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It's Alcohol Awareness Month: Take Action on Underage Drinking

It's Alcohol Awareness Month: Take Action on Underage Drinking
Did you know that Novato’s underage drinking rates are higher than many other communities in the state and that local youth report they start drinking at an early age? In fact, 23% of Novato 5th graders report that they have tried alcohol, and 43% of 11 graders report drinking by the age of 14. April is Alcohol Awareness Month, as sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD). This year, NCADD highlights underage drinking as a significant public health issue, a problem that can have devastating consequences for youth, families, and communities.

A FEW FACTS:
  • While any level of alcohol use among youth can be harmful, the typical pattern of youth drinking is to consume a lot at one time. 90% of all underage drinking in the U.S. is in the form of binge drinking (defined as at least 4-5 drinks within a 2 hour period).
  • Alcohol use by young people puts them at risk for consequences such as sexual assault and other types of violence, alcohol poisoning, car crashes, academic problems, and more. Approximately 50% of college student sexual assaults are alcohol-involved.
  • Annually, over 6,500 people under 21 die from alcohol-related incidents and thousands more are injured.
  • Those who begin drinking before the age of 15 are five times more likely to develop problems with alcohol dependence or abuse than those who wait until they are 21.
  • Underage drinking can harm the developing brain, which continues to develop into the mid-20s. Some damage may be long term.
  • Underage drinking costs the nation an estimated $62 billion annually.

COMMON MYTHS:

MYTH #1: Allowing youth to drink at home will help keep them safe.

  • Facts: Allowing underage youth to drink alcohol in any setting, supervised or not, puts their health and safety at risk. It also sends the message that it is ok from them to drink before 21. Youth who drink at home are more likely to drink in other settings outside of the home and to experience problems with alcohol in the future. Youth whose parents communicate that they disapprove of drinking before age 21 are 42% less likely to drink underage than youth who do not get this message.

MYTH# 2: The U.S. would have fewer problems with underage drinking if the drinking age was lower, as in many European countries.

  • Fact: The majority of European countries with lower drinking ages experience more problems with youth binge drinking, and the associated consequences, than the U.S.
MYTH #3: Teaching youth how to drink responsibly in high school will help prevent them from drinking heavily in college.
  • Fact: Parents who disapprove completely of underage alcohol use tend to have children who engage in less drinking and less binge drinking in college. Parent permissiveness of teenage drinking is a significant risk factor for later binge drinking.

WORKING TOGETHER TOWARDS SOLUTIONS:

The good news is that there is a lot we can do to prevent and reduce the harm that underage drinking has on our community. Many Novato agencies and community groups have come together in partnership to take action. Consider joining one of these local efforts or attend an event below to learn more about how you can take action to reduce the incidence of underage drinking in your community.

LOCAL PREVENTION EFFORTS:

*Healthy Novato

Healthy Novato supports programs, partnerships, and parent education to reduce the incidence of underage drinking and excessive young adult drinking. Visit www.healthynovato.organd like us on Facebook www.facebook.com/healthynovatofor information about community and school-based programs as well as resources for parents.

*Novato Blue Ribbon Coalition for Youth

The Novato Blue Ribbon Coalition for Youth is an active group of community members and agencies advocating for community-level changes and policies to reduce underage drinking, youth marijuana use, and bullying. Visit www.novatoblueribbon.org/ and like us on Facebook www.facebook.com/.NBRC4Y for more information.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

*Faux Party Show

The San Marin High Friday Night Live (FNL) youth leadership chapter and the Novato Youth Council invite you to participate in their first ever Faux Show Party! This interactive short play will inform you about what really happens at youth parties and ways in which we can create safer and healthier communities. Join us for the Faux Show Party on Thursday, May 8th, from 6:30-8:00, in the cafeteria at San Marin High. 

*Town Hall Meeting

You are invited to a Town Hall meeting in May! Community partners are joining together to help you learn about youth substance use and resources available to help families and the community. Check Healthy Novato’s Facebook page for more details to be released this month.

For more information contact Katie Keating, Director of Program Development and Evaluation of Healthy Novato, at 415 493-4322 or kkeating@novatoyouthcenter.org.

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