By JANIE CORINNE
And what, might you ask, can we do?
We can protect our kids from alcohol.
Kids and alcohol don’t mix. We might assume that our kids are not drinking, especially our little ones, but that would not be an accurate assumption.
Here is a startling statistic: More Taos County kids start drinking alcohol before age 13 than in the rest of our state and in the country as a whole. To be precise, one in four of our children has his or her first drink at these young ages, compared to one in five in New Mexico and about one in seven in the U.S.
Another question is, how do they get it?
The most frequent answer from middle and high school kids is, “Someone gave it to me.” And those “someones” are us! Adults, young adults, and teens, passing it along to our little kids.
If we still believe that a little alcohol won’t hurt children, here’s something to think about. Of the kids who start drinking before age 15, FOUR out of TEN will experience alcohol use disorder (alcoholism) during their lifetimes. Good news though: for every year they wait to begin drinking past age 15, their risk of alcoholism goes down. So, there are lots of reasons to keep kids and alcohol separate, for as long as possible.
Vida del Norte Drug-Free Coalition, along with Taos Alive, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Taos Pueblo Awareness Coalition Team, the Town of Taos, Taos County, Village of Questa, Town of Red River, National Guard Counterdrug Task Force, and Recovery-Friendly Taos are all organizations behind a new campaign to encourage us to change our behavior. The campaign kicked off just before our high school 2021 graduations in May.
Vida del Norte asks YOU to take 30 seconds to make your pledge to Refuse to Provide Alcohol to Minors and to encourage your family, friends, and teens to take the pledge too. It makes sense and it will save lives.
To join Vida del Norte Coalition, contact Maria Gonzalez at (575) 779-2260 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For resources to help keep alcohol away from your children, or for teens to stick to their decision not to use alcohol, check www.taosalive.org/refuse and www.vidadelnorte.com. Vida is preparing a brochure on these topics.
Janie Corinne of El Rito knows firsthand how alcohol misuse can negatively impact families. She has devoted much of her career in public health to reducing the turmoil, disease, and death that can come from addiction. Corinne serves as project evaluator for Vida del Norte Coalition.