Alcohol abuse is a widespread issue in the United States and here in Union County.  Even though it’s legal for individuals age 21 and over to purchase and drink alcohol, many consume alcohol at levels that pose safety and health risks for themselves and others. Excessive alcohol use can cause serious problems and, for some, may lead to dependence.  Alcohol abuse can affect people of all ages, and problems associated with alcohol dependence take a toll on the individual who drinks, as well as their families, children, workplace, and communities.  Nearly one quarter of individuals aged 12 or older—over 58 million people—participated in binge drinking at least once in the last 30 days.  Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with approximately 79,000 deaths per year.

Recognize the warning signs.  Family and friends can help to prevent alcohol abuse by knowing and recognizing the warning signs.  Signs to look for include:

·        Repeated alcohol use resulting in neglect of responsibilities at home, work, or school;

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·        Using alcohol in situations where it’s physically dangerous;

·        Experiencing repeated legal problems on account of drinking;

·        Continuing to drink even though alcohol is causing social or interpersonal problems;

·        Drinking as a way to relax or de-stress.

As part of Prevention Week in Union County 2012, the Union County Regional Coalition asks community members to know the signs and dangers of alcohol abuse.  If you know someone who may be dealing with alcohol abuse or related issues, get them the help they need.  Everyone knows someone.  Preventing substance abuse and promoting mental, emotional, and behavioral well-being makes communities stronger and healthier. It’s something all of us benefit from and something we can all contribute to. We are the ones who can make a difference in Union County through small, yet important actions in our daily lives.  Take action, talk to someone who may have a drinking problem and get them the help they need.

Funded by a grant from the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), Prevention Links will coordinate over the next five years a regional coalition whose mission is to assess the needs of Union County in order to enhance collaboration and coordinate prevention efforts that promote a drug free lifestyle and create a healthy community.  By 2017, the Union County Regional Coalition will create prevention prepared communities through a collaborative effort to reduce underage drinking, the use of opioids, prescription drugs and new and emerging drugs across the lifespan throughout Union County.  All members of the community are welcome to participate in the Union County Regional Coalition.  To become a member of the Union County Regional Coalition, please send your contact information to info@preventionlinks.org.