Misty Schulze: Grant specialist, Craig

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April is national Alcohol Awareness Month, and the focus is on one of the most critical public-health issues facing America today: underage drinking. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, alcohol is the No. 1 drug of choice for children and adolescents, and its use is increasing. Each day, more than 7,000 youths in the United States younger than 16 take their first drinks.

Sadly, alcohol use at an early age is associated with the leading causes of death and injury among teenagers and young adults. In addition, it is an indicator of future alcohol or drug problems, as 40 percent of those who drink before 15 develop alcohol abuse or dependence. It is a criminal offense to possess or consume alcohol if you are younger than 21. It is also a crime to provide alcohol to those younger than 21. Moffat County is serious about preventing underage drinking and enforces the laws about underage alcohol consumption.

Underage drinking is a complex problem that is best solved through a sustained and cooperative effort including parents, schools, community leaders and America's youths. Three areas have proven to be effective in preventing underage drinking: curtailing the availability of alcohol, consistent enforcement of existing laws and regulations, and changing cultural misconceptions and behaviors through education. Our community receives funding from the Colorado Department of Transportation through the Grand Futures Prevention Coalition. Call our offices at 824-5752 for more information on ways to stop underage drinking by our young people.

Let's all wake up to this serious problem and get started on the solution. We can't afford to wait any longer.

Respectfully,

Misty Schulze

Grant specialist

Grand Futures Prevention Coalition

Crai

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