NCADD Uses April to Highlight Problem of Underage Drinking

More than 6,500 youths under age 21 die each year from injuries suffered in accidents involving underage drinking. To highlight this important issue, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) made April NCADD Alcohol Awareness Month.

Of those 6,500 deaths, almost 2,400 occur in driving crashes and almost 2,400 die in other accidents, such as falls or fires. Another 1,500 youths die in alcohol-related homicides, 300 in suicides, and others to alcohol overdose, according to the NCADD.

“The issue of underage drinking is a complex problem, one that can only be solved through a sustained and cooperative effort,” says Robert J. Lindsey, NCADD President/CEO. “But, if we care about the health and well being of our children, the bottom line, based on science, is that we need to do everything we can to discourage them from drinking alcohol until age 21.”

It is relatively easy for teenagers to get access to alcohol, with 16 percent of all alcohol sales attributed to underage drinkers. Children are flooded with media messages that glamorize alcohol use, increasing the likelihood that they will drink alcohol.

“We need to wake up to the problem of underage drinking and recognize the reality that for some, alcoholism and addiction develop at a young age and that intervention, treatment, and recovery support are essential for them and their families,” says Lindsey. “We can’t afford to wait any longer.”

The NCADD has sponsored Alcohol Awareness Month each April since 1987 to increase public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma, and encourage local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues.

Alcohol use by young people is extremely dangerous—both to themselves and to society, and it is associated with traffic fatalities, violence, unsafe sex, suicide, educational failure, alcohol overdose and other problem behaviors.

Some important basic Facts About Underage Drinking:

  • Alcohol is the No. 1 drug of choice for America’s young people, more than tobacco or illicit drugs.
  • Those who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who begin at age 21.
  • Each day, 7,000 children in the United States under the age of 16 take their first drink.
  • Underage alcohol use costs the nation an estimated $62 billion annually.

Reducing underage drinking is critical to securing a healthy future for America’s youth and requires a cooperative effort from parents, schools, community organizations, business leaders, government agencies, the entertainment industry, alcohol manufacturers/retailers, and young people. Alcohol Awareness Month highlights the need to work together to create comprehensive education, prevention, enforcement, intervention, and treatment resources.

For more information about NCADD, underage drinking, and NCADD Alcohol Awareness Month, visit the NCADD website.