President's Message - March 2023
When trying to teach our kids to avoid drugs and alcohol, doesn’t it
sometimes feel like we’re fighting a losing battle?
Honestly, I’ve developed a whole new respect for the salmon that swim upstream to spawn! As the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) wrote in a new report:
“Alcohol is so ubiquitous in our society that it’s like wallpaper. We don’t even recognize its presence.”
This comment came from a study last month that found a 54 percent increase in sales of alcohol during the pandemic. The same study found that more than 99,000 people died in 2020 of alcohol-related causes, ranging from alcohol-associated liver diseases to mental and behavioral disorders to drug overdoses involving alcohol.
Another study, also published in JAMA, found that drinking any amount of alcohol was associated with an
increased risk of cardiovascular disease. And even low levels of alcohol consumption raise the risk for
several types of cancer.
April is Alcohol Awareness Month, so I wanted to shine a spotlight on this ubiquitous drug—along with
tobacco and vaping—because it’s been shown over and over that these are gateway drugs to the illegal
Even though tobacco use is down the last few decades, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 480,000 Americans still die from tobacco-related causes each year. And the turn to vaping just perpetuates its use, in the guise of making it seem “safer.”
Alcohol, too, has been touted as healthy and even good for you. But recent studies have shown that no
amount of alcohol is healthy. Another study published in JAMA this month found that drinking any amount
of alcohol was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, even though wine is
supposed to be good for the heart.
So, what’s the answer? I’m not sure, except I think we can take a lesson from that persistent salmon. She
swims in turbulent waters and jumps over obstacles, even waterfalls, but eventually reaches her goal.
She’s exhausted by the trip, and yes she dies after ensuring there’ll be another generation of salmon, but
she knows what she must do and she does it.
At Informed Families, we launch a campaign every March-May; Safe Home Smart Parties to take a stand
against underage drinking. Did you know our brains aren’t fully developed until the age of 25?
So, imagine your child drinking at the age of 15, what type of brain development will they have! What we must
do is swim against the prevailing current of thinking that alcohol is just a relaxant, or a social lubricant
that’s expected at every gathering. Without realizing it, we’ve been sold the notion that this is acceptable, that “wine, women, and song” are part of our culture, that binge drinking is just a normal part of teenage
years. That’s scary!
So, remember the salmon, and keep fighting!
-Peggy Sapp, President & CEO