By: Alexandria “Wisteria” Prejido, Staff Writer

Underage drinking continues to be the most common substance abuse that communities face, with about 11 million underage drinkers in America today.  This is why the month of April is dubbed Alcohol Awareness Month. It is an annual public awareness campaign working to have communities focus on alcoholism and alcohol related issues.

According to the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, adolescents used alcohol more often than any other abusive substances combined. Rates of alcohol usage in the national survey were 3.4% among children ages 12 and 13, 13.1% among  14 and 15 years of age and 26.2% among 16 and 17-year-olds. More than one million adolescents needed treatment for alcohol use but the majority did not receive it.

Studies show that alcohol abuse in a family member, caregiver or friend can have harmful influence and effects on children and adolescents. Children with parents who abuse alcohol are at a greater risk for trauma, including verbal, physical and sexual abuse. Children with alcoholic parents show more anxiety and depressive symptoms and have lower self-esteem than children with non-alcoholic parents.

Alcohol Awareness Month is not only about being aware of the numerous alcohol abuse and alcohol-related issues within communities but also encourages people to make healthy lifestyle choices. Here are some questions from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that can help you determine if you or a loved one has an alcohol issue.

If you answer “yes” to any of the following, you may have a problem with alcohol:
  • Do you drink alone when you feel angry or sad?
  • Does your drinking ever make you late for work?
  • Does your drinking worry your family?
  • Do you ever drink after telling yourself you won’t?
  • Do you ever forget what you did while drinking?
  • Do you get headaches or have a hangover after drinking?

There are also several strategies one can do to cut down or quit drinking.  Here are tips from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on how to get started.

  • Keep track of your drinking and set a drinking limit.
  • Try to avoid places where heavy drinking occurs.
  • Ask for help from a doctor, family, or friends.
  • If you keep alcohol in your home, keep only a limited supply


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