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5 Reasons Why Taking An Alcohol Awareness Class is a Good Idea

Drinking and driving causes over 25,000 deaths a year.

Overall 100,000 deaths occur each year due to the effects of alcohol. According to the NHTSA web site there were 43,443 alcohol related traffic fatalities in 2005 in the USA. As a comparison, AIDS claimed 18,000 lives in 2003.  Texas alcohol awareness is 3rd worst in the country as it related to alcohol and driving deaths.
So, what can be done to help reduce the number of overall deaths each year related to alcohol or other drug for both adults and adolescents?

Take an Alcohol Awareness Class or Minor in Possession Class Online

Here are the top 5 reasons this is a good idea:

1. Alcohol Awareness classes and drug education courses can be taken online vs. a classroom setting.  This allows for ease of access and convenience.  Quality online programs offered by licensed providers are also effective for those who may need to take a class for a legal requirement in addiction to simply prevention education

2. Online classes are available 24 hours a day and can be taken from any location in the country.  Unlike an in person class, online courses are give the flexibility to study when you want.  There is no reason to miss time away from work or school, the courses can be taken anytime.

3. Online programs are about 1/2 the cost of an in person class and teach essentially the same material.  For some, a distance learning program might even be more effective for comprehending the concepts and understanding the materials presented.

4. Any good program should come with a certificate of completion that can be both mailed and downloaded instantly.  The certificate is a way for one's work, court, probation, school or family to know the course was successfully completed.

Alcohol awareness and drug education is simply the only way to begin on the road to prevention.  Many people have a misconception about what alcohol really does to the mind and body.  Get the fact and start today.

Drunk Driving While Boating is No Different than Driving Intoxicated in a Motor Vehicle

Five years after an intoxicated father’s 2-year-old boy disappeared on Carter Lake, the laws have become stricter. But boating under the influence continues to be just as troublesome at state and local levels.

Shay Smith was presumed drowned in a July, 15 2006, incident in which the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office said he fell from an inflatable raft tied to the back of a boat. Despite several searches, his body was never recovered.

His father, Gil Smith was not charged with drunken boating because his blood-alcohol content, at more than .08, was below the legal limit at that time.

Gil Smith, 49, pleaded guilty to child abuse and is serving time at a prison in Sterling for an unrelated drunken-driving charge and other charges not related to the incident.

Former Larimer County Sheriff’s Jim Alderden said the case remains haunting.
“Those cases stick with you and that one did, definitely. There were a number of other searches that we didn’t even report to the media,” Alderden said. “We never did locate any signs of little Shay.”

Stiffer laws showing little impact on BUI
Shay’s death led to laws in 2008 that bumped the blood-alcohol level for BUI in Colorado from .10 to .08, the same as driving under the influence. In addition, people operating non-motorized crafts such as canoes and rafts are now subject to BUI in lakes and rivers. More on Colorado Alcohol Awareness Classes.

“I don’t think we’re making any more arrests for the .08 than we did for the .10,” said Dan Rieves with Larimer County Natural Resources, adding that most of the arrests are for more than .10 blood-alcohol content.

Rieves said rangers have handed out five BUIs at Horsetooth Reservoir this year, two of which were on Fourth of July weekend. He also said about three to four have been given on Carter Lake.

He said that after averaging an annual BUI rate of five to 10 for the past few years, the number of BUIs in 2011 ap-pears to be trending higher.

There have been at least two alcohol-related fatalities on county waters since the Shay Smith incident: One was a drowning and the other was the result of a person getting run over by an intoxicated boater, Rieves said.

Rieves said that in the wake of the 2006 incident, there was a higher boating safety awareness on local lakes, and peo-ple were quicker to flag down rangers regarding possible issues.

“There was more vigilance there for quite a while,” he said of Carter Lake, adding that awareness “kind of dissipated” the way the public’s concern for security did after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Rieves said that with drunken driving on streets, people appear to be well aware of the dangers. But there’s a “perpetual education cycle” with BUI.

There’s no open container law, and it’s a “looser atmosphere” with people boating for recreation.  Much can be learned if drivers of boats simply became educated through the use of simple online alcohol awareness classes.

Better Parenting to Improve Alcohol Awareness and Reduce Abuse


Parents Play a Key Role in Alcohol Awareness
There is no question that drinking is part of American culture.  Parents would be ignorant to assume their son or daughter wont be exposed to alcohol or drugs before they are 14 years old.  The real issue about alcohol is it effect on each individual.  Contrary to popular belief, alcohol actually effects people differently and at different stages of life.  Alcohol isn't always bad either, as many studies have come out that have proven that small amounts of alcohol can actually have health benefits.  For children and teenagers, alcohol use can damage and interfere with normal brain development, which is one of the reason the drinking age has been set to 21 in all U.S. states.  It's not to torture young adults, but rather to create and foster a safer development.

Interesting, there is new research that shows that young adults under 18 believe their parents should have a say in whether or not they drink alcohol.  Moreover, parenting style plays a huge part in how teens react to their parents.  In general, teens raised with warmth, appropriate boundaries and discipline tend to have more respect for their parents then the ones that are overly protective or harsh.

Parenting plays a vital role in teens alcohol awareness education.  It is estimated that as of 2009 teen drinking is actually declining, yet the number of teen drinkers is still very high.  Almost 40% of teenagers report trying alcohol before 8th grade and over 55% report being drunk at least once by 12 grade.  Most reports suspect these numbers are low.

Parenting Style
Much research suggests that parenting style can actually effect the behavior of teen drinking.  Parents need to better understand the impact they have on their children and recognize their parenting style makes a difference.

1. Parents who are authoritarians tend to dictate rules to their kids.  They tend to use a lot of discipline and are not very warm.  They might punish bad behavior but not acknowledge something positive, like a good report card.

2. Permissive parents are the ones that are not paying attention.  They essentially let their kids do what they want, set poor or diffuse boundaries and lack discipline.  They might think they are doing their teens a favor by being their friends, but in reality they are setting them up to fail by not showing them they care what they do.

3. Authoritative parents set appropriate boundaries, use warmth and love, and have appropriate discipline.  They help guide their children in making good decisions and foster an open and clear line of communication to talk. 

In a 2002 study, authoritative parents had children who exhibited less alcohol and drug abuse as well as better grades and peer relationships.  Don't allow yourself to become the kind of parent who could have prevented a problem with alcohol.  Learning skills in Parenting classes or alcohol awareness classes can be a first big step.

Nation's Prescription Drug Problem Continues to Grow

June 30, 2011 — Prescription drug abuse continues to be a serious problem in the United States, according to 2 new reports by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The first report showed that although treatment admissions related to alcohol and marijuana rose between 1999 and 2009 for patients older than 12 years, one of the most notable shifts was the significant increase in the misuse of prescription opiates — from 8% to 33% of all opiate admissions.

"These data underscore the severity of our nation's prescription drug abuse epidemic and the importance of public awareness regarding the harms caused by drug use," said Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, in a release.

"All of us share the responsibility to address our nation's drug problem by working collaboratively at the federal, state, and local level to prevent drug use before it starts, expand access to drug treatment, and support enforcement efforts that disrupt the diversion of prescription drugs," he added.

The Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) report was published online June 23 on SAMHSA's Web site.

'Still a Great Concern'

As reported by Medscape Medical News, SAMHSA released a report last year showing that emergency department (ED) visits resulting from prescription opioid use increased by 111% between 2004 and 2008.

Dr. Gil Kerlikowske

This April, the Obama administration released a comprehensive action plan for fighting prescription drug abuse, including a call for expanding state-based monitoring programs.

Deborah Trunzo, from SAMHSA's Center for Behavioral Health, Statistics, and Quality in Rockville, Maryland, told Medscape Medical News that TEDS includes almost 2 million admission records each year, providing "an extremely detailed picture of who is going into substance abuse treatment and why. And it gives us a pretty good insight into which substances are causing the most problems."

She said researchers weren't surprised by the findings because "there has been a gradual increase in prescription pain killer admissions for quite a few years now. But it's still a great concern because it shows that it's a continuing problem out there."

The study also showed that although alcohol was the leading drug cited for treatment admissions among all major ethnic and racial groups (except for Puerto Ricans), 44% of these admissions also involved abuse of other drugs.

The drug class most abused by Puerto Ricans entering treatment was opiates.

Overall admissions related to marijuana increased from 13% to 18%. Of these, 74% of these admissions were for males and 48% for whites. Marijuana was also cited by 86% of the patients between 12 and 17 years of age as the main or secondary reason for their admission.

National Challenge

"This new report shows the challenge our nation's health system must address as the treatment needs of people with drug and alcohol problems continue to evolve," said Pamela S. Hyde, JD, SAMHSA administrator in Rockville, Maryland, in a statement.

"People often arrive in treatment programs with multiple problems — including dependency or addiction to multiple substances of abuse. As healthcare reform continues to improve the delivery of health services in our country, this type of information will increasingly be used to inform the needs of an integrated system of care."

Interestingly, cocaine-related admissions during the study period decreased from 14% to 9%. Methamphetamines/amphetamines misuse increased between 1999 and 2005 (from 4% to 9%) but then decreased to 6% by 2009.

Finally, "five substance groups account for 96% of the 1,963,089 admissions of people aged 12 and older that occurred in 2009," write the report authors. These included the following:

  • Alcohol (42%);
  • Opiates (21%);
  • Marijuana (18%);
  • Cocaine (9%), and
  • Methamphetamines/amphetamines (6%).

"I think this report shows that there is a steady need for treatment among the age groups. And there is still a lot of work to be done out there in terms of prevention," said Ms. Trunzo.

"Prescription pain killer abuse is a common problem likely to be crossing clinicians' doorsteps. It's a continuing problem, and they need to be prepared for it and to continue to find ways of treating it effectively."

Increased Suicide Attempts

The second SAMHSA report is based on data from the 2005-2009 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN).

It found that ED visits in the United States for drug-related suicide attempts increased by 54.6% for younger males (21 to 34 years of age) between the 2 study periods (from 19,024 to 29,407 visits). The total ED visits for this reason for all males in 2009 was 77,971.

"Suicide ranks as the seventh leading cause of death among males, [and] in 2007, males committed suicide at nearly 4 times the rate of females," report the authors.

The study looked only at cases determined to be caused by intentional drug-related suicide attempts and not by unintentional overdose. It also did not look at suicide attempts by other methods, unless it also included drugs.

Significant increases in attempts were found between the 2 periods for the younger males involving antidepressants (by 155.2%) and antianxiety/insomnia medications (by 93.4%).

Attempts involving narcotic pain relievers increased by 79.5% for males 35 to 49 years of age and by 193.3% for those 50 years and older. For those 35 to 49 years old, visits involving hydrocodone increased by 259% and visits involving oxycodone increased by 265.4%.

"With the attempted suicides, we don't know how much a particular type of drug could be said to be responsible. All we can report on is that drugs are involved and related to the visit," DAWN project director Albert Woodward, PhD, told Medscape Medical News.

"So we cannot say that 1 drug or 1 group of drugs was the reason. These figures are noteworthy, but there could have been other drugs involved too, including alcohol," he said.

Still, the misuse of prescription drugs is clearly helping to fuel the problem, said Ms. Hyde. "Greater awareness about the warning signs and risk factors for suicide, including abuse of alcohol and drugs, can help people take action and save lives."

The researchers recommend that clinicians ask adolescents annually about any thoughts or behaviors "that may indicate risk for suicide." For those in the 21- to 34-year age range, they suggest integrating mental health services into substance abuse treatment programs. For older adults, clinicians should screen for depression as part of routine primary care.

"My feeling is that these patients need to get to the appropriate place for treatment. And those that treat them need to be aware of these potential problems arising," said Dr. Woodward.

"What we're trying to do with these reports is to alert the public, alert treatment providers, and alert people involved in prevention efforts to get them aware of what the problems are so they can then focus their efforts."

Taking an alcohol awareness class or drug education class is one of the ways to reduce abuse.

SAMHSA. TEDS 1999-2009. Released June 23, 2011.

SAMHSA. The DAWN Report. Trends in ED Visits for Drug-Related Suicide Attempts Among Males: 2005-2009. Released June 17, 2011.

Don't Confuse Alcohol Awareness Classes with Alcohol Treatment

So, What is Alcohol Awareness vs. Alcohol Treatment?
There is a big difference between alcohol awareness classes and alcohol treatment rehabilitation.  Often these two types of programs get confused, particularly when there is a requirement to take a class of this nature.  This entry is aimed at helping better understand these programs and your options.

Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation
Alcohol rehabilitation is the process of helping people learn overcome their physical and psychological addiction to alcohol or drugs.  During the rehabilitation process, the individual will go through three different stages of treatment: alcohol detoxification, counseling and aftercare. Each one of the processes is designed to treat a different aspect of addiction.  Components of addiction can include the physical, psychological and social.  Alcohol and Drug rehabilitation can also come in the form of either In-Patient or Out-Patient treatment.  In patient rehabilitation means that the client is living at the facility for a designated period of time, typically 30, 60 or 90 days.  During this time they are going through one of the three stages listed above.  In out-patient treatment the client is likely living at home or in a safe environment from alcohol or drugs and attending daily sessions at the treatment center.  The rehabilitation center can advise as to which format is right for any person or situation.

Alcohol Awareness Classes and Drug Education Classes
These are educational programs aimed at helping people better understand the risks and consequences associated with alcohol or drug use and abuse.  Most often these courses are either required by the court, school, an employer, probation, or taken as a preventative measure simply for personal growth.  Alcohol awareness classes usually come in the form of either a Level 1 (8 hour) class, a Level 2 (16 Hour class) or a Level 3 (24 Hour) class.  These courses can also be offered for those under 21 years of age and are often called Minor in Possession Classes or Minor in Consumption Classes (MIP, MIC).  They are not meant to substitute an In/Out patient treatment program nor medical or psychological advice.  They are simply offered to educate the client on how to better understand the issues surround the use of alcohol or drugs and will offer suggestions on making changes in ones life.

Education is the Key to Change
There is a movement towards the use of best practice.  Educating both adults and youth on the hazards of alcohol and drug use and abuse can create a safer life experience for everyone.  Education opens the doorway to change.  Taking an alcohol awareness class can be that first step to change.