Alcohol Awareness Month is a time to educate ourselves and others about the risks of excessive alcohol use and particularly the risks for those who drink under the age of 21. The estimated annual consequences of underage drinking follow:
- 37,000 nonfatal traffic injuries*
- 189,000 emergency department visits*
- 949,000 nonfatal violent crimes (e.g., rape, robbery, and assault)*
- 938,000 teens having risky sex*
- 28,000 teen pregnancies*
- 4,400 deaths a year**
Youth who begin using alcohol before age 15 are more than six times more likely to experience alcohol dependence or abuse than those who have their first drink at age 21 or older (14.8 vs. 2.3 percent).***
Help raise awareness of this public health issue during Alcohol Awareness Month. Visit Health Finder to download a toolkit with resources to help spread the word. The toolkit includes information and a downloadable web button that you can add to your organization’s newsletter, sample social media posts, e-cards, blog, or social media site. You can also read about ways to take action in your community by partnering with local schools, hosting events, or posting information at community centers, libraries, and more.
Alcohol Awareness Month is sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.
*Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center. (2011). Costs of underage drinking.
**Hingson, R. (2015, March). Recent trends and findings regarding the magnitude and prevention of college drinking and drug use problems. Presentation at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Summit on Behavioral Health Issues Among College Students.
***Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2014). Results from the 2013 national survey on drug use and health: Summary of national findings. (HHS Publication No. [SMA] 14-4863, NSDUH Series H-48).
SAMHSA recently released Reaching and Mobilizing "Non-College" Young Adults in Prevention Efforts. This toolkit is designed to “help practitioners working to reduce substance misuse and abuse among non-college young adults find the data they need to inform their planning efforts, and to overcome some common challenges to reaching and engaging young adults in prevention efforts.” The toolkit highlights opportunities and challenges to preventing substance use among young adults ages 18–25 who are not in college, offers tips for engaging non-college young people in prevention, and provides examples of strategies from existing prevention efforts.
While much is researched and written about binge and heavy drinking rates among 4-year college students, adults (18+ years old) who did not complete college are more likely to be binge or heavy drinkers than those with a college degree. Current data also indicate that illicit substance use is higher among young adults ages 18–25 who do not attend or complete college as compared to those who do.
A range of resources about preventing underage and binge drinking are also available on SAMHSA’s Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies (CAPT) website.
SAMHSA’s National Prevention Week 2015 takes place May 17–23. Check out the National Prevention Week 2015 promotional video. Each day of the week is associated with a different prevention theme. These are:
- Monday, May 18: Prevention of Tobacco Use
- Tuesday, May 19: Prevention of Underage Drinking and Alcohol Abuse
- Wednesday, May 20: Prevention of Opioid and Prescription Drug Abuse
- Thursday, May 21: Prevention of Illicit Drug Use and Youth Marijuana Use
- Friday, May 22: Prevention of Suicide
- Saturday, May 23: Promotion of Mental Health and Wellness
Host an event in your community. You can raise awareness about NPW 2015 with the help of the Participant Toolkit, which includes suggested events, resources, statistics, and promotional materials for your use. Visit the National Prevention Week website to learn different ways to get involved with NPW such as the “I Choose” Project.