Since 1987, each April has been designated Alcohol Awareness Month in order to raise the issue of alcoholism to the public. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence sponsors the program because they hope to increase both awareness and understanding about alcohol abuse which affects about 18 million people in the U.S. The goal of Alcohol Awareness Month is to reduce the stigma that many alcoholics still experience in our society and help communities to open up a discussion about alcohol-related issues. The special program this April will focus on underage drinking which is a growing problem with serious consequences.
How Underage Drinking Affects Our Youth
NCADD’s Alcohol Awareness Month will utilize local, state and national events to educate people about the treatment and prevention of alcoholism. There will be a number of local schools, colleges, churches and many other community organizations that will be participating in activities to create awareness and encourage individuals and families to seek help for their alcohol-related problems. A particularly important issue this month will be drinking and alcohol problems experienced by young people. Those under the age of 21 that engage in alcohol abuse can be especially vulnerable to the type of problems that can occur when drinking gets out of control. Young people that drink are more directly associated with alcohol-related issues such as traffic fatalities, violence, suicide, trouble in school, alcohol overdose and other problems. Every year more than 6,500 people under 21 years of age die from alcohol-related accidents and thousands more have injuries.
Alcohol can affect people from all walks of life, but it is a major issue when young people who are underage drinkers become addicted. For adolescents, alcohol is the number one drug of choice and kills more young people than all illegal drugs combined. Every day about 7,000 kids in America under the age of 16 take their first drink. The younger a person is when they start drinking, the more they are likely to develop a serious dependency on alcohol. People who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who start drinking at the legal age. Alcohol related injuries kill more than 1,700 college students a year in the U.S. which averages to about 4.65 a day. Many children in the U.S. begin drinking before the legal age and are exposed to alcohol-use disorders in their family, making them more disposed to developing an addiction in the future.
Community Education and Prevention
The goal of Alcohol Awareness Month this year is to raise more awareness about the growing problems associated with underage drinking. Awareness can help bring about change if people take action to prevent the type of alcohol-related issues that can occur when people drink before the age of 21. Families can talk to their young children and educate them about the consequences of drinking alcohol especially when they are too young. Educators, mentors, doctors and anyone involved in the community can do their part to encourage young people to stay sober. If families, individuals and communities get involved in discussions and activities during Alcohol Awareness Month then they contribute to the cause of reducing underage drinking and alcoholism in general. Underage drinking is a complex issue that will require a combined effort of everyone that impacts a child’s life to help them steer clear of drinking alcohol too early on.
An important part of NCADD’s program is an Alcohol-Free Weekend from April 4th to 6th this year which can help raise public awareness about alcohol and how it affects families and communities. To participate in this aspect of Alcohol Awareness Month, you must remain alcohol-free for three days and take time to educate yourself about the effects and symptoms of alcoholism.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, please contact us.
Cindy Nichols is the founder of 411 Intervention, a full-service intervention resource that helps individuals with addiction issues find treatment solutions. You can see an interview with Cindy here on Recovery Now TV.