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(West Palm Beach, FL) – Hanley Foundation, a community leader in substance abuse prevention and education, will present its Alcohol Literacy Challenge (ALC) to schools statewide during April’s National Alcohol Awareness Month. Educators also will be working to share statistics and key messaging on drinking – and binge drinking in particular – to help parents educate their children as well as themselves.


National Alcohol Awareness Month is an annual initiative started in 1987 and sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.


“Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in the United States,” said Ryan Wertepny, Hanley Foundation’s Executive Director of Prevention Services. “Children and teens who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to become alcohol addicted than those who do not drink before age 21. We also know that prevention programming for school age children is a successful strategy to keep kids away from alcohol and other drugs.”


Data shows an improvement in outcomes since Hanley Foundation began an expansion of its statewide school-based prevention programming in 2014, reaching more than 100,000 teens statewide through ALC and other programming. For example, the percentage of teens in Palm Beach County who self-report as not using alcohol has risen from 70 percent in 2012 to 84 percent in 2018, according to the annual Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey.


ALC is a 90-minute program designed to alter alcohol expectancies and reduce the quantity and frequency of alcohol use among middle and high school students. “Just say no” messages are ineffective, so ALC offers a different approach, aiming to correct erroneous beliefs about the effects of alcohol, decreasing positive and increasing negative expectancies. ALC also demonstrates to students how advertisers use these erroneous beliefs – that alcohol makes you more attractive, makes socializing more fun than without alcohol and similar imagery – to target younger users.


“One interesting thing we’ve learned from the 2018 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey is that while 84 percent of teenagers in Palm Beach County do not use alcohol – which is great news – those that do drink are often binge drinking, and that can lead to extremely dangerous behaviors such as drunk driving and increase the risk of consequences like alcohol poisoning, sexual assault and other injuries,” Wertepny said. Binge drinking is classified as having four or more drinks in a two- to three-hour period. A standard drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine and 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.


Parental involvement also helps keep young people from abusing substances, Wertepny said. Parents can open a dialogue with these tips:

  • Over 80 percent of young people ages 10–18 say their parents are the leading influence on their decision whether to drink. Be clear in your expectations that your children do not engage in drinking or misuse of other drugs.
  • Young people are more likely to listen if they believe you care. If you show concern for their safety and wellbeing, they’ll trust that your reasonings are in their best interests.
  • Be the expert. Share evidence-based statistics and data with your child about the dangers of drinking, including binge drinking, so they view you as an informed source of information.
  • Pay attention to your children’s habits, friends and activities. Young people are more likely to drink or use drugs if they believe no one is noticing their behavior.
  • Reinforce your child’s strategies for avoiding drugs and alcohol. Peer pressure is powerful but having a plan can be a stronger weapon. Talk to your children about how to handle a situation where they are offered alcohol or other drugs, such as texting a parent a code word to be picked up or practicing ways to say ‘no thanks.’


About Hanley Foundation

In the early 1980s, Mary Jane and Jack Hanley retired to Palm Beach County to discover the absence of any facilities dedicated to quality substance abuse treatment. Through the couple’s visionary leadership and great support from the community, Hanley Center and the Hanley Center Foundation were established. Nearly 40 years later and now expanded throughout Florida, the community continues to recognize the stand-alone Hanley Foundation with great support for its thought leadership, grantmaking and evidence-based programming. The charitable 501(c)(3) organization provides statewide resources for substance use disorder advocacy, education and access to quality treatment. The organization’s prevention programming is available to schools, churches and community groups through grant funding provided by the Florida Department of Children and Families, office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. With your support, the Hanley Foundation is taking critical steps to change the conversation around substance use disorders.


For more information about Hanley Foundation, or to request free prevention programming for a school, church or youth group, please visit or call 561-268-2355.