Alcohol Awareness Web
More than 18% of Americans experience alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence at some time in their lives.

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April is Alcohol Awareness Month
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College Drinking:  Changing the Culture 
Does Family History of Alcoholism Put You at Risk
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Web of Addictions

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Approximately one-half of U.S. adults report a family history of alcoholism or problem drinking. Nearly 14 million Americans have alcohol disorders.

Madison's VOICES newspaper, BreitLinks and Club TNT share factual information about alcohol use and abuse and other addictions. We do not endorse any programs of recovery, but hope to help connect people with resources to make positive lifestyle choices.

April is Alcohol Awareness month - a time each year to think about alcohol use and abuse.  Its especially important to talk about underage drinking.  While many talk about kids and illicit drugs, it is alcohol that remains the No. 1 drug problem for young people.

Alcohol has a long history. It has been used in religious ceremonies, as a medicine, and socially for thousands of years. Laws and codes of conduct governing its use and misuse have been a part of human culture throughout history. Some people can use alcohol occasionally and responsibly, while for others the effect of alcohol can be devastating. Herein lies the complexity of alcohol use.

Alcohol is a psychoactive substance, which means that it has the ability to change consciousness and to alter perceptions and behavior. The alcohol found in beverages is known as ethanol or ethyl alcohol. This is the only type of alcohol that is safe to consume, and then only in small quantities.

While there is much controversy over the many problems associated with alcohol, the fact is that a large segment of the population chooses to consume alcoholic beverages. Many people begin drinking during early adolescence.

The use of alcohol by college students is a major problem. People in their 20's and 30's comprise the group most often arrested for drunkenness and for driving while intoxicated. However, even senior citizens are not immune to alcohol abuse.

Approximately half of all alcohol is consumed by just ten percent of the drinking population. A host of social issues plagues this group of heavy drinkers. Lost work time, family pathologies, and medical factors are just a few of the complications associated with alcohol abuse.

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Consider these facts from the The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence:

• 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)

• 80% of high school seniors have used alcohol; in comparison, 62% have smoked cigarettes; 49% have used marijuana; and 9% have used cocaine.

• Purchase and public possession of alcohol by people under the age of 21 is illegal in all 50 states.

• Approximately 2/3 of teenagers who drink report that they can buy their own alcoholic beverages.

• 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.

• 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.

• Use of alcohol or other drugs at an early age is an indicator of future alcohol or drug problems.

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• First use of alcohol typically begins around the age 13; marijuana around 14.

• People who begin smoking before age 13 are significantly more likely than nonsmokers and those who begin smoking later to have problems with alcohol and other drugs.

• Among high school seniors, current use of alcohol is higher for whites and Hispanics than blacks; the same is true for marijuana, but with greater similarity in the rates of use.

• Approximately 8% of the nation's eighth graders; 24% of tenth graders; and 32% of twelfth graders have been drunk during the last month; 12%, 23% and 25%, respectively, have used an illicit drug.

• Among teenagers who binge drink, 39% say they drink alone; 58% drink when they are upset; 30% drink when they are bored; and 37% drink to feel high.

• Junior/middle and senior high school students drink 35% of all wine coolers sold in the United States; they also consume 1.1 billion cans of beer.

• 40% of college students have "binged" on alcohol during the past two weeks.

• Among college students in one survey, rates of binge drinking were highest among Caucasians, 43.3% for males and 24.4% for females; among African-Americans the rates were 24.8% for males and 5.4% for females; and among Asians, 32% for males and 20% for females.

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• Young adults ages 18-25 are most likely to binge or drink heavily. 54% of the drinkers in this age group binge and about one in four are heavy drinkers.

• Drivers under the age of 25 were more likely than those 25 or older to be intoxicated in a fatal crash.

• The prevalence of drinking and driving increases substantially among youth and young adults with the frequency of alcohol use and is strongly associated with binge drinking.

• Drivers ages 21-24 had the highest intoxication rates (27%) for fatal crashes in 1996.

• In 1995, 21.5% (262,112) of the clients admitted to alcohol or other drug treatment programs were under age 24, including 18,194 under age 15.

• A clear relationship exists between alcohol use and grade-point average among college students: students with GPAs of D or F drink three times as much as those who earn As.

• 31.9% of youth under 18 in long-term, State-operated juvenile institutions in 1987 were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the arrest.

• Almost half of college students who were victims of campus crimes said they drinking or using other drugs when they were victimized.

• Researchers estimate that alcohol use is implicated in one- to two-thirds of sexual assault and acquaintance or "date" rape cases among teens and college students.

• Among sexually active teens, those who average five or more drinks daily were nearly three times less likely to use condoms, thus placing them at greater risk for HIV infection. Among all teens who drink, 16% use condoms less often after drinking.

• 80% of teenagers don't know that a 12 oz. can of beer has the same amount of alcohol as a shot of whiskey; similarly, 55% don't know that a 5 oz. glass of wine and a 12 oz. can of beer have the same amount of alcohol.

• 56% of students in grades 5 to 12 say that alcohol advertising encourages them to drink.

• 30% of children in grades four through six report that they have received "a lot" of pressure from their classmates to drink beer; 31% to try marijuana; and 34% to try cigarettes.

• A survey of high school students found that 18% of females and 39% of males say it is acceptable for a boy to force sex if the girl is stoned or drunk.

• Teenagers whose parents talk to them regularly about the dangers of drugs are 42% less likely to use drugs than those whose parents don't, yet only 1 in 4 teens reports having these conversations.

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