TV Alcohol Ads-Increase Risk Teen Drinking Problems -Teen Rehab

TV Ads For Alcohol: Do They Increase The Risk For Teenage Drinking Problems?

Apr 12 • Alcohol Abuse • 3442 Views • Comments Off on TV Ads For Alcohol: Do They Increase The Risk For Teenage Drinking Problems?

Teenagers who view and respond favorably to televised alcohol advertisements have significantly elevated chances of participating in binge drinking and heavy drinking, according to current findings issued by a team of American and German researchers. Teens who consume alcohol are considered high-risk for the eventual onset of diagnosable drinking problems, especially when they start drinking before age 15.

In a study published in January 2015 in the American Medical Association journal JAMA Pediatrics, researchers from two U.S. institutions and a German institution assessed the impact that watching and liking alcohol-related commercials has on the chances that any given teenager will participate in dangerous drinking practices that substantially contribute to short- or long-term risk. These researchers concluded that teens who respond favorably to televised alcohol ads are considerably more likely to drink in risky ways.

Binge Drinking And Heavy Drinking

The hallmark of binge drinking is rapid consumption of alcohol that leads to a legally intoxicated state (as marked by a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher) in a maximum of about two hours. Generally speaking, women and girls need to consume less alcohol than boys and men before crossing the lower threshold for alcohol binging.

The hallmark of heavy drinking is the regular consumption of enough alcohol to surpass the general guidelines for light or moderate day-to-day or week-to-week alcohol intake. Again, girls and women need to consume less alcohol than boys and men before transitioning from moderate drinking to heavy drinking.

Problems With Drinking

The primary problem associated with heavy drinking is a statistically increased chance of someday qualifying for a diagnosis of alcoholism and/or alcohol abuse (which doctors group together as a condition called alcohol use disorder). Risks start to rise with a single monthly episode of heavy drinking, then climb even higher for people who drink heavily once a week or even more than once a week.

Frequent binge drinking also increases the odds of developing alcohol use disorder by pushing daily or weekly alcohol intake from moderate levels to heavy levels. Whether frequent or infrequent, the practice also seriously increases risks for a range of short-term problems, including accidental injuries, physical assaults, alcohol poisoning and rapes and other attacks classified as sexual assaults.

Alcohol Ads And Teenagers

By law, no adolescent or any other person under the age of 21 can buy or sell alcohol in the U.S. Despite this fact, alcohol manufacturers spend billions of dollars every year on TV and print ads that inevitably reach large numbers of teen viewers and readers.

A large body of research indicates that teenagers exposed to various forms of alcohol advertising have increased chances of becoming drinkers. Some critics of alcohol manufacturers believe that these companies purposefully target teens and other underage drinkers with at least some of their ad campaigns, although such claims are unproven.

Ad Exposure And Teens’ Drinking Risks

In the study published in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers from Dartmouth College, Brown University and Germany’s Institute for Therapy and Health Research used data collected from older teenagers and younger adults to see if favorable reactions to TV ads for alcohol increase the chances that people in these age groups will binge drink or drink heavily and thereby seriously boost their level of alcohol-related risk.

A total of 1,596 American teens took part in this project online and/or over the phone between the years 2011 and 2013. The researchers looked for three damaging impacts of ad exposure in this participant group: the initiation of alcohol use in general, initiation of involvement in binge drinking and the initiation of a pattern of heavy drinking capable of eventually triggering alcohol use disorder.

Before completing their analysis, the researchers preliminarily concluded that U.S. teens view TV ads for alcohol only a little less often than older segments of the general population. They also preliminarily concluded that, among the 15-to-17-year-old study enrollees, binge drinking went up by 29 percent and heavy drinking went up by 18 percent over the course of the three years under consideration. Nearly identical increases in these activities occurred among teens aged 18 and 19 (commonly viewed as young adults for demographic purposes).

After indexing the favorable response to TV ads for alcohol among these younger and older adolescents, the researchers concluded that the presence of such a response significantly increases the chances that a 15-to-19-year-old will drink any alcohol at all, start participation in binge drinking and start participation in heavy drinking. In line with this finding, they classify favorable adolescent reactions to televised alcohol ads as clear predictors of increased drinking risks.

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