April is Alcohol Awareness Month
- Alcohol is the drug of choice among America’s adolescents, used by more young people than tobacco or illicit drugs.
- Approximately 10% of 9- to 10-year-olds have started drinking. Nearly one-third of youth begin drinking before age 13.
- Using alcohol and drugs before the brain has fully developed dramatically increases the risk for future addiction to alcohol and drugs. Young people who start drinking alcohol before age 15 are 5 times more likely to develop alcohol abuse or dependence than people who first used alcohol at age 21 or older.
- About 90% of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is in the form of binge drinking (5 drinks for men and 4 for women in the space of two hours or less).
- The well-known risks of binge drinking include accidents (falls, burns, car accidents, etc.), injury (through violence), alcohol poisoning, and problems with high blood pressure, stroke, liver disease and diabetes. A new study from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine shows that binge drinking also significantly disrupts the drinker’s immune system.
- When you send your teen to college, be aware that college freshmen’s drinking habits are often formed during the first six weeks of school. About 4 out of 5 college students drink alcohol, and about half of college students who drink also consume alcohol through binge drinking.
From the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, here are Ten Tips for Prevention—Youth that you can share with your teen:
- Don’t Be Afraid to Say No: Sometimes, our fear of negative reaction from our friends, or others we don’t even know, keeps us from doing what we know is right. Real simple, it may seem like “everyone is doing it,” but they are not. Don’t let someone else make your decisions for you. If someone is pressuring you to do something that’s not right for you, you have the right to say no, the right not to give a reason why, and the right to just walk away.
- Connect With Your Friends and Avoid Negative Peer Pressure: Pay attention to who you are hanging out with. If you are hanging out with a group in which the majority of kids are drinking alcohol or using drugs to get high, you may want to think about making some new friends. You may be headed toward an alcohol and drug problem if you continue to hang around others who routinely drink alcohol, smoke marijuana, abuse prescription drugs or use illegal drugs.
- Make Connections With Your Parents or Other Adults: As you grow up, having people you can rely on and talk to about life, challenges and your decisions about alcohol and drugs is very important. The opportunity to benefit from someone else’s life experiences can help put things in perspective and can be invaluable.
- Enjoy Life and Do What You Love – Don’t Add Alcohol and Drugs: Learn how to enjoy life and the people in your life, without adding alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and drugs can change who you are, limit your potential and complicate your life. Too often, “I’m bored” is just an excuse. Get out and get active in school and community activities such as music, sports, arts or a part-time job. Giving back as a volunteer is a great way to gain perspective on life.
- Follow the Family Rules About Alcohol and Drugs: As you grow up and want to assume more control over your life, having the trust and respect of your parents is very important. Don’t let alcohol and drugs come between you and your parents. Talking with mom and dad about alcohol and drugs can be very helpful.
- Get Educated About Alcohol and Drugs: You cannot rely on the myths and misconceptions that are out there floating around among your friends and on the internet. Your ability to make the right decisions includes getting educated.
- Be a Role Model and Set a Positive Example: Don’t forget, what you do is more important than what you say! You are setting the foundation and direction for your life; where are you headed?
- Plan Ahead: As you make plans for the party or going out with friends you need to plan ahead. You need to protect yourself and be smart. Don’t become a victim of someone else’s alcohol or drug use. Make sure that there is someone you can call, day or night, no matter what, if you need them. And, do the same for your friends.
- Speak Out/Speak Up/Take Control: Take responsibility for your life, your health and your safety. Speak up about what alcohol and drugs are doing to your friends and your community, and encourage others to do the same.
- Get Help!: If you or someone you know is in trouble with alcohol or drugs, get help. Don’t wait.