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Community involved in youth alcohol issues

July 18, 2010
By CATHY BROWNFIELD, Family Recovery Center

Childhood. Have you sat down to relax and let yourself recall what childhood was like for you? Maybe you've compared those memories with the childhood your children have been living. Hardly seems like it's the same world. Yet, childhood is the state or time of being a child. It's a time of learning about family, about community, and especially about self. It's a time of playing in the sun, resting under the stars and investigating wonders from the world around us that pique curiosity, and the imagination. Baseball, swimming, camp, harmless practical joking and laughing at ourselves helps us to grow. Childhood is memory-making and building a life skills tool box that will help get us through the challenges throughout our lifetime. Lessons are learned from the community around us. Our community sets the pace of acceptability. The question comes up, "How should our community prevent and reduce drinking by children aged 9 to 15?"

Nine-year-olds drinking alcohol? Isn't that about third grade? What stages of development are 9- to 15-year-olds going through emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually? What "opportunities" get them started drinking in the first place? How can our community influence or prevent the problems of children drinking alcohol?

Here are a few points to consider:

- Alcohol is the drug of choice for youth.

- 15-year-olds binge drink-that's five or more drinks per session, twice a month.

- Early alcohol affects brain development, including mental/cognitive impairment.

- Those who drink at a much younger age are higher risk for alcoholism.

- Alcoholism in significant numbers lowers quality of life, and increases crime, lowers productivity and raises health care costs.

The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent or Reduce Underage Drinking advises, "The physical consequences of underage alcohol use range from medical problems to death by alcohol poisoning and alcohol plays a significant role in risky sexual behavior, physical and sexual assaults, various types of injuries and suicide."

According to the American Medical Association, "young people who drink may perform worse in school, are more likely to fall behind economically, and have an increased risk of social problems, depression, suicidal thoughts and violence."

"Alcohol is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and affects every organ in the body," advises the Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free Foundation. "Research has demonstrated that early and excessive use of alcohol can have both immediate effects on health, such as unintentional injuries, violence, and risky sexual behavior, as well as long-term effects such as neurological and cardiovascular problems, alcoholism, cancer and liver disease." They also say that half of those who being to drink alcohol before age 15 end up with immediate and long term effects. To improve the health of adolescents and adults, prevention of childhood drinking is essential.

For more information about youth and alcohol, contact Family Recovery Center at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, FRC promotes the good health and well being of individuals, families and communities. Walk-in appointments are available by calling the agency to confirm availability of assistance for you. Family Recovery Center is funded in part by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.



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