Each April since 1987 the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) has sponsored Alcohol Awareness Month, with the expressed aims of increasing public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma, and encourage communities to focus on Alcoholism and alcohol-related issues.
This year of 2015, their theme is “For the Health of it: Early Education on Alcoholism and Addiction.”
This month NCADD highlights the most important health issue of underage drinking, a problem with devastating individual, family, and community consequences.
The month of April will be filled with local, state, and national events aimed at educating people about treatment and prevention of alcoholism.
Our schools, churches, and many other community organizations will sponsor a host of activities that create awareness and encourage individuals and families to get help for alcohol related problems.
The timing of this most important month of recognition is most apropos, as it precedes the month when our youth begin their summer vacation; a time when the onset of underage drinking and alcohol related problems most emerge. Alcohol Abuse by young people is extremely dangerous — both to themselves and society, and is directly associated with traffic fatalities, violence, suicide, educational failure, alcohol overdose, unsafe sex, and other problem behaviors, even for those who may never develop a dependence or addiction to alcohol.
While contemplating this article during “Spring Break” last month, I, as well as many millions of other individuals watched on TV as thousands of college-age students descended on Panama City, Florida; engaging in almost unimaginable behaviors while under the influence of alcohol. With the National attention of the events, we have come to realize that the abuse of alcohol among our young people is most certainly becoming worse in our society. Year after year the Bacchanalian orgies that have taken place on the beaches have led to residents of the City to proclaim, “enough is enough!” and they are establishing legislation to ban alcohol consumption on the beach. But we need not go to Panama City to see this, for the same events unfolded on South Padre Island as well. It is most assuredly close to home. This lessening of values among our young people strikes at the heart of Mental Health, for good values are part of the building blocks of establishing good mental health; and the abuse of alcohol surely interferes with that.
Alcohol is the number one drug of choice among America’s youth, used by more people than tobacco or illicit drugs; and it is more likely to kill young people than all other illicit drugs combined. Nearly one-third of our youth begin drinking before age 13, even though it is known to them to be a crime to do so; purchase or use of alcohol by persons under the age of 21 is illegal in all 50 states….not to mention that if they do begin drinking ethanol before age 13 then they are more likely to develop Alcoholism than those who begin drinking later in life.
Adolescence, most specifically, is an age of heightened risk taking behaviors and young people may not be fully developed or prepared to anticipate all the consequences of drinking alcohol; such as “chugging” drinks to celebrate a particular occasion, or being in a car with a driver who had been drinking. Yes, underage drinking has most assuredly placed many youth in dire straits, and by the time they enter university the problems become more severe.
About 1,700 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol related unintentional injuries, including care accidents. About 600,000 students are unintentionally injured while under the influence of alcohol (we have most certainly seen our share of this during spring break at South Padre Island, haven’t we?). About 700,000 college students are assaulted by other students who have been drinking. About 100,000 students are victims of alcohol related sexual assault or date rape. And all of this most likely has its impetus before the age of 13! Read more…