Summertime is a time of celebration with graduations, parties and travel and for some young adults that fun can turn into danger when they are truly not thinking about the consequences of their actions. The dangers of binge drinking and drug misuse could lead to drug and alcohol dependency – and even death.

“Parents and young adults need to be aware of the short and long term consequences of recreational alcohol or drug use.” says Paul Auchterlonie, CEO of Decision Point Center, which assesses, diagnoses and treats drug and alcohol misuse, abuse and dependence in Prescott and Scottsdale, AZ.

The dangers are everywhere. This year the National Institute of Health says alcohol-related assaults have hit 600,000 cases, and alcohol-related deaths among college students have jumped by a terrifying 13 percent. Bing drinking is the norm and according to the Journal of American College Health, 18 drinks a day for guys and 10 for girls is just the start.

“At our treatment center we see young adults all the time that started on a path of recreational drinking or drug use that spiraled out of control. Peer pressure during the school year and especially during the summer when kids are more relaxed can start a young person down that path.”

Decision Point provides the following top five things parents and young adults should know about the dangers of recreational alcohol and drug use. It is never too early to start the discussion and to share these tips with family members.

1.    Risk of accidental overdose is very real especially if kids are mixing drugs such as opiate or synthetics with alcohol.

2.    In fact, edible substances are very potent and THC levels are much, much higher than they were decades ago. A nibble might be considered a safe portion. But many kids find themselves seriously ill after eating an entire cookie or brownie. Edibles can also induce psychosis and that drugs aren’t always what they appear. Cocaine and Molly (mdma) can be cut with Meth or rat poison and many times Heroin is repressed to look like rx opiate pills.

3.    Peer pressure and the pressure to experiment can have deadly consequences. Stay in control and make smart decisions for yourself as to what to do with your body.

4.     Alcohol poisoning and death unfortunately happens and can happen during a recreational binge. One drink can lead to many more and by the time the effects kick in, control is lost. “One or two drinks can be safe if you know the source. We know kids experiment. Risk taking is a critically important part of the adolescent and young adult developmental phase. Without risk – true identities don’t form. However – with drugs and alcohol abuse as a ‘rite of passage’ in today’s US culture kids need to be a bit smarter with some choices as well as well as build awareness about consequences of actions.  Let’s get smart.

5.    Don’t drink anything you didn’t pour or see poured yourself. Too many kids, oftentimes girls, have experienced terrible consequences by drinking alcohol that has been spiked with soluble drugs.

by Paul Auchterlonie