Friday, October 1, 2010

October is Underage Drinking Awareness Month in Monroe

The Monroe Youth Commission and Alcohol and Drug Awareness of Monroe (ADAM, Inc) are co-sponsoring a campaign in October to raise parent and community awareness about the issue of underage drinking. This campaign was developed in response to survey results published by Regional Youth/Adult Substance Abuse Program (RYASAP) which revealed that the incidence of binge drinking and alcohol use by teens in Monroe is among the highest in the region and above the national average.

Alarmed by these results, community leaders worked together to develop this campaign with its message to “Care Enough to Say No: Don’t Provide, Don’t Ignore, Don’t Excuse Teen Alcohol Use”. The campaign will culminate in a 9th grade student and parent forum on underage drinking at Masuk High School on November 3. Teen drinking poses very serious risks.

As a result of alcohol use, 5,000 teens die each year in the United States in motor vehicle crashes, drownings, falls, suicides or homicides. There are also 190,000 emergency room visits each year by persons under age 21 for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol. In addition, youth who start drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to become alcoholics later in life than those who begin drinking at or after age 21. Parents and peers play a major role in whether or not a teen will drink alcohol. It is estimated that 65% of kids get their alcohol from family and friends.

In the RYASAP survey, 35% of Monroe teens reported that they either did not know how their parents felt about alcohol use or they believed that their parents did not think it wrong. For some of those parents, the illegal distribution of alcohol to minors is justified by their belief that the children are going to drink anyway and should be in a “safe” place while they do. They are operating under the erroneous assumption that the risks of underage drinking can be avoided if a teen drinks only at home. Not only are they putting these teens at great risk, individuals who knowingly permit minors to possess or consume alcohol may be fined, imprisoned, or both.

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