DATE: April 3, 2006
Contact: Communication Office
BURLINGTON – Each April during Alcohol Awareness Month, the Vermont Department of Health prompts parents, caretakers and communities to recognize the toll that underage drinking takes on Vermont youth.
“Alcohol use by young people is very dangerous – both to youth and to society, and is linked to traffic deaths, violence, unsafe sex, suicide, school failure, and other behavior problems,” said Vermont Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Paul Jarris. “Youth who begin drinking alcohol before the age of 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol problems than those who start after age 21.
“Parents are the single greatest influence on their children and play a major role in shaping whether their child will use alcohol responsibly in the future,” Dr. Jarris added. “Youth can even learn from casual comments about alcohol use. By setting good examples, parents can improve the chance that their child will make healthy decisions about alcohol or other drugs.”
“Some parents choose not to drink,” said Deputy Commissioner of Health for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs, Barbara Cimaglio. “If you choose to drink, children need to see that you are a moderate drinker, not just hear you talk about it.
“Vermonters can use a simple online screening tool to assess and understand their alcohol use,” said Cimaglio. “The website asks 12 simple questions and provides valuable feedback and tools.”
The online screening tool can be found at www.AlcoholScreening.org. A paper version can be requested from the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs at 802-651-1550.
More information about Alcohol Awareness Month, including fact sheets and parents guides, can be found on the Vermont Department of Health website at http://healthvermont.gov. Alcohol is the number one drug of choice in Vermont – 37% of 8th to 12th graders drink – and underage alcohol use costs Vermont an estimated $65 million annually.
If you choose to drink, here are tips for modeling healthy drinking behavior:
- If you drink, let your child see you drink only small amounts and let them see you refuse a drink once in a while.
- If you don’t drink, talk with your child about why you made this choice.
- Pregnant women or women trying to get pregnant should not drink at all.
- Treat alcohol like the dangerous drug it can be and don’t ask your child to serve you a drink or get a beer from the fridge.
- Let your children hear you say that you don’t want a drink because you are driving. Don’t drink and drive or combine alcohol with medications.
- Show your child healthy ways to handle stress. Don’t make comments about needing a drink to relax after a hard day.
- Women should not drink more than one drink a day. Men should not drink more than two drinks a day.
- Finally, count these sizes as one drink: 12 oz. beer, 1.5 oz. liquor, 5 oz. wine.