Archive for the ‘Teens’ Category

Baylor University study gives insights into why teens may consume alcohol to dangerous levels

December 7, 2010

Dr. Doug Matthews research scientist Baylor University College of Arts and Sciences blood-alcohol levels binge drinking adolescence Purkinje neuron alcohol-induced behavioral Cleared2Drive Impairment Detection Technology Good2GoResearchers have known for years that teens are less sensitive than adults to the motor-impairing effects of alcohol, but they do not know exactly what is happening in the brain that causes teens to be less sensitive than adults.  But now, Baylor University neuropsychologists  have found the particular cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the age-dependent effect of alcohol in teens that may cause the reduced motor impairment.

The study reported by the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, is the first to identify a mechanism underlying one of the main behavioral differences between adolescents and adults in their response to alcohol.

“This study is a significant advancement in understanding why adolescents are insensitive to alcohol and provides some insights into why teens might consequently consume alcohol to dangerous levels,” said Dr. Doug Matthews, a research scientist at Baylor, College of Arts and Sciences, who led the study.  “This differential effect is not due to different blood-alcohol levels.  Such reduced sensitivity in teens is troublesome considering that binge and heavy alcohol consumption increases throughout human adolescence and peaks at 21 to 25 years of age.  Therefore understanding the mechanisms that underlie the reduced sensitivity to alcohol during adolescence is critical.”

Specifically, the Baylor researchers found the firing rate of a particular neuron called the cerebellar Purkinje neuron was insensitive to large alcohol doses in adolescent animal models, while the firing rate of those neurons was significantly depressed in adults.  The spontaneous firing rate in adults from Purkinje neurons decreased approximately 20 percent, which researchers said indicates potential motor impairment.  Adolescents, on the other hand, did show a slight motor impairment, however the firing rates from adolescent Purkinje neurons did not dramatically change in response to alcohol, and in fact showed a five percent increase in firing rate.

The Baylor researchers said this alcohol-induced reduction of spontaneous Purkinje neuron firing rates in adults could explain the greater sensitivity to alcohol’s motor impairing effects in adults compared to adolescents.  However, there are likely to be contributions from other systems involved to cause thee different behavioral effects.

This study validates what we at Cleared2Drive have also discovered during the testing of our Impairment Detection Technology (which is based upon a response time to performing a set sequence of tasks) conducted at the University of Akron, we also uncovered that teenagers are able to complete the sequence at a different level than adults.  Consequently, we have developed an algorithm specifically for teenagers and young adults.

How to Keep Teens from Alcohol and Drugs

December 6, 2010

cleared2drive how to keep from teenagers drinking and driving how to stop impaired driving how to stop teenagers from using alcoholFor parents trying to keep their children away from alcohol and drugs during their formative years, there is good news — research shows that parents can have considerable influence on the decisions their teens make regarding substance abuse.

As part of  Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month we at Cleared2Drive are devoting this entire week to providing useful information to parents concerned about what they can do to keep their teenager from using drugs.  The following are the best tips for parents from the latest scientific research into why teens do and do not decide to drink alcohol or do drugs during adolescence.

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that 45% of teenagers drink alcohol, and of those who drink, 64% admit to binge drinking. Not only is consuming five or more drinks in a row a dangerous practice itself, the CDC found that teen binge drinking is strongly associated with other risky behaviors, such as sexual activity and violence.

Parents Do Have Influence

As a result of the CDC report, New York University Child Study Center developed five tips for parents to use to curb teen binge drinking by maximizing the influence they have over their children’s decision-making.  “Contrary to popular belief, parents remain the greatest influence over their children’s behavior,” said Richard Gallagher, Ph.D., Director of the Parenting Institute and the Thriving Teens Project at the NYU Child Study Center, in a news release. “Though media and peers play a role, parental influence is critical and there are ways parents can maximize that influence to reduce the likelihood that their children will engage in binge drinking.”

Tips for Parents

Dr. Gallagher suggests these five tips to help parents curb teen binge drinking:

  • Clearly state what actions you expect your teen to take when confronted with substance use. Teens who know what their parents expect from them are much less likely to use substances, including alcohol.
  • Talk about the alcohol use that your children observe. Parents need to make it clear how they want their children to handle substances, such as alcohol and tobacco. Children need to have controlled exposure to learn the rules of acceptable use.
  • Help your teen find leisure activities and places for leisure activities that are substance-free. Then, keep track of where, with whom, and what your teen is doing after school and during other free times.
  • Limit the access your children have to substances. Teens use substances that are available. They report that they sneak alcohol from home stocks, take cigarettes from relatives, and obtain marijuana from people that they know well.
  • Inform teens about the honest dangers that are associated with alcohol use and abuse. Although teens are not highly influenced by such information, some discussion of negative consequences has some impact on the decisions they make. Especially emphasize how alcohol clouds one’s judgment and makes one more likely to be harmed in other ways.

According to the CDC, binge drinking is associated with unintentional injuries (such as car crashes, falls and burns), intentional injuries (firearm injuries and sexual assault), alcohol poisoning, sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancy, among other health problems.

Sources:
Child Study Center, New York University School of Medicine, NYU Child Study Center Expert Recommends 5 Tips To Help Curb Teenage Binge Drinking . AboutOurKids.org. Accessed January 2007.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Quick Stats: Binge Drinking.” June 2006.

Cleared2Drive can Alert Parents to the Symptoms of Alcoholism

December 4, 2010

disordered thinking black-outs increased irritability treatments intervention Cleared2Drive Good2Go sober medications prevention detoxification addict parents teens peersWhen the body becomes so accustomed to alcohol that the person loses complete control over his will to control his drinking, he/she is known to have developed the condition of alcoholism. It is actually a chronic disease, which causes the body to become dependent on alcohol. One classic sign of alcoholism is that the person keeps on drinking, although he/she knows that it is causing all kinds of problems in his/her life. This problem cannot be dealt without help.

Alcoholism Physical Symptoms

The symptoms may vary or get intense as the person steps in the higher stages of alcoholism. One noticeable sign of alcoholism in men and women is a strong feeling which causes or compels the person to drink, even if he/she wishes not to. Also, the addict loses his/her ability to keep a check on the amount of alcohol he/she drinks. The person probably would drink till he/she passes out. Another one of the physical symptoms of alcoholism is the body developing a tolerance to alcohol so that it requires a high amount of it, to feel its effects.

Alcoholism Psychological Symptoms

The psychological symptoms arise when the neurological functions of the person start getting disrupt by the too much intake of alcohol. The symptoms which indicate the malfunctioning of the nervous system include alcohol dementia, short-term memory loss, confusion, disordered thinking, drinking in secret, feeling guilty post drinking, black-outs, losing interest in things which were important once, increased irritability, and feeling a strong urge to have a few pegs soon after getting up.

Treatment of Alcoholism

In most cases, people who are close to the addict help him/her realize about the problem and that he/she requires help. Depending on how grave the problem has become, different treatments for alcoholism are brought into practice. They may consist of counseling, a short period of intervention by an expert or advising a residential inpatient stay, removal of freedoms – like installation of the Cleared2Drive system which will only permit them to drive when completely sober. The treatment plan may consist of detoxification and dealing with the withdrawal symptoms, counseling, medications, coping with psychological problems and preventing complications.

Know that early intervention is the best way to prevent the development of alcoholism, especially in teens. Parents must always be on their toes about the lifestyle that their kids are beginning to lead. Their influence and that of peers and media are some very important elements when it comes to prevent alcoholism. Parents must also watch out for signs and symptoms in their kids which are indicators of alcohol problem. These may include losing interest in studies or hobbies, disturbance in relationships with friends and family, poor performance in studies, mood changes, abnormal behaviors, etc. Installation of a Cleared2Drive system is also a way to raise the red flag.  If all of a sudden your child can no longer start their vehicle, this should alert parents that there some sort of abuse issue with their child.

Parents can keep their kids from getting into alcoholism by setting good examples with their own alcohol use. Having an open discussion with them and making them aware of the repercussion of drinking do provide a great deal of help in preventing alcoholism in teenagers.

15-Year Old Recovering Addict Working Wonders with Other Teens

November 27, 2010


All of us here at Cleared2Drive wants to salute Hallie Odom of Nashville TN.   Read and see why.

They come from the poorest and wealthiest of neighborhoods. They wouldn’t hang out if it weren’t for what they have in common. And none of them can talk about what is said.  All of the 10 teens in the group have parents who battle drug and alcohol addictions. Most of them have at least one parent in prison. And most have developed alcohol or drug addictions themselves.  Their leader is Hallie Odom, the 15-year-old daughter of a psychiatrist mother and a recovering alcoholic physician father.

The group is Alateen. Hallie’s is one of two of its kind in Nashville and one of 2,300 worldwide, according to Alcoholics Anonymous, the group’s umbrella organization. There are an estimated 18 million alcoholics nationwide. These are their children.  “The group offers the kids a place to heal,” said Ann Charvat, interim director of Reconciliation Ministries, where the meetings are held. “Compassion becomes an option to self-loathing.”

For Hallie, a St. Cecilia Academy sophomore, alcoholism wasn’t about beer and wine. Her father had quit drinking before she was born. But he had a short temper. He didn’t know how to deal with not drinking, she said.  Hallie, who was adopted as an infant, isn’t sure why she started drinking, using drugs and partying.  But, at the age of 12, her parents already didn’t know how to handle her, she said.

Sent to treatment

She was first sent to treatment when she was in seventh grade. Everyone thought she was pregnant. She wasn’t. Her parents, who have since divorced, sent her to a 9-month wilderness program in Utah.

She slept outside. Ate with sticks. Went to the bathroom in the woods. She was forced to write her life story. It ended up being 36 pages. “I had to live in my own head for once,” she said. “I was forced to realize all the pain I had caused my parents.”

She was next sent to a horse camp in Northern Utah. She was gone for a total of 15 months. When she came back, she and her family went to hours of therapy each week with two therapists. She’s still learning about herself, her parents and why she does what she does. But she wants to help others.

Over the summer, she started the local Alateen group in West Nashville. She attends the other Nashville group, as well. Alcoholics Anonymous sent her a packet, complete with its famed serenity prayer and 12 steps. Her role is not to counsel these teens, but to share her struggles and, most importantly, to listen.

“Hallie offers a unique perspective because she’s had more training than most adults who lead groups.  She’s been there. She’s experienced the solution. She’s more than competent to share it. She illustrates that these kinds of problems don’t discriminate. They affect all kinds of people,” Charvat said.

The group’s mission is to help teens turn their focus on themselves and away from the people and things in their lives that can’t be controlled.  “It’s more just me pushing them to talk,” Hallie said. “There’s such a strong tendency to hold everything in.”

‘We are not powerless’

Hallie talks like a therapist. She knows exactly how to eloquently express her feelings and is quick to analyze why she feels the way she does. She’s not ashamed of her story, only hopes that others see her as an inspiration.

She whispers, though, when she is asked about the teens in her group. “I don’t think they have any idea how much I really get out of talking and listening to them,” she said. Because all the expensive far-away camps and the clinical jargon of the hours upon hours of therapy can’t compare with the simple lesson that she learns in Alateen:  She is not alone. “We are not powerless over our lives,” she said. “We are not powerless.”

No,  she definitely is not.  Kudos to Hallie!

Survey Again Raises Alarm About Teen Drug Use

November 26, 2010

Cleared2Drive 2009 PRIDE Survey Monitoring the Future survey 2009 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS), released March 2 by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA) and MetLife Foundation teenagers substance abuse illicit drugs parents teenage drivers illegal drugs underage drivers drunk driving impaired driving teen drug use

 

Cleared2Drive wants once again to report the findings of another new report this one showing that more kids say they are using alcohol and other drugs, but many parents are unable or unwilling to deal with the issue — a bad combination when declining support for prevention and cultural apathy about the issue leave parents as the last and sometimes only line of defense against adolescent drug use.

The 2009 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS), released March 2 by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA) and MetLife Foundation, reported rather dramatic year-over-year spikes in past-month alcohol use (up 11 percent) and past-year use of marijuana (up 19 percent) and ecstasy (up 67 percent) among U.S. students in grades 9-12.

PDFA chairman and CEO Steve Pasierb noted that all three are “social drugs,” and the survey of more than 3,200 students, conducted by Roper Public Affairs, found “a growing belief in the benefits and acceptability of drug use and drinking.” For example, the percentage of teens agreeing that “being high feels good” increased from 45 percent in 2008 to 51 percent in 2009, and those who said “friends usually get high at parties” increased from 69 percent to 75 percent. Thirty percent of students surveyed strongly agreed that they “don’t want to hang around drug users,” down from 35 percent in 2008.

“The resurgence in teen drug and alcohol use comes at a time when pro-drug cues in popular culture – in film, television and online – abound, and when funding for federal prevention programs has been declining for several years,” according to a PDFA press release on the survey.

The reported spike in alcohol and other drug use and attitudinal shifts are startling enough to warrant skepticism about the validity of the findings. However, Pasierb notes that the PATS survey has been conducted using the same methodology for the past 21 years. The most recent Monitoring the Future survey, released in December, also found that use of illicit drugs has leveled off or increased after years of steady declines, and that youth attitudes about drug use appear to be softening. The 2009 PRIDE Survey of 6th- to 9th-graders reported small increases in current drug use, as well.

The PATS survey found that kids are almost as likely to get information on drugs from the Internet and websites like Youtube as from their parents, school, or media ads. “The preponderance of information that kids get online about drugs is pro-use, and to teens it’s more credible,” Pasierb told Join Together.

Perhaps the most surprising survey result is the reported increase in use of ecstasy — a drug that, unlike alcohol and marijuana, has seemed to largely disappear from public consciousness since the mid-2000s. If the survey results are to be believed, more teens are now using ecstasy on a monthly (6 percent) or annual (10 percent) basis than at any point since 2004, and reported lifetime use is higher than ever reported since 1998.

Pasierb said that federal data shows that availability of ecstasy has not declined since 2001-02, and that prices for the drug have fallen. “There was just more news coverage then,” he said.

“I don’t buy the argument that drug use is cyclical,” said Pasierb. “I think it’s generational, and based on what we talk to our kids about.” Drug-use trends among youth are “very malleable,” he added, and what is considered cool or popular can change rapidly from the time a kid enters high school to when they graduate.

Parents Waging a Lonely Battle — Or Not

About 20 percent of the parents surveyed by PATS believed that their children had gone beyond the experimental phase in use of alcohol or other drugs. However, almost half of these parents either did not take any action (25 percent) or waited for between a month and a year to address the perceived problem (22 percent).

Parents of children engaging in non-experimental drug use were less confident in their ability to influence their kids’ drug-use decisions, according to the survey, and were more likely to believe that all teens will experiment with drugs and that occasional use of alcohol or marijuana is tolerable.

“Parents with drug-using kids have never been served by our field,” said Pasierb. “They’re the outliers, and they should be the focus.” PDFA has developed a program called Time to Act that is designed to improve parental knowledge about teen alcohol and other drug use, set rules and boundaries, intervene when necessary, and seek outside help when needed.

“Government prevention programs have all been defunded, and society is not on our side. It’s all on the parents now,” said Pasierb. “Parents are convinced that their kids are getting all this (drug prevention) in school, and it’s just not true. The doctor, school, or football coach is not going to step in.”

One of the things we at Cleared2Drive typically hear the parents that call us say, “We can’t be with them all the time.  I think they are using something but really don’t know.  I just don’t want my kid hurt.”  Which is exactly why we created the Cleared2Drive System.

Rural vs. Urban Teen Drug Use

November 24, 2010

Cleared2Drive National Survey on Drug Use and Health University of Kentucky College of Medicine JAMA Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine teen substance abuse illicit drug use impaired drivingWe at Cleared2Drive recently came across some slightly surprising new data suggests that where a teen lives may influence whether or not they abuse prescription drugs. The 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health that was just released November 1, 2010 showed that teens living in rural areas are 26% more likely to use prescription drugs for non-medical uses than are urban teens. This report was summarized by the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in the JAMA Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

All of us at Cleared2Drive know that prescription drug abuse has skyrocketed in our country in the last 15 years, increasing 212% among teens from 1992 to 2003 as we hear it everyday from our customers. With prescription drugs being prescribed more and more by doctors, teens find it easy to gain access to their choice of drugs in family members’ medicine cabinets, or buying them from friends which is why families are turning to Cleared2Drive as a solution to keeping their kids from driving under the influence of anything – not just alcohol.

The interesting finding in the study is that teens in rural areas are significantly more likely to abuse prescription drugs than urban teens, while illicit drug abuse rates are the same for both urban and rural youth. There will need to be more research on the habits of rural youth to determine why the prescription abuse is more prevalent among them. Maybe these teens have more time on their hands, or are less educated on the risks of prescription drug abuse, or feel they are less likely to get caught by law enforcement.

Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drugs that are used non-medically are often considered gateway drugs. Teens that experiment with prescription drugs, even occasionally, are statistically more likely to use illicit drugs as they get older. They are also more likely to smoke, drink, and get caught up with gambling and other impulsive activities.

Just because a teen lives in a rural area, however, doesn’t mean that they are necessarily going to use prescription drugs. There are some factors that the study found that greatly decrease even rural teens’ likelihood of using drugs. First of all, living in a two parent household reduces the risk by 32%. Attending school, effectively treating health and mental health problems, and having parental involvement also decreases the risk of substance abuse among these teens. In fact, all teens and pre-teens benefit greatly from positive parental interactions. Parents don’t often take their role seriously enough, but parents still hold a lot of power in their teens’ lives, attitudes, and behaviors. Families that spend quality time together, wherever they live, have teens that are less likely to do drugs, smoke, or drink. That’s why things like eating dinner together at least a few nights a week makes a world of difference for teens, but unfortunately to have true Peace of Mind, the only way for parents to be confidential that their child is ALWAYS driving sober, is to a Cleared2Drive System installed.

Australia must have oodles and oodles of money!

November 23, 2010

Cleared2Drive Australia impact consequences of dangerous driving impaired driving drunk driving doctor emergency hospital tragedy police ambulance

All of us here at Cleared2Drive have been wondering since we read about the new $50 million center Victoria’s Transport Accident Commission (TAC) is planning to establish to teach teenagers about the  impact and consequences of dangerous driving,  “Do you really need to spend $50 million on a building to accomplish that?”

The facility is designed to have learner drivers speak with victims of road trauma and emergency workers and use simulators which replicate drunk driving.  Premier John Brumby says young drivers will be offered incentives to attend the center, such as free driving lessons. “It will confront young people with the experience of the police, of the ambulance, of the emergency services worker who deal every day with the aftermath of road accidents and road tragedy,” he said.

I just can’t believe that they think an incentive of “free driving lessons ” is an enticement to any teenager anywhere in the world.”  Come on, lets be honest here . . . Teenagers don’t want more driving lessons!  We adults should know that most teenagers  believe they already know it all!

Maybe they would be better off to spend the $50millon on alerting parents of know it all teenagers as to what can really be done to prevent impaired driving, like having a Cleared2Drive unit installed on the family vehicle.

How to Keep Your Teen From Abusing Prescription Drugs

November 22, 2010

drugs opioid opium pain-killers Oxycontin Vicodin muscle relaxants anti-anxiety drugs Valium Xanax stimulants Ritalin abuse Cleared2Drive Good2GoThere is a new drug pusher in town. He does not hang out down the alley or on the street corner and he resides in your very own home! He is not pushing heroin or crack. The drugs are what most people would call medicines and more teens abuse them than all other types of illicit drugs combined, excepting only marijuana.

Online drug stores are offering all the prescription drugs that are available in your local pharmacy. They are happy to dispense any controlled drug at a price much higher than one would pay at a regular drug store-often more than double that price- and an estimated 85% of these sites require no prescriptions or positive identification.

Drugs such as opioid (opium-like) pain-killers, (Oxycontin, Vicodin) muscle relaxants and anti-anxiety drugs, (Valium, Xanax) and stimulants such as Ritalin are the most often abused.

Often it is not even necessary to order them online. Left-over pills in the medicine cabinet can become a windfall for a young person looking to make a little extra cash at school.

According to national surveys, more teens abuse prescription drugs than any illicit drug except marijuana. The usual attitude is one of, “If it is made by drug companies and prescribed to people everyday, it has to be safe.” Many teens who would not otherwise touch illicit drugs might abuse prescription drugs because they seem to be a safe way to get high and they are so readily available.

But this is only the perception. The truth is that while these medications might be taken as prescribed and for short periods when needed with relative safety, the amounts being taken to “cop a buzz” are way beyond the approved dosages.

Everyday in the United States more than 50 people die from unintentional drug overdoses. Most of these are the result of prescription drugs such as those named above.

Teens are also abusing some over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, primarily cough and cold remedies that contain dextromethorphan (DXM), a cough suppressant, to get high. Products with DXM are NyQuil, Coricidin, and Robitussin, among others. This is of particular concern as there are other drugs in these OTC medicines. DXM, which acts as a dissociative-anesthetic has particularly dangerous side-effects. In 2006, according to a 2007 SAMHSA survey (Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Association) about 3.1 million people aged 12 to 25 had ever used an OTC cough and cold medication to get high, and nearly one million had done so in the past year.

In the end, the user will either stop abusing the drug on his or her own or will require treatment to overcome dependence or addiction to whatever medication they are using.

Parents can make a difference by

  1. Talking with youngsters about the dangers of these medications
  2. Keeping all medications out of plain sight and keeping those most likely to be abused out of reach and discard unused medicines properly and immediately.
  3. Keep an accurate account of drugs to make sure they do not “disappear”.
  4. Most importantly, Be Engaged. Absentee parents are the most likely to discover their teen has a prescription or any other drug problem.

In school, it is vital that we educate our students as to the very real dangers of prescription drug abuse.

We CAN make this better. It is possible to make a difference in a person’s life by helping them understand the truth about prescription drugs and the dangers of overdose, accidents and addiction.  If you are concerned that your child is abusing prescription drugs, occasionally or on a regular basis, and is driving, you need to seriously consider installing a Cleared2Drive System on their vehicle.  As we know it only takes once to forever change the direction of our, and their, lives.

Teens and Parents Under Report Illicit Drug Use

November 15, 2010

Cleared2Drive pediatrics HealthDay Teens Parents Under Report Illicit Drug Use cocaine alcohol University of Texas San Marcos psychology professorParent after parent, generation after generation has at some point come to the conclusion that the parent is the last to know and is especially true for parents of substance abusing teens.  We hear it everyday from parents who call requesting a Cleared2Drive System because they discovered that their child has been using or abusing substances for quite some time.  However, even when the parents do find out, as this newest study indicates, they typically don’t tell the truth when asked about their child’s use of cocaine and opiates, even if they are told they will be drug-tested and their responses kept confidential, HealthDay reported Oct. 25.

The study, led by Virginia Delaney-Black, M.D., a pediatrics professor at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, compared survey responses collected from over 200 teens and over 200 adult caregivers (mostly mothers) with the results of hair tests for drug use. Participation in the study was limited to African-American families who had received care at one urban antenatal clinic.

Hair tests on the teens showed that 30 percent had used cocaine, whereas only one percent reported it. Hair tests from parents showed that 28 percent had used cocaine, but only about six percent said they had. Results for opiates were similar.

Other studies have shown that adults under report their own substance use, but very few comparable studies have been done on teens who are not in the court system or in treatment. Estimates of national prevalence rates of teen use outside of the court system or clinical settings are based on data collected anonymously and on what teens report about their use; the new study suggests that the estimates may be too low.

Delaney-Black said that the results of the study should be useful for pediatricians. “If you think it’s important to know whether a kid is doing drugs — specifically heroin, prescription pain killers or cocaine — then don’t rely on what the teens report,” she said.

The research “generally reinforces what we know from work in adults, which is that people are usually less honest about substance use than we hope,” said Ty S. Schepis, a psychology professor at Texas State University at San Marcos and our staff at Cleared2Drive knows this all too well.   Admitting that your loved one is out of control, for some people is just too hard.

The study, “‘Just Say “I Don’t’: Lack of Concordance Between Teen Report and Biological Measures of Drug Use,” appeared online Oct. 25 in Pediatrics and will appear in the November 2010 print issue.

“Drunkorexia” A Growing Trend Among College Students

November 12, 2010

Cleared2Drive Drug, Alcohol & Tobacco Education Office at the University of Northern Colorado Communication Director at Colorado State University Drunkorexia consuming alcohol binge drinking National Eating Disorders AssociationThe staff here at Cleared2Drive thought we had heard it all but have to admit were left shaking our heads, just like you I am assuming, when we heard the term, “Drunkorexia”?  While it is not considered to be the appropriate medical term, it is the most easily understood term for the practice of swapping food calories for those in alcohol especially among female college students.

Campus counselors are hearing the term in the context of alcohol education and eating disorders. “It’s a sensationalized term, but it’s a tangible idea for students,” acknowledges Emily Hedstrom-Lieser of the Drug, Alcohol & Tobacco Education Office at the University of Northern Colorado.

Pam McCracken, Communication Director at Colorado State University, reports, “They will think, `I’m drinking, therefore I don’t want to eat so much, so I’m going to have a mixed green salad and a Diet Coke. I say, `Look, the day that you’re consuming alcohol is not the day to cut back on your calories.’ ”

A study published in the July 2009 issue of the International Journal of Eating Disorders found a connection between binge drinking (four or more drinks in one sitting) and eating disorders. The authors suggest that there is a “crucial need for early interventions targeting binge drinking among college-age women regardless of their current drinking status.”

Campus health educators see a spectrum of disordered eating and drinking, from dieting and overexercising in order to party on the weekends, to medically definable conditions ( anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge-eating disorder).

Drinking can be a way to alleviate social anxiety. So much of her work deals with helping patients to manage anxiety and connect with their peers, “learning healthier ways of connecting with people that don’t come with significant costs. Many students want to make healthy choices when it comes to alcohol.”

A new survey by the National Eating Disorders Association shows a change in the public perception of eating disorders: 82 percent of respondents believe that eating disorders are a physical or mental illness and should be treated as such, said the association in a recent news release.

Nearly 10 million women and 1 million men have an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia, says the association. Millions more struggle with binge-eating disorder. Forty percent of new cases of anorexia are girls 15 to 19 years old, and the incidence of bulimia in females ages 10 to 39 tripled between 1988 and 1993. But just 6 percent of people with bulimia get mental-health care, according to the association’s research.

For 25 years, Dr. Kenneth L. Weiner has treated people with eating disorders, and has seen the gradual change in public opinion. “The term `drunkorexia’ is not my favorite, but as it brings awareness to the problem, it’s probably fine,” says Weiner, medical director at Eating Recovery Center in Denver. “Anorexia nervosa has the highest death rate of any psychiatric illness. It’s an incredibly serious disorder. When you’re starving yourself, your brain is really starved. You’ve had the experience of drinking on an empty stomach? These folks are drinking on an empty body.”