Alcohol Awareness Month focuses on prevention – WV News

CLARKSBURG — In recent years, much focus has been placed on the ongoing drug epidemic in the state, but some warn that alcohol can also be a problem for adolescents. 

April marks Alcohol Awareness Month, and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence has dubbed this year’s theme “Changing Attitudes: It’s not a ‘rite of passage.’”

Alcohol abuse in adolescents is linked to violence, suicide and unsafe sex, even in those who do not develop a long term addiction, according to information from the council.

“Underage drinking causes the potential for car accidents, arrests, having to go to the hospital, it can lead to premature death. It can lead to trouble in school, trouble with the law,” added Leesa Jackson, program manager for Children’s Services at Highland-Clarksburg Hospital.

Indeed, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that one in seven drivers aged 16-20 involved in fatal crashes during 2016 had alcohol in their system.

A University of Michigan Institute for Social Research nationwide survey found that, while reported use of marijuana has increased, reported alcohol consumption among adolescents has continuously decreased, although levels stabilized in 2017.

“In general, alcohol use by adolescents has been in a long-term decline that actually first began in the 1980s and was interrupted for a few years during the relapse phase in the substance use epidemic in the 1990s,” the report states.

The stabilization in 2017 represents “the first time this has happened in many years and may herald the end of the long-term decline in adolescent alcohol use,” according to the survey report.

Although rates have decreased since the 1990s, the risk still remains for adolescents who consume alcohol.

According to Jackson, the reasons for adolescent alcohol abuse vary. Some drink in social settings

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