CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice officially designated April as Alcohol Awareness Month in the state.

Gov. Justice says there is a need for increased public awareness about the dangers of underage drinking and adult alcoholism.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says about 95,000 United States citizens die from alcohol-related causes each year. According to the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 15 million adults have Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).

Furthermore, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) says about 2.3 million minors ages 12 to 17 drank alcohol in the last month. About 1.2 million of those individuals binge drank during that period of time, according to the SAMHSA.

The West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration (WVABCA) tries to address these issues through its safety events and programs. Since 2010, the WVABCA’s DUI Simulator has been placed in West Virginia high schools, giving over 67,000 students a chance to experience this life-saving program.

In addition, the WVABCA’s 10-year-old NO School Spirits Public Service Announcement (PSA) contest encourages students to create meaningful education and messaging to prevent underage drinking.

The WVABCA says its licensing and enforcement efforts ensure legal alcohol sales and protect the public.

Now, Gov. Justice’s proclamation will allow the WVABCA to even further emphasize the importance of alcohol awareness and regulations in West Virginia.

“We are grateful for Governor Justice’s proclamation. The WVABCA is committed to addressing the dangers associated with alcohol misuse by working with community leaders and law enforcement on a local, county and state level as we strengthen our collective ability to protect our youth and families.”

WVABCA Commissioner Fred Wooton