Watch for alcohol use among teens

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 19, 2007

When more than 60 percent of eighth graders say that alcohol is &uot;fairly easy&uot; or &uot;very easy&uot; to get, there is little wonder why this year’s National Alcohol Awareness month, held each April, is focused on preventing underage drinking.

A national survey from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) showed that, in addition to being &uot;easy&uot; to get, alcohol is the No. 1 drug of choice for American children between the ages of 12 to 17.

Research from The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) shows that alcohol is a leading factor in teen automobile crashes, suicides, and homicides-the three leading causes of teen deaths. In fact, alcohol-related car accidents are the No. 1 cause of death for teenagers.

According to the American Medical Association (AMA), adolescent drinkers have poor academic performance, score worse on vocabulary and memory retrieval tests, and have trouble recalling verbal information. Young people who drink have an increased risk of social problems, depression, suicidal thoughts, and strokes. Findings from the AAP go on to show that more than 43 percent of teenagers who began drinking before age 14 later became alcoholics.

Too often, our society considers alcohol the &uot;safe&uot; drug. Because it is socially acceptable, we don’t do enough to stop teens from drinking. Given the statistics, don’t you think we should? – The Andalusia Star-News