CINCINNATI—Spring break and March Madness are just two spring-time events that often lead to excessive drinking among young adults.
Studies have shown that 1,400 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related injuries—including car crashes. And research suggests that those abusing alcohol at a young age are more likely to experience alcohol dependence (or alcoholism) as adults.
Whether alcoholism is related to genetics, environment or both, says Robert Anthenelli, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati (UC) and director of the substance dependence program at the Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center, educating children about the dangers of alcohol is key to preventing problems later in life.
“We know that 25 percent of children in the United States are exposed to alcohol abuse or dependence in their family,” says Dr. Anthenelli. “While genetics has been shown to play a role the development of alcohol dependence, teaching young children the dangers of alcohol abuse and serving as a role model can go a long way toward preventing alcohol-related problems down the road.”
For those who may have alcohol dependence problems, says Dr. Anthenelli, getting screened and seeking treatment can set quite an example.
“On April 6, centers across the country will host National Alcohol Screening Day events,” adds Dr. Anthenelli. “Encouraging loved ones to be screened, or getting screened yourself, could be the first step toward recovery. There are so many promising new treatments out there for alcoholism. There’s no better time to seek help.”
Dr. Anthenelli, who is also director of the Tristate Tobacco and Alcohol Research Center (Tri-TARC), has conducted clinical trials on many of the approved alcohol-dependence medications on the market today and continues to study new treatments.
He is now leading a five-year study to determine how an alcohol-dependent person’s genes influence response to medication.
“Genetics and environment play such a strong role in determining those most at risk for developing alcohol dependence,” says Dr. Anthenelli. “We also believe that our genes affect how we respond to treatment.”
To learn more about alcohol dependence or current clinical trials at UC, call Tri-TARC at (877) 874-8272 or (513) 558-7179.
To find a participating National Alcohol Screening Day center near you, visit www.nationalalcoholscreeningday.org.