by Jonathan Weaver
State Drug and Alcohol Commission leaders are leading off the month with an annual awareness campaign.
This week is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Awareness Week across the state, with leaders aiming to prevent the disorders and educate the public.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-to-two cases of fetal alcohol syndrome occur for every 1,000 live births in the United States. One-in-eight women reportedly use alcohol during pregnancy.
Armstrong-Indiana Drug and Alcohol Commission Deputy Director Carrie Bence explained what is done locally to decrease that use.
“We’re charged by the state Department of Health Bureau of Drug and Alcohol programs to do prevention, awareness around FASD in our counties. Since September has been dubbed ‘FASD Awareness Month,’ that’s when we usually get most of our prevention activities out there, so we’re going to have table tents available for all the bars and restaurants, proclamations and we work with ARC Manor in Armstrong County and the Open Door in Indiana County and also the Armstrong-Indiana Intermediate Unit,” Bence said.
ARC Manor Assistant Director Jill Pless said that staff members will have an information table outside of ACMH September 9 from 9AM-2PM.
Public service announcements and information to doctors will also be distributed with one common message.
“There is no safe time or amount of alcohol that you should be drinking at all during pregnancy,” Bence said.
Indiana County college students will also learn about preventative tactics during ‘IUP Day’ September 24 at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Students will receive T-shirts during the day’s activities.
“A lot of it is just getting awareness information out to the community on FASD,” Bence said.
In the past, the commission – which will soon be renamed the Armstrong/Indiana/Clarion County Drug and Alcohol Commission, after the counties joined forces July 1- has used bar napkins and coasters during this campaign.
Commissioner Rich Fink read a proclamation during the commissioners’ public meeting September 1 and it was unanimously approved.
According to the proclamation, children with a FASD are at high risk of serious secondary problems, such as dropping out of school or getting expelled; getting into trouble with the law; abuse of alcohol or other drugs; inability to maintain employment; and mental health issues.
Westmoreland Drug and Alcohol Commission Deputy Director Michele Aiello said the commission will also take part in the week’s activities, including distributing napkins, posters, and information pamphlets as well as handing out T-shirts to providers, staff and doctors offices to wear throughout the week.
A proclamation in the neighboring county is also to be made in the City of Greensburg.
International FASD Day is observed September 9.