Jun 30 2008

Facts & News

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Adults, Heads Up! 

Unlawfully hosting minors consuming alcohol is intentionally permitting a person’s residence, land, building, structure or procured room to be used in such a manner that results in possession or consumption therein of alcoholic, liquor or cereal malt beverages by persons under the age of 21.

Penalty for conviction is a class A person misdemeanor with a minimum fine of $1000, and the potential of up to one year in jail. 

Don’t allow alcohol or provide alcohol at parties involving youth!!

HEALTH RISKS

“Every teenager tries it” …. “It’s natural for teens to experiment with alcohol” …….. “I did it when I was his age and I survived”……”At least it’s just alcohol and not drugs” Sound familiar?  While many parents have “lived through it”, the fact is, the social norms are changing when it comes to underage drinking. Teen alcohol use and abuse is a topic that has been widely researched in the past few decades, revealing much more information about its harmful and lasting effects on teens. The bottom line is we know more about underage drinking now than we did back then. The health risks are greater than we ever knew before and the legal consequences are far stiffer than in the past. Alcohol is absorbed in the blood stream through the stomach lining. Depending on how much is ingested and how fast it was consumed, the effects of alcohol can last for several hours. Short-term risks include increased emotional reactions, staggering, double vision, loss of balance, nausea, vomiting and an impression of the room spinning. The long-term risks of ongoing alcohol use include pancreatitis, liver damage and specific cancers.  Alcohol use is the second leading cause of dementia; one simple ages quicker on alcohol. According to information issued by the U. S. government publication entitled Prevention Alert, short-term memory is also severely impacted. In one study, short-term memory skills were evaluated in alcohol-dependent and nondependent adolescents ages 15 and 16. The alcohol-dependent youth had greater difficulty remembering words and simple geometric designs after a 10-minute interval. Research shows that alcohol affects teen brains far differently than the brain of an adult, promoting not only minor impairments but also far-reaching effects like serious alcoholism in a more expeditious manner.As the brain develops through the early 20’s, the plasticity that allows teens to change and grow is squelched by alcohol and other drugs. Arrested development can manifest itself in many ways among teens and young adults affected by alcohol. A teenager’s judgment is compromised to make bad choices in other areas, such as driving too fast or experimenting with sex and more serious drugs. When exposed to alcohol, most people — especially young, inexperienced drinkers — will have a spike in dopamine, the chemical that stimulates the primitive pleasure center of the brain. Dr. Don Voreen, with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said scientific studies show the first experience with alcohol can be a big “high” for teens, but subsequent drinking experiences are less pleasurable, as the amount of alcohol required to achieve the first time experience becomes larger and larger. Brain pathways are disrupted and the threshold of pleasure is reset to require more stimuli each time. Eventually, this leads young people to not only drink more, but to experiment with other drugs that help stimulate the dopamine response. According to Dr. Voreen, frequent alcohol abuse — binge drinking most common among teens and other young adults under the age of 21 — further aggravates the damage to the brain. All this dopamine release is not natural, so the brain pulls in the receptors for pleasure. The dopamine disintegrates and the system for experiencing pleasure eventually shuts down. Eventually an addict will become immune to the pleasures of food, sex and other gratifying pursuits.

Emergency Room Visits To Treat Teen Marijuana Use On The Rise

Teens being treated for marijuana dependence and emergency room department admissions for marijuana use continue to increase despite reported declines of teen use of the drug.  A new report by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University states that today’s marijuana is more potent with average THC levels higher than ever. The average THC level in seized marijuana samples from the mid-70’s was less than one percent compared to 8.8 percent today.  Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse said that, “It is important to remind young people, their parents and others that marijuana is not a benign drug. Marijuana can be addictive; it interferes with brain functions, like learning and memory. And it may pose a threat to the health and well-being of children and adolescents at a critical point in their lives — when they are growing, learning, maturing and laying the foundation for their adult years.” To review the CASA study, click here

A FEW UNDERAGE DRINKING FACTS:

• Every day, 5,400 young people under 16 have their first drink of alcohol. (Source: Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth with calculations from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health)

• Studies reveal that alcohol consumption by adolescents results in brain damage – possibly permanent -and impairs intellectual development. (Source: Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (Volume 24, Number 2 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, February 2000)

• Adolescents drink less and have fewer alcohol-related problems when their parents discipline them consistently and set clear expectations. (Source: Hawkins JD, Graham JW, Maguin E, et al. 1997 Exploring the effects of age of alcohol use initiation and psychosocial risk factors on subsequent alcohol misuse. Journal of Studies on Alcohol. 58(3): 280-290)

• When drinking is delayed until age 21, a child’s risk of serious alcohol problems is decreased by 70 percent. (Source: Calculated from information contained in: Grant BF, Dawson DA. 1997, Age at onset of alcohol use and its association with DSM-IV alcohol abuse and dependence. Results from the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey. Journal of Substance Abuse 9:103-110.)

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