The opiate crisis in America has been front page news for a very long time due to its widespread nature and staggering casualties. However, we must never lose sight of the fact that alcohol abuse remains a huge problem throughout our country, which is why April was declared Alcohol Awareness Month in 1987.
Each year, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) strives to increase public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma and encourage local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues.
This year’s theme is “Changing Attitudes: It’s not a ‘rite of passage.’” The goal is to educate people about the problem of alcoholism in today’s youth, prevention and treatment, as well as the important role parents can play in helping kids understand the profoundly negative impact alcohol can have on their lives.
Alcohol consumption has long been associated with the college experience. But, today alcohol is the most commonly abused substance by adolescents. The 2015 Youth Risk Behavioral survey found that 33 percent of high school students surveyed had consumed alcohol within the past 30 days, and most troubling, 18 percent binge drank.
The short and long-term consequences of alcohol use at a young age are vast, including legal problems, unprotected or unwanted sex, disruption of normal growth, higher risk of suicide or homicide, abuse of other drugs and changes in brain development. The possibility of experiencing any of these issues is only intensified in the case of binge drinking, most notably, death from alcohol poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those who begin drinking prior to the age of 15 are six times more likely to abuse alcohol after the age of 21 than those who did not drink in their youth.
At Timberline Knolls, in honor of recognizing the importance of Alcohol Awareness Month, members of our Addictions Specialists team will host a variety of events for our residents during the week of April 22. This includes speakers from Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, and Adult Children of Alcoholics, in addition to an alumnae speaker and creative performances by residents. Staff and residents alike will also be provided with an awareness T-shirt to wear throughout the week.
Although alcohol is a legal substance, it is incumbent on all of us to educate today’s youth as to the immediate dangers and long-term ramifications of early-age drinking.