Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bring Back Family Dinners

Scottsdale Prevention Institute Phone: 480-443-3100
8102 E. Jackrabbit Road, #B Fax: 480-443-3272
Scottsdale, AZ 85250 United Way # 0077

Scottsdale Prevention Institute (SPI) Urges Families to
Bring Back Family Dinners

Frequent Family Dinners are Linked to Better Grades for Teens and Reduced Risk for Substance Abuse

SPI is highlighting a study originally published by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), "The Importance of Family Dinners". CASA’s research shows that "the more often children eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs and the better they perform in school". Visit for more information.

CASA’s research also highlights that, "Frequent family dining is correlated with doing well in school and developing healthy eating habits." The survey found that frequent family dinners were associated with better school performance, with teens 40% more likely to get A’s and B’s. A Harvard study also found that family dinners were the most important family events in helping children develop language skills.

CASA’s most recent study compared two specific groups: teenagers who have two or less family dinners per week and those who have five or more per week.

Those Who Ate Two or Less Family Dinners Were:

  • Three times more likely to try marijuana
  • Two-and-a-half times more likely to smoke cigarettes
  • One-and-a-half times more likely to drink alcohol

Ten Benefits of Family Dinners:

  1. At half the risk for substance abuse compared to teens who eat with their families less frequently
  2. More likely to get better grades
  3. Less likely to have friends who use illicit drugs
  4. More likely to have lower levels of tension and stress in the home
  5. More likely to say that their parents were proud of them
  6. More emotionally stable
  7. More likely to have positive relationships
  8. More likely to have healthier eating habits
  9. Less likely to contemplate suicide
  10. Less likely to try marijuana or have friends who do

The Challenge for Busy Families
CASA’s research confirms the notion that shared dinners make for stronger families. The problem is that between after-school activity schedules and parents’ busy work schedules, making connections within the family requires a concerted effort.

SPI Offers the Following Suggestions:

  • Make family dinners a requirement
  • Involve your teenagers in all phases of the meal
  • Make meals enjoyable
  • Ask open-ended questions to get your teens talking
    What was the best think that happened this week/day?
    What is something you laughed about today?
    What made you angry this week/day?
    If you could vote, whom would you vote for?

Underage Drinking Article

Scottsdale Prevention Institute Phone: 480-443-3100
8102 E. Jackrabbit Road, #B Fax: 480-443-3272
Scottsdale, AZ 85250 United Way # 0077

Scottsdale Prevention Institute’s (SPI) CALL TO ACTION:
Join Our Campaign to Curb Underage Drinking

How Common is Underage Drinking Among Youth?

Drinking among US teenagers is a serious problem. Alcohol is the most commonly used drug among teens. According to the 2006 Arizona Youth Survey, approx. 50 percent of surveyed eighth graders have sampled alcohol and more than 20 percent of our high school sophomores report coming to school drunk on at least one occasion. By the time they graduate high school, nearly 75 percent of Arizona’s kids will have experimented with alcohol.

Youth are now reporting that their first drink came at age 14. 24% of 8th graders, 39% of 10th graders, and 47% of 12th graders reported drinking within the past 30 days (Arizona Youth Survey, 2006).

Alcohol + Energy Drinks = A Hazardous Combination
The caffeine in Red Bull (and other energy drinks) causes blood vessels to expand, allowing more alcohol to get into the blood stream. Energy drinks are a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant, so the two end up counteracting. People are then left unable to realize how drunk they truly are.
Use by 8th, 10th, and 12th graders in higher in AZ than it is nationwide (National Monitoring the Future, 2006).

Alcopops -- the Newest Trend in Underage Drinking.
These fruit flavored malt beverages come in colorful
packaging similar in design to many teen-friendly soft drinks. They are called "flavored malt beverages" or "low alcohol refreshers" by the alcohol industry, even though their alcohol content rivals most beers.

AZ ranks 20th among all states for the percentage of youth (ages 12-20) who report binge drinking within the past 30 days, meaning only 19 states have more binge drinkers (SAMHSA, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2003-2004).

How Do Underage Drinkers Obtain Alcohol?
Most underage drinkers report it is "very easy" to obtain alcohol. Most get it from:
Third Parties (e.g., legal-age friends, siblings, and strangers)
Commercial outlets, such as stores, bars, and restaurants (often by using a fake ID)
Home is the primary source of alcohol among the youngest drinkers, either stolen from parents’ supplies, or given willingly by some parents.

What is Parents’ Role in Underage Drinking?
The Good…Parent’s Approval and Involvement Matters
Children say that parental disapproval of underage drinking is the key reason they have chosen not to drink.

Charles Curie, former substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Teens who have two or fewer family dinners a week are twice as likely to smoke daily and get drunk monthly, compared to teens who have at least five family dinners per week. (The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, 2006)
The report’s findings underscore the significance of family dinners as a proxy for parental engagement and communication.

The Bad…Most Teens Get Alcohol from Parents and Friends (AMA News Release, 2005)

  • Nearly half of surveyed AZ adults believe it is ok for youth to drink alcohol under parental or adult supervision (AZ Attitudes on Youth Drinking Survey, 2006).
  • Two out of three teens, aged 13-18, said it is easy to get alcohol from their homes without parents knowing.
  • One third responded that it is easy to obtain alcohol from their own parents knowingly and one in four teens has attended a party where minors were drinking in front of parents.
  • More than 37% of adults report providing alcohol to youth.
  • A national survey reported that 31% of kids who said they had been drunk in the past year had parents who believed their children were nondrinkers.

How Does Alcohol Affect the Teenage Brain?
Even moderate amounts of alcohol can seriously damage short-term and long -term growth processes in the teenage brain, according to the American Medical Association, essentially hard wiring kids for addiction in later life.

Drinking alcohol during puberty may upset the critical hormone balance needed for normal development of organs, muscles, bones, and the reproductive system (National Institute of Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism, 2006)

Is Your Teenager Using Drugs or Alcohol? Look for these signs:
  • Mood Swings. Although mood swings are normal for teens, look for extreme changes—your child acting happy and upbeat one-minute followed by withdrawal or fits of anger or rage.
  • Secrecy. If your child begins to act with increased secrecy about possessions or activities it may be a sign for concern.
  • New Friends. If your child is using, chances are he or she will be spending time with others who have similar interests. Is your child suddenly hanging around with new friends?
  • Changed School Habits. Is your child skipping classes? Suddenly getting bad grades?

What Can Parents Do?

  • Form a network with other parents so that if you are away, they can check and make sure your home is not being used for an unauthorized drinking party.
  • Be aware that even responsible children can have a small party spin out of control through text messages and cell phones.
  • Avoid sending party invitations by email. They’re easy to forward and can result in uninvited guests.
  • When hosting a party, be sure to have plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages. Adults should keep an eye on things without becoming obtrusive.
  • Talk to your children about drinking and listen to your child’s concerns.

When Are Kids Most at Risk?
Studies show that kids are more at risk for alcohol, drugs, and sex between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., while many parents are still at work. (The California Governor’s Prevention Advisory Council’s).