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Friday, September 26, 2014

First Drink to First Drunk

Drinking at an early age can have a number of negative side-effects, leading to health problems, social problems, and addiction. A new study has found that the shorter the time between a teen’s first drink and the first time they get drunk, can increase the risk of a teen abusing alcohol later on, HealthDay reports. Researchers surveyed 295 high school students who drink.

The teens were asked:
  • When they first tried alcohol?
  • When they first got drunk?
  • How often they drank in the first month?
  • How often they engaged in binge drinking?
“If age of any use is the primary risk factor, our efforts should be primarily focused on preventing initiation of any use,” William Corbin of Arizona State University said in a news release. “If, however, age of first intoxication — or delay from first use to first intoxication — is a unique risk factor above and beyond age of first use, prevention efforts should also target those who have already begun drinking in an effort to prevent the transition to heavy drinking.”

The research indicated that teens who had their first drink at age 14 and first got drunk when they were 15 became heavier drinkers than teens that started drinking at the same age but were 18 before they first got drunk.

“We would recommend that parents attempt to delay their children’s use of alcohol as long as possible,” study author Meghan E. Morean said. “However, even among adolescents who have had their first drink, a significant percentage has yet to drink to intoxication. Therefore, parents’ efforts to delay drinking to intoxication may be helpful in reducing their child’s long-term risk for negative outcomes associated with early drinking.”

 The study appears in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Teenage Drug and Alcohol Use On The Decline

A new government study shows that teenage drug and alcohol use among American’s continues to decline, The Washington Post reports.

The findings come from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) as part of its 25th annual observance of National Recovery Month.

The report showed that the rate of current illicit drug use among teens ages 12 to 17 was 8.8 percent in 2013, down from 9.5 percent in 2012 and 11.6 percent in 2002. Between 2002 and 2013, the number of teens with substance dependence or abuse problems decreased from 8.9 percent to 5.2 percent. During the same period the rate of regular alcohol use declined from 17.6 percent to 11.6 percent.

What’s more, the study found that marijuana and prescription drug use declined among teens ages 12 to 17.

While the report's findings are on the positive side, sadly the report found that many American teenagers who require treatment for a substance use disorder are not receiving the help they need. The findings indicated that, of the 22.7 million Americans 12 and older needed treatment for a substance use disorder last year, only 2.5 million received care at a treatment center designed for substance use disorders.

“This report shows that we have made important progress in some key areas, but that we need to rejuvenate our efforts to promote prevention, treatment and recovery, to reach all aspects of our community,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde said in an agency news release.

The NSDUH is conducted annually, the findings come from a nationally representative sample of about 70,000 Americans ages 12 and older.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Binge Drinking While Pregnant Puts Child at Risk

Smoking and drinking during pregnancy
Binge drinking on its own is detrimental to the body, every bit of research indicates that those who binge drink increase their risk of health problems and/or addiction. So what happens when women binge drink while pregnant?

The risk of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is always present when consuming any amount of alcohol while pregnant, but a new study found that children had an increased risk of hyperactivity and inattention when they reached age 11, if their mother engaged in binge drinking while pregnant, they were also more likely to get lower marks on school exams. Researchers defined binge drinking as having four or more alcoholic beverages in a day on at least one occasion during pregnancy, Medical Daily reports.

More than 4,000 mothers in England and Australia took part in the study. Researchers took note of the participant's lifestyle and social factors while pregnant, including:
  • Age
  • Education
  • Mental Health
  • Alcohol Use
  • Tobacco Use
  • Marijuana Use
  • Use of Other Drugs 
Researchers questioned the mothers twice about their drinking habits, first during their pregnancy, then when their children were 5-years of age. A quarter of the mothers admitted to binge drinking at least once during their pregnancy.

Parents and teachers filled out questionnaires about the children’s mental health when the child was 11-years of age. The children’s academic performance was reviewed by the research team. The effects of a mother’s binge drinking were more pronounced in girls, the study found.

“Women who are pregnant or who are planning to become pregnant should be aware of the possible risks associated with episodes of heavier drinking during pregnancy, even if this only occurs on an occasional basis,” lead researcher Professor Kapil Sayal from the University of Nottingham said in a news release. “The consumption of four or more drinks in a day may increase the risk for hyperactivity and inattention problems and lower academic attainment even if daily average levels of alcohol consumption during pregnancy are low.”

The study is published in European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Nicotine May Lead to Harder Drugs

It seems like every way you turn someone is puffing on an E-cigarette, devices which many argue are a much safer method of getting a nicotine fix as well as an effective tool for quitting smoking. The facts about e-cigarettes are not well known, little research has been conducted to date. However, some researchers suggest that e-cigarettes may increase the risk of addiction to cocaine and other drugs, reports the New England Journal of Medicine.

In 2012, among U.S. adults 18 to 34 years of age who had ever used cocaine, 87.9% had smoked cigarettes before using cocaine, 5.7% began using cigarettes and cocaine at the same time, 3.5% used cocaine first, and 2.9% had never smoked cigarettes, according to the journal. Such data leads wife-husband research team Denise and Eric Kandel, to believe that nicotine in any form may serve as a “gateway” drug. The team found the rate of cocaine dependence was highest among users who started using cocaine after having smoked cigarettes, according to Time.

“Nicotine acts as a gateway drug on the brain, and this effect is likely to occur whether the exposure is from smoking tobacco, passive tobacco smoke or e-cigarettes,” they said. “More effective prevention programs need to be developed for all the products that contain nicotine, especially those targeting young people. Our data suggest that effective interventions would not only prevent smoking and its negative health consequences but also decrease the risk of progressing to illicit drug use and addiction.”

The Kandel’s point out that a typical e-cigarette user is a long-term smoker who is unable to stop smoking, but e-cigarette use is increasing among teens and young adults. 

Parents should be weary of their teenagers using any nicotine delivery system like e-cigarettes. While the devices may be safer than traditional cigarettes, nicotine is without question one of the most addictive substances and one of the hardest to quit. Many factors will determine if one moves on from nicotine to harder substances, but it is better to be safe and abstinence is always encouraged.
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