Stop It Before It Starts

Many of us have seen in our own experience that alcohol consumption can lead to dependence and abuse. We know that this problem does not just affect the struggling individual but it also takes a toll on the people around them such as family and friends.

In the effort to prevent dependence and abuse at a young age the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism focuses on giving young kids the tools needed to prevent alcohol use. They start with school-based interventions to teach kids to say no to alcohol and helps them understand that not everyone is drinking.  Its common to use role playing, small group activities, and same age leaders in these teachings as a hope to engage the kids a little more in the issue. In this case, we are not just looking to engage the children but also looking at the parents and community to involve themselves in these kids lives. By providing training and support for teachers and students and revisiting this topic of the course of a students academic career it is the hope that we can help eliminate the drinking in our youth. As far as the community goes, we can use the community to help in the efforts to limit alcohol sales to minors, increase enforcement of underage drinking laws, and change alcohol policies at community events, as well as increase the public awareness about the problems associated with underage drinking of our youth. And lastly, we can use family-based intervention as well. As it mentioned earlier, we need parents involved in these young kid’s lives. Parents that have a strong bond with their children and are open and actively are apart of their child’s life has a smaller change of underage drinking. Children are greatly shaped by their family and surrounding them with good influences can help them as well that’s why there are programs that help parents with parenting practices including parent-child communication, parent-child bonding, and family management.

Drinking, especially binge drinking, is very common among young adults. Just take a look…

Prevalence of binge drinking and heavy drinking among adults in the United States, 1993–2009.

Median Prevalence %
1993 1995 1997 1999 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Binge
Drinking
14.2 14.1 14.5 14.9 14.8 16.3 16.5 15.1 14.4 15.4 15.8 15.6 15.7
Heavy
Drinking
3.0 2.9 3.0 3.7 5.1 5.9 5.8 4.9 4.9 4.9 5.2 5.1 5.1

 

Because binge drinking and heavy drinking are a huge concern , program strategies such as motivational intervention approaches, cognitive–behavioral interventions, and challenging students’ expectations about alcohol are commonly used. Motivational intervention approaches consist of enhancing the student’s motivation and commitment to change his or her behavior. Cognitive–behavioral interventions seek to change behavior by helping the student to recognize when and why he or she drinks too much and then providing tools for changing that behavior. Challenging students’ expectations about alcohol includes raising their awareness of how alcohol influences health and well being and correcting misperceptions about how much drinking is really going on among their peers. When these approaches are combined with talking to trained counselors and actual students they seem to be more affective in this age group.  Although this behavior is extremely common in college towns it can happen anywhere. For this reason we can help prevent alcohol related problems if we consider partnering colleges and communities up  to help enforce laws related to setting and maintaining a minimum drinking age, reducing alcohol-impaired driving, raising the price of alcoholic beverages, limiting the number of stores selling alcohol, and training retailers to provide responsible beverage service.

Installing alcohol regulations and laws helps to lower the amount of drinking dependence and abuse while also increasing the public health. We have laws and regulations related to the minimum legal drinking age, the in United States being 21 years old, and sales to underage youth; privatization or monopolization of alcohol control systems (production, distribution, or sales); monitoring of alcohol outlet densities; and limits on the hours and days of alcohol sales.

 

Alcohol Alert. (2011). Retrieved June 22, 2014, from http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AA83/AA83.htm

Alcohol and Public Health. (2009, January 1). Retrieved June 20, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/data-table.htm

Burger, M. (2004). Derivation of tolerable upper alcohol intake levels in Germany: A systematic review of risks and benefits of moderate alcohol consumption.Preventive Medicine, (1), 111.

Hart, C., & Ksir, C. (2011). Alcohol. Drugs, Society, and Human Behavior. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Health risks and benefits of alcohol consumption. (2000). Alcohol Research & Health: The Journal Of The National Institute On Alcohol Abuse And Alcoholism, 24(1), 5-11.

Treatment Episode Data Set. (2009, January 1). Retrieved June 7, 2014, from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/TEDS2k7highlights/TEDSHigh2k7.pdf

Weafer, J., & Fillmore, M. T. (2013). Acute alcohol effects on attentional bias in heavy and moderate drinkers. Psychology Of Addictive Behaviors, 27(1), 32-41. doi:10.1037/a0028991

Effects of Alcohol

We all know that drinking alcohol is not good for us but what does it really do to the body? But first let’s talk about alcohol pharmacology. Alcohol is absorbed in the stomach, mostly in the small intestine. Absorption of alcohol is based on the emptiness of the stomach whether you drink with a meal or not and the other liquids put into the body such as water compared to carbonated beverages that speed up the absorption. When alcohol is consumed it gets distributed throughout the body fluids including the blood. Once the alcohol is absorbed is stay in the bloodstream until it is metabolized in the liver.

One physiological effects of alcohol use is the dilation of blood vessels. When your blood vessels dilate it increases heat loss from the body. Drinking can also effect the brain. Drinking causes an decrease in the output of the antidiuretic hormone. This hormone is what retains the fluid in our body. By drinking alcohol the antidiuretic hormone increase the flow of urine which in turn can cause low blood pressure. Alcohol effects more than just one hormone, it also effects decreases testosterone in males and can cause a variety of hormone disorders.

Here is a closer look at the effects of alcohol on the brain…

Alcohol can be dangerous or poisonous if consumed too much. Immediate or acute reactions of drinking a lot of alcohol consists of intoxication, vomiting, unconsciousness, respiratory depression, decreased heart rate, depressed reflexes, impaired memory, unbalanced walk, and blurred vision. On the other hand some chronic effects include: cancer, liver damage, pancreatitis, and brain and heart damage. Common cancers drinkers get are mouth, tongue, stomach, liver, lung, pancreas, and colon cancer to name of few. This could be from many different reasons all the way from tissue irritation to nutritional deficiencies. Liver disorders are also common among drinkers most commonly cirrhosis from prolonged use of alcohol. Cirrhosis changes the structure of the liver causing decrease flow that results in inability of the liver to function properly and can be associated with alcohol dementia. Another concern with drinking is the effects it has on the brain tissue. Within the brain the internal space enlarges and fissures widen. Lastly, heart disease is also a concern we need to be aware of. Drinking causes damage to your heart muscle which is a reason why drinkers are being treated for heart disease. Drinkers also can experience other related factors such as stroke, high blood pressure, and even heart attacks in heavy drinkers.

Drinkers can become highly dependence on this substance. Some say alcohol dependence involves serious psychosocial characteristics and physiological factors such as tolerance and withdrawal. Evidence points to two factors: cognitive and genetic. Cognitive evidence focuses on the fact that drinkers lose control because they will lose control. Dependence of alcohol may also be genetically related. It can run in the family but it can also be related to children being influenced and learning from their parents (Hart and  Ksir, 2011).

Alcohol plays a role in many social activities. Studies see that we can have psychosocial benefits from low alcohol consumption. For example, alcohol can reduce stress, elevate mood, increase sociability, and relaxation.

 

The Topic of Alcohol

Alcohol is a type of drug we are all familiar with. But how do we get to the alcohol we all see in the liquor stores? First off, without fermentation we wouldn’t be able to have alcoholic beverages. Fermentation is a chemical process in which yeast acts upon the sugars from fruits and grains and in the end creates alcohol. The yeast recombines the carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen of the sugar molecule to make ethyl alcohol. Ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, is the intoxicating ingredient that’s found in the different forms of alcohol we drink like beer, wine, and liquor.

It was thousands of years ago that Neolithic humans discovered alcohol. Beer and berry wine were known and used about 6400 BC. Mead, made from honey may be the oldest alcoholic beverage that we know of. Some say this could have dated all the way back to 8000 BC. It would seem that the early use of alcohol was used world wide. During the time of Columbus’ voyage we also know that even the Native Americans were familiar with drinking beer.  (Hart & Ksir, 2011)

According to SAMHSA, their latest data from 2007 suggests that alcohol was the number one substance accounted  for in the Treatment Episode Data Set with 40 percent of admissions in 2007. When we compare this to other recent trends from 10-20 years ago we see that this number dropped from percent in 1997. About 73 percent of these admissions in 2007 came from males. Then they took in account ethnicity they found that 64 percent of people admitted were white. And lastly the average age for alcohol-only related admissions was  age 39. All together in 2007, 732,925 admission were counted for while in 1997, for example, 796,674 admission were related to alcohol. (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration[SAMHSA], 2007)