2007-04-20 / Community

NYS: April Is 'Underage Drinking Prevention Month'

State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) Commissioner Karen M. Carpenter-Palumbo has announced that New York State is observing Underage Drinking Prevention Awareness Month as a way to encourage communities across the state to work together to prevent underage drinking in their communities. The theme, "Healthy Choices. Strong Voices," is one that provides a positive foundation for educating kids about making healthy choices in life.

"Underage Drinking Prevention Month is an important time of the year for communities to work together to prevent self-destructive behaviors among youth through improved communication between parents and children, school and community based activities, media outreach, and enforcement of laws designed to prevent underage drinking," said Commissioner Carpenter-Palumbo. "Underage drinking is illegal, dangerous, and may even pose life threatening consequences. I encourage all parents and community leaders across the state to work together to help youth make healthy choices in life." Alcohol is the most commonly used drug among adolescents. By their senior year, nearly four out of five students have consumed alcohol.

Underage drinking can lead to unplanned and unprotected sexual activity, poor school performance, driving while intoxicated, and even death. In addition, underage drinking can hinder brain, organ, bone and muscle development, along with long term memory and learning skills.

OASAS is currently working directly with parents, schools and law enforcement in more than 50 community mobilization coalitions throughout the state, providing structured technical assistance and training to assist communities in providing the best evidence-based prevention services and helping them change norms, attitudes and behaviors in regard to underage drinking. Over the next two years, the agency plans on doubling the capacity of its network of community mobilization coalitions by adding an additional 50 communities.

In addition, as part of Underage Drinking Prevention Month in New York State, OASAS is launching its third annual poster contest for students in grades 6 through 12, in cooperation with local prevention councils across the state.

The winners of this annual poster contest will be selected based on their depiction of the theme "Healthy Choices. Strong Voices." As in previous competitions, the winning selections will be highlighted in the OASAS 2007-2008 school calendar, which will be distributed to participating programs and school districts during September 2007.

In March, OASAS launched a statewide campaign that includes a Public Service Announcement (PSA) designed to curb underage drinking on college campuses. This $2 million campaign targets the college population: students under 21; their parents; college faculty, staff and administration; law enforcement; and other community partners who might have an influence on underage students' drinking behavior and decision-making.

Underage Drinking Prevention Month coincides with the national observance of Alcohol Awareness Month, which is sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. For more information about Underage Drinking Prevention Awareness Month in New York State, visit www.oasas.state.ny.us.

In addition, if you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-522-5353.

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