Some Sobering Stats on Kids and Drinking

8800714142Aug. 31, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Alcohol poses a far greater threat to children than many parents care to admit, a new report warns.  Many kids start drinking at a young age, and their size and inexperience with alcohol renders them more apt to be binge drinkers, said report author Dr. Lorena Siqueira, director of adolescent medicine at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami.

Such hard drinking can prove fatal. For example, one-third of all fatal auto crashes involving alcohol happen among 15- to 20-year-olds, the report found.  “The top three causes of mortality in teenagers are motor vehicle accidents, homicides and suicides, and alcohol is strongly associated with each of these,” Siqueira said. Between 36 percent and 50 percent of high school students drink alcohol, and 28 percent to 60 percent report binge drinking, the report said.

But the true picture is even darker, Siqueira suggested. Those numbers are based on the adult definition of binge drinking — five or more drinks in a two-hour period for men, or four or more drinks for women.  Because teens typically weigh less than adults, they are likely to reach an unsafe blood alcohol concentration faster, Siqueira said.

Alcohol isn’t benign, one expert agreed.

“We spend a lot of time worrying about all manner of substance abuse, and we should, but this report brings home that the most commonly abused and dangerous drug for children is alcohol,” said Dr. Bennett Leventhal, a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco.   In 2014, half of twelfth graders and one in nine eighth graders reported having been drunk at least once in their life, the report found.

The way kids drink alcohol makes them more apt to drink too much, Siqueira noted.  “When they drink, they often tend to drink straight from a bottle and they pass it around,” she said.  The report lists an array of health problems that stem from underage drinking:

  • Half of all head injuries in teens are associated with drinking.
  • Binge drinking has been associated with earlier sexual activity, teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Kids who start drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to become alcoholic, compared with people who start drinking after 20.
  • Early drinking also can alter brain development, affecting attention, among other things.

Children start to think positively about alcohol as early as between the ages of 9 and 13, the report found.  These kids are influenced by what they see in the world around them, Leventhal said. They see enticing ads for alcoholic beverages, watch role models use alcohol, and even see the adults around them drinking.

talktoyourteen3Parents need to be prepared to talk frankly with their kids about alcohol at a very early age, like elementary school, said Marcia Lee Taylor, president and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.   “As parents we all need to own it, that if we aren’t the ones talking to our children and informing their views, then someone else is going to do it,” Taylor said.

In these conversations, parents should talk about how to drink responsibly, and how adult drinking is different from the drinking in which their young friends are engaged, Siqueira said.

For example, adults tend to eat while they drink to reduce the effects of alcohol, she said. They don’t drink very fast or straight from the bottle.  Taylor said parents also need to model good drinking behavior. They shouldn’t describe alcohol as something they need to relieve stress, and they should avoid drinking to excess in front of their children.

The report urges pediatricians to ask kids about their exposure to alcohol. “If your physician wishes to talk to your kid alone, that’s recommended as a good approach to dealing with a teenager,” she said.  Above all, parents should not assume that drinking is just something that happens as a child grows older, and that they have no way to slow or stop it, Taylor said.

The new report noted that 80 percent of teenagers say their parents are the biggest influence on their decision whether to drink, Taylor said.

More information

For more on underage drinking, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCE: Lorena Siqueira, M.D., MSPH, director, adolescent medicine, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Miami, and professor, medicine, Florida International University; Bennett Leventhal, M.D., professor, child and adolescent psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco; Marcia Lee Taylor, president and CEO, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids; September 2015 Pediatrics  … Copyright © 2015 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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One Response to Some Sobering Stats on Kids and Drinking

  1. Jeane says:

    Alcohol is a contentious issue. It also happens to be a topic on which cross-generational agreement is almost impossible to achieve. I think a categorical, step-by-step case is difficult to make against this, especially when it is done in moderation, and affects no-one else, as is the case with a lot of people who consume alcohol.

    Let us first understand why there is so much contention around the issue of alcohol consumption.

    Our opinions are moulded by our environment. Most young people perceive drinking as harmless because the environment in which they see alcohol consumption consists of harmless fun with friends. Perhaps the occasional stupid or embarrassing incident, but nothing that you can’t have a nice laugh at later. It is easy for them to associate with the happy image of a drunken night out with friends, and that of social drinking, because that constitutes a large part of the stimulus they receive.

    On the other hand, the generation before us (our parents and grandparents) grew up in considerably less richness, were exposed to a radically different environment. It consisted not of fun drinking but of movies depicting the lower and middle classes showing alcohol as the root of a LOT of evil (it still is; you haven’t been to villages where alcohol has RUINED families). Alcohol was also seen as a drain to hard-earned money. When alcohol is mentioned, they are first likely to think of a wasted man who squanders away the money his wife earned by doing sundry day jobs and then comes home and beats the same wife.

    For them, it is easier to associate with the image of failed livers and broken homes and widespread devastation than the romanticized version that young people stick around with, where alcohol leads to proposals and happily-ever-afters.

    If you have someone who subscribes to the first school of thought, the only effective way to make him change his mind would be to expose him to enough stimulus of the second type—show him all the negative effects of alcohol. Tell him about the guy who met with an accident because he drove drunk; talk about the friend whose marriage was ruined because of her husband’s alcoholism, and so on.

    I found someone write on this website about how he get out from his condition to get him free from alcohol. This should can be a good example to follow.

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