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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Food Fight? No it's Family Dinner

Anyone who has teens knows, and yes I do, that family dinners can be wonderful for all and they can also be a moment where you want to throw food at your kids. But their importance is vital to raising a healthy, alcohol and drug free kid.

A new report by CASA Columbia underscores just how important the family dinner is to keeping teens safe and away from drug and alcohol abuse.

Teens who have dinner with their families five or more times per week are 2x as likely to smoke cigarettes or marijuana; 1.5X likelier to drink alcohol, and 2x twice as likely to try drugs in the future.

Research comes from The Importance of Family Dinners V, a new report by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University.

"The magic of the family dinner comes not from the food on the plate but from who's at the table and what's happening there. The emotional and social benefits that come from family dinners are priceless," said Elizabeth Planet, CASA's Vice President and Director of Special Projects.

People have been driving this point home for decades - here's one from the 1950s that shows how far we've come.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Listen and Engage When you Talk to Your Kids About Alcohol

A recent report found that talking to kids about alcohol and drug use can influence their behavior and reduce the number of teens that try it. While the results are not startling, every little bit helps. For example, when parents talked to teens about:

• Alcohol - 16.2% of teens used it, versus 18.3% who did not
• Cigarettes - 10.6% of teens used it, versus 12.5%
• Illegal drugs - 9.5% of teens used it, versus 11.7%

Also you must remember to listen to what your kids have to say.

Mary Lou Lipscomb, a former middle school science teacher who taught for 34 years, explains, “If your kid comes home and says his friend Jamie got busted, ask questions like did you think the punishment was fair or not? Then listen to what else he has to say.”

Listening validates an adolescent in a way that almost nothing else can. Lipscomb explains that when she taught eighth grade, she let her students lead their parent conferences. Parents knew about this ahead of time. She says the response was overwhelmingly positive, because the kids had a voice in telling their parents what was happening in school. If you’re really listening then:

• Stop what you are doing

• Look at your child

• Clear your mind and give your full attention

• Comment on what you think you heard

• Let your child tell you if you’re right, and if she says you’re not, ask her to explain

• Keep asking questions until you understand what they said

• Respond if asked to, but otherwise just start listening again.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Best Videos on Alcohol and Science

There are a growing number of alcohol and science videos on YouTube. Here are the ones that will help engage students and parents in how alcohol affects the body and mind.

College Health Guru does short takes that explain the science of how alcohol affects our bodies – aimed at college and high school kids.

Alcohol and the Beer Belly


Great Ad on Why Kids Shouldn’t Drink and Drive


Alcohol and the Digestive System.


Professor Funk Talks About Alcohol and Drugs


Alcoholics and Virtual Reality to Stop Drinking


Alcohol and Robotics


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Teens Clueless About What Alcohol Does to Their Bodies

AAAS surveyed about 150 middle school students on their knowledge of alcohol and science. The result: They know almost nothing. Here is some of what we learned:

1. What are the main body systems affected by alcohol?

Thirty percent of respondents could not answer the question, 10% mentioned at least one body system that is affected by alcohol, and the rest named organs or gave answers that didn’t respond to the question.

(Correct Answer: All body systems are affected by alcohol because it throws through them in our blood. The major ones affected are the central nervous, cardiovascular, digestive and endocrine systems).

2. What is the alcohol that people drink made from?

Almost 50% of students had no idea where alcohol came from. Six percent thought it came from a plant, and 12% said it came from a combination of yeast, barley, hops, grapes, or a combination of all three. A few responses:

• I do not know. I think you make wine by squishing fruit in a tub.
• I think it is made from corn.
• Nicotine I think, or is that only cigarettes?
• I don’t really know, but there must be some kind of addictive material in there, right?

(Correct Answer: Alcohol comes from fermentation, the process through which carbohydrates such as sugar are turned into alcohol. Sugar is found in fruits such as grapes, which is how wine is made.)

3. Why does alcohol make people drunk?

Twenty nine percent did not know the answer, and the rest thought they knew, guessed, or provided some semblance of a correct answer. Responses included:

• Nerves in the body get over-active, and then you have no control over them.
• Alcohol affects your blood system and causes your brain to not function clearly.
• It messes up the immune system.
• Many chemicals are in the drink that the body can't handle it.
• Alcohol slows down the nervous system.

(Correct Answer: Ethyl alcohol is a psychoactive drug, meaning it’s a chemical that alters brain function, causing temporary changes in behavior, mood, and perception, among other things.)

Compelling Video of A Young Girl Talking About Future Alcoholism
(Yes it's an ad but it's a good one)