April is Alcohol Awareness Month
Every April, in an effort to increase public awareness and understanding on alcohol abuse and rehabilitation, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence declares the fourth month of the year as Alcohol Awareness Month. This year’s theme is “For the Health of It: Early Education on Alcoholism and Addiction” and highlights the dangers associated with underage drinking.
Underage drinking is a trend that has rapidly become more and more common, with the average age at which teenagers begin to drink getting younger. Statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism show that in 1965 the average age of onset for teenage alcohol use was 17.5 years. By 2003, that number had changed to 14 years old. Research shows that 25 percent of those ages 12 to 17 will consume alcohol over the course of any given year.
The Dangers of Underage Drinking
Despite the fact that it’s illegal for those under the age of 21, alcohol consumption is extremely common among adolescents and older teens — a practice that can yield significantly dangerous results. Approximately 5,000 deaths a year are a result of alcohol-related vehicle collisions, homicides, suicides and poisoning, as well as accidents such as drowning that involved alcohol use. Underage drinking has also been found to be a factor in an estimated 190,000 emergency room visits each year.
Underage drinkers are more likely to become the victims or perpetrators of sexual assault, engage in early sexual activity, have depression and anxiety, and develop alcohol problems later in life. Evidence has even shown that underage drinking can impact brain development and result in long-term cognitive impairment.
Awareness and Understanding About Alcohol
Today, alcohol is widely accessible and has become a popular choice with America’s youth. Despite the dangers, teenagers and young adults continue to drink. Despite alcohol’s popularity, it’s imperative to understand that underage drinking is dangerous and can have lasting ramifications not just on the person drinking, but on loved ones and society as a whole as well.
This year’s Alcohol Awareness Month seeks to emphasize the importance of education about alcoholism and the dangerous trend of underage drinking. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse are serious issues, but with proper treatment and support, recovery is possible.
By Jenna Mitchell
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