The purpose of National Alcohol Awareness Month is to increase public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma and encourage local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues. This April, Community and Family Resources would like to highlight the important public health issue of underage drinking, a problem with devastating individual, family and community consequences.
This year's theme is "Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow" educating people about the treatment and prevention of alcoholism, particularly in underage drinkers.
The facts are sobering. Early use of alcohol can draw young people into a host of problems and aggravate existing ones. Each year, approximately 5,000 young people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking. This includes about 1,900 deaths from motor vehicle crashes, 1,600 as a result of homicides, 300 from suicide, and hundreds from other injuries such as falls, burns, and drownings.
Between 2 percent and 3 percent of the current American college population will die from alcohol related causes. Thirty percent of college failure is alcohol related. Drinking and driving is the number one killer of Americans between the ages of 17 to 24. The average female college student spends $150 per year on alcohol. The average male col lege student spends $300 per year on alcohol. Ninety percent of the vandalism that occurs on college campuses is a result of alcohol use. Seventy-five to 90 percent of campus rapes involve alcohol use.
Yet more than 11,000 teens in the United States try using alcohol for the first time every day and more than four million drink alcohol in any given month.
Underage drinking is a complex problem, requiring cooperation at all levels of society. Three basic approaches, however, have proven to be effective in prevention of the problem: curtailing the availability of alcohol; consistent enforcement of existing laws and regulations; and changing norms and behaviors through education.
Binge drinking is defined as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to 0.08 percent or more in a short period of time. This pattern of drinking alcohol, usually in less than 2 hours, corresponds to: 5 or more drinks for men or 4 or more drinks for women. Plain and simple, it is high-risk drinking.
Countless studies have shown that binge drinking use by youth and young adults increases the risk of both fatal and nonfatal injuries. Research has also shown that youth who use alcohol before age 15 are five times more likely to become alcohol dependent than adults who begin drinking at age 21. Other consequences of youth alcohol use include increased risky sexual behaviors, poor school performance, increased risk of being a victim of violence or sexual assault and increased risk of suicide and homicide.
Community and Family Resources offers a wide range of services for individuals and their families. Crisis intervention is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Contact CFR at any of our community offices or at (866) 801-0085 or on the web at communityandfamilyresources.org