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To the editor:
If we all did better in preventing youth from
drinking, our communities would be a safer, better place. However,
all too often our prevention efforts are little more than catch
phrases, such as "just say no" to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
Although the "no-use" message is an important one, it is only part
of the solution to a problem that stubbornly refuses to go away.
Communities and parents sometimes deny the seriousness of
underage drinking by pretending it doesn't exist or insisting that
it's a "rite of passage" all teenagers must go through before
adulthood. Unfortunately, in the meantime, their "rite of passage"
alcohol use costs Americans more than $58 billion a year, including
traffic crashes, violent crime, drowning, suicide attempts, fetal
alcohol syndrome, alcohol poisonings and treatment. Few people think
about these consequences until it happens to them personally or to
someone they know.
Teenagers, on the other hand, see drinking all around them. They
see it during sporting events, in the media, in restaurants, etc. If
they believe what they are seeing and hearing, then teenagers
believe that drinking is essential to having a good time. Studies
also show that teenagers tend to think that more of their peers
drink than actually do. This perpetuates the myth "all kids drink,"
thus setting up inaccurate expectations that they should be drinking
[to top of second column in this letter]
What teenagers don't hear often enough is the rewards of not
drinking. There are plenty of young men and women right here in
Logan County who don't need alcohol to have fun or have friends.
These teens are excelling in many areas of their lives, free from
the disabling effects of alcohol on their developing brains and who
they are as a person.
April is Alcohol Awareness Month. We are encouraging you as a
community to do what you can to support teenagers in their decision
not to drink. We also encourage parents to start having
conversations early and often with their children about underage
drinking and their disapproval of it. We ask that you show the youth
in your community that you care about them and their future by
taking a stand against underage drinking.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can make a
difference, attend an Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Task Force
meeting the second Friday of the month at the Logan County
Department of Public Health at noon.
Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug
Camille Springer, Logan County Community Prevention Coordinator
April 20, 2010]
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