Fewer teens and pre-teens in Tennessee are abusing alcohol, according to the findings of a five-year prevention effort. The emphasis was on changing community attitudes and behaviors and the risks of having five or more drinks on one occasion.
Lead by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS), the state's efforts achieved reductions in binge drinking well beyond the national average.
During a period from 2009 - 2013, the statewide rate of binge drinking teens, between the ages of 14 and 17, dropped nearly 16%. In the 18 to 25 age range, the decrease was more than 5%.
"Recognizing that there is a problem is the first step," said E. Douglas Varney, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS). "The reduction in binge drinking speaks to a concerted effort by anti-drug community coalitions in the state, treatment providers, families, and young people themselves."
DROP IN BINGE DRINKING REDUCES ALCOHOL-RELATED INCIDENTS
Along with getting more young people in Tennessee to stop binge drinking, a second goal was achieved in reducing the often tragic consequences when teens and pre-teens drink to intoxication. Rates of young people driving drunk, getting arrested, being involved in fatal car accidents and other alcohol related offenses went down.
- Alcohol Related Arrests down by 25%
- Juvenile DUI Arrests down by 24%
- Alcohol Related Traffic Fatalities down by 14%
- Driving while Intoxicated down by 14%
- Riding with a Driver who was Drinking down by 11%
"Consuming significant amounts of alcohol can put anyone in danger of harm to themselves and others," said Commissioner Varney. "Young people are especially at risk. I'm so glad to see how prevention efforts are working to encourage young people to avoid binge drinking and keeping them out of danger and from possible death."
Mike Machak, Director, Office of Communications
Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services