Pubdate: Thu, 08 Mar 2007
Source: Journal Times, The (Racine, WI)
Copyright: 2007 The Journal Times
Author: Paul Sloth, Journal Times
Bookmark: (Walters, John)
Bookmark: (Youth)


Wisconsin can lay claim to a dubious new title. The state leads the 
nation in underage drinking, according to a report released last week 
on substance use and mental health.

The rate of underage drinking (ages 12 to 20) was highest in 
Wisconsin, 39.5 percent in 2004-2005 and lowest in Utah, 21.3 percent 
according to a report released last week from the Substance Abuse and 
Mental Health Services Administration.

The new data analysis shows that in 2004-05 Wisconsin had the highest 
rate of alcohol use among those 12 years and older, 65.3 percent. 
Utah had the lowest rate, 30.1 percent.

The highest rate of alcohol use in the U.S. occurred among ages 18 to 
25, again in Wisconsin, 75.7 percent.

Earlier this year, the Coalition for Drug Free Youth and the Racine 
Community Coalition for Youth merged to form the Racine County Youth 
Coalition as a way to improve efforts to prevent and reduce substance 
abuse and to ensure that youth are increasingly involved, healthy and 

Mary Esther Schnaubelt, project coordinator for Focus on Community, 
said the impetus to come together stemmed from the fact that, "part 
of what it means to build young people up is to work toward 
preventing young people from getting involved in drugs and alcohol."

Both groups focused on a similar goal - helping create a healthy 
positive environment for young people - but members approached this 
from different perspectives. It made sense to coordinate efforts, 
Schnaubelt said.

"We thought it was important that this be a county-wide effort. We 
thought it was important to engage folks in the city and in the 
county," Schnaubelt said. "Everybody who works with young people in 
the community needs to be working together -- that's why we have this 

State Estimates of Substance Use from the 2004-05 National Surveys on 
Drug Use and Health provides state-level rates for 23 measures of 
substance use and mental health problems, including underage 
drinking, binge drinking, use of illegal drugs, serious mental 
illness and tobacco use.

In 2004-05, on the national level, almost 22.7 percent of all persons 
age 12 or older participated in past month binge drinking, which is 
defined as having five or more drinks on the same occasion on at 
least one day in the 30 days prior to the survey.

Five states ranked in the top fifth in all three age-subgroups and 
among persons 12 or older -- Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, 
and Wisconsin.

"Too many Americans are in denial about teen drinking," said John 
Walters, director of National Drug Control Policy. "We need to stop 
looking the other way and pretending that it's just a rite of 
passage. Let's face facts -- when teens drink, they drink to get drunk."

State Estimates of Substance Use from the 2004-05 National Surveys on 
Drug Use and Health is available on the Web at

For more information about the Racine County Youth Coalition, call 
Mary Esther Schnaubelt at Focus on Community at (262) 632-6200.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman