults to help foster resilience among the children of women and men in the armed services or who are military veterans. Stresses that children and adolescents in military families may experience increase their risks for a number of problems, including underage drinking. For example, depression related to parental deployment can increase such risks. Frequent relocation may be another source of stress in the lives of these children, and DoD has posted an article on the topic, urging parents help young people maintain routines and form healthy bonds in new settings. To involve children and teens themselves in dealing with relocation stress, DoD has created Military Youth on the Move as an online source of tips and resources. The Parents page of Military Youth on the Move includes advice about counseling children on how to handle peer pressure to engage in harmful behaviors, such as drinking.

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Keep Young Cinco de Mayo Celebrants Away From Alcohol

“From 2007 to 2011, 38 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities that occurred each year around May 5th involved alcohol-impaired drivers or motorcycle operators with blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of .08 and above, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)” is one of the bulleted facts included in NHTSA’s Cinco de Mayo Planner Fact Sheet/Talking Points. The document is one element in NHTSA’s Cinco de Mayo 2013 Drunk Driving Prevention Campaign and emphasizes concern for young drivers involved in Cinco de Mayo festivities. On its Teen Drivers page, NHTSA says, “Young drivers, ages 15- to 20-years old, are especially vulnerable to death and injury on our roadways—traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in America,” and NHTSA calls for limiting youth access to alcohol to reduce the problem. The NHTSA campaign for this year’s May 5 observance includes banner ads, media materials, posters, and web videos. Now a widespread celebration of Mexican heritage and pride across the United States, Cinco de Mayo originally commemorated the Mexican Army’s victory over French troops on May 5, 1862.

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2012 State Underage Drinking Policy Summaries Available

The 2012 Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking was released on November 30, 2012, by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. To help states and communities make use of the report’s contents, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has posted reports of each state’s policies, enforcement activities, and prevention programs that address underage drinking. Dropdown menus on the report’s new landing page permit users to open the report to view policy summaries (e.g., “Alcohol Taxes”) or to choose a particular state report pertaining to underage drinking. An interactive map of the 50 states offers another route to the state reports. A sidebar has links to PDF files of the complete report and to each of its chapters.

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Preventing Underage Drinking Can Prevent Sexual Assault

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. According to an online announcement posted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Sexual violence is any sexual activity where consent is not freely given. This includes completed or attempted sex acts that are against the victim’s will or involve a victim who is unable to consent… Sexual violence impacts health in many ways and can lead to long-term physical and mental health problems.” The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has pointed out that underage drinking increases risks for physical and sexual assault. April is also Alcohol Awareness Month, and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.’s Organizer’s Guide recommends that participating organizations working with media pay attention to issues that are not always addressed in media reports, include sexual abuse.

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Exemplary Awards May Honor Underage Drinking Prevention

A Call for Applications for the 2013 National Exemplary Awards for Innovative Substance Abuse Prevention Programs, Practices, and Policies (Exemplary Awards) has been announced by the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors, Inc., and the National Prevention Network (NPN). The application deadline is May 6, 2013. In 2012, Parents Empowered, a statewide underage drinking prevention campaign in Utah using mass communication, was honored, along with the Individual Prevention Services program in Riverside, California. Honorees for 2013 will be recognized at the NPN Prevention Research Conference, August 27–29, 2013, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention supports the Exemplary Awards program.

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Greater Underage, Binge Drinking by Children With Deployed Military Parents

“… sixth-graders in nonmilitary families had binge drinking rates of about 2 percent. That jumps up to about 7 percent for the children of deployed or recently returned parents—a three-to-four-fold increase in the raw percentage,” notes Stephan Arndt, Ph.D., of the University of Iowa, reviewing findings he and his colleagues completed recently. Their analysis of 2010 Iowa Youth Survey data, for nearly 60,000 6th-, 8th-, and 11th-grade students, revealed an increase in 30-day alcohol use, binge drinking, and other substance abuse that was consistent across all age groups among children of deployed or recently returned military parents, compared to children in nonmilitary families. For all grades, rates for past 30-day drinking were 7 to 9 percentage points higher for children of military parents , and their rates for binge drinking (having had five or more drinks of alcohol in a row) were 5 to 8 percentage points higher. Family disruption appeared to be a key factor. The study was funded, in part, by a Merit Research Award from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and is reported in Increased risk of alcohol and drug use among children from deployed military families, published online on March 28, 2013, in Addiction.

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2013 April/Alcohol Awareness Month Offers Hope for Tomorrow

The National Health Information Center, a service of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, offers a 10-page Alcohol Awareness Month toolkit to help community-based organizations participate in this year’s annual observance, which takes place nationwide during April. For the 2013 Alcohol Awareness Month, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), which has sponsored the observance since 1987, has announced the theme “Help for today, Hope for tomorrow. Media materials and messages included in the NCADD’s Organizer’s Guide emphasize the importance of preventing underage drinking before it begins and encourage support for environmental prevention measures designed for that purpose.

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Parents Need To Discuss Alcohol Before Kids Leave for College

Parents who hope to keep their children from engaging in underage or excessive drinking at college need to discuss the issue with them before the young people begin their freshman year. Robert Turrisi, Ph.D., at Penn State, and his colleagues found that teens about to begin college were significantly more likely to avoid drinking, or to drink minimally, if their parents talked to them about it before they entered college. “Our research over the past decade shows that parents can play a powerful role in minimizing their teens' drinking during college when they talk to their teens about alcohol before they enter college,” Professor Turrisi reported. But he said that postponing the discussion until during the fall semester of the first year of college may not work as well; for many families in the study, it had no effect on students' drinking behaviors. Details of the study are discussed in Evaluation of Timing and Dosage of a Parent-Based Intervention to Minimize College Students’ Alcohol Consumption, in the January 2013 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism supported the research.

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Addressing Childhood Trauma Can Deter Underage Drinking

The Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) has released Preventing Child Maltreatment and Promoting Well-Being: A Network for Action 2013 Resource Guide in order to support those working with parents, caregivers, and children to prevent maltreatment of children and promote their social and emotional well-being. The resource guide points out that trauma can have a lasting effect on brain development in children and increase the likelihood of their engaging in underage drinking and other problem behaviors. Also referred to as adverse childhood experiences, many traumatic events children may experience are associated with early alcohol use and alcohol problems that may persist into adult life. To prevent such negative outcomes among children who have experienced or witnessed traumatic events, it is important that the effects of their trauma be addressed early and effectively. The new ACYF resource guide focuses on six protective factors for youth and their families. According to AYCF Commissioner Bryan Samuels, “It has been proven that effective early prevention efforts are less costly to our nation and to individuals than trying to fix the adverse effects of child maltreatment.”

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Culturally Sensitive, Accessible Prevention Needed for LGBT Youth

“LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] Americans have experienced—and continue to experience—health disparities and are more likely than other Americans to be uninsured or underinsured,” according to a statement issued by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to mark the beginning of LGBT Health Awareness Week. Underage drinking may be a particular challenge for this population; the HHS Office of Adolescent Health states, “LGBT adolescents are at increased risk for suicide attempts, being homeless, alcohol use, and risky sex.” To aid prevention programs and practitioners identify and address LGBT health disparities, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers Top Health Issues for LGBT Populations: Information & Resource Kit, plus an accompanying PowerPoint presentation. The SAMHSA kit stresses “… culturally sensitive and accessible prevention and treatment programs are critical for addressing substance use [among LGBTs].…”

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States May Pre-Empt Local Controls on Alcohol Outlet Density

“State pre-emption can be a formidable barrier to the implementation of the Community Guide recommendation on regulating alcohol retail outlet density,” according to a new examination of state laws and their effect on local efforts to implement recommendations of The Community Preventive Services Task Force. The task force is an independent, nonfederal, volunteer group of public health experts appointed by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As summarized in The Guide to Community Preventive Services, the task force recommends “… use of regulatory authority (e.g., through licensing and zoning) to limit alcohol outlet density on the basis of sufficient evidence of a positive association between outlet density and excessive alcohol consumption and related harms.”

 

With CDC support James F. Mosher, J.D., and Ryan D. Treffers, J.D., analyzed laws in all 50 states, in effect as of January 1, 2012, that allow states to pre-empt local land use and zoning policies meant to limit the density of alcohol outlets in a given area. Mosher and Treffers found that five types of state laws often pre-empt such community policies. They conclude that local constituencies need to familiarize themselves with these legal complexities to make sure their efforts to control alcohol outlet density in their communities are effective. State Pre-Emption, Local Control, and Alcohol Retail Outlet Density Regulation appears in the April 2013 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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April 17 Webinar: Shape of the Solution to Underage Drinking

A free 75-minute webinar, taking place on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, from 2:00 to 3:15 p.m. EDT, will focus on evidence-based strategies for preventing underage drinking that are age and culturally appropriate and address both individual and environmental factors. This webinar will be the third in the 2013 series of underage drinking prevention webinars sponsored by the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking (ICCPUD). The series features national leaders and experts discussing the extent and nature of the problem, lessons from recent research, and evidence-based strategies for addressing underage drinking. Presenters on April 17 will be:

·         Frances M. Harding, Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA);

·         Kelli A. Komro, Ph.D., M.P.H., Professor in the Department of Health Outcomes and Policy within the College of Medicine and the Associate Director of the Institute for Child Health Policy at the University of Florida;

·         Robert F. Saltz, Ph.D., Senior Scientist for the Prevention Research Center in Berkeley, California; and

·         Richard Spoth, Ph.D., F. Wendell Miller Senior Prevention Scientist and Director of the Partnerships in Prevention Science Institute, Iowa State University.

This webinar is being presented by four ICCPUD members: the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and SAMHSA; SAMHSA is the lead agency for ICCPUD.

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Early Romance May Be a Hallmark for Underage Drinking

“Romantic relationships are a hallmark of adolescence,” Professor Pamela Orpinas of the University of Georgia noted while discussing findings of research that she and her colleagues conducted with a group of 624 students, from 6th to 12th grade, from six school districts in northeast Georgia over a 7-year period. However, she pointed out, “… dating should not be considered a rite of passage in middle school.” Results of the study, supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggest that adolescents who begin dating, and date often, during middle school are twice as likely to engage in underage drinking, smoking, and marijuana use and are four times more likely to drop out of school. Students who reported the least amount of dating, or did not date at all, had the best study skills and the lowest rates of alcohol and drug use. Those who reported the highest frequency of dating had the worst study skills and were twice as likely to drink, smoke, and use drugs. Dr. Orpinas and her associates believe that early dating is one element in an overall pattern of high-risk behaviors. Dating Trajectories From Middle to High School: Association With Academic Performance and Drug Use was published online on February 25, 2013, in the Journal of Research on Adolescents.

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A 12-Pack’s Worth of Brain Damage

“… even one short-duration binge-alcohol experience—which is unfortunately similar to what young adults may experience during spring break or weekend partying—may start a cascade that leads to brain damage,” says Kimberly Nixon, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Kentucky. This study on binge drinking set out to determine a threshold for brain damage using various markers of neurodegeneration. Dr. Nixon and her associates administered to adult male Sprague Dawley® rats a nutritionally complete liquid diet that additionally contained either alcohol (25 percent weight per volume [25% w/v]) or isocaloric dextrose. Rats given the alcohol-spiked diet registered the alcohol content equivalent of four times the legal driving level and about the same amount as an underage or adult drinker would ingest from a half a fifth of liquor, two bottles of wine, or a 12-pack of beer. Within 1 day of the rats’ alcohol exposure, researchers observed a significant two- to ninefold increases in neuronal degeneration in the limbic cortex and clear evidence of reactive gliosis, a reaction to brain injury. Dr. Nixon also observed, “… it is important to consider that each successive binge, starting with the very first one, affords some level of damage to the brain.” Determining the Threshold for Alcohol-Induced Brain Damage: New Evidence with Gliosis Markers was published online on January 24, 2013, in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse supported the research.

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Study Suggests Avoiding Alcohol Can Help Youth Avoid HIV/AIDS

A new study of heavy drinking among men who have sex with men finds more evidence that heavy drinking is associated with risky sexual behavior, including engaging in unprotected sex, and that alcohol can interfere with the immune system. Subjects were of legal drinking age, although their drinking predated their research participation. Among them, heavy alcohol consumption was associated with 1.61 times the hazard of HIV seroconversion compared to subjects with no consumption. Results of the new research reinforce a prevention challenge reflected in the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fact sheet, HIV among Gay and Bisexual Men. The study’s findings are described in Joint effects of alcohol consumption and high-risk sexual behavior on HIV seroconversion among men who have sex with men, published on March 13, 2013, in the journal AIDS. The National institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism supported the new study and has posted a Twitter link to the journal article. In 2011, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies reported that lesbian, gay, and bisexual “youth may be at greater risk than their heterosexual peers for alcohol consumption” and may have higher rates of substance abuse, and noted that “few interventions have been developed to address these disparities.”

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Underage Drinking Can Result in Traumatic Brain Injury

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, according to a March 15, 2013, announcement published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). The CDC points out that “the burden of TBI [traumatic brain injury] can be reduced through primary prevention strategies.” In an October 2010 Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory about TBI, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that adolescents ages 15 to 19 and adults 75 and older have the highest rates of TBI. SAMHSA also noted that “Approximately three-quarters of all patients with TBI have measurable amounts of alcohol in their blood when admitted to the hospital, and one-third to one-half of them are intoxicated at the time of injury.” For example, motor vehicle crashes, many involving underage drinking, are a significant contributor to TBI; the CDC/MMWR announcement states that “adolescents and young adults (i.e., persons aged 15–24 years) have the highest rates of motor vehicle–related TBIs.”

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Underage, Excessive Drinking Higher During College, Much Lower After

Rates of current drinking, heavy drinking, and binge drinking among persons ages 18 to 22 who are enrolled full time in college are significantly higher than among others in this age group who are not enrolled full time in college. But a new study finds that at about age 33, adults who did not attend college would be over six times more likely to engage in problem drinking than their college-educated peers. The study was led by Stephanie T. Lanza, Ph.D., at Pennsylvania State University, with partial support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and is scheduled for publication in the March issue of Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal. Dr. Lanza and her colleagues used data from more than 1,000 high school students and information about their subsequent college enrollment and their lifestyle in later years. Their answers to questions about their use of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs obtained 15 years later showed that college enrollment may prevent substance abuse problems in later adult life. The researchers applied latent class analysis to the data and another statistical tool called causal inference to balance the data so that it mimicked what would have resulted had they been able to randomly assign high school seniors to either go to college or not.

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2013 Underage Drinking Prevention Town Hall Nonstipend Registration

During 2012, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provided planning stipends for hundreds of community Town Hall Meetings on underage drinking prevention, as has been the case every other year since 2006. Although SAMHSA stipends are not available in 2013, SAMHSA acknowledges and encourages community-based organizations (CBOs) that are holding Town Hall Meetings by providing an easy, one-step registration page for CBOs to post details about their 2013 Town Hall Meetings. Information that they supply will appear on the Find a 2013 Meeting map and will help area residents locate events near them and connect them with CBOs engaged in preventing and reducing adolescent alcohol use. 2013 Town Hall Meeting registrations will also provide SAMHSA with evidence of such activities taking place this year and of continuing interest in the initiative. Since 2006, more than 7,000 underage drinking prevention Town Hall Meetings have been registered with SAMHSA, and many CBOs have used these public briefings to promote evidence-based environmental prevention.

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Underage Drinkers Face High Risk For Alcohol Overdose

“Underage drinkers may be at particular risk for alcohol overdose. Research shows that people under age 20 typically drink about 5 drinks at one time,” according to a February 2013 online article, Alcohol Overdose: The Dangers of Drinking Too Much, posted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). The article also cautions that “Overdoses can range in severity, from problems with balance and slurred speech to coma or even death.” Information about how to recognize and respond to alcohol poisoning is included as a sidebar to the article, and legal-age drinkers are reminded of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ recommendations for alcohol consumption, of no more than up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. These dietary guidelines are jointly published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIAAA is a member of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking (ICCPUD) and hosted a March 7, 2013, ICCPUD webinar, Brain Research and Underage Screening—Getting Informed, Preparing to Act.

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March 22 Webinar To Launch New College Alcohol Prevention Manual

A new manual to help implement strategies to prevent underage and excessive drinking among college students will be introduced during a 90-minute March 22, 2013, webinar, starting at 1:00 p.m. EST. The manual provides guidance in the use of a model developed by the Study to Prevent Alcohol-related Consequences (SPARC), supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). As reported by NIAAA in July 2012, the SPARC study calls for a community-organizing approach for planning and implementing environmental strategies, with emphasis on creating healthier social norms regarding alcohol use, prevention policies, and enforcement practices, which are strategies that have been shown to lead to reductions in high-risk drinking and alcohol-related consequences. According to NIAAA, “On SPARC campuses, the percentage of students reporting severe consequences decreased from 18 percent to 16 percent, while rates remained unchanged on comparison campuses.” Webinar presenters will include two universities that implemented SPARC interventions during the study.

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I Choose To Prevent Underage Drinking

For its 2013 “I Choose” Project, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is inviting young people and adults to submit photos of themselves holding signs bearing prevention messages, including messages in support of underage drinking prevention. SAMHSA expects a sharp increase in the number of younger subjects included in its “I Choose” Flickr gallery as word of the project spreads during the runup to SAMHSA’s National Prevention Week, taking place May 12–18, 2013. SAMHSA and other authorities have long noted that youth participation in preventing underage drinking and other substance abuse is an effective strategy. In fact, many of the more than 1,500 SAMHSA-coordinated underage drinking prevention Town Hall Meetings conducted throughout the country during 2012 were youth led. According to data from SAMHSA’s 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, young people in increasing numbers are choosing to avoid underage drinking. The “I Choose” Projects complements the theme of “Your voice. Your choice. Make a difference.” for SAMHSA’s 2013 National Prevention Week.

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No Luck for Underage Drinking Drivers on St. Patrick’s Day

“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA] reports over 700 people were killed nationwide in crashes involving a drunk driver during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday from 2006 to 2010,” according to the sample news release included in NHTSA’s 2013 St. Patrick’s Day Prevention Campaign Planner. The 2013 St. Patrick’s Day theme, and NHTSA’s message to motorists of all ages, is “Not Everyone is a Designated Driver. Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.” During 2011, NHTSA reports that, among drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher who were involved in fatal highway crashes, 20 percent were between the ages of 16 and 20. Although alcohol-impaired driving among adolescents has declined in recent years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2011 as many as 1 in 10 high school students, ages 16 years or older, have driven after drinking in the past 30 days.

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Too Many Americans Drink Too Much and Start Too Young

With adult drinking patterns often established prior to age 21, a new report of alcohol use by about 5,400 men and women ages 21 and older may provide further support for preventing underage drinking. An analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009–2010 found that, on any given day, 7 percent of men consumed more than four drinks and 3 percent of women had more than three, which are amounts defined as heavy drinking. According to the study’s lead author, Patricia Guenther, a nutritionist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, “… it is a significant public health problem that many people do drink in excess.” Almost half (46.8 percent) of adolescents ages 18 to 20 reported current alcohol use in 2011 (compared with 51.8 percent of all Americans ages 12 and older) and nearly a third of the 18–20 age group reported binge drinking, according to the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The new study was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is discussed in Alcoholic Beverage Consumption by Adults Compared to Dietary Guidelines: Results of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009–2010 published online on February 15, 2013, in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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March 7 Webinar: Underage Drinking—Brain Research and Underage Screening

Nearly 10 million 12- to 20-year-olds in the United States are underage drinkers, with negative consequences for individuals, families, and communities. On March 7, 2013, from 2 to 3 p.m. EST, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) will host a free webinar, Brain Research and Underage Screening—Getting Informed, Preparing to Act. Featured presenters will be:

·         Kenneth R. Warren, Ph.D., Acting Director, NIAAA;

·         Aaron White, Ph.D., Program Director, College and Underage Drinking Prevention Research, NIAAA; and

·         Vivian B. Faden, Ph.D., Director, Office of Science Policy and Communications, NIAAA.

This will be the second in a series of 2013 webinars presented by members of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking. Visit the webinar series information page to learn more about the series, register for events, and access past webinars.

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Mapping Underage Drinking Prevention: Where Problems Occur

Interpersonal violence appears more likely in and around locations with many alcohol outlets, particularly bars and liquor stores, according to the authors of a new study that used a detailed map of violent crime and of bars, restaurants, and retail outlets licensed to sell alcohol in Boston, Massachusetts, to show where trouble is likely. Other studies have established associations between alcohol outlet density and excessive drinking and related problems, prompting the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and others to recommend controls on alcohol outlet location and density as one type of effective evidence-based environmental prevention to combat underage drinking. With Boston crime data, 911 emergency call records, census figures, and alcohol outlet data from the Massachusetts Alcohol Beverage Control Commission, the new mapping study found that violent crime was directly related to the types and density of alcohol outlets. Details are reported in The Geography of Violence, Alcohol Outlets, and Drug Arrests in Boston, posted online on February 14, 2013, by the American Journal of Public Health. Funding for the study was provided by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

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Are Kids Driven To Drink on Prom Night?—March 21 Webinar

Policy solutions to keep students healthier and safer during prom nights and graduation season will be the focus of Limousine Policies to Improve Student Health and Safety during High Risk Times of the Year, a free webinar for prevention programs, community leaders, and parents on Thursday, March 21, 2013, from 3 to 4:15 p.m. EST. According to the event host, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center, “As an alternative to driving themselves, many young people, and their parents, turn to professional drivers and limousine companies to provide an exciting and safe environment to enjoy their event. The decision to use a livery service sometimes creates the impression among parents and students that drinking alcohol is no longer problematic because they are not driving.” Although alcohol-impaired driving among underage youth has declined in recent years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that 1 in 10 high school students admitted doing so in 2011.

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Drink Up, Drop Out: Underage Drinking and School Failure

Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reveal that 32.3 percent of dropouts between 2002 and 2010 reported past-month binge drinking, compared with 23.8 percent of 12th graders who remained in school. These combined 2002 to 2010 data were reported in Substance Use among 12th Grade Aged Youths by Dropout Status, released on February 12, 2013, by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). There was a sharp contrast in past-month drinking between dropouts and students who remained in school: 41.6 percent of dropouts reported past-month drinking versus 35.3 percent of students who completed high school. SAMHSA also found that current alcohol use and binge drinking rates by dropout status varied among racial groups, with 46.9 percent of White dropouts reporting alcohol use, compared with 38.8 percent of Black and 32.6 percent of Hispanic youth who failed to complete high school. Some racial differences in binge drinking rates for those who dropped out compared with youth who remained in school were especially significant: 36.2 percent versus 28.8 percent for White youth; 29.2 percent versus 9.3 percent among Black teens; and 26.4 percent versus 22.3 percent of Hispanic young people. The combined 2002 to 2010 data found that about one in seven youth, ages 16 to 18, has dropped out of school in the United States.

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Surgeon General, Federal Officials Launch Underage Drinking Prevention Series

On January 30, 2013, more than 2,400 concerned Americans participated in Preventing Underage Drinking: Introduction and Series Overview, the first of a yearlong series of webinars being hosted by members of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking (ICCPUD). To launch the series of ICCPUD webinars, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) presented messages from U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A., and SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., describing the ongoing federal response to underage drinking. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s Acting Director Kenneth R. Warren, Ph.D., discussed the nature and extent of the problem, and SAMHSA’s Center of Substance Abuse Prevention Director Frances M. Harding described the “shape of the solution.” The January 30, 2013, program is now available for online viewing at www.stopalcoholabuse.gov, the ICCPUD web portal site.

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Budweiser, Smirnoff, Coors Lead Underage Drinker’s Favorites

Nearly half of underage drinkers drank just 25 brands of alcoholic beverages, out of nearly 900 brands included in a new Internet survey. In order of preference, the top five brands that the 1,032 survey participants between the ages of 13 and 20 reported consuming were Bud Light, Smirnoff Malt Beverages, Budweiser, Smirnoff Vodkas, and Coors Light. Other studies have found links between youth exposure to alcohol advertising and marketing and underage drinking. According to the study’s lead author, Michael Siegel, M.D., M.P.H., professor of Community Health Sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health, “The companies implicated by this study as the leading culprits in the problem of underage drinking need to take immediate action to reduce the appeal of their products to youth.” Brand-Specific Consumption of Alcohol Among Underage Youth in the United States was published online on February 7, 2013, in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. A grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism supported the research.

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Four Loko Told To Deliver Full Disclosure on Alcohol Content

Four Loko hit the market in 2005, advertised as an “energy drink.” The single 23.5-ounce cans contained the equivalent alcohol content of a few beers and as much caffeine as a large cup of coffee, masked by a variety of fruit flavors. Underage drinkers and college students took to these new alcohol-and-caffeine-laced beverages in significant numbers. However, reports of injury, blackouts, and even deaths among teen Four Loko consumers prompted prevention advocates to demand government action. In 2009, several state attorneys general investigated complaints that companies, such as Phusion Products, were intentionally marketing alcohol-laced energy drinks to teens. In 2010, Phusion bowed to pressure from the Food and Drug Administration and removed caffeine from Four Loko. Now, on February 12, 2013, the Federal Trade Commission has announced that it will require the maker of Four Loko malt beverages to print an Alcohol Facts panel on containers of Four Loko and other malt beverage products containing “more than two servings of alcohol, as defined by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.” These dietary guidelines define a serving as 0.6 ounces of alcohol. Phusion must obtain approval for the proposed Alcohol Facts panel from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and must place the approved label on its products within 90 days of approval.

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Hey, Kids, Guess What’s the Matter With Your White Matter?

At an 18-month followup neuroimaging of alcohol- and marijuana-using adolescents, ages 16 to 20, researchers found further evidence that heavy drinking among teens has harmful effects on the brain’s white matter development. The integrity of white matter is significant because it is involved in cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and motor development in children and adolescents. When the integrity of white matter is compromised, the brain may experience slower cognitive processing and poorer cognitive performance such as memory, attention, and decisionmaking. “… we found that increasing alcohol use over 1.5 years in late adolescence was related to a decline in white matter health 18 months later, supporting a negative effect of alcohol use on the brain …” said Joanna Jacobus, postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego as well as corresponding author for the study. Results are reported in Longitudinal Changes in White Matter Integrity Among Adolescent Substance Users, in the January 2013 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. The National Institutes of Health funding supported the new research.

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High-Visibility Enforcement Reduces Alcohol-Impaired Driving Across Ages

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has published Increasing Impaired-Driving Enforcement Visibility: Six Case Studies (February 2013) “to provide information on impaired driving HVE [high-visibility enforcement] programs for regional, State and local agencies considering incorporating HVE strategies into their efforts to curb impaired driving or to modify existing HVE programs.” The report’s Executive Summary begins, “The solutions to impaired driving lie mainly at the State and community levels.” The Introduction points out that 10,228 Americans died during 2010 in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, 32 percent of that year’s traffic fatalities. On the Teen Drivers landing page of its website, NHTSA calculates that “Mile for mile, teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers,” with underage drinking one of the main reasons. The new NHTSA report cites strong evidence that sobriety checkpoints are effective in preventing alcohol-involved highway deaths and injuries, and the report illustrates how community visibility and awareness make HVE programs successful.

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Rural Black Youth Drink Less Thanks To Family-Centered Prevention

Rural African-American teens who participated in a family-centered prevention program at age 16 were less likely to engage in underage drinking or other substance abuse or report depressive symptoms, according to a February 5, 2013, article published online by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), funders of the study. Interviews with 12th graders who attended Strong African American FamiliesTeen (SAAF-T) sessions during 10th grade “… reported 36 percent fewer conduct problems, 32 percent less frequent substance use, and 47 percent fewer substance use problems compared to teens in the control program. SAAF-T reduced depressive symptoms to a lesser degree,” according to NIDA. Both the SAAF-T group and the control group attended five 2-hour skill-building meetings led by trained leaders from the local community. The SAAF-T group received specific instructions to encourage protective caregiving practices, including setting limits, monitoring adolescents’ whereabouts and knowing their friends, instilling a sense of racial pride, teaching strategies for dealing with discrimination, monitoring and supporting academic achievement, and problem-solving. Teens and caregivers meet separately for the first hour of each session and then are brought together to practice what they have learned during the second hour. SAAF-T was piloted among 502 teens and their caregivers in rural Georgia. Results of the study also appear in Family-centered Program Deters Substance Use, Conduct Problems, and Depressive Symptoms in Black Adolescents, in the January 2012 issue of the journal Pediatrics.

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No News for Youth Could Spell Bad News for Recent Prevention Gains

A January 3, 2013, short report, based on data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) had good news about underage drinking: The percentage of teens who see great risk from heavy drinking—having five or more drinks once or twice a week—rose from 38.2 percent to 40.7 percent during 2002 to 2011. During those years, the rate of adolescent binge drinking fell significantly—from 10.7 percent to 7.4 percent. But youth perceptions of the risks associated with alcohol use are related to rates of underage drinking, and SAMHSA has now released another short report based on NSDUH findings, Trends in Exposure to Substance Use Prevention Messages among Adolescents. The new report reveals that the percentage of adolescents receiving substance abuse prevention messages in the past year from media fell significantly—from 83.2 percent in 2002 to 75.1 percent in 2011. During 2011, fully 40 percent of teens said they did not discuss underage drinking and other substance abuse with their parents, and about 25 percent of in-school adolescents did not receive prevention messages through school sources. “To prevent substance abuse among our adolescents, our young people have to know the facts about the real risks of substance abuse, and we’re not doing a very good job of that right now,” says SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D.

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ADHD History Increases Risk for Underage Drinking, Substance Abuse

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and six other health centers across the United States studied nearly 600 children over an 8-year period, from childhood through adolescence, to test the hypothesis that children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have increased risk of substance use and abuse or dependence in adolescence. Results confirm the hypothesis: Children with ADHD histories were much more likely to drink, smoke, and engage in substance abuse than peers who had no history of ADHD. The results also reveal that increased use of cigarettes by teenagers with ADHD histories commonly occurs with use of other substances such as alcohol and marijuana. Among other findings:

·         At age 15, about 35 percent of teens with an ADHD history reported using one or more substances, compared with 20 percent of teens with no ADHD background; and

·         Ten percent of the ADHD group met criteria for substance abuse or dependence versus 3 percent of those with no ADHD.

No differences in rates of substance abuse between ADHD subjects taking medication and those no longer taking medication were found. Funding for the study was provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Mental Health. The project is discussed in Adolescent Substance Use in the Multimodal Treatment Study of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (MTA) as a Function of Childhood ADHD, Random Assignment to Childhood Treatments, and Subsequent Medication, published online on December 28, 2012, in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

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Underage Drinking and Suicide: An American Indian Tragedy

A new study of the prevalence and sociodemographic correlates of suicide involving acute alcohol intoxication among U.S. ethnic minorities has found that American Indians/Alaskan Natives (AI/AN) are at much greater risk than other groups. In an analysis of sociodemographic and toxicological information from 59,384 suicide deaths, Raul Caetano, M.D., Ph.D., at the Dallas Regional Campus, University of Texas School of Public Health, and his colleagues found that 47 percent of American Indians/Alaska Natives who died by their own hand had a positive blood alcohol concentration, while 22 percent of completed suicides among American Indian/Alaska Native populations were under age 21. Overall, drinking and intoxication prior to suicide were shown to be particularly prevalent among AI/AN  populations and, to some extent, Latinos, compared to Whites, but less prevalent among Blacks and Asians. Acute Alcohol Intoxication and Suicide Among United States Ethnic/Racial Groups: Findings from the National Violent Death Reporting System was published online in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research on February 5, 2013. A grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism supported the study.

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Older Than 21: Adult Benefits of the Minimum Legal Drinking Age

The minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) of 21 has been shown to reduce fatal and nonfatal highway crashes and overall adolescent alcohol use, reducing the risk of alcohol-related problems involving teens. Postponing the onset of alcohol use until age 21 or after dramatically reduces the likelihood of developing chronic alcohol dependence. Now, a new study has examined the alcohol use patterns of drinkers who were young adults in the 1970s and 1980s whose drinking began before the MLDA was raised to 21. These drinkers, researchers found, are likely to binge drink more often and be less likely to engage in “non-heavy drinking.” According to Andrew D. Plunk, postdoctoral research fellow at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis,Lower drinking age wasn't linked with greater alcohol consumption.… [but] those with a lower drinking age were more likely to frequently binge drink, while also being less likely to do any non-heavy drinking.” The study was supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and its results are reported in The Persistent Effects of Minimum Legal Drinking Age Laws on Drinking Patterns Later in Life, published online by the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, on January 24, 2013.

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Teen’s First Drinking Buddy May Be Bearer of Bad News

Teens whose best friends drink are twice as likely to begin drinking at an early age, according to a national study involving a sample of 820 adolescents, ages 14 to 17. It has previously been known that those who consume a full standard drink of alcohol before age 15 are four times likelier to develop alcohol dependence at some point in their lives. The new study sought the likeliest predictor of early drinking so that vulnerable youth could be identified and targeted for interventions to delay their onset of drinking. With grant support from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, researchers looked at how five possible predictors might determine whether a teen subject would drink: two separate measures of disruptive behavior, a family history of alcohol dependence, a measure of poor social skills, and whether most of the teen’s best friends drink alcohol. The last of these five, having a best friend who drank and had access to alcohol, turned out to be the strongest predictor, actually doubling the chances that an adolescent would begin using alcohol. These findings add further support for the use of tools such as NIAAA’s Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention for Youth: A Practitioners Guide. The study, titled “A model to determine the likely age of an adolescent’s first drink of alcohol,” was published online on January 6, 2013, in the journal Pediatrics.

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A Sibling in the Military Increases Likelihood of Underage Drinking

Youth who reported having a sibling in the military showed the highest prevalence of lifetime alcohol and other drug use, according to a new study partially supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. This study compares youth who have either a parent or a sibling in military service with youth who have no military connection. The analysis of data from more than 14,000 students in southern California schools with at least 10-percent military-connected enrollment found a statistically significant difference between students who had a sibling in the military and those with no family member in military service. While having a parent in the military did not increase risks for underage drinking and other substance abuse, the number of deployments of family members did have such an effect. A higher number of family member deployments were associated with the likelihood of recent use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and other drugs. “Everyone talks about the impact of parents, but no one talks about the impact of other close family members, such as a sibling,” said Tamika D. Gilreath, Ph.D., at the University of Southern California School of Social Work, in Los Angeles. Substance Use Among Military-Connected Youth: The California Healthy Kids Survey appears in the February 2013 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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What’s Up, Doc? Underage Drinking, That’s What!

Out of an estimated total of 981,000 16-year-old binge drinkers who saw a physician during 2010, about 746,000 were not advised by their doctors to stop, or even reduce, their drinking, according to a new study led by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) scientist Ralph W. Hingson, Sc.D., M.P.H. During these encounters, 54 percent were asked about their use of alcohol, but only 17 percent were told that they should stop drinking or cut down. Physicians were more likely to advise 16-year-olds who smoked or used other drugs to reduce or stop those behaviors than they were to counsel drinking teens to do so. The study’s authors concluded that there is a need to increase the number of physicians who apply professional guidelines to their discussions of alcohol with teenagers, even as additional research is being conducted about the effectiveness of physician interventions. One such guideline is Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention for Youth: A Practitioners Guide, developed by NIAAA and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Findings of the new study are discussed in Physician Advice to Adolescents About Drinking and Other Health Behaviors, published online on January 28, 2013, in Pediatrics. Funding came from NIAAA; the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration; and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

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TV Ads for Alcohol: An Unhidden Persuader of Teens

“Younger adolescents appear to be susceptible to the persuasive messages contained in alcohol commercials broadcast on TV, which sometimes results in a positive affective reaction to the ads” is a conclusion of a new study. The study’s authors surveyed a large sample of Los Angeles County students once per year across 4 years, from the 7th through the 10th grades. Exposure to alcohol ads on TV among 7th graders and their reaction to such messages were found to influence their use of alcohol and the severity of alcohol problems they experienced in the 10th grade. The researchers called for educating children about how media messages are designed to persuade them and for policies to limit children’s exposure to alcohol advertising on television, on the Internet, and in other media. Exposure to Alcohol Advertisements and Teenage Alcohol-Related Problems was published online on January 28, 2013, in Pediatrics. The study was supported by grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Institutes of Health.

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Data Drives Effective Underage Drinking Prevention

A new publication will help states and communities apply analytic and other data competencies to the prevention of underage drinking; other substance abuse; and mental, emotional, and behavioral (MEB) disorders. Data-Based Planning for Effective Prevention: State Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroups, released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on January 24, 2013, presents the key principles, core expectations, and anticipated trajectory of the State Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroups (SEOWs). SEOWs were created with SAMHSA funding “… to integrate data about the nature and distribution of substance use and MEB disorders and related consequences into ongoing assessment, planning, and monitoring decisions at state and community levels.” The new publication is available in both hard-copy and downloadable PDF formats.

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Defending Children From Violence and Underage Drinking

A new report from the Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence finds that children traumatized by exposure to violence are at “significantly greater risk than their peers” for several serious problems, including alcohol abuse. Defending Childhood: Protect, Heal, Thrive was developed to encourage action by the federal government, states, tribes, communities, and the private sector to apply “the best available knowledge” to defending children against exposure to violence. Defending Childhood also identifies alcohol abuse as a contributing factor in child victimization and offers a roadmap for preventing violence and for helping children and youth when it affects their lives. A January 23, 2013, announcement by the Administration for Children & Families’ Family and Youth Services Bureau about the new publication estimates that the lives of 46 million of the nation’s 76 million children and youth will be touched by violence, crime, abuse, and psychological trauma this year.” The new report begins with a message from the task force’s cochairs, Robert L. Listenbee, Jr., and Joe Torre, who write,We pay astronomical costs to the healthcare, child welfare, justice, and other systems because we have not yet done what we know works to prevent and treat childhood exposure to violence.”

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Programs Combat Underage Drinking and Suicide in Tribal Youth

“American Indian and Alaska Native youth have the highest suicide rates in the country,” said Richard McKeon, chief of the suicide prevention branch of the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this population suffers the highest rate of suicide-related fatalities, and alcohol abuse is one of the factors placing them at risk for suicide. To counter such risks, several tribes are currently using SAMHSA Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention grants to address risk factors among their children and teens. A January 9, 2013, Indian Country Today Media Network article describes how several tribal communities are using SAMHSA dollars and evidence-based practices to solve teen problems and prevent behaviors that create risks for suicide. As the chair of the Standing Rock Sioux Suicide Task Force, Ira Taken Alive said, “One thing is sure. In 98 percent of attempts and completions here, alcohol or drugs were involved. We need to get ahead of the substance-abuse issue, to be proactive, not reactive.”

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Half of Girls Who Drink Report Binge Drinking

About 40 percent of high school girls drink, and half of them report binge drinking, according to Dafna Kanny, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who was interviewed by Ira Dreyfuss for the January 22, 2013, print and audio editions of HHS HealthBeat. Dr. Kanny also told HHS HealthBeat, “Fourteen million U.S. adult women, or 1 in 8, report binge drinking. Women who binge drink tend to do so frequently—about three times a month—and in large amounts.” These data and other information about binge drinking among girls and women are included in CDC’s January 2013 Vital Signs bulletin on the subject. HHS HealthBeat is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

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Parents of Underage Drinking Super Bowl Fans Could Face Jail Time

“Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk” is one of the messages for adults and teens that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) includes in its 2013 Super Bowl Drunk Driving Prevention campaign. To discourage alcohol-impaired driving on Super Bowl Sunday, February 3, 2013, NHTSA is joined by the National Football League and TEAM (Techniques for Effective Alcohol Management) to remind sports fans of all ages of the risks associated with drinking and driving. Campaign safety tips include “If an underage person drinks and drives, the parent may be legally liable for any damage, injury or death caused by the underage driver” and “Likewise, parents or other adults who provide alcohol to or host a party where alcohol is available to, those under age 21 could face jail time.” In October of 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that, despite declines in drinking and driving by teens, 1 in 10 high school students reported in 2011 that they had driven after drinking in the past 30 days.

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The Origins of Addiction—Free Program on January 31

A free program, available as a satellite downlink or as an on-demand webcast, will explore how the brain has changed over time, how addiction begins in the brain, and why some people may become addicted while others do not. The Origins of Addiction will take place January 31, 2013, from 1 to 2 p.m. EST. Ruben Baler, Ph.D., and Steven Grant, Ph.D., scientists with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a member of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking, are the program’s guest panelists. The program is sponsored and produced by the Multijurisdictional Counterdrug Task Force Training program, a division of the Center for Public Safety Innovation at St. Petersburg College in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Florida National Guard also provides additional sponsorship. The Origins of Addiction will be available via a C-band satellite downlink and the Department of Defense/Defense Education and Training Network (DETN) satellite networks, private network carriers, and selected community cable access stations. For those without satellite access, The Origins of Addiction will also be offered as an on-demand webcast via the Internet. Only one point-of-contact needs to register for each viewing location. Final satellite coordinates and webcast links will be provided to all registered site coordinators 3–5 days prior to the broadcast date. Registration is now open.

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Underage Drinking and Driving Claims Many Lives, Despite Recent Declines

In 2011, 846 younger drivers, ages 16 to 20, with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher, were involved in fatal crashes in 2011, compared with 1,442 in 2002, according to the latest Traffic Safety Facts from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Although alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in the past 10 years have declined by 27 percent from 13,472 in 2002 to 9,878 in 2011, the new bulletin also points out that during 2011 there was one death due to alcohol-impaired driving every 53 minutes, on average. When it comes to younger drivers and alcohol, NHTSA says,Teens are at far greater risk of death in an alcohol-related crash than the overall population, despite the fact that they are below the minimum drinking age in every State.” NHTSA calls for implementation of measures to limit youth access to alcohol and further implementation of graduated driver licensing.

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January 24 Webinar: Substance Abuse and Traumatic Brain Injury

The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury will host a webinar on January 24, 2013, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. EST, titled Substance Abuse and Traumatic Brain Injury: Magnitude, Manifestations, Myths and Management. Charles H. Bombardier, Ph.D., professor of rehabilitation medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, will be the presenter; Katherine M. Helmick, M.S., CRNP, ANP-BC, CNRN, deputy director of the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, will serve as the webinar’s moderator. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has cited data indicating that in the general population, between one third and one half of patients with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) were intoxicated when their injuries occurred. TBI patients with a substance abuse history may increase their drinking; other TBI sufferers may begin or increase their alcohol use. Continuing education credits may be requested for the January 24, 2013, webinar as part of the free registration process.

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Study: Underage Drinking Predicts Adult Alcohol Problems

 

A new study set out to examine longitudinal relations among personality, alcohol motivations, and alcohol consumption and related problems across the developmental period from adolescence to young adulthood. Kristen G. Andersen, Ph.D., and her colleagues tracked three cohorts who were ages 12, 15, and 18 at baseline. The researchers measured the effects of baseline alcohol consumption, disinhibition, and harm avoidance on drinking motives and motives not to drink after 3 years, when the subjects had reached ages 18, 21, and 24. Then they assessed frequency of alcohol use and alcohol problems in these individuals 7 years later when they were ages 25, 28, and 31. Results show that baseline drinking, reported when subjects in each of the three age cohorts were well below the minimum legal drinking age of 21, was the strongest predictor of both subsequent drinking and adult alcohol problems. Study subjects with the highest levels of disinhibition at baseline were the least likely to abstain from drinking over time. Dr. Anderson and her associates concluded that their findings support recommendations for targeting youth identified with tendencies toward disinhibition with tailored cognitive interventions to prevent their involvement in underage drinking. Motives to Drink or Not to Drink: Longitudinal Relations Among Personality, Motives, and Alcohol Use Across Adolescence and Early Adulthood was first published online, on December 20, 2012, in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. The study was supported by grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

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Brief Intervention Helps Adolescents Curb Substance Use

Two 60-minute sessions that combined motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy yielded positive results in reducing underage drinking and drug use among adolescent subjects 6 months after these brief interventions. According to Brief Intervention Helps Adolescents Curb Substance Use, half of teens with at least mild substance abuse problems were abstinent from alcohol and drugs 6 months after an intervention involving two 1-hour meetings with a therapist held 7 to 10 days apart. A third session, for parents of some teens in the study, led to even greater improvements for these youth. This third session appeared to make participating parents more aware of their children’s alcohol and drug problems and motivate them to seek additional counseling. As for the teen subjects, lead study author Dr. Ken C. Winters says, “Brief interventions are a good fit for adolescents because teens have difficulty envisioning a treatment that involves many steps, let alone a complete lifestyle change.” This article was posted online January 2, 2013, by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It was based on a report of the study published in the April 2012 issue of the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.

 

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Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Sends Youths to Emergency Rooms

The number of emergency department (ED) visits involving energy drinks doubled in just 4 years, from 10,068 visits in 2007 to 20,783 in 2011, with about 13 percent of these ED visits due to the dangerous practice of mixing alcohol with energy drinks. This practice has gained popularity among young adults ages 18 to 25, but particularly among college students, a group that includes many people below the minimum legal drinking age of 21. These and other findings from recent data are reported in The DAWN [Drug Abuse Warning Network] Report: Update on Emergency Department Visits Involving Energy Drinks: A Continuing Public Health Concern of January 10, 2013. DAWN is one of three major surveys conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. The new DAWN report cites a recent report issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics cautioning against the use of energy drinks “for children of all ages, including student athletes.”

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Up to $3 Million in STOP Act Grants Available

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is accepting applications for a possible total of $750,000 per year for Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Act (STOP Act) grants aimed at preventing alcohol use among underage youth. SAMHSA expects to provide funding of up to $50,000 annually in individual grants for up to 15 grantees each year during a 4-year period. Actual amounts may vary, depending on the availability of funds. A complete application package for SP-13-001 can be requested from SAMHSA by calling 1–877–SAMHSA–7 [TDD: 1–800–487–4889]. The required documents may also be downloaded from the SAMHSA website at http://www.samhsa.gov/grants. The STOP Act program was created to strengthen collaboration among the federal, state, local, and tribal governments and communities to more effectively reduce alcohol use among youth. During 2012, many STOP Act grantees hosted underage drinking prevention Town Hall Meetings in their communities.

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January 16 Twitter Chat With CDC About Girls’ Binge Drinking

On Wednesday, January 16, 2:00–3:00 p.m. EST, Dr. Tom Frieden, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) director, will be joined by Dr. Bob Brewer, of CDC’s Alcohol Program, to discuss how states, communities, individuals, and health providers can work together to implement effective measures to reduce binge drinking among women and girls and the harm associated with it. To join in this discussion, follow Dr. Frieden on Twitter @DrFriedenCDC and use the hashtag #CDCchat to participate. CDC’s new Vital Signs issue on binge drinking shows that binge drinking is a serious, underrecognized problem among women and girls. One in eight women and one in five high school girls binge drink, increasing their risk of breast cancer, heart disease, sexually transmitted diseases, and unintended pregnancy.

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“Don’t Drink … During Pregnancy” Is Message for Birth Defects Observance

National Birth Defects Prevention Month is observed during January. “Eating a healthy diet and working toward a healthy weight, keeping diabetes under control, quitting smoking and avoiding second hand smoke, and avoiding alcohol—all can help increase the chances of having a healthy baby” is part of the expert advice included in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Birth Defects Prevention Month Digital Press Kit. The kit includes a set of 10 tips for preventing birth defects, and the second of these is “Don't drink alcohol at any time during pregnancy.” Although rates of both teen pregnancy and underage drinking have declined in recent years, alcohol use by adolescent expectant mothers remains a serious concern. In 2004, 8.8 percent of pregnant young women, ages 15 to 17, reported binge drinking during pregnancy, according to a factsheet issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Center for Excellence.

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Cheap Booze: What Price Young Lives?

According to a new study, “… the ability of youth to access alcohol might be curtailed by regulating the availability of single-serve, ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages, or by setting minimum prices that cover all alcoholic beverages.” Alison Burke Albers, Ph.D., of the Boston University School of Public Health, and her colleagues determined the minimum cost of the smallest containers of 25 brands of inexpensive alcohol beverages commonly sold in the United States. One of their findings is “… because the price per drink was less than $1.00 for 21 of the brands, an outlay of $5.00 purchased fıve or more drinks for 80% of these brands.” Results of the new study are reported in Minimum Financial Outlays for Purchasing Alcohol Brands in the U.S., in the January 2013 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The study was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Many studies have concluded that higher alcohol prices and alcohol taxes are associated with reductions in both excessive alcohol consumption and related, subsequent harms. Increased taxes on sales of alcohol is one of nine types of evidence-based environmental prevention that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recommends.

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Half of High School Girls Who Drink Report Binge Drinking

According to Vital Signs: Binge Drinking Among Women and High School Girls—United States, 2011, “Binge drinking is reported by one in eight U.S. adult women and one in five high school girls. Women who binge drink tend to do so frequently and with high intensity. Most high school girls who reported current alcohol use also reported binge drinking.” The new Vital Signs was published for early release on January 8, 2013, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) online periodical, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The article is based on CDC’s analysis of data from its 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and its 2011 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey. In conjunction with the new Vital Signs, CDC has launched a new website page, Binge Drinking: A Serious, Under-Recognized Problem Among Women and Girls, which includes recommendations of evidence-based strategies for preventing excessive alcohol consumption. These strategies include increasing alcohol taxes and reducing alcohol outlet density.

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Mentoring Can Prevent Underage Drinking

On December 31, 2012, President Barack Obama proclaimed January 2013 as National Mentoring Month. According to the proclamation’s text, “A supportive mentor can mean the difference between struggle and success,” and the proclamation directs those interested in becoming involved in the lives of young people to the government’s United We Serve website, sponsored by the Corporation for National & Community Service. The Mentoring Materials link on the site’s homepage leads to promotional posters, bookmarks, and note cards. Research sources offered in conjunction with the National Mentoring Month observance show that formal one-to-one mentoring relationships can reduce the incidence of delinquency, substance use, and academic failure. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is a partner on the Federal Mentoring Council. In addition, SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices has reviewed and accepted four programs that include mentoring in their efforts to prevent underage drinking and other behavioral health problems.

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Weak Economy May Increase Underage Drinking Risk

A study reported in a December 31, 2012, Online First journal article presents evidence that underage drinking and other behavioral problems may be more likely among children raised in unfavorable economic conditions. A new analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, conducted by Seethalakshmi Ramanathan, M.B.B.S., D.P.M., of the State University of New York Upstate Medical University and her colleagues, looked at the relationship between high unemployment rates stemming from the 1980 and 1981–1982 recessions and rates of subsequent adolescent substance use and delinquent behaviors. Among their conclusions were “The macroeconomic environment during infancy can have serious long-term effects on substance use and delinquent behavior.” The study team found that the chance that infants would encounter behavioral problems as teenagers, including underage drinking, became greater when they were exposed to even small increases in local unemployment rates. “The results demonstrate a strong correlation between the unemployment rate during infancy and subsequent behavioral problems,” the authors said. The study is reported in Macroeconomic Environment During Infancy as a Possible Risk Factor for Adolescent Behavioral Problems, in JAMA Psychiatry, formerly the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.

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Binge Drinking: The More Teens Recognize Risk, the Less They Binge

Educating underage youth about the dangers of binge drinking is paying off. The percentage of 12- to 17-year-olds who perceived great risk from binge drinking—having five or more drinks of an alcoholic beverage once or twice a week—increased from 38.2 percent in 2002 to 40.7 percent in 2011. This increase in perceived risk is reflected in a decrease in binge drinking among adolescents from 10.7 percent in 2002 to 7.4 percent in 2011, as reported in the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). In 2011, NSDUH found that 4.5 percent of teens who see great risk in binge drinking once or twice a week engaged in past-month binge drinking, compared with 9.5 percent of their peers who viewed binge drinking as posing moderate, slight, or no risk. These and other findings are included in Trends in Adolescent Substance Use and Perception of Risk from Substance Use, published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), on January 3, 2013. This report is based on data from SAMHSA’s 2011 NSDUH, released on September 24, 2012. The 2011 NSDUH showed that rates of current, binge, and heavy alcohol use among underage persons had declined between 2002 and 2011.

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Family Support May Protect Well-Being of Same-Sex-Attracted Youth

An analysis of data from the Add Health Center, at the National Population Center of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, indicates that same-sex-attracted youth experience lower levels of well-being than heterosexual youth in part because they perceive less social support. Girls, in particular, report higher levels of binge drinking, drug use, and depressive symptoms in part because of this perception. The new study, funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, revealed that parental closeness and involvement may be less protective against risky behaviors for same-sex-attracted boys. A possible explanation offered by the authors is that same-sex-attracted boys attempt to meet what they perceive as parental expectations of their masculinity through risk-taking behavior. One of the authors’ recommendations is “Because families may be less of a source of social support for sexual minority youth, systems of support in schools and other community organizations are essential to protect the well-being of all youth.” Family Relationships and Adolescent Well-Being: Are Families Equally Protective for Same-Sex Attracted Youth? appears in the November 2012 issue of the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

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January 10 Webinar: Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing has been shown to reduce underage drinking and other youth substance use; change antisocial attitudes, values, and beliefs; reduce negative peer associations; promote identification with prosocial role models; increase self-regulation skills; and increase relapse prevention skills, according to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center. On Thursday, January 10, 2012, the center will host a free 75-minute webinar, beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET. The webinar, Motivational Interviewing: How to Communicate with Defendants and Respondents to Motivate Them to Succeed, will feature Roxanne Bailin, chief judge, 20th Judicial District, Boulder County, CO, and will focus on the relationship of the judicial and probation communities and issues related to underage alcohol abuse. A link to the free registration page is included in the center’s online webinar announcement.

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January 17 Webinar: Alcohol and the Adolescent Brain

Aaron White, Ph.D., a health scientist administrator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, will present recent research findings on the effects of alcohol on the developing brain in a 75-minute webinar, on Thursday, January 17, 2013, from 3:00 to 4:15 p.m. ET. The webinar is a part of a series hosted by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s (OJJDP) Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center. Dr. White will explain how early alcohol use can damage critical developmental processes in the adolescent brain and the importance of preventing underage drinking. A September 2012 OJJDP bulletin offered key findings of a literature review on the effects of underage drinking and stated, “Consumption of alcohol during the adolescent years can affect brain development and may result in long-term negative effects….” Free online registration for the January 17, 2012, webinar is now open.

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Drinking Compromises the Teen Brain’s “Information Highway”

White matter brain tissue facilitates effective communication between regions of the brain; it’s the brain’s “information highway.” In a new study supported by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the health of white matter in the brains of teens who drank heavily and used marijuana was found to be poorer when compared with the white matter health of teens who abstained. Joanna Jacobus, postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego and the lead author of this new study of the effects of alcohol and marijuana use on the adolescent brain, notes that compromised white matter can mean slower cognitive processing and poorer cognitive performance, that is, poorer memory, attention, and decisionmaking. “… early initiation of alcohol and marijuana use can have negative implications on the brain,” she said. “We hope this information can be communicated to teens to help them understand why drinking during adolescence is discouraged.” Study results are reported in Longitudinal Changes in White Matter Integrity Among Adolescent Substance Users, published on December 14, 2012, in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

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Marine Corps Launches Alcohol Screening Program

As of January 1, 2013, members of the U.S. Marine Corps may be subject to random alcohol breathalyzer tests as part of a tough new policy intended to curb underage drinking and excessive alcohol use in the military. Under the new Marine Corps’ Alcohol Screening Program (ASP), any Marine or sailor with a blood-alcohol level of 0.01 percent or higher is to be referred for counseling; those who test at 0.04 percent or higher will be referred to medical personnel to determine his or her fitness for duty. According to Lt. Gen. R.E. Milstead, Jr., deputy commandant for manpower and reserve affairs, the new order “is primarily for deterrence and education,” although commanders may still hand out punishment for alcohol-related offenses. The new ASP policy comes under the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative, announced on March 5, 2012, by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. In September 2012, a report by the Institute of Medicine noted dramatic increases in binge drinking among members of the U.S. military and called for stepped-up enforcement of laws and regulations governing underage drinking in the services.

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Study Links Alcohol Marketing, Underage Drinking, Binge Drinking

A study supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has found that alcohol marketing not only reaches and influences drinking by adolescents and young adults but, for some of them, it also is associated with their progression to heavier and binge drinking. Analysis of data from a media and substance use study involving 1,734 subjects ages 15 to 20 in the United States revealed that exposure to alcohol marketing is associated with initiation of underage drinking. Youth who have a higher receptivity to alcohol advertising were found to be more likely to consume more than five drinks in a row. According to Auden C. McClure, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and lead author of the study, “There is growing evidence that alcohol marketing is reaching adolescents and young adults, that they respond to it, and that their response is associated both with initiation of alcohol use and with progression to problem drinking.” Results are reported in Alcohol Marketing Receptivity, Marketing-Specific Cognitions, and Underage Binge Drinking, published as an Early View online article, on December 19, 2012, in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

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Energy Drinks Mixed With Alcohol Pose Threats to Youth

Alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AMED) has become increasingly popular, especially among adolescents and college students,” according to the authors of a Viewpoint article published online December 12, 2012, by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The JAMA article cites research that found that college students who consumed AMEDs were more likely to experience negative consequences, including double the risk for being involved in a sexual assault, riding with an intoxicated driver, being in an alcohol-related crash, or needing medical help.

 

In a November 2011 report on emergency department (ED) visits resulting from consumption of energy drinks, 3 in 10 such visits by patients ages 12 to 17 involved the combination of alcohol and energy drinks. Among those ages 18 to 24, more than half (52 percent) of energy drink–related ED admissions involved the combination of alcohol or other drugs with these products. The report was issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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SAMHSA Cochairs Federal Task Force on Military Mental Health

Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), cosigned a charter created to guide the Interagency Task Force on Military and Veterans Mental Health on December 13, 2012. She will serve as one of the task force’s cochairs to lead interagency efforts to expand suicide prevention strategies and to take new steps to meet the demand for mental health and substance abuse treatment. A September 2012 report, by the Committee on Prevention, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Management of Substance Use Disorders in the U.S. Armed Forces; the Board on the Health of Select Populations; and the Institute of Medicine, reported widespread alcohol problems among service personnel of all ages and took special note of inconsistent enforcement of underage drinking laws in the military. Increasing alcohol use is a warning sign for suicide among adolescents and adults, according to information available from SAMHSA’s Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

The new interagency task force was established by an August 31, 2012, executive order signed by President Barack Obama calling for increased suicide prevention and mental health services for service members, military families, and veterans. The other cochairs of the task force are Dr. Jonathan Woodson, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, and Dr. Robert A. Petzel, Under Secretary for Health, Veterans Health Administration.

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Study: Parents’ Role in Drinking Among Third Graders

A study supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, involving interviews with 1,050 mothers of third-grade students (about age 9), found that nearly one third (32.8 percent) of these children had already sipped alcohol, a high-risk marker for the initiation of early underage drinking. Further, they were twice as likely to have done so “if parents involved them in adult alcohol use (fetching or pouring drinks for adults), if parents did not make a rule against child use, and if children perceived a tolerant parental attitude about child alcohol use at home.” In addition, children with more self-esteem and self-regulation were less likely to have begun sipping alcohol. Researchers were struck by the finding that “even in middle childhood, peer alcohol-related influence factors are associated with odds of sipping in a manner consistent with the known associations of similar factors with odds of adolescent drinking.” Attributes that Differentiate Children Who Sip Alcohol from Abstinent Peers, by Christine Jackson, Ph.D., and her colleagues, was published in December 2012 in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

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Survey: “Steady Decline” in Teen Drinking; 12th-Grade Bingeing Increases

Alcohol use among 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students is at its lowest level since 1975, according to the 2012 Monitoring the Future Survey (MTF). Among eighth graders, 29 percent reported lifetime alcohol use, compared with 33.1 percent in 2011. For 10th graders, 54 percent reported lifetime use, down from a peak of 72 percent in 1997. However, the new survey findings include some indications of a turnaround, with 12th-grade binge drinking increasing to 24 percent since the previous year, a 2 percentage-point gain. The survey’s principal investigator, University of Michigan professor Lloyd Johnston, remarked, “This possible turnaround in alcohol consumption among the older teens is somewhat unexpected and certainly not a welcome development.” The survey was carried out in classrooms around the country earlier this year, under a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health. Findings from the 2012 MTF were announced on December 19, 2012, in Washington, DC.

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Children As Young As Age 9 May Try Alcohol

MedLinePlus, a service of the National Institutes of Health’s U.S. National Library of Medicine, has updated their Talking to your teen about drinking page and states, “Children as young as 9 years old may become curious about drinking, and they may even try it alcohol.” MedLinePlus also tells readers that most children who avoid alcohol report that this is because their parents did talk to them about it. The 2012 Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking, released in November by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), confirms that as many as 10 percent of 9- to 10-year-olds have already started drinking. Very young drinkers are most likely to obtain alcohol at home from parents, siblings, or storage. In her message in the Report to Congress, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius writes, “…we can change the way that young people and their parents view underage drinking and create an environment in which underage alcohol use is understood as a serious public health and public safety problem, not a culturally ingrained rite of passage.”

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Teen Dating Violence Increases Risks for Girls’ Binge Drinking

Longitudinal associations between victims of teen dating violence and multiple young adult adverse health outcomes, including binge drinking, have been found. A study of a nationally representative sample, Longitudinal Associations Between Teen Dating Violence Victimization and Adverse Health Outcomes, by Deinera Exner-Cortens, M.P.H., and colleagues, was published online on December 10, 2012, in the journal Pediatrics. The researchers found that 5 years after being victimized, young adult females ages 18 to 25… reported increased heavy episodic drinking, depressive symptomatology, suicidal ideation, smoking, and IPV [interpersonal violence] victimization.…” Males who had experienced teen dating violence “… reported increased antisocial behaviors, suicidal ideation, marijuana use, and adult IPV victimization.…” The study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health; 5,681 adolescents who reported heterosexual dating experiences when they were between ages 12 and 18 participated in this national sample. The study by Exner-Cortens and colleagues was conducted with partial support from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

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New Report: Underage Drinking Is Declining, But Still a Major Problem

“Data show meaningful reductions in underage drinking, particularly among younger age groups. From 2004 to 2012, young people ages 12 to 20 showed statistically significant declines in both past-month alcohol use and binge alcohol use,” according to the 2012 Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking, from the Secretary of Health and Human Services, released on November 30, 2012.  However the new summary of the latest scientific research confirms that “alcohol continues to be the most widely used substance of abuse among America’s youth, a greater proportion of whom use alcohol than use tobacco or other drugs.”

The annual report was prepared by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on behalf of the federal Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking (ICCPUD). SAMHSA administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. serves as the ICCPUD Chair. In her Foreword to this fourth report in the series, Hyde notes that it includes a new section on prevention of binge drinking on college and university campuses, and an expanded section about underage drinking prevention and enforcement activities in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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Schools Are Important, But Parents Are Key To Preventing Underage Drinking

“… school programs that address alcohol and marijuana use are definitely valuable, but the bonds parents form with their children are more important. Ideally, we can have both,” says Toby Parcel, Ph.D. Dr. Parcel is a professor of sociology at North Carolina State University and coauthor of the paper Does Capital at Home Matter More than Capital at School? The Case of Adolescent Alcohol and Marijuana Use, in the Journal of Drug Issues, published online 8 November, 2012. The article reports findings of a study by Mikaela J. Dufur, Ph.D., at Brigham Young University; Dr. Parcel; and Benjamin A. McKune, Ph.D., at Pennsylvania State University.

 The team used nationally representative data from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988 to explore how “family social capital” and “school social capital” may influence risks for underage drinking and youth drug use. Bonds between parents and children, lines of communication, and parental engagement in children’s lives are elements of family social capital. School social capital can include student participation in extracurricular activities, the morale of teachers, and teachers’ ability to meet individual student needs. Dr. Dufur and colleagues found that parental availability and involvement transmit prosocial norms and reduce risks for adolescent alcohol and drug use. But they also identified schools as efficient centers for promoting well-being among students and use of formal alcohol and drug prevention programs.

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Genes Are Not Destiny When It Comes to Underage Drinking

Although genes appear to play a role in the development of adolescent alcohol problems, environmental factors can “considerably reduce this risk,” according to the conclusions of a new study supported by grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Brown University’s Robert Miranda, Jr., Ph.D., the study’s corresponding author, commented, “The implication is that risk for the developing alcohol addiction is complex and involves interplay between genetic and environmental factors.” He and his colleagues concluded from their study of 104 teens, ages 12 to 19, that such malleable factors, as parental monitoring and less association with deviant peers, could offset genetic vulnerability to underage drinking. Their findings are reported in Preliminary Evidence for a Gene–Environment Interaction in Predicting Alcohol Use Disorders in Adolescents, published on November 8, 2012, as an Early View (online) article in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

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Adverse Childhood Experiences May Lead to Underage Drinking

“When children are exposed to chronic stressful events, neurodevelopment can be disrupted. Disruption in early development of the nervous system may impede a child’s ability to cope with negative or disruptive emotions and contribute to emotional and cognitive impairment. Over time, and often during adolescence, the child adopts coping mechanisms, such as substance use,” says a new online page, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), part of the website for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Collaborative for the Application of Prevention Technologies (SAMHSA/CAPT). The ACE Study is a continuing project begun in 1995 as collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the health maintenance organization Kaiser Permanente. Study data show that ACEs increase risks among youth and adults for disease; disabilities; social problems, including underage drinking and other substance abuse; and early mortality. The more ACEs in an individual’s childhood, the greater his or her risks for subsequent health problems. The new SAMHSA/CAPT page summarizes key findings from the ACE Study and offers short video discussions.

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Longitudinal College Study Sees High Rates of Postgraduate Alcohol Abuse

After comparing the employment status of 620 college and university graduates whose drinking has been tracked since freshman year, researchers found no significant difference in rates of alcohol dependence among those who were unemployed or employed full or part time. Instead, alcohol abuse was highly prevalent regardless of employment status. Even among those employed full time, two out of five young adults met the criteria for alcohol abuse. These are among the findings from a longitudinal study, supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, reported in Drug use patterns in young adulthood and post-college employment, currently in press for the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The new data from the College Life Study, at the University of Maryland’s Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the School of Public Health, point to a need for stepped-up efforts to prevent underage drinking at colleges and universities. The findings also indicate a need for expanded use of screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment for currently enrolled students in higher education and recent graduates.

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Teen Experiments With Alcohol Not “Normal,” New Guide Tells Parents

A blunt response to the myth among many parents that it’s normal for teens to experiment with drugs and alcohol is “Experimenting with drugs or alcohol is not normal. USE can lead to ABUSE, which can lead to ADDICTION, so any use is unacceptable.” This warning is from the newly revised Growing up Drug-Free: A Parent’s Guide to Prevention. The new guide for parents provides detailed information about adolescents, drugs, and alcohol and about actions parents can take to prevent use or to intervene when use has already begun. It also alerts readers to new concerns, such as the popularity of energy drinks among teens, especially among younger teens, and notes, “These drinks are particularly dangerous—even deadly—when consumed with alcohol.” The 2012 edition is available on the GetSmartAboutDrugs website operated by the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and was published by DEA in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education (DoEd). DoEd and DOJ are participants in the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking.

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Underage Drinking Party Dispersal Training Available

Party Prevention & Controlled Party Dispersal is the title of a 6-hour training course to help participants understand the components of a successful overarching underage drinking strategy and the need to develop a specific strategy around their controlled party dispersal operations. The course focuses on reducing underage access to alcohol and is the latest in a series of no-cost distance learning opportunities provided by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center. The series features best practices and strategies for enforcement of underage drinking laws and efforts to prevent and reduce use of alcohol among adolescents. Two earlier courses, Conducting Compliance Check Operations and Environmental Strategies, are also available from the Distance Learning page of the center’s website. Participants can receive a certificate upon completion of any of these courses.

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Holiday Push for Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over

During 2010, more than 10,000 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes involving an impaired driver. Data also show that over two thirds (71 percent) of those killed in December 2010 were in alcohol-impaired crashes where a driver tested at a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 grams per deciliter and above, nearly twice the legal limit. It is illegal in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico to drive with a BAC of 0.08 or higher. These and other facts are included in materials assembled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for its Holiday Season 2012 Drunk Driving Prevention Campaign. The campaign is aimed at the period from December 12, 2012, through January 1, 2013, and is part of NHTSA’s ongoing Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over program. Free downloadable materials range from downloadable factsheets and sample news releases to web and television ads, along with Social Media Ideas and Suggestions and many other campaign products.

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Holiday Stress Tips for Military, Veterans With Invisible Wounds

Don’t—Cope in an unhealthy way by consuming alcohol. Although cider and eggnog may be a holiday tradition, drinking too much over the holidays can have a negative effect on your reintegration process and your ability to reconnect with family.” This is one of the tips for service personnel, veterans, and their families presented in Easing Holiday and Reintegration Stress, published as part of the Real Warriors campaign sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Brain Injury. Invisible wounds, including post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and psychological problems, can add to holiday stress for members of the armed forces and veterans, as DoD points out in Managing Stress for an Enjoyable Holiday, a November 21, 2012 blog article. According to TRICARE®, the health care program serving this population, “Underage service members or children of service members are not immune to this [drinking] problem. There are an estimated 10.8 million underage drinkers in the United States, and given the increased levels of stress in the military, our young service members, and children of service members are commonly affected.”

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December 5: HHS/HRSA Webinar on Bullying Prevention for Communities

On December 5, 2012, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. EST, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will present “Moving from Awareness to Action in Bullying Prevention: Training Resources for the Field.” This presentation from the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention’s webinar series will explore how local communities can activate partnerships to promote bullying prevention. During this free 1-hour webinar, presenters will discuss how communities can use HRSA’s Bullying Prevention & Response Base Training Module and Community Action Toolkit.

 

Youth who engage in bullying and their victims report high levels of underage drinking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others. The federal government’s bullying website says that youth populations who may be at higher risk for being bullied include lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth; youth with disabilities or special needs; youth from certain racial, ethnic, or national backgrounds; and youth members of some religions or faith groups.

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Reforming Juvenile Justice Report Now Available

The National Academies Press has released Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach, which reports findings of a National Research Council committee convened at the request of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The committee was asked “to review recent advances in behavioral and neuroscience research and draw out the implications of this knowledge for juvenile justice reform.” 

According to the publisher’s description of the new report, “Experimentation and novelty-seeking behavior, such as alcohol and drug use, unsafe sex, and reckless driving, are thought to serve a number of adaptive functions despite their risks.” But adolescents lack “mature capacity for self-regulations,” due to the uneven and incomplete development of the relevant areas of their brains. Differences between adults and adolescents raise doubts about assumptions behind 20th-century criminalization of some adolescent behaviors. Chapter 11 of the report, “Moving Forward,” offers key components for a proposed developmentally based juvenile justice system, specific recommendations, and guiding principles for juvenile justice reform.

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Involved Parents Help Prevent Underage Drinking

“A growing body of research shows that adolescents engage in fewer health risk behaviors and perform better academically when their parents are actively involved in their lives,” states an online feature article on parent engagement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC identifies effective parenting as a protective factor in helping young people avoid alcohol, and it reports that students whose parents are engaged in their school lives are less likely to drink. CDC defines parent engagement in schools as “parents and school staff working together to support and improve the learning, development, and health of children and adolescents.” To support this effort, the CDC has developed the evidence-based Parent Engagement: Strategies for Involving Parents in School Health.

Additional information on underage drinking prevention for parents of children from preschool age to college age is available through websites supported by federal agencies that participate in the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking.

 

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Profits and Losses: Who Pays for Underage Drinking?

Underage drinking is estimated to have cost the U.S. economy $62 billion in 2010, according to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s (OJJDP) Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center (UDETC). Details about how this estimate was developed and additional findings from this data analysis are provided in “Understanding and utilizing costs of underage drinking,” presented at the OJJDP Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws Coordinators Symposium held in Leesburg, VA, and now available from UDETC’s website. Using Virginia as an example, the presentation shows how underage drinking results in financial benefits to alcohol companies while placing substantial burdens on state budgets. A summary slide says, “Underage drinking is a big, profitable business,” but concludes, “Our efforts are helping; underage drinking is declining.”

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Underage Drinking Rates Remain Unacceptably High in Many States

“Although there has been progress in reducing the extent of underage drinking in recent years, particularly among those aged 17 and younger, the rates of underage drinking are still unacceptably high,” according to a November 20, 2012 news release from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). A new report based on SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health data, State Estimates of Underage Alcohol Use and Self-Purchase of Alcohol: 2008 to 2010, finds that 26.6 percent of 12- to 20-year-olds report drinking in the month before they were surveyed, and 8.7 percent of them purchased their own alcohol the last time they drank. SAMHSA administrator, Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., said, “Underage drinking should not be a normal part of growing up. It’s a serious and persistent public health problem that puts our young people and our communities in danger. Even though drinking is often glamorized, the truth is that underage drinking can lead to poor academic performance, sexual assault, injury, and even death.”

 

Among efforts that SAMHSA believes have contributed to recent declines in past-month alcohol use, binge drinking, and heavy drinking among persons ages 12 to 20 are its Strategic Prevention Framework Partnerships for Success grant program, Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Act grants, and Strategic Prevention Framework. SAMHSA’s biennially sponsored Town Hall Meetings, held in hundreds of communities across the United States and its territories, have contributed to prevention gains. In addition, nearly three dozen states, the District of Columbia, and three territories have completed SAMHSA-supported underage drinking prevention videos promoting community and state/territory efforts. 

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RU DRKN 2NITE?—Underage Drinking in a Digital Age

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws Coordinators Symposium, held August 8–10, 2012, included educational presentations of state-of-the-art information on a range of topics relating to underage drinking prevention. Several of these are now accessible online. Included is RU DRKN 2NITE, an 80-slide review of how youth access social media and the impact social media have on their behavior, how advertising affects underage drinking, and how alcohol industries use social media to market their products to youth and adults. Says one scholar referenced in the presentation,The concern with social networking Web sites is that these behaviors are now published and accessible to a much larger network of adolescents than a teen’s typical peer group.”

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Underage Drinking = Deaths From Unintentional Injuries

“Using safety belts, wearing bicycle and motorcycle helmets, reducing drinking and driving, and enforcing graduated driver licensing,” are protective measures recommended for preventing unintentional injuries, the leading cause of death for American children, according to Nagesh Borse, a researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). His comments were included in the November 6, 2012, print and audio editions of HHS HealthBeat. On October 2, 2012, CDC reported that, despite declines in drinking and driving by teens, 1 in 10 high school students reported in 2011 that they had driven after drinking in the past 30 days. HHS HealthBeat is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

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November 29 Webinar—Celebrating Health/Wellness in Native Communities

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Native American Center for Excellence is sponsoring a 1-hour webinar on Thursday, November 29, 2012, beginning at 3 p.m. EST. Presenters Patsy Whitefoot (Yakima), Lisa Rey Thomas (Tlingit), and Theda New Breast (Blackfeet) will highlight American Indian and Alaskan Native success stories in three content areas: education as it relates to youth and families, research and evaluation and their role in community wellness, and the Gathering of Native Americans (GONA) community organizing tool and its role in supporting and promoting health and wellness in Indian Country. Free registration - space is limited.

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Preholiday Campaign Reminder: Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving

For the period of December 1–11, 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is asking states and communities to participate in its Pre-Holiday Season Festivities: Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving campaign. “The holidays are a wonderful time of year, filled with celebrations, time with loved ones and good cheer. But, for the 775 families whose loved ones were killed during December 2010 in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes, the joyous celebrations ended in disaster,” says the sample press release included in materials NHTSA offers to meet local needs. On its Teen Drivers—Youth Access To Alcohol web page, NHTSA also points out, “Teens are at far greater risk of death in an alcohol-related crash than the overall population, despite the fact they cannot legally purchase or publicly possess alcohol in any State. High visibility enforcement of underage purchase, possession, and provision laws can create a significant deterrent for violation of youth access laws, reduce underage drinking, and decrease alcohol-related crashes. Additionally, parental responsibility is key to educating and protecting our teens.”

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Fostering Research Partnerships To Benefit Tribal Communities

With grant support from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), the National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center and Montana State University’s Center for Native Health Partnerships have published 'Walk Softly and Listen Carefully’: Building Research Relationships with Tribal Communities. The report is intended to help Native and non-Native researchers, as well as tribal leaders and tribal community liaisons, form and strengthen research partnerships that are beneficial to American Indian/Alaska Native communities and respectful of their cultures. An example of such a positive research partnership in the report involves a New Mexico program, RezRIDERS (Reducing Risk through Interpersonal Development, Empowerment, Resiliency, & Self Determination), that seeks to deter substance abuse among Native youth at high risk. Requests for a hard copy of the document may be e-mailed to Michele Henson at michelehenson@montana.edu.

 

NIMHD is an institute of the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Keep Trauma-Exposed Children Off the Path to Underage Drinking

“Life stressors, such as physical or sexual abuse, exposure to domestic violence within the family, witnessing community violence, and depending on parents with mental health and substance abuse problems often place the children in these families on a difficult path,” according to Supporting Infants, Toddlers, and Families Impacted by Caregiver Mental Health Problems, Substance Abuse, and Trauma: A Community Action Guide, published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). One “difficult path” for children who have been exposed to such traumatic events is that they are more likely to use alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana, according to a May 3, 2011, SAMHSA bulletin. The new Community Action Guide offers information, resources, and tips useful for engaging the wider community to come together for children and families in need of support. SAMHSA also supports Building Blocks for a Healthy Future, an early childhood substance abuse prevention program that educates parents and caregivers of children ages 3 to 6 about the basics of prevention in order to promote a healthy lifestyle. Entering the word “trauma” in the Building Blocks search feature brings up articles, lesson plans, and related resources on the topic.

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Helping Children Exposed to Trauma Feel OK Again

Children and teens who have been exposed to trauma or have had other types of adverse experiences are more likely than other children who have not had such experiences to engage in drinking and other dangerous behavior. Going through a natural disaster, such as Hurricane Sandy that recently devastated areas of the northeastern United States, is traumatic for many young people and their families. To help them, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has issued Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event. According to SAMHSA, “The good news is that children and youth are usually quite resilient. Most of the time they get back to feeling ok soon after a trauma. With the right support from the adults around them, they can thrive and recover. The most important ways to help are to make sure children feel connected, cared about, and loved.”

 

SAMHSA’s web page on children and trauma points out that, “As the number of traumatic events experienced during childhood increases, the risk for the following health problems in adulthood increases: depression; alcoholism; drug abuse; suicide attempts; heart and liver diseases; pregnancy problems; high stress; uncontrollable anger; and family, financial, and job problems.” The support of caring adults, who are able to connect youth in their care with appropriate treatment and other services as necessary, is key to helping children and teens recover from trauma and avoid subsequent underage drinking and other problems.

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Parents Can Moderate Effects of Genetic Vulnerability to Alcohol in Youth

A new study has confirmed that environmental factors, including parental monitoring and associations with peers, can help prevent underage drinking in adolescents with the A118G functional single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) of the μ-opioid receptor (OPRM1) gene, a genetic modification that researchers believe predisposes individuals to developing problems with alcohol. Studies have suggested that persons with this SNP of the OPRM1 gene are at more risk for developing alcohol problems than others because they experience alcohol as more rewarding. “The key finding of this study is that while genetics appear to play a role in the development of alcohol problems among teenagers, environmental factors can considerably reduce this risk,” according to Robert Miranda, Ph.D. Dr. Miranda is an associate professor in the department of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University and corresponding author of Preliminary Evidence for a Gene–Environment Interaction in Predicting Alcohol Use Disorders in Adolescents. The November 8, 2012, Early View article is available in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and will be included in the journal’s February 2013 issue. Miranda and his associates set out to determine whether parental monitoring and association with deviant peers can moderate genetic influences in adolescent alcohol use. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, supported the study.

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December 20 Webinar: Using Technology to Reduce Underage Drinking

Maximizing Today’s Technology to Reduce Underage Drinking is a free 75-minute webinar starting at 3:00 p.m. ET on December 20, 2012. This webinar is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center. Kathy Bartosz, the Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws Program’s Nevada state coordinator, and Police Officer John Schutt will explain how geographic information system (GIS) mapping of outlet density and crime helped the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department focus efforts on hotspot areas of the city. The GIS mapping resulted in improved compliance by alcohol retailers and overall reductions in area crime. Traffic Safety Prosecutor Jared Olson will discuss how social networking platforms can be used to develop local intelligence regarding underage drinking events and direct prevention efforts. Preregistration for the December webinar is now available.

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Alcohol Use Impedes Medication Adherence Among Persons With HIV

More than half (51 percent) of 178 HIV-positive study participants who were prescribed antiretroviral therapies (ART) and had drank alcohol during the prior week either skipped or stopped their ART when drinking. The researchers who conducted the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism–supported study noted that drinking may cause some patients to forget to take their ART and that there is a widespread misperception that mixing alcohol and ART is toxic. The findings are reported in Intentional Non-Adherence to Medications among HIV Positive Alcohol Drinkers: Prospective Study of Interactive Toxicity Beliefs, an October 12, 2012, Online First article in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. “The harms caused by missing their medications far outweigh the harms caused by mixing the two, if the person doesn't have liver disease,” said Seth Kalichman, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Connecticut and lead author of the study. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 39 percent of all new HIV infections reported in 2009 were among young people ages 13 to 29 and notes the frequent association of underage drinking and sexual risk-taking as a cofactor in youth HIV transmission. Participants in this study were ages 18 and older.

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Heavy Drinking During Pregnancy Disrupts Brain Development in Children

Using magnetic resonance imaging scans, researchers supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) found that brain growth patterns in children whose mothers drank heavily while pregnant differed from normal patterns. Their findings suggest that children with heavy alcohol exposure have decreased brain plasticity—the brain's ability to grow and remodel itself based on experience with the outside world. Among the 70 children in the study (whose mothers consumed 13 drinks per week throughout the pregnancy, on average), the pattern of static growth was most evident in the rear portions of the brain. Heavier alcohol exposure was linked to lower intelligence, greater facial abnormalities, and little change in brain volume between scans performed every 2 years.

The study, A Longitudinal Study of the Long-Term Consequences of Drinking during Pregnancy: Heavy In Utero Alcohol Exposure Disrupts the Normal Processes of Brain Development, was published online in the October 31, 2012, issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. In addition to NIAAA, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development provided funding for this study. A study abstract is available on PubMed.

In 2004, 8.8 percent of pregnant young women, ages 15 to 17, reported binge drinking during pregnancy, according to a factsheet issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Center of Excellence.

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IOM Framework Assesses Community-Based Prevention

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies has released An Integrated Framework for Assessing the Value of Community-Based Prevention, offering a framework to estimate the effectiveness of community-based, nonclinical prevention policies and related strategies. The report is intended to aid those engaged in preventing disease, increasing behaviors that improve health, stopping or slowing disease progression, and reducing disparities, all at the population level. The report aims to enhance intelligent decisionmaking about best practices in prevention activities and interventions. A Report Brief summarizes the new IOM publication, which was prepared by the IOM Committee on Valuing Community-Based, Non-Clinical Prevention Programs and sponsored by the California Endowment, the de Beaumont Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

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Bulletin Offers Goals and Principles for Legal Supervision of Underage Drinkers

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), part of the U.S. Department of Justice, has published Community Supervision of Underage Drinkers. This Juvenile Justice Bulletin describes the goals and principles for effective community supervision of youth who have been arrested or adjudicated for underage drinking and also discusses the legal issues that professionals may encounter when working with these youth. According to the authors, an effective community supervision program should emphasize four goals: community protection, youth accountability, competency development, and individual assessment. Among the six guiding principles presented in the bulletin are the use of evidence-based practices and the need for community corrections agencies and practitioners to engage in ongoing training, data collection, and program evaluation to increase their individual and collective knowledge of underage drinking and the responses to it.

 

This bulletin is the third in a series about underage drinking, which OJJDP created to better inform practitioners, policymakers, and judges on the negative effects of underage drinking in the hope that this information will support the development of more effective policy and practice guidelines to combat the problem. The other two bulletins in the series to date are Underage Drinking: Practice Guidelines for Community Corrections and Effects and Consequences of Underage Drinking.

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Underage Drinking Fuels Rape, Sexual Assaults

In 2010, there were 781,000 female victims and 681,000 male victims of alcohol/drug-facilitated rape in the United States. These and other data in The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 Summary Report underscore the role that underage and excessive drinking play in sexual assaults. Access to the report is included on a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Web page about the survey, last updated on September 25, 2012. The survey collected information from English- and Spanish-speaking women and men age 18 and older. “On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States,” according to CDC. The May 2011 Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking notes that “Underage drinking by both victim and assailant also increases the risk of physical and sexual assault” and states that “About 97,000 college students are victims of sexual assault or date rape related to alcohol use each year.”

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Scoring Points Against Alcohol Abuse on College Game Days

An October 12, 2012, guest article posted on the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s (ONDCP) blog says, “More than a mere nuisance, the high-risk drinking and other drug use associated with game-day fan behavior is a serious public health problem and an issue that universities and surrounding communities need to address.” The article’s authors are Dr. Laura L. Forbes, Chair of the American College Health Association’s Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs Coalition, and Dr. Tavis J. Glassman, a member of the coalition. While acknowledging a lack of national research, they point out that “the high-risk drinking that takes place on game day is associated with a variety of negative consequences, such as drinking and driving, injury, loss of memory (e.g., blacking out), urinating in public, and vandalism.” Their coalition is collaborating with other organizations and stakeholders to produce a comprehensive report on the topic. Meanwhile, their ONDCP post offers two general recommendations: a broad-based campus coalition and targeted prevention based on an assessment of campus needs and readiness.

A study funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), published in the November 2007 issue of the journal Addictive Behaviors, confirmed earlier findings of significantly heavier drinking among students on the days and weekends that campus sporting events take place. NIAAA supports research about college drinking among both underage and legal-age drinkers, identifies effective prevention measures, and promotes public education on the issue.

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Underage Drinking and National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

“Preventing underage drinking takes orchestrated efforts and individual commitment. During National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, join with SAMHSA to forge new partnerships to expand our reach and successes. I invite you to sign and share SAMHSA’s Prevention Pledge, find and distribute resources for prevention professionals and individuals alike, and lead by example and model healthy behaviors for those around you of all ages,” writes Frances M. Harding, director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Prevention in an October 22, 2012 article for the SAMHSA blog. Harding also states, “Underage drinking is particularly worthy of our attention because it can lead to heavier alcohol use later in life. Research tells us that adults who first used alcohol before age 21 were more likely to be classified with alcohol dependence or abuse than those who had their first drink at or after age 21.” The SAMHSA blog article, Make a Commitment to Prevent Underage Drinking During National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, reports that SAMHSA has supported more than 1,500 local underage drinking prevention Town Hall Meetings in 2012; has completed underage drinking videos for 30 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands; and will launch its new Underage Drinking Prevention National Media Campaign on February 4, 2013.

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NIH Translational Research Video on Substance Use Risks

Risk-Taking Behavior and Substance Use is one of four new 7-minute videos on behavioral and social science research released by the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR). The substance use–related OBSSR video features Carl Lejuez, Ph.D., discussing translational research, that is, the study of the basic internal processes that lead people to addictive behaviors and application of that information. He points out that an individual’s willingness to take risks and his or her ability to tolerate psychological stress are key to understanding substance use and successful treatment. Dr. Lejuez explains and illustrates how positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement influence someone’s use of a substance and what they may reveal about why use occurs. A transcript of Dr. Lejuez’s video commentary is also available on the OBSSR web page. Dr. Lejuez is a professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park, and director of the Center for Addictions, Personality, and Emotion Research.

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What Do You Mean I Don’t Look Old Enough?

In a sample of 100 attempts to buy alcohol from Internet sources by students who were between the ages of 18 and 20, nearly half (45 percent) were able to make a purchase. Many alcohol venders selling online use an age verification system that simply requires purchasers to check a box confirming that, “Buyer is over 21 years of age.” In this study, 41 out of the 100 Internet alcohol vendor websites did not request age verification during the ordering process. In addition, procedures for verifying purchaser age at the point of delivery were not followed in half of these 100 transactions, even when the shipment was addressed to the actual underage student. Another method that underage youth use to obtain alcohol via the Internet is to provide the vendor with an adult neighbor’s address for shipment; the neighbor then hands the package over to the minor, unaware of the contents. These are among the findings reported in Internet Alcohol Sales to Minors, by Rebecca S. Williams, M.H.S., Ph.D., and Kurt M. Ribisl, Ph.D., both at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill. The study was published in the September 2012 issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

A detailed discussion of effective measures for controlling Internet alcohol sales to minors is included in chapter 1 of Regulatory Strategies for Preventing Youth Access to Alcohol: Best Practices. This best practices document was reprinted in May 2011 by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center, and it recommends prohibiting home delivery of alcohol and either prohibiting or strictly regulating Internet and mail-order alcohol sales.

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October 24 Webinar on Mobilizing To Prevent Youth Substance Abuse

On October 24, 2012, beginning at 12:00 p.m. ET, Howard Koh, M.D., M.P.H., Assistant Secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will lead a live webinar roundtable discussion on community engagement as being key to preventing underage drinking and other youth substance abuse. He will be joined by Don Wright, M.D., M.P.H., Director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, HHS; and Jaclynn Sagers, Director of Tooele City Communities That Care. The panel will discuss how participants can take active roles in preventing adolescent substance abuse. The event will also highlight one program’s success mobilizing a community around adolescent alcohol and substance use in Utah. Register today for the free Tackling Substance Abuse Through a Community-Wide Coalition webinar sponsored by the HHS Healthy People 2020 initiative.

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Online Peer Support and Perceived Parental Disapproval Curbs Alcohol Use

Greater alcohol content online was associated with higher levels of drinking among a sample of 3,447 people, ages 18 to 24, across the United States, according to researchers at the University of Michigan (U-M). But their newly released study also revealed that if participants believed that their parents and peers might disapprove of online images of them drinking, they would be less likely to drink. Further, young adults (including subjects below the legal drinking age of 21) who reported more online peer support were less likely to use alcohol. ”This information suggests use of these social platforms could be a good way to reach young adults with messages about alcohol and marijuana use and other health behaviors. And images may be effective in a social networking environment," said Sarah A. Stoddard, Ph.D., lead author of the study.

Permissive Norms and Young Adults’ Alcohol and Marijuana Use: The Role of Online Communities appears in the November 2012 issue of The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. The paper was produced as part of the Virtual Networks Study, a joint project of the Prevention Research Center of Michigan (a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Prevention Research Centers system) and the Sexuality and Health Lab in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education at the U-M School of Public Health.

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Family Checkup Shows Parents How To Keep Youth Alcohol and Drug Free

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has launched Family Checkup: Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse, an online resource that equips parents with research-based skills to help keep their children alcohol and drug free. Five questions developed by the Child and Family Center at the University of Oregon highlight parenting skills that are important in preventing the initiation and progression of alcohol and drug use among youth. For each question, a video clip shows positive and negative examples of a specific skill, and additional videos and information help users practice positive parenting skills. A 7-page Family Checkup guidebook is included for downloading and printing.

 NIDA announced Family Checkup in conjunction with the October 2012 National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. Other information and links to resources for National Substance Abuse Prevention Month are available from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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Friends’ Moms Can Prevent Underage Drinking Problems

The friends of teens whose mothers were strict were 40 percent less likely to get drunk and 38 percent less likely to engage in binge drinking than were the friends of adolescents with mothers who were not strict with them. These are among the findings of a new study by Holly B. Shakya, Ph.D., at the Gates Foundation Social Networks Project at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, and her associates. According to Dr. Khakya, “… using a style that balances warmth and communication with appropriate control and supervision—is not only associated with reduced substance abuse in our own children, but it is also associated with reduced substance abuse in our own children's friends.”  She observed that these positive effects may also spread through adolescent social networks, so that as parents’ behaviors affect their children, that effect is further spread to their children’s friends. “So, good parents may be helping both their own children and the friends of their children. Thus, the benefits of parenting interventions may be multiplied throughout the community beyond parent to child,” Dr. Shakya said. An article reporting the study’s findings, “Parental influence on substance use in adolescent social networks,” was published on October 8, 2012, in the online edition of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, among other sources, has long noted that “Parents influence whether and when adolescents begin drinking as well as how their children drink.”

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Underage Drinking Linked to Teen Dating Violence

Underage drinking may be both a contributor to teen dating violence and one of its consequences, according to the 2012 factsheet Understanding Teen Dating Violence, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The new CDC factsheet says that alcohol use is a risk factor for harming a dating partner. In addition, the factsheet states that teens who have been victims of dating violence are more likely than their peers who have not had such experiences to drink alcohol and use drugs. They are also more likely to be depressed, do poorly in school, develop eating disorders, or attempt suicide, and their chances of being victimized at college are greater. CDC notes that 22.4 percent of women and 15.0 percent of men first experienced some form of partner violence between the ages of 11 and 17. 

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692 Communities Awarded Funds To Prevent Alcohol and Drug Abuse

On October 5, 2012, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) awarded $84.6 million in Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program grants to 692 community-based organizations across the country. The DFC program is directed by ONDCP in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and provides up to $625,000 over 5 years to local coalitions for their efforts to prevent underage drinking and youthful drug use. Many of the hundreds of community groups that hosted SAMHSA-sponsored 2012 Town Hall Meetings on underage drinking are current DFC grantee organizations.

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Many New Veterans Have Alcohol Problems

“Studies show that alcohol misuse and abuse, hazardous drinking, and binge drinking are common among OEF [Operation Enduring Freedom] and OIF [Operation Iraqi Freedom] veterans,” according to an issue of In Brief, released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on October 4, 2012. Veterans may use alcohol to block memories and numb feelings related to their military experience, and studies show that signs of their trauma may get worse during the first year after they return, particularly among Army Reserve and National Guard troops. Drinking may be a cofactor in other serious problems many veterans face, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, mental disorders, suicide, and conflict in family and social relationships. The new SAMHSA In Brief bulletin includes links to many resources, including screening tools.

A military culture of heavy drinking and lax enforcement of underage drinking laws may contribute to elevated levels of drinking problems among veterans. On September 17, 2012, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense, that discussed dangerous attitudes toward alcohol in the military services, noting that binge drinking among active-duty personnel increased from 35 percent in 1998 to 47 percent in 2008. The IOM recommended enforcement of underage drinking regulations, reduced density of alcohol outlets on military bases, and limits on the hours of alcohol sales at these outlets.

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Justice Department, United Way Join To Help Children Exposed to Violence

Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that the United Way’s 2-1-1 “call-for-service” line is now partnering with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and other stakeholders “to more effectively identify—and assist—children who’ve been exposed to violence,” in conjunction with DOJ’s Defending Childhood Initiative. The September 28, 2012, announcement points out that children who have experienced or witnessed violence are more likely than other children to abuse alcohol and drugs. This finding is among the facts gleaned from a 2009 DOJ study that found that 60 percent of children in the United States have been exposed to violence, crime, or abuse in their homes, schools, and communities. In addition to their increased risk for underage drinking and drug abuse, these children are also more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic disorders; fail or have difficulty in school; and become delinquent and engage in criminal behavior.

Ways that parents can help protect their children from trauma and provide the help their children need if they are exposed to violence are identified in a May 2012 article written for Building Blocks for a Healthy Future (Building Blocks). Building Blocks is an early childhood substance abuse prevention program developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The Building Blocks article also provides links to many other resources to help parents of children who have been exposed to violence

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