April 22, 2014 at 11:59 PM
The Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team (ADAPT) is pleased to host an underage drinking Town Hall Meeting in collaboration with the South Orange and Maplewood Municipal Alliances, South Orange/Maplewood School District, and Maplewood Library on Thursday May 1, 2014, which is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA). A group of concerned citizens created this campaign aiming to reduce the prevalence of underage drinking by educating the public on its consequences as well as introducing preventative measures.
Underage drinking is a serious public health concern that continues to plague the country having serious implications not only on the youth, but on the general safety and health of communities all over the world. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence reports that approximately 5,000 individuals under the age of 21 die because of underage drinking, and it imposes $27 billion in economic costs to society every year. The key to reducing and preventing underage drinking is educating the community, decreasing the availability of alcohol, and enforcing laws and regulations to change society’s views on this dangerous issue.
Early alcohol use by young people can lead to potential safety and health risks on not only themselves, but also society as a whole, and so underage drinking prevention initiatives need to be taken at local and national levels. Joel Torres, ADAPT’s Senior Coordinator, stated, “Research now shows that children as young as 10 years old are already drinking alcohol. This Town Hall Meeting is a good first step to work collaboratively with local experts, the residents of South Orange and Maplewood, in order to prevent underage drinking and help our children succeed.”
ADAPT is a rich, diverse coalition of more than 100 volunteers, including parents, youth, educators, prevention professionals, law enforcement officials, etc., from all over Essex County. Through community-level interventions, ADAPT strives to decrease underage drinking and tobacco use and prescription drug abuse and misuse by all residents throughout Essex County while also empowering all residents to choose healthier lifestyles.
ADAPT is funded by the NJ division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (NJ DMHAS) and the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). It is managed by FAMILYConnections, a non-profit community-based agency with more than 35 specialized programs for all ages from infants to seniors – including counseling, skills-building, training, and prevention services to improve quality of life by reducing child abuse, drug abuse, gang involvement and crime; by increasing social & coping skills, school success and employability; by healing emotional pain and helping individuals and families become strong and independent.