Are You Hiding Behind Your Weekend Drinking Problem?

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.

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6 Substances Commonly Misused By Older Adults in America

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.”

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Prom Night & Teen Drinking: The Facts

Posted on November 6th, 2017

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.

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.

The AAA PROMise.

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.

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Football Season: College Tailgating & Parties While in Recovery

Posted on November 1st, 2017

Whether you are a loyal UCLA Bruin or you spend your Saturdays cheering on the “cardinal and gold” of USC, game-day tradition calls for a booze-filled tailgate party outside the stadium. Stuffing oneself with food and alcohol pregame is a ritual that even marginal fans don’t want to miss. So just how does a fan in recovery navigate this danger zone? What options do they have to stay sober at tailgates and continue to work their relapse prevention program?

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What are the Legal Blood Alcohol Levels Across the World?

Posted on April 5th, 2017

Almost 10,000 people die in the U.S. each year as a result of alcohol-impaired driving, accounting for nearly one third of all traffic-related deaths in the country. The most important step anybody can take to protect other drivers and pedestrians is to learn the legal blood alcohol level for driving and stick to it. However, the legal blood alcohol level varies among countries around the world, so we’ll look at the U.K., other E.U. countries, China, Japan and Brazil.

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What Do You Mean I Can Never Drink Again?

Posted on February 16th, 2017

When you have had one too many disastrous experiences under the influence of alcohol, you realize that it’s time to stop drinking. You may talk to people who are in recovery and realize that the cornerstone of Alcoholics Anonymous is abstinence. You panic. You probably don’t want to stop drinking permanently. You just want to learn how to control your drinking.

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Drink Until You Drop: The Perils of Attending Fraternity, Sorority Parties

Posted on June 23rd, 2016

Fraternities and sororities are central to the social life on many college campuses. They offer a stamp of approval for those chosen as members and a sense of pride for parents of students who are accepted into their ranks. They present opportunities to be of service and teach valuable leadership skills as well as promoting team-building. Those who have entered into their ranks have shared that they feel like they are with people who have become “family of choice,” with whom they can network long after their college years have ended.

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How to Forgive an Alcoholic Parent

Posted on April 19th, 2016

From parental substance abuse statistics, we know that when a parent is an alcoholic or a drug addict, the children suffer. If you had an alcoholic parent, learning to forgive isn’t easy. Maybe you were abused verbally, emotionally or physically, or you were neglected. Maybe you had to take on more responsibilities than a child should, like caring for a younger sibling. It may also be that you simply didn’t get the attention, affection and love from your parent that is every child’s right. Whatever your experience was, learning how to forgive an alcoholic parent will empower you and bring you peace.

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Alcoholism Damages Ability to Pay Attention

Posted on July 11th, 2014

Alcoholism Damages Ability to Pay Attention People affected by alcoholism experience several harmful, long-term changes in brain function. While some of these changes directly account for the development of an alcohol addiction, others appear in parts of the brain responsible for maintaining the critical ability to focus and maintain attention. In a study published in May 2014 in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, researchers from two Belgian institutions conducted a detailed exploration of the ways in which alcoholism damages the ability to pay attention. These researchers concluded that the most crucial changes involve a reduction in the brain’s capacity to exercise a higher-level faculty called executive control or executive function.

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Do Men and Women Have Differing Genetic Risks for Alcoholism?

Posted on June 4th, 2014

Do Men and Women Have Differing Genetic Risks for Alcoholism?Researchers and public health experts know that part of the risk for alcoholism comes from a complex interaction of genes inside the human body. They also know that the impact of alcoholism in women differs from the impact of the condition in men. In a study published in May 2014 in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, a multinational research team looked at the potential gender-related repercussions of one specific gene known to affect how the body processes alcohol. The researchers concluded that the expression of this gene in women can significantly alter the risks for developing alcoholism.

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