In 2016, an estimated 136.7 million Americans ages 12 and older reported consuming alcohol in the past 12 months and 24.2% of current drinkers reported past month binge drinking. People ages 21-25 comprised the largest percentage of current drinkers (67.6%) and binge drinkers (45.4%). The second highest age group was 26-34 with 64.1% current drinkers and 37.2% binge drinkers. The vast majority of current and binge drinkers in 2016 were legally old enough to drive. Driver’s license age requirements range from 14 to 15 1/2 for learner’s permits and 16 to 18 for full driver’s licenses.
Epilepsy is a common neurological condition, impacting 2.2 million to 3 million people in the U.S. and 65 million people worldwide. About one out of every three people with epilepsy struggles with uncontrolled seizures because no available treatment works for them.
Wild partying and free-flowing alcohol have long been part of the entertainment culture. There are plenty of tabloid images of stars stumbling around after they’ve had too much to drink as well as an endless parade of mug shots of those arrested for DUIs.
So maybe you overdo it from time to time — okay, a lot of the time, but you only drink on the weekends and an occasional weekday, so it’s no problem, right? Just because you don’t drink everyday doesn’t mean you’re safe from alcohol dependence and addiction. In fact, if you’re over the recommendations for moderate drinking — no more than seven drinks a week for women and 14 drinks a week for men — you’ve crossed the line into heavy drinking or binge drinking. Of the 136 million Americans who use alcohol, more than 47% are binge drinkers according to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Are you one of them? Here’s some warning signs.
Adults aged 50 and older are among the more than 3 million people in the United States who have opioid or opiate addictions. Overuse or misuse of prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone is so widespread that President Trump has declared the opioid epidemic a public “health emergency.”
High school prom is a milestone in the life of nearly every American teenager. Unfortunately, prom night drinking typically occurs in tandem with this special event.
For many teens, prom may be the first time they ever drink alcohol, or the first time they binge drink and get truly drunk. Prom may also be the first time they are allowed to borrow the family car and drive unchaperoned. Prom night drinking and driving facts tell us that this is a dangerous scenario.
Inexperienced teen drivers who binge drink may also combine alcohol with drugs — either intentionally, or by unwittingly drinking spiked punch or combining alcohol with their prescription medications — amplifying any side effects and exponentially raising the inherent risks of drinking and driving.
Prom Night: A Time of Teen Excitement and Parental Concern
While teens feel excited about dressing up and going dancing with their prom dates, most parents feel concerned because they are aware of prom night drinking and driving facts.
Here are a few facts about prom night and teen drinking that are cause for concern:
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 300 teens have died in alcohol-related traffic accidents during prom weekends over the past several years.
- Statistics show that roughly one-third of alcohol-related teen traffic fatalities occur between April and June — the peak of prom and graduation season.
- A survey of teens aged 16 to 19, published by AAA in 2014, found that 31% to 41% of teens said it was likely that they or their friends would use drugs or alcohol on prom night.
- According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens — roughly 25% of teen crashes involve an underage drinking driver. Every year, 1,415 people under age 21 die from alcohol-related crashes.
- Even a small amount of alcohol can affect driving ability — 1,764 people were killed in 2014 in alcohol-related crashes where the driver’s blood-alcohol level (BAC) was less than 0.08.
- NHTSA estimates that every day, 28 people in the U.S. die in an alcohol-related vehicle crash — that’s one person every 53 minutes. While drunk driving fatalities have fallen by about 33% in the last 30 years, the chance of being in an alcohol-impaired crash is still one in three over the course of a lifetime.
- Drivers who mix alcohol and marijuana greatly increase their chance of an accident, because marijuana and alcohol together have “multiplicative effects” on impairment.
- More than 85% of teens say they or their peers are likely to drive impaired instead of calling their parents for help because they are afraid of getting in trouble. Just 21% of teens have called their parents to pick them up because they or their driver was impaired.
- SADD reports that during the past 30 days, 26.4% of teens (ages 12-20) used alcohol, and 17.4% engaged in binge drinking.
Tips for Parents: Talk to Your Teen About Prom Night Drinking Hazards
A primary concern parents have about prom night is that their teen will drive drunk (or drugged) and get into an accident, but statistics show that talking to teens about the issue and working with them to take safety measures makes a big difference. In fact, it is thought that proactive parents contributed to a 53% reduction in driver deaths among 15- to 19-year-olds between 2005 and 2014.
Thanks to anti-drunk-driving campaigns by the NHTSA, MADD and others, more parents are aware of drinking and driving facts, and sharing the information with their children.
“We know that 94% of all car crashes are caused by human choice or error,” said U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a 2016 DOT news announcement. “Nearly 3,000 teens were involved in deadly vehicle crashes in 2015. We have to do better, and as parents we should all model, teach and enforce good driving habits for our young drivers.”
Here are some tips for parents regarding how to talk to their teens in advance of prom night, graduation night and other special occasions where drunk or drugged driving may be a hazard:
- Open conversations during other activities (like shopping for the prom dress or tux) so it seems more casual and not like a “big talk.”
- Advise that it is the best choice not to drink alcohol on prom night in order to stay alert to all potential hazards (i.e. alcohol poisoning, date rape, falls), and also to guard against inadvertently drinking something that is spiked with drugs. For example, tell teens to avoid the punch bowl, and not to leave a beverage or bottle unattended when heading out to the dance floor or to the bathroom. Rather than set an unfinished beverage down, just toss it out and get a new one. And look out for friends as well.
- Mention that others may be binge drinking on prom night — consuming as many as three to five drinks in under two hours — which multiplies the effects of alcohol in a very short time.
- Alert them that while the prom itself may be alcohol-free, some teens may sneak alcohol into the dance, or there may be drinking at the prom after-party.
- Ask questions that begin with Why, What and How, such as, “Why might someone your age think they can drive after drinking?” or “What do you think might happen if you get into a car with a driver that has been drinking?” and “How might you handle the situation if you think the driver has been drinking?”
- Empower teens to step up and speak up to keep themselves and others safe. In surveys, teen drivers say that if their friends spoke up and said, “Don’t speed, don’t talk on the cell phone and don’t drive if you’ve had a drink” they would be less likely to do those things. So tell teens it is OK to tell an impaired friend, “Hey, it’s not cool for you to drive right now.”
- Let teens know that even if they make a mistake and drink too much, or have a friend who does, you will pick them up anywhere and anytime, without giving them a lecture. Also give them a number to call for a safe ride from a taxi service or show them how to download and use NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app if drinking gets out of hand.
Make sure teens get the message that it’s best to play it safe and party alcohol-free so that a milestone celebration is remembered for all the right reasons, and not because it ended in tragedy.
Prom Season Excites Teens and Worries Parents. Drug Prevention Blog. Narcanon, April 2017. http://www.narconon.org/blog/prom-season-excites-teens-and-worries-parents.html
Drunk Driving. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2016.
Behavioral Health Trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Underage Alcohol Use, page 21. SAMHSA, 2014.
Safe and Sober Prom Night. MADD, 2016.
The Effect of Cannabis Compared with Alcohol on Driving. RA Sewell, et al. American Journal of Addiction, May 2009. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2722956/
The AAA PROMise. https://autoclubsouth.aaa.com/Safety/AAAPromise.aspx
23 Prom Night Statistics Every Parent Should Read. Rebecca Lake. Credit Donkey, May 2016.
Underage Drinking Facts and Statistics. Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), 2016.
Parents—Talk With Your High School Grads About Celebrating Safely. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, NIH, October 2016. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/GraduationFacts/graduationFact.htm
By Stacey Colino
At one time or another, we’ve all been there: At a party where everyone is having a little too much to drink, you see your S.O. talking animatedly, maybe even flirtatiously, with someone attractive and before you can blink twice, you’re raging with jealousy.
When the weekend rolls around and all you can think about is kicking back, having a few beers or cocktails with your friends or family members, there can’t be anything wrong with that, right? After all, you’ve worked hard all week and deserve some time for fun and socializing.
Summertime is fun time, right? For most of us this is true, but if you’re newly sober you may actually be dreading the lazy days of summer. When you’re in recovery, much of your focus is on avoiding a relapse, but you need to make time for fun, too. You can have your summer fun while sober, and making time for activities that are enjoyable will actually support your sobriety and help prevent you from relapsing. If the old you spent warm summer nights partying and drinking, the new you will have to find better ways to enjoy the summer. Here are some ideas to get you started:
New findings from an American research group indicate that frequent drinking is motivated to a significant extent by positive expectations of the effects of alcohol use rather than negative expectations.
Alcohol consumption is heavily motivated by conscious or unconscious expectations of alcohol’s physical and mental effects. Some alcohol-related expectations are “positive” in nature, while others have a “negative” quality. In a study published in May 2015 in the journal Addiction, researchers from four U.S. institutions compared the influence of positive expectations on the behaviors of frequent drinkers to the influence of negative expectations. These researchers found that positive expectations play a critical role in the behaviors of frequent alcohol consumers, especially prior to drinking sessions and in the early stages of drinking sessions.
James Swanwick is an Australian-American investor, TV and podcast host, former SportsCenter anchor on ESPN, and Hollywood correspondent. He is the creator of the “30 Day No Alcohol Challenge” that teaches people how to quit alcohol for 30 days. James started a 30-day challenge in March 2010 and kept going. He hasn’t had a drink since. He has interviewed celebrities including Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, George Clooney and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and world leaders including U.S. Vice President Al Gore.
When you’re in a romantic relationship, it’s easy to get swept up in powerful emotions. The feeling of being in love is heady, even a bit intoxicating.
Most of us know “DUI” stands for “driving under the influence.” But the acronym has another meaning, one with consequences that rival the damage done when one gets behind the wheel impaired. Although dating under the influence doesn’t cause motor vehicle accidents, it certainly can run your personal life off the road.
Everyone wants to be sociable, to be seen as easy to get along with and be around, and to fit in. Unfortunately, in today’s society, that all too often means drinking alcoholic beverages — and drinking as much as peers do. Though it has become the norm and not the exception, social drinking has hidden costs, not the least of which is that it can lead to addiction.