Thursday, May 4, 2017

It’s Up to All of Us to Prevent Underage Drinking in Van Buren County

In 2013, nearly a quarter of people aged 12 to 20 (8.7 million, or 22.7 % of this age group) reported drinking alcohol in the past month.  The consequences of underage drinking can be devastating; each year, more than 4,300 people under age 21 die from homicides, suicides, car crashes, and drowning related to drinking alcohol.

Media campaigns are one effective way of counteracting advertising and messages in entertainment media that glorify underage drinking. However, kids also deserve to hear positive messages from people they know and who care about them. Talking to youth about substance use and abuse and being involved in their lives can make a difference. For example, the frequency of binge drinking, illicit drug use, and cigarette smoking is lower among youth aged 12-17 whose parents always or sometimes engage in monitoring behaviors, like helping with homework, compared to youth whose parents seldom or never engage in such behaviors.

The words and actions of one person can make a positive difference in the lives of others. Every day, parents, caregivers, educators, and community leaders in Van Buren County can make a difference by having conversations with youth about substance use and by modeling healthy choices and behaviors.  On the 2014 Iowa Youth Survey 15% of 11th Grade Students in Van Buren County reported having five or more drinks of alcohol in a row at least once in the past 30 days and 27% of them also reported having had at least one drink on at least one occasion in the past 30 days.

As individuals and as a community, we can help prevent underage drinking by being involved in young people’s lives; identifying resources, support systems, and alternatives for youth in the community; and raising awareness about the importance of prevention.

As part of National Prevention Week—a national observance sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The SAFE Coalition will embrace the National Prevention Week 2017 theme, The Voice of One, the Power of All. This theme highlights the important role that individuals and communities alike have in helping people lead healthy, productive lives and in raising awareness about the importance of substance use prevention and promotion of mental health.

Through this article the coalition would like to spark conversations about underage drinking and support healthy decision-making among youth.  This is a great opportunity for members of Van Buren County to raise awareness about this important issue, emphasize healthy choices, and encourage each other to make a meaningful difference in our own lives, our children’s lives, and our community.  Each of us has the power to make a difference in reducing underage drinking. Together, we can achieve even more.

The SAFE Coalition can be reached at or 319-293-6412 for more information on National Prevention Week or helping the youth of Van Buren County to understand the dangers of underage drinking.

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