April 16, 2018
|Alcohol Awareness Month|
Coordinator, Wisconsin Alcohol Policy Project
Wisconsin, like many states, has seen its rate of underage drinking drop in the last decade. Over that period, law enforcement worked with community groups and coalitions to reduce youth access to alcohol. A new state law made it illegal to provide a location for underage drinking—even when adults did not provide the alcohol. In some communities, groups worked with police to make sure residents didn’t leave alcohol in unlocked garages or storage areas—where youth could pilfer it.
Sometimes we are asked why efforts to prevent and reduce underage drinking should continue when opiate abuse is at crisis levels. The answer is clear—alcohol prevention today is illicit drug prevention for the future. Alcohol is widely available and most often, first substance youth use, earlier than parents realize. Research has proved that alcohol use in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades has an “especially powerful influence” over lifetime illicit drug use.[i] Reducing underage drinking today is preventing a future opiate epidemic.