April is Alcohol Awareness Month. Founded and sponsored by Facing Addiction with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), this year’s theme is: “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow.”
No other substance is more widely used by American’s youth than alcohol, making alcoholism and alcohol-related problems the number one health problem in the United States. Calvert County is not immune to the issue of underage drinking. Data from the 2016 Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) indicates that 43.6% of 12th grade students, 42.6% of 11th grade students and 27.3% of 10th graders drank alcohol at least one day during the 30 days before the survey was taken. The survey also shows that 72% of 12th graders, 68% of 11th graders, 51% of 10th graders and 48% of 9th graders reported drinking at least once in their life.
Addressing this issue requires a sustained and cooperative effort between parents, schools, colleges, community leaders, and our youth. The widespread prevalence of underage drinking and the negative consequences it creates remain a stubborn and destructive problem despite decades of efforts to combat it. From risky behaviors, failing grades to possible death, underage drinking is a challenging issue.
There are four areas that have proven to be effective in prevention of this problem:
1) Curtailing the availability of alcohol to those underage;
2) Consistent enforcement of existing laws and regulations regarding alcohol purchase;
3) Changing cultural misconceptions and behaviors about alcohol use through education, and
4) Expanded access to treatment and recovery support for adolescents and their families.
Join us in raising the alarm! Have a conversation with your teen; don’t provide alcohol to those under 21; and seek out treatment and support services should you suspect a problem. Prevention begins at home so take that first step and start a conversation before it’s too late.
Debbi Mister, President
CAASA Board of Directors