Celebrating 48 Years

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WRAP-ping Up

April is Alcohol Awareness Month

It is April, and that means it is also Alcohol Awareness Month.  This month was designated Alcohol Awareness month in 1987 by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD).  This was done with the hope of helping reduce the stigma that people with substance abuse problems (and their loved ones) face and thereby making it easier to step forward and receive treatment.  This year’s theme is “Help for today. Hope for tomorrow”, which speaks to why it is important to address this issue on many levels.

So why is this important to our area?  The hope is that this message reaches members of the community, especially youth, before they get to the point of having an alcohol problem.  Children who start drinking at a younger age are not only at risk for alcohol problems as they get older but are at a higher risk of having issues with other substances as well.

One simple but powerful way that parents can reduce the chances of children drinking at a young age is to let them know that you disapprove. The graph below shows data that was gathered in 2012 from students in grades 6-12 in Tompkins County.  It is clear to see that students who have parents that disapprove of substance use, reported using these substances much less than their peers who reported that their parents don’t disapprove.  The number of kids who reported using alcohol who also reported that their parents disapproved of their use was over 3 times less than their peers!  

Some other ways to help children steer clear of alcohol at a young age (in which the impact on their growing minds and bodies is greater during that time) is to do other things such as supervising and monitoring them, even as they get older.  As students get older they will need greater independence, but parents should still set boundaries and expectations, by asking students where they are and who they are with, as well as setting curfews.  Other data from the 2012 student survey showed that students in Tompkins County reported lower usages when their parents supported them, rewarded them when they did something good, and spent time with them having fun in various activities.
Unfortunately however, the reality is that some youth will still decide to drink and some of them will eventually develop a serious drinking problem.  If that happens to someone you know, just remember this months’ theme of “Help for today. Hope for Tomorrow”.

Medical professionals do consider alcoholism a disease.  In a 1992, the Joint Committee of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) and the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) published this definition for alcoholism:

"Alcoholism is a primary chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations.  The disease is often progressive and fatal.  It is characterized by impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, mostly denial.  Each of these symptoms may be continuous or periodic."

But, this is where hope comes in.  Like other diseases, alcoholism and drug dependence can be overcome with proper treatment, prevention and more research.  Millions of people achieve recovery.  By increasing access to care, the costly toll on society and the burden it places on families can be reduced.

Research shows conclusively that successful prevention and treatment leads to reductions in traffic fatalities, crime, unwanted pregnancy, child abuse, HIV, cancer and heart disease.  Treatment reduces drug use, improves health, improves job performance, reduces involvement with the criminal justice system, reduces family dysfunction and improves quality of life. Treatment of addiction is as successful as treatment of other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma.

Remember that the youth in Tompkins County (and all areas) are our future and we need to make the best choices to ensure that they all have the best future possible.  It is also important for everyone to know that recovery from addiction is possible and help is available.  Remember that where there is hope, there is help.  If you or someone you know is dealing with an alcohol or substance problem, seek out help-call the Alcohol & Drug Council at 274-6288 or visit alcoholdrugcouncil.org.

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The Council's Mission

The Council offers hope and recovery to people struggling with addictive behaviors and strengthens our community through prevention and education programs.

The Council's Core Values

HOPE -   Our attitude, relationships and skills project the belief that positive change can occur and goals can be achieved.

CARING & COMPASSION -  We understand that those we serve have needs for caring and compassion as they do the hard work of addressing their addiction. We communicate this from our initial welcoming message and continue throughout their stay. Our staff has similar needs, and to be effective, we need to encourage a culture of caring and compassion for each other.

COMMITMENT TO EXCELLENCE -  Our services reflect a thorough understanding of the strengths and needs of those we serve and offer a range of high quality, evidence-based practices in the field of addiction. We continuously improve our services through assessing our outcomes, our wise use of resources, responding to changing community needs and supporting the development of our staff.

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