This April marks the 36th Annual Alcohol Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) since 1987. This year’s theme is “For the Health of It: Early Education on Alcoholism and Addiction”. Alcohol-Free Weekend has traditionally been observed the first weekend in April, which is April 1-3. This is a time when parents and other adults are asked to abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages for 72 hours to show our youth that alcohol isn’t necessary to have a good time. If participants discover they can’t go without a drink during this period, they are urged to call the Allegany Council’s outpatient clinic at 585-593-6738 for signs and symptoms of a possible alcohol related disorder.
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.
Many youth drink because of social pressure to “fit in” with their peers, while others may drink alone because they are bored or depressed. This puts them at greater risk for developing alcohol-related problems. Drinking is also associated with the leading causes of death among young people, including car crashes, murder, and suicide. Even though teenagers know that people should not drink and drive, almost a third of teens will accept rides from someone who has been drinking.
According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), those who regularly engage in underage drinking are at a higher risk of using other drugs, engaging in risky behavior, doing poorly in school, and having serious health issues, such as depression and anxiety.
Research has shown that one of the biggest protective factors in reducing the likelihood that a child will develop a substance abuse problem is strong parental disapproval of alcohol and other drug use. 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 a New York State survey, over half the students in grades 7-12 reported that their parents had never talked to them about the dangers of underage drinking. According to the 2021 Risk and Protective Factor Survey, administered to 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th graders in Allegany County, 85% of students do NOT use alcohol! Let’s continue to 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 ppaccentral.org.
Let this be your call to action, and remember, PREVENTION WORKS!