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April is the 33rd annual Alcohol Awareness Month. Founded and sponsored by Facing Addiction with the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence for 33 years, the theme this year is: “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow.”
No other substance is more widely used by America’s youth than alcohol, making alcoholism and alcohol-related problems the No. 1 public health problem in the United States.
Addressing this issue requires a sustained and cooperative effort between parents, schools, colleges, community leaders and our youth. The widespread prevalence of underage drinking and the negative consequences it creates remain a stubborn and destructive problem despite decades of efforts to combat it.
Yet, there are four areas that have proven to be effective in prevention of this problem:
• 1. Curtailing the availability of alcohol to underage populations
• 2. Consistent enforcement of existing laws and regulations regarding alcohol purchase
• 3. Changing cultural misconceptions and behaviors about alcohol use through education; and
• 4. Expanded access to treatment and recovery support for adolescents and their families.
But, time is running out. Studies reveal that alcohol consumption by adolescents results in brain damage — possibly permanent — and impairs intellectual development.
So, let’s get started providing “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow.” We can’t afford to wait any longer.
The writer is a prevention specialist with Community Impact N.C. and submitted this letter on behalf of the Wilson County Substance Prevention Coalition.