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Front Page » April 15, 2008 » Local News » Town hall to target underage drinking
Published 2,330 days ago

Town hall to target underage drinking


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By CLAUDETTE LANGLEY
Sun Advocate reporter

Carbon County joins rest of the nation to address alcohol abuse


The Utah Highway Patrol and students participated in a mock demonstration of the effects of underage drinking, April 9, at Carbon High School during an event called "Every 15 Minutes.

A call has gone out around the nation to stamp out underage drinking and Carbon County has answered.

Wednesday at 6 p.m. Four Corners Behavioral Health is sponsoring "Start Talking Before They Start Drinking," a town hall meeting for parents, teachers and concerned citizens.

The meeting which will be held at Lighthouse Learning Center, 251 West 400 North is just one of the town halls to be held during spring. The Interagency Coordinating Committee for the Prevention of Underage Drinking called on the nation to take time out and address the issue through community gatherings.

According to information from www.stopalcoholabuse.gov., "on an average day in 2006, 7,970 teens drank alcohol for the first time.

Information from the site states that alcohol above any other substance or cigarettes poses the biggest threat to today's young people.

The town hall concept is geared to provide residents who attend with the latest information on the problem. Attendees will be provided with the latest research and discuss recommendations contained in "The Surgeon General's Call to Action." The more than 100-page report outlines the scope of underage drinking in America and addresses prevention and reduction.

An introduction by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Michael O. Leavitt states that the surgeon general's call to action "is a reminder that underage drinking has serious social costs and often tragic personal consequences."

Firefighters and UHP respond to the scene of a mock fatal crash during the demonstration at Carbon High School.e

In his foreward to the document Acting Surgeon General Kenneth P. Moritsugu paints a grim picture of the growing role in the lives of the nation's young people.

"Alcohol is the most widely used substance of abuse among America's youth. A higher percentage of young people between the ages of 12 and 20 use alcohol than use tobacco or illicit drugs. The physical consequences of underage alcohol use range from medical problems to death by alcohol poisoning, and alcohol plays a significant role in risky sexual behavior, physical and sexual assaults, various types of injuries and suicide," Moritsugu states.

The overarching scope of the surgeon general's report shows that despite decades of concerted efforts including laws and enforcement the problem of underage drinking has yet to abate. According to the report:

• Approximately 10 percent of 9- to -10-year-olds have started drinking.

• Nearly one-third of youth begin drinking before age 13

• More than one-tenth of 12 or 13-year-olds and more than one-third of 14-or 15-year-olds reported alcohol use in the past year (SAMHSA 2006).

The goals as stated in "Call to Action" include changing societal acceptance surrounding underage drinking and preventing the early onset of drinking, with the ultimate goal being to increase the age of initiation to the minimum legal drinking age.

"Call to Action" recommends a system of "scaffolding" to address the problem. Scaffolds being a web of support systems geared to prevent and intervene with alcohol abuse.

The outline for such a system calls for among other things ito developmentally and culturally based and to be comprehensively constructed by parents, schools and communities.

For more information on Wednesday's town hall meeting call Liz Ferguson at 637-2358.

For the complete report visit http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/topics/underagedrinking/calltoaction.pdf.


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