Alcohol Awareness Month 2015 – The Importance of Early Education
Taking a sip of alcohol before the age of 21 seems pretty harmless to most teens, but the truth is drinking has damaging effects when abused. It’s important to educate kids at a young age about the risks associated with alcohol, which is why “For the Health of It: Early Education on Alcoholism and Addiction” is the theme of this year’s National Alcohol Awareness Month.
Underage Drinking: The Facts
- 10.4 million young people between ages 12 and 20 drank more than “just a few sips” of alcohol in 2009
- Half of teens have had at least one drink by the age of 15 and by age 18, more than 70% have had at least one drink
- Adults tend to drink more often than young people, but when young people drink they binge and consume more; an average of five drinks on one occasion
- 5,000 people under age 21 die each year from alcohol-related car crashes, homicides, suicides, alcohol poisoning, and other injuries such as falls, burns, and drowning
- More than 190,000 people under age 21 visited an emergency room for alcohol-related injuries in 2008 alone
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
The Dangers of Underage Drinking
What harm can a drink here and there do? It can lead to deadly consequences. Alcohol is the number one drug of choice for America’s youth, and is more likely to kill young people than all illegal drugs combined. Due to the large amounts of alcohol consumed during a binge, alcohol poising, which can shut down the automatic, involuntary drive to breathe, is one of the greatest dangers. In addition to the possibility of developing a dependence or addiction, alcohol can lead to other risky behaviors such as unsafe sex, sexual abuse, assault, accidental injury and drunk driving.
Warning Signs of Underage Drinking
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism urges parents and teachers to pay attention to the following warning signs that may indicate underage drinking:
- Academic and/or behavioral problems in school
- Changing groups of friends
- Less interest in activities and/or appearance
- Finding alcohol among a young person’s things or smelling alcohol on their breath
- Slurred speech
- Coordination problems
- Memory and/or concentration problems
A key part of Alcohol Awareness Month is Alcohol-Free Weekend, which takes place on April 3rd – 5th. During this weekend, the public is asked to abstain from alcohol for 72 hours to raise awareness of alcohol use disorders. If it’s a struggle to stay alcohol-free for the entire weekend, an evaluation by an addiction professional should be considered. Find a treatment center near you.