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Your Teen

Should Parents Give Their Teen Alcohol?


Some parents might argue that they are being responsible caregivers when they supply their teen alcohol. The thinking is that no matter what roadblocks you present, teens are going to drink - therefore, if parents allow them to drink at home they remove some of the alcohol - related risks.

It’s not as uncommon as you might think. In many countries, parents provide alcohol to their underage kids as a way to introduce them to drinking carefully, and believe it will protect them from the harms of heavy drinking.

A groundbreaking new study from Australia says that’s just not true. Providing alcohol to your teen actually does more harm than good. In fact, young people who got alcohol from their parents were more likely to also get it from elsewhere, researchers found.

"Our study is the first to analyze parental supply of alcohol and its effects in detail in the long term, and finds that it is, in fact, associated with risks when compared to teenagers not given alcohol," said lead author Richard Mattick. He is a professor of drug and alcohol studies at the University of New South Wales.

The study finding "reinforces the fact that alcohol consumption leads to harm, no matter how it is supplied," he added.

Mattick’s team followed more than 1,900 Australian teens, aged 12 to 18 years of age, over a six-year time span.

By the end of the study, 81 percent of teens that got alcohol from both their parents and other people reported binge drinking (defined as having more than four drinks on a single occasion). That compared to 62 percent of teens who got alcohol only from other people, and 25 percent of those who got alcohol only from their parents.

In addition, the researchers found that teens whose parents supplied them with alcohol in one year were twice as likely to also get it elsewhere the next year.

The findings show that parents don't help teens deal with alcohol responsibility by providing it to them, and doing so does not reduce the risk that they will get it elsewhere, the researchers concluded.

Not surprisingly, alcohol is the top risk factor for death and disability among 15- to 24-year-olds worldwide, according to background information in a journal news release. In addition, the teen years are also the time when drinking problems are most likely to develop.

"Parents, policy makers, and clinicians need to be made aware that parental provision of alcohol is associated with risk, not with protection, to reduce the extent of parental supply in high-income countries, and in low-middle-income countries that are increasingly embracing the consumption of alcohol," Mattick mentioned in the news release.

Another approach might be for parents to talk to their teen about the dangers of alcohol consumption and encourage them to stand up against peer pressure to start drinking.

The report was published in the January issue of The Lancet Public Health.

Story source: Robert Preidt,


Daily Dose

Binge Drinking on the Rise

1:30 to read

Binge drinking among teens has always been an issue, but unfortunately alcohol use is becoming more prevalent at younger and younger ages.  While many parents (including me) discussed the use of alcohol with their teenagers during their high school years, a recent clinical report by the American Academy of Pediatrics published in the journal Pediatrics states that “by the eighth grade a quarter of those surveyed had consumed alcohol”.   

The report found that children start to “think positively about alcohol between 9 and 13 years of age”. With this finding it is incumbent upon parents and pediatricians to start the discussion about alcohol use at even earlier ages.  Personally, I think that one of the reasons we need to discuss alcohol use with younger children, may be due to the fact that alcohol use and availability has become more and more prevalent across our society. Many young children’s birthday parties in my area include alcohol for the adults.  Some play groups now have “mommy juice” in coolers at the park  as well as apple juice for the toddlers. Parents are drinking on the sidelines of the soccer and baseball game.  Grocery stores and pharmacies all carry beer and wine which makes it easy to pick up a bottle of wine while you wait for your child’s prescription.  Recently,  more and more college sporting events are allowing alcohol sales in their stadiums, field houses and coliseums. 

The statistics reveal that alcohol is the substance most frequently abused by children and adolescents in the U.S.  In 2014, “half of twelfth graders and one in nine eight graders reported having been drunk at least once in their life”. We also know that among our youth, the proportion who drink heavily is higher than among adults who drink. 

Because teens typically weigh less than adults, binge drinking is teens is defined differently than for adults. For girls ages 9-7, three or more drinks in a two hour period is considered binge drinking and for boys ages 9-13 the cutoff is three or more drinks, for boys 14-15 it’s four or more drinks, and for boys 16-17, its five or more drinks.   

It is also not difficult to understand the correlation between binge drinking and risk taking behaviors among teens.  Binge drinking has been associated with earlier sexual activity and teen pregnancy, fatal car accidents and even alcohol poisoning and death.  Not only does alcohol affect choices while imbibing, but it  “may interfere with important aspects of brain development that can lead to cognitive impairment, brain injury and substance use disorders later in life”.

Lastly, not surprisingly, teens look to their parents on their decision to drink or not. Modeling behavior could not be more important, as one teen once told me when discussing her use of alcohol, “why don’t you talk to my mom about coming home drunk every night, then I will talk to you”.  

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Teens and Alcohol

Teens & Alcohol: A Deadly Mix

Daily Dose

Moms Drinking During Play Group?

1.15 to read

I was chatting with one of my daughter-in-law’s good friends from college who recently finishing her master’s in psychology with her thesis focused on drinking patterns among young adult women and how it affected their sexuality.  Really interesting!

While discussing her data, I brought up the topic of young mothers and alcohol.  I seem to see/hear about more alcohol consumption at play groups and toddler birthday parties. 

Maybe it is just that I am older, but I don’t remember my children’s play groups serving wine and margaritas.  But many of the young mother’s I see, routinely talk about “who is bringing the wine” to the after nap play group. They even told me that you can now by mini wine boxes that look like juice boxes.  They come in 6 packs and have straws! Some of their children refer to this as “mommy’s milk”. 

I don’t want to be a hypocrite as I often enjoy an evening glass of wine with a late dinner after work. I know that I drank in front of our children as they were growing up and tried to teach them responsible drinking. But, I don’t remember taking wine to the park or to the pool to drink while the children had play group.  

Back when my children were young the grocery stores did not carry alcohol, so it was not as easy to throw it in the basket along with the animal crackers and apple juice boxes that often accompanied us to play group. 

One of my concerns is with young mothers drinking in the afternoon before heading home to cook dinner or bathe young children. Many times this might involve driving children from one place to another.

There may be older children that need to be picked up after school or shuttled to early evening events. They are being driven by a parent who has had “several” glasses of wine with friends while the little ones were playing. There may also be more wine or a cocktail with their husband’s as they get home from work. 

The evening is tiring and hectic enough without adding a “buzzed” parent.  I just wonder if any of these children are suffering from a parent who begins drinking in the late afternoon?

I am also concerned about the child’s perception of drinking and alcohol as they are getting older and more aware of what “mommy’s milk” really is. 

Like I said, I might just be getting older, but some of the statistics about women’s drinking habits show that mothers are routinely drinking more and more. More research is being conducted tight now and I am anxious to see some of the newest data.  I might start a study in my own practice.

What are your thoughts? I would love your feedback!

Daily Dose

Online Alcohol Sales

1.30 to read

What do you know about online alcohol sales?  I must admit that I knew little about this industry and was amazed with some of the statistics I recently discovered while reading an article in the September 2012, Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. If you are a parent of a tween or teen, here is another topic for discussion and for monitoring as well. 

According to this study that was done in 2011 out of the University of North Carolina there are greater than 5,000 internet alcohol venders (IAV), and there is little regulatory attention being paid to this 2.4 billion /year industry.  It seems that another place for teens to purchase alcohol while underage is no longer just the corner liquor store, or grocery.  In many communities it is much becoming more difficult for minors to purchase alcohol as there seems to be a push to improve enforcement by“carding” any one under the age of 30.  I find this to be true in our area as I watch my 28 year-old married son have to produce his ID. (regretfully they no longer ask for mine!) 

In this study 45 of 100 internet alcohol purchase (done by students age 18-20) attempts were successful and the alcohol (predominately wine, but beer and liquor as well) were successfully received by underage buyers. There was very little age verification at point of order, with some of the orders being processed using a parents birthdate or by simply checking a box stating that “buyer is over 21 years of age.”   All of the orders in the study were for less than $100 and were made using prepaid gift cards that are difficult to track. Teens are savvy and are will buy a card with cash and then they do not have to worry about parents tracking credit card purchases. 

Age verification at time of delivery was also inconsistent. Even when packages were shipped and labeled “age verification at delivery” half of the time the package was still delivered to a minor.  In some cases the alcohol was delivered to a neighbor who then handed it off to the minor, with the neighbor not paying any attention to what was in the box. (this seems like an easy thing to miss as I often receive packages for my neighbors, sign and then put them on their porch). 

So, it is hard to stay ahead of tech savvy teens and with little regulation underage internet alcohol sales may continue rise.  I guess the good news is that this takes a bit of pre planning on the part of adolescent, but with a little notice and a pre paid gift card a party a few weeks out may be easier to pull off than heading to the local liquor store on a Friday night.  

Daily Dose

Binge Drinking Numbers Rising!

Binge drinking and alcohol use among teens continues to rise. A college freshman as already died from alcohol poisoning What parents and teens need to know. Colleges are gearing up for finals, high school prom and graduation season is underway and the incidences of binge drinking continues to climb.  Why put these topics in the same sentence?

Underage and excessive drinking by high school and college students has been recognized as a problem for a long time, but recent studies only confirm that binge drinking continues to rise.  One report from a 2002 task force on drinking stated “abusive drinking by college students is widespread, dangerous and disruptive.”  Drinking excessively is associated with date rape, unintentional sex (is that an oxymoron), violence and poor academic performance. What is binge drinking? By definition it is drinking “five or more drinks in a row for men, and four or more drinks in a row for women.”  But this definition does not take into account length of time in which the alcohol is consumed or a person’s body weight. A better definition now defines binge drinking as “a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent or above.“ This typically occurs within a two hour window of excessive drinking. Underage drinkers typically tend to drink on fewer occasions than their older peers but have more alcohol related problems than students of legal drinking age.  Sadly, more than 1,700 college students age 18-24 die each year from unintentional alcohol related injuries and more than 5,000 underage youth die from alcohol misuse. Another alarming statistic is that an underage youth dies in an alcohol related incident every two hours! So with these sobering statistics at hand , it is incumbent that parents begin educating their children, even at early ages, about alcohol use and misuse. Our children need to know that alcohol is a legal psychoactive drug that changes brain chemistry and may have long term effects on the still maturing teenage brain. Alcohol effects both the pre-frontal cortex (the brain’s chief decision maker) and the limbic system.  MRI studies on youth from 14-21 years of age who are frequent (that is scary) alcohol drinkers show definitive changes in both of these areas. Due to the fact that a teen’s brain is still developing, it is surmised that there might be permanent physiologic and psychological damage to an adolescent brain from early alcohol abuse.  There are ongoing studies looking at whether this damage is reversible. Teens also need to know that while alcohol is a “drug” it too may cause over-dosage and death similar to other drugs. Many teens do not realize that you can die from binge drinking. No, not in a car accident or from falling out of a window, but due to the central nervous system depression from high blood alcohol levels, that then “turn off “ vital areas in the brain resulting in coma and death. Talk to your teens about the signs of “alcohol over-dosage”, which may include vomiting, cold and clammy skin,  shallow breathing and unresponsiveness.  Letting a friend “sleep it off” after a night of heavy drinking is never the right idea. A good resource for parents to help educate their teens and college students about binge drinking is They have recently released an app The Gordie Check that reviews the signs of alcohol poisoning, stores emergency contacts and can help locate nearby medical facilities or call 911.  Pass this on to your college students (and high school students for that matter). Lastly, as binge drinking continues to rise among high school and college students, and more youth are reporting drinking in their early teens,  it is incumbent that parents discuss their views on underage drinking and also model the behavior they want to see in their children. In other words,  teach your children about responsible drinking when they become of age. When talking to my teenage patients about alcohol they often comment to  me “ Dr. Sue why don’t you talk to my parents about coming home drunk” and then they can talk to me!  Truer words could not be spoken. That's your daily dose for today. We'll chat again tomorrow. Send your question or comment to Dr. Sue!

Daily Dose

Alcohol During Lunch with Your Baby?

1:30 to read

I know I often give advice, but I also have lots of opinions, so this may be a bit controversial but what do you think about drinking wine at lunch with your babies in tow?  I was meeting a friend for a “casual” lunch at a “healthy food” restaurant (I won't name it)  and while I was waiting I noticed a group of young mothers at the next table with their precious babies.  All of these little ones were under the age of one year.: one in a high chair while the other two were in the car seats. 

So, I also noticed that they were drinking a glass of wine while they were visiting with one another. I guess that a glass of wine is not a big deal…but I wish they had been paying a bit more attention to their babies.  I continued to watch them and when they finished the first glass of wine they ordered another while they started eating their lunch.  Again, no one was really interacting with their child.

While I am not against drinking wine at lunch, I must admit I have been guilty of this when on vacation.  But, sitting at lunch on a weekday with your tiny babies in tow and now on a second glass of wine?   By that time my friend had arrived and we started eating our lunch….but I just could not stop watching the table next to me.

The young women finished their lunches, one having another glass of wine and got up to leave.  As they were leaving the mother closest to me was buckling up her baby and we leaned over to admire him. He really had been the best baby and had sat quietly in his seat and watched all of the people around him…an easy baby. When we commented to his mother about his sweet demeanor, her comment was, “do you want him”?

I was disturbed by the entire event. How can you take your babies to lunch, for what was a seemingly normal Thursday afternoon, drink 2-3 glasses of wine and then drive your children home?

Unfortunately, when I was discussing this event with several of the young mothers in my practice they said that this was becoming more and more common. Take the kids to lunch or the park and drink while the children occupy themselves is becoming more and more “normal”.  

If you want to drink…then do it responsibly. That would not be at lunch with three young children, and then hop in the car to drive home.   Get a babysitter and take an Uber. I told you I have lots of opinions!

Your Teen

Smoking and Drinking Rates Among Teens Dropping


There’s good news to report on teens’ use of alcohol and cigarettes. According to new government data, smoking and drinking among teenagers fell to new lows in 2015.

According to the data gathered, just 9.6 percent of adolescents, ages 12 to 17, reported using alcohol in 2015, down from 17.6 percent in 2002.

Far fewer adolescents smoke every day: about 20 percent in 2015, down from 32 percent in 2002.

The numbers came from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a federal agency that tracks addiction and mental health issues in the United States.

It appears that today’s teens are choosing not to follow in their parent’s footsteps, which had much higher rates of smoking and drinking when they were adolescents.

Kana Enomoto, principal deputy administrator at the agency, said the new numbers showed that rigorous public health efforts to reduce smoking and drinking among teenagers were paying off.

The survey also tracked prescription drug use and abuse, as well as the use of illegal drugs like heroin. While the trend is still down, the difference was not statistically significant from 2014, but headed in the right direction. Heroin deaths have been increasing rapidly across the country, health experts are hoping the data showing a decline in use could be an early indicator that the trend is reversing.

Prescription drug abuse is still very high in the United States. The survey found that about 119 million Americans 12 and older, or about 44 percent of that population, used prescription psychotherapeutic drugs in the past year. Of those, the vast majority — about 98 million — used pain relievers.

In all, about 19 million people age 12 and older, or about 7 percent of that population, misused prescription drugs in the past year, including about 12.5 million people who misused pain relievers.

Government funded treatment programs for drug abuse continue to lack congressional approval, frustrating mental health and drug abuse service providers.

“There’s no other condition for which we would accept the fact that less than 10 percent of people are treated,” Ms. Enomoto said.

A decrease in the numbers of teens drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes is really a welcomed change. Smoking is the largest cause of preventable death in the United States, with illnesses linked to it taking more than 480,000 lives a year.

Research indicates that alcohol use during the teenage years could interfere with normal adolescent brain development and increase the risk of developing an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD.) In addition, underage drinking contributes to a range of acute consequences, including injuries, sexual assaults, and even deaths—including those from car crashes.

No one wants to see his or her son or daughter become one more sad statistic.  Family support and treatment availability are key in helping our young people live healthier and happier lives.

Story source: Sabrina Tavernise,


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