BISMARCK, N.D. — A multi-county alcohol study finds underage drinking and binge drinking remain serious problems in south central North Dakota, and agencies are working on plans to fight back.
The Burleigh County Board of Health, the Custer Health District, Emmons County Public Health and Kidder County District Health Unit recently did a community-level needs assessment about alcohol-related problems.
“We are seeing binge drinking as problematic among both adults and youth,” said Yolanda Karas, substance abuse prevention coordinator of Custer Health-Emmons District Public Health. ”Liquor law violations and DUIs are negative impacts of alcohol abuse within the local service area.”
The study was funded through a $476,060 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration grant program. It is part of a three-phase approach by counties to counter alcohol-related issues. Key community stakeholders were interviewed for the assessment and Karas said the partnership will next complete a strategic plan.
The study involved alcohol-related crashes, alcohol arrest rates, youth and adult alcohol consumption and what contributes to alcohol problems. Officials from Emmons, Kidder, Mercer, Morton, Oliver, Grant and rural Burleigh counties were interviewed, Karas said.
Binge drinking is a public health problem, but a completely preventable one, she said.
“By making individual choices not to binge drink or not to drink and drive, or to choose to partner up with a community coalition, youth group or professional organization, individuals can make a difference in their own lives and in their communities,” she said.
Remaining grant money also will be used to pay for “evidence-based practices” that have been proven to deter alcohol abuse, Karas said. They might include sobriety checks, tightening teen party ordinances, programs that encourage using anonymous electronic media tips to alert authorities and training programs for those selling or serving alcohol.
Risk behavior survey
A separate survey shows the state’s high school students are less likely to drink or binge drink, according to findings from the state Department of Public Instruction.
The Youth Risk Behavior Survey was given to 10,516 students between grades 9 and 12, DPI said. It is given to the students every two years through the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Overall, 35.3 percent of North Dakota students reported they had consumed alcohol in the past
30 days in the 2013 survey, compared to 54.3 percent in 2003. About 21.9 percent of the students here said they binge-drink (five drinks or more in one sitting), compared to 34.5 percent in 2003. Nationally, 34.9 percent of the students said they had alcohol in the past 30 days and 20.8 percent said they had been binge drinking.
The Youth Risk Behavior Survey from 2013 also shows the number of North Dakota high school students riding with someone who had drank alcohol the past 30 days dropped from 42.8 percent in 2003 to 21.9 percent in 2013. The survey also showed that high school students in North Dakota are less likely to use marijuana than a decade ago — 15.4 percent said they had used it in the past 30 days in the 2013 survey, compared to 20.6 percent in 2003.
Kirsten Baesler, director of DPI, said early identification and collaboration among those who work with young people will help prevent risky behaviors.
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