Will Your Teen’s Prom Become a Statistic?

As we welcome April with open arms, enjoying the sunshine and warmer weather, many young people across America are also welcoming end-of-the-school-year celebrations that are right around the corner! Popular events like prom are exciting times for young people when many fond memories are made. Sadly, as years pass, we find that prom has a dark side: alcohol related accidents and deaths. According to the NCADD, “alcohol is the number one drug of choice for America’s youth and is more likely to kill young people than all illegal drugs combined.” The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration reported that in 2001, 1,012 children under 21 died of alcohol-related traffic incidents in the months of April, May and June alone. Although young people turn to alcohol for any number of reasons, now is a crucial time to raise awareness on underage drinking to ensure that your child is safe during the upcoming prom season. The combination of prom and alcohol is often seen as a rite of passage for teens. For many of them it is their first opportunity to experiment with alcohol and parents feel as though their children are safe drinking, as long as they are not driving. However, underage alcohol consumption can still be lethal even if they are not driving. Many adolescents are unaware of the consequences of drinking. Drinking a large amount of alcohol can cause loss of consciousness and all control over what happens to his or her body. Drinking too much too fast can cause alcohol poisoning, which could in turn lead to death. Alcohol consumption at a young age could also set...

Being Fit Goes Hand in Hand with Binge Drinking

Wouldn’t you think that being fit would mean eating right and taking care of yourself?  Apparently not!  It seems that extreme behavior, like exercising a lot, applies to other behaviors, such as drinking…A LOT!  Researchers don’t know why fit people would do this, but they have a few theories.  Perhaps people who engage in extreme behaviors do this in all areas of their lives.  Possibly the good feeling that comes from exercising is the reason they drink, to recreate the “runner’s high”.  Maybe, they exercise to burn off the calories imbibed and reverse the negative effects of binge drinking.  Surprisingly, “drinking is associated with a 10.1 percentage point increase in the probability of exercising vigorously,” the authors write. More specifically, “heavy drinkers exercise about 10 more minutes per week than current moderate drinkers and about 20 more minutes per week than current abstainers.” The research on this topic pointed out that binge drinking kills brain cells, affecting memory and decision-making processes.  The rats in this study exercised for two weeks before being allowed to drink as much alcohol as they wanted.  They proceeded to binge drink as much as the rats who had not exercised, but they didn’t kill as many brain cells as the non-exercisers.  It appears that exercising provides some neural protection against binge drinking!  This isn’t encouragment to binge drink and accompany it with exercise.  Binge drinking isn’t good for you and is dangerous for many reasons.  This surprising information means that being fit isn’t necessarily linked with healthy living.  Hair alcohol abuse tests can provide information on how much drinking a person engages in and regardless of...

The Battle Against Obesity Goes On…

The FDA is close to approving a new diet medication and some doctors are saying, “Finally!”  No, it’s not approved yet and certainly isn’t perfect so stay on your diet!  But, as Americans continue to struggle with weight problems and the huge range of health issues they bring with it, doctors may have something they could prescribe to obese patients who can’t lose weight on their own.  The medication, Contrave, combines two previously tested drugs, naltrexone and bupropion, although they weren’t originally developed or tested for weight loss efficacy.  Naltrexone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction and alcohol dependence, is being combined with buproprion, a drug used to treat depression and smoking cessation.  In combination the drugs appear to be effective for weight loss.  3,200 obese patients participated in a clinical trial and 30% lost 5% of their body weight.  This is the minimum amount of weight loss required for the FDA to judge a weight loss drug effective.  It isn’t as much as many people will hope for and also raises blood pressure.  Some doctors say that the weight loss is counteracted by the health risk of increased blood pressure.  It still looks like the most effective and safest way to lose weight is through diet and exercise.  The participants in the control group, those not taking Contrave, who lost weight saw a drop in their blood pressure.  There are weight loss methods that have been available since the 1950s, but key is eating less and getting moving.  Start now and don’t wait for the perfect solution!  You are your own best weapon....

College Kids Going Crazy with Four Loko

As if college kids don’t binge drink enough, Four Loko is there to help them out!  Although researchers don’t fully understand why the combination of caffeine and alcohol is so dangerous, it is.  It appears that college students in bars who were questioned after drinking Four Loko drank more, stayed out longer, and had much higher blood alcohol levels.  The combination of a stimulant and a depressant do not cancel each other out; instead they intensify each other.  Drinkers of energy/alcohol drinks stay up longer and continue to drink more than when drinking alcohol alone.  In addition, college students and teens, the ones who appear to be drinking these more than any other group, tend to weigh less than older drinkers, making the effect of them stronger. Binge drinking is already a problem for many college aged drinkers and this type of drink can only exascerbate the problem.  Young people don’t need encouragement to drink to oblivion.  A new test can measure the likelihood that someone is an alcoholic by looking at the Fatty Acid Ethyl Esters (FAEEs) with a hair test.  The evidence of alcohol abuse remains in the hair long after the drinking is done.  The dangers of caffeinated alcohol beverages has been recognized by the US Food and Drug Administration who is cracking down on the manufacturers of these drinks.  Teenagers and college students need our help to protect them from themselves so the FDA’s actions are welcome news.  Lowered inhibitions and more binge drinking is not good for any of us! Written by...

Drinking at Family Meals May Prevent Later Alcoholism

All parents are concerned about their child’s future, but does the possibility of alcoholism, binge drinking or drunk driving worry you?  This can be an issue for teenagers  during high school and, especially, college but interesting research conducted in Italy may provide a twist on keeping your teen out of trouble.  The study, printed online in the journal, Addiction Research & Theory, studied specific regions in Italy to look at cultural norms and drinking practices in young people.  The researchers found that those young people who were allowed to have wine with family meals drank less and got drunk far less often, if at all, than those who were not allowed to have alcohol with meals.  Alcoholism is a large problem in our country and although there are tests now available that can determine whether someone may be an alcoholic, the disease is often hidden and difficult to find and treat.  The conclusion of the researchers is that in Italy, the tradition of incorporating alcohol with family meals may protect against alcoholism.  While this may not translate directly to young people in the United States, the findings are promising.  The possibility of a preventive measure we can take is encouraging. Written by...