To the Editor,
As many citizens of Robeson County already know, Palmer Prevention’s mission is to prevent, delay, or reduce the use of alcohol and other drugs among our youths and their families in Robeson County. As the acting coordinator of Robeson County Preventing Underage Drinking, I would like to inform you of recently released statistics regarding the effects of underage drinking in North Carolina.
In 2010, underage drinking cost North Carolina residents $1.5 billion. This figure translates to a cost of $3.16 per drink consumed by someone who is underage. Individuals who begin drinking before the age of 21 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence. During 2009, 731 youths were admitted for alcohol treatment in North Carolina. Also, in 2009, underage customers consumed 9.7 percent of all alcohol sold in North Carolina.
There are many risks associated with the consumption of alcohol by people younger than 21. During 2009, there were 41 traffic fatalities; 1,693 traffic injuries; 60 homicides; 26,800 other violent crimes; 67,400 property crimes; and 737 teen pregnancies.
Robeson County Preventing Underage Drinking conducts alcohol purchase surveys twice a year to identify stores which are selling alcohol to our youths. The results from the surveys conducted this fall were startling. I found that 20 percent of all Robeson County stores are willing to sell alcohol to minors. The most concern was in Red Springs, where the number was 50 percent.
At Palmer Prevention we are working to reduce the availability of alcohol to minors in the community. We hope that parents will increase their efforts to reduce the availability of alcohol to their children by keeping alcoholic beverages out of the reach of their children and warning their children about the possible consequences of consuming alcohol before age 21.
Counselors at Palmer Prevention can be reached at (910) 522-0421.