SAVANNAH, GA – March 31, 2021 – The month of April has been designated Alcohol Awareness Month in the USA since 1987. This national movement was established to draw attention to the causes and effects of alcohol abuse, educate communities, reduce the stigma around alcoholism, and provide recovery solutions. In a Georgia Student Health Survey of 14,123 students in the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, 17% reported having had their first drink at age 15 or younger. Early drinking by minors creates risk factors for alcohol use disorders later in life and one local organization, Beyond The Bell Savannah, is focusing on early prevention of underage drinking not only in April, but all year long.
The organization’s mission is to reduce the early onset of alcohol, drug, and substance abuse among 9-20 year-olds in our region so Beyond The Bell Savannah is offering parents and young people free programs to stop alcohol abuse before it starts. The Botvin Lifeskills Training program consists of a 7-week groundbreaking substance abuse and violence prevention program which is designed to promote mental health and positive youth development. During Alcohol Awareness Month these sessions are available through the Urban Hope After School Program and starting April 5, at the Frank Callen Boys & Girls Club. The non-profit organization will also be hosting summer sessions at The Front Porch Youth Resource Center. Beyond The Bell Savannah also offers complementary parent sessions to help parents understand how to protect their children from alcohol abuse, best practices of communication, and signs to look for in minors using alcohol.
“April is a really great month for us to focus on preventing underage drinking in youth and prepare them for a bright future without substance abuse. What is so important about our work particularly this year, is that children are more at risk for participating in destructive behaviors such as alcohol use because of the pressures and stresses they have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lindsey Grovenstein, Region 5 Coordinator of Beyond The Bell Savannah. “Emerging evidence suggests that alcohol consumption has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is essential that we provide our youth with other outlets to de-stress and cope which is a crucial part of our Botvin LifeSkills Training programs. If parents cannot register their children at one of our sites, we urge them to commit or pledge to building life skills and positive, protective factors for their children and the youth in their lives. Parents, educators, and community leaders can follow us on social media (@beyondthebellsavannah) to obtain up-to-date tips and information.”
Alcohol abuse prevention is not only vital for our local youth, but also for communities. Jobs, businesses, and our way of life are negatively affected if alcohol abuse isn’t addressed early on. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in the United States, 10.8 million full-time workers have a substance use disorder. The person abusing alcohol can drink after hours and/or may be drinking alcohol on the job. An employee’s problematic drinking can impact other staff and professional relationships. Substance use disorders cost companies between $33 billion and $68 billion annually, as reported in an article by Cobb in Focus.
Along with the Department of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities and SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), Beyond The Bell Savannah provides tools and evidence-based strategies to train, educate, and support youth and families in the prevention of alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco use and abuse in the Savannah community.
For more information about Beyond The Bell and its programs/resources, please visit www.beyondthebellkids.org.
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