County Health: Curbing teen binge drinking starts at home

It’s graduation time for teenagers across the state, but with that celebration comes a reminder.

"[They have a] whole future of possibilities and just remember that one bad decision can end up closing a lot of doors," Officer Kurt Weaver of La Crosse PD said.

The Parents Who Host Lose the Most campaign is looking to curb binge drinking habits both for the short and long term good.

"Some employers will go back and look when you’re talking about a job," Officer Weaver said. "[If there are] many applicants and a lot of people have the same qualifications, something even as simple as having a ticket might take you off the pile."

Their main message is that curbing binge drinking starts by never encouraging it or making it accessible to those who are underage, even if that seems like the safest environment is under supervision.

"Even though the parents may be there saying okay we’ll take all the keys, we’ll have an eye on you the whole time, things still go on behind closed doors and things that parents don’t know about," County Health Education Intern Kelsey Skala said

Officer Weaver said the ramifications from providing can go far beyond a party that’s come to a close with the consequences still falling on the hosts.

"[If] they have an accident or something bad happens, the liability falls back on them and that can open up a whole new world of problems," he said.

The good news is despite Wisconsin consistently ranking high in binge drinking rates, reports of teen alcohol abuse are down nearly 50% over the past 7 years in La Crosse County.

County Health Educator Al Bliss says that has a lot to do with parents taking a stand against serving alcohol to their teens.

"By parents and others supporting the fact and having the conversations with their teens that they don’t want them drinking, that goes a long way and that’s a powerful message that we’re trying to send out," he said. "If you show that you’re listening to a teen, they’re much more likely to come to you when they do have problems and when they do have questions about it.

Health officials recommend talking to kids about drinking as early as 11 or 12 years old. Guidelines for how to approach that can be found on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Website.

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