Friday, February 6, 2009

"It's just too big a deal to leave to chance"

I mentioned having a choice on where to go Thursday evening: The Financial Planning Committee or the WASTED panel discussion at Franklin High School. I chose the Financial Planning meeting and did my reporting here.

Our teen drinking problem, really more broadly terms substance abuse problem, because it is not just drinking, touches all the communities around us. Here is a report on the effort in Medway.


Marilyn Belmonte has a message for parents who say underage drinking is just a matter of kids being kids: It's a whole new world out there.

"There's a real change in the mentality," said Belmonte, a youth substance abuse prevention coordinator, to a group of parents assembled at Medway High School Wednesday night for "Turning Off the Tap," a presentation about underage drinking.

Recent incidents like the alcohol-related death of Plainville teen Taylor Meyer last October have moved the subject to the front burner, and the program detailed alarming new trends in teenage alcohol use, including extreme drinking games and binging.

"It really has changed," Belmonte said. Kids in the instant-gratification age are looking for quick fixes, and new trends, such as flavored alcohol. Walk into any store, she said, and you'll find shelves lined with attractive packages of vodkas in kid-friendly watermelon and cherry, perfect for teens looking to consume straight alcohol. Add in energy drinks as popular mixers and you've got the perfect storm, she said.

"They're mixing alcohol, which is a depressant, with energy drinks, which are stimulants, and the battle gets fought out in the heart," said Belmonte.

Parents can help by laying down the law. Recent studies show that the kids least likely to drink are those whose parents make it clear that such behavior is off limits.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here.

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