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Talking To Kids About Alcohol: 5 Conversation Goals

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This prom season, teens may be thinking about the dress, the tux, the dance, but parents may be thinking about the drinking. Parents, this is a good time to make sure that your child knows where you stand on the topic of underage drinking and that they know how what to do to stay safe and make good choices.

1. Show you disapprove of underage drinking. Over 80% of young people ages 10-18 say their parents are the leading influence on their decision to drink or not drink. So they really are listening, and it’s important that you send a clear and strong message.

2. Show you care about your child’s happiness and well-being. Young people are more likely to listen when they know you’re on their side. Try to reinforce why you don’t want your child to drink—not just because you say so, but because you want your child to be happy and safe. The conversation will go a lot better if you’re working with, and not against, your child.

3. Show you’re a good source of information about alcohol. You want your child to be making informed decisions about drinking, with reliable information about its dangers. You don’t want your child to be learning about alcohol from friends, the internet, or the media—you want to establish yourself as a trustworthy source of information.

4. Show you’re paying attention and you’ll notice if your child drinks. You want to show you’re keeping an eye on your child, because young people are more likely to drink if they think no one will notice. There are many subtle ways to do this without prying.

5. Build your child’s skills and strategies for avoiding underage drinking. Even if your child doesn’t want to drink, peer pressure is a powerful thing. It could be tempting to drink just to avoid looking uncool. To prepare your child to resist peer pressure, you’ll need to build skills and practice them.

Keep it low-key. Don’t worry, you don’t have to get everything across in one talk. Many small talks are better.

-Adapted from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

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Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Ups Risks of Disorder

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 A study from Dartmouth finds that teens who mix alcohol with energy drinks are four times more likely to have an alcohol disorder than teens who have tried alcohol but never mixed it with an energy drink.

Investigators led by James D. Sargent, MD with first author Jennifer A. Emond, MSc, PhD published “Energy drink consumption and the risk of alcohol use disorder among a national sample of adolescents and young adults,” in Journal of Pediatrics.

“These findings are concerning,” said Emond. “They highlight that mixed use of alcohol and energy drinks may signal the development of abusive drinking behaviors among adolescents.”

Several studies have documented a link between consuming alcohol mixed with energy drinks and the increased rates of negative outcomes while drinking, including binge drinking. However, most studies to date have been conducted among undergraduate college students. Sargent’s team looked at a sample of 3,342 adolescents and young adults aged 15-23 years old recruited across the U.S. They found that 9.7% of adolescents aged 15-17 years old had consumed an energy drink mixed with alcohol. Analyses showed that group to have greatly increased odds of not just binge drinking, but also clinically defined criteria for alcohol use disorder.

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National Child Awareness Month Youth Ambassador Program

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National Child Awareness Month Youth Ambassador Program – 
Deadline June 10, 2015

National Child Awareness MonthYouth 16-22 can apply to YSA’s NCAM Youth Ambassador Program. One student is selected from each state. If chosen, you’ll receive a free three-day trip to Washington, DC, for training, a $1,000 grant to put your service-learning idea into action, and more!  Click here for more details and to request the application.


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As Restrictions on Painkillers Grow, More Turn to Heroin

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Once again, research indicates that as prescription painkillers become harder to get, users appear to be switching to heroin. According to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) on Trends in Heroin Use in the United States from 2002 to 2013, anecdotal information suggests that people abusing pain relievers, which provide a similar high, are switching to heroin because of decreased access to pain relievers and the relative cost of heroin. The report also finds that mortality estimates from 2000 to 2013 indicate there has been an increase in the number of drug-poisoning deaths involving heroin. Reasons for increases in drug-poisoning deaths include the availability of high purity heroin causing users to accidentally overdose. Other reasons include some users switching from prescription opioids, which have a known dosage amount and chemical composition, to heroin that often contains varying purities, dosage amounts and unknown adulterants used to cut costs and increase potency. The report finds that the heroin problem in the United States has not improved in the past decade. The findings in this report suggest a continuing need for prevention messages and heroin prevention and treatment programs.

Read the full report.

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Teens Drawn to Heavily Advertised Alcohol Brands

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A study shows that the alcohol brands favored by underage drinkers are the same ones most heavily advertised in magazines read by those under 21, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) reports.

 The study, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs concludes that current voluntary industry standards regarding alcohol advertising and minors are not doing enough. “All of the ads in our study were in complete compliance with the industry’s self-regulatory guidelines,” lead researcher Craig Ross, of Virtual Media Resources in Natick, Massachusetts, said in a journal news release.

“Parents should take note that scientific evidence is growing that exposure to alcohol advertising promotes drinking initiation, and is likely to increase the frequency of consumption for kids already drinking,” Ross said.

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