SuperTalk Mississippi

Underage Drinking, a Big Problem in the State

JACKSON, Miss.- Kids are drinking to get drunk. Binge drinking is becoming normal for our youth and the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, Mississippi Office of Public Safety, Mississippi National Guard and DREAM, Inc. are partnering to help spread the message about the risks of underage drinking from a state perspective.

They met at the Capitol Thursday to discuss the issue. The Underage Drinking Press Conference was held to educate the public about the risks associated with underage drinking as well as alert communities about Alcohol Awareness Month in April.

Studies showed that youth kids and teens in Mississippi were intentionally drinking to get drunk. In fact, in 2013, 12.1% (12,145) of students in grades 6th -11th consumed 5 or more drinks in a row, in the past 30 days.  In 2013, 18.6% (19,292) reported drinking an alcoholic beverage in the past month; of those 9.2% were 6th graders, 13.2% were 7th graders, 18.9% were 8th graders, 20.7% were 9th graders, 21.4% were 10th graders and 16.7% were 11th graders.

“Underage drinking is absolutely a huge problem. Age 12 is the median age in the state that kids are experimenting with beer and marijuana; its a huge epidemic. We’re actually lower than the national average, which is age 13.” Karen West the Resource Coordinator for the Mississippi Department of Mental Health and Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services said, “Kids are getting alcohol easily from within their own home.”

Underage drinking cost Mississippians $632 million in 2010. This translates into a cost of $2,043 per youth in the state.

The Mississippi Department of Mental Health, Mississippi Office of Public Safety, Mississippi National Guard and DREAM, Inc.are encouraging all parents to talk to their kids April 21 about drug and alcohol prevention. They chose April 21 because April is alcohol awareness month and 21 is the legal drinking age.

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