Faith & Family Coalition to focus on teen drinking
By Jim Turner


Posted on January 1, 0001 12:00 AM



The chances of people developing a problem with over-indulgence in alcoholic beverages is multiplied considerably if they become acclimated to having alcohol in their system as adolescents.
Science-based, research-based evidence demonstrates that one of the best ways to reduce the number of people adversely affected by alcohol consumption is to keep teens and ‘tweens’ from experimenting with drinking alcoholic beverages in their youth.
“If young people can’t get it, they can’t drink it,” MADD Youth Program Advisor Tara McGuire says, McGuire was speaking informally to a group of adults and teens who want to help make the lives of young people healthier, happier and safer. The occasion was a July 28 gathering organized by the Logan County Faith & Family Coalition, which is headquartered at Berea Christian Church.

Students from the Russellville and Logan County school systems, Logan County Home Educators and Western Kentucky University attended the meeting.
Addictions and health issues come in a variety of forms and fashions, including drugs and nicotine, but the initial focus of the group is going to be on reducing the use of alcoholic beverages by young people. Logan County has a serious youth drinking problem, and the availability of MADD’s McGuire for guidance and assistance will help the group avoid a feeling of being all alone and of helplessness.
People who drink at age 15 or earlier are four times more likely to become alcoholics than those who wait until they are older to drink, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) research shows.
Surveys have shown that alcohol experimentation and semi-regular usage occurs in a higher percentage of Logan County youngsters than in many other counties. Surveys also indicate that many young people could not recall their behavior after they drank alcohol, McGuire said.
Factors contributing to underage drinking are a lack of alcohol-free activities, lack of law enforcement, parental/adult indifference, limite consequences, code of silence among youth, adults willing to provide alcohol to youth and early access to alcohol.
McGuire said that it is impressive that retailers, law enforcement, adults/parents, youth and media have already gotten involved in working with the young people who want to change this trend.
The Logan County group will have one or more major projects this year designed to make the public more aware of not only the dangers of youngsters drinking alcoholic beverages but also how readily available those beverages are to them.
“You see kids hanging out in the parking lots of stores that sell liquor waiting for someone old enough to buy them some,” said Logan County School Resource Officer Rob Bubacz, who was present along with his Russellville counterpart, Officer Michael Cannon.
McGuire said possible projects include “Roll Call Briefings,” which involve thanking officers and others in authority for their work in stemming teen alcohol usage; working for passage of a Social Host Ordinance, which would hold those responsible who provide a place for underage drinkers to imbibe; and a Sticker Program, which involves placing stickers on cartons and other containers of alcoholic beverages warning about the dangers of underage drinking. She said that a youth group in Lexington placed 55,000 such stickers on containers.
The young people assembled also learned they can make $10 per hour doing compliance checks in other counties, seeing if they can buy alcohol even though they are underage or have no age identification with them.
McGuire talked about the problems associated with high alcohol energy drinks that are available to any age over the counter and of certain types of clothing that have compartments in them that hold alcohol, so that it can be carried into schools, homes or anywhere else undetected.
Marie Gamble, a Russellville-based professional counselor, is the director for the Logan County Faith & Family Coalition youth group.. She talked about the goal of having a solid program in place for a public awareness event emphasizing the dangers of alcohol consumption. She wants that ready for Red Ribbon Week in October.
“Young people are not going to listen to us (adults) but they will listen to you,” Gamble told the young people present. “By a year from now we hope to have helped many young people straighten up their lives.”
Berea Christian Church pastor Randy Richardson is president of the Logan County Faith & Family Coalition. Adult leaders present besides Gamble included Barren River Health Department Educator Kathy Thweatt (secretary), retired social worker Louise Parker (treasurer) and RHS Youth Services Director Debbie Browder (vice president).
First Southern National Bank is a corporate sponsor of the Faith & Family Coalition.
“I give thanks to God for His inspiration to lead me to this project, to both the Russellville Policed Department and the Logan County Sheriff’s Department, and to the entire Logan County Faith & Family Coalition membership,” Gamble said.
The adult organization has been active for about three years. The local Faith & Family Coalition will have its annual membership meeting on Aug. 23 at Adele’s restaurant on West Ninth Street in Russellville.
Their next big project will be promoting Eat Dinner with Your Child on the fourth Monday in September.




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