Alcohol Ads and Kids
How many times, while viewing TV (especially sports related programs) do you see alcohol ads played one after another? Have you ever thought about the impact these ads have upon young kids or teenagers in the room? Studies show that you should be concerned about the effects upon those under age in the room. In fact, it has been shown that if children are exposed to ads that feature alcohol, they have a much higher chance of being at-risk for underage drinking. For some kids, this constant influence has been shown to get them drinking as early as seventh grade. Also, study results show that the more that kids are exposed to alcohol advertising, and the more they enjoy the ads, the higher the chance that they will try alcohol by the time they are in tenth grade.
So, while you may believe these ad to be harmless, consider the following facts: alcohol ads have been shown to be linked with various other alcohol-related problems in later life for those kids, including declining grades and academic performance, passing out from alcohol, booze-fueled fights, and going to school while drunk. Though you can’t always control what kids may be watching, it is critical to talk with them and explain the dangers of alcohol and what it can. Studies also show that if you do the talking, they’ll be at a lower risk for alcohol abuse.
Mediasmarts.ca, a Canadian website for digital and media literacy, recommends some strategies for talking and discussing alcohol related ads with kids at different stages of development:
“Early years: Current research suggests Grades 3 and 4 are critical years in the formation of expectancies about alcohol, so this is a good time for parents and teachers to start helping children think critically about what they see and to introduce them to the marketing strategies advertisers use to create positive associations with alcoholic beverages.
Middle years: This age group represents a critical period for decision-making about alcohol consumption. Today in Ontario, 66 per cent of students in Grades 7-12 drink, with 25 per cent drinking at least twice a month and 12 percent drinking at least once a week. Although young teens may lack the life experience to judge mass media messages, with guidance they can develop the critical skills they need to understand: explicit and implicit messaging in ads, the perspective and intentions of programmers and characters, and the impact of production techniques.
Older teens: Studies have shown that once teens start to drink, alcohol ads on TV do not affect their drinking habits. However, it has been found that wine and alcohol consumption by 18-year-old girls is directly related to television viewing between the ages of 13 and 15, and that young men who are good at remembering beer ads at 15 years of age, tend to be heavy drinkers when they are 18.” (Source: mediasmarts.ca)
This information goes to show that we need to be sensitive to watch kids who are viewing and discuss alcohol ads with them to ensure healthy thinking and awareness.
College and Alcohol Abuse
It’s that time of year again: fall leaves, football games, sweaters, and, for some, college. Many parents feel concerned about sending their kids to college and wonder if their kids will be wise when it comes to alcohol. Parents of college freshman (or college students younger than 21) wonder how and why alcohol seems to be available to their kids (since it’s been reported that as many as 80 percent of college students admit to drinking alcohol during their time in school).
Below are 4 main points to consider:
- Older students buy alcohol for younger students : Individuals of all ages interact during college
- Kids will be kids – even if they are college kids! Colleges have rules about underage drinking but whether or not students choose to obey those rules is up to them.
- Parties and events: ID is generally not required to obtain alcohol when attending a party or event during college.
- Stealing alcohol: College students have been known to do crazy things and theft is definitely one of them. Sometimes young college students steal alcohol to drink before they are 21.
Having open, honest, discussions with your child as they grow up and as they leave for college in relation to alcohol use will help facilitate responsible attitudes and behaviors for your college student.
Robin Williams’ addiction and depression
Many know that Robin Williams struggled with addiction to alcohol and cocaine during his lifetime. He admitted to being a cocaine addict in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when his fame grew tremendously. However, he quit cocaine cold turkey when comedian John Belushi overdosed to death in 1982 on a combination of cocaine and heroine. After this immediate stop, he was sober for 20 years.
Williams’ struggle with alcohol was public knowledge. He had struggled with alcoholism before Belushi’s death and iptimes.com reports that, “in 2006, he gradually became addicted to alcohol again. By his own account, it happened the moment he walked into a store and saw a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. He claimed that it was one of those times when he was having thoughts such as ‘Oh, come on, just a sip’ and then the next thing he knew, he had dove back into drinking. By his own account, he was purchasing bottle after bottle within just a week.”
Williams’ addiction will definitely not be forgotten. Addictions like these are often wake-up calls to the public to actively seek professional help for their own addictions or that of a family member if his or her life is in danger. There is such a strong link between alcoholism and depression that many wonder which comes first – which causes which? According to WebMD.com, “research is currently split on the issue as to whether clinical depression leads to alcohol abuse or if alcohol abuse causes depression or both. What is known for sure is that alcohol has a very calming effect within the brain and that is why people are likely to turn to it when stressed. According to a recent study conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, nearly one-third of those who struggle with depression of some kind have a tendency to abuse alcohol. It has also been shown that children with tendencies to clinical depression are more likely to develop alcoholism in their teens.”
Robin Williams’ tragic death should serve as lesson to all that both addictions and depression are not to be taken lightly.
Drug abuse trends in the U.S.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (drugabuse.gov), illegal drug use in America is increasing. They report that in 2012, “an estimated 23.9 million Americans aged 12 or older—or 9.2 percent of the population—had used an illicit drug or abused a psychotherapeutic medication (such as a pain reliever, stimulant, or tranquilizer) in the past month. This is up from 8.3 percent in 2002. The increase mostly reflects a recent rise in the use of marijuana, the most commonly used illicit drug.”
The institute further reports that marijuana use has increased since 2007 indicating that in 2012, there were 18.9 million current (past-month) users – about 7.3% of people aged 12 or older – compared to 14.4 million (5.8%) in 2007.
However, it is interesting to note that the use of other illegal drugs declined over the past decade or so. Again, referencing the info reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the use of psychotherapeutic prescription drugs non-medically (without a prescription or in a manner or for a purpose not prescribed), hallucinogens (a category that includes Ecstasy and LSD), cocaine, and methamphetamine has remained steady or even declined.
Perhaps marijuana use is on the rise the most due to the fact that more than half of new illicit drug users begin with marijuana. Also of interest is that drug use is highest among people in their late teens and twenties. In 2012, 23.9 percent of 18- to 20-year-olds reported using an illicit drug in the past month although drug use is increasing among people in their fifties. This trend is, at least in part, due to the aging of the baby boomers, whose rates of illicit drug use have historically been higher (drugabuse.gov).
Support in Recovery
Recovery from addiction takes time and a lot of personal effort. Having support from any source is helpful for individuals in recovery. Support can be found in group therapy settings, a sponsor, an addiction counselor, family or friends. Someone who is supporting another in recovery is simply someone who can help when an individual is struggling and the impulse to turn back to the addiction is strong. For many individuals, support in recovery begins with a drug rehab treatment program as a foundation.
Recovery is general a long and difficult process. Having support through the days, weeks, and months can be critical. Most individuals leave rehab with a support system intact and are encouraged to continue to reach out further for more support if necessary. Support following addiction recovery can provide the structure for staying clean day after day. Although having support wont guarantee full long term recovery, it can minimize many of the burdens that come from addiction and withdrawal. Many difficulties faced in recovery and in life in general can be eased with a helping hand and feeling understood and supported by others.
Elderly and Prescription Drug Abuse
As human bodies age, they naturally experience a gradual decline in physical health. The normal aches and pains of childhood, youth, and middle age become more painful and debilitating. One’s ability to fight off infection and disease decreases, and the healing process is slower after an illness or injury. Because of this, an increasing number of elderly persons are using and abusing prescription medications to provide relief for the discomfort of aches and pains associated with illness and aging.
However, not all elderly individuals stop at taking prescription medications for aches and pains. Drug abuse among this age group is increasing. Among the elderly, the overuse and abuse of prescription medication is the most common form of drug abuse. In fact, even though only 13 percent of the U.S. population is 65 years and older, they consume approximately one-third of all medications prescribed. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that elderly persons use prescription medications three times as frequently as the general population and have the poorest rates of compliance with directions for taking medications. It is now estimated that 17 percent of persons aged 60 or older are affected by prescription drug abuse. (nih.gov)
The two most commonly prescribed and abused drugs among the elderly are narcotic analgesics and sedative-hypnotic drugs.
Narcotic analgesics mostly prescribed to the elderly include morphine, Demerol, codeine and some closely related synthetics. These drugs are prescribed to the elderly because of their pain-relieving properties. Morphine, one of the most powerful pain relievers available, is used to treat severe pain on a short-term basis. Codeine, on the other hand, is prescribed for milder pain. Other examples of commonly prescribed narcotic analgesics derived from codeine include Oxycontin, Darvocet and Vicodin.
Sedative-hypnotic drugs are also prescribed to and abused by the elderly. Prescription sedatives are drugs that reduce feelings of stress and nervousness and induce mental calmness. Hypnotics are drugs that are used to promote sleep. However, the categories are not mutually exclusive. In fact, when sedatives are given in relatively high doses, they induce sleep similar to how hypnotics do. Further, when hypnotics are given in low doses, they can induce daytime sedation; and impair cognitive functioning and coordination. This can increase the risk of falls and other accidents. Commonly prescribed sedative-hypnotic tranquillizers such as Valium, Xanax and Soma as well as sleeping drugs such as Ambien.
Clearly, abuse of prescription drugs by the elderly is a growing problem in the U.S. that society needs to be aware of and attentive to.
Butane hash oil (BHO)
A hot new product on medical marijuana shelves and on Craigslist is butane hash oil: a potent hash oil most often made at home with the help of DIY (do-it-yourself) YouTube clips and canisters of butane. Also known as amber, honey, wax, earwax and by its initials BHO, butane hash oil is a highly concentrated form of the active ingredient in marijuana (tetrahydrocannabinol). Using BHO is often called “dabbing,” because of the way BHO is ingested. To ingest BHO, users place a small dab of the substance on a hot, metal surface, and then inhale the resulting puff of smoke.
Dangerously, the high is much more intense than regular marijuana: It’s not uncommon for people to lose consciousness after inhaling BHO. Dale Gieringer, of NORML, a marijuana advocacy group, told foxnews.com, “Things like this never happened until the popularization of hash oil in recent years. The dangers are dire enough to merit a special warning.”
BHO is especially dangerous due to its flammable nature. BHO is consumed by using portable hash oil pens or water pipes heated with propane torches, which comes with a cost. Oregonlive.com reports, “butane-fueled blasts have sent 17 people to a Portland burn unit with serious injuries in the past 16 months, including one Northeast Portland man who later died from his injuries.” Further, oregonlive.com reports that there were, “nine major BHO-related blasts in Oregon since 2011, four of them in homes or hotel rooms where children, including a newborn, were present. In one case last year, a 12-year-old girl suffered multiple broken bones after leaping from the second floor of a Medford apartment building rocked by a butane (BHO) explosion.”
New drugs are always emerging on the street and two of these are alarming both law enforcements and health care experts: krokodil and 2C-P. Drug users are often inventive and these two substances are proving to be especially dangerous.
Originally confined to Russia, krokodil cases have recently been reported in the United States and other countries. Krokodil is a cheap form of cocaine that is mixed with gasoline, oil, alcohol or paint thinner and is injected directly into addict’s bodies through a hypodermic needle. The high produced by krokodil is reportedly ten times that of cocaine.
Time magazine reported that krokodil (or desomorphine- the chemical name for the main ingredient) is “burning its way through Arizona, Texas, Nevada, Utah, Oklahoma, Colorado, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. The monster has crossed the ocean.” (Time, December 2013).
Krokodil most often causes dark, green or black scaly patches of dead and decaying skin. This grotesque side effect gave rise to the street name “krokodil,” or crocodile. Those who eventually overcome their addiction to the drug are still often severely disfigured for life; suffering serious scarring, bone damage, amputated limbs, speech impediments, poor motor skills and varying degrees of brain damage.
Also, Fox news recently reported that 2C-P is a little known synthetic hallucinogen with only a brief history of use, but is long-lasting and very potent. 2C-P’s intense psychedelic effects don’t begin until a few hours after a person takes it, but they can last for 10 to 20 hours and are more vivid and potent than those with ecstasy or “Molly” products and much more like LSD, according to law enforcement officials.
Foxct.com reports that there are three reasons why 2C-P is so risky:
“First – there is a delay in onset of action of 2C-P of three hours. So people don’t think it is working and take more or take something else along with it.
Secondly, the difference between good and bad (possibly fatal) effects of 2C-P is only 2 milligrams apart…..
Third, the effects of 2C-P last a long time – like up to 18 hours. So while the effects of “Molly” are wearing off in a few hours, this drug lingers on and on.” (foxct.com)
Individuals should be wary of both krokodil and 2C-P because of their volatility, risky nature and because of the dangers associated with these illegal street drugs.
Early drinking has been linked to later alcoholism risks
When kids are introduced to alcohol before age 18 (early drinking), dangerous consequences can occur. A recent study by the Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network reported in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research reported the following findings:
- Researchers have known that age of first drink (AFD) is associated with the later development of alcohol-use disorders (AUDs).
- New findings show that an early AFD, before the age of 15, is especially risky for later AUDs.
Experts agree that the onset of drinking behavior should be delayed as last as possible, until 18 years or older. The study warns parents against early drinking and to keep alcohol away from their children as it can lead to struggles with alcoholism later in life. However, some parents believe that teaching a child the responsible approach to drinking will help them develop more cognitive abilities to manage their alcohol use. This is a mistake. According to researchers, youths that drink prior to turning 18 have greater odds of becoming alcoholics. Interesting, it doesn’t take large amounts of alcohol to impact a young brain. In fact, a small amount actually primes the brain to get more enjoyment from alcohol. (attcnetwork.org)
Deborah Dawson, study author at The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that, “some early drinkers become alcohol dependent while still in their teens, a time when those who have not yet started drinking are not even at risk of becoming dependent. By looking at adult-onset dependence, we can see for the first time that the association between early AFD and increased AUD risk … is not time limited, but rather persists into adulthood.”
WHO (The World Health Organization) indicates that the older a person is when they take their first drink, the less likely they are to develop full-blown drinking disorders later in life. Also, most doctors agree that individuals should not drink until age 25 or after (the age at which the brain has fully matured). Further, most doctors also believe that no one under the age of 16 should be given alcohol under any circumstance.
It can be concluded from these findings that early drinking is definitely linked to later alcoholism risks and disorders as well as dangerous consequences.
Having structure in summer can lower drug abuse in teens
Kids love to hear the last bell ring on the last day of school. Summer break is something they look forward to the entire year; it’s an exciting time. But, sometimes having too much free time or boredom can lead to curiosity about or experimenting with alcohol or drugs. In fact, many studies have shown that most teens begin experimenting with drugs or alcohol during the summer months. Interestingly, most teens that have reported experimentation or abuse of drugs during the summer report that it began with boredom. Having structure in your teen’s summer down time can help to avoid these situations.
Many teens benefit from being enrolled in sports camps or other activities that keep their bodies and minds activated. Structured family chores or a paying job can also provide meaning and purpose during summer free time. All kids will complain about boredom at some point in their summer, but when it is excessive or there is too much idle time, it has been shown to lead to drug experimentation or abuse.
It is important to recognize the difference between drug experimentation and abuse. Drug experimentation can be defined as, “the use of a mood altering substance (drugs or alcohol) due to curiosity, and in many cases, peer pressure.” (duffycounseling.com) However, substance abuse is when an individual uses drugs and their behavior has a negative effect upon their performance in social, academic/occupational, family, or settings. Whether kids are abusing or experimenting with drugs in the summer, their behavior in both is risky and worrisome.
It’s been shown that the most commonly used drugs by kids in the summer are marijuana and beer. However, as duffycounseling.com reports, “experimentation can also involve harder drugs such as cocaine, prescription medications, and liquor. Many teens admit that marijuana is “easier to get” than alcohol and that the use of marijuana is rampant amongst their peers.”
Structuring your kid’s summer can lead to less down/bored time for them which can, in turn, place them at a lower risk for drug experimentation/abuse. Being aware of the consequences of boredom in the summer can help you feel closer to your child and help you provide activities for them to meet peers and friends with interests similar to their own.