April is Alcohol Awareness Month
April is National Alcohol Awareness Month. Sometimes, it’s difficult to talk to youth about issues that are sensitive. As Christians, it is important that we set a healthy example for them, and facilitate open communication for them to learn and grow closer to God. The need to provide meaningful education on the dangers of underage drinking and drug use has never been greater. A few facts help to highlight that need:
- Alcohol and drugs are the leading causes of crime among youth.
- Alcohol and drugs are the leading factors in teenage suicide.
- More than 23 million people over the age of 12 are addicted to alcohol and other drugs.
Young people, like adults, drink alcohol for many different reasons. Some of the reasons may seem obvious, but understanding the feelings behind these reasons – as well as how everyday teen life comes into play – can be difficult. Young people often drink to check out from family problems or issues with school and grades; loneliness, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety disorder and other mental health issues. They may drink to deal with the pressures of everyday social situations, to change their image, to fit in when moving to a new school or town, or to gain confidence or lose inhibitions.
As kids get older and alcohol and drugs potentially enter the picture, parents are faced with a unique set of challenges. They can simply sit back and hope their kids will “get through it,” or they can take an active role in learning about alcohol and drugs – and helping their kids to do the same.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Opening communication with youth and setting a positive example can make a huge difference in the formation of our children’s thoughts, behaviors, and actions.
Parents, especially Christian parents, can be a primary source of positive and reliable information. In fact, research has shown that kids who have conversations with their parents and learn a lot about the dangers of alcohol and drug use are 50% less likely to use these substances than those who don’t have such conversations.
It is important to take advantage of “teachable moments” when parents and other adults can help kids connect the dots about underage drinking and drug use. It’s not so much about having “the big talk,” but about being there for them when the issues come up – on TV, at the movies, on the radio; about celebrities or sports figures, or about their friends.
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, here are some guidelines that can help parents talk about alcohol and drug use:
Listen before you talk: For kids, knowing that someone is really listening is most important. Ask open-ended questions. Be involved. Be honest and open. Be positive: talking about these issues can build bridges rather than walls. And remember, addiction is a chronic, progressive disease that can be linked to family history and genetics. So, if you know there is a family history of problems be matter of fact about it, as one would be with any other chronic disease, such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer.
“Alcohol and drug use is a very risky business for young people,” says Andrew Pucher, President and Chief Executive Officer of NCADD, “and parents can make a difference. The longer children delay drinking and drug use, the less likely they are to develop problems associated with it. That’s why it is so important to help your child connect the dots and make smart decisions about alcohol and drug use.”
So, this April, Genesis Counseling Center is celebrating Alcohol Awareness Month by raising public awareness about underage drinking and encouraging parents to speak to their kids early and often about alcohol and other drugs. For more information on addiction, see our website. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, we urge you to call us today to schedule a screening and make a treatment plan.
Additionally, we urge local businesses, community organizations, colleges, schools, administrators, and government agencies to get involved in promoting awareness. It can make a tremendous difference in our community as we reach out to those who are most vulnerable and help our next generation avoid the many problems that underage alcohol and drug use can bring.
For more information about Alcohol Awareness Month, contact NCADD or one of its local Affiliates at www.ncadd.org.
Blog Post by: Sarah Warner, M.S.