Dallas Taylor: An Artist Who Saved Many Lives

 

 

“I understand what it is like to be an angry, depressed addict who needs so badly to be liked that he gets on stage and sweats and bleeds and hopes that people will somehow connect.”   Dallas Taylor

 

Saying good-bye to Dallas Taylor

We would be remiss if we didn’t dedicate today’s blog post to Dallas Taylor. While many of you may remember him as an accomplished drummer, there are hundreds perhaps 1000s who will be forever grateful to Dallas for his dedicated work as a drug counselor, interventionist, family program treatment counselor, drug court advocate and speaker, and MusiCares supporter. Dallas passed away on January 18, 2015, at the age of 66.

Dallas before recovery…and more

As the related articles below will report Dallas Taylor is that drummer who performed at Woodstock with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. He went on to play with Steven Stills and the band Manassas. There were Gold Records and there were many tours, but by 1984 Dallas was almost dead from his renowned alcoholism and drug addiction. And in December 1984, at the age of 36 Dallas found sobriety and recovery. From that point on he dedicated his life to help others who are suffering from addiction.

His journey was not always easy and he found himself with five years of sobriety and a failed liver. He underwent a liver transplant and some years later in 2007 he required a kidney transplant. But through each part of his incredible journey Dallas continued to work with those seeking sobriety and recovery.

Last evening at the 57th GRAMMY Awards there was a Memoriam to honor those artists and professionals who the music community said good-by to in 2014 -2015. Of course, Dallas Taylor was among those listed. 

Dallas’ work with families

Dallas, of course, went to school to become a Certified Addiction Specialist, did 1,000 hours of supervised on-the-job training and throughout this career continued his education. From 2000 through 2011 Dallas assisted many southern California treatment centers in designing and conducting their Family Programs. One of our associates had the privilege of attending a Family Program with Dallas Taylor and she recalls:

“I noticed on the first day we all seemed to cry when Dallas asked ‘how are you doing?’ Imagine! He wants to know how we are doing. I also noticed that by Friday, we were all able to talk about how we are doing, sans tears, and know we are not alone in this world of addiction.”

Dallas had a way of working with families and the individual addicts that was amazing to witness. He enjoyed working with young people and reached beyond the artists’ community to be of service.

Documenting his life…

 

In 1995 Dallas wrote and published his book Prisoner of Woodstock. According to the overview provided by AMAZON:

“This is the story of his life before, during and after the band. The book captures the “Real Sixties” during one of musics’ greats’ times. Prisoner Of Woodstock is a graphic depiction of Dallas’ experience with success and it’s excesses, and his spiral into the world of addiction, and remarkable return as one of the Nation’s leaders in helping alcoholics and addicts. In 1990 Don Henley helped organize a benefit concert to help Dallas get a Liver Transplant. The book has a wonderful sense of the “Recovery Spirit,” and is an inspiration.”

 

Interventions

An interventionist is a mediator and necessary component to getting the loved one into a suitable drug and alcohol treatment program. Often, this is too great of a feat for the family and loved ones to do on their own because they are too emotionally involved with and impacted by the addict’s behaviors and despair. Interventionists provide knowledge where there is confusion, clarity where there is fog, solution where there is dismay and hope where there is despair.

Dallas’ passing has been covered widely by the news media: The New York Times, PEOPLE Magazine, Los Angeles Times, TIME Magazine, VARIETY, UPI, Billboard, TV Guide, etc. We will miss Dallas. Beyond being a great musician, he was a husband, father, grandfather, and friend. To many he was their sponsor and someone they could call if they needed help. He once said: “Whether or not your loved one agrees to seek treatment or not, you should remember this — there is no such thing as a failed intervention – After all, how can any attempt to save the life and future of a loved one be?”

If you have questions about having an intervention, please feel free to contact us.

Learning From WILD The Movie And A Walk Through Opioid History

Schematic overview of course and lands of the ...
Schematic overview of course and lands of the Pacific Crest Trail (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“What if I forgave myself? I thought. What if I forgave myself even though I’d done something I shouldn’t have? What if I was a liar and a cheat and there was no excuse for what I’d done other than because it was what I wanted and needed to do? What if I was sorry, but if I could go back in time I wouldn’t do anything differently than I had done? What if I’d actually wanted to f–k every one of those men? What if heroin taught me something? What if yes was the right answer instead of no? What if what made me do all those things everyone thought I shouldn’t have done was what also had got me here? What if I was never redeemed? What if I already was?”
Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

 

Cheryl Strayed sought to reinvent herself by walking 1100 miles

If you haven’t read Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail or seen the recently released WILD starring Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed, then you might want to check out either the book or the movie. This past week one of our associates saw the movie and reported that she knew nothing about the book and had only seen previews of the movie. Basically she, like Cheryl, had no idea what she was getting herself into.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Anyone who has ever hiked any part of the Pacific Crest Trail knows what Cheryl was up against, but if you add to the strenuous nature of the trail, unpredictable weather and a woman who’s seeking to “get well” after living through what many have described as a four year bender, then you might come to the conclusion that Cheryl’s memoir is about her intervening in the journey she found herself on after losing her mother to cancer.

Cheryl took a walk on the WILD side…or as one reviewer said she was on an emotional odyssey.

While we learn from movies, we also continue to learn from history

Watching WILD the viewer gets just a glimpse of what opioid use and abuse can dissolve into…heroin addiction. You can read multiple news articles every day how different states, cities, towns, schools of all levels, businesses and families are trying to cope with painkiller abuse. It is often referred to as an epidemic.

The odd thing about all of this is that as a society we seem truly surprised to find ourselves engaged in this battle and with such intensity. Over the holidays we read an article in The New York Times, Painkiller Abuse, a Cyclical Challenge. We hope you will take the time to read the article, it offers some powerful photographs and a timeline that is worth noting.

The author Austin Frakt wants his readers to understand that this is not a new epidemic, but the latest in the cycle. As a society, at least since the late 19th century we have attempted to develop social policy that will deal with the latest onset.

  • In the late 1800s opioid products were not regulated. Heroin was created by Bayer Pharmaceuticals to be used for coughs.
  • In 1906 the Pure Food and Drug Act was passed and required drug labels to include all of the ingredients to be listed.
  • The 1914 Harrison Narcotics Tax Act took effect with a goal to curb use, by taxing narcotics. Additionally, it was decided with this act that it would be permissible to use opioids to treat pain, but not as part of a maintenance program for addiction.
  • By the 1920s heroin was frequently prescribed for menstrual pain.
  • In 1925 the Supreme Court legalized opioids to be used as maintenance treatment for addiction.
  • In 1935 the Federal Medical Center, located in Lexington, KY, opened. It was dedicated to treat substance use disorders. (It is also known for conducting addiction research and experiments.)
  • Jump ahead to the 1950s with a growing number of overdose deaths as a result of opioid use.
  • In 1961 the United Nations’ declaration that access to pain medication was a human right opened the door to more use and addiction.
  • By 1966 some states and then the federal government enacted laws that would allow addicts to be hospitalized on an involuntary basis.
  • In 1970 the Controlled Substance Act was passed by the 91st Congress and signed into law by President Nixon. The DEA was established. Both actions were supported by a number of intervention studies which pointed to the efficacy of treatment for addiction, including methadone type substances.
  • Of late, the federal government and 49 states have built databases to help control the sale and use of opioids. Such programs track the prescribers and the users of these drugs.
  • Naloxone is being promoted to have available in schools, homes and with first responders to react quickly to save a person who has overdosed.

As we move into the New Year…

It is true…it is important to remember history and to take the time to study history. This applies to family history as well. It is vital to understand that addiction is a family disease. With this understanding spouses and parents should stay alert to signs. If your loved one’s behavior has been slowly changing, ask questions. Are they late for work, do they oversleep, are grades changing, are they dropping off of sports teams, is their circle of friends changing, are they losing weight…the signs are there. Pay attention.

If you need help in starting the conversation, feel free to call us.  Recovery is possible.

Interventions Are Key To Ongoing Scientific Research

Curiosity and determination inspire scientific research studies…

It’s true! Scientific research and studies that involve human physiology and behavior are most often provoked by a certain determination and enough curiosity to seek answers to problems that are impacting our society. Over the past two years our blog posts have often discussed the results of a new study; we share this information with our readers to spark their own curiosity and prompt them to seek more information on the intervention process should their family circumstances demand it.

The KNICK television drama weaves a story with history, medical research and addiction

The KNICK takes place in New York City’s Knickerbocker Hospital in the early 1900s. One could ask “what’s so captivating about this time and place?” This is a series that offers the viewer an inside view of what not only life in New York City was about in 1900, but also a candid view of how medical research and new inventions were developed “hands on.”  And yes, drug addiction is part of The KNICK’s storyline, as well as the concept of doing an intervention and getting someone to treatment.

Here you can watch a snippet of the season finale, Episode #10…

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Two new research projects are worth noting…

If you have ever worked in a hospital emergency department (ED or ER), then chances are you’ve noted that a good percentage of the patients presenting (non-trauma) have either a primary or secondary issue tied to substance abuse. These patients arrive at the ER due to an accidental overdose, accidental injuries due to substance abuse (auto accidents, slips, falls, fights), chronic diseases due to substance abuse (pancreatitis, hepatitis, liver failure) or physical detox / withdrawal symptoms like delirium tremens. This being the case it would stand to reason that when a patient comes to an ED and admits to or exhibits signs of substance abuse this could be the perfect time for the medical professionals to intervene beyond treating the acute symptoms. But what intervention protocol works best in these situations?

Michael Bogenschutz. MD, chief of the Division of Addiction Psychiatry at the University of New Mexico’s (UNM) Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science is indeed looking for answers to how best manage the opportunity to intervene when patients present with substance abuse symptoms.

According to UNM Health Science Center News Beat, Dr. Bogenschutz is focusing on how well screenings, interventions and referrals work by conducting two studies:

  • Bogenshutz is leading a five-year study of opioid-addicted patients who visit the ER. Past research, including his own, has shown that brief ER interventions had little or no effect on heavy drug users, so the current study takes a more active approach. Case managers follow up with patients to steer them toward addiction treatment and to assist with other needs, like housing or legal representation. 
  • In a second study, Bogenschutz focuses on older adult alcoholics. Researchers in Denmark, Germany and New Mexico will compare patients who receive four motivational counseling sessions with those receiving the four sessions, plus an additional eight weeks of more active therapy focused on finding rewarding alternatives to drinking.

 

Looking to the future…

We understand that substance use disorder is a chronic disease; however, with intervention, treatment and aftercare, remission is possible and long term sobriety is achievable. Ongoing research about addiction serves to validate these processes that promote health and wellness.

Is An Intervention Ever Too Early?

Let’s talk about interventions

The word intervention is often used when speaking of political, financial, commerce, legal and medical situations. Basically it means to come between disputing people or groups to intercede or mediate in an effort to change the course of events.

When it comes to health, particularly mental and behavioral health we define an intervention as:

An orchestrated attempt by one or many people – usually family and friends – to get someone to seek professional help with an addiction or some kind of traumatic event or crisis, or other serious problem. The term intervention is most often used when the traumatic event involves addiction to drugs or other items.

The process of this type of intervention was introduced in the 1960s by Dr.Vernon Johnson who was a recovering alcoholic and an Episcopal priest. He promoted what he referred to as “early intervention” to interrupt the disease of alcoholism before the process of the disease destroyed one’s life.

Johnson’s concept is key to what many family members ask themselves everyday…”should we have noticed earlier what was coming, could we have prevented the escalation of the disease of addiction…should we have intervened earlier?”

Research results examines the outcome of early intervention in children

It was 1991 when the Fast-Track Project study began. This was a collaborative study including researchers from Duke University, Pennsylvania State, Vanderbilt and the University of Washington. They screened nearly 10,000 five year-old children who lived in Durham, Nashville, Seattle and rural sections of Pennsylvania. Of these 10,000 the researchers identified 891 who were at high risk. Half of these were selected as a control group and the other half were assigned to participate in the Fast Track intervention. Here is an overview of the Fast Track Project as provided on the website:

Fast Track is a comprehensive intervention project designed to look at how children develop across their lives by providing academic tutoring and lessons in developing social skills and regulating their behaviors. Selection began when the participants entered kindergarten and children were placed either in the intervention group or the control group. The intervention was guided by a developmental theory stating the interaction of multiple influences on the development of behavior. There can be multiple stressors and influences on children and families that increase their risk levels. In such contexts, some families that experience marital conflict and instability can cause inconsistent and ineffective parenting. These children can sometimes enter school poorly prepared for the social, emotional, and cognitive demands of this setting. Often the child will then attend a school with a high number of other children who are similarly unprepared and are negatively influenced by disruptive classroom situations and punitive teacher practices. Over time, children in these circumstances tend to demonstrate particular behaviors, are rejected by families and peers, and tend to receive less support from teachers, further increasing aggressive exchanges and academic difficulties.

As youth get older, their risk for these behaviors increase due to peer influences, academic difficulties, and their personal identity development. The Fast Track project is thus based on the hypothesis that improving child competencies, parenting effectiveness, school context and school-home communications will, over time, contribute to preventing certain behaviors across the period from early childhood through adolescence.

The study was sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

The study’s findings…

The study was to cover 10 years and over those years the researchers published numerous progress reports. Most recently Kenneth A. Dodge, Ph.D. at Duke University (who headed the original project and secured the original sponsorship of the NIMH) worked with researchers from Pennsylvania State University, the University of Alabama, Tufts University and Simon Fraser University. The goal was to reach out to the original subjects and determine how they were doing some eight years after the program had ended. The full results are published on-line in the American Journal of Psychiatry: Impact of Early Intervention on Psychopathology, Crime, and Well-Being at Age 25.

This study showed modest improvements in psychological markers that predict long-term antisocial behavior and criminality and according to a Los Angeles Times article.  

Program graduates had fewer legal problems, substance abuse issues and risky sexual behaviors. The data suggest that intervention can work, and effects can persist over many years. Overall, the likelihood of psychological, criminal, sexual and behavioral problems dropped by about 9 percentage points from those of nonparticipants, the study found.

Dr. Dodge is quick to point out: “It’s not miracles; it’s not huge impacts. We weren’t successful with every child, but on average we have been able to prevent some of those [negative] outcomes.”

Some closing thoughts…

Being a member of a family is a journey that we all take. We travel through good times and difficult times that include financial hardships, illness, and emotional trials that if not recognized early can impact many members of the core family group and beyond. Often parents will notice signs, but are reluctant to ask questions and seek answers. Even spouses will look the other way and hope for a positive outcome. It is always best not to look away, but to reach out for help when you realize that your loved one is experiencing mental health issues and/or addiction.

Correctly guiding ourselves through life is challenging enough and trying to help a loved one who is suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction can seem impossible.

Often, the person in active addiction has difficulty managing their own lives and as time goes by it seems to get worse. The impact of their addiction on their lives are evident through loss of things like jobs, relationships and self-care. Perhaps several attempts and conversations have been initiated to help them without success. This is because the person trying to help is often too close and doesn’t have the professional background to be both emotionally neutral and aware of resources that match the needs of the addict. Such addiction professionals can help via home interventions or through recommending applicable treatment for the addict who is suffering.

Bottom line: It is never too early to consider an intervention!

Interventions: A Reachable Moment

An intervention offers a lifeline…

We know what a teachable moment is…

Hardly a news cycle goes by that we don’t hear the expression “This is a teachable moment!” It is one of those phrases that catches our attention and makes us consider what we have learned from a particular life event. Educators really like the term. Politicians like the term. Medical professionals like the term.

Just today if you search the news for the term teachable moment, here are a couple of headlines that stand out:

 

Have you heard of a reachable moment?

The word reachable is adjective that we often use to better define a goal, like a reachable milestone. We might think of the word attainable or possible.  Or we might think of the verb “reach” and consider how we often find ourselves wondering if all of our love and concern actually “reaches” our loved one.

In late June we happened upon a news story that talked about “reachable moment,” it took us by surprise.

 

Mass General will screen all patients for substance abuse…

On June 30, 2014, The Boston Globe published this article: MGH to screen all patients for substance abuse…Querying part of effort to treat addiction.

When you first peruse the headline you might find yourself thinking “doesn’t every hospital in the United States screen patients for substance abuse?” For the most part, it is true that if you present yourself to an emergency department, then during the quick history and physical you most likely will be asked questions about alcohol use or drug use, particularly if you appear to be impaired and suffering from trauma.

However, according to CBS Boston: “Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) plans to begin questioning all patients about their use of alcohol and illegal drugs starting this fall, even if they are at MGH for a totally unrelated issue.”

 

A bedside intervention…

Dr. Sarah Wakeman is the medical director for substance use disorders at MGH’s Center for Community Health Improvement. She shared with The Boston Globe that nearly 25% of all patients hospitalized for routine medical problems also have active substance abuse disorders. So by asking critical questions of each patient during the hospital stay becomes “a reachable moment” or a bedside intervention. 

The particular questions might include:

  • How often have you had six or more drinks on one occasion?
  • How often have you used illegal drugs in the past year?
  • Do you use prescription medication for nonmedical reasons?

“Mass. General recently studied 2,583 patients with identified substance abuse disorders who were in the hospital for various medical problems — some related to addiction — and found they had longer stays and higher readmission rates than other patients. The cost of their care averaged nearly $10,000 per admission, 40 to 50 percent higher than the cost of treating patients with other chronic conditions such as congestive heart failure and pneumonia.” 

So how will this all work?

Well, in the first place, this new program will cost a considerable amount of money.  Mass General is planning to spend $1.4 million per year on this new addiction screening and treatment program. If the patient answers the screening questions in such a way that indicates overuse, then one of the hospital addiction team will visit the patient and encourage a more in depth conversation about their life and habits.

Mass General plans to hire five “recovery coaches.” They will work at the main hospital and the three community health centers. The coaches are former substance abusers and are certified by the state. Coaches will take people to Alcoholics Anonymous and work with them to follow a treatment plan both inpatient and outpatient.

Interventions require a plan…

In life even the best laid plans can go by the wayside, but to start a new treatment modality requires arduous planning and fine tuning. We are anxious to see how the Mass General plan works out. Interventions require planning.

The interventionist will then derive a treatment action plan that can be executed immediately. The immediacy of getting a loved one the help they need is well understood and the interventionist will act with the same immediacy to fulfill the treatment action plan, which will consist of the following:

  • A determination of the need for an intervention – sometimes when the loved one has already agreed on receiving treatment, a recommendation will be made that don’t involve an intervention.
  • Arrangements to execute the intervention (travel, timing, special needs and considerations for the time, place and type of intervention).
  • Pre-intervention counseling and advisement – thorough determination of what families need to prepare such as verbal or written statements to the loved one and what to expect emotionally during an intervention.
  • The intervention.
  • Transport to treatment, either with the addicted, family or interventionist or via scheduled travel arrangements to the recommended treatment center.

This process highlights that in challenging and emotionally vulnerable situations, we can’t do things alone. Just as people need support groups and spiritual practice to lessen their burdens, loved ones of addicts need professionals to guide them through the process of getting addiction help – it cuts the stress and turmoil tenfold and can end of being the best investment to make in the life of a loved one.

If you would like to consider a treatment action plan for a loved one, please click here to learn more about the exact next steps to take and click here to learn about the success rates of the Southern California interventionist.

Gender Differences When Seeking Treatment For Alcoholism

Seeking help for a drinking problem…

Our world is filled with news articles, movies, television specials, books both fiction and non-fiction which tell the story of someone dealing with alcoholism. This isn’t new. You can spend a quiet evening watching old movies or the history channel and discover how big a part the disease of alcoholism has played and continues to play in our culture.

We also know that many research teams work tirelessly to understand better the disease of addiction and particularly alcoholism. Research brings information and inspires those in the field of addiction and recovery to ask more questions.

New study on characterizing gender difference in treatment seekers

On August 9, 2013, a new study by Ben Lewis, PhD, and Sara Jo Nixon, both of the Department of Psychiatry, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida was first published online in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research  Characterizing Gender Difference in Treatment Seekers.

The researchers offer that many previous studies have been done that validate that woman may be more vulnerable to the physical, mental, and emotional effects of chronic alcohol consumption. Their study’s goal, according to the abstract:

The current study examined gender differences in a heterogeneous sample of individuals seeking treatment for a substance use disorder. We examined alcohol drinking levels, age at drinking milestones (e.g., first drink, first intoxication), and progression from milestones to alcohol problems or treatment. Additionally, family history, spousal alcoholism, and nicotine use were analyzed.

 

Study’s parameters…

 

  • Information was collected from 274 men and 257 women
  • All subjects were in substance abuse treatment facilities
  • Each participant inventories quantifying affect, intellectual ability and drinking consequences
  • Each subject supplied a family tree for substance use
  • Each subject gave personal histories for alcohol and nicotine use, including chronicity, frequency and regularity.

 

Study’s results…

 

  • Telescoping (drinking patterns and rapidity of disease progression) was not observed when progression from drinking milestones to alcoholism or alcohol problems was compared between men and women.
  • In contrast, when considered as progression to treatment, marked telescoping effects were detected, with women entering treatment more rapidly by approximately 4 years.
  • Familial differences included a greater proportion of women reporting alcoholic parents (73% women; 61% men) and alcoholic spouses (58% women; 38% men).
  • Smoking behaviors were similar between genders; however, men reporting higher levels of alcohol consumption reported greater intensity of chronic smoking.
  • Smoking and drinking behaviors were correlated among men, but not women. Rates of pretreatment drug problems were equivalent between genders.

 

Some thoughts about the study’s findings…

The lead author, Dr. Lewis offers his observations:

“The bottom line is that hopefully these results will raise awareness concerning the restricted time window between alcohol problems and the development of sufficient negative consequences to prompt seeking treatment among women. These findings emphasize the need for greater attention to women’s issues, determining sex-specific risk factors, as well as identifying subgroups most likely to require treatment. Additionally, there must be a greater awareness of the importance of intervening when alcohol problems are first experienced. If we are able to develop appropriate interventions, we may mitigate the need for inpatient treatment for some of these women.”

Women sought treatment earlier, by four to five years; however, it is important to note that women might seek treatment 10 years into their disease, while men may often wait 15 years before seeking treatment.

Intervention services

When there have been several attempts at trying to help the addicted loved one to no avail, intervention services are often necessary. An intervention is defined as having a neutral person who is an expert in addiction and recovery intervene upon the addict and their family to bring the addiction and its harmful impacts to the surface so that recovery and healing can begin.

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Marketing Alcohol To Underage Youth ~ Experts Discuss Importance Of Intervention

The power of alcohol marketing

It is January 1, 2013. There will be many football bowl games televised today: The Gator Bowl, The Heart of Dallas Bowl, Capital One Bowl, Outback Bowl, Discover Orange Bowl and, of course, The Rose Bowl.  There will be numerous advertisements throughout the games; however, the content of these ads is somewhat controlled by National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) advertising policy which states:

“The NCAA’s Advertising and Promotional Standards applicable to all NCAA championships limits alcohol advertising in any form (e.g., television, radio, Internet, game publications) in association with any NCAA championship to malt beverages, beer and wine products that do not exceed six percent alcohol by volume. Further, such advertisements shall not compose more than 60 seconds per hour of any NCAA championship programming nor compose more than 14 percent of the space in the NCAA publication (e.g., game program) devoted to advertising. Also, such advertisements or advertisers shall incorporate “Drink Responsibly” educational messaging, and the content of all such advertisements shall be respectful (e.g., free of gratuitous and overly suggestive sexual innuendo, no displays of disorderly, reckless or destructive behavior) as determined by the NCAA on a case-by-case basis.”

The truth is marketing materials for alcoholic beverages can be seen almost everywhere. Just paging through the most recent issue of TIME Magazine (December 31, 2012-January 7, 2013) you will find a stunning ad for Chivas Regal, complete with the educational message: Please enjoy Chivas responsibly.

Marketing alcohol to under-age youth

While marketing alcohol to anyone of any age is highly regulated, most will agree that the main goal of advertising campaigns is not just to sell more product, but to build brand awareness and customer loyalty. Many studies have been conducted regarding the sheer numbers of alcoholic advertisements which are exposed to under-age youth. One estimate states that 45% of the commercials viewed by young people each year are advertisements for alcohol.

New study examines initiation and progression of alcohol use in underage youth…

On December 19, 2012, the online issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research published the results of a study: Alcohol Marketing Receptivity, Marketing-Specific Cognitions, and Underage Binge Drinking.

This study was conducted by lead author Auden C. McClure, MD, MPH of the Department of Pediatrics, Geisel School of Medicine, Hanover, New Hampshire and Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Lebanon, New Hampshire. Data was gathered and analyzed using the following methods:

  • 1,734 subjects ages 15-to-20 year olds were recruited
  • 882 males and 852 females
  • Participants were asked about exposure to a number of alcohol-marketing variables, such as television time, internet time, favorite alcohol advertisement, ownership of alcohol branded merchandise, exposure to alcohol brands in movies.
  • Researchers assessed the relation between the above mentioned exposures and current binge drinking behaviors

 

Study’s findings

According to Dr. McClure, as reported by EurekAlert.org:

“We found that youth with a higher receptivity to alcohol advertising are more likely to report binge drinking – more than five drinks in a row – and that this association is mediated, at least in part, by self-identification as a drinker and having a favorite brand of alcohol to drink,” said McClure. “Further longitudinal studies are needed to determine whether advertising exposure precedes the development of these cognitions and influences future drinking behavior. If confirmed, the findings would support the plausibility of a causal relationship between marketing exposures and underage drinking.”

 

Intervention and risky behaviors

If you are a parent of a teenager or young college student, then chances are you are cognizant of how your child responds to advertisements of all kinds. You know this from the time your child reaches toddler age. They see advertisements on television for certain food products, toys, movies…and a new consumer comes to life. You know this when you take your child to the grocery store or a fast food restaurant, you even know it when your child talks about a new toy their playmate recently received.

As parents, we know intuitively that advertising works, so it makes perfect sense that exposure to alcohol marketing also works. But what do we do about it?

As Dr. McClure indicates, other studies have shown that: “Early onset of alcohol use is linked to alcohol dependence later in life, making both prevention and early intervention of risk behaviors important. A better understanding of the path between marketing and risk behaviors could help parents, health care providers, clinical psychologists, and substance use treatment specialists to identify and intervene when an adolescent is at risk.”

Substance use treatment specialists and interventionists understand the importance of intervening early when an adolescent or young adult is at risk.

As 2013 begins, consider taking the appropriate steps to reduce the chances that your child will develop alcohol dependence.

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