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National Prevention Week: Underage drinking

May. 13, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

National Prevention Week from May 12-18 is an annual health observance lead by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and supported locally by the Cabell County Substance Abuse Prevention Partnership.

The observance is dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues.

Today's theme: Prevention of underage drinking.

The issue: Although the legal drinking age in the United States is 21, one quarter of people aged 12 to 20 drink alcohol, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Alcohol use can have serious physical consequences, even death from alcohol poisoning, can affect the development of young people's brains, and can contribute to negative and risky behavior.

Fact: Each year, 5,000 people in the U.S. under age 21 die from homicides, suicides, car crashes and drowning in incidents related to drinking alcohol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Prevention tip: Many young people identify parents as the leading influence in their decision to drink or not to drink. That means it's important for parents and caregivers to take an active role, by monitoring children for signs that may indicate drinking. Some signals: school problems, lack of involvement in former interests, mood changes, memory lapses, slurred speech.

For more information: Visit UnderageDrinking.SAMHSA.gov or www.ccsapp.org.