Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Dangers of Underage Drinking

Underage drinking is a leading public health problem in the US. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, each year approximately 5,000 young people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking from motor vehicle crashes, homicides and suicides, as well as hundreds of other accidents such as falls, burns, and drowning.

Yet drinking continues to be widespread among adolescents. Nearly 10 million youths, ages 12 to 20, in this country report they have consumed alcohol in the past 30 days according to the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. In the state of Delaware, more than 20% of adolescents drank alcohol for the first time before turning 13 and have had five or more drinks of alcohol in a row within a few hours.

To make the problem worse, once adolescents begin drinking they face a number of potential health risks. Studies show that young people who drink heavily may put themselves at risk for a range of health problems such as brain and liver functioning and growth.

At BCCS, we take alcohol abuse seriously, particularly with DE’s vulnerable adolescent population. Recently, BCCS's Statewide Coalition was honored for its commitment to the community through its SPF SIG program, which was created to reduce alcohol use and misuse among 12-25 year-olds. Funded through the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH), the program provides comprehensive substance abuse prevention services, which prevent and reduce alcohol abuse.

Another initiative that aims to help youth learn tools to avoid drinking alcohol is our You – Front & Center program, which is designed to change the attitudes of young Delawareans regarding alcohol and substance abuse, and works to build a network of capable young adults ages 18-25 who want to make positive choices about their future.

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