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"Do Your Part" To Prevent Underage Drinking

Contact: Angela Minicuci (517) 241-2112

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 21, 2012

LANSING - Youth violence, traffic crashes, property crime, treatment, and medical aid due to underage alcohol use costs the state of Michigan $2 billion annually. Underage drinking only happens because adults allow it, because someone over the age of 21 has purchased, provided, or assisted an underage person to obtain alcohol. The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is encouraging all adults to "Do Your Part" in preventing underage drinking.

"Underage drinking is a major public health concern," said Olga Dazzo, Director of the MDCH. "Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in our state. It's especially troubling since youth who start to drink before age 15 are seven times more likely to experience alcohol problems as adults."

Although strides are being made to reduce underage drinking, the Michigan Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicates that 69 percent of Michigan high school students, 9th through 12th grade, reported having at least one drink during their lifetime. For high school seniors the rate is higher at 77 percent. In addition, 35 percent of those high school seniors reported drinking alcohol within the past 30 days.

Recently, MDCH worked with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to develop a video that focuses on the fact that, as adults, we all have a role in preventing underage drinking. We may be parents, siblings, or other family members. But it's also beyond family. Coaches, teachers, law enforcement, clergy and retailers can have an impact as well. Regardless of our roles and identities, adults interact with youth on a regular basis and everyone can help send a clear message that underage drinking is not appropriate. For examples of what individuals can say in their unique roles to discourage underage drinking, "Do Your Part" videos can be found online at www.youtube.com/michigandch.

Here are some ways adults can send a clear message and "Do Your Part:"

  • Parents can set clear rules and expectations with their children that in their family it is not OK to drink before the age of 21.
  • Teachers can set rules in their classrooms that talking about parties that occurred over the weekend and involved drinking is not allowed.
  • Coaches can set clear standards that drinking by members of their team is not allowed, and enforce these standards consistently and without exception.
  • All concerned community members can take part in local Alcohol Awareness Month activities throughout the month of April and Town Hall Meetings about underage drinking being planned in numerous communities around the state.

MDCH reminds anyone over 21 that it is NEVER OK to purchase or supply alcohol to a minor. Strategies to address youth alcohol use in your community and other information, is available at www.michigan.gov/bhrecovery.

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