April is the 32nd annual alcohol awareness month and the city of Leesville made it official in order to enhance awareness of the issue.

City Administrator Patti Larney signed a proclamation on Monday as presented by Sharon Hyde Beltz.

“I think it’s important to talk to our young people about the effects alcohol can have on their life in the long term,” Leesville Mayor Rick Allen said. “I personally know several people who have made mistakes experimenting with alcohol at a young age that changed their lives forever by giving them a criminal record and in some cases even tragically ending in death.”

The proclamation illuminates several facts about the effects of alcohol in various contexts:

Excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4300 deaths among underage youth each year.

Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States.

More than 1.6 million young people report driving under the influence of alcohol in the past year.

Young people who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21.

Drinking by persons under the age of 21 is linked to 189,000 emergency room visits.

The typical American will see 100,000 beer commercials before he or she turns 18.

Kids who drink are more likely to be victims of violent crime to be involved in alcohol-related traffic crashes and to have serious school-related problems.

A supportive family environment is associated with lowered rates of alcohol use for adolescents.

Kids who have conversations with their parents and learn a lot about the dangers of alcohol and drug use are 50 percent less likely to use alcohol and drugs than those who don’t have such conversations.

With Larney signing on behalf of Allen, according to the proclamation he has now joined The National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence (NCADD), hence proclaiming April 2018 as Alcohol Awareness Month in the city of Leesville and surrounding communities.

Allen calls upon citizens, parents, governmental agencies, public and private institutions, businesses, hospitals, schools and colleges in the area to support efforts that will provide early education about alcoholism and addiction.

He hopes to increase support for individuals and families plagued by alcoholism.

“Through these efforts, together, we can provide hope, help and healing for those in our community who are facing challenges with alcohol use and abuse,” the proclamation reads.

“I’d venture to say that alcohol has touched all of our lives in a negative way and our young people should learn from our mistakes, not repeat them blindly,” Allen said.

The 2018 theme -- “Changing Attitudes: It’s not a ‘rite of passage’” -- is designed to draw attention to the many opportunities individuals, families and communities have to educate young people on the dangers of alcohol use.

The assumption is people often forgive underage drinking as a “rite of passage.”

NCADD asserts the choices are to sit back and hope kids will “get through it,” or change the collective attitude and take an active role in learning about alcohol and drugs and help young people do the same.

Founded in 1944, NCADD and its Network of Affiliates is a “voluntary health organization dedicated to fighting the nation’s number one health problem – alcoholism and drug addiction and the devastating consequences of alcohol and other drugs on individuals, families and communities.”

Founded and sponsored by NCADD, Alcohol Awareness Month was established in 1987 to help reduce the stigma so often associated with alcoholism by encouraging communities to reach out to the American public each April with information about alcohol, alcoholism and recovery.

• Suggested Grassroots Activities

for States, Communities, Schools, Students, Colleges, Media, Religious Organizations and Parents

Organizing an event for Alcohol Awareness Month is a great way to celebrate people in recovery, their families, and others throughout the community who make living in recovery possible. Events help unite those already in recovery and can broadly spread the message that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover.

FOR STATES:

• Issue an Alcohol Awareness Month proclamation utilizing the theme, “Changing Attitudes: It’s not a ‘rite of passage’.” (see sample proclamation) from the Governor’s Office.

FOR COMMUNITIES:

• Issue an Alcohol Awareness Month proclamation utilizing the theme “Changing Attitudes: It’s not a ‘rite of passage’.” (see sample proclamation) from the Mayor’s Office.

• Offer public recognition to young people and community members who lead alcohol- and other drug-free lifestyles.

• Observe “Alcohol-Free Weekend” (see sample news release). In some communities, family- oriented businesses provide discounts or free admission to members of the community who have signed a pledge to remain alcohol-free with an organization that works to prevent alcohol- ism and other drug addictions.

• Partner with local businesses (including fast food restaurants, book, video and music stores, movie theaters, skating rinks, bowling alleys and miniature golf courses) for alcohol-free youth events or promotions.

• Hold a “Town Hall Meeting on Underage Drinking” in your community.

• Schedule “Parent Empowerment Workshops” to raise awareness and understanding of is- sues of family recovery; to teach how adult role models influence young people; to look at the effect of advertising; and to show how every parent can do his/her part to change social attitudes. The workshops will help parents maintain standards of conduct, let participants know that other parents support their standards and encourage community members to support and encourage recovery. They can be hosted by the PTA, churches, service clubs, and taken to local business. Hold them during the day, at lunch, at night or on weekends.

• Review school rules regarding the use of alcohol, paying particular attention to athletic codes, and determine if the rules are adequately enforced.

• Organize an Alcohol Awareness parade or rally.

• Counter the pressures on young people to drink alcohol through after-school programs, good recreational facilities, alternative programs for potential school drop-outs, job training, confidential health services and community service opportunities.

• Insert a list of self-help groups and local resources with public utility bills.

• Plan an Alcohol Awareness Month luncheon at a local hospital with guest speakers who rep- resent the health community.

FOR MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOLS:

• Organize alcohol-free extracurricular activities, sporting events, dances and rock concerts, using promotional items such as t-shirts and hats, and promote them to other students as alcohol-free activities.

• Use liners in school cafeteria trays to promote Alcohol Awareness Month.

• Ask local grocery stores to provide quantities of grocery bags to schools and ask students to illustrate these bags with Alcohol Awareness Month messages. Return the illustrated bags to the grocery stores for use with customers during April.

• Raise money to support NCADD and NCADD Affiliates or for alcohol prevention curricula and public education campaigns through school walk-a-thons, raffles, athletic events, auctions, concerts, plant and rummage sales, and dinners.

• Guidance counselors can develop a checklist regarding college alcohol policies to assist students and parents in their selection of schools.

• Administrators can examine advertising solicited by the school, including student newspapers and yearbooks, to assure that there is a consistent and appropriate message regarding no use of alcohol. They can also examine policy that is used in the selection of favors for dances to assure that there is a consistent no-use message for people under age 21. If a change in these policies seems advisable, use Alcohol Awareness Month as an opportunity to announce them.

• Teachers can teach critical skills for watching television and understanding selling techniques and commercials during Alcohol Awareness Month. Ask students to clip print ads for alcoholic beverages and bring them to class for discussion. Students can learn that drinking isn’t a way to feel or be “independent.” Rather, students can learn that they are being “influenced” to drink and that independence from advertising influences really means not drinking. Also ask students to prepare a list of other “pro-drinking” influences, including sponsorships of sporting events and rock concerts, and promotional items such as t-shirts and hats.

FOR STUDENTS:

• Remember that use of alcohol is your decision and that drinking is not necessary for having a good time

• Know that “Drinking Too Much Too Fast Can Kill You” and that alcohol poisoning, a drug over- dose, is more common than many people think.

• Avoid situations where someone else’s alcohol consumption or other drug use may put you at risk.

• Always respect another person’s decision not to drink alcohol.

• If you are concerned about yourself, a friend or family member, call NCADD and our Network of Affiliates TODAY! NCADD will connect you with someone who is specifically trained and successfully experienced in helping individuals and families dealing with alcohol-related problems.

FOR COLLEGES:

• Raise awareness of the fact that alcohol, the drug of choice for college students, and binge drinking are key factors in academic and social problems on American campuses. Recognize the link between serious campus problems and alcohol: vandalism, date rape, poor academic performance, dropouts, injuries and death.

• Appoint a task force of school administrators, faculty, students, Greek system representatives and others to make recommendations for a broad range of policy and program changes to reduce alcohol- and other drug-related problems and provide the resources necessary for implementing and promoting such changes.

• Provide maximum opportunities for students to live in an alcohol-free environment and to engage in stimulating, alcohol-free recreational and leisure activities. Increase programming and social activities at the beginning of the academic year when students may be more susceptible to high-risk drinking.

• Enforce a “zero tolerance” policy on the illegal consumption of alcohol by students both on and off campus and take steps to reduce the opportunities for students, faculty, staff and alumni to legally consume alcohol on campus by limiting places and times for drinking; prohibiting drunkenness; regulating conditions of use; and not sanctioning a “bar” on campus.

• Establish alcohol education programs on college campuses that include information on alcoholism prevention and treatment and stress the non-use of alcohol as a healthy and viable option. Support programs and services, including housing for students in recovery is essential.

• Ban alcohol sales at sporting arenas or establish alcohol-free seating sections.

• Eliminate alcoholic beverage advertising and promotion in all forms from university and college campuses, including alcohol industry sponsorship of college activities.

• Form “Town/Gown” alliances with community leaders to encourage commercial establishments that promote or sell alcoholic beverages to curtail illegal student access to alcohol and adopt responsible alcohol marketing and service practices.

• Encourage prevention efforts by having students and faculty direct studies in their discipline toward college drinking problems.

• Organize and promote alcohol-free activities during spring break.

FOR FRATERNITIES AND SORORITIES:

• Sponsor non-alcoholic rush or membership recruitment activities.

• Ban alcohol from events where minors are likely to be present.

FOR MEDIA:

• If you work for a radio or television station, do what you can to urge the owners to follow the leads of the major television networks who have agreed not to accept advertising for distilled spirits.

• Broadcast or publish relevant information about alcohol, alcohol problems, alcoholism and recovery (see radio PSAs, op-ed piece and letter to the editor).

• For a week-long period during NCADD Alcohol Awareness Month analyze all news stories for mention of alcohol. Aside from such obvious stories as alcohol-related traffic fatalities, pay particular attention to violent crime, domestic violence, sexual abuse, suicide and other social is- sues where use of alcohol is likely to be involved. Then do a “round-up” story about the negative consequences of alcohol consumption illustrated by the evidence in your community.

• Counter and challenge stereotyping and glamorization of members of the journalism and

entertainment professions as hard-drinking “heroes” by identifying leaders of your profession who do not engage in these practices, and by reporting the lost health, careers and lives of those who do.

• Run a three-part series, run on successive days, starting with Sunday, focused on alcoholism and looking at the impact on the individual, the family and the community. The series must include first-hand stories of recovery from individuals and family members.

FOR RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS AND GROUPS:

• Integrate alcohol issues into the ongoing religious education of young people.

• Encourage role models who have achieved success without using/abusing alcohol to participate in congregation-sponsored events.

• Allow use of your facilities for alternative youth activities, mentoring programs, parent training, stress management seminars, healthy lifestyles workshops and substance abuse prevention education sessions.

• Assemble an “Alcohol Awareness Month” bulletin board. Ask members of your congregation to bring in news clippings of alcohol-related incidents in your community. Tell them to look for mentions of alcohol, particularly in crime stories.

• Conduct a candlelight vigil or sponsor an Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast that focuses on the healing effects of treatment for all family members.

• Publish information about recovery programs in church bulletins.

• Religious groups can establish an “Amnesty Day/Week” at their houses of worship for youth who need help but are embarrassed, afraid or don’t know where to get it. Help and/or referrals can be provided confidentially and without fear of reprisal.

FOR PARENTS:

• Teach your child that abstinence from alcohol is an acceptable lifelong decision and that they have a right to stand up for a safe academic environment.

• Teach your child that drinking can be risky and to intervene when they see that their class- mates are in trouble.

• If your child is of legal age to drink (21 in all states), explain to them how to use alcohol moderately (no more than two drinks per day for men, no more than one per day for women) and appropriately (as a complement to a meal and at social gatherings or during family celebrations).

• If you drink, be sure to set an ongoing healthy example regarding adult alcohol use and never brag about your use of alcohol or other drugs during your own college years.

• When helping your children to select an appropriate college, be willing to question officials about campus alcohol policies. The Best Colleges, an annual guide published by the Princeton Review, groups schools by categories (“Lots of beer,” “Lots of hard liquor,” “Major frat and sorority scene” and “Stone-cold sober schools”).

• When your children go to college, set clear and realistic expectations regarding academic performance, and continue to be as interested and involved in their lives as you were when they were in high school.

• If you are concerned about yourself, a friend or family member, call NCADD and our Network of Affiliates today! NCADD will connect you with someone who is specifically trained and successfully experienced in helping individuals and families dealing with alcohol-related problems.

SOME HELPFUL INTERNET LINKS:

o National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD): www.ncadd.org

o Alcoholics Anonymous (AA): www.aa.org

o Al-Anon Family Groups: www.al-anon.alateen.org

o National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA): www.niaaa.nih.gov

o College Drinking: Changing the Culture (NIAAA): www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov

o Stop Underage Drinking: Portal of Federal Resources: www.stopalcoholabuse.gov

o Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Alcohol and Public Health: www.cdc.gov/Alcohol

o Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth: www.camy.org

o Alcohol Policy Information System (APIS): www.alcoholpolicy.niaaa.nih.gov/UnderageDrinking.html

Thoughts on Stigma from NCADD’s Founder, Marty Mann:

“Few among you consider alcoholism a proper subject for open discussion, few among you would willingly label yourself, or a friend or colleague, an alcoholic, and even fewer would be able to recognize alcoholism early, when there is the best chance for recovery.

“All of this is the result of stigma, a state of mind which is essentially mindless since it overlooks all the things which have been learned; a state of mind which produces public attitudes that are anti-therapeutic to say the least. In bold language, Stigma Kills.

“Stigma manifests itself in many ways; in false beliefs, such as that alcoholism is a moral problem and alcoholics moral delinquents; or that alcoholism is simply a matter of will power and alcoholics are weaklings; or that alcoholism is a deliberate self-degradation and alcoholics are simply letting themselves slide downhill—‘throwing their lives away,’ or that alcoholism is only found among homeless indigent derelicts—‘Skid Row bums’; or finally, that alcoholism is a hopeless condition and alcoholics are all ‘hopeless drunks’ (spoken as one word).

“The results of stigma are also many, and all are destructive. The family that has an alcoholic in its midst goes to great lengths to conceal this, and the fellow workers of the alcoholic—often including his immediate superiors—cover up for him, keep giving him ‘one more chance to straighten up.’ The friends, neighbors and others in more casual contact with the alcoholic carefully look the other way. All are participating in a great conspiracy of silence, many of them in the mistaken belief that they are protecting the alcoholic when actually they are preventing him from getting help.”

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.

217 Broadway, Suite 712, New York, NY 10007

Phone: 212-269-7797 | Fax 212-269-7510

email: national@ncadd.org | website: www.ncadd.org

HOPE LINE: 800 NCA-CALL (24-hour Affiliate referral)