Since 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NADD) has designated April as Alcohol Awareness Month. The purpose is to increase the public’s understanding about how alcoholism affects individuals, families, workplaces and communities across the country. This year’s theme is devoted to highlighting a topic that we focus on a lot in our articles, the importance of early education and the consequences of underage drinking. The reason why this is such a hot topic is because according to the CDC, alcohol is directly responsible for more than 4,300 deaths among those under the age of 21 per year. Research show that the younger a person starts to drink, the higher the chances of becoming addicted to alcohol as an adult. This translates to making alcohol the 3rd highest cause of death in the U.S. with about 80,000 deaths per year.
According to NCADD, about 7,000 adolescents per year who are under the age of 16 take their first drink. Some do it with their parents consent while others are exposed by their peers. This Alcohol Awareness Month 2015 is dedicated to increasing public and parent awareness to the negative aspects of condoning this behavior. Once you become parents of a teenager you might decide that it’s better to have your child and his or her friends drink with you when you can monitor the situation than when they are driving out and about. However, this only creates more problems because it gives the kids the message that it’s okay to drink and it puts the other parents in the uncomfortable position of looking unfair and not understanding.
So, if you need some ammunition as to why you should stand your ground with your teens and say no to underage drinking, here you go:
1. Alcohol related accidents. According to NCAAD, 100,000 persons die each year from alcohol-related causes like drinking and driving crashes, falls, fires, alcohol poisoning, and alcohol-related homicides and suicides. From 2006 – 2010 New Mexico had the highest number of alcohol related deaths per capita of the 50 states, North Carolina was in the middle and New Jersey was the lowest.
2. Increases problems in school. Kids who drink generally have lower test scores, trouble concentrating, a lack of participation in classroom and school related activities and a higher rate of absence due to hangovers and exhaustion.
3. Higher risk for depression resulting in suicide and aggressive behavior resulting in homicide.
4. Changes in the way the brain functions. The longer the abuse, the more the individual will crave alcohol to feel “normal”.
5. Overall lack of motivation. The child that once desired to go to college might start talking about dropping out of high school. The youth might lose interest in sports, dance, or other extra-curricular activities that they once excelled at. Ambition to be successful takes a back seat.
April’s Alcohol Awareness month really speaks to parents to have the courage to set rules and boundaries for your child’s safety and future. Trying to be the “cool” parents who allow their teens to drink alcohol establishes a permissive environment that you will most likely regret in the end.