Commentary: Alcohol Awareness Month: Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow

Alcohol is the number one drug problem in the United States and it impacts every single person in our country, either directly or indirectly. Each April since 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) has sponsored NCADD Alcohol Awareness Month to increase public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma, encourage individuals and families to seek help and to engage local communities in bringing attention to alcoholism and alcohol-related problems.

This April, NCADD has chosen the theme, “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow.” During the month of April, NCADD’s national network of affiliates as well as schools, colleges, churches, and countless other community organizations will sponsor thousands of activities that create awareness and encourage individuals and families to get help for alcohol-related problems.

Why is Alcohol Awareness Month so important?
 18 million people age 18 and older have an alcohol use disorder.
 Alcohol causes about 80,000 deaths per year. It is the third leading preventable cause of death in the U.S.
 Alcohol costs our society $225 billion in lost productivity, health care, accidents, etc.
 One in four children grows up in a home with an alcohol problem.

Of particular concern to NCADD is alcohol use by young people because it is extremely dangerous. Alcohol is directly associated with traffic fatalities, violence, suicide, educational failure, alcohol overdose, prescription drug overdose, unsafe sex and other problem behaviors. Annually, over 6,500 people under the age of 21 die from alcohol-related injuries and thousands more are injured.

Here are some specific facts as they relate to young people and alcohol:
 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—almost five per day—as a result of alcohol-related injuries.
 Underage alcohol use costs the nation an estimated $62 billion annually.

Reducing underage drinking requires a cooperative effort from parents, schools, community organizations, business leaders, government agencies, the entertainment industry, alcohol manufacturers/retailers and young people.

Alcohol awareness is essential for the health of our country. As a nation, we need to wake up to the reality that for some, alcoholism and addiction develop at a young age and that intervention, treatment and recovery support are essential for them and their families. And, as a result of NCADD’s work and countless others, millions of individuals and families are living life in recovery.

For more information about NCADD Alcohol Awareness, visit the NCADD website at: www.ncadd.org.

Robert Lindsey NCADDRobert J. Lindsey
President/CEO of NCADD

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