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National Prevention Week: Action Today. Healthier Tomorrow!

National Prevention Week

Preventing substance use initiation, also known as "first-time use," can spare many young people from experiencing significant challenges later in life. While most drug and alcohol prevention efforts target adolescents, we cannot overlook the fact that there is a remarkable number of individuals who use drugs and alcohol for the first time after leaving home for college. What’s more, the late teens and early twenties are when many young people develop unhealthy relationships with mind-altering substances.

Illicit drug and alcohol use is pervasive in high school; however, many teens can avoid situations that could precipitate substance use. Some parents can successfully impress upon their children the dangers of tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis use; and, when young people fully grasp the potential consequences, they are more likely to make informed decisions.

There will always be teens who disregard the pleas of their parents and teachers to refrain from alcohol and substance use, and fortunately, the majority of such teens will not develop a use disorder down the road. Although, given that it is impossible to predict who will suffer from addiction later in life, it is critical that health experts, college faculties, and parents work together to prevent substance use initiation as long as possible. Furthermore, the use of drugs and alcohol can still cause severe injury or death even without the presence of a use disorder in an individual.

SAMHSA National Prevention Week (NPW)

A teenager or young adult can begin using drugs or alcohol at any time of the year; however, research shows that there are certain months that young people are more likely to start using mind-altering substances. For instance, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicates that college students most often use a drug or alcohol for the first time during June or July. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) believes that May is an excellent time to focus on prevention efforts. The hope is that as the school year or second semester comes to a close, young people will think twice before using drugs and alcohol.

The SAMHSA Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBHSQ) reports that 2,100 to 2,500 full-time college students aged 18 to 22 used alcohol for the first time in June and July; compared to between 1,100 to 2,000 young people using alcohol for the first time during other months of the year. The organization finds that tobacco, marijuana, and inhalant use initiation among college students aged 18 to 22 peaks over the course of the summer, as well.

Each May, SAMHSA hosts National Prevention Week! Before young people break for summer, the administration helps schools and organizations host prevention-themed events aiming to strengthen the community, school, and family bonds that can shield adolescents and young adults from substance use. SAMHSA’s primary goals this week are to:

  • Involve communities in raising awareness about behavioral health issues and implementing prevention strategies;
  • Foster partnerships and collaboration with federal agencies and national organizations dedicated to behavioral and public health; and
  • Promote and disseminate quality behavioral health resources and publications.

NPW Prevention Challenge: Action Today. Healthier Tomorrow!

Given that not everyone can take part in a National Prevention Week event in person there are other avenues of participation. There are several webinars up in the form of YouTube videos that you may find of interest. The NPW Prevention Challenge is another way young people can take a proactive approach to avoiding the trappings of drugs and alcohol. The theme for NPW 2018 is Action Today. Healthier Tomorrow. SAMHSA asks you to write a video letter to yourself and, if you feel comfortable, upload it to social media. You can find an example below:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

NPW 2018 Prevention Challenge: #DearFutureMe encourages others to take action today for a healthier tomorrow!

PACE Academy

National Prevention Week is an important event that can steer young people toward making healthy decisions. For some young people, however, the cycle of addiction is already in full force, and there is a need for more significant attention. There is a substantial number of college students struggling with drugs and alcohol who require treatment. Unfortunately, a remarkable number of people who need help are resistant to it because they don’t want to get behind in school. The good news is that individuals can address their alcohol and substance use disorder with only a slight disruption to their education.

At PACE Academy, we help young people break the cycle of addiction and equip them with the tools necessary for working a program of long-term recovery. We help clients working towards an associate or bachelor’s degrees at several community colleges and universities. At PACE Recovery Center, we can help you or a loved one keep addiction from derailing one’s future; please contact us today to learn more about our programs.

Depression Screening Early In Life

depression

Can you relate to experiencing symptoms of anxiety, apathy, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest, loss of pleasure in activities, mood swings, or sadness? If so, you are not alone; over 300 million people around the globe struggle with depression. The above symptoms are painful to contend with and ignoring the disorder can lead to harmful behaviors. It’s no wonder that alcohol and substance use disorders frequently accompany coöccurring mental health conditions like depression; when individuals have no way of coping with their symptoms self-medication seems logical. Unfortunately, resorting to drugs and alcohol for managing mental illness can and does lead to addiction. What’s more, substance use exacerbates the intensity of depressive symptoms.

The road to addiction is often slow, it starts with an internal whisper and develops into a terrible roar. While use disorders are a form of mental illness, they’re usually rooted in or grow out of other types of psychological turmoil. There is no telling when pathologies will strike or in what order; it is not uncommon for addiction to predate depression. We could spend hours debating which came first, the chicken or the egg, but the sequence of onset is of little importance in the grand scheme of things. What is salient is that alcohol and substance use disorders be treated simultaneously with any coöccurring mental illness. If one condition goes without treatment, successful outcomes rarely result.

Knowing what needs to happen is only half of the equation to recovery, the other portion involves encouraging others to talk about their struggle. The latter isn’t an easy task, the stigma of mental illness is pervasive; on top of that, a large number of people who meet the criteria for depression don’t know that’s what they are facing.

Mental Illness Screening

The reason many depressives are unaware of the true nature of their feelings is a lack of screening. When individuals operate without a diagnosis, they can convince themselves that how they are feeling is normal, so they don’t talk about their symptoms with friends and family. Over time, sometimes slowly, mental illness worsens; self-defeating behaviors like drugs and alcohol stand-in for treatment and in a significant number of cases, suicidal ideations become ever-present.

There is a large number of people whose mental strife progresses quickly, requiring intervention at a young age. At PACE Recovery Center, we treat young men from all walks of life for alcohol and substance use disorder. It is not uncommon for clients to learn in treatment that drug and alcohol use is just a symptom of a more significant problem. Many of those same clients discover that they meet the criteria for a coöccurring mental illness like anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. In many cases, a client’s symptoms of depression were present when they were in middle or high school. While there is no sure way of knowing what people might have been spared had mental health screening occurred during adolescence, early diagnosis often prevents disease progression.

Given that 1 in 5 teenagers contend with symptoms of depression during adolescence, it’s critical doctors act. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) shares the sentiment and updated its guidelines for pediatricians regarding screening, TODAY reports. Annual checkups for patients 12 and up should include one-on-one discussions about mental health. The organization encourages pediatricians to get more training in how to assess, identify and treat depression.

So many teens don't have access to mental health care," said family psychologist Dr. Jennifer Hartstein. "It has to start with their pediatrician, and these changes really point in that direction."

Spotting The Signs of Depression Saves Lives

Adolescence involves enormous changes in one’s mind and body. With puberty comes hormones and physical changes, every adult can remember how awkward life was at that time. Simply put, being a teenager isn’t defined by comfort, so it’s possible that someone can present symptoms of depression without actually being a depressive. Smoke doesn’t always mean fire, so it is up to physicians to be able to discern the difference between circumstantial and neurochemical problems. In either case, young people need support; they require an outlet to talk about how they are feeling without fear of judgment. If there is a fire, necessary steps toward recovery can follow.

When doctors address mental health concerns early on, they have a crucial opportunity to offer treatment options. Treating depression before unhealthy behaviors present themselves can spare young people from significant heartache and mitigate the risk of self-medication. Drugs and alcohol make any issue worse and can lead to premature death; early interventions are the most efficient way to prevent such outcomes.

There isn’t a cure for mental health disorders; however, with screening and treatment, it is possible to lead a fulfilling and productive life. We understand that millions of people are living with psychological disorders that their doctors were unable to spot, a broad cross-section is also dependent on drugs and alcohol. If that sounds like your story, please know that recovery is possible with the right help.

At PACE Recovery Center we specialize in the treatment of young adult males who struggle with a dual diagnosis, otherwise known as co-occurring disorders. We’re fully equipped to treat both presenting mental health conditions and give you, or a loved one, the requisite tools for achieving lasting recovery. Please contact us today to begin a truly life-changing journey.

Parental Provision of Alcohol Use

alcohol use

Parents want the best for their kids. Mothers and fathers take steps to ensure their children have as little risk exposure as feasible. Preventing one’s son or daughter from making mistakes is no easy challenge; a task which gets more difficult as children mature. The majority of people with children shield their kids from engaging in alcohol and substance use as much as possible. Many parents understand the risks of developing unhealthy relationships with substances at a young age, notably the risk of alcohol use disorder or drug addiction.

Going one step further, a good number of parents grasp the susceptibility of developing brains. Adolescents who experiment with drugs and alcohol use are at an exponentially higher risk of developing alcohol or substance use disorders. With that in mind, it’s entirely critical that parents not do anything that might encourage the development of such problems.

There is a mindset shared by a good many parents, the idea that teenage alcohol use is safe when they, as parents, manage the conditions of use. The resignation that teens are going to drink alcohol regardless of the wisdom imparted to them by their elders leads to the above course of thinking. Some parental units decide that they alone can teach their children how to deal with alcohol responsibly, i.e., moderation, not drinking and driving, etc. Notwithstanding parents’ ability to justify supplying their teens with alcohol, scientific evidence suggests that the behavior may lead to more detriment than benefit.

Parental Provision of Alcohol Use

A long-term study involving 1927 teenagers aged 12 to 18 and their parents, should help to debunk some of the myths mothers and fathers have about alcohol. The six-year analysis shows no significant benefits tied to providing teens alcohol, The Lancet reports. In fact, one could interpret the findings as evidence that parental provisional alcohol use heightened the risk of problems down the road. The researchers point out that alcohol use is the number one cause of “death and disability in 15-24-year-olds globally.”

The research indicates that when parents supply teens with alcohol in one year, it doubled the risk the teens would access alcohol from other people in the following year, according to the article. The same teens were found at most significant risk of engaging in binge drinking and experiencing harm from alcohol use; notably, alcohol abuse, dependence, and alcohol use disorders. There’s no evidence to support the idea that parents supplying teens with alcohol leads to responsible alcohol use.

In many countries, parents are a key provider of alcohol to their children before they are of legal age to purchase alcohol. This practice by parents is intended to protect teenagers from the harms of heavy drinking by introducing them to alcohol carefully, however, the evidence behind this has been limited," says lead author Professor Richard Mattick, University of New South Wales. "Our study is the first to analyse parental supply of alcohol and its effects in detail in the long term, and finds that it is, in fact, associated with risks when compared to teenagers not given alcohol. This reinforces the fact that alcohol consumption leads to harm, no matter how it is supplied. We advise that parents should avoid supplying alcohol to their teenagers if they wish to reduce their risk of alcohol-related harms."

Binge Drinking

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines binge drinking as when men consume 5 or more drinks, or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours. Essentially, drinking an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period. The risks of this behavior are many, and young people rarely understand the inherent pitfalls of heavy alcohol use. What’s more, parents are not an exception; otherwise, they may think twice about introducing their children to alcohol in any environment.

At the end of the study, binge drinking was reported among:

  • 81% of teenagers who accessed alcohol through their parents and others reported binge drinking.
  • 62% of those who accessing alcohol from other people only.
  • 25% of teens whose only supply came from parents.

It’s worth mentioning that the longer a person refrains from substance use of any kind, the better. Adolescence does not end until a person is in their mid-twenties, which means the brain is still developing. Exposing our most important organ to alcohol while it’s taking shape can cause many problems, including mental illness. The effects alcohol has on the brain tend to be more pronounced when heavy alcohol use occurs. Notwithstanding the laws that allow for alcohol use, everyone can benefit from using alcohol as intermittently and sparingly as possible.

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

Adolescent alcohol use often progresses to alcohol use disorder in young adulthood. Once that transition occurs, there is no turning back the clock. However, those caught in the grips of alcoholism can recover, provided they have help.

Addiction Linked to Weak Working Memory

addiction

Addiction and poor impulse control. Well, it is fair to say that the two go hand in hand. Addicts and alcoholics can easily be typified by making rash decisions, that are rarely in one’s best interest. A major component of addiction recovery is reining in such destructive impulses that, in recovery, can surely lead to relapse. It isn't an easy task. True addiction develops over the course of years. During which time, people’s brains become wired to act and react to various things in certain ways. Breaking such patterns is hard work, requiring continued maintenance.

Those living in active addiction have a “go to” response for most things that come up. If they are stressed, they use. If they are happy, they use. Ad infinitum. But in most cases, the continued reliance on a substance for coping with all things Life, comes down to how your brain functions with regard to memory. Addicts and alcoholics often have short attention spans, and minds that easily forget where drugs take them. Sure, one may find relief in using a substance for a time. But such relief is always outweighed by the bad that comes with the use of a substance. Despite that fact, people continue to use regardless.

Naturally, we are all wired a little bit differently, sometimes a lot differently. Beginning at a young age, individuals process things in a subjective manner. Some young people excel at staying focused and on-task, while others struggle to keep their heading. There is compelling research indicating that those who struggle with impulse control and working memory, the capacity to focus on a task without being easily distracted, are at greater risk of substance use disorder later in life, according to a study conducted by researchers at three institutions. The findings of which, were published in the journal Addiction.

Risk of Addiction

More times than not, teenage substance use is a risk factor for a substance use disorder in adulthood. Early drug and alcohol initiation, while the brain is still developing, can wreak havoc on the course of one’s life. However, that is not always the case. The majority of teens who experiment with alcohol, tobacco and marijuana in high school, don’t progress to addiction later in life. For a significant minority, the future holds something altogether different.

It goes without saying there isn’t a test that will identify who will be touched by addiction. Sure, there are several factors that often play a part in the development of the disease (i.e. family history and upbringing), but they do not necessarily mean that the child will follow the same road as an addicted parent. While doctors cannot look at any one thing and say emphatically, ‘this teen will have problems later in life,’ identifying which adolescents have certain risk factors can help guide prevention methods that may mitigate the likelihood of addiction developing in the future.

Researchers looked 387 study participants (ages 18-20) who were recruited as 10- to 12-year-olds in 2004 for a long-term study, a University of Oregon news release reports. Baselines for the participants working memory and impulsive tendencies were defined at the beginning of the study. Teens with weak working memories and poor impulse control were at a greater risk of experimenting with substances at a young age, and having a substance use disorder later in life.

We found that there is some effect that was carried through the early progression in drug use. It is a risk factor," said Khurana, who also is a research scientist in the UO's Prevention Science Institute. "But we also found that the underlying weakness in working memory and impulse control continues to pose a risk for later substance-use disorders."

Predicting Addiction Later In Life

In middle schools and high schools across the country, substance use prevention efforts employ a total abstinence methodology. The idea being that if teens don’t ever use drugs and alcohol, they will be less likely to have a problem later in life. While that may be true in some cases, it is an idea that isn’t based in reality for the simple fact that young people will often do that which they are told not to do. As was mentioned earlier, most of the young people who experiment will not have a problem later in life. With that in mind, it would seem that prevention and intervention methods that work to improve certain behavioral deficits, could help many young people in the future.

Drug prevention strategy in the schools typically focuses on middle school when early drug use tends to take place and assumes that any drug use at all is a problem,” said Co-author Dan Romer, research director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. “This study suggests that prevention needs to be more nuanced. The risk depends on whether drug use is likely to progress.”

If impulse control and one’s ability to stay focused is strengthened, teenagers and young adults would benefit greatly with regard to the relationship they develop with mind-altering substances.

Working with Young Adult Males

Through intensive, one-on-one addiction psychotherapy, under the care of licensed Master Level Therapists, PACE Recovery Center clients learn about and become aware of their experiences with addiction and behavioral health issues. They begin to identify personal core beliefs associated with negative sense of self, which exacerbates self defeating behaviors such as depression, anxiety and drug and alcohol use. Clients begin to challenge these self-destructive beliefs and ultimately restructure them into a healthier and more adaptive way of living free from mood altering substances. Each client's treatment plan is closely monitored, modified when necessary and evaluated by their therapist and the clinical treatment team.

Talking About Alcohol Use Disorder

alcohol use disorderWith all the talk about prescription opioid and heroin addiction devastating communities across the country, it is important that we do not lose sight of the other substances which have the power to negatively affect one’s life. We’ve written before how alcohol continues to be, and will probably always be, the most commonly used drug here in the United States and around the world. In America, alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death, and every year approximately 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Educating young adults about the dangers that can accompany alcohol use, especially regarding the dangerous practice of “binge drinking,” can save lives. Four out of five college students report drinking alcohol and half of those who drink - binge drink. The NIAAA considers binge drinking as having 5 alcoholic beverages for men and 4 for women within a two hour period. The dangerous practice is associated with a number of serious health problems, including:
  • Alcohol Poisoning
  • Unintentional Injuries
  • Liver Disease
  • Neurological Damage
It is probably fair to say that many young adults who binge drink, developed an unhealthy relationship with alcohol in high school. While heavy drinking is more commonly associated with college life, it occurs among high school age teens as well. Left unchecked it can result in an alcohol use disorder developing, an addiction that can dramatically affect the course of one’s life. It is ever vital that we have effective prevention and intervention efforts, and that health experts do everything in their power to provide teenagers and young adults with scientifically current information about the dangers of alcohol use. Naturally, parents can play a huge role in preventing their teens and young adult children from forming unhealthy relationships with alcohol. It cannot be overly stressed how paramount it is that parents talk with their children about alcohol, which is why the theme of this year’s Alcohol Awareness Month is: “Talk Early, Talk Often: Parents Can Make a Difference in Teen Alcohol Use.” Every year in April, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) sponsors Alcohol Awareness month, with the aim of raising “public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma and encourage local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues.” The leading advocacy organization in the world addressing alcoholism and drug dependence cites research that found that adolescents who have regular discourse with their parents about the dangers of alcohol and drug use are 50% less likely to use. Young people who drink alcohol are at great risk of:
  • Addiction
  • Alcohol Poisoning
  • Traffic Fatalities
  • Violence
  • Suicide
  • Unsafe Sex
  • Educational Failure
“Alcohol and drug use is a very risky business for young people,” says Andrew Pucher, President and Chief Executive Officer of NCADD, “and parents can make a difference. The longer children delay drinking and drug use, the less likely they are to develop any problems associated with it. That’s why it is so important to help your child make smart decisions about alcohol and drugs.” Nevertheless, there are many young adults who are already struggling with an alcohol use disorder and it is vital that they receive help sooner, rather than later. If you or a loved one’s alcohol use has become problematic, please contact PACE Recovery Center. We specialize in treating young adults with chemical dependency and behavioral health issues.

The Use of Marijuana Has Doubled

marijuanaAs the country becomes more accepting of marijuana use, with states voting in favor of medical marijuana and recreational use, it stands to reason that more people are using the drug. Historically, research involving marijuana was limited; however, in recent years there have been a number of studies conducted on the drug. The latest study involving marijuana has found that marijuana use has doubled since 2001, with nearly 10 percent of American adults reporting use in 2013, the Oregonian reports. With the increase of use, dependence and addiction follows in its wake.
“While many in the United States think prohibition of recreational marijuana should be ended, this study and others suggest caution and the need for public education about the potential harms in marijuana use, including the risk for addiction,” the report stated.
The research showed that the percentage of people reporting marijuana dependence or abuse doubled. In 2001, only 1.5 percent reported marijuana addiction, compared to nearly 3 percent in 2013, according to the article. Researchers found that 3 out of every 10 people (nearly 7 million Americans) have a marijuana abuse or addiction problem. In the U.S., 23 states have adopted medical marijuana programs and four states have passed recreational use laws. More states are expected to follow suit, and people's perception of the drug is likely to become more relaxed. However, it is important that teenage exposure to marijuana is limited; studies show that the drug can have an impact on developing brains, the article reports. The report highlights potential problems that can arise from marijuana use, including:
  • Addiction
  • Cognitive Decline
  • Injuries
  • Psychiatric Symptoms
  • Psychosocial Impairments
  • Poor Quality of Life
  • Use of Other Drugs
  • Vehicle Crashes
The findings were published in JAMA Psychiatry. ___________________________________________________________________________ If you are or a loved one is abusing marijuana, please contact Pace Recovery Center.

Brief Interventions Reduce Underage Drinking

underage-drinkingTeenagers and young adults are often times unaware of the consequences that can arise from risky alcohol consumption. Underage drinking occurs regularly at high schools and colleges throughout the country; health officials are always on the look for new and innovative ways to combat the problem. Past research has shown that emergency rooms are perhaps the most effective place to reach people about drug and alcohol use. A new study has found that administering a brief intervention to underage drinkers during an ER visit could result in a decrease in their alcohol consumption and problems related to drinking in the coming year, ScienceDaily reports. Researchers from University of Michigan Injury Center conducted a five-year trial which was funded by the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse. The goal of the study was to examine how effective emergency room interventions were at curbing future alcohol use and the injuries often associated with underage drinking, according to an article. Common alcohol related problems include:
  • Alcohol Related Injuries
  • DUI
  • Drug Use
  • Psychosocial Problems
The alcohol intervention was administered by a therapist or by a computer program. The researchers screened 4,389 patients, of which 24 percent reported risky drinking behaviors, the article reports. Either form of intervention was found to reduce underage drinking and the associated consequences.
"The study highlights that a single-session intervention in the emergency department can play a role in decreasing underage drinking among youth," says Rebecca Cunningham, M.D., director of the U-M Injury Center and U-M professor of emergency medicine and public health. "Emergency department staff is focused on urgent medical care. The finding that the computer program brief intervention helped youth reduce risky drinking is very promising, especially as an approach that is easy for health care sites to use without requiring dedicated staff time to administer."
The findings were published in Pediatrics. ___________________________________________________________________________ If you or a loved one is living with alcohol use disorder, please contact Pace Recovery Center.

Teenage Marijuana Use On The Rise

teenage-marijuana-useIn the United States, preventing the use of mind altering substances among teenagers is a top priority for public health officials and lawmakers. The use of drugs and alcohol can have a dramatic impact on developing minds, and can lead to addiction. In recent years there has been a lot of concern about the changing mood regarding marijuana, and the message that new laws might send to America’s youth. While research on medical marijuana programs and legalization laws is limited as to its impact on adolescents, new research suggests that teenage marijuana use is on the rise, HealthDay reports. Although, teenage cigarette and alcohol use is declining. Researchers at Penn State analyzed data from a survey of almost 600,000 high school seniors. Before 2011, teenage American whites were more likely to smoke cigarettes than marijuana, according to the article. In 2013, the analysis showed that nearly 25 percent of black teens used marijuana, and nearly 10 percent smoked cigarettes. In the same year almost 22 percent of white teens used marijuana, and about 19 percent smoked cigarettes.
Our analysis shows that public health campaigns are working — fewer teens are smoking cigarettes,” said lead researcher, Stephanie Lanza, in a news release. “However, we were surprised to find the very clear message that kids are choosing marijuana over cigarettes.”
When it came to teenage alcohol use, the researchers found that teenage alcohol use has been on the decline since the mid-1970s; however, white teens still used alcohol more than any other substance, the article reports. Over the course of the study, white teenagers used alcohol more than black teenagers. The indication of declining alcohol and cigarette use rates is promising. However, it is important to keep in mind that past research has shown that the use of marijuana can have an adverse effect on developing brains. The rise in teenage marijuana use should be of concern. The findings are published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. ___________________________________________________________________________ If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol or marijuana, please contact Pace Recovery Center.

Binge Drinking Has Lasting Effects

addictionThe effort to understand the effects drug and alcohol use has on the brain during developmental years continues. When teenage drinking is talked about, the words “binge drinking” often arise, that is, consuming five or more alcoholic beverages (male), or four or more drinks (female), over a 2-hour period. The practice is quite common among teenagers who are trying to consume as much alcohol as they can - in the limited time they have. Binge drinking has been associated with a number of health problems, including alcohol poisonings and the potential for addictive behaviors to develop. New research suggests that teens that binge drink may experience changes in the brain that last into adulthood, The Los Angeles Times reports. Researchers found that repeated exposure to alcohol throughout one’s formative years may cause long-lasting changes in the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning. “In the eyes of the law, once people reach the age of 18, they are considered adult, but the brain continues to mature and refine all the way into the mid-20s,” lead author Mary-Louise Risher of Duke University said in a news release. “It’s important for young people to know that when they drink heavily during this period of development, there could be changes occurring that have a lasting impact on memory and other cognitive functions.” The brains of teenagers and young adults are still developing, according to researchers, and are uniquely sensitive to levels of alcohol consistent with binge drinking, the article reports. Using rats, the researchers found that those who regularly consumed alcohol while their brain was developing had problems with:
  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Judgment
  • Learning Ability
"It's quite possible that alcohol disrupts the maturation process, which can affect these cognitive function later on," said Risher. The findings appear in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

AAP Against Random Drug Testing in Schools

random-drug-testAll would agree the need to prevent substance abuse among teenagers and young adults is of great importance. At every school in the United States, emphasizing to kids the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and identifying those abusing substances is a top concern. Some schools even implement random drug tests to deter and catch those using drugs. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released an update policy statement recommending against “suspicionless” drug testing at schools, Reuters reports. The AAP suggests that there is little evidence to support the efficacy of random drug testing practices at public schools. The new policy statement’s lead author, Dr. Sharon Levy, director of the adolescent substance abuse program at Boston Children’s Hospital, says that there is little evidence that random drug testing identifies kids who use drugs and helps them receive treatment, according to the article. “Evidence on either side is very limited,” said Levy. “It’s possible that you do get some prevention out of these programs, but on the other hand it seems very expensive, very invasive, and has pretty limited results,” added Levy. Levy points out that because teen drug use is usually sporadic, many teen drug users could pass an annual drug test, only to go on and use drugs for the rest of the year. Those who do fail a drug test are more likely to receive punishment, rather than substance use disorder treatment services. “Pediatricians support the development of effective substance abuse services in schools, along with appropriate referral policies in place for adolescents struggling with substance abuse disorders,” the AAP wrote. The AAP noted that the negative consequences associated with random drug testing include:
  • Eroding of the student-school relationship.
  • The potential for confidentiality breaches
  • Mistaken interpretations of drug tests, resulting in false-positives.
The AAP’s recommendation can be found in the journal Pediatrics.