Greetings and Happy April from Prevention Works!VT!
It’s Alcohol Awareness Month! Read below for more information about prevention when it comes to one of the most socially acceptable yet surprisingly dangerous substances
April 29th is the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back DayHere’s what local Burlington Partnership for A Healthy Community has going on (April 30th) and visit this site for a customized search of other locations for take-back.  This site also has a comprehensive list of ways to dispose of various drugs and medicines in Vermont at any time of year.
Don’t forget to sign up for our Legislative Updates (or check them out here) for a summary of the latest prevention related legislation introduced this session.
Alcohol: Sizing Up the Problem

Did you know that more youth in the US use alcohol than smoke tobacco or marijuana or use any illicit drug (source)?

It’s a problem across the age spectrum. This recent article by a physician highlights the fact that many people continue to see alcohol as problematic only when alcohol use fits outdated notions of alcoholism–which in and of itself is not actually a clinical term. People often associate alcohol problems with complete vagrancy, ignoring the fact that some of the riskiest drinking behaviors occur across the socioeconomic spectrum and don’t have to involve daily drinking.

There are many resources available to help folks size up their own use and help others to do the same.

Alcohol’s ubiquity as compared to other drugs can be an asset: after all, adults have many more opportunities to model appropriate and healthy drinking behavior (including sobriety) for youth. Having accurate information about what constitutes non-problematic alcohol use is essential.

For those who currently use alcohol:

This user-friendly resource dispels common myths about “healthy” alcohol use with simple and straight-forward information and quizzes. The information and quizzes can also be ordered in a handy pamphlet version to leave in offices or other public spaces.

Here are more self-assessments (including one specific to teens) which may also be helpful if you’re concerned about someone you know and wondering how to talk to them.

What Can You Do?

Empower youth to be aware of and critical of the marketing and advertising targeted at them.

With youth interacting and spending time more and more on digital platforms, there are increasingly new ways for them to be targeted. Common Sense Media has some great tips for recognizing these marketing streams and helping to build media literacy.

Why not use some marketing strategies of your own? Helping kids (especially teenagers) recognize how their behavioral patterns and interests are being exploited by alcohol companies may tap into that teenage instinct for justice and freedom that can inadvertently trigger alcohol misuse to begin with!

Policy Implications

This chart quickly reviews the various ways that some states attempt to discourage underage drinking with legal ramifications (for example: driver’s license penalties, enabling retailers to confiscate fake IDs, etc.) Vermont is one of the few states with almost no laws in place.

The legality and social familiarity with alcohol also makes it unique from any other drug (besides tobacco) in that we constantly see it in expertly crafted advertisements, making its influence much more insidious. Although such ads are–at least overtly–targeted toward adults of legal drinking age, we know that they have an effect on youth as evidenced bythis study by Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.

We also know that, despite regulations meant to reduce the exposure of youth to alcohol ads, many advertisers were found to be out of compliance (see this study by The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, a great resource for current studies and policy recommendations regarding the regulation of alcohol advertising).

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