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Is underage drinking a problem in Logan County? If so, what does it matter?          Send a link to a friend


Last week the Logan County Sheriff's Department arrested 35 youth for underage drinking. They were at one party near Union. The party took place on the last day of vacation in the LCHS school sports year, when those who are high school athletes would not suffer penalties for their illegal actions.


Due to the recent events in the community, the Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drugs Task Force, of the Healthy Communities Partnership, would like to inform the community about the problems and costs related with underage drinking.

According to the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, underage drinking cost the citizens of Illinois $2.6 billion in 2001. This translates to a cost of $2,132 per year per youth in the state.

Alcohol use by young people is extremely dangerous -- both to themselves and society at large. Underage alcohol use is associated with traffic fatalities, violence, unsafe sex, suicide, educational failure and other problem behaviors that decrease the prospects of future success, as well as health risks; and the earlier teens start drinking, the greater the danger.

Young people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence and are two and a half times more likely to become abusers of alcohol than those who begin drinking at age 21.

Underage drinking is an entire community concern, not just limited to parents, law enforcement and schools. Concerned citizens can and should take the following steps to help prevent underage alcohol use:

  • Learn about community programs that address alcohol use prevention and how you can get involved.

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  • Support efforts taken in your community to limit underage drinking.
  • Support schools and agencies providing positive experiences and opportunities for youth.

Lincoln Community High School could choose to implement a year-round extracurricular code, or they could choose to continue to follow the IHSA standards. Whatever that choice may be will not decrease the underage drinking problem we have in Logan County. These 35 kids got caught… What about the countless others who did not get caught that night, the night before or the night after?
We need to work together, as a community, for the health and well-being of our citizens. We have to communicate with the community at large, and, as a community, we have to work together to change the community norms that allow or encourage drinking by underage youth.
Simply put, it's easy for youth to drink alcohol, and that's a problem for all of us. It makes our roads less safe, our schools less effective and our future less certain. We all have to be part of the solution.

If you want to help solve the underage drinking problem, the Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drugs Task Force could use your assistance. We meet at noon the second Friday of every month at the Logan County Health Department.

For more information, e-mail us at ATOD@almh.org.
The Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drugs Task Force
of the Healthy Communities Partnership.

(Posted Aug. 16, 2005)

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