The combination of youthful unwise choices and mind-altering substances like alcohol is dangerous enough to concern not only parents, but society as a whole. Consequently, there is an ever running stream of research into how best to curb adolescent alcohol use. The problem is that the research frequently yields contradictory conclusions. One of those controversies exists over the usefulness of prohibiting alcohol advertising in preventing teen alcohol consumption. Does limiting or eliminating alcohol ads make it less likely that kids will use alcohol?
The answer is complex. To begin with there are plenty of other contributing influences which would need to be effectively factored out in order to get a clear picture of how advertising affects alcohol use. Studies which look for what primarily impacts a young person’s likelihood of abusing alcohol repeatedly point to the influence of parents and close friends as of primary importance. Another factor which has been shown to influence alcohol use is price. When alcohol is expensive, fewer kids can afford to indulge. Of course, adults who consume alcohol would not necessarily welcome higher prices in the name of teen prevention.
Another question which needs to be answered is just how influential advertising is in affecting our purchasing habits. Plenty of research shows that while advertising may be effective in getting us to try another brand of a product, it rarely creates new demand for the product. In other words, consumers may be influenced to buy a less expensive or more expensive brand of perfume, but advertising has not been shown to create new perfume users. In the same way, alcohol companies are advertising to get drinkers to switch labels more effectively than they are in winning over new drinkers. Beer drinkers, wine drinkers, vodka drinkers may each be swayed to try another kind of their chosen beverage by effective marketing, but no studies show that advertising wins over new wine or beer drinkers.
Prohibiting alcohol advertising during certain hours was tried in the Netherlands in recent years. From early morning until nine at night, the Dutch made it illegal to advertise alcohol on television or radio. Compliance with the ruling was judged to be practically universal, yet the ban did next to nothing to impact teen alcohol use in that country. Experts suggest that the ban failed because teens tend to populate the largest segment of after nine p.m. tv viewers. By driving alcohol ads to late night tv, the advertisers were actually more effective in reaching a younger audience.
When we are faced with a clear concern, the temptation is to do something rather than do nothing. No one is suggesting doing nothing, of course. But, it is wise to choose interventions which have the best chance of being effective. So far, placing limits on alcohol advertising has not proven to be an effective plan.
Two research studies can give parents something to celebrate. For parents who lament that their children are more easily influenced by friends rather than them, these findings reveal that parents are the greater influence when children choose to use or avoid alcohol or drugs. But influence by parents and other family members can also be detrimental when children see their parents or siblings abuse substances. Full Story
Parents worry about their kids getting in with the wrong crowds, having low self-esteem, and other possible risk factors for experimenting with and then developing an addiction to drugs. Full Story
Kaiser Permanente has recently published the results of their online study helping at-risk pregnant women with obstetric care. The program could save almost $2 billion yearly towards health care costs in the United States if implemented. According to Medical News Today, the new Early Start program follows a 2008 study by Kaiser Permanente that showed how women could achieve safer health outcomes for themselves and their babies by not using alcohol, cigarettes or drugs. Full Story
For parents who had given in and joined the societal shoulder shrug over teen experimentation with substances, a new report should put some strength into the parental backbone. The report comes from CASA, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University and deals with use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco by American teens. Full Story
Many of the medications elderly people use may be the wrong choice because they carry a high risk for falling, daytime grogginess and a loss of cognitive ability, say researchers from the Nordic School of Public Health, Sweden. Full Story
Any physician would likely react if a patient said they were addicted to recreational marijuana, and needed help getting more. Yet when it comes to opioid painkiller prescriptions, recent studies and news reports suggest many physicians are giving thousands of patients orders for opioid painkillers daily – even to patients at high risk for addiction, and those whose pharmacy records show an addiction has already formed.
One powerful antidote to teen drug addiction could be found in a simple family dinner at home, according to new research. A 2009 report from Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) says teenagers who sit down to dinner at home, with the family, less than three times a week have a risk for trying smoking or marijuana that is two times higher than teens who sit down to a family dinner five times each week.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee will meet on September 14, 2010 to discuss the increased prevalence of dextromethorphan abuse among the American public. After receiving a request from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the rising incidence of dextromethorphan abuse nationwide, especially among adolescents, has raised enough concern over the availability of cold- and cough-remedies containing this powerful drug that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is now considering restricting the public’s access to these medications.