FROM THE JEFFERSON COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT

The Jefferson County Drug Free Coalition will host an Alcohol Town Hall meeting on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 from 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm at the Fort Memorial Hospital in Fort Atkinson in the first floor auditorium. This event will inform, engage and inspire people to think about the use of alcohol and how it affects our youth and communities in Jefferson County.

The availability and accessibility of alcohol in our communities puts young people at especially high risk of alcohol use and addiction. Youth who begin drinking before age 14 have a 41% chance of becoming alcohol dependent as compared to the 10% risk for someone who abstains from alcohol until age 21. The majority of adolescents who start drinking do so when they are in the 7th or 8th grade and are about 13-14 years old.

In Wisconsin, underage drinking for young people ages 12-20 is higher than the nation as a whole. Underage binge drinking, which is five or more drinks on one occasion in the past month, is also higher in Wisconsin than the nation. These numbers are an urgent reminder that we must stay focused on efforts to prevent underage alcohol use.

Parents, caregivers, teachers, and others play an important role in helping youth stay alcohol-free. Many teens who don’t use alcohol say their parents are the reason for that decision. This shows that parents play a vital role in helping young people make healthy decisions and the importance of talking to children early and before they start using alcohol.

This Alcohol Town Hall will inform the public about the nature of the alcohol problem with perspectives from experts in the medical community and the school district. Dr. Donald Williams, a pediatrician from Fort Healthcare, will talk about his role in prevention and education. Emergency room physician, Dr. Bret Hunt, will discuss the darker side of alcohol use that people don’t always see or want to talk about. Jude Hartwick, a high school teacher at Crossroads Alternative school and City Councilman, will talk about his work with at-risk youth and the common problems they face with alcohol and drugs.

This Alcohol Town Hall is free and open to the public. Everyone in the community plays an important role in changing social norms around underage drinking. “A big part of changing social norms is providing education, so that is why we need concerned citizens, youth organizations, parent groups , businesses, and others to be part of the discussion and our prevention coalition” says Emi Reiner, a Public Health Nurse and member of the Jefferson County Drug Free Coalition. “By working together, we can leverage more resources and do the important work of building a healthier and safer community.”

The Jefferson County Drug Free Coalition is passionate and committed to “preventing and reducing alcohol, tobacco and drug use among youth and the greater community through county-wide collaboration” as stated in their mission statement. This group is currently looking at county-wide data to identify priority areas and best practice interventions to make progress towards the mission.

For more information about the Jefferson County Drug Free Coalition see their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JeffersonCountyDrugFreeCoalition/ or contact Amber Joyce at (920) 674-8125.