Alcohol Awareness Month
April is Alcohol Awareness Month. This year's theme is "For the Health of It: Early Education on Alcoholism and Addiction." The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency, Inc. (NCASS) identified that "no other substance is more widely used and abused by America's youth than alcohol, making alcoholism and alcohol related problems the number one public health problem in the United States." Studies reveal that alcohol use by youth results in brain damage, that could be permanent, and it impairs intellectual development. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that research indicates "those who start drinking before the age 15 are six times more likely to have alcohol problems as adults than those who start drinking at age 21 or older." Also noted is that alcohol is also a factor in the leading causes of death for youth ages 12 - 20 through injuries, homicide and suicide.
NCADD reports parents are the most effective force in preventing and reducing youths' risky behaviors and promoting healthy choices. Youth learning about the dangers of alcohol and other drugs at home are much more likely to not use these substances. Parents are encouraged to talk early and often about the concerns they and their children have about alcohol and other drugs. "With open, respectful communication and explanations of boundaries and expectations, parents can influence their children's health." This is especially important with the potential lifelong consequences of underage use of alcohol and other drugs. Schools, community organizations, business and community leaders, faith communities, and youth can greatly assist in prevention, as well. The environment we live in has a great impact on our choices.
The Jefferson County Prevention Task Force has received federally-supported block grant funds to support prevention efforts in the community. Prevention programs are being implemented in schools and other youth serving organizations. The Power of Parents program and handbooks are available to any group. Procedure changes have been made concerning Enforcement of policies and laws concerning minors and consequences related to underage drinking. The "It Matters" Campaign has been launched in the county through many mediums and activities. The campaign is part of a state wide effort to reduce underage drinking and the risks associated. Campaign materials are tailored to the community by the task force in hopes to increase awareness and education about the dangers and consequences of underage drinking along with how to help reduce risks.
The vision of the task force is for Jefferson County to be a safe and healthy community for everyone. The Jefferson County Prevention Task Force is a subcommittee of the Jefferson County Alliance of Services Councils, Inc. Meetings are held the first Thursdays of each month at the Jefferson County Health Department conference room beginning at 1:00 p.m. Everyone is welcome! For more information you may contact Deanne Armstrong, Prevention specialists at DCCCA, Inc Regional Prevention Center: 785-876-6028 or through email: email@example.com