Underage Drinking: Intervention Principles and Practice Guidelines for Community Corrections
Underage drinking is an issue that doesn’t get much in attention in most communities…until there is a tragedy. And even in the face of an underage drinking tragedy, most communities find it difficult to develop a comprehensive strategy that will continue to be implemented effectively once the initial fervor has passed.
For the most part, efforts to address underage drinking have been centered on reducing youth access to alcohol (i.e. “sting” operations at convenience stores). While these programs have been successful, they have not addressed the other side of the issue – the underage drinkers themselves. Typically the responsibility for implementing effective youth-centered underage drinking responses falls to the probation and diversion programs in a community. The American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) and Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) recently released “Underage Drinking: Intervention Principles and Practice Guidelines for Community Corrections,” in order to provide the field with a comprehensive guide to addressing the underage drinker.
The Underage Drinking: Intervention Principles and Practice Guidelines for Community Corrections focuses on implementing appropriate screening and assessment tools and evidence-based practices. The Guidelines are incredibly practical and user-friendly providing case studies with sample case plans that are easy to follow and understand. Complex concepts like Stages of Change are distilled to their functional application and come across as common-sense solutions.
The role of clergy in fighting addiction
Over the years, I would estimate that two thirds of the human hurt I have encountered in the people I serve has directly resulted from active addiction – or from living with or having lived with an addicted person.
–Rev. F. Anthony Gallagher, MA, Toledo, OH
Clergy can, should and must make a difference in the pain and confusion felt by so many of their congregants, but they must first understand the role that alcoholism and drug addiction play in the insidious social and spiritual erosion plaguing so many of their congregation’s families. Participation in a faith community does not protect against addiction creeping in and destroying a family, but a knowledgeable and caring pastor can foster an openly supportive and healing faith community that invites the suffering to learn and heal – emotionally, physically and spiritually.
Clergy and other pastoral ministers are trained to nurture the spiritual life of their congregants, to help foster a connection to their Almighty and to support them and provide hope as they pass through difficult life struggles. Until recent years, however, their professional training has seldom included adequate education and insights about the problem that causes the most family stress among their congregants. It is a problem that drives so many families to break-up without ever addressing the primary factor in the despair and desperation that pushed them to give up.
Arguing with parents helps teens stand up to peer pressure
A new study from the University of Virgina found that teens who are comfortable expressing their opinions at home are better able to resist peer pressure to use drugs or alcohol.
As Science Newsline explains:
The researchers looked at more than 150 teens and their parents, a group that was racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse. The teens were studied at ages 13, 15, and 16 to gather information on substance use, interactions with moms, social skills, and close friendships. Researchers used not just the youths' own reports, but information from parents and peers. They also observed teens' social interactions with family members and peers.
They found that teens who hold their own in family discussions were better at standing up to peer influences to use drugs or alcohol. Among the best protected were teens who had learned to argue well with their moms about such topics as grades, money, household rules, and friends. Arguing well was defined as trying to persuade their mothers with reasoned arguments, rather than with pressure, whining, or insults.
3 ways to address teenage motivation to drink that don’t involve scare tactics
When someone – including a teenager – gets treatment for alcohol and substance abuse, it is standard practice to identify some of the reasons why they started using and the benefits they feel they get from these substances. This helps them reduce shame and best identify their triggers and areas to focus on. Among the research, most reasons for using alcohol fall into a few broad categories such as mood or personality enhancement, social reasons, and coping reasons. Reviewing personal motivations for using alcohol is often an “ah-ha” experience for the person seeking help but it needs to be handled with care as there is the potential in such a discussion to make alcohol use seem more appealing.
Nowhere is this concern greater than when attempting to prevent alcohol use in teens as many parents have a justified fear that such a discussion will promote alcohol use in kids who may not have otherwise been aware of the potential short-term “benefits” of alcohol. This fear has often caused parents and caregivers to avoid the topic, focus only on the consequences of drinking or minimize the reasons why people drink – especially with younger children. While reinforcing the consequences of underage drinking is always recommended, understanding teen’s motivations can also be useful to parents as a point for both prevention and early intervention of teenage drinking. Below are a few tips on using teen motivations to intervene and connect with your children.
A useful strategy is to ask teens about what they “expect” to get from drinking. Along with perceived risk, your teen’s alcohol use can be predicted by the expectation that one will feel a certain way when they drink. These expectations are reinforced by the media and by your teen’s peers. Expectations are essentially motivating (I want to relax and I will drink because I expect that it will help me relax). The first step is to identify what your teens think about drinking’s benefits or what drinking may give them. If you can identify the reasons they think people drink (or they drink), it is a point of intervention.
Tailor Your Strategy: Based on the motivations or expectations your teen mentions reports there are several options to continue the conversation.
If parents drive under the influence, their kids may too
When it comes to driving under the influence, teens are influenced by their parents' behavior. A recent report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that 16 and 17 year olds living with parents who drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol are far more likely to drive under the influence than adolescents whose parents do not drive under the influence.
As shown in the above chart, 18.3% of teens living with a mother who drove under the influence also drove under the influence, as compared to 10.9% whose mother did not drive under the influence. However, having a father who drove under the influence increased the likelihood that a teen would drive under the influence, from 8.4% to 21.4%.
2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health data available
Those interested in drug/alcohol/tobacco use statistics should head over to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to download the data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).
For those less inclined to analyze the data, SAMSHA also released a report (PDF) summarizing the findings, which include:
- Among youths aged 12 to 17, the current illicit drug use rate was similar in 2009 (10.0 percent) and 2010 (10.1 percent), but higher than the rate in 2008 (9.3 percent). Between 2002 and 2008, the rate declined from 11.6 to 9.3 percent.
- The rate of current alcohol use among youths aged 12 to 17 was 13.6 percent in 2010, which was lower than the 2009 rate (14.7 percent). Youth binge and heavy drinking rates in 2010 (7.8 and 1.7 percent) were also lower than rates in 2009 (8.8 and 2.1 percent).
- There were an estimated 10.0 million underage (aged 12 to 20) drinkers in 2010, including 6.5 million binge drinkers and 2.0 million heavy drinkers.
- The rate of past month tobacco use among 12 to 17 year olds declined from 15.2 percent in 2002 to 10.7 percent in 2010, including a decline from 2009 (11.6 percent) to 2010.
- Almost half (48.6 percent) of youths aged 12 to 17 reported in 2010 that it would be "fairly easy" or "very easy" for them to obtain marijuana if they wanted some. Approximately one in five reported it would be easy to get cocaine (19.0 percent). About one in seven (12.9 percent) indicated that LSD would be "fairly" or "very" easily available, and 11.6 percent reported easy availability for heroin. Between 2002 and 2010, there were declines in the perceived availability for all four drugs.
Teen Addiction: Helping Parents Understand, Connect and Navigate Services
Nine million of America's teens and young adults are struggling with drugs and alcohol¹, yet unlike most other adolescent health issues or diseases, parents have not found a concise path to resources and support for teen drug and alcohol addiction. A new science-based resource called Time To Get Help from The Partnership at Drugfree.org was just released in beta form to begin helping meet these needs.
Resources within Time To Get Help include:
- Learn: Intervention and Treatment e-books for download
- Make a Plan: worksheets and checklists
- Helping Hand Questions & Answers: contributions fromexperts in the field
- Words of Hope: a forum where people can post short Twitter-like messages
- Share Your Story and Journals: to tell stories, track experiences and progress
2010 Drug-Free Communities Grants
You don't have to attend to apply, but it would probably be a good idea not to miss one. Fortunately, a recorded version of the workshop, plus PowerPoint presentation, will be available online by the end of January.
CSAT Travel Awards for 2010 College on Problems of Drug Dependence Conference
NIATx Adolescent Treatment Pilot Project in Wisconsin