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For the Health of It: Early Education on Alcoholism and Addiction

Each April since 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) sponsors NCADD Alcohol Awareness Month to increase public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma and encourage local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues. This April, NCADD highlights the important public health issue of underage drinking, a problem with devastating individual, family and community consequences.

Alcohol use by young people is extremely dangerous—both to themselves and to society, and is directly associated with traffic fatalities, violence, suicide, educational failure, alcohol overdose, unsafe sex and other problem behaviors, even for those who may never develop a dependence or addiction. Adolescence is a time of heightened risk taking and young people may not be fully prepared to anticipate all the consequences of drinking alcohol, such as swigging drinks to “celebrate” a special occasion, or being in a car with a driver who has been drinking. Alcohol is the number one drug of choice for America’s youth, and is more likely to kill young people than all illegal drugs combined.

Reducing underage drinking is critical to securing a healthy future for America’s youth and requires a cooperative effort from parents, schools, community organizations, business leaders, government agencies, the entertainment industry, alcohol manufacturers/retailers and young people themselves. To learn more, check out these Facts About Underage Drinking and Underage and College Drinking.

Also, here are Ten Tips for your Teens to protect yourself and reduce the risk of alcohol and drug problems.
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Say No: Sometimes, our fear of negative reaction from our friends, or others we don’t even know, keeps us from doing what we know is right. Real simple, it may seem like “everyone is doing it,” but they are not. Don’t let someone else make your decisions for you. If someone is pressuring you to do something that's not right for you, you have the right to say no, the right not to give a reason why, and the right to just walk away.

2. Connect With Your Friends and Avoid Negative Peer Pressure: Pay attention to who you are hanging out with. If you are hanging out with a group in which the majority of kids are drinking alcohol or using drugs to get high, you may want to think about making some new friends. You may be headed toward an alcohol and drug problem if you continue to hang around others who routinely drink alcohol, smoke marijuana, abuse prescription drugs or use illegal drugs. You don't have to go along to get along.

3. Make Connections With Your Parents or Other Adults: As you grow up, having people you can rely on, people you can talk to about life, life’s challenges and your decisions about alcohol and drugs is very important. The opportunity to benefit from someone else’s life experiences can help put things in perspective and can be invaluable.

4. Enjoy Life and Do What You Love - Don’t Add Alcohol and Drugs: Learn how to enjoy life and the people in your life, without adding alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and drugs can change who you are, limit your potential and complicate your life. Too often, “I’m bored” is just an excuse. Get out and get active in school and community activities such as music, sports, arts or a part-time job. Giving back as a volunteer is a great way to gain perspective on life.

5. Follow the Family Rules About Alcohol and Drugs: As you grow up and want to assume more control over your life, having the trust and respect of your parents is very important. Don’t let alcohol and drugs come between your and your parents. Talking with mom and dad about alcohol and drugs can be very helpful.

6.Get Educated About Alcohol and Drugs: You cannot rely on the myths and misconceptions that are out there floating around among your friends and on the internet. Your ability to make the right decisions includes getting educated. Visit Learn About Alcohol and Learn About Drugs. And, as you learn, share what you are learning with your friends and your family.

7.Be a Role Model and Set a Positive Example: Don’t forget, what you do is more important than what you say! You are setting the foundation and direction for your life; where are you headed?

8.Plan Ahead: As you make plans for the party or going out with friends you need to plan ahead. You need to protect yourself and be smart. Don’t become a victim of someone else’s alcohol or drug use. Make sure that there is someone you can call, day or night, no matter what, if you need them. And, do the same for your friends.

9.Speak Out/Speak Up/Take Control: Take responsibility for your life, your health and your safety. Speak up about what alcohol and drugs are doing to your friends, your community and encourage others to do the same.

10. Get Help! If you or someone you know is in trouble with alcohol or drugs, get help. Don’t wait. You are not alone. Call AARC for more information.