To Prevent Underage Drinking.
Why would an organization that is literally named after ending drunk driving care about underage drinking? Because we know that there are so many dangers in underage drinking and we know that by starting conversations young, we can change future choices. That is why MADD added prevention of underage drinking to our mission and why we created the Power of Parents and Power of Youth program to specifically target the prevention of underage drinking in our communities. Research has also shown by having specific discussions around alcohol and drugs, we can empower our kids to not only wait until they are 21 to drink, protect them from the dangers of underage drinking and help them to make better choices surrounding alcohol as adults.
Our underage drinking prevention programs are the future of MADD. Because not only are we protecting young lives, we are reaching the next generation. These are the voices that will ultimately live in a world with no more victims and we know that reaching them now helps them become part of the change. On top of that, there are too many statistics to ignore the dangers that face our children if we allow them to drink underage. 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. And that is just the immediate danger, the long term data shows that young people who begin drinking at 15 are six times more likely to become alcohol dependent or abuse alcohol later in life. We also know that there is a rising use of marijuana among teens. With certain states legalizing the substance, our teens are not understanding the real dangers of using. But statistics show that about 1 and 10 marijuana users will become addicted, and when people begin using before 18 that number rises to 1 in 6. On top of that marijuana use directly affects the brain, affecting memory, learning, attention, decision making, coordination, emotions and reaction time. All of those adding up to a decrease in school performance and an increased likelihood of dropping out for teens who use.
All of these things together are why we here at MADD know that it is our duty and our mission to prevent underage drinking. We know that education and empowerment can help our teens to make better choices and keep them safe. That is why we worked with Dr. Turrissi to create our Power of Parents and Power of Youth programs that work to educate parents on how to have the conversations and empower teens to make the choice to make good decisions regarding alcohol and drugs.
As we wrap up teen safe driving and red ribbon weeks across the nation, we feel it is the perfect time to remind you once more that MADD is here to help. We don’t need a special week to come out and talk to your students or parents about the dangers of underage drinking or the ways we can stop it. We are always here, ready and will to do all we can to make a difference and to keep the youth of Nebraska safe. If you would like to learn more about MADD’s underage drinking prevention programs or have someone come out to speak, please reach out to the state office at (402) 434-5330.