Heavy drinking is a problem for a number of reasons. It can lead to alcohol poisoning, intoxication, bad decisions, accidents and even addiction and health problems. Binge drinking is defined as more than four drinks at one sitting for a woman and more than five for a man. This kind of drinking is particularly prevalent among young people. Statistics show that 80 percent of college students drink and that half of them binge drink. The traditional approach to dealing with problem drinking is to commit to a 12-step program and to abstain from alcohol forever. For young people, this may be too big a challenge, and some experts think they have a viable alternative.
Significant numbers of young women in the U.S. are affected by problematic drinking behaviors and/or the symptoms of an eating disorder. In some cases, affected women may initially fall into their eating and alcohol-related behaviors as part of a conscious or unconscious attempt to cope with various forms of stress. In a study published in May 2014 in Addictive Behaviors, researchers from Auburn University explored the potential connection between alcohol problems and eating disorders in young women and the presence of similar issues in their parents. These researchers also explored the more general influence of a dysfunctional family environment on young women’s drinking and eating behaviors.
Alcohol consumption is substantially more popular among young adults who attend college than among other people in the same age range who don’t attend college. Some of the campaigns designed to curb drinking on college campuses rely on an intervention technique called personalized normative feedback, which uses comparisons with the drinking behaviors of peers to dispel drinking myths and lower alcohol consumption rates. In a study published in June 2014 in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, a team of U.S. researchers sought to determine if participation in personalized normative feedback can inadvertently cause a college student who drinks below peer average to increase his or her alcohol intake.
Some people are fairly susceptible to the effects of alcohol and experience them even when they drink small amounts. Conversely, others have a relative lack of alcohol susceptibility and can drink fairly large amounts before they experience any appreciable effects. In a report published in June 2014 in NIAAA Spectrum, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism explains the dangers associated with having a high alcohol threshold. Chief among these dangers is an increased chance of developing diagnosable symptoms of alcohol abuse and/or alcoholism (both included as indications of a condition called alcohol use disorder).
Research has shown that an approach called brief alcohol intervention can help significantly reduce the amount of alcohol that college students consume, and thereby decrease the risks for a range of harmful drinking consequences. In addition, research has shown that interventions provided remotely via the Internet have a beneficial impact similar to interventions provided in person. In a study published in July 2014 in the journal Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, a team of Swedish researchers assessed the effectiveness of brief alcohol interventions delivered through downloadable apps on smartphones.
Despite its popularity as a recreational beverage, alcohol is poisonous to many organs throughout the human body, including the brain. In some cases, people under the influence of large amounts of alcohol experience “blackouts” that produce either fragmented memory function or a complete inability to recall spans of time. In a report published in June 2014 in NIAAA Spectrum, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) details the underlying causes for alcohol-related blackouts and also explains the different types of blackouts that can affect a person who drinks excessive amounts of alcohol.
In the U.S., laws in all local and state jurisdictions set a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent as the legal threshold for intoxication. However, in May 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced its intent to pursue a lower intoxication threshold BAC of 0.05 percent. In a study review published in June 2014 in the journal Addiction, researchers from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation assessed the risks of operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol content of 0.05 percent and sought to determine if the use of this BAC as the legal standard for intoxication would reduce the general public’s exposure to alcohol-related harm.
The Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHS) has released a report that shows that parents in Maine are not fully aware of how often their adolescent children are experimenting with alcohol, but that they are more aware than they used to be. It’s a phenomenon that translates to all parents in all states.
I received the panicked phone call from my mother early in June: my sister’s 20-year-old daughter had just returned home from her sophomore year at college and a crisis had erupted. In addition to having gained more than 50 pounds, Layla was not acting like herself; she was sleeping all day, irritable and uncooperative. Because I worked for decades as a psychotherapist with a specialty in children and families, Mom asked me for help.
With the government softening its stance against marijuana and recent state legislation to ease access, there is renewed interest in what the long-term impact of increased marijuana use might have on cigarette smoking. Even while many Americans express a greater openness to use of marijuana, the nation’s tolerance for tobacco use has been declining. Yet, a new National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) study shows that making marijuana more available is likely to increase the number of cigarette smokers.