SAMHSA Launches Two Major Efforts on Underage Drinking
introduced two major public education programs on underage drinking
in April, Alcohol Awareness Month.
At a press conference on April 20 in Washington, DC, SAMHSA launched
Too Smart To Start, a new national program to keep pre-teens,
age 9 to 13, from initiating alcohol consumption.
Later in the month, SAMHSA teamed with Scholastic, Inc., for the
Reach Out Now National Teach-In Week, April 26 to 30, to
educate students in fifth-grade classrooms nationwide on the dangers
of underage alcohol use.
SAMHSA's 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that
more than 2.6 million adolescents age 12 to 17 binged on alcohol
in 2002 and 630,000 were heavy drinkers already. One-third—2.3
million—of alcohol-dependent adults age 21 or older in 2002
had first used alcohol before age 14. More than 80 percent—5.8
million—had first used before they were age 18. The rate of
dependence for those who first drank at age 21 or older was 1 percent.
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Too Smart To Start
idea behind Too Smart To Start is to reach out to children
and caregivers before these children start drinking alcohol. The
program provides materials to community groups with the objective
of enhancing communication between parents and children about the
harm of underage alcohol use. A community action kit is available
that provides step-by-step information on how to raise awareness
about underage drinking in local communities.
tests of the program took place in New Castle County, DE; Miami,
FL; Noble County, IN; Newaygo County, MI; Cincinnati, OH; Portland,
OR; Pittsburgh, PA; Nashville, TN; and San Antonio, TX. National
partner organizations are now taking the program nationwide. Funding
for the program comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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Reach Out Now
This is the third year of Reach Out Now. In 2003, Reach
Out Now materials were distributed to more than 100,000 classrooms
nationwide reaching more than 3 million students. The materials—developed
by SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and Scholastic,
Inc.—were based on research supported by SAMHSA and the National
Institutes of Health's National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
SAMHSA News, Volume XI, Number 1.)
teachers received a two-part set of underage drinking materials
including Reach Out Now: Talk with Your Fifth Graders About
Underage Drinking. This year for the first time, a new curriculum
and parents' guide for sixth graders was distributed to schools
nationwide to reinforce the message for fifth graders.
The materials have been enthusiastically endorsed by the Leadership
To Keep Children Alcohol Free, a consortium of governors' spouses
from states across the country, and the teach-ins included the participation
of the first ladies of 15 states and other public figures.
For more information on the Too Smart To Start program,
visit SAMHSA's Web site at www.toosmarttostart.samhsa.gov.
For Reach Out Now,
To order materials available for these programs, contact the National
Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at P.O. Box 2345,
Rockville, MD 20847-2345; or call 1 (800) 729-6686 (English and
1 (800) 487-4889 (TDD).
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