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Your Letters: Some facts about alcohol

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opinion Wadena, 56482
Wadena Minnesota 314 S. Jefferson, P.O. Box 31 56482

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. The CHAMP Coalition of Wadena County is joining hundreds of communities throughout the United States to focus on underage drinking. Reducing underage drinking is very important to a healthy future for our youth and requires a cooperative effort from the whole community.

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Some basic facts about underage drinking:

• Alcohol is the number one drug of choice for America's young people (more common than tobacco or illicit drugs);

• Those who start drinking alcohol before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who wait until age 21;

• Underage alcohol use can cause changes in brain development that may have life-long effects;

• And total annual costs of underage drinking costs the nation $52.8 billion annually.

Progress in reducing alcohol use amongst students is being made. Alcohol use in ninth- and 12th-graders in Wadena County decreased from 2007 to 2010 according to the MN Student Survey.

In addition, MOST students report not using of alcohol in the past 30 days.

While the issue of underage drinking is a complex problem, the CHAMP Coalition of Wadena County is committed to working with parents, schools, community organizations, business leaders, elected officials, law enforcement and young people on three areas proven to be effective in the prevention and intervention of underage drinking:

• Curtailing the availability of alcohol to underage youth;

• Consistent enforcement of existing laws related to access and underage use;

• Changing cultural misperceptions about alcohol use through education.

For more information on how you can help visit www.champforwc.org or call (218) 631-7629.

Heidi Happel

CHAMP Coalition

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