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Filed under News

Grant addresses underage drinking

To combat the problem of underage drinking, the East Texas Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (ETCADA) will hold a meeting from noon until 1 p.m. at the Panola County Chamber of Commerce. Community members who would like to be part of the effort are invited to attend this public meeting.

The meeting results from a five-year grant awarded to ETCADA by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Grant funds will be used to address the issues of underage drinking, prescription drug and marijuana use and abuse in Panola County. Panola College will participate in the Community Coalition Partnership for Panola County.

Based on 2012 data received from Texas School survey for the Panola County area, 33% of students age 14 had used marijuana and students age 13 reported 22.9% usage of alcohol for the first time.  Twenty-five percent of secondary students reported consuming beer and wine coolers on a weekly or monthly basis. Panola County’s average alcohol-related vehicular fatality rate for the five-year period 2007-2011 was 13.50 (per 100,000 population), nearly three times higher than the state rate (for 2011) of 4.82 (Source: NHTSA). The DWI average rate (per 100,000) for the five-year period 2006-2010 was 749, which is roughly double the state rate of 390 for that same five-year period (Source: OJJDP). The arrest rate (per 100,000) for the five-year period from 2006-2010 for illicit drugs in Panola County was 757.6, while the state rate for the same time period was 591.0 (Source: OJJDP).

The primary goal of the coalition is to create a community awareness regarding the health consequences of underage drinking, marijuana use and prescription drug abuse while preventing and reducing substance use and abuse in the community; to maximize the resources through awareness and support for substance abuse prevention and treatment services; increase citizen participation and commitment towards reducing use and abuse.

Members of the community that are interested in serving on the coalition are encouraged to contact Joanna Rutherford, Community Coalition Coordinator, at 903 646-7254.

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