More Binge Drinking Among Young Women

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When you think of binge drinking, usually fraternity houses come to mind – or a scene from Animal House. Surprisingly, binge drinking is increasingly more common among college age woman than their male counterparts.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) men should drink a max of 14 drinks per week and only 4 drinks per day and woman should drink a max of 7 drinks per week and no more than 3 per day. A study by Harvard Medical School concluded that women were going above and beyond these recommended limits more so than men.

The study looked at 992 students comprised of 417 men and 575 women and asked them to confidentially report their daily drinking habits 2 times a week during the first year of college. According to the reports, women exceeded their alcohol limit more than men. Already, women have higher risks associated with drinking because they experience alcohol related health problems at lower levels of alcohol than men do. These risks are why NIAA recommends the weekly limit of 7 drinks a week for women to reduce their risk of breast cancer, liver disease and other significant health risks. 

Harvard was not the first to report the higher levels of binge drinking among women, as the CDC issued an article this year saying that binge drinking among women can start as early as high school and the problem is under recognized. Sociological explanations for the higher incidence of binge drinking among women are many but none are a tell all. Some theories include greater susceptibility to emotional and academic stress, more pressure to fit in and trying to “keep up” with their male counterparts when out drinking. Another explanation may just be that college kids drink a lot. Many reduce their consumption once they leave college, while others begin to experience problems and signs of alcoholism while in college. Some of these signs include having social relationships affected by consumption or a reduction of academic performance – like not showing up to class – because of binge drinking.

Luckily addiction treatment centers are responding to the problem of college drinking – not just among females but both male and female young adults by creating specialized treatment tracks for college students. Also many college campuses are offering 12 step meetings and support groups for those who have problems with drugs and alcohol.


Colorado universities are known to be “party schools”and sometimes drinking and drug use can quickly turn into an addiction. If you are concerned about your alcohol or drug use, Harmony Foundation in Estes Park, CO has an addiction rehab track for college students to help those in the grips of addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Gun Violence at Denver’s 4/20 Rally

Denver has had several 4/20 celebrations but last weekend was their first since the passing of Amendment 64 and was also the first celebration wrought by gun violence. Amendment 64 supporters say incidents like this could curtail marijuana legalization.

Speculations that the gun violence was associated with the legalization of marijuana, the volume of people that attended the celebration or a product of local gang violence have been made. The attendance figures far exceeded those of previous years and the rally was scheduled to be a two day rather than one day event. Because there were larger crowds expected the police presence was larger. Prior to the rally, Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson asserted, “Our biggest goal is to ensure everyone is safe in this environment…We’ll have the necessary number of officers to ensure the safety of the public.”

Unfortunately the public wasn’t safe, as bullets were fired into the crowed causing upwards of 80,000 people to flee into nearby streets. Fortunately, only two people sustained non-life threatening gunshot wounds and one was grazed by a bullet. Denver police released descriptions of the gunmen but haven’t made any arrests yet but may have identified one of the suspects and there is growing speculation that this was a gang related incident.

Advocates for marijuana legalization say the gun violence and the nature of the festival could damage legalization efforts by portraying a tainted public image of marijuana users. The dialogue around the 4/20 celebration rally and those who attend it is about “getting high” or the excessive use of marijuana, alcohol and other drugs. It is a place to party and binge on substances which is why, according to Joe Megysey the spokesman for the Amendment 64 campaign says these events give marijuana users a negative public image: “The vast majority of legitimate industry condemns these events, but most people watching television coverage of the event will see instead images of a 30-year-old stoner… rambling about how great pot is.” Megysey also predicts that these types of rallies will lose their appeal, saying, “As we move toward normalizing marijuana and as legalization moves forward, these kinds of rallies will become a thing of the past.”

While the rallies seem to encourage and celebrate the excessive use of marijuana they also don’t help with drug prevention either. Young adults and youth that attend these festivals are exposed to behaviors that they may think are “cool” to model. There have been various studies linking early use of substances like marijuana with the development of substance abuse disorders later in life. In light of this, hopefully Megysey’s prediction is right that these types of rallies will lose their appeal and the public doesn’t have to worry as much about exposure to marijuana abuse – or gun violence.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Alcohol Awareness Month, founded by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) in 1987, occurs every April. Addiction treatment providers across the nation work to raise public awareness about alcoholism and to de-stigmatize it.

Although the stigma associated with alcoholism has improved since the 1980s, there is still much work to be done to reduce the negative public impression of what being “alcoholic” entails that discourages many from seeking the alcoholism treatment that they need. More than 8.5% of Americans over the age of 18 suffer from alcohol disorders and many have yet to seek addiction treatment.

Famous alcoholics like Betty Ford and movies depicting all walks of life suffering from alcohol abuse disorders have helped reduce the shame and dishonor associated with being an alcoholic. However, a lot more work needs to be done to help youth, middle aged and elderly alike to seek treatment. Some reasons of the reluctance in seeking help include losing professional stature, being shamed in one’s community or feeling socially alienated from friends or family who drink.

The theme of this year’s Alcohol Awareness Month is “Help for Today. Hope for Tomorrow” with a specific focus on how alcoholism and alcohol related problems impact young people and the children that compose our future. A total of 25% of children in the US are exposed to alcoholism in their families. Also, alcohol is the number one drug of choice for American youth, and is reported by NCADD to be more likely to kill young people than all illegal drugs combined.

Other statistics that shed light on the enormity of the problem of alcoholism among youth and young adults include:

  • More than 6,500 youth under the age of 21 die each year from injuries related to alcohol.
  • Over 1,700 college students in the US are killed each year because of alcohol related injuries.
  • Everyday 7,000 kids in the US under the age of 16 take their first drink and those who take their first drink before the age of 15 are 4 times more likely to develop a drinking problem than those who wait until they are 20 to drink.

Alcohol Awareness Month is purposefully in April because it is a time when youth are often exposed to alcohol and peer pressure to drink. Social gatherings from prom to high school and college graduation often involve alcohol use and abuse. Thousands of organizations and addiction treatment providers will work to raise awareness and educate people about prevention and treatment of alcoholism while encouraging people to make smart choices when it comes to use of alcohol throughout the month of April.

Harmony Foundation addresses problem drinking among youth by offering an addiction treatment track for young adults who need rehab. For more information on our program that helps empower young adults to stay alcohol free, please click here.

New Harmony Mobile Application aids Recovery

Mobile Application for Addiction To ring in the New Year, Harmony Foundation’s Colorado drug and alcohol rehab will launch a new mobile phone application that will serve as a tool to aid clients in their addiction recovery process. Marvin Ventrell, Director of Community and Alumni Relations explains, “This App is a new tool that makes it possible to provide meaningful, continuous, and real-time help to recovering clients, long after they leave our campus. It is particularly well-suited to younger, technologically engaged clients who tend to need longer care.”

The app will work on both iPhone and Android platforms, allowing clients to record their recovery progress and receive immediate feedback from Harmony’s clinical staff. The app will even notify clients when they haven’t updated their progress or condition as a way to check in with clients and provide advice or additional services if indicated.

While in treatment, clients have a full schedule of group therapy, individual therapy, therapeutic assignments, 12 step meetings and educational workshops. Routine is a vital component to addiction treatment because it aids the recovery process through instilling accountability and responsibility. When clients leave treatment, some of the ingrained routines drop off, which is why aftercare is essential to long term recovery.

While there isn’t a one size fits all approach to aftercare, activities such as 12 step meeting attendance, therapy, fellowship, journaling and service all facilitate the recovery process. Many find that important facets of life begin to fill up their daily schedules such as restored relationships and professional endeavors. This can make balancing time between life events and recovery challenging. Harmony Foundation hopes to lessen that challenge by providing a quick and convenient tool for clients to track their recovery and get feedback at the tips of their fingers – literally. The app serves as a gentle reminder if a client has, for example, not been to a meeting for a while or has let other things take precedent over their recovery.

It is said that recovery should come first, as it is tantamount to all other aspects of life functioning properly. Without recovery, one may not have the rich relationships or jobs that come easy to many after getting sober. By providing an app as yet another tool to help clients stay sober, Harmony’s Colorado rehab provides an innovative, unmatched way for clients to find it easier to put their recovery first.

Marvin Ventrell and Harmony CEO Dot Dorman will present the Harmony App Program to industry professionals at the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers Annual Conference in San Antonio, TX on May 19, 2013 and the 39th Advanced International Winter Symposium on Addictive Disorders in Colorado Springs, CO on January 28, 2013.

Spice Addiction Taking a Toll on Young Adult Men

According to SAMHSA, young men are the most affected by the dangers of synthetic drug abuse. Their recently published study revealed that in 2010 there were 11,406 emergency room visits related to the use of synthetic marijuana, or “spice.” Of those admitted, 78% were men between the ages of 12 and 29.

Young men are susceptible to using synthetic drugs because they are lower cost than other drugs, and until recent crack- downs they were widely accessible in local head shops and specialty tobacco shops and legal. The danger of these drugs is in their branding, as the package touts that they are natural and herbal and many associate herbal remedies with concoctions that are good for their bodies. The branding, legality and accessibility likely caused impressionable young men to overindulge in a drug clothed as being natural and herbal and therefore associated as safe. However, the amount of hospitalizations from the mental and physical tolls of these drugs proves otherwise, prompting US drug top administrator Gil Kerlikowske to assert, “Make no mistake—the use of synthetic cannabinoids can cause serious, lasting damage, particularly in young people.”

The serious damage synthetic drugs can cause is well known and has made national news several times in the past few years. The first demographic to greatly indulge in synthetic drugs were young men already in addiction treatment programs that used them to beat drug tests because the drugs were marketed as “drug test safe.” This was in 2010 when there wasn’t a way to test for synthetic drugs, making them very popular because young adults could still get kudos for staying “clean” in drug treatment whilst using and getting high.

The importance of combating addiction beginning at a young age is clear – young adults have the rest of their lives ahead of them and endless opportunities to excel. The use of drugs in young adulthood can rob men and women of a college education, building healthy relationships starting their careers and what older adults coin “the best time of their lives.” It is heartbreaking to see young adults addicted to any drug – but synthetic drugs are particularly disturbing because they seem to take a significant mental toll, leading to brutal violence and even psychosis. For young adults to recover, it takes a special awareness of their needs and pressures they face. That is why at Harmony Foundation we have created a specialty drug treatment program for young adults called YART (Young Adult Recovery Track) to help them fulfill all of the hopes and dreams available to them, so that they can indeed enjoy the best part of their lives.

If you are a young adult or you are concerned about the synthetic drug use of a young adult, Harmony Foundation has addiction treatment programs tailored to meet the needs of all age groups and substance abuse disorders.

Current Generation Said to Have the Highest Addiction Rate

The current generation has the highest addiction rate than any other group – ever. And painkillers are the culprits, as oxycontin addiction, codeine addiction, opana addiction and vicodin addiction are all on the rise.

According to Richard Miech, a professor of sociology at the University of Colorado, Denver, the current generation’s abuse of prescription pain medications is “higher than any generation ever measured.” In fact, it is 40% higher than the previous generation.

Here are some alarming statistics from a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health:

  • Emergency room visits related to prescription painkiller abuse have increased by 129% between 2004 and 2009
  • There have been 3 times as many accidental overdoses resulting in death between the 1990s and 2007
  • There has been a 500% increase in those seeking addiction treatment in drug rehab centers, especially addiction rehabs for young adults, between 1997 and 2007
  • The number of hydrocodone, oxycodone and similar legal prescriptions in the US have increased from 40 million in 1991 to 180 million in 2007.
Why the addiction rate is rising

With greater availability of prescription drugs comes a greater propensity for addiction and accidental overdose. The current generation’s access to oxycodone, and similar highly addictive opiate products, is unprecedented and they are often getting them from friends and family members. Miech warns that accessibility of these prescriptions is underestimated, asserting, “Most people recognize the dangers of leaving a loaded gun lying around the house. What few people realize is that far more people die as a result of unsecured prescription medications.”

The current generation is comprised of adults and young adults referred to as “generation X” and “generation Y.” Although many are filling up emergency rooms, the good news is that they are also seeking addiction treatment. Reputable addiction treatment centers like Harmony Foundation are responding to these admissions by creating specific programs catering to young adults and adults with opiate addictions. Through specialized programs including detox, therapy and support groups, young adults and adults addicted to pain killers have a real chance at sustaining life long sobriety – and potentially lowering the historically high rate of accidental overdoses.

Harmony’s New Young Adult Recovery Track

Harmony Foundation now has a Young Adult Recovery Track!

Harmony’s YART Program is rooted in the peer-to-peer model of recovery. This evidence-based model shows that when those among similar ages or stages in life are in recovery together, they have greater chances of achieving long-term recovery. By being among those with shared experiences that they can better relate to, young adults in particular are better positioned to grasp on to sobriety and recovery as a way of life.

The YART program has been established in response to the growing problem throughout the US of young adults who are addicted to drugs. According to SAMSHA, more than six percent of all Americans aged 18 to 25 have engaged in non-medical use of prescription drugs in the past month. The most commonly used prescription drugs are addictive substances like opiates and benzodiazepines.  

Unfortunately, these drugs and the combination of these drugs known as “drug cocktails” can be life-threatening – as indicated by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism that reported a serious increase in overdoses among 18-24 years old over the past decade. The researchers found that hospitalizations among young adults rose by 25 percent for alcohol overdoses, 56 percent for drug overdoses and 76 percent for overdoses from a combination of drugs and alcohol.

Young adults are more susceptible to peer pressure than other groups, which can be a liability when it comes to drug abuse – yielding to the pressure to try prescription drugs for example. But it can also be an asset – such as in a recovery setting where they see their peers thriving in recovery and embracing 12 step principals.

Harmony Foundation’s recognition of the need for this peer-to-peer model of recovery has been complimented by another innovation – recognizing the impact technology has on young adults in their ability to learn and embrace new concepts. Rather than traditional lectures used in drug treatment programs, Harmony engages clients in a more interactive and technologically engaged track through an array of groups including impulse control, anger and resentment, sexuality, relationships, codependency, trust, grief and loss, relapse prevention and life skills. To compliment these groups, recreational, creative and stress reduction offerings include experiential art, music therapy, yoga, a rock climbing wall, meditation, acupuncture, enhanced exercise and T’ai Chi.

YART will provide a great service to young adults with substance abuse problems in Colorado and throughout the US. Harmony’s Clinical Director, Chris Desizlets – CAC III, speaks to the need of such a program, recognizing that “Clients today enter treatment both younger and sicker than ever before and we cannot treat clients in a one size fits all model. Young adults deserve a young person’s treatment program that respects and speaks to them.”

If you are a loved one has been struggling with substance abuse, Harmony Foundation has affordable addiction treatment programs that can re-ignite your life. Young adults have the rest of their lives ahead of them, make that life filled with peace and joy by calling today.