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It only happens to some other family, right?

September 11, 2011
By CATHY BROWNFIELD - Family Recovery Center , Salem News

It may be that, unless a child of yours or someone you are close to has been killed or impaired for life because of alcohol you won't take seriously the fact that nearly 5,000 young people die each year of alcohol-related causes. It's a fact of life that we tend to think, "It happens to other people. It won't happen to me. It won't happen to my child, or in my family."

But sometimes it does happen. It may not result in death. Sometimes it's irreversible brain damage, serious injuries from a car crash, suicide, assaults, rape, murder, burns, drownings, falls. There may be permanent brain damage. Addiction to alcohol can cause someone to lose everything and everyone they care about, not just their freedom to live and enjoy their lives, but the wives, husbands, children, parents who have tried to help the person with alcohol addiction but just can't take it any more.

Risky sexual activity can end up being an unexpected pregnancy and a baby is born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. FASD is a group of disorders of varying severity which can result from the mother drinking alcohol during pregnancy. FASD is the only form of mental retardation that is preventable.

Did you know that alcohol is the most widely used substance of abuse among America's youth? Binge-drinking is common among underage drinkers, making this a primary public health priority. According to some statistics, girls are narrowing the alcohol consumption gap with boys. Eighth grade girls drink as much as boys and 10th grade girls are very near drinking the same amount as boys. Youth are gravitating away from beer to distilled spirits.

It has been reported that 10 percent of 9- and 10-year-olds already drink and more than 1/5 of underage drinkers begin drinking before the age of 13. The place where they are most like to drink isin private residences where three or more individuals are present: home or the home of someone they know. It's easily accessible. And when they go off to college, there is a higher occurrence of alcohol consumption, and more opportunity to binge. And they do.

It's reported that children whose parents binge drink are likely to binge, also, and become dependent on alcohol.

Potential long term risks for underage drinkers include impairment in planning, executing plans, memory, special operations and attention. These youth fall behind in school. (Which is not to say that all youth who fall behind in school are substance abusers.) The federal government is concerned and involved in addressing the related issues of alcohol use, abuse and dependency among youth.

Some families regard alcohol consumption by minors as a rite of passage. They may say that they'd rather their child drink at home where they can be safe. They may serve alcohol to minors who are guests in their home. But "Parents who host, lose the most." Do you know what the law says about serving alcohol to minors? Do you know what the law says about minors consuming alcohol on your property, even if you don't serve it, even if you don't know anything about it?

It is illegal to serve minors alcohol. Anywhere. You can be prosecuted, fined or jailed. To learn more, visit

Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities. For more information on our education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse, contact us at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468 or e-mail, FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.



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