This April marks the 33rd Annual Alcohol Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) since 1987.  This year’s theme is: “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow”.

No other substance is more widely used and abused by America’s youth than alcohol, making alcoholism and alcohol-related problems the number one public health problem in the United States.

Fostering healthy and responsible attitudes, talking openly and honestly, encouraging supportive relationships, and showing children that their opinions and decisions matter, are all ways to help prevent the use of alcohol and other drugs.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, research shows that drinking, binge drinking, and extreme binge drinking by women are all increasing.  While alcohol misuse by anyone presents serious public health concerns, women who drink have a higher risk of certain alcohol-related problems compared to men.  Women who regularly misuse alcohol are more likely to develop alcoholic hepatitis, a serious liver-related acute illness, than men who drink the same amount of alcohol.  This pattern of drinking can also lead to cirrhosis of the liver, which refers to liver scarring and shrinking.

While long-term alcohol misuse is a leading cause of heart disease, women are more susceptible to alcohol-related heart disease than men, even though they may consume less alcohol over their lifetime than men.

Research suggests that alcohol misuse produces brain damage more quickly in women than in men.  Also, because alcohol disrupts brain development during adolescence, teen girls who drink may be more vulnerable to brain damage than teen boys who drink.  Women may be more susceptible than men to alcohol-related blackouts, which are periods of memory loss during intoxication without loss of consciousness.

Women who consume a drink per day have a five to nine percent higher chance of developing breast cancer than those who do not drink.  Studies have shown that the risk increases for every additional drink they have per day.

There is no safe amount of alcohol for a woman to drink during pregnancy.  Drinking during pregnancy can increase the risk for pre-term labor and puts her fetus at risk for physical, cognitive, or behavioral problems that can last a lifetime.

According to a New York State survey, fifty-two percent of students in grades 7-12 reported that their parents had never talked to them about the dangers of underage drinking.  Let’s help keep kids safe from alcohol and other drugs by starting the conversation.  For tips on how to do this, log onto www.Talk2Prevent.NY.gov.  For additional information and resources, visit PPAC Central.  Let this be your call to action, and remember, PREVENTION WORKS!

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