Blog contributed by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC and Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC
Alcohol abuse continues to be a public health issue across our nation. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) has brought attention to this issue by sponsoring Alcohol Awareness Month each April since 1987. The purpose of Alcohol Awareness Month is to “increase public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma and encourage local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues” . Another aspect that NCADD is highlighting during this month is the concern of underage drinking, as this continues to be a problematic issue for individuals, families, and communities.
With April commencing, so have many activities and events on the local, state, and national level, promoting the theme of this year’s Alcohol Awareness Month: “Help for Today. Hope for Tomorrow”. In effort to better educate the general public and break many of the stigmas associated with alcohol addiction and abuse, a host of activities have been created to encourage awareness and education about alcohol-related issues.
Statistics continue to reveal the alarming reality of alcohol abuse and the consequences that may result. Alcohol continues to be the number one drug of choice among young people in the United States, more likely to be the cause of death for this age group than a combination of all illegal drugs . Over 6,500 adults under the age of 21 lose their lives due to an alcohol-related accident each year. This does not include the countless more that are injured due to consequences from alcohol misuse, such as traffic accidents, violent behavior, unsafe sexual practices, or suicide.
A major focus of the NCADD-sponsored Alcohol Awareness Month is promoting awareness to reduce underage drinking, a critical component to developing a healthier future for America’s youth. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, the following are the ways our youth are impacted by underage drinking:
- Approximately 7,000 adolescents under the age of 16 take their first drink each day
- About 25 percent of children in the US are exposed to alcohol-use disorders in their family
- Adolescents and children who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who begin at age 21.
- Underage alcohol use costs the nation an estimated $62 billion per year
By focusing on preventing and reducing underage drinking in our youth TODAY, we are indeed creating hope for tomorrow and for all future generations. Greg Muth, chairperson of the NCADD Board of Directors shared, “As a nation, we need to wake up to the reality that for some, alcoholism and addiction develop at a young age and that intervention, treatment, and support for recovery are essential for them and their families.”
As the month of April unfolds, we have the opportunity to commemorate the treatment and prevention of alcoholism. Contact your local NCADD affiliate to learn more about events that may be occurring for Alcohol Awareness Month. The building of successful future generations begins with the foundations developed today.
: National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, INC. “Alcohol Awareness Month”. http://www.ncadd.org/index.php/programs-a-services/alcohol-awareness-month Accessed 1 April 2014
*image courtesy of stockimages at freedigitalphotos.net