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How Can We Reduce Crime, Poverty, Premature Death, etc. in Kent County? By Reducing Underage Drinking and Adult Heavy Drinking we can reduce: – illegal drug use: – Juvenile and adult crime – Numbers of children in foster care – Domestic abuse – Rape and Other Assaults – Poverty – Drunk Driving – High school and College Drop out rate – Costs of Health Care to taxpayers – Divorce – Population of Prisons, etc. Perception vs. Reality in Kent County, MI Average High School Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) use in the Grand Rapids Metro Area, 2003 – 2007 Perception of Use Actual use Alcohol: 95% 39.5% Tobacco: 88% 24% Marijuana: 88% 18% Source: ALERT Labs conducted 1,662 Kent County high school student surveys in four local high schools; results provided by Bryant Statistical Consulting, Director Donald (Tex) Bryant, M.S. & M.Ed. and the Making Sobriety Attractive Project, Directed by Nancy L. Harper, Ph.D., Director of ALERT Labs, with Project Coordinator, Shannon D. Welsh, M.Ed., for the AOD Partnership for Healthy Communities. Effects of alcohol on the teenage brain • The teen brain is “plastic,” i.e., it is not completely “finished” and is highly moldable. Dowsing it with alcohol (or other drugs) damages the teen brain more severely than adult brains. – 1 drink does comparable damage to the teen brain that 2 drinks does to the adult brain – so a teen who drinks a 6-pak experiences as much damage as an adult who drinks a 12-pak! • A tremendous amount of brain development takes place during the teen years, esp. in the frontal lobe which is the site of the “CEO” skills of organization, judgment, priority setting, etc., especially the ability to accurately assess risk. • Nationally, the average age of a child's first drink is 12; in GR the average age is 14. • 14 year olds are notoriously poor at judging risky situations. 18 year olds are only somewhat better at identifying risk. Also, both are more susceptible to addiction than are adults. Effects of alcohol on the teenage brain, cont’d – A person who begins drinking before age 15 has a 70% more likelihood of addiction than those who start at age 21. – Close to 50% of those who start drinking before age 15 will have alcohol use disorders as a teen and/or adult. – The largest single group of alcoholics in America is age 18 – 20! – Alcohol also damages memory making LEARNING difficult or impossible. • Grades: ALERT Labs’ research at Grand Valley State showed that: “A” college students typically have 0-2.5 drinks per week “B” students average 3.3 drinks per week “C” students average 4.1 drinks per week “D” and “F” students average 7+ drinks per week • The human brain, and esp. the frontal lobe, is not finished developing until early 20’s for women and mid-20’s for men. Effects of alcohol on the teenage brain, cont’d • Nationally, nearly 20% of 12 to 20 year-olds are considered “binge drinkers.” Drinkers at this age do not normally drink moderately; normally they “binge.” • “Binge Drinking” = 5 or more drinks in two hours for men 4 or more drinks in two hours for women (5 drinks for a teen = 10 drinks for an adult in terms of brain damage! ) • Many believe that underage drinking is an inevitable "rite of passage" that adolescents can easily recover from because their bodies are more resilient, the opposite is true of their brains. They can never fully recover! Short Term Consequences of AOD Use by Teens in Kent Co. High Schools Number of Occasions Using an AOD Substance in Past 30 Days 1 time 2 or 3 4 or 5 6 or more Consequence 1. Got into a fight or argument 30.1% 48.6% 60.8% 70.2% 2. Drove a car under the influence 22.8% 39.5% 55.2% 57.9% 3. Punished by parent/guardian 23.7% 47.7% 61.9% 53.3% 4. Turned in late papers, missed tests or failed to study 17.5% 38.1% 47.6% 48.9% 5. Missed school 12.5% 27.7% 25.4% 38.0% 6. Performed poorly test/project. 9.6% 16.3% 27.8% 29.3% 7. Got into trouble with the police 8.0% 16.7% 24.7% 27.8% 8. Had unwanted sex/sex contact 15.6% 16.9% 21.1% 25.7% Note, the last four consequences are the composite of three high schools, as not all four high schools used each of the last four questions. Alcohol Does Nothing Positive for Teens, Says the AMA “Teen drinkers perform worse in school, and have an increased risk of social problems, depression, suicidal thoughts and violence. Alcohol also disrupts the release of hormones necessary for growth and maturation.” (American Medical Association). Long-term effects of alcohol on the teenage brain • Repeated exposure to alcohol during the teenage years leads to long-lasting deficits in cognitive abilities, including learning and memory. • Heavy use of alcohol or other drugs predicts lower scores on tests of memory and attention when one is in their early- to mid-twenties. • Teens who frequently use alcohol, marijuana, and other illegal drugs are likely to experience “episodes of major depressive disorders” as young adults, as well as various anxiety disorders, e.g. panic attacks. • Heavy teen drinkers frequently have difficulties in getting and maintaining good jobs and strong marriages. • Heavy teen users do not “grow out” of this behavior; most go on to have serious alcohol and other drug problems as adults. Long-term effects of alcohol on the teenage brain Prevention Models that work: Environmental Management through “Social Norms” • Social Norms: students tend to believe that everyone, except maybe a few close friends and themselves, drink often and excessively. This is a crucial MISPERCEPTION. • Students who believe that “everyone” is doing it, tend to drink up to their misperceptions. • We call the act of conforming to one’s own misperceptions, a manifestation of “phantom peer pressure.” • When we publicize the true AOD use figures, students are relieved of this phantom pressure and begin to use less and abstain more. Social Norms Programs Reduce Teen Drinking and Other Drug Use. • ALERT Labs reduced dangerous drinking and marijuana use at Grand Valley State University through Social Norms and Environmental Management: • A Communication Campaign of graphic, print, and electronic messages told students that research proved “most” of their peers either abstained or drank moderately. (Abstention/Moderation was practiced by 63% in 1999 and grew to 75% in April 2006; heavy drinking declined by 50%.) • As misperceptions of use (by “everybody”) were corrected through the communication campaign, behavior (drinking and drugging) began to change. • The following chart show the results for alcohol use: Comparing CHANGES in Perceptions to CHANGES in Behavior: Evidence Supporting the Effectiveness of the Social Norms Communication Campaign at GVSU 60% 50% 52% Percieved 42.50% to Drink 40% 34.90% Heavy 37% 30% Actually 22.40% Drink 20% 26% Heavy 10% 0% 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Social Norms Works Best When Used With Environmental Management When the Parents, Schools, and the Community makes it clear that underage drinking is NOT acceptable by assuring that: 1. Law enforcement policies and procedures emphasize the seriousness of violating the minimum drinking age laws, e.g., first Minor in Possession infraction is followed by required assessment and alcohol education. 2. Availability of alcohol to teens is reduced through enforcement and limiting sales to bars and package stores only (not in grocery stores, convenience stores/gas stations, etc.). 3. Taxes on beer are increased by as little as $.10 per can or bottle. 4. Alcohol advertising is limited to venues used primarily by adults (NOT in grocery stores, convenience stores/gas stations, billboards, in teen magazines and on teen-oriented radio and TV, etc.). 5. More alcohol-free social and recreational options are made available at schools and in the community. Cont’d Adopt Community Standards Our Goals 1. A Safe and Livable Community 2. Responsible Alcohol Availability for Adults 3. No Availability of Alcohol for Minors/ Minors Choose Not to Consume Alcohol 4. Clear Community Policies and Norms 5. Support Prevention, Treatment and Promote Recovery Our Standards 1. The community is clean, safe, and free from unlawful activity, noise and disturbance resulting from the use of alcohol. 2. The rules that govern access to alcohol help contribute to a positive quality-of-life in the community. 3. The health, safety and well-being of our children and youth are protected. 4. All community members who use alcohol do so in keeping with the policies and norms that minimize the risks resulting from the use of alcohol. 5. All community members have access to high quality prevention and treatment services and promote recovery.
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