Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cyber Millenials and their drinking habits

A study being published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, along with the Center for Disease Control, used audience segmentation as the basis. The "cyber millenials," or those tech-savvy young people living in an urban area, tend to be the biggest high risk drinkers. Most were on the West Coast or in the Mid West, and tended to be well-educated as well as ethnically mixed.

What's interesting about this segment is that outside of binge drinking, they are relatively healthy- lower smoking rates, lots of exercise, and eating organic foods- but yet seem not to recognize the danger that binge drinking presents. Also, this segment tends to have significant financial resources which allow for multiple drinks in one sitting.

Now what's mentioned near the end of the article is what truly interests me: that clinicians "tend to be more blasé with younger, healthier patients, and might not even ask them about their level of alcohol consumption or screen them for alcohol problems." That is the problem. I can remember from my college days, going to see the school psychologist to talk about my depression 2 days a week for 3 months- and we talked once about drinking habits. In seeing a therapist after I'd left school and had developed a significant drug and alcohol problem, we talked about drug use and abuse only twice in 6 months. This is horrendous. Without proper education, we can't expect clinicians to learn how to recognize and treat the disease. A marriage and family therapist averages around 10 hours of mandatory study directly related to addiction while gaining their degree. In contrast, the average drug and alcohol counselor (not a master's degree, by the way), will do at least 3,000 hours of practicum directly related to addiction. So it seems that we should probably provide some additional education around addiction and alcoholism to our therapist community, as most people will see them prior to seeing a drug and alcohol counselor.

It falls back again to the stigma around this disease- the fact that 1 out of 10 people here struggle with drugs or alcohol (not to mention all of the families that are directly affected by one's behavior) means we need to get this out of the dark. When affluent, well-educated young people are binge drinking more than any other segment of the population, we need to be prepared for when they go overboard. Parents, educators, and clinicians need to be well-versed in dealing with alcohol and drug abuse for this new generation. The Millenials are going to need all the help they can get.

Here's a British show about binge drinking there:

Here's something funny.

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