Underage drinking is taking center stage at over a hundred Town Hall Meetings across California to raise awareness and generate discussion about this health risk during April –National Alcohol Awareness Month. The meetings bring together youth, parents, teachers, politicians, law enforcement, business owners, community leaders, and substance abuse service providers.
Alcohol is the most widely used substance of abuse among America’s youth. Among children and adolescents, alcohol use starts early and increases rapidly with age. In 2008, nearly 16 percent of 8th graders, almost 29 percent of 10th graders, and more than 43 percent of 12th graders reported drinking an alcoholic beverage in the month prior to taking a National Institute on Drug Abuse survey entitled Monitoring the Future: National Results on Adolescent Drug Use—Overview of Key Findings, 2008. (http://www.drugabuse.gov/PDF/overview2008.pdf)
“Too many young Californians are dying from binge drinking, too many are severely injured in accidents and too many suffer long-term medical and social consequences as a result of alcohol,” said Director Renée Zito from the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs (ADP). “These Town Hall Meetings throughout the state will help increase community understanding of underage drinking and its consequences. Our youth are asking for direction and these meetings offer excellent forums in which to find answers for this serious problem.”
The Town Hall Meetings are sponsored and funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Friday Night Live Partnership, the Governors Prevention Advisory Council and local community organizations.
This year’s Town Hall Meetings have increased significantly in number from those held in 2008. Most notably, more young people are taking charge to plan and execute meetings in their own communities.
For more information and to find the location of a Town Hall Meeting in a community in California, visit http://www.stopalcoholabuse.gov/TownHallMeetings/map/eventlist.aspx?id=6