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Alcohol Awareness Month observed in April

April 8, 2012
By PAT ROSS - Administrative Assistant, Columbiana County MHRS Board , Salem News

Every year, during the month of April, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) observes National Alcohol Awareness Month to raise awareness of alcohol abuse and to encourage people to make healthy, safe choices.

Communities across the nation are hosting events this month to raise public awareness about the consequences of alcohol misuse.

These events often focus on underage drinking and the critical need for communities to mobilize around prevention. The Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board encourages you to take this time to educate yourself and your loved ones about the dangers of alcohol abuse.

To spread the word and prevent alcohol abuse, the MHRS Board is joining other organizations across the country to honor Alcohol Awareness Month to prevent alcohol abuse in our community.

What better time than Alcohol Awareness Month to get kids talking about the dangers of underage drinking? SAMHSA's "Too Smart to Start" website, provides useful programs and strategies, downloadable materials, interactive games and exercises, and other resources to support youth, families, educators, and communities in responding to The Surgeon General's Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking.

The ADAPT (Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team) Coalition of Columbiana County also has resources on its website on underage drinking. Visit

The myth that "all young people drink" is just that - a myth. Most young people aged 12 to 20 do not drink. However, more than 10 million young people do use alcohol, including some Columbiana County youth.

In 2011, 7th and 10th graders from all areas of the county took the Search Institute Survey of Student Life. Ten percent of 7th graders and 30 percent of 10th graders reported getting drunk at least one time in the previous two weeks.

Alcohol use negatively affects youths' health, academic performance, and relationships with friends and family. SAMHSA suggests talking with young people early and often about the dangers of underage drinking. With your help, we can make sure that young people understand that they do not need to drink to fit in, have fun, or deal with the pressures of growing up.

Did you know?

- Alcohol can make you act and look stupid. It can make you feel more social and daring, but it is actually a depressant that slows down parts of your brain. That's why people who have been drinking behave in ways they never would if sober.

-Underage drinking makes you accident prone. It interferes with vision, coordination, and concentration.

-Nearly 190,000 12 to 20 year-olds wind up in an emergency room each year for alcohol-related problems. The majority of them are males.

- Each year, about 5,000 young people die from injuries caused by alcohol use.

-Young people who feel depressed are more likely to drink alcohol, but alcohol is not a cure for depression.

-Alcohol is alcohol. A 12-ounce can of beer or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor contain the same amount of alcohol and have the same effects on your mind and body. There are no "safer" drinks.

- You can't make yourself sober after drinking. It takes an average of 2 to 3 hours for a single drink to leave your system. Drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, or "walking it off" can't speed up this process.

- "21" is the legal age for good reasons.

The brain continues to develop until a person's early to mid-twenties, and dosing the developing brain with alcohol is dangerous. The earlier a person begins to use alcohol, the more likely he or she is to be alcohol dependent at some point in life.

The American Medical Association (AMA) and the Centers for Disease Control have set guidelines for Americans regarding alcohol consumption.

The U.S. government explains in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, "The consumption of alcohol can have beneficial or harmful effects depending on the amount consumed, age, and other characteristics of the person consuming the alcohol, and the specifics of the situation."

A total of 573 young adults (ages 18 25) in Columbiana County responded to the 2012 ADAPT Coalition survey on attitudes, knowledge, and alcohol use patterns. Only 22 percent knew the alcohol use guidelines. Do you?

Guidelines for alcohol use

No more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. One drink is defined as:

- Beer: 12 fluid ounces

- Wine: 5 fluid ounces

- Distilled spirits (80 proof): 1.5 fluid ounces

When to avoid alcohol use:

-You are under age 21

-You are pregnant or trying to become pregnant

-You take medications that can interact with alcohol.

-You have health conditions that are aggravated by alcohol use.

Although moderate alcohol use may offer some health benefits, heavy drinking - including binge drinking, has no health benefits. These guidelines make it clear that no one should begin drinking or drink more frequently on the basis of potential health benefits. Don't feel pressured to drink alcohol. If you do drink alcohol and are healthy, there is probably no need to stop as long as you drink responsibly and in moderation.

What is "binge" drinking?

Binge drinking is the consumption of 4 or more drinks for women and 5 or more drinks for men in one episode of alcohol use.

Excessive alcohol consumption is responsible for an average of 79,000 deaths in the United States each year. More than half of these deaths are due to binge drinking. Binge drinking is also associated with a wide range of other health and social problems including sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancy, and violent crime.

Binge drinking presents particular risks for young people, as alcohol tends to have a more "excitable" effect on young people than on older people. As a result, young people are prone to engage in risky behavior while binge drinking.

In the ADAPT 18 25 year old survey, while 57 percent of young people reported no alcohol use in the previous thirty days; 31 percent reported having five or more drinks on one occasion at least once in the previous thirty days.

For more information, contact the ADAPT Coalition at 330-424-0531; check out their website; or call the MHRS Board office at 330-424-0195.



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