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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

"Observance Calls Attention To Dangers Of Mixing Alcohol, Pregnancy" - Article

Members of the Fayette County Drug and Alcohol Commission Inc. (FCDAC) and local city and county officials showed their support Tuesday in raising awareness about the dangers of drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

Deanna Sherbondy, FCDAC executive director, said every year international Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is observed on the 9th minute of the 9th hour of the 9th day of the 9th month, reminding women around the world that during the 9 months of pregnancy they should abstain from alcohol.

Fayette County Commissioner Angela M. Zimmerlink, chairman, read a proclamation and said that proclamations have been issued in counties, states, provinces and towns all around the world this month.

"Over 10,000 babies are born in the United States every day," she said. "Of those babies, one will be born HIV positive, 10 will be born with Down Syndrome, 20 of the babies will be born with FASD and 100 of the babies will be born with alcohol related disorders."
Zimmerlink said in the past 10 years, statistics have shown that women are closing the gender gap when it comes to alcohol consumption. She additionally said that since Sept. 9 fell on a Saturday this year, FCDAC along with other drug and alcohol agencies statewide agreed to participate in the ringing of the bells on Tuesday at county courthouse.

County Commissioner Vincent A. Vicites said that the FCDAC does an outstanding job with the resources that they have. He also said that all FASDs are 100 percent preventable if women simply don't drink alcohol while they are pregnant.

Uniontown Mayor James Sileo reiterated what the other members of the group said and told the crowd that individuals with FASD have difficulties with learning, attention, memory and problem solving.

"Children with FASDs are at risk for psychiatric problems, criminal behavior, unemployment, and incomplete education," he said. "These are secondary conditions that an individual is not born with but might acquire as a result of FASD or a related disorder."

Joseph Augustine, FCDAC community relation's coordinator, said a new program, Underage Curriculum for Adolescent Needs (UCAN), will assist adolescents in re-evaluating their decision to turn to alcohol, drugs and/or tobacco at such an early and illegal age.

"The five-day prevention program will identify effective ways to reduce substance abuse problems among young people," said Charlie Wortman, FCDAC treatment program manager.

Wortman said the same question is asked over and over again: Why do adolescents use alcohol, drugs, or tobacco knowing that it is illegal and unhealthy?

"One reason often heard from adolescents using these substances is that they do them to feel good," he said. "Many adolescents consider this type of usage as recreational while others want to change their situation. If they are depressed, they want to become happy. If they are stressed or nervous, they want to relax."

FCDAC treatment specialist Janine Pacelli explained that UCAN offers a caring hand by enhancing personal wellness and promoting substance free living.

"The UCAN program will achieve the mission of empowering adolescents to live a substance free lifestyle by training them how to access prevention educational materials and programs with the ability to have the preventative skills necessary to live a substance free lifestyle," she said.

Pacelli said the five-day program would accept referrals from concerned parents, district justices, self-referrals, youth ministries, Children and Yough Services, Juvenile Probation and also from the Student Assistant Program available through area school districts.

Some of the topics presented in the program are making the right choices, peer and social pressures, consequences of usage, usage impact on the family and problem solving.

For more information on any of the programs offered by FCDAC, call 724-438-3576 or 1-800-856-3576. Additional information on programs is available by visiting the Web site

┬ęThe Herald Standard 2006


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