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Teen Drinking Increases Chance of Alcoholism

Where is the easiest place for kids to get alcohol? ...Right next to the milk.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month and several community agencies and individuals are looking to send a message to parents to help reduce access to alcohol for our teens.Why? Search Institute research suggests that kids who have strong developmental assets in their lives like positive role models, strong supervision, safe homes and schools, having appropriate limits and consequences are less likely to drink and more likely to thrive. 

Conversely kids who report drinking have far fewer protective factors and are more likely to engage in other risky behaviors. According to a UConn Survey from 2000, the average age of onset for drinking in Fairfield County is considered to be 11.7 years old. More recent information is anecdotal, but the 8th-9th grade transition period is also of increasing concern. The risk of becoming addicted to alcohol during one's lifetime increases substantially with an earlier age of onset.

recent CASA report finds 1 in 4 Americans who began using any addictive substance before age 18 are addicted, compared to 1 in 25 Americans who started using at age 21 or older. Ninety percent of Americans suffering from addiction started smoking, drinking or using other drugs before age 18. (CASA)Time and time again we hear stories from kids, police, and parents that kids don't often need to access alcohol by purchasing it. It is available in their own fridges and liquor cabinets.

One of the easiest places for kids to access alcohol is right next to the milk...it’s in the fridge. The in coordination with: Youth Services, , New Canaan CARES Leadership Coalition, The New Canaan YMCA, and private individuals are promoting an awareness campaign during April.

We are asking parents to be aware of the alcohol they have in their homes and to make sure they take steps to account for its whereabouts and who has access to it. In almost all cases it is illegal to possess or consume alcohol for anyone under 21. See the laws and consequences here.

We plan to have refrigerators in high visibility placements throughout town, including; in front of Vine Cottage, inside the New Canaan YMCA lobby & near the New Canaan Library reference desk. We plan to have windows in downtown decorated by students reminding parents and kids about the health and social risks of underage drinking. We'll have posters made up and visible throughout town, and inside buildingsWe'll be doing an ongoing media campaign which includes collecting and disseminating information on Facebook through WeCareNC. 

We plan to have the fridges on display during the weeks of April 16 & 23. We hope with high visibility of the "Fridge" throughout town, that the message will get out and people will "talk" about about reducing access to alcohol for our teens. Please start or join a conversation online, in your circle of friends or at your dinner table about the health and well being of our kids.We invite you to "like" us on Facebook to ensure you continue to get helpful tips and information throughout the remainder of the month.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Glen K Dunbar April 17, 2012 at 02:28 PM
I have to agree w/Eddy here. You all do a great job. Thanks Anthony.
Kendall L Owott April 18, 2012 at 03:05 AM
I support efforts to control who has access to the booze and especially education to prevent youthful drunken driving. It was not clear a few months ago that the research on early onset drinking and increased probability of alcoholism was sufficiently developed to establish cause and effect. There were some genetic and biochemical factors under investigation at that time. At present, your data of a few months ago established an association between early onset drinking and alcoholism. Whether this means that drinking early causes alcoholism or not was still an open question. It may be that people who have addictive personalities, or are easily bored and seek thrills, start drinking early and are more likely to become alcoholics. There are plenty of international counter examples where the legal drinking age is lower than the US and the incidence of alcoholism is also lower. Nevertheless, the law is the law and the penalties, especially in New Canaan, can be severe, even for underage college students. It's important to tell the truth. It is also prudent to control the booze as a safety measure. You can set the rules for your own children and in your own house. Good luck to Tony and NC Youth Services.
Tony Phillips, LCSW April 18, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Thank you Kendall for your input. Here is a link to the data supporting the statement that "The risk of becoming addicted to alcohol during one's lifetime increases substantially with an earlier age of onset." Excerpt from The Surgeon General's "Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking" http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK44364/ Early Onset of Drinking Can Be a Marker for Future Problems, Including Alcohol Dependence and Other Substance Abuse. Approximately 40 percent of individuals who report drinking before age 15 also describe their behavior and drinking at some point in their lives in ways consistent with a diagnosis for alcohol dependence. This is four times as many as among those who do not drink before age 21 (Grant and Dawson 1997).
Tony Phillips, LCSW April 18, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Besides experiencing a higher incidence of dependence later in life, youth who report drinking before the age of 15 are more likely than those who begin drinking later in life to have other substance abuse problems during adolescence (Hawkins et al. 1997; Robins and Przybeck 1985; Schulenberg et al. 1996a); to engage in risky sexual behavior (Grunbaum et al. 2004); and to be involved in car crashes, unintentional injuries, and physical fights after drinking both during adolescence and in adulthood. This is true for individuals from families both with and without a family history of alcohol dependence (Hingson et al. 2000, 2001, 2002 ). Delaying the age of onset of first alcohol use as long as possible would ameliorate some of the negative consequences associated with underage alcohol consumption.
Tony Phillips, LCSW April 18, 2012 at 06:31 PM
I encourage anyone interested in talking more about underage drinking prevention, hearing more or asking for more; to head over to http://www.facebook.com/WeCareNC Like us and we'll keep you updated on facts and tips for the remainder of the month.

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