As media glamorizes alcohol consumption, underage drinking reaches alarming rates

April is National Alcohol Awareness Month, situated squarely between spring break partying and the upcoming prom and graduation season. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), among adolescents 12 to 17 years old, youth binge and heavy drinking rates were 8.8 and 2 percent, respectively. The rate of binge drinking was 41 percent for young adults aged 18 to 25, while heavy drinking was reported by 14.5 percent in that age range.
Additionally, an estimated 7.2 percent of 16- or 17-year-olds, 16.7 percent of 18- to 20-year-olds, and 26.1 percent of 21- to 25-year-olds reported driving under the influence of alcohol in the past year. Among college students alone, more than two million drove after drinking in the past year.
If these statistics aren’t alarming enough, then it is the consequences of these
actions that should be inspected. Roughly 1,700 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes. Nearly 100,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape, and another 1.3 million college students are injured unintentionally or through acts of assault by other students, as reported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
“One of the major influences on our nation’s young people regarding alcohol
comes from pop culture and the media,” says Bobby Wiggins, director of Drug Education for Narconon International, which provides drug prevention and education programs for students in grade school through college
“Many of today’s reality TV shows with young adults contain plenty of on-camera alcohol abuse, which can somewhat legitimize or even idolize that behavior in the eyes of impressionable teenagers. At the very least it sets a poor example.”
Narconon presenters speak to more than 500,000 young people per year internationally. There are also drug education videos available, one of which focuses on alcohol and the media which is viewed by millions more people each year in the U.S. and abroad.

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