Education is key: Area coalitions are working to prevent underage drinking among teenagers

 Commentary by Jennafer Fowler
Times-News correspondent
teens20@thetimesnews.com

Underage drinking is a big problem in the United States. / Illustration by Holly Damman, Times-News correspondent

We’ve all seen the news reports about how some parents allow alcohol to be consumed inside their homes because at least the teen isn’t drinking and driving.

But the truth is, alcohol is an addictive drug and is the leading cause of death among teens. It costs the nation $62 billion a year and $1.2 billion in North Carolina in medical and other expenses, according to statistics compiled by the Elon Community Coalition to Prevent Underage Drinking.

The coalition was formed in 2008 when data from local surveys showed that drinking was becoming a big problem in Alamance County.

Barbara Carlton, a volunteer for the coalition, said “teens have a natural desire to want to fit in, and the people they hang around with may drink, so they feel they should, too. You could call it peer pressure, but it is so much deeper than that. It comes from within.”

With this attitude, the group not only focuses on changing the teen’s behavior, but also their environments. The coalition recommends a “Safe Home;” this is a program used across the country where parents, schools and law enforcement officials team up to create an alcohol-free environment.

Another group working to prevent underage drinking in the county is the Alamance County Youth Advisory Council (ACYAC). The group is made up of high school students who educate parents and teens on the dangers of drinking. They also have a program called Dream Team Athletes; those teens, in turn, present the information to elementary students in the county. These teens make appearances at area health fairs and festivals in hopes of preventing underage drinking and educating people about the dangers of it.

For more information on what is being done in Alamance County to prevent underage drinking visit, www.alamancedfc.org.

 Jennafer Fowler is a senior at Alamance Christian School and a Teens & Twenties writer. Charity Apple, Accent editor and Teens & Twenties adviser, contributed to this story.

 

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