Social Networking Teens More Likely to Drink or Use Drugs, Study Finds

Teens who spend time on social networking sites such as Facebook are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs, says a new survey by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA). The report says:
Compared to teens who do not spend time on a social networking site in a typical day, teens who do are:

Five times likelier to have used tobacco (10 percent vs. 2 percent);
Three times likelier to have used alcohol (26 percent vs. 9 percent);
Twice as likely to have used marijuana (13 percent vs. 7 percent).

Michelle Barclay and Patricia Buonodono On Danielle’s Story

*Danielle was born HIV positive. Her mother, while constantly in and out of jail, abused alcohol while pregnant with her. Her father couldn’t manage to care for her, often forgetting to give her the HIV medications she needed to survive. She was a year old when she entered foster care. Her father had finally given up, dropping her off at an AIDS clinic, saying he couldn’t handle it any more.

Chad Hepler: Beyond Intervention

Chad Hepler’s story of addiction began when he was 14 years old. What started as a search for social acceptance and a hit of marijuana culminated in a parent-led intervention and stint at a wilderness treatment center. “Marijuana IS a gateway drug,” he said. “I don’t care what anybody says.”

His drug use may have started with marijuana, but soon began to regularly include alcohol and experiments with other substances. Hepler may have found what he was looking for at a young age, but the lifestyle was anything but sustainable.

Kirk’s Journey From Malt Liquor to a Loving Place

Meet Vernon Kirkland. But you can call him Kirk, everyone else at the Eagle’s Nest Ministry on Edgewood Avenue in downtown Atlanta does. On any given day, say about dark-thirty in the morning, you can find him running around the kitchen, helping to serve dozens of homeless who come by for a hot breakfast. He is, says Larry Arnold, the long-time pastor of Eagle’s Nest, a magical and positive force for the organization’s outreach programs in the area as well as an inspiration to so many who struggle with addiction on the streets of downtown Atlanta. That’s because Kirk hasn’t always been this steady.

Laura Searcy: Underage Drinking Over Winter Holidays on the Rise: Incidents and Issues

The Kennesaw Police Department’s response to a citizen complaint, which resulted in the arrest of 32 people involved in an underage drinking party on December 29, is to be applauded. As law enforcement officers entrusted with maintaining the peace and protecting public safety, the KPD fulfilled their duty by enforcing the law. But recent coverage (in the Marietta Daily Journal) of this incident does not tell the whole story. “According to estimates from SAMHSA  [the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration] Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), on New Year’s Day 2009, an estimated 1,980 ED [emergency department] visits involved underage drinking, compared with 546 such visits on an average day that year; this represents nearly 4 times the average number of visits….The number of ED visits involving underage drinking was also generally higher on New Year’s Day than on an average day during either the Memorial Day weekend or the Fourth of July weekend.” The report cites “greater access to alcohol, less parental oversight and mixed messages from parents” as influencing this uptick in underage drinking and increased ED visits. The findings are in line with other research showing more alcohol-related problems over the winter holidays.

Holiday Season Offers Opportunity for Families to Communicate About Drinking

December 14, 2010, Marietta, GA – The holiday season offers an excellent opportunity for parents to communicate with their children about drinking says the Cobb Alcohol Taskforce.”Children who live in homes where alcohol is not the focus of holiday celebrations and get togethers may be less likely to grow up thinking that drinking is the key ingredient to having a good time,” says Cathy Finck, Taskforce Coordinator. “Parents should keep in mind that children are very observant and may be more influenced by adult behavior than what parents actually tell them about drinking.” Recent research even suggests that holidays may be one environmental factor that can increase risk or confer protection from alcoholism within families. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, alcoholism may become more harmful to family functioning and more likely to be passed to the next generation if drinking interferes with such activities as dinner times, holidays, vacations and other family rituals. Conversely, researchers believe that maintenance of family rituals, even through years characterized by heavy drinking, may prevent alcoholism from being passed between generations.