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Phoenix House News & Views: Alcohol Awareness Month Issue
Phoenix House

April, 2011

GET HELP AND SUPPORT AT WWW.PHOENIXHOUSE.ORG OR CALL 1-800-DRUG-HELP We are a Non-Profit Dedicated to Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Message from the President Dear Friends, Spring is here, and it’s full of new beginnings—even in the digital realm. We at Phoenix House are thrilled to have launched our brand-new website, which focuses on the needs of those seeking help. Clients, potential clients, and their loved ones can take a tour of our programs, read inspiring testimonials from our alumni, and find answers to their most pressing questions in our FAQ sections. We have also created a new Twitter handle, @PHouseHope, to provide daily words of wisdom on the web. April is an especially important month for all of us at Phoenix House; it is National Alcohol Awareness Month. In this newsletter, you will learn about alcohol’s risks and how our clinical teams educate young people and adults. As we continue to strengthen our community—in our programs and on the web—we are constantly grateful for your ongoing support on behalf of the amazing men, women, and teens we serve. Thank you, and happy spring. Warm regards, Howard P. Meitiner President & CEO Underage Drinking: Is it a Problem and What Can You Do? According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, one in four 12 to 20-year-olds have consumed alcohol in the past month. But is underage drinking a normal rite of passage or behavior with potentially detrimental consequences? Recent research has shown that teenagers are especially vulnerable to alcohol-induced brain damage, because their brains have not yet fully developed. Brain scans reveal that teenagers who drank heavily had nerve tissue damage, which researchers believe negatively affects boys’ attention spans and girls' ability to understand visual information. Teenagers, more than any other age group, also struggle with impulse control and have a strong desire for pleasure and rewards, without considering the risks. Given these dangers, the best way to protect your teen is to talk about alcohol before a problem arises—especially since the risk of alcoholism decreases by 70 percent if drinking is delayed until age 21. “Parents need to communicate with their children at an early age,” says Elizabeth Urquhart, Director at our Phoenix House Academy in San Diego. “Allowing your child to ask questions and even challenge your perspective is a healthy way to educate them.” While some parents allow their children to consume alcohol at home in the hopes that they’ll learn to drink responsibly, it’s critical to send clear messages. “Our children need us to be the adults, not their friends. Underage drinking is against the law” says Laurie DeLong, Director of our Phoenix House Academy of Austin. New Help for Binge Drinkers A common misconception about alcohol abuse is that only those who are actually dependant on alcohol are in trouble. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth: the majority of alcohol-related emergency room visits are not alcoholics, but “functional” binge drinkers. “A whopping 68 million Americans are classified as harmful drinkers (those who consume five or more drinks in a sitting),” says Phoenix House Chief Clinical Officer Deni Carise, Ph.D., “while only 25 million meet the criteria for diagnosable substance abuse.” Although binge-drinking habits usually emerge in youth, they can continue and even worsen throughout adulthood. Fortunately, there are now treatment options for the ‘problem drinker’ population—thanks to healthcare reform, new FDA-approved medications, and brief, effective psychosocial interventions. So take a closer look at drinking habits—your own and those of your loved ones. “If alcohol use has a negative effect on someone’s life,” says Dr. Carise, “it’s time for that person to make a change. You don’t have to be at the end of your rope in order to get help.” To learn more about the causes and consequences of binge drinking, we invite you to join our Twitter chat April 19th at 3:00PM ET. Awareness Throughout the Year Although Alcohol Awareness Month takes place in April, we at Phoenix House make it a priority to spread awareness all year long. Across our regions, our prevention and education services address the dangers of alcohol in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, and speaker’s bureaus. Presentations provide information about how alcohol affects the body and decision-making, how media messages influence youth, and how to communicate with teens about drinking. “It’s always rewarding when a parent tells us, ‘Now, I know how to talk to my child about these issues,’” says Laurie DeLong, Director of our Phoenix House Academy of Austin, where the prevention team makes presentations to more than 7,000 people per year. In New York, our alcohol awareness efforts also extend to the young people in our treatment programs. “We teach our kids that if they drink, they’re more likely to chase that buzz and go back to their primary drug of choice,” says Tessa Vining, Director of Phoenix House’s IMPACT Program. “We encourage them to replace alcohol with positive coping skills, like exercise, music, or art.” Ultimately, she says the goal is to promote healthy choices: “We’re planting seeds. If an IMPACT alum starts down the wrong path, our hope is that he’ll have a broader understanding of the risks.” Email Preferences/Opt-Out Privacy Policy Spotlight Story: Sofia I started using drugs and alcohol when I was 11 years old, mostly out of boredom. My habits escalated over the next few years until I ended up at the Phoenix House Academy of Dublin. During my first month at the Academy, I was just a drone. But as I continued the treatment program, something clicked—I started following the rules and helping other students. I became committed to my treatment, and I graduated in exactly 89 days. Today, I’m an honors student at George Mason University, but I still volunteer at the Academy. I’m really passionate about teaching kids the tools that I learned at Phoenix House—tools that will be forever embedded in me. I know that some people can get clean and succeed on their own, but I needed Phoenix House; it saved my life. To read more of Sofia’s story, click here. Looking for Inspiration? Look no further: Phoenix House is now delivering a daily dose of encouragement on Twitter. Whether you’re facing the challenges of recovery or just the challenges of life, we hope you’ll follow @PHouseHope for words of support. “I believe each human being has the potential to change, to transform one’s own attitude, no matter how difficult the situation.”—the Dalai Lama Does My Loved One Have a Drinking Problem? Learn to recognize the red flags by visiting the FAQ section of our new website. Our new home on the web now provides our clinicians’ answers to your most pressing questions not only about alcoholism, but also about the science of addiction, designer drugs like K2, and much more. We plan to regularly update this resource with the latest substance abuse trends and key information for those seeking help and their loved ones.


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