By Cary Quashen | Action Family Counseling
This April Action Family Counseling Drug and Alcohol Treatment Centers is joining with The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and millions of Americans to participate in Alcohol Awareness Month, a national effort to educate the public about the problem of underage drinking and its consequences.
As last year, this year’s theme, “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow,” will mark the month of April filled with local, state, and national events aimed at educating people about the treatment and prevention of alcoholism.
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Alcohol use by young people is extremely dangerous—both to themselves and to society, and is directly associated with traffic fatalities, violence, suicide, educational failure, alcohol overdose, unsafe sex and other problem behaviors. Annually, over 6,500 people under the age of 21 die from alcohol-related accidents and thousands more are injured.
Additionally, alcohol is the number one drug of choice for America’s young people, and is more likely to kill young people than all illegal drugs combined. Each day, 7,000 kids in the United States under the age of 16 take their first drink. Those who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who begin at age 21.
More than 1,700 college students in the U.S. are killed each year—about 4.65 a day—as a result of alcohol-related injuries. Twenty-five percent of U.S. children are exposed to alcohol-use disorders in their family. And underage alcohol use costs the nation an estimated $62 billion annually.
Reducing underage drinking is critical to securing a healthy future for America’s youth and requires a cooperative effort from parents, schools, community organizations, business leaders, government agencies, the entertainment industry, alcohol manufacturers/retailers and young people.
As a high-risk teen counselor I have seen my share of young alcoholics. Underage drinking is a complex issue, one that can only be solved through a cooperative effort. 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 recovery support, are essential for them and their families. We can’t afford to wait any longer.
We can all play a role in preventing underage drinking. Everyone can work together to create a community where young people can grow up and feel good about themselves without drinking. Everyone in the community should deliver the message that underage drinking is not okay. The message should be the same whether youth hear it in school, at home, in places of worship, on the sports field, in youth programs, or in other places where young people gather.
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Families can help prevent underage drinking by staying involved in their children’s lives. It is important for families to pay attention to what’s happening with their teens. Recent surveys show many youth who don’t drink alcohol cite their parents and other family members as the biggest influence in their decisions to avoid alcohol.
Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicate youth are less likely to drink when parents talk with their children regularly and factually about alcohol, make known their disapproval of underage drinking, and set clear rules with fair and consistent consequences.
As a society, we’ve got to do a far better job of persuading young people that alcohol use is a dead end. Working together is the only way to head off and to heal the devastating consequences of underage drinking.
Cary Quashen is a high-risk teen counselor and an expert in the field of addiction treatment and recovery. He is the founder and president of Action Family Counseling. He can be reached by calling (661) 297-8693.
Source: Santa Clarita News