Alcohol abuse hits spotlight in April


April has been proclaimed Alcohol Awareness Month and Grand Futures Prevention Coalition is leading the charge to prevent underage drinking.

The national campaign is chaired by Derek Jeter, a professional baseball player with the New York Yankees, and sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., (NCADD).

"Young people need to keep their eye on the ball," Jeter said. "They need to focus on their dreams, whether it's sports, academics, legal or any other profession.

"You can live your dreams, as I am, by staying away from alcohol and other drugs."

The goal of Alcohol Awareness Month is to "stop underage drinking short" by recognizing and encouraging teen efforts to remain free of alcohol and other drugs.

"At times youth think of drinking alcohol as a good time and that they are invincible," Grand Futures Director and Craig City Councilor Kent Nielson said. "What they don't realize is that negative consequences can and will come from underage drinking."

An October 1998 survey of Craig Middle School seventh- and eighth-grade students showed that 38 percent had attended one or more parties involving alcohol during the year. Twenty-two percent reported they had been drunk one or more times in the last two weeks.

According to NCADD, underage drinking is the number one drug problem among youth, although many times it is overlooked for tobacco and illicit drugs.

In a recent survey conducted by NCADD, about 10.5 million Americans between 12- and 20-years-old reported they had at least one drink in the last month. Of this, nearly half consumed five or more drinks in a row on a single occasion. An occurance referred to as binge drinking. Children who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four-times more likely to become alcoholics than an adult beginning to drink at 21.

The mission of Grand Futures is to provide a framework for the community to create and promote healthy lifestyles as alternative choices to substance abuse. Grand Futures collaborates with other entities in Moffat County to curb underage drinking. They provide Teen Baseline training, which is alcohol awareness classes for high school students. Grand Futures employee Cindy Biskup said these classes are held four times a year and center around student's beliefs of alcohol use and abuse.

Grand Futures is also one of the sponsors of Red Ribbon Week held in October. Red Ribbon Week is a week of activities designed to teach students about the dangers of drug use. Each school in Moffat County has different activities throughout the week to promote drug-free lifestyles.

Grand Futures is also involved in the Moffat County High School After Prom Celebration and played a role in having Olympic Wrestling Champion Ben Peterson come to Craig last weekend to give inspirational seminars. The organization is a part of the Youth Services Council in Moffat County, which coordinates the groups dealing with youth and helps those groups plan drug-alternative activities.

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