Written By: Frances Harding, Director, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention
April is a time of renewal, which makes it a perfect time for individuals and communities to renew their commitment to underage drinking prevention. In fact, April is Alcohol Awareness Month, making it the most appropriate month of the year to spring forward with prevention efforts. The theme for this year’s observance is “Healthy Choices, Healthy Communities: Prevent Underage Drinking.”
This April, hundreds of communities across the Nation are hosting Town Hall Meetings, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), to help prevent underage drinking. The theme for 2012, “Getting to Outcomes,” emphasizes that the purpose of these meetings is to engage communities around evidence-based prevention approaches that lead to measurable reductions in underage drinking.
To find a meeting in your area, visit the ZIP Code–searchable map at http://www.stopalcoholabuse.gov/townhallmeetings. Please support Town Hall Meetings with your attendance. Use this opportunity to help move your community beyond awareness of this problem to effective prevention.
Now is the time to ensure that underage drinking will not turn a prom, a graduation, or other seasonal celebration into a court appearance, a hospital visit, or worse. More than 10 million American youth use alcohol. Underage drinking is a crime that can ruin lives. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrest statistics, 15,800 youth under age 18 were arrested for driving under the influence in 2008. Nearly the same number were cited for drunkenness. Each year, an estimated 200,000 young people under age 21 visit emergency rooms, and 5,000 die due to alcohol-related causes.
Next month, SAMHSA will host an interactive Webcast on communities that are using Town Hall Meetings to achieve positive outcomes in preventing underage drinking. Use the hashtag #THM2012 for Twitter updates on this and related events.
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Background information: Citation for 200,000 statistic is:
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Drug Abuse Warning Network, 2009: National Estimates of Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 11-4659, DAWN Series D-35. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2011. From http://www.samhsa.gov/data/2k11/dawn/2k9dawned/html/dawn2k9ed.htm (accessed April 10, 2012).
Citation for 5,000 statistic is:
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Underage Drinking Research Initiative. Statistics on Underage Drinking. From http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/AboutNIAAA/NIAAASponsoredPrograms/Pages/underage.aspx#statistics (accessed April 10, 2012).