Information on Substance Abuse
Treatment Works; People Recover
Did You Know? There is a free online alcohol screening tool for adults to investigate? It answers, "How much is too much?" Visit www.alcoholscreening.org to check it out. AlcoholScreening.org is a free service of Join Together, a project of the Boston University School of Public Health. AlcoholScreening.org helps individuals assess their own alcohol consumption patterns to determine if their drinking is likely to be harming their health or increasing their risk for future harm.
Alcoholism: Is It All in the Genes?
Feb 28, 2011 10:55 AM CST by Donna Vaillancourt
We know alcoholism runs in families -- children with alcoholic parents have quadruple the risk of developing a drinking problem later in life than those without -- but is the link genetic or the result of other influences?
According to a Feb. 8 Wall Street Journal article outlining the evidence for "alcoholism genes," it is probably both.
Researchers from a 22-year National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) investigation into the relationship between DNA and alcoholism, have put together compelling evidence from family studies indicating the problem has roots in nature versus nurture.
For instance, boys born to alcoholic fathers are nine times more likely to develop a drinking problem. Children with an alcoholic birth parent who are adopted in infancy have almost the same risk for alcoholism as they would have had they been raised by that parent.
Studies in specific ethnic groups also support a genetic link, according to David Goldman, M.D., chief of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics at NIAAA and the study's senior investigator. About 40 percent of East Asians have a gene variation that causes reddening of the skin, increased heart beat, and nausea after drinking -- aptly called "Asian flush." These symptoms are a strong deterrent to drinking.
Conversely, a gene variation found almost exclusively in Finnish people has been linked to severe impulsivity. "Almost all these severely impulsive individuals [were] also alcoholic," said Goldman. "And their worse impulsive problems occurred while they were drunk."
Although the identification of a relationship between specific genes and alcoholism has spurred promising new therapies that target them, the investigators caution that it's unlikely genetics will provide all the answers.
"All too often, you read that they've found a gene for this and a gene for that, and it's very rarely that simple," said Howard Edenberg, Ph.D., Chancellor's Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Indiana University and one of the study's principal investigators.
"With a disease like alcoholism, where dozens or hundreds of genes could have a small impact, to find any one of them in the size of the studies we are doing, you have to be sort of lucky," he said. "And the chance that the next group will be lucky is not that high."
Social, cultural, and environmental influences muddy the causal relationship even further. Not everyone with an alcoholic parent or a genetic variation associated with alcoholism becomes an alcoholic. According to Edenberg, DNA is not destiny where human behavior is concerned.
"You can carry all kinds of genes," he concluded. "If you manage to push away the glass or the bottle, you won't have an alcoholism problem."
Important Links on Alcohol Abuse:
Underage Substance Abuse
Warning Signs That Your Child May Have a Substance Abuse Problem
- Mood changes, irritability.
- School problems: poor attendance, low grades.
- Rebelling against family rules.
- Switching friends, secretive.
- Sloppy appearance, a lack of interest, low energy.
- Memory lapses, bloodshot eyes, lack of coordination, slurred speech.
Experts believe that a problem is more likely if you notice several of these signs at the same time, if they occur suddenly, and are extreme in nature.
How Parents Can Prevent Alcohol or Other Drug Use
Be a role model. Be aware of what you say and what you do when coping with stress. Let your actions match your words.
Give a clear, consistent message that alcohol or other drug use is unacceptable and that use will have consequences.
Listen to your children. Tell them that they are respected and their feelings are important.
Ask questions about your children's activities.
Teach children coping skills for stressful situations and how stress can be managed without alcohol or other drugs.
Educate your children regarding the dangers of alcohol and other drugs.
Praise your child. A child with high self-esteem is less likely to use alcohol and other drugs.
Spend time together. Meet their friends and get to know the parents.
Keep life interesting by keeping children active in sports, clubs or activities. Participate with them whenever possible.
Be a parent, not a friend. Give children attention and the assurance that you'll be there with help, guidance and love.
Be consistent. Don't let children drink at home. Illegal is illegal at home or anywhere.
Let children know that peer pressure can be rejected. Role play with them and discuss refusal skills:
1.) Switch topics or walk away
2.) "No thanks, no way!"
3.) "Drugs are bad for you. Why would you use them?"
4.) "I thought you were smarter."
5.) "I don't want to go to jail."
6.) "Why do you keep asking me when I said no?"
7.) "I don't use drugs."
Why You Should Care
Two reasons: First and foremost "our" kids are indeed our future. Their actions today will affect their future and ours for many years to come.
The presence and use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, inhalants and other drugs is absolutely linked to many health, social and economic problems that slowly but most surely erode our families and communities.
Illnesses, addictions, accidents, premature deaths, birth defects, violence, domestic or partner abuse, other crimes, unwanted teen pregnancy, school failure or dropout, delinquency, depressed communities, joblessness, and homelessness - all have strong correlations to substance abuse.
If these aren't enough reasons to get involved and get active, try this: drug and alcohol abuse costs you and every member of your family. It is estimated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that substance abuse-related problems cost every man, woman and child in America $800 a year - or nearly $200 billion. These costs are reflected in higher health care costs, higher insurance, more tax dollars for law enforcement and incarceration, lost worker productivity, and on and on.
Prevention is everybody's business and must involve people, groups, and systems at every level of society.
For more information send an email to LThorp@TrumbullMHRB.org.
Underage drinking laws:
What Parents Should Know
- As a parent, you cannot give alcohol to your teen's friends under the age of 21 under any circumstance, even in your own home, even with their parent's permission.
- You cannot knowingly allow a person under 21, other than your own child, to remain in your home or on your property while consuming or possessing alcohol.
If you break the law:
- You can face a maximum sentence of six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
- Others can sue you if you give alcohol to anyone under 21, and they, in turn, hurt someone, hurt themselves or damage property.
- Officers can take any alcohol, money or property used in committing the offense.
Things you can do as a parent:
- Refuse to supply alcohol to anyone under 21.
- Be at home when your teen has a party.
- Make sure that alcohol is not brought into your home or property by your teen's friends.
- Talk to other parents about not providing alcohol at other events your child will be attending.
- Create alcohol-free opportunities and activities in your home so teens will feel welcome.
- Report underage drinking to local law enforcement.
Zero Tolerance Alcohol Policy Good Choice for Parents
While restaurants in Germany legally sell alcohol to teenagers after their sixteenth birthdays and French children drink wine with dinner at an early age, new research suggests that U.S. parents who follow this relaxed European example could be increasing the likelihood that their children binge drink in college.
Research conducted by Caitlin Abar, with Penn State's Prevention Research and Methodology Centers, found that there is no scientific basis to the common belief that prohibiting alcohol turns it into a "forbidden fruit" and encourages abuse. Abar presented her results at the 2009 meeting of the Society for Prevention Research in Washington, D.C. and they appear in the current issue of Addictive Behaviors.
In 31 states, parents can legally serve alcohol to their underage children. Though U.S. teenagers drink less often than adults, they tend to drink more at a time — on average, five drinks in a sitting. About 87 percent of college students try alcohol, and 40 percent say that they regularly engage in some type of binge drinking.
To see if parents permitting underage alcohol use might be an underlying cause of binge drinking, Abar surveyed almost 300 college freshmen and related their drinking habits to their parents' modeling and permissibility of alcohol use. Those students whose parents did not permit them to drink underage — about half of the group — were significantly less likely to drink heavily in college, regardless of gender. Whether the parents themselves drank, on the other hand, appeared to have little effect on predicting their children's behaviors when accounting for the permissibility they exhibited toward teen alcohol use.
Abar cautioned, however, that further research is needed to confirm the preliminary study and that they need to determine if the setting where parents provide the alcohol changes the results. A previous study in 2004 by Kristie Foley, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, North Carolina, showed that teenagers who received alcohol from their parents for parties were up to three times more likely to binge drink within a month, while those who drank only with the family were less likely to binge. So the context in which a parent provides alcohol could be key.
While the sample group used in this Abar's study was comprised primarily of Caucasian college students, previous research uncovered a similar effect in low-income African-American and Hispanic students. A 2007 study of 1,388 children by Kelli Komro, and the University of Florida, showed that schoolchildren who were permitted alcohol in the home by their parents in sixth grade were up to three times more likely to get drunk and almost twice as likely to drink heavily (five or more drinks) at ages 12-14.
Summer is a Risky Time for Tweens
Summer! Just the mere thought of it excites most students, yet concerns many parents (and for good reason). Summer is a known time for increased alcohol, marijuana and other drug use, including first-time experimentation. What sets this season apart? Increased-Unsupervised-Free-Time.
At this transitional age, our children naturally seek their independence and our trust. But, the two can make for a risky combination, given the allure and pressure of, “friends and fun.”
Keep your child safe and drug-free with these Summertime Tips:
Set Summertime Rules: Make clear your rules regarding unsupervised time spent with friends, as well as your expectations surrounding drinking, smoking and other risky behaviors.
Supervise: If you are unable to be physically present when your child is at home, ask a neighbor to check in, or consider hiring a “buddy-sitter” to hang out with your tween during the day. Unsupervised youth are three times more likely to use alcohol or other drugs.
Monitor: Know with whom and where your child is at all times. Randomly call and text your child to check in, and don’t be afraid to check up on your child by calling another parent.
Engage: Provide some structure to your child’s summer by engaging him/her in a supervised activity (sports, camps, classes, etc.) or maybe even a summer job (babysitting, mowing lawns, dog-walking,etc.).
Team Up: Connect with the parents of your child’s friends and agree to each take a turn escorting the group of tweens on a local outing of their choice (zoo, amusement park, museum, etc.).
Stay Involved: Show your child you care by taking time out of your busy schedule to do something fun and interactive together this summer (head to the movies, volunteer together, take a bike ride, etc.).
Communicate: Regardless of season, it is always a good time to talk to your child about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Open (or maintain) the lines of communication and be your child’s trusted source of information.
Help your child enjoy a safe and drug-free summer, filled with positive experiences and fun times with family and friends.
This information provided by Know!, a program of the Drug Free Action Alliance, with funding support from United Way of Central Ohio. For more information visit www.helpthemknow.com
Talking regularly with kids reduces their risk of using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs