Prepare for December’s Alcohol Awareness Day

Note: This is a joint announcement from Acting Commissioner of Education Jim Rier and Guy Cousins, director of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services in the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

Community groups and schools across the state will be conducting activities to raise awareness about alcohol use and abuse throughout Maine’s Alcohol Awareness Week, Dec. 2-6, which includes Alcohol Awareness Day on Monday, Dec. 2.

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 Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHS) at the Department of Health and Human Services at osa.ircosa@maine.gov or 1-800-499-0027, 207-287-8900 or TTY 711. 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. This year SAMHS is offering “When You Say No to Alcohol, What Are You Saying Yes to?” This new online video profiles five Maine students, who discuss their interests as well as their reasons for choosing not to drink. “When You Say No” captures students engaging in activities they feel passionate about. The message of the video is that despite assumptions, not all students drink, and many students choose not to use drugs. The target audience for this eight-minute video is middle and high school students.

The “When You Say No” video and other Alcohol Awareness Day resources can be found at www.maineosa.org/irc/alcoholawareness.htm. A discussion guide is also available for download. The Information & Resource Center catalog provides a complete listing of substance abuse prevention resources available from SAMHS.

Beyond observing Alcohol Awareness Day, Maine students should be provided with education and awareness about alcohol, tobacco and other drug use. This can be part of comprehensive school health education, preK through high school, and in alignment with the Maine Learning Results. Ongoing curriculum programs are a vital piece of alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention education.