Minimum legal drinking age studies

Here is the latest about keeping the minimum legal drinking age:

In a recent study, researchers examined the correlation between minimum legal age and rates of heavy drinking among college students in 22 countries. They concluded that a lower minimum drinking age is not a protective factor for decreasing heavy drinking among college students.

State Minimum Legal Drinking Age Laws and Impaired Driving Policies Save Lives, CADCA's September/October 2009 Research into Action paper.

A study finds more alcohol, drug abuse among those who could drink beer before 21.

Another study concludes that lowering the drinking age could affect the rate of unplanned pregnancies and pre-term births among young women.

So, if lowering the drinking age isn't the solution to teenage binge drinking, what is? Here are a two ideas:

Student Perceptions: Changing Perceptions Reduces Alcohol Misuse

Off-Campus Drinking Can be Curbed with Community's Help.

Spaces still available in free parenting workshops

The October Guiding Good Choices parenting workshops in northeast Seattle still have spaces available for parents/guardians. Here is information about these free workshops:

October 6, 13, 20, 27 & November 3 at the University Family YMCA
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
To register, contact Lisa Steenson at the YMCA at 524-1400.

October 8, 15, 22, 29 & November 5 at Eckstein Middle School
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
To register, contact Reema Ziadeh at Eckstein at 252-5010.

Funding for Guiding Good Choices runs out in June 2010 so take advantage of these evidence-based workshops now!

FOCUS provides update about prevention around the state

I wish I had posted the August edition of FOCUS earlier because it contains a lot of good information about what is happening around our state. For instance:

-- The state's substance abuse and mental health services divisions are now integrated to become the Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR). Behavioral health is a term being widely used in the field to identify a holistic approach to treating mental, substance abuse, and gambling disorders.

-- DBHR is developing a plan to redesign its current service delivery system to a community-base model beginning July 1, 2010. The new system will be designed to focus prevention and early intervention services to have a greater impact on reducing community-level substance abuse.

-- The new Healthy Youth Survey website -- -- is up and running and designed to make access to data from the survey much easier.

-- Page six is dedicated to information about efforts around the state having to do with reducing underage drinking. It includes a farewell to Roger Hoen who left the Liquor Control Board this year. He was a great advocate for prevention while serving on the board.

-- Page seven contains a very informative story about Party Intervention Patrols in Pierce County. Unfortunately, funding for similar programs in Seattle and King County has gone away.

Support changes to alcohol advertising regulations in our state!

The Washington State Liquor Control Board (LCB) is in the final stage of making changes to alcohol advertising policies and they have stated that public safety and the reduction of underage drinking are their priorities. Please support the LCB's efforts to reduce alcohol advertising that young people see in their neighborhoods.

The WASAVP (Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention) website has detailed information about the proposed limits on alcohol advertising.

You can let the LCB know that you support the proposed changes by emailing them at When you do, please thank them for their commitment to public safety and reducing underage drinking by making these changes. For the change to the WAC (Washington Administrative Code) that prohibits advertising from being within 500-feet of schools, churches, playgrounds, and athletic fields, ask them to increase it to 1000-feet from the property line, not from the entrance.

While alcohol advertising is not the #1 factor contributing to underage drinking, it is a factor. In our efforts to prevent underage drinking, we need to consider all contributing factors in our communities. Advertising that attracts the attention of youth is certainly one of them. Underage drinking is a community-wide problem and needs a community-wide solution.

National Town Hall Meeting on Prevention

In my previous entry, I included a link to the National Town Hall Meeting on Prevention hosted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Well, after watching it again, I realize I should have given it it's own blog entry.

If you're interested in underage drinking and substance abuse prevention; want to hear from communities around the country that have done work similar to what we've been doing in NE Seattle; and want to hear about about what federal leaders are saying about the importance of community-based prevention, watching this is well worth your time.

Panelist include former Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske who is now the head of the Office for National Drug Control Policy and David Hawkins from the University of Washington's Social Development Research Group.

Coalitions preventing underage drinking

According to Join Together, "An ongoing evaluation of the Communities That Care prevention model found that communities that implement the program had significantly lower rates of binge drinking than similar areas nearby, according to researchers at the University of Washington."

This is exciting news for several reasons, the primary one being that the Communities That Care (CTC) model is very similar to the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF), the model used by the Prevention Works In Seattle coalition in NE Seattle.

In the Join Together article, David Hawkins from the University of Washington's Social Development Research Group is quoted, "This study shows we can prevent adolescent risk behaviors community wide by using this system. What makes this system different from other prevention efforts is that it provides community coalitions with scientifically based tools with which to make decisions based on what is important to each town. The key is empowering each community to make scientifically grounded decisions about what programs thy need. That builds ownership."

What this study shows is that when communities come together to address an issue that is putting their children at risk, in our case at risk for problems associated with underage drinking, and they are given the tools to assess the problem and then implement evidence-based prevention programs to meet their specific needs, they can be successful. Since our community is following a model similar to CTC, this gives great hope to our coalition that our prevention efforts will reduce our high underage drinking rates.

Here are a few links about the CTC study and it success:

Prevention Town Hall Meeting -- a video archive from September 9 in which David Hawkins talks about CTC

Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine

Maine Town Dramatically Cuts Drug Use (ABC News)

Coalition progress exceeds Washington's expectations (Prevention Action)

What families can do

Eckstein Middle School hosted an event for their 8th grade families Tuesday evening. The purpose was to increase awareness about underage drinking and substance abuse that can start the last year a student attends middle school and the first year of high school.

Kevin Haggerty, Assistant Director of the University of Washington Social Development Research Group, gave an engaging presentation about what families can do to prevent underage drinking and substance abuse.

Eckstein Principal Kim Whitworth and I provided information about NE Seattle statistics.

Guiding Good Choices is one way parents and guardians can learn about how they can prevent underage drinking and substance abuse among their children. The Prevention WINS coalition is offering free Guiding Good Choices workshops in NE Seattle.

Underage drinking in the news

My "to blog" in-box is full and so here are a mish-mash of items of interest:

From KING5's HealthLink: Study links teen drug use to parental behavior. Here is a link to the press release from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA).

From Time magazine: Italy Starts Cracking Down on Underage Drinking. Here is a similar article from the BBC.

From Join Together: Compared to teens who have frequent family dinners (five or more per week), those who have infrequent family dinners (fewer than three per week) are twice as likely to use tobacco or marijuana; more than one and a half times likelier to use alcohol; and twice as likely to expect to try drugs in the future.

From Good Housekeeping: The Hidden Epidemic of Very Young Alcoholics.

From the Seattle PI: Police report an influx of heroin users on Capitol Hill.

From U.S. News & World Report: How to Know if Your Teenager is Abusing ADHD Prescription Drugs.

Video for parents

The Washington State Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking (RUaD) created a video for parents about the importance of preventing underage drinking. RUaD is hoping that this video will be shown during meetings that most schools require with parents prior to the beginning of a sports seasons.

General coalition meeting Thursday

Join us for our first general coalition meeting of the 2009-10 school year!

Thursday, September 17
7:30 - 9:00 a.m.
Eckstein Middle School, 3003 NE 75th Street, P11

Coffee and light breakfast foods will be served.

This year, the general meeting starting times will alternate between 7:30 a.m. one month and 4:30 p.m. the next month so more working parents and school staff can attend at least half of the meetings. The next general meeting will take place:

Thursday, October 15
4:30 - 6:00 p.m.
Eckstein Middle School

Since the SPF-SIG grant that funds the coalition ends next summer, general meetings will focus on planning for community-wide prevention strategies after this school year. Community member input is needed so that we can best plan for meeting northeast Seattle's prevention needs.