Thursday, March 23, 2017

Connecting the Dots: Opportunities for Recovery

Alcohol and drug use by young people is extremely dangerous--both to themselves and to society--and is directly associated with traffic fatalities, violence, suicide, educational failure, alcohol overdose, unsafe sex and other problem behaviors, even for those who may never develop a dependence or addiction. Adolescence is a time of heightened risk-taking and as alcohol and drugs enter the picture, parents are faced with a unique set of challenges. They can simply sit back and hope their kids will “get through it,” or they can take an active role in learning about alcohol and drugs and helping their kids do the same.

It can be daunting to talk with children about drinking and drug use, but it is well worth the effort parents put into it. In fact, research has shown that kids who have conversations with their parents and learn a lot about the dangers of alcohol and drug use are 50% less likely to use these substances than those who don’t have such conversations. 

“Alcohol and drug use is a very risky business for young people,” says Andrew Pucher, President and CEO of NCADD, “and parents can make a difference. The longer children delay drinking and drug use, the less likely they are to develop any problems associated with it. That’s why it is so important to help your child connect the dots and make smart decisions about alcohol and drugs.”

An integral part of Alcohol Awareness Month is Alcohol-Free Weekend, March 31-April 2, 2017, which is designed to raise public awareness about the use of alcohol and how it may be affecting individuals, families, and the community. During this seventy-two-hour period, NCADD extends an open invitation to all Americans, young and old, to participate in three alcohol-free days and to use this time to contact local NCADD Affiliates and other alcoholism agencies to learn more about alcoholism and its early symptoms.

Each April since 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) has sponsored Alcohol Awareness Month to increase public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma and encourage local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues.  The month of April will be filled with local, state, and national events aimed at educating people about the treatment and prevention of alcoholism, particularly among our youth, and the important role that parents can play in giving kids a better understanding of the impact that alcohol can have on their lives.

For more information on Alcohol Awareness Month or how to talk with your children about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Kids think about what you lose when you drink underage!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

This St. Patrick’s Day, Plan before You Party! Remember: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving

St. Patrick’s Day has become one of the nation’s biggest times to celebrate and party. But unfortunately, too many people are taking to the roads after drinking alcohol making the holiday one of our most dangerous. In fact, 30 people were killed in drunk driving crashes across the nation during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period (6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18) in 2015.

That’s why the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition is teaming up with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to reach all drivers with an important life-saving message and warning: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.

According to NHTSA, 252 people lost their lives in drunk driving-related crashes during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period from 2011-2015. More than a fourth of them were killed in drunk driving crashes that occurred in the early morning, post-party hours (midnight to 5:59 a.m.).  

These needless deaths could have been prevented. Planning a sober ride home before the party begins is the first step in staying safe on St. Patrick’s Day. Don’t wait until you’ve already been drinking to make your transportation decision. Designate your sober driver in advance, and never get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking. Remember: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.

If you plan to celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day, follow these tips to stay safe:
       Before celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this year, decide whether you’ll drink or you’ll drive. You can’t do both.
       If you’re planning on driving, commit to staying sober. If you’ve been out drinking and then get behind the wheel, you run the risk of causing a crash or getting arrested for a DUI.
       If you have been drinking, call a sober friend or family member.  Also, try NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, which helps users call a friend for a ride home and identify their location so they can be picked up.
       Help those around you be responsible, too. Walking while intoxicated can also be deadly, as lack of attention could put you at risk of getting hit by a vehicle. If someone you know is drinking, do not let them get behind the wheel and help them find a sober ride home.
       If you see someone who appears to be driving drunk, call the police. Your actions could help save a life.

Impaired driving causes tragedies all year round. According to NHTSA, 35,092 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2015, and 10,265 (29%) of those fatalities occurred in drunk-driving-related crashes.

Remember this St. Patrick’s Day: Plan before You Party! Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.

For more information, visit

Friday, March 3, 2017

March 15th is National Kick Butts Day

By Sydney Goemaat and Rose Rankin

More than 480,000 people in the United States will die this year from a tobacco-related disease. During the month of March the Van Buren County Warriors Ignite youth coalition members are taking a stand to stop youth from getting hooked on deadly tobacco products.

Unfortunately, 90% of smokers start using tobacco regularly by the time they are 18, and we know from the December 2016 Surgeon General’s Report that three million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in 2015.

In order to give kids a fighting chance, the Warriors Ignite Members plan to join thousands of students across the country who are taking part in Kick Butts Day, a nationwide initiative that empowers student advocates to lead the effort to stop youth tobacco use. As part of the Kick Butts Day celebration, Warriors Ignite Members will be doing several activities, as follows:
·         High School members will be doing a Crime Scene on March 9th that will be setup at the Van Buren Community Jr. /Sr. High School during the lunch hours for the 7th-12th grade students. The Crime Scene will include facts about smoking tobacco and how people have died from the harmful effects of tobacco.  
·         Middle School members on March 9th will be doing a Scavenger Hunt outside with their peers.  During the Scavenger Hunt students will learn about the dangers of smoking and tobacco awareness. 
·         Middle and High School members will be spreading the word about the dangers of smoking and tobacco awareness on March 22nd and 23rd while peer teaching at the elementary school to the 5th and 6th grade students.
·         Middle School members will be placing messages with cups in the fence during a home track meet at the Middle/High School.  These messages will share tobacco facts and encourage community members to be tobacco free. 
·         Middle School members will be making buttons to share with their peers to encourage them to remain tobacco free.

There are many effective ways state and local officials can protect young people from tobacco. They can fund tobacco prevention programs; increase tobacco taxes; and pass smoke-free laws to protect us from secondhand smoke. Consider these facts: Each day, more than 400 kids become new regular smokers; roughly one-third of them will die prematurely from a tobacco-related disease.

Today’s youth are not just part of the problem; they’re part of the solution. And the students from Van Buren County want tobacco companies to know that on Kick Butts Day and every day throughout the year, we’re going to fight them every step of the way!

For more information on the Van Buren County Warriors Ignite youth coalition or Kick Butts Day please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or at