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April is Alcohol Awareness Month

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By The Staff

Underage drinking is a serious problem, with roots deep in our culture. Teens are in a constant state of searching for who they are and who they want to become. They have a desire for adventure and excitement as well as a desire to feel more grown up. Unfortunately, many teens turn to alcohol to fill this need for enlightenment, exhilaration and maturity. These reasons are often compounded by their belief that they are indestructible.

More teens drink alcohol than smoke or use drugs. Approximately 10 percent of 12 year olds say they have used alcohol at least once. That percentage doubles by age 13 and increases to 50 percent for 15 year olds. Alcohol dependency rates are the highest among 18-20 year olds who, ironically, are not even old enough to drink alcohol.

Consuming alcohol comes with many health risks for the underage drinker. Not only does it impair brain development but teens who drink, often engage in binge drinking. So the danger is not just that teens are drinking, but it is also how they are drinking. Binge drinking can be defined as consuming five or more drinks in a single occasion. It is very dangerous and could lead to serious health problems, even death. Approximately 5,000 deaths each year can be attributed to underage drinking. Underage drinking also increases the risk of carrying out or becoming a victim of violence or sexual assault.

Some people think that underage drinking is a rite of passage for youth or that it is inevitable and see the provision of a “safe” place to drink as a responsible option … there is no such place. We have to change these harmful attitudes and replace them with a safe community that opposes underage drinking and protects our youth. Working together, we can create a community that supports teen decisions not to drink. Now is the time to take action, before a tragedy occurs, not in the wake of one.

For more information about local efforts to reduce underage alcohol use, please contact the Henry County KY Agency for Substance Abuse Policy Local Board at the Henry County CARE Team, (502) 878-0001 or jmann@hccares.org.

When a health topic needs special attention the Surgeon General issues a national Call to Action Guide. This information has come from that product. You can view the material in its entirety at http://www.stopalcoholabuse.gov/. There you will find downloadable versions of A Guide to Action for Communities as well as A Guide to Action for Families.

Julie Mann

Henry Co. KY-ASAP

Nellie Druin

Henry Co. CARE Team