May 27, 2015

The Social Hosting Law in Illinois

The Illinois social host law comes in two sections. One section prohibits parents and guardians from hosting or permitting gatherings at their home, in vehicles or watercraft and at other property under their control in which underage persons are allowed to consume alcohol.

The second section prohibits any other person from hosting or permitting a gathering at their home in which underage persons are allowed to consume alcohol. This law does not require that the parent or other person to actually provide the alcohol only that they permit the activity involving alcohol and underage consumption.

The violation of the social host statute is a Class A misdemeanor which carries a potential penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine up to $2,500.00. There is a minimum fine of $500.00. If a person who has attended such a gathering is seriously injured or killed, the violation would be a Class 4 felony, which carries a potential penalty of between one and three years in a state penitentiary, and a fine up to $25,000.00.

The statute allows for some relief to those persons who report the underage gathering themselves before the police become aware of the situation. The law also does not apply to legitimate religious gatherings. 

May 21, 2015

Brain Differences Seen in Teenage Heavy Drinkers

Teens who drink heavily appear to have significant abnormalities in brain development, a new study finds.

Heavy drinking by teens may also be associated with a gene mutation linked to impulsiveness, according to another new study.

The studies, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, were scheduled for presentation Monday at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, in Toronto. Research presented at meetings is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The brain regions examined in these studies play a critical role in the addiction cycle of binge drinking and preoccupation with drinking, George Koob, director of the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, said in an association news release.

In one study, brain scans of participants ages 12 to 24 found differences in brain development between heavy-drinking teens and those who didn't drink. Heavy drinking ranged from having four drinks per occasion at least once a month to one or two drinks at least eight times per month.

Compared to non-drinking teens, the heavy drinkers had accelerated gray matter decline and smaller increases of white matter in the brain. The findings may help explain why heavy-drinking teens decline in school performance, said the researchers at the University of California, San Diego, and the Stanford Research Institute.

The other study included identical twin pairs in which one twin had drinking problems at ages 18 and 24 and the other twin did not. The researchers found that twins with drinking problems had altered DNA in a gene that plays a role in impulsiveness, which scientists labeled the PPMG1 gene.

The investigators then looked at 14-year-olds and found that similar changes in the PPMG1 gene were associated with higher impulsivity at age 14 and increased drinking over the next two years. Both impulsiveness and increased drinking at an early age are risk factors for drinking problems later in life.

"It is possible that such [genetic] changes, by increasing impulsivity, predispose adolescents to engage in excessive drinking and that the alterations in brain circuitry that follow excessive drinking, by disrupting executive function, make it harder to stop," Koob wrote in an accompanying editorial.

SOURCE: American Journal of Psychiatry, news release, May 18, 2015