alcohol awareness month, health and wellness, spring break, alcohol abuse

National Alcohol Awareness Month Aims To Educate And Promote Responsible Choices

Every April, communities across the United States meet to observe National Alcohol Awareness Month to reduce the stigma surrounding alcoholism while providing vital information about alcohol, alcoholism, and recovery.

Every April, communities across the United States meet to observe National Alcohol Awareness Month. Founded and sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), this monthlong initiative, established in 1987, aims to reduce the stigma surrounding alcoholism while providing vital information about alcohol, alcoholism, and recovery. As we embark on another Alcohol Awareness Month, it’s crucial to understand its goals and significance in addressing one of the nation’s most prevalent public health issues in the African American community.

At its core, National Alcohol Awareness Month seeks to educate the American public about the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption, promote responsible drinking habits, and support those struggling with alcohol addiction on their path to recovery. 

Responsibility.Org, a national not-for-profit that aims to eliminate drunk driving and work with others to end all impaired driving, eliminate underage drinking, and empower adults to make a lifetime of responsible alcohol choices, is at the forefront of encouraging Americans to look at our relationships with alcohol. 

Findings from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health concluded that binge drinking among African Americans (23%) is slightly less common than among Hispanics (24.6%) and Caucasians (25.7%). The rate of heavy drinking among African Americans (4.3%) is much less than the general population (6.1%) and Caucasians (7.2%). Despite binge drinking being less common, more negative social consequences from drinking are reported, including higher rates of alcohol-related illness and injuries. 

BLACK ENTERPRISE spoke with about educational resources, empowering our community to make smart choices about alcohol, and progress made.  

Responsible Drinking Choices

One of the primary objectives of Alcohol Awareness Month is to raise awareness about the prevalence and impact of alcoholism on individuals, families, and communities. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), approximately 14.5 million adults in the United States aged 18 and older had Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) in 2019.

Executive Director of Leslie Kimball shares, “We always remind parents, you’re not done yet, and offer some methods to mitigate risks associated with drinking alcohol when their college-aged child is away from home. And not just during spring break!” 

Another critical goal of Alcohol Awareness Month is to promote responsible drinking behaviors and prevent underage drinking. The influence of alcohol marketing, peer pressure, and societal norms can contribute to underage drinking, which can have severe consequences for young people’s physical and mental health, academic performance, and future opportunities.

“It’s important to discuss the differences between low-risk and high-risk drinking and for parents to remind their kids that any underage drinking is risky behavior and illegal,” emphasizes Kimball. 

By providing parents, educators, and young people with information about the risks of underage drinking and strategies for prevention, this initiative works to create a safer and healthier environment for youth.

Education begins early

Throughout April, communities nationwide participate in various events and activities to raise awareness about alcoholism and promote positive change. From educational workshops and seminars to community rallies and fundraising events, Alcohol Awareness Month provides opportunities for individuals and organizations to unite in solidarity and support.

According to a national study, alcohol use and abuse may not be as prevalent for African American high school and college students, but once drinking has begun, adolescent females and African Americans tend to demonstrate a faster progression to heavy drinking and alcohol-related problems. These risk factors indicate a need to target these students specifically and as early as 10 years old.

“Check-ins from trusted adults should happen regularly to ensure kids feel safe, seen, and supported,” remarks Kimball. supports responsibility through a checklist of teaching points, including reasons to say NO, such as values, expectations, and goals, practicing refusal strategies, having an exit strategy, always using the “buddy system,” and never driving drunk or impaired and never get into a vehicle with someone drunk or impaired. 

Kimball shares, “It is encouraging to note that not everyone drinks and that underage drinking levels are at record low levels.”

Awareness Takes Collaboration collaborates with various offices and individuals at colleges and universities, including college counseling centers, offices of student conduct, new student orientation directors, fraternity and sorority organizations, and offices of health promotion to assist institutions as they incorporate Alcohol101+ into their campus-wide alcohol misuse prevention efforts. Alcohol101+ is a free program that educates students about alcohol and its impact on the body, teaches responsible decision-making, and educates about blood alcohol content and standard drink sizes.

Kimball mentions, “Since its relaunch in 2021, Alcohol101+ has been used at over 120 colleges, universities, and fraternity and sorority organizations with over 15,000 students completing the course.” 

Based on recent program evaluations, students completing Alcohol101+ have reported feeling equipped with information to make responsible choices about alcohol and were less likely to engage in harmful drinking.

“Whether a college or university is using the program as a preventative tool or in response to incidents involving alcohol on campus, we work closely with them to ensure they can utilize the program in a way that fits the individual needs of their campus,” states Kimball.

National Alcohol Awareness Month serves as a reminder that through education, advocacy, and community engagement, healthier, more supportive communities for individuals and families are created, and we can further reduce underage drinking and promote responsible behaviors in adults.