"Help for Today. Hope For Tomorrow" is this year's theme for National Alcohol Awareness Month, announced National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.
Alcohol Awareness Month, held every April, was founded by and has been sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence since 1987 to increase public awareness and understanding aimed at reducing the stigma that too often prevents individuals and families from seeking help.
During Alcohol Awareness Month, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and council's national network of affiliates reach out in communities across the country to bring the American public information about alcohol and alcoholism as a chronic, progressive disease, fatal if untreated, and genetically predisposed.
The disease of alcoholism is a family disease that is treatable, not a moral weakness, from which people can and do recover. In fact, millions of individuals and family members are living lives in long-term recovery from alcoholism.
There are more than 18 million individuals or 8.5 percent of Americans who suffer from alcohol-use disorders.
There are millions of individuals who experience the devastating effects of the alcohol problem of someone in their life.
In fact, 25 percent of U.S. children are exposed to alcohol-use disorders in their family.
Statistics show that every year more than 6,500 people under the age of 21 die from alcohol-related injuries involving underage drinking and thousands more are injured.
Almost 2,400 youth under 21 die in drinking and driving crashes; some 2,400 die from other accidents, falls, fires etc., 1,500 die in alcohol-related homicides and 300 due to suicide.
Some important basic facts about underage drinking:
- Alcohol is the number one drug of choice for America's young people, more than tobacco or illicit drugs.
- Those who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who begin at age 21.
- Each day, 7,000 kids in the United States under the age of 16 take their first drink.
- Underage alcohol use costs the nation an estimated $62 billion annually.
Parents are a child's most influential teacher.
Parents who choose to drink should serve as positive role models by drinking sensibly and in moderation so that when their teenagers are of legal drinking age they know what is appropriate and responsible behavior.
When was the last time you talked to your kids about alcohol?
It isn't something that can simply be left to the schools or churches to handle.
It is only when parents take an active role in discouraging alcohol usage that real progress can be made.
Many parents are surprised at how early a discussion about alcohol is necessary.
Most children have the ability to comprehend some basic concepts from about five years of age.
By then, they're old enough to understand what substances are harmful, especially for children.
Such early discussions provide a foundation that parents can build on by adding age-appropriate details as the child grows.
By the second or third grade, it's a good idea to incorporate a "plan of action" into the discussions.
A good plan of action is one that the child has helped prepare and practice, and is ready to use when confronted with a situation involving alcohol.
This can help your child from being caught off guard when a situation occurs in the real world.
Role-playing is a good way to give kids practice in turning down alcohol.
Lead it off by saying, "I wonder what you can say and do when refusing alcohol?" Take turns being the one to offer the alcohol and the one turning it down, practicing various responses.
Children also need parents to provide an appropriate model.
Young children may accept a parent's actions being different than theirs, but teens often believe "what's good for the goose is good for the gander."
A bad example on the parents' part can undermine previously-learned lessons very quickly.