This survey examined teenage drinking in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Iceland, Poland and Scotland. Dr. Reiner Hanewinkel and colleagues found a strong relationship between binge drinking and watching popular movies. The results echo US research covered in a recent Prevention Update. The widespread European study found that binge drinking was very much less common in Iceland, where drinking was more usually associated with mealtimes, and worst in the Netherlands and Scotland.
Prime Minister David Cameron has surprised commentators and risked opposition from within his own coalition cabinet and from industry by proposing a 40pence minimum price per 'unit' of alcohol. Although the price is lower than the 50p figure some had expected, and lower than the 45p proposed in Scotland, it still represents a bold move. Supporting evidence is compelling, but practical issues and vested interests have hampered this type of policy proposal around the world. We await further details, but it appears that a 40p levy together with other regulations would indeed end many current supermarket multi-buy discount alcohol deals. It seems that evidence on the overall cost of alcohol related harms, particularly figures for health and crime, has overcome opposing arguments. The measure might well affect young people 'pre-loading' before going out and rates of binge-drinking. Similar measures in Canada appear to have had some success.
(One UK unit = 10ml of pure alcohol)
Coalition to set minimum alcohol price The Guardian
The Government's Alcohol Policy UK Home Office
A sober approach, not price, will stop alcohol abuse The Belfast Telegraph
Sensible Drinking Guidelines (World comparisons) Alcohol in Moderation
This study of young US teenagers found a close association between support from their teachers and delayed use of alcohol and other illicit substances. Although the idea may seem intuitive and obvious, this may be the first data-driven study to establish the association with substance misuse. Students defined 'support' as feeling close to a teacher or being able to talk about problems.
- Middle School Teacher Support Lowers Risk for Early Alcohol Use Seattle Children's Hospital Press Release
Among other moves towards decriminalisation, the President of Guatemala proposed a 50% level of compensation by drug consuming countries for drug seizures and plantation destruction in producing countries. Although ex-general Perez Molina was elected promising a tough line on organised crime, he says the high human costs of the drug trade in the region are forcing new approaches. Decriminalisation remains highly controversial among serving leaders, but finds more sympathy among former officials. Another exception to this generalisation is Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr who recently supported de facto decriminalisation.
Guatemala President Calls For Decriminalization of Drugs. International Business Times
A study of over 1200 teenagers on the Greek island of Cos found a close relationship between internet addiction and substance abuse. Not only were certain personality characteristics common to both problems, but the authors saw internet addiction as a useful predictor of substance abuse.
Teens Addicted to the Internet More Likely to Admit to Drug Abuse. Partnership at Drugfree.org
The Organisation of American States has published a comprehensive overview of drug use in the hemisphere with particular emphasis on young people. Trends include:
- Marijuana remains the most used illicit drug throughout the region
- Binge drinking is now also common in South America
- Problematic drinking is often found in areas with lower general rates of alcohol consumption
- Inhalant use tends to drop off around age 14 in North America but often continues to rise in some parts of South America
- Cocaine use is declining in North America but rates are catching up in South America
The authors also comment on evidence that prevention messages often fail to reach young people, particularly where drugs are perceived as easy to obtain and not high risk.
This large study used over 18,000 Swedish adults from adopted childhoods in order to assess the relative importance of genes and environment on drug misuse. Children having biological parents with drug problems were found to be much more sensitive to later high risk factors such as alcoholism, divorce and sibling drug use in the adopted family.
- Genetic and Familial Environmental Influences on the Risk for Drug Abuse. Abstract from Archives of General Psychiatry
The 'Boys and Girls' project aims to assess if and how new media can be used to raise awareness about risky lifestyles for young people aged 15-18. The web campaign is intended, 'to reach and sensitize young people to some of most pressing public health concerns including nutrition, alcohol and drug addiction and sexual health today'. Teenagers from across Europe have been closely involved in the project.
Mentor has not undertaken a thorough review of the resources mentioned as to their ultimate value and worth, however we welcome reader and user feedback.