Each April since 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) sponsors Alcohol Awareness Month “to increase public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma and encourage local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues.” This year’s theme, “For the Health of It: Early Education on Alcoholism and Addiction,” is aimed at educating people about the risk of adolescents and drinking/drug use.
Here are some important facts you should know about young people and substance abuse:
- More than 23 million people over the age of 12 are addicted to alcohol and other drugs.
- Using alcohol at a young age dramatically increases the risk for future addiction to alcohol and drugs. Young people who start drinking alcohol before age 15 are 5 times more likely to develop alcohol abuse or dependence than people who first used alcohol at age 21 or older. Research for drug use and drug addiction has found similar results.
- Whether a person decides to use alcohol or drugs is a choice, influenced by their environment (friends, family and availability). People’s bodies respond to the effects of alcohol and drugs differently. If you have a family history of alcoholism or addiction, you are four times more likely to develop a problem.
We should always be aware of the effect of drugs and alcohol on young people, but this month we have a special highlight. Think of what you can do in your neighborhood or community to help spread the word about the negative effects for children and teens of alcohol and drug addiction.