Alcohol awareness crucial for teens

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 1, 2004

Tribune editorial staff

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, a time set aside to reflect on the dangers of alcohol and focus on responsible consumption.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, alcohol is the fourth leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 24.

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Additionally, alcohol is a major factor in the three leading causes of death for youth, which include suicide, motor vehicle crashes and homicide. Statistics also

link alcohol to various crimes, including sexual assaults and rapes and theft and young people who abuse alcohol are more likely to use illegal drugs.

Underage drinking costs Americans nearly $53 billion, according to SAMHSA figures, but perhaps more shocking are the statistics dealing with the age at which young people start drinking. In the United States, the average age children take their first drink of alcohol is 12-years-old, according SAMHSA.

Additionally, people who start using alcohol before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop an alcohol addiction at some point in their lives, compared to those who start drinking at the legal age of 21.

With these staggering statistics, we are pleased to note that the Ironton Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol is stepping up to the plate to combat underage drinking. In a joint effort with the Ohio Department of Public Safety, the Patrol is promoting a program discouraging underage drinking, "None for Under 21." The aim of the program is to discourage underage drinking and the use of fake identifications and, hopefully, prevent the number of injury or fatal accidents involving impaired teens.

As a part of the

campaign, troopers will visit local schools to make students aware of the dangers of driving under the influence and discourage them from illegally purchasing or consuming alcoholic beverages.

We support the Patrol and its message and encourage teens to think before they drink. Not only is it against the law, but the consequences can be dangerous - sometimes fatal.