Entries in Alcohol (77)


'Drunken Gummies' or 'Boozy Bears': Latest Teen Alcohol Craze

Hemera/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- This is not your average bear.

Colorful gummie bears are being transformed into "boozy bears" or "drunken gummies," alcohol-laden candies that kids as young as middle-school-aged may be eating right under their teachers' noses.

Florida health officials are warning schools about the latest craze -- kids soaking gummies in alcohol and bringing them to school in clear plastic bags.

Apparently the gummy "worms" work the best for the purpose. Officials from the Lake County Safe Climate Coalition, a nonprofit group that targets youth substance abuse, have experimented themselves.

"Of course, we tried it," said the group's executive director, Debi MacIntyre. "You lay a couple of them in the bottom of a pan and the alcohol is gone by morning. They are long and skinny, and they actually plump up quite big."

These clandestine treats have been reported in New York and Nebraska, as well.

Two Florida teens told ABC News' Fort Myers, Fla., affiliate, WZVN, also known as ABC News-7, that drunken gummies are the latest trend in hiding alcohol use.

"I have to say they're pretty good," said Adam, 17.

"If [my parents] saw gummies in my backpack, I think they'd think, 'Oh, that's nice,' and not think anything of it," echoed Sarah, 17.

"It has a kick to it because of the alcohol, and it's fruity also," she said. "It's good. It would be better than taking a shot because shots just go down gross. So you just take a handful of gummies."

Cape Coral, Fla., police have also been warning parents about the candies, which are potent enough to make a child or teen drunk. One officer ate the gummies for one hour and was too drunk to drive, according to WZVN.

Numerous websites offer instructions on how to prepare the boozy candies: Put them in a flat cake pan and fill with alcohol. It absorbs within 24 hours, expanding the little bears to twice their size. Vodka gummy bears even have their own Facebook page.

The craze before vodka gummies were alcohol-laden energy drinks packed in juice boxes imported from Puerto Rico.

Teens are always finding new ways to surreptitiously engage in drinking, according to experts.

"Alcohol is such a rite of passage," said MacIntyre. "I have never seen a county so embedded in alcohol -- every function has alcohol in the middle of it."

At one time, Lake County was the sixth-top-county for underage drinking in Florida, but the coalition's prevention efforts pushed it down to 29th.

A 2011 public health report from the National Center of Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University revealed nine out of 10 Americans who meet the medical criteria for addiction began smoking, drinking or using other drugs before the age of 18.

Addiction is a "disease of adolescent origins," according to its report, and 72.5 percent of all high school students have consumed alcohol.

Susan Pitman, executive director of Safe and Healthy Duval County Coalition in Jacksonville, Fla., said the group's research shows that the vodka gummy bear craze was being reported on low-level blogs as far back as 2009.

"But now it's gone viral," she said. "We went to the Deval County Schools and opened up a Ziploc bag and they smelled them and said, 'Oh my gosh. We had no idea.'"

Most school officials "won't admit" the trend yet, according to Pitman.

"There is wide-spread use among the kids," she said. "We have a youth coalition and they say, 'Yeah, people are doing it right in front of teachers and parents.'"

In Florida, schools are required by law to report incidents of alcohol use to a student resource officer, but most administrators prefer to handle them internally.

"A bunch of cases could be quietly handled by administrators," she said. "We are a prevention organization and stay on top of the trends and figure out strategic ways to change behavior on the front end, rather than be punitive and be reactive at the back end."

Both Lake and Duval counties are targeting retailers who put ping-pong balls next to beer [for beer pong games] and asking their youth groups to notice the ways that alcohol retailers encourage the young to drink. In one project, they asked the groups to visit local fairs and report how alcohol is being used or abused.

Research on teens reveals that their frontal lobes -- the part of the brain that controls executive decision making and impulse control -- are not yet fully developed, making them prone to poor choices.

"Weighing the pros and cons and seeking solutions are beyond their capacity," said Pitman. "They are not bad or stupid -- they are just not able to do it yet. I look back to my teens. They think they are invincible."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Under-21 Drinking Has Lasting Harms for Women

Comstock/Thinkstock(ST. LOUIS) -- Women who grew up when you could legally drink at 18 remain at higher risk of homicide and suicide well into their adult years, making a new argument for keeping the limit at 21, researchers said Tuesday.

The legal drinking age has been a moving target in the United States for nearly 80 years, since the lifting of a constitutional ban on alcohol during the Prohibition Era, 1920-1933. Fluctuations in the drinking age, between 18 and 21, where it currently stands, have created a “natural experiment” into the effects of permissive and restrictive policies on the brains and behavior of young people, according to Richard A. Grucza, an epidemiologist and assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and his colleagues.

Grucza and his team wanted to investigate the longer-term effects of the lower drinking age on suicide and homicide after they observed more alcohol and drug problems among men and women from states that permitted alcohol sales to those younger than 21. Other researchers had found higher rates of drunk driving, homicide and suicide in states that permitted under-21 drinking, and toxicology studies have shown that drinking -- and excessive drinking -- play roles in suicide and homicide.

Researchers dug into federal death records, census records and the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, and came up with more than 200,000 suicides and 130,000 homicides among men and women who turned 18 between 1967 and 1989 -- years in which the drinking age was in frequent flux.

They found a higher risk of suicide and homicide persisting into adulthood only among women born after 1960 who came from states that permitted under-21 drinking, according to results released online Tuesday in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Women had a 12-percent higher risk of suicide and a 15-percent higher risk of homicide if they grew up where drinking was permitted at younger ages.

Suicide statistics confirm the notion that women attempt suicide more often than men, but men succeed in killing themselves more often than women. However, Grucza said, “Alcohol results in suicide attempts being more lethal, so we suspect that long-term alcohol problems may lead to more frequently lethal suicide attempts among women.”

Using 2007 estimates of 3,600 suicides and 2,700 homicides among women born after 1960, Grucza and his co-authors calculated that a national drinking age of 21 “may be preventing about 600 suicides and 600 homicides annually.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Liver Transplant Can Give Some Alcoholics a Second Chance

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- Early liver transplantation can improve survival in patients with a first episode of severe alcoholic hepatitis who aren't responding to medical therapy, according to a study by French researchers released Wednesday.

A six-month abstinence from alcohol is usually required before patients with acute alcoholic hepatitis are considered for liver transplantation, but some doctors want to rethink the rule.

Only 30 percent of those who do not respond to treatment live beyond six months and most die within two months, according to the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

With supportive families, no other severe medical conditions and a commitment to future abstinence, patients can do well, the study revealed.

But study authors say that although early liver transplantation is "attractive," many doctors are reluctant to treat patients with alcoholism because they are "responsible for their illness" and are likely to resume drinking.

Alcoholic hepatitis, or inflammation of the liver, is a potentially fatal condition that can be a "red flag" that cirrhosis of the liver may soon follow, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).  The NIAAA says up to 70 percent of all alcoholic hepatitis patients will develop cirrhosis, a scarring of the liver that is a major cause of death in the United States.

But those who stop drinking can have a complete recovery from alcoholic hepatitis and a liver transplant can save their lives.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Older Adults May Drink, Smoke More When Financially Stressed

Hemera/Thinkstock(ALBANY, N.Y.) -- Stress can lead people to the bottle as a way of self-medicating, and now a new study finds that older adults, especially men and people with less education, are more likely to drink and smoke when experiencing financial woes.

Researchers at the State University of New York at Albany studied more than 2,300 adults over the age of 65.  They found that 16 percent of study participants reported increasing financial problems over the 14-year study period, between 1992 and 2006.

Three percent of the study population reported increases in heavy alcohol consumption and one percent said they upped their smoking habits.

But those numbers increased significantly among men who experienced financial difficulties -- they were about 30 percent more likely to begin heavily drinking when compared with men who did not have money problems.

Experts speculated that men may drink more during these times because they feel they've failed as the "breadwinner" and may have less social support than women do.

"Many people believe that the health behaviors of older adults are entrenched --  that they are set in their ways," said Benjamin Shaw, lead author of the study and associate professor and chair of health policy, management and behavior in the School of Public Health at University at Albany.  "If any change does occur, most people would expect to see a slowing down of activity, which with regard to alcohol and smoking would involve reductions in consumption."

Shaw said older adults are particularly vulnerable because they are usually retired, and may feel like they have less control and less time to recover from a financial setback.

Researchers did see a decline in drinking among older women who fell under financial hardship.  Older people with higher education levels also seemed to cut back on alcohol if money problems came into play.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Alcohol May Boost Breast Cancer Risk

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Women who consume as few as three to six glasses of alcohol per week may modestly up their risk for breast cancer, a new study suggests.

The research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, may make some women pause as they reach for the wine glass -- and given that several recent studies have linked moderate alcohol use with various health benefits, it could confuse other casual drinkers as well.

Researchers studied 105,986 women through the famous Nurses' Health Study and collected data on their alcohol consumption from 1980 to 2008. They found that women who consumed three to six drinks of alcohol per week had a 15-percent increased risk of breast cancer, while women who consumed two drinks per day had a more-than-50-percent greater risk than women who did not drink.

"There aren't many modifiable risk factors for breast cancer, so it's important to think about this," study author Dr. Wendy Chen said. "We looked at breast cancer exposure risk with cumulative exposure to alcohol and didn't just focus on what someone was doing for one or two months. That's the most important message."

Previous studies have found an increased risk of breast cancer associated with alcohol intake. But Dr. Mary Beth Terry, an epidemiologist at Columbia University in New York, said, "The size of the study also meant that patterns of use could be investigated with greater precision than many studies, and overall, the study supports [the idea that] cumulative intake is important. As alcohol intake may likely be underreported generally, this means that the association with breast cancer is likely larger."

Current American Heart Association Guidelines recommend that women have no more than one drink per day. Most experts echo the sentiments of what Dr. Deborah Axelrod, breast cancer surgeon at New York University, tells all of her patients, "If you don't drink, then don't start."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Alcohol Boosts Long-Term Survival After Heart Attack for Women

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- Many studies have shown that that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol can stave off heart disease, but a new study now suggests that drinking alcohol can also help women with heart disease live longer.

The study, published Friday in the American Journal of Cardiology, found that women who drank more than three servings of alcohol per week may be more likely to live longer after having a heart attack.

Researchers followed more than 1,000 women who previously had a heart attack and found that those who drank anywhere from 1 to 3 servings a week, or 3 or more servings a week -- regardless of the type of beverage -- were more likely survive a decade after their heart attack compared to those who abstained from alcohol.

“Even infrequent consumption has biologic importance in women,” authors of the study wrote, suggesting that something is better than nothing.

But this doesn’t suggest that more drinks mean better health. Previous studies suggest drinking more alcohol can increase the risk of high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, and breast cancer. Frequent alcohol consumption can also lead to addiction.

The authors said the group of women in their study who were considered among the group of abstainers could have been former drinkers who quit because of health-related reasons. The participants of the study were not asked whether they were former drinkers.

The American Heart Association recommends an average of one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.

“Our results suggest that women who survive myocardial infarctions [heart attacks] need not abstain from alcohol consumption and indeed might have lower risk for mortality,” the authors wrote.

But, they caution that the amount of alcohol reportedly consumed by their participants was well below the recommended level.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Teens Hear 34 Liquor Brands a Day in Rap, Hip-Hop Music

James Woodson/Valueline/Thinkstock(PITTSBURGH) -- For every hour that American teens listen to music, they hear more than three references to brand-name alcohol -- about 34 in the course of day.

This heavy exposure could contribute to youth addiction, according to a University of Pittsburgh and Dartmouth University study published online Thursday in the international journal, Addiction.

Researchers point the finger clearly at rap, R&B and hip-hop artists, who they say promote a "luxury lifestyle characterized by degrading sexual activity, wealth, partying, violence and the use of drugs."

Although the alcohol trade industries publicly say they do not market to underage drinkers, researchers said the line is "difficult to distinguish" because liquor companies "retroactively reward" the recording artists with product sponsorships and endorsements when songs climb the charts.

This music is so popular among high school students that the study concludes the relationship between the two industries could encourage young people to begin alcohol use early and to continue drink throughout their teenage years.

Many of the brands that are cited in lyrics -- Patron Tequila, Grey Goose Vodka and Hennessey Cognac -- are those named as favorites by underage drinkers, especially girls, according to the study, authored by Brian A. Primack, Erin Nuzzo and Kristin R. Rice of University of Pittsburgh Medical School and James D. Sargent of Dartmouth University School of Medicine.

Most of the alcohol references in those songs were positive rather than negative ones, they said.  The brand names were associated with wealth 63.4 percent of the time; sex, 58.5 percent; luxury objects, 51.2 percent; partying, 48.8 percent; other drugs, 43.9 percent and vehicles, 39 percent, according to the study.

"Much of the alcohol advertising is "unsolicited," said Frank Coleman, spokesman for the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS).  "As part of the entertainment industry, we encourage artistic freedom and we encourage all great artists, if they use alcohol as their muse, to do so responsibly.  That's a given."

He also cited 2010 government statistics in a University of Michigan study, Monitoring the Future, that showed underage drinking and binge drinking were at "an all-time low" -- even, according to Coleman, as the popularity of rap music soared.

But the study cited Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data that alcohol use is the "leading root cause" of mortality in adolescence, and its use is associated with substance abuse, risky sexual behavior, academic failure and alcohol dependence.

According to the CDC, 42 percent of high schools students drank some amount of alcohol and 24 percent binge drank in 2009.

The study analyzed 793 of the most popular youth songs between 2005 and 2007, according to Billboard magazine.  They found that 25 percent of those that mentioned alcohol called out a brand name, representing about 3.4 alcohol brand call-outs per song hour.  The average teen listens to about 2.5 hours of music per day, according to the research.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Alcohol at Age 5?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(PINE RIDGE, S.D.) -- Exactly how bad a problem is alcohol use on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation? Children on the South Dakota reservation often have their very first drink at the age of five or six, says Terryl Blue-White Eyes, the director of the only substance abuse program on the reservation.

Ask how they got that drink, Blue-White Eyes says, and the children respond with answers like, “Well, I had leftovers. It was in the bottle. It was on the table.”

An estimated 80 to 90 percent of adults on the reservation are addicted to alcohol, according to Tribal Police Captain Milton Bianas.

“Why Die?” street signs caution people to drive safely, while crosses along the roads are sad reminders of the lives lost to drunk driving accidents.

Last year, there were 17,000 alcohol-related arrests. Ironically, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is dry, which means the sale and consumption of alcohol is prohibited.

But just outside the reservation, in the bordering town of White Clay, Neb., alcohol is legal. Though only 14 people live in this neighboring town, each year four million cans of beer are sold. The big seller is called Joose and some fruit-flavors are like a whole bottle of wine in a can. They contain up to 12 percent alcohol.

Pamphlets on alcohol abuse are displayed at Anpetu Luta Otipi, the only substance abuse treatment program at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

An employee from one of White Clay’s liquor stores estimates that about 90 percent of their customers come from the reservation.

Bianas thinks alcohol sales should be legalized on the reservation.

“If we were to get that money that they’re making over there, we could build treatment centers. But it just ain’t happening,” he said.

The name of the substance abuse program Blue-White Eyes runs is Anpetu Luta Otipi, which means "live in a red day" or "start anew" without alcohol or drugs.

“If there’s chronic alcohol use, then you’re going to see domestic violence. You’re going to see children that are being abused or neglected. You’re going to see poverty,” Blue-White Eyes said.

Blue-White Eyes said that alcohol treatments that emphasize “hitting bottom” won’t work for the Pine Ridge population.

“Indians are below bottom,” she said. “That valley of despair was so low it’s taken us generations to start climbing out.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


CDC Statistics Show Self-Reported Drunk Driving Down

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- A new study shows that while motorists have put the brakes on driving under the influence, it remains a serious problem in the U.S.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports incidents of drunk driving have dropped 30 percent in the last five years.
In 2010, they were at the lowest level in nearly twenty years.
The findings are based on a national telephone survey of more than 200,000 adults.
The CDC says alcohol-impaired drivers are involved in about one in three crash deaths, resulting in nearly 11,000 deaths in 2009. But that's down from 12,000 the previous year.
In an overwhelming majority of incidents, drivers had consumed at least four or five drinks in a short period of time. The biggest cuplrits -- young men aged 21 to 34, according to the report. While they make up just 11 percent of the U.S. population, they account for one-third of all drunk driving incidents.
Some say the decline is due to the economy. Instead of going to out to drink, people are staying home. It's cheaper and there's no need to hit the road afterward.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


CDC: 112 Million Incidents of Drunk Driving in 2010

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Drunk drivers got behind the wheel about 112 million times last year, amounting to nearly 300,000 incidents each day, according to a study released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

After analyzing data from the 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey, the CDC also found that 81 percent of people who drove while under the influence were men.  More specifically, men between the ages of 21 and 34 were responsible for 32 percent of the reported incidents in 2010.

"The four million adults who drink and drive each year put everyone on the road at risk," said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.  "In fact, nearly 11,000 people are killed every year in crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver."

To help prevent drinking and driving, the CDC recommends installing more sobriety checkpoints on the road and maintaining the minimum legal drinking age at 21.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio