Coalition Targets Underage Drinking

Agencies involved with the Smarter Choices Community Coalition Monday talked about ways to prevent underage drinking.

Tim Rutledge, director of training for the Regional Counterdrug Training Academy, said there are things parents can do at home. He says parents and their friends are sometimes guilty of providing alcohol.

Officials say people who start drinking before age 15 are five times more likely to have alcohol problems as adults.

"Everything begins with parents, what we see in the drug world," said Tim Rutledge, director of training at the regional Counterdrug training Academy. "When parents get involved, we see much less drug use with teenagers, particularly with alcohol. When teenagers see their parents consuming alcohol there is a likely chance that teenagers will drink alcohol more. And it's certainly the same as for drug use."

"We have law enforcement, the Alcohol Beverage Control commission, educators, members of the community, schools, and a lot of social service agencies. What that tells us is there's broad interest in this problem, and in addressing it," said Pace Emmons of Weems Community Mental Health.

The Smarter Choices Coalition has just completed its first year in existence. Officials say in 2005, Lauderdale County was third in the state in underage
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