Youth prevention group receives grant

Published 12:01 am Friday, July 12, 2013

NATCHEZ — With underage drinking statistics on the rise and prescription drugs readily accessible to some youth, a community coalition is being formed to combat youth alcohol and drug use.

Southwest Mississippi Mental Health Complex’s Natchez office is asking community members to join a coalition focused on reducing the underage drinking and prescription drug use.

Prevention Coordinator Abby Goldblatt said Adams County received a grant re-establishing its alcohol and drug services programs that were shut down two years ago.

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As part of that effort, Goldblatt said she is assembling the coalition to help plan activities that will give youth alternatives to using alcohol or drugs. The coalition will also assist Goldblatt in planning curriculum Goldblatt will present to students at local schools and information for local merchants about asking for proper identification.

SWMMHC surveyed local youth between the ages of 12 and 25 on alcohol and prescription drug use, Goldblatt said.

Goldblatt said the surveys show that 14 percent of Adams County youth binge drink.

Forty percent of youth reported that alcohol is accessible to them “always, frequently or sometimes,” Goldblatt said.

Twenty-five percent of youth said alcohol is accessible to them at home.

Approximately 17 percent of youth said they have never been asked for identification when locally purchasing alcohol.

Underage driving under the influence arrests increased from 10 in 2008 to 19 in 2009. Underage public drunkenness arrests were 51 in 2011 and 55 in 2012.

Approximately 15-19 percent of school expulsions or suspensions were alcohol-related in 2012.

Approximately 22 percent of youth reported that prescription drugs were accessible to them “always, frequently or sometimes.”

Approximately 12.5 percent of youth said prescription drugs are accessible to them at home.

The goal of the coalition, Goldblatt said, will be to reduce those statistics.

Goldblatt said she is hoping to have a diverse group of community members in the coalition that will touch many aspects of the community.

“I have a few pastors and reverends already, and I’m hoping to get parents, youth, teachers, law enforcement officials, lawyers, pharmacists and others,” she said.

Goldblatt said she has spoken with Alcorn State University and Copiah-Lincoln Community College representatives and hopes to partner with the school’s student organizations to plan activities for local youth.

Goldblatt said she is also hoping to enlist local high school students to reach out to middle school students about alcohol and drug use.

Anyone interested in joining the coalition should contact Goldblatt at 601-446-6634 or

Goldblatt will host a meeting about the coalition at 6 p.m. July 30 at 200 S. Wall St. Anyone attending the meeting is asked to RSVP by July 23.