Time to cut off underage drinking

Published 12:02am Monday, March 17, 2014

Prom figures greatly into popular culture and is a major event among high school students across the nation. Each year across the United States, hundreds of teens are killed or injured in alcohol and drug-related accidents connected with their prom-night celebrations.

Alcohol and drug-related incidents are a major cause of death and injury to underage youth today. In Adams County, there were 10 DUI arrests for people under the age of 21 in 2008 and 19 in 2009 with 51 arrests for public drunkenness in 2011 and 55 in 2012.

Purchase and possession of alcohol is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 in all 50 states. However, the numbers and statistics of alcohol-related accidents indicate that we are becoming complacent and indifferent to the rules, and the results of this are often tragic.

Ten percent of all drinking in America is done by underage youth. A series of reports prepared by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services revealed not only do some 10.4 million young people drink alcohol; many of those 10.4 million youth simply walk into a liquor or convenience store and purchase alcohol without ever being asked for identification to prove their age.

This study also revealed that many youth do not fully understand the effects of alcohol. The findings of this study present a frightening future for parents, educators and for our community as a whole.

Underage drinking is a problem for all of us. It makes our highways less safe, our schools less effective and our future less certain. The Substance Free Coalition of Adams County (SFCAC), Southwest Mississippi Mental Health Complex and the Mississippi Department of Mental Health are working together to help reduce these numbers of underage drinkers and alcohol and drug-related fatalities, while motivating people to be a part of the solution.

Your help is needed! Please be part of our community-wide effort to save young lives. With your help, we can make a difference in Adams County. For more information on the Substance Free Coalition of Adams County and how to get involved, please contact me (MPP Prevention Coordinator) at 601-446-6634, ext. 18 or by email at agoldblatt@swmmhc.org.

The next coalition meeting is from 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday in the basement of Temple B’nai Israel at 213 S. Commerce St.

Abby Goldblatt is MPP-Prevention Coordinator for The Substance Free Coalition of Adams County (SFCAC).