Jackson: April is Alcohol Awareness Month - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Opinion

Jackson: April is Alcohol Awareness Month

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Posted: Monday, April 21, 2014 7:45 am

April is Alcohol Awareness Month and ICAN is partnering with two East Valley organizations to help spread the word about alcohol and its dangers. Alcohol use by youth is directly associated with traffic fatalities, violence, suicide, educational failure, alcohol overdose, unsafe sex and other problem behaviors. Annually, over 6,500 people under the age of 21 die from alcohol-related accidents and thousands more are injured.

ICAN founded the Chandler Coalition on Youth Substance Abuse (CCYSA) in 2006 and continues to grow this critical program. CCYSA addresses the issue of youth alcohol abuse through programs that include peer leadership, social marketing, community outreach and political advocacy. Teens also participate in programs such as “party patrol” where CCYSA youth provide Chandler police with information about upcoming parties where they suspect alcohol and drug use will be present.

During the time frame of April through June, there is a rise in alcohol-related traffic fatalities and incidents due to prom and graduation season. ICAN and CCYSA are partnering with Tempe Coalition and Mesa Prevention Alliance to combine resources to be more effective and far-reaching with their messages and prevention efforts.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence released some frightening statistics for Alcohol Awareness Month:

• Each day, 7,000 kids in the United States under the age of 16 take their first drink.

• Those who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who begin at age 21.

• More than 1,700 college students in the U.S. are killed each year — about 4.65 a day — as a result of alcohol-related injuries.

• Twenty-five percent of U.S. children are exposed to alcohol-use disorders in their family.

• Underage alcohol use costs the nation an estimated $62 billion annually.

The promise of a healthy future for the youth in the East Valley and across the world requires reducing underage drinking through cooperative efforts from parents, schools, community organizations, business leaders and government agencies. Chandler’s CCYSA, Tempe Coalition and Mesa Prevention Alliance are taking the first step to work in tandem to address this social issue.

Please help us spread the word about the staggering statistics of alcohol abuse among our youth and talk to your kids about the serious implications of alcohol use. Learn more at www.ccysachandler.org and www.ncadd.org.

• Becky Jackson is the president and CEO of ICAN Chandler — Positive Programs for Youth, which operates the Chandler Coalition on Youth Substance Abuse.

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