Preparing for December’s Alcohol Awareness Day

Note: This is a joint letter from Commissioner of Education Stephen Bowen and Guy Cousins, director of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services in the Department of Health and Human Services. Please share this letter with school principals and Safe and Supportive School Coordinators.

Alcohol Awareness Day will be Dec. 3, 2012, as part of Maine’s Alcohol Awareness Week, Dec. 3-7.  Many community groups and schools will be conducting Alcohol Awareness Week activities. Through MRSA Title 20-A, Section 4803, Sub-section 5, the State of Maine recognizes the need for schools and community organizations to address alcohol issues.

The statute reads, in part:

“Alcohol Awareness Day, the first Monday in December, shall be observed by studying, for at least 45 minutes, a constructive approach toward the use of alcohol and the problems and dangers of alcohol abuse upon the individual, the family, and society. The commissioner shall prepare appropriate materials for this observation.”

Teachers seeking assistance in planning an Alcohol Awareness Day activity may contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services office at the Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-499-0027, or 287-8900, TTY 711 or email: osa.ircosa@maine.gov. Age-appropriate materials that can be duplicated for classroom use are available upon request.

One way to address Alcohol Awareness Day is to use a DVD or video followed by a class discussion.  The SAMHS Information & Resource Center has materials available for loan (it is recommended that items be reserved at least three weeks prior to the event). Videos/DVDs are listed in the IRC’s online catalog at www.maineosa.org/irc. Additional resources may also be found at www.maineosa.org/irc/alcoholawareness.htm.

Beyond observing Alcohol Awareness Day, it is important that Maine students be provided with education and awareness about alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, abuse and dependence. This should be part of comprehensive school health education, pre-K through high school, and in alignment with the Maine Learning Results: Parameters for Essential Instruction Health Education Standards. Ongoing curriculum programs are a vital piece of alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention education.  For more information, see the health education component section of the coordinated school health program guidelines at www.mainecshp.com/health_education.

For questions or more information, contact the SAMHS Information & Resource Center at 1-800-499-0027.