By Ms. Catrina Francis (Fort Knox news)April 7, 2017
For the past 31 years in April, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence has sponsored Alcohol Awareness Month to help combat deaths in teens and young adults from motor vehicle accidents to homicides to suicides, according to NCADD.
Sue Lowrie, a prevention coordinator with Fort Knox's Army Substance Abuse Program, pointed out that youth are starting to drink earlier, and by the time they reach high school the drinking leads to addiction which can lead to death because of binge drinking.
"(If) alcohol is mixed with other drugs like Spice and ecstasy it (becomes) dangerous," explained Lowrie. "Ecstasy by itself is a big concern. People call this the love drug because it makes you feel less inhibited."
Over the past few years the concern over Spice has increased because Lowrie said teens believe the drug isn't harmful because they believe it's similar to marijuana and going to make them feel good. She added that for some teens Spice is the drug of choice over marijuana.
Even though there has been an increase in drug use among teens and young adults, Lowrie said alcohol use has still increased because the United States is suffering from one of the highest rates of adolescent and young adult substance abuse in the industrialized world.
"Now may be the time for you to reflect on making different choices in the use of any substances that place you at risk of addiction or risk of endangering yourself and others while driving under the influence of these drugs," she said. "Though many may not see alcohol as a drug, the fact is it's one of the most abused legal drugs in our society."
Each year 42,000 people die in motor vehicle crashes and more than 40 percent of these fatalities are alcohol related, said Lowrie.
She added that teens are more likely to drive drunk after riding with intoxicated drivers.
"In fact, they are 21 times more likely to drive drunk by their senior year," Lowrie said. "It all comes down to what we become accustomed to, to what becomes the 'norm.' In other words, socially influenced behavior, it normalizes the behavior."
Lowrie said teens need to realize that it doesn't take much alcohol to impair them and impairment can start with just one drink. She stressed that alcohol can cloud a teen's judgment and increase their chance of being involved in an accident because of driving too fast or misreading a curve.
"Teens are not only inexperienced when it comes to alcohol, but they also lack driving experience," she said. "We underestimate the risks involved in both activities. It's important for parents to monitor their teenager's driving behavior and to be well-informed of who their kids are riding with."
Lowrie said teens sometimes take a lackadaisical approach to drinking and driving because many believe that a fatal accident won't happen to them because that happens to other people. She added that the same thing happens when teens hear about someone overdosing on drugs like Spice. They hear and read the stories about the dangers of taking the drug, but they don't see how an overdose can happen to them.
Lowrie said she is also concerned about the rise of date rape drugs among teens and the importance of parents educating them about not taking a drink from someone they don't know or leaving a drink unattended.
Although alcohol is a legal drug, Lowrie pointed out that alcoholism is a chronic, progressive and fatal disease if left untreated. When she teaches the Prime for Life class she explains that some are genetically and predisposed to alcohol addiction because it can be genetically passed to children. The Prime for Life class focuses on the biology of a parent and how making the choice to drink puts a person at a higher risk of addiction.
Those with a biological link are at a four times greater risk of developing alcoholism due to the biological link, according to the National Prevention Institute in Lexington, Kentucky.
Even though teen and young adult drinking is occurring at a higher rate, Lowrie said the younger population is beginning to listen. She said many are wondering if the genetic and biological link is a contributing factor to their drinking.
"Nobody sets out to be addicted to drugs or alcohol," explained Lowrie. "When I teach a class on alcohol and drug abuse (Soldiers)want to know the facts and what does it mean to (them and) how does it impact (them)."
Lowie said education is key for parents when talking to their teen about drugs and alcohol. She said parents shouldn't wait until their child is in middle school before they have the talk because that's too late. She said parents should educate their children because if they don't someone else will and that person might send the wrong message.
"It needs to start at home," said Lowrie. "Don't underestimate drug and alcohol abuse as a contributing factor to young people committing suicide. Alcohol is usually (a factor)."
SIGNS OF ALCOHOL AND OTHER DRUG PROBLEMS
-Getting high on drugs or getting drunk on a regular basis. Lying about things or lying about the amount of drugs or alcohol they are using.
-Avoiding loved ones or others to get high or drunk.
-Having to use more alcohol or drugs to get the same effect.
-Constantly talking about drinking or using drugs.
-Believing they must have drugs or alcohol to have fun.
-Pressuring others to drink or use drugs.
-Getting in trouble with the law.
-Taking risk, including sexual risks and driving under the influence.
-Feeling run down, hopeless, depressed or suicidal.
-Missing work or poor performance because of alcohol or drugs.