BEND, Ore. - The Shared Future Coalition was formed to foster the legal and safe use of alcohol in Deschutes County. On Monday, it launches a major grassroots awareness campaign focused on reducing underage and binge drinking among young adults.
Contrary to many perceptions of Oregon as a health-minded state, the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that between the years 2008 and 2010, Oregon ranked in the top 10 states with the highest drinking rates among 12–20 year-olds.
Deschutes County's underage drinking rates, according Oregon youth behavior data, have been higher than state averages since 2004.
This data is concerning, officials say, because research has shown that youth who start drinking before the age of 15 are five times more likely to become alcohol-dependent later in life.
In fact, between 2000 and 2007, Oregon's chronic liver disease rates increased by 29.5 percent.
Alcohol-induced deaths in Oregon, during the same period, were 80 percent higher than the national average (according to the Oregon Strategic Prevention Framework Plan, June 2011).
Through a new website, www.sharedfuturecoalition.org, as well as Facebook page, blog, and collection of public service announcements, the coalition seeks to engage Deschutes County residents in a conversation about alcohol use among young adults.
The coalition reminds adults that providing alcohol to minors is both illegal and harmful to adolescent brain development. It asks the community to get to know the laws and science of underage drinking.
In addition, it reminds the public that binge drinking is an unhealthy extreme use of alcohol (binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks for males or four or more drinks for females in about a three-hour period).
Research shows that reducing high-risk drinking positively impacts business in regards to on-the-job accidents, turn-over, absenteeism and health care costs.
By reducing high-risk drinking, traffic crashes, crime and the overall community livability is also improved, the coalition said. Research also shows that reducing underage and binge drinking improves student performance in school.
The Shared Future Coalition, funded by a seed grant to Deschutes County from the Oregon Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant, meets the first Wednesday of every month, and new members are welcome.
Anyone in Deschutes County can also help promote the coalition's awareness campaign by signing up to share messages, "Like" the Facebook page, and follow the weekly blog.
For more information, please contact Deschutes County Health Services Coalition Coordinator Julie Spackman at (541) 388-6619 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org .