Alcohol is the number one drug of choice among teens and nationally kills more teens than all other drugs combined. In 2017, over one in five high school age students in Alamance County reported using alcohol in the past 30 days and the average age of first use was 13.8.
Alcohol misuse or abuse is often associated with dangerous behaviors such as assaults, sexual assault, robbery, domestic violence, unintended pregnancies, child abuse and property crimes. It is often a contributing factor to premature death by homicide, suicide, drowning, fire, motor vehicle or health failure. Alcohol is also as a risk factor for cancer and is directly attributed to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Few commercial products impose a greater economic burden upon society, a cost ultimately borne by taxpayers.
For teens there is no such thing as a safe drink of alcohol because of the still developing brain and body. Research shows that young people who start drinking before the age of fifteen are five times more likely to have alcohol-related problems later in life and a child of an alcoholic parent is four times more likely to become an alcoholic.
Children who live in substance abusing homes or who have friends that abuse alcohol and other drugs are at much greater risk of using or becoming drug dependent. Risk factors can be countered with protective factors: youth who engage in positive activities, are connected to consistent, reliable adults in the home, school, and community, drug education for parents and prevention programs for children as young as preschool.
Strategies utilized by the coalition include conducting alcohol purchase surveys and Responsible Seller Training with local retailers, coordinating a multi-jurisdictional law enforcement team that implements county-wide alcohol compliance checks and other alcohol and drug enforcement operations, implementing social marketing campaigns with the goal of changing community norms, providing community education and awareness activities as well as advocacy efforts aimed at changing, increasing or developing policies, practices and laws that impact the problem.
The Alamance County Youth Advisory Council (ACYAC) is a group of high school students that meet twice monthly to focus on underage drinking. Using their training in leadership, public speaking, advocacy, and media literacy, they serve as peer leaders and community educators in conducting speaking engagements, planning community campaigns, implementing Town Hall Events and advocating for policies and laws that address underage drinking at the local and state level.