Recent headlines have highlighted the profound impact of heroin abuse—a trend that’s triggered plenty of necessary conversations about prevention and treatment efforts in Lancaster, PA and across the country. These discussions about heroin are important; however parents, teachers, and other concerned adults shouldn’t take their focus off a more prevalent problem in our community: alcohol. Alcohol kills more Americans than heroin & prescription painkiller overdoses combined. The rate of alcohol-induced deaths has skyrocketed 37% since 2002 and currently stands at the highest level since 1979, according to a report from The Washington Post. In 2014, nearly 31,000 Americans died from alcohol-related causes—more than the combined number of deaths from heroin and prescription painkiller overdoses. The rate of alcohol-induced deaths includes those who died from causes like liver cirrhosis and alcohol poisoning; it doesn’t account for drunken driving deaths or alcohol-related homicides and accidents. If those stats were included, the number of deaths caused by alcohol would be tallied at about 90,000. Alcohol use rates among women, in particular, have risen. More women report drinking every month and more report binge drinking. (Get facts about bingeing in Binge Drinking: Signs Someone’s Tipping Back Too Many.) Alcohol: A Gateway Drug for Teens Another new study suggests teenagers are more likely to try alcohol before they try tobacco or marijuana, according to The Washington Post. The researchers, from Texas A&M and the University of Florida, found that alcohol was the most commonly used substance among high school seniors. Alcohol was also the most commonly used gateway drug in students who progressed into substance abuse. In addition, the adolescents who had used alcohol as early as 6th or 7th grade were more likely to use illicit substances later. Find out more in Tips for Substance Abuse Prevention That Works and Prevention Scare Tactics for Kids: Learn Why They Don’t Work (And What Does). Compass Mark offers resources for substance abuse prevention, education, and intervention in Lancaster, PA and the surrounding area. Contact our team at 717-299-2831 to find out which prevention program will work best for your school, workplace, or community organization. Photo courtesy of pakorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.