Story of Underage Drinking and FASD

Mohave Daily News 
Saturday, April 5, 2008 9:53 PM CDT 

Coalition sets out to change attitudes about drugs, alcohol


BULLHEAD CITY - Vicki Brewster said her story began 12 years ago with a teenage girl who drank habitually.

As a result, three children - now ages 9, 10 and 11 - will go through life needing around-the-clock supervision due to brain damage they suffered in the early fetal stages.

It's because the children - all of whom Brewster adopted after first taking into foster care - suffer from Fetal Alcohol Effects, one diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Although they look normal on the outside, the children have cognitive disabilities, poor impulse control, poor judgment and a lack of understanding consequences, Brewster told a group of people gathered Friday evening at Mohave High School for an Underage Drinking Coalition meeting organized by the Arizona Youth Partnership.

“When you drink and you're pregnant, the baby drinks,” she said. “Fetal alcohol is the number one cause of mental retardation in the United States.”

And judging from statistics, both teenage pregnancy in Arizona and underage drinking in Bullhead City are on the rise, according to Tammany McDaniel, Colorado River Regional Director for the Arizona Youth Partnership.

Some in the audience were shocked to learn statistics about alcohol and drug use collected anonymously from Bullhead City children in a 2006 study.

According to the study, 50.7 percent of 192 high school seniors surveyed had used alcohol in the last 30 days; 19.4 percent had used marijuana and 2.1 percent had used methamphetamine.

The figures for substance use in the last 30 days are slightly lower for eighth graders, but not by much. Results show that out of 153 students, 38 percent had used alcohol, 19.6 percent had used marijuana and 0.7 percent had used methamphetamine.

The statistics should be alarming, said Debbie Marcusson of the Colorado River Region Youth Shelter, and more involvement from the community is needed to combat the problem.

“Let's put a challenge out there to school administrators and mental health professionals,” Marcusson said.

That's a big part of what the coalition is trying to figure out - how to expose more people to facts about drug and alcohol use, McDaniel said.

She sees many of the same faces at meetings month after month. But the information isn't reaching the parents or the young people.

“We have some things we need to change some attitudes about,” she said at the end of the meeting. “But there is hope.”

The next coalition meeting will be held at 4 p.m. April 17 in Room 11 at Mohave Accelerated Learning Center, 625 Marina Blvd.

Source: Mohave Daily News:

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