National Alcohol Awareness Month: Underage Binge Drinking on the Rise

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

Very soon thousands of Illinois teenagers will walk across the stage to receive their high school diplomas. Families will congregate to celebrate these achievements. It is an exciting time full of gatherings and parties. Unfortunately, with celebrations often come opportunities for underage drinking.

April is designated “National Alcohol Awareness Month,” a time to increase public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma and encourage local communities to focus on alcohol and alcohol-related issues and consequences. This April the important public health issue of underage drinking, a problem with devastating individual, family and community consequences, is being highlighted.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

According to the Illinois Youth Survey (IYS), alcohol is the drug of choice among Illinois youth and is the most commonly reported drug used across all age groups. As youth age, alcohol use increases. While about one out of three 8th graders report using alcohol in the past year, by the time they reach 12th grade, about two out of three report use in the past year. The IYS also found that binge drinking (consuming five or more drinks in a row during the past two weeks) is on the rise among 12th graders. In 2012, 30.5 percent of high schools seniors reported binge drinking compared to 23.4 percent in 2010.

During adolescence the brain goes through rapid development and wiring changes. The brain’s frontal lobes, essential for functions such as emotional regulation, planning and organization, continue to develop through adolescence and young adulthood (American Academy of Pediatrics). Adolescent alcohol use can damage this wiring, which is essential to becoming a mature and thoughtful adult. Families and schools can become involved in spreading awareness and the importance of preventing underage drinking in a number of ways by visiting

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