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Alcohol is Alcohol Awareness Month

April is 'Alcohol Awareness Month', sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence since 1987. It encourages local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues.

Alcohol Awareness Month began as a way of reaching the American public with information about the disease of alcoholism - that it is a treatable disease, not a moral weakness, and that alcoholics are capable of recovery.

A primary focus of Alcohol Awareness Month over the past 10 years has been Underage Drinking and the devastating effects it can have on our youth.

A Statistical Overview

  • About 10.4 million Americans between ages 12-20 had at least one drink last month; of these 6.8 million were "binge" drinkers (consuming five or more drinks in a row on a single occasion) including 2.1 million heavy drinkers (consuming five or more drinks on the same occasion on at least five different days) (National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 1999 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse).
  • The highest rates of illicit drug use are found among youth ages 18-20 (between 20% and 21 percent) with marijuana the most commonly used illicit drug (NIDA, 1999 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse).
  • 80 percent of high school seniors have used alcohol; in comparison, 62% have smoked cigarettes; 49 percent have used marijuana; and 9 percent have used cocaine (NIDA, 2000 Monitoring the Future Study, Seconardy School Students).
  • Purchase and public possession of alcohol by people under the age of 21 is illegal in all 50 states (Office of the Inspector General (OIG), US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), "Youth and Alcohol: Laws and Enforcement: Is the 21-Year-Old Drinking Age a Myth?," 10/91).
  • Approximately 2/3 of teenagers who drink report that they can buy their own alcoholic beverages (OIG, HHS, "Youth and Alcohol: A National Survey. Drinking Habits, Access, Attitudes, and Knowledge," Washington, DC, 6/91).
  • Use of alcohol and other drugs is associated with the leading causes of death and injury (e.g., motor-vehicle crashes, homicides, and suicides) among teenagers and young adults (Centers for Disease Control (CDC), "Alcohol and Other Drug Use Among High School Students--United States, 1990," Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report {MMWR}, 11/91, p. 776).
  • The total cost of alcohol use by youth--including traffic crashes, violent crime, burns, drowning, suicide attempts, fetal alcohol syndrome, alcohol poisonings and treatment--is more than $58 billion per year (DT Levy, K Stewart, et al "Costs of Underage Drinking" (report prepared for the US Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Delinquency Prevention), Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, 7/99)).
  • Use of alcohol or other drugs at an early age is an indicator of future alcohol or drug problems (J Hawkins, R Catalano, "Risk and Protective Factors for Alcohol and Other Drug Problems in Adolescence and Early Adulthood: Implications for Substance Abuse Prevention, 1989, p. 78) ; people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who begin at 21 (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism news release, 1/14/98).

Stastics compiled 12/99 by National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency. For further information see their web site at:

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