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Alcohol Awareness Month

Since 1987, Alcohol Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) has been observed every April.

The focus of this year's observance is underage drinking, a problem that shatters young lives and communities across the nation. Motor vehicle crashes, alcohol poisoning, violence, and addiction are just some of the ways children under age 21 are being devastated by the inappropriate and illegal use of alcohol.

Keep Children Alcohol Free

Recently the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism also launched an initiative to prevent underage drinking.

The little-known but alarming facts surrounding alcohol consumption by children ages 9 to 15 prompted more than 25 Governors' Spouses to join forces and put this issue on the national agenda.

In March they launched Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free, a multi-year, public-private partnership focused on preventing the use of alcohol by children, funded by the NIAAA at the National Institutes of Health and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Alcohol is the number one drug of choice among the nation's youth and it can have serious, often lifelong, consequences for them, their families and their communities. The Governors' spouses; federal and state agencies; a major private foundation; national, state and local nonprofit agencies and professional associations have joined together to raise awareness of the problem and develop effective interventions.

A Significant Threat

"Scientific evidence shows that the earlier children begin drinking the more likely they are to develop serious alcohol problems in their lifetime," says Enoch Gordis, M.D., Director of NIAAA. "Put simply, our nation can no longer ignore alcohol use by children."

"Underage alcohol use is a significant threat to the health and safety of our children. It is time for us to come to grips with this widespread, devastating public health problem," noted Steven A. Schroeder, M.D., President and CEO of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The extent of alcohol consumption by children ages 9 to 15 is startling, and preventing it must become a national priority. Consider these facts:

  • 3 million children ages 14 through 17 are regular drinkers who already have a confirmed alcohol problem.

  • 24 percent of eighth graders say they have used alcohol in the last 30 days.

  • More than 100,000 12-13 year-olds binge drink every month.

  • Ninth graders who drink are almost twice as likely to attempt suicide as those who don't.

  • 40 percent of children who begin drinking before the age of 15 will become alcoholics at some point in their lives.
During April, talk to your kids about the dangers of underage drinking. Alcohol consumption is one of the leading causes of death and injury among teenagers. Experts say the number one deterrent to underage drinking is having parents who talk to their teens about the dangers. Call 1-800-729-6686 for tips on how to get the conversation started.

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