Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Prevent underage drinking, prevent driving under the influence

Last week, the Ravenna Blog reported about the sentencing of the drunk driver who killed two people and seriously injured two others in our community last spring.

This deadly incident could have been prevented, and not just by enforcing the ignition interlock law and other laws targeting adults.  It may have been prevented by preventing underage drinking.

Ninety percent of people who are addicted to alcohol or other drugs started using these substances as teens.  The earlier teenagers start using alcohol, the higher the likelihood they will be addicted as adults.  It is unknown if Mark Mullen, the man who was convicted for this tragedy, started using as a teen, but he had a long history of substance abuse, according to media reports.

Not all people who drive drunk are addicted to alcohol.  But over-consumption and addiction do increase health and safety risks.  By preventing youth alcohol use, a great deal of addiction and over-consumption, along with negative safety consequences such as DUIs, may be avoided.

And it's not just adults.  As a video the Prevention WINS coalition produced last year illustrates, teenagers in our community drive under the influence, too.  About one quarter of NE Seattle high school seniors report recently riding in a car with a driver who has been drinking.

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