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Alcohol Awareness Month (April)

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (samhsa) April serves as Alcohol Awareness Month. The following statement was taken directly from the Centers for Disease Control website: Alcohol use by persons under age 21 years is a major public health problem. Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States, more than tobacco and illicit drugs. Although drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States. More than 90% of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks. On average, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers. In 2008, there were approximately 190,000 emergency rooms visits by persons under age 21 for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey1 found that among high school students, during the past 30 days:

  • 42% drank some amount of alcohol.
  • 24% binge drank.
  • 10% drove after drinking alcohol.
  • 28% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.

Youth who drink alcohol are more likely to experience:

  • School problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades.
  • Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities.
  • Legal problems, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk.
  • Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses.
  • Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity.
  • Disruption of normal growth and sexual development.
  • Physical and sexual assault.
  • Higher risk for suicide and homicide.
  • Alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls, and drowning.
  • Memory problems.
  • Abuse of other drugs.
  • Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects.
  • Death from alcohol poisoning.

If you have a person under 21 in your home or one that you serve as a mentor, talk about the dangers of underage drinking. Many resources are available to help educate yourself and youth. Please see the listed websites for more information.

Article provided by Dana H. Breeding, RN Health Educator of Community Wellness, at Augusta Health. To contact Dana Breeding, related to the above information please call (540)-332-4988 or (540)-932-4988. For more information see http://www.samhsa.gov/topics, http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/underage-drinking.htm and www.stopalcoholabuse.gov.

1-Eaton DK, Kann L, Kinchen SA, et al. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2009. CDC Morb Mort Surveil Summ 2010;59(SS-5):1–148. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/ss/ss5905.pdf [PDF–3.5MB].