Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) Colorado and presenting sponsor State Farm® are encouraging all teens to #ProtectUrSquad this graduation season by making a pledge to not drink alcohol or consume cannabis under age 21. Teens can promote the #ProtectUrSquad hashtag on social media and encourage their peers to make healthy choices while celebrating the end of the school year.

#ProtectUrSquad is part of MADD’s Power of You(th)® program, sponsored by State Farm, to empower teens to make smart, healthy choices and resist peer pressure to drink or consume cannabis before age 21. As part of Power of You(th)®, MADD joins its partners around the country to host school and community events and highlight tips and real-life examples of underage substance use consequences from MADD’s teen booklet and on the powerofyouth.com website.

“Young people who drink are a danger to themselves, their friends, and others,” said MADD National President Helen Witty. “My daughter’s life ended when a 17-year-old made the deadly decision to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana – then get behind the wheel of a car with a group of her friends. My daughter, Helen Marie, had just turned 16 when she was struck while rollerblading on a bike path just a few blocks from home. She died a sudden, violent death. Her teen killer went to prison. Countless lives changed forever, including mine. MADD is grateful to State Farm for helping share the important message that teen alcohol use alters – and takes – lives. About 4,300 teens die each year from this epidemic. Two out of three of these deaths do not involve a vehicle.”

This year’s focus, #ProtectUrSquad, is about encouraging youth groups to support each other by agreeing as a group to avoid underage drinking and never ride with someone who has been drinking or consuming cannabis.

“State Farm is proud to support MADD and the Power of You(th)® program in their efforts to help keep teens safe.” said Tamara Pachl –Public Affairs Specialist, State Farm. “We encourage teens to take a stand by sharing positive messages, engaging their high schools and friends, and helping to promote safe and healthy communities.”

Cannabis and alcohol are drugs associated with serious developmental problems for those consuming these substances the age of 21 while the brain and body are still in a rapid period of development.

Research shows:

  • Studies show that cannabis accounts for 50% of the 7 million people aged 12 or older dependent on or abusing a drug.
  • From 2006-2010, alcohol was a factor in an average of 492 suicides, 1,269 homicides, 245 reports of death from alcohol poisoning, falls, burns or drowning, and 1,580 deaths from motor vehicle crashes of people under the age of 21 each year.
  • Even if no death occurs, teens can get seriously hurt by drinking alcohol. In 2011, 188,000 people under the age of 21 visited an emergency room because of alcohol related injuries.
  • Young people who begin drinking at 15 are 6 times more likely to become substance dependent or even abuse substances later in life.
  • Adolescents are more vulnerable to substance-induced brain damage, which contributes to poor performance at school and in future jobs.
  • Students who binge drink are more likely to do poorly in school, be victims of dating violence as well as participate in dangerous activities such as riding with a drunk driver, smoke cigarettes or cigars or vape underage, and attempt suicide.

“This is a season of celebration. Please have fun, but keep yourself and your friends safe by not drinking under 21 and by always, always finding a non-drinking, non-consuming driver to get you home safely,” Witty said.

View the Power of You(th) booklet and learn more at www.powerofyouth.com.

 About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped to save more than 350,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by 53 percent and educate parents and teens on making safe choices. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders, advanced vehicle technology and designating a non-drinking driver. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit www.madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.

About State Farm®
The mission of State Farm is to help people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams. State Farm and its affiliates are the largest providers of auto and home insurance in the United States. Its nearly 19,000 agents and approximately 65,000 employees serve approximately 83 million policies and accounts – approximately 81 million auto, fire, life, health and commercial policies and approximately 2 million bank accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for rentersbusiness ownersboats and motorcycles, is available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 36 on the 2018 Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit http://www.statefarm.com.