New COVID Research: Parents Let Their Kids Drink During Lockdown

Teen Drinking

Plus: OD deaths related to synthetic opioids; dispelling a myth about “stoner” behavior; and how the keto diet might help with drinking

By William Wagner

When families were thrown a major curveball during the COVID-19 lockdown last spring, how did they make do? Some drank together, according to a new study.

We also turn our attention to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data on the lethality of synthetic opioids, a surprising finding that marijuana use doesn’t result in a more sedentary lifestyle, and the effect of the keto diet on alcohol withdrawal and consumption.

Parent alcohol permissiveness and early drinking are risk factors for binge drinking.”—study in the “Journal of Adolescent Health”

From the Journal of Adolescent Health:
Parental Permissiveness in the Pandemic

Booze flowed during the COVID lockdown in the spring of 2020—and not just among adults. Researchers from the University of Notre Dame confidentially surveyed parents from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and discovered that 16% allowed at least one of their minor adolescent children to drink alcohol. Pre-COVID, those same parents weren’t okay with those kids imbibing.

The reasons for the sudden permissiveness seem understandable—the lockdown shattered daily routines, and parents, especially moms, were at their wits’ end—but what might it all mean going forward? “Parent alcohol permissiveness and early drinking are risk factors for binge drinking,” the authors of the study write in the Journal of Adolescent Health. “Adolescent well-child visits should continue following alcohol screening guidelines and support parents to maintain alcohol-free childhoods.”

From the CDC:
Fentanyl, Other Synthetic Opioids Drive Up OD Fatalities

Data from the CDC indicates that drug-related deaths shot up 27% from August 2019 to August 2020, with 88,000 total fatalities. The primary culprits were illegally made fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. In a recent news briefing about the Biden administration’s plan for its first year, Regina LaBelle, acting director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said, “Our first priority is expanding access to quality treatment and recovery support services,” including making it easier for doctors to administer buprenorphine, a medication that has been effective in treating opioid use disorder (OUD).

From Preventive Medicine:
Marijuana Use Doesn’t Affect Exercise

Forget the time-honored depiction of a stoner sunk into a couch with Cheetos dust smeared on his T-shirt. Researchers from the University of Miami and the Brookings Institution say that people who use marijuana are at least as inclined to exercise as non-users. “Results show that … marijuana use is not significantly related to exercise, counter to conventional wisdom that marijuana users are less likely to be active,” they state in Preventative Medicine. “Indeed, the only significant estimates suggest a positive relationship, even among heavier users during the past 30 days. These findings are at odds with much of the existing literature, which generally shows a negative relationship between marijuana use and exercise.” The team came to its conclusions by tapping into surveys from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health and charting the exercise patterns of marijuana users versus non-users.

From Science Advances:
Can the Keto Diet Take the Sting out of Drinking?

Turns out the keto (ketogenic) diet, which focuses on eating fewer carbohydrates, can do more than help you lose weight. A new study in Science Advances reports that it also helps with alcohol withdrawal and even potentially reduces the urge to drink. Scientists from Denmark and the United States determined that the keto diet enables the body to metabolize alcohol in a way that mitigates the intensity of withdrawal. And in experiments with rats, anyway, the diet resulted in less intense alcohol cravings. While the study is promising, the scientists say more research is needed.

Photo: Drew Farwell