“When I walked into the house, I went in search of one of my dad’s bottles. Not that they were that hard to find. He hid bottles all over the house. I knew where they all were. That was one of my hobbies, finding where my dad hid his bottles. It was my version of looking for Easter eggs. In my house, Easter lasted forever.”
― Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Last Night I Sang to the Monster
With a significant number of Chicago teens indulging in alcoholism, Preventing Alcohol Abuse in Chicago Teens (PAACT), an association of multiple community organizations and government agencies formed by the Lurie Children’s Hospital, launched a new campaign called ‘I Got This’ on Mar. 12, 2018. This citywide campaign aims at curbing the issue of underage drinking by generating public awareness and inspiring necessary changes in the school policies. With its core focus on the students from eighth to 10th grades, and their parents, the campaign youth grappling with drinking problems to get connected to the right resources.
Discussing about the risk factors increasing the underage drinking rate in Chicago, it was highlighted during the launch of the campaign that youngsters are witnessing distressing challenges like violence, trauma, educational problems, etc. The measures to be undertaken by the PAACT are based on the findings of the study conducted by the Voices of Youth. Driven by the objective of reducing underage drinking for promoting wellness across the communities in Chicago, the PAACT aims to engage the community in its strategies. Rebecca Levin, PAACT co-chair and executive director of Strengthening Chicago’s Youth at Lurie Children’s Hospital, also commented on the role of parents in preventing underage drinking. She said, “The vast majority of (these youth) aren’t drinking, and the vast majority of their guardians are talking with them and setting rules regarding drinking.”
Punitive approaches increasing the risk of underage drinking
Based on around 500 surveys on underage drinking and school policies, the VOYCE research found that youngsters are increasingly using alcohol to deal with their mental health issues, trauma or stress at school. This use of alcohol has been widely regularized due to the extensive exposure to advertisements and mass media. A number of participants mentioned that the existing school policies are not effective enough to address the problem of alcohol abuse among the youth. Approximately 47 percent of the respondents highlighted that schools use disciplinary action against students indulging in alcohol consumption in the school premises. However, the PAACT feels that disciplinary actions like expulsion was not an effective way to address the problem.
Among a set of recommendations made by the VOYCE, it advises the revision of the Student Code of Conduct to remove harsh approaches like out-of-school suspensions, expulsions and referrals to law enforcement. Rather than resorting to such a harsh approach, it recommends the integration of reflection assessment, meetings with parents or guardians, referrals to mental health and behavioral health resources, community service, etc. It further highlighted that the root causes of underage drinking needs to be identified to ensure a safer and healthier environment to children. Moreover, it recommends the revision of the Illinois School Code and the Illinois Criminal Code to discourage school-based arrests for offenses like the possession of alcohol.
Empower youth to fight underage drinking
Since teenagers have an inquisitive nature, they generally begin to experiment with a variety of substances. Moreover, the mounting peer, personal and academic pressure further increase the risk of indulgence in alcohol and drugs. These substances increase the risk of indulgence in indecent and risky behaviors. They can have severe effects on their health, such as nausea, vomiting, memory loss, impaired judgment, emotional issues, learning problems and increased car accidents. Therefore, it is important for them to take preventive measures and seek help in case of addiction.
One can seek treatment for alcoholism after consulting with an experienced medical professional. A medical expert is the right person who can ensure that the condition is diagnosed correctly and accordingly, guide the person about the best treatment plan. Treatment for alcohol addiction is available in the form of therapies, medications, support groups and consulting firms. However, the best form of treatment for any individual depends on the signs and symptoms of alcoholism and the severity of the condition.
If you or someone you know is addicted to alcohol and is planning to seek assistance from one of the comprehensive treatment centers for alcohol addiction, contact the 24/7 Alcohol Abuse Help for assistance. Call at our alcohol abuse helpline number 866-480-6873 or chat online with our representative to connect with one of the most recommended alcohol rehab treatment centers in your vicinity.