Friday, April 2, 2010

Alcohol Awareness Month

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. Did you know that alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among teens in the United States? Did you know that it is abused by teens even more than tobacco and illicit drugs? According to the 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey 45% of high school students drank some amount of alcohol within the 30 days prior to taking the survey. Another 11% reported that they had driven after drinking alcohol, and 29% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol. In 2005, there were more than 145,000 emergency room visits by adolescents 12 to 20 years for injuries linked to alcohol. Although teens and young adults between 16 and 24 years old comprise only 20% of the total licensed population; they cause 42% of all fatal alcohol related accidents.

According to the CDC, youth who start drinking before age 15 years are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who begin drinking at or after age 21 years. Teens who are drinking alcohol by middle school are more likely to have academic problems and delinquent behavior in both middle school and high school. Adolescent alcohol use is associated with employment problems, other substance abuse, and criminal and other violent behavior in early adulthood. Teenage use and abuse of alcohol contributes to risky sexual behavior, which increases the risk of physical and sexual assault. Teens who drink alcohol are more likely to experience memory problems and changes in brain development that may have life-long effects.

While alcohol is a leading cause of death among teenagers and contributes substantially to adolescent motor vehicle accidents, other traumatic injuries, suicide, date rape, and family and school problems, many parents are in denial that teens with drinking problems could be living in their home. They usually think that underage drinking is someone else’s problem. Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that over half of the current underage alcohol users drank at someone else’s home the last time they used alcohol and another 30% drank in their own home, but only 31% of parents of 15- to 16-year-olds believe their child had a drink in the past year, while 60% of teens in that age group reported drinking. Teens who reported that a parent or a friend’s parent had provided alcohol at a party within the past year reported drinking more on their last drinking occasion and were twice as likely to have consumed alcohol within the past 30 days.

In a survey, 33% of teenagers said their parents never, seldom, or sometimes set clear rules for them and almost 50% said their parents never, seldom, or sometimes discipline them when they break the rules. Sorenson’s Ranch School provides a drug and alcohol-free environment with clear rules and consequences. Sorenson’s Ranch School has been treating troubled teens with alcohol issues successfully for over 30 years. Sorenson’s students who have problems with alcohol participate in AA meetings and receive counseling from trained addiction counselors. Even though alcohol is the nation’s largest youth drug problem, killing 6.5 times as many young people as all illicit drugs combined, there are ways to save your teen from this disturbing trend. Sorenson’s Ranch School is dedicated to the belief that no teen is beyond help, and works diligently to “Change the world, one child at a time.”

Holly McCulla
Sorenson's Ranch School

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