Psychologists Discuss Underage Drinking Research on Capitol Hill

On November 15, Science GRO staff, working in conjunction with the Addiction, Treatment and Recovery (ATR) Caucus in the House of Representatives, held the first educational briefing sponsored by the Friends of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) coalition.

On November 15, Science GRO staff, working in conjunction with the Addiction, Treatment and Recovery (ATR) Caucus in the House of Representatives, held the first educational briefing sponsored by the Friends of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) coalition. Dr. Steve Breckler, APA's Executive Director for Science, provided introductory remarks and noted the timeliness of the topic of underage drinking.

Breckler said, “We have learned a tremendous amount about alcohol use across the lifespan, and today we’ll hear a summary of research as it pertains to one critical age group—our children. Importantly, we’ll not only hear about the nature and extent of the problem, but also about promising interventions.”

Further, he noted, “The state of that research is mature and compelling enough that the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General recently released “A Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking.” NIAAA provided the scientific information for the Call to Action, which represents an important collaboration between NIAAA and the highest levels of the U.S. Public Health Service. And because this is the first time such a “Call to Action” has been issued on that topic, yesterday we delivered a copy of the report to every Member of the House and Senate. So I hope that those of you who work up here on Capitol Hill and staff substance abuse issues for your Members will take time to read it.”

NIAAA Director Dr. Ting-Kai Li then provided an overview of the lifespan approach NIAAA has developed to anchor its strategic planning and inform its Underage Drinking Research Initiative. APA Fellow Dr. Mark Goldman, Distinguished Research Professor and Director, Alcohol and Substance Use Research Institute, Department of Psychology, University of South Florida, followed describing the extent and nature of underage drinking and explained how it fit within a developmental framework. APA Fellow Dr. Sandra Brown, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, then discussed her research on intervening with underage drinkers in various settings. And finally, Ms. Mimi Fleury, Founder of Community of Concern, shared her thoughts on how to take action as a parent, in schools, and at the community level.

In addition to thanking Congressmen Kennedy and Ramstad for their leadership as Co-chairs of the ATR Caucus, Dr. Breckler also recognized NIAAA staff, including APA member Vivian Faden and her colleague, Trish Powell, for coordinating NIAAA’s input on the Call to Action and for providing both internal and external leadership on NIAAA’s Underage Drinking Research Initiative.

The briefing was co-sponsored by a total of seventeen organizations and drew ninety-nine attendees, including multiple representatives from twenty-eight House and seven Senate offices. For more information about the Friends of NIAAA, contact Anne Bettesworth.