Underage Drinking Affected by Alcohol Use in Films

pediatricsjournalA recent study conducted in England showed that adolescents exposed frequently to alcohol in movies were more likely to engage in drinking at a young age. The research indicated that children who watch films that portray alcohol use are more likely to not only have tried alcohol but to also engage in binge drinking.

Underage drinking and risky behavior associated with drinking alcohol continues to be a problem in the United States and other areas. This study may point to at least one reason why it is such a difficult problem to handle. Researchers in England referenced studies conducted in the U.S. as well, to prove that the amount of alcohol consumed by characters and how the effects of alcohol are portrayed in movies may be detrimental to youth around the world.

In order to conduct the study, researcher provided 5,000 adolescents with a computerized survey. The survey asked the children to indicate whether they watched certain movies out of a list of popular films. Researchers had previously measured the amount of time (in minutes) alcohol and drinking was present in each movie. By the end of the survey, the research team was able to calculate, in minutes, the amount of time the children had been exposed to alcohol usage or abuse in films. In addition to the movie questions, the children were also asked questions about their drug and alcohol intake.

It was discovered that the children who reported over an hour of exposure to alcohol and scenes that portrayed drinking were twenty percent more likely to engage in drinking activities than the children who had seen the least amount of alcohol in movies. The results from the study directly correlate with similar studies conducted in the U.S. and other countries.

While pop culture itself cannot be entirely blamed for the behaviors of adolescents and young adults, there is plenty of evidence to support the effect it does have on the population. Perhaps more artists can take that into account of what messages they are sending, intentionally or otherwise, and more parents can try to monitor the content their children are exposed to.

“The important thing is education – alcohol is a drug and can have adverse effects on the lives, not only of the people who drink but also on their families and society: people need to be aware of the adverse effects of irresponsible alcohol use and of the fact that it could ‘happen to them,’” commented Andrea Waylen of the School of Oral and Dental Sciences. The study itself was published in the journal Pediatrics.

If you suspect that your child is engaging in underaged drinking, contact us for more information about staging an intervention and finding the right treatment.

Are Heavy Drinkers Considered Alcoholics?

cdcalcoholdependenceThe majority of adults who drink too much are not considered alcoholics or alcohol dependent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). A recent study revealed that excessive drinking is responsible for over 88,000 deaths a year, but nine out of ten Americans who drink excessively do not meet the criteria to be classified as “alcoholics”.

“This study shows that, contrary to popular opinion, most people who drink too much are not alcohol dependent or alcoholics,” said Robert Brewer, M.D., M.S.P.H., and Alcohol Program Lead at CDC. He said the study also shows the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to reducing excessive drinking. Comprehensive approaches should include evidence-based community strategies, screening and counseling in healthcare settings, and high-quality substance abuse treatment for those who need it, he added.

The collaborative study found that nearly 1 in 3 adults can be classified as an excessive drinker. Most of them binge drink, usually on multiple occasions. However, the study showed about 1 in 30 adults is classified as alcohol dependent.  The rates of alcohol dependence increase with the amount of alcohol consumed. About 10 percent of binge drinkers are alcohol dependent, while 30 percent of people who binge frequently (10 or more times a month) are alcohol dependent.

Data on 138,100 U.S. adults was analyzed by CDC and SAMHSA scientists. The adults, aged 18 years and older, participated in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2009 to 2011. The NSDUH includes a wide range of questions on substance use, including current drinking, binge drinking, average alcohol consumption, and symptoms of alcohol dependence.

The Community Preventative Services Task Force recommends the following evidence-based strategies to reduce excessive drinking: increasing alcohol taxes, regulating alcohol outlet density, and holding alcohol retailers liable for harms resulting from illegal sales to minors or intoxicated patrons.

It should be noted that someone doesn’t have to be an alcoholic to need an intervention or treatment. Chronic alcohol abuse and repeating patterns of excessive drinking can certainly warrant treatment to stop the destructive behaviors.

Study Gives New Hope for Preventing Early Binge Drinking

alcjournalA factor frequently studied for alcohol abuse and its negative outcomes is starting to drink at an early age, but researchers now suggest that how quickly teenagers move from the first drink to drinking heavily is also an indicator of who may be susceptible to binge drinking.

“Efforts to distinguish between age of first alcohol use and progression to heavy use as risk factors for heavy drinking have important implications for prevention efforts,” said Dr. William Corbin, Director of Clinical Training of Arizona State University’s psychology department.

In the study published in the October online issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, researchers surveyed 295 adolescent drinkers with an average age of 16. The students completed an anonymous survey with questions seeking information on when they first tried alcohol, if they had ever been intoxicated, if they ever participated in binge drinking, and their alcohol use over time.

Conclusions of the study could help expand prevention programs to include teens who drink, to help in preventing them from becoming binge drinkers. “To help address the prevalence of heavy drinking during high school, we would suggest that new alcohol prevention and intervention efforts targeting high school students be developed with the goal of delaying drinking onset and onset of heaving drinking among those at increased risk,” said Dr. Megan E. Morean. Dr. Morean is the assistant professor of psychology at Oberlin College, Ohio and adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine.

Among the students surveyed who had already tried alcohol, a significant percentage had yet to drink to intoxication. Both Corbin and Morean recognize the importance of parental involvement to delay their children’s use of alcohol for as long as possible. “Parent’s efforts to delay drinking to intoxication may be helpful in reducing their child’s long-term risk for negative outcomes associated with early drinking,” Morean added.

Here are some ways to help prevent binge drinking:

– Speak openly with your kids on the dangers of binge drinking.
– Give your kids information on the risks associated with binge drinking.
– Know where your kids are and who they are with.

Corbin encourages parents to take action if you learn about alcohol use with your teenager. “Acting quickly and decisively in this situation may help delay progression of heavy use, potentially altering the long-term trajectory of alcohol use for these adolescents,” he said.