Alcohol Awareness Month, started by the NCADD in 1987, works to reduce the stigma around alcoholism through media, awareness campaigns, events, and programs all over the United States. The goal is to correctly educate the public on the disease of alcoholism and increase understanding for those who suffer from it instead of ostracizing them.
This year, the theme is “Talk Early, Talk Often: Parents Can Make a Difference in Teen Alcohol Use.” The focus is set on preventing alcohol abuse by reaching out to young people and warning them about the dangers underage drinking presents. Adolescents are more prone to binge drinking, as alcohol affects them more easily than it does adults and they often don’t know when to stop. In fact, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that around 4,358 youth die every year in incidents involving alcohol, such as car crashes, alcohol poisoning, homicides, suicides, and other injuries, including falling or drowning.
Alcohol and the Media
Alcohol is very common in all our forms of entertainment today. There are very few movies and TV shows that don’t show someone getting drunk or using alcohol to escape a stressful situation in life. Whether they are glorifying the drinking, normalizing it, or showing the negative effects of it, most forms of media have adopted it into their storylines.
With all this attention on it, our society has gotten the idea that it’s normal for teenagers to drink regularly. TV shows and movies where teenagers drinking at parties is a common event give the idea that alcohol is to be expected at these events.
If the only thing adolescents know about drinking is what they see on TV, then it is easy to understand why it is approached with little or no apprehension. Especially when it is viewed as abnormal or uncool if you don’t join in on the “fun”.
Talk now, before it’s too late
While alcohol doesn’t just affect young people, letting them know all the facts of alcohol can help prevent them having problems with it in the future. It also promotes having open communication between the parent/s and child.
It’s important to talk with your kids now, before they become desensitized by the media and its messages surrounding them. Fictional shows, while great to sit down and watch at the end of the day, are not meant to be the road-map for life. Don’t let your children be more influenced by outside forces than they are by their family. You can help prevent them from abusing alcohol, from getting into the car with a drunk driver, or even being the drunk driver. You can help save their lives and other’s.
During the month of April for Alcohol Awareness Month, the NCADD is challenging everyone to go alcohol free for three days. If you or anyone you know has difficulty doing this, or experience any withdrawal symptoms, you may want to get in contact with the NCADD or another organization to learn about the early symptoms of alcohol dependence.