AMA Policies on Alcohol (Impairment)

Adults most common source of alcohol for teens, according to poll of teens 13-18. The poll of teens, aged 13-18, found that nearly half reported having obtained alcohol at some point. In all age groups, girls nearly always ranked higher than boys in obtaining alcohol. In the adult poll, about one out of four U. S. parents with children, aged 12-20 (26 percent), agree that teens should be able to drink at home with their parents present.

Alcohol Industry 101: it's structure and organization

Teenage girls targeted for sweet-flavored alcoholic beverages

AMA survey shows Americans happy to increase state alcohol taxes

Alcohol & Health has fact sheets about:
Alcopops and Girls
Alcohol Advertising and Youth
Alcohol and Youth Facts
Physiological Effects of Alcohol on Teenagers
Campus Fact Sheet

A Matter of Degree
College students at universities participating in an American Medical Association (AMA) program, "A Matter of Degree" (MOD), are less likely to miss class, be assaulted by a drunk student or hurt themselves after drinking, according to an evaluation conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health (HASP) and appearing in the October 2004 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The study also found a decline in the drinking rates themselves at colleges incorporating the most MOD policies or "interventions." MOD, a program funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and managed by AMA, helps universities collaborate with their students and surrounding communities to reduce the environmental factors that lead to high-risk drinking.

Weitzman, E. R.; Nelson, T. F.; Lee, H.; Wechsler, H.; "Reducing drinking and related harms in college: evaluation of the "A Matter of Degree" program", AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PREVENTIVE MEDICINE (2004); 27 (3): 247-265. Between 1997 through 2001 ten colleges with high levels of heavy and problem drinking, along with their surrounding communities, participated in the ongoing program. The evaluation measures patterns of program implementation and effects of the program on frequent, heavy and 'binge' drinking, harms and secondhand effects of alcohol consumption. For this phase of the evaluation, drinking and harm patterns from the ten MOD schools were compared to patterns at 32 matched colleges from the national Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study. Findings include that an environmental prevention program targeting heavy and harmful drinking such as MOD can be implemented within college communities and that where program implementation emphasizes changes to alcohol availability and larger cultural factors, college communities experience significant reductions in levels of heavy alcohol consumption including binge drinking and related harms as well as reductions in secondhand effects. Changing the conditions that shape drinking-related choices, opportunities and consequences for drinkers and those that supply them with alcohol, appear to be key ingredients to an effective public health prevention program.

AMA wants TV alcohol ads stopped, from Boston Globe, December 10, 2002. "The American Medical Association (AMA) is calling on television industry to stop airing alcohol commercials during programs that air before 10 p.m. or that attract young audiences. In addition, the AMA wants broadcast and cable networks to refuse alcohol ads that use cartoons, mascots, or other characters attractive to young people. The AMA cited it newly released report that shows that underage drinking impairs memory, learning capabilities, decision-making and reasoning. Findings indicate that adults would have to drink twice as many drinks to suffer the same damage as adolescents and that even occasional heavy drinking injures young brains. The report, which is based upon two decades of scientific research, also found that young drinkers generally perform poorly in school and experience social problems, depression, suicidal thoughts, and violence.

Adams, Marcus, AMA: Alcohol damages teens' brains, December 9, 2002. "Studies have found that adults need to drink twice as much alcohol as teens to experience the same level of harm. In addition, occasional drinking sprees can damage memory and cognition in adolescents. Roughly one-in-five youths ages 12 to 20 report binge drinking, having four to five drinks at a time.

"Alcohol and the driver," Council on Scientific Affairs, JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (1986), 254 (6): 522-527. (1.) Alcohol causes deterioration of driving skills beginning at 0.05% ABC (50 mg of ethanol per deciliter of blood) or even lower. Deterioration progresses rapidly with rising ABC to serious impairment of driving skills at ABCs of 0.10% and above, according to scientific consensus. 2. Drivers with ABCs of 0.05% to 0.10% are significantly represented in road crash statistics. 3. Drivers aged 16 to 21 years have the highest rate of alcohol-involved fatal crashes per mile, with lower average ABCs than older drivers. The Council on Scientific Affairs recommends that the AMA (1) direct public information and education against any drinking by drivers and encourage other organizations to do the same; (2) adopt a position supporting a 0.05% ABC as per se illegal for driving and urge incorporation of that position into all state DI laws; (3) reaffirm the position supporting 21 years as the legal drinking age, strong penalties for providing alcohol to persons younger than 21 years, and stronger penalties for providing alcohol to drivers younger that 21 years; (4) urge adoption by all states of an administrative suspension or revocation of driver licenses after DI conviction and mandatory revocation after a specified number of repeat offenses; (5) encourage automobile industry efforts to develop a safety module that thwarts operation of a car by an intoxicated person."

Elliott, Victoria Staff, "Vigilance urges for patients' lifestyle choices : AMA policy signals a renewed commitment to fight smoking, obesity and underage drinking." AMENDS, July 7, 2003. "We have allowed companies to create an entire subclass of our society that are neurochemical slaves," said William P. Gifts, MD, a pathologist from Aurora, Ill. and a delegate from the Organized Medical Staff Section.

The AMA will "work to create a higher level of awareness about the harm caused by underage drinking and encourage more research in this area. Taxes on tobacco and alcohol should be increases to fund health care and health education."

'Teen cocktail of choice: Drugs, alcohol and unprotected sex," American Medical News, March 18, 2002. Physicians are urged to help steer their teen and young adult patients away from destructive behavior by using incisive questions and straight answers.

"Vigilance urged for patients' lifestyle choices", AMA policy signals a renewed commitment to fight smoking, obesity and underage drinking." By Victoria Stag Elliott, Amends staff. July 7, 2003. Though it's all been said before, it needs to be said again -- and with renewed commitment. At least that's the point made by a series of policies adopted at the AMA's Annual Meeting last month. The actions encouraged physicians to stay focused on patient lifestyle issues, and called for public and private efforts to buttress these messages

updated 12/08/16