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Each year alcohol is a conspirator in thousands of drownings, suicides,
violent injuries, deaths, and injuries from fires. Seventy times a day
once every 23 minutes
a life is taken somewhere on our streets and highways
because driving skills and judgment were impaired by alcohol and drugs. The
annual rate of 25,000 Americans killed by alcohol-related traffic accidents
not to mention the 700,000 injuries
far exceeds all but the largest flu
epidemics of the past 30 years.
While the medical profession uses all of its genius and experience to lengthen
It should not surprise us, then, that Americans between the ages of 16 and 24
have a higher death rate than 20 years ago, the only age group in the United
States whose death rate has climbed rather than fallen in the last decade.
The death rate of our young Americans is higher than their counterparts in
such countries as Sweden, Great Britain, Japan, and Wales.
this tragic fact is the violence we see in homicides, suicides, and various
But motor vehicle accidents are still the leading
other types of accidents.
killers of our young people
and a major cause for all of these tragedies is
the curse of alcohol abuse.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:
Thank you for this opportunity to provide for the record my views and concerns
about the problems associated with alcohol consumption by this Nation's youth
and the activities my Department is undertaking to address them.
Today, 10 million adult Americans suffer from alcoholism and alcohol-related
In addition, an estimated 3.3 million teenagers between the ages
of 14 and 17 are experiencing problems with the use of alcohol. Eight out of
10 high school seniors have tried alcohol more than once and 31 percent of
high school students are considered to be alcohol mi susers
that is, they're
drunk at least six times a year.
Surveys show the average age at which young people begin drinking is 13, and
that average age has been getting lower.
About one in every four tenth-to
twelfth graders drinks at least once a week.
Fourteen percent of the
youngsters in the peak of their fomative years drink heavily once a week.
Six percent of the twelfth graders in America drink daily.
More senior high
school students today use alcohol than any other psychoactive drug, with those
with potentially deadly
who do often cambining alcohol use with other drugs
consequences. Alcohol abuse and consumption is believed to be even higher
among the high school students who drop out and are therefore not included in
Post Office Box 208 Rye, New York 10580 (914) 253-9525
400 Seventh Street, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20590 (202) 426-1495
I can assure you that this tragic situation has not gone unnot iced in the
Department of Health and Human Services.
For example, in 1979 the first
Surgeon General's Report, Healthy People was published establishing broad
goals to improve the health of the Nation by 1990 which included reducing
deaths among those age 15-24. This report noted that motor vehicle accidents
were the #1 cause of mortality for this age
accounting for 37% of all
In follow-up to that report, Promoting Health/Preventing Disease was issued
setting specific objectives in 15 priority areas to realize these national
goals. The adverse consequences of misuse of alcohol and drugs is one of the fifteen priority areas which we are actively seeking to address. Specific
objectives have been developed to reduce the risk factors associated with
alcohol consumption by youth and to reduce alcohol-related motor fatalities.
I have appended the section of this report dealing with misuse of alcohol and
Our specific objectives may be found in Section 3 of the appendix.
we are fully aware that implementing these object ives will require cooperation
involving participants from many sectors and backgrounds on the local, State
and national levels. Agencies within my Department, including the National
Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Institute on Drug
Abuse, and the Center for Disease Control, among others, are involved in
addressing the 1990 goals.
The Department of Health and Human Services is actively involved in efforts of
"marketing the message" about the high price we pay for alcohol abuse and
We are discussing possibilities of joint efforts with the National
Transportation Safety Board; and
We are vigorously joining forces within the Department of Health and
Human Services to achieve our prevention objectives for the future.
In addition to these activities, there is currently ongoing an activity of
As part of that initiative, late last year HHS conducted a series of ten
conferences on prevention and early intervention for teachers, principals,
parents, PTAs and alcohol and drug counselors.
Over 1,100 people attended.