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Prepare Your College Bound Child With The Facts About Alcohol Consumption

With Labor Day weekend behind us, many parents are sending their teenagers back to high school or away to college. It’s an exciting time bound to be filled with new experiences and adventures, especially if your child will be living away from home. While helping them pack, it’s also a good time to have one last discussion about drug and alcohol use. At this point, many of us have had the conversation many times throughout the high school years and our kids know exactly where we stand on the matter. Reiterating your thoughts with some quick facts can help to solidify their own stance on the matter and prepare them for what they will most likely encounter on campus and in the dorms. Let’s face it, many teens experiment with alcohol and drugs and can stop without any problems or harm. However, there are the cases where just once is too much and can lead to addiction, significant harm or even death.

So, a quick fact for you to know as a parent is that according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 – 24 die each year from alcohol related injuries. Although your child may have seen you drink over the years without any apparent damage, they don’t really know the serious implications of underage drinking.  Approximately 1 out of 4 teens have taken the risk of riding in a car with a driver who has been drinking and motor vehicles crashes are a leading cause of death for this age group!

Start the discussion by asking your child why he thinks that other kids drink? What does she know about alcohol use? Listen closely and then add in your two cents. Here are some things to remind your child:

1. A 12 ounce can of beer, a 5 ounce glass of wine and 1.5 ounces of hard liquor (in a martini) all contain the same amount of alcohol. The point being that it’s not safer to drink beer to get “less drunk”.

2. Once you’ve had that first drink, your coordination is impaired, your reaction time slows down and you “loosen up” so your decision-making skills aren’t on par. There’s an increased chance of sexual assault or impulsive behavior that you normally wouldn’t get involved in. Judgment is basically off so this is when you read about a child falling down a cliff after a frat party in Santa Barbara, a rape at a sorority house, property being destroyed or an alcohol overdose because the adolescent doesn’t realize how drunk he already is.

3. You can’t “sober up” by drinking coffee. Taking a drive over to the local Starbucks isn’t the answer. The truth is that it takes 2 – 3 hours for one drink to get out of a person’s system. Although we see people taking cold showers, making a pot of coffee or taking a walk in the cold air, nothing can speed up that process.

In the best interest of our youth, colleges across the country have policies in place to try and keep partying under control. If caught violating campus rules, suspension and/or expulsion is a very real possiblity as college presidents all agree that binge drinking is now the most serious problem on campuses throughout the nation.  MIT students will arrive this fall to an updated policy that now even forbids group-drinking activities that encourages “rapid and/or excessive consumption of alcohol on campus or in Institute approved housing.” This is partly in reference to the current popularity of drinking every time a particular actor says a certain word during a television show. The university has also banned kegs and alcohol fueled punch bowls on campus unless it’s a registered school event.

There are many negative and serious effects of alcohol consumption and now is a good time to remind your child of the dangers so it’s fresh in their mind as they embark on their new journey away from home.

Get Ready For A DUI Offense If You Drink and Drive This Labor Day Weekend

As the summer comes to an end, the long Labor Day weekend is the one last chance to enjoy the warm weather and get together with family and friends for picnics, beach days and outdoor parties filled with barbeque and drinking before the Fall sets in. This combined with the increased in holiday weekend traffic as people are coming and going is a recipe for disaster. The tragedy is that driving under the influence of alcohol kills more than 10,000 people a year and a big portion of this number occurs over holidays like Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. To try and tackle this problem, counties across the country will be participating in the “National Crackdown on Drunk Driving” from August 15 – September 1. The idea is that there are absolutely no excuses:  “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over”. The police departments in places like Daughin County, PA, Henderson, KY, Columbus, OH, Montclair, NJ and Freeport, IL have all confirmed that they will be aggressively on the lookout for alcohol or drug impaired drivers as well as those violating the seat belt laws. In fact, over this same time period last year, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department made 2,313 DUI arrests! The reality is that research shows that the more law enforcement is visible on the roads and the more sobriety checkpoints, the higher the awareness to not drink and drive. People take a look around and think twice about their actions.

The bottom line is that you just shouldn’t get behind the wheel if you have been drinking alcohol. You will be a target and it’s not worth it. Not only do you have an increased chance of hurting yourself or someone else, but also getting a DUI will put a huge amount of additional stress on your life. Not only can you expect some jail time, confiscation of your automobile overnight, missed work for court appearances, community service work and an alcohol and drug education class, but the financial cost is astronomical. It varies based on where in the country you live, but once you add up the court fines, attorney’s fees, expense for an alternative form of transportation during the time your license is revoked and insurance increase, the average person is looking at paying anywhere between $6,000 - $20,000 dollars! Honestly, you could rent yourself a chauffeured limo, eat at the best restaurant in town, stay in an exclusive hotel and come out way ahead with an enjoyable and safe night to remember.

So celebrate the last long weekend of the summer safely by planning ahead. If you plan on drinking, assign someone to be a designated driver or hire a professional driver. Make sure the designated driver isn’t just the “most sober” out of the bunch, but someone who is truly dedicated to not drinking. Pay for delicious non-alcoholic drinks for the driver or promise to be the sober driver at another time to help solidify the deal. 

Marijuana Use Is Unsafe For Teens

Did you know that the World Health Organization ranks the U.S. #1 among 17 European and North American countries for its use of marijuana. Not a placement to be proud of, but this is where we are. The National Institute on Drug Abuse 2009 national survey reported that more than 104 million Americans over the age of 12 had tried it at least once. And, according to a 2013 Gallup poll, 38% of Americans admitted to having tried the drug. Now that Colorado and Washington have paved the way to making it legal, American tolerance for it seems to spreading.

Advocates for marijuana use rally behind its medicinal affects. It is known to stimulate a person’s appetite, which helps patients with AIDS and cancer regain the desire to eat. It also helps to alleviate the nausea and vomiting that comes along with chemotherapy treatments, helping to keep weight on during a time when many people drop pounds. It’s also known to decrease pressure in the eyes, which is a benefit to glaucoma patients and calms down tremors and spasticity in individuals with muscle issues. And, the overall benefit that consumers across the board report is that it helps to treat all kinds of pain. Marijuana supporters claim it is a healthier and less addictive way to alleviate back or joint pain then taking prescription medicine like Oxycontin.

Because of the partial legalization, there is a huge perception, especially amongst teens, that marijuana is a safe and enjoyable way to relax without any harm. This is especially true in the Washington and Colorado where it’s not uncommon to for young people to see adults over the age of 21 smoking it legally at home. A friend living in Lakewood, Colorado has told us numerous stories about his 15-year-old daughter going over to friend’s houses to study or hang out and being exposed to the parent’s partaking in it as a way to unwind after work.

The truth is that smoking marijuana is not safe for young people. The brain isn’t fully matured until around the age of 25 and up until this time, marijuana usage can have detrimental affects on the brain’s development. Studies show that teens that use marijuana have lower IQ scores and that it impairs critical thinks for multiple days after use. So, if a teenager uses it on the weekend, the repercussions can hurt test scores and productivity at school until mid-week. The New England Journal of Medicine also reports that the earlier someone begins to smoke, the higher the risk for overall addiction. The risk of addiction goes from about 1 in 11 who try it as adults, to about 1 in 6 who begin as teens.

Both teens and adults feel other negative effects of marijuana like impaired decision making skills, which can lead to unsafe sex, speeding or indulging in other risky behaviors. It slows motor skills and makes you more uncoordinated so if you get behind the wheel of a car you more than double your risk of getting into an accident. And, its bad for the lungs and frequent users can experience an increase in respiratory problems. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse some research shows that marijuana smoke contains about 70% more cancer-causing substances than tobacco smoke.

While it might relax you in the short-run, in the long run it contributes to apathy, sleepiness, inability to focus, trouble learning and retaining new information and an overall lack of motivation. This is a recipe for disaster that no healthy, successful person should follow. With this knowledge, if you know anyone who is headed this direction, the earlier you seek help, the better.

Quality Alcohol and Drug Education Classes Help The Recovery Process

As our world gets more complicated, so do our daily lives. Work, school, children, finances, and personal relationships can all add up to cause anxiety and stress. Often times, we don’t have the support networks in place to help us juggle everything because family members might live far away or we can’t afford to pay for the extra help. In response, people trying to keep a number of balls in the air sometimes become overwhelmed and turn to alcohol or drugs to help them calm down and relax.

While this might seem like a good way to manage the stress in the short term, it is ultimately self-defeating. The reality is that a couple beers or cocktails might feel good in the moment but in the long run, chronic alcohol consumption night after night can contribute to feelings of depression and make everything harder to deal with. Recovering alcoholics and drug users report that constant use contributed to a breakdown in relationships, problems at work, health issues and financial strain.

According to NADD, 17.6 million Americans suffer from alcohol abuse and an estimated 20 million people age 12 or older have used an illegal drug in the past month. The good news is that there is a well-paved road to recovery for addicts. While some people are able to do gain control of their lives by just going “cold turkey”, it is more common to support recovery by addressing every aspect of life. This includes:

1. Finding a recovery program right for you. This could be a total immersion rehabilitation facility, weekly AA meetings, 1/1 therapy or a combination.

2. Obtaining support from the family. One of the most important aspects to maintain sobriety is to maintain an alcohol and drug-free home. The entire family needs to be committed to cleaning out the house so it’s not readily available. Family members might need to show support by tempering their own alcohol use during this time as well.

3. Ongoing education and involvement. Everyone in the family should help with the recovery process by learning about the addiction and how to best support sobriety. This can be through attending support groups with your loved one, going to therapy sessions or by taking alcohol and drug awareness classes online. Quality online education programs provide more flexibility for people who can’t miss work or school to attend weekly classes.

4. Reduce stress. Individuals going through recovery usually need to simplify their lives for a while and learn how to better manage their stress. The most common stress triggers are death of a loved one, illness, legal problems, moving, getting a new job, too much work, finances and conflicts in relationships at home or work. Anger and stress management classes can be helpful tools to learn healthy ways to deal with these triggers. Family members can also help with this by taking on more responsibility and understanding what the abuser is going through.

Alcohol and drug recovery is an ongoing process. Once you or your loved one is ready to face the challenge of sobriety, it’s important to maintain the commitment to supporting them by emphasizing continued participation in various support groups and ongoing alcohol and drug education programs.

Humility Helps Celebrities Overcome Addictions

When celebrities have drug and alcohol problems, they rarely are able to keep it under the radar simply because of their high profile existence. We watch them as they wreak havoc in their lives and wonder why someone with so much talent, money and admiration would ruin themselves in this way? Recently Billy Joel came forward in the New York Times and on a few different radio and television shows to talk about his personal struggles. In his case, he says that he used alcohol as medication after 9/11. He couldn’t get over the tragic event which led him into a deep depression. Then his 5 year marriage to Katie Lee came to an end in 2009 which also contributed to his downward spiral. He has tried to deal with it by entering the Betty Ford Center in 2005 but still admits to having a glass of wine every once in a while.

Another high profile personality who is currently receiving treatment for alcohol addiction is Shia LaBeaouf. In the past couple of weeks he was spotted starting an altercation with a man outside of a Manhattan strip club and then he very publically disrupted a performance of Cabaret on Broadway.

Even Robin Williams who has spent many years battling his addictions has recently checked himself into the Hazelden Addiction Treatment Center in Minnesota. After working continuously on one movie after the next, he is taking time to recommit himself to staying sober.

People in high profile positions often face one similar obstacle to recovery, humility. It takes humility to be able to take responsibility for one’s own behavior and to make positive change. Fame and success can make people feel like they are invincible and that they should be treated differently than the rest of us, like they are superior in some way. In addition, the lavish lifestyles, parties and freedom money brings all combine to create tempting situations.

The common theme in each of these actors stories is that falling off the wagon is a normal part of sobriety. People can go for weeks, years, and even decades (like Philip Seymour Hoffman) without touching alcohol or drugs and then regress in a day. All any human being can do is try his or her best to surround themselves with supportive friends and family, redirect the behavior into more positive activities like hobbies, exercise, work and philanthropy and avoid hanging around tempting situations. Other popular tips include never letting yourself become too hungry, angry, lonely or tired because any of these feelings can lead to a bumpy road. Actors and musicians who go for long periods without working have a particularly unique challenge to stay healthy and away from addictions during their time off.

The fact is that most people who try to overcome problem behaviors will slip up at least once. Sometimes it’s a tragic event, sometimes just a craving for the more exciting life you think you left behind. It’s important to understand that everyone makes mistakes, learn from it and work hard at getting back on track. Learning humility enables us to open up new ideas and maybe even swallow our pride. With this newfound self-awareness celebrities and normal folks alike can get the proper help by enrolling in alcohol awareness classes, going back to rehab, AA, or meeting with a private counselor.