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SAMHSA News - March/April 2007, Volume 15, Number 2

Underage Drinking: A Call to Action

Surgeon General Launches National Effort

April is Alcohol Awareness MonthIn the first Call to Action against underage drinking, the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office is increasing efforts to stop America’s 11 million underage drinkers from using alcohol and to keep other young people from starting.

Noting the risks of underage drinking, the Call to Action outlines specific strategies. As part of the national effort, SAMHSA has released new public service announcements, billboards, and materials for the Reach Out Now program (see Ads, Billboards Highlight Younger Children and Reach Out Now Educates Teachers, Students) to help communities learn about and disseminate the message.

“Alcohol remains the most heavily abused substance by America’s youth,” said Acting Surgeon General Kenneth P. Moritsugu, M.D., M.P.H. “We can no longer ignore what alcohol is doing to our children.”

Government and school officials, parents, other adults, and youth are working together to reach the goals set forth in the Call to Action.

“This is a research-based document,” said Terry L. Cline, Ph.D., SAMHSA Administrator, who chairs the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking (ICCPUD). “The Call to Action discusses underage drinking in the context of adolescent development, and it provides helpful suggestions for addressing the problem.”

photo of young man thinking In addition to the Call to Action, the Acting Surgeon General soon will release several “Guides to Action” for use by families, communities, and educators. These short, colorful, easy-to-read brochures will present the science behind underage drinking in a way “that Americans can understand and apply to their own circumstances,” Dr. Moritsugu said. “The Office of the Surgeon General is committed to provide the best scientific information in a way that people can use easily and take active steps to increase their health and wellness.”

“Both the Call to Action and the guides will be valuable resources in assisting communities in raising awareness of the extent of underage drinking,” said Dr. Moritsugu.

The Surgeon General’s Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking is posted at

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Developed in collaboration with SAMHSA and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), The Surgeon General’s Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking identifies six goals to reduce the number of underage drinkers nationwide:

Goal 1: Foster changes in American culture that encourage healthy adolescent development.
Goal 2: Engage parents, schools, communities, and youth themselves in this national effort.
Goal 3: Promote an understanding of adolescence and risk taking as part of human behavior.
Goal 4: Conduct additional research on adolescent alcohol use.
Goal 5: Work to improve public health surveillance.
Goal 6: Ensure that policies at all levels are consistent with the national goal.

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Online Resources

  • The Federal portal for comprehensive information on underage drinking is available at

  • Reach Out Now is SAMHSA’s source for underage drinking prevention materials. The program includes school-based “teach-ins” for fifth and sixth graders. www.teachin.samhsa.govEnd of Article

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  • Those who start drinking before age 15 are five times more likely to have alcohol problems.

  • By age 14, 41 percent of children have had at least one drink.

  • Annually, more than 5,000 deaths of people under age 21 are linked to underage drinking.

Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The Surgeon General’s Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking. HHS, Office of the Surgeon General, 2007.

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Inside This Issue
Social Security Benefits: Outreach, Access, and Recovery
Part 1
Part 2
Promising Practices
Resources on Homelessness

From the Administrator:
Obtaining Benefits, Attaining Recovery

Funding Opportunities

Stop Underage Drinking - Portal of Federal Resources Surgeon General Issues Call to Action

Ads, Billboards Highlight Younger Children

Reach Out Now Educates Teachers, Students

President's Budget Sustains Key Programs

National Outcome Measures

Transforming Housing for People with Psychiatric Disabilities

Arab Americans & Muslims Assess Emotional Well-Being

Evidence-Based Practices: Online Registry

Screening, Referral Tools Available Online

Recovery Month Web Cast en Español

Treatment Update: Increasing Motivation

Inhalants Report

DAWN Report

Workforce Development Resources


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SAMHSA News - March/April 2007, Volume 15, Number 2