Category Archives: Parents

How Liquor Licenses can Effect Underage Drinking

Convenience stores in New Jersey have noticed a decline in sales over the past years. The cause? According to Kasmir Gill, local convenience store owner, it is the combination of raising the tobacco legal age to 21 and the decrease in soda sales due to parents discouraging their children from drinking soda.

To counter this, Gill and other convenience store owners are looking for New Jersey to develop a liquor license that would allow for convenience stores to sell beer and wine. Their reasoning is that many other states already do this, and they are “not looking to be a liquor store”.

Laws currently state that corporate entities cannot hold more than two liquor licenses, but recent testimony was trying to increase this number to 10. In total, New Jersey only has 9000 liquor licenses, and people or companies are willing to spend a lot of money to obtain one. Legislators feel that those who have spent a lot of money would be frustrated and seeking refunds if more licenses go into place.

Aside from frustrating those who already have liquor licenses, increasing liquor licenses to convenience stores could easily raise the number of underage consumers and buyers. The biggest argument about why convenience store sales have gone down both have to do with youth – not being able to buy tobacco products legally anymore, and being discouraged to buy carbonated beverages.

If convenience stores are desperate enough for money that they feel the only way to make money is to sell wine and beer, then who is to say they will not sell to underage buyers. New Jersey has almost 3300 convenience stores, which would increase the liquor licensure by 36%.

Washington state experienced a large deregulation similar to the one proposed here back in 2011. From 328 liquor stores to over 1700, they noticed a rise in price for consumers, fewer options available, an increase in shoplifting, and a significant increase in underage drinking.

By increasing the accessibility of alcohol to people under the age of 21, we are only increasing the risk of underage consumption. The cost of underage drinking far surpasses the profit gains that convenience stores may gain.

Sober Curious, what is it and how does it benefit us?

Being sober curious is when a person decides to stop drinking, either permanently or temporarily. They may even engage in something called “mindful drinking”, where they drink occasionally and only moderately, instead of getting drunk. This movement has taken on waves, especially in January with “dry January”.

Sober curious allows for people to see how their body reacts without alcohol and how their lives differ from when there is alcohol involved. These people generally call themselves sober curious because they do not attend meetings and do not presume that they will abstain from alcohol for their entire lives. In fact, these people often identify as not being addicted to alcohol, but rather choosing to stop for various reasons such as anxiety, cost, or being health conscious.

Numerous people reported really good outcomes from abstaining from alcohol, some of which included:

  • Better sleep. Many research studies show that alcohol negatively effects sleep patterns. It makes it so that we never fully enter deep sleep. Further, with drinking generally comes late nights and getting to sleep much later, resulting in much fewer hours of the needed sleep.
  • Better skin. Without consuming alcohol, we tend to cut out a lot of the sugars that we drink, whether it be from the wine or the mixer we use with hard alcohol. Sugars negatively affect our skin. Alcohol also dehydrates us, which includes drying out of the skin and not getting the important vitamins that we need that keep our skin looking healthy.
  • Better overall health. Often people go out for a night of drinking and not only end up consuming empty carbs through their alcohol, but they end up getting food after the night, usually something greasy and high in fat. By consuming more calories, especially empty calories, we are jeopardizing our health and wellness. If hangover takes place the next day, usually a breakfast sandwich or ‘hair of the dog’ is the “cure”, which further leads to the consumption of empty calories, likely increasing weight if done on a continuous basis.

A common realization is that it is possible to have fun without drinking. It is possible to let go and enjoy a night out, whether it is dancing, or at a wedding, while not having to be consuming alcohol. And the best part about it all – you remember everything that happened.

Ultimately, being sober curious just means that you want to see how alcohol influences you and how it impacts your body. For some people, this turns into abstaining from alcohol indefinitely, but for others this results in mindfulness drinking or drinking only on special occasions. This new movement is great for our overall health and wellness, both physically and mentally, and really changes the conversation from being either a drinker or a non-drinker, to allowing for multiple pathways that best suite each individual.

Drinking Alone: the Predictor to Something Worse

Recent research has found that teens who drink alone are at a higher risk for adverse effects compared to those who drink socially. This research found those teens who drink alone tend to drink higher quantities of alcohol. It seems as though alcohol becomes a negative coping mechanism for these teens. Comparatively, teens who only drink in a social setting tend to have the reasoning of socializing versus coping.

Teens who are drinking as a coping mechanism are in a vulnerable state and will often drink more to cope with these feelings, feelings such as rejection, being lonely, anxiety, or depression. Being in a vulnerable state leads to a decrease in cognitive functioning and ultimately can lead to the increase in drinking.

The study done by  Pittsburgh Adolescent Alcohol Research Center found that students who reported drinking alone between the ages of 12-18 were more likely to be dependent on alcohol when resurveyed at the age of 25. This is indicative that early solitary drinking is a huge link to alcohol dependency.

So, what does this show? Given that the solitary drinking tends to come through as a maladaptive coping skill, it shows that there are most likely co-occurring disorders. By opening up conversation and destigmatizing mental health, it would likely help to decrease this solitary drinking, ultimately decreasing dependence.

Having an open line of communication can help create positive coping skills. Further, by opening the line of communication, it helps teens feel less lonely, as they will have other people to turn to in a time of need. Encouraging positive coping skills such as reading, writing, drawing, talk therapy, and exercise can significantly help the mental health of a teen.

Ultimately, drinking alone from an early age is linked to a dependence on alcohol late in life. Whether this link is due to earlier onset of drinking, higher frequency of drinking, or utilizing alcohol as a coping skill is relatively unknown but providing teens with a way to communicate their underlying reasoning for drinking can reduce the negative effects this drug has on the young brain, by decreasing the amount that a teen drinks.

Tackling Opioids Through Prevention 2 by Sarah Keir

Parents: Know the Risks but not the Solutions?

Opioids have been a rising issue in the United States, and more recently the opioid overdoses have been acknowledged as an epidemic. Of these people who misuse or abuse opioids, 90% of them have noted that their addiction began in their teen years. As the issue is on the rise, there is a known risk, but what is being done about this risk?

Half of parents who were asked in a recent study stated that they were concerned that their children were at risk for addiction, and yet 66% of parents stated that opioids were the best pain management solution. Unfortunately, a lot of parents and nonparents believe that opioids are the best pain management, probably because of advertisements and the eagerness for doctors to prescribe them. As much as we know that opioids are a problem and create high risk for addiction, one 33% of parents who went to a doctor with their child asked about alternative pain management to opioids. The numbers just do not add up. Further, the major concern is that over the past two decades, opioid related deaths in adolescents has more than tripled.

The Risks:
• Opioids are extremely addictive. Overdose is the leading cause of death in adults under the age of 50 in the United States. More than 2 million Americans abuse or misuse opioids because they are extremely addictive.
• Parents are not monitoring their children. By being aware of how many pills your child has taken and when they are taking them, it allows you to know what the habits of your child are. With helpful monitoring, you are helping to limit the ability to misuse.
• Parents are not talking to their children’s doctors about alternatives. Doctors will prescribe opioids because they are the most commonly known prescription pain management and most commonly accepted. Without starting the conversation, doctors will rarely offer alternatives.
• Utilizing improper disposal or not disposing of medications. By keeping the leftover medications instead of disposing of them, it poses a major risk to misuse.

The Solutions:
• Alternating between over-the-counter medications. This is known to help alleviate pain, in some instances, even better than opiates.
• Utilizing heat and ice. Heat, ice, rest and elevation helps to increase blood flow and decrease inflammation, leading to a decrease in pain.
• Physical therapy and/or acupuncture. Physical therapy will increase range of motion that might be causing the problem, as well as increase strength. Acupuncture has also been a leading pain reliever with minimal side effects.
• Quicker disposal. See if your municipality has a prescription drop box. If they do not, then make sure to crush up leftover medications and mix them with something like used coffee grounds, or cat litter to discourage someone from using the medications or taking them out of the trash.

There are known risks to using opiates. It is important for parents to not only recognize these risks but also to intervene and alleviate the issue before it becomes a real issue. Though it is not always up to the parents, parents can ask their child’s doctors for alternatives to pain medications, whether it be holistic approaches or other non-opiate pain medications. Even by opening the conversation with the doctor, it will show your child that it is a good idea to ask questions and advocate for themselves.