April is the 26th Annual National Alcohol Awareness Month, and the Novato Blue Ribbon Coalition for Youth will provide you information on how to talk to your kids about alcohol use, as well as tools and tips on how to keep alcohol out of the hands of youth.
Below, some popular myths about alcohol are dispelled
MYTH 1: Teens raised in Europe drink responsibly.
REALITY: European youths drink and get drunk more than youths in the United States.
There is a perception in the United States that young people from Europe have less trouble with alcohol because their cultures teach them to drink responsibly from an early age. A recent report from the Prevention Research Center debunks that myth. Their study shows that European youth drink more often, drink more heavily, and get drunk more often that American teens.
Dr. Joel Grubbe, director of PRC, says "The claim that Europeans learn to drink moderately and safely in a family setting has been used by many in the United States to argue for lowering the drinking age, but our research shows that premise is a myth." This comparison of European countries and the United States was funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the US Department of Justice. For the full report, go to their website at www.udetc.org.
MYTH 2: Boys drink more than girls.
REALITY: Young girls are drinking more than underage boys.
There is disturbing news about the increase in the amount of alcohol that female adolescents are consuming, according to the trends seen in the Monitoring The Future National Survey results on drug use. The report shows that eighth-grade girls were reporting drinking more alcohol than boys.
A 2003 study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 20.9 percent of ninth grade girls versus 18.8 percent of boys reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the previous 30 days. It is interesting to note that researchers led by David Jernigan of Georgetown University feel that one explanation for this increase is attributable to young girls being exposed to alcohol advertisements in the magazines they read. In addition, according to research done by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, young girls who have older boyfriends are more likely to use alcohol.
MYTH 3: It's better for adolescents to drink than use drugs.
REALITY: All mind-altering substances are dangerous for young people.
First of all, alcohol is a drug. Alcohol can have immediate consequences; alcohol use is associated with all leading causes of death for young people. Teen drinking can also have life-long consequences. Research has shown that if a teen starts drinking before the age of 15, they are four times more likely to become dependent on alcohol that those who wait until age 21.
MYTH 4: Everyone drinks!
REALITY: Many teens are making the healthy choice to be alcohol-free.
The Monitoring the Future 2006 study reports the use of alcohol by teens has declined in the past several years. Monitoring the Future is an ongoing study of the behaviors, attitudes, and values of American students. Each year, a total of approximately 50,000 eighth-, 10th and 12th grade students are surveyed. Although this is good news, there is still great concern about the level of use by alcohol by teens. The teens that use alcohol are at risk for other behaviors associated with drinking. They include car crashes and other accidents, violence, date-rape, sexuality, sexually-transmitted infections and pregnancy.