This year’s theme for Alcohol Awareness Month is Changing Attitudes: It’s not a ‘rite of passage’ in an effort to curb underage drinking. Since 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) in the USA has hosted Alcohol Awareness Month every April. It’s important to note that NCADD was founded by an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) proponent. This means their focus is on abstinence and directing to teaching teens to say no to alcohol. During awareness months, NCADD spearheads events to educate the public on the prevention and treatment of alcoholism. This year they will be specifically helping parents in how to talk to their children and teens about the impact alcohol can have on their lives.
Underage drinking is considered one of the biggest public health problems in the USA. Alcohol is still the most used intoxicant by young people. 33% of 15-year-olds have had at least one drink, and 60% of 18 years olds have had at least one drink. A hidden danger is that while youth drink less frequently than adults, they consume 90% of their alcohol during binge drinking periods. Binge drinking is defined as 5 standard drinks for men and 4 standard drinks for women within a few hours. Keep in mind, most people don’t consume a standard drink. A standard drink contains 14 grams of pure alcohol which looks like a 12 ounce of beer with a 5% alcohol content or a 5-ounce glass of wine with 12% alcohol. How many people do you know who measure out 5 ounces of wine when they pour a glass? Even restaurants have a 6 or 9-ounce option when ordering wine, which instantly takes you over a standard drink.
Prevention and Alcohol Treatment
The age-old saying Monkey See Monkey Do is a saying for a reason. We are heavily influenced by our environment, especially during childhood. Children of alcoholics are between 4 and 10 times more likely to have alcohol use problems later in life than children with no close relatives who struggle with alcohol. However, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) in the US offers scientific methods for underage drinking prevention. These include environmental interventions, individual-level interventions, school-based interventions, and family-based interventions. Environmental refers to making alcohol harder to get through laws and enforcement, which isn’t really something parents can control. However, the other three interventions are all variations of being involved in the child’s life. For example, making sure they are educated about alcohol and getting them involved in fun, sober activities. If you would like to learn more, the resources referenced here are linked below. Additionally, if you are concerned about a child or teen in your life, please contact our specialist here to learn about available resources near you. This website serves as your gateway to information on drug rehab and alcohol treatment programs in Canada, from Toronto drug rehab programs to Vancouver alcohol treatment programs, etc.
- NIAAA: Underage Drinking
- NIAAA: Why do adolescents drink, What are the risks, and How can underage drinking be prevented?
- NCADD: Alcohol Awareness Month