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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Why Binging Can Cause Brain Damage

A recent study led by neuroscientist Susan Tapert of the University of California, San Diego compared the brain scans of teens who drink heavily with the scans of teens who don't.

Tapert's team found damaged nerve tissue in the brains of the teens who drank. The researchers believe this damage affects attention span in boys, and girls' ability to comprehend and interpret visual information.

The more teens drank the worse it got. Check out the NPR story and read the comment section. It's got a lot of good information.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Environment Versus Genetics - What Youth Tells Us

Researching our book which will be out in the next month or so, I went to the 2009 meeting of the International Conference of Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous (ICYPAA).

More than 2,200 people spent a holiday weekend talking about alcohol, prayer,
why they no longer drink, and the Twelve Steps they all believe saved their lives.

Many told family stories that could make you cry – of alcoholic or drug addicted parents, or drinking to feel better and in many cases as they put it just to “feel normal.” Others talked of families with one or two loving parents in what they considered a good home, and sneaking alcohol from a young age.

The majority of those I met and listened to:

• Started drinking in middle school or the first year of high school. Ages ranged from nine (drinking vanilla extract from the kitchen cabinet) to 14 (when alcohol and drugs became easier to get)

• Had problems with multiple addictions to alcohol and drugs

• Came from families with a history of alcoholism and drug addiction

• Felt awkward or different from other children all through school, didn’t have many
friends, and describe their first experience with alcohol as making that all go away.

Makes a powerful case for the genetic connection. But they also overcame their addiction. That's faith and the desire to lead a better life.

Which is stronger? I guess it depends upon who you are, what you want and how much support you get from loved ones.

Now from Drew Carey - something funny to put it all in perspective.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Middle School Brain on Adolescence

Educators describe middle school as the years that count the most. Students are either prepared for high school and the bigger world, or they can be left behind. An award-winning television series from the 1980s, chronicling the life of a boy from middle to high school, described them as “The Wonder Years.”

Parents say they are the hardest years yet.

Eleven to 14 year-olds are still figuring out who they are and testing
boundaries. She’s argumentative. Her friends know everything, or
so it seems. Teachers are suspect. Yet parents, even though their kids
are loathe to admit it, still have a lot of influence.

This search for individual identity causes many children to push
their parents away. Friends and other adults become preferable
sources of information. Parents feel unwanted and unneeded. A lot
of fighting and yelling fills the home.

The obnoxious behavior masks a painful self-consciousness. The
middle school child wants desperately to be cool and also obsesses
about fitting in. If his friends have long hair, he wants long hair. In
middle school, it’s all about the here and now.

Here’s the science behind the developmental changes you will see in your child.

Their Brains – Parts of the adolescent brain are still developing and will
continue to do so well into their twenties. Your kids may become:

• Impulsive
• Forgetful
• Argumentative
• Volatile
• Oblivious to consequences

Their Relationships – Children pull away from their parents and look
toward others for support. You will see that:

• Friends become more important
• Parents become less important
• They look to other adults for support
• They form new friendships and may let others go
• They exclude others from the group by bullying or other tactics

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Cable Television Advertising - Filled With How Fun it is to Drink

Science Daily reports on a study from the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth, in collaboration with UCLA, which found ads for beer, spirits and "alcopop" aired much more frequently when more teens were watching.

While previous studies have shown that the average adolescent is exposed to well over 200 alcohol ads on television each year, this is the first to demonstrate an that ad placement is directly related to teen cable TV viewership. Cable TV attracts about 95% of all nationally televised alcohol ads.

The study is published in the October 2009 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Using advertising industry data from Nielsen Media Research, researchers examined all 600,000 national cable alcohol ads shown from 2001 through 2006 to audiences with less than 30 percent of viewers between the ages of 12 and 20. The study found that:

Beer and spirits ads are targeted at the young.

* Each 1-percentage-point increase in adolescent viewership was associated with a 7-percent increase in beer ads, a 15-percent increase in spirits ads and a 22-percent increase in ads for low-alcohol refreshers/alcopops — flavored alcoholic beverages that taste similar to juice or soda.

Wine ads are targeted at older audiences.

* Wine ads decreased by 8 percent with each 1-percentage-point increase in adolescent viewership; this finding suggests that alcohol advertisers can, in fact, successfully avoid adolescent audiences.