Thursday, January 9th, 2014
Middle- and high-school students who drink alcohol may actually be getting a social payoff for their behavior in the form of a greater number of friends, according to a new study published in the journal Addictive Behaviors. Reuters has more:
Previous studies have found friend groups can influence choices about alcohol, but haven’t looked at the possible social payoffs of drinking.
“There has not been much data to support that drinking among teenagers directly leads to higher popularity and more friendships,” said Peter Delany. He is the director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality in Rockville, Maryland.
Delany was not part of the study team, which was led by Mir M. Ali, also from SAMHSA.
“The fact remains that underage drinking is linked to a long list of adverse health and behavioral consequences, including the deaths of thousands of adolescents and young adults each year,” Delany told Reuters Health in an email.
Ali and colleagues analyzed data from a national study of 7th through 12th graders from 132 schools who were surveyed in 1994. The survey included a variety of questions on drinking and substance use, number of friends, friends of friends, home life and other factors.
Teens who reported occasional drinking and getting drunk tended to have higher “social connectedness” than their abstaining peers. That was especially true for white students.
Getting drunk seemed to be more important for popularity than just drinking in general. Kids who drank at all reported having an extra half a friend, on average, and those who got drunk reported one additional friend compared to non-drinkers.
The findings “provide new evidence on the motivation behind adolescent drinking,” the researchers wrote in the journal Addictive Behaviors.
The researchers added that healthy behaviors, like participating in sports, are also linked with better social connectedness.
Image: Teens drinking beer, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, December 19th, 2013
Sixty percent of U.S. high school seniors believe that smoking marijuana poses no health risks, according to newly released survey data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. CNN.com has more:
More than a third of the seniors surveyed reported smoking marijuana in the past 12 months.
Each year, the Monitoring the Future survey asks eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders about their drug and alcohol use and their attitudes toward illegal substances. For 2013, more than 41,000 students from 389 U.S. public and private schools participated.
Only 2.4% of high school seniors reported using marijuana daily in 1993; this year that percentage nearly tripled – to 6.5 %. And it’s not just the older students – more than 12% of the eighth-graders surveyed said they had used marijuana.
“It is important to remember that over the past two decades, levels of THC – the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana – have gone up a great deal,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in a statement. “Daily use today can have stronger effects on a developing teen brain than it did 10 or 20 years ago. … The children whose experimentation leads to regular use are setting themselves up for declines in IQ and diminished ability for success in life.”
Teens also continue to abuse prescription medications such as Adderall, which is commonly used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Vicodin. But while alcohol use is still high – close to 40% of seniors reported drinking in the past month – it’s been on a steady decline since its peak in 1997.
Image: Marijuana, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
Teenagers–especially heterosexual teens–who are either bullied or who are both bullies and victims of bullying are more likely to exhibit risky sexual behaviors, a new Boston University study has found. More from Reuters:
“Some previous research has found that aggression and sexual risk-taking are related, so it was not entirely surprising that bullies and bully-victims reported more sexual risk-taking than their peers,” Melissa K. Holt said.
What’s more, some research has found that kids and teens cope with being bullied by using drugs or alcohol, for instance. Acting out sexually may be another way young people respond to bullying, Holt told Reuters Health.
She led the research at the Boston University School of Education.
The study included almost 9,000 high school students from 24 schools who completed a survey about bullying and sexual behavior. “Risky sex” was defined as casual sex and sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
About 80 percent of the students said they had not bullied other kids or been bullied themselves.
Seven percent of those teens reported ever having casual sex with someone they had just met or didn’t know very well. And 12 percent said they had had sex under the influence.
The numbers were similar for students who said they had been bullied, but hadn’t bullied others.
But among the six percent of kids who claimed to have acted as bullies, one quarter had engaged in casual sex and just over a third said they’d had sex while drunk or high.
Another six percent of students said they had both acted as bullies and been the victims of bulling. Of those teens, 20 percent had had casual sex and 23 percent reported having sex under the influence.
The researchers accounted for other childhood experiences that might lead to sexual risk-taking, but the link to bullying remained.
Image: Bully, via Shutterstock
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Child Health, New Research, Parenting News
Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
Erin Cox, a high school senior from North Andover, Massachusetts has lost her status as volleyball team captain–and been suspended for 5 games–after she drove to a party to pick up a friend who had called her, saying she was too drunk to drive home. Cox, police officers verified, had not been drinking. More from The Associated Press:
North Andover High School’s Erin Cox says she got a call two weeks ago from a friend at a party who said she was too drunk to drive. She said she went to pick up the friend, because she didn’t want the friend driving drunk or getting into a vehicle with an intoxicated driver.
By the time Erin arrived at the party, police were already there. They arrested several students for underage possession of alcohol.
Erin was cleared by police for not drinking or being in the possession of alcohol, but that didn’t stop school officials from punishing her for violating a no tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol, her mother, Eleanor Cox, told WBZ-TV.
‘‘She did what she thought was right, and I’m very proud of her,’’ Eleanor Cox said.
The family has hired a lawyer and filed a lawsuit last week, but a judge ruled the court did not have jurisdiction.
Image: Police siren, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, September 10th, 2013
Children who are adopted or who are in the foster care system have a heightened rate of fetal alcohol syndrome and other emotional and physical conditions that are associated with prenatal exposure to alcohol, according to a new review of more than 30 studies conducted in America and Russia. More from Reuters:
Among those children, researchers found that rates of alcohol-related problems – which can include deformities, mental retardation and learning disabilities – were anywhere from nine to 60 times higher than in the general population.
“It’s increasingly well recognized that this is a very high-risk population and one that we should really be paying attention to,” Phil Fisher, a psychologist who studies foster and adopted children at the University of Oregon in Eugene, said.
“We know that one of the main reasons that kids end up in foster care or being made eligible for adoption is because their parents have substance abuse problems,” added Fisher, who wasn’t involved in the new research.
Image: Pregnant woman holding wine glass, via Shutterstock
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