Each April since 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) sponsors Alcohol Awareness Month to highlight the important health issue of underage drinking, increase public awareness, and encourage local communities to focus on alcohol-related issues.
Alcohol use by young people is extremely dangerous—both to themselves and to society, and is directly associated with traffic fatalities, violence, suicide, educational failure, alcohol overdose, unsafe sex, and other problem behaviors. Over 6,500 people under the age of 21 die from alcohol-related accidents and thousands more are injured each year.
- 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.
- Each day 7,000 youth under the age of 16 take their first drink of alcohol.
- Those who drink before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who begin at age 21.
- More than 1,700 college students in the U. S. are killed each year—about 4.65 a day—as a result of alcohol-related injuries.
- Underage alcohol use costs the nation an estimated $62 million each year.
Reducing underage drinking is critical to securing a healthy future for America’s youth. Addressing this issue requires a sustained and cooperative effort between parents, schools, churches, community leaders, and youth. The widespread prevalence of underage drinking and the negative consequences it creates remain a stubborn and destructive problem.
There are four areas that have proven to be effective in prevention of underage drinking:
Curtailing the availability of alcohol to underage populations;
Consistent enforcement of existing laws and regulations regarding the purchase of alcohol;
Changing cultural misconceptions and behavior of alcohol use through education; and
Expanded access to treatment and recovery support for adolescents and their families.
Studies reveal that alcohol consumption by adolescents results in brain damage—possibly permanent—and impairs intellectual development. We cannot afford to wait any longer. Let’s start providing help for today and hope for tomorrow.
NCADD 2014 Alcohol Awareness Month Kit, www.ncadd.org
For more information, contact Illinois Churches in Action at 866-940-6871, www.ilcaaap.org.
Fact Sheet – Consequences of Underage Drinking