Twenty-six episodes of ‘The A-Files’ air throughout Alcohol Awareness Month on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Alcohologist.com and AddictedMinds.com, among other web and social media sites. Episode U looks at underage drinking. Impaired driving crashes are the leading cause of alcohol-related deaths among teens, but it is not the only underage drinking concern. Nearly two-thirds of deaths due to underage drinking are not related to intoxicated driving, according to data analysis MADD compiled. Thirty percent of alcohol-related deaths in people age 15 to 20 are from homicides.
Fourteen percent are from suicides. Nine percent are from alcohol overdose. Other causes, such as drowning and household accidents, comprise the remaining 15 percent.
The group’s blog also notes, “Compared with non-drinking classmates, teens who drink are more likely get pregnant, fail in school, become sexually assaulted or take their own lives.” They also point to teen alcohol use as an indicator for alcohol use disorders later in life. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that teens who start drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop an alcohol addiction.
The European model of letting teens experiment with drinking at home – with meals or socially – doesn’t stand up to its alleged benefits of educating them about responsible use. Research from Australia’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) studied 2000 families over four years and proved it doesn’t work. Ian Hickie from the University of Sydney’s says “In fact, it’s the opposite, you’ve probably increased the chance that they’ll drink irresponsibly in another place. It normalizes the behavior of drinking a toxin and known carcinogen, in addition to injuring a developing brain.
The health consequence is the most severe and overlooked part of the equation. According to the Federal Trade Commission, teens don’t just drink; they drink excessively. More than one in eight sophomores and one in four seniors report binge drinking. A report from the Surgeon General notes that since the brain continues to develop into a person’s mid- 20’s, frequent binge drinking can have long-lasting effects on intellectual abilities. The brain’s frontal lobes are among the final pieces of the brain to fully develop in our 20’s. They are important for planning, forming ideas, making decisions, and using self-control. When alcohol damage the frontal lobes of the brain, it is permanent. It’s like luggage, you’re stuck with it forever.
The entire 26 episode HD series is available on disc, along with fact sheets, for helping professions. See the preorder special at tr.im/TheAFiles