Alcohol Awareness Month – Start of the Season of Celebration

alcohol2Dear Editor,

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. April is Alcohol Awareness Month. Established in 1987, AAM was founded and sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) to help reduce the stigma so often associated with alcoholism by encouraging communities to reach out to the American public each April with information about alcohol, alcoholism and recovery. Alcohol Awareness Month provides a focused opportunity across America to increase awareness and understanding of what’s been called the Nation’s #1 public health problem: Alcoholism.

Here are some facts about alcohol:

88,000 deaths are annually attributed to excessive alcohol use

Alcoholism is the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the nation

Excessive alcohol use is responsible for 2.5 million years of potential life lost annually, or an average of about 30 years of potential life lost for each death

Up to 40% of all hospital beds in the United States (except for those being used by maternity and intensive care patients) are being used to treat health conditions that are related to alcohol consumption

It is important for teens and parents alike to be aware of the dangers of alcohol use and binge drinking.

“Whatever it is that leads adolescents to begin drinking, once they start they face a number of potential health and safety risks. Young people who drink are more likely to be sexually active and to have unsafe, unprotected sex; are more likely to be involved in a fight, commit violent crimes, fail at school, use other drugs, and experience verbal, physical, or sexual violence.  Those who start drinking before age 15 are five times more likely to develop alcoholism later in life than those who begin drinking at age 21.

FACT: Research shows that brain development continues well into a person’s twenties. Alcohol can affect this development, causing youth to make irresponsible decisions, encounter memory lapses, or process and send neural impulses more slowly.

FACT: 5,000 people under age 21 die each year from alcohol-related car crashes, homicides, suicides, alcohol poisoning, and other injuries such as falls, burns, and drowning.”

April kicks off the months known as the “Season of Celebration”, with proms and graduations occurring all across the country. Teen alcohol use and abuse traditionally increases during this time of year, with tragedies following close behind. “Of all the alcohol-related fatalities involving teens each year, about one-third of them take place during April, May and June – prom and graduation season. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics that means approximately 1,000 children under the age 21 die each year in preventable tragedies while celebrating their high school proms and graduations.”

During this turbulent time of year, it is especially important to realize that NOT “everyone in high school drinks.” According to the 2014 Healthy Kids Colorado survey, 73% of Nederland area high school students reported that they did not binge drink (have 5+ drinks in a couple hours one or more times during the past 30 days), and 73% of teens think that their parents feel it is wrong/very wrong for teens to drink regularly. This data shows that the majority of area teens and parents are aware of the dangers of teen alcohol use and understand the consequences. Please keep this in mind throughout April and the remainder of the school year, and realize that there are ways to celebrate milestones and successes that do not include alcohol and other drugs!

TEENS, Inc. has made a donation to the Nederland High School 23nd Annual After-Prom on April 30th, 2016 from 11:00 pm – 5:00 am to support this safe, healthy, fun-filled alternative for the late night/early morning hours after prom. Enjoy the season, and don’t forget to Stop & Think!

For resources and more information about Alcohol Awareness Month, please visit: https://www.ncadd.org.

Lonnie Howell is the TEENS, Inc.’s Prevention Coordinator and can be reached at lonnie@teensinc.org.

Lonnie Howell
TEENS, Inc.’s Prevention Coordinator
lonnie@teensinc.org