Friday, September 26, 2014

Friends Are Waiting...For You To Drink Responsibly

Do you drink responsibly?

This is one of those questions that can catch you off guard. Think about the last time you had a couple of glasses of wine with dinner, or maybe a few beers while watching a sporting event on television...or there is the neighborhood barbecue, the family reunion, the wedding, or even getting together with a few friends for "happy hour" after work. If you did drink on these occasions, did you drink responsibly?

Can you define how to drink responsibly? We'll come back to that question in a minute. First, we want to share with you Budweiser's most recent television ad promoted responsible drinking.

Budweiser's #FriendsAreWaiting

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

This is a video that will just grab your heart. It makes you long for the day(s) when you brought a puppy home for the first time. You recall growing up or growing old with your favorite dog. The message is powerful and the young man made a good decision not to drive home under the influence.

But a couple of messages in this film stood out to us:
  • Instead of drink responsibly Budweiser uses the phrase enjoy responsibly.
  • Mid-film the screen goes to black and white with the message: "For some, the waiting never ended." 
The use of the phrase enjoy responsibly is very subtle, but the message "For some, the waiting never ended" will hit home with anyone who lost a loved one as a result of someone's irresponsible drinking.  This message will stop you in your tracks.

Do you think "drink responsibly" advertisements are effective?

Researchers study the efficacy of "drink responsibly" messages

In the September 2014 issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence a study by Katherine Clegg Smith, Ph.D.,  Samantha Cukier, MA, MBA, and David H. Jernigan, Ph.D. all of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health published the results of their research: Defining strategies for promoting product through 'drink responsibly' messages in magazine ads for beer, spirits and alcopops.

In their study they analyzed the text content of 'drink responsibly' messages found in U.S. newsstands reviewing advertisements for beer, spirits and alcopops from 2008 to 2010. The total number of ads was 1795. They carefully reviewed the content, the prominence of the ad and the presence of the responsibility message.

The study's findings...

  • 87% of the advertisements included a responsibility message
  • The responsibility messages were not prominent 
  • Responsibly drinking was never defined
  • The message never promoted abstinence
  • There were 197 unique responsibility messages and 88% of these promoted the advertised product
According to the press release issued by the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Dr. Smith observed:
“While responsibility messages were present in almost nine out of ten ads, none of them provided any information about what it means to drink responsibly. Instead, we found that the vast majority of responsibility messages were used to convey promotional information, such as appealing product qualities or how the product should be consumed.”

So...can you define what it means to "drink responsibly?"

If you asked 12 adults to define the term "drink responsibly," chances are you will have 12 definitions.  A lot of responsible drinking has to do with common sense; however, what sounds reasonable before your start drinking may sound ridiculous after a few drinks.

There is a website called WikiHow ~ To Do Anything. They have a whole section dedicated to How to drink responsibly. They offer three parts to the equation:
  • Make a plan
  • Manage your drinking
  • Avoid dangerous situations 
As we mentioned in an earlier post, many colleges and universities are working to educate the students about drinking responsibly. Today we learned about Boston University's program to keep their students informed and to enforce the drinking laws. The students take an on-line course, even before arriving at the campus as incoming freshman. And each year BU's President Robert A. Brown speaks to the students and their parents.

The school's newspaper BU Today reported:
Brown cautioned the students against underage and binge drinking, warning that in addition to lowering academic performance, excessive alcohol consumption could land students in the emergency room, compromise their safety, or result in their removal from student housing. “For some,” he said, “the consequences can be much, much worse.”

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

How About A New College Party Favor? A "Designated Walker"

Homer statue in front of Old Cabell Hall at th...
Homer statue in front of Old Cabell Hall at the University of Virginia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Autumn days on college campuses...

College campus news is filled with varied articles, with the fall semester now three to four weeks old. Most news offers the latest developments in academia or sports events. And then of course, some colleges are dealing with sorrowful news.

These events, sadly, are not uncommon. We've reported before that in any given year 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries.

Charlottesville, VA police continue to search for Hannah Graham 

While the four colleges referenced above struggle with grief, once again reviewing their rules and regulations as they pertain to drinking and abusing alcohol while on campus or at college related events, and they will offer some comfort to the parents and family members of the deceased students. Investigations into these incidents will continue for months and maybe years.

Sadly, the University of Virginia and the Charlottesville, VA, Police continue to search for 18year old sophomore Hannah Graham. Hannah went to a party on Friday September 12, 2014. At 1:20 a.m. on September 13, 2014, she texted her friends to say she was lost. On Sunday afternoon September 14, 2014, Hannah was reported missing.

It is believed that Hannah was intoxicated, there are a lot of unanswered questions and the investigation continues.

What can college administrators do to help students be safe, what can college students do to be safe?

When we first learned about Hannah Graham it occurred to us that perhaps college administrators should suggest a "designated walker" program. We always hear about someone volunteering to be the "designated driver," but what if a few college students would agree to attend a party with friends and be the "designated walker" to make sure that more students get back to their dorm or apartment.

It turns out that even the Urban Dictionary provides a clear definition of a "designated walker." Additionally, Indiana State University indeed has a "designated walker" program. And Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis' (IUPUI) new program is covered by the Kokomo Tribune:
[Hailey]Macke and other IUPUI student leaders have been trained as part of a new initiative that encourages bystander intervention to reduce alcohol’s harmful consequences. The program’s goal is to encourage students to stop bad behavior before it crosses the line from drunken partying to something worse – and what to do if that line is crossed. Program supporters hope it does to campus culture what the designated driver campaign has done to reduce drunken driving deaths. Both campaigns acknowledge that drinking to excess can’t be stopped, but some of the terrible collateral damage can.
If you have children attending college, you might find interesting this article about Swarthmore College's new party policy.
WWLP reports on new initiatives on New England campuses:

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Some closing thoughts...

Parenting, as we have often said, is a journey. Sending our children off to college whether they are in your hometown or across the country can bring with it many unforeseen challenges. To experience the heartache of the late night phone call that comes from a hospital emergency department or a police department is something no one should have to endure. Start a conversation with your children, or maybe you need to jump start the conversation.

Every college party should come with "designated walkers" or maybe they can be called "party favors" ~ a small gift given to the guests at a party as a gesture of thanks for their attendance, a memento of the occasion. Let the memento be LIFE! 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Keep Prescription Drugs "Out Of Reach"

Once again we need to have a conversation about "medicine cabinets"

If you follow our blog, then you know that about once a year we write about the deadly prescriptions that can be found in your "medicine cabinet." All of our previous posts are still timely, so we are providing easy links to those articles:

Meet Cyrus Stowe

This morning NBC's TODAY program introduced us to Cyrus Stowe. Cyrus lives in Dallas, Texas, and he is a 17 year old high school student. He became aware of how many students were regularly using painkillers, tranquilizers and stimulants. He also realized that the source of these medications were their own home environment...specifically their parents' medications easily found in the medicine cabinet. Cyrus also determined that many parents had no idea that the medications were disappearing.

It is easy enough for this to happen in any family. Maybe one member has a surgical procedure or an acute incident that requires pain medication. As is often the case, the patient recovers to the point that they no longer need to take the prescription, but there are remaining pills. And the bottles sit unsupervised in a medicine cabinet or nightstand drawer, or even a kitchen cupboard. Additionally, one family member may be prescribed a stimulant or tranquilizer, but again the bottles are not monitored.

Cyrus decided to make a short documentary to alert parents and other family members about the dangers of not monitoring these powerful and often deadly medications.

Watch Cyrus' trailer: "Out Of Reach"

Medicine Abuse Through A Teen's Eye

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

NBC's Maria Shriver meets Cyrus Stowe...

We feel it is critical that you see Maria Shriver's report where she not only introduces us to Cyrus Stowe, but also Sherrie Rubin. Sherrie is willing to join the conversation and share her own story about her son, Aaron.

If you are having viewing the video, you can see it here.

Here are the three tips provided by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids that Matt Lauer referred to in the Today Show segment:

  • Talk to your kids about the risks of prescription drug abuse. Children who learn a lot about the risks of drugs are up to 50 percent less likely to use them. 
  • Keep your prescription medicine in a secure place, and count and monitor the number of pills you have. 
  • Set a good example for your kids and don't share medications or take a drug without having a prescription for it yourself.

 Some closing thoughts...

Both Cyrus Stowe's film  and Maria Shriver's report are conversation starters. You can help #EndMedicineAbuse by sharing the full film and an "Out of Reach" toolkit with your friends, schools, communities, families and more.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Shared Experiences:Adult Children of Alcoholics

"Everyone has their own version of everything that has ever happened." Essie Masters, William Master's mother

What we can learn from historical period dramas...

If you enjoy watching American period dramas, particularly those that are based on historical events and true-life characters, then you have had a lot to choose from these past couple of years, those produced both for television and full-length movies. Good examples of these include this year's THE KNICK  currently running on Cinemax directed by Steven Soderbergh, MASTERS OF SEX now in its second season on Showtime, and the current PBS presentation of Ken Burn's The Roosevelts: An Intimate History.

These biopic series all portray interesting and powerful story lines and each of these weaves rather dramatically the impact of alcoholism and drug addiction on the adult children of alcoholics. Keep in mind these productions are really not about the disease of addiction, it is just that the disease of addiction becomes a sub-plot...much like a recurring cast member.

For example, the opening quote above comes from a part of the dialog between Dr. William Masters and his mother wherein they are discussing her husband's and his father's alcoholism and the affect it had on Dr. Masters. Growing up Dr. Masters tended to create his own world and he adapted to his father's disease and chose to never speak of it. Then all these years later being forced to deal with it with his mother and his brother's "stories" pushed him to realize his version of his childhood was just his mother points out his own version. 

Learning to share experiences...

This month is National Recovery Month. It is a time for those in recovery, family members and treatment professionals to reflect on the importance of a positive message that recovery from addiction and all behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover.  It is a time to share your experience, strength and hope.

This August Congressman Paul Ryan (Wisconsin) published a new book, The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea.  Interestingly and perhaps the most quoted and often referred to section of the book had to do with his father. It seems that all of his life he only shared that his father died quite suddenly when Congressman Ryan was 16. In fact his father died from alcoholism and he did what many children of alcoholics do - he created his own version and held onto to his version well into adulthood.

Recently Congressman Ryan sat down for an interview with NBC's Chuck Todd, now moderator of "Meet The Press." Being interviewed by Chuck Todd is nothing new for Mr. Ryan, but this interview turned into an opportunity for them to share their experiences as adult children of alcoholics. They found they had something in common - both fathers had died of alcoholism when each was in their mid-teens and according to each they grew up fast

The Huffington Post published a news report and shared a video about Ryan and Todd's conversation.

Addiction is a family disease...

The National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc (NCADD) points out:
Helping families understand that just as the addict is responsible for their own recovery, they too are responsible for their own recovery. The whole family is in this together, including the children. Addiction in the family strains relationships and people become anxious, mistrustful, tired and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness can set in. Because addiction hurts the whole family, it is absolutely essential that solutions are designed to restore the whole family.  
This is precisely why at Cottonwood Tucson we offer a Family Program.  The goal of Family Program is to help families relearn behavioral interaction so that healthy behaviors become logical. Interpersonal change that can be sustained after treatment requires a movement from following direction (first order change) to internalizing new ways of interacting (second order change). Families shift from obsessive worry and controlling behaviors to acknowledging that which is outside of their control and learn to focus on their own personal needs and boundaries. They learn to detach from the pain, and not from the person.

Five 8-hour days, a solid program, and a community of support begins the shift to sustained healthy family behavior. It’s a program that asks a lot from families. For many families, the result is a healthier functioning which is priceless.

As always...start the conversation, maybe it is time to compare versions.


Friday, September 12, 2014

National Recovery Month Celebrates 25 Years

Join the voices, speak up, reach out...

Do you have family members or friends in recovery? How about long term recovery? When people first get sober, taking it "one day at a time," receiving that first 24 hour AA chip and then a 30 day AA chip can feel like it takes forever. Considering long term recovery seems an impossible dream.

But long term recovery is not only possible it does happen; and according to some statistics currently there are 23 million Americans in long term recovery. 

And this month marks the 25th Birthday/Anniversary for National Recovery Month. Dare to imagine...25 years!

A bit more about National Recovery Month...

Every year we speak up about National Recovery Month. It is our way of trying to reach out to those in recovery, seeking recovery and their family members and friends...sharing the support that can be found year round, but most particularly focused on each year in September. As the National Recovery Month website shares:
Celebrated during the month of September, Recovery Month began in 1989 as TreatmentWorks! Month, which honored the work of the treatment and recovery professionals in the field. The observance evolved to National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month (Recovery Month) in 1998, when the observance expanded to include celebrating the accomplishment of individuals in recovery from substance use disorders. The observance evolved once again in 2011 to National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) to include all aspects of behavioral health.

How can you participate in the celebration?

Actually participation is pretty simple.
  • You can visit the National Recovery Month website and search for an event in your area. 
  • You can check out your local newspaper, both the hard copy and the online copy -- search "National Recovery Month" or "Recovery Month."
  • Google the phrase "Recovery Month" on Google News and you will find no less than 127,000 search engine results.
  • Or, enter your zip code below to find an event in your area.

Here is one of our favorite National Recovery Month events...

Now in its 11th year the Art of Recovery Expo will take place in Phoenix, Arizona on September 20, 2014.This all day event 10:00AM - 5:00PM happens at the Phoenix Convention Center, Hall G, South Building, near Jefferson and 3rd Street. The event is open to the public and it is FREE!

This year's keynote speaker is Tara Conner, Miss USA 2006. She has a remarkable story which she shares to help others realize that recovery is possible.

Spending a day at the Art of Recovery Expo is a great way to celebrate your recovery...or to take the first step to begin your recovery.

Recovery...a journey worth taking.