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April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Look for the ‘signs’ and start talking before teens start drinking

April 10, 2011
Messenger News

It's party season, prom, graduation; celebrations abound.

Did you know that during a typical prom or graduation weekend nearly half of all traffic deaths of 15-20-year-olds are alcohol related? These tragic deaths, the pain of those who are injured and the grief of all of their loved ones are preventable.

This is why the Drug Free Alliance along with employees of Trinity Regional Medical Center and the Trimark Physicians Group have initiated a yard sign campaign aimed at keeping our youth safe and alcohol free during prom and graduation season. The purpose of this yard sign campaign is to increase awareness of the dangers of underage drinking, especially during prom and graduation season.

You may have noticed yard signs in the community that state "Think Don't Drink! Safe Prom, Safe Graduation" and "Parents who Host Lose the Most, Don't be a Party to Underage Drinking."

Did you know:

That as a parent or guardian you cannot give alcohol to your teen's friends under the age of 21 under any circumstance, even in your own home, even with their parent's permission. And, you cannot knowingly allow anyone under 21, other than your own child, to remain in your home or on your property while consuming or possessing alcohol.

There are social hosting laws which vary from state to state. It may seem unimportant to you to know these laws, but consider how expensive it is to not know. In some instances, you could land in jail for six months or find yourself getting slapped with a $1,000 fine or more for violating these laws, and these laws do not even begin to touch on the life-changing consequences if a tragedy occurs.

Alcohol use by young people is not only dangerous, it's unhealthy as it threatens development and well-being.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - CDC - recommends that all parents and guardians outline their expectations with their children. Get the conversation started and start talking before the problems begin. Start with simple things like being clear on where the party is, who will be attending and who will be supervising the activities. These are all very important things to know.

According to the CDC, 80 to 90 percent of youths state that they depend on their parents or guardians to help guide them in making important decisions. So at this time of year, make your expectations with your children clear and protect yourself and others by following some simple hosting guidelines:

1. Refuse to supply alcohol to anyone under 21.

2. Be home when your teen has a party.

3. Set a start and end time for the party.

4. Call parents if someone arrives at a party intoxicated; if you can't get in touch with parents, for your protection and the safety of others, you should call the police.

5. Invite other parents to help chaperone.

6. Make sure other youth don't bring alcohol into your home.

7. Talk to other parents about hosting alcohol-free events.

8. Have plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages available.

9. Report underage drinking to respective parents or law enforcement if necessary.

Some of the recommendations listed above can be very difficult to enforce at times, just as being a parent in general can be difficult. But dealing with the tragic consequences that can come from drinking underage can be catastrophic.

The Drug Free Alliance, Trinity Regional Medical Center and the Trimark Physicians Group care about the well-being and safety of our youth and all members of our community. Underage drinking is something everyone should be concerned about. Together as a community we can minimize the risks to our youth associated with underage drinking. Please join us in this campaign by talking to the youth in your lives about the dangers of underage drinking. A concerted effort by a committed community really can make a difference in underage drinking rates and together we can save lives!

Teresa Newman is manager of Trinity Healthy Living and the Diabetes Center at Trinity Regional Medical Center.



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