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Alcohol Is Prime Drug in Vehicle-Related Emergency Department Visits

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

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

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May Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center Resource Alert Now Online

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

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College Students Drink Less When Parents Advocate Alcohol Abstinence

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

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

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Mixing Alcohol With Energy Drinks Leads to Alcohol Use Problems

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

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

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Underage Drinking Costs Each American Nearly $2,000 Annually

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

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ACF Programs Address Risk Factors for Underage Drinking

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

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Alcohol Availability at School Tied to Bullying and Cyber-Bullying

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

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

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Campus Traditions Influence Student Drinking

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

The study, The Impact of Campus Traditions and Event-Specific Drinking, is published in the June 2015 issue of Addictive Behaviors. The National Institute on Drug Abuse funded this study.

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FTC Campaign Says Alcohol Retailers Can Help Reduce Underage Drinking

The Federal Trade Commission continues adding new resources to its “We Don’t Serve Teens” campaign, launched in 2009, and aimed at reducing youth access to alcohol. A recent addition to the campaign site is a page headlined “Who Can Reduce Underage Drinking, and How?—includes a link to Alcohol Retailers Can Help Reduce Teen Drinking. This web page offers specific recommendations to help such businesses operate legally and responsibly. Community-based prevention organizations may find promoting these recommendations an effective way to engage local alcohol retailers in their underage drinking prevention efforts. The agency is a member of the federal Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking, a group of 15 federal agencies led by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services.

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Find NIAAA Twitter Chat on Understanding Alcohol and Your Health

On April 28, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism hosted a Twitter chat: Understanding Alcohol and Your Health. If you missed the conversation, use the hashtag: #NIAAAchat to see what experts had to say about the health risks of drinking.

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School-Based Interventions Can Reduce Adolescent Alcohol Use

A new study examined results from 17 different analyses of school-based alcohol interventions for adolescents. The study found that, overall, school-based alcohol interventions were effective in reducing students’ alcohol consumption when compared to control groups. Within these findings, individually delivered brief alcohol interventions were shown to be effective, but brief alcohol interventions delivered in groups did not result in reduced alcohol use.

The study, Effectiveness of Brief School-Based Interventions for Adolescents: A Meta-Analysis of Alcohol Use Prevention Programs, was published in the April 2015 issue of Prevention Science. It received grant funding support from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. 

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Computer-Based Interventions Useful in Preventing College Student Drinking

Previous research has shown that computer-based interventions are effective at reducing college student drinking. This study, funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, explored differences in the way these programs are administered. The findings demonstrated that computer-based interventions are less effective at reducing drinking and related consequences when they are delivered remotely than when they are administered in person.

Remote Versus In-Lab Computer-Delivered Personalized Normative Feedback Interventions for College Student Drinking was published in the March 2015 issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology

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SAMHSA Hosts Webinar on Happy Hour Restrictions: May 6

Please join the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for “Happy Hour” Restrictions: From Theory to Practice, on May 6, 2015, at 2:00