Madison County marks Alcohol Awareness Month, eyes teen education

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WAMPSVILLE — Madison County’s Board of Supervisors voted to recognize April as Alcohol Awareness Month at the group’s monthly board meeting on Tuesday, April 12.

The county is joining with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) to increase education about alcohol abuse and also increase support to those suffering alcohol addiction and their families.

The NCADD has declared April as Alcohol Awareness Month since 1987.

“We are not against alcohol use, but we want to educate on the dangers of alcohol abuse,” Madison County Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse (BRiDGES) Executive Director Susan L. Jenkins told the board after the vote. “Young people are exposed to binge drinking and keg parties and we want to educate them about alcohol use and its effects.”

Officials: Don’t overlook alcohol abuse

Jenkins said that although the growing prescription painkiller and heroin epidemic has been getting more attention, alcohol addiction must also remain a priority.

While heroin is responsible for 28,000 deaths a year “alcohol-related deaths top 88,000,” Jenkins said. “Alcohol is a socially accepted drug, but its misuse can lead to a number of problems, including drunken driving, liver disease, cancer and death.”

Teen statistics sobering

The county has modified its 2016 budget to give the council $10,000, matching $10,000 given the council by a non-profit agency for middle school education on alcohol and drug abuse.

Statistics provided to the board from County Health and Human Services Chairman and Stockbridge Town Supervisor Alexander R. Stepanski show that young people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21.

Young drinkers also have increased chances of being victims of violent crime, of being involved in alcohol-related traffic crashes and having school-related problems, Stepanski said, adding that alcohol is a primary factor in the four leading causes of death for young people aged 10 to 21.

Statistics also show that youngsters who speak with their parents about alcohol use are 50 percent less likely to abuse alcohol than those who do not, and the attitudes displayed by parents towards alcohol will influence their children’s decision whether or not to use alcohol and drugs.

Programs offered

BRiDGES is offering a program named Strengthening Families for parents and children ages 10-14. The six-week course helps families with communication and problem solving skills. Call 697-3947 for information on the program.

County officials, volunteer groups and law enforcement groups continue to address the growing heroin problem. Heal Madison County offers support groups on the second and fourth Monday of each month from 7-8 p.m. The meetings are held at the Cazenovia Public Library, 100 Albany St. The group is also organizing a community forum May 26 at Cazenovia High School.

“We call upon all (civic, religious, business and law enforcement) groups to support efforts that will provide early education about alcoholism and addiction and increase support for individuals and families coping worth alcoholism,” Stepanski said.

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