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Being the Cool Kid—Who Doesn't Drink

A national group is stepping up in support of the 26th annual National Alcohol Awareness Month and placing an emphasis on underage drinking.

The National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence Inc (NCADD) is gearing up for another national campaign against the stigma of alcoholism. 

The NCADD believes that the negative connotation associated with alcoholism prevents people from seeking the help they need. One of the best ways to treat alcoholism is to prevent it in the first place.

Alcoholism takes its toll on our families, our communities and our culture, especially children living with an alcoholic parent or family member. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) explained that these children are more likely to experience a difficult childhood because of physical, emotional and sexual abuse, as well as neglect.

Children exposed to an alcoholic parent or caregivers are also more likely to experience depression and have lower self-esteem.

This year the NCADD chose the theme, "Healthy Choices, Healthy Communities: Prevent Underage Drinking.” According to the NCASS, 25 percent of American children are exposed to alcoholism in their families, and 18 million people suffer from alcohol-use disorders.

With these types of statistics, it’s no wonder that there is strong emphasis on educating and preventing underage drinking. Also reported was a statistic regarding teenage drinking and age. Teenagers who experiment with alcohol before the age of 15 are four times more likely to become alcohol dependent when they become adults, in comparison to those who wait until the age of 20 to consume alcohol.

Underage drinking is too often overlooked or goes unchecked by adults, parents, or caregivers because of the excuse that teenagers are just being teenagers. Unfortunately, this mentality is allowing teens to abuse alcohol at a much earlier age; some are using alcohol to self-medicate because of stress or depression.

One of the keys to success with underage drinking is having an open and honest conversation about alcohol use. Collegedrinkingprevention.gov suggests setting very clear rules regarding alcohol use and behaviors.

When teenagers know what the family rules are, they are less likely to abuse alcohol. Many times, teenagers will experiment with alcohol right in your own refrigerator or wine rack. If you choose to have unsupervised alcohol in your home, be prepared for the potential consequences.

Underage drinking is a choice. What seems cool and inclusive at the time may lead to a life filled with heartache and disappointment. Parents, set a strong precedent in the home, and teenagers, dare to be the cool kid that doesn’t partake in underage drinking. That decision will never steer you wrong.

Lorenzo April 06, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Risky time periods for underage drinking include this week's Spring Break for CUSD, the approaching Prom and Graduation season, and summer vacation. Parents, think about your own exposure to alcohol and under what conditions that occurred. How is the alcohol in your home more or less available to youth? Availability is a major factor in underage drinking. Thanks to the Editor for covering this important issue.
Jennifer Vigil April 06, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Thanks Lorenzo, for noting the riskiness of the season, that it's not just spring break, but even a few months after when parents should be especially vigilant.

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