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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Swine Flu Versus Alcohol? I'll take the Alcohol

I've had swine flu. I had it in the 1970s when they made a series of ads that will blow your mind - here's the link on youtube - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASibLqwVbsk about how we should all get vaccinated. Then the vaccination killed some people or gave them very rare, fatal diseases. No wonder there's a backlash against vaccination by parents right now.

What's bad about swine flu is that it doesn't act like other flus. It doesn't prey on babies, the old and the sick. It makes perfectly healthy people violently ill and can kill them. That's pretty frightening.

Swine flu is horrible. I was in bed for six straight days, alone most of the time, and the first few barely able to crawl to the bathroom. I have never been that sick before or since. And I lost eight pounds.

So the idea of my kids getting swine flu scares me more at this time than catching my son sneaking a beer. (Like I actually have beer in the house). But I got to wondering how would drinking alcohol as a teenager would affect resistance to swine flu?

Use hand sanitizers that have alcohol in them. They are better, stronger, last longer I guess. A good time to remind your middle school student that alcohol is in alot of things that we don't drink. And it's used as a disinfectant - doesn't that make it sound appealing?

Don't share drinks with anyone. Swine flu is airborne which means if the person next to you on the metro has it you can catch it. If you want to ratchet up your chances of getting it share a Coke or a beer with your neighbor. It's a pretty sure fire way to make sure if either of you has it the other will get it.

Avoid drinking alcohol or smoking if you're sick. Yes we know this. But if we're not that sick or on the road to recovery alcohol will hurt us too. It weakens the immune system and makes us worse.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

TMI? No This Is Good Research

Most colleges and universities have an office on campus that can help students who have drug and alcohol problems. Links are on their web sites). Many of the research groups are heavily academic and inaccessible to the general public. These are two that are.

National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA)
New York, NY

CASA Columbia is the only national organization that studies the use of alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana and other drugs across a broad swath of the American population. Its National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XIII: Teens and Parents comes out every August and offers valuable information on what helps prevent and encourage alcohol and drug abuse within families.

University of California at Berkeley, Alcohol Research Group
Berkeley, CA

Established in 1959, the Public Health Institute is one of 18 academic research groups funded by the federal government that studies the affects of alcohol on people of all ages. It publishes information that can be of use to parents.

One product is Don't Panic! A Parent's Guide to Understanding and Preventing Alcohol and Drug Abuse which details how to raise children in a world where they confront drugs —legal or illegal — every day.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

New High School Freshman More Likely to Drink

According to a recent study from CASA Columbia, 14 year-olds are three times more likely than 13 year-olds to attend parties where parents are “supervising” and kids are drinking alcohol behind their backs. Science can help you broach the subject without seeming preachy.

In the spring of 2009, I attended the 51st International Conference of Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous (ICYPAA), sat in on more than a dozen sessions, interviewed attendees, and listened to the stories of many others.

Almost all of these young alcoholics began drinking in middle school or freshman year of high school.


High school can be terrifying. No matter what your children hear from friends and older siblings, they cannot imagine what high school will be like. They desperately want to fit in. If that means chugging Red Bull, the may well do it. If their friends have upgraded to beer, they will consider and possibly do that.