Letters: BRiDGES campaigns to decrease underage drinking

To the editor:

Throughout March and April, BRiDGES, Madison County Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, launched a multi-media campaign intended to encourage and support parents, retailers and community members in their efforts to keep teens from drinking.

The campaign was run in partnership with Madison County's Promise and CAZ ACTION. BRiDGES asked the community to "Be the Wall" between teens and alcohol. The simply stated campaign is designed on the premise that while alcohol may be the primary substance choice for teens across the state and country, underage drinking should be the single most preventable at risk behavior among our teenagers. Underage drinking comes down to access - if teens cannot get their hands on it, they cannot use it. We are asking all community members to help us limit access to alcohol for teens once and for all.

The American Drug and Alcohol Survey conducted in Madison County reports that most teens are not drinking. However, the report indicates that of the 11th and 12th graders surveyed, 20 percent reported having used alcohol on a regular basis in a one month period.

Current research indicates that the teen brain is still developing until the mid 20s. The introduction of alcohol, particularly in large quantities, may impair brain development. The developing teen brain also makes teens more impulsive and less likely to consider consequences of their behavior - for this reason; the campaign encourages all adults to be clear, firm and consistent when talking with teens about alcohol.

The media campaign was implemented throughout Madison County by BRiDGES. Several community organizations and local businesses participated in the campaign by hanging posters and distributing information. The campaign was developed by the Drug Free Coalition in Charlotte County, Florida. Its components include an interactive website where parents can text their teen, humorous posters about natural communication gaps between teens and parents, community displays and more. Find out more at BeTheWall.org.

Abigail Simchik

Prevention Education Specialist, Bridges

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