Adult help needed to lower youth alcohol use

Dear Editor,

The Axis I Center of Barnwell joins other treatment facilities across the nation and South Carolina in highlighting April as Alcohol Awareness Month and the importance of engaging with our young people about the dangers of alcohol use.

Alcohol Awareness Month, founded and sponsored by The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) since 1987, is a national grassroots effort observed by communities throughout the United States to support prevention, research, education, intervention, treatment and recovery from alcoholism and alcohol related problems.

The theme for 2017 is “Connecting the Dots: Opportunities for Recovery”, a comprehensive approach to address underage drinking. The objective for Alcohol Awareness Month, 2017 is to raise public awareness about underage drinking.

This year we are encouraging parents and adults to take personal responsibility for making alcohol less accessible to our young people. Consistent and sustained parental attitudes can influence a child’s decision about whether or not to use alcohol and drugs. We know that children who have conversations with their parents and/or guardians about the dangers of alcohol and drug use are 50 percent less likely to use alcohol and drugs than those who don’t have such conversations.

The younger a person is when they begin consuming alcohol, the more likely they are to develop an addiction to alcohol. Statistics tell us that youth who drink are more likely, to be involved in alcohol-related traffic crashes, and to have serious school-related problems. So, it’s imperative to have a supportive family environment which helps with lowered rates of alcohol use for adolescents.

The 2016 Youth Behavior Risk Survey data indicates that 47.4 percent of 9th-12th graders in Barnwell County have used alcohol in their lifetime and 23.6 percent had used alcohol regularly 30 days prior to the survey—many by age 12. The 30-day use rates indicate regular and frequent use of alcohol—often at binge drinking levels (5 or more drinks in one night).

Of those who reported regular use of alcohol, 25.2 percent were male, 22 percent were female, 29.6 percent were White, and 19.3 percent were Other Races.

A total of 15.5 percent of survey respondents reported they had ridden in a vehicle driven by someone who had been drinking alcohol. This is alarming as traffic crashes are the leading cause of teen fatalities, accounting for 44 percent of teen deaths in the United States. Nearly 50 or one-fourth, of fatal accidents involving young drivers were alcohol related with the average blood alcohol level being 0.14 - the legal limit in South Carolina is 0.08 for persons 21 and over and 0.02 for persons under 21 years of age.

This is all preventable.

Use of alcohol during the teen years can result in the teen becoming dependent / addicted to alcohol and create a lifetime of problems. Alcoholism and its disastrous effects are a big problem in the United States. This is evident from the numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – roughly one in 10 deaths among adults, aged 20-64 years, occur due to unbridled drinking habit.

Alcohol Awareness Month is also a god time to remind adult consumers to examine their own use of alcohol.

Alcohol use among adults should be done so in moderation and should never be used if driving. Responsible drinking should be practiced every month of the year.

If you do drink alcohol, don’t drive. Get a designated driver or call someone to pick you up. Driving after drinking endangers everyone on the highway.

Underage drinking should be discouraged as this may result in alcohol addiction during adulthood.

If you or a loved one has become dependent on alcohol, contact the Axis I Center of Barnwell at 803-541-1245for information on its assessment and out-patient treatment services. The Axis I Center also provides prevention and education services to educate youth on the health harms and legal consequences of underage alcohol and other drug use.

For more information on prevention services, contact Pam Rush, Director of Prevention Services at 541-1245.