Health Department & Community Partners Raise Awareness about Alcohol as a Local Health Issue

For Immediate Release: April 1, 2008
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON – April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and 12 communities
across the state will be holding Town Hall meetings to discuss the
impact of youth drinking locally.

"We must work together to do all we can to delay the age when a young person starts drinking," said Health Commissioner Sharon Moffatt, RN, MSN. "The younger the age, the more likely it is that a person will be dependent on alcohol and have major health problems later in life. Alcohol also plays a significant role in crashes, suicide, domestic violence and unintentional injuries for both adults and young people."

According to the 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, Vermont is making some progress: 39 percent of students in grades 8 - 12 drink, down from 46 percent in 1999 and a high of 53 percent in 1995. Among 8th graders, 19 percent drink, down from 31 percent in 1999. And 23 percent of students binge drink, having five or more drinks on a single occasion once or more often in the past 30 days, down from 29 percent in 1999.

Despite the slight drop in binge drinking rates since 1999, there is still significant work to be done, as more than 49 percent of Vermonters age 18 - 25 binge drink, compared to 42 percent for the nation as a whole.

April 10 is Alcohol Awareness Day, and the Vermont Department of Health
encourages Vermonters to assess their own alcohol use. A free and
confidential screening for adults only takes a few minutes, and provides links to
local services and programs. Call 800-639-6095 or visit www.alcoholscreening.org.

"Even adults may be surprised to learn how much is too much when it comes to drinking," said Moffatt. "We are all role models for our children, so it's important to know the message we are sending by how responsibly we drink."

Alcohol is by far the primary substance abused in Vermont. The number of people who seek treatment with alcohol dependence as their primary diagnosis is about 4,700 to 5,000 people each year for the past eight years.

Town Hall meetings will be held in: Bennington; Brattleboro; Burlington; Hyde Park; Isle La Motte; Londonderry; Ludlow; Montpelier; Randolph; Rutland; Shelburne; St. Albans (and neighboring communities), and St. Johnsbury.

For more information on Town Hall meetings in your community, please visit the Health Department's Substance Abuse Programs website at http://healthvermont.gov/adap/adap.aspx or visit www.stopalcoholabuse.gov.

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