By Yuna Muyinda
St. Hope Foundation
Every year, the month of April is recognized as Alcohol Awareness Month to increase awareness and understanding of alcoholism and issues as it relates to excessive alcohol consumption. Across the nation, many National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence affiliates present programs to increase knowledge on alcohol, especially in the youth.
Over the past couple of years, alcohol consumption among youth and young adults has increased. What many fail to realize is that alcohol use by young people is very dangerous and detrimental not only to themselves, but to society as well. Alcohol has been shown to increase fatalities, suicide, educational failure, unsafe sex, violence and other behavioral problems in those under the age of 21.
Here are a few ways that alcohol affects our youth:
- Alcohol is the number one drug of choice for America’s young people, and is more likely to kill young people than all illegal drugs combined.
- Each day, 7,000 kids in the United States under the age of 16 take their first drink.
- Those who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who begin at age 21.
- More than 1,700 college students in the U.S. are killed each year—about 4.65 a day—as a result of alcohol-related injuries.
- 25% of U.S. children are exposed to alcohol-use disorders in their family.
- Underage alcohol use costs the nation an estimated $62 billion annually.
The ability to reduce underage drinking and enforce the consequences for those who choose to drink when under the age of 21 is critical for a healthy future for America’s youth. This is a serious issue and can only be solved through a cooperative effort from community organizations, schools government agencies and parents. For some, alcoholism and addiction begin at a young age. Education on this matter is critical for the future of our youth. Let’s take a step to raising awareness about alcoholism in youth!