Submitted by Sara Coulthart
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, to recognize the serious problem of alcohol abuse, April is designated "Alcohol Awareness Month." According to the most recent statistics from SAMHSA, more than 100,000 people die from alcohol-related diseases and injuries each year.
Madison County's Promise -- the Alliance For Youth is one of numerous coalitions statewide participating in the New York state "Underage Drinking--Not a Minor Problem" education and awareness campaign developed by the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.
The underage drinking prevention campaign is designed to raise awareness of the serious consequences of drinking and deliver prevention messages to community leaders, public officials, health and prevention professionals, parents, educators and youth.
Teen drinking is a serious problem that affects us all. During adolescence, young people begin to take risks and test limits. They do so because they are moving from a family-centered world to the larger community within which they will begin to define their own identity.
There are many probable health problems related to underage drinking. According to OASAS, young people who began drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who abstained until age 21. Alcohol use among teens is associated with the three most common causes of teenage deaths: accidental deaths (such as car crashes), homicides and suicides.
Additionally, on average eight adolescents a day in the U.S. die in alcohol-related automobile crashes and nine out of 10 teenage automobile accidents involve the use of alcohol.
Madison County's Promise is committed to preventing teen alcohol abuse and encouraging community members to take an active role in spreading the awareness to our youth. It's important to know the facts about underage drinking and communicate clearly and openly to our youth.
Messages and materials are available to help. Contact BRiDGES Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse at 697-3947 for more information.
Sara E. Coulthart is coordinator of Madison County's Promise -- the Alliance For Youth. She can be reached at 697-3947, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.