April is Alcohol Awareness Month
The legal age to drink alcohol is 21, and for good reason. Underage alcohol use is a major cause of death from injuries among young people. Each year, approximately 5,000 people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking–motor vehicle crashes, homicides, suicide, other injuries such as falls, burns, and drowning.
Underage drinking increases the risk of carrying out, or being a victim of, a physical or sexual assault. Early use of alcohol can impede a child’s physical, mental, and social development. Alcohol can cause alterations in the structure and function of the developing brain, which continues to mature into a person’s 20′s, and may have consequences reaching beyond adolescence.
Underage alcohol use can lead to other problems, including bad grades in school, run-ins with the law, other drug use, and alcohol poisoning.
Underage drinking is everyone’s problem:
Underage drinking can lead to dangerous behavior, property damage, and violence. The result can be injury and even death for the drinker and other people. About 45% of people who die in car crashes involving a drinking driver under age 21 are people other than the driver.
Ending Underage Drinking is everyone’s job:
“It is time to change how we think, talk, and act when it comes to underage drinking. We need to stop accepting it and start discouraging it. It is time to help young people understand that it is not okay for them to drink alcohol.” U. S. Dept. of Health & Human Services. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action, 2007.
Alcohol is a drug. Talk to children early and often about the dangers of alcohol, and let them know that you disapprove of underage drinking. Monitor children”s activities and show them how to socialize and have fun without alcohol.
For more information, contact Illinois Churches in Action at 866-940-6871, www.ilcaaap.org.
Fact Sheet – Consequences of Underage Drinking