Consequences of underage drinking, DUI are costly

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Every April since 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence has sponsored Alcohol Awareness Month to bring about issues related to underage drinking, alcoholism, and the devastating effects they can have on our society. Communities across the nation participate to spread the message and provide education and reinforce alcohol awareness.

This year's theme is "Keep Our Future Growing: End Underage Drinking." Alcohol plays a key role in accidents, homicides and suicides -- the leading causes of death among people in their teens and young 20s. Young people who use alcohol before the age 15 are four times more likely to be dependent than adults whose first drink is at the legal age of 21.

Alcohol abuse can also affect a person's brain, body and judgment. Statistics indicate in the past 10 years, more than 250,000 people have died in alcohol-related accidents. Eighty percent of all domestic disputes are alcohol-related, 54 percent of all violent crimes are alcohol-related, and 500 people die each week in alcohol-related accidents. These statistics are alarming and should be taken seriously.

Another problem our communities are facing is driving under the influence. In Colorado, it is a misdemeanor to operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance or any other drug. A DUI conviction can cost as much as $10,000 and has long-term effects -- not just on your wallet, but on your lifestyle, career, family and ability to work.

If you are in the military, you will also face consequences under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, possibly even placing your military career in jeopardy.

you may drink occasionally in moderation, but you should to be responsible and always have a plan beforehand. If you are going out with friend and plan to drink, designate a driver or do the right thing and call the Enlisted Against Drunk Driving hotline, 55-NO-DUI (556-6384).

Remember, the wrong decision can be costly, and detrimental to your career. During Alcohol Awareness Month, get involved in your unit to spread the word out and support this effort.