OBSERVING ALCOHOL AWARENESS MONTH; Congressional Record Vol. 158, No. 58
(Senate - April 23, 2012)

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[Page S2598]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. AKAKA. Mr. President, I wish to recognize the 26th Alcohol 
Awareness Month this April, sponsored by the National Council on 
Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., NCADD. Since 1987, NCADD has been 
working to raise public awareness and understanding of alcoholism, 
specifically to reduce the stigma associated with alcoholism, which too 
often prevents individuals and families from admitting abuse and 
finding resources to help.
  According to NCADD, more than 18 million individuals, or 8.5 percent 
of Americans, suffer from alcohol-use disorders. In addition to those 
directly affected by alcohol, there are millions more who feel the 
effects of alcohol abuse by a loved one in their everyday lives--
spouses, children, other family members, and friends. The prevalence of 
alcohol abuse in this country is astounding, with one out of every four 
U.S. children having been exposed to alcohol-use disorders in their 
  One of the most troubling aspects of alcoholism is that it often has 
severe effects on those closest to the person addicted and their 
community. It takes an enormous emotional, physical, and financial toll 
on the family members of those addicted to alcohol. Statistics show 
that 75 percent of domestic abuse is committed while one or both 
members are intoxicated, and family members utilize health care twice 
as much as families without alcohol problems.
  This year's theme, ``Healthy Choices, Healthy Communities: Prevent 
Underage Drinking,'' is meant to draw particular attention to the 
severe impact that alcohol and alcohol-related problems have on young 
people, their friends, their families, and as a result, our 
communities. Underage drinking is quickly becoming a serious concern in 
my home State of Hawaii, and across the country.
  Alcohol is currently the No. 1 drug of choice for America's young 
people, higher than tobacco, marijuana, or other illicit drugs. Teens 
who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop 
alcoholism than their peers who wait until the age of 21. 
Unfortunately, underage drinking is getting worse with 7,000 kids in 
the United States under the age of 16 taking their first drink each 
day, which costs the Nation an estimated $62 billion annually.
  To combat this deepening problem and curb these disturbing trends, 
education, awareness, and prevention programs, like the events going on 
this month, are critically important. In addition, parents can help to 
reduce their children's risk of problem drinking by simply educating 
their kids and keeping a more watchful eye on them, especially as they 
enter middle schools and high school.
  As we continue to observe this year's Alcohol Awareness Month, I urge 
everyone to take an active role in reducing the incidence of underage 
drinking across the country: do not contribute to events where minors 
and alcohol are involved without supervision, be aware of your 
influence on the children close to you, and encourage minors to stay 
alcohol free. Together, we can all help to reverse recent trends in the 
United States and keep our children from the harmful, lasting effects 
of alcohol abuse.