American high school students say that around 17% of their peers use drugs, alcohol or cigarettes during the school day—a total of around 2.8 million teens—according to the 17th annual back-to-school teen drug-use survey from the National Center on Addiction and Substances Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia). Eighty-six percent of the high-schoolers surveyed confirm that this happens. And almost half of them know where to buy drugs at school. As for what's on offer, 91% of kids surveyed report cannabis for sale on school property, and 24% prescription drugs. Private high schools are also rapidly catching up with public ones: 54% of such students now say drugs are rampant at their schools—that's shot up from just 36% in 2011.
Significantly, three-quarters of the 12-17-year-olds surveyed said coming across photos of other kids drinking or smoking on Facebook and other social networking sites encourages them to want to get high—and almost half the teens say they see photos of kids passed out or using drugs. Compared to kids who haven’t seen pictures like these, kids who have are four times likelier to have smoked cannabis, more than three times likelier to have drunk booze, and almost three times as likely to be cigarette smokers.
Those who conducted the survey say the lesson for parents is that they have to show their kids they clearly disapprove of drug-use and drinking, which counters one strain of conventional parental wisdom: “I can’t believe how many parents of our teens say they always thought that, if their kids were drinking at home, it was OK because it was under their own roof,” says Nicole Kurash, program director for inpatient adolescent programs at Gateway Rehabilitation. Emily Feinstein, CASA’s senior policy analyst and the report’s director, tells The Fix, “Parents need to say they don’t want their kids to drink because it’s illegal and bad for them. They need to start talking to their children early—by the time they’re 7 or 8—about what’s going on in their lives.” Feinstein emphasizes that teenage brains are more vulnerable than adults’ to the effects of drugs and alcohol.
- Mexico Drug War: More Than 40 Killed in Weekend Violence [Huffington Post]
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- Autopsy Finds No Alcohol or Illegal Drugs in NFL Star Seau [Chicago Tribune]
- 'Teen Mom' Jenelle Evans Finally Quits Smoking! [Gather Celebs]
- Police: Drunk Lab Tech Lowered Pants, Freed Monkeys [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
- Drunk Driving Florida Teen Informs Deputy His Father Is an "Autobot" [Miami New Times]
West Virginia University has been crowned the number one party school of 2013 by The Princeton Review—claiming the title for a third time after taking top "honors" in 1997 and 2007—and WVU administrators are not enthused. “If you look at the schools on this list, they are mostly large, public universities with strong academic and research profiles, as well as highly successful athletic programs. But in the big picture, clearly this list has no real credibility,” says WVU spokeswoman Becky Lofstead. “As always, we focus on celebrating and supporting WVU’s long history of academic achievements. Our students, faculty, alumni, parents and friends have made it clear that is their focus as well.” Whatever the focus really is, the students have demonstrated a laser-like determination to party judging by the laundry list of police citations issued during move-in weekend alone: 100 underage drinking violations, 39 open container violations, 11 “nuisance parties,” seven citations of disorderly conduct, five citations of obstructing an officer, two citations of battery of an officer and three citations for drunk driving. And all of these went down between Friday and Sunday before classes began on Monday. The city of Morgantown also reports it responded to 115 WVU fires last semester alone. Although its ranking may enhance WVU's appeal to graduating high school freshman with a penchant for booze and pyromania, parents may be pushing their kids towards Utah's Brigham Young University, which has earned the title of Top Stone-Cold Sober School for the fifteenth year in a row.
British pop star Geri Halliwell, who once went by the moniker "Ginger Spice," has said "goodbye" to sugar—because she can't have it in moderate amounts. ''I do try to abstain from sugar. That's my thing," she says. "'I'm addicted to it…If I have one little bit, it's a trigger." The red-headed member of 90's pop group The Spice Girls has abstained from booze as well—in order to look and feel younger, and also to be a better mum to her six-year-old daughter. ''Alcohol is full of sugar. Besides, if I'm going to find the balance of being a mum and having a social life, I just can't put a hangover in there.''
Carnival Cruises is testing out a new drinking option that will appeal greatly to those intending to get soused at sea, despite the risk of encouraging passengers—perhaps quite literally—to go overboard. At around $50 per day, their all-you-can-drink package, encouragingly called “My Awesome Bar Program,” would allow cruisers unlimited wine, beer and spirits—as well as non-alcoholic frozen drinks. Initial testing for the program is set for only one of their ships, the Carnival Victory, but if successful, the company plans to expand the program to its entire fleet. Potential problems aren't hard to envisage. Smashed shipmates may be obnoxious at best—and at worst, have been known to cause mass brawls or throw small children overboard. A quick search of Carnival Cruise's own official forums reveals tales of unruly intoxicated teens and drunken groping. Perhaps such considerations are why Carnival is actually the last of its major rivals to offer an unlimited drink ticket—with Royal Caribbean rolling out the program on three of its ships last year and Celebrity Cruises offering such a program fleet-wide since 2010.
The Country Liberal Party (CLP) of the Northwestern Territory of Australia (NT) is looking into opening "prison farms" for repeat alcoholic offenders as a method of rehabiliation. The Territory Labor Government's Banned Drinkers Register currently has 2,369 people who have been found drunk and disorderly at least three times in a six-month period, or have been referred by their doctor or police. Under the current laws, these offenders cannot purchase alcohol anywhere besides a pub or bar. However, the CLP has said they plan to build two of the prison farms—at a cost of $80 million to run—as a means of rehabilitating repeat offenders. "Under our program, if you get picked up three times in six months, you will be put before a tribunal," said Opposition alcohol policy spokesman Peter Styles. "At that tribunal, you will be able to do voluntary rehab with an alcohol and other drug service provider. If you choose not to do the voluntary program, you will be taken to a mandatory rehabilitation facility—there are two proposed in the Territory—where you will complete a three-month rehab program."
Unsurprisingly, there is vehement opposition to the proposal which is being described as dangerous and not having any proven success. "There is no evidence that the prison farm approach is going to work," says Dr. John Boffa, a spokesman for the People's Alcohol Action Coalition. "Even if you took everyone of the dependent drinkers now—and there are thousands of them in the NT—and put them in a prison farm for three months, they are only talking about three months, most of those people will relapse. It is like putting your head in a bucket and saying 'forget about research and the evidence, we are doing what is popular.' It is actually bordering on criminal and people will die as a result of those policies." The CLP's policy also calls for the possible scrapping of restrictions on alcohol sales and the reinstatement of poker machines in social clubs in some communities.